Fourth Time Around

I am that person that loves shopping in the supermarket. I have been known (pre-parenthood and on grandparent weekends) to spend a few hours in a new supermarket wandering the aisles and sometimes circling back to aisles after finding something in another aisle. If I see something new I must buy it. Sometimes I have to pull out my phone just so I have some idea what things are. The phone came in handy once when I almost bought Durian which may have stunk up my house forever.

My favorite aisle is always the spice aisle. My spice drawer is full to the brim and I have more spices in the pantry and even more in the cabinets. I never discriminate against new spices. If I don’t have it already then I feel compelled to buy it. And I have not been disappointed yet. One of my favorite spices of the moment is red curry paste. It has lemongrass, ginger and chiles (among other things) and tastes fantastic with coconut milk (my other current mini-obsession).

Red Curry Paste.jpg

Red Curry Paste

The other night while we were eating dinner, The Kid started getting fussy and saying he was “All done.” Usually I can convince him to wait until everyone is done eating before he gets up from the table. But then I realized the problem and had to say to him, “Honey, I realize you are all done, but can you sit at the table and wait for Daddy to finish his fourth helping?” That was also my cue to write down the recipe so I could repeat it…

Garbanzo & Potato in Red Curry Sauce

Garbanzo & Potato in Red Curry Sauce.jpg

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 Spanish onion, cut 1/4″ pieces
2 pounds shitake mushrooms caps, chopped 1/2″ squares
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon red curry paste
6 yukon gold potatoes, cut in 1/2″ cubes
1 15oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 celery stalk, minced
6 sundried tomatoes, minced
2 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 can coconut milk
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup scallions chopped

In a medium-hot large saucepan, add the olive oil. Add onions, mushrooms and kosher salt. Let the onions and mushrooms saute for about 3-5 minutes until they start to brown slightly. Add the curry powder and let it toast in the oil for about a minute. Add the mustard, red curry paste, garbanzos, potatoes and spices. Cook stirring occasionally until spices begin to stick (about 5-8 minutes). Add the celery and sundried tomatoes. Add the chicken stock and fish sauce. Scrape up all the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the coconut milk and corn. Cover the pan and cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Add scallions and transfer to serving dish.

 

Oooh… Under Pressure

I did it!! I got a pressure canner!! Ok, perhaps I am the only one who is even vaguely excited about this. The Hubs didn’t quite understand why it was Happy Dance worthy, but that’s okay. I’ve had this idea for years that I should help out my poor bulging freezer and can some of the stuff I make like sauce and beans. Unfortunately, I’ve also had this irrational idea that I would blow a hole in the kitchen ceiling if I used a pressure cooker. Yes… I know it’s irrational, but destroying the house seemed like a good reason not to give it a try without some lessons. But then, during the Holiday Deals madness I found a 23 quart canner for half off and decided, “Why not!” and ordered it.

The pressure cooker arrived at the house and was sitting in the box for a couple days. I took one look at it and remembered my poor yogurt maker that sat in the pantry for a year unused. Now here is the part where I lost my mind… I had the day off, I was finally finished with all the organizing and the kid was at daycare. The plan was to just relax and stay in bed to recover, but instead…. I decided to make some tomato sauce and can it. The tomato sauce was nothing fancy and to be honest, I only made it to test the canning procedure. It was just a super simple tomato, onion and herb mix with a touch of balsamic vinegar (canned tomato sauce needs some acid and the lemon juice that the recipe book recommended just seemed weird to me).

So, there I was… standing in front of the stove woozy from exhaustion. I took one look at all my sterilized quart size glass jars, lids, and rings still in their hot bath and figured it was now or never. I put the tomato sauce into the jars, assembled all the jars, and gently placed them in the canning rack. As I put the lid on the canner, I figured The Hubs couldn’t possibly be THAT mad about having to extricate a pot lid from the kitchen ceiling if I was seriously exhausted at the time. I turned on the heat, and prepared for the madness. The instruction book said I needed to get the pressure gauge over 11 pounds of pressure for about 20 minutes. I kept an eye on the pressure gauge half terrified of catastrophe and kept adjusting the heat (mostly downward so it didn’t hit 15 pounds of pressure). After 20 minutes, it was all done. According to the instructions, I could just walk away and let it cool off by itself.

