Yum Peaceful Cooking: August 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

Spaghetti isn't just for kids...Moms NEED it too!


I don't know what to call this. Is is tomato sauce? I suppose it is. It's not the typical tomato sauce you're use to seeing in the super markets. It's not rich and creamy like some of the stuff you find in the jars.

I have nothing against the jars....I have my favorites, trust me. And there's nothing quicker than emptying a jar. And nothing wrong with it either...

But....what do I do when a certain male adult in the house is sick of my weekly go-to meal? The one that's guaranteed to be eaten by the girls and loved! What does a mom do when her Sir Sportsalot refuses to eat another bite of her beloved Prego?

Not the spaghetti!!!

I know!! She does a quick switch and makes her spaghetti more adult-ish. Basically, the same ingredients...different form....

Voila La!

This is perfect for weeknights. After a long day of work, school, sports, etc. You can have dinner on the table lickity split!

Chop up an onion, mince some garlic...slice up a few mushrooms...saute....


Set aside and make room for the meet. In my case, I used chunks of chicken breasts this particular night


Season with some salt and pepper...maybe a bit of rosemary, Italian seasoning and saute until cooked through.

Return the onions and mushrooms to the pan and add 2 (14 oz) cans of tomatoes. I usually use the kind thats already seasoned with Italian seasoning. I've used diced, sliced, and whole. What ever floats your boat....dump it in the pan with the meet....


Heat until warmed. Taste....maybe add a little more of something....garlic? salt? Serve over your favorite pasta and top with mozzarella cheese...

Instant Adult Spaghetti that even Sir Sportsalot will eat.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I Heart Hollandaise?

I didn't use to like Hollandaise sauce. Of course that was like....30 yrs ago and I hadn't tried it since. The adults in the family back then use to rave about it....and serve it on special occasions. As a kid, I was highly disappointed.

I love poached eggs though, and always have...and well, Hollandaise goes with poached eggs like gravy goes with biscuits, right? I mean....they're just meant for each other.

So it was inevitable that my taste buds would get a chance to redeem themselves.


Why this trip down memory lane? And the desire to prove that my taste buds have grown up?

I think it's been all this talk about my ancient Better Homes and Garden Cookbook recently.

I love how it looks. The canvas feel it has....

The old drawings....so retro!

My favorite part of any cookbook...the Weights and Measures! (the ultimate cheat sheet!!)

And the charm of old, brittle pages that are browning on the edges...


I noticed that my new BHG has a slightly different recipe for Hollandaise sauce, which I thought was interesting. But for the sake of "memory lane" I'm going to make the old version.

Btw....I'm not going to go into how to poach an egg. I haven't mastered that yet. I have no clue how long to cook them to get the desired yolk. Any tips guys?

Soo...in the Sauce section of "Soups and Sauces" we have Hollandaise Sauce, Quick Hollandaise Sauce and Mock Hollandaise Sauce.

I stuck with Hollanaise Sauce:
1/2 cup butter
4 egg yolks, well beaten
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt the butter in a double boiler. I don't have a double boiler so I use a glass bowl and it works just fine....


Very gradually add the melted butter to the beaten egg yolks, stirring thoroughly. If you add the hot butter too quickly, you'll cook your eggs and get a lumpy sauce. Then gradually add 1/2 cup boiling water, while continuing to stir....


Return to double boiler; cook and stir constantly until sauce thickens...


Remove from hot water; slowly add the lemon juice and salt.....stirring constantly...


Cover; place back over the hot water (with the burner OFF) to keep warm until ready to serve.

Make your poached eggs. (Totally related to Julie from Julie & Julia, here)


It is me or do these kinda look like jellyfish. Photobucket

Assemble over a toasted Thomas' English Muffin and a slice of canadian bacon....plop that poached egg on top and let the sauce smother it all together under a blanket of goodness...


And yes....I am totally in love with Hollandaise Sauce!!! I'm just pissed that its so fattening! LOL

However....my daughter informed me that my Hollandaise doesn't taste like the kind at restaurants. Apparently restaurant Hollandaise doesn't have lemon? I do have a packet of Knorr Hollandaise Sauce mix in the cupboard...... Ooooh....now I remember!! I bought the packet on a whim a couple of weeks back. But instead of using it, I figured..."hell, I can make it myself"....so that was the beginning of the beginning.

I will try the packet and see what my daughter has to say about it. Will it be better than mine? Will it be better than the restaurants? Inquiring minds want to know....

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Salubrious Sunday, they're getting better! #11


I'm really excited about this one! It was good, simple, quick.....all the right components.

Sir Sportsalot wanted to grill the chicken. Not wanting to turn down kitchen help (in any form) of course I agreed. But I wanted something different yet simple.

