Really Eating

Smitten Kitchen Thai Style Chicken Legs

Posted in Recipes by Bethany on February 25, 2011

Smitten Kitchen is a blog I’ve followed since before I knew about the Pioneer Woman (gasp!) and before I actually cooked anything worth mentioning. Why? you ask? Because before I cooked, I baked!

It’s been fun following Deb through her culinary and personal adventures, like the huge announcement about her pregnancy and now looking for the subtle, but super cute picture of Jacob hidden in each entry. Deb posts a pretty wide range of stuff and a lot of it I’m super impressed by, but way too intimidated to actually try making myself. For example: homemade granola bars and pretzelschocolate pudding (that I am DYING to try), and… well, you get the point.

This recipe was one that caught my eye because of the way she described it: “This might be the best chicken I have ever made…because this is perfection.

That’s a pretty compelling testimony, right?

However, I couldn’t exactly make it the next day given I didn’t have fish sauce, hoisin sauce, coriander, or Thai sweet chili sauce in the house. By the time I got around to buying all the ingredients, I had almost forgotten why I needed them… but I’m so glad I bought them because this recipe is now part of our “regular” menu. I also like this recipe because the chicken can be marinated overnight and popped into the oven when I get home from work. Delicious, check. Convenient, double check.

There are instructions for grilling on the original recipe as well, but since we don’t have a backyard grill just yet, it’s oven-roasting for me for now.

Ingredients

  • 5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce*
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black or white pepper
  • 8 whole chicken legs, split, or 8 drumsticks and 8 thighs (about 5 pounds total)
  • Thai sweet chili sauce, for serving

Directions

Combine the garlic, cilantro, fish sauce, vegetable oil, hoisin sauce, coriander, kosher salt and pepper in a blender (or food processor, that’s what I use) until smooth. Arrange the pieces of chicken in a large, shallow glass or ceramic dish. Pour the marinade over the chicken and turn to coat the pieces thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for several hours, or overnight.

To roast the chicken: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cover baking dish with a lid or foil and roast chicken for about 25 minutes. If the sauce begins to char, sprinkle a few tablespoons water into the dish. Remove the lid or foil and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until the skin is crisp and the meat is cooked through.**

My sauce ALWAYS chars. I have no idea what it is, but it always always chars and requires that I soak my Pyrex overnight or over-a-few-nights to get it all off. But it’s worth it.

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Kale Smoothie

Posted in Ingredients, Recipe Fail by Bethany on February 24, 2011

It felt like I all-of-a-sudden started hearing about kale all over the place. I honestly don’t remember what I was reading that made me feel surrounded by kale propaganda, but it influenced me enough that I stuck a bunch of pretty green kale in my bag when I was at the farmers market and felt mildly confident that I’d be able to use it… somehow.

Then I came home and since it was a warm January weekend in LA (I know you’re jealous), I decided to attempt a smoothie of some sort. I referenced two recipes- one from Joy the Baker and another from the then-recent issue of Real Simple. For reference, here are the different ingredient lists:

Joy the Baker Kale Spinach & Pear Smoothie

  • 1 heaping cup spinach leaves
  • 1 heaping cup chopped kale leaves
  • 1/2 pear
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 1/2 cups cold almond milk (or soy milk or orange juice)
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Real Simple Kale Apple Smoothie

  • 3/4 cup chopped kale, ribs and thick stems removed
  • 1 small stalk celery, chopped
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

So, if you couldn’t already tell, this is a RECIPE FAIL post. I created a new category for these types of posts because I figured it’d be fun and somewhat cathartic to lament my failures in the kitchen along with the successes.

Mistake #1: I bought the wrong kind of kale. In my absolute kale naivete, I would protest that I didn’t realize there were different kinds! Apparently I bought a variety called “black kale” that looks more like THIS than THIS. I honestly don’t know if they taste different, but I would say that the problems started with that.

Mistake #2: My close friends know that I’m very much a believer in “follow the directions” cooking and I stray far far far away from improvisation in the kitchen. This was one instance that I foolishly thought I could just throw things together in the blender by somehow combining the two recipes…. but… that was a bad idea. I should have followed the directions.

Mistake #3: Instead of using a frozen banana, I used a couple over-ripe bananas. I guess you can’t use over-ripe bananas in smoothies like you can in banana bread…

I think I ended up using the following ingredients:

  • 1 heaping cup spinach leaves
  • 1 heaping cup chopped kale leaves (ribs and thick stems removed)
  • 2 bananas (over-ripe)
  • 1 peeled/cut up apple
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 1 tablespoon honey (plus a lot more after tasting it)

You can see that I really tried to combine the two recipes… I thought it’d be a fusion of sorts. I had some second thoughts as I was cutting and dumping ingredients, but I remained optimistic until I tried my first sip. I somehow convinced myself to drink an entire cup full of the stuff, but ended up throwing most of it away.

Recipe, fail.

Martha Stewart Roasted Chicken

Posted in Recipes by Bethany on February 8, 2011

This is one of the only Martha Stewart recipes I’ve ever tried and definitely the only one in my “favorites”. I stumbled upon it while flipping through a friend’s copy of Martha’s Everyday Food magazine and based on the ingredients and the recipe overall, I had a feeling it would be a hit.

The first time I made this, I had no idea to expect tons of SMOKE! Step 1 calls for browning the chicken on both sides and it generated lots of smoke. In preparation, I open the windows, turn on a fan (or two), and try to position my body between the smoke and our smoke detectors… usually works.

