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Friday, September 30, 2011

Something from Nothing ~ Week 2

As you know, in the dual interests of thrift and tasty Pixie~Pursuits, I am disciplining myself to make a delicious meal from something leftover...at least once a week. The rules of the game are that I must give a recently enjoyed food a new life, and hopefully a new taste and look as well!  Here's what I had to start with this week...


A typical-looking leftover plate of some chicken Piccata with sauce, peas and mashed potatoes. Oh my - whatever am I going to do with this? I put my thinking cap on, and came up with the perfect solution ~ croquettes! Yes, those wonderful golden brown creations....but first, I needed to make a dipping sauce. Marinara-type sauce is wonderful for dipping, so I sliced a garlic clove quite thinly, and sauteed it in two Tablespoons of olive oil...on the lowest heat setting..you just want to soften the garlic, and flavor the oil in this step....the garlic will burn and turn bitter if you do not keep the heat extremely low...




Then, I added the following ingredients,



A little more olive oil (about one teaspoon), a small can of tomato sauce, salt, pepper, red pepper flake, and dried basil, parsley and oregano..just throw it all into the sauce pan with the garlic and oil, mix with a fork, and place on low heat to simmer..





I scraped the sauce (which contained lovely capers and sun-dried tomatoes) off the chicken, and placed into a bowl.  Then, one chops the chicken into very small dice, like so...



I then mixed the chicken, mashed potatoes, peas and sauce together with some fresh tarragon and parsley from the (now indoor) Pixie herb Patch...


I then got out one of my favorite go-to ingredients; Japanese Panko breadcrumbs....crunch-tacular!




Then, one rolls the mixture into croquettes...




Then coat them with seasoned flour, and the bread crumbs. I added salt and pepper to the flour, and salt, pepper and garlic powder to the Panko...




Then, you heat about 2 Tablespoons olive oil in your non-stick skillet, and fry over medium heat, just until nicely browned on each side...



These can be made vegan or vegetarian friendly by simply leaving out the chicken!  Well? How did they turn out?


Really....quite.....amazing! The hot croquettes with some of the marinara sauce were a lovely hot lunch on a blustery Autumn day that made me feel like I was wrapped in a foodie blanket of warmth! The chunks of chicken were great, the chewy sun-dried tomatoes...yum!  There are two things I might tweak the next time I make this, which are; put some chopped scallions into the mixture, and include a beaten egg to hold them together better ~ these have to be carefully handled, and will fall apart easily.  But oh my, they tasted wonderful! Week 2 Something from Nothing is a definite keeper.



Stay tuned for next weeks' Something from Nothing, and a visit with Kitchen Angel! I hear she's been "horsing around". Hmmmm..

Please email me your favorite leftover use-up recipes (allymv@yahoo.com) and I will re-create them and post the pictures here!  Come ON! I've got a whole YEAR, ya know!

Eat well, my friends. Love and kindness to all,

Pixie

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Scones ~ The Remix

Even though I just produced a recent batch of scones for Dear Husbands' work place, I was unhappy with them. Why? Well, please see my Berried Treasure post, and you will know why. I simply thought that although tasty, they were less-than-pretty. Now don't get me wrong....tasty will win every time with me, but, I simply could not stand it.  I could, nay, HAD to do better. So, I found an interesting and rather unique (I will tell you why in a bit) recipe on the usual Inter-galactic web search, and attempted my redemption.  This scone recipe was for a simple scone dough, Go here to print it, if you like. I intended to use dried cranberries, instead of raisins, and some orange rind.  First, I got all ingredients together to assemble what would hopefully be my finest scone hour....


From left to right; dried cranberries, sugar, egg, orange, baking powder, flour (unbleached) salt, sour cream and baking soda (not pictured, butter). The reason that the butter is not in the photo, is the unique thing about this recipe ~ it is kept in the freezer, until mixing time! I know that baking ingredients have to be kept cold, but this was most interesting.... Then, after I mixed all the dry ingredients, the REALLY cool part of the recipe....one grates in the entire stick of butter! No, I'm not kidding....look!


The more I thought about it, the more sense it made! After all, when we use a pastry blender, or two butter knives to cut the butter into the flour, the object is to get the butter into small, pea-sized bits. The grating of the butter did exactly that....and was easier! AND faster! A very new, and very cool technique. And just look at the perfectly small, curlicues of butter this left behind...



Genius! I am going to use the grater to cut butter into flour from now on...the only problem was what was holding the end of the stick of butter....which started out to be my (very clean) hand.....but ended up as a paper towel, as the butter got warm and started to melt a little ~ causing me to have...yes, you guessed it...BUTTERFINGERS! HAHAHA! OK, I know, back to the actual task, ahem.  The scones went quickly after that...mixing in the cranberries and orange rind...


Mixing an egg and the sour cream....


