Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Snack Plate Dinner with Zucchini Chips and Roasted Chickpeas

We continue to torture the girls with Snack Plate Dinners.  The first time they were "meh".  Attempt #2 got a "yeah, that's pretty good" from 1/3 of our munchkins (could it be the bacon-wrapped artichokes?!?).

Third time's the charm?

We decided to mix things up a bit, so the regular raw veggies, cheese & crackers, and sliced fruit shared the plate with...

Zucchini Chips (adapted from The Joy of Clean Eating)

  • 1/4 cup Homemade Breadcrumbs (we used storebought breadcrumbs - Italian style - that we had sitting in the pantry)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional - we opted)
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • heaping 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup cold milk (original recipe uses oat milk. I'm not sure what oat milk is!  used regular organic 1% milk instead)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups sliced zucchini (about 2 small zucchinis)


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl combine breadcrumbs, cheese and black pepper.
  3. In separate bowl add flour, milk and vinegar. Gently stir until combined.
  4. Dip zucchini slices in flour mixture and then dredge in breadcrumb mixture.
  5. Place coated zucchini slices on a baking sheet (We forgot to line ours with tin foil and they sticked like crazy! Make sure to either coat your baking sheet with cooking spray or line it with foil.)
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping the slices over once halfway through cooking, or until browned and crisp.

Our other addition, also found on Pinterest (such an addictive website!), was Roasted Chickpeas (adapted from Chef Pandita).


  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (we used them straight out of the can, rinsed and drained)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon of your spice of choice (we used sea salt and a little red pepper)
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Dry the chickpeas - you want them as dry as possible for roasting.
  3. Toss chickpeas in olive oil.
  4. Place chickpeas on a baking sheet (cover with tin foil), roast for 30-40 minutes, tossing with a spatula occasionally for even roasting. 
  5. Remove from oven, sprinkle with spices and let cool before serving. 

    Sooo... did it his the mark?  Well, unlike Clean Eating's kids, ours girls didn't really like the Zucchini Chips.

    Olivia:  I don't like it. (why don't you like it?) I just don't like zucchini, period! It tastes like dog poop. (no it doesn't!) It's one of the few vegetables I don't like.

    For the record, Jason and I really liked the Zucchini Chips. Cleaned the whole plate and would have eaten more if we'd made more.

    The Roasted Chickpeas? That's where we all, adults included, said "meh".  Which is a bummer because I so wanted these to be a tasty substitute for unhealthy potato chips.

    Saturday, January 28, 2012

    Bacon Breakfast Muffins

    We may talk the talk about eating healthy, but when it comes to breakfast (or "breakfast for dinner") there's nothing better than bacon and eggs. Well, nothing but Bacon Breakfast Muffins!

    OMG!!! How could you not be tempted by these little babies?!  I stumbled upon the recipe a while ago on Pinterest. A delightful little blog called We Are That Family had re-blogged a recipe originally by Martha Stewart.  But I tell you what... you don't need a 'recipe' to make this meal.  It's so easy:

    Step 1: Spray a muffin tin with Pam or similar baking spray. (be sure to do this and do it well! We didn't have much spray left... it made getting the finished muffins out the pan very hard!)

    Step 2: Use a cup (or, if you're like us, a beer tasting glass) to cut circular pieces of bread (wheat makes it healthy! right?).

    Step 3: Line the bottom of each muffin with a piece of bread.

    Step 4: Add bacon. Here's a hint that makes cutting raw bacon easier.

    Step 5: Crack an egg over each ...

    Step 6: Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.  Remove from pan and enjoy!

    A couple of things to know:

    • Spray! You must coat each muffin bottom with enough cooking spray, otherwise it sticks.
    • At 20 minutes your egg may look undercooked. It is not. It's just "glossy" looking. If you add a few minutes "to be sure" (like we did) it will be overcooked.
    • I think the bacon would look more artisan (like Martha's picture at the top) if you twist the ends before cooking, rather than laying them out flat like we did. 
    • You can customize this recipe in so many ways. Chopped ham and cheese like my Facebook friend Deborah. Maybe throw in some veggies? The possibilities are endless! (Hannah says "no! not vegetables!")

