Friday, April 29, 2011

Caribbean Style Spiced Chicken Thighs

I just found this in an old recipe file Nancy put together some time ago.  As I recall the spice was strong and overpowered the flavor so I made a few alterations and believe it is now quite good.  If you would like a stronger spice flavor just try increasing the Jalapeno, black pepper, and/or red pepper while reducing the sugar to 1 Tablespoon.

·         1 small       Onion minced (about a ¼ cup)
·         1 1/3 Tbl    Sugar
·         1 Tbl          Jalapeno pepper seeded and finely chopped
·         2 tsp          Cider Vinegar
·         2 tsp          Soy sauce
·         ½ tsp         Salt
·         ½ tsp         Ground allspice
·         ¼ tsp         Dried tyme
·         ½ tsp         Black pepper
·         ¼ tsp         Ground red pepper
·         4 to 8         Chicken thighs, skinless
·         2 shots       Red wine (see #9)
·         Cooking spray

1.      Combine all but the chicken and cooking spray in a bowl and mix together
2.      Cut the fat and skin off the chicken.  Don’t worry if you leave a little.
3.      Wash your hands thoroughly and use tongs for the remainder of the recipe.  Wash the thongs and everything the raw chicken touches (don’t cut it on your counter top) when finished using.
4.      Dredge the chicken through the sauce and place in a container
5.      Scrape the remainder of the sauce over the chicken
6.      Cover the chicken container and place in the refrigerator for a half hour or up to five hours.  I shook the container to make sure everything was mixed well
7.      Heat a skillet at medium heat then coat it with the cooking spray
8.      Add the chicken to the pan and cook thoroughly on both sides.  Since I used bone-in thighs I tried 10 minutes per side then 5 minutes each (see #9)
9.      About midway through the cooking process when the vegetables are beginning to look overcooked, add the wine and deglaze.  Adjust the amount based on how dry everything is getting.  I guess you could use water or stock but I think the wine gives it a nice layer of taste
10.  Poke the chicken with a knife or fork in the center near the bone.  If the juices run clear then the chicken should be done.  If it is red then cook longer.  To make you feel better try cutting into the biggest thigh to make sure.  Don’t ever serve chicken when the juice is not clear or the insides are raw.  This is not a steak.

You can serve this with potatoes, rice, noodles, or whatever and a vegetable. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Babka, Polish Holiday Bread

As I understand it the Poles have a special bread for Christmas and Easter that requires a large amount of flour and raisins, then the  dough is formed into three snake shapes and braided.  When you are done  you have about four loaves which is more than required for two people or a small family.  I have looked for some alternatives and found a good idea at that I changed a little and it came out just the way I wanted.  It is not only good for holidays but a great alternative to scones in the morning.  You can make it my way or add a simple glaze to the top for a sweater taste.


·        ¼ cup       Lukewarm water
·        2 ¼ tsp     Active dry yeast (1 small package)
·        ½ cup       Milk
·        ½ cup       Sugar
·        ½ Tbl        Salt
·        ¼ cup       Butter (cut into four or five pieces)
·        ¼ cup       Lukewarm water
·        2               Eggs
·        2 ½ cups  Flour
·        ½ tsp        Grated lemon peal
·        ½ cup       Chopped pecans (almonds or walnuts should do fine)
·        ½ cup       Dried cherries

For the Glaze:
·        1 cup        Confectionery sugar
·        1 Tbl         Milk

1.           Rinse a small saucepan with warm water then semi dry with a paper towel.  You will use this in step #2 and by washing it out the milk won’t stick so much.
2.           Scald the milk in the small saucepan.  I’m not talking “boil” here, just scald.
3.           Add the sugar, salt and butter to the milk and cook and stir until the butter is melted.
4.           Take the saucepan off the heat and let it cool to lukewarm
5.           Pour the water into a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it then stir until dissolved.
6.           Crack the eggs into a small bowl and beat.  By cracking them into a bowl you should be able to tell if they are good and remove any egg shell parts.  Beating them at this stage is also better than trying to beat them in step #8.
7.           When the milk mixture is lukewarm add it to the yeast.
8.           Add the eggs and flour.  I like to add the flour ½ cup at a time and I like to sift it before adding it.  I find that sifting the flour now gives bread a lighter consistency and makes it easier to blend.
9.           Need the batter for about 5 minutes or so.  It will be wetter than most bread dough’s but don’t worry.  That is how it should be.  Not pancake consistency either but closer to that than to a white bread dough.
10.      Cover the batter with a damp towel and let it rise in a warm place for about a half hour or until it doubles in size.  I put it into the oven or microwave as long as they are not hot.  Some people will turn the oven on for about a minute first but if the oven walls are hot to the touch then the yeast will die.
11.      When the batter has doubled add the cherries and pecans and need the batter again.
12.      Pour the batter into a large loaf tin or 1 ½ quart casserole.  I like the loaf tin to give the end result more of a bread height instead of a brownie height.
13.      Let the batter rise again for about an hour as in step #10.
14.      When it looks like the batter has risen properly preheat the  oven to 350 degrees.  If you are using the oven to help the batter rise, take it out first.
15.      Bake the batter for 50 minutes.
16.      When the time is up, tap on the bottom of the bread and listen for a hollow sound.  This means it is done.  If it isn’t, let it bake some more, probably at 5 minute intervals.
17.      Let the bread cool for 20 minutes.
18.        If you want to use the glaze then beat the cup of Confectionery sugar and tablespoon of milk together in a bowl.  Drizzle this on top of the bread and a little on the serving dish for a great presentation.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Savory Onion Chicken

