My Kitchen View: Freezing & Marinade

I recently spent a few hours putting some meals in the freezer. It’s not generally my style – you may have noticed that there really aren’t many casserole recipes here. However, I like the concept of easy, go-to meals and despite my general lack of excitement about casseroles, I decided I could make it work. So, many of the meals were meat in marinade which means all I need to do is thaw and grill. My kind of summer meal!

The meal round up (my sister helped and we made 26 meals in a matter of a few hours!) included burgers (ground turkey & beef combined), meatballs, taco meat, pizza kits (dough, sauce, browned meat & onions, and cheese frozen together), sweet and sour chicken, pork roasts in marinade, BBQ drumsticks, marinated chicken and pork. So far, we have really enjoyed everything. I plan to do this a few times a year to make life a little easier on the days I work or for when I just need a break from cooking. It’s really makes meals pretty easy – I just add a salad or steamed vegetables and fruit or bread to make a complete meal. 

First, you need to start with fresh meat. DO NOT thaw and re-freeze meat. Add the desired portion into a freezer bag or container and pour in marinade. Clearly label the package and include the date. Place in freezer until ready to use. I try to remember and stick the meat I want for a meal in the refrigerator the day before we are going to eat it.  

Here is a marinade recipe that made a lot – I was able to use it on about 5 or 6 packages of meat (good thing we liked it! :)). I used it on pork chops and chicken breasts. We’ve tried it on the pork and it was wonderful! We sauteed some baby bella mushrooms in butter and topped the pork chops with them for serving. Delicious!

MARINADE (adapted slightly from from allrecipes.com)
Print This Recipe

1 1/2 c. canola oil
3/4 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1/3 c. lemon juice
2 Tb. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
1 Tb. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. finely minced fresh parsley (or 1 tsp. dried parsley)

In a medium bowl, mix together oil, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, wine vinegar, and lemon juice. Stir in mustard powder, salt, pepper, and parsley. Use to marinate meat before cooking as desired.
Advertisements

Weekend Fare: Meat Piroshki

These tasty meat pies go by many names internationally. In Kazakhstan, you can find them being sold on the street corners and in bakeries – they are nearly always wonderful! These hearken back to bierocks that my husband enjoyed and pierogies that are traditional for our friends. Whatever the name, these are great for travel, for making ahead, and for freezing. I think they would be really good with some cabbage or other vegetables in them as well.

MEAT PIROSHKI
adapted from Cooking for Kaz: Meals for Hope, Volume 2
Print This Recipe

 Meat Filling:
1 med. onion, diced
1 T. oil or butter
8 oz. ground beef
salt & pepper to taste
pinch of nutmeg
fresh herbs (opt.)
1 egg

Brown the onion and ground beef together with oil or butter if needed. Add seasonings. Allow to cool. Add egg. Stuff in piroshiki dough as described below.

Dough:
1 ½ tsp. dried yeast
pinch of sugar
5 Tb. warm water
5 Tb. butter, softened
1 lb. (about 4 c.) flour
1 tsp. salt
8 T. milk
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Dissolve yeast and a sugar in the warm water. Mix in the softened butter, flour, salt, milk, and eggs. Knead into smooth dough (I let my mixer do the kneading). Leave to rise until it has doubled in volume. Punch down. Roll out dough until quite thin. Cut out in small circles and brush the inner edges with milk. Stuff with filling and fold into semi-circle or canoe shape. Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown.

Off the Shelf: Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy is That

We are so delighted to have Sarah Bailey return with a guest post today!
Please join us in welcoming her!
_________________________________________

(Sarah) If you want to make Hors d’oeuvres that would impress some dinner guests without acting like a slave to the stove, you might appreciate How Easy is That? (Barefoot Contessa).
 
Ina Garten’s latest cookbook, which sits at number one on The New York Times bestseller list for hardcover advice, offers a beautiful picture for every recipe and cuts ingredients to the bare essentials. The colorful book with pictures for every recipe helps those who lack the imagination of knowing how to make a sophisticated yet nearly effortless dish.
 
However, the mediocre reviews on Amazon suggest that the Barefoot Contessa has executed better cookbooks in the past. One reviewer, for instance, complains that some of the recipes (think red velvet cupcakes) are pretty easy to find on the Internet.
 
Since my husband prefers less creamy dishes and ingredients he can easily identify, the many of the sections—cocktails, starters, lunch and even desserts—offered little benefit to me. As delicious as they sound, I can’t convince him to take a bite of “savory coeur à la crème,” “rum raisin tiramisù,” or “roasted eggplant companata.”
 