After that massive build up and my obsession with destroying the kitchen, it was over. I had three bottles of canned tomato sauce and a kitchen still in tact. Of course, when The Hubs got home he took one look at the kitchen and said…. “So did you rest at all today?!”

Holiday revisited — Thanksgiving 2011

So, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I love it even though it’s the red-headed-stepchild of the winter holidays.  The stores somehow go from Halloween decorations straight to Christmas without acknowledging that there is a holiday between the two.  So, since Christmas infringed on Thanksgiving’s glory, I’m going to take a moment from the Christmas planning to talk about Thanksgiving.  I’m not cooking Christmas Dinner (eating at Dad’s table) so, why not..  The yearly Thanksgiving tradition is that I don’t reveal the menu beforehand, but I spend countless hours trying to figure out what to make.  Every year I think, “This is the year that I finally make the Turkey Roulade!” I get really indignant about it and get myself all worked up and convinced I’m going to do it.  And every year, I take one look at the whole bird and I just don’t have the heart to cut her up.  There’s something about the big reveal of the big roasted turkey on the table with the sides that I just have never been able to resist.

This year’s dinner was pretty tame even for me.  Anyone who has been to my parties will vouch that I have a tendency to go overboard.  One of my friends still talks about the chocolate sleigh I made for a Christmas party that I filled with homemade marshmallows (to look like presents).  But even with all the “tameness” it was still good.  So the menu (secret that it was before dinner) was:

Mixed Greens Salad with Roasted Pumpkin, Craisins, Red Onions, Blue Cheese & Toasted Walnuts
Roasted Turkey w/ Gravy
Sausage & Cornbread Dressing (with Roasted Jackfruit Seeds)
Sweet Potato Gratin
Mashed Potatoes
Kale
Pot Sticker Style Brussels Sprouts
Whole Cranberry Sauce w/ Orange Zest & Cloves
Jellied Cranberry Sauce
Crescent Rolls

See…. Pretty tame.  I do make my own cranberry sauce but since I love whole and The Hubs loves jellied, I always make both.  I almost broke my own rule of no repeats for the Mushroom Truffle Mac & Cheese I made last year, which was amazing, but I figured when I make it the next time it will taste even better because I had to wait for it.  I should probably explain the Jackfruit (upcoming post).  Even though I bought chestnuts to roast for the stuffing dressing (no, I don’t put it inside the bird, I like a little crunch to it). I decided to use roasted Jackfruit Seeds in the dressing instead since they were ready in the fridge.  The roasted Jackfruit seeds are similar in texture and taste to roasted chestnuts, so it worked.

Ok, here’s the real reason I was thinking about Thanksgiving.  I was looking through the freezer and found the extra container of Turkey Drippings.   When I saw the container in the freezer it took me back to the Thanksgiving Sandwich The Hubs made for me with the leftovers.  Every year, I make myself a Thanksgiving Sandwich, but I should have known better.  Sandwiches are not my territory.  The Hubs created a masterpiece.  I thought Thanksgiving was good, but the sandwich was amazing.  I truly wish I had taken a picture of it, but I’m afraid if I did, I would have made it the background of my computer screen (yes it was that good).  The Hubs made a sandwich with the Turkey, Dressing, Mashed Potatoes, Kale and Brussels Sprouts.  He used the gravy instead of mayo and cranberry sauce instead of mustard.  It was AMAZING!!  I can’t wait until we get our Christmas Dinner leftovers from my dad so I can see what sandwich The Hubs is going to make with that!

Butterflies in the Kitchen

My dad was my first cooking teacher.  Despite everything he’s taught me over the years and all the meals I’ve created, I’m sure that my cooking will never really compare to his (if you’ve had his lasagna you would understand). One of my favorites of the myriad of foods that I grew up on was his roast chicken.  It is still the best roast chicken I’ve ever had.  While I would love to be able to roast a chicken once a week I don’t always have the time.  So, I generally end up with the much faster, but equally tasty butterfly method.

