Sunday, March 30, 2008

Chicken and Sausage Bake - Sunday night crazies

Well friends and family - It has been a bit crazy this weekend. I think the lack of sunshine and warm weather is really beginning to take its toll. The kids are getting into more trouble than usual (especially J - who is being particularly terrible - not listening to the point where when he flushed the toilet that was broken and it completely overflowed - right after I told him it was broken and not to touch it- quite a number of privileges are now on hold for a few days...)

Anyway - despite all this - dinner was terrific tonight.

Chicken and Sausage Bake (adapted from Nigella Feasts)

1 Cut up Chicken - I had 2 packages of split breasts and chicken leg quarters which I cut down into smaller parts (2 legs, 2 thighs - 4 pieces of breast cut crosswise...)
4 pieces sausage (I used chicken/turkey Andouille, because that is what I had on hand. Any sausage will do.)

1/2 white onion - chopped roughly
1 yellow onion - chopped roughly
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp (or 2 shakes) worsterchire sauce
1 tbsp dried sage (I crushed about 5-6 dried sage from last year's garden)
1/4 cup olive oil
pinch of kosher salt
bit of fresh ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Put onions, mustard, worsterchire sauce, sage, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix together to coat onions and combine ingredients.
3. Put chicken parts into mixture and mix together until chicken is well coated. (You could also at this point cover and marinate overnight. I didn't do that.)
4. Dump everything into a baking dish or casserole (I used my handy Le Crueset Dutch Oven - love that thing!!!)
5. Spread out chicken so it is in one layer and put sausages in between the chicken.
6. Put in oven and bake (uncovered) for 1 hour 20 minutes. At about 45 minutes in, open up and turn the sausage.
7. When you take it out of the oven, everything should be nice and carmelized - delicious!. (I served with jasmine rice and a salad)

I didn't do this, because of time, but once you take out all the chicken/onions/etc. there is some chicken fats and bits of onion left on the bottom. You could drain out some of the oil and deglaze the pan with some white wine- the sauce would probably be terrific!

Enjoy! And here's hoping that next week is a MUCH better week for everyone!


Wednesday, March 26, 2008


The truth of the matter, is that my kids love steak (as does my husband). It is also pretty much a universal truth that there are some days (weeks, months) that we can't get the food onto our toddler's plate fast enough!

Last night's London Broil was terrific - the brown sugar carmelized on the outside, and the soy sauce and spices provided just enough of a punch to make it quite savory. There was absolutely none left - not even a slice for a snack.

I wound up cooking the London Broil in the broiler (ironic, no?) - about 12 minutes per side - then I let it rest for about 10 minutes.

Another universal truth is the absolute peculiar taste preferences of 5 year olds. It should be noted here that my son, before age 4 - ate everything! And I mean everything! We took him with us to a fairly nice french bistro here in Chicago when he was about 7 months. He was sitting on my lap - we ordered pate - he actually grabbed the toast before the waitress could get the plate in front of me - and when he found the part with pate - just couldn't get enough.

Today - at 5 - he just wants everything plain. Plain bagel with cream cheese - plain cheese sandwich - plain pasta (with a liberal sprinkling of parmesan).

Interestingly enough, he will eat whatever I make - as long as it looks "plain" - and we have fun.

So the London Broil was a hit! To go along with it, I put out a platter of cherry tomatoes (his favorite) and steamed carrots 2 ways - plain and tossed with 2 tbsp of honey, a touch of pepper and about 1 tsp of five spice powder to complement the London Broil.

And so the negotiation began... 3 carrots and 1 tomato? No J... 2 tomatoes and 4 carrots.... "How about.... 3 carrots and 1 tomato..." etc.

After he ate his 3 carrots and 1 tomato, I made a "person" out of the spiced carrots and tomato. I ate each "leg", "arm" with great flourish and of course J wanted to do the same. And that is how my 5 year old boy ate about 1 cup of spiced carrots and at least 10 cherry tomatoes.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Almost the end of March

Well, it has been a bit crazy at work - and Jay and I were gone last weekend for Purim... more about that weekend another time.... But a quickie recipe before I sign off...

