October 29, 2015

I thought a dandelion was a flower? (sauteed dandelion greens and "grilled" pork steak)

I got a Hollygrove Market box one week even though it wasn't chock full of my fall favorites like it was the week before.  One item was dandelion greens.  I love me some greens, trust me!  I figured they would be good cooked with some pork as most greens are.  I wanted to try it with pork, though,as a side, not cooked with bacon as I usually do.  I headed to the google and found this simple and right up my alley recipe on Epicurious.  The pork steak you see in the pics was the only item of local pork in Rouses I decided just to season and "grill". We were more pork chop people with Oven Fry (Which is not unlike shake and bake, although much tastier) when I was growing up. Ah memories.  Full recipe after the montage.

The cast.  I left out the rub I used on the pork.  I got it as a favor at a shower randomly.   
Wash and cut your greens and cut into 2 inch pieces
Blanch them.  Or just boil them for 10 minutes then make sure you stop the cooking
I had to pull out the old, less fancy knife to smash the garlic.  After a day of doing litigation work, it felt good.
Rubbed down the pork steak with the aformentioned rub.
Didn't even have to go outside to get these grill marks!
Garlic and chili flakes to flavor the oil.
Sautee your greens in the spicy goodness
This stuff is my jam.  Such a great dipping sauce. You can buy it online!  Jack Millers is good too
My plate, so delicious!

The greens were very bitter but the vinegar really helped to counteract that.  I love bitter green things though so I may be a bit biased!  This recipe would be great with any kind of greens or kale.  If you tried spinach that would be good too, but I wouldn't blanch it first.

Sauteed Dandelion Greens: (Borrowed from Epicurious)

3 pound dandelion greens, tough lower stems discarded and leaves cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 large garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Cook greens in a 10-to 12-quart pot of boiling salted water (3 tablespoons salt for 8 quarts water), uncovered, until ribs are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander, then rinse under cold water to stop cooking and drain well, gently pressing out excess water.
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook garlic and red-pepper flakes, stirring, until pale golden, about 45 seconds. Increase heat to medium-high, then add greens and sea salt and sauté until coated with oil and heated through, about 4 minutes.   Put a bunch of splashes of red wine vinegar over them to brighten them up.

"Grilled" Pork steaks:

Depending on the size of the pork steak, you will need one or half per person.  
some sort of BBQ rub, about 1/4 cup

Rub the pork steaks with the rub.  Place on a heated grill pan.  Cook for 5 minutes on each side, then an additional 2 minutes on each side if it needs it.

Happy Cooking!


October 28, 2015

A Vegetarian comes to Sunday dinner (eggplant parmesan)

My friend Adrienn is a vegetarian.  She is also in law school, poor dear.  She is also very nice and takes care of my pup for me sometimes.  To thank her for watching Ginger in advance, feed her poor starving student self, and show her the ropes of the not so new now pad; I decided to have her over for dinner before my trip to Florida for a bachelorette party.  I had gotten a Hollygrove Market box and there was eggplant in it.  I am not usually a huge fan of eggplant, but I do love Eggplant Parmesan.  I had some store bought marinara sauce and breadcrumbs in the pantry (how very unlike me) so I will call this recipe easy and semi homemade.  I based it off of this pin that looked beautiful. Full recipe after the montage.  I decided to let you see the finished product first...mmm  Linking up with Southern Plate and Southern Bite for Meal Plan Monday!

Cheat day in serious full effect.  That's stringy yummy mozzarella on top, not more pasta!
Slice the eggplant and place in a colander and cover with a bunch of salt.  Make sure you remove that salt well because ooh wee mine turned out salty!
After about 20 minutes or so they are all flimsy.