I generally don’t buy chicken unless it’s whole.  I try to stick to organic chicken and the cost of organic chicken cut in pieces is disturbing on a good day.  So, I buy whole chickens and break them down myself into parts and then make stock with whatever bones are left over and whatever I have in the refrigerator vegetable drawer.  I figure it’s a two for one kind of enterprise.  It took me a few tries to get it right, but I got it right eventually.

The best thing about the butterflied method is that it is a really easy start into breaking down chickens.  You make two cuts and there’s no worry about carving when you’re done.  And it takes much less time than the full and proper roast.  In the evenings, by the time I set up the butterflied chicken and throw it in the oven (toaster oven actually if I’m just doing one chicken), I have enough time to relax for a minute, change, go pick up the kid, get back, get all the kid’s stuff unpacked and get everyone together to eat.  It looks complicated, but if you have a good pair of kitchen scissors it won’t take much time or effort at all.    …And even less effort to clean up.  If you have a remote temperature probe that sits outside of the oven, it will beep when the chicken gets to the correct temperature.  You wouldn’t even have to worry about setting a timer.

Note: pour the vermouth into a measuring cup and measure out and set aside the spices, salt and pepper for the chicken before you start so you don’t have to wash your hands a million times after you start handling the chicken.

 

Butterflied Chicken

1 whole chicken
1-2 tbsp kosher salt
1-2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tbsp of any combination of dried spices (sumac, smoked paprika, cayenne, cumin, coriander, poultry seasoning, etc.)
3-4  sprigs tarragon
4 sprigs lemon thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large spanish onion, cut in large pieces
1 large carrot cut in pieces
1-2 stalks celery, cut in pieces
1/4 cup dry vermouth

Preheat oven to 400F.

On the sheet pan, scatter the onions,  carrots and celery and fresh herbs.

Put your whole chicken on your cutting board.  There are two big pieces of fat at the neck and “tail” ends.  Pull them out.  Flip the chicken so the breasts are down on the cutting board.

Use the kitchen scissors to cut out the backbone.  If you use the “tail” as a guide, you can just cut to the left and right of it to remove the backbone.

 

Rinse off the chicken under cold running water and pull off any organs you might see.  Press down (hard) between the breasts to break the breast bone then rest the butterflied chickens on top of the carrots and celery.  Flip the chickens over and pour the oil over the chicken and rub it into the skin.

 

Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with the  salt, pepper and spices.  Tuck the wings under the bird and insert the temperature probe in the thick part of the thigh, (without touching the bone) and toss it in the oven or toaster oven if it’s big enough.

Before you close the oven door, add the vermouth to the roasting pan.

Now you are probably wondering what you’re supposed to do with that backbone and the bag of giblets (the stuff that was stuffed inside the bird).  Well, if you’re in a hurry like I usually am, throw the backbone, the neck and the gizzards in a freezer bag.  Write the date on it.  Throw it in the freezer and deal with it another day.

The chicken should be done in about an hour.  Check the temperature probe.  Serve with a salad.

NOTE: In the interest of time, you can save the drippings from the pan and make a gravy for tomorrow night’s dinner or just make one that night if you have the time.

The Reorg

So, The Hubs’ grad school schedule this semester of three nights a week, plus some weekends has been depriving me of those now precious commodities… time and energy.  The Kid has simultaneously developed a severe objection to seeing me sit down.  So, I figured I had to get creative.   I started with running laps around the basement with him.  Then, I just got used to the idea that I don’t get to sit down.  On nights when he didn’t want to do laps I started reorganizing.  The Kid is usually willing to help carry things from one place to another and has no problem going up and down the stairs a million times so it seemed like a good idea.  I made the mistake of believing that the kid would eventually get tired and let me sit down, but it didn’t happen so I ended up reorganizing just about the entire house.  Every night, The Hubs would just come home from work or class and just shake his head as I reorganized something else.  The good news is that I’ve found tons of stuff that we aren’t using and will be able to donate it all just in time for the holidays (tons of baby stuff — seriously, how does someone so small go through so many clothes and need so much STUFF?!).  The bad news, is now I’m so close to reorganizing everything that I can’t stop.

