Saturday, November 22, 2008

Project Postcard

I don't like to get too political on my blog (though I'm always up for discussing politics). However, I can't resist posting about this.

A few days ago, I was reading on my favorite gossip blog (Pink Is the New Blog) about Project Postcard. The plan is very simple: they urge people to send President-elect Obama a postcard from your state or city and urge him to work with Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. For those of you who aren't familiar, DOMA is a federal law, enacted in 1996 by President Clinton, that says, basically, two things:
  1. No state (or other political subdivision within the United States) need treat a relationship between persons of the same sex as a marriage, even if the relationship is considered a marriage in another state.
  2. The Federal Government may not treat same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states.
I urge everyone that values human rights to join me in participating. This link will tell you how: Project Postcard

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

I love trying new recipes. There's something oddly satisfying when you find that recipe that makes you smile and nod while making yummy sounds at first bite. It's been awhile since I've made such a recipe. Then, tonight came.

I've made versions of Chicken with 40 Cloves in the past, but all involved copious amounts of cream. Then, one day I found a version on CookingLight that called for absolutely no cream and about 5 ingredients. Don't get me wrong: the creamy versions are great. But sometimes you're just not in the mood for that, right? Ok, I know that most of the time you are. But every once in a while, you're not. Don't try to kid me. I know how you feel. That's where this recipe comes in. You must try it. Seriously. Go out, buy the ingredients, and make it tonight. It's delicious.

Don't be scared by the amount of garlic. The strength mellows while it cooks and they're delicious with the chicken or spread out on some nice crusty french bread.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
Inspired by CookingLight,
Serves 4

Cook Time - 40 minutes

1 whole chicken, already butchered
1 TBSP butter
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
40 whole garlic cloves, peeled (about 2-3 heads)
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine

Combine butter and oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Tear the skin off the chicken. Season evenly with salt & pepper. Add chicken pieces to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove chicken from pan to keep warm. Feel free to do the chicken in two batches if you need to.

Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic and cook until garlic begins to brown, about 1 minute, stirring frequently. Put chicken back in the pan. Add broth and wine. Cover and cook 25 minutes or until chicken is done.

Remove chicken from pan to keep warm. Increase heat to medium-high and cook 10 minutes or until liquid is reduced to about 1 cup. If you want a thicker sauce, thicken by whisking in a cornstarch/water slurry. Serve sauce and garlic with chicken and crusty bread.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Basic Spaghetti

Is it just me or does everyone like their own family spaghetti recipe better than all others?

Regardless, I love family recipes. There's just something about passing recipes down that warms my heart. On top of that, I love reading people's family recipes and wondering how on earth anyone came up with the combinations they did. My mother-in-law's spaghetti recipe is no exception. I have no idea how she came up with this combination of ingredients, but it's great.

Serves about 12

Cook & Prep Time - about 1 1/2 hrs

2-3 lbs spaghetti noodles
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 medium onion
salt & pepper
1 (26 oz) jar Ragu "Old World Style" spaghetti sauce
1 large can tomato juice
2 (15 oz) cans stew tomatoes
3 packages dry spaghetti sauce mix
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Brown ground beef with onion & garlic. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Drain & set aside.

Combine remaining ingredients in a large pot. Add ground beef and simmer on low for 1 - 1 1/2 hrs.

About 15 minutes before serving, boil noodles to al dente. Drain and serve with the sauce.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fried Pork Chops

I confess - I've never made pork chops before. In fact, I never particularly cared for them. My dad made them fairly often when I was growing up, but they were always so dry and flavor-less that I made myself a grilled cheese or mac & cheese when he made them (sorry, dad).

For some reason, I got a bug in my head a few months ago that really wanted pork chops. I got the smell in my nose of these grilled pork chops that the local Lions club always served at ourdoor festivals and the county fair when I was growing up. They always smelled so great. I was convinced pork chops could be moist and flavorful. Then, when I was watching Paula Deen the day Michelle Obama made an appearance, and Paula's son made his fried pork chops. They looked delicious. I knew I had to make them one day. So, finally, I did.

