Summer arroz con pollo

29 Jul

One of my least favorite colors in the crayon box is spring green. I’d much prefer a summer green, the green of green beans and zucchini and basil leaves! That was the inspiration for today’s summer arroz con pollo…well, less glamorously but more realistically, a fridge full of leftover summer veggies. Arroz con pollo is pretty versatile, so feel free to experiment.

INGREDIENTS:

half a white onion, chopped

1 1/2 small zucchini, cut down the middle and sliced

a handful of green beans, chopped into thirds

olive oil

spices/herbs/salt & pepper – my baby bunny colony outside has eaten all my basil so I used an Italian spice blend…but basil would have been great, go crazy with your flavorings! 

chicken – I used a package of chicken breast tenders, cut up. Then I cheated by marinating them in “Mojo Criollo” (Goya aisle, if you don’t already know, go get some NOW!)…and I regret nothing!

1 1/2 c white rice

3 c stock or water, boiling 

****

Cook the onion in olive oil. After it starts to soften, add the green beans. Once they start to soften, add the zucchini and whatever spices you’re using. Stir often so that nothing gets burned. You don’t need it to be completely cooked because it’s going to cook some more with the rice, so once everything is softened up, remove it to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Use the same pan to cook the chicken. Since it’s in little pieces, it won’t take long to get mostly cooked through, Again, you’ll be cooking it more with the rice, so you don’t need it to be completely done. Remove it (you can just toss it in the bowl with the veggies). You can use the same pan to cook the rice, as long as it’s big enough to hold everything. Add the water/stock that’s boiling and cook the rice until it’s almost done (just a little bit chewy still). Then add the chicken and veggies back to the pot, stir it up, put the cover back on and keep cooking until it’s all done and it’s a pile of goodness. This is where you need to play it by ear, since you want to have your chicken and veggies to finish cooking, but you don’t want anything to really overcook. Fortunately you can always add more liquid if necessary and the whole situation is pretty forgiving. 

 summer arroz con pollo

 

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Resuscitation, Mango Cheese Cake Style

23 Jul

Last post, June 11th…of last year. Mamicomio has had a lot on the old plate, and not in a delicious, food-y way. But the bad times are well behind in the distance, and there are many good times to celebrate…with MANGO CHEESECAKE. I wish there were leftovers so that I could show you what this gloriousness looked like, but alas, there are none. This picture of it hiding behind another lovely cake is the best I can do:

Mango cheese cake

It’s deliciousness has brought me out of blogging retirement though, hopefully for good (well, until I get completely overwhelmed again). My original intent was not for this to be an exclusively cooking blog but…this is something y’all need to make, so here’s the recipe, slightly modified from one in the Penzey’s (spices…amazing…whole other post!) catalog:

CRUST:

1 1/2 c. crushed graham cracker crumbs

1/4 tsp. ground cardamom

1/2 cup sugar (next time I make this I will cut this down a little bit. Maybe btwn 1/3 and 1/2 c?)

6 TB  unsalted butter, melted.

Mix all the ingredients together. The original recipe called for you to make this in a lightly buttered 9 inch springform pan. I don’t have one and frankly since you had to wrap it in foil down the line it seemed like a lot of work. I just used a pie tin. Chill the crust for about 15 minutes and then back it for 10-15 minutes (until it is “set” – this was the first time I’ve ever made a cheese cake so I don’t really know what that means) at 325.

FILLING:

3 8-oz packages of cream cheese, room temp

1 c. sugar (original recipe called for 1 1/4, but I think it was plenty sweet)

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp saffron (20 threads) crumbled in 2TB warm milk

4 large eggs

2 c. mango puree (frozen Goya! You could make your own but…why?)

