Archive for November, 2009

Thanksgiving Leftovers a Go Go…Turkey Bone Gumbo

November 22, 2009 Leave a comment

For those of you cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year…enjoy this adventure!  I would love to help you out, but this year we are not cooking dinner, we are going to my sister in law’s, as she will be cooking the feast.  You see, my husband (slightly obsessed with cooking this meal and a type A personality) has created a very handy LAMINATED (correction, plastic page protector) chart for cooking the turkey and has notated recipes for tasty sides like stuffing.  Being a control freak, he passed on this gourmet grid on to his sister so she could cook a dinner that he would have some type of control over, thus leaving me empty-handed to pass on recipes to you.

I think this control stems from the fact that when family gets together, anything can happen.   At least when you have secured the menu, you have something in your corner.   And one more thing you can count on when you plan the menu is turkey leftovers.

So in lieu of an awesome turkey dinner recipe (check back next year), I give you something that we cherish just as much…the day-after recipe…Turkey Bone Gumbo.  When it comes to our food, we are pretty darn thrifty and never throw out something that could be made into a sauce, broth, stew or any other type of leftover goodness.  We have made this day-after recipe since we have been married (even going so far as to take the turkey carcass from my mother’s house when she made it one year!).  I hope you enjoy the gumbo, as well as your Thanksgiving holiday.

*I know this turkey is a little large (click on photo for great reporting by The Onion) but if you can get a heritage bird, by all means do so.  We got one last year and really enjoyed the meatier taste.  Since they are not genetically and artificially bred to have large breasts, there is more dark meat.  It’s a great way to support your local farmers, local economy and if you do eat meat, the most humane way to eat meat.


For the Ladies…Pad Thai You Really CAN Make at Home!

November 18, 2009 2 comments

pad thai - plated

Is Pad Thai a chick dish?  It seems every woman I know loves Pad Thai, but guys seem less likely to say it’s a dish they love.  Maybe it’s more manly to say they like General Tso’s chicken, I don’t know.  I have always been rather skittish of cooking asian/eastern world cuisine.  Sometimes it’s just easier to order out a #12 minus the MSG and call it a day. 

In an effort to clean out my freezer, I came across about  1/2 pound of shrimp.  The wheels in my semi-crazed mind

Emergency alternative dinner for the lil' non-Pad Thai lovers

were turning and trying to find a way to make a meal out this buried-in-my-freezer treasure.  I came across a recipe for Pad Thai and thought “Why not, the kids love noodles”.   Well they did end up eating a different kind of noodles after they tried the final product.

Dave and I liked it, with of course me being a little more vocal about it.  The one negative about it, which is easily rectified, is that the noodles were a little too tough, even after being soaked in the water longer than suggested.  The kids found it to be too spicy, I don’t think they are fans of ginger, which really shines through.  If you are having a taste for Pad Thai, this definitely works and adaptable for your tastes, as this could work well with chicken or even no meat at all.  I would give this recipe a 7/10. 

Eatin’ Vegan…Cajun Portobello Sandwich w/Avocado and Remoulade

November 10, 2009 4 comments

Vegetarian, omnivore, vegan, locavore, flexitarian…the list goes on and on.  It seems the media as of late is obsessed with defining how we eat.   The parameters of our dinner tables now have labels on them and it’s getting a little chaotic.  I respect those whose diet reflects their values and beliefs, but I am interested in why now with the moral upswing?  Is it the due to the open door of such outlets like YouTube and Twitter that have suddenly brought light to the conditions that farmed animals have come to expect?  Is it the “Ah Ha” moment that many have experiencing after reading a Michael Pollan non-fiction eye-opener and therefore vow to eat more vegetables?  I think it is a combination of all the above, intertwined with the realization of the big picture.    The picture: You are what you eat and yes, responsible for how it got to your plate.

