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Bright Orange Chicken with Veggies and Rice


I’m working at home for the time being. One of the awesome things about that is that you can make a lovely lunch feast like this, instead of relying on leftovers, easily totable items like salads or sandwiches, or a scrounged convenient store lunch. My lunch, pictured below, is delicious, and took about 20 minutes to make. And all without a recipe, too–as you might have guessed.

Rice: Boiled with butter and tarragon.

Broccoli and potatoes: Sauteed in butter and canola oil. Seasoned with pepper, salt, and turmeric.

Chicken: My masterpiece. Quick, pan-made tandoori chicken. Such a vibrant coral-y, orange-red. Apparently this is the color all our lips should be for spring, if you listen to the fashion sites. If you’re interested in how i made this, leave me a comment and I’ll do a post focusing on it.

With all the oil and butter, this might not be the healthiest meal ever, but it does include vegetables and is fairly balanced, so what do I care. I’m enjoying myself. Bonus: leftovers so I can eat this delicious concoction again sometime in the next few days!

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Improvised “Mexican” Pizza–Mmmmm!


While distracting myself from work by wondering what I would eat for dinner, I determined that if I bought pizza dough (I know you CAN make it, but that’s way too much time spent on a pizza for me), I could make a sort of “Mexican” pizza. I put Mexican in quotes because it is in no way remotely authentic. It just had some flavors in that category…

This is now two weeks ago, or something along those lines. Might be longer. So to the best of my ability, I will try to describe what I did for you.

First, I bought dough from Whole Foods. You can buy fresh, uncooked pizza dough from most grocery stores, I’m pretty sure. You can also buy pre-made crusts, which is an option if you want it to be a bit quicker.

Having made pizza from a store-bought dough several times, I recall having lots of trouble getting it to stretch, so I turned to the internet to figure out how to stretch it. My inclination that it would have to sit out at room temperature for a while seemed correct. I covered it in flour and left it there, returning later and stretching out the dough fairly successfully. Look up how to do this: I am not the person to instruct you on the method.

Once it was fairly stretched I plunked the dough down onto a (possibly over-)greased cookie sheet. I do not own a pizza stone, sadly. I want one. And then toppings went on.

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Okay, so that picture is actually after it came out of the oven. I didn’t get any before pics.

As I got the dough ready I cooked up one patty of Trader Joe’s Chili Lime Chicken Burger. If that sounds kind of bad to you, I assure you, they are DELICIOUS. If you like those flavors in general you will like the burger. I actually would have made two for the topping, but I only had one left. It was very sad.

If I can remember right, the toppings went like this: first, sliced tomatoes and salsa as sauce. I tried to sauce it sparsely because I didn’t want to overpower it. I highly recommend using a SPOON to spread the salsa, as if you just pour it on you very well may end up with too much. Second, cheese. I THINK it was cheddar. I generally prefer mozzarella on pizza, but I didn’t have any. Third, diced red pepper and pieces of a chicken burger. I did my best to distribute things fairly evenly, but of course some sections of crust still ended up larger than others. if I added any other toppings or seasonings, I can’t remember.

The pizza went into a preheated oven at about 425°. I would say it cooked for around 20 minutes, but once again, I don’t really remember. Then I took it out and let it cool for a little while.

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Cutting it was interesting because it might not have been cool enough yet, and also I don’t have a pizza cutter and my sharper knife wasn’t clean. But I managed.

Topped with sliced avocado after cooking.

Topped with sliced avocado after cooking.

 

I think I ate two servings’ worth of this pizza. You can’t blame me, it was delicious–you probably would have too.

Overall it was quite delicious. The crust was slightly crunchier than I generally like but it was still very good. I do recall wanting it to be spicier, though. Should have used more salsa.

 

Are you sick of my pictures of dinner yet?


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Pre-seasoned drumsticks from Whole Foods, baked in the oven + kale sauteed in olive oil, fresh ginger and garlic, with tomatoes. It is YUM and was so easy. Want to know how easy? Ask me and I’ll do it again and post about it.

 

Mixed Media Meals


I don’t know how well the word “Media” really fits in as part of the title, but it was so alliterative! …on to the food.

