Thursday, April 29, 2010

Beef Daube Provencal

Last Saturday was a busy day and we decided to have friends for dinner. I chose to whip up a crockpot meal for dinner--and it was a good choice.

This dish had a rich wine broth like a soup (but someone told me I could've thickened it by cooking it a few minutes with the crock pot lid off at the end) and was delicious served over egg noodles. The meat pulled apart by itself. I served this meal with a simple salad and a loaf of the freshest grocery store purchased french bread. Dipping the bread in the broth was a real treat. I highly recommend this dish, and for those of you who, for some reason don't have a crock pot, you can make it in the oven too! Oh, and did I mention it is a cooking light recipe so it's sort of good for you too?

Beef Daube Provencal

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 12 garlic cloves, crushed (this is one small head)
  • 1 (2-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups chopped carrot in coins
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup less-sodium beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3-4 Sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3-4 Sprigs fresh thyme
  • Dash of ground cloves
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups cooked medium egg noodles (about 4 cups uncooked noodles)


Preheat oven to 300°. Or if you are using the crockpot, do nothing

-Heat oil in a small Dutch oven over low heat. Add garlic; cook 5 minutes or until garlic is fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon, and set aside.

-Increase heat to medium-high. Add beef to pan; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides (don't worry if every piece didn't brown). Remove beef from pan.

-Add wine to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add garlic, beef, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, carrot, and next 8 ingredients (through bay leaf), and bring to a boil.

Cover and bake at 300° for 2 1/2 hours or until beef is tender. Discard bay leaf. Serve over noodles.

Or, if using a crockpot, transfer the whole dish to your crockpot insert, cook on high for 5 hours. I actually cooked it on low for 3 hours and high for 2 hours, but I don't think it matters--that was an accident and it still worked! I bet you could do about 7 hours on low too!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New Product: Bertolli Skillet Meals

Our Target has just turned into the kind with a grocery store inside. In an attempt to get the neighborhood thinking about going there instead of their regular market, Target has been sending enticing coupons weekly.

A few weeks back, we received a coupon for Bertolli Oven Baked meals. I thought we'd try it out for sometime when we can't think of what to have. However, when we got to the store it was clear everyone else had already used their coupons. I noticed the skillet meals were the same price and snagged one hoping the coupon would work. It didn't--but the Target employee entered it in anyway, backwards, and we ended up getting a superb deal.

I'm not sure I would pay $7 for this, but then again for that price it does serve two. However, Bertolli has taught me I could do this myself too. Straight out of the bag and into the skillet the freeze dried penne, four chicken tenders, and chunks of frozen sauce looked unappealing. Ten minutes later it was on the table along with some asparagus and frozen baked rolls. And for ten minutes and $2, it was actually pretty delicious. Joey raved how surprisingly good it was. There was the flavor of real chicken Parmesan, the cheesiness and the bite of the sauce. Sure, I could do the same thing myself probably in 20 minutes--but then again, they already have it pre-made.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Curried Chicken Salad

We had some leftover chicken after I made the beast on Sunday and I had a mind to make my favorite curried chicken salad. I didn't want just any chicken salad though, I wanted it to be like the kind they serve here. And so of course, I scoured the internet until I found what I was looking for.

This salad was delicious, full of flavors and not to dry, it was the perfect lunch and I will make it again.

Curried Chicken Salad
adapted from Epicurious

3/4 lb shredded chicken, cooked
1/4 c mayo
3 heaping T plain yogurt
2 1/2 t curry powder
1/2 lime
1/2 t honey
1/4 t salt
1/8 t pepper
1 shallot (I used a shallot but was planning to use green onions, which I even bought, and then forgot)
1 mango, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 c red grapes, halved
1/4 c salted cashews, coarsely chopped

1. Whisk together all ingredients except for the chicken. Add chicken and coat with dressing. Serve with cucumbers. (I also put mine in a pita because I had one)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Whole Roasted Chicken Dinner

There was a great chicken sale at the market and so I was moved to try and attempt roasting a whole chicken. I have heard that this method is not worth the time and you can get the same effect from chicken pieces, however, it isn't really that expensive so it seems worth it. However, after working with 6 pounds of raw chicken, drying it off, realizing that this is the same weight as small babies, I must admit I was a tiny bit grossed out by the endeavor. The worst part is reaching in the cavity. The second worst part is trying to tie up the legs.

The best part is the smell of herb roasted chicken, the amazing flavor, and of course, the presentation. I mean this chicken is pretty much the only one you'll have to make again. The flavors were there, the skin was crispy and it could feed your family with a few hand-picked sides.

I sort of crammed the oven with other dishes, but if you're good at using the stove to make great sides, more power to you!

I roasted carrots, potatoes, and asparagus to go along with the chicken and finished it off with those delicious molten chocolate cakes I've been raving about. And this, is a dinner to remember. Something to impress that doesn't really consume your day but looks like it did.

