Rebecca's Cooking Journal

salt and pepper

Hawaiian Haystacks

I was trying to think outside the box when I’ve planned my meals this month. Each week I gave myself a new recipe to try, but I didn’t want to be overwhelmed, so I went with ones that sounded easy.

First I tried Hawaiian Haystacks, and Raisin (my three-year-old) loved them! His favorite aspects was the ability to build it himself, but he also loved the pineapple and chow mein noodles, which made it fun.

If you don’t know, it’s a chicken mixture on a bed of rice, with what ever toppings you want.

Toppings we had: tomatoes, spring onions, pineapple, coconut, chow mein noodles, almonds, cheese.

I used a recipe I found online and the cannned Cream of Chicken soup made it far too salty. I’ll try it again sometime without using canned products, but I must admit, it made it nice and easy!

Get the recipe from Cooks.com >>>

Chicken Salad Croissants

I found a new fun site, thanks to some blog followers at my reading blog: Buttery Books, which gives book club menu ideas that go along with the books discussed!

I was hosting our club’s meeting for The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfeld, so I followed their suggestion and made Chicken Salad Croissants. I also made some ghost-shaped sugar cookies (since it’s a ghost story of sorts), which needless to say, were also a hit.

The salad was good, although I didn’t measure the mayonnaise and I think I had too much. Two and a half cups seems like a lot, based on the other ingredients.

Get the recipe from Buttery Books >>>

Braised Chicken with Apples and Sage

I wanted a perfect braised chicken recipe for a chilly fall afternoon, so I turned to epicurious.com. The recipe I made seemed quite familiar, but I haven’t mentioned it on this site, so here it is.

I had to simmer it longer than 20 minutes — it was not cooked through yet at that point.Otherwise, I followed the recipe pretty closely. I normally use boneless/skinless, but I went with bone-in skin on thighs and it made it quite tender and moist. Altogether, an easy and taste meal but nothing spectacular.

Get the recipe from epicurious.com >>>

 

Penne Ponza

Most delicious pasta ever. It’s perfect because it’s not a heavy creamy sauce, but the tomatoes and breadcrumbs mixture is absolutely delicious. My husband added red pepper flakes to his serving; he said it didn’t have quite enough flavor. But I loved it so much just as it was.

Get the Recipe from Giada >>>

Chicken Nuggets (Breaded Chicken)

I made Emily Franklin’s recipe for chicken nuggets the other night. I was thinking it was a quick weekend meal, and that it would be delicious.

It certainly was delicious, but being an inexperienced cook, it took me quite a long time. I found I was breading each piece of chicken individually at first. Once I realized I could do many at once, it was much easier. (I know, I’m so dumb.) The breading Emily Franklin suggests is the normal flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs.

They were quite delicious. I whipped up some honey mustard (ingredients: honey, mustard, and a little mayonnaise). However. The time it took to fry and then bake the many little bite-sized nuggets was not made up in flavor. Next time I do it, I’m going to leave the chicken in strips, rather than small bite-sized bits.

I think Ms. Franklin’s entire point was that kids are familiar with bite-sized chicken nuggets: once they know Mom can make chicken nuggets better than McDonald’s they won’t hesitate to have Mom’s breaded chicken either. Since my son is still too young to have ever had McDonald’s, I figure I can just skip that step and go strait to the breaded chicken and other chicken dishes!

Chimichurri-Rub Kabobs

Oh yum! These were so good. I put the kabobs together and my husband did the grilling. He mentioned he intended to make a dressing with the same spices and herbs that were in the chimichurri rub, but we didn’t get to them. Nevermind: these kabobs were delicious just as they were.

I admit that I didn’t eat any of the poblanos. Even my husband admitted they were hotter than he thought they’d be. I also am not a huge fan of mushrooms. But I think a variety of other vegetables would work on these kabobs: zucchini, bell peppers, etc. I used Roma tomatoes and cut them in to quarters. I don’t put amounts by the vegetable ingredients below because it really depends on how much you want to use. I think I used about 10 ounces of onions, but I wish I had more. I also used four pobalno chiles and that was too many. I had at least a pound of tomatoes, but I wanted more because I loved the grilled tomatoes. I didn’t have enough mushrooms; I think I had just one carton.

I used about 1/2 regular paprika and 1/2 smoked paprika; I wish I’d had smoked paprika for all of it, but we were out. I also used a sirloin tip steak, rather than the ribeye, simply for cost purposes.

We prepared these kabobs for dinner guests, so of course, we were hurrying around at the last minute getting dinner on the table. When do other food bloggers take a picture of their food? I’ve considered it every time I’ve made something new, but I just don’t know when to find time to do it. These kabobs seriously came off the grill and onto the table for consuming.

I wish there were leftovers.

Arancini

“Arancini” means “little orange balls.” I ate them once at a restaurant, and just as I thought when I first had risotto, I thought: “Wow! This is fancy! If I every cook arancini, I’ll know I’m becoming a cook.”

Arancini is so simple to make, that thought makes me laugh!

Some people don’t like leftover risotto: it becomes sticky and gummy, and loses the “fresh” consistency after a day in the fridge. I don’t mind it, but I love arancini better.

It’s so simple: make a ball of cold risotto, stick a little bit of melting cheese in the middle of it, roll it in bread crumbs, fry it in oil. Yum!

Yesterday night I only have cheddar cheese — I forgot to buy the swiss or mozzarella that is best in arancini. I wasn’t crazy about the cheddar flavor, but it still worked okay. I used a mozzarella-pesto sauce (the same one I had on my meatballs a few weeks ago, i.e., crushed tomatoes mixed with pesto) and it also tasted very good on arancini!

Giada‘s recipe is slightly more complicated than mine: she rolls the balls in egg before bread crumbs. I also used plain Parmesan risotto and her recipe calls for mushroom risotto with peas. I think any kind of leftover risotto might work.

Get the recipe from Giada >>>

Parmesan Risotto

My first date* with my eventual husband, he cooked me dinner. When I came in, there was something simmering on the stove.

“Have you ever cooked risotto?” he asked.

I hadn’t. I hadn’t even heard of it, and it seemed to be a very fancy dinner.

In fact, risotto is quite simple, and it has become a regular fall back meal for me. There are infinite variations, so I can add vegetables to it and have a one-dish meal.

I never cook it with white wine, but when I make it plain I do add some lemon juice. Delish has a simple recipe that is much like mine. I never heat the broth separately, though, and I also use shallots instead of onion. I also cook more than twice what that recipe calls for so they are leftovers (you’ll see why in the next post!). The secret is stirring it until the starches come out and the rice is tender.

Get the recipe from Delish >>>

*My husband still doesn’t consider this our first date.