Archive for January, 2012

Slow-Cooked Supper: The Comfort Food Edition

Based on the recipe “Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Potpie” in the Feb 2012 Real Simple; I’ll type in their original, with my changes in parentheses and notes.

8 oz cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed and halved if large (I used all the mushrooms delivered to me this week in my produce box , leaving the stems on because they were small and tight and quartering them)
4 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces (I used three big handfuls of organic baby carrots and just chunked them in whole)
1 medium onion, chopped (we don’t do onions at our house, so I left this out)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 sprigs fresh thyme (I used several shakes of the dried thyme I keep on hand for red beans, plus a couple of shakes of dried marjoram)
1 bay leaf (two small ones)
1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 8 (I used a little over 2 pounds, about 11, because that’s how the packaging of the organic boneless skinless chicken thighs from Costco worked out)
salt and black pepper
1 sheet puff pastry (half a 17.3oz package), thawed
1 c frozen peas (I don’t do peas, so I left these out)
1 c frozen green beans (I really don’t do green beans, so these would never be anywhere in my house to begin with)
1/3 c heavy cream (I actually had some left in my fridge from the holidays, but it had crossed over to the dark side and I just used a couple  glugs of half-and-half)

1. In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, mix together mushrooms, carrots, onion (X), flour, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 c water. Place chicken pieces on top of this; season with salt and pepper.

2. Cover and cook until chicken and veg are tender; 7 – 8 hours on low, or 4 -5 hours on high (my slow cooker just needed 6 hours on low, so pay attention to what yours does).

3. Thirty minutes before serving (whatever), heat oven to 425. Using a 4.5″ cutter or large glass, cut pastry into 4 circles. (I used my giant fleur-de-lis cookie cutters, and then just had fun with twisting up scraps in little bits and shapes. I can imagine using various cutters at various times.) Place on a baking sheet and bake til golden, 8 to 10 minutes (mine took 8).

4. Ten minutes before serving, add peas, green beans, cream, and a little salt to the chicken mixture (you’ll have to take this on faith, as what I did was curse the very idea of peas and green beans once again as I glugged in the half and half); stir to combine. Cover and cook on high or low until heated through (I found that it was heated through as quickly as I stirred it), 5 to 10 minutes. To serve, place chicken mixture in bowls and top with pastry rounds (shapes).

It was TASTY. Comfort food at its finest. I toyed with the idea of sprinkling a little pecorino over the pastry before baking to make cheesy pastry, and still might do that next time. M devoured it and said “Keep this recipe.” I will say, I do like my slow cooker. Particularly when our dinnertime comes right after all the time we spend feeding/bathing/nursing/putting to bed our boy. Mama don’t like eight p.m. dinners.


January 19, 2012 at 8:19 pm Leave a comment

The Slow-Cooker As Mama’s Best Friend

The dinner hour has turned into two or three hours of baby care… Thomas eats between 4:30 and 5, which takes half an hour to an hour, and then we have a little play-and-digest time, and then we have bath time, and then bedtime takes a half an hour or so, which means from 4:30 to 7 or so I’m not in the kitchen cooking.

This leads to many a dinner of leftovers from weekend cooking marathons, jazzed-up frozen pizza, scrambled eggs, or 8 p.m. mealtimes. But when I remember the slow cooker, or when Real Simple runs a slow-cooker recipes article, we get a fresh hot meal that needs hardly any attention between 4:30 and 7.

The last two slow-cooked suppers both made use of organic boneless skinless chicken thighs from Costco. Slow-Cooker Chicken Pot Pie, and Slow-Cooker Soy-Glazed Chicken & Butternut Squash with Stir-Fry Greens. I’ll post the chicken pot pie recipe later, but here is the Soy-Glazed Chicken. It’s based on a recipe from the February 2012 issue of Real Simple; I’ll post their original as is, and note my changes in parentheses.

