Chicken en Papilliote with Zucchini and Tomatoes

September 1, 2014 – 8:10 am

This way easy dinner came together in no time, cooked quickly with no supervision, and was very tasty to boot! I used skinless boneless thighs instead of breasts, and used well drained canned tomatoes since I was inexplicably out of fresh. My version is below.

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Chicken en Papilliote with Zucchini and Tomatoes
Serves 2
1 lb skinless boneless chicken thighs
3 small zucchini
1 15-oz can fire roasted tomatoes, drained of excess liquid
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
kosher salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Thinly slice the zucchini into rounds and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and about 1/8 tsp each kosher salt and black pepper. Remove half of the oil mixture to a small bowl and set aside. Toss the remaining oil mixture with the zucchini.

Divide the zucchini evenly between two 14″x12″ squares of aluminum foil, mounding in the center of the square. Place the chicken thighs on top of the zucchini and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Toss the drained tomatoes with the other half of the oil mixture, then scoop the tomatoes on top of the chicken.

Fold the foil up and around the chicken and vegetables and crimp on top to seal.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the chicken has reached 165 degrees F and the zucchini is tender.

Carefully open the packets and use a large spatula to transfer the contents to plates. Serve warm.

This was a definite keeper of a recipe from my current favorite cookbook:


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No Pectin Added Blueberry Jam

August 3, 2014 – 1:29 pm

I followed this Taste of Southern recipe for a no pectin added blueberry jam. I had about 4 cups of blueberries, used 2 cups of sugar, and still a full 2 tbsp of lemon juice. Not sure yet how well it will set up, but it looks promising, and it’s very tasty! I’m just using my freezer jam jars rather than canning. I got two scant pints out of the quantities I had.

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Garlicky Potato Salad

July 20, 2014 – 4:56 pm

This fresh, no mayo potato salad is great for summer afternoons. :) The garlic is strong, cut back to one clove, or substitute roasted garlic if you prefer.

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Garlicky Potato Salad
Serves 8 as a side

2 lbs red potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch chunks
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 large tomato, cut into 1/4 inch chunks

Boil the potatoes for 6-8 minutes, or until fork tender but not yet falling apart. Drain well and set aside.

Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and garlic. Dump the hot potatoes in and toss to coat well. The potatoes will absorb the dressing. Stir in the tomato chunks.

Let sit for at least 10 minutes to let the flavors mingle. Serve warm or chilled as desired.

Peach Cobbler

July 4, 2014 – 5:20 pm

This recipe is modified from the one on the back of a bag of frozen peaches. A good starting point, I think, for future endeavours. :) It turned out quite well, especially for how little effort it took to put together.

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Peach Cobbler

For the peaches
1 16-oz bag frozen peaches
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

For the batter
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Thaw peaches for 30 minutes on the counter, or 1-2 minutes on defrost in the microwave.

Heat the peaches, water, and sugar in a saucepan over high heat until the syrup comes to a boil, about 5 minutes.

Melt the butter in a 9 inch cake pan.

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, milk, and vanilla in a bowl until combined. Spoon the batter over the melted butter and smooth in an even layer. Place peaches evenly over the batter. Pour the syrup on top. Do not stir.

Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick poked into the cake comes out clean. Serve warm.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

July 1, 2014 – 6:22 pm

These easy wraps make for a light dinner, perfect for a warm summer evening.

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Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Serves 2 generously

2 tbsp canola oil, divided
1 tsp sesame oil
1 9-oz package mung bean sprouts
1 lb shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps quartered
1 lb ground chicken
1 large clove garlic, pressed
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 large head bibb lettuce, leaves separated, washed, and patted dry

Heat 2 tsp of canola oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. When the oil shimmers and just starts to smoke, add the bean sprouts. Stir fry until they are translucent and tender. Remove the sprouts to a bowl. Add another 2 tsp of canola oil to the skillet and the 1 tsp of sesame oil and heat again. When the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms and stir fry until nicely browned and tender. Remove the mushrooms to the bowl with the sprouts. Add the final 2 tsp of canola oil to the skillet and heat one last time. Add the chicken when the oil shimmers and stir fry until cooked through. Add the garlic and ginger and toss to combine, cooking until the garlic is fragrant, about another 30 seconds. Add the oyster sauce and soy sauce and toss to combine. Return the sprouts and mushrooms to the skillet, stir well, and turn off the heat. Serve with the lettuce.