This weekend, I reorganized the pantry.  My pantry serves three purposes: It holds most of my room temp food supply (the freezer is just another story), Holds all my platters and party supplies and lastly, it is where I start the seeds for most of the plants that my mom and I grow in our gardens each year.  So, the pantry has always had a lot going on.  The Hubs used to hate the pantry.  I would send him down to the pantry to grab… anything and eventually he’d give up after repeated trips up and down the stairs and just call me with the camera on his phone to figure out where to look.  Poor Hubs!  The Pantry reorg didn’t take nearly as much time as I thought it would and I found everything I swore I had and almost purchased over again.  Thanks to the reorg, I found my:

 

  • yogurt maker (I had an idea that making yogurt with organic milk would be cheaper than buying it)
  • bread dough container (I became a fan of the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes book and used to make bread, then just lost the time)
  • All my canning jars (I really need to bite the bullet and start canning this summer)
  • more than 25 boxes of pasta (don’t ask, if I had a coupon and it was a great price then I got pasta) … oh and this is after I gave boxes away to the food drive
  • the package of farro, I swore I had somewhere
  • …and so much more
Well now I guess I have to do something with all that wonderful stuff I “found.”
I came home energized for some crazy reason today and pulled off a masterful feat.  I juiced, made kale chips (dangerously addictive by the way), made my Curry Chicken and gravy and served it with the brown rice, beans & corn that the kid loves.  (The Hubs and I loaded the hot rice on the salad of course.)  I butterflied the other whole chicken and added garlic, lemon peel, cracked black pepper, salt & olive oil to the freezer bag so it can marinate while thawing.  I somehow had the presence of mind to clear out the vegetable drawer to make a stock with the remaining chicken bones.  And all this was preceded by me grinding wheat berries and rye into flour to set up the bread dough to rise for 2 hours when I got home according to the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes book!  There’s just something about a clear pantry that makes me want to really get going in the kitchen!
Every year around this time, the pantry has to undergo an overhaul (although I think I got the formula right this year) so I can get ready to start the seedlings for the next year’s garden.  In about a month, my mom and I will be studiously hovered over trays of seed starting systems trying to decide what we are planting this year and what we didn’t like from last year.  I know we are going to plant too much, but i never care.  Now that I have tons of space available, I’m going to have to sit down with my collection of seeds (It turns out that I have more than 600 [and still counting] flower, herb. vegetable or fruit seed packets) so since my greenhouse plans have been delayed, I might as well get started with the seeds so the plants are ready to go into the greenhouse whenever it materializes.  Apparently putting up a greenhouse isn’t a simple feat, but I have every confidence that the Hubs will be able to pull it off as an early Valentines/Mother’s Day/(isn’t there another holiday early next year) gift.  (Hint Hint, Hubs)


My Favorite Holiday….

I have to say, I love this time of year.  It’s just cool enough to warrant making and eating soup, but still warm enough for there still to be vegetables available.  Even better than that, is the approach of my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.  It seems like every other holiday involves a lot of shopping and pomp and circumstance.  Thanksgiving is about food and family.  That’s it.  Anyone can participate.  If your family isn’t close enough then your friends are your family that night.  It’s not restricted to any group, it’s not restricted to any religion, it’s just that time when you get together with your family and eat… and eat…. and eat!  You can eat anything you want, it’s up to you, but there’s always some great family tradition involved in each dinner and I love learning about other people’s traditions.

Every year about two weeks before Thanksgiving, I start planning my menu.  This is way more involved that it should be, but everyone has their obsessions and a holiday that celebrates food is mine.  I remember just about all the menus from my past Thanksgiving dinners (my mind just works that way… no apologies) and refuse to repeat recipes from one year to another.  This can be good or bad.  I ask if anyone has requests for the menu and if the Hubs requests something that I made last year… it’s not going on the menu!  Since the Hubs likes surprises, I never reveal the menu until everyone is sitting at the table and all the covers come off the serving dishes.  (What can I say, I like the drama of it all.) And he usually doesn’t mind what isn’t there ‘cos he’s happy enough to dig into what is there.  (For those who are concerned for our well-being, I have the week off so I will have time for longer workouts and The Hubs will be doing a Turkey Trot the morning of Thanksgiving Day to get ready for the battle against leftovers).

