Yum Peaceful Cooking: March 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009

Long overdue Award Acknowledgement

One of my BakeSpace.com pals gave me the Sisterhood Award.... Marguerite from Sprytes Place. Thank you for my very first award! :)  Spryte also has a food blog and makes some awesome things. As a matter of fact, I'm using her recipe for Stuffed Shells this week. By the way Spryte's blog just had a major overhaul and man...it really looks awesome (ya...I totally have blog envy!). Anyways...this is the award I got:

How cute is that?

This award does come with some responsibility (as all good things do) and it's time that I fulfill them. 

Sisterhood Award Rules:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post
2. Nominate blogs of people who you think show great attitude and / or gratitude
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post
4. Let them know they have received this award by commenting on their blog
5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person who has nominated you for the award

Now I get to share the love with the following "sisters" (I promise gentlemen...if it didn't say Sisterhood and I wasn't afraid of offending anyone, I so would've shared it with you):

Brittany at Barefoot Foodie 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

DDpiesSlice: Happy St. Patrick's Day! (part 5, the cake construction)

This is just a simple little thing. DD is one of my best BakeSpace buds and she happens to be the most incredible cake decorator that I know. (she also happens to be the ONLY cake decorator that I know, but who's counting).

Anyways, if you're into awesome cakes or want to learn about decorating awesome cakes....you really should check her stuff out......

DDpiesSlice: Happy St. Patrick's Day! (part 5, the cake construction)

While you're over there, tell her I said "Hello!"

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie without a pie crust

What's a pot pie without pie crust? Yummier! There are very few things that I will eat in a pie crust but Chicken Pot Pie is NOT one of them. Maybe its because the first chicken pot pie I ever had was back in the 70's when I was a kid visiting a friend and for dinner her mom pulled out those horrid frozen dinner versions of Chicken Pot Pies and I absolutely hated it! And the woman had the nerve to get mad at me! umm....taste buds anyone?? Helloooooo. I guess she had none and I never got over it. You could say this is an odd version....kinda like a casserole with a breaded topping instead of pie crust. Its a huge hit it my home and I even get requests for this from my daughters friends. (thats one up on the mom without taste buds, eh? LOL)

Today I had time to actually boil a whole chicken. I used some of the chicken for the pot pie and will be saving the rest of the chicken for later in the week when I make Chicken Divan. With my new job, I'm not sure if I'll have time to snap pictures for a blog, but I'll try. I don't get home until 6:30 as it is, so we'll see. Anyways....I boiled the chicken with lots of seasoning in the water. The more seasoning, the better the broth and I used the broth for tonight too. Btw...if you don't have time, just use some already cooked chicken (or boil a couple of chicken breasts) and use whatever chicken broth you'd normally use. 

Now...the ingredients are simple enough but this is a little bit time consuming. I promise it's well worth the effort. Comfort food always is don't you think? :)

2/3 cup butter
1 large onion chopped
2 carrots thinly sliced
3 celery sticks, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
4 - 6 mushrooms, sliced
2/3 cup flour
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/3 cups milk
2 cups cooked chicken, cut up
2 cups veggies, chopped or diced
2 cups bisquick
1 cup milk
2 eggs

Ok...preheat that oven to a hot 400'. ya...this isn't something you want to be cooking during the summer, thats for sure.

In regards to the vegetables. The original recipe called for frozen veggies. I'll sometimes mix it up, depending on what I have and what I'm in the mood for. Tonight I used corn, broccoli and some peas. There were plenty of times where I just used a regular ole frozen veggie mix. But, no matter what I use, I like to cook them a bit first. I can't stand partially done veggies in a casserole. 

Now with that said...I diced up the onion, carrots, celery, mushrooms and garlic. To be honest with you, this is the first time I've ever put mushrooms in my pot pie and I loved it.

Heat butter in a very large pan over low heat until melted. Saute your diced mixture from above until tender. This could take a little longer than you'd think because of the carrots. Oh...lets get back to that "very large pan". You will be adding a lot of liquid and food to this pan before it all goes into a casserole dish. So keep that in mind. You don't want to get almost to the end of your cooking and discover you've run out of room and you need to grab another pan to get dirty and then have to clean. Such a pain. Dishes are bad enough without adding more unnecessarily. 

Ok...the carrots, onions, etc are sauteing....

Add flour, salt and pepper to taste (you can always taste it again before you throw it in the oven to see if you need to add more salt and pepper). Stir until blended and bubbly. I don't know why they say "bubbly". When you add equal amounts of fat (ie: butter) and flour, everything just gets soaked up and there's no liquid left to get "bubbly".  So, I just stir it for a minute and continue on. 

Remove from heat and get ready to add your liquids. BTW, while the carrots and onions and stuff were sauteing, I was taking the chicken off the bone and boiling the broth down a bit to condense the flavor. Then I spooned the broth into my measuring cup and got it ready for my next step.

So...your sauteed veggies have been removed from the heat (only for a minute...you don't want them to cool off). Stir in the chicken broth and 1 1/3 cups of milk. Heat to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for 1 minute.

Stir in chicken and veggies.

Poor mixture into a 9 x 13 casserole dish and set aside.

