dinner

Week 2: Chicken Lazone, U.S. Senate Bean Soup 

Comfort food, ahoy! This week was all about feeling comfy and cozy. I’m almost in my third trimester and I need all the comfy I can get. 

On a side note, today Mr. Something and I have been married for two years! I’m not cooking tonight; the modern second anniversary gift is china, so we’re getting Chinese food. 

Chicken Lazone 

Adapted from Plain Chicken

  • 1/2t salt
  • 1 1/2t chili powder
  • 1 1/2t onion powder
  • 2t garlic powder
  • 1/4t cayenne pepper
  • 2 lb chicken tenders
  • 1/4C butter, divided
  • 2C heavy cream

Combine salt, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Combine with chicken in a bowl and mix. 

In a large pan, melt 2T butter over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken tenders until done, about 8 minutes. 

Pour the cream and remaining butter into the skillet. Lower heat and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 5-7 minutes. Serve chicken and sauce over angel hair pasta. 

Verdict: HOLY CRAP. Eat this. Add mushrooms. 

U.S. Senate Bean Soup

Adapted from senate.gov

  • 1lb dried navy beans
  • four quarts cold water
  • 1 smoked ham hock
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1T butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sort through beans. Place in pot, add 2 quarts water and soak overnight. Drain and rinse. Put beans, ham hock, and 2 quarts water into medium pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover, reduce to medium low, and simmer until bean skins are tender, about 1 hour. 

Meanwhile, melt butter and sauté onion, 3-5 minutes. 

Reduce bean heat to low and add onions. Cook 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Retrieve ham hock, let cool, and chop up meat. Discard bone and fat. Return meat to pot. Use an immersion blender (or a potato masher) to squish up some of the beans. Add salt and pepper. 

Verdict: This was honestly 10,000 times better the next day. Next time I think I’ll make it in advance. 

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Vision (and Naked Burritos)

I’ve had glasses for almost 28 years. I turn 30 in two weeks. I cannot comprehend only needing glasses sometimes or losing a pair. It’s pretty impossible to lose glasses when you only take them off to sleep and shower. 

I wore my glasses on my wedding day, to the consternation of a few people who told me to get contacts because it would look better in the photos. Well. My husband wore his glasses at our wedding and no one thought that was weird. 

I’m getting new frames today and I’m nervous about it. I can’t see myself without my glasses so I basically only exist when I have them on. They are a huge part of my identity. I hope I like what I see when I put on my new face. 

Pretend this is a segue because it’s before 9am and you should be nice to me. Naked burritos! I threw these together the other day when I couldn’t get out to the store and needed to make something relatively good. They turned out wonderfully and are now on our regular rotation. 

Naked Burritos

For chicken filling

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast (if you use two, double the rest of the ingredients)
  • 1 15oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 little can Hatch chiles
  • 1 chipotle in adobo
  • 1C chicken stock
  • 1T taco seasoning 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For burrito bowl

  • Hot cooked rice
  • Shredded Mexican cheese 
  • Chopped avocado
  • Sour cream
  • Hot sauce

Place the chicken breast in the slow cooker. Top with beans, tomatoes, chiles, and taco seasoning. Blend chicken stock with chipotle in adobo until smooth and pour over chicken. Cook on low for 8 hours. Shred chicken with two forks and mix with sauce. 

Scoop rice in a bowl, then top with chicken and other desired burrito toppings. 

Zippers (and Santa Fe Chicken)

Yes, yes, yes, I know that March’s project is supposed to be aprons. I’ve made two, and I bought a pattern for another, but you know what I learned how to do the other day?

ZIPPERS.

I was terrified of zippers because they seemed so complicated. There are two pieces, and they have to line up and they are a functional closure. I thought so much could go wrong, and then I took a step back and said, “It’s a goddamn zipper, life will go on, just do this.” So I made this pouch. Well, to clarify, I’ve made five such pouches. Three of them turned out great, and two of them are sort of wonky. But three of them turned out great! Yay for me!

When I attempt to use a paper pattern for the first time, I will definitely provide a step-by-step illustrated guide to my confusion.

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Our awesome friends from the Midwest visited last weekend and shared this great recipe with me. It’s based on a recipe from Pinterest, but I just sort of threw it together, recipes be damned. (To be honest, when a recipe is mostly, “Open cans and dump contents out,” you don’t really need a tutorial.) Plop the chicken on top of the corn pudding, top with cheese and cilantro, and eat until you burst.

Santa Fe Chicken

  • 1 can Hatch chiles (the little can)
  • 1 can spicy corn (the little can)
  • 1 can hominy
  • 1 can black-eyed peas
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans
  • cumin, to taste
  • chili powder, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 C chicken stock or broth

Dump all the cans into the crockpot. Add spices and stir. Push the chicken down into the mixture, and pour stock over all. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, until chicken is falling apart. Shred, and serve over corn pudding.

