Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Grilled Chicken with Fresh Corn Polenta and Zucchini Sauce

Some dishes are not very photogenic.  This is one of those dishes.  Or maybe it's just that I need to read up on food photography.  Whatever- this pic does not do this meal justice.  It looks like my dog vomited on a white plate, but please believe me, this is some good stuff!

The chicken part was insanely simple.  I defrosted 2 frozen chicken thighs in the microwave, then liberally sprinkled both of them with blackening spice.  I covered them with plastic wrap and put them in the ice box to hang out while I put the rest of dinner together.  I ended up throwing the chicken on the grill until they registered 170 degrees.

Now for the fun part...

I won't write out the whole recipe here, but go here to find it.  I did not make the full recipe because I was afraid if we didn't like it, we'd be stuck with it for a week.  Now, I wish I had made the whole thing.  The only substitution I made was using zucchini instead of the eggplant called for in the recipe.  Dev doesn't like eggplant.  I think it would be awesome, though.

I found this recipe on Food52- which happens to be one of my favorite places to find new recipes and techniques.

So, is this recipe a little fussy? Yes.  Would I come home after a busy Wednesday and try to make this for dinner?  No.  Was it worth the 20 minutes it took me to clean my food processor after I made it?  Yes.  Would I make it for dinner if Wills and Kate just happened to stop by?  Yes.

Seriously, if you love polenta, or just love corn, you need to try this.  I just used frozen corn, but it would be awesome with Silver Queen or Olathe Sweet corn.

As a side note, this dinner was also dairy and gluten free.  Just sayin'.

My Trip Home to Georgia

I didn't blog very much while I was gone.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  One-  I was too busy eating to stop and blog anything.  Two- I wasn't really sure what to say.

I've been in Colorado for 8 years now. You would think after 8 summers home, things would get easier.  But they don't.  I always have a great time at home- eating wonderful fresh seafood and spending time with friends and family.  I'm usually home for about a month, which is just long enough for my skin and hair to adjust to the extreme humidity.  It's also just enough time for me to realize just how much I miss home.

Homesick blog posts aren't very fun to read.

So what I decided to do this time around, was just link to my flickr account, so people can just browse through all the pictures I took while I was there.  The vast majority of them are food.  This shouldn't shock anyone.

That's about all I want to say about my summer trip home.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Cavalcade of Fun- brought to you by...chicken!

Day 2 of the Cavalcade of Fun 2014!

I woke up about 7am. Mom had an appointment with her lung doctor- and we were going to check one of the guilty pleasures off my summer list... Chicken biscuits from Chick-Fil-A.

I know it's awful. I don't agree with the politics of Chick-Fil-A's owner. But I have intense cravings for his chicken biscuits and I allow myself one a year.   And today was the day. 

We got good news at the doctor's office. Mom can travel to Colorado!  It will probably take most of this coming year to plan and save up- but I can't wait to show her the life Devin and I have built.

We met my niece for lunch at a local restaurant classic- Spanky's. I checked two other guilty pleasures off my list- real cherry coke and chicken fingers with honey-horseradish sauce. I dream about them- and Savannah is the only place you can get them.  The picture at the top of the post does not do them justice. 

For dinner, it was a group effort. My sister's husband, Marc, pan fried some fish fillets. Mom fried some yellow squash and green tomatoes. I made a fresh strawberry/basil salsa to put on the fish. Everything was delicious. Too bad I forgot to take pictures. :(

Then I headed to my best friend Di's house to hang out for a while. She, Terry, Suzanne and I sat on her front stoop and had a little wine, before coming in and watching some baseball. They hadn't eaten dinner yet, so Di made chicken burrito bowls.  I had already eaten, but I had to try a little. It was great!

I wonder what trouble we will find on day 3?


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Cavalcade of Fun- Prelude


Today was a travel day for me. I hate flying. I don't think hate is a strong enough word for how I feel about flying. 

Nevertheless, I was fortunate that all 3 of my flights were on time. I really expected to be stranded in some airport for hours. 

During my middle flight, I was trapped between 2 very large people. I'm not small by any means, but these people dwarved me. I had no armrest, no place to put my arms or hands.  It was the longest 2 hours of my life. Did I mention neither of them spoke English very well, and neither had bathed recently?  That made things better.

The only bright spot was finishing the second Harry Potter book. I set a goal to read them all this summer. So far- so good.

Now it's late, I'm lying in the bed at my childhood home, looking forward to chicken biscuits in the morning.  

This makes it all worthwhile! :)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Chilaquiles- I can cook it better than I can spell it.

So I love things like this for breakfast. Not only does it satisfy my savory breakfast craving, but it also allows me to clean up bits and pieces of herbs and such out of my ice box.

