Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chicken Pot Pie

1 1/2 lbs chicken
2 tsps poultry seasoning
1/4 cup chopped onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 cups white sauce
1/2 tsp onion powder (or some of the real onion)
3-4 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup carrots
1/2 cup corn
salt and pepper to taste
biscuit dough to top

Preheat oven to 350. Braise the chicken (I used boneless skinless breasts) in chicken broth, onion, garlic and poultry seasoning. Reserve 1/3 a cup of the braising liquid. Take the chicken and garlic cloves out of the pot and put the potatoes in. Add water to cover them if needed. Cook till tender. Make the white sauce, add the 1/3 cup of braising liquid and the onion powder or onion from the braise and salt and pepper to taste. Mash the garlic and add that in too. Mix together everything but the dough and pour it into a 9x13 pan. Top with dough and cook till golden and bubbly. If it starts to get too dark, cover with foil till it's done.


Ah, chicken pot pie. The comfortiest of the comfort foods. It's another good way to use up the last bits of stuff too. You can use the pickings from a roasted chicken, leftover vegetable side dishes and such. Or you can make all the stuff just for it. That's how I tend to do it. Here is a question, is a pot pie a casserole? Doesn't matter, they rule. They tend to be topped with either pie crust (hence the name) or biscuit. I like biscuit. And I had a tube of store bought biscuits sitting in the fridge that I needed to use, so I cheated. If I didn't have that I would have just made some biscuit dough though, I swear. But this is how I do this thing.

First I braised the chicken and cut it up. I have a whole post dedicated to that, so if you want you can check that out to see how I do it. I seasoned the chicken with poultry seasoning and braising liquid with onion, garlic and a little more poultry seasoning. After the chicken was done I took out a third of a cup of the liquid to add to the sauce and cooked the potatoes in the rest. And forgot to take a picture, sorry. I had to add a little water to cover them, but using the braising liquid added a little more flavor. Then I made a white sauce.Uhm, I have a separate post for that too. This isn't going to be a very long one kids. But it will have pot pie at the end, so that's something. I mixed some onion powder (I like the powder in white sauce, call me nuts.), fresh black pepper, and the garlic cloves from the braise in it. Now the vegetables... I used frozen. I know, but that's what I have and it works fine in this. C'mon, people back me up here, frozen veggies are just fine in this kind of thing right? Right. Ok. Moving on. Then I mixed everything together in a 13x9 pan and topped it with biscuit dough. Hey, it almost looks like a ribcage, so it's Halloweeny! There you go, accidentally keeping with the season. Bake it at 350 till golden brown and bubbly, 30-45 minutes. As the above recipe might indicate I found the biscuits to brown a bit fast, so I covered it with foil for the last bit and it worked out fine. Eat it, love it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pot Roast, One Pot/Oven Style

2 lbs eye round roast (or other pot roast roast)
6-10 baby red potatoes, scrubbed and chopped in half
1 cup of carrots, cut however you like
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp basil
1 medium bay leaf
1 8oz can of tomato sauce
1/2 cup water, beef broth or red wine
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Brown the onions and garlic in a medium, oven safe pan, big enough to fit the roast in and with a good lid. Remove them from the pan and rub the roast with marjoram, salt and pepper. Brown it in the pot in a little oil. Deglaze the pot with the water, broth or wine. Put the meat, onion, garlic, tomato sauce, bay leaf and basil in. Cover the pot loosely with foil then press the lid on tightly. Cook for 2-3 hours, till fork tender. During the last hour or so toss in the potatoes and carrots.


So, can you tell it's fall yet? Where I am, just northwest of Boston, the leaves are changing colors and the temps are down in the 50-60s during the day and 30s at night. Which means it's time for pot roast. I wasn't crazy about pot roast when I was a kid, I would eat it but I didn't get into it. Not that my mom doesn't make a good pot roast, she does. I just didn't feel it. Now, I love it. My girlfriend loves it too, she's a real meat and potatoes girl and this is pretty much the epitome of that. I had an eye round roast in the freezer and was wondering what to do with it. I asked around the forums on Bakespace and the consensus was pot roast. Unfortunately my crock pot is only 1.5 quarts, more for show than use, so I did it in the oven. I also figured if I did it in the oven I could just mess up one pot. How did I do it, you ask? Like this.