The finest section of the book premieres with the dinner section, where Garten makes divine dishes—provençal lamb, roasted shrimp with feta, and panko-crusted salmon—look like a piece of cake. A cook with an herb garden could especially appreciate the recipes as she blends fresh herbs throughout the dishes.

Sprinkled throughout the book, she includes 68 easy tips to help smooth out the cooking process. However, if you work in a small kitchen space, some of the tips are somewhat impractical. I don’t have room for a second dishwasher, since we don’t even have one dishwasher to begin with. Or, for instance, she suggests you have Le Creuset dutch ovens, All Clad sauté pans, and an extra bowl for a food processor and your Kitchenaid mixer, which might lean on the pricey side or take up too much room for some cooks.
 
She also recommends a Cooks Illustrated subscription, but I prefer to cut down on the paper and get the website subscription (where you get excellent video demonstrations and a rich archive of recipes). On the other hand, I wholeheartedly agree with her recommendation to own or save up for a large stockpot, thermometers, a box grater, and a cooking scale.
 
The book doesn’t just showcase recipes; it also includes tips for entertaining. In describing how she sets the table, she balances elegance with simplicity. “We’ve all seen some pretty over-the-top settings with a million crystal glasses, ceramic dishes filled with candy, lots of flowers, candles napkin rings, place cards, and chargers. Frankly, I’ve never known that kind of party to be more fun; in fact, it’s usually just the opposite—it’s more intimidating!” Instead, she recommends a one-color theme appropriate for the season.
 
I tested the cookbook, serving the “weeknight bolognese,” “garlic-roasted cauliflower,” and the “easy cranberry & apple cake.”

Weeknight Bolognese
Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That?  Ina Garten
serves 4-5
 
2 Tb. good olive oil, plus extra to cook pasta
1 pound lean ground sirloin
4 tsp. minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 Tb. dried oregano
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 ¼ c. dry red wine, divided
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
2 Tb. tomato paste
Kosher salt & black pepper
¾ pound dried pasta, such as orecchiette or small shells
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ c. chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
¼ c. heavy cream
½ c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
 
Heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a large (12 inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground sirloin and cook, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, for 5-7 minutes, until the meat has lost its pink color and has started to brown. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 more minute. Pour 1 cup of the wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 tbs salt, and 1 ½ tsp pepper, stirring until combined. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
 
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt, a splash of oil, and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the box.
 
While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce. Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the remaining ¼ cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl. Add the sauce and ½ cup Parmesan and toss well. Serve hot with Parmesan on the side.

Garlic Roasted Cauliflower
(How Easy is That?)
Serves 6

1 head of garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into large florets
4 1/2 Tb. olive oil, divided
kosher salt, ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
3 Tb. pine nuts
2 Tb. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add the garlic cloves. Boil for 15 seconds. Drain, pee, and cut off any brown parts. Cut the largest cloves in half lengthwise.
 
On a sheet pan, toss the cauliflower with the garlic, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 tsp pepper. Spread the mixture out in a single layer and roast for 20-25 minutes, tossing twice, until the cauliflower is tender and the garlic is lightly browned.
 
Scrape the cauliflower into a large bowl with the garlic and pan juices. Add the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, the parsley pine nuts, and lemon juice. Sprinkle with another ½ teaspoon of salt, toss well, and serve hot or warm.

Easy Cranberry & Apple Cake
(How Easy is That?)
Serves 6-8

12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
½ c. light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 Tb. grated orange zest (2 oranges)
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
11⁄8 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 c. plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¼ c. sour cream
1 c. all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium, add 1 cup of the granulated sugar, the butter, vanilla, and sour cream and beat just until combined. On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt.

Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch glass pie plate. Pour the batter over the fruit, covering it completely. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1⁄8 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it over the batter. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

International Cuisine: Polish Dishes

We thoroughly enjoy trying different cuisines. I have yet to find one that I don’t like! It keeps food interesting, creates new ideas for flavor combinations, and expands the palates of my three sons. Last week, we spent time studying the country of Poland and whenever we focus on a country, we try to make at least one dish native to that area. This time we made two and both were delicious!

POTATOES BAKED with EGGS & CREAM (adapted slightly from this site)
Print This Recipe

2 Tb. butter, melted
3 c. potatoes, diced & cooked
salt & pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. sour cream (I subbed some yogurt)
2 Tb. chives or spring onions, chopped (I was out of both so I used a little dried parsley)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour butter into the bottom of an oven proof casserole. Add potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Mix together the eggs and sour cream and pour over potatoes. Top with chives or onions, cover and bake for 1 hour.

