From harvest to table ~ what's cooking now?

This blog shows where all those garden goodies I grow end up. I call this little eating area next to the stove my "chef's table" because at all the best restaurants it's a privilege to be invited to dine in the kitchen where the chef reigns supreme. So here I am "reigning" and you are all invited. :-D

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Spicy chicken and rice

One of my favorite savory meals is spicy chicken and rice.

Mom made this when I was younger and, though I've tweaked it more toward my tastes and convenience, it's still, by and large, an 'old' recipe.

Mom used a whole quartered chicken (which is nigh impossible to find today what with all chicken parts segregated into their own packages).

I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts in my version.

I chunk up the meat, then poach it in chicken broth until it is warmed through, but not cooked.  Then I add sweet bell peppers, onions, garlic, and (most importantly) lots of green pepper.  The dish doesn't taste right without them.  Then I add some kind of tomato (raw or frozen) or a handy tomato-based sauce, like salsa or Prego for instance.

Finally I add a can of mushroom soup, herbs, spices and hot pepper.

Bring the pot to near boil, then turn down, cover, and simmer for about an hour or until the chicken is tender enough to break easily.

For the rice,  I make a big pot: 3C brown rice, 6C water.  To that I add 1/4C red quinoa (for extra protein, texture and flavor) and a rounded 1/2t of tumeric (makes the rice rich yellow and extra nutrition).  Bring to boil, cover, and simmer until there is only a couple of inches a water in the pot.  Then turn off the heat and let it finish steaming.

To serve, fill a bowl with beautiful yellow rice and add generous scoops and spicy chicken in sauce.

Yum.  We enjoyed our hot dishes for Christmas lunch along with a crisp green salad!  There's nothing like a hot and savory meal on a cold, snowy holiday.

P.S.  Why such a big pot of rice?  Because freezing it in 1C bags is a no-brainer.  Then, when I want rice in soup or sauce or some fried rice, it's ready to go.  I pack them in sandwich bags, then 4 of those fit nicely into a quart-sized freezer bag so there is never a hassle to get just the right amount of rice for the job.


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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sam's loss, BJs gain - turkeyloaf

I haven't made up a meat loaf in a long long time.

Reason is, I used to be able to buy Jennie-O ground turkey (5# packs) at Sam's club at a good price (about $2.35/lb and 93% fat free).

It made the best burgers, meatloafs, meatballs, chile.  Any recipe that called for ground meat, that Jennie-O turkey was excellent.

Then Sam's stopped selling it, instead they offered some unknown stuff selling under their Member Mark label.  It looked grey.  And nasty.  I passed. (Here's what other members say about it - CLICK HERE then click 'ratings and review' tab.) Like some of those who commented, I did not renew my Sam's membership since the Jennie-O was what brought me into the store.  It had become a staple, y'see.

Anyway, after that I couldn't find Jennie-O locally anywhere else except Acme and they wanted - waaaait for it - $4.49/lb!!  Good grief.

Since then I've pretty much been without foods that use ground turkey except when Acme marks down packs that are about to expire and even then it's still pricey.

Last week, though, I was at BJs and found a 3# pack of Purdue ground turkey (93% fat free and about $2.60/lb) so decided to give it a try.

I assembled a couple of nice meatloafs:

3# ground turkey
1C sweet red peppers
1C shredded zuchinni
1C chopped onions
1C rolled oats
3 large eggs
salt, pepper, garlic, marjoram

Covered, I popped them into a preheated (350F) oven and slow roasted them for almost 2 hours.  (I took longer than normally because I'd also filled the empty rack with 10# of potatoes to roast.)

I took off the foil for the last 10 minutes and turned the broiler on to brown up the loaves.

A quick sample while it was still warm seemed pretty good, but the real test will be when it has cooled overnight in the 'fridge.

=======  next day

Okay, the loaves are cool and have set up.  I went at them with my trusty bread knife (honestly, it's better than anything else on stuff like this).

The eggs and oatmeal did their job - binding the loaves so that it could be cut and the slices did not fall apart.  Most of the slices here are 1/2", but I also cut some 1/4" slices which I will use in quesadillas.

Texture aside, I'm happy to say that the Purdue turkey is totally acceptable.  Little fat when cooking, smells fresh right out of the pack and while cooking.

Bottom line, until I can find another cost-efficient source for ground Jennie-O, I will use the Purdue.

Thank goodness.   I've also really been missing meatballs in spaghetti sauce!  As for the loaves,  I've bagged it up into single servings (2 slices) and put them in the freezer. 

How about you?  Have you had to modify fave foods due to market disappointments?

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