Moroccan-Spiced Chicken & Vegetable Stew with Lemon Pepper & Parsley Couscous
Moroccan-Spiced Chicken & Vegetable Stew

Serves 2-3
1 lb (3-4) boneless skinless chicken tenders
1/4 cup Catalina dressing (my secret marinade shortcut! ssshhh, it's really awesome!)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp red pepper flakes
a pinch of allspice
a pinch of cinnamon
1/4 tsp curry powder
2 tblsp olive oil
Cut chicken tenders into 1" pieces and place in ziploc bag. Add remaining ingredients and seal bag. Massage the bag to work the ingredients all together with the chicken. Let marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

1/2 red onion chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
a handful of baby carrots
1 can of garbanzo beans drained & rinsed
1 can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
About 2 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
1 small zucchini halved & sliced into 1/2" thick pieces
salt & pepper to taste
2 tblsp olive oil
Heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet until shimmering. Add the onions and carrots and saute until onions are starting to soften. Lower heat to a simmer and add garlic. Let sweat until carrots start to soften. Add the marinated chicken and continue to saute, turning the chicken to cook on all sides for a few minutes. Add the garbanzo beans and the tomatoes and stir. Sprinkle in a pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper then add enough broth to cover. Bring to a simmer then cover. After a good 10 minutes remove the lid and stir. Taste and if needed add more seasoning to your liking. I added a bit more cumin & paprika but that's me;) Add the zucchini and stir to incorporate. Simmer until the vegetables are tender and chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Lemon Pepper and Parsley Couscous
1/2 cup of couscous
1/2 cup of water
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1 handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley (or cilantro) chopped
Bring the water to a boil then add the salt, lemon pepper, 1 TBLSP of the chopped parsley or cilantro and couscous. Remove from the heat and give a stir to mix it all up and cover tightly. Wait at least 5 minutes then uncover and fluff with a fork.

Spoon about half the couscous into a big soup bowl then top with a generous helping of the stew. Garnish with a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream and sprinkle some of the remaining parsley over the top.

Spiced Roasted Cauliflower & Potatoes w/Lemon & Feta
I had been craving cauliflower lately and saw a tempting recipe for roasted cauliflower with lemon, cumin & sumac. Inspired by this and wishing to create something that could serve as a whole meal I decided to add some small yellow potatoes and then toss in the feta cheese. Served with some toasted pita bread and hummus this made a very tasty and filling meatless meal.

Spiced Roasted Cauliflower & Potatoes w/ Lemon & Feta


Serves 2 people as an entree.

1/2 head of cauliflower trimmed and broken into florets
6-8 small yellow potatoes such as Dutch yellow or Fingerling
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
coarse kosher salt
lemon pepper
olive oil
2 tblsp lemon juice
handful of fresh chopped cilantro
about 1 cup of crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 425 °
Place cauliflower and potatoes in a shallow baking dish large enough to accommodate as a single layer. Drizzle about 2 tblsp of olive oil over them. Sprinkle with smoked paprika, cumin, a couple of good pinches of salt and lemon pepper. Toss to coat evenly. Roast for about 20-25 minutes occasionally shaking and stirring to rotate potatoes and cauliflower throughout. When potatoes are fork tender and cauliflower is deep golden brown remove from the oven. While oven is still hot place 2 pita breads on oven rack and let toast until slightly crispy and charred. Meahwhile sprinkle lemon juice and cilantro and feta over the potatoes and cauliflower and toss together.

Serve with toasted pita and a dollop of hummus on the side.

Thanksgiving 2010
I'm still reeling from how much food I managed to prepare for our humble little feast yesterday! It all turned out fantastic and our little fridge is stuffed to the gills with the leftovers. As a matter of fact I think we used up all but 2 of our Rubbermaid containers!

So, on to the details and pictures!Collapse )

Cooking Without A Kitchen
checkered diner
Welcome to a quirky little diary about my life! This evening I will welcome you into my little motel room where I currently reside with the SO and my 2 pooties. Pics will be included;) Let's start with a pic of my pootie Button in a somewhat er, um amusing pose: Button
Ok, now on to the cooking!

Cut for lots of picsCollapse )

Gremolata Pork Loin Chops
checkered diner
Technically a gremolata is made with garlic, parsley & lemon zest but I think the term is still the best description of the herbal mix I slathered onto the chops. It's all about what is fresh and available from the garden/store.

