Sunday, June 28, 2009

Broiled Lemon Chicken Tacos

You know how I really like the Broiled Lemon Chicken and love tacos, right? Well, this is the first time we had enough of the chicken leftover to make tacos!

And it's so easy!

Pull the chicken off the bone and chop it up into small pieces. Heat a little olive oil in a skillet; add chicken. Heat until chicken is warmed thoroughly.

Meanwhile microwave some beans (we chose refried), dice some tomatoes, and chop some onion and cilantro together.

Warm some tortillas in a skillet. If you have an avocado or two and a lime, make some guacamole. Unfortunately, we didn't have any. So we sprinkled some Mexican blend cheese on the tacos instead.

Don't forget the salsa!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and Spinach

Rodney and I had a desire for spaghetti. Because I had purchased a 6 oz bag of spinach and couldn't remember what for, I decided to dump a good portion of that spinach right into the spaghetti sauce.

I followed the recipe I had for spaghetti with meat sauce but toward the end, when the sauce was to "desired consistency", I mixed in the spinach.

While it didn't make any real flavor or texture changes, it likely improved the health factor. And I like how the spinach made the sauce pretty, like little green jewels sparkling in there.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rice Vermicelli Mandoo

Here's some more mandoo Mom bought. Rodney and I weren't sure if we'd like this vermicelli stuff, but it turns out we liked it better than the shrimp mandoo. Go figure!

I put the remaining shrimp mandoo and some of the vermicelli mandoo on a plate as the oil in the skillet was warming.

Once the oil was hot, I dumped the mandoo into the skillet.

And stirred it around a bit to let each piece get warmed and somewhat browned.

Then I added about 50 mL of water and covered the skillet so the mandoo would steam.

I picked most of the mandoo out, but left some in the skillet to brown and crisp a little more (I like mine a little bit crisp rather than soft).

Plate that mandoo along with some rice and orange chicken. Serve some kimchi on the side.

This mandoo prep was much better than what I did with the shrimp mandoo. I think it helped that the skillet was jam-packed full of mandoo, which decreased over crisping (burning) possibility while reduced water allowed for a nice steam rather than boiling. Consistency in texture was much improved.

If I had to guess, I'd assume this bag of mandoo was about $4.

Mandarin Orange Chicken

Ok, ok, I know. So I said I'd never eat Chinese again unless I was actually in China. This is the single time I will consciously go against what I said and knowingly make myself a liar.

During Mom's shopping spree at HMart, she picked up a package of ready-to-make Orange Chicken and left it in our freezer.

We'd essentially be criminals if we didn't eat Mom's food gift(s). Besides, with Mom here, I completely fell out of the routine of grocery shopping over weekends for meals during the week. We needed something to eat! And so we ate it. And it was pretty good.

I followed the bag directions and baked the chicken on a baking sheet in the oven.

Looks pretty skimpy, eh?

I got the bag of sauce ready and warmed it.

Then mixed the warmed chicken and sauce together in a bowl.

Plate the chicken with steamed rice, mandoo and kimchi.

The sauce was pretty orangy sweet, and fortunately for me, the quantity of sauce would be what many would consider too littl. I thought the chicken:sauce ratio worked out very well even after having eaten 2-3 pieces of the chicken before mixing the chicken with the sauce. The chicken wasn't swimming in sauce and I used the entire packet.

I probably won't buy this for us unless Rodney gets desperate for some Chinese. I'd rather have this than risk a super-sucky-overly-sauced experience from a Chinese restaurant.

Cost? I'm not sure about this one. Probably $5-6 for the 1 lb bag?

Time from prep to plate was about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shrimp Mandoo or Shrimp Mandu?

Shrimp Gyoza? Shrimp Dumplings? Shrimp Potstickers? Shrimp Jiaozi? Shrimp Pierogi?

Whatever you call 'em, we call 'em mandoo, and Mom bought some and stuck them in my freezer. Whee!

Heat up some olive oil (not the extra-virgin) in your skillet -- not a ton, just enough to brown the mandoo a bit -- over medium-high heat.

Throw in a couple handfuls of the frozen mandoo.

