Where in the World


My friend Elizabeth introduced me to African groundnut stew, a wonderfully spicy comfort dish. This version is as easy to make as it is tasty.

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
5 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless
2 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 lbs of small red potatoes with skins, quartered
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (no salt if you can find them)
2 cups of  chicken broth
2 tbs tomato paste
2 tsp minced ginger
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 lb baby carrots

How I Made It:

In a nonstick skillet over medium high heat, sear the chicken breasts and thighs in the olive oil.  Don’t cook it all the way through, just get a nice browning on each side of the pieces of chicken.

Put the chicken in the bottom of the crock pot.  Top with the chopped onion and potatoes.  Add the diced tomatoes, then pour 1 and 1/2 cups of the chicken broth over the top.  In the remaining half cup of chicken broth, mix the tomato paste, curry, and ginger.  Pour the broth mixture over the top of the chicken in the crock pot.  Spoon the peanut butter in dollops over the top, then sprinkle with the red pepper.

Cover and cook on high in the crock pot for 4 hours.  Add the baby carrots, stirring the stew with a spoon to ensure that everything is mixed and the chicken starts to break up.  Cook on high for another hour or so.

How It Turned Out:

Holy kamoley — it’s good!  Just spicy enough, the flavors distinct yet complementing each other perfectly. Makes exactly 8 servings, and pairs well with warm naan or flat bread.

African Chicken Stew

 

If you like Mexican food, this is a wonderful way to have a restaurant-quality meal at home — and it only takes about half an hour.

Ingredients:Enchilada Sauce

1 rotisserie chicken, cleaned (no skin, bones, or fat)
10 corn tortillas (medium size)
1 cup of diced onion (frozen works great)
1 small can of diced green chilis
1 tbs olive oil
1 package of Uncle Ben’s Spanish style Ready Rice
3 packages of Rick Bayless’s green enchilada sauce
1 8 oz package of shredded 2% Mexican blend cheese

How I Made It:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9×13 glass baking dish with cooking spray.

In a non-stick skillet, sauté the onion and one half of the can of green chilis in olive oil over medium high heat. While that cooks, shred the chicken meat.  Add it to the onions and chilis and continue to cook over medium heat.

Microwave the Ready Rice for 90 seconds on high.  When it’s done, add the rice to the chicken mixture.  Then add one package of enchilada sauce and combine thoroughly.  Let it cook for another 3-5 minutes and then remove the pan from the heat.

Spread the remaining chilis in the bottom of the baking dish. Assemble the enchiladas with about 1 tbs of cheese and 3 tbs of chicken mixture in the center, wrapping the sides over.  Place each enchilada seam side down in the baking dish.  The baking dish should hold 7-8 enchiladas.  Cover the enchiladas with the other two packages of enchilada sauce, and then top with lots of cheese (I used the whole bag).

Bake the enchiladas for 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted but not browned.

How They Turned Out:

“Decadent.”
“So good!”
“They taste so good my other senses are shutting down so I can focus on just tasting them.”

Granted, my dinner companion is a sweetheart with a soft spot for my cooking, but still — I mark these down as a four-star-make-again success.

It’s been a month since I fell and broke my ankle, a month since I planned a dinner party, a month since I cooked anything more exciting than a lean cuisine.  It’s been a very long month.

So I invited my best friend and her family over for Sunday Supper and set out to find something wonderful that I could prepare sitting down or balanced on my knee walker, something that didn’t involve the scary hot stovetop. A little perusal of Pinterest resulted in inspiration from Table for Two‘s crock pot broccoli and beef recipe.  I adjusted it to serve eight, reducing the soy sauce (too much sodium) and adding more vegetables.

Ingredients:

2 cups Swanson beef broth
3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 and 2/3 tbs of Gourmet Garden organic garlic minced garlic paste
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 lbs of beef flank steak, sliced across the grain
4 tbs cornstarch
4 cups fresh organic broccoli florets
2 cups of organic baby carrots, sliced lengthways
1 cup fresh sliced mushrooms

How I Made It:

Whisk the beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, and garlic together in the crock pot.  Add the sliced beef and ensure that all the pieces are covered in the cooking liquid.  Cook on low for 6 hours.

With a half hour to go, add the cornstarch by whisking it into a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid and then return it to the crock pot.  Add the broccoli, carrots, and mushrooms and continue cooking for 30 minutes.  You want the veggies cooked by still firm.  Serve over brown rice.

How It Turned Out:

Pretty tasty, this is definitely a recipe I’ll make again.

Beef and Broccoli

Makes 8 servings.
7 Weight Watchers Points Plus per serving.

One of my favorite single gal concoctions is to mix leftover General Tso’s Chicken and macaroni and cheese. So tonight, in collusion with a fellow culinary adventurer, I made this casserole featuring homemade mac and cheese, General’s Chicken, and broccoli.

