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Another Easy Awesome Side Dish – Whiskey Glazed Carrots

You can never have too many options when it comes to making side dishes. I am always looking for something different to do with vegetables. They can get kind of boring if you just do the same thing over and over again. After awhile you start to feel as if you don’t even want to have certain vegetables because you get tired of having them the same way all the time. I think this happened to me with carrots for a bit and for a time I rarely made them at all unless they were just an added component of another part of the dish. I am trying to get them back into my vegetable rotation now because they are great for you, are inexpensive and actually quite versatile in what you can do with them since you can make them so many ways. Such is the case with this recipe I came across not that long ago for whiskey glazed carrots. I got this one from a cookbook I received for Christmas this year called “The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook.” If you are looking for some new Irish recipes to try, this is the book for you. This choice is a very easy one and simple to make and you could certainly omit the whiskey if you prefer not to have it, but it gives a decidedly Irish touch and flavor to the dish.

Whiskey Glazed Carrots

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup vegetable or peanut oil

3 tablespoons butter

4 carrots (about 1 pound) diagonally sliced into 1/2-inch circles

3/4-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced into matchstick strips

2 tablespoons Irish whiskey

1/2 cup chicken broth or water

Combine the sugar, pepper and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil and half of the butter in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the carrots in a single layer and sprinkle them with the sugar mixture. Cook the carrots over medium-high heat for 3 minutes, then start turning the slices with tongs and reduce the heat if necessary to prevent them from burning. When the carrots are slightly browned on both sides and starting to blacken at the edges, transfer the carrots to a plate.

Clean the skillet with paper towels. Add the ginger to the now-empty skillet and cook it over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes until it is golden. Remove the ginger from the skillet and add it to the carrots.

Add the remaining butter, the Irish whiskey and the chicken broth or water to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil and then allow it to simmer for 3 minutes or until it begins to thicken and turn syrupy. Return the carrots and ginger to the skillet and swirl the carrots with the syrup for 1 minute. Serve.

Very quick and easy to do and they taste great. The syrup really helps to bring out the sweetness of the carrots and adds a really nice glaze to the dish. These are perfect to serve with any type of meat, pork or poultry dish and I think the whiskey adds just a hint of flavor without overpowering the carrots at all. It is a good quick dish to keep in mind for St. Patrick’s Day as well.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for some more recipes. I have plenty of entrees that I have tried lately that are great to try for weeknights or weekends. until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on February 23, 2014 in Cooking, Side Dishes, Vegetables

 

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Simple Saturday Roast Chicken and Vegetables

A busy day of laundry, errands and ordering new glasses for Sean kept me from writing earlier in the day, but the meal is still simple if you want to use it for another day. I love a roasted chicken. Nice crispy skin, moist chicken and nicely roasted vegetables make a great meal, and the best part is you can cook the whole thing in one roasting pan, cutting down on the pots and dishes to clean after the meal.

A couple of things about roasting. if you have the time to do it, a container large enough and the refrigerator space, brine the chicken the night before you roast it. Brining really can bring out the flavor and tenderness of not only chicken, but turkey and pork as well. As the meat soaks in the brine it absorbs it, and then retains it during cooking, resulting in very juicy and excellent tasting meat. It’s not essential to do it before roasting, but it can really add to a roasted meal. For 4 pounds of chicken (either a whole bird or pieces) use 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of sugar dissolved in water in a container or bowl large enough to hold the brine and the meat. Then submerge the chicken in the brine, cover and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. Remove the meat from the brine, rinse and pat dry with paper towels, and that’s it, your good to go. The second thing I recommend is using a roasting pan with a rack in it. Chicken roasts better when it’s not resting on the bottom of the roasting pan. If air can circulate up and around the bird, the meat will cook more evenly and the skin will be crisper. If you don’t have a roasting pan with a V-shaped rack, you can use a flat rack inside the roasting pan. if you don’t have that either, you can always use a bed of chopped onions, carrots and celery to raise the chicken off the bottom of the pan and then use these vegetables later on for gravy.

