Monday, February 18, 2008

Martha Green's Hawaiian Chicken

I've written about Martha Green before - she owns a restaurant called The Eating Room and a bakery called Dough'lectibles, and does a mini-cooking show on our local NPR station. My favorite lunch item at The Eating Room is the Hawaiian Chicken - and it's easily duplicated at home.

Here's how:

1. Grill a boneless, skinless chicken breast (or sauté it in a skillet).
2. Grill a slice of pineapple.
3. Toast an English muffin.
4. Mix up a couple spoons of mayonnaise with a little dried dill and chives.
5. Spread the toasted English muffin halves with the mayonnaise. Top with chicken breast, then pineapple, then a slice of cheddar cheese.

The combination of flavors is divine, and now that I can make it at home, which we did for dinner tonight, I can move on to try some of the other items on Martha's menu!

Sweet Cabbage Salad

I like cabbage salads - and I'm just beginning to try different ones. This one was in Cooking Light, and I changed the sugar to Splenda. We loved it.

Sweet Cabbage Salad
adapted from Cooking Light

6 cups shredded cabbage (about 1/2 head)
1 cup shredded carrot (about 1 medium)
1 cup chopped green bell pepper (about 1 medium)
½ cup chopped red onion
½ cup sugar
½ cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon celery seeds
½ teaspoon salt
Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; toss well. Combine sugar and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Pour vinegar mixture over cabbage mixture, tossing gently to combine. Cover; chill 1 hour. Makes about 8 servings, and the leftovers keep well an extra day.

Two Bentos from Last Week

This one was quick and easy to throw together - chicken fried rice in individual bags in the freezer, some soy sauce in the mini-bottle, and two mini-brownies.

My German-themed bento: kartoffelsalat (potato salad) in the sidecar, sliced weisswurst, sauerkraut, and mustard in the left (top) tier, and mini brownies and cherries in the right tier.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Breakfast Bento

I'm being treated to lunch today, so I packed a breakfast bento: Orange Pain Perdu, two Jimmy Dean sausage links, and syrup (in the red heart).

Monday, February 04, 2008

Another Foot Last Night and Bento #3

This is from my front door, looking over our garden (yes, there's a garden there!) at our cars. Between our cars, and on either side, are the piles of snow that are almost as high as the cars. Don shoveled me out, but got frustrated because he ran out of places to put the snow. Every time he put it on one of the piles, it slid right back down. Maybe it will melt some today.

What's in the box?

Left: 4 meatballs, haiga rice with Sweet & Spicy Bacon Furikake.
Right: Ranier cherries, miniature bonita banana, and some Yoshida's sauce for the meatballs.

Review: This didn't look like enough food, but I'm full. There's just enough bacon furikake, as it's pretty spicy and sweet. The meatballs recipe is below:

Freezer Stash Meatballs

from Kim Tilley

3 lbs. lean ground beef
1 ½ cups soft bread crumbs
3 eggs
6 tablespoons minced onion
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 400.

In a large bowl, mix beef, crumbs, eggs, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Shape into 11/2-inch meatballs. (A miniature ice cream scoop makes fast work of shaping.)

Arrange in two 10-by-15-inch jelly roll pans. Bake in preheated oven until meat is browned, with no trace of pink and juices run clear, 10 to 13 minutes.

Drain, let cool to room temperature, divide into fourths and freeze each portion in vapor-moisture proof containers. (I use my FoodSaver). Each portion serves 2.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Enough Already with the Snow!

This latest storm started yesterday, and we've gotten another couple of feet. Right now there's a pile of snow between our two cars out front that's higher than the cars. It's also on both sides, so Don's wondering where he'll put the rest of it that's supposed to come during the night. At least I didn't have to go anywhere today - we've hunkered down with a fire in the fireplace and the Super Bowl on the TV. During some of the pre-game hype, we had some brown-outs - I'm sure it was because of heavy snow on trees and power lines. Don was ready to go get the generator ready just in case.

This morning I had some mushrooms left over from last night's dinner, so I decided to make Paradise Potatoes. Paradise Cafe is a fabulous little restaurant in Crested Butte, Colorado - the best place to get breakfast in the whole area. They serve a breakfast dish called Paradise Potatoes - which I've attempted to duplicate here at home. I'm sure mine's not exactly like theirs, but it's pretty tasty.