This is a real tasty chicken recipe that won’t take a lot of time or money but your friends will think they just ate at an expensive restaurant.  Great mix of flavors, sauce that cries for bread to dip into it, and a very tender meat.  I matched it with a green been recipe (that I posted today also) and simple mashed potatoes.  The original recipes for the chicken and the beans came from and I made a few changes.

While this recipe includes some beer don’t worry about it.  Personally I hate it when the beer dominates the food rather than act as a component, which it does here.  My personal belief is that if you want onion chicken you should be able to taste the onion, chicken, and assorted seasonings.  If you feel the same you will like this.  Besides, you can use a non-alcoholic or light beer or probably some chicken stock though I didn’t try those.  I used a bottle of Yuengling Lager but believe MGD would do as well.  Of course there is a good beer aroma while cooking but not as much in the finished meal.

You can also use a 3 to 4 pound broiler or fryer if you wish.  Just cut it up and remove the skin.

·         1/4 cup       all-purpose flour, divided into two steps of 2 Tablespoons (give or take)
·         2 half          chicken breasts each cut in thirds
·         2 Tbl          olive oil
·         1 envelope  onion soup mix (I used Lipton)
·         1 bottle       (12 ounces) beer or nonalcoholic beer (12 oz)

1.      Place 2 tablespoons flour in a large resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat or put the flour on a dish and dredge the chicken.  You may need more flour.
2.      Add the oil to a skillet
3.      Brown the chicken in the skillet
4.      Take the chicken out of the skillet, put it on a plate, and keep it warm with a tent of aluminum foil or stick it in the microwave or oven that you are not using
5.      Add the soup mix and the remaining flour to the skillet to start the rue.  Stir everything up while loosening the browned bits from the pan.  I like to use a spatula for this to capture all the flavors.
6.      Gradually stir in the beer using the spatula, a whisk, or whatever you feel comfortable with.
7.      Bring everything to a boil and cook and stir for 2 minutes or until the mixture is thickened.
8.      Put the chicken back into the pan and bring everything to a boil.
9.      Cover the pan and reduce the heat to a low simmer.  Cook for about a half hour or until the chicken juices run clear which is normally how you tell if chicken is done, when the juices run clear.  This made the meat very tender.  You can turn the heat to a higher simmer and cook for 12 to 15 minutes if you are getting anxious or your side dishes are beginning to cool

Yields around 6 servings.

Green Beans in Beer Sauce

Here is a good way to serve green beans with a totally new taste.  I started with a recipe I found at and made a few alterations which tasted very good.  The original recipe is fine also, I’m sure.  For instance I used a can of green beans instead of a 16 oz. package of thawed frozen beans.  Actually I think the frozen beans may have been better as they probably would have stayed crisper.  TasteOfHome also called for beer or nonalcoholic beer while I used a light beer (Miller’s Milwaukee’s Best Light) which I believe gave it a deeper flavor.  Since the recipe only calls for a third of a cup I drank the rest rather than throw it away.

·         1/3 pound  sliced bacon
·         1 package  (16 ounces) frozen cut green beans, thawed
·         1/3 cup      beer
·         1/3 cup      butter, cubed
·         3 Tbl         brown sugar
·         3 Tbl         white vinegar
·         4 tsp          cornstarch
·         2 tsp          grated onion

1.      Cook the bacon until crisp in a skillet or microwave
2.      Using a medium saucepan bring the beans, beer, and butter to a boil
3.      Reduce the heat; cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until beans are crisp-tender.
4.      Put the bacon on a paper towel to drain then crumble it.
5.      Take the beans and put them in a bowl and keep them warm.  A slotted spoon works well for this.  Leave any liquid in the saucepan
6.      Combine the brown sugar, vinegar, cornstarch and union and stir until blended together
7.      Pour the sugar/vinegar mixture into the saucepan
8.      Bring the saucepan to a boil and cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened.
9.      Add the beans and heat; heat through.
10.  Sprinkle with bacon either before serving or on each serving

Yield: 4 servings.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Meatloaf With Flavor

Meatloaf does not have to rely on Catsup for flavor.  It should be more than an 8x4x4.5 hamburger with a lot of breadcrumbs.  Just give it a little time and a few ingredients and you’ll be looking forward to the meal.  You’ll love it hot, cold, fresh, as a leftover meal or as a sandwich.  Make it once and have it several times.