Corn Pudding

  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can cream-style corn, not drained
  • 1 stick butter (I KNOW, IT’S DELICIOUS)
  • 1 C sour cream
  • 1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix

Melt butter in a casserole dish (I used an 8×8 dish). Add remaining ingredients and mix. Bake 45 minutes at 350F.

Culinary Improvisation (and Chicken Broccoli Pies)

A few days ago, I made a chicken in the crockpot. Usually, that means I’ll eventually make chicken salad. You know how sometimes certain foods, or the idea of certain foods, make you feel all icky? I get that way about mayonnaise from time to time. I just can’t imagine ever liking it or eating it. Blech.

Yesterday was one of those days. I had all of this chicken, and chicken salad was just. not. happening. Mr. Something wasn’t feeling 100% either, and the ProBowl was on at 6…. It was the sort of Sunday where you say, “Screw it,” and make pie crust because there’s nothing else to be done.

This isn’t even really a recipe so much as it’s a collection of things that taste good together. Feel free to substitute whatever you have on hand; some suggestions follow.

Chicken Broccoli Pies

  • one recipe of Alton Brown’s Pie Crust (this is a butter/shortening crust that doesn’t brown as much as all-butter crust, but I think it’s more tender and easier to make)
  • 2T butter
  • quarter of an onion, chopped
  • 2T flour
  • 1.5C chicken stock
  • 1C or so shredded sharp Cheddar
  • salt, pepper, cayenne, herbs de Provence, etc. (Float yer own boat.)
  • leftover cooked chicken, chopped
  • lightly steamed broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until slightly golden. Add flour, whisking constantly, and cook until the flour browns. Add chicken stock, whisking, and bring to a low boil. Turn down the heat, add the seasonings you like (herbs de Provence, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper turned out pretty well), and stir. Cook about five minutes, until slightly thickened. Turn off the heat, add the cheese, and stir to melt. Put that pan on a cold burner.

Mix the chicken and broccoli into the cheese sauce. Use a water glass to cut out dough rounds, then roll out a little thinner and place in regular-sized ungreased muffin cups. Spoon chicken/cheese/broccoli mixture into the cups, and top with another round of dough. My version of this made enough filling to fill six muffin cups with a bit leftover. (If I had a twelve-cup muffin tin, I think it would have filled them all.)

Bake at 375F for 30-35 minutes, or until dough is slightly golden on the edges. Cool 5 minutes, then pop out and enjoy.

Other combinations:

  • chicken/spinach (chopped)/feta (make bechamel without cheese; sprinkle cheese over chicken and spinach in cups before covering with dough)
  • cooked ham/peas/Swiss
  • steak/cooked potatoes/Gruyere

You are all intelligent people: meat + veggie + cheese = Tastytown. Anyway, these turned out way, way better than I anticipated, and Mr. Something requested them again while he was chewing his third bite. Sorry for the loosey goosey recipe, but again: I know you are smart. You’ll figure it out.

Snowy Day (and Crockpot Buffalo Chicken)

We sort of had a white Xmas. During the day, it was in the 40s, and around dinnertime, it started sleeting. We woke up to awful roads (because they don’t plow here; why don’t they plow here??), but thankfully we had no place to go, just like the song.

It started snowing early this morning. It is still snowing. It’s going to snow all day, and tomorrow, too. Snowy days call for something in the crockpot, and a spicy something is especially good. I made this yesterday; it’s also really good for parties, like the SuperBowl (Go Pack Go, perhaps?).

 

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 12 oz. bottle Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo sauce (you can use the Extra Hot Buffalo kind, but watch out, because that stuff does not mess around)
  • 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch mix (I use Spicy Ranch, which adds just enough zip to be interesting, but it doesn’t burn off your face)

Dump all of this into your crockpot. Mix it around to coat the chicken. Don’t worry about mixing in all of the ranch; it’ll melt in there gradually. Cook on low for 6 hours. Shred chicken in the crock, and stir to mix with that delicious sauce.

Serving suggestions:

You can serve this on cocktail buns with pickles and extra ranch on the side. It’s equally good wrapped up in romaine lettuce leaves. We’ve used it to make Buffalo chicken pizza before. It’s so ridiculously good and stupidly simple.

My Poor Right Arm (and Mr. Something’s Favorite Meatloaf)

The past week has been hard on my right arm. When I came home from the grocery store the other day, Big Puppy greeted me with happy paws (and dewclaws that need to be trimmed). Then I grazed my forearm with a very hot baking sheet (that’ll be a fun scar). THEN I acquired a mysterious bruise on the knuckle of my middle finger. It’s a big enough bruise that I should remember how I got it… but I have no idea.

Sigh. At least none of these things hurt anymore.