Roast Chicken and Vegetables

1 (3 1/2 to 4 pound) whole chicken, brined if desired

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 tablespoon minced parsley

Salt and pepper

6 garlic cloves, peeled

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

2 small onions, peeled and cut into quarters

2 ribs celery, cut into chunks

8-10 small red-skinned potatoes (or other potatoes you have, just halve or quarter them)

2 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup water

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix 2 tablespoons of the butter, parsley, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together. Spread the butter under the skin over the breast of the chicken. Season the chicken with additional salt and pepper all over. Toss the garlic, carrots, onions, celery, potatoes and parsnips in a large bowl with the oil until well coated. Season with salt and pepper. Add the vegetables to the bottom of the roasting pan. If using a V-rack, they can go under the rack. If using a flat rack or no rack, form a nest around the edge of the pan and then place the chicken in the center of the vegetables, breast side up. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and brush it over the chicken. Pour the water into the roasting pan. Roast the chicken for 40 minutes.

Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees, rotate the position of the pan in the oven, and continue to roast the chicken until the thickest portion of the breast registers 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 30 minutes longer. Tip the chicken so that the juice from the cavity runs into the roasting pan. Transfer the chicken to a carving board and let rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes before carving. Turn the oven temperature back down to 350 degrees and continue roasting the vegetables if you want to brown them some more while the chicken rests. If not, you can re-heat the vegetables on the stove top before serving over medium heat in the roasting pan for about 5 minutes.

After you remove the vegetables, you may want to use the pan drippings to make a quick gravy for your chicken. it’s a very simple recipe and easy to do, just watch out, because the pan drippings may be salty.

Quick Chicken Gravy

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, minced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups chicken broth

2 bay leaves 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, minced

Salt and pepper

While the roasted chicken rests, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook until brown, about 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add 1 cup of broth to the roasting pan and scrape up any drippings. Pour into a large measuring cup and spoon any fat off the top. Add the remaining broth as needed to measure 3 cups.

Slowly whisk the measured broth into the saucepan. Add the bay leaves and simmer until the flavors have blended, about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

That’s it, the whole meal is done, and you have two pots to clean (1 if you used a foil pan you can throw away). Don’t throw away that chicken carcass either. Save it in a storage bag or throw it in a pot of water right away and make some homemade stock with it. One carrot, one onion, one stalk of celery, 2 bay leaves, and enough water to cover the carcass is all you need. Let it come to a boil and then turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for a few hours. Strain out the carcass and vegetables and you have plenty of your own stock to use in various recipes. Trust me, it tastes so much better than what comes in a can.

And we have another meal in the books. Tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday, so I won’t be cooking anything but the snack foods we talked about on Thursday, but I will be writing about something; I just haven’t decided what that will be yet. Any suggestions? I’d love to hear if you have any ideas of things you might like to see or topics to tackle. Leave a comment and let me know. Two final notes: First, the Fish and Chips from last night turned out great! The fish was crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside and not greasy at all, and the fries were awesome! I recommend the recipe and we’ll certainly have it again one day. Secondly, I made a trip to Williams-Sonoma today and bought a new 12-inch skillet, a flat rack for a roasting pan or baking sheet, a new gravy separator (Sean dropped the other one and shattered it, accidents happen!) and a cake mix for a lemon bundt cake they have that tastes really good and we can never find (I know, I should make it from scratch, but I’m lazy when it comes to baking). I am sure we could have bought more, but we tried to limit our spending for the day and had a coupon to use. It was a good trip and I am sure we’ll go back again. I hope everyone has a great night and get ready for the game tomorrow!

 

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2012 in Cooking, Dinner, Gravy, Potatoes, Poultry, Vegetables

 

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Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pepper Steak

It was a beautiful day here in New York, much warmer and nicer than a January usually is around here. It was so nice, I almost don’t feel like cooking dinner tonight, but since I already have the meat thawed and ready to go, we’re going to plow through and go for it. Today’s dinner selections was Michelle’s and we’re making Pepper Steak with Rice and Glazed Carrots. Pepper steak is a very simple dish, so you could add this one to our quick and easy, dinner in a jiffy list. It’s ready in about 30 minutes and that includes all the prep work and cooking, leaving you to enjoy the rest of your evening.

