Monday, January 23, 2012

Meatball Stew

Well, lucky cable-free me had the opportunity to get a Food Network fix this weekend. After watching Rachael Ray, Barefoot Contessa and Pioneer Woman, it was Giada de Laurentis' cooking that caught my eye. She made this delicious looking meatball stew and I could hardly wait for the opportunity to make it for myself. It tasted just as good as it looked.  Verdict: Definitely something I will make again.

Here is my take on the recipe:

Ingredients for the Meatballs
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
4 Tbs of water
8 oz of ground turkey
2 Italian sausage links (casing removed)
1 egg
1 Tbs of Italian parsley
1/4 tsp of Kosher salt
1/4 tsp of ground pepper
1/4 cup of flour
2 Tbs of EVOO

Ingredients for the Stew
2 Tbs of EVOO
1 small onion, cut into chunks
1 red pepper, cut into slices
1/4 tsp of Kosher salt
1/4 tsp of pepper
8 oz mushrooms, quartered
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 can of diced tomatoes
1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper
1 russet potato, cut into chunks (or a sweet potato)
1 cup of frozen green beans

1) In a medium sized bowl, take the bread crumbs and water and stir together until well-mixed. Add the other meatball ingredients, mixing well. As gross as it might be to you, I recommend using your hands. It worked much better than the fork I was attempting to use.

2) Sprinkle flour on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Form meatballs with the mixture--they should be slightly smaller than a ping pong ball (about 3 Tbs each). Place the meatballs on the baking sheet. You should get about 12-16 meatballs. Roll them in the flour until they are covered.

3) In a large skillet, heat the EVOO. Add the meatballs spacing them around the pan and cooking until they are browned on all sides. When they are browned set aside.

4) Add 2 Tbs of EVOO to the skillet and then the onions and the red peppers.  Cook until they are soft and then add the salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and the mushrooms.  Cook about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are no longer steaming.

5) Add the potato, green beans, the tomatoes and the chicken broth. Simmer about 20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through.

If I were to do this recipe again, I would definitely use sweet potato in place of the russett potato. I also would consider serving over a smaller pasta like shells or macaroni and using artichoke hearts in place of the potato.  Nevertheless, this was the perfect meal for a cold winter evening. Thanks Giada!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Herb Roasted Chicken with Lemon

I have always been a bit intimidated by roasting a full chicken. However, armed with the poultry shears I got for Christmas, I decided to follow in my mother’s footsteps and make an awesome roast chicken. I purchased my chicken from Costco and I used a fryer. It only cost about $5, which is pretty inexpensive. The best part of making a chicken at home is that you save the bones and and leftover chicken to make chicken soup. You can turn one $5 chicken into 6-10 meals. 

(1) 3-4 pound chicken
(4) springs of rosemary, chopped
(12) sage leaves, chopped
(3) garlic cloves, minced
(1) Tbs of kosher salt
(1/2) tsp ground pepper
(1) Tbs of EVOO
(1) lemon, cut in half
(1) cup chicken broth
(1/2) cup dry white wine

1)      Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Pat the chicken dry, and with poultry shears, cut out the backbone of the chicken. This will help the bird cook more evenly and will also make carving easier. You can find the backbone by locating the tailbone, and then cutting along either side of it and then ripping the backbone out. Once the backbone is out, press down on the breastbone, flattening the bird into a roasting pan or casserole dish.

2)      Mix the rosemary, sage, garlic, sea salt and pepper in a small bowl. Separate the chicken skin, and stuff the herb mixture under the skin as evenly as possible. If you can, try to get the mixture in the drumsticks and wings too. If there is any of the herb mixture left over, you can spread it on top of the skin.

3)      Sprinkle a small amount of salt and pepper over the chicken, and drizzle the EVOO over the chicken, spreading it evenly. Then take a lemon half and squirt it over the chicken as evenly as possible. 

4)      Turn the chicken over, squeeze the other lemon half on the underside of the bird and then leave both lemon halves under the bird, turning the chicken, breast side up. Pour the chicken broth and wine in the casserole dish. The wine and broth will ensure the chicken stay moist.

5)      Place the chicken in the oven, turn the temperature down to 400 degrees (you start with a high temperature to make the skin crispy, but cooking at this temp for too long will make the chicken cook too fast, drying it out). Roast for 80 minutes or until a meat thermometer stuck in the thigh reads 180 degrees.

Paula Deen--Moderation and Personal Responsibility

Paula Deen has diabetes. She has had diabetes for the last three years, even though she has continued to prepare and encourage people to make high fat and high sugar recipes (ahem, a donut cheeseburger with a fried egg and bacon). Her admission also comes with the announcement she will be appearing in ads for a diabetes drug. Lovely. This quote, from a Star Tribune editorial best states how I feel:

Deen made a career out of tasty, but terrible for you cuisine, and now she’s going to profit from a drug to treat a disease linked to what she served up. And she waited how long to tell fans of her diagnosis?”
I think what Paula Deen has done and shameful and crass. I think her appearing on the Today show and trying to tell people that she has encouraged moderation and personal responsibility is almost laughable.
However, the Star Tribune editorial makes the point that no one is being forced to watch her show. She only sells it because we buy it. We do have personal responsibility for our diets and we should practice moderation when it comes to high fat and high sugar items. I love bacon as much as anyone else, but it should not be a regular part of my diet and I know this.
I am disappointed that a figure like Paula Deen is using this as an opportunity to schlep a diabetes drug rather than to truly promote a healthy diet that will extend people’s lives and help people avoid Type 2 diabetes. While many of us have the knowledge and are in a position to moderate and control our diets—many are not, such as children who are served unhealthy food multiple times a week in cafeterias. Once kids get the taste for the high salt/sugar/fat diet, it is pretty hard to convince them that anything else tastes good and they turn into adults like the one in this article who already has Type-2 diabetes and is worrying that Paula Deen’s restaurant will turn to low-fat and more healthy fare in light of her diagnosis. He would rather “…go in and get me some more diabetes,” than be faced with eating healthy food.  
And hopefully--later tonight, you can expect a recipe for roast chicken that is both healthy and delicious.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Skillet-Baked Eggs Courtesy of Bon Appetit

There are things I love about breakfast--and when I say "things" I mostly mean bacon. However, there is nothing better than a perfectly cooked egg.  Egg do not need to be a breakfast only food though. I made this recipe as a salad/appetizer and also as breakfast with the eggs served over sourdough English muffins. This recipe truly takes the egg to a place that I did not know it could go. There are so many different flavors that all just work together perfectly--leeks, lemon, and some spicy red pepper, oh and the egg! I loved how the yolks were hot, but not completely set. I also loved how my dish looked kind of like the picture from Bon Appetite.

Since I did not alter the recipe, I will just link to it. If you make this recipe, I would recommend only eating one egg as this dish is incredibly rich. It also holds up in the fridge overnight rather well. Enjoy!