6-8 large 1/2" thick pork loin chops
olive oil
salt & pepper
1 cup of fresh basil
2-3 cloves of garlic
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary

Prepare a large baking dish or tray to hold the meat while it "marinates" by drizzling a bit of olive oil in the bottom. It doesn't need to be be a lot so about 2 Tblsp or so. Chop the basil, thyme and rosemary (tip for the thyme & rosemary; hold the tip of the sprig and run your fingers down toward the stem end to remove the leaves and discard the stems) and set aside on the cutting board. Smash the garlic cloves and discard the peels then start mincing the garlic. Combine your pile of chopped herbs and mince away at this mixture occasionally "smashing" the garlic into the herbs with the flat of the knife and scraping it up and mincing it some more. Add a few pinches of salt (kosher or sea salt if you have it) and a few grinds of black pepper and and mince it all together. This is the "gremolata".
Take the chops and place into the olive oil in the dish then flip them over so both sides are oiled up. Smear the gremolata mixture over each chop then flip over and smear the other side. Cover w/ plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for about an hour.

When ready to grill pull out the chops and let come to room temp for about 1/2 hour before you grill or broil. They will need about 4-5 minutes on each side to get cooked through but not too dried out and acquire some lovely grill marks.

I served these with grilled potato & mushroom packets and zucchini & red/yellow bell pepper packets. If you have not done grill packets before they are super easy:
Chop up potatoes into bite sized pieces, chop mushrooms in half, place on a large rectangle of heavy duty aluminum foil and season heavily with salt & pepper (potatoes soak up a lot of salt so you want to give them plenty) and I used butter for this one. Cut about 4 tblsp sized pats and toss in. Fold up the long sides of the foil meeting in the middle so you can create a double folded seam then fold up the short ends much like you would wrap a present. Place on the grill and cook for about 30 mins. I started them over the heat then after about 10 mins moved them off to the side to cook from the indirect heat. With the veggies it's the same. Chop up your veggies, place on the foil and these I drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt & lemon pepper then placed on the grill like the potato packet. Be careful when opening as the steam will be hot!

My baby's got sauce...
tattoo back
When I was just a wee babe (okay I was 19) I kicked around downtown PDX for most of the summer, and this beautiful creature named Jessie used to roam around with her CD player, singing "Baby's Got Sauce" by G.Love. I sing that song just about every time I make my own bbq sauce or stir fry sauce. I hate the song to tell the truth, but OMG was she beautiful.
So, in celebration of summer, and beautiful women, and BBQing, I bring you my BBQ sauce recipe.
And as an added bonus, my stir fry sauce, because I'm just nice like that.

This sauce is great for chicken and pork, and with a tweak or two might be good on salmon too.

Keep in mind, I'm a bit of a dabbler at cooking, and I don't pay much mind to measuring for a lot of things.
For one whole chicken's worth of sauce (about 1.5 to 2 cups with deliberate extra for dipping!)
In a pot, combine
1 1/2 c ketchup (Heinz plz)
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 c brown sugar
2 T chili powder (less if you are using Mexican hot style)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. honey
whisk together and cook on med-low until it bubbles and/or gets a bit darker and looses the gritty sugar feel.
Sometimes I'll add a little water to thin it out before cooking it, about 1/2 a cup.
Slather the chicken or pork ribs when there's about 5 minutes left of cooking time. For pork chops I wait until they are done and then slap it on right as they come off the grill.
I also use this same sauce, with some onion sliced added, to make pulled pork in the crock pot.
Add pork butt, and water to almost cover to crock basin. Lightly salt, 3-5 on medium or high until it falls apart. Drain water, fork pull the meat and pour on sauce and add onion slices (or diced if you prefer). Cook another 1 hour on low. Sooo yummy on split toasted buns or wide flat rolls.
I love it with coleslaw, sometimes even on top of the meat, but usually just on the side.
Dump 1 package shredded slaw mix (yeah, I'm lazy) into a large bowl (it "deflates")spread it out to make a large well in the bottom of the bowl.
1 c mayo
2 T sugar
2 1/2 T. c apple cider vinegar
1/2 tea. celery seed (or celery salt if that's what you've got, but up the sugar by 2 tea. if that's the case)
Wisk together until smooth. Fold slaw in and toss to coat. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes to let it soak up all the yummy sauce.

Well that was all over the place!
My super simple stir fry, and then a more "fancy" version (both are enough for about 1-2 persons worth of stirfry)

1/2 to 3/4 c Soy sauce
1/4 c water
2 T. brown sugar
1 tea. garlic powder
1 tea corn starch
Mix all, and whisk in corn starch quite briskly to make sure there's no lumps, pour on at the end of cooking, until bubbly and thickened a bit.

