Chicken-in-the-Pot

Based on Dorie Greenspan’s Chicken-in-the-Pot (her food blog is a favorite), this is an extremely versatile dish. You can modify it based on what you have in the fridge and on how much time you have. It smells amazing to boot.

Ingredients:

  • Approximately 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 heads of garlic, broken into cloves, but not peeled
  • 4 onions, peeled, trimmed, and quartered
  • 1 pound baby carrots (or 8 carrots, peeled, trimmed, and quartered)
  • 4 celery stalks, trimmed and quartered
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme*
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley*
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary *
  • 10 or so mushrooms, halved
  • 16 prunes
  • 1 chicken, whole or cut-up
  • 1/2 small cabbage, green or red, cut into 4 wedges
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine, or another 1/2 cup chicken broth

* The original recipe calls for fresh herbs but I have yet to have them on hand. I have no doubt they would make the recipe just that much better.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Heat about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Toss in the garlic cloves and all the vegetables, EXCEPT the cabbage and mushrooms (in 2 batches if necessary), season generously with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are lightly browned on all sides.
  3. Stir in the herbs, prunes, and mushrooms. Transfer vegetables too a Dutch oven.
  4. Add another tablespoon or so of oil to the skillet. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown the chicken on all sides. (You can skip this step if you’re short on time.)
  5. Put the chicken in the casserole, nestling it among the vegetables. Fit the cabbage wedges around the chicken.
  6. Stir together the chicken broth, wine, and 1/2 cup olive oil and pour the mixture over the chicken and vegetables.
  7. Cover the pot with a sheet of aluminum foil and the lid
  8. Bake for 70 minutes.

Spinach & Spaghetti

(Originally published February 2008) Marlene Lehl (from Zion Church) brought me this as a mercy meal (I think it was when Liv came home) and it was delicious. I passed it on as a mercy meal last night and wanted to share this meatless main dish with the rest of you.

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces spaghetti
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 teaspoons minced dried onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • dash pepper
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, drain well.
  2. Combine egg, sour cream, milk, 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, onion, salt and pepper; add monterey jack cheese and mix well.
  3. Add spaghetti and spinach and mix well.
  4. Turn into a 8 x 8-inch square pan. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan. Bake covered at 350 for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15-20 minutes more or until warmed through.

Chocolate Pudding

I have added a new category Worth Making from Scratch. Of course, others may have different opinions of what is “worth it” in terms of convenience and cost vs. time/energy, but generally speaking I am finding more and more things that taste better, are more healthful, are simple enough to prepare, and are often cheaper when made from scratch. 

Jason wanted some pudding cups for lunch. It has always kind of bothered me that you can find those in the non-refrigerated  aisle — what do they do to the milk that’s supposedly in there? This pudding, adapted a bit from More with Less, one of my very favorite cookbooks, is cheap, delicious, and, for me, a perfect example of something worth the (minimal) effort.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup (or less) honey or sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 cups milk  (0r almond, soy, or coconut milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon butter or ghee (do not use if using coconut milk)

Directions:

  1. Combine honey, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and milk in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until thickened, stirring (almost) constantly.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and butter until combined.
  3. Serve warm or cold.

Fruit-Bottom Yogurt

 

Just last night Jason and I had a conversation about things that are worth making from scratch. Yogurt fell somewhere in the middle. I don’t know if I’ll be making yogurt from milk anytime soon, but I do like the idea of adding fresh fruit to plain yogurt and controlling the amount of sugar (honey in this case). 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound fruit, peeled and chopped if needed (stone fruits and berries will work best, but experiment!)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 2 cups plain yogurt, sweetened with 1 tablespoon honey, or to taste.
Directions:
  1. Place fruit, honey, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Stir together cornstarch and water until cornstarch is dissolved. Pour into fruit mixture. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring often, until thickened and no longer cloudy. Allow to cool before layering with yogurt.
  2. Add two to four tablespoons fruit compote to a sealable jar or plastic container. Top with 1/4 to 1/2 cup yogurt. Refrigerate, covered, for up to one week.

