Saturday, October 28, 2017

Spicy, Creamy, Cheesy Chicken Casserole

Well the name speaks for itself. We had returned from vacation to find we had suffered a loss of a beloved aunt and a friend's mother, so we drove to Dallas to pay our respects and returned with a terrible virus that wiped us out for a week. No fun.

When sick I always make a big batch of chicken broth in the pressure cooker with loads of fresh turmeric and ginger, but after living off that for days, we were craving comfort food. The best thing EVER is Instacart delivery from Whole Foods! I typically love shopping groceries, but since I was also working, simply had no energy to go shopping and then cook. Delivery saved the day!! This recipe freezes really well and while I served it with gluten free rotini ( a guilty treat after days of nothing but green tea and broth), the hubby liked it poured over a flaky biscuit.


INGREDIENTS
3 split skinless chicken breasts, bone in.
1 tbs Lemon Pepper blend (We love Trader Joe's)
1 onion
1 celery stalk
1 large carrot roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
several sprigs fresh thyme or 2 tsp dried thyme
1 jalapeno
1 carton condensed cream of chicken soup (Pacific organic brand)
1 tbs onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbs paprika
3 cups spring water
a "glug" of white wine
1 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup jalapeno jack cheese

In a heavy dutch oven, brown chicken in a little oil (we use avocado these days) after you've generously sprinkled the chicken with lemon pepper blend. Once the skin has a little golden color to it, set aside on a plate and add chopped onion, celery, carrot, a whole jalapeno split in half lengthwise (I'm trying to open up my sinuses people), and saute over medium heat until softened. About 5 minutes. Add the slightly smashed garlic cloves and cook until fragrant- about a minute. Do not over cook the garlic or it will burn and taste bitter. Add that glug of white wine (about 1/4 cup) and reduce another 30 seconds to cook off the alcohol.

Re-introduce the chicken, add two bay leaves, a few sprigs of thyme, the cream of chicken, spices and spring water. It will look like this:

Before you add the cream of chicken and water...


Cover and place in a 215 degree oven for four hours or until the chicken is tender. Remove chicken and discard the bone. Remove thyme stems and bay leaf. Add cream cheese and with an immersion blender or in a blender, whip it all up until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Add the shredde jalapeno jack cheese and melt into the sauce. Pour over the chicken and pasta or biscuit or some roasted veggies such as zucchini, turnips and squash or even sauteed greens. We topped with crispy bacon, chives and parsley.

Spicy, creamy and comforting. Perfect after days of stress and sickness or just any time you want a little comfort, really.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Asian Pork Belly on the Big Green Egg.

This dish is simply unctuous, in a good way! Tender, creamy pork belly braised for over 4 hours on the Big Green Egg was the perfect thing to make on a scorching 106 degree day. The heat of the Texas summers never ceases to amaze me and makes me yearn for the Rockies. I feel very grateful to have a pool to plunge in while dinner cooks on the Green Egg, as it is too hot to cook indoors with this God forsaken heat. They had some lovely pork belly at our local HEB grocers, so I bought a pound and it turned out even better than I imagined!






My favorite rub is Pineapple Dizzy Dust!! Get ya some ASAP!!!!!

INGREDIENTS:
1 pound pork belly- cut into 4 squares (I froze two for later use).
Pineapple Head Dizzy Dust
1 bottle gluten free sweet soy sauce or teriyaki sauce
2 cups rich chicken stock
2 tbs sesame seeds
2 cloves garlic- lightly crushed
1 small nob of ginger (about a tablespoons)- roughly sliced.
1 red onion sliced
Several pineapple chunks

I generously rubbed the pork with Dizzy dust and let it relax in the fridge over night.

The next day I slathered a half a bottle of SPF on myself, donned a big sun hat, opened up the umbrellas and lit up the Big Green Egg with hickory wood to 225 degrees. We like BG Brand charcoal.

With the the plate setter on indirect cook, we gently placed the bellies fat side up on the grate and smoked it for an hour and a half.

Then in an aluminum pan we added all the remaining ingredients and placed the bellies in the braising liquid, fat side up and raised the temp to 275 degrees and smoked them for 4.5 hours until tender and the fat was rendered on top and crispy. We basted it every 30 minutes with the pan sauce.

 2 hours in above.


3 hours in above

Once the skin is crisp, remove from pan and let it rest 20 minutes before slicing. Holy Mother this was sinfully delicious and would be great in tacos, with fried rice or on a salad, as I served it. I had some fresh local peaches and spinach and drizzled it with orange vinaigrette for a simple, yet sinfully delicious experience. This freezes well and is easily reheated in a non stick skillet until warm.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Poached Egg & Kale Salad


Greetings!! Each week I make a batch of quinoa that I use to sprinkle on my salads as a garnish.  I cook it in chicken stock with a garlic clove, freshly grated turmeric and ginger and make sure it's super al dente with a little crunch to it- about 13 minutes total cook time.