Pepper Steak

1 pound boneless beef sirloin steak, cut into strips (I am actually using a London broil myself, but you could use almost any type of steak for this)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2-3 large peppers, thinly sliced (I use red, yellow and orange for a nice color)

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup beef broth

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon sugar

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the vegetable oil and meat, searing on both sides, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, salt and pepper; cook 1 minute. Remove meat to a plate and loosely cover with foil. Reduce heat on pan to medium. Add peppers and onions and saute for 5 minutes, until tender. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and cook 1 minute longer, stirring constantly. Whisk in broth, soy sauce, water and sugar until well blended. Add meat  back into the pan and coat with sauce. Cook and stir until mixture boils. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve over rice.

We haven’t had too many meals easier than this one. I like to use orange, yellow or red peppers instead of the green. It’s a personal preference, but I find the green ones a bit more acidic and don’t have the same flavors as the other colors, but if you like the green ones better, than go ahead and use them. For the rice, well we’ve cooked rice a few times in the last few weeks so you can get my method of cooking the rice right here. This is a good dish for plain white rice since it will absorb some of the tasty sauce that comes with the meal.

You probably don’t need to add another vegetable to this dish if you don’t want to, but we came across a nice recipe for some glazed carrots that sounded yummy, so we wanted to try it. It’s very simple and you can use the baby carrots for this. We usually have the baby carrots around since they are a good snack food, but you could also just use your every day carrots and cut them into pieces if you like. Just a side not: this recipe calls for bourbon, but you could leave that out if you want, but I think it will add a nice flavor to the carrots.

Honey Glazed Baby Carrots

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

1 pound baby carrots

1/2 a piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup orange juice

3 tablespoons bourbon

Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots and saute until they are beginning to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the ginger and the honey. Cook for two minutes. Remove the skillet from heat; stir in the orange juice and the bourbon. Return the skillet to the heat and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are fork-tender, about 5-7 minutes. Uncover and cook until all the liquid has been reduced to a syrupy consistency and the carrots are nicely glazed, about 6 minutes. Discard the ginger. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The honey glaze and the ginger taste will add some excellent flavor to the carrots and the bourbon gives a nice kick of flavor of its own. As i said, you could omit the bourbon all together and I think the dish will turn out just fine.

Simple, simple, simple. I think the whole week has been pretty easy for meals, which is great if you don’t have a lot of time to put into meals during the week. Tomorrow will be a little more labor intensive, but not much. I like to make a little more elaborate meal on Sundays, so tomorrow we are having Pan-Seared Steaks with a Red Wine Pan Sauce, Shrimp Scampi, Mashed Potatoes, Sautéed Mushrooms and Asparagus. It sounds like a lot, but we are having guests over too, so it’s not too bad and none of the recipes are difficult to make. Tune in tomorrow and see for yourself how easy it all really is to do. As always, your suggestions and input is welcome and encouraged. Feel free to ask questions, let me know how you made out if you tried a recipe, or let me know how you improved upon it. You can post a comment here or send me an email at IguanaFlats@msn.com. Thanks for reading today and I hope you enjoyed this beautiful day. See you tomorrow!

 

 


 
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Posted by on January 28, 2012 in Beef, Cooking, Dinner, Rice, Vegetables

 

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Under the Sea (Scallops)

After a morning at the dentist, it’s time to get down to some writing. Today’s dinner is an easy recipe and a very tasty one. Today I am making pan-seared sea scallops with lemon and shallots, roasted broccoli and carrots, and white rice. It’s nothing difficult to make and the whole meal itself only takes about 35 minutes total, so it’s easy to do during the week,

In my opinion, there is really only one type of scallop worth buying, and that is sea scallops. Bay scallops or Calico scallops are much smaller and tend to be rubbery, so I opt for the sea scallops. They do cost more, and many of them are dipped in preservatives to help extend their shelf life. These are generally called wet scallops. If you can find dry scallops, or scallops labeled chemical-free, opt for those. You’ll be able to tell the difference even if they aren’t labeled, as wet scallops are bright white in color and, well, they’re wet with a milky liquid. Dry scallops range from an ivory color to a pale pinkish orange, and look dry. Most places will label them, and dry scallops in this area tend to be quite expensive, around $18 a pound. They do taste better and are worth the splurge. We only cook them about every 6 weeks or so and it is a seafood the whole family enjoys.

