What’s Cooking: Chicken with Olives and Carrots

I made this tonight. It came out so beautiful I had to snap a picture. Yummy, right?

We served Maddie the chicken and carrots but skipped the olives.  And she ate a few pieces of zucchini (which she calls “keenie”).  It’s not her favorite vegetable.  She had green beans and cauliflower for lunch, though, so I didn’t really sweat it.

Some other recent dishes:

Braised Chicken with Mushrooms: Pretty good.  I really like mushrooms, but they can be a pain.  Not sure this was good enough to be worth the trouble, especially on a weeknight.

Lentil Curry: I love this.  I have to make it on a night Preston is out because he doesn’t like curry.  But Maddie loves it and it’s easy, so it’s good for nights when it’s just the two of us.  Plus it re-heats well for lunches.

Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Broccoli: Nothing special, but simple for a weeknight and it has all of Maddie’s faves: pasta, chicken and broccoli.

I also got my new issue of Everyday Food and have already cooked a couple of things: a prosciutto and mushroom quesadilla and orecchiette with bacon tomato sauce, which will be transformed into a frittata tomorrow night.  Unfortunately Martha doesn’t put current recipes on the site (silly, silly) so if you want to try them you’ll have to buy the magazine.  (See what she’s doing there?  Doesn’t that seem like a smart strategy because you buy the magazine instead of getting the recipe for free on the site?  But no, that’s dumb.  Because you aren’t going to remember to go buy that magazine.  But you might click a link, make a dish and then think, “Hey, these are good recipes, I should subscribe to this magazine.”  That’s a smart strategy.  Sorry.  I am wearing my marketing hat … )

So, what’s cooking at your house?

What’s Been Cooking At Our House

I haven’t had a chance to blog, but I have been cooking.  Here are some of the awesome dishes we’ve been eating the last couple of weeks …

Ginger chicken with peaches and onions served over rice: Really delicious and easy.  It’s made with frozen peaches — you don’t even have to defrost them — so I will keep the ingredients for this on hand.

Curried Rice with Shrimp: This was okay. I made it with frozen cooked shrimp that I got at BJs.  Next time I’m going to use uncooked shrimp — I think it would be better.

Lentil soup: Simple and delish. I have a couple different lentil soup recipes that I like and this one gets added to the rotation.

Tomato and olive penne: Really delicious and EZ.  Spicy, which I like.

Cold sesame noodles: I liked this, but more of a summer dish.  I’d add a bit of tofu to it for some extra protein.

Steak with shallot sauce: This was great.  (Unfortunately I can’t find a link for it. Argh.) Preston and I have a hard time with steak.  I LOVE it and I like it rare (like, slap it on the butt and send it out).  Preston wants it cooked and he’s not a huge fan of it in any event.  Since he doesn’t love the taste of meat he wants some kind of sauce.  I generally find sauces distracting and don’t love the extra effort.  THIS recipe was therefore perfect.  The sauce is super easy, super yummy and complements the meat without competing.  I’ll definitely make this again.

Shrimp, tomato and basil pasta: FreshDirect had cleaned shrimp on sale so I decided to try this new recipe.  I have about half a dozen good, easy shrimp recipes now.  This one is more of a summer dish, but since good-quality grape tomatoes are available year-round now you can really make it anytime.  I subbed penne for the linguine.  Maddie can do spaghetti (she was hysterical with the sesame noodles), but penne or rotini is easier for her and involves less clean up for us.

Beef stew: I wanted to make chili for the Super Bowl, but Preston had a hankering for beef stew.  I’m not going to say no to him cooking.  He wanted something easier than the version in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  This was really good.  He seemed slightly unsatisfied, but I thought it was yummy.

Madeline, for her part, yummed down all of this.  Every dish.

What’s Cooking: The Plan for Week of January 15

Feel free to cook along at home …

Friday: Mustard-glazed flounder, sauteed arugula, steamed cauliflower.

Saturday: Pasta with meat sauce (frozen), salad and bread.

Sunday: Roast chicken, potatoes, green beans

Monday: Broccoli with tortellini

Tuesday: Moroccan chicken stew with couscous

Wednesday: Ginger chicken soup with vegetables

Thursday: Leftovers or something from the freezer

Meanwhile, here’s a rundown of how last week’s plan panned out:

Friday: Black Bean Soup (I ended up doing a mash-up between this recipe and Joy.  It was okay.)

