Really Eating

Apricot Chicken

Posted in Recipe Fail, Recipes by Bethany on April 6, 2011

Over the summer, the markets were inundated with yummy yellow and white peaches and nectarines. I’d often get too greedy (or ambitious, if you want a positive spin) at the market and come home with way too much produce for two of us, especially since I’m the only one who really loves eating produce all day long.

This timely recipe popped into my Google Reader mid-July and I finally put it to the test closer to the end of the month. Why the delay? Well, I didn’t have apricots in the house and strangely enough, I don’t really ever buy them. I don’t think I dislike them at all, but I just never found myself attracted to them. I asked Elise (the main blogger at Simply Recipes) if I could use peaches and she suggested I use yellow, so I proceeded with that.

If you haven’t noticed already, this is another Recipe Fail post, so I’ll post the actual list of ingredients and directions found on the original recipe and try to dissect why it was a Fail. A quick disclaimer- I can only blame myself for Recipe Fails. I’m pretty sure most food bloggers only post recipes they’ve tried and love, but I go ahead and alter something (sigh), yielding a sad, far-from-perfect result.

Actually, now that I think back, I’m not sure if this is a PURE recipe fail. I didn’t mind the chicken, but the sauce wasn’t quite right… it had kind of a Chinese taste to it, and I’m not exactly sure if that’s what it was supposed to taste like (based on the comments).

I’d be willing to try it again in the summer with actual apricots instead of peaches and will let you know how it goes.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds apricots, roughly chopped, pits removed and discarded
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 pounds skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces
  • Salt
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter (can sub olive oil)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons Tabasco or other hot sauce (you can add more if you like)
  • Black pepper

Directions

Place the chopped apricots in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and the vinegar. Let sit while you brown the chicken in the next step.

In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, place chicken pieces in the pan, without crowding the pan, and brown them on each side. As the chicken cooks, sprinkle salt over it. Once the chicken is browned, remove the pieces from the pan to a bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and sauté the onion until it begins to brown. As the onion cooks and releases moisture, use a flat edged spatula or wooden spoon to scrape off the browned bits from the chicken (called fond) from the bottom of the pan.

Once the onions have browned a bit, add the chicken stock and lower the heat to medium.

Put about 2/3 of the apricots, along with any juice they have given up, into a blender and blend into a purée. Pour the purée into the pan with the chicken stock and onions.

Add the cinnamon, rosemary and Tabasco and taste. You may need to add some salt. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and gently simmer for 10-20 minutes.

When you are ready to serve, put the chicken and the remaining apricot pieces into the pan and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Serve hot with rice.

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.