Posted in A Day in the Life, Chef Lane, Diet, Family, Food

4 Way Chicken


Start with your crock pot.  On the bottom, layer half a large onion and 2 minced cloves of garlic.  Cover those with salt, pepper, cilantro, and parsley, and whatever else you like.  Nestle 3 large chicken breasts (skin on, bone in) on top.  Layer the other half of the onion and about 1/2 lb of carrots on top.  Season again.  Turn it on high for an hour or two, then turn it down to low and go to bed.

Get up a little early and turn off your crock pot.  Remove the carrots and set aside to cool.  Remove the chicken and set aside to cool.  Pour the broth through a strainer to catch all the grody bits, and set broth aside to cool.  Go put on your makeup, fix your hair, and wake up your kid.  While he is looking for his socks (they are in the bottom drawer, where they are every day) dish your cooled carrots, chicken, and broth into separate containers and refrigerate.  Tell your child if he can’t find his socks, he can never play Wii again.  He will find them instantly.

Take the boy to school, go to work, go to the grocery store and pick up 2 squash, 2 zucchini, more onions, red grapes, pecan halves, chicken broth (15 oz or so), 2 cans of white kidney beans, 1 can of corn, 1 can of diced tomatoes, some light sour cream, and some Peeps for the boy’s Easter basket.  And a giant, stuffed duck that you thought was a chicken.  You will realize your mistake when you sit down to write a blog entry.

Go home, unload and put away groceries, and help the boy with his homework, do laundry.  Fold the boy’s clothes and put them away (remember that you left your own clothes in the dryer when you are partway through a blog entry. Curse having thought you were finished for the night.)  Accidentally rewash husband’s clean clothes because they are sitting on top of the washer and you are feeling helpful.  When your mother says, “You look tired,” do not snarl.  Send mother home with hugs and kisses (no snarling), then move living room, dining room, and patio furniture around to be able to drag old sofa to the curb (with aid of husband) to accommodate new, improved sofa which will be delivered tomorrow.  Discover that the time the boy barfed on the sofa Christmas day, the reason you thought the volume seemed light compared to the sounds he was making is because all of it had run down the side crack of the leather seat, to congeal in a disgusting disc on the carpet beneath is.  Run the sweeper.

Return to kitchen and wash hands, find cutting board and proceed to slicing a large onion.  Use the finger guard on the mandolin slicer so that you don’t slice through your thumb and bleed into the onion.  Or, ignore that advice, and find band-aids.  Utilize.  Return to slicing.

In a large stock pot, warm 1 Tbs of olive oil.  Toss in your diced onions and 2 cloves of minced garlic.  While that gets going, open all your cans.  This will be difficult to do while bleeding profusely, but you will manage.  Once onion is translucent, pour in your drained cans of beans (both cans) and corn, and your whole can of tomatoes.  Add your chicken broth and simmer.  Salt and pepper to taste, then dump in about 1Tbs of chili powder.  Accidentally.  Or serendipitously.  Depends on how spicy you like your chili.

Remove cold chicken, carrots and stock from the refrigerator and grab a grocery bag.  Debone a breast of chicken, tossing grody bits into bag.  Remove skin and any remotely inedible yarf and discard into bag.  Dice chicken and shred, then add to pot.  Bring to a boil.  Taste broth and season as needed.  Decide to toss in some cinnamon–about 1tsp.  Mmm!  This will yield you about 5, 2-cup containers of chili, worth about 6 WWPPV each.  Serve or freeze for lunches.

While that is going–simmering about 20 minutes after the boil, add another stock pot to your stovetop and empty out the refrigerated chicken broth.  Use your mandolin slicer (properly this time, you learned) to slice the squash and zucchini directly into the pot.  Add the carrots, then prep another chicken breast, this time only dicing it.  Drop all that into the pot, add 2 chicken bouillon cubes, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer 15 minutes.  This will yield you about 4, 2-cup containers of soup, worth about 2 WWPPV each.  Serve or freeze for lunches.

Finally, prep your last chicken breast and halve the meat.  Chop up about 1/2 a cup of red grapes, crush up about 1/4 cup of pecan halves, add 1TBS each of mayo, dijon mustard, and light sour cream, then stir half the chicken meat into that.  Season to taste.  Refrigerate and serve on top of greens as a salad, or in pita bread as a sandwich.  Yield is 2 large servings a 6 WWPPV each, or 4 small servings at around 3 points each–you could make it lower with low fat mayo, but that stuff is more disgusting than the 4 month old vomit you found under the sofa, so why bother?