SAVOURY SAUSAGE & SAUERKRAUT (adapted slightly from this site)
Print This Recipe

2 Tb. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
¼ c. green peppers, chopped
1 lg. apple, peeled, cored, & chopped
2 Tb. brown sugar
½ tsp. caraway or fennel seeds
3 red potatoes, cleaned & diced
1 ½ c. sauerkraut, drained, rinsed, & packed
1-2 lb. smoke sausage (kielbasa), cut in 3-inch pieces

Melt butter in saucepan. Add onion and green pepper. Cook until tender. Add apple, brown sugar, caraway seeds, potatoes, and sauerkraut. Mix well. Place sausage on top of sauerkraut mixture. Cover. Cook over medium-low heat for 40 minutes.

Off the Shelf: January Magazines

Well, it seems January is the month of double issues – many of the magazines are January/February issues. Frankly, after all of the fun and inspiring holiday issues, I found these a little lackluster. Of the many I perused, Food Network and Cooking Light were my favorites.  Are you shocked that Bon Apetit didn’t make the list? Me, too! But I just wasn’t interested in the recipes – I really tried to be and read the issue probably four times. 🙂

FOOD NETWORK (Alaina) – After looking at all the wonderful recipes, I finally settled on the delicious looking homemade pretzels in this issue. The 3 page article, photos, and recipes were so inviting. And (if we are being honest) I love bread and I have wonderful memories of making pretzels with my mom. I had  illusions of making memories with my kids as we twisted pretzels into all kinds of fun shapes. This was a fail.

My oldest son opted to stay in (instead of sledding) to help me. And part way through, he sweetly said, “Mom do you think I’m a little better at this than you?” I had to laugh and agree with him that he was indeed “a little better.” I think it failed because, despite my familiarity with yeast, my dough was a bit dry and I underestimated the time commitment.

Anyway, we made the pepperoni pretzels, the sweet pretzels, and the everything pretzels. They seemed impossible and took forever but they actually tasted pretty good but they were not the great soft pretzel I was going for.

And I would try making pretzels again but I’m going to get my mom’s recipe because I do love homemade pretzels. Here’s the link to the recipe – use at your own risk – it has not gotten very good reviews on the website either, I’m afraid.

COOKING LIGHT (Alaina) – This issue had 25 different ways to cook chicken and so chicken was the natural choice for a recipe. I opted to use an unfamiliar cooking method which was basically pan frying chicken that I had pounded thin. I know many people love this method because it is quick, easy, and tasty and after trying it, I will definitely be incorporating this into my repertoire. The Dijon pan sauce was incredibly good and the whole family declared the chicken delicious. I served it alongside mashed potatoes inspired by a side dish recipe in this issue that had caramelized onions in them – they were really good, also.

CHICKEN CUTLETS with CREAMY DIJON SAUCE (Cooking Light, January 2011)
Print This Recipe

4  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
1  tablespoon  olive oil
3  tablespoons  chopped shallots
1/2  cup  fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1  rosemary sprig
3  tablespoons  whipping cream
2  teaspoons  Dijon mustard

Place chicken breast halves between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness. Sprinkle chicken with salt and black pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan. Add chicken; sauté 3 minutes on each side or until done. Transfer to a serving platter. Add shallots to pan; sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth and rosemary sprig; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes. Stir in whipping cream; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and discard rosemary. Stir in Dijon mustard. Spoon over chicken.

EVERY DAY WITH RACHAEL RAY (Stephanie) – The past couple months I’ve been disappointed by Rachael Ray, so was pleasantly surprised to find this issue filled with good sounding recipes I’d love to try: Ham, Ricotta and Fig Tart; Mushroom-and-Marsala Pappardelle; Cashew-Pesto Pasta; Peanut Butter Pretzel Tart with Caramel Drizzle. I chose to make Pork with Rosemary Lentils and Braised Onions, both because it sounded good and because I had all the ingredients on hand and no time to go to the grocery. 🙂

Anyway, the recipe went together quickly and in about an hour I had a meal that could be completed with the addition of a green salad or some steamed broccoli. The rosemary and garlic in this really stand out and make for some good eating!

PORK WITH ROSEMARY LENTILS AND BRAISED ONIONS (Every Day With Rachael Ray, February 2011)
Print This Recipe

4 1/2-inch bone-in pork loin chops (about 1 2/3 lbs)
7 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
6 Tbsp olive oil
2 onions, halved and sliced
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
1 c. lentils, rinsed
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a resealable plastic bag, rub pork chops with two-thirds of the garlic and 2 Tbsp olive oil; refrigerate. In glass baking dish, combine the onions, vinegar, 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1/2 c. water. Cover and bake until liquid is almost completely reduced, about 50 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine 2 c. water, lentils, rosemary, and remaining garlic. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until lentils are tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes. Stir in 1 Tbsp olive oil, season with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Add pork chops and cook, turning once, until golden and just cooked through, about 8 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Serve pork chops on a bed of lentils topped with onions. Serves 4.

