Posts Tagged ‘easy’

This was one of my dad’s favorite dishes that I can remember from my childhood. It was usually always served for his birthday and maybe one other time a year, but this was not something typically made in the home. For me, Chicken and Dumplings is comforting and healing the way Matzo Ball Soup is for my Jewish friends. I simply cannot get enough and there is no pot that can ever make enough dumplings.

I think it’s because the length of cook time can be incredibly long if you make your own chicken stock (which I cannot recommend enough). But if you utilize a pressure cooker, this dish can be put together in about 75 minutes from start to finish. And if you don’t have a pressure cooker, do yourself a favor and still make your own chicken stock ahead of time.

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 2 lbs chicken, shredded
  • 2 c flour
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp thyme, fresh
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4c chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

1. Place the chicken stock and shredded chicken in a large stock pot. You can add some of the vegetables from the chicken stock or you can add some fresh celery, carrots, and/or onions to the pot. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. If adding fresh vegetables, allow 20 minutes or so to soften before eating.

2. Place the butter in the bottom of a medium size stock pot over high heat. When the butter has mostly melted, add the chicken stock and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and then add the flour, baking powder, and salt. The flour will immediately soak up the liquid and form a dough. Cook this until the color turns a mustard-ish yellow.

3. Place the dough in a mixing bowl with the two eggs. Mix with a hand mixer until the mixture just comes together. The batter should be thick like cake batter. You do not want to over mix this. Season with pepper if you wish. Add the thyme to the dough and fold in with a wood spoon.

3. Drop heaping tablespoons of the batter into the simming chicken stock. When you have filled the pot, cover with a tight fitting lid. Allow the dumplings to cook for 10 – 15 minutes until they are puffed, but firm.

4. Ladle the soup mixture into a wide mouth bowl. Ensure everyone gets a sufficient amount of dumplings. Garnish with more fresh thyme.

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It’s very easy to make your own chicken stock. I’m as guilty as every one else in that I just don’t want to be troubled. You have to buy the ingredients, simmer for hours upon hours, and in the end, you still have to put the stock into containers and freeze them. This is not nearly as easy as picking up a box at the supermarket that you can keep in your pantry until you open it.

But in the spirit of healthier living, I wanted to experiment with making my own stock. The results were astonishing and I don’t think I can ever really go back to the boxed version unless I’m in a pinch. The flavor is much more rich and if you have a particular palette, you can tailor the stock to your exact specifications. Have a low sodium diet? This would work wonderfully for you too.

To speed up the process, I’ve used my pressure cooker here which cuts the entire experience and saved me more than 3 hours.

Ingredients

  • 3 – 4 lbs chicken legs or thighs
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 8 peppercorns

1. Place the chicken in bottom of your pressure cooker. Cover with the vegetables, pepper corns, and 2 tbsp salt. Pour in 2 quarts of water (it should cover everything). Close the lid of the cooker and bring up to high pressure. When the pressure cooker is steaming, lower the heat to the lowest setting and allow to cook for 45 minutes.

2. After releasing the steam safely, line a colander with cheese cloth and place over another large pot or container. Pour the contents of the pressure cooker into the colander and let strain for 5 minutes. Keep the chicken for a future meal. Or, if you are making soup or chicken and dumplings perhaps, these vegetables are wonderful additions.

3. If you want to remove a large portion of the fat, let the chicken stock cool and place in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, the fat will have hardened which you can remove easily.

4. Stock will keep refrigerated for up to a week or freeze up to 6 months.

You have probably seen summer rolls before but with beautiful halved shrimp displayed on top. This recipe utilizes ground turkey to change the flavor profile a bit and be a bit more cost effective. This dish is full of Asian flavors and utilizes some ingredients people tend to be afraid of. Fish sauce is not something to fear, but something to embrace. The key is to use it sparingly in your Asian dishes. One bottle will probably last the typical household more than a year unless you tend to cook with it weekly.