Ingredients:General's Mac 2

1/4 cup butter
2 tbs flour
2 cups of 1% milk plus a little
1 tsp ground mustard
4 oz shredded 2% cheddar cheese
4 oz shredded colby jack cheese
16 oz bowtie pasta
8 oz bag of frozen broccoli florets
1 lb of chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1 package Simply Asia General Tso’s Sauce
1 tbs olive oil

How I Made It:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a large casserole dish with aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray.

Cook the pasta according to the directions, adding the frozen broccoli for the last 4 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

While the pasta cooks, brown the chicken lightly in olive oil. When it’s cooked through, add the General Tso’s Sauce and stir to be sure the chicken is coated in sauce.  Cook over low heat while you prepare the cheese sauce.

In the pasta pot (now empty of the pasta and broccoli), melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the flour and whisk until thoroughly blended.  Slowly add 2 cups of milk, whisking continuously for about 5 minutes or until it has thickened. Whisk in the mustard, then the cheese in batches until you have a smooth sauce.  It might be too thick, in which case add a little more milk (1/4 cup or less).

Add the pasta and broccoli back to the pot and stir to coat it all thoroughly with cheese sauce.  Transfer half the macaroni and cheese to the baking dish.  Layer the General’s Chicken on top, and then add the remaining macaroni and cheese.  Sprinkle a little cheese on top and bake for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

How It Turned Out:

Yummy, but not quite as good as the inspiration.  I imagine that my attempts to lighten the casserole — not breading the chicken, using low fat cheese, adding broccoli — all diminshed the guilty pleasure aspect of the late night single gal version.  But it was good, and I’ll probably make it again.

This recipe couldn’t be any easier, and it is a healthier choice than the original fried version.

Ingredients:

2 8oz containers of cream cheese with chive and onion
12oz of crab meat (you can use imitation and it’s just as good)
all natural won ton wrappers (read the label — plain ones have all kinds of weird stuff in them)
olive oil cooking spray
1/8 cup water

How I Made Them:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with non-stick aluminum foil.

In a big bowl, combine the crab and cream cheese.

To assemble the crab rangoons, spoon a little of the filling into the middle of a won ton wrapper.  Dip your finger in the water and wet the edges of the wrapper (so they will stick together).  Pull two opposite corners together, to make a triangle. Pull a third corner up and pinch it together with the first two. Pull the fourth corner up and do the same, making a pinwheel shape.

Place the crab rangoons on the baking sheet in tight rows (not touching, but since they won’t expand like a cookie, you can fill the sheets). Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges brown (not burn, just brown).

Serve hot with sweet and spicy sauce or another fun Chinese condiment.

How They Turned Out:

AWESOME!  Always a popular part of the buffet table, these never last long.

Best Rangoons

Makes 40+ crab rangoons.

Last Sunday, I made this recipe for pork cutlets found in the June edition of La Cucina Italiana. The secret is the fresh, fragrant Italian parsley in the stuffing mixture and plenty of garlic when you cook the cutlets. They look fancy, but aren’t complicated — and they are very tasty!

This recipe is a variation of the Pasta e Broccoli Profumata in the June 2012 issue of La Cucina Italiana. This version makes 8 plus servings.

Ingredients:

2 tbs olive oil
2 cups frozen chopped onion, defrosted and patted dry
20 oz (1 bag) frozen cauliflower florets
20 oz (1 bag) frozen broccoli florets
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 box Barilla rigatoni
1/2 box Barilla mini rigatoni
5 oz shredded parmesan, romano, and asiago cheese blend
2 oz shaved parmesan
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
3 tbs butter

How I Made It

Cook the onion in the oil in a non-stick skillet over low heat until golden. While the onion sautes, cook the cauliflower in boiling water for 6 minutes. Drain and set aside in a bowl. When the onions are done, add the cauliflower, cinnamon, cloves, and a dash or two of black pepper to the skillet. Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes and then remove from heat.

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box. When it is about 4 minutes from al dente, add the broccoli and cook until done.  Drain the pasta and broccoli.

In a large oven-proof serving bowl, combine the cauliflower mixture with the pasta and broccoli. Add the shredded cheese blend and combine thoroughly. Top with shaved parmesan and breadcrumbs, then dot the top with the butter.  Put in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes or until you’re ready to serve (note: I had finished off the pork cutlets I’m posting tomorow in a 475 degree oven, so I just turned the oven off and put the pasta in for about 10 minutes).

How It Turned Out

Cinnamon and cloves are seasonings I usually associate with dessert and holidays, but with the onion and cheese and vegetables, it made for a flavorful side dish. My favorite toddler and my favorite vegetarian both gave this dish a thumbs up.

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