Monthly Archives: April 2013

Asparagus and Chicken Stir Fry

Since it is spring and asparagus has been in abundance lately, I have been buying a lot of it. It is a vegetable we all like in my family and in a variety of ways. I have had a lot of it around the house this week and decided last night to make some use of it with this chicken and asparagus stir fry recipe I found at Food Network. It’s light and easy, only taking me about fifteen minutes to prepare, just enough time to cook up some rice to go along with it.

Asparagus and Chicken Stir Fry

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (2-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger, cut into thin matchsticks

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch plus one teaspoon

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon dry sherry

3/4 cup chicken broth or water

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 bunches medium asparagus (about 2 pounds), woody stems trimmed, sliced into 1-inch pieces

1 bunch scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced

Freeze the chicken breasts for 20 to 30 minutes and then thinly slice the chicken against the grain into strips. Toss the strips with 1 clove of the garlic and about half the ginger, the soy sauce, sugar, 1 teaspoon of the cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of the salt and the sherry in a bowl. Marinate at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Mix the remaining corn starch with the chicken broth or water.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the asparagus, scallions, remaining garlic, remaining ginger, 1/4 cup of water and season with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Stir-fry until the asparagus is bright green but still crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Heat the same skillet until very hot and then add the remaining 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the chicken and stir-fry until it loses its raw color and gets a little brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Return the asparagus to the pan and toss to heat through. Stir in the reserved cornstarch mixture and bring to a full boil to thicken. Mound the stir-fry on a serving platter and serve with white or brown rice.

The great thing about any stir fry is that you can add whatever you like to it. There are many other spring vegetables you could add to the mix right now, like fresh peas, or you can go with any of your favorites, like mushrooms, onions, carrots, green beans, sprouts, broccoli… the list can go on and on. You could also substitute for the chicken and use shrimp, pork, beef or no meat at all and just go with the vegetables if that is what you are looking for. I think any of the options are good, but I really liked this recipe as it is. The asparagus was nice and crispy and the chicken tasted great from the marinade. I think the fresh ginger really made the dish and the cornstarch mixture put  a nice glaze on the chicken.

Nice and simple for today. Today being Wednesday and usually a busy day around here, I don’t often cook anything new. We either have leftovers or something equally as simple, like burgers. I do have another chicken recipe I will be using later this week as well as the recipe for strawberry rhubarb pie, so check back for those towards the end of the week. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!


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Posted by on April 17, 2013 in Cooking, Poultry, Vegetables


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Grilled New York Strip Steaks and Sweet Pea Risotto

As promised, I did try a couple of new recipes last night for dinner. The first was from Williams – Sonoma and covered the main entrée for the evening, which was grilled steaks with cherry tomatoes and basil. It was pretty easy to make, although using the indoor grill pan always causes a problem around here with the smoke detector. After a few minutes of wrangling with this smoke detector, everything else was just fine.

Grilled Steaks with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more, to taste
2 New York strip steaks, each about 1 1/4 pound and 1 1/2 inches thick
8 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Brush a cast-iron grill pan with the oil and heat over medium high heat until hot. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, oregano, the 1/4 teaspoon pepper and the 2 teaspoons of salt. Rub the spice mixture evenly onto both sides of the steaks. In another bowl, combine that tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the steaks on the grill pan and cook, turning once, until nicely grill marked, approximately 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium rare, or a grill in till they are done to your specific liking. Add the tomato mixture to the pan during the last two minutes of cooking. Transfer the steaks to a carving board and let rest for five minutes. Transfer of the tomatoes to what warmed platter. Cut the steak crosswise into 1/4 inch strips and arrange on the platter with that tomatoes.

This would be a good meal for you to cook on your outdoor grill as well. If you have the proper tools to cook that tomatoes right on the grill you can do them outside as well. I cooked the steaks to him about medium, which is the way we prefer to have it. These spice rub that is applied to the steaks adds great flavor and seems to go very well with the tomatoes and basil.

As a side dish, I decided I wanted to make some risotto. I looked around for a few different recipes, and I wanted to try to find one that would make good use of some of the spring vegetables that are around right now. The best one I found came from Marcus Samuelsson on his website at Food Republic. It was for a spring peak risotto and sounded really good.