Fancy stir fry sauce:
3/4 c Soy sauce
1/4 c water
2 T. brown sugar
1 medium garlic clove, smashed and diced
1 large clove of garlic sized nub of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 stalk of green (spring) onion, sliced (can be whole onion, or just green top)
2 T. oyster sauce
1 T honey
1 T corn starch whisked in briskly
Combine all and add when dish is nearly done cooking. Keep "stirring" until sauce has thickened and coats all the veggies/meat (shouldn't really be much runny sauce... if you like that, then make more sauce! heh)

Simple sauce works best on meatless stir-frys (tofu is okay), while "fancy" is better if chicken or pork is added. I love these sauces for Yakisoba noodles too.

"Summer On A Plate" Pasta Salad
Burger & Fries
I have been very lax regarding keeping track of recipes and posting them but I am gonig to try and rectify that posthaste;)

To start I will tell you of a tasty "summer on a plate" type of pasta salad I just made. Really good fresh tomatoes, basil and just ripe avocadoes are key here. I lucked out and got some amazing fresh tomatoes at my local grocery store as the garden ones are still quite green;) My basil is doing great so I used a ton in this and it was teh bomb! It really does taste better when you grow it yourself;)

16 oz rotini pasta or similar shape
2 med. tomatoes (once again the fresher the better as we all know the usual grocery store ones are mealy and tasteless) cored, seeded and chopped
1 avocado diced (I do not like the taste avocadoes get once they are too ripe so I prefer to use one that is still fairly firm, also this makes it easier to dice)
1/2 large Walla Walla Sweet onion chopped
1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic minced
1 cup of fresh basil leaves cut into ribbons (a la chiffonade)
About 1/3 cup of red wine vinegar
About 1/2 cup of olive oil
salt & pepper
freshly grated/shredded Parmesan cheese to garnish if desired

Cook the pasta in lots of boiling salted water until just al dente. As with most pasta/potato salads this will be better after sitting overnight and you don't want the pasta to get too mushy as it absorbs the dressing and juices from the tomatoes so keep it on the firmer side of al dente.
Pour the red wine vinegar into the bowl you will be using for the salad so it needs to be pretty big. Add the minced garlic and some salt & pepper and let that sit while you chop the tomato & onion dumping those in as you go. Give this a good toss. Let it sit while the pasta finishes cooking.
Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water. Let this sit and drain further while you slice up the basil. Add about 1/2 the basil to the mix already in the bowl and toss. Then add the drained pasta and drizzle the olive oil into the mix while gently folding it all together. Depending on the pasta use your judgement as to how much to add.
Dice the avocado and add last so it gets the least bruising and exposure to oxygen to keep it bright green. Scatter the remaining basil over the top and cover well with plastic wrap pressed down onto the surface to keep out air & moisture. Refrigerate overnight and when serving just toss lightly and sprinkle on some parmesan cheese. It tastes best when closer to room temp and since there is no mayo you don't have to worry about it sitting out at a picnic or bbq.

Something magical about the flavors here all just come together and say summer to me; hence the name;)

Summer Salad experiments
checkered diner
Ok, after the good news we went down for a cooling swim and then I decided to bbq for one last time as tomorrow we will be in a packing frenzy and most likely end up eating elsewhere so I don't have to cook and stuff will be packed up.

I had not realized it but the roommate brought home a nice big package of country style pork ribs and some fresh corn-on-the-cob. So I did bbq ribs and corn grilled in the husk. I also had one odd little cucumber that was ready to be picked and my romaine lettuce that needed to just be used up instead of trying to move/transplant so I got creative with salad fixings to use up stuff. The ribs and corn are pretty straight forward so I'm not posting recipes for those but the salad actually turned out really tasty so I wanted to share!

1 medium sized bunch of romaine lettuce or other greens of your choice would work. Chop or tear into bite sized pieces.
1/2 a Walla Walla or other sweet onion sliced
1 apple quartered and sliced (core removed of course) I had a Golden Delicious on hand that needed to be used but if making this again I would actually pick something a bit tarter like a Granny Smith.
1 cucumber, halved lengthwise and then sliced.

For a dressing I wanted to use up the last of a bottle of balsamic vinegar so I made a basic vinagerette. I ended up with a lot more dressing than I needed but it could be saved for future stuff if you are not moving in 2 days like I am;)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
About 2 tblsp of red wine vinegar
1 large clove of garlic minced
pinch of salt & pepper
handful of basil chopped
Combine all of these in a small bowl and let sit for about 15 minutes. This lets the garlic and basil infuse the vinegar.
Stream about 1/2 cup of olive oil slowly into the bowl while whisking to emulsify. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. I then drizzled the dressing onto the salad mix a spoonful at a time and tossing it around to make sure I didn't overdress the salad. I ended up using about 1/2 of the dressing overall.