I like sometimes to mix flavors in ways that are a little unconventional, and that other people might not think to do. Who says every part of your meal has to match? It’s just like wearing two different socks or wearing stripes and polka dots together–you can do it if you want to!

The other night I threw together some green and red peppers chopped up with summer squash, tossed in olive oil and herbs, and roasted it all for a while. Then I sprinkled it liberally with some Italian blend shredded cheese and it went back in the oven until that got nice and melty.

I was going to make quinoa to go with it, but then I changed my mind and made some tandoori-ginger jasmine rice instead.

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If the pictures seem a little fuzzy, I think it’s because the hot food steamed up my phone’s camera lens.

I always really like making tandoori rice because it comes out such a nice coral orange color. I tend to throw in some butter and then probably about a tablespoon of tandoori seasoning. Maybe a bit less. My tandoori seasoning came from T.J. Maxx. You could look for it there or at other stores that have interesting alternative unusual food items. I don’t know how easy it is to find, but my container of it is definitely large enough to last me for a long, long time. I’ve already had it for about two years…

As for the veggies, I just chopped them, sort of roughly, and mixed them all together. The seasonings were very nice. If I remember correctly, I used oregano, rosemary, thyme, and black pepper. Yes, I put pepper on my peppers. It did make them a little spicy, but I like that. Omit the pepper if you don’t like spice.

According to the internet, you’re supposed to roast vegetables at a very high temperature. Next time I think I’ll keep it to 450, because some of the peppers started to look a little bit over-browned before the squash really browned much at all. Luckily, nothing really burned. It was a very nice roast-y flavor.

I still have leftover rice, a week later, so I decided to do something with it today.

kale rice salad

That right there is a kale salad with tandoori rice, cajun-sauteed chicken, and a small amount of dried cranberries. It was, in fact, the last of the cranberries, so I’m going to have to buy more.

Do those flavors “go” together? I don’t know. probably not. But they taste good together. So I do it.

I hope you’ve been inspired to combine some foods or flavors you would not have thought to mix before! Food is meant to be enjoyed. Just do whatever you want with it.

Chicken Tikka Masala (from a jar) – Success!


My most recent anti-recipe dinner was chicken tikka masala. I have actually made this several times in the past and I have a method that I really like. It’s very easy, and I bet you could do it too. I am going to try to describe things in a way that lets you copy the method, even though I don’t have a recipe. I bet it would also be really good with shrimp or just veggies, if you want a meatless version.

The first thing you should know is that I do not make it from scratch. I have no idea how you would do that. I buy the sauce in a jar, usually from Trader Joe’s, but you can often find some version in the “world” sections of any regular grocery store. In just a minute, you’ll see a picture of the one I used this time.

I really like to play up the coconut flavor in the dish, so I add coconut milk. I combine one whole can with the whole jar of tikka masala sauce.

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These were the ones I worked with for this particular go at the dish. For this purpose, I really think that any can of coconut milk will do, so go ahead and get the cheap one. Alternatively, I think it says the can contains 14 oz of coconut milk, so you can figure out how to measure that out. You can also add less, if you don’t want it to be quite so heavy on the coconut, or MORE if you just can’t get enough.

I have in the past added minced or diced garlic to the sauce as well, but I didn’t this time.

So, because I had an onion left over from making chili, I decided I would add some sliced onion this time. I cooked them up in some canola or olive oil (I can’t remember) first, to make them less onion-y. Once they had been simmering a while, and a few started to brown, I tossed the chicken in the pan.

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The chicken should be cooked before you add the sauce. However, since you’re going to simmer it all for a while, it doesn’t have to be fully cooked. Just so that it’s not still pink and raw… if you make this with the onions, you don’t have to keep them separate from the chicken like that. It’s just something I do.

When the outside of the chicken is no longer pink, that’s when I add the sauce. All you do it pour it over and then stir it together. It’s very very simple. Be careful when pouring, because there’s definitely a possibility of staining if you happen to splash.

To try something different, I thought I would add some more vegetables to it. I added an entire bag of frozen peas with pearl onions. It was very pea-heavy. If you wanted a smaller peas-sauce ratio, half the bag would probably do. Or you can just make it a judgment call.