Paradise Potatoes

1 large russet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
5-6 oz. fresh mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper (any color)
1/2 cup diced tomato (I used grape tomatoes)
salt and pepper
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
sour cream

In a large skillet, cook the potatoes in the oil until lightly browned on one side. Add mushrooms, onion, and bell pepper. Continue to cook until potatoes are brown and vegetables are cooked. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Add tomatoes; top with cheddar cheese. Turn off heat and over until cheese has melted. Serve with salsa and sour cream. Serves 2-3.

Continuing with my cook-ahead weekend, I made up a batch of my special Orange Pain Perdu. I acquired a free container of mascarpone, and knew it would be perfect for this. If you don't have mascarpone, cream cheese works very well. (I usually make it with cream cheese.) "Pain perdu" is French for "lost bread," and got its name because it originally was made to use up stale bread. My version is more than the usual French toast. It's a stuffed French toast using mascarpone or cream cheese and some orange marmalade.

Orange Pain Perdu

16 slices sandwich bread (I use whole wheat)
1 8-oz. container mascarpone or cream cheese
approx. 1 cup orange marmalade
4 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Spread each slice of bread with mascarpone or cream cheese. Top one slice with a heaping tablespoon of orange marmalade, and put two slices together to form a sandwich.

In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla. Preheat a griddle or flat skillet, and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Dip each sandwich in egg mixture, turning several times, and then place on griddle. Cook until browned on both sides. Serve with powdered sugar or your favorite syrup. Makes 8.

Dinner tonight was a recipe from Cooking Light that I saw on Joe's Culinary in the Country. I had the exact amount of cranberries in my freezer that I needed to use, and we wanted some meat for dinner after last night's pasta. (Yes, we eat too much meat, but I'm trying to cut back.)
The thing I liked about this dish is that it wasn't too sweet, even with the honey.

Easy Pork Chop Sauté With Cranberries
Cooking Light

¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
¼ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
4 boneless pork loin chops, trimmed of fat
⅔ cup orange juice
2 ½-3 tablespoons clover honey
2 teaspoons canola oil
¼ cup chopped onion
1 cup cranberries, coarsely chopped

Mix thyme and 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of pork chops with the thyme mixture.
Stir orange juice and 2 1/2 tablespoons honey in a small bowl until well blended.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the chops and cook until browned on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Push the chops to one side of the pan, add onion to the empty half and cook, stirring, until the onion is soft and beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour half the juice mixture into the pan. Add cranberries. Reduce heat to medium and cook, turning the chops occasionally, until cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes.
Transfer the chops to a serving plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Add the remaining juice mixture to the pan. Increase heat to high and cook until the mixtures reduces to form a syrupy sauce, about 2 minutes. Season with the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper and up to an additional 1/2 tablespoon honey to taste. Spoon the sauce over the chops. Serves 2 (if you use thin chops) or 4 (thick chops)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

What a Day! Hospital, then Home

We had a little scare today. While we were reading the newspaper and drinking our coffee, Don looks over at me and announces, "I need to go to the emergency room. And I can't drive myself." For several weeks he's been complaining of tingling in his arms, pain in his neck and chest, and other scary symptoms. He's been thinking it was side effects of some meds he's taking for cholesterol, high blood pressure, and gout, but apparently he's been worried about it being more than that.

So, off we went to the emergency room, where they immediately took him back for an EKG. It was normal. They took some chest x-rays. They were normal. They took some blood. Nothing found there.

It turns out that he's probably been shoveling too much snow at one time without resting, getting stressed about things (like our daughter's health, money, etc.) and holding it in, being dehydrated, and trying to get back in shape too quickly. The meds may also be causing some side effects, as he guessed, and he sees his regular physician next week about it.

It was quite a relief to come home and know that there's nothing wrong with his heart.

After we came home, I spent the afternoon in the kitchen, building up my Johbisai and doing some make-ahead cooking. This is what I accomplished:

1. Cooked 2 cups of Haiga rice.
2. Froze 4 1-cup bags of cooked rice.
3. Made fried rice with the remaining cooked Haiga, and froze 4 1-cup bags of fried rice.
4. Roasted 2 heads of garlic for tonight's supper.
5. Made a batch of Bittersweet Brownie Bites.
6. Made a batch of Sweet & Spicy Bacon Furikake.
7. Cooked and froze 12 Jimmy Dean sausage links.
8. Made Rigatoni with Roasted Garlic, Mushrooms, and Chili Pepper.