I’m in the process of figuring out what’s for dinner and I’ll admit I’m having entirely too much fun.  With our recent trip to Jamaica I have tons of ideas floating around in my head.  I’ve been scouring cookbooks and cooking websites looking for ideas.  I tend to completely indulge my food nerdiness and make just about everything from scratch (yes I know how insane that sounds), but it all comes together in the end which is the most important part of course.  I don’t know what the final menu will be, but it’s The Kid’s half birthday so you know I’m going all out!

What to do…. What to do….?

Sometimes my overindulgence in buying vegetables works out to some sort of magical symphony of ingredients available in the house. That was what happened on Wednesday… National Sandwich Day (I guess there’s a day for everything). So, there seems to be an odd phenomenon in our family… I can’t pick a good sandwich. It is my Food Achilles Heel. If The Hubs and I go to a restaurant and get sandwiches, I always end up liking his sandwich and not eating mine. I’ve learned over the years to just have him help me pick a sandwich because he is a sandwich genius. I don’t even try anymore. So, I was dreaming of The Hubs’ grilled cheese sandwich when I realized I roasted all the tomatoes I had in the house last night to make the Roasted Pepper & Tomato Sauce. I had to come up with some other way to convince The Hubs to make me a grilled cheese. He makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches I’ve ever had and I love to dip them into a smooth super creamy soups (usually my Balsamic Roasted Tomato Soup) so I had to come up with something else.

I was at the produce place last weekend and since it’s that time of year, I got winter squash, sweet potatoes and apples which are plentiful and relatively inexpensive at the moment. I ended up roasting the butternut squash (in a 400F oven for 1 hour) and making sweet potato fries (roasted in a 400F oven for 1 hour) and when I looked into the fridge this afternoon and saw the leftovers, I had an idea…. What if I made a super creamy soup with the butternut squash, sweet potatoes and apples. If I made it spicy enough It could hold up to a grilled cheese sandwich….hmmm…. So I started fiddling.

Okay… so here’s the other thing…. my “blender” is a Vitamix which I love (and which is expensive).  If you see any contest to win a Vitamix, I highly recommend entering it.  You won’t be disappointed if you get one.  It blends things really fine so I didn’t peel the sweet potatoes or squash (I did peel the apples).  I leave the skin on most things I puree in the Vitamix to boost the texture since The Hubs likes creamy soups and corporate microwaves don’t generally do a great job with creamy soups when you reheat them.

The soup turned out far better than I expected.  The ground poinsettia peppers gave it a lot of heat.  I really recommend growing them and drying them because their heat sneaks up on you so you get to taste all the spices before the heat hits you like a wave.  The apples are sweet enough so you’re not left with a permanently burnt tongue and if you pair it with a grilled cheese sandwich you’ll be all set.  This is a great cold weather soup!

 

Spicy Sweet Potato &  Butternut Squash Soup

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 large Spanish Onion, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cayenne pepper (or ground poinsettia peppers if you have it)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp apple pie spice
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
6 apples, peeled and cored (I used 2 small McIntosh, 2 Gala & 2 Fuji)
1/3 cup AppleJack (or apple juice)
2 large roasted sweet potatoes, cut in large pieces
1 medium roasted butternut squash, cut in large pieces
2 quarts water

In a soup pot over medium heat, add olive oil. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the onions and garlic. Cook slowly moving onions around the pan as needed until the onions have given up most of their moisture. Add the apples and all the spices. Let this cook slowly for 5-8 minutes. Stirring as needed. Add the AppleJack or apple juice to deglaze the pan and scrape up any spices that may be sticking. Add the sweet potatoes and butternut squash and the water and turn the heat up to high. When the mixture starts boiling, turn down to a summer for about 10-15 minutes. Puree the mixture to a smooth texture in a blender and serve.