Stirring it in with a wooden spoon, so that the bottom of the pan doesn't get scraped up.

Stirring it in with a wooden spoon, so that the bottom of the pan doesn’t get scraped up.

At this point, I cover and simmer the whole pan for at least 30 minutes. Generally no more than 45.

The pan I used here is a very large, Cuisinart cooking skillet. If you don’t have a pan like this with high sides, then you should use a pot instead. You want to make sure it’s a container that will actually hold the sauce and that you can cover easily (because no one wants to struggle to cover their pans while they’re trying to cook. It’s just not fun).

When it’s cooked long enough to be sure the chicken is cooked through and all vegetables you put in are cooked, that’s it. You’re done. In fact, I probably cook it longer than I need to. I bet 20 minutes would be fine. You don’t want to cook it too long, because then the chicken will start to get dry.

So then you just serve it up and eat.

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Here it is just after cooking, over jasmine rice. Tikka masala has enough flavor that I didn’t want to do anything fancy with the rice. I put a little bit of butter into the water as it boiled, but otherwise the rice is just plain. Jasmine rice is my favorite and definitely my vote for pairing with tikka masala. Basmati rice would also be good.

And that’s all! It really is very easy to do, and you can experiment with any add-ins you’d like. It takes a little bit of time, but not all that much effort. Also makes great leftovers, tastes exactly the same warmed up the next day.

Simple Stir Fry, or My New Grating Dish – Success, basically.


*May favorites page is done, finally! I was a little late, and it wasn’t posted until June. Oops.

There are TONS of stir-fry recipes out there, and since I was improvising, and it didn’t look too pretty in the end, I’m not posting a “recipe” or any pictures of the food itself.

Anyway, the real star of the post is this thing:

Isn't it pretty?

Spanish grating dish. Isn’t it pretty?

My wonderful mom bought me this at Sowa Open market during its opening weekend. And then said she wanted one herself. I don’t know if the guy who was selling them is there every weekend/will be continuing to sell there, but apparently you can get them on d-grater.com. Mom.

It came with a stand (which you can kind of see in this picture here), a rubber thing that skins garlic (which didn’t work for me), and a little brush, which is useful for getting the grated stuff out of the dish and into/on your food as well as for cleaning. How the dish works is that no, those are not concentric circles of lines that make it appear textured; it actually is textured. Those are little ridges and in fact you could grate your hand on them, so be careful when using it, even if you’ve been doing it for a while and you’re good at it.

So. Read the rest of this entry

No-Recipe Black Bean Chicken Chili


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Here it is in a bowl with cheese, looking quite delicious

I was trying to get text before the picture, but it’s not letting me move the picture down. I hate not having a real camera…

Anyway, this is a picture of a food experiment I created about two weeks ago. Like the Veggie Mac and Cheese I wrote about recently, I went in without any real knowledge of how chili is supposed to be made, never having attempted to cook it before myself. I don’t remember what gave me the idea. I just thought about the ingredients I had on hand and figured I’d try it out. I’m going to get ahead of myself now and tell you that it turned out AMAZING! I was really surprised by how delicious and chili-like it was. Even though there was a chance it would be more of a soup, I still just felt like trying it, and this was definitely a success.

Ingredients:

apprx. 2 medium chicken breasts (I was using tenders, so I am not sure how it compares)

beefsteak[?] and campari tomatoes

green/red bell peppers

1 can of black beans

1 [amount] of cilantro

1/2-1 lime

Chili powder, smoked paprika, and cajun seasoning

 

Non-Recipe:

To start with, I cooked the chicken. The intention was to put it into the pot shredded, so I had to pre-cook it to the point where shredding would be possible. I pan-fried it in a small amount of oil for a few minutes on a low heat. I wasn’t concerned with making sure they were 100% cooked, as they would cook for a while in the chili itself. As it turned out they were cooked the perfect amount, and once they cooled, shredding them was very easy.

I can’t really remember in just what order I put all the ingredients in the pot, so I’ll just guess… I like my peppers to be a little bit roasted or seared, so I put them in first to cook in a little bit of oil for a few minutes. Then went in the tomatoes, which would need to cook for a while to get stew-y. Soon after went the can of black beans (Goya) and then about two cans full of water, to give it plenty of time to cook while getting to the right consistency. It was about here that the chicken went in as well.