    Hannah - My favorite part of the meal was that the bacon was very, very, very crunchy and that made the eggs taste even better because there was one part where it's soft, but there's one part where it's crunchy that tasted really, really good. Something that I didn't like was the bread. I don't know why. I think it was maybe because it was kinda burnt on the outside, but also it was because where the bacon sat to put the egg in it was all mushy. It was like wet.  I rate this meal 4 out of 5 stars.  It's really good, just like my famous Ruffled Eggs

    Jason - I thought it was excellent. The eggs was cooked a little too long (see note above). Ended up being a little rubbery, but the combination of the bread and the egg and the bacon was excellent.  I think I might wrap the bacon back inside instead of having it jutting out the sides. 

    Tanya - I agree with Jason! The thing about this approach that's better than eggs, toast and bacon on a plate in the traditional way is that the bacon grease actually cooks into and flavors the bread and the egg. Unlike Hannah, I'd love to experiment with veggies in this recipe. Maybe diced zucchini, red peppers, tomatoes... endless possibilities. 

    Sunday, January 15, 2012

    Omani Chicken Tandoori

    When Olivia decides to cook for the World of Food Series we never know what we're going to get. Afghani Kabuli Palou was really good. Belgian Mussels Marinieres and Frites was outstanding.  This meal from Croatia? Ugh!  

    I hate to stereotype, but generally the recipes from established food sites and blogs are the best.  If the webpage's only picture is something like this... 

    Chances are the recipe sucks.  If, however, this is the first thing you see...

    Well, now you've got my attention!

    I was so excited to find Sarah Scoble Commerfield's blog What's Cooking in Your World.  She's doing what Olivia's doing, only at a much expedited pace. (At our rate it's going to take us a couple years to get through all the countries!) She includes a lot of background on the countries, her photos are gorgeous, and, if this meal is any indication, her recipes are great!

    Here's Olivia getting to work on Chicken Tandori (Adapted from Desitwist.com -- haha! Ironically, the website of the heart throwing bear!)

    1 whole Chicken (we used thighs)
    1/2 cup plain yogurt
    4 large cloves garlic, crushed
    1 tsp. salt
    1 tsp. ground turmeric
    1 tsp. Omani mixed spice (recipe below)
    1/2 tsp. ground ginger
    1/2 tsp. cardamom
    1 finely chopped (small) hot pepper or 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
    4 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander or cilantro (we skipped this part)

    Skin the chicken and cut into 8 pieces (if using a whole chicken).

    (gosh, my hands look old!)

    In a bowl, mix the chicken with all of the other spices and ingredients, except for fresh chopped coriander.

    Add a few tablespoons of oil to a heavy and heat until oil is good and hot, but not smoking. Place the chicken in the pan bony side down. 

    Sprinkle the fresh coriander over the chicken. (we skipped this part)  

    Cover with lid. Lower the heat to the minimum level and allow to simmer for 50-60 minutes or until the chicken is tender. You may serve chicken as is, or brown it under a broiler for a few minutes (we did).

    Sarah serves hers with Basmati rice and garnish with fresh cilantro.  We served ours with couscous, steamed carrots and fresh blueberries. 

    Omani Spice Mix (Buharat) - (adapted from ehow.com)

    4 tsp. paprika
    4 tsp. black pepper
    1 tsp. ground coriander
    1 tsp. ground cloves
    1 tsp. ground cinnamon
    1 tsp. ground cumin
    1 tsp. ground cardamom
    1 tsp. ground nutmeg
    1 tsp. ground ginger

    Add all the individual spices together in a bowl.

    Place the mixed spices in a covered jar and use for future recipes
    Can be added directly to stews or used as a marinade.

    Hint: Make sure you label your spice mix. We've got a jar full of something - who knows what!?! - in our pantry. It's cinnamon-y smelling, but I'm not sure if it should go in mid-eastern meatballs or french toast! 

    Reviews of Chicken Tandoori

    Jason - I thought it was excellent. Wish there was more chicken.

