Archive for the ‘Dinner’ Category

Finn’s Wake: By Popular Request: Drunken Black Eyed Peas

January 1, 2012

Old friend, storyteller, fellow comics enthusiast, and generally great guy Mark Finn posted this recipe that is very much in the style of Cooking Without A Net.

By Popular Request: Drunken Black Eyed Peas

My approach to black eyed peas is to treat them much like the rock in your favorite Stone Soup recipe. In order to make them work, you have to cook ’em with just about everything but a gym sock. So, this recipe is less a “follow the instructions” job, and more of a “go with whatever you have” kind of thing. Read the entire post

via Finn’s Wake: By Popular Request: Drunken Black Eyed Peas.

Thanks Mark!

I’m going to go out tomorrow and get the ingredients!



February 21, 2011

This started as a family recipe, but circumstances (and a lack of respect for traditions and a need to cut corners) conspired to force me to go off-script.

Here is the original recipe:

12 manicotti pasta shells
3/4 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp chopped parsley
1 egg white
2 cups tomato juice
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil

Mash ricotta with milk and parsley, add other cheeses, mix. Beat egg white fork until frothy, add to cheese mixture.

Combine tomato juice, tomato paste and spices, cover and cook over low heat for several minutes.

Cook shells in boiling water and drain.

Spoon layer of tomato sauce over bottom of baking dish. Stuff cheese mixture into the shells arrange shells side by side. Top with the remainder of the tomato sauce. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

So much for the instructions. Here is where we meet reality.

The recipe calls for 12 shells, but there are 14 shells in a box. Oops.

So I have to make some adjustments.

Also, timing is important, so here is the workflow:

First, I start the water going. Then I do the tomato sauce.

I hate measuring, in part because it means dirtying yet another dish. I don’t measure the tomato paste, I just use a 12 oz can of tomato paste. I don’t measure the tomato juice, either. I dump the tomato paste into the pan, then slowly pour the thinner tomato juice into the pan, mixing as I go. It is easier (MUCH easier) to thin a thick paste than it is to add a thick paste to a thin juice and try to mix. I pour the juice in until I get a sauce of the consistency that I want. (As an aside, when you heat the sauce, the thicker sauce has a greater likelihood of a big splatter than a thinner sauce.) Then I add the spices, a bit more generously than the recipe describes (partly because I am making more sauce). Also, I use chopped garlic (and quite a bit of it) instead of garlic powder. Then it is time to simmer the sauce.

At some point, the water is boiling and I add the shells.

Once the sauce is simmering, I start on the cheese filling. I don’t know whether the shells I am filling are bigger than the ones used in the original recipe, but even doubling the recipe still leaves an empty shell or two, so I have to go over doubling the filling, so it is more guesswork than measuring. Second, I don’t buy parsley. I don’t use enough of it ever to want to spend the money. So I use oregano. Yes, that is a completely different spice, but it works for us.

The tough part for me is keeping the shells intact when draining. Last night’s dinner only had two intact shells out of the 14. Worst showing ever. Still tastes as good, but still… Anyone with tips on getting them out intact?

The rest is following the instructions – baking dish, sauce, line up the shells, cover with more sauce, and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Then eat!

Even with more than doubling the recipe, the large container that the ricotta cheese comes in still has more cheese left in it, so what to do? I have another recipe coming soon!

Mall Teriyaki

July 29, 2009

My wife loves the shrimp teriyaki dish that she used to be able to get at the mall food court.  But the place closed and I had to learn how to simulate Mall Teriyaki.

You can do this with either shrimp or chicken.

You’ll need:

Shrimp or chicken
An onion
Two carrots
Teriyaki sauce/marinade
A little oil and a little soy sauce

You’ll want to marinate the shrimp or chicken in advance.  There are a variety of teriyaki marinades and sauces out there, but none stand out particularly as better than another to me.

As with other recipes, for the chicken version I use frozen skinless, boneless chicken breasts, partially thawed and sliced into thin chunks. 

Start with the rice, as that takes the longest to cook.

Slice the onion radially (cut from the center along the radius) into narrow strips.  Preparation goes faster if you buy the package of shredded cabbage, but you can shread your own cabbage if you wish.  Slice the carrots into thin strips as well.  My secret?  I use the peeler I use to peel the carrots to then peel thin strips from the carrot right into the pan.

A little oil in the pan and stir fry the veggies.  Early on add a little soy sauce, and about midway through add some of the teriyaki sauce.  I think the veggies are better crisp, but you can cook them until they are tender as is your preference.

You can cook the shrimp or chicken how you wish – broil, grill, or stir fry.  What I do is dump the veggies into a covered bowl and use the same pan to stir-fry the meat.

Once the meat is cooked, spoon the rice onto a plate, add a layer of veggies, and top with the meat.  With the shrimp, I find the taste is better if I drain the liquid before adding it to the plate.

Add a dash (or two, or three, to your taste) of teriyaki sauce and you are ready to eat.

Apple Pancakes! Yum!

June 18, 2009

Its breakfast for dinner, and dessert for breakfast!  The closest I can come to describing these is something akin to apple pies.

This is adapted from a family recipe.  It’s pretty labor intensive, and the proportions on the batter have to be pretty close, so this is another one that is going to look a lot like a traditional recipe.

As cook for a family of four that includes two children, I have to make four of these every time I cook them, even though the kids never finish theirs (leftovers!), because they do usually eat more than half a pancake each.