Next came all the seasonings. I used about three tablespoons of chili powder, and it was fairly spicy in the end. I used about one tablespoon each of smoked paprika and McCormick’s cajun seasoning, which I usually use for chicken and sprinkled over fried eggs (so good, really). Plenty of fresh chopped cilantro went into the pot, and some of it stuck to my hands as well. If you want to avoid that, I recommend washing it long enough in advance that it has time to really get dry, because if it’s wet it decides to love your skin.

Stirring often is basically the only thing you do other than adding ingredients to the pot. If it looks like it’s actually boiling, turn the heat down. The order of adding things doesn’t really matter that much, because you cook it all together long enough that all the flavors will combine, and some will be more prominent but what can you do.

Later on in the process I added the lime juice, then had it cook for a few more minutes. Once it looked pretty much like a chili consistency, I decided it was done.

It was really delicious. I’m not just saying this because I want you guys to think I’m having successful cooking ventures. If it had sucked, I would tell you. I was really surprised that it went as well as it did. It tasted awesome both freshly made and as leftovers. It did make me wish I had cornbread, but… oh well. Next time.

I highly recommend making something similar. Go for it! Just wing it! You know how cooking works, you can do it…

 

 

 

Homemade Tandoori!


I should apologize for the lack of a picture, because it is so beautifully orange, but I don’t have a camera that would show it.

Tonight I was preparing chicken so I would have something to make lunches with. I wanted flavor and simplicity of preparation (my two favorite things in a non-recipe) I decided to go with tandoori chicken with garlic and basil. That sounds fancy. How did I do that? Well, actually it’s the opposite of fancy and was very easy.

At some point I acquired a little tin of tandoori seasoning. I think it came from T.J. Maxx. Anyway, it’s a nice thing to have for when I want to make my rice bright corally orange, or add an interesting twist to dinner.

Surya, the best Indian restaurant EVER, which is located in my semi-hometown of Worcester, MA, makes deep red tandoori chicken. No other restaurant has ever made it half as good. So I tend to get something else. At other restaurants, the tandoori chicken just barely has a dusting of orange on it, and I wonder why it doesn’t stick.

I discovered, most likely by accident (but I can’t remember now), that if I stir it in with a little bit of cream (half and half is usually what I have available) the seasoning will stick to the chicken and make it nice and colorful. Raise your hand if you knew this trick. …Yeah, I didn’t think so.

So, anyway, if you’re interested in how I prepared tonight’s no-recipe chicken, it’s very basically like this:

Slice or chop two cloves of garlic and toss into vegetable/canola/olive oil, cook on a low-medium heat. If your stove is anything like mine, watch out for a spitting pan and you should probably wear pants, or you’ll end up with hot oil sprayed on your leg. It wasn’t scalding, so I’m ok.

Prepare boneless chicken meat to your preference. I like to cut it into strips, usually, as it cooks faster that way. Put chicken in oil, watching out for spitting again. I mean, really. Is it that the pan doesn’t like me?

Add cream. You don’t need much. I’d approximate three tablespoons or so. If you’re into the no-measuring style, just pour a small amount in, but enough that it can get around the whole pan.

Add tandoori! This is really don’t measure at all. maybe 1/2 tablespoon? It depends how strong you want it. And you can always add a little more if it’s not orange enough…

So, once you’ve put the cream and seasoning in the pan, mix that stuff up stir-fry style. Make sure all the chicken gets coated. Then let it simmer for a little while.

Last minute addition: if you suddenly get a desire to add a little more flavor, find an herb or something to toss in and mix that around at the end of the cooking. If your extra thing is onions, you might want to cook them a little more first. Just saying… my extra bit was dried basil.

Note: This anti-recipe would probably have best results with fresh basil and garlic that was purchased more recently than six months ago. I’m serious, I think that’s how long it was. Can you tell how often I cook with garlic?

Even though this was a dish I was making for later, I had to try a bite. It turned out great, if I do say so myself.

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