Spring Pea Risotto

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
5 to 6 cups chicken stock
1 large shallot, minced
1/2 bunch asparagus stalks, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup fresh peas, shelled
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a small sauce pan, heat the chicken stock to a warmed simmer. In a large stock pot, or any heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter and olive oil over medium low heat. Add the minced shallots and a pinch of salt, and sauté until the shallots are translucent. Add the rice, stir for about one minute until the grains begin to become translucent around the edges.

Pour in the wine and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Add one ladle of stock at a time, stirring frequently until all the liquid is absorbed. Add another ladle of stock, and stir frequently until liquid is absorbed again. Repeat this process until almost all the stock has been used in the rice is cooked but still al–dente. The entire process should take about twenty minutes.

About five minutes before the rice is done cooking, stir in the asparagus and the peas. Add more chicken stock as necessary to continue cooking the rice. Once the rice has achieved the desired texture, stir in the Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and fresh mint. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Admittedly, making risotto is a lot of work. It requires constant attention and stirring on the stove. While it can be taxing, it is certainly worth the work that you put into it. I especially liked this recipe because of the fresh peas and asparagus that are used. It is the perfect time of year to try to incorporate some of the your spring vegetables into a dish like this and they tasted great. I would certainly make this dish again.

Those of the recipes for today. Tonight, I do plan to make some type of chicken and I have a couple of different recipes to choose from. Check back tomorrow and see which one I have decided to go with and see if you like the recipe yourself. I do have a couple of recipes for later on in the week that I plan to make. One is for another chicken dish, the other is for a strawberry rhubarb pie. I think both will be pretty good. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on April 16, 2013 in Beef, Cooking, Cooking Websites, Dinner, Grilling, Rice, Vegetables


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Simple Margherita Pizza

We were all feeling kind of lazy yesterday. I normally cook a big meal on Sunday for dinner but I just didn’t feel up to it yesterday so we were looking for something simple. Sean actually suggested Margherita pizza, which I had not made before but it sounded like a good idea so I decided to go for it. I looked around for a good recipe and I found this simple one online at so I decided to go with this one.

Margherita Pizza

1 12-inch thin pizza crust

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3-4 large basil leaves,cut into strips

2 small tomatoes, cut thinly

4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste

Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle the olive oil over the pizza crust. Use a brush to spread it around evenly to make sure it covers all of the crust. Disperse the finely chopped garlic evenly over the crust. Spread the mozzarella cheese throughout the top of the crust, trying to keep the layers of cheese as thin as possible. Place the thinly sliced tomatoes across the entire pizza. Lightly salt and pepper the tomatoes. Spread the fresh basil leaves over the pizza crust, making sure to cover some of the tomatoes and some on just the cheese itself. Cook the pizza in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until crispy and the cheese is melted to your specific liking. Add the Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper, if using. Slice and serve.

Just a few things about this recipe. I used Boboli crust since one, I had some on hand, and two, I don’t usually make my own pizza dough. You could easily substitute your own pizza dough or any store-bought dough in this recipe if that is what you prefer. I also put mine on a pizza stone in the oven and I really think it makes a big difference. The crust comes out much crisper, which I personally prefer. We also made a sausage pizza to go along with this one and had a side salad to round out the meal.

You can’t get much simpler than that and it does taste great. The fresh tomatoes, the olive oil, the garlic and fresh basil really made it for me. I just love the smell of fresh basil and the kitchen smelled great while it was cooking. Using a really good olive oil seemed to make a good difference too, so if you have a good one, this is a good recipe to use it on.

I do have a few recipes planned out for this week, including the one I am making tonight of indoor grilled steaks with tomato and basil and some sweet pea risotto. Check back tomorrow to see the recipes and how they came out. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!001


Posted by on April 15, 2013 in Cooking, Cooking Websites, Dinner, Pizza


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Storing Your Fresh Fruit « Chef Marcus Samuelsson

Storing Your Fresh Fruit « Chef Marcus Samuelsson.

Since it is getting to the time of year where more of us invest time and money into fresh fruit and vegetables, this posting from Marcus Samuelsson seems to be a good one to pass on today. It gives you some great tips on the best way for you to treat and store your fresh fruit that you bring home this time of year so it lasts longer, stays fresher and tastes better. Check it out.

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Posted by on April 14, 2013 in Cooking Tips, Cooking Websites, Fruit, Produce


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A Star’s Brownies with a Side of Cole Slaw

I thought I would just post a few simple recipes that I’ve made in the past week for today. The first is one that I came across in The New York Times and it is a recipe that I’ve seen in other places on the Internet. I am sure many people are familiar with Katherine Hepburn’s brownie recipe and may have seen it in other places. I thought it would be a nice simple dessert to make for one evening so we gave it a try.