Then, combining all into the dough...


Now, here is where I went to another, different level than the blueberry scones.  I made three small rounds, so that the scones would be more workplace-friendly, and would serve more, come to think of it...


I rolled each one of these out into an 8-inch round...


Then cut into wedges and placed on the baking sheets....



Baked at 400 degrees until a lovely golden brown, then cooled on wire racks


While I mixed up a glaze of confectioner's sugar, cream, lemon rind and juice...


Well? Did I finally achieve scone-tacular looks? Scones that looked as good as they tasted?


Why yes......yes I did.  They were rich, moist, not too sweet...and I could sleep at night knowing that Dear Husbands' work buddies would not have to shy away from the less-than-pretty blueberry version. So, I dressed them for the party with some mint which is taking over abundantly growing in the back garden...




What dish did you re-make to your satisfaction? Was it worth it?

Eat well, my friends, and stay tuned for "Something from Nothing", week two! Love and kindness to all,

Pixie

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Great Rib Fake Out!

I know, I know...the scone REEEEE-MIX is coming up. However, Pixies cannot live by baked goods alone, you know.  I don't know about you, but I love me some delicious baby-back ribs! During this impossible strained economic time, however...baby backs are not in the Pixie Purse's capability.  So, left with a half a rack of spare ribs in the freezer, but seriously undaunted, I began my quest to make a rib so tender, so juicy, that it would meet or beat any one's expectation of a baby back-style rib.  Here is the aforementioned hunk o' ribs....oh boy, we've got some work to do up in here!



Clearly, Doctor Pixie needed to make these gargantuan spare ribs at least look like baby backs, yes? So, before they thawed completely, I hacked them into baby back lookalikes....





Yes, that is plastic covering my bamboo cutting board - no cooties, here. Then, I created my own rub out of the following;





In a left-flowing concentric circle (HAHAHAHA) Brown sugar,  onion powder, onion salt, garlic salt, garlic powder, paprika, dry mustard powder, cayenne, white pepper, Emeril's Essence, and thyme. Now, we take our ribs to the spa, and give them a good massage on both sides with yonder rub.


Covered, and into a slow (300 degree) oven for just two hours.....


After two hours, I let the ribs cool slightly, placed them on a plate, covered them, and put them in the fridge until later in the day. 


In the meantime, I mixed a can of Great Northern beans with a can of black beans, added barbecue sauce, bacon, and onion, and let it go a-simmering in the crock pot.


Over half of a barbecue supper - done! I went out for a few hours, and when I came home, the beans were filling the house with the most tantalizing aroma! I then mixed up a barbecue sauce that simmered low and slow for a good half an hour...
 
 
Then, I mixed up the following for my Asian slaw (you've seen this one here before);
 
 
Black and white sesame seeds, rice wine vinegar, vegetable oil, sesame oil, salt and pepper, chopped scallion, carrot, cabbage and cilantro. Presto! Slaw goes into the fridge, and you are just about done!
 
 

Crunch-a-riffic!  Now, slather (sidebar note: I once answered the phone at a food company to hear a woman say that she thought the word "slather" was vulgar - just weird...) ahem...slather those lovely ribs with your sauce. And yes, in a pinch, you may use commercially-made sauce, just use a good one!


 
Into a 375 degree oven for twenty or so minutes, just until the top gets a little caramelized, and the sauce has flavored the ribs...the results?
 
 
Can you blame me for not eating in restaurants much?
 
What is your favorite barbecue meal?
 
What did Kitchen Angel think? Well, I think this may have something to do with it being National Talk like a Pirate day....but all I heard was a loud "ARRRGGHHHH"...and there she went!
 
 
 
Well, avast ye scurvy dogs....eat well, and stay tuned for that long-awaited scone remix. Love and kindness to all,
 
Pixie

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Something from Nothing ~ Week One

Welcome to what I hope will be my newest adventure! In these tight times, being able to make something you actually want to eat, from what is already in your fridge and cupboard, can be a challenge! So for an entire year once each week, I will endeavor to post a "Something from Nothing" episode! For week one of the challenge, I was in a Southwestern kind of mood, so I looked at what potential ingredients in my fridge were either on the way out, or needed to be used up. Here's what I found...



From bottom to top: The rest of a jar of salsa, leftover shredded chicken, chicken stock, leftover saffron rice, lemon, cilantro, a half of an avocado going South quickly, sour cream and some Jack cheese.

The recipe search took me to Rachael Ray's Mexican Chicken and Rice Soup - and here, with modifications based on what I had on hand, is how it went!

First, you simply bring the salsa chicken stock (mine made from bouillon with water) and lemon (instead of lime) juice to a boil...




Then, you place some of the leftover chicken and leftover rice into your service bowl. I bet you could use leftover rotisserie chicken for this, too!