Saturday: Halibut with Lentils in Mustard Sauce (Very yummy.  A family fave.)

Sunday: Homemade chicken fingers and broccoli (and probably leftover lentils from Saturday) (I had to move this because I had to use the shrimp sooner than I anticipated.  I could have frozen it but that kind of defeats the point of paying extra for fresh.  Since Preston won’t eat curry — don’t ask — I had to go with this yummy recipe instead.  Big hit and it’s hysterical hearing Maddie ask for couscous.)

Monday: Curried Rice with Shrimp with steamed green beans (As mentioned, Preston won’t do curry, so I have to save this one for a night he’s not home.  So I moved up the black-eyed peas with spinach.)

Tuesday: Black-eyed peas with spinach over rice (From Moosewood Cooks at Home) (Moved to Monday, homemade chicken fingers went here instead.)

Then, basically these two flipped, with the lentils being the leftover for Wednesday:

Wednesday: Crabcakes (frozen from Trader Joe’s) with broccoli

Thursday: Leftovers or something from the freezer (currently have lots of pasta sauce, soups, etc.)

So here’s the brilliance of my plan: it is flexible enough to move around when needed.

Meanwhile, the “waste less food” mantra seems to be working.  It has just changed how I approach everything.  Today I made homemade chicken stock with some random frozen chicken parts — not enough to make a meal — and leftover celery to keep from having to throw it out.  Will be yummy to use on Wednesday night’s soup.

What’s Cooking: Warm White Bean “Salad”

I’ve had Martha Stewart recipes fail on me more often than I can count.  You’d think I’d learn.

Not only do I continue to get her magazine but I just bought this book.  I’m really dumb.  Especially since I’m guessing all these recipes can be found on her website for free.

In any event, I decided to make this one tonight.  If you can figure out why you would add a cup of water at the end, please tell me.  You can simmer this forever and those poor little canned beans are not going to suck up that water.  The worst part is that I knew that it wouldn’t work and did it anyway.  I mean, she’s Martha.  It must be right, right?  Wrong.

I ended up quickly making some couscous and serving the “salad” over the couscous.  It turned into a kind of light stew.  It wasn’t bad — tasty, even.  But it wasn’t what I was expecting.

There’s a lesson here, I think.  I’m a smart woman.  I’m a fairly accomplished home cook.  I know cooking basics.  And yet.  Martha has done such an amazing job branding herself and her company that I question myself and what I know about how food works in favor of her “expertise.”


What’s Cooking at Our House: Roasted Salmon

Madeline will truly eat anything. We are so lucky.

Tonight dinner was Roasted Salmon with Potatoes and Mushrooms. We also had roast asparagus and then strawberries and vanilla ice cream for dessert. I should have roasted the asparagus a little longer — it was a bit too crisp for her. The salmon and potatoes she loved. The strawberries and ice cream were interesting. I think she was a little confused by how cold the ice cream was.

Nice spring meal …

What’s Cooking: Super Bowl Edition

This is my all time favorite meat chili recipe. It’s from the 1997 edition of Joy of Cooking, but I’ve changed it quite a bit. Perfect meal for a cold winter night.

Madeline Forman score: Thumb’s up! She ate a hearty portion. My theory on feeding her spicy food is that babies all over the world get served spicy food. And so far she seems to like everything we make. I definitely stay toward the mild to medium spiciness and then Preston and I just add more spice to our portions if we want.

MacLeid’s Rockcastle Chili
Recipe adapted from: Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker
Servings: 8 to 10

Sauté in a large pot until cracklings are golden brown:
½ pound bacon, diced

Remove the bacon using a slotted spoon. In the drippings, sauté briefly:
1 pound ground beef (The original recipe calls for grinding your own meat. I’ve done this and it is good, but not worth the extra effort. Buy good-quality ground beef, though.)
6 to 12 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 large onions, coarsely chopped

Deglaze the skill until foam disappears, with:
1 12 ounce bottle dark beer (We usually use some kind of winter ale.)

Stir in:
1 32 ounce can tomatoes, with juice
1 16 ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 16 ounce can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 16 ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 16 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

(The original recipe tells you not to drain and rinse the beans, but I don’t like it that way.)
6 tablespoons ancho chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 12 ounce bottle dark beer

Simmer for about 3 hours, covered, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Season to taste with:
salt and ground black pepper
red pepper sauce


What’s Cooking at Our House

Welcome to a new regular post featuring what’s cooking at Casa de Forman.

