Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dinner Tonight

I apologize ahead of time for not posting anything exciting for dinner tonight.  We actually got home really late last night and since it was so late we didn't have enough time to cook the Chicken Pot Pie for dinner.  We made sandwiches instead.

Tonight I baked the Chicken Pot Pie for dinner.

So check back with me over the weekend, who knows what I will be cooking up in the kitchen.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie (Chicken Leftovers Day 2)

Tonight's dinner will be a homemade chicken pot pie.

I made a homemade pie crust with a top and bottom.  I love the crust on the bottom of a pot pie!  To this I added all the leftover chicken (cut up), 2 fresh carrots (chopped), a couple of new red potatoes (I peeled and chopped them), some frozen peas that were thawed, the leftover gravy from last night, small amount of onion, tarragon, and basil.  I placed the top crust on and it is ready to be baked.

I made this ahead of time so that after work and running errands it can just be popped into the oven and baked for about 30 to 45 minutes (until the crust is nice and brown).

The pot pie ready to be baked.  I will add an egg wash to the crust so that it get a nice crispy crust on it.  

Homemade Chicken Stock

I kept everything from the chicken I baked on Monday.  I put all the bones and carcass into a crock pot.  To it I added a couple of cut up carrots and an onion that I cut into wedges (I would add celery to this as well, but I am allergic).   I also added some fresh oregano, fresh basil, dried tarragon, and a bay leaf.  Also included in this is the herbs that I put inside the chicken when I baked it.  Add water to almost full and a little bit of vinegar and let cook.  It will take a couple of days for the broth to cook down.  I want the liquid to cook down by half of what was in there.  

Once it is done, I will strain it and pour it into pint and quart mason jars.  I put them into the refrigerator to settle, once settled I skim the fat that has floated to the top.  I then put them into the freezer. You will then have stock anytime you need it.

The chicken parts, vegetable, and herbs in crock pot

The only down side is that your house will smell like cooking chicken for the next couple of days.  Of course this can be good or bad (depending on how hungry you are at the time).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Waffles Chicken and Gravy (Chicken Leftovers Day 1)

I know the sound of this title "Waffles Chicken and Gravy" may sound strange to some of you but this is something that I enjoyed growing up.  The leftover chicken and gravy would be used along with homemade waffles.

I didn't make gravy last night when I cooked the chicken.  I make my own stock from the chicken carcass and then freeze it.  So I pulled some pre-made chicken stock out of the freezer to make my gravy tonight.

The waffles are just a simple waffle recipe that you can pull from any cookbook.  We took some of the chicken leftovers from last night to go along with the waffles and gravy.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Herb Roasted Whole Chicken

I decided to do a whole chicken tonight in the oven.

The chicken is a pastured chicken which is what we only use.  Pastured chicken is so much better than store bought chicken.  There are no antibiotics, hormones, and can roam around in a field.  The feed these chickens are given to supplement their diet comes from a non-GMO grain that is specially grown for the farm.

I had some fresh thyme that a friend gave me (I love the herbs my friend gives me).

I also used a Chicken Herb Rub that came out of the cookbook "The Grassfed Gourmet".  The recipe is great on chicken, whether it is whole or just parts.

Here is the recipe:
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried oregano

All you need to do is rub it all over the chicken.  I also drizzled a little olive oil over the chicken.

The chicken all ready to go into the oven

Along with dinner I did a small salad, which had lettuce, tomato, cucumber, mushrooms and a little blue cheese with a homemade Italian dressing.

I also did fresh carrots that I steamed.  After they came out of the steamer I added a little butter and a little bit of honey.

Carrots in the steamer

I also cooked a brown basmati rice to go along with everything.

The cooked chicken

The finished plate

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Grilled Swordfish

For this evenings dinner I have chosen swordfish as the main part of the meal.  I knew I wanted to grill it but was trying to figure out what to do with it, so I decided that marinating the fish would be a good start. 

For the marinade:
juice of fresh lime (I may have used a lemon if I had one)
extra virgin olive oil
fresh ground pepper
I also used some Thai basil (I had some that a friend gave me) chopped
Just combine everything and put over fish

Swordfish cooking on the grill

The rest of dinner:

Grilled red new potatoes.  Just wash, slice and place in a foil packet with butter.  Cook on grill for about 20 minutes.  
Foil packet of potatoes

Grilled asparagus.  We use a flat cast iron skillet which we place on the grill to heat up.  Add a little oil and then cool slightly.  We have a lemon pepper oil that we like to use.  We like our asparagus crunchy, so we don't cook it very long.