I've surprised myself by making another successful 365 days of rotation around the sun and now that I am officially middle aged, it's time to really get serious about being super diligent with my health and diet. It's an uphill battle! But this salad is a terrific way to start the day, enjoy for lunch or dinner with some fresh soup. Since I haven't logged on in ages, thought I'd add this to my recipe bank for future reference.

INGREDIENTS
2 poached eggs
1.5 cups kale, rinsed, dried and "massaged" to soften it
3 tbs cooked quinoa
1 strip of crispy nitrate free bacon- torn
Your favorite vinaigrette
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
Balsamic glaze for drizzling
(options- sliced almonds, tangerine segments, avocado- skies the limit)

Lately on Sundays, along with making quinoa, I have been making homemade chicken stock in the pressure cooker and a batch of either pork or turkey bacon in the oven to keep on hand for quick breakfast or garnishes. I used to hate breakfast as I don't have an appetite in the morning- but I'm forcing myself to have a little bite of protein or something. I find a cup of hot stock or a nibble of breakfast salad has done wonders for my energy levels. That and Whole Foods Vitamin B shot- waaaay better for me than coffee! I feel really fortunate to be alive and well and enjoying life- both the ups and the downs (those make us more aware and teach us lessons on how we can be better people in this world- I have a lot more learning to do) Here's to health and happiness!!






Thursday, May 26, 2016

Pressure Cooker Beef Short Ribs with Risotto

Wow it's been a while! Life has been very busy and I've made a couple of terrific things to nosh on lately with family and friends and this latest was a hit and pretty easy to make as well. Whole Foods had glorious looking short ribs and while normally I would slowly braise them for about 4 hours in a Dutch oven, I decided to cut the time by cooking them in the pressure cooker for about 75 minutes. They were meltingly tender, rich and satisfying served with ultra creamy risotto. The photo lighting isn't great, but I snapped it with my iphone and I guarantee the photo does not do this dish justice!


INGREDIENTS
4 Beef Short Ribs
1/2 bottle red wine such as Sangiovese
1 cup beef broth (preferably homemade)
1 carrot cut in half
1sweet onion
4 cloves whole garlic
6 peppercorns
sea salt to taste (about a teaspoon)
2 bay leaf

Marinade the ribs in all the ingredients overnight or for 12 hours. In a pressure cooker add the ribs and other ingredients and cook on high pressure about 75 minutes. These were really big short ribs, so one hour may suffice for smaller ones.

Marinated and ready for the pressure cooker


Release pressure, set ribs aside lightly wrapped in foil, strain some as much of the fat from the sauce and bring to a simmer. Reduce about 1o minutes until slightly thickened. Serve with mashed potatoes or creamy risotto.

RISOTTO
1.5 cups Arborio Rice
2.5 cups homemade chicken stock- warmed
1/2 cup wine
1 shallot minced
3 tbs butter
1/2 cup parmesan
Parsley chiffonade to garnish

In a pan over medium heat, melt one tablespoon of butter and coat the rice. Add the wine and cook off alcohol - about 2 minutes. Stir constantly. Then ladle about a 1/4 cup of the warm stock, stir and bring to a simmer. continue ladling 1/4 cups of stock each time it is fully absorbed into the rice, stirring and simmering for about 20 minutes until the risotto is cooked through. Once the rice is cooked , add 2 tablespoons butter and the cheese and stir like crazy.  Serve in warmed bowls and top with short ribs and sauce.




Monday, September 21, 2015

Gluten Free Pizza on the Big Green Egg

I purchased some flour from Thomas Keller's Cup4Cup line and finally tried it this past weekend and it blew me away!!!! I have tried almost every flour blend out there and usually I find myself pretending to enjoy the GF version, when in reality they are rather dense and have that strange grainy aftertaste. But not this blend. This blend was hands down the best I've tried, so I had to share.


INGREDIENTS
4 cups Cup4Cup Pizza flour
1 bottle gluten free beer
1 yeast packet
1 egg
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

Pour the beer into a microwave safe dish and heat until it reaches 105 degrees. add the yeats packet, stir and let it start working it's magic for about 10 minutes. Then in a mixer, add the remaining ingredients, pour in the beer and knead until the dough is smooth. Place it in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise a few hours. It can be ready to cook, or place it in the fridge a few days to really get the yeast working and enrich the flavor.