Eggplant Assembly line!
All breaded and ready for frying.
Fry them up to a golden brown.
Layer Sauce, eggplant, cheese and over again
Add some ribbons of basil for extra color and flavor
Bake and marvel in how yummy being a vegetarian on cheat day can be!
Eggplant Parm (Borrowed from Table for Two)
1 large eggplant, sliced into ½" thick slices
2 tbsp. kosher salt
1½ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
3 eggs
½ cup milk
4 tbsp. vegetable oil, for lightly pan-frying
3 cups marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
I ball fresh mozzarella cut into thin slices and then in half again
1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
Handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Salt both sides of your eggplant slices and place them in a large colander in the sink. Place a clean dish towel on top and weight the down with a heavy can or a heavy pot.  Let the liquid drain for 25 minutes or up to 1 hour.  After draining liquid, brush off the excess salt very well, as you don't want it to be too salty! In 2 shallow plates, add breadcrumbs to one and whisk eggs and milk in the other. Dip both sides of eggplant slice into milk/egg mixture then cover with breadcrumbs, shaking off the excess. Place on plate or large baking sheet and repeat until all eggplant slices have been coated.  Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil into the skillet. Once the skillet is hot, add two eggplant slices at a time to the skillet and cook on both sides until golden brown, remove and set on a large plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil for every 2 eggplant slices. In a casserole dish, add 1 cup of marinara sauce to the bottom of the casserole dish. Add a layer of eggplant slices  then using a ¼ cup, dollop marinara sauce on top of the eggplant slices. The idea isn't to smother the layers with sauce. On top of the eggplant slices, place a few pieces of mozzarella cheese and a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Repeat the layers until you run out of eggplants slices. Top the casserole with more cheese and the basil before you place in the oven.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and brown on top. Then place under the broiler for 5 minutes to get the cheese nice and brown.

Happy Cooking!


October 27, 2015

Short week before the beach calls for salad (asian chicken and satsuma salad with writing challenge entry)

I went on a Bachelorette party recently for my longtime friend Lisa.  She and my other friends are like fitness models so some healthy low carb food was in order for the week for lunch.  I went to Hollygrove Market the weekend before and had salad greens, satsumas and honey from the box.  I made a whole roasted chicken the week before and had some leftover chicken.  I pinned this recipe and was set!  As you know I love taking what I have and making something yummy and every time I get a Hollygrove box, I am set to do just that!  Full recipe after the montage.  And a bonus 30 day writing challenge entry!

The cast. The chili garlic sauce is really spicy, you may want to sub Sriracha if you aren't a spice fan. 
Mix up your dressing ingredients.  I did not have sesame oil so I used Olive oil
I thought if I added a tsp of sesame seeds that would fake the flavor!
Chop your red bell peppers
Wash up your salad greens and take them for a spin.  Nothing better than a salad spinner eh!
Add your coleslaw mix
Mix lettuce with green onion and red bell pepper.  I was making this for lunch for three days so I kept the satsumas, chicken and dressing out to put on each day.

I swear there is dressing on there.  A word of caution, don't put it on straight from the fridge. It changed texture and didn't pour easily.

Asian Chicken and Satsuma salad: (Borrowed from Nutritionist in the Kitch)
2 cups salad lettuce
1 cup coleslaw mixture (cabbage and carrots)
¼ cup sliced red bell pepper
1 green onion, sliced
3 small satsumas (mandarin orange) peeled and segmented
4 oz plain baked or grilled chicken breast, chopped

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (or sub sriacha)
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce 
1 teaspoon ground ginger or minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon raw honey
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 tsp sesame seeds

In a small bowl whisk together dressing ingredients. Set aside
In a medium bowl combine salad ingredients.
Toss cooked chicken with half of the dressing and layer on the salad.
Drizzle remainder of the dressing over the salad.

The trip for the bachelorette Party was to Seaside.  I have always love that area and would love to move there after I retire or win the lottery!  This thought goes well with day 5 of the 30 day writing challege!  enjoy!
30 Day writing challenge day 5, a place I would live that I have never visited.