    Tanya - What he said.

    Miranda - It was good. Spicy, but good. I'm not so much into the carrots.  

    Olivia - It was very good. I thought more chicken would be good. I love couscous and hate carrots. 

    Hannah - (keeps shushing me because she's done eating and is now on to a Criminal Minds marathon. Apparently serial killers trump serial bloggers)

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    Make It -vs- Buy It

    If the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, then the way to this woman's heart is through a cookbook! And boy did Jason hit the mark this Christmas. His one present to me (okay, besides a massive remodel of our faux "master" bathroom) was Jennifer Reese's (a.k.a. The Tipsy Baker's) new book "Make the Break, Buy the Butter."  He'd heard about it on NPR and knew I'd love it!

    He was right. From page one, Jennifer has me hooked.  She talks about discovering frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwich (a.k.a. Smucker's Uncrustables).

    "I felt briefly smug in the certainty that I was not so lazy or compromised that I would ever buy mass-produced peanut better and jelly sandwiches. Then I though, People probably once said that about peanut butter. And bread. And jelly."
    That got Jennifer thinking about all the arbitrary lines we all draw on a regular basis.
    "The most irksome decisions I faced as an adult and working mother seemed to be made at the supermarkets.  Fundamentally trivial, they were nonetheless maddeningly fraught, involving questions of time, quality, money, First World guilt, maternal guilt, gender, meaning and health."
     Do you recognize this maddening thought-train?

    "Owen needs cupcakes for school and look, here they are, ready to go, packed in clamshells. Nutritionally irredeemable - but made. Sixteen dollars for twenty-four supermarket trans-fat packed cupcakes? Good grief. I'll bake. That means I need eggs and the eggs here sure are cheap. But I can't buy them here because these eggs are laid by debeaked chickens living in cages the size of Tic Tac boxes. If only I'd gone to the farmers' market on Sunday and bought eggs there.... But how do I know that guy treats his chickens well just because the eggs are blue? And honestly, do I even really care about chickens? I can't believe I'm spending three dollars per pound for these crunchy tomatoes. I should grow them, just like Barbara Kingsolver. How does she find the time to make her own cheese and breed her own heritage turkeys and write books? I need to work harder, sleep less, never watch TV again. Wait, there's high-fructose corn syrup in Campbell's vegetable soup? Isn't that supposed to be a deal breaker?"
     JENNIFER! How did you get inside my head??

    We tried one of her recipes last night: Homemade Spaghetti Sauce.

    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • one onion, sliced thinly
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced (if you're using jarred garlic, that's 4 tsp)
    • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
    • 28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes (we used one with basil)
    1. In large saucepan, heat oil on low. Add onions, garlic and red pepper and saute until onions are softened.
    2. Add tomatoes and simmer on low for 30 minutes.
    3. Season with salt, if necessary (we skipped this step)
    How easy is that? And Jennifer says it's cheaper than storebought (depends, though, on whether you're buying store bought on sale and with coupons like these coupon queens).

    How does it taste?

    Chef Tanya - This is so good we may never buy jarred sauce again (okay, we probably will if it's a BOGO deal). But seriously, this is so easy that if you can boil noodles you can make this sauce. I will cut the red pepper flakes down a bit next time. It was just a touch too spicy for my taste.

    Jason - Agreed!

    Olivia - I really like this a lot. It was a little too spicy. I can't feel my lips. But other than that it's really good.

    Hannah (who, it should be noted, has always refused to eat spaghetti sauce. She agreed to try this when she saw it included her favorite spice - red pepper) - I give it 4.5 stars. I thought it was really good. I don't think it was too spicy. But you know I like things hot.

    Miranda - (Didn't try the sauce. She's still a hold-out, but that's okay. I spent my entire childhood eating large mounds of dry noodles with processed parmesan cheese on it.  Sometimes it takes a while to come around to good food.)

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    The Art of Making Sushi

    (post by Jason)

    Alabama = Barbeque.  Right?!? 