Summer rolls may appear labor intensive, but once you get an assembly line going, they come together in no time and the results are beautiful and delicious. These would make a fantastic appetizer at your next dinner party or something you can put together with the kids.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/4 c golden raisins, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper
  • 1″ fresh ginger, diced
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • rice paper skins (I used 6″, but 9″ would be much easier)

1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp sesame oil over high heat. When heated, add the onion and ginger and continuously stir until the onions begin to be translucent. Then add the turkey to the pan and cook until the turkey has browned. Add the soy sauce, fish sauce, and vinegar to the pan. Stir to combine. Turn the heat down to low and simmer until the liquid has nearly evaporated.

2. Turn off the heat and allow the turkey to cool until easily handled. Add 1 tbsp parsley if you wish for some extra color. Cut the bell peppers and seeded cucumber into 2 inch matchsticks.

3. To wrap the summer rolls, dip the rice paper in warm water as indicated on the packaging. Lay on on a flat surface and pat dry with a paper towel lightly. Place 1 – 2 tbsp turkey mixture, and 2 – 3 matchsticks each of the vegetables. Wrap like a burrito.

Note: If the rice paper is tearing, you are either leaving it in the water too long or are being just way to rough with it. Rice paper is delicate, so be gentle. A little tear here or there is no big deal, but do not try to salvage one with a large tear in it. They are cheap enough to play around with until you get the hang of it. And don’t forget to replace your water frequently when it gets cold.

4. Serve the summer rolls with one or all of my trio of vietnamese dipping sauces.

Enchiladas are a staple in my weeknight cooking rotation. They are full of flavor and incredibly easy to make. I make my life even easier by buying an already cooked rotisserie chicken from the supermarket. I use the breast meat to use as filling for the enchiladas and use the rest of the meat for another meal.

Ingredients (serves 3)

  • 1 1/2 lbs cooked rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 2 c Enchilada sauce
  • 1/2 c mozzarella, grated
  • 1/2 c cheddar, grated
  • 6 flour tortillas

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour 1c enchilada sauce in the bottom of 9 X 12 baking dish. Turn the dish to cover the entire bottom evenly.

2. Place a flour tortilla on the counter. Line 1/2c chicken down the middle running the entire diameter. Fold the end closest to you over the chicken and tuck under. Roll the rest away into a cigar shape.

Note: If your tortillas aren’t easily pliable, you can microwave the stack for 10-15 seconds.

3. Place the finished enchiladas into the dish until it is full. You may have to squeeze the last one in, but this is okay.

4. Pour the 2nd cup of enchilada sauce over the rolls. Spread the sauce with the back of a spoon to coat all of the tortilla. Cover with the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the inside filling has warmed.

5. Let the enchiladas sit for a couple minutes to set. Serve hot with refried beans or rice.

I hated Shepard’s Pie when I was a kid! Despised it even. And I could never figure out why. At first, my mom made it with a mix of peas and corn, which makes sense why I hated it because peas are gross. But then she started making it half with corn only – one of my favorite vegetables – and I still couldn’t stand it. Whenever it would come around in the dinner rotation, it was as if my world was ending (remember being a teenager and how that felt – ah, youth!).

I figured that Shepard’s Pie needed a second chance and in honor of the St. Patrick’s day next week, now was the right time. For this version, I’m not doing anything out of the ordinary except adding a thin gravy on top for some added flavor and cooking the sirloin in beer. Although in the end, I could have done with a thicker gravy, I can see that this old stand by is not nearly as bad as I remembered from my childhood.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb sirloin, ground
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • 1 white onion, minced
  • 1/2 red or orange bell pepper
  • 8 oz middle of the road beer (drink the rest)
  • 12 oz frozen corn (never canned), thawed
  • 2 lbs red bliss potatoes
  • 1/4 c cream (substitute half and half or milk)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp sour cream
  • 2 green onions, cut thin

1. Start by placing the potatoes in a pot of cold water with 1 tsp salt. Cook until the potatoes are easily pierced by a fork.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet. When hot, add the onion, celery, and pepper to the pan and sauté for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Then add the beef and cook until you cannot see any more pink. Pour in 8 oz of your favorite beer. Reduce until most of the liquid has evaporated. Take off the heat and set aside.