Asparagus almost ready

 Everything cooking on the grill

The potatoes all done

The finished dinner

One thing I have failed to mention in my previous posts is that we compost all of our vegetable scraps.  We have a NatureMill composter.  It is great because it fits in a small space (we keep ours in the garage and have a compost pail in the kitchen).  What also makes it nice is that you don't have to have a compost pile outside.  The machine is nice because it keeps it warm and makes great dirt, which we then use in the yard.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Flat Iron Steak Salad

Since we ate out last night and didn't eat very healthy we decided to do a steak on the grill and have it on a salad.

The steak is a flat iron steak (grass fed beef), we used a barbeque spice rub.  This spice rub has been used for several things and I keep a jar of it in our spice drawer.

From the "Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook" by Shannon Hayes.
Barbeque Spice Rub
1/2 cup chili powder
3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons coarse salt
2 tablespoons paprika

All you need to do is rub this on the beef and let it stand for about 20 minutes or longer.  Then grill steak to the doneness you desire.

Steak cooking on the grill

The salad portion consists of green leaf lettuce, tomato, carrots, cucumbers, mushrooms and a little shaving of romano cheese.  We are using a homemade french dressing that we made the other day.  

Friday, June 24, 2011

Not so Healthy, but Good!

Well I didn't cook dinner tonight but while we were out we decided to get a bite at a seafood restaurant in Roanoke, Virginia.  As you can see from the picture it was a fat laden dinner.  Fried Clams, baked potato (butter and sour cream), cole slaw, side salad and hushpuppies.  There was no way that I could have possibly in my wildest dreams even come close to finishing everything.  I was satisfied with what I ate.   Now it is time to work off all those calories and fat I just ate.  I promise I will be cooking healthy items once again. 

Banana Strawberry Smoothie

This morning I decided to make the same Banana Cocoa Smoothie that I made the other morning but instead decided to add strawberries.

The strawberries were a nice addition to the smoothie, however the strawberries were not as sweet as I thought they were.  If I decide to make this again I will add a little maple syrup to give it a little sweetness and add a little more flavor.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Tonight I had a taste for pizza so instead of ordering out I decided to make our own pizza.  Pizza with a homemade crust really doesn't take that long, all you need is a little planning.

I use a Cuisinart recipe for crust which is super simple.  If you don't have a Cuisinart a mixer will work just fine. It really only takes about an hour to have the crust ready to use and the pizza will only need to cook about 30 minutes with the oven set on 450 degrees.  I use a baking stone and put that in the oven first so that it can get nice and hot.

1 package active dry yeast 
1 teaspoon granulated sugar 
2/3 cup warm water (105 to 115°F.)
1 2/3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoons table salt
¾ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

In a 2-cup liquid measure, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Insert metal blade in work bowl and add flour and salt. 
With machine running, pour liquid through small feed tube as fast as flour absorbs it. Process until dough cleans sides of work bowl and forms a ball. Then process for 30 seconds to knead dough. Dough may be slightly sticky. Coat dough evenly with olive oil; transfer to a plastic food storage bag and seal the top. Let rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes. 
Place dough on a lightly floured surface and punch down. Roll into desired crust sizes and place on baking pans lightly sprayed with vegetable oil cooking spray.

After your pizza dough is done and put into the shape you want just add the sauce and toppings you want.

We buy this really awesome pizza sauce from Williams-Sonoma.  It is an Artichoke Garlic Pizza Sauce.   (ingredients - artichokes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, water, sea salt, thyme, pepper, red chili flakes, herbs, spices).  One jar of it will make at least 2 pizzas.  

On top of the pizza we used the sauce, fresh sliced tomatoes, canned artichokes hearts (well drained), and banana peppers.  I layered it with a cheese mixture of sharp white cheddar, romano, and parmesan. 

As you will see from the picture the pizza is not a perfect round or square shape.  I had a problem with it sticking to the pizza peel (the board used to slide a pizza into the oven).  Even with sprinkling cornmeal on the peel didn't work so good.  That is okay though, it doesn't have to look perfect it just needs to taste good.  At least this is one of my mottos.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Happy Summer!!!

Tonight I envisioned cooking out on the grill, thankfully we got everything cooked before the thunderstorm was upon us.

Dinner tonight consisted of Grilled Italian Sausage (from a farm in Blacksburg, VA who specializes in grass fed), grilled green, yellow and red peppers and a risotto.

The peppers I cut in half and scooped the seeds out of and then cut them into wedges, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil on each side, sprinkled them with salt and pepper and then they were placed on the grill.  They were grilled until just soft.