    Well, yes. But there's a surprising diversity to the restaurant scene here in Birmingham.  Tanya and I were thrilled when we moved here to find great local options from Greek and Chinese to Indian and, of course, Southern Home Cooking (Anyone else heard of a Meat & Three restaurant? We hadn't till we moved here). 

    There are also some really good sushi options in Birmingham.  One of my favorite lunch spots is Surin West in Five Points on Southside.  When given the opportunity I order the Combo #1 – Super Crunch (Tempura, Masago, Japanese Sauce, and Smoked Salmon) and Tokyo Roll (Snow Crab, Avocado, and Masago). 

    I got a itch for sushi last week and decided to try making some at home.   My thinking: Sushi has few ingredients, no cooking, and seems fairly straightforward.  How hard could it be?  I wasn't sure I wanted to tackle Nigiri Sushi the first time out of the gate.  Didn't want to poison the family with the wrong kind of raw fish. So I picked two non-fish rolls from a Sushi cookbook we'd picked up on clearance: Uramaki California Roll (*uramaki means "inside out") and Temaki Sushi with Crab and Avocado.  

    Let's start back at the beginning, Grasshopper...

    Ingredients & Directions for Uramaki California Roll
    • 3 tbsp sesame seeds
    • 4 crab sticks (find in the seafood section)
    • one small cucumber
    • 1/4 of a ripe avocado
    • 1 tsp lemon juice
    • 2 toasted nori sheets
    • 1 2/3 cups prepared sushi rice
    • 1 tbsp low fat mayonnaise (yes... really!)
    • bamboo sushi rolling mat (they're inexpensive - like $3 - and make making sushi so much easier!) 
    Toast the sesame seeds without oil in a small pan over low heat until golden brown. Remove from pan and let cool.

    Cut crab sticks lengthwise in half.  Cut cucumber (with peel on) in 1/4 inch thick piece using a long knife. Then cut into 1/4 inch thick strips. 

    Peel avocado piece and cut into strips. Immediately sprinkle with lemon juice so they don't brown. 

    Cover your rolling matt with plastic wrap. Place one nori sheet on it with the smooth side facing down. Dip your hands in water (add a little vinegar to the water to make it even more effective) and spread half of the sushi rice on the nori sheet. Leave a margin on the upper and lower side of the sheet.  Carefully turn the nori sheet over so that the rice is facing down and the nori sheet is facing up. 

    Spread a thin layer of mayo long the lower 1/3 of the nori sheet. Cover with half of the crab sticks, the cucumber and the avocado strips. Roll up the rice, the nori sheet and the filling with the mat.  It may take a while to get the hang of this... you're basically rolling the sushi using the bamboo mat, but you need to make sure the mat doesn't get rolled "into" the sushi. Make sense?!?

    Once the roll is rolled, cut into 6 equally large pieces. Dip one side of each piece into the toasted sesame seeds. Make another roll using the same procedure.

    Ingredients & Directions for Temaki Sushi with Crab and Avocado

    • 4 small lettuce leaves
    • 1 small scallion
    • 1/4 ripe avocado
    • 1 tsp lemon juice
    • 4 crab sticks
    • 2 toasted nori sheets
    • 1 1/3 cups prepared sushi-rice
    • 1tsp wasabi paste (you can buy this dry in the spice or ethnic section, then add water)
    Making wasabe is easy!

    Wash & dry lettuce (we used romaine - not sure that's the best choice).  Peel scallions and cut lengthwise into fine strips. Peel avocado piece, then cut lengthwise in 4 strips. Brush with lemon juice to prevent browning.

    Cut the nori sheets crosswise in half (note: NOT diagonal, like I did!). Dip your hands in water and form 4 small balls with the sushi rice.

    Place the rice, the wasabi paste and other ingredients on the nori sheet and roll into a cone.

    Yum Factor = A+

    Hassle Factor = C

    Sushi may look simple, but it's much more difficult than I expected.  The Temaki Sushi with Crab and Avocado was really fairly straightforward and fairly easy to make.  The inside-out California Roll is another story.  The key – regardless of which one you are trying to make … don’t overstuff!   Less is more when it comes to making sushi rolls.