Katherine Hepburn’s Brownies

1/2 cup cocoa
1 stick butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 325°. Melt the butter in a saucepan with the cocoa and stir until smooth. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes. Mix in the eggs one at a time. Add the sugar, flour, nuts (if using), vanilla and salt. Pour the mixture into a greased 8 x 8 square pan. Bake for forty minutes. Do not overbake as the brownies should be gooey on the inside. Let the brownies cool completely and cut into bars.

It was a very simple recipe that took no time at all to prepare. This makes it great as an option to make for a quick dessert as you may have the items around the house had any time. I am not a big brownie fan myself, but I have to admit that they came out quite nice. They were nice and crisp on the top and soft and chewy on the inside. You could serve them with a bit of vanilla ice cream on the side or just some simple homemade whipped cream and you have a complete dessert in no time at all.

The second recipe I have for today is one I am made when I had made Sloppy Joes was earlier in the week. I wanted to make a side dish to go along with them and I felt like having some coleslaw, but I wanted to try a little bit of a different recipe. I found this one through Williams – Sonoma on their website and it sounded pretty good to me. I try not to make a lot of coleslaw recipes that use mayonnaise, only because it seems to me that they tend to use a lot of it and it waters down the side dish. This one doesn’t used to much, and I actually cut down the amount in the recipe itself anyway.

Williams – Sonoma Coleslaw

1 head green cabbage, cored, quartered and thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more, to taste
half cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 carrots, peeled and julienned

Place the cabbage in a large bowl, sprinkle with the 1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt and toss well. Transfer the cabbage to a colander and let drain for thirty minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, granulated sugar, lemon juice, celery seed and vinegar, and season with the salt and black pepper. Add the drained cabbage and carrots and toss to coat them evenly with the dressing. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours before serving.

As I said, I have made a few adjustments to this recipe. First, I used a bag of coleslaw mix that included the green cabbage, red cabbage and julienned carrots already done so I did not have to deal with the slicing. However, I did salt the cabbage ahead of time to help draw out some of the moisture. Instead of using the half cup of mayonnaise, I only used a quarter cup and I think the recipe turned out just fine. I liked it a lot better without all the mayonnaise and it does cut down on some of the fat involved in the recipe itself. It makes great side dish for nearly anything, such as hamburgers, hot dogs, barbecued spare ribs, chicken, pulled pork or any type of sandwich that you may be making.

That’s all there is to the recipes I have for today. I do plan to go shopping this weekend to get some things in for some new recipes I would like to try this week. I have picked up some recipes from The New York Times, Williams – Sonoma, Cook’s Illustrated, America’s Test Kitchen, The Food Network and some others sources, so I have a lot to draw from right now of meals that we can choose. I do hope to get some new things up but more blog within the coming days. Check back and see what’s going on and see if there’s anything that you like. As always, if there is anything you would like to see, or have any requests of recipes, just drop me a note in the comments section or you can send me an email and I’ll be happy to get back to you. Until then, enjoy the rest of your spring weekend and enjoy your meal!



Posted by on April 13, 2013 in Cooking, Dessert, Salad, Side Dishes


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Whole Chicken Is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts –

Whole Chicken Is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts –

I came across this article on the New York Times website about using and cutting up a whole chicken. I do this myself quite often and it not only provides us with several great meals, but then you have excellent parts to make your own chicken stock, which I highly encourage and is a thousand times better than anything you can buy in the stores. The article also provides a video on how to cut up the chicken if you have never done it before. Trust me, it’s not that hard to do and is certainly worth the effort. Check it out!

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Posted by on April 10, 2013 in Cooking, Cooking Tips, Cooking Websites


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Butterflied Leg of Lamb and Braised Potatoes

So last night for dinner I made something I typically do not make during the week. We had got a leg of lamb before Easter when the prices were quite reasonable and I decided to make it last night for dinner. I wanted to try something a little different with it as I have made it a couple of different ways before and we felt like trying something new. I found this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated and it sounded like something that was pretty easy to do and like it would be worth giving a try. The only part of it I was a little reluctant with was actually butterflying the leg of lamb, which I had never really done before. I think it turned out pretty well though all things considered.