This list is long because I have a long list of places I have never visited but want to so bad! I have lived in Kenner, Metairie, Hattiesburg, Baton Rouge, Lyon (France), Austin and New Orleans. I have spent more time than I cared to in Waco, Hillsboro and Texarkana, Texas. I am an adaptable little creature and have lived in some borderline hellholes. So therefore you can pretty much plop me anywhere and I will be fine. But I never want to leave New Orleans!

If I had to pick a place to live that I have never been, tops on the list is probably Napa. I love wine, good food and sweater weather and it seems all three of those are prevalent in Napa. It seems like a small town way of life, but not too small. Good architecture seems to abound there as well. I hope to visit there sometime in the near future and hopefully that won’t disappoint. 

Happy Cooking!


October 26, 2015

Kate tested, mother approved (Beef with Broccoli)

My best friend Toni and I talk whenever we can about various topics.  She called me recently and asked if I could find a good beef with broccoli recipe that she and her family could enjoy.  She had some trouble with other ones she had tried.  I decided to borrow my oldest niece and my extremely picky and will tell you what she thinks mom for some research.  Sisters and I loved it, Kate gobbled it up without complaint (well not the broccoli, had to bribe her with mug brownies to eat that!) and Mimi of course thought it was too thick and just okay, but gobbled it up anyway.  I made Kate's ahead of time and left out the oyster sauce just in case.  I will try to explain how I did all of this as well as I can!

Oh and also this is the Pioneer Woman's recipe.  I have never made anything of hers that disappoints. I miss having "real" cable and watching her on Saturday mornings!  Full recipe after the montage.

As you can tell this is a My Shitty Kitchen on the road post.  My sister's kitchen is amazing!
Garlic and ginger minced.  I used more garlic than normal as usual.
The sauce, it smelled so good!
I added some onions to the broccoli for more flavor.
Thin slice and flash fry.  Cue Mimi "you keeping some rare for me?" 
Make the yummy sauce.  Take some out for the picky people before you put in the oyster sauce.

Picky Kid approved!  Just look at that smile!
We kept each component separate while we put the kids to bed and then reassembled.  Just kept it all warm in the oven.
Delicious! Didn't even need any rice!

Beef With Broccoli (Borrowed from the Pioneer Woman)


1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce (DO NOT use regular, your blood pressure will spike)
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons sherry
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 pound flank steak, trimmed of fat and sliced very thin against the grain
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 pound broccoli florets
One large onion, cut into half moons
1/4 cup beef broth
1/4 cup oyster sauce
rice for serving


In a bowl, mix together the soy sauce, cornstarch, sherry, brown sugar, ginger and garlic. Set aside

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet (iron is best) or wok over high heat. Add the broccoli and onion and stir for a few minutes until desired tenderness. Remove to a plate.

Allow the skillet to get very hot again. With tongs, add the meat in a single layer. (You will have to do this in batches) Spread out the meat as you add it to skillet, but do not stir for a good minute. (You want the meat to get as brown as possible in as short amount a time as possible.) Turn the meat to the other side and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove to a clean plate.

(Here is where if you want to feed the picky kids, you add a little sauce, a little meat, some rice and veggies and a splash of the broth.  Stir fry for a minute to combine and serve.)

Pour the reserved sauce into the skillet along with the beef broth and oyster sauce. Cook over high heat until it starts to thicken. Add the beef and broccoli back into the skillet and toss to coat. Serve over cooked rice.  

I will agree with Mimi,  this was a pretty thick sauce.  I liked it.  But you can add a bit more beef broth or soy sauce if you want it thinner.

Happy Cooking!


October 25, 2015

Prepping for the week (October 26-31) Plus a 30 day writing challenge entry!