Flip them around a bit to brown on all sides with a pair of chopsticks. Or if you have tendonitis and your chopstick pinchers are tired easily, use tongs or a spatula so you can eat with chopsticks later.

Once browned enough for ya, pour in water to cover the little things about half-way.

Flip the mandoo around a little bit as the water quickly cooks off. This way, your mandoo won't get too soggy or stay too crispy.

Once the water is cooked off, plate your mandoo alongside some rice from your handy rice cooker, a fillet of salmon and some fresh kimchi!

The mandoo was $3.99 for a 1.5 lb bag at HMart, which, according to my Michigan-living Korean mom, is "so cheap"!

Cooking up the mandoo takes about 15 minutes, which is an absolute win.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Couscous with Pine Nuts

Couscous with Pine Nuts along with asparagus and chicken breast.

Yet another side-bar note of a recipe in Cooking Pleasures. No wonder I was in such a no-new-side rut for so long. A lot of good ones are so simple the magazine only dedicates two or three sentences to them.

I decided to try this one because I (being the Costco shopper I am) bought a giant bag of pine nuts shortly after I enjoyed them in some lasagna. Finally I'd be able to use some of them before they become rancid!  And I figured I'd make it to accompany the olive chicken recipe in case the sauce part of that recipe needed something to soak into.

Couscous with Pine Nuts

1.5 c water
1 c couscous
1/3 c pine nuts, toasted
1/3 c green onions, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil

Reminder: toast your pine nuts!

Boil water, stir in couscous. Cover, remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes.

Stir in pine nuts, onions, oil; and salt and pepper to taste.

Rodney liked this more than I did. I thought it tasted ok, but whenever I have couscous I'm paranoid I'm going to inhale some of the grains straight into my lungs. They are so light and fluffy and so very tiny. A definite plus to this side is that it is pretty quick, fairly simple, and nearly impossible to mess up.

I wish I could give a detailed breakdown on cost, but since I'd purchased the couscous some time ago and probably spent $10 on pine nuts, I'll probably be way off.

Asparagus with Toasted Almonds and Garlic

Asparagus with Toasted Almonds and Garlic accompanying couscous and Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Olives.

When navigating the Cooking Pleasures mags in my possession, I came across this recipe. We both enjoy asparagus, I love garlic and Rodney loves nuts. Perfect!

The only thing I did different from the original recipe was omit the sherry vinegar. I had sherry vinegar (unopened, purchased for a recipe I was going to try and since forgotten), but
  1. didn't want to have an over-taste explosion like when we had the chix thighs and wild rice and bean salad, where the bean salad made the chix thighs completely bland in comparison
  2. was a little overwhelmed with so many things happening simultaneously to make our meal and ultimately thought the asparagus didn't really NEED the sherry vinegar (i.e. lets get this overwith so the asparagus won't be the consistency of baby food when we finally have dinner)
If you have sherry vinegar, then by all means, click the link and get the low-down on the original recipe. Otherwise, keep on:

    2 lb. thin asparagus
    1/4 c olive oil
    1/2 c slivered almonds
    4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
    2 tsp butter

    In large skillet, bring 1 inch water to a boil.

    Add asparagus; cook 3 minutes or just until tender and bright green.

    Remove from heat; drain on paper towel (or not).

    Dry same skillet. Add oil; heat over high heat until hot. Add almonds; cook 45 seconds, stirring constantly.

    Add asparagus, garlic, salt and pepper; cook 2 minutes or until garlic and almonds are golden brown, stirring often. Stir in butter.

    Voila! A new side we both enjoyed -- and we didn't miss the missing sherry vinegar! The asparagus turned out to be a good choice to go with the Sauteed Chicken with Olives.

    Next time, I'll be sure to better practice mise-en-place (this recipe is a fast one!) so that the sherry vinegar is incorporated. I'd like to see what it brings.

    • asparagus: $0.99/lb = $2.15
    • almonds: $2
    • garlic: $0.50
    Total: $4.65. Cool!

    Sauteed Chicken with Olives

    A pile o' olives topping a sauteed chicken breast coupled with asparagus and couscous.