In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, mix well. Add vanilla and saffron-milk. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Scrape down the sides after each addition. Add pureed mango and mix well. Pour the filling into the crust. If you’ve used a pie pan, you will have lots of extra filling…so you can just pour it into a baking dish and have lots of yummy extra cheesecake filling! Cook the cheesecake in a water bath (put the pie tin / cake pan in a roasting pan and fill it halfway up with boiling water). Bake at 325 for about 90 minutes (until just set in the center). Chill before serving (ideally at least 4 hours, although I chilled mine less and it was still dreamy!).

Fancy Sandwiches 1: Chicken Salad

11 Jun

Well, it’s been a tough 6 months in the Mamicomio, but the blogging spirit has rallied! I was thinking today about how handy sandwiches are, and how, if you make them fancy enough, they are more than able to step up into the dinner time rotation. Now, as the daughter of a mom who most definitely did not believe in buying school lunch (she did break down on the occasional pizza Friday), I have eaten my fair share of the standard sandwich: wheat bread, turkey, butter (because mayo grossed me out back in the day). I sincerely hope to never eat one of those again. Hence my goal of fancying-up the humble sandwich. Tonight’s effort: chicken salad on sourdough. This was my first time ever making chicken salad, and here’s what I did:

1 c. diced cooked chicken (I was uber-fancy because this was farmers’ market chicken, left over from roast chicken a few days ago)

about 1/3 c. diced fennel (I think celery is a waste of a vegetable, but fennel gives you that crunch AND a lovely flavor).

about 1/4 c. toasted blanched, slivered almonds

1/4 c. mayo, mixed with the juice of 1/4 lemon, salt and pepper to taste.

Mix all your ingredients and serve as a sandwich with the bread of your choice–perfectly acceptable for a mid-week summer dinner!

Keftede love

25 Mar

I don’t usually cook meat at home. I eat it, but something about handling it in raw form creeps me out. Plus we’ve all read/seen documentaries about how horrible and disgusting modern meat production is, and who can afford to buy free-range organic all the time? But protein is important, and hamburgers are one thing that  both kids will eat (I thought–apparently Miss M has changed her mind), plus my mom gave me a 2lb package of ground beef straight from a cow farmer in Juniata County, PA, so all the elements were in place: I decided to make burgers with half the meat and then figure out what to do with the rest. My plan evolved into making keftedes, which are basically the Greek version of the hamburger or the meatball. Easy and forgiving, yet delicious. Here’s how I made mine, although my mom says you can add pretty much anything to keftedes without going wrong.

  • 1 lb ground beef (since mine was farm fresh it had no fat content or weight info. I would think you would want some fat in there…)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 TBSP bread crumbs (all I had were “Italian style” but they worked just fine)
  • grated onion, maybe a TBSP? I didn’t measure…
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed with a garlic press

Mix all your ingredients…get over your aversion to touching raw meat and get your hands in there! Roll them into little oval balls. Cook on a grill pan (or on a grill, if you live somewhere where it’s not randomly snowing at the end of March) until they’re done. Serve with lemon wedges…and if you used plain breadcrumbs you could sprinkle some oregano on them. I had mine with rice and salad last night–perfection!

 

Hide -n- seek, veggie edition

24 Jan

I’ll admit it: before I had kids and before those kids became the world’s pickiest eaters, I looked down on all those products and recipes that “hid” veggies in more kid-friendly foods. But now? Now my heart skips a beat any time I see that veggie pasta and those Fruitables juice boxes.  And when I saw a recipe for “sweet potato chocolate chip cookies,” I knew I had to try it. Basically, it is the exact same recipe as chocolate chip cookies, with the addition of 3/4 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato (I didn’t quite have it so I filled in with some squash puree I had in the freezer) and 1/4 tsp of cinnamon.  It calls for 1 cup of chocolate chips, plus optional nuts (I left them out). The major difference is that you bake them for about 20-25 minutes in a 300 degree oven.

There’s still part of me that asks, why wouldn’t you just eat some sweet potato and then have a regular chocolate chip cookie for dessert? And I guess most normal, veggie loving adults would probably do that. But as a way to sneak some vitamins into a kid who otherwise lives on pasta, I think they just might work!