Hot Soup on a Cool Fall Day

I’m on a soup kick. I know. I can’t stop. Every year when the cool air starts creeping in I have that moment where I crave putting on a thick cozy sweater and wrapping my hands around a steaming soup mug. I tend to like my soups a bit spicy since it adds to the warming effect. If you’re not a heat fan, feel free to skip it.  I started thinking about this soup in the summer when all the fresh corn was available. But somehow I just couldn’t get into making soup when it was hot out. So, when I went into the produce spot and saw whole corn and poblano peppers on a cold day I knew what I was going to do. Of course, I wasn’t thinking it through and completely forgot to pick up the potatoes. Thankfully I picked up a Jamaican yam (also sold as Name) which I roasted (in 425F oven for two hours) so I used that instead of potato, but potato works just as well in the recipe. If you’re feeling adventurous give the Jamaican yam (yes I know its not only Jamaican) a try… Why not try something new? The swiss chard also wasn’t part of my original idea, but it’s the end of the season and there was a ton of swiss chard at my parents place, so I’ve been using the stems like celery in my soups. It’s easier than letting them go to waste.  On a side note, if you decide to add the jalapeño (or whatever good hot pepper you have) roast a few extra potatoes just in case.  The potatoes and half and half really help calm down some of the heat in the soup.  If you don’t use all the potatoes for this recipe, then we can come up with some other way to use them.

 

Corn Poblano Chowder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 poblano peppers
4 ears corn
5 cloves garlic
2 Spanish yellow onions, cut in large pieces
1 stalk celery, cut in large pieces
15 stalks Swiss chard, remove leaves and cut in large pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 jalapeño peppers, chopped, seeds & stems removed (optional)
8 cups water or vegetable/chicken stock
1.5 cups beans
1/2 medium size roasted yam (or 2 baked russet potatoes), cut into 1/2″ pieces
1/2 cup half and half

Roasting the poblanos:

Move the oven rack to the top. Turn on the broiler. Roast the poblanos on a metal baking sheet for 8 minutes per side or until the skin is black and blistered.  Put the roasted poblanos in a glass dish and cover with cling wrap.  After about 10 minutes, the steam should have helped separate the skin from the poblanos and you can peel and remove the seeds.  Chop the poblanos into 1/2 inch or smaller pieces and set aside.

Soup:

While the poblanos are roasting, cut the corn kernels off the ears. With food processor running add garlic cloves. When the garlic is minced, stop the food processor, add onions, celery, and Swiss chard stems. In a soup pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and sauté the vegetable mixture. Add the corn cobs, salt and pepper and sauté with the vegetables. Add the jalapeño peppers. After about 8 minutes add 8 cups of water or stock. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Take the corn cobs out of the pot and purée the vegetables in a blender. Put the cobs back in and add the corn kernels. Turn the heat to high until the mixture is boiling. Add beans. Add poblano. Add yam. Turn the heat back down to medium-low and simmer for 15-30 minutes.  Add half and half and adjust salt and pepper to taste while it warms through and serve.

Note: Add some crushed tortilla chips on top!!

Lazy Gravy

As a born Jamerican, it pleases me to no end that The Kid’s current favorite dinner is rice and beans with curry chicken gravy. He’s not a big fan of chicken, but he’ll eat a few pieces if it’s in there. Since the gravy is all he’s really interested in from the chicken, it has to be substantial.  There is also The Hubs to consider since he does not like thin gravy at all.  Ironically I was talking to someone the same night I made this about gluten free diets and some people’s ideas that gluten free food can’t be delicious.  My gravy doesn’t have any flour to thicken it and both the Hubs and The Kid love it (and so do I).  The other reason I call it lazy is that I don’t have to go digging around the freezer to find the chicken stock to give the gravy some liquid.  It looks way too simple, but it’s always a hit.  Thanks to the absence of flour, you also won’t run into the lumpy gravy problem some people have.

So, since we’re talking about curry chicken, I have one huge pet peeve with some curry recipes that I’ve tasted.  If not done right, curry can taste awful.  In long slow cooking dishes, it tends to work out pretty well.  For quick recipes, it’s not usually the case.  If you’re making a quick cooking curry dish, please toast the curry in a dry pan before you add it to the dish.   This will take some of the sharp edge off the curry and give it a more earthy and less gamey taste.  Seriously, it’s one small step and it makes a huge difference.