I made Martha's Perfect Roasted Chicken and pretty much followed it to the T except that I didn't make the gravy, instead I served the onions alongside the chicken and they added a delicious layer and flavor.

Since I didn't do anything special with the rest of the dishes, or change the chicken recipe at all...I'll just give you a timeline of how to pull this off yourself. Dinner's at 7:30.

5:00 PM - Take the chicken out of the fridge and set it on a plate
Meanwhile cut up potatoes (bite sized pieces), carrots (sticks), asparagus (break off thick stems), onions
5:30 PM - Wash chicken and pat dry, set in roasting pan on onions, start roasting! (5:45)
6:30 PM - Put potatoes in the oven (use a small casserole so that you can fit the carrots and asparagus in later)
7:00 PM - Put the carrots in the oven
7:10 PM - Put the asparagus in the oven
7:15 PM - Take the chicken out of the oven and check the temperature--I threw my chicken back in for 10 minutes, but yours may be ready!
7:30 PM - Take out all the vegetables
7:35 PM - Serve, family style!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Coconut Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

I volunteered to make Easter dessert. I hemmed and hawed over it. We were having a casual Easter so I didn't want to fancy it up with something like lamb cake. I was set on making something lemony but then I had a change of heart because chocolate is oh-so-good. Then I recalled that coconut is a popular springtime flavor. I decided to make my mom's favorite ice cream flavor--coconut chocolate chip. Then I decided to top it all off with Grandma's Lakeside Sandwich Cookies. Dessert turned out to be a grand success--and the ice cream didn't even melt on the 1 1/2 drive to Ojai*!

I used the Williams-Sonoma coconut ice cream recipe and then added chocolate chips at the end. It looked at first like it was a lot of steps but it was well worth it. This is probably the creamiest ice cream I have ever eaten, ever.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
  • 1 1/4 cups packed sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 3/4 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut (this turned out to be the whole can for me)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3.5 oz of your favorite dark or bittersweet chocolate bar, chopped into small pieces
1. Toast coconut in a medium heavy saucepan for 7 minutes until it begins to brown. Add half & half. Bring to a simmer then remove from heat, cover and let steep 30 minutes.
2. Strain the coconut/half&half mixture and return half & half to same saucepan, discard flakes. Congratulations, you have just made coconut milk!
3. Place coconut milk over medium-high heat. Add the cream of coconut and bring to a simmer, remove from heat.
4. In a heatproof bowl whisk eggs and sugar until well blended. Add the coconut milk mixture slowly while whisking so as not to cook the eggs until well blended. Pour mixture into the same saucepan.
5. Return pan to medium-low and cook stirring slowly and continuously about 5 minutes or until custard leaves a path on the back of a spoon when scraped by a finger.
6. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl. Add the cream and stir well. Nestle the bowl into another bowl half-filled with ice water to cool to room temperature.
7. Cover the mixture and refrigerate until completely cold, probably a few hours
8. Freeze in an ice cream maker 20 minutes, add chocolate to the mixture in the final minute of churning. Place in freezer in a covered container.

*To make a long trip with ice cream in the car, fill gallon sized ziplocs with ice. Place ice cream container in a bonified cooler and surround with ice cube bags. Be sure all sides are padded with ice. Place the cooler in the trunk away from sunlight and internal cabin temperature shifts. Place in the freezer immediately upon arrival at destination.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Grilled Vegetarian Pizzas

One of my coworkers mentioned that they made eggplant Parmesan over the weekend. Immediately, I started craving eggplant. But here's the crazy thing, I don't even like eggplant! Then Joey got invited to a work dinner to celebrate the end of THE PROJECT tonight and so I had the opportunity to make some of the purple stuff and see whether or not I actually liked it.

Then I was looking at this new site KitchenDaily and I read a recipe about using pitas as the bread for pizzas and then also using the grill to make said pizzas! We have a grill AND pitas. Well actually I had to buy the pitas but whatever. I decided while in the store that a good pizza combo would be grilled eggplant, tomatoes, olive oil, shredded mozzarella, and goat cheese. It was pretty easy to make these and they were pretty good except that I may have cooked the pitas a little long because they were very crispy but I would make these again.

Grilled Vegetarian Pizza (2 pizzas)
2 Japanese eggplants (these are the small ones), sliced into coins about 1/4 inch thick
2 handfuls mozzarella cheese
Desired slices of goat cheese
1 plum tomato, sliced into coins
2 whole wheat pitas
olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Douse eggplant with oil, salt and pepper. Grill coins over regular heat (I've never used anything besides 400 on our grill) for about 3 minutes a side. These are hard to flip, be careful not to drop them in the grates
2. Remove eggplant from grill and set aside (keep warm)
3. Brush pita with oil on both sides. Grill for 30 seconds. Remove from grill and flip over so grilled side is up
4. Top with some of the mozzarella, eggplant, tomatoes, goat cheese, and more cheese
5. Place pitas on grill and grill about 3 minutes (covered) or until cheese is melted. Enjoy!