3. When the potatoes done, drain and add to a large glass bowl. Add the butter, sour cream, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend with a hand mixer until you reach your desired consistency. If you find there is not enough liquid, add milk or cream slowly and blend until you get the consistency you desire. Add the green onions at the end and fold in.

4. To build your pie, place the meat at the bottom of a 9 X 13 baking dish. Add the corn and top, and then spread the mashed potatoes on top evenly. Cook in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until everything is warmed through and the potatoes begin to brown.

5. Serve hot out of the oven with a gravy.

In Mexico, a torta is a sandwich. In many parts of Spain, it refers to a flatbread of some kind. These are similar enough as to not add to the confusion, but then the Germans and French had to confuse things by having their very similar sounding torte and tarte as meaning cake. The Italians, then, confused us all by using torta to mean a meat and cheese pie (like a calzone perhaps) or a quiche. Ah, those crazy Europeans.

Why, you may be wondering, am I talking about torta when the recipe has nothing to do with one? That’s a good question. My inspiration for this recipe was inside Cooking Light. It really bothered that they did not choose to correctly label their recipe as a frittata and instead chose to call this a torta “without the crust”. I just believe if you are going to be a cooking reference for millions of readers, you are better off giving them the vocabulary to talk about these things as well.

I digress.

This recipe utilizes no crust, so it really should not be called a torta. It’s a frittata. This is a quick and easy idea for breakfast or brunch. I prefer to cook a frittata in a cast iron skillet, but if you don’t have one, a regular skillet will do as well.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs red bliss potatoes
  • 1 c egg substitute (Substitute: 1c fresh eggs, scrambled)
  • 1 tbsp fresh chives (Substitute: green onions)
  • salt and pepper

1. Slice the potatoes thin and put in a pot of cold water and 1 tbsp salt. Bring to a boil and then cook for an additional 6 minutes. Drain the potatoes for several minutes.

2. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a 10″ skillet (cast iron preferred). When smoking hot, place the potatoes in an even layer. Cook until the potatoes brown. Flip and repeat on the other side.

Note: The second picture is a good example of when turning is done too early. Most of my potatoes never got a chance to crisp up. There is nothing wrong with this, but a crispy potato adds more texture to the dish.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and chives together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the potatoes and cover the pan with a tight lid. Turn the heat down to low.

4. Cook for 10 -15 minutes until the bottom has browned and the eggs on top have set and begun to brown

Note: I was having a really hard time with my timing on this one. I pulled the frittata off too early. This is a good example of eggs being just set, but the good eats come if you cook it past this point to crisp up the egg and provide some additional texture.

5. Serve torta hot with romesco sauce.

Biryani was originally a Persian dish that remains wildly popular in Southeast Asia. Biryani has as many variations as stir fry in that you can use any vegetables, meat, fish, or eggs in this dish. I appreciate the versatility of the dish in that if you learn how to cook one version, you can easily substitute ingredients to suit your fancy. But what I really appreciate  about this dish is that the whole thing cooks entirely in one pot making clean up a snap.

Cooking will go fast on this one so make sure you have your ingredients in order and accessible. Even though there is a bit of prep to go through before you even touch the stove, it’ll pay off in the end.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2c chicken stock
  • 1c basmati rice
  • 1/2c golden raisins
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1. Cut the chicken into cubes. Place a skillet overr high heat with 2 tbsp of canola oil in the bottom. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper and place in the pan. Sear the chicken on all sides. Take the chicken out of the pan and set aside.

Note: The chicken does not need to be cooked through as it will finish cooking later.

2. Lower the heat to medium high. Place the onions in the pan and sauté until nearly translucent.

3. Add the cinnamon, curry powder, cumin, garlic, and ginger to the onion and stir to combine with the onion. Cook until fragrant – around 30 seconds.

4. Add the chicken stock to the pan to deglaze. Be sure to scrape up as many brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pan and add the raisins and rice. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to simmer and cook covered for 20 minutes or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid.

5. Turn off the heat and let the dish sit for 5 minutes before serving. Serve the Chicken Biryani piping hot in large bowls.