The risotto is a recipe from Julia Child.  It is a very simple and easy recipe.  You can make the original risotto and then add any other ingredients you would like to compliment your dinner.  Tonight we just had the simple recipe.

Here is the recipe from Julia Child for Braised Rice - Risotto

Saute 1/4 cup finely minced onion in 2 tablespoons of butter to soften.  Stir in 1 cup of rice (Arborio Rice) and cook, stirring with a wooden fork (a wooden spoon works just fine), for 2 to 3 minutes, until grains look milky.  Stir in 2 tablespoons dry white French vermouth (any Vermouth you have on hand will work) and 2 cups of chicken broth (I use a homemade broth that I keep in the freezer in canning jars), add 1 imported bay leaf (most bay leafs you buy in the store are imported however some come from California - really any will do), and bring to simmer.  Season lightly (with salt and pepper), stir once, lower heat, cover, and cook for 8 minutes.  The rice is done when the liquid is completely absorbed and steam holes are visible on the surface.  The rice will almost be tender, with the slightest crunch in the center.  Let stand 5 minutes off the heat, covered, to finish cooking.  Then fluff with a fork, and correct seasoning (add more salt if needed).

We had an open bottle of 2006 Savoy - Lee Winery Cabernet Franc, so we had this with dinner as well which complimented the grilled items very well.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Banana Cocoa Smoothie

From time to time I make a smoothie for breakfast.  It is a quick and easy breakfast.  Here is one of my favorite recipes.

1 ripe banana
1 cup chocolate soymilk (I use raw milk - you can use any type of milk)
4 ice cubes
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Prefreeze peeled bananas.  Break bananas into chunks before blending.  Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

You can also make this by not freezing the bananas but the smoothie will be watery but still delicious.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sourdough Bread 2

I decided to make a green olive and rosemary sourdough loaf.  The sourdough bread has been baked and is cooling on the counter.

Here are some pictures.
 Fresh rosemary from my plant outside

 The green olives sliced and ready to be added to the dough

 The dough risen and ready to be baked

The finished product

Steak Marinade

This recipe was given to me many years ago by a good friend and co-worker.

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup soy sauce (I use an organic wheat-free reduced sodium tamari - which I think tastes better)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Combine all in a jar.  Cover and shake well.  Place meat in a bag or dish and marinate meat for 1 hour or longer in refrigerator.  Cook, grill or broil and baste as cooking.

If you are doing several steaks, double the recipe so that you have enough for basting.

Strip Steaks in Marinade

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fermented Lemonade

Last week I made some fermented lemonade.  I used a recipe that I got from Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist.  In the recipe she used lemons and limes with hers being a majority of limes.  When I made mine last week I added half limes and half lemons.  When it was done it had more of a limeade taste, which was fine if you like more of a lime taste.  

A little while ago I made another batch of fermented lemonade, but this time I added the majority of lemons and only one lime.  So we will see how it tastes.

From the book "Nourishing Traditions - The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats" by Sally Fallon.  Sally talks about people ages ago figured out how to preserve vegetables for long periods without the use of freezers or canning machines.  This was done through the process of lacto-fermentation.  Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits putrefying bacteria.  Starches and sugars in vegetables and fruits are converted into lactic acid by the many species of lactic-acid-producing bacteria.  These lactobacilli are ubiquitous, present on the surface of all living things and especially numerous on leaves and roots of plants growing in or near the ground.  The ancients understood the fact that important chemical changes took place during this type of fermentation.  Their name for this change was "alchemy."  Like the fermentation of dairy products, preservation of vegetables and fruits by the process of lacto-fermentation has numerous advantages beyond the simple preservation. The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels.  These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances.  Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.  For a copy of Sally's cookbook check it out.  Nourishing Traditions Book on Amazon.

Some other foods that you might not realize are fermented are: sauerkraut, soy sauce, kimchi, tempeh, miso, vinegar, and kombucha just to name a few.

Here is the recipe for the Fermented Lemonade:

Juice of 6-8 Lemons or Limes (or a mix of the two)
1/2 cup sucanat (whole cane sugar) or rapadura (sugar cane juice) ***
1/2 cup liquid whey (must come from a quality source - you CANNOT use commercial whey)

1/2 Tsp grated organic nutmeg
2 quarts filtered water
Mix all ingredients in a 2 quart glass container.   Cover and leave on the counter for 2-3 days.   Skim off and discard any foam that comes to the top after fermenting and then refrigerate.
***These can be found in a health food store

Sourdough Bread

On a weekly basis I have to refresh my sourdough starter.  So this morning I refreshed the sourdough.  All I have to do is add 1-1/2 cups flour and 1-1/4 cups of warm water to the sourdough that I saved from last week.  Let it sit until it bubbles. It bubbled up nicely and from that mixture I then hold back 1/2 cup of the sourdough for next week.  By saving the sourdough from week to week it becomes more sour, which is what you want from a sourdough bread.  I plan on making a loaf of sourdough for tomorrow.