When the stock and salsa mixture comes to a boil, ladle it over the chicken and rice.  I made sure to have both chicken and rice up to room temperature, so the boiling stock would actually warm them completely...




Then, grate ye up some Jack cheese...


And build your bowl! Simply add the cheese, sour cream, avocado and cilantro. I also added chopped pickled jalapenos, and some crushed up tortilla chips for crunch.  The results?


Ole'!  The only changes that I would make are to not put such a big dollop of sour cream in, and to add the tortilla chips with each spoonful as desired, as they get mushy in the broth quickly.  All in all, an amazingly fast, tasty use-up that turned a little of this, and a little of that into something wonderful!

I think of it this way...if you had to give someone 3 out of every ten dollars you made, OR, skillfully utilize your leftovers, which would you do? 'Nuff said.

What are your favorite leftover use-ups? Send me your recipe, and I will duplicate it for this year-long project!

Eat well my friends....Kitchen Angel and the scone re-mix are coming this week! Love and kindness to all,

Pixie

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tabbouleh and Resolve

I miss my friends in Alaska. WAAAAYYY more than I miss Alaska, of course....  One of my favorite things to do, was to cook my vegan friend Happy Aly some dishes which I thought she might like.  So, to remind myself how fun and healthy that was, as well as honor a resolution I recently made to eat healthier, I thought I'd make some tabbouleh! Also, many have asked for my recipe since seeing it in my happy little lunchbox in prior posts.

 I believe that the origin of tabbouleh is as a Lebanese parsley salad, and although my version may not be true to the original, it IS tasty! I do not use garlic in mine because although I love garlic, it may overpower the fresh mint and parsley that make this version so delightful.
First, you luck into some cracked wheat berries, called bulgur...here are mine:  All natural and delicious..


Nutritionists, and people in the know ~ realize that whole grains are not just good for you, they are tasty, too. These are the "scrubbing bubbles" of the grain world, my friends.....your colon will thank you for eating this dish, let's just put it that way. Whenever I worry that I have had too much meat in my diet, I make this dish, knowing it's cleansing properties are so good for me.  On to the dish - pour boiling water over one cup of the bulgur wheat, just to cover.


Let it soak and begin to plump up while you get your ingredients in order...



Cucumber, scallions, fresh parsley and mint, cherry tomatoes (clearly I used my pixie-patch tomatoes), olive oil, lemon juice, dried parsley, mint, and salt.  That's it! And when I say lemon juice, I mean fresh lemon juice, folks....it's not hard, really! A two-dollar citrus reamer, and you are good to go....none of that stuff in a jar!



Peel, seed and chop the cucumber into fairly small dice, quarter the cherry tomatoes, and slice the scallions thinly. Chop the parsley and mint, and you're ready!


If after 30 to 45 minutes, if your bulgur wheat still has water that is not yet absorbed, don't panic...simply drain in a sieve or fine colander, like this....


Then, just mix everything together, in one beautiful bowl o' colorful goodness!


Place into your fridge to chill for a while -




The flavors blend wonderfully, and the wheat absorbs all the olive oil and lemon juice.  I can never wait, and always make myself a ridiculously large healthy bowl of it, right away! Here is what a person with restraint might serve up....



The grains become chewy little morsels of goodness, while you enjoy the fresh crunch of the vegetables, and the bright, clean flavors of the mint and parsley. I can never get enough of this, and usually demolish the entire bowl within 48 hours....sigh,...it's just.....that.....good! Oh, and good FOR you, too....but, I already said that...

In other news, did I mention my weird obsession with other people's refrigerators and pantries?  I love seeing what kinds of foods people buy, how they store it, organize it....etc. I know, strange...however, in the interest of serving people who also might have my strange affliction...here is my fridge after it's most recent cleaning..


I know, right?....don't judge me - I am the queen of condiments! Hey, I have at least four different kinds of vinegar in the pantry ~ be grateful I don't subject you to more pictures of THAT!  :-0

Autumn is my favorite time of year, hands down. Not only does football return (go Dolphins! uh, we'll see...). but the air becomes crisp, the foliage beautiful, and the food-related holidays increase with each passing month! I have a little secret....I make my yearly resolutions in the Fall! I find that with the increase of time spent indoors, it is far easier to make resolutions and keep them with the focus needed, when Spring is not loitering right around the corner....tempting you to fail at all your New Year's resolutions! Mine are; to begin a fitness program (and stick to it), to take better care of myself (no more cheap makeup! I swear!), and to make sure I take care of everyone I love during the upcoming holidays with gifts that will show forethought and skill - not just something that was on sale!

If you made your resolutions in the Fall like me, what would they be?

Eat well my friends, and stay tuned  for the Great Rib Fake out, a scone re-mix, a visit from Kitchen Angel, and my exciting year-long project!  Love and kindness to all,

Pixie