    Also, I found I needed much more rice than what the recipe called for.  

    Another important hint is to dip your hands (spoon or knife) in vinegar water when working with the rice.  It made it much easier to deal with and didn’t leave a taste that detracted from the sushi. 

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    The Girl Scouts Are At It Again!

    It's that time of year again! No... not time to make another resolution about losing weight or exercising more. 

    Time to stock on Girl Scout cookies!

    Pre-sales last through mid-January. Then, in February, friendly faces will descend on storefronts everywhere full of sweet charm.  

    Not sure where to get your fix? There's an APP for that.  And if you're in Birmingham (or a personal friend... we ship) you can send us a message and we'll hook you up with all the goody treats you can eat! 

    My favorite way to eat a GS cookie is straight out of the sleeve (mmmmm..... frozen Thin Mints!!).  But there are lots of other ways to use GS cookies.   We like substituting Trefoils for vanilla wafers in Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding

    Over on the Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana website they've got some more adult recipes. Like this one from Emily Williams of Butterfly Garden Cafe:

    Bourbon Samoa Chess Bars with Toasted Coconut
    • 1 cup sweet flaked coconut
    • 1 box yellow cake mix
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 sticks butter, melted
    • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
    • 4 cups powdered sugar
    • 3 tablespoons Kentucky bourbon
    • 2 boxes Girl Scout Cookie Samoas, roughly chopped
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut out on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. Coconut should be tan, not dark brown. Set aside. Grease a 9”x13” baking dish. Mix by hand the cake mix, 1 egg, and 1/2 of the melted butter. Pat this mixture into the greased dish and top with toasted coconut. In an electric mixer, blend cream cheese and remaining eggs until smooth. Gradually mix in powdered sugar and then butter, until smooth. Stir in bourbon and chopped Samoas. Pour cookie mixture over coconut. Bake for about 30 minutes, until edges are brown. The middle will still be jiggly; allow cake to sit for at least 30 minutes.

    Or how about a Thin Mint Chocolate Cheesecake?
    Thin Mint cookie crust:

    • 1 sleeve plus 4 Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies
    • 4 TBS. butter or margarine-melted

    Crumble mints in 9 in. pie plate. Add melted butter and blend well.  Press firmly onto bottom. Bake at 375 for 8 min. Cool completely.


    • 2 PKG. of cream cheese-softened
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 TSP. vanilla
    • 2 eggs
    • 4 squares Bakers semi-sweet Baking chocolate, melted slightly cooled

    Preheat oven to 325. Beat cream, sugar, and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs and mix just until blended. Stir in melted chocolate. Pour into crust. Bake 40 min. or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate several hours.

    Or Trefoil Tiramisu by Baxter Station Bar & Grill pastry chef Amy Berry.

    • 2 boxes Girl Scout Cookie Trefoil cookies
    • 1 1/2 cup strong espresso coffee
    • 3 T Coffee liqueur (optional)
    • 2 T Bailey’s Irish Cream (optional)
    • 4 egg yolks
    • 1/2 C sugar
    • 2 t vanilla
    • 1 1/2 C Mascarpone cheese
    • 1 1/2 C heavy cream
    • 1 t vanilla
    • 3 T powdered sugar
    • Grated chocolate for garnish

    Blend coffee and liqueurs in small bowl and set aside. Place egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla in bowl and place over simmering water. Whisk constantly until custard-like. Do not overcook. Whip mascarpone cheese and slowly add egg mixture, beat until smooth. Place trefoils in the bottom of a 9” x 13” pan and pour coffee mixture over the cookies until very little liquid remains. Place cheese mixture over the cookies and refrig erate for 2 hours. Whip cream with vanilla and sugar to thick consistency. Pour over cookie mix ture. Chill overnight. Garnish with grated chocolate.

