Friday, December 31, 2010

Cost of Take-Out Lunch, Week Ending 123110

Here it is, the last one of 2010:
  • Tuesday: Jack in the Box, Chicken Fajita Pita combo with small regular fry and Coke: $6.51
  • Wednesday: Sango Sushi, Rainbow Roll: $9.24
  • Thursday: BREAKFAST at McDonald's: Sausage McMuffin with Egg: $4.22
  • Friday: Jack in the Box, Chicken Fajita Pita combo with small regular fry and Coke: $6.51
TOTAL: $26.48.
Total for the year: $901.37.

That's pure insanity. I think I can beat it next year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Butternut Squash Twice-Baked Potatoes



I had some butternut squash cubes left from when I made the Moroccan Roast Chicken with Squash and Onions. Looking back on it, the entire squash could've been used in the chicken dish. Rather than waste the squash I searched some recipes and found something that would utilize the squash and not waste my time with fancy schmancy ingredients like fresh herbs.

Since my squash, about 2.5 cups, was already cubed I opted to roast the cubes while the potatoes baked. And since these were called twice-baked, I did that, as opposed to microwaved and broiled. Click the link below for the original recipe.

Twice-Baked Potatoes with Butternut Squash
adapted from Cooking Club of America

2.5 c cubed butternut squash
1 tbsp olive oil
4 large russet potatoes
1/4 c butter
1 tsp salt, or to taste
3/4 tsp dried sage, or to taste
1/4 tsp pepper, or to taste
milk

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place potatoes in the oven; bake 60 minutes.

Twenty minutes after potatoes went into the oven, drizzle squash cubes with oil and shake to coat. Transfer the squash to a baking sheet.


Roast squash at 400°F 30-35 minutes, tossing ocassionally. Transfer squash to a large bowl.

I tell you to toss from hind-sight. I should've tossed.

Cut potatoes in half; remove flesh, keeping skins intact and reserving.

I thought it would be smart to just make four large potatoes. Dumb, really dumb.

Place flesh in bowl with squash; mash until smooth. Add butter, salt, sage and pepper; mash until blended.

The mixture was pretty pasty, so I added some milk (and a little bit more seasonings) by eyeball/taste.

Fill potato skins with squash mixture; bake in oven an additional 30 minutes until tops are browned (or broil 6 to 8 minutes until hot).


Meh, these were ok. I think I was overwhelmed by how freaking large one of my potatoes turned out to be and it thus wound up being a turn-off. Do yourself a favor by cutting the baked potatoes in half -- that is plenty enough for one serving as they are quite dense.

The quantity of seasonings, in my opinion, were lacking and required almost double what was called for. That might've been due to the fact that my squash was roasted, I'm not sure.

In the future, I might avoid the twice-baking and just make roasted squash-mashed potatoes. I thought that was pretty good anyway. 

Cost:
  • potatoes: $2.39
  • squash: $1.22
  • seasonings and milk, SWAG: $0.50
Total: $4.11, or $0.51 for each of 8 servings.

Click for the printable


Standing Rib Roast Leftovers


This crusty hunk of beef is dinner to be eaten without any utensils. Over 3 days. Ok, maybe 4.

Christmas day my SIL and I threw down some food from recipes found on the fly. We did a hunk of beef utilizing Ciao Chow Linda's Standing Rib Roast recipe as well as her Yorkshire Pudding. Both dishes neither of us had prepared before. The pudding was my first experience even in tasting, so didn't know what to expect at all. SIL made it known that gravy was part of the pudding experience and not having was detrimental.

We whipped something together, but it was gross. Think chicken fat gravy, heavy on the fat. The mood over the pudding was not a good one.

The beef though, while a couple degrees overdone, was tip top! I LOVED it and liked that we didn't know how to carve it so I was able to call on the bones from my nephew's plate like it wasn't nothin'. Gnawing on bones and sucking marrow is my thing.

The hunk of beef in the 10" pie dish is from one end of roast we'd had for Xmas dinner. I'm going to eat it like a cavegirl, crusty side first.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Grocery List 122610

Sorta sketchy, but this is pretty much going to be all about meals at my brother's house, so I'll be pinch-hitting, as in "I'm on my way over, should I stop anywhere?"

122710
Stater Bros.

  • Russet potatoes: $2.99/5 lbs
  • TOTAL: $2.99
122810 -- Mom's throwin' down some serious Korean food, my job turned out to be bringing the Kimchi.
HMart

  • Kimchi: $3.59
  • TOTAL: $3.59
123110
Ralph's -- nephew's calling on some promises, so ice cream and apple juice it is
  • Dreyer's ice cream: $4.99/0.5 gallon
  • bread: $2.49/2 loaves -- to feed ducks
  • Treetop apple juice: $2.99/2 L
  • Treetop apple juice: $2.99/2 L
  • TOTAL: $13.46

Grand Total: $20.04. As noted, some of that goes to the ducks.