Now on to the recipe. This one is pretty easy and shouldn’t take long at all. i would recommend using the largest skillet you have for this, or do the scallops in batches so they aren’t bunched together and end up steaming instead of getting the nice pan sear on them. Also, you could add capers into this recipe if you like. Capers are basically unripened flower buds that are often pickled and are about the size of a small pea to a small olive. They can be rather salty, but also can add a nice flavor to meats, sauces, dressings and vegetables. My family doesn’t really like them, so I eliminate them, but if you like them, go for it.

Pan-Seared Scallops With Lemon and Shallots

1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons butter

1 shallot, minced

1 cup dry white wine or vermouth (or just use water if you don’t want the alcohol)

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and minced (optional)

Pat the scallops dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Gently lay the scallops in the pan and cook until well browned, about 2 1/2 minutes. Flip the scallops over and cook until the sides of the scallop are firm but the center remains very soft, about 30 seconds. Transfer the scallops to a plate and tent with foil.

Pour off all the fat left in the skillet. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and melt over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the wine (or vermouth, or water) and lemon zest. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce has thickened and reduced, about 5 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining butter, the parsley, lemon juice, capers (if using) and any accumulated scallop juice. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Add the scallops to the sauce and let warm through before serving, about 1 minute.

Pretty easy, huh? The thing with seafood and shellfish is that it generally doesn’t need a long time to cook, just minutes at the most, unless you’re steaming shellfish like lobster, crab or clams, or cooking thick flesh seafood steaks, and even then seafood steaks don’t take too long. A lot of people tend to overcook seafood, leaving it unflavored, tough and rubbery. Just a few minutes is all it takes for some really tasty seafood.

For tonight’s vegetable, I decided to roast broccoli and carrots. Broccoli and carrots are both favorites in our house (I can’t think of a vegetable we won’t eat actually, even Sean is really good about veggies). In this recipe, if you want a little bit of a spicy kick, add some crushed red pepper flakes towards the end. I love roasted vegetables; they tend to taste sweeter than steamed and the flavor is more concentrated.

Roasted Broccoli and Carrots

1 1/2 pound broccoli, cut into 1-inch florets

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Zest of 1 lemon (I use whatever I didn’t from the scallops recipe)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional, Michelle and Sean do like it on their portions)

Position 1 rack in the middle and 1 rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F (you’re roasting, it should be very hot). Divide the broccoli and carrots evenly among 2 baking sheets. Drizzle each with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil a 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Toss well, then spread the vegetables out in an even layer. Transfer to the oven and roast until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 8 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the vegetables evenly with the garlic, red pepper flakes(if using), lemon zest and cheese (if using). Continue roasting for 2 minutes more. Transfer the vegetables to a serving bowl and serve.

Another easy side dish done. Lastly, for this meal is the rice. I personally prefer long-grain white rice, just a personal preference of mine. Use whatever rice you like the best. Cooking rice on the stovetop is very easy and pretty foolproof. I use a 2 to 1 ratio in cooking, so if I make 1 cup of rice, I use 2 cups of water. One cup is more than enough for the three of us and we generally have leftovers that can be used for other meals. Just bring the water up to a boil on the stove, add in the rice and a teaspoon or two of salt (or not, if you’re cutting back) and return the pot to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the rice is tender, generally about 12 to 15 minutes for 1 cup of rice.

Brown rice and wild rice tend to take longer. Long grain brown rice takes about 25-30 minutes, while wild rice can take about 35-40 minutes, so if you want to use those, budget your time accordingly. I like both of those, but for a quick, weeknight meal the white rice fits better.

So that’s another day down in this week’s meal plan. If you have suggestions, questions, or any input at all, please feel free to leave a comment here. I am willing to respond, good, bad or indifferent. Tomorrow’s dinner is also my choice, and we will be having pork chops with butternut squash and apple stuffing, roasted potatoes,and Swiss chard with garlic and shallots. Until then, enjoy your day and your time in the kitchen!

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2012 in Rice, Seafood, Vegetables

 

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Jennifer Probst

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