    Chunky Tagalong Pie (by Robbin Hill of Jack Fry's)

    • 1 box Tagalong cookies
    • ½ box Trefoil cookies
    • ½ stick unsalted butter (cut into tablespoons)

    Peanut butter filling

    • 12 oz cream cheese, softened (1½ cups)
    • 1½ cup chunky peanut butter
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    • 1½ cup well-chilled heavy cream
    • 1 box Tagalong cookies (chopped)

    Chocolate topping

    • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chopped (1 cup)
    • 1 cup heavy cream

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Using a food processor, grind cookies and butter into fine crumbs. Press crumbs over the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes.

    Peanut butter filling:
    In a large bowl, using a hand held mixer, beat the cream cheese with the peanut butter, Sugar, and vanilla extract until blended. In another large bowl, using the same beaters, whip the chilled cream until firm. Fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture to loosen it; then fold the cookies and remaining whipped cream. Spoon the filling into the crust, smoothing the surface. Refrigerate until set (about three hours).

    Chocolate topping:
    In a medium glass bowl, combine the chocolate with the heavy cream and microwave at high power in 20-second intervals until the chocolate is melted and the cream is hot. Stir the chocolate topping until blended; then let cool to barely warm, stirring occasionally.

    Spreading the chocolate topping:
    Spread the chocolate topping over the peanut butter filling and refrigerate until firm. Carefully run a knife around the pie crust to loosen it; then remove springform bottom. Keep pie refrigerated. Garnish with marshmallow sauce, fudge sauce, and caramel sauce. Serve with any or all of those sauces. Garnish with chopped peanuts.

    Too many steps? Scoot on over to Girl Scouts of Western Washington and check out their Rich and Famous Brownies recipe.

    • 1 cup evaporated milk
    • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
    • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 1 tablespoons butter
    • 3 cups Thin Mint cookies, crushed into crumbs
    • ½ cup nuts, chopped

    Mix together milk, marshmallows, chocolate chips, sugar and salt in microwaveable bowl. Bring to a boil in microwave. Stir well and cook in microwave an additional two minutes at medium high heat. Remove from microwave. Add butter, vanilla, and chopped nuts. Break Thin Mint cookies into crumbs and add to mixture. Pack into a 9-inch square pan. Refrigerate until hard. Cut into two-inch squares.

    Not in the mood for a dessert? These main dishes look interesting:

    Fried Samoas Shrimp

    • 5 extra-large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
    • 5 Samoas cookies, finely chopped
    • 2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
    • 2 cups flour
    • 1 cup coconut flakes
    • 4 egg whites
    • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
    • 1 lime for garnish
    • Vegetable or peanut oil for frying

    Toss coconut flakes with bread crumbs, cayenne pepper and chopped Samoas. Dredge shrimp through flour, followed by egg whites and Samoas mixture. Fry shrimp in vegetable oil at 350 degrees until golden brown. Garnish with coconut flakes and lime wedges.

    Thank You Berry Munch Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad

    • 1 package mixed salad greens
    • 1 package (6 oz.) fully cooked chicken breast strips
    • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
    • ¼ cup dried cranberries or Craisins
    • 1 cup mandarin oranges
    • ½ cup Berry Munch Salad Topping (see below)
    • Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

    Salad Topping Ingredients:

    • 1 TBS Vegetable Oil
    • 2 TBS Honey
    • 1 tsp grated orange rind
    • 1 ½ cups Pecans
    • 10 Thank U Berry Munch Cookies, broken into ½" pieces

    In a four-cup bowl, stir together the honey, oil and orange rind. Add pecans and stir to coat. Add cookie pieces and stir to coat. Spread mixture evenly in greased jelly roll pan or on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool. Place salad greens in a serving bowl, scatter toppings on salad, and serve with salad dressing.

    Soooo... how many boxes do you want?!?! 

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    Meal Plan - January 2nd

    Monday - Roasted Chicken with Lemon & Garlic; Roasted Brussels Sprouts

    Tuesday - Sushi (Jason's 1st attempt making it)

    Wednesday - Omani Chicken

    Thursday - Tacos (these for Hannah and I; and maybe one of these for Jason, Miranda & Olivia??)

    Friday - Seared Steak over Chard Salad

    Saturday - Homemade Pizzas (what's your favorite???? we need some inspiration!)