As I call the subtitle of this blog, “How I TRY to eat locally and not insanely”.  And I mean it.  I try to eat with my morals on board and teach my children where food really comes from.  And in that effort, I have come to check out a way of eating I would never had before…vegan.  I recently read the The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless Recipes That Will Change the Way You Eat by Tal Ronnen.  The recipe for portobello mushrooms caught my attention, as well as some other recipes that I will be sure to try.  I gave it a whirl and found it to be truly a tasty sandwich.  Although the next time I make it, I don’t think I will slice the mushrooms.  I think keeping them whole might give the sandwich a little more heft and bite.  The remoulade sauce is excellent and makes the dish.  It would go well with many other dishes.  

portobello sandwich - plated

Cajun Portobello Sandwich w/Avocado and Remoulade 

Pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 to 3 tablespoons low-salt Cajun seasoning, divided use
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed, gills removed, cut on the bias into 1/4-inch slices

About 1/4 cup rémoulade (recipe follows)
4 soft sandwich rolls, split
4 to 8 romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried
1 large tomato, thinly sliced
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pit removed and sliced

1 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons capers, minced
2 teaspoons minced shallot
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons minced red bell pepper

For the mushrooms: Place a large pot over medium heat. Sprinkle the bottom with a pinch of salt and heat for 1 minute. Add the oil and heat for 1 minute, being careful not to let it smoke. This will create a nonstick effect.

Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until softened. Add 1 tablespoon of the Cajun seasoning, along with the wine, vinegar and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cook for 1 minute. Pour the mushrooms and liquid into a shallow container, cover and set aside to marinade for 1 hour.

Remove the mushrooms from the marinade and press between paper towels or in a cotton dish towel to remove the excess marinade, then sprinkle with the remaining Cajun seasoning, pressing the seasoning into both sides of the mushroom slices. Discard the marinade.

In a cast-iron skillet over medium high heat, cook the mushrooms in a single layer (you may have to do this in two batches) until blackened, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate.

To assemble: Spread a spoonful of the rémoulade on one half of each roll. Top each with 1 or 2 lettuce leaves and a few slices of tomato and avocado. Divide the mushroom slices among the rolls. Close each sandwich, cut in half and serve.

Makes 4 sandwiches.

For the rémoulade: Place mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, salt, capers, shallot, parsley and pepper in a food processor or blender and blend on high for 1 minute. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Makes 1 1/4 cups.

From “The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless Recipes That Will Change the Way You Eat” by Tal Ronnen


Yes, I will eat locally raised meat from time to time, as I just can’t bypass some dishes.  But opening up my eyes to enjoying a meal that did not involve animals in any way…for one night I wasn’t just human…I was humane.  And that’s a label we all should want to have at one point or another.

On a Chicken Wing and a Prayer…Chicken Under Rocks w/Herb Roasted Potatoes

November 7, 2009 Leave a comment

As a parent of three children, dinner time is a very important part of our day.  It is a chance to us to sit down, hear about everyone’s day, enjoy a good meal and maybe work on some table manners.  To stress the importance of family, one thing we do before dinner is prayer.  When my oldest attended a Parent’s Day Out program, she learned the vague but gets-the-job-done prayer of  “God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food.  Amen.”  The simplicity of this prayer works well for some of the memory-challenged members in our family, mainly our five-year old son.

However, after I cooked a meal of Chicken under Rocks with Herb Roasted Potatoes, he had an addendum after prayer had finished.  It became “God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food.  Amen.”  (Bite of Chicken) God, this IS good!”

This is just about my favorite recipe for chicken.  Many people call this recipe Chicken Under a Brick…when I first cooked this I didn’t have a brick, but I sure did have some large rocks in my yard.  And anyway I can incorporate my last name into a recipe, well hey, wouldn’t you?  If you are a big fan of crispy skin and juicy, tender meat, this will not disappoint.  I do recommend using a 3-4 lb. locally raised chicken, as it will fit nicely in the pan. 

chicken under a rock - cooking photo

Two rocks from behind our garage magically become part of the meal.

chicken under a rock - plated

 Chicken Under a Brick with Herb-Roasted Potatoes (America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook)

