Archive for January, 2011

Casserole of Olde

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

I have a wonderful co-worker who drives me home almost everyday. My house is pretty much on her way, and since we make each other laugh, it’s a pretty fun drive. When we are not comparing pet stories or talking about work, we get to discussing dinner and various recipes we enjoy. One day, I mentioned that I was trying to figure out what to make for a friend of mine who just had surgery, and she suggested a simple casserole dish. This caused a problem because the only casserole I could think of was baked ziti or lasagna, neither of which I felt like making.

The next day my co-worker brought me in a surprise – a vintage casserole cookbook.

Book

I was over the moon because not only could it give me ideas, but really…look at that cover! You can just tell by looking that this baby is a classic! Romantic pics of your casserole by the fireside? Check! “Low Calorie” recipes that involve frying? Check! A section on how to make a sophisticated garnish out of cherry tomatoes and a lemon slice? You got it baby. To be honest, I am tempted not to give this little gem of a resource back. 😉

For my friends, I decided to make the Lemon Chicken, a recipe found in the “low calorie” section of the book. Obviously, we have different ideas of “low” because the recipe involved frying the chicken with it’s skin on in a pan of vegetable oil.

I was pleased to discover that the recipe was quite easy and ending up looking just like it did on the picture. Other than that, I couldn’t really tell you much about taste, but it certainly seemed VERY lemony.

Behold! The amalgamation of lemon and chicken into an amazing one dish meal of retro goodness!

Lemon Chicken

I know. It’s pretty powerful. I’ll look away if you need a moment to yourself to bask in it’s yellowy-brown glory. 😉

Curry

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Here we have another bento for The Boy. On the day I made this, I had something similar only with more broccoli and less yummy yummy curry. If my memory serves me right, this night I used Vermont Curry. I’m sad to say that I have yet to develop a real preference when it comes to curry mixes. Right now I have only been using Japanese brands like Golden, Java, and Vermont. One of these days I am going to have to take better notice and make note of the one I like best. Spicier the better if you ask me. Now if there was only some way to make this less horrible for me.

Chicken Curry

For those of you who might not be that familiar with Japanese curry, making the curry itself couldn’t be easier. Brown meat of choice in pan, add veggies and water, boil until cooked, add curry mix. It’s so easy in fact that I remember this old gag in the Sailor Moon amine where they claimed she was so inept at cooking that she couldn’t even make boxed curry. Well, I guess princesses from the Moon have more important things to do like talking her cats and flirting with a strange masked man who kept throwing these sharp roses at her…you know, cause he liked her. And I mean liked her liked her.

Oh, and in case anyone out there is interested to know why curry has become such a commonplace dish in Japan, I recommend checking out this article on the Vermont Curry website.

C is for Chicken

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

My apologies for the terrible picture.  I wasn’t planning on actually featuring this bento until The Boy reminded me of how bad I have been about posting actual bentos….you know those things that I started this blog for in the first place?  Well played, The Boy.  Well played.  Sadly, this leaves us with a terrible phone snap shot rather than something I have attempted to make look nice.

C is for Chicken

Contents:

-boneless chicken thigh with Bavarian seasoning
-mushroom rice pilaf
-“braised” artichoke hearts with red bell pepper (adapted from the City Tavern Cookbook)
-baby arugala

Pizza Success!

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

After barely surviving the holidays and a rather nasty sinus infection, I had decided that it was time to return to my blog with something I am rather successful at.  Yes, I know that reading about my shameful candy corn disaster is certainly entertaining, but did we learn anything from it?  Well, other than hot sugar plus Smalerie’s sensitive baby skin makes her a very sad panda?

So here it is, something that is very easy and that I should more often but I don’t: pizza.  Really, I have a strong belief that everyone should know how to make their own pizza on occasion because it is really inexpensive and the results are really rewarding.

I don’t use a recipe really, but I am more than happy to share a few tips that I have learned from my mother and NaNa when it comes to making something tasty and extremely comforting.

Pizza corner

Tip #1: Use real dough.  While I’m not demanding that you make your own dough, I am saying that the stuff you can get refrigerated at the supermarket is a pretty good bang for your buck.  Best of all, it freezes really well.  Just remember to let it rise before using it.  This means finding a nice warm place to let it get all puffy so that you can squish it down again before making your pizza.

Tip #2:  Making your own sauce can be really quick and easy.  I’m sure this doesn’t surprise you, but as a 3rd generation Italian-American, I can be very leery of jarred or canned sauces.  I’d rather just get some plain stuff and add my own garlic, oregano, and such.  Though, I will admit to using the pre-made stuff in a pinch, when my pockets are a bit more bare than usual, I will scour the “must-go” produce section for tomatoes.  It can feel really great to leave the market with a bunch of plum or heirloom tomatoes for $1.  Also, fresh sauce on your pizza makes a HUGE difference.

Tip #3: I apply grated Parmesan to the pizza before I add the mozzarella.  Thanks for the tip NaNa!

Tip #4: I sometimes splurge for fresh mozzarella at Costco.  I prefer the milky taste it has and the way it browns.  If you’ve never tried this before, you should try treating yourself.  It’s so so so good!

Tip #5:  Cook your pizza it a hot oven.  Think 400 to 450 degrees hot.  This helps make things nice and crunchy.  There is nothing more satisfying than a slice of pizza that is so crispy it will stand up on it’s own when you lift it off the pan.

And in case this quick blog didn’t interest or entice you, let me show you this:

Pizza

That’s right, extreme close-up food porn of my porcini mushroom pizza.  Oh baby!