This is also the first time I cooked “chicken leg quarters” which can be found for $0.99/lb on a good sale. Plus, it’s dark meat and super moist, delicious!

Here’s the link to the original recipe, although my recipe below excludes the ingredients and steps for the orzo (& chicken breasts): Tangy Chicken with Orzo Pilaf

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 4 chicken leg quarters (about 3 pounds total)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 large white onion, diced small
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil over high. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. In batches, add chicken, skin side down, and cook until skin is golden and crisp, about 7 minutes. Flip chicken and cook 3 minutes more. Transfer chicken to a plate. (EXPECT SMOKE!)

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot and reduce heat to medium-high.

Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and season with salt and pepper; cook until beginning to break down, about 3 minutes.

Stir in vinegar and return chicken, skin side up, to pot; bring liquid to a boil. Transfer pot, uncovered, to oven and bake until chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Pasta with Garlic Basil Cream Sauce

Posted in Recipes by Bethany on February 3, 2011

The last time Restaurant.com certificates went on super sale (like $0.40 for $10), we did some intense Yelping and bought a few. Unfortunately, most of the restaurants we’ve visited so far have been sub-par (or super-sub-par) and we should have spent the money we did spend elsewhere.

The one success we’ve had is The Main Course. It’s nearby my office (on the way home), they let you use the certificates on take out (although you still pay the 18% gratuity), and they offer the cheaper certificates ($10 on $15 minimum purchase). Not only that, but their reviews on Yelp were pretty positive and we saw things we liked on the menu. Although I like the chicken pot pie dinner (with salad!), this post is dedicated to the garlic shrimp pasta that Bryan absolutely LOVES. Although the service is just so-so and the restaurant itself is a little unassuming (aka borderline sketch), the deliciousness of the food is worth going back.

Howeeeever, that delicious garlic shrimp pasta is also $15.95 before tax and gratuity. For a couple living on students loans and a budget, that’s not a meal that can easily become an everyday or even everyweek habit. So, I went on a quest to find a recipe that would mimic the creaminess and deliciousness…. and succeeded on the first try!

Broke Ass Gourmet is a site I’ve enjoyed following and is run by Gabi in SF. She really does an amazing job of posting recipes from a wide range of cuisines, ingredients, flavors, and includes the estimated cost per ingredient and per meal. Helpful, no? The only sadface is that there aren’t any step-by-step photos to accompany the recipe, but since I’ve had a pretty good success rate with most of them, I don’t mind.

Original recipe here: Capellini with Easiest Garlic Basil Cream Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 lb dried pasta (I used fettuccine)
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large handful fresh basil leaves, chopped very finely, plus more for garnish
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Boil pasta in salted water according to package instructions. Drain, rinse and set aside.

Melt butter over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add olive oil and stir gently to combine. Add garlic to pan and cook for 30-60 seconds—just until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

Reduce heat to low. Add pasta to the pan and toss using tongs, making sure the butter-olive oil mixture thoroughly coats all of the pasta. I imagine this would be easier with thinner pasta, but it worked out fine with fettuccine. Pour the half-and-half over the pasta and toss using tongs to ensure that the liquid coats all of the capellini. Sprinkle the Parmesan and basil over the pasta and toss well. At this point a creamy sauce will have formed around the pasta. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately, garnished with more Parmesan and fresh basil.

Pioneer Woman Pan Fried Pork Chops

Posted in Recipes by Bethany on February 3, 2011

I’m on a Pioneer Woman roll! To be honest, I don’t love all of her recipes, but I can usually tell by the ingredient list if Bryan and I will enjoy it or not. Of the recipes we’ve tried, this is one of our favorites. It’s not necessarily the best for you (anything with “fried” in the title can’t be that good for you) but it’s pretty simple and when accompanied by a lot of vegetable sides… I can enjoy it with a clean conscience.

As a disclaimer, preparing this dish generates a lot of dishes… so plan on running the dishwasher, if you have one. If not, borrow someone else’s. Tongs are also a handy tool to have around… and two pairs of tongs are better than one!

Another disclaimer, I never seem to catch this particular cut of pork chops on sale. They’re usually something like $4.99-5.99/lb, which is pretty dang expensive for grocery store meat. To compare, chicken is often on sale for $0.99-1.99/lb and ground beef $1.49-1.99. Expensive, right? On the rare occasion I do see it on sale, I’ll grab more than a few packages and throw them in some freezer Ziploc bags for later.

Recipes & photos here: Pioneer Woman Pan Fried Pork Chops

Ingredients

  • 4 pieces Thin Bone-in Pork Chops
  • 3/4 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Seasoned Salt (Lawry’s)
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper To Taste
  • ½ cups Canola Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • Extra Salt And Pepper, To Taste

Directions

Rinse pork chops (I do it because the PW says to). Salt and pepper both sides of the pork chops (Plate #1).

Combine all dry ingredients with a fork (Plate #2). Dredge each side of the pork chops in the flour mixture, then set aside on a plate (Plate #3).

Heat canola oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add butter. When butter is melted and butter/oil mixture is hot, cook 3 pork chops at a time, 2 to 3 minutes on the first side; 1 to 2 minutes on the other side. (Make sure no pink juices remain.) NOTE: thickness of pork chops will vary depending on where you buy em from, so give them a cut to make sure they’re cooked all the way through.

Remove to a paper towel-lined plate (Plate #4) and repeat with remaining pork chops.

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