My plan as I am thinking about it right now is to experiment with the sourdough tomorrow.  Instead of placing the bread in a traditional loaf pan I think I am going to place it on a hot stone and place a pan of hot water in the oven when it bakes.  By adding the water it will make the outside of the bread crusty while keeping the inside nice and soft.  I am also thinking about adding some sliced green olives to the loaf while I am kneading it.  I think I will make that decision tomorrow.

When I have the bread done and baked tomorrow, I will post a picture and let you know how it turned out.

If anyone in my area would like some sourdough starter, just let me know.

French Toast

Well this morning I had a hunger for french toast.  The idea was placed into my head last night from being at a friends house who was hosting a pampered chef party.

So I took my homemade sourdough bread that I made last week and used it.  I like to add cinnamon and a little vanilla to the egg and milk mixture.  With some maple syrup we were all set for this mornings breakfast.  Unfortunately I didn't have any fresh fruit to add to this breakfast.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Just Peachy

Tonight's Dinner:
Alaskan Coho Salmon with Peach Glaze
Wilted Mixed Greens
Steamed Snow Peas
Tossed Salad with French Dressing

Okay, so when I was trying to figure out what to make tonight for dinner I started looking at what I had that was fresh.  Mike and I went to the farmer's market on Saturday and picked up peaches, mixed greens, lettuce, and snow peas.

I really wanted to do something with the peaches and knew we had salmon in the freezer.  We get our fish market to special order the salmon in the fall (when they are fishing for it in Alaska).  The salmon has a rich flavor, is dense and meaty and extremely flavorful.

So I took the peaches and removed the skins (by putting them in boiling water for just a little while).  I then chopped the peaches.  I added the peaches to a sauce pan and then added a little maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and a little sweet white wine (I happened to have a very sweet dessert style Riesling in the refrigerator).  I cooked it on the stove to reduce the liquid down to make it a glaze to be used on the salmon.  Mike took the salmon and grilled it adding the glaze at the last stages of cooking.

The snow peas were just steamed and a little butter was added.

The mixed greens I put into a skillet with a little extra virgin olive oil and added the greens just to wilt them.

The little bit of the glaze that was left was placed on the side to use with the salmon.

The salad just contained lettuce with tomato and a homemade french dressing.  Simple but tasty.

We of course finished the dinner off with a bottle of 2008 Afton Mountain Vineyards Chardonnay.

I am really hoping that by posting what I made for dinner will inspire and bring out my creativity and inspire you and your creativity.  Hope you enjoy.

If you have any questions or would like more details on how to make something feel free to post the question so that I can answer.


Currently in the kitchen I have kombucha brewing.  I started this batch on May 25th.  There have been a lot of questions about kombucha, so I will tell you what I know and where it originated.  

The name is derived from that of a Korean physician, Kombu, who was called to treat the Japanese Emperor Inkyo back around the year 415 AD.  Kombucha is known from Germany, Manchuria, Brazil, Russia, Japan, Poland, China, Bulgaria, Indonesia and probably other countries.  Called by any of its names, kombucha, teeschwamm, wunderpilz, hongo, and cajnif.  The Kombucha mushroom (a symbiotic colony of yeast and bacteria) turns organic black tea and white sugar into a healthy drink.  Kombucha is a delicious beverage that has a clean, slightly acid taste, comparable to a light wine or apple cider with virtually no alcohol. 

I should be bottling this beverage within the next week.  Usually kombucha takes about 8-10 days, mine usually takes a little longer since my kitchen is cooler than most.  Each time I brew a batch of kombucha I use a little bit of the tea from the previous batch, the mushroom (what is floating on the top) and a new batch of brewed organic black tea.  Also, you will notice that I have a towel partially covering the jar.  I do this so that nothing can get into the tea like dust or insects.  It also helps to keep the sunlight out.

Health benefits of kombucha that I have found for myself, increased energy and aids digestion.  It is also said that kombucha can help with joint recovery, sharpens eyesight, improves skin elasticity and is a detoxifier. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Here we go!

I have decided to take on a new adventure by creating a blog of what I will be cooking or making in my kitchen.  I plan on sharing recipes and ideas.  Please share your comments with me.  I hope that you will enjoy.