The flavor of these were great and I loved how crispy they were. I liked them more and more with each bite. I still prefer chicken, but these were a nice change.

Fried Pork Chops
Recipe by The Deen Brothers
Serves 2

Cook Time - 20 min

4 cups vegetable oil (we used peanut oil)
2(8-ounce) bone-in pork chops, about 1-inch thick
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Heat oil to 350 degrees F.

Arrange the pork chops in a large shallow dish. Season each pork chop, on both sides, with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Pour the buttermilk over the chops and turn to coat.

Place flour into a large shallow dish. Dip each pork chop into the flour mixture and coat well, shaking off the excess.

Using tongs, gently lower the chops into the deep skillet in batches if necessary. Fry for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. (We used our deep fryer, so no turning was necessary). Transfer chops to a paper towel-lined pate to drain. Serve hot.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Potato & Sausage Soup

It's freezing here in Minnesota. That means it's time to whip out the soup recipes.

I've had this one in my "to-make" folder for quite some time. I used an Olive Garden copycat as a base and modified it to my liking. Anyway, it's delicious. You should make it. You'll love it.

Potato & Sausage Soup
Serves 4-5

4 spicy Italian sausage links
3/4 cup diced onions (about 1 medium onion)
2 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP chicken stock
1 Quart water
2-3 Russett potatoes, cut into small-ish chunks
2 cups kale, chopped
1/2 cup cream
salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Bake the sausage for about 25 minutes, or until done. Cut in half lengthwise, and then into 1/2 inch slices.

Melt butter and olive oil in a stock pot and cook over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook for about another minute. Add chicken stock, water, and potatoes and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Add sausage, kale, and cream. Simmer about 5 minutes. Season with salt & lots of pepper. Serve with some nice, crusty bread.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Spaghetti Bolognese

Way back when I first started cooking, I relied pretty heavily on Kraft Foods. I like how most of the recipes on their site use relatively few ingredients, and they're usually ingredients I have in my fridge or cupboard anyway. I don't use that site anywhere near as frequently as I used to, but I still get the Kraft Food & Family magazine every quarter. This last magazine, the "1 Bag, 5 Dinners" section caught my eye. I previously had noticed that section, but just sort of blew on past it without giving it much attention. However, for some reason, this time it got me thinking. So, off to the website I went to see if their website had any such suggestions. Well, it did. After careful consideration, my husband and I decided on one to give a try. Our first experiment is what they call "Spaghetti with Zesty Bolognese."

Truth be told, Bolognese this absolutely is not. But, it was really good, and really easy, and came together in about 25 minutes. I wouldn't recommend it to someone who specifically asked me for a great Bolognese sauce recipe (Tyler Florence has a great one), but I would recommend it to someone just looking for some good, relatively healthy pasta.

Spaghetti with Zesty "Bolognese"
Recipe from Kraft Foods, adapted (my changes noted)
Serves 4
Total Cook Time - 25 minutes

12 oz dry spaghetti noodles
1 small onion, chopped
1 lb ground beef (I used 1/2 lb)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper, to taste
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup Italian dressing
2 TBSP Cream cheese, softened (I used 2 oz)
1 tsp Italian seasoning
dash red pepper flakes
Flat-leaf Parsley, chopped

Cook pasta to al dente. Drain & set aside.

Meanwhile, saute onions & garlic in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add ground beef and brown. Season with salt & pepper, to taste.

Add tomatoes, Italian dressing, & Italian seasoning, & parsley. I also added a cube of frozen basil from Trader Joe's. Bring to a low boil. Add red pepper flakes.

Add cream cheese and stir in until melted and well-combined. Toss with pasta. Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's election day

It's election day today. Go vote. Please.