Tonight was Lemony Shrimp with White Beans and Couscous.  It came out pretty good.  I’d definitely make it again.  The one change I made was to zest the lemon before I juiced it and then I threw the zest in at the same time as the juice.  I was afraid it would be too lemony, but it was fine.

So, we can now add shrimp to the list of foods that Madeline will eat.  The full list includes: carrots, zucchini, brussel sprouts, sugar snap peas, arctic char, mushrooms, eggs, black beans, white beans, black-eyed peas, spinach, broccoli, clementines and olives.  I’m sure I’m forgetting something.  Basically we haven’t found a food she won’t eat.


Leftovers have been so maligned that the very word is unappetizing.

The problem is that some dishes just don’t lend themselves to a simple re-heating. Case in point is roast chicken. So yummy when it comes hot out of the oven. But try and heat it up and it will dry out and acquire the texture of cotton batting long before it’s hot enough to eat. In these cases, it’s better to consider the leftover as a potential ingredient in a whole new dish.

I made roast chicken (in pieces, but a whole chicken would afford the same opportunity) on Saturday night and then transformed it into Chicken Chili on Sunday night. I made a few modifications to this recipe:

  1. I used pinto instead of kidney beans (Strangely the recipe doesn’t specify the amount of kidney beans. I think anything in the 15 to 19-ounce can range will be fine.)
  2. I didn’t want to open a whole quart of organic chicken broth of 1/2 a cup worth, so I used a 5.5 ounce can of tomato juice.
  3. I let it simmer for 45 minutes. I’m sure it would have been fine after
    a few minutes. Of course I think it will likely taste even better
  4. I didn’t measure the chili powder. I just sprinkled and then tasted. You could easily make this more or less spicy by dialing up or down on the amount of chili powder. If you really don’t like spicy, omit the jalapeno. If you love spicy, consider adding a few extra jalapenos.

It helps that I love chili of all kinds, but this was really, really good. I’m definitely adding it to the regular repertoire.

Chicken Sauteed with Shallots

I love FreshDirect.  I love everything about it: the yummy food, the convenience, the fun, easy-to-navigate site.

Recently they added a new feature: One-Click Recipes.  This is just a brilliant innovation.  Hundreds of great recipes that are easy to search.  And, of course, the best part — with a single click you can add all the needed ingredients into your shopping cart.  The technology is smart, too — they have separated out the pantry items (salt, olive oil, rice, and so on) so that you can order them only if you need them.  As someone who once help build a Recipe Finder, I know that this is all a lot harder than it looks. 

Best of all, I found a new favorite dish: Chicken Sauteed with Shallots from Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells.  Yum, yum, yum.  It’s easy to make and very delicious.  Plus, it involves actual fire, which, as I noted previously, is something I really like while cooking.  Unlike that earlier recipe, this one involved actual flames which need to be transferred from one pan to the next.  Talk about drama!

The first time I made it i used fresh tomatoes, which requires peeling and seeding.  I’m lazy by nature, so I decided to try it with canned tomatoes.  Unless you are growing your tomatoes in the backyard I say grab a can of Muir Glen.  My only mistake was I should have drained them — the sauce was a touch watery this time around.

Stay tuned.  I definitely plan to do more One-Clicking very soon …

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Devilishly Delicious

When my husband and I first encountered Chicken Diablo it was in a cookbook of recipes from country inns.  The first problem was that no one bothered to size the recipe down, so it could feed about 20 people.  The second problem was that, as I learned later, it was more complicated than it needed to be.  So it was good, but we rarely made it.

I later learned that Chicken Diablo is a basic recipe of which there are many variations.  For those who are unfamiliar, the idea is to mix up Dijon mustard mixed with garlic cloves and either butter or olive oil.   The chicken is then painted with this mixture, coated in bread crumbs and baked.  It’s very yummy.

I made it on Sunday using bone-in, skinless chicken breasts.  I don’t actually recommend this.  It’s much better with either boneless breasts or, better still, boneless thighs.   I followed this recipe, just to get the proportions.  It was my first time making it with olive oil, rather than butter.  It was good, but nothing beats the richness you get with butter.  I think next time I might try mixing in some butter to see if I can get the richness without tipping the sat fat scale.

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