You can totally skip the made from scratch part and do this with your favorite jar of salsa.  I just had part of a can of tomatoes and part of a can of chipotle peppers open, so I needed to use them up.

I started with the chilaquiles/sauce part.  I had half of a white onion lingering around, so I chopped that up and threw it in my most favorite cast iron skillet with probably 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings (full disclosure- the bacon grease was left in the skillet from breakfast yesterday- my husband swears he will die from food poisoning).  The drippings were especially good because I had cooked thick cut peppered bacon.  So I got a little bump draft of spice in there!

After the onions were nice and soft, I threw in some dried oregano.  I always use Mexican oregano, because I think it has a stronger flavor.  If you are using dried, make sure you rub it between your palms as you add it to the skillet.  This crushes it and releases more flavor.  Then I minced a clove of garlic and threw it in as well.  I had the heat on medium-  watch the garlic, because you don't want it to burn.  Keep it moving around in the pan.  After 30 seconds or so (you will smell the garlic when it gets warm) I added one chopped chipotle pepper with adobo sauce.

Now a word of warning about chipotle.  I like spicy food.  A whole chipotle makes this fairly spicy.  If you don't like spicy food, leave it out or use half.  I kind of spread the chile around in the onion/garlic mixture.  This helps add to the flavor base for the sauce.  After about 2 minutes, I put in one can of diced, fire roasted tomatoes (drained- but liquid reserved) and another good pinch of dried oregano.

Now it gets fun.  I threw in about 4 handfuls of tortilla chips.  Right out of the bag.  If you wanted to be really ambitious, you could fry some corn tortillas ahead of time.  I'm not generally that ambitious.  I stirred the chips around in the mixture, trying to coat them as best I could.  Don't get wrapped around the axle if you don't do this perfectly.  I also added the juice from the tomatoes over the chips.  After you move it around for a while, cut the heat back and leave it alone.  You want the chips on the bottom to start soaking up all that sauce.

Now turn your attention to the eggs.  My husband refuses to eat eggs any way other than scrambled, so I scrambled 3 eggs for him.  I prefer my eggs fried, over easy.

To serve this, I spooned half the chips/sauce mixture on one plate and added the scrambled eggs.  I garnished with a liberal amount of roughly chopped cilantro.  I did the same with my plate, but I topped mine off with my fried egg.

Possible sides could be sliced avocado or sliced tomato.  If you need something to cool some of the heat, garnish with some sour cream.

This makes a very hearty, stick to your ribs kind of breakfast- perfect for a lazy summer Saturday!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Smothered Pork Chops

Seriously- even though I'm not a huge pork chop fan, this recipe made me happy. But I am a big fan of smothering things (not my students or my family or my friends, but most foods). I consider most foods just vehicles for great sauces or gravies or toppings- like baked potatoes.

Look at that. Look. At. That. Gravy.  Hello, beautiful. I wish I had taken the time to go get my big girl camera- but I was too hungry! I served my smothered pork chops over mashed potatoes (rice or buttered egg noodles would be groovy, too).  I chose roasted Brussels sprouts as my veggie because they are awesome and under-loved. 

This is how it went down...

I heated my cast iron skillet over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. I added a few glugs of canola oil (non-GMO) to the hot skillet. I dredged my boneless chops (about an inch thick) in seasoned AP flour (salt, black pepper, granulated garlic, oregano) and dropped them in the hot skillet. I let them go about 3 minutes a side. They don't need to cook through. I fished them out of the skillet and put them on a plate. 

I turned the heat down to medium and added 1 large onion that I had halved and sliced thinly. I also added another glug of oil. I added salt and pepper as well.  The onions sautéed for a few minutes, then I added about 3 or 4 tablespoons of plain AP flour to them and scraped them around for a few minutes. You are building a roux. Next, I added a few glugs of Applejack brandy. You could use wine or any other liquid- cider would be good!  I used what I had around. After that was absorbed, I poured in chicken stock. How much?  Well, I wanted to make enough gravy to cover the chops, so maybe 2 1/2 cups?  I really should start measuring. :)

I stirred the onions and stock around until it started to thicken up. I added another glug or two of Applejack and tasted for seasoning. I ended up adding more salt and pepper.  Then I turned the heat to low and watched until it came to a gentle simmer. 

I nestled the chops back in the skillet- making sure to pour any collected juices into the gravy. I double checked to make sure the gravy wasn't boiling, then put a lid on and let them fester for about 45 minutes. 

While they were simmering, I roasted the sprouts and mashed the potatoes. 

This will definitely go into the Sunday night rotation. Next time I might try it with chicken or veal!



Friday, May 9, 2014

Bear and a Balloon

Funny things happen when you tie a balloon to your dog.  Bear ran around in circles in the backyard for about 10 minutes.  Funny stuff.

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