Hello everyone.  I had a fantastic weekend and I sure hope you did too.  I had my 10 year law school reunion!  It was so awesome to see everyone.  It was a great weekend of football and visiting and eating and cooking.  I am making something so delicious for dinner tomorrow it takes two days to make and started today. So i'm having gumbo out the freezer for dinner.  I hope it is still okay...  This is a busy week of work and social events and then Voodoo Fest next weekend! Ready to cross a bucket list band off in Modest Mouse and to see the only country act I'd be okay with paying money to see, Zac Brown Band.  There are a ton of others I can't wait to see like Phantogram, Girl Talk and Florence and the Machine.  The lineup gets better everytime I look at it!

Here is a cute kid picture so as to make people click through :)  I love these little angels and I am so glad I got some impromptu time with them this weekend!

My pal and favorite cool mom Anne Marie put up a 30 day writing challenge on Facebook.  I decided to join.  You can find the topics here.  My first one on problems with social media was a bit ranty and personal so I won't share that one as to not cause trouble and controversy.  It's my blog, I can do what I want to! with it.  Here is my entry for day two. 

My earliest memory

I was at La Petite preschool in Old Metairie.  I was 3 years old.  My mom was in college at the time so she relied on other people to pick me up from school.  At the end of the day, everyone was picked up by someone and the after care kids walked in line to the mean old witch’s house (as we called her).  My Roro (my dad’s mom) was supposed to pick me up.  I was the last kid left sitting on a stool just peering out the window, feeling a bit abandoned.  The teacher said, "Okay Melissa, no one is here to pick you up and it is time to close the school I’ll walk you to aftercare." I cried "No!  My Roro is picking me up, I know her number 835-6627  Call her, she wouldn't let me go to the mean old witch’s house!"  They called her and she was there in seconds to pick me up and apologized the whole way home.  I vaguely remember finger painting outside that day during school as well.  That was more fun.

Happy Sunday!


October 22, 2015

And now for something different (baked chicken with artichokes, cinnamon, and preserved lemons)

I get emails from the Kitchn daily on recipes and tips and tricks.  This one for baked chicken with artichokes really caught my eye. I love Middle Eastern food, Americanized or not.  I had some yummy Morrocan food in New York the last time I went and haven't had any since and was craving something similar. This recipe was the answer to the craving!  This really reminded me of the dishes I had in New York and also made me want a tagine! It had some ingredients I love, some I have on hand and never use, and some that intrigued me, specifically the preserved lemons.  For some reason lately, buying a whole bag of lemons has been cheaper than buying 2 singles.  I bought a bag a few weeks ago in such a situation and had a bunch leftover.  I hate wasting food, so I made preserved lemons!  Look at you, dear reader! You get two recipes in one post, aren't you lucky!  The lemons are first, followed by the chicken.  

I accidentally erased most of my pics for this one.  This is my cut lemons sprinkled with salt.  I use the work sprinkle in jest.
Shoved on down there.  See you in three weeks!
8 to 10 lemons
Kosher salt
1 quart-sized wide mouth mason jar with lid

Sterilize the jar in boiling water for 15 minutes. Watch your hands when you pull the jar out...  

Scrub the lemons under running water to remove any dirt and impurities.  Slice off the stem end and the tip end of each lemon. Starting at one end, cut the lemons in half lengthwise, but stop about 1/2 an inch before you reach the bottom. Repeat the cut perpendicularly so you have cut each lemon lengthwise in a "X" formation, but not all the way through; they should still be attached at the bottom, about 1/2 an inch (See pic above).  Liberally sprinkle salt on the inside and outside of the lemons. Hold them open with your fingers and really get the salt inside them. You will use a lot of salt, don;t be shy! Add about 2 tablespoons of salt to the bottom of the sterilized jar. Place each lemon in the jar, pushing down on them and squeezing them to release the juices. Fill the jar but leave about 3/4 an inch of headroom. The lemons should be completely submerged in juice. If you can't get enough juice out of them, remove a lemon wedge or juice a lemon and add it to the jar. Add 2 more tablespoons of salt to the top. Seal the jar.  Let the jar sit at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. Each day, turn it upside down and shake it to distribute the salt and liquids.Put the jar in the refrigerator and turn it upside down every other day or so.  The lemons will be ready in three weeks, when the rinds have softened. When using, rinse your lemon thoroughly in water to remove excess salt. Discard seeds.  These will keep in the refrigerator for six months.