Feel free to make some changes, especially using those small quantity leftover vegetables while they’re still good.  For instance, you can use cracker crumbs from a box or make your own by crushing crackers you like or use a green pepper instead of a red or yellow.  It’s your meatloaf, make it your way.

·   3 Tbl       Oil (Peanut will give it a more Southern flavor and different heating temperature but I use Olive or Vegetable most of the time.  They are always around and cheaper)
·   1 small    Onion, chopped
·   2 ribs      Celery (Use less if you want or augment with dried celery leaves or seads)
·   3 cloves  Garlic, minced
·   1 small    Yellow pepper, diced ( I like the yellow or red for taste and color and have used half of each.  Green is fine also, and normally less expensive)
·   ½ cup     Green onions, chopped
·   1 Tbl       Basil, fresh and minced.  You can substituted 1 tsp of dried basil
·   ¼ tsp      Red pepper, crushed
·   1 1/3 lb   Meatloaf mix (that is a combination of ground beef, veal, and pork.  You can also use whatever ground meat you like but I wouldn’t suggest anything with greater than a 20% fat content)
·   1 1/3 tsp Cajun seasoning (you can buy it or make it.  There are several recipe’s  and I will go through some ideas at a later time)
·   ¼ tsp      Tabasco sauce
·   1 Tbl       Worcestershire sauce
·   2 large    Eggs
·   ½ cup     Cornflakes
·   ½ cup     cracker crumbs
·   ¼ cup     Bread crumbs, seasoned
·   ¼ cup     Catsup
·   ¼ cup     Chili sauce
·   2 slices    Bread

1.            Prepare the onion, celery, garlic pepper, and green onions and place in a small bowl.
2.            Put the meat in a large bowl and season with the Cajun seasoning, Tabasco sauce, and Worcestershire sauce..
3.            Crack the eggs, one at a time, into a small bowl.  This will help you determine if they are still good as well as fish out the errant egg shells.  Then beat them.
4.            Add the eggs, cornflakes, cracker crumbs, bread crumbs, catsup, and chili  sauce to the meat and set aside.
5.            Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat until hot
6.            Add the oil.  If you are using Peanut oil it will start to smoke when ready.  Other oils will take 30 seconds or so
7.            Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
8.            Add the onion mixture from #1 and cook for about 4 minutes
9.            Add the basil and red pepper and cook for another minute
10.        Take the skillet off the heat and set aside for a while, letting it cool just a bit.
11.        Add the cooked vegetables to the meat and have fun mixing everything together with your hands.
12.        Put a slice or two of bread in the bottom of a loaf pan and then form the meat on top of the bread.
13.        Bake for 40 minutes and check.  This should be enough time but I always check.
14.        Put the meatloaf on a plate, leaving the bread slices either in the loaf pan or garbage.  Better yet, give the bread to the birds.
15.        Let the meatloaf cool for a bout 10 minutes and then cut into ½ to 1 inch slices for serving.

Liver and Onions With A Twist

OK, Liver is not for everybody and I’m not trying to convert you to being a liver lover.  But if you do like it you have probably burned your share and eaten it the same way (cooked together with onions and bacon) forever.  Here is a little twist that isn’t complicated and will make you love it even more.  Besides, if you read this over you may find that it doesn’t have to be burned all the time.


·         1/3 cup      Flour
·         ½ tsp         Paprika
·         ½ tsp         Garlic salt (I often use minced garlic to taste)
·         ½ tsp         Salt
·         1/8 tsp       Black pepper
·         1 lb            Beef or calves liver
·         3 Tbl          Butter or Margarine
·         1 Tbl          Vegetable oil
·         3 cups        White wine (use something you would drink.  Don’t get that wine for cooking stuff since that is often wine that wont sell)
·         2 Tbl          Parsley chopped
·         1 Tbl          Lemon juice
·         ½ tsp         Sage, dried and crushed
·         Parsley sprigs
·         Bacon, optional