Serves 4

1 whole chicken small, (about 3 lbs), trimmed of excess fat, giblets removed and discarded, chicken rinsed and patted dry
  table salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil plus 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves  
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
2 tablespoons lemon juice from 1 lemon, plus 1 lemon cut into wedges
1 1/2 pounds Red Bliss potatoes (small), scrubbed, dried, and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves 

    1. TECHNIQUE: BUTTERFLYING A CHICKEN With the breast side down and the tail of the chicken facing you, use poultry shears to cut along the length of one side of the backbone. 2.With breast side still down, turn the neck end to face you, cut along the other side of the backbone and remove it. 3.Turn the chicken breast-side up. Open the chicken on the work surface. Use the palm of your hand to flatten the chicken, then pound it with the flat side of a mallet to a fairly even thickness. Season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a heavy-bottomed 12-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke. Swirl the skillet to coat evenly with oil. Place the chicken, skin-side down, in the hot pan and reduce the heat to medium. Place the weight (see the note above) on the chicken and cook, checking every 5 minutes or so, until evenly browned, about 25 minutes. (After 20 minutes, the chicken should be fairly crisp and golden; if not, turn the heat up to medium-high and continue to cook until well browned.)

3. Meanwhile, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, garlic, 11/2 teaspoons of the thyme, the pepper flakes, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl and set aside.

4. Using tongs, carefully transfer the chicken, skin-side up, to a clean plate. Pour off any accumulated fat in the pan and add the potatoes, sprinkling them with 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme. Place the chicken, skin-side up, on the potatoes and brush the skin with the reserved thyme-lemon juice mixture.

5. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast until the thickest part of the breast registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest 10 to 15 minutes.

6. Return the skillet with the potatoes to the oven and roast until browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to a large bowl, leaving the fat behind. Toss the potatoes with the parsley. Cut the chicken into pieces. Serve the chicken and potatoes immediately with the lemon wedges.


In the Hole:  Cajun Portobello Sandwich with Avocado and Remoulade

When all Else Fails…Cream of Celery Soup

November 3, 2009 3 comments

Stylish blending right in your own kitchen!

It finally happened.  This hasn’t happened in a long time.  A red light started flashing, a siren sounded.  “Abandon Ship, Abandon Ship” barked in a stern, repetitive way, audible only to me.   I was cooking a new recipe and it just didn’t look or taste good.  After making a pathetic and bland ragu, I kept looking at the clock.  “If I stop now, I can still make something else…ohhh what do I do?” 

After a quick once over of what I had in the fridge and pantry, I decided to go with a quick and easy recipe for Cream of Celery Soup.  I knew it wouldn’t take long, as I didn’t have a lot of time to spare as the natives were getting restless, exercising their tribal chant of “When’s dinner?”  Twenty-five minutes later (the approximate length of Hannah Montana CD), dinner was served, along with some tasty cheese bread I had picked up the day before at Whole Foods.  Dinner was served, and saved.

A big thank you goes out to a few of my readers who recommended an immersion blender.  A few weeks ago I picked up a nice red Cuisinart one at Sur La Table (French for “I Want That!”) for a steal.  This fine tool made blending soup right in the pan a breeze and spared me the transfer of flaming hot liquid to blender process.  My kitchen cabinets and I thank you.

Cream of Celery Soup, Moosewood version

  • 4 cups Celery; in 1″ chunks
  • 3 cups Potatoes; in 1″ chunks
  • 3 cups Water
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Minced onion
  • 1 cup Celery; very finely minced
  • 1 tsp Celery seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 2 tb Butter
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream, half and half or heavy cream
  • White pepper; to taste

Bring celery and potato chunks, water, and salt to a boil in a saucepan. Cook, covered, until soft, about 15 minutes. Puree in blender and return to pan (or use a handy immersion blender in pan).  While simmering, saute onion, celery and celery seed with salt in butter until browned.   Add to first mixture.  Add milk, sour or heavy cream and white pepper into soup about 10 minutes before serving.