    I thought this would be a good one to satisfy Rodney's salty olive love while utilizing the boobs for a brand-new use.

    Sautéed Chicken with Olives

    1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
    4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
    1/2 tsp kosher (coarse) salt
    1/3 c minced shallots
    1 c reduced-sodium chicken broth
    1/2 tsp dried thyme
    1/2 c green olives with pimientos, coarsely chopped
    2 tbsp lemon juice

    Heat large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add oil; heat until hot.

    Sprinkle chicken with salt; add to skillet. Cook 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown and no longer pink in center, turning once. Place on plate; cover loosely with foil.

    Add shallots to same skillet; cook and stir 1 minute or until fragrant.

    Add broth and thyme; boil 4 minutes or until broth is reduced by half.

    Stir in olives and lemon juice.

    Serve sauce over chicken.

    Again, one of those recipes that is alright. Not gross, but not great. I thought the amount of olives was a bit much from the onset (and didn't scoop too many onto my breast), but Rodney enjoyed them. Yet Rodney didn't clamor to have more of this in the immediate future. There was no "Oh, God, this is gooood" verbage happening while Rodney was eating and there was none after he was finished.

    • chix boobs: SWAG = $1.99 lb = $6
    • shallots: $0.93
    • green olives with pimientos: $2.29
    Total: $9.22 or $2.31/each of 4 servings.

    Will I do this again? Sure, but only if Rodney asks for it.  I have a feeling that even if I don't bombard him with other new recipes that he'll soon forget this one, which is quite unexpected.  I'm cool with that.

    Sunday, June 14, 2009

    Fettucine with Quick-Cook Fresh Tomato Sauce and Olives

    Fettucine with Quick-Cook Fresh Tomato Sauce and Olives topped with shredded Parmesan cheese and accompanied by garlic bread.

    Since Rodney likes those "fancy" Kalamata olives so much, I bought some from Costco. Now we essentially have a life-time supply on-hand. So that means I'm open to any recipe utilizing them, such as this one.

    I didn't change anything aside from increasing the cooking time after the tomato addition since I don't have a potato masher to mash the tomatoes. If you have a potato masher, click the link. If you don't have a masher, read on.

    Fettuccine with Quick-Cook Fresh Tomato Sauce and Olives

    12 oz. fettuccine
    2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
    4 medium garlic cloves, minced
    2 tbsp finely chopped celery leaves
    4 c finely chopped fresh plum tomatoes (about 1 3/4 lb.)
    1/2 tsp kosher (coarse) salt
    1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
    1/2 c quartered pitted Kalamata olives
    1/2 c lightly packed coarsely chopped fresh basil plus additional for garnish
    1/4 c (1 oz.) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

    Cook fettuccine in large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions; drain.

    Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until warm. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds or until fragrant.

    Add celery leaves; cook 15 seconds.

    Stir in tomatoes, salt and pepper.

    Increase heat to medium-high; cook 12 to 13 minutes or until tomatoes begin to soften.

    Add olives and basil; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly thickened.

    Toss fettuccine with sauce.

    Plate; sprinkle with cheese and garnish with basil if desired.

    Not bad. Not electrifying. Rodney mentioned how it's not as good as "that shrimp linguine". Unfortunately, all pastas will be compared to that one!  It was pretty easy; the hardest part being chopping the tomatoes and celery leaves.

    • fettucini = $1/12 oz
    • celery bunch = $0.79
    • plum/Roma tomatoes: $0.99/lb = $2.29
    • fresh basil = $1.20
    • Kalamata olives = $10 for two 21 oz jars = SWAG (scientific wild ass guess) for this meal = $0.50
    Total: $5.78 or $1.92 for each of the three servings we got out of it.

    Sure, I'll revisit this recipe in the future. I don't think I will have it as often as the tuna pasta or the shrimp pasta, but yeah, it's worthy of being in on once-in-a-great-while rotation. Or the crap-we-don't-have-any-meat-or-seafood-but-happen-to-have-some-fetuccini-tomatoes-and-fresh-basil rotation.

    If that makes any sense...