Subservient Chef

Mar 5

What’s for dinner? Spicy Beef Lettuce Cups

I was productive over the weekend and finally got through an eight-inch stack of magazines that had been pushed around the kitchen counter for the past, um, two places that I have lived.

There were several good finds, including an “America’s Test Kitchen 30-minute Suppers” from summer of 2010. I found the recipe for Spicy Beef Lettuce Cups particularly interesting - who doesn’t like a good lettuce wrap right?

I’m always suspicious of 30 minute meals, but this one was as advertised. Whisk together some oyster sauce, sherry, and water, saute some ground beef, saute the red pepper and ginger, and then stir it all together with some oyster sauce and Asian chili-garlic sauce. Our sad little Kroger didn’t have Bibb lettuce, so I had to use romaine. I also had to google how to substitute powdered ginger for fresh ginger. Damn Kroger.

Let’s just say the skillet was scraped clean. Next time I’ll make the extra effort and find Bibb lettuce, because the romaine hearts were not large/sturdy enough. The meal seemed delightfully low carb too, well, until I made some sticky rice. Next time I’ll try the sesame-scallion noodles.

Yum !

Spicy Beef Lettuc Cups

Need a side? Mouthwatering Roasted Cauliflower

Oh. My. Yum.

Giant heads of very fresh looking cauliflower was on sale last time I was at the store, and though Andy is usually lukewarm on this cruciferous vegetable, I thought I’d give it a try anyway.

I found a recipe for roasted cauliflower on one of my fave recipe websites (Simply Recipes). This could not have been easier.

  1. Break up the cauliflower and spread in single layer in baking dish
  2. Sprinkle with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper
  3. Bake for 25 minutes at 400, and then sprinkle with parmesan cheese

Absolutely perfect texture, seasoning, everything. Andy went back for seconds and then ate the rest directly from the baking dish.

Roasted Cauliflower

Craving Chinese? Better Than Takeout Orange Chicken

This is another one of those recipes that I wasn’t too confident about…

I spotted it on Pinterest and mentally filed it away for when the take out Chinese food craving hit.

The recipe had step by step photos, which reassured me that it wasn’t too complicated. 

  1. Dredge chicken pieces in egg, cornstarch mixture, then egg again, then panko
  2. Fry in batches in vegetable oil heated to 375 (I messed up here - first batch the oil was not nearly hot enough)
  3. While the chicken is frying, make the sauce (which could not have been simpler)

Orange Chicken

I have to say, this WAS definitely better than takeout ! Though the four step chicken dredging process was time consuming, I’m pretty sure that is what makes the chicken tender and juicy on the inside and perfectly crispy on the outside even when mixed with the sauce. YUM.

Need a side? Roasted Smashed Potatoes

I kind of winged it for this most recent creation. I saw a photo of roasted smashed potatoes on the Americas Test Kitchen website, but I was too lazy to register for a free trial. I figured the general concept was:

  1. Boil potatoes until they are soft enough to smash (took about 25 minutes)
  2. Place potatoes on baking sheet (I sprayed the sheet with Pam anticipating some stickage)
  3. Smash each potato using a potato masher
  4. Brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt, ground pepper, and herbs (I used Italian seasoning)
  5. Bake (I baked at 450 for 20 minutes)

Roasted Smashed Potatoes

I think that the potatoes that I had were a little too big, and the smashing would work better with smaller (1-1/2 - 2 inch diameter) spuds. They tasted fantastic though !

Pressure Cooker Shredded BBQ Chicken Sliders

I came across a recipe for pressure cooker bbq chicken sliders via Pinterest. It looked yummy in the photo, and was quasi-healthy, but it seemed to have had disaster written all over it.

First of all, I’ve never used a pressure cooker. Years ago, I tried to make bbq chicken in the crock pot. We ordered pizza that night.

Second of all, this recipe recommended using a Kitchen Aid stand mixer with the paddle (beater blade) attachment to create perfectly shredded chicken. Are you high? Won’t it turn it to mush? On the other hand, I am horrible at shredding chicken using the two-fork method. It never quite gets the right consistency. So maybe the Kitchen Aid method would be the trick.

I plopped three boneless skinless chicken breasts in the pressure cooker, sprinkled on some leftover Paula Deen House Seasoning, locked the lid, and pressed the chicken button. About 30 minutes later, I released the lid to find evenly cooked, moist, chicken breasts. I am now an experienced pressure cooker.

Next, I threw the cooked chicken breasts into the Kitchen Aid fitted with the paddle attachment. I turned the power to #4 and watched as perfectly shredded chicken appeared before me. Huh. Who knew.