At first it seemed fine but the sweetness of the apple combined with the balsamic vinegar was a bit heady so I looked in the fridge and saw I had some crumbled feta cheese so I added that and it was perfect! The extra saltiness and the tang of the feta really helped to balance out the sweetness!

Impromptu White Bean Salad
checkered diner
I needed to use up some homemade chicken stock in my fridge and I had about a pound of white beans so I started off thinking I would do a sort of cassoulet dish but changed my mind;)

I cleaned, drained and rinsed the 16 oz. of white beans (Great Northern) then added them to the pot of stock. It was probably about 8 cups of stock.
Then I threw in the leftover bone from a Boston Butt style pork roast that was waiting for just such an occasion.
Bring to a boil for 2 minutes then turn down to simmer on low for about 2 hours or until beans are tender. Drain and discard the bone. Give the beans a quick rinse of cold water to stop them from getting too mushy.

In a large salad bowl combine:
About 3 tbslp of olive oil
Same amount of red wine vinegar
1 big clove of garlic chopped
Pinch of kosher salt
plenty of fresh ground black pepper
a few shakes of red pepper flakes
Whisk together vigorously
Dump in a can of diced tomatoes drained, or about 3-4 diced fresh tomatoes
Dump in the white beans
Toss to combine
Chop up about 1/2 cup each of fresh parsley and basil.
Toss into bean mixture
Cover loosely and place in fridge to chill and meld flavors.
When ready to serve sprinkle liberally with crumbled feta or goat cheese or freshly grated parmesan according to taste.

Pork Chops With Paprika & Onion Gravy
This is actually an easy and quick dish to make with pork chops to give them some extra oomph! I highly recommend finding a place to buy paprika in bulk where they have various types or if you don't have that nearby then check online; there are even purveyors on Amazon that carry Smoked Paprika as well as many others both Spanish and Hungarian. I tend to shop by smell so online is a bit of a crap shoot but I trust Amazon's purveyors if you need to do that.

1 med. sweet onion
3-4 lbs thin cut pork loin chops (boned or boneless is fine)
2 tblsp +more as needed olive oil
flour for dredging the chops (maybe 1/2 cup at most)
salt, pepper, cumin & regular paprika for seasoning the chops
2 tblsp smoked paprika
2 tblsp worcestershire sauce
1 to 1 1/2 cups of broth depending on how many chops you have (I used some leftover pork broth from a roast but chicken or beef would be ok)
1 cup of sour cream (or about 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese which is what I used as I was out of sour cream)

Let the chops warm up to room temp a bit then dust with salt, pepper, flour, cumin and paprika on one side. Heat the olive oil in your largest deep saute pan. Add the chops seasoned side down in batches leaving a bit of room between each. Season other sides and turn once they are seared and starting to brown. The thing here is to get a good sear but not cook them through so it may only take a minute or two. Remove to a plate and repeat until all the chops are done this way. Cover with tin foil.
While the chops are cooking peel and slice the onion into half and then cut into thin slices. When the chops are done add more oil to the pan as needed and once heated add the onions and saute until golden brown. Add the worcerstershire sauce, a bit more salt & pepper, and the smoked paprika and stir to combine. Push the onions to the side of the pan, add the chops in layers placing onions on top of each layer and then pour in the broth. You want a good inch or so of liquid in the pan. Bring to a boil then drop the heat to a simmer and cover. About 10 minutes or so later turn the chops and rotate from the top to the bottom layer so the top chops get their chance to braise in the liquid as well. After 20 minutes or so of simmering/braising the chops should be done. Remove them from the pan to a plate and cover with tin foil.

Making the gravy:
The remaining liquid in the pan needs to be reduced now to make the gravy:
Uncovered let the liquids simmer on med. low stirring to ensure nothing is sticking for about half an hour. You want it to reduce by about 1/3rd. The flour used in the seasoning of the chops originally will start to thicken your sauce as it reduces. Taste for salt & pepper. When it has thickened to your liking add the sour cream and turn off the heat. Stir until incorporated.
I served this with egg noodles tossed in a lemon & garlic butter alongside some steamed corn. The gravy is also good on the noodles or you could of course have spaetzle or some form of potatoes to help sop up all the yumminess. I did notice the lemon in the noodles really helped to brighten and cut the richness of the gravy.


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