Just a little side note, I have a new (sorta, it's a hand-me-down) camera and am still getting used to it. If any of my pics are wonky, let's just blame it on that, ok? Thanks.

First, brown up the onions and garlic. I left the garlic mostly whole, figured it would break down in the long cook. I cut them in half to take out some shoots though. The onions are rough chopped, again because they will break down. Now rub the meat with salt and pepper. I also used a bit of marjoram because I thought it would be good. I pulled the onions and garlic out of the pan and browned the roast. Once it had some nice color I pulled it out and deglazed the pan. I wanted red wine or beer, but not enough to leave the house (I have a cold, so it's not pure laziness). My second choice was beef broth, but I don't have any base left. So I just used water. I figured there would be plenty of flavor with all the other stuff going on. Now, everything goes back in along with the bay leaf, tomato sauce and basil. I know it doesn't look very browned, but it was. It's the camera, I swear. Now if you're using a pot with a good, tight fitting lid then you are good to go. My pot is less than ideal so I put a piece of aluminum foil over the pot then put the lid on that and it helps it fit tightly. Then I tossed it into a 300 degree oven for about 3 hours. After maybe 2 or so I put in a bunch of baby red potatoes that I had scrubbed and cut in half and some carrots. The carrots were frozen. It's what I had. But it came out great, so that's good. Not too shabby for my second pot roast ever. I spooned the liquid over the meat just how it was, but if I had hit it with and immersion blender it would have been even better. If you wanted it thicker you could leave a couple potatoes in when you blend it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Steak and Potato Frittata

3/4 lb steak tips, seasoned, cooked and cut into bite sized pieces
4-5 cooked baby potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Spread the potatoes and steak evenly in a nonstick, oven safe pan. Heat the pan to medium, then add the egg mixture. Cook for a couple minutes, till it's about halfway done. Put it in the oven for 5-10 minutes, till thoroughly cooked. Serve immediately.


For the longest time I didn't know what a frittata was. At least I thought I didn't. Turned out I had been making them for years and just didn't realize it. They are basically an unfolded omelet that is started on the stove and finished off in the oven. Frittatas are a great way to use leftovers since you can just toss whatever you happen to have in them. The recipe above is really a bare-bones one, you can add onions (I didn't put any in since my girlfriend doesn't like them), cheese (I did add some provolone to my half), peppers, broccoli, zucchini, any vegetable really or any number of spices to it. You also don't have to use meat if you aren't into that. Or you can use different meat like ham, sausage, chicken, whatever. I didn't add much seasoning to the eggs because the steak tips were rubbed with onion powder and garlic salt and the potatoes were actually chopped up crash hot potatoes, so there was plenty of flavor going on already. If you want you can stretch it out by adding more eggs, but since there was just the two of us four was more than enough.

So first you need your non-egg stuff. I've got some steak tips here that I had seasoned (as I mentioned), broiled and cut into bite sized chunks. Here I have five crash hot potatoes, also cut into bite sized chunks. I had seasoned the potatoes with salt, pepper and garlic butter just like the recipe I posted. The little bits of browned garlic wound up mixing in with the egg when I poured it on, it was wicked good. Now you just spread everything in the pan. You should use nonstick (it makes it much easier and you don't have to use enough oil to fill a pond) and it has to be oven safe. I'm using the fish skillet a buddy of mine gave me, it works wonders for this recipe. Turn the stove on to medium. While the pan is heating up whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper and any other seasonings you are adding. Once it's hot pour them into the pan. Let it sit for a couple minutes, no stirring. If you want after a while you can lift up the edges to get some raw egg underneath, but I find it isn't needed and it makes the other stuff stick out even farther from the top. Once it's cooked about halfway add cheese if you are going to, toss it into your preheated 350 degree oven and let it cook till it's done how you like it. If you want it runny it will only take a couple minutes, if you want it well done it might take as many as ten. Pull it out and there you go. Frittata. Perfect for any meal or as a gift for that special someone.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Grilled Ham and Cheese

This is one where it's so simple and basic that I'm not going to bother listing the recipe. Why bother even posting about it you ask? Well, I'm bored and it's what I had for lunch. Snapped a couple pictures, so I figured why not? Besides, this is one of the best comfort foods there is and you never know when someone might need detailed, step by step instructions on how to make it. When I was in grade school I almost always had grilled cheese and Postum for breakfast. Yes, for breakfast. And yes, Postum. Don't know what it is? Well, you won't ever see it now, sadly it's been discontinued. It was a coffee substitute that my mom drank but no one other than the two of us in my family (that I recall) could stand. I think she got the taste for it from her mom, but I'm not really sure.