For tomorrow, I plan on making London Broil (I had taken it out for dinner - but Jay had the kids and didn't "know" how to make London Broil)... here is the marinade you can use overnight, then when you are ready to make the LB, take out of the marinade and either throw on the grill for about 8-10 minutes per side (depending on thickness and how well you like your meat) - or under the broiler...YUM!

Basic marinated London Broil #1
3-5 lb London Broil
1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 tbsp five spice blend (I used one that had different kinds of pepper and allspice)
pinch of hot pepper (just for a bit o' kick)

1. Mix all marinade ingredients in bowl or plastic bag (I tend to just throw everything in a plastic bag, smoosh it together, then put the meat in and push the air out, then seal the bag.)

2. Put meat in marinade overnight.

3. Grill or broil

Note: there is no salt because I use regular soy sauce, which has quite a bit of salt in it already. Taste the marinade before putting the meat in to adjust spices. Also, you can leave the LB in for an additional day if you don't have time to make it, but I have found that 1-2 days max is best.


Thursday, March 13, 2008


Here is a tried and true Hamentaschen recipe - Purim is coming soon, so we will definitely be making these...

3/4 Cups Sugar
6 Cups Flour
3 Teaspoons Baking Powder
3/4 Cups Oil
3/4 Cup Honey
1 Tablespoon Orange Juice
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Ext.
1/2 Teaspoon Almond Ext.
3 Eggs

Gently combine wet and dry mixtures.
Put flour on counter and roll out dough, not too thin.
Punch out circles using cups or glasses.
Fill center of circle with fruit pie filling (Solo brand, recipe used about 2 cans, cherry, apricot, poppy, almond, etc) .
Pinch three corners of the circle to create triangle-shaped cookies.
Bake on 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes
on ungreased cookie sheet.

Easy Easy Easy Dinner

Well, as we are preparing for Passover we are busy trying to use up everything in the pantry and freezer.

Generally speaking I try and think about what I will make for dinner the night before so I can pull something from the freezer if I need to....

Monday night I had pulled out some chicken legs/thighs - but then remembered that we were going to see Othello Tuesday night, so the chicken would have to wait... And of course Wednesday got really crazy. But, here is a great tasting crispy chicken recipe.

Roasted chicken parts (I used legs and thighs... breasts may cook a bit faster).

4 chicken leg/thigh quarters
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
1-2 tsp italian seasoning
pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Put chicken on roasting sheet/tray covered with aluminum foil (easier to clean up this way).
3. Brush some of the olive oil (or Pam, whatever...) onto the foil so the chicken doesn't stick.
4. Place chicken skin side down on the foil and brush with olive oil and sprinkle with herbs and salt/pepper. (don't forget to "crush" up the seasoning in your hand to release the aroma... or something like that. This is what my dad always does, so I do it too.)
5. Bake for 20 minutes.
6. Turn chicken over skin side up. Bake for another 20 minutes until cooked through and skin is golden brown.
7. Enjoy!

If you are wondering what I served with the chicken, I had some leftover grapes (you know - those 20 or so loose ones in the bottom of the bag...), chopped up some apples and fennel and tossed it with some red wine vinegar, a bit of honey and olive oil - I then added about 1 cup of spinach (because I like it!). The kids ate the apples/fennel and grapes - Jay and I ate the rest...


Monday, March 10, 2008

Wine and Butter Poached Salmon - Sunday Night

Well everyone, I am back to cooking on a regular basis (although Saturday night J had a "playdate" that included dinner - pizza of course!).

But more to the point, there will be lots of recipes coming up as Jay and I try to empty our freezer and pantry before Passover.

Usually there is a leftover bottle of Kosher for Passover ketchup that we haven't quite finished - matzo meal, etc. that we need to get rid of. Last year, Jay decided to purchase 300 tortillas from Costco "because it was a good price" - 3 weeks before the holiday.