 

Curry Chicken with Lazy Gravy

1/3 – 1/2 cup curry powder
4 garlic cloves (more or less to taste)
2 large Spanish Onions, cut in large chunks
up to 1 cup of any veggies in the fridge (ex. carrots, red pepper, tomatoes, celery), cut in large chunks (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Marinara Sauce or 3oz tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste

 

In a (large) dry medium hot pan (with a large base and preferably one that has a cover or you have a cover that would fit it), add the curry powder.  Leave it alone until it starts to become fragrant and smoke a little. Move it around the pan to make sure it all gets heated up, then put it aside in a bowl until you are ready for it.  Sprinkle the salt and pepper on your chicken.  (If this is your preference, you can coat the chicken with the curry mixture like you would flour.  Since this was my lazy cooking day I didn’t bother.) Add the olive oil to the hot pan and add the chicken skin side down.  Check the time on the stove clock.  Turn on your food processor, and drop the garlic cloves in while it’s running.  When all of the garlic cloves have been minced, turn off the  food processor, add the onions and any veggies your are adding and turn it back on.   Puree the onion mixture.  If it’s been around 3-4 minutes, check the chicken (if you forgot to add salt and pepper to the bottom side of the chicken, you can add it now) then flip it over.  Give the chicken a minute, then add the curry to the oil around it.  Add the pureed onion mixture and mix the curry+oil into the onions.  Add the marinara sauce/tomato paste and mix it together until it all looks like one sauce.  Cover the pan and let the chicken simmer for about 5 minutes then turn the heat down to low.  The chicken needs to just cook in the juices slowly.  I generally just let this heat through for about 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, turn the heat back up to medium then take off the lid.  The chicken should be moist and cooked through, but check it by sticking a fork in one of the thighs and looking at the juice running out of it.  It should be clear.  Taste the sauce to see if it needs more seasoning.  Adjust to your taste buds and serve.

The Challenge

Who said marriage can be bad for your health? I’ve had a few not so great weeks with the workouts. I did something to my toe. Not sure what I did exactly, but I think I may have dislocated it by dropping something heavy on it (for the millionth time). I managed to snap it back into place (ouch!) but running is out for a bit until it finally heals. I haven’t been completely slacking off.  I did the next obvious thing and switched over to the bike and was still doing weights. It was going great until “Daycare’s Revenge” hit in the form of a stomach bug followed by a monster cold. Thanks to Bissy Tea, the stomach bug was fairly easy to overcome. This cold (which I still have) is not so easy to get rid of.  I was in bed for about 24 hours and going positively nuts on Saturday when The Hubs suggested going for walk. Just a mile total: down the hill to the store and back home. Seemed like a simple plan at the time. So, we walked down to the store and back. Then my husband informed me that we would be also be lifting weights and putting in another mile’s worth of cardio.

The Hubs and I have a healthy competition of sorts going on. If he suggests some kind of workout I figure if he can do it then I can do it. If he’s up to it then so am I. If I suggest a workout, he won’t say no because if I can do it then he can do it. It probably sounds ridiculous, but it works for us. Thanks to the cold from hell, I knew I didn’t have another hour of working out in me so I decided to cheat the system and suggest we just do a half hour cardio sculpt video with weights.  I figured it was a 2-in-1 cheat and it wouldn’t be that hard anyways. WRONG!!! The Hubs and I were pouring sweat when it was done, but for 60 glorious minutes (total roundtrip + workout) I could breathe. Less than 10 minutes after that I couldn’t breathe again, but that window of actual air in my lungs felt amazing!!

While I was relaxing my sore muscles and slowly losing the ability to breathe again, The Hubs proposed a challenge. We would do various 30 – 45 minute online video workouts together every day for 7 days.  Since we got rid of cable and watch most of our TV through the PC input, it’s easier to get access to all the fitness stuff available online.  (There’s way more than I ever imagined!)  So, we started on Sunday and we’ve been going strong so far.  The Hubs even completed one workout after a super long work day and getting in late after grad school.  (He’s awesome!)  I keep thinking that I would love to join a boot camp workout group, but honestly I don’t have that kind of time window available in my schedule right now unless someone has a Ustream Bootcamp channel I should know about.  I have no idea what the end game of this 7 day workout challenge is, but it’s our fun for now idea.  I’m sure next week we’ll come up with something else ludicrous, but it will likely be to the tune of “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better!”