Then I took a gamble. I poured some of the bbq sauce into the mixer and blended some more. No use using another utensil, right? Well, it worked, and the shredded bbq chicken sliders were a complete hit.

Pressure cooker shredded bbq chicken sliders

Feb 9

Baked Spaghetti

Had a bit of a hankering for comfort food yesterday, so I wound up on the Food Network site and found this recipe for baked spaghetti from Paula Deen. Basically you make a meat sauce, and then layer it in a casserole with thin spaghetti and cheeses. YUM.

Baked Spaghetti Casserole

Chicken-Corn Chili

Chicken-corn chili

Who doesn’t love the Food Network. Seriously.

I spotted this recipe via my RSS feed, and given my recent obsession with rotisserie chickens, it seemed perfect. Too bad it was 78 degrees. Not really “comfort food” weather.

This was so freaking easy to make - recipe here. Saute some onions/garlic/cumin, add chicken broth (which I had leftover from my Ina Garten Chicken Soup), add chicken/beans, and simmer for 15 mins. The recipe said to use a potato masher to mash the chili until about half of the beans are broken up, but I used an immersion blender - way easier. Stir in some corn, top with cheese and sour cream. Voila.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup

Sick. Not a good way to start the year. The menu for first week of 2012 included saltines, jello, applesauce, and wonton soup from the Asian restaurant at the corner. 

Towards the end of the week I was feeling a little daring so I picked up a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods. I have to say, as store bought rotisserie chickens go, Whole Foods knocks it out of the park. Or maybe I was just THAT tired of bland, bowel-friendly food.

I decided to make chicken soup with the leftover carcass and meat, and Food Network recipe from Ina Garten. I saved the recipe to Paprika, which has a super handy scale feature to reduce the number of servings. After all, I only had one chicken, not 3.

The recipe was super easy (though I had to modify slightly based on pantry supplies).

  • Simmer the onion, carrots, celery, parsnips, and herbs & spices  (all unpeeled), the chicken carcass in a full pot of water for four hours. I added a chicken bouillon cube
  • Strain the contents of the pot through a collander and chill the broth for an hour
  • Remove the surface fat and return the broth to the pot to reheat, adding carrots, the shredded chicken meat, and egg noodles. Should take about 5 minutes.

I was concerned that it would be watery, but is was very flavorful and the right consistency. It took a long time to cook, but the actual amount of work was nothing and the house smelled gReAt. Not as adventurous as a consomme, but I’ll get there.

Bacon-laced Brussel Sprouts

I’ve never eaten a brussel sprout. Why? Not sure.

Hubby loves them, so I figured I’d make em and see what all the fuss was about.

  • Steam sprouts until they are bright green. Do not cook them all the way - very important
  • While the sprouts are steaming, cook a few slices of bacon (at least 2 for a small batch of sprouts, say 2-4 strips of bacon for 1 lb of brussel sprouts). Cook the bacon until crispy - remove the bacon from the pan but save the bacon grease
  • Place the semi-cooked sprouts in a cold water bath. When they are cool enough to handle cut them in half (I used the small sprouts, the kind that come on a stalk or in a “ready to microwave” bag)
  • Add the semi-cooked brussel sprouts to the bacon pan. If there wasn’t enough grease, add a little butter. Saute the brussel sprouts until they are slightly seared - do not overcook
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I thought they were quite tasty, and our dinner guests had seconds so I think this recipe is a keeper.

Brussel Sprtous

Baked Brie Bites

One of my go-to appetizers is Paula Deen’s brie en croute. The only problem with this dish is that no one wants to be the first one to destroy it and dig in. I’ve tried serving it with a piece cute out, but it still doesn’t get much traffic until at least 1/4 is eaten.

Enter baked brie bites. I found the recipe via the Houston Press Twitter feed and mentally filed it away for future use. I was at my mom’s this weekend, and decided to give them a try for our annual family party.

The most challenging aspect of this recipe is finding the phyllo cups. Seriously. In Houston you can get them at Central Market. In OC we found them at Gelson’s (struck out at Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Ralphs, and Albertsons).

We did a test run of the recipe the day before the party and adapted as follows:

  • Cut the rind off the brie and absolutely do not skimp on the cheese.
  • After the brie, place a dollop of apricot jam, and then press the chopped walnuts into the jam
  • Bake at 400 for 10 minutes. Baking at the recommended 350 just didn’t cut it and the higher temp roasts the walnuts nicely</li>

These were an absolute hit - snarfled by even the pickiest of eaters.

Baked Brie Bites