    What's cooking in your kitchen this week?

    Monday, January 2, 2012

    Braised Chicken Legs with Lemon and Garlic

    Happy 2012, everyone!  We had a whirlwind December, capped off with nearly two weeks in Florida and the Bahamas with family (photos coming soon, promise!).  We just got back this afternoon to a cold house and not much food (unless you count ramen noodles, an overripe avocado, and seven clementines dinner). 

    I would have been content to order a pizza or maybe pick up some Cheerios and milk at the store. But two weeks of no cooking had Jason jonesing for a little kitchen time, so he sent me out to the store with a short grocery list and he whipped up this (cut & pasted from June):


    I think we've stumbled on a brilliant idea! Start a food blog, get your friends interested in said food blog, somehow convince them to be guest bloggers and have them come to your house (ingredients in hand) and cook you a wonderful dinner! (see, I told you, brilliant!)

    {{ Okay, moratorium on exclamation points }}

    But seriously, when our friend and fellow foodie Andrew (not to be confused with Andy of Steak Taco fame) asked if he could come over and cook us dinner we jumped at the chance. Andrew's a member of Guerrilla Dinner Party group here in Birmingham, which includes some notable local chefs and other foodies. We couldn't wait to see what he whipped up.

    Here's his Guest Blog:

    I have decided to run contrary to the Necessary Pleasures family’s current diversion into the prurient, i.e., Weinerfest and Corn Porn, and intend to purify the culinary waters with a dish that has a G rated Birmingham connection*. That dish is Braised Chicken Legs with Lemon from Richard Onley’s 1974 cookbook, Simple French Food.

    Olney spent much of his life as a food writer in France and this dish originates from the Catalan region in the south. I like most facets of this recipe. It requires only a couple of cooking vessels, the meat is braised (which is both easy and delicious, if done properly) and it has quantities of both lemon and garlic, and what the heck (G rated, see) can be wrong with that. I also recently scored a new large Dutch oven and am still in the new toy phase.

    The procedure is quite simple.

    1. Peel the garlic (helps if you have a sous chef like Jason to help.) 

    and get it simmering in the broth (I skip the parboiling mentioned in the recipe).

    2. In the meantime, brown the seasoned chicken (I do this in olive oil and butter so as not to burn the butter), and peel and slice the lemon.

    Once browned on all sides, remove chicken, deglaze with wine, add more butter if desired, stir in flour, return chicken to pan, add stock and garlic, delicately making sure to distribute the garlic without crushing it, and put your lemon slices over the top.

    Put in a 300 to 350 degree oven and let go for 45 minutes to an hour.

    The traditional way to serve this is with rice, but pasta would work, as well as cous cous (which I realize is also a pasta). I suspect that mashed potatoes with olive oil and/or butter would be pretty good too. Here it was done with Thai red rice mixed with caramelized onions and fresh lemon thyme.

    * As for the aforementioned Magic City connection, here is the brief version. Richard Olney was a significant influence on Alice Waters, the somewhat sanctimonious and socioeconomically out of touch, but generally righteous, demiurge of the Slow Foods movement. Local chef of note, Frank Stitt, was heavily influenced by Waters while cooking at her Berkley California restaurant, Chez Panisse. She then recommended him to Olney who made Stitt his personal assistant in France, while the latter was editing a Time-Life book series on cooking.


    Jason - I thought it was really good. I liked the combination of the rice and the chicken. The chicken was really tender and had a great flavor!

    Olivia - I liked the chicken, but I didn't like the rice because it's just not like wild rice. 

    Hannah - I loved the chicken. I thought that the chicken could use your pepper, because I like pepper. But the rice, the only rices that I really like are wild rice and white rice and I tried this and I just didn't really like it. 

    Tanya - I really liked the dish. The chicken was fall-from-the-bones tender and the lemon and garlic was a really subtle infusion. We paired it with a 2007 Cosentino Pinot Noir that was excellent. Andrew can definitely come back any time to cook for us! 

    So ... who's next for guest blogging?!? We've got an opening for dinner next weekend ;--)