Salt Cod Fritters

27 Dec
salt cod fritters, yum!!

salt cod fritters, yum!!

Just when you thought Mamicomio was a thing of the past, I’m baaaack!! And back with a vengeance, with a delicious recipe that looks fancy but, in my opinion, is the height of comfort food. I like to make these salt cod fritters around Christmas/New Years because it’s easier to find salt cod then (I get mine either at the Italian deli or the Middle Eastern market). They’re sort of like crab cakes, except replacing the crab with cod and the breadcrumbs with mashed potatoes. How can you go wrong? I have no idea where I got this recipe, except that I must have copied it from somewhere because it’s on an index card. I wish I could give credit where credit is due. I also wish I had written down how many people this serves–I would say 2-3; this last time I made it I increased it by about double to feed 4 people  and there were some leftovers. In any case, this is a very forgiving recipe–basically you just want the fritters to hold their shape when you’re frying them, so feel free to guesstimate and eyeball things! And now, without further delay, here’s the recipe…

1/2 lb salt cod (if you can only find a giant half a fish, don’t worry–it keeps forever in the fridge!)

10 oz potatoes (I used Yukon Gold this last time)

milk as needed

2 TBS olive oil

1 onion, chopped (I use less, maybe about 1/2)

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 eggs, lightly beaten

4 TBS parsley, chopped (again, I use less)

olive oil for frying

YOU NEED TO PLAN AHEAD FOR THIS ONE because you need to soak your cod for 24-36 hours (in the fridge), changing the water 4-5 times. Once you’ve done that, drain and rinse the cod, put it in a pot, cover it with water and bring it slowly to a simmer. Simmer it until it will flake easily (10-15 min). Drain it and let it cool.

While the fish is simmering, peel and cook the potatoes on high heat until tender. Drain them well and mash them.

Flake the cod and taste a piece. It needs to be a little salty because the potatoes aren’t seasoned at all. But if it’s too salty, heat enough milk to cover the cod and let it soak for 30 minutes (I’ve never had to do this so I don’t know if this nifty little trick will really work!).

Heat the olive oil and saute the onions and garlic until tender.

Mix all ingredients together.  The mixture should be stiff enough to hold its shape. If it’s too stiff, add a little milk.

Form the mixture into balls about 1 inch in diameter and fry them until they’re golden brown on the outside.

Serve with lemon wedges and enjoy!!!

Butternut Thai soup

23 Sep

It never fails: the first taste of fall weather and I am dreaming about soup. It just so happened that I had a butternut squash sitting on the counter, but normally I’m not a fan of squash soups. You see, I like squash all baked up with some flavorful goodness to conceal the squash flavor a bit, but I’m not a fan of letting the squash shine. I’ve also been wanting to experiment more with Thai and Vietnamese flavors in my cooking, so I decided today to have an all out experiment. The result was a very tasty butternut squash soup with lots of Thai-esque flavors. Check it out:

4 cups diced butternut squash (I was just short so in went half a diced up summer squash). Let this simmer with 2 cups water or stock (covered) until the squash is tender (maybe 20-30 min?).

While your squash is simmering, the magic happens: In a food processor, combine 2-3 cloves of garlic, 2 tsp turmeric, 1 piece of ginger (about an inch square) chopped up, 2 stalks of lemon grass (you have to cut off both ends and peel off the outer grassy layers to get to the tender-ish part in the middle) chopped up, 2 TBSP fish sauce, about 6 cilantro sprigs and about a third of a can of coconut milk. Puree that until it is as smooth as possible (the lemon grass makes it so it’s never 100% smooth). Now your house smells like a Thai restaurant!

Add your Thai magic mixture to your squash, and then puree everything together, either in the food processor or with an immersion blender. When it’s nice and smooth, whisk in the rest of the can of coconut milk.

Let it all heat through for a bit, and you’re good to go. Enjoy! 🙂