Copper River Salmon

May 19, 2014 – 6:07 pm

The much ballyhooed Copper River salmon is here! Costco had great looking whole fish when we went Sunday morning, so we had to pick one up for dinner that night. We haven’t got the grill in summer working order yet, so I just oven roasted it after seasoning with kosher salt – about 35 minutes for my fish and oven, using convection. Absolutely delicious! Our little guy liked it too. :-)


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Guacamole in a Molcajete

May 16, 2014 – 5:23 pm



I got a great molcajete for Mother’s Day. :-D



This one is made out of granite rather than the traditional basalt, so it was blessedly easier to season – one round of grinding rice to get out grit, then grinding a garlic and canola oil paste to entirely coat the inside and the tejolote (pestle) which then sat overnight before being rinsed out, then one last round of grinding rice to make sure there was no more grit.

Steven loves avocado, so we’ve been going through a lot. He got a kick out of the smashing process and out of our inaugural batch – just avocado, lemon juice, and a bit of cumin and garlic smashed up, then a few chopped tomatoes stirred in.

Disclaimer: this post contains an Amazon Associates link; I would get a very small percentage of the sale if you bought the mojcajete through it.

Turkey and Black Bean Chili

April 2, 2014 – 6:01 pm

This easy, quick, hearty one pot meal hit the spot tonight. I made it extra mild for our guests, but if was just Shaun and I, I would have added a chile in adobo or two and some cayenne pepper. Sorry for the somewhat blurry photo. Our little guy was going for the avocado plate. :-D

Turkey and Black Bean Chili
Serves 4

1 tbsp canola oil
1 20-oz package ground turkey breast
kosher salt and black pepper
2 15-oz cans black beans, undrained (I like Bush’s)
2 15-oz cans fire roasted diced tomatoes (I like Hunt’s)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
Avocado slices to top (optional)

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the turkey and season with salt and pepper. Brown well. Add the beans and tomatoes and stir to combine. Add the seasonings and stir again. Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours to let the flavors mingle. Serve warm with avocado slices.

Guinness Beef Stew

March 15, 2014 – 6:27 pm

Tonight’s dinner was a modification of Brown Eyed Baker’s excellent Guinness beef stew recipe. My version is below. This slow roasted stew made for a great, hearty, one dish meal, worthy of a weekend celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day!

Guinness Beef Stew
Serves 4 generously

Ingredients
1 3-pound boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch pieces
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium zucchini, finely grated
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, pressed
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock
1 12-ounce bottle Guinness Draught
4 tsp packed light brown sugar
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1½ pounds red potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

Move an oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat to 325 degrees F (300 degrees F for a convection oven).

Season the beef with salt and freshly ground pepper and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the zucchini and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is cooked through and starting to brown a bit, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and garlic, stir well, and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the flour, making sure to completely incorporate with no dry flour left, and cook for an additional 1 minute.

Whisk in the chicken stock, Guinness, brown sugar and thyme, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer until the mixture is thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the beef and return the stew to a simmer.

Move the pot to the oven and roast, uncovered, for 90 minutes (75 minutes in a convection oven), stirring halfway through cooking.

Add the potatoes and carrots, stirring to combine, and continue roasting until the beef and vegetables are tender, about 1 hour (45 minutes in a convection oven), stirring halfway through the time. Remove the pot from the oven and let the stew rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Instant Oatmeal Packets

March 3, 2014 – 6:51 pm

It’s way easy and so much cheaper to make your own instant oatmeal packets. These here have 1/2 cup of quick oats, 1 tbsp of sunflower seeds, 2 tbsp of craisins, and 2 loose tbsp of brown sugar. To make one, I dump the mix into a 12 oz cup, pour near boiling water from the office hot water dispenser over the top to cover the oats plus a little bit, stir, and let sit for about 3 minutes. A quick, hearty, easy breakfast!