Tower of Power

Ok, some of you who know me well may be surprised that I would refer to a dish by a rhyming name. But it is that. good. I am on day 4 of the Whole30 Challenge (if you don’t want to click through, the gist is that it’s 30 days of whole foods with several further restrictions, but it’s actually worth a look if you have time). Although I generally avoid making two complete meals, for various reasons I made an exception tonight and made a pizza for the rest of the family. I couldn’t have a single thing in the pizza, and boy, did it smell amazing. I consoled myself with this dish, and when all was said and done, I would totally choose the Tower of Power again.

I got the recipe here (note that it is actually called Veggie and Egg Tower of Power) via Pinterest (adapted ever so slightly to reflect how I actually made it). The original post (and indeed her whole blog) is very much worth your time for her pictures and information about eggs, including interesting things I did not know about lecithin and easy instructions for how to soft boil and how to poach an egg. 

This recipe is actually a little on the tricky side, but simply because of timing. The ingredients are simple and so is the preparation. And, believe me, it’s worth it. Just read through all the directions first and make sure you have enough time (for example, there are caramelized onions, and that takes at least 30 minutes, though most of it is unsupervised), and you’ll be fine.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium onions
  • 1–2 tablespoons butter or ghee
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 giant sweet potato
  • 1–2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil
  • 10–15 cherry tomatoes
  • 4 generous fistfuls of spinach
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil (optional)
  • salt and  pepper
  • chili flakes (optional)
Directions:
1. Peel and slice the onions into rounds. Heat some ghee or oil in a skillet; add onions and a pinch of salt. Stir occasionally (not too often, or they will not brown) until dark, soft and sweet – approximately 30-45 minutes. Set aside onions in the pan.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice sweet potatoes across their width into quarter-inch discs. Coat with a little coconut or olive oil (or ghee), place in a single layer on 2 baking sheets, leaving one sheet with a little space for the tomatoes. Wash and slice tomatoes in half. Place on one baking sheet with sweet potatoes, and roast in the oven for 20 minutes or so, until everything is soft. Keep in the oven until ready to serve.
3. Once the onions, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes have all finished cooking, put a shallow saucepan of water on to boil, stir in 1 tablespoon of vinegar.
4. Wash spinach, but do not spin dry, as the water will serve to steam the leaves while cooking. Add spinach to the onion pan on low heat and stir occasionally until wilted (3-4 minutes).
5. While the spinach is wilting, poach the egg.
6. While the eggs are poaching, assemble the plate: place 6-7 slices of roasted sweet potato on the bottom, followed by the wilted spinach and caramelized onions. Scatter the roasted tomatoes around the base with a drizzle of good olive oil. Place the poached egg on top of the stack, sprinkle with chili flakes if desired, and a generous grind of sea salt and black pepper. Serve immediately.

 

Wilton Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

Makes:

About 3 cups of icing.

Instructions:

step 1

In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

step 2

For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

step 3

For thin (spreading) consistency icing, add 2 tablespoons light corn syrup, water or milk.

step 4

For Pure White Icing (stiff consistency), omit butter; substitute an additional 1/2 cup shortening for butter and add 1/2 teaspoon No-Color Butter Flavor. Add up to 4 tablespoons light corn syrup, water or milk to thin for icing cakes.

Better-Than-the-Average Banana Bread

Truth be told, I don’t like banana bread. It’s a sad reality of my family that I can make a loaf and no one will eat it. However, I made some bread yesterday for church and oh my, the smell in my house was amazing. This, my friends, is a banana bread worth making, smelling AND eating. Can’t beat that. The following recipe is altered from Janet’s Rich Banana Bread.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 medium bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, stir together the melted butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix well. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt, stir into the butter mixture until smooth. Finally, fold in the sour cream, walnuts and bananas. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool loaf in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

**I made the entire recipe in my Kitchen Aid mixer and it turned out just fine. When using a stand mixer, make sure not to be beat the ingredients too hard. Use the 1st level/basic stir setting more often to gently incorporate the ingredients without beating the life out of them. Also, I rarely ever dirty two bowls with wet and dry ingredients. I add dry to the wet as I go and it usually works out well in the end.