This crust requires a par cook. I preheated the Big Green Egg to 500 degrees, rolled out the dough and pinched the edges in to form a crust. I brushed the top and bottom with olive oil and placed it on the pizza stone in the grill for about 5 minutes. I used crushed San Marzano tomato, cheese, pepperoni, veggies and popped it back in the egg for about 7 minutes until the topping melted. This was truly outstanding and a wonderful way to wrap up a great weekend hanging out with friends poolside.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Bee Cave "Original Recipe" Chicken & Pork Poppers


It's a rainy Memorial Day and while normally we'd be sitting poolside throwing something on the grill, we are forced indoors due to much needed rain and grey skies. It gives one pause to think of those who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms. Granted, everyone likes a day off to sleep in and let loose, but the significance of the day weighs heavy on the mind. I was named after my great uncle who was killed by vicious Germans in the Ardennes Forest during WWI. He was only 27 years old but apparently a brave and kind young man who's life was cut short fighting for what was right and good. I'm proud to carry his name.

Since we are indoors and may have a few friends over later, we decided to make some small bites. As a girl I loved Kentucky Fried Chicken like no one's business (except for my grandmother's recipe which was like no other). The original KFC recipe was so tasty and back then they weren't using these freakish lab chickens (so cruel) and harmful GMO stuff. Apparently they did use MSG, and since I'm allergic to it, I'm better off having not enjoyed KFC since the late 80s. These little meatball poppers have a taste surprisingly similar to the KFC original recipe and are delicious little morsels that also freeze quite well.

INGREDIENTS



1.5 pounds ground chicken thighs
1.5 pounds ground pork (the pork adds a nice richness)
1 small yellow onion
1 small bunch of parsley
2 organic eggs
4 spring onions- light green parts only
2 tbs onion powder
2 tbs garlic powder
2 tbs paprika
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Sea salt to taste
1.5 tbs chicken soup base
1 tsp celery salt
a few pinches of dried sage


In a food processor finely chop onions, parsley and eggs. Add mixture to meat with the seasonings and blend well. Form into meatballs and deep fry in grapeseed or peanut oil preheated to 350 degrees for about 4 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Serve on skewers or toothpicks for easy finer food. Goes great with Ranch, honey mustard or tzaziki sauce for dipping.
 




Friday, April 24, 2015

Gluten Free Wild Berry Clafoutis

A friend from work recently delivered a precious baby boy so we made them dinner and as I stopped by our local French restaurant Artisan to pick up a baguette, Chef had just pulled out a stunning looking clafoutis for that night's dinner service. It smelled heavenly and was dotted with fresh strawberries and I've been thinking of it ever since.

So last night I spotted some frozen wild berries in my freezer and thought how about I try my hand at making a gluten free, low glycemic version of that decadent clafoutis from the bistro? It turned out to be pretty fabulous! So I thought I'd add it to my list of things to cook in the future. I've added some tweaks to make it paleo or dairy free as well.

INGREDIENTS
4 large organic eggs
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup gluten free flour or 1/4 cup coconut flour and 1/4 cup almond flour
1 cup milk (or cococnut milk or almond milk)
2 tablespoons melted butter (or coconut oil)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup berries
2 tbs cream cheese (For added richness)
Dash of sea salt

In a large bowl mix everything but the berries.

Pour in a cast iron skillet or baking dish, sprinkle with berries and bake in a preheated 325 degree oven about 40-50 minutes until just set.

It resembles a souffle on top and flan in the middle and is comforting, tasty and super easy!


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Cauliflower Coconut Soup






I had some leftover cauliflower and baby carrots from a crudite platter and a can of coconut milk in the pantry and thought, why not a Thai inspired soup for lunch on a gorgeous, sunny day? This was super easy and tasted like a bowl of sunshine.

INGREDIENTS
Cauliflower
Carrots
Sliced onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tbs coconut oil
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
salt to taste
1 can coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
3 dashes Thai fish sauce

Preheat oven to 385 and roast veggies and spices in coconut oil about 40 minutes until tender and slightly carmelized. then in a blender mix veggies with a can of coconut milk, lime juice and fish sauce. Puree until smooth, reheat in a pot and serve in warm bowls garnished with cilantro or scallions.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Carbonnade- Belgian Beef & Beer Stew


This weekend we had our first cold snap and while we were floating in the pool and grilling kabobs on Friday evening, we were snuggled inside while a chilly rain settled on us by Saturday morning. The weather was reminiscent of my childhood days visiting my mother's family in Belgium and it was a perfect day to prepare a slowly braised stew.

