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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Garlic jelly

Due to a startling number of requests for the recipe, here it is! 

I use this jelly about 1/4 cup at a time...a little goes a long way.  Mix with a couple teaspoons of mustard and use it as a glaze on roasted chicken, meatloaf, ham, or pork roast.  Spread it on dinner rolls.  Or put a bit on a roasted chicken sandwich on rye...yum!

An overview of home canning is here.

Adapted from the Ball Blue Book (the authors of which didn't think to use yummy wine ;) ).

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Chicken Wellington

Chicken Wellington with Lemon Turnips
Original recipe here.

Yum, yum, yum, yum!  The kids like this even, and it's super-easy to throw together a double batch to freeze.  I made a double batch of the OR's portions b/c it calls for half the usual package size of a couple of ingredients and I hate having extra bits hanging around.  I used the leftover chicken from a whole roaster that we had for dinner one night here, but you could bake some chicken breasts to use just for this dish if you wanted.  The original recipe has you separate the components of the filling into 3 distinct layers but I don't think that's necessary and only makes a lot of dishes dirty. 

Be sure to wrap the wellingtons well in plastic wrap unless you'll be cooking them immediately.  Puff pastry will dry out in the freezer or fridge, so keep them wrapped until just before baking.

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Popcorn Chicken

I love this!  We eat rather a lot of popcorn here and sometimes have leftovers.  I mean, I know it's *just* popcorn, but I hate to throw out the extra (which is why sometimes my kids get to eat popcorn for breakfast ::blush::).  I saw a recipe in one of those free parenting magazines that seem to come incessantly for using popcorn as a crumb coating on chicken...brilliant!  They had some particulars for seasoning, but I think the basics are good enough.

Kids liked it, husband liked it, I liked it...this one is a keeper!  The popcorn flavor is still there even after pan-frying, and it forms a really nicely crispy coating.  It's good to crunch into, and also makes the pieces a bit "stiffer" and easier to flip in the pan.

Note: this probably won't freeze well as a prep-ahead option...I think the popcorn would get soggy in the freezer.  But I did put some leftover popcorn in a ziptop bag, pressed the air out very well and fridged it for several days before using it for this recipe with good results.  You can prep ahead the dredging elements, but I wouldn't actually do the dip until right before cooking.

I made it with chicken tenderloins, but chunked up breasts or boneless skinless thighs would work too.

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San Francisco Pork Chops

Original recipe here.

These are just so good!  The finished reduction is a mite salty thanks to the soy sauce, so I strongly recommend using low-sodium soy sauce and maybe even going halfsies on the soy with some no-salt broth.

These are completely prep-ahead and freezer-friendly.  Just mix up all the sauce ingredients in a container to fridge or freeze, make sure you've got pork chops available and have cornstarch in your pantry. 

The sauce reduces as the pork chops cook on the stovetop, giving a thick, glossy, flavorful glaze that is just out of sight.

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Lemon Turnips

Totally gratuitous butter shot...cuz butter is purty ;)
It's pretty easy in my opinion to come up with tasty ways to prep meat-based dishes ahead and freeze them for convenience.  Not so easy when it comes to vegetables.  So I'm on particular lookout for recipes that do work for vegetables in the freezer, like this one.

Turnips are maybe not everyone's favorite, but lemon butter makes everything delicious.  They do nicely in the freezer and are lower carb than potatoes.  They pack a good wallop of vitamin C and fiber, and even have a significant amount of calcium per serving.

If you want to do these as a freeze-ahead dish, you will need to basically prepare the turnips in advance and package them up for reheating.  You want to stop just short of fully cooking them so they don't get squishy.  I reheated mine as an oven packet while baking off Chicken Wellingtons, but they could get reheated on the stovetop if it's more convenient to your menu.

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Shrimp Amatriciana

This is a Rachael Ray recipe originally.  She wraps the shrimp in pancetta for beautiful presentation.  I don't worry so much about that presentation crap.  My less-attractive-but-still-delicious way of prepping this dish ahead also lets you organize it as a freezer kit, which I don't feel comfortable doing with shrimp that you've had to thaw and handle as you'll do if you wrap it with pancetta.

I've made this dish with regular ol' American bacon instead of pancetta and it's quite tasty.  The difference between Italian pancetta and most conventional bacons is smoking...bacon is smoked, pancetta is not.  Bacon is also usually cut much thicker than pancetta is.  So if you want to use it to wrap the shrimp in, unless you have really big shrimp or really thin bacon, you'll need to halfway-cook the bacon first to keep from having overcooked shrimp with still-raw bacon wrappers.  Of course, if you skip the wrapping (like I do), you don't need to worry about this at all.

To make a freezer kit, dice up your bacon/pancetta and wrap well.  Dice the onion and put in a freezer container.  Combine white wine and basil (I have basil puree already frozen and just take a lump out of that stash) in a freezer container.  Package all together with shrimp and cooking instructions.  Make sure to have some whole canned tomatoes in the pantry along with your pasta (I label the boxes and cans that belong to a kit so I don't forget and use them for something else). 

If you're just prepping ahead for same day or next day cooking, you can use fresh tomatoes.  I'm using 1 pint cherry tomatoes and 3 medium normal tomatoes cuz that's just what I have on hand.  Chop/combine ingredients as suggested above and fridge.

Slap a note somewhere in your workspace when you start cooking that you'll need to grab 1/2 cup of pasta water before draining.  I *always* forget this part.

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Cheese stuffed apples

Absolute heaven in a slice.  The creaminess of the cheese with the fullness of the Camembert flavor against the tart, crisp apple...I'm breathing a little hard right now just thinking about it.  Really...appetizer orgasms people!

The only difficulty I had in making these was getting the cheese to "adhere" to the apple.  I think I didn't get the apple surface sufficiently dry.  Doesn't matter though, they were still amazing to taste.  They'll need to be made at least a day ahead to let the cheese firm up enough to slice well.

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