Roast Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Coriander, Cumin, and Mustard Seeds

1 (6 to 8 pound) butterflied leg of lamb
Kosher salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 shallots, sliced thin
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1(1 inch) piece ginger, sliced into half-inch thick rounds and smashed
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
3 bay leaves
2 (2 inch) strips lemon zest
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the lamb, place the lamb on a cutting board with the fat Facing down. Using a sharp knife, trim any pockets of fat and connective tissue from the underside of the lamb. Flip the lamb over, and trim the fat cap so it is between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. Pound the roast to an even 1 inch thickness. Cut slits, spaced a half-inch apart, in the fat In a crosshatch pattern, being careful to cut down but not into the meat. Rub 2 tablespoons of salt over the entire roast and into the slits. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature for one hour.

Meanwhile, adjust the oven racks 4 to 5 inches from the broiler element and to the lower middle position and heat the oven to 250°. Stir together the oil, shallots, garlic, ginger, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, bay leaves, and lemon zest on a rimmed baking sheet and bake on the lower middle rack until the spices are softened and fragrant and the shallots and garlic turn golden, about one hour. Remove the sheet from the oven and discard the bay leaves.

Thoroughly pat the lamb dry with paper towels and transfer, fat side up, to the sheet directly on top of the spices. Roast on the lower middle rack until the lamb registers 120°, approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the sheet from the oven and heat the broiler. Broil the lamb on the upper rack until the surface is well browned and charred in spots and the lamb registers 125°, approximately 3 to 8 minutes for medium rare. Remove the sheet from the oven and, using two pairs of tongs, transfer the lamb to a carving board. Some spices will cling to the bottom of the roast. Tent loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for twenty minutes.

Meanwhile, carefully pour pan juices through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard the solids. Stir in the mint, cilantro, shallot and lemon juice. Add any other accumulated lamb juices to the sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.

With the long side facing you, sliced lamb with the grain into three equal pieces. Turn each piece and slice across the grain into 1/4 inch thick slices. Serve with the sauce.

Admittedly, I looked at a couple of videos online to see what the best way would be to butterflied leg of lamb. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be and the bones actually remove quite easily. You can then trim up the roast by eliminating any excess fat that you find. If you like to meet more well done, you could roast the lamb at a higher temperature does start with and then simply broil for the last couple of minutes to get the nice crust on the outside. I thought that the lamb itself came out quite nicely and you get a very good flavor from all the spices that have bloomed in the oven before you added the lamb.

To go along with the lamb, I wanted to make some potatoes but I didn’t want to just serve the basic roast potatoes were boiled potatoes. Luckily, my new issue of Cook’s Illustrated happened to arrive yesterday morning, and they even had a new recipe in there for braised potatoes.

Braised Red Potatoes with Lemon and Chives

1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, unpeeled, halved
2 cups water
3 tablespoons butter
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

Arrange the potatoes in a single layer, cut side down, in a large nonstick skillet. Add the water, butter, garlic, thyme and salt and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are just tender, about fifteen minutes.

Remove the lid and use a slotted spoon to transfer the garlic to a cutting board; discard the thyme sprigs. Increase the heat to medium-high and vigorously simmer, swirling the pan occasionally, until the water evaporates and the butter starts to sizzle, about 15 to 20 minutes. When it is cool enough to handle, mince the garlic to a paste. Transferred the paste to a bowl and stir in the lemon juice and the pepper.

Continue to cook the potatoes, swirling the pan frequently, until the butter browns and the cut sides of the potatoes turn spotty brown, about 4 to 6 minutes longer. Off they heat add the garlic mixture and that chives and tossed to thoroughly coat.

I thought the potatoes turned out great. You do have to keep a close eye on them once the water evaporates to make sure that they do not burn or stick to the pan. Using a nonstick pan for this is really a pretty good idea. They also have a variation where you can substitute 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard for the lemon juice and used tarragon instead of chives if you want a little bit of a different flavor. I think in banks a pretty good side – and a nice variation for potatoes, giving you that roasted feel without having to roast them.

That’s all I have for today as far as recipe ideas. Tonight I think we are having Sloppy Joe’s for dinner tonight. I have posted a recipe for this before if they want to check it out and see what it’s like. I did add something new to it this time with a new recipe for coleslaw that I tried. I may post that recipe tomorrow along with one Michelle used for brownies that she made this weekend which everyone seemed to love. Check back tomorrow and see what we have. Until then, enjoy this beautiful spring day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on April 9, 2013 in Cooking, Dinner, Lamb, Potatoes


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Jennifer Probst

a little bit naughty a little bit nice

Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

simple cooking recipes

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