While the French classic beef stew, or beef bourguignon, is made with red wine, the Belgian version known as Carbonnade au Flamandes is made with delicious Belgian beer. The result is a slightly sweet and sour stew that freezes well for quick reheating on a cold evening. Belgium has two distinct cultures- the Flemmish (Dutch relation) and the Waloons. The latter speak french and reside in the southeastern part of the country and this is where my family originated; primarily from the Liege and the Ardennes before settling in Bruxelles. One interesting note I read in a cookbook, The Food and Cooking of Belgium, by Suzanne Vandyck was that since Belgium was at the head of the spice trade in the 16th century, its cooking was far advanced than those found in neighboring France or Germany! Take that snooty Frenchies!! Poor Belgium also does not get credit for inventing the "French Fry". One of my fondest and first culinary memories is of Les Friteries, or french fry carts that dotted the city of Bruxelles. Hot, fresh frites are served with a dollop of mayonnaise and wrapped tightly in a paper cone. Perhaps I should open a few around Austin as I'm certain they would be a huge hit?

My husband is an avid beer lover, so naturally he prefers the carbonnade to the French bourguignon version. Served with rustic toast smeared in mustard and dunked in the stew alongside a Belgian ale, it is hearty and satisfying. Since I must strictly avoid gluten and wheat, I have had to adapt the recipe to use gluten free beer such as Bards, but I STRONGLY suggest using a Belgian beer such as Chimay bleu or Trappistes Rocheford. However my gluten free version is still outstanding if not quite as rich as if I'd used a traditional Belgian beer. One final note- this can be made in an hour if cooked in a pressure cooker, but I prefer low and slow for 5-7 hours in the oven at 220. It tastes better reheated the next day.

INGREDIENTS
3 pounds chuck roast cut into uniform sized 1 inch cubes, thoroughly dried with a paper towel
4 tbs butter
3 tbs flour (Or gluten free flour such as Cup 4 Cup)
1 slice thick bacon, cut into 1 inch strips
1 tbs grapeseed oil
6 cups Belgian Beer
2 cups rich beef stock
1 beef bouillon cube
1 tbs worsterchire
1 tsp red wine or sherry vinegar
1 tbs brown sugar
1 large onion cut into strips
1 large carrot cut into 1 inch chunks
1 stalk of celery
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and gently smashed with the side of a knife
2 dried bay leaf
Bouquet Garni- Several sprigs of fresh thyme, 1 sprig fresh rosemary, several sprigs fresh parsley tied with kitchen string.
Fresh pepper to taste

1.) In a large enamel Dutch Oven, melt the butter and add the onions, celery and carrot with the sugar, flour, dash of Worcestershire and a few dashes of beer. Cover and cook onions on medium low for 30 minutes to caramelize.

2.) Meanwhile in a large frying pan, melt bacon until fat renders, add grapeseed oil and when the pan is screaming hot, brown the meat, one pound at a time so as to not crowd the pan which would steam the meat instead of sear it. Sear the cubes about 3 minutes until a brown crust forms on the outside. Reserve the meat on a plate.

3.) You may want to scrape up the brown bits in between browning batches with a little beer and pour that into the onions. Just add more fresh oil to the pan before searing the next batch. This step makes a rich and flavorful base for the stew.

4.) Once meat is browned and onions have softened and started to turn golden, add meat to onions in the large pot, the rest of the beer and herb bundle plus bay leaves and bouillon cube. Cover and let it work its magic in the oven at 220 for 5-7 hours. Serve in warm bowls and sprinkle with fresh parsley and steamed potatoes or Belgian Frites (Fries).

Though the dunked mustard smeared bread is a winning combination, a fresh green salad can lighten up the meal but it should definitely be served with a glass of Belgian beer.  As my mother would say before tucking into a great feast, "Attaquons!!"  ATTACK!!



Makes about 6 servings

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Drunken BBQ Baked Beans

We have friends coming in town this weekend, so that means BBQ! I came up with this recipe based on the BBQ beans at Houston's restaurant and they are rich and meaty and absolutely delicious.

What makes these so good? BOURBON & BEER!!


INGREDIENTS
2 cups navy beans, soaked in water overnight. OR a can of white beans or pintos.
2 thick slices of bacon
1/4 pound ground pork
1 medium red onion, finely diced
3 tbs Bourbon
1 can lager beer
1/2 cup sweet BBQ sauce (We like Rufus Teagues, Honey Sweet) 
Serves 4

In a pot, cook bacon and ground pork until bacon is crisp. Remove bacon and pork and drain on a paper towel then add onions and bourbon and caramelize them on medium low heat about 40 minutes until sweet and soft.

Then add a bottle of lager beer and raise heat to medium high and simmer about 15 minutes to cook of alcohol. Add beans, pork, bacon and BBQ sauce and cook over low heat for an hour. These taste even better when cooked the day before and reheated in a low oven.