Belive it or not - he actually ate all of those tortillas (although I think he threw out some too in the end.)

Anyway, back to last night's dinner. I was in the mood for Salmon, and since my husband will only eat fish if it tastes like chicken, I often just roast the fish. But, I tried something new and he loved it! I also threw together a quick zucchini and pepper ratatoullie, some jasmine rice - Yum!

Wine and Butter Poached Salmon

2 center cut filets of salmon (I used wild caught Sockeye)
1/4 to 1/2 cup white wine (I used a wine that was a combo of sauvignon and chardonney grapes)
2 tsp dried/crushed fennel seeds, thyme, bay leaf, marjoram (I just took a bit of each and crushed it together - you could also use Herbes de Provence - anything that goes well with fish)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter (best you can buy) plus 2 thin slices
1 tsp kosher salt
pepper to taste

1. Heat 1 1/2 tbsp oil in pan
2. Put salmon skin side down in oil - sprinkle 1 tsp of herbs on top of each filet, along with a bit of salt and pepper, and remaining olive oil.
3. Cook approx. 2-3 minutes and flip filets. - sprinkle with remaining herbs, salt and pepper
4. Cover pan tightly for about 4-5 minutes.
5. Remove cover, add wine and 1 tbsp butter. Continue to cook until sauce reduces and salmon is just done (about 5 minutes or so, depending on thickness of filets). Taste sauce and add salt/pepper if necessary.
6. Remove from pan and plate - put one thin slice of butter on each filet and spoon some of the sauce on top of the filets so it melts the butter.
7. Enjoy!

Zucchini, Pepper and Red Onion "Ratatoulie" (Developed when I found some "old" zucchini and one orange pepper that J made me buy because he liked the color in the cooling bin while looking for an apple)

3 small zucchini
1 orange pepper (or red, yellow - I don't particularly like green pepper)
1/2 red onion
2 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt and pepper to taste

1. Dice all the veggies into about 1/4 inch dice - so they are about the same size.
2. Heat the olive oil in a pan and add in the red onion.
3. Cook until translucent and browning a bit - add some salt and pepper then the peppers and cook until starting to brown.
4. Add the zucchini and cook until zucchini is still "al dente" - but cooked through.
5. Check for seasoning and serve!

Happy eating everyone!

Friday, March 7, 2008

I am Back!

Okay -

Dad is complaining that he doesn't have any new recipes.... I haven't been cooking too much since we have been doing lots of out of the house stuff - and J's birthday was last week.

But, I am finally back in the groove, and cooking...

So - last night...

Chicken Paillard (essentially chicken breasts that have been boned/split/pounded thin then quickly grilled)

Spinach, Strawberry and Fennel Salad

Green Beans....

The Chicken is very easy to do - and this is a quick way to cook boneless/skinless breasts.

1. Take boneless skinless breasts and "split" them so they lie flat - (essentially the non-smooth side - slide your knife gently through the center - or use your fingers - and "open" the chicken breast...)

2. Pound them thin - about 1/4 inch thick - salt and pepper to taste.

3. Heat a grill pan with a bit of olive oil.

4. Place chicken breasts onto heated grill pan - about 3-4 minutes per side - they should cook really quickly, so watch them...

5. Sprinkle a bit of chopped fresh thyme leaves on top and serve!

Spinach/Strawberry and Fennel Salad

2 cups fresh spinach leaves, trimmed and washed
1 pint of strawberries - hulled and sliced
1 bulb of fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 cup green beans trimmed
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp good olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Blanch the green beans in some boiling water. (Boil the water - throw the green beans in for a few minutes until they are bright green - them remove them from the water, drain) Put them on the side.

2. Wash and slice the strawberries into 1/4 inch slices.

3. Trim the fennel and slice thinly - you can do this on a mandoline or by hand.

4. Put the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper in the bottom of a bowl and whisk together.

5. Put the strawberries into the dressing and toss a bit to get the strawberries to release some of their juices.

6. Throw the rest of the veggies in with the salad dressing and strawberries - toss gently and serve!