A Word on Meatballs and the Resulting Chicken Meatloaf

I have been absent a long long while. And boy have I missed the blogging. I had a baby (boy) in early March and that has eclipsed my free time and basically every other time in between and so I am just now starting to come up for air. Figures that I need to go back to work in 2 weeks. Not a whole lot of quality cooking going on since the bubs arrived but I did stumble upon an accidental improvement to my meatball recipe which I am pleased about. This applies to any sort of meatball too – in fact I was attempting to make chicken meatballs and this is what happened… sorry no photo this time, but I do hope to get back to a semi-regular posting schedule soon. And by soon I mean some time before my son turns 1.

This recipe is essentially a meatball recipe which ended up turning into a chicken meatloaf instead. I was going to make some snacks to go along with the yummy mint juleps we were sipping for the Kentucky Derby  and I thought chicken meatballs would be an interesting alternative, but the chicken sort of broke down and I added an extra egg and viola! SUPER-moist and tasty chicken meatloaf:

1 lb ground chicken (dark meat is better)

1 small onion chopped small

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

2 eggs

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

2-3 sliced of bread soaked in water

pinch of salt

3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Take onion and garlic, lightly salted and saute in the olive oil until soft and lightly browned. I find that cooked garlic and onions adds another dimension of richer flavor versus just adding them raw to the mix. Let the onions and garlic cool slightly. Take the bread and squeeze out the extra water and add it to the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. I like the bread a little chunky and will use whatever we have laying around (rolls, white bread, wheat, egg, etc). You could use breadcrumb instead but I couldn’t tell you what amount to use.

Add the cooled garlic and onions and mix thoroughly. If you can do this in advance and allow the mix to “marinate” in the fridge for an hour or two that is good but it will be fine if made immediately as well.

Pour mix into a loaf pan (I used a glass one but I presume metal would work fine) and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and the meat thermometer reads 180 degrees.

The extra egg and the bread soaked in water (you could also use milk) are what make this meatloaf extra moist, and the cooked onion and garlic add that extra kick to the flavor.

I eat mine with a little lemon spritzed on it, but it would be great with some tomato sauce or salsa, or a brown gravy if that’s what you prefer.

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Grill Ready Ribs ‘n Chicken

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(Updated with Pic !)  I’m sorry I don’t currently have pics for this post…. if I take one after everything hits the grill I will post it up. I couldn’t reach for the camera while my hands were all meated-up and we’ve been busy hosting parents so the house is a bit busy.

But I digress … it is an abso-freakin-lutely amazing weekend with perfect weather and we are totally taking advantage of it with a back yard BBQ. We impulsively purchased a rib rack last weekend at home depot so we are putting it to good use today with some grilled ribs. The ribs, purchased at Costco for cheap (and they are really nice!) are very easy to prepare:

Dry grill rub – even mix of paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, some chili powder, and maybe a touch of salt

2-3 tablespoons of aplle cider vinegar per ziploc

several gallon ziploc bags – depends on how much you are making

Rub the ribs down with the dry rub in the morning and place them in the ziploc with the vingar and allow them to marinate all day until you are ready to grill. 

For friends who don’t eat pork, we are making grilled chicken breast with the following marinade:

1 generous pinch of herbs de provence (we got ours from Herb Lyceum farm – it has some lavendar in it)

1/2 cup white wine

generous pinch of garlic salt

Several chicken breasts

Place all ingredients in the ziploc and marinate for the day ! 

I’ll post an update later today with pictures and more recipes for sides and cocktails.

Happy grilling !

Chicken Breast with Dried Mushroom and Sage rub

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It’s been an insanely busy week so I haven’t been cooking as much, which is unfortunate. I did participate in a book club talk about  The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, which resulted in a huge discussion of local food sources, what it means to go organic and why we should all be cooking more of our own food instead of eating prepackaged items. It’s a hellova read, and made me think a lot more about what I put in my body and where it comes from. 

But I digress, tonight’s dinner was really simple, and designed to be made on the grill. We picked up some chicken breasts (bone in), some corn on the cob and the fixings for a nice salad. Once I had put together the rub for the chicken we realized we were out of gas on the grill, so we ended up making the chicken in the oven and steaming the corn on the stovetop. It was still delicious, but it would have been nice to bust out the grill in honor of the almost spring-like weather we were having today.