Tomorrow I plan to do some more!

I just picked up another mini-muffin pan, meaning I almost have enough to cook regular recipes - I still need one more, I think. But with three pans I can now make 36 little muffins or brownies or whatever else I want to miniaturize. Two of my pans have very small cups, and one has cups that are amost twice as large. This recipe is from Cooking Light, and it was for brownies in a pan. It made 24 little brownie bites, 12 medium-sized ones, and then two even larger since I ran out of room in the pans.

Bittersweet Brownie Bites

¼ cup boiling water
1 tablespoon instant espresso granules or 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
¼ cup bittersweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons butter, melted
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/4 ounces)
1 ⅓ cups granulated sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons powdered sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine 1/4 cup boiling water and espresso in a medium bowl. Add chocolate chips, stirring until chocolate melts; cool slightly. Stir in butter, vanilla, egg, and egg white.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt), stirring with a whisk. Add coffee mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter into mini-muffin tins coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

To go with the plain rice, I made some Sweet & Spicy Bacon Furikake, a recipe adapted from Maki of Just Bento. The way it works, for those of you new to Japanese food like I am, is that you sprinkle it on your rice to season it. This is so good, I want to eat it with a spoon-forget the rice!

Sweet & Spicy Bacon Furikake

6 slices bacon
1 Tbsp. white wine
2 teaspoons raw cane sugar
1 Tbsp. Yoshida’s gourmet sauce
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Chop up the bacon quite finely.

In a large frying pan, sauté the bacon over a low-medium heat until it’s rendered a lot of its fat and is fairly crispy, but not burned. Drain the bacon on paper towels. Wipe out the pan to get rid of any bacon fat. Add the other ingredients over a medium heat. Stir until the sugar is melted. Return the bacon and stir around until the liquid is gone. Let cool completely. Whirl it in a food processor until very finely chopped. Makes about 3/4 cup. This will keep in the refrigerator for a week or two (if it lasts that long).

I'm also going to try two other furikake recipes, plus a soboro. Do you have any to share?

Friday, February 01, 2008

Okay, I'll Go Back to the Old Title

You voted, and the winner is "Cookin' with Cyndi," the old title. I was considering it but wanted input first. Thanks!!

Bento and Barbecue

This bento is my "fruit basket" box, and I took more little sausages and barbecue sauce, 3-bean salad, and dried mangos. I'll be able to start having some variety next week since I went to the commissary today and got some more staples and supplies. The term for my bento-making "stash" is Johbisai (also spelled Joubisai) - in Japanese it's 常備菜. This weekend I'll be cooking some things to put in the freezer - things like mini-pancakes, Jimmy Dean sausage patties, pain perdu (recipe will follow), and other breakfast items, as well as some rice, soboro and furikake. I think I'll try Maki's Sweet and Salty Bacon Furikake and her Meat Soboro. I don't care for Nori or fish, so using bacon and beef sounds good to me!

Dinner tonight is a recipe I got from one of my sisters - a quick way to use crescent rolls. This was easy to put together and takes only about 20 minutes (max) to bake. No pic, though.

Beef and Cheese Foldover
from my sister Eileen

3/4 - 1 lb. lean ground beef
1/3 cup chopped onion (about half a small onion)
1/2 - 3/4 cup barbecue sauce (I use Bullseye)
2 8-count rolls refrigerated crescent rolls
4 slices American, Velveeta, or cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 375˚. In a large skillet, crumble ground beef and cook with onion until meat is browned. Stir in barbecue sauce. On a large cookie sheet* unroll the crescent rolls into two squares; place side by side to form a long rectangle. Press seams and edges together. Spread meat mixture onto crescent rolls, leaving about 1/2 inch on the ends and 4-5 inches on the sides. Lay the slices of cheese on top of the meat. Fold sides of pastry towards the middle (it can still be open), pressing to seal the ends. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake 17-20 minutes or until golden brown.

* If you're using a stoneware cooking sheet, you'll need to use a longer cooking time to ensure that the bottom gets cooked. If you're using a metal cooking sheet, you'll need to watch it to make sure the bottom doesn't burn. Serves 4-6.