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Chicken livers - yum!

After having chicken livers at a tapas restaurant a few weeks ago, I decided to make some at home. Chicken livers are super cheap – slightly less than a pound only costs about $2.00. I used a simple recipe from The Joy of Cooking – a great book for old favorites like liver and onions.

Put the livers in a colander and rinse them, then cut the connective tissue of the lobes. Heat about 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet and let it brown slightly.  Add the livers (first seasoning them with salt and pepper) and cook them on high heat, about 1-2 minutes per side. When they are done (you should see a bit of pink still) take them out of the pan and put them on a plate.

Next, add 1/2 cup of chopped onions to the pan(you can also use shallots).  At this point, add additional butter if needed. Cook the onions until they start getting a bit brown on the edges and then add 1/2 cup of white wine. Cook that until it’s reduced by half than add 1/2 cup of chicken stock and cook that down until it becomes thick and syrupy. Then add about a tablespoon of chopped italian parsely and a few drops of plum cider vinegar. Then pop the livers back into the pan to heat them up a bit.

The liver and onions can be eaten alone, or served over rice or pasta. I liked the idea of them over raviolis, and I think the flavors of the goat cheese and liver worked well together (if you like strong flavors of course).

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Another Pasta Casserole

Delicious cheeseless goodness.

Delicious cheeseless goodness.

On Friday, Cauli and I came back from a three month stay in Japan. Our condo is littered with luggage and clothes and we are jet- lagged despite our best efforts to ward it off. Our three months in Japan studying Japanese, traveling, and eating was amazing. Travel allows for a new perspective not only on where you’ve been, but where you come from. I hope to incorporate some of this perspective into my cooking.

This recipe is simple, in no way Japanese (there will be time for that later), and healthy. It is based off of Heidi Swanson’s, of 101 Cookbooks, recipe for Almost Cheeseless Pasta. The basics of the recipe are pasta, Greek yogurt, and eggs. If you have these ingredients, you can make this with most anything in your refrigerator. If you haven’t yet discovered Greek yogurt, I urge you to try it. It’s light and airy, and just tart enough. Topped with some honey, it makes for a great dessert.

But I was talking about pasta casserole. You will need 8oz of pasta for this casserole. The binding is made with two cups of Greek yogurt, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, two egg yolks, and 3 garlic cloves. I didn’t have garlic so I used 3/8 teaspoon of garlic powder. As for the body of the casserole, anything goes. I used some roasted chicken, tossed in a few handfuls of baby spinach and frozen peas into the boiling water just before the pasta was done. I mixed it all together and put it in a buttered oval baking dish. I topped with some crushed crackers and goat cheese, popped it in a preheated 400 oven and baked for 25 minutes.

Die hard cheese fans will miss the cheese, but this dish is flavorful and healthy. Heidi adds nuts and olives, which makes it even more healthy and interesting.

Pumpkin Pie Bars

I’ve never made pumpkin pie before, what with my fear of pie crust and because someone has always made pumpkin pie for me. I decided to make some for an election night party Cauli and I went to. This recipe calls for a shortbread-type crust, rather than a typical pie crust (hence “pumpkin bars” not “pumpkin pie”).

pumpkin-pie

I got both the recipes from a great baking blog, Baking Bites. I used her recipe for the crust from this post (note, I did not use the pie recipe from this post, just the crust) and the recipe for the pie from this post.

The results were good – buttery shortbread crust that didn’t get soggy from the pumpkin pie (something I notice happens with pumpkin pie in a regular pie crust) and well-spiced pie filling.

The only drawback was how little pie filling there was. If you look at the picture, you can see that there is almost an even ratio of pie filling to crust. This certainly doesn’t make the bars bad (pie and shortbread, come on!), but I would have preferred a larger pie filling to crust ratio. I think next time I will halve the crust recipe and use an 8 inch square pan, keeping the pie recipe as is.

Regardless, this was fun and easy to make!

Spinach Salad

I threw together this salad the other day and have fallen in love with it. All it consists of is some baby spinach, chopped tomatoes, a chopped up hard-boiled egg, some crumbled goat cheese, and dried cranberries. Topped with a homemade vinaigrette, it’s an easy yet healthy meal – perfect for lunch now that I’m working from home.

salad-004

Beer Bread

I love beer bread. It is such an easy and simple quick bread to make. I found the recipe here , and made this bread the other night to go with our crock-pot stew, and it was a great accompaniment. There are a lot of variations to this bread: You can add herbs such as dried or fresh dill, rosemary or caraway seeds, as well as cheese.

Crock-Pot Beef Stew

As the beginning of November has begun with storms, I though it would be nice to bring out the crock-pot and make some stew. I followed a fairly simple recipe from the crock-pot website.

I added about a pound and a half of stew meat to the crock pot. Over the beef, I sprinkled 1/4 cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and stirred to coat the pieces of meat. I then added half a chopped onion, a few chopped carrots, some diced potatoes (purple, red, and gold), 1 1/4 cups of chicken broth, 1 teaspoon of Worchestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 clove of minced garlic, and 1 bay leaf. I mixed everything together and set the crock-pot on high for 6 hours.

A while ago I posted about a great site, Tastespotting. Not  too long after posting, the site shut down. I’m happy to report that it is back up and running (and has been for awhile now). I love this site, not just for food voyeurism, but also for dinner ideas.

Last week I came across this recipe for a spaghetti squash and quinoa bake. I’m a big fan of casseroles and bakes, and decided to give this a try. I followed the recipe fairly closely. The changes I made were

  • to saute some pancetta along with the onions
  • swap out dried thyme for dill
  • omit the peppers

I also think you can be more creative with the cheese than just a mexican blend. Any variety, provided it doesn’t get too greasy, would work just fine.

The results were good – the squash has a nice crunch, and I think the pancetta and onions added a good flavor. You could probably use a variety of meats to make this more of a main dish than the side dish that I had planned on.