Here is the chicken recipe:

1/2 cup dried mushrooms (I used a mix, but if you can get porcini those are best)

5-6 dried sage leaves

3 tablespoons olive oil

juice of 1/2 a lemon

3 chicken breasts, bone in

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Take the dried mushrooms and the sage leaves and place them in a spice grinder or food processor and grind it into a powder. Pour the mushroom sage powder into a bowl and add the olive oil, mixing to combine:

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Rub the chicken all over with the mushroom sage mix. You can do this in advance and place the chicken into a ziploc in the fridge to allow the mushroom & sage mix to marinate the chicken. Once the oven is heated up, place the chicken onto a baking sheet and sprinkle it evenly with the lemon juice. Bake the chicken for for about 40 minutes until it is good and browned and cooked through.  You could use white wine in place of or in addition to the lemon juice for a little extra flavor. Rosemary may go well with the mushrooms as a substitute for the sage.

Tasty Roasted Chicken – Everyone’s got a recipe, so here is mine

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You might ask why there is a picture of a chicken carcass above instead of a perfectly roasted and intact chicken. Well, we were starving and to be honest, I wasn’t even going to write this up but it turned out so tasty, my hubby insisted. So I took the photo of what was left of a 3.1 lb chicken after we had our way with it. I’m always sort of leery about trying to do a whole roast of any sort, including chicken. This is still a relatively new territory for me, and I struggle with temperatures and cooking times probably because there are so many recipes and ideas out there and what they fail to remind you of is that it all depends on the size of the bird, what you stuff it with, your oven, etc. So this is just a guideline, go forth and experiment because if I can produce chicken this good, anyone can. Here is the recipe:

3.1 lb young roasting chicken from Trader Joes

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons of butter, cut into 3 even pieces

1 shallot, peeled and cut in half

1/2 lemon, sliced

1/4 cup white wine

garlic salt

herbs de provence

curry powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a roasting pan, pour the olive oil. Rinse the chicken well, and place it in the pan, making sure it is well coated on the bottom with the oil. Pour the white wine over top of the chicken, make sure some gets into the cavity. Take 2 pieces of butter and place each under the skin on the chicken breast. You can loosen the skin with your fingers (without ripping or removing it) and then push the butter under the skin as far as it will go. 1 on each breast. Place the 3rd piece of butter in the cavity. Take the garlic salt and herbs de provenceand generously sprinkle the outside and inside of the chicken. Next take the shallot and lemon slices and place inside the chicken cavity. Lastly, sprinkle a light dusting of curry powder on the chicken and place it into the heated oven.

About 45 minutes into cooking, take the heat up to 400 degrees. This will help the skin get crisp and brown. After another 25-30 minutes, check the chicken with a meat thermometer. It should read 160-165 degrees. If not, continue to bake, checking periodically until it does. Remove the chicken once it hits the proper temp and allow it to rest on top of the stove another 5 minutes, during which time it will continue to cook, bringing the internal temp to 170 degrees which is the proper temp for poultry.

Once it has rested, carve and enjoy !

Stewed Chicken and Stuffed Artichokes, a collaboration

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It’s been a long week, and I don’t know about all of you but I am tired of the gloom and doom media sky-is-falling-it’ll-be-winter-forever feeling that seems to be in the air these days. Trying my hardest to look on the bright side and one thing that’s been positive about the economy is that both myself and my husband are cooking more (instead of going out) and tonight, we made dinner together which was  a really nice treat.  A little wine, a little cooking, and all of the heaviness of the workday seems to slip away, at least for tonight. Two recipes resulted from tonight’s collaborative dinner effort, the first is from my husband – he is responsible for the delicious chicken concoction pictured above. Here is the recipe:

3.5 lbs of chicken legs & thighs

1 can crushed tomato

1/2 container of mushrooms (6 oz)

1 cup nicoise olives

3 tablespoons rosemary

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup white wine

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

salt & pepper to taste

Place olive oil in a large heavy sauce pan on medium-high heat, add garlic. Add chicken to the pan (you might have to do this in more than one batch) and brown on each side. Take chicken out and set aside. De-glaze pan with white wine, add tomato, mushrooms, olives and chicken (with juices from plate). Add rosemary and salt & pepper to taste, and allow to simmer for 45 minutes, covered. When almost ready to serve, add parsley.

Delicious!

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For my part of the bargain, I found some really inexpensive and nice-looking artichokes at Trader Joe’s last night and I decided to stuff them with some of the leftover breadcrumbs from last night’s pasta dish plus a few additions. The following is the recipe:

4 artichokes – these were fairly small – stems removed and cut in half

2 cups chicken broth – I like the free range boxed stuff from the supermarket

Juice of 2 lemons

Take the artichoke halves, place in a sauce pan with broth and lemon juice and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. Once they are done, remove the artichoke halves, but do not discard the broth.

