Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Adventures with Curry Powder

In a quest for "something different" I picked a Curried Chicken Recipe.  Having watched the "Good Eats" on Curry last night, I'm sorry to know that Alton Brown is really down on the use of curry powder.  Sure, it's not authentic to Indian cooking, but if you think I'm making my own garam masala like he did, you're crazy!  (Brian also pointed out last night during the episode that if we kept half the things in our kitchen that he suggests we'd need a warehouse.  And what's up with the ginger peeler that he had on the show?  Do I hear Unitasker???)

Anyway, this is Curried Chicken.  Curry powder, chicken breast, onion, celery, apple, chicken broth, rice, cornstarch.  I added a little cumin and some crushed red pepper for kicks.  There were suggestions for "optional" garnishes, so we went with golden raisins and peanuts.  No coconut or chutney in the house to add.  It actually was pretty good, and definitely "something different!"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Finishing Touches

Little touches make all the difference.  A little garnish can turn a good meal into a great one.  Like a little bit of diced onion and cheese on top of a bowl of chili.  Hershey's syrup on a bowl of plain ice cream.  A little honey drizzled on a biscuit.

Or, in this case, chopped chives and sesame seeds sprinkled on top of an ordinary pork stir-fry.   The chives add some color to an already vibrant dish, and a mild onion flavor.  The sesame adds a little crunch.  Perfect! 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Smothered Chicken over Biscuits

Lately, I'm lovin' the crockpot.  Since I am home during the day, it's not hard to pull something off, and I really, REALLY love the way you can assemble a meal in the morning and have it ready at dinnertime, and smell it cooking all day so you look forward to it!

This is Smothered Buttermilk Chicken over Biscuits....kind of like a chicken pot pie filling with biscuits instead of piecrust.  It was awesome!  And the leftovers were even better the next day.  Some things are just better the day after you make them!

I got this out of a slow cooker cookbook by Pillsbury, the same place the Pork Loin and Sweet Potato recipe came from.  I'm floored by the cookbook selection at my local library!  And after three or four tries to find it, I found a copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child when I was last there.  I've wanted to pore through this since seeing "Julie and Julia" last fall.  I brought it home and have been enthralled with it ever since.  But that's another blog post.  :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cooking for Everyone

The short order cook, she doesn't live here anymore!

In the past couple of weeks, I've worked really hard on getting Will to try new things. Some are met with success (pork) and others are not. (Peaches, salmon) We had gotten into the habit of asking Will all the time what he wanted for dinner, and being surprised (gasp!) when he'd say the same things over and over. Grilled cheese. Cereal bar. (The answer is no.....that's for breakfast!) Chicken. And lately, hot dogs. So several times a week, I introduce him to something new. He has to give it a bite, and if he doesn't like it, he doesn't have to eat any more. (We call it the "No Thank You" bite.) At first it wasn't successful, but he's coming around.

Then, I decided that I'm tired of cooking separate things for the picky toddler. So, after a hard look at our weekly menu choices for ourselves, I thought that it might be nice to make it a little more kid-friendly. No, I'm not making all of us grilled cheese sandwiches, hamburgers and french fries. Tonight's dinner was pork loin in the crockpot. It was a really easy recipe: season the pork loin and dump it in, followed by thinly sliced sweet potatoes and onion, and then dump apple juice over the whole thing and cook on low for 8 hours. Who can't love a recipe like that? Just Set it and Forget it!

To Will's credit, he tried the sweet potato without too much cajoling.  And true to my word, when he spit it out I didn't make him try another piece.  He did, however, eat the pork, the green beans, the applesauce and of course, the biscuit.  Further proof that he's our kid:  "Oh, I love biscuits!"  :)  Slowly but surely, making progress.  

Monday, March 1, 2010

Making a Good Team

The Scene:  Saturday Night at our house.  Our kitchen.  The Big Kid is watching TV and the Little Kid is settled in his bouncy seat while Brian and I are cooking dinner.  Dinner:  Steak Stir-Fry.

Brian:  We're a little short on veggies for the stir-fry, so I cut up a carrot, too.

Ginny:  We're short because there's still two cucumbers in the fridge.  Those are supposed to go in there, too.

Brian:  Cucumbers in stir-fry?  No, that sounds bad.

Ginny:  Trust me, you've had it this way and you like it, you just don't remember.

So the cucumbers are peeled and seeded, and chopped coarsely to be added.  Brian starts cooking the veggies and I start making the sauce from scratch.  We had bottled stuff in the house, but it comes out better with homemade stir-fry sauce, and we have the stuff on hand.  In a large mixing cup goes soy sauce, hoisin, minced garlic, ginger paste and, since we finished up the onions with chili earlier in the week, a pinch of onion powder for flavor. The meal serves up nicely with some white rice and some toasted sesame seeds sprinkled on top.   Then Brian says something really nice, "You know what?  We make a great team in the kitchen.  I know a lot of technique and skills, and you really know what flavors go together."

I got to thinking about that, and he's absolutely right, we do make a good team!  He knows how to properly flip an omelette, bake something to the perfect degree of golden brown deliciousness and what's the best tool for the job.  If I tried to flip a pancake or an egg in the air and catch it like he does, I'd watch it fly to the floor.  And, I would have done it way too early so there'd be batter all over the side of the fridge from it's clumsy journey.  He always knows which knife to use from the knifeblock, I'm one of those irritating types that uses the steak knife to cut up everything!  He does a better job breading meat so it's coated evenly, mine looks like a hack job.  But flavors....that's my department.  I once stopped him from making a dish that he was throwing together with fresh tomatoes, honey and sesame seeds.   When we made "garlic chicken stew" last month, he wanted to make a rice dish with garlic and lime in it.  The recipe already had forty cloves of fresh garlic, why add something with jarred garlic, not to mention lime doesn't go well with that at all!  And herbs/spices, he always asks me what sounds good together, and does tarragon go well with scrambled eggs, etc.  

But the biggest reason why we make a good team in the kitchen is because we both love good food.  There's nothing we enjoy better  than preparing a meal together, something fabulous that tastes like restaurant dining in our own home.  Plus, being in the kitchen together, chatting about our respective days, giggling over something the boys did, it just is such a sparkle in my day.  We don't get to do a lot of cooking together like we used to, with a toddler and an infant in the house.  So when it comes together like today, that's a sweet thing.