1/2 c packed light brown sugar (I had dark)
3 T low-sodium soy sauce (I used my organic wheat-free tamari)
3 T fresh lemon juice
2 T Asian fish sauce (finally, keeping that on the condiment carousel pays off!)
1 T grated fresh ginger (I’m sure I used a bit more, since I love ginger)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (I just did several squirts of Sriracha while I was on my condiment carousel)
1-1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 8 (I used about a pound; it was the third packet from the three-pack of organic ones from Costco)
(1 butternut squash, or 2 if they’re small like mine was, or even 3 if they’re as small as some others that have come in my produce box; peel and cube)
1 c long-grain white rice
1 T canola oil
(here is where I diverged 100 percent; Real Simple stir-fries a bunch of good vegs, and I saute greens)
3/4 lb snow peas, trimmed
2 heads baby bok choy, leaves separated
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
black pepper
(I used mustard greens, turnip greens, komatsuna and mizuna; wash them well)

1. In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, mix together sugar, soy sauce/tamari, lemon juice, fish sauce, ginger, and crushed red pepper (Sriracha). Add chicken; turn to coat. (Add butternut squash cubes; work into the sauce for coating also. I had less chicken than the recipe called for but as much sauce, so I had enough; you might want to do just a little extra sauce.)

2. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 7 – 8 hours on low or 4 – 5 hours on high (mine wound up being about 3 hours on high and then another hour on warm).

3. Twenty minutes before serving, cook rice according to package directions.

4. Meanwhile, transfer chicken and butternut squash to a plate, reserving cooking liquid/sauce.

5. Real Simple says to stir fry the vegs. Here’s where I heated the oil and sauteed my greens instead. Real Simple says to drizzle the cooking liquid over the finished rice/chicken/veg when you serve; I poured the cooking liquid over the greens once they had wilted down, let them bubble for a few minutes, drizzled a tiny bit of Steen’s over for depth, and sprinkled a little cornstarch over to thicken at the end. With the soy-glazed chicken and squash, this was GREAT. Just typing it in makes me wish I had a crisper drawer full of greens again.

January 19, 2012 at 8:13 pm Leave a comment

Cooking for three

Alas for the moribund state of this blog… I would love to be the mama blogger who can keep up with a baby, two dogs, three cats, a part-time graphic design contract, and dinners for grown-ups and children, all while shooting daily photos for the baby’s photo blog and managing to shoot photos of food and write about it, with bedtime before midnight.

That hasn’t been me.

Thomas came along in February, and I am not sure *what* I cooked for the first three months. There were a lot of Soup Peddler and Kashi meals. Scrambled eggs. Frozen pizza (the Archer Farms brand from Target makes a few veg pizzas that are pretty good even before you jazz them up with condiments from the back of the fridge). Then we got our Greenling subscription started up again and there were raw ingredients for roasting and sauteeing and salads. Then Thomas started adding Plum and Sprout and Ella’s Kitchen baby food to his nursing menu, and I started to get inspired about mixing things up to keep him from getting bored.

The slow cooker came out of the cupboard. The freezer was restocked.

 And yesterday, Thomas had his first feed-himself finger food, tortillas at Hula Hut, followed by buttered toast sticks at home with Mama today at lunch, and pureed leftover slow-cooker chicken pot pie for supper.So now I expect to start cooking even more, trying to find suppers and lunches that I can share with both husband and baby. And I would dearly love to find the moments to type it all in, to photograph it even. To tell you about dishes like that slow-cooker chicken pot pie, or the pumpkin flan I made at Thanksgiving, or the amazing turkey gumbo created at Christmas. I’ll try. Wish me luck.

January 18, 2012 at 2:39 am Leave a comment

Some of my cookbooks

In no order except for how they appear in my LibraryThing cookbook catalog: True Women Cookbook: Original Antique Recipes, Photographs, & Family Folklore, Janice Woods Windle (1997) * Made in Texas; H-E-B's 100th Anniversary Cookbook (2005) * The Texas Cowboy Cookbook: A History in Recipes and Photos, Robb Walsh (2007) * The Silver Palate Cookbook, Julee Rosso, Sheila Lukins (1982) * In the Land of Cocktails: Recipes and Adventures from the Cocktail Chicks, Ti Adelaide Martin & Lally Brennan (2007) * Braise: A Journey Through International Cuisine, Daniel Boulud (2006) * Moosewood Cookbook : Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant, Mollie Katzen (1977) * Crescent City Cooking: Unforgettable Recipes from Susan Spicer's New Orleans, Susan Spicer (2007) * Saveur Cooks Authentic American: By the Editors of Saveur Magazine, ed. Colman Andrews (1998)

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