Archive for June, 2008

Why I Have Been a Bit AWOL

I just became an Aunt for the first time. This is my brother’s new son, Colt.

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Baked Chicken

It’s simple and easy. It’s the fall-back main dish in my house. It’s baked Chicken.
There are probably hundreds of ways to bake a chicken. Hundreds of ways to flavor them and things to flavor them with. Hundreds of different viewpoints about what temperature to bake them at and for how long. So I will not say “this is the world’s best baked chicken” but it’s the way I bake it and I’m pretty happy about it.

You will need:

A chicken – Duh
Olive oil
Greek seasoning

Now, I’m about to impart on you guys a secret. The secret, as I see it, of a good baked chicken.

Wait for it . . . . . . . . . . .

    Get a small chicken.

(You guys better be glad I don’t know where you live or I might have to kill you.)

With a large bird you sometimes end up overcooking the meat near the outside while waiting for the meat near the inside to cook. You end up with dry, tough breast meat. Ick. I try to get a bird that weighs as close to 3 lbs as I can. This sometimes means you can find me bent over, digging though an entire bin of whole chickens. (That’s a lovely mental image.) I’ve even asked people in the meat department if they had smaller birds in the back when there wasn’t anything under 5 lbs to be had. I usually won’t buy anything over 4 lbs.

Anyway, about baking that chicken.

I like to rinse the bird with cold water first. Depending on the source you get your info from that may or may not make a difference. I’m going to continue to do it if it’s all the same to you. 😉

Now we come to the part that my mom and I differ on. Nothing like coming to blows over but she has given me the silent treatment a couple of times. (Not really.) She seasons the bird and then rubs it with olive oil. She says it makes the seasoning stick. I think that’s bull and you end up rubbing the seasoning off. I like to rub the bird with olive oil and THEN season it. I think it gives you a crispier skin. And since this is my blog I’ll rub with olive oil first if I dang well want to.

I like to bake my birds on a baking pan. One of those two layered pans where the top layer has slits in it and the bottom layer can catch the oil. I call it a baking pan but it might have some other name.

I cook them at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

I might be able to bake a chicken but I can’t cut it up to save my life. I mean look at that!!! I massacred that thing.

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Crazy Face

My dog has problems. Seriously, was this necessary?

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Garlic Butter Green Beans

This is one of my fall back sides. If I’m cooking something and can’t figure out what to make to go with it this is always and option. And it’s super easy and super good to boot.

You will need:
2 bags of greens beans. (I had already opened one when I remembered to take the pic.)
Butter
½ tsp minced Garlic
1 small onion or 1 medium shallot
Salt and pepper

Boil green beans in water until they reach the desired consistency. While the beans are cooking dice the onion/shallot finely. When the beans are done, drain them in a colander in the sink. Don’t rinse with cold water.

In the pot that you boiled the beans in melt as much butter as you would like. I usually end up using about 2 tbsp of butter. Add the onion/shallot and stir constantly until the butter just barely begins to brown. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30-60 seconds more. Remove from heat. Add the drained beans to the pot and toss with the butter and salt and pepper and serve.

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Red Beans and Rice

As I was growing up my family moved around a bit. No, neither of my parents were in the military. My dad worked for a government agency and as he got promoted we moved to different locations. We ended up living in Louisiana, south of New Orleans, for about 8 years. From this my family got a lot of Creole influences and dishes in its cooking. This is one of those dishes.

You will need:
1-2 lbs smoked sausage
7 cups water
1 stalk celery, diced
1 whole onion, diced
1 lb bag dried red beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper

When I cooked this recipe this time I used a combination of smoked sausage and hog jowl because I had some jowl left over from making the turnip greens. If you do this just cut back on the amount of sausage you use to allow for it.

Slice the sausage down its length and then cut into ½ inch half coins. If you are also using hog jowl cut it up into small chunks. Boil all the meat in the water for a few minutes as you dice the celery and onion.

Add the celery, onion, beans, garlic, and salt and pepper to the water and cook at a low simmer for 4-5 hours or until the beans are done and the water has reduced. Check it every once in a while to give it a light stir and to make sure all the water hasn’t cooked away.

Serve over rice.

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Turnip Greens, Southern Style

Sorry ya’ll.

(I thought a statement containing “ya’ll” would be an appropriate way to open this entry considering the title.)

Sorry it’s been a while since the last installment. It just got back from a VERY stressful weekend with family which I won’t go into except to restate the “VERY” part.

It also fits that this post is about turnip greens, a staple of true southern cooking, when I just spent the weekend with my true southern family. (Lets revisit that “VERY” part, shall we.)

I love turnip greens. I never understood why people didn’t like them. I like mine cooked with hog jowl (I’ll explain later) and cut up turnips. Mmmmmmm.

You will need:

A bad of pre-washed and cut turnip greens
A hunk of hog jowl (You can use bacon if you want)
A couple of medium turnips
Salt and pepper

Lets do some prep work first.

Peal and cut the turnips into chunks.

Dice the hog jowl. I didn’t use the entire piece of jowl, I use about half of it. You can, of course, use less if you want to. If you are using bacon (wuss) I would say to use 1 lb of bacon. Again, you can use less if you want.

Heat a pot over medium and add the jowl (or bacon) to the pot and cook until most of the fat is rendered. See that oil in there? That’s all from the jowl, you don’t add any oil to the pot when you cook the jowl. That’s ALL flavor is what that is.

Then add about 3 cups of water, the turnip greens, and the turnips. Cover the pot and let it cook for about 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes come back to it and it should look like this. See how much it’s already reduced. Salt and pepper the greens and then stir and replace the lid.

Continue to cook over medium until the turnips are soft and the greens reach the desired consistency. Check the pot every so often to make sure the water hasn’t cooked away. Burnt greens are an evil thing.

*Opps, I just realized I never did explain what hog jowl is. It’s the smoked/cured cheek area of a pig, just like bacon. That’s pretty much what it is, just a fatty version of bacon. That’s why I like to use it for greens (and baked beans and red beans and rice) because of the amount of fat you can render out it really packs a flavor punch.

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Orange Cinnamon French Toast

Mmmmmmmmm, so good.

You will need: (for one serving)

Butter
Honey
Cinnamon
2 slices bread
1 egg
Slat
Orange juice

(Yeah, it’s not very exact, but it’s good, trust me)

If you are making several servings in the same container just multiply the amounts.

Melt about 1 tbsp butter in the bottom of the dish you will be baking the toast in. Add a good drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Stir it all together.

In a shallow bowl scramble the egg and add about 1/8 cup of orange juice. If you want a real punch of orange flavor you could probably add a bit of orange extract.

Dredge one piece of bread in the egg mixture and place in the bottom of your baking dish. Add a couple very thin pats of butter on top, drizzle with a bit more honey and sprinkle on a bit of cinnamon. Dredge the second slice of bread in the egg mixture and lay on top of the first piece. Do not add honey, cinnamon, or butter to the top of this one.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until brown on top.

Remove from the oven and invert the French toast onto a plate. Add a bit more butter and honey on top and dive in.

It’s not low-cal, it’s not low-carb, your doctor would probably have a heart attack if he knew you were eating this but it is just soooooooo good.

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