Friday, December 24, 2010

Moroccan Roast Chicken with Squash and Onions

 

I had to do it. This is the recipe I compared the wonderfully delicious Chicken, Squash and Couscous with Moroccan Spices against. You know, the one I said got the crap kicked out of it. It was only fair that I revisit that one recipe for a closer side-by-side comparison.

Besides, my mom's here for the holidays so I figured I could make her something outside of her typical American or Korean cuisine. Her having dinner at 5 a.m. MI time wasn't quite a thrill to Mom, but that's how we roll. Vacation is all about getting into the swing of another environment, right? And Momma gets into the swing of things. Sometimes by subtle force.

Moroccan Roast Chicken with Squash and Onions
from Cooking Club of America

3 c cubed butternut squash (3/4 inch), about 1 1/2 lb.
2 c frozen pearl onions, thawed
4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper, divided
2 tsp honey
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
12 cilantro sprigs
1/4 c coarsely chopped cilantro

Heat oven to 450°F. Spray large roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In large bowl, combine squash, onions, 2 teaspoons of the oil, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper; toss to coat.


In small bowl, stir together remaining 2 teaspoons oil, honey and lemon juice until smooth. Stir in paprika, cumin, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

Rub over chicken thighs.


Place cilantro sprigs in center of roasting pan; place chicken thighs over cilantro sprigs. Surround chicken with squash mixture.


Bake, uncovered, 35 to 40 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center, juices run clear and vegetables are tender, turning vegetables twice.

I neglected to turn the vegetables!

Serve sprinkled with chopped cilantro.

  1. I never said I was perfect
  2. This recipe does not suck
    1. It's actually pretty friggin' good!
      1. I'll certainly do this again
The vegetables turned out perfectly roasted even though I didn't turn them once. I actually liked the crispy, chewy edges of the squash. As for the chicken, it was a little well done, but I cooked mine longer than 40 minutes. I must have been delirious.

Really, it comes down to weather or not Israeli couscous is available. Or if you have a whole chicken versus a pile of boneless skinless chicken thighs. Or if you have 2 hours or are limited to one hour.

Because, really, both recipes are really good.

Click for the printable


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Food Plan and Grocery List, 121910

Just gonna round up the stuff for Xmas dinner.

122310
Stater Bros.

  • cooked shrimp: $13.99/2 lbs
  • TOTAL: $13.99
122410
Stater Bros.
  • brown sugar: $0.99/lb
  • tangerines: $1.9/3 lbs
  • russet potatoes: $3.49/10 lbs
  • brown onions: $2.49/3 lbs
  • granny smith apples: $3.01/3.04 lbs
  • broccoli: $3.20/1.61 lbs
  • TOTAL: $15.17
Ralph's

  • flour: $1.99/5 lbs
  • Triscuits: $1.77
  • light corn syrup: $2.99
  • beef rib roast: $48.15/10+ lbs
  • cheese ball: $2.99
  • rolling pin: $5.99
  • TOTAL: $66.57
Grand Total: $95.73.


Black and White Bean Chicken Chili, Five Months Old


Five-month-old Black and White Bean Chicken Chili thawed in the refrigerator two days

This Black and White Bean Chicken Chili was born July 15th. I thawed and reheated a bowl of the leftover Chili one month later, August 20th. There was a 7 cup bowl of this chili that remained in the freezer until just a couple days ago. I transferred that solid bowl of chili to the fridge. We'll see how the flavor, heat, and liquid volume held up after 5 months of frozen solitude.

I removed the lid and saw that the chili was completely thawed.


The chili was turned into a saucepan and reheated over medium/medium-low heat.


The chili was transferred to a bowl and I chowed. It was just as spicy as it was day 1 and I couldn't help but notice that the liquid volume was toward the high side, compared to images of the chili in earlier posts.



As for my saying once, long ago, that the juice somehow dissipates over time in the freezer is probably dead wrong. It's quite likely Rodney and I ate the juice during earlier rounds.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Cost of Take-Out Lunch, Week Ending 121710

  • Tuesday: Sango Sushi, Rainbow Roll: $9.24
  • Wednesday: Quizno's, Regular Classic Italian: $6.51
  • Friday: Baja Fish Taco's Baja Bowl: Boss Man bought
Total: $15.75.
Total for the year: $874.89.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sarah's Dry-Rubbed Chicken



I happened to come across this recipe while browsing around All Recipes one day. A whole chicken flavored with spices (all of which I have) backed with a guarantee by the author that you WILL taste the spices, coupled with the fact that the recipe earned 4.5/5 stars, I had to give it a go.