With the last half of the meat, make chicken quesadillas with diced jalapenos, about 1/4 cup of cheese (your choice, I like Jack) each, and some Bacon Bits if you’re fancy.  Serve those for dinner.  Screw the WWPPV–you’ve worked them all off already.

Put boy to bed.  Put boy back to bed.  Put boy back to bed a final time.  Let dog out.  Let dog back in.  Wonder vaguely where husband got off to almost 2 hours prior.

Sit down and enjoy a bowl of soup.  Write a blog entry as a means of avoiding the dishes still needing to be done.

Get up.  Get your laundry.  Put it away.  Take a bath.  Go to bed, secure in the knowledge that at least you don’t have to cook tomorrow.

2011-11-19 21.59.40

 

Posted in Chef Lane, Food

Chef Lane: More Ridiculously Easy Meals


For dinner tonight, I grilled, cedar plank salmon and made savory garlic pasta.  It took 20 minutes, and I didn’t have to light the bbq.  How did I do it?

Mmmm, salmon!

Cedar Bay, pre-packaged cedar planked salmon.  The salmon filet comes on a plank, and you pop that plank in the oven on 425 for between 14 and 20 minutes, then you eat it.  How easy is that?

The filet is large enough that Thor and I usually share one–one which I cook to well done because I cannot stand half-cooked fish.  I cook one rare for B, and serve it up with any number of sides.

Tonight was a lazy night for me, so I served the fish with pasta shells.  While the salmon was in the oven, I cooked my pasta (I like to put veggie bouillon and oil in my pasta water for some flavor), drained it, and mixed in a heaping spoonful of my new favorite cooking aid:

I love anything that makes life easier.

 

I picked up the Philidelphia cooking creme on a whim, and I am so glad I did!  It is amazing.  It is really flavorful and light, easy to mix into your recipes, and turns plain shells into something special.

So B’s meal ended up looking like this:

B got the Lemon and Dill spiced salmon from Cedar Bay.

And Thor and I had our well-done salmon chipped up into the shells with a little parmesan cheese on top.  Ours looked like this:

Thor and I had the lightly seasoned salmon chipped into the shells.

 

I think it speaks well of the fish that Thor asks to have it for dinner.  I give it major thumbs up because it isn’t fishy smelling, or tasting.  I would say you are getting a restaurant quality filet with these.  You can find them in the freezer of the seafood section at your grocery store.

 

 

 

Posted in Chef Lane, Food

Chef Lane: Effing Delicious Cherry Cobbler


I made a test cobbler for our upcoming Godfamily Thanksgiving Dinner.  It is so good, I want to go bury my face in it and pretend I am in a cobbler eating contest and just slurp it up.  But I won’t.  Instead, I will just share the recipe with you.  This is the easiest dessert recipe you can imagine, and I’ve yet to serve a disappointing cobbler.  I usually make peach, so this was my first try at cherry–very happy with the results.

I found the recipe at Betty Crocker online, and it goes like this:

Ingredients

  • 1 21oz can of cherry pie filling
  • 1 cup of Bisquick
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1 TBS of sugar
  • 1 TBS of butter, melted
  • (I added) 1 TBS vanilla extract

You need a cold oven.  Put your cherry filling in a casserole dish and pop that in the oven, then pre-heat it to 400.  While your filling is warming and the oven is preheating, mix the bisquick, milk, sugar, butter, and vanilla until you have a soft dough and everything seems evenly distributed.  Drop your dough on top of your cherry filling in 6 spoonfuls, then bake at 400 for 18–20 minutes, or until your dough is a pretty, light brown.

I doubled the recipe for my test cobbler, so I could take it to work.  It looks like this:

What is good about the way the dough sort of biscuits up is that it is easy to get a nice scoop of crust and an equal amount of filling.  Makes serving sizes easy to determine, and makes it that much easier to plate for your desserts.  What is delicious is the way the dough flavor marries up with the cherries.

You’ll want to serve it a la mode.  I prefer Blue Bell Vanilla Bean.

Looks like this.

 

Tastes like this.

 

 

Posted in Chef Lane, Food, Uncategorized

Chef Lane: Sunday Morning Floor Picnic Sandwich


I loaded these pictures from my phone, so this will be a Backwards Recipe Post

This is a real