Grilled cheese is one of the best things ever and very versatile. It goes great with soup or filled with all kinds of wonderful things. Cold cuts, bacon, onions, peppers, whatever you like. My brother used to use that super processed turkey-loaf stuff in them, he said it was wicked good. I couldn't bring myself to try it. Today it's ham.

So, like many other good things in life this starts off with butter. I used to spread it on the bread, but since I started using a nonstick skillet I've been melting the butter right on that. You don't want to heat up nonstick stuff without something on it, it's bad for everything. Have the heat set to medium or so, not too hot or it will burn. Now you need bread. I'm using some whole wheat bread that has 50% of your daily fiber needs in each serving. So that means this is healthy! No, don't say anything. I mean it! I'm not listening, lalalala... Done? Ok. Bread on the skillet, cheese on the bread. I'm using the scary American cheese slices because that's what I like in these. Grilled cheese is actually the only thing I like them with now, I guess my palate is becoming more sophisticated. Heh. This bread is kinda big, so I need extra cheese. If the entire slice of bread isn't covered by cheese then your sandwich is seriously flawed. I said don't say it! It's healthy! I will glare at you. All right? All right. Now, a couple slices of ham. I usually rip it up a bit or else I tend to bite into it and pull the whole slice out. Now more cheese. If you leave out this second layer of cheese your sandwich won't stay together and we can't have that. Now the other slice of bread. Once that side is nice and browned, flip it. You might need more butter on the skillet. Just slide the sandwich over, plop some more down then move it back in place. Now just wait till the other side is browned and the inside is hot and melty and that's it. I like to put a little garlic salt on mine, another legacy of those childhood sandwiches. Now eat it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sloppy Joes

1 lb ground beef
2 8oz (or 1 15-16 oz) cans of plain tomato sauce
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced green pepper
1 clove of minced garlic
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbl red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp dry mustard

Brown ground beef and onion over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute till fragrant, 30-40 seconds. Add tomato sauce, stir well and reduce heat to low. Add spices, sugar and vinegar and let simmer for a couple minutes. Add peppers and simmer till as thick as you like. Serve on buns.


I have a confession to make. I usually make sloppy joes with canned sauce. I know, I know, but the canned stuff isn't that bad and my girlfriend really likes it. But I've been wanting to make it from scratch, so I did. I looked around the nets and almost all the recipes called for ketchup for at least part of the sauce. I don't know what it is, but using ketchup in a sauce bugs me. So I just tossed this together. It was pretty good, could have maybe used a bit more spices, but I'm wicked congested so I couldn't get a good taste of it and I would rather under season than over season.

First you want to brown the meat and onion. I don't know if I've talked about this before, but browning meat well is the key to good flavor. If you don't have the heat high enough or if you stir it too much it won't get browned and the flavor will be lackluster. So make sure to keep your heat high enough, medium-high is fine for ground beef, and let it sit for a minute or two between stirring. It really works out better that way. Once it's good and brown add the garlic and just cook it for a minute. You don't want the garlic to burn, that makes it bitter and gross. Now reduce the heat to low and add the tomato sauce. I decided to use tomato sauce because I don't feel it for ketchup (as I mentioned before) and I didn't want to deal with diced tomatoes. Although, if you like chunks go ahead and use diced tomatoes. They will break down a little bit but leave behind big pieces of tomato and some people like that. Stir it around a bit and add the spicessugar and vinegar. Like I said before, a little more spice would probably have been good but it really was fine just how it was. If you want you can toss in the peppers now, but I wanted them a bit on the crisp side so I added them later. No matter when you add them you want to let it simmer for a while, till as thick as you want it. I did it for about 10 minutes. And that's it, serve it on buns. Or pasta. Sloppy joe stuff is good on pasta.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Roasted Peppers

So this was originally part of my jambalaya recipe, but I thought it should get it's own post since it's so good. It certainly doesn't have anything to do with me working mid shifts all week, not being able to do any decent cooking and needing a filler post. Nope, not at all. Anyway, roasted peppers are awesome in tons of things. Tomato sauce, rice dishes, sandwiches, on crackers, it just keeps going. They are wicked good and you should try them.