Sarah's Dry-Rubbed Chicken
from All Recipes

1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 tsp rubbed sage
2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 (4-5 lb) whole chicken
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 onions, quartered

Combine the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, parsley, oregano, cayenne pepper, sage, thyme, coriander, celery seed, salt, and black pepper in a bowl.

Place the chicken in a 9x13" baking dish. Rub the chicken inside and out with the spice blend.


Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the crushed garlic and onion. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 4 hours to overnight.


Preheat an oven to 325° F (165° C). Remove and discard the plastic wrap.

Bake the chicken in the preheated oven until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear, about 1.25-1.5 hours. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone should read 180°F (82° C) for (extremely) well done. Personally, I'd aim more toward 165-170.

Remove the chicken from the oven, cover with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, and allow to rest in a warm area for 10 minutes before slicing.



Sarah, the recipe author was right on the money about the flavors being undeniable. They were tasty!

Unfortunately, I'd made the skin of the chicken like jerky by allowing the chicken to marinate in the fridge not one night, but two. I'll never do that with this recipe again. As a matter of fact, this deserves another go-round with the appropriate marinating time, after all, it's essentially no effort. I might even loosen the skin and spread some of the dry-rub right in there against the flesh, particularly if I'm going to do the short marinate time. Mmm!

Cost:
  • chicken: $3.66
  • garlic: $0.24
  • onions $0.40
  • seasoning: $1 (SWAG)
Total: $5.30 or $1.33 for each of four servings.

Click for the printable


Friday, December 10, 2010

Cost of Take-Out Lunch, Week Ending 121010

  • Monday: Jack in the Box Southwest Chicken Salad with Crispy Chicken for me and Chicken Club Salad with Grilled Chicken for a co-worker: $11.72
  • Tuesday: ditto: $11.72

Total (for my share): $11.72.

For the year: $859.14.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chicken, Squash and Couscous with Moroccan Spices



This recipe showed up in my latest edition of Cooking Club magazine and I had to try it. Any recipe that calls for a whole cut-up chicken, Israeli couscous (what I consider to be much more superior to that "regular" couscous), and butternut squash is king in my book.

I've prepared a dish similar to this one in the past (prior to blogging) and it will be cool (for me anyway) to see how this compares.

Chicken, Squash and Couscous with Moroccan Spices
from Cooking Club of America

Moroccan Spice Blend

  • 1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

1 (4- to 5-lb.) cut-up chicken
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, thinly slivered lengthwise (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 lb. butternut squash, chopped (1/2 inch) (about 4 cups)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 c lower-sodium chicken broth
1 c Israeli (toasted pearl) couscous
1/2 c finely chopped cilantro
1/3 c sliced almonds, toasted*
2 tbsp lemon juice

Heat oven to 350°F. Rub spice blend over chicken pieces.


Heat large ovenproof pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until hot. Add oil; heat until hot.


Cook chicken in batches 10 minutes or until browned, turning once and adjusting heat as necessary to maintain steady sizzle.


Remove chicken. Discard all but 1 tablespoon drippings from pot.

I left all of the drippings -- I live dangerously.

Cook onions in drippings over low heat 5 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally. Cover and cook an additional 10 minutes or until limp and golden brown.


Stir in squash and garlic. Add broth; bring to a boil.


Stir in couscous. Tuck chicken pieces into couscous, pouring in any accumulated juices from chicken.

Bake, covered, 25 to 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center and almost all broth is absorbed.

Remove from oven; let stand 15 minutes or until couscous is tender and broth is absorbed.
I thought this pretty goopy still and let the couscous stand alone in broth for another 6 minutes before continuing.

Arrange chicken and couscous mixture on platter in large bowl; sprinkle with cilantro, almonds and lemon juice.


*To toast almonds, place on baking sheet; bake at 350°F. for 6 to 9 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool.

Click for a printable

Effort was not outrageous, but the savory tastiness was! I love this dish! And just so you know, it kicked the crap out of the recipe I'd mentioned earlier. I'm a sucker for perfectly browned skin and buttery squash. Nestle that deliciousness into some Israeli couscous? Home RUN. Knocked straight out of the park.

No brainer, gonna be doing this again and soon, with only a minor change: go the full 30 minutes on baking time to reduce the broth sufficiently. The chicken was so tender -- even the breasts -- that a matter of minutes is not going to make a difference on tenderness.

The time label on this one is a little on the long side as I did some goofing around between steps. You can be sure it will not take 2 and a half hours to make this. More like 2 hours, but to be safe, plan for 2.5.

Cost:

  • chicken: $3.50
  • onions: $0.40
  • butternut squash: $2.44
  • garlic: $0.04
  • couscous: $1.52
  • cilantro: $0.17
Total: $8.07 or $1.35 for each of six servings. I'll eat this a total of four times, making each serving $2.02.

Totally worth it.