Stir bisquick, 1 cup of milk and the eggs until blended. Pour over chicken and veggie mixture.

Try and get it over to the edge so that the juices are sealed in and won't bubble over during cooking. However, sometimes it happens anyways therefore I always put the casserole dish on a large cookie sheet to catch any spills.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.....

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Garam Masala Cream Soup

Garam Masala is a mixture of ground spices, often used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. I often use it when making a tomato based curry but I found this recipe on the label when I first bought it and I love it. It's full of flavors that are not common in American cuisines. The recipe doesn't call for salt or garlic, which are a mainstay in my cooking and it's very hard for me to hold back from using them. But trust me...this soup doesn't need it. Its a quick, easy recipe and very satisfying. After a long week at work, this was just what I needed.

You can find Garam Masala in the spice section of your grocery store. Over the years, more and more brands make it. I'm sure there's a recipe somewhere on the net that will tell you how to make it if you can't find it in your store. The most common ingredients (though they vary according to region) are cardamom, cumin, bay leaves, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and coriander.

The ingredients are:

Garam Masala Soup
Printable Version

1/4 cup butter
16 oz chopped veggies
1/2 cup flour
14.5 oz chicken broth
2 1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon Garam Masala
1 tablespoon parsley flakes

For the vegetables you can just use a bag of frozen veggies, and I do use some to get a nice variety, but I chop up a couple of zucchini, some broccoli and onions. Melt the butter over a med- high heat then add the veggies and saute until tender. The frozen veggies will get tender quicker. I put a lid on the pan to help the veggies get tender, faster.

Add the flour; stir and cook for 1 minute. Why? Because you want to cook away the flour flavor. This step allows the flour to absorb some of the flavor in the pan and adhere to the veggies so you don't get lumps when you add the liquid. Sorry I forgot to take a picture of that process, but I was busy stirring and didn't think about grabbing the camera..... my bad. 

Add the chicken broth and milk. If you want this to be a strictly vegetarian dish, by all means, use vegetable broth instead of the chicken broth. Stir and cook until thick and creamy, about 10 minutes.

Add the Garam Masala and parsley flakes; stir well and serve immediately. 

It's that simple. If you let it sit too long it will continue to thicken, the same way gravy does, so it really is best to eat it right away. I have had it the next day and it's flavor is even bolder. I just add a little bit of liquid before I heat it up to thin it out a bit. Although its not bad cold either. 

A nice slice of rustic bread goes great with this. If you're interested, check out my blog entry for No-Knead Bread. I'm making a loaf right now. I added a tablespoon of dill, caraway seed and 2 tablespoons of parsley to the bread during the first step. I got the idea from a bread machine recipe that I have used often in the past (and even used it with this soup for tonight's dinner since I didn't have any bread in the house and was too lazy to run to the store). It reminds me of a more flavorful version of rye bread. I'm hoping the No-Knead Bread will be even better than the bread machine recipe. 

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pico De Gallo

How often do you see those mini cookbook magazines along the checkout line at the grocery store? Sometimes I just can't help myself and I buy them!! Usually there's one, MAYBE two recipes in the damn things that are keepers. Years ago I picked one up for Mexican food and found this simple Pico De Gallo recipe....tastes good and the family loves it. It's the only recipe in the whole booklet that I have made more than once (and plenty that I never made even one time LOL).

Now...lets go over a few minor details. Tomatoes. I highly recommend that you use Roma (aka Plum) tomatoes. They have more meat and less juice in them. You're gonna end up with a bowl of Pico De Gallo juice when its all gone anyways...but when you use those other juicier tomatoes....your Pico De Gallo will swim in the stuff. Not that the juice is bad or anything, I mean, I like to soak it up with a flour tortilla and munch away, but the main point is the dip-ability of the stuff right? It's not fun trying to get a scoop of Pico De Gallo juice on your chip then into your mouth without wearing it.

Next....citrus juice. I've used both lemon and lime. The lime is better tasting but lemon is fine. Please use fresh when possible...especially if you're using lemon juice. Have you ever tasted that bottled stuff? Try it...just a little lick....now taste the juice from a fresh squeezed lemon. Now, tell me which one YOU would like to taste in your Pico De Gallo. uh huh....thats what I thought.

Two minor things (minor in my opinion)...onions and jalapenos. You can use red or white onions. They're both good and fresh....it's a personal preference. Now, I might get some flack here, but I don't really wanna hear it cuz it's my opinion based on my personal taste so I'm gonna give it...so there!...LOL. I use the jarred Nacho Jalapeno Slices in my Pico De Gallo. I've used fresh ones before and I find that the jarred jalapnos have more flavor. I'm not into heat so I remove the seeds and veins and chop them up real small. If you prefer fresh....please do it. It's what the original recipe called for anyway.

Oh..I almost forgot. Besides eating it with tortilla chips, in fajitas and burritos, etc....I take a couple of spoonfuls (especially the juice) and mix it in with 2 smashed avocados for just about the best guacamole you've ever had. Seriously...you oughta try it.

Here ya go. I didn't bother taking pictures of everything chopped up. I mean, it's not like you've never seen diced tomatoes and onions right? So lets get to the meat of it!

6 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 jalapeno chili, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour so that the flavors blend.