Holiday Feast: Turkey

So, last week I made my very first turkey. I had made turkey breasts before but never a whole turkey. It will not be my last. This recipe made an amazingly moist and deliciously flavored turkey. I’m including the gravy recipe which I did not strictly follow but I’m sure is just as delicious.

Heather is also contributing turkey soup which is a perfect way to use up leftover turkey and to cook up the carcass.

turkey

SAGE BUTTER-ROASTED TURKEY with Cider Gravy (Alaina)
(Bon Appetit, November 2009)

For the Turkey:
3 Tb. coarse kosher salt
1 Tb. dried rubbed sage
1 16- to 18-lb. turkey, innards removed and bird is rinsed and patted dry (save the neck, heart, and gizzard  if you are making turkey stock – I did not do that)
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 c. chopped fresh sage
3/4 c. fresh refrigerated apple cider or fresh refrigerated apple juice

Rub salt and dried sage together in small bowl. Place turkey in roasting pan; sprinkle all over with sage salt. Cover pan with plastic wrap; chill turkey overnight (I chilled for about 6-8 hours).

Set rack at lowest position in oven and preheat to 375°F. Pat turkey dry. Tuck wing tips under; tie legs together loosely (mine were already tied). Stir butter and chopped sage in small saucepan over low heat until butter melts. Brush all over turkey; sprinkle with pepper.

Roast turkey 1 hr.; baste with any pan juices. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Roast turkey 45 min. Pour 3/4 c. apple cider over; turn pan around. Continue to roast turkey until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°F, basting and turning pan occasionally for even cooking, about 1 1/4 hrs. longer. Transfer turkey to platter; tent loosely with foil and let rest 30 to 45 min. (internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees).

 

gravy
For the Gravy:
2 c. (or more) turkey stock or low-salt chicken broth (I used broth)
3/4 c. fresh refrigerated apple cider or fresh refrigerated apple juice
2 Tb. all purpose flour
2 to 3 Tb. Calvados (apple brandy) or applejack brandy (I did not have either)
1 Tb. chopped fresh sage

Pour all pan juices into large measuring cup. Spoon off fat that rises to surface. Transfer 2 Tb. fat to heavy large saucepan; discard remaining fat. Place turkey roasting pan over 2 burners. Add 2 c. stock or broth and 3/4 c. cider. Bring to boil over high heat, scraping up browned bits. Boil liquid until reduced to 1 1/2 c., about 6 min. Add mixture from roasting pan to degreased pan juices. If necessary, add enough stock to measure 3 1/2 c stock mixture.

Place saucepan with turkey fat over medium-high heat. Add flour; whisk 2 min. Whisk in stock mixture. Boil until gravy thickens enough to coat spoon thinly, about 6 min. Whisk in  Calvados, or more to taste, and sage. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve turkey &  gravy together.

Here are a few of my turkey tips:
– Allow time to thaw.
– Check the neck as well as the cavity for innards.
– Make sure your thermometer is accurate or that the turkey comes with one that pops up.
– Don’t stress – it’s really not that hard!

      Image084

      The taste of homemade turkey soup is deeply satisfying. After all the work and effort of the Thanksgiving meal, this soup can be put on the stove and nearly forgotten for most of the next day, with just a few additions just before serving.

      HOMEMADE TURKEY SOUP
      (Heather)

      STOCK:
      1 turkey carcass
      1 onion, peeled and quartered
      3 carrots, peeled and halved
      2-3 stalks celery, cut in 6-inch pieces

      SOUP:
      1 pound carrots, shredded
      1/2 bunch celery, chopped
      noodles

      Place the turkey carcass in a large pot and fill with water (ideally to cover the carcass, but if that’s not possible, as far up the pot as safe for cooking). Add the onion, carrots and celery. Bring to a boil and simmer for several hours (I covered my pot and left it for 3-4 hours). Turn off the heat and let the soup cool some.

      Image064

      When cool enough to handle, strain the broth into another pan and pick all the meat of the carcass. Put the meat in the pot with the strained broth and add the grated carrot and chopped celery. Bring to a boil and add noodles of your choice (I chose thin spaghetti broken into 1 1/2-inch pieces). You can also throw in cooked rice or barley instead of noodles. Simmer until the noodles are finished cooking. Season with salt and pepper.