Have you ever roasted your own peppers? If not, you really should. It's wicked easy and much better than the jarred stuff, if you ask me. You can always use the jarred stuff, nothing wrong with it, but if you want to do it yourself here is how. For this method you need a gas stove. I'm sure there are ways to do it in an oven or over an electric burner, but I don't know them. Sorry. Now, some methods for this tell you to turn the grate over your burner upside down. I never have and have never had a problem with it, but if you want to, go nuts. Put the pepper right on the grate and turn the heat up to med, med-high.
I'm using an orange one but you can use whatever kind you like, green is traditional (in jambalaya). The goal here is to blacken the entire skin of the pepper. Once one side is blackened, turn it with some tongs until the whole thing is all gross looking like this. Now wrap it loosely in some paper towels and let it sit for a couple minutes. This will make it steam itself and make the skin come off nice and easy. After a couple minutes pick up the whole package and gently rub the pepper. The skin should could sliding right off. You want to get as much blackened skin off as you can, it doesn't add anything good to the flavor. Note: This is just my opinion. My brother says he always leaves a little blackened skin on. He likes the bitter, but rich, tones. So, decide for yourself.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Braciole, Take Two: this time it's spelled correctly.

1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
2-4 slices of prosciutto
3/4-1 pound of flank steak or top round, cut or pounded 3/4 inch thick
2-3 slices of provolone
2-3 slices of mozzarella
1-2 cloves of minced or mashed garlic (roasted garlic would be best)
2-3 tbls chopped onion
7-8 fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper
2-3 cups tomato sauce

Mix together the garlic, breadcrumbs, some pepper and the egg. Spread the egg mixture on the beef. Layer the prosciutto, cheeses, basil and onion on top. Roll it like a jelly roll and tie it with cooking twine in several places. Brown it on all sides then simmer it in the tomato sauce for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Serve over pasta.


Some of you might remember the last time I tried to make braciole. It didn't work out too well. But, I've learned a couple things since then. One, it's spelled braciole. Two, you can buy the beef already prepped at the grocery store. These are both very good things to know. So armed with this knowledge, I make my second attempt. And learned a few more things. But the results this time were much more like my ultimate goal. Here is what I did.

This is the beef: A sheet of top round about 3/4 of an inch thick. I can buy it at the grocery store near me, it's labeled "for braciole". I've talked to a couple people who don't have it cut like this in their area. You can always pound out a flank steak or something, if you can't get it. Here is what I'm stuffing it with: prosciutto, provolone, mozzarella, onion, fresh basil, garlic, breadcrumbs and egg. First I mixed the breadcrumbs, egg and garlic together. When I made tomato sauce last night I dropped a couple extra cloves of garlic in to poach. I pulled them out when they were soft and mashed them into a paste when I mixed them into the crumbs. I like doing it like that because it mellows out the garlic and makes it easy to incorporate into stuff. I spread the crumb mixture on the beef. In the end there turned out to be a pretty thick layer of egg and crumbs. I thought it was good, but you can use less if you don't want it like that. Then I layered on the prosciutto, cheeses, basil and onion. Then I rolled it and tied it up. I'm afraid I don't have any pictures of the tying, but it took two hands and I'm not touching the camera with raw beef hands. This turned out stuffed pretty full, most of the cheese wound up oozing out into the sauce. Which made the sauce even better, fortunately. Heh. Now I just browned it, poured in the sauce and let it simmer covered for about an hour and a half, turning it every once in a while. And then I ate it over some pasta. Next time I think I will chop up the cheese and prosciutto and onion and mix them into the egg/crumb mixture. Maybe not the cheese. Having it melt into the sauce, bringing some of the prosciutto and basil flavors with it was quite nice.


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