It was like a fun science experiment making this!  I got to check it everyday and watch to see how it changed and didn't have to do any work after the initial prep except turn the jar over!

Now on to the chicken! As an aside I let this cook while I was in the shower giving myself a Keratin treatment.  All of a sudden I smelled it.  It smelled so good filled the house with warm fall smells.  I was glad it was open window weather so it wouldn't be too strong!

The cast.  I ended up not using the salt, there was enough in everything else!

Ginger, garlic and one preserved lemon.

I should have made the lemon smaller!

I mixed the spices separately. 
Add chicken and olive oil to casserole dish
Add all the components to the dish and mix around
And then pop in the oven for 30 minutes
Good lord this smells amazing!  
Added a little fresh parsley for garnish and served over rice and quinoa blend.
If you purchase the lemons and don't make them this dish is ridiculously easy for what you get out of it. You could serve it over boxed cous cous with a salad and impress any company!  Next time though I will chop the lemon smaller and maybe not use the whole thing.  It was WAY lemony!

Baked Chicken with Artichokes, Cinnamon, and Preserved Lemons (From the Kitchn)

Serves 4

2 to 2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 preserved lemon, rinsed, seeds and insides removed, rind chopped small
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sweet or hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 large pinch saffron
Large jar of marinated artichokes, chopped

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Combine all the ingredients in a 9x13 baking dish (or similar), and stir to mix thoroughly. Put the dish in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and registers 165°F.

Happy Cooking!


October 21, 2015

This is a no brainer (Homemade chicken stock)

I used to compost when my brother-in-law would do a big batch of it in the back yard.  I kept all my leftover veggie scraps and coffee grinds in the fridge and bring them over once a week and cook dinner for them.  It was the perfect hand in hand, in return for all my veggie scraps they would give me free tomatoes in the summer and dog sitting when I went on trips. I remember many moons ago I was on a date with a guy that couldn't be more opposite than me.  I don't know how it happened (of course I do, wine and nervous small talk) but I somehow mentioned that I composted and he said "Oh my gosh you keep your trash in the fridge?"  I moved to Austin shortly thereafter and no one questioned my composting...more like they questioned when you didn't do it!

Now that composting isn't happening in the fam, my other method of reusing stuff is making stock. Whenever I make something with celery, onion and carrots I keep the scraps just in case I have a chicken carcass coming my way.  My lucky day came!  I made Buffalo Chicken soup and chopped a lot of veggies.  I picked up a rotisserie chicken on a whim to make some lunch and to add to the soup and voila, I had my stock friends! Full recipe after the montage.

 I am posting this in Meal Plan Monday with Southern Plate and Southern Bite as well!  Link on over!

Just a bunch of scraps that are going to be delicious!
Everything into the pool!
Keep your lid halfway on to ensure you won't have most of it escape while it's coming to a boil and you are doing other things!
My stock aking savior  Will appear in a forthcoming kitchen tools post!
Look at that color!  
I do not remember how I possibly made stock without this! 
I wanted to drink it!
I make a couple of different sizes, 1, 2 and 4 cup
Let it cool for a bit and skim some obvious fat off the top with a paper towel.
All ready for the freezer!

Homemade Chicken Stock

1 chicken carcass
2 celery ribs with leaves, cut into chunks
2 medium carrots, cut into chunks
2 medium onions, quartered

Place all ingredients in a soup pot. Slowly bring to a boil; reduce heat. Skim foam. Cover and simmer for 2 hours.  Strain broth, discarding vegetables and chicken bones. Let Cool. Skim fat from surface. 

Happy Cooking!