1.            Combine the flour, paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper on a plate
2.            Quarter and thinly slice the onions.  Put them on the side for use later
3.            Measure out the wine.  I normally taste it first but between the two of us I do this because I like the taste.
4.            Pat the liver dry with a new paper towel.  Napkins don’t work very well
5.            Trim the liver of tough membranes and veins
6.            Cut the liver into smaller pieces of about 3 x 1 ½ inches
7.            Dredge the liver in the flour mixture and set aside (when I have to coat a meat like in a schnitzel, I usually dredge it, put it on a plate, and refrigerate for a few minutes.  Nothing to long)
8.            Wash off the first dish and keep it for later
9.            Put the oil and 1 Tablespoon of butter/margarine into a large skillet and heat over medium high heat
10.        Put the liver into the skillet and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side.  You don’t want it to be red in the middle but then you don’t want it to be black on the outside either
11.        Take the liver out and put it on the dish you used first and washed off
12.        If I am going to use bacon this is the step where I cook it.  You can cook it in the skillet or microwave it until almost done.  Then take it out and add it back when you put in the liver.
13.        Melt the remaining butter/margarine in the skillet which is still on medium high heat.  If you are adding bacon you can reduce the butter/margarine by the amount of fat from the bacon
14.        Cook the onions for 5 minutes at which time they should be nice and tender
15.        Reduce the heat to low and give it a minute to cool
16.        Put the liver back into the skillet and add the wine, chopped parsley, lemon juice, and sage.
17.        Cook and stir for about 2 minutes so it is heated through.
18.        Serve.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mac Cas (Macaroni Casserole)

Here is one my Daughter Kristen sent me.  It is fairly easy to make, has a nice assortment of flavors, and taste great reheated.  Try it an tell me what you think.

§         1 lb         Corkscrew pasta (has the strength to stand up to the meat and texture to hold the sauce)-
§         2 lb         Ground meat (ground sirloin probably works best, nothing less than an 80-20 mixture
§         2 Tbl       Olive oil
§         1             Onion chopped
§         2             Jalapeno peppers seeded and chopped (you know, you can by chpped jalapeno peppers in small jars at most grocery stores)
§         4 cloves  Garlic. Chopped (these come in the same small jars as the peppers)
§         3 Tbl       Chili powder
§         2 Tbl       Cumin
§         2 Tbl       Cayenne
§         Coarse salt
§         1 cup      Beer (you can use beef broth if you would rather)
§         1 can       Diced tomatoes (28 oz)
§         1 can       Crushed tomatoes (14 oz)
§         Scallions chopped for garnish

1.      Start heating a large pot of water for the pasta
2.      Pour the olive oil into a deep pot and heat
3.      Brown the beef over medium heat
4.      When the water comes to a boil put in the pasta and cook per directions.  Don’t overcook because it will get added to the chili at the end.
5.      Add the onion, peppers, and garlic to the meat
6.      Add the chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and salt to the meat
7.      Cook the meat mixture for about 5 minutes
8.      Pour the beer into the meat mixture and cook for about 2 or 3 minutes.  You want to reduce the liquid portion by about half which is not the same as reducing everything by half. 
9.      Add both cans of tomatoes and the liquid they are packed in to the meat and simmer for 10 minutes
10.  Drain the pasta when finished cooking.  If this is before you have completed step 9 then pour it back into the original pot and cover (take off the fire first) or cover while it is sitting in the drainer
11.  Add the pasta to the meat after step 9 is complete and stir everything until the pasta is coated evenly
12.  Remove the pot from the heat, garnish with the scallions and serve.

Fettuccini in a Cream Sauce

Need a fairly easy meal that can be adapted to vegetarian and several tastes?  Here is one I found that will do it.  I used ham but you can easily substitute crab, shrimp, or chicken.  I also chopped up about a quarter of an onion and added it to the butter about a minute before the garlic but I’m not sure it did anything for the taste.  Remember, never add anything you are not going to taste or is going to overpower the meal.

You can also add a vegetable or two.  I added green peas and would have added cherry tomatoes but at the last minute I found that I had forgotten to buy them.  I would suspect that some zucchini or something like that would be good if added toward the end.

·         2 cups        cooked chicken or ham cut into strips, cooked crab, or deveined and cooked shrimp
·         1 Pkg         Fettuccine (12 oz)
·         1 Tbl          Butter or margarine
·         2 tsp          Minced garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder
·         8 oz           Cream cheese cut in cubes (about 1 package)
·         2 cups        Milk (cream will make it too thick)
·         ¼ cup        Chopped parsley
·         Grated Parmesan cheese for topping
·         Pepper to taste

1.            Cook the chicken/ham/crab/shrimp and place on a dish for use later
2.            Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package
3.            While the pasta is cooking melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet
4.            Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute
5.            Add the cream cheese and milk
6.            Stir until the cheese melts.  This will take a few minutes
7.            Add the cooked pasta and chicken/ham/crab/shrimp
8.            Stir everything until it is well mixed and covered in sauce
9.            Put on a plate and top with the Parmesan and pepper.