I know it’s May and getting warmer, but it actually snowed here in the high plains the other day. Like… Christmas amounts of snow. So I made meatloaf yesterday.

Meatloaf gets a bad rap. First of all, meat. loaf. It’s such a gross name. “Who wants some loafed meat, kids?” No one. No one wants meat in the shape of a loaf. But it’s SO GOOD. It’s one of those foods that scares some people, because it’s so midcentury (“Make sure you eat lots of red meat so we build strong Americans!”). Just make it. It makes wonderful sandwiches the next day, and if you have a ton left over, you can chunk it up, freeze it, and use it in a batch of crock pot pasta sauce.

Mr. Something’s Favorite Meatloaf

  • 1.5lbs ground beef (I used extra lean)
  • 1/2C ketchup
  • 2T Worcestershire sauce
  • black pepper, to taste
  • crushed red pepper, to taste
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1C+ 1T bread crumbs (I put a few slices of stale sourdough in the food processor)
  • 1/4C onion, finely chopped (again, I whirred this around in the food processor; smaller pieces are better)
  • 2t brown mustard

Topping

  • 1C ketchup
  • 2t brown mustard
  • 1T brown sugar
  • 2T molasses

Preheat the oven to 400F. Mix the beef, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, spices, eggs, bread crumbs, onion, and mustard. Squish into a foil-lined pan. (We have a special non-stick meatloaf pan that has an insert with holes that drain the grease. I highly recommend getting one of these; we got ours at Williams-Sonoma. It makes meatloaf so much less greasy and icky. If you use one of these, don’t line it with foil.) Mix together the topping ingredients and spread on top. Bake 45 minutes (or until internal temperature reaches 165F; get out that probe thermometer!). Rest 5-10 minutes.

SECRET PROJECT NUMBER ONE (and Crock Pot “Roast” Chicken)

So Mr. Something and I have been working on SECRET PROJECT NUMBER ONE for the past few weeks, and while I can’t reveal anything right now, know that it is very exciting. (Spoiler: it does not involve my uterus.) I can’t wait to tell everyone at the end of this month!

Yesterday I wanted to make something easy, but delicious, so I made a chicken in the crock pot. Now, many recipes for this sort of chicken will call it “roast chicken,” but I think it lacks the crispiness I associate with roasting, so maybe “the best chicken ever that sort of steams in its own juices” is more appropriate.

I adapted this from Iowa Girl Eats, one of my favorite cooking sites. She recommends taking the chicken skin off–unless you are on a super low-fat diet, do not do this. Just… don’t. Chicken fat is one of the joys in life. EAT SOME JOY.

Crock Pot “Roast” Chicken

adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

  • 4lb chicken (if yours comes with giblets, take ’em out)
  • 2T melted butter
  • 2T olive oil
  • 1T Hungarian paprika (do not use smoked)
  • 1T granulated garlic
  • 2t kosher salt
  • 1t onion powder
  • 1t Italian seasoning (I used Penzeys Pasta Sprinkle)
  • a few generous grinds of black pepper
  • 6 foil balls (it’s very fun to crumple them up)

Put the foil balls in the bottom of the crock pot. Mix the spices with the butter and oil and rub them over the chicken (if you use disposable gloves, your life will be easier and your hands won’t be disgusting). Put the chicken, breast side up, on the foil balls. Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours. It will be so tender that you might have to take it out of the crock pot in chunks.

This chicken was amazing straight out of the crock pot, but it’d also be perfect for chicken salad (both mayonnaisey and lettucey), enchiladas, etc.

Taking the First Step (and Asian-inspired Beef & Rice Thing)

Big news: we got pre-approved for a home loan, which means we’ll be buying a house in the next three months! I’m so excited–no more upstairs neighbors vacuuming and showering at 3am! No more weird maintenance guys! MORE KITCHEN SPACE!

We’re meeting with a real estate agent this weekend to start a serious search. This summer is going to be awesome.

Quick dinners can be a lifesaver, especially when life gets crazy. This is one of my favorites. It only takes about 20 minutes to make, and the leftovers are delicious, too.

Asian-inspired Beef & Rice Thing

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1T sesame oil
  • 1/2C brown sugar
  • 1/2C low sodium soy sauce (if you use regular soy sauce, it will be way too salty!)
  • 1t fresh ginger, grated (freeze the ginger for easier grating)
  • 2t red pepper flakes
  • cooked rice (I make mine with some sesame oil for flavor)
  • scallions, chopped
  • sriracha

Brown the beef in the garlic and sesame oil. Drain (I use a colander), then dump the beef back in the pan. Mix together the brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, and red pepper flakes, and pour over beef. Stir around and simmer, covered, for a few minutes. I usually leave this until the rice is done.

Serve beef over rice, topped with scallions and sriracha.