1/2 onion

1/2 cup white wine

1 cup of toasted breadcrumbs – mine had some garlic and pancetta added in (see yesterday’s post on breadcrumb pasta)

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons olive oil

Take the onion, slice it, and add it to the broth in the saucepan along with the white wine. Turn heat to medium low and allow the broth to reheat while you stuff the artichokes. To stuff the artichokes, mix the breadcrumbs with the cheese and parsley and olive oil. Take a spoon and gently spoon mixture between the leaves. I spooned it into every other layer – you can add as much or as little as you like. Once all the artichoke halves are stuffed, gently place them as upright as possible along the sides of the saucepan. Cover and reduce to a simmer, allow to simmer, covered, for 25-30 minutes.

Random Bag Night – Ugly Chicken Stir Fry

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I finally succumbed to whatever the cold bug of the moment is and so yesterday with a huge assist from my husband, we made some chicken soup. We used a whole roasting chicken, and aside from some tasty broth, we had a lot of leftover chicken from the soup. I love chicken straight from the stock pot when it’s nice and hot and steeped in the flavors of the soup, but the day after, when it’s sort of a cold gelatinous mass in the fridge, I struggle with what to do with it. Tonight, a mild stroke of genius coupled with a desire to avoid hitting the store: stir fry the leftover chicken with veggies and herbs we have in the fridge. The chicken from the soup ends up falling apart, almost in a shredded fashion, so the dish gets kind of messy and with the soy sauce, it gets kind of brown, hence the “ugly” moniker in the title. Here is the recipe:

2 tablespoons oil (i used olive)

2 cups of cooked chicken, cut into small pieces

1 shallot, chopped

1/2 cup chopped carrots

5-6 mushrooms, sliced

3-4 dried shitake mushrooms, softened

1/4 cup tamari soy sauce

3 tablespoons thai fish sauce

1 tablespoon grated ginger

1 TINY drop of sesame oil

Generous pinch of red pepper flakes

1 handful chopped cilantro

1 handful chopped fresh mint

1 splash of sherry (optional)

1 wedge of lime for serving

1 small spoonful of garlic chili sauce – only if you want it HOTTT

I recommend doing all the chopping of ingredients ahead of time since this recipe tends to go fast. In a bowl combine the ginger, tamari soy sauce, fish sauce and sesame oil. Set aside.  Heat the oil in a wok (or any large non-stick pan) on medium-high heat and add shallots and carrots. Allow to soften, and stir often (ugh, that rhymes!).  After 2-3 minutes, add the mushrooms – both the fresh and the chopped dried shitakes. Continues to stir and cook until the mushrooms just start to get soft (about 2-3 minutes). Add red pepper flakes and chicken. Add ginger-tamari mixture and stir, continue to cook down until chicken is well heated through. Add sherry, and continue to stir until sherry is largely cooked down (3-4 minutes). Add cilantro and mint and remove from heat immediately. Serve over rice, or in our case, a mix of rice and bean thread noodles which we had in the closet which I doused with some Ponzu sauce before topping with chicken concoction. Squeeze lime over top of the finished dish.

A couple of random notes – I think many of you may be wondering how I happen to have all of these things in my house for “random” bag night…  so the following are a few notes about how I stock my kitchen:

1. I always have cilantro and parsley in my fridge. If you wash them immediately upon getting home from the store, dry it well, wrap in a paper towel and seal in a ziploc, they will last in your fridge for close to a month.

2. Dried shitake mushrooms – I think I’ve said in past posts that you should always have dried mushrooms around. I try to keep porcini mushrooms or a mix of dried mushrooms in the house. The shitakes are found at any Asian grocer and they will keep forever. The only thing you should note is that all dried mushrooms tend to be salty so be aware of that while cooking with them

3. Ginger – I keep it in my freezer and use a microplane to grate it – doesn’t compromise the flavor at all.

4. Fish sauce & tamari  – If you like Asian flavors at all, you must have these two items in your fridge. They keep for a long time so I almost always have some and all the major grocers carry both items. Same thing with the sesame oil.

5. Mint and Mushrooms – ok, totally random items I had leftover from a trip to the store last week. I used the mint over the weekend in a fruit salad (along with cilantro) and it was kick-ass.

6. Rice and bean thread noodles – Also two items found in almost every supermarket now. I keep them in my cabinet since they are insanely fast and easy to prepare and great with any flavor – I use the rice noodles especially in any soup I make as a nice light noodle.

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