For a family of four, you will need:

Four pie pans
1 stick of butter
cinnamon (ground)
8 T + 11 T sugar
4-6 apples (pared and sliced)
11 T flour
1/2 t baking powder
8+ eggs(separated)
11 T milk

First of all, you’ll need to prep the apples.  When you are just about done, you’ll want to preheat the oven to 400.  Divide the butter between the pans, and stick them in the oven while it is preheating so the butter can melt.  Once the apples are prepped, take the pans out and make sure the melted butter coats the bottom, then spread 2 T sugar over the bottoms of each.  Sprinkle cinnamon over the sugar (the original recipe calls for a half teaspoon per pancake, but we like ours flavored a little stronger).  Line the pans with a layer of the apple slices, and return to the oven for 5 minutes or so while you get the batter ready.

Combine the flour, baking powder, egg yolks and milk in a bowl and beat until smooth.  I usually go with 10 eggs rather than eight, I like the results better.  Beat the egg whites and sugar until firm (this has been difficult for me, I still haven’t quite figured out the trick), and fold it onto the batter.  Pour that into the pans over the apple slices, and stick back in the oven to cook for 10 minutes (or maybe just a little bit longer).

The fun part is getting the pancakes out of the pans.  I run a table knife around the edge to separate the pancake from the pan.  Take a plate, turn it upside down over the pan and cover it, then flip the covered pan over so the plate is on the bottom.  If you have loosened it well, it will drop right onto the plate.

And there you have it,  a plate-sized pancake that tastes like apple pie!

If  the cook is feeling generous, they might scrape the remaining sugar from the bottom of the pan (some always sticks) back onto the pancakes before serving them, or if they have a real sweet tooth, they can reserve the scrapings for their own pancake as a reward for the labor.  Not that I would ever do that

Italian Roast Chicken with Potatoes

May 28, 2009

So the other night I accidentally burned my hand on the oven rack while making this meal for my family, so I’m bloging the recipe to get even.  Or something.

Olive Oil
Italian Seasoning
Lemon Juice

So as usual, we use the boneless, skinless frozen chicken breasts, but you can feel free to use whatever chicken pieces you want to.

While I defrost them in the microwave, I’m cutting the potatoes, one to two per person, depending on appetites.  You can cut them into thick chunks, but I prefer smaller chunks (an average potato gets cut into about 40 pieces).  Smaller chunks cook faster and have more surface area to absorb (and carry into your mouth) the flavors of the spices.  I dump them into a 9×14 pan, drizzle some olive oil over them, garlic (I use minced garlic from a jar for speed and consistency, but you can use chopped garlic in a jar or – gasp – chop it up yourself) – about two forkfuls, then mix thoroughly.  Sprinkle on the three spices (Italian seasoning, oregano and basil, in our case bought in bulk) very liberally, mix again and stick in the oven that you pre-heated to about 425.  (You did remember to preheat the oven, didn’t you?  Heh, neither did I…)

Ok, while the spuds are starting to cook, I start working on the chicken.  Take the defrosted chicken (or, if yours wasn’t frozen to begin with, take the chicken out of the refrigerator) and coat with olive oil and lemon juice.  Basically, I use a dinner plate, create a small shallow lake of lemon juice and olive oil in just about equal proportions, and coat the meat with it by rolling the chicken in the mixture.  Then I take another forkful of the minced garlic and smear it all over the chicken breasts.  Minced garlic from the jar is about the right consistency for this.  If you aren’t using that, you could pierce the chicken and stuff garlic bits into the meat, or tuck it under the skin if you aren’t using skinless chicken.

Pull the pan of potatoes out of the oven after its been in about 10 minutes or so (being careful not to burn yourself on the oven rack, unlike myself), and put the chicken pieces on top of the potatoes.  Pour the remaining olive oil/lemon juice mixture over the chicken (as long as you don’t drown the potatoes) and sprinkle the three seasonings heavily on the chicken.

Put it back into the oven until the chicken has cooked thoroughly.  Half an hour or so, depending on the thickness of the chicken pieces.  Be sure to cut the chicken to check it is done through before serving.


For my first trick…

May 13, 2009

Recipe for meal served at the last AustinMoms Book Club meeting –

Satay Chicken with Noodles (serves 4)

Chicken (2-3 chicken breasts)
Lime (1)
Rice Wine Vinegar
Pasta Ribbons (8 oz)
Bottle of Central Market Organics brand Satay Sauce (10 oz)
Cilantro (to taste)
Green Onions (to taste)
Peanuts (Dry Roasted)(to taste)

We use the frozen boneless chicken breasts, two or three (or four) depending on how big they are, how hungry everyone is, and how much leftovers you want to have for lunch the next day…

I partially thaw them (easier to slice partially thawed), slice into bite-sized chunks, then put them into a container with a tight seal with juice from 1/2 of the lime and an equal amount of the vinegar (enough to coat the meat) and shake.

Dump in a pan and heat in the oven until cooked thoroughly (350 for 30 minutes or so?  I cook more by feel than actual hard timelines.)  Probably, skewering them and grilling them over an open flame might yield excellent results, but I haven’t tried that… yet…

Meanwhile, boil the pasta per the directions on the package.  (Or do what I do, ignore the directions and just boil them.)

Chop up the cilantro and green onion pretty finely.  For four, about a third of a cilantro “bunch” is probably pretty good, but cilantro has a strong flavor and is easy to overdo. We love the green onion, so half a “bunch” is a good start for us.

When its all done, dump the pasta in a large bowl.  Add the bottle of sauce (probably any Satay sauce will do, the one I listed is what’s available at our local store).  If you really like the sauce, more is better, so you may want to have a second bottle on hand (just to be sure).  Mix well.  (Doing this first makes the mixing in of the other ingredients easier)

Add in the cilantro, green onion, and the chicken, and mix.  Garnish with crushed peanuts.