It was hot.
I was tired.

I thought about marinating the chicken in Italian dressing, but that has been done soooo many times.

Besides, I usually use those Good Season Italian Dressing packets and I was out.

So I looked in my good ole 1958 BHG cookbook for an Italian Dressing recipe and got side tracked looking at all the old timie dressings (confetti dairy dressing? pineapple-cheese dressing?).
No Italian dressing recipe back then. (interesting).
No Ranch either (not so surprising).

So I decided to try the French Dressing (the non-tomato version. forgot pics though...but its still red):

1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp paprika
Dash of cayenne
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 cup veg oil

Combine, shake...and use.

So thats what I did...then marinated the chicken with half of it. Nice....tender....and a simple flavor.

Now...the star of this meal was the Saffron Rice (minus the real saffron cuz I'm cheap that way). The recipe comes from my Good Life Healthy Cookbook.


1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 3/4 cup chicken stock (fat-free/low salt
4 - 5 saffron threads (or 1/4 tsp powder) I used the safflower that I had bought for the Paella
1/8 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp creole seasoning
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 cups instant brown rice I used instant white rice which was lower in calories

Spray a medium saucepan with cooking spray; add olive oil and heat. Add minced garlic and lightly saute for a minute, then add chicken stock, saffron (aka poor mans safflower), cumin, creole seasoning and parsley

thats one old pot. I won't tell you exactly how old, but it was a gift from my aunt when I turned 21

Bring to a boil, then stir in the rice. Boil for 1 minute, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff rice with a fork. Cover again and let sit for another 5 minutes


As a side, I returned to one of the recipes from my very first Salubrious Sunday; Marinated Tomatoes

All in all, it was a light, refreshing summer meal.


I don't have the stats for my chicken. I used boneless skinless chicken breast so I don't imagine it was very "unhealthy"....if at all. If you want the stats for the tomatoes, click on the link above.

As for the rice...here ya go:
Calories: 126
Protein: 2.5g
Fat: 2g
Cal. from fat: 15%
Chol: 0mg
Carb: 24g
Sodium 136mg

Now here's some very interesting information about Saffron from this cookbook. Some of you may already know some or all of this...but I'm gonna post it anyway for those of us who don't :)

"Saffron is the world's most expensive spice. You can buy it in threads or powder, or in a less expensive "imitation" form such as turmeric. The powder loses its flavor easily and should be bought in very small quantities (that's all anyone can afford, anyway!).

When using the threads, crush just before using. Heat will release saffron's flavor essence, so mixing it with 1 Tbsp. of very hot water and letting it stand for 10 minutes will increase its impact."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Paella Coast to Coast and a Guest

We're doing it again!!

Yep....another Coast-to-Coast BakeSpace Cook-off!! (btw, if you're interested in how we come up with these you can ----->click here<------there's even a post on there from Martha, a fellow BakeSpacer who doesn't have a blog, but wanted to participate, so check it out)

Photobucket Photobucket

Anyways...before I go into the detail of what I did and how...I'd like to introduce you to one of my bestest BakeSpace buds....(giggling cuz I almost typed bugs instead of buds...) Anyways, her name is Cathy and she is an awesome cook...a fun, loving friend and just an all around really great person!

(the pic on the left is mine and the pic on the right is hers..so you can see already how different this dish can be)

Sooo...without further ado....Let me proudly introduce my very first ever Guest Blogger....give a nice warm welcome to Cathy!!!

(applaud, applaud, applaud)

How cool that I get to be a guest blogger! Thanks, Danielle!

When I first heard about this Coast to Coast blogging, I was jealous that I didn’t have my own blog. So, when Danielle invited me to guest blog I was very excited. Our mission was to make paella. Huh? I had heard of it, but it wasn’t anything I had ever thought to make. Didn’t it have all sorts of seafood? And yellow rice. Hmmm. I thought that I had better research it a bit.
A simple search on the internet gave me all sorts of information. Paella is a Spanish dish (this I already knew) and it comes in many variations. This was a good since that meant I could do my own thing. I like to do my own thing. About the only requirements were rice and saffron (and I even saw recipes that used yellow food coloring instead of saffron—blasphemous, I know). Coincidentally, I saw another food blogger on Twitter that was doing a rice dish—www.adreasrecipes.com –The Daring Cooks Make Creamy Rice with Mushrooms. Her picture looked just like paella to me, but she started out with a sauce made from tomatoes and onions (called sofregit in Spanish). Yum. I was using that idea. And since my husband wasn’t into most crustaceans, I just chose shrimp and a nice chicken sausage for the protein. So this is what I came up with:
I started out with the sofregit:
2-3 tablespoons EVOO
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic

5 Roma tomatoes, sliced into wedges

Salt and pepper

In a large pan, heat EVOO over medium high heat. Add chopped onions, garlic and green peppers and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and continue to sauté for 10 to 15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.


Next was the rice part:
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups Arborio rice (traditionally a “short” rice is supposed to be used, but I couldn’t find any. This is a good sub)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
A good pinch of saffron


Add the chicken broth to the sofregit. Add the rice, bay leaves, Italian seasoning and saffron. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover pan. Simmer for about 20 minutes.


While the rice is cooking, cut the sausages into slices and brown in a separate frying pan. I used a wonderful chicken sausage from Trader Joe’s---Garden Vegetable, Mushroom & Asiago Chicken Sausage. There were four to the package.


About three to four minutes before the rice is finished cooking, add the browned sausage and the shrimp (1 pound).


And, voila! Paella, Cathy style!


This was pretty tasty stuff! Once my husband got over the fact that I made paella and not payola (he thought maybe one of my recipes finally paid off-ha ha), he enjoyed it, too. Now I have leftovers for a week…..Bring on the next challenge!

(I'm baaack!)

Thank you so much Cathy!!! Your dish looks fabulous! I soooo wish I could at least eat shrimp! Anyways....I definitely want to do this again. You can be my guest anytime!

Ok...Now...lemme explain a few things. I'm allergic to fish.

My version has NO fish.

Also, I couldn't find a few things. For instance, I couldn't find the spanish version of chorizo. So I bought the mexican version. It made a HUGE difference. I can't tell you if it was a good difference or a bad difference cuz to be honest with you, before last week, I had never heard of Paella (it seems to me that I have lived a sheltered life in regards to the culinary world).

Anyways....another alteration I made was the saffron. I'm sorry but I refuse to pay $10.59 for .5g of saffron. So I opted for the American Saffron, or what's referred to as the saffron bastard...Safflower.

The main website I referred to when planning and preparing my Paella is here: La Tienda


6 cups chicken bouillon (very strong)
1/2 tsp saffron (or safflower if you're a penny pincher like me)
1/4 tsp paprika
1 small whole onion, peeled
5 lbs cut up chicken (I used thighs and legs)
1/2 cup olive oil
12 oz of mexican chorizo
13 oz portuguese sausage, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
4 scallions, chopped
6 mushrooms, sliced
4 tablespoons garlic, chopped
2 roasted bell peppers
3 cups arborio rise (I couldn't find small grain spanish rice)
3 tablespoons each: Italian parsley and cilantro
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 lb fresh corn, cut off the cob
3 plum tomatoes, diced
Lemon wedges and more cilantro for garnish

And a very large pan, with a 15" base. I don't have a paella pan, so I used a deep skillet.

whew...thats ooooone long list.


Heat the bouillon, saffron, paprika and the whole onion in a large pot. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the onion and measure the broth. You need exactly 5 1/2 cups


Now....the package of chorizo said to remove the casing before cooking, and the directions called for what I thought said "cooked" chorizo, when it actually said, cooking chorizo (not sure what that meant but what I did probably wasn't what was intended).

Sooo....I removed the chorizo from the casing and cooked it....

(no comments from the gutter....errrr...peanut gallery!)

The directions say to cut the boney end of the chicken legs off and to cut the thighs in half. I suggest doing this so that everything fits into the pot. Pat the chicken dry and sprinkle with salt.

Heat the oil in the pan. Add the chicken and fry over high heat until golden brown...


Remove chicken to a warm platter. As you can see, my "warm platter" is a plate that I will cover with a piece of foil.

Put the chorizo and the portuguese sausage in the pan and stir fry for about 10 minutes. Add the chopped onion, scallions, mushrooms, garlic, and red pepper. Saute until the onion is tender...(mean while, bring the broth back to a boil)


Add the rice and stir to coat. Sprinkle in the parsley, cilantro and bay leaves. Stir in the broth, (boiling hot), wine, corn and tomatoes....



(I'm totally loving this!!!)

Bring to a boil and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. Bury the chicken into the rice. Bake in a 325'F oven for 20 minutes....



Remove from the oven, lightly cover with foil and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving. Squeeze a bit of lemon on top....mmmmmmm

Ok...changes I will make for next time: No mexican chorizo. Although it had wonderfully great flavor, I think it is to blame for my lack of "yellow" in the rice. I guess I don't like portuguese sausage, so I'll have to find a replacement for that too. And thats all I can think of right now. You try it out..and see what you come up with. This dish seems to be pretty versatile and very tasty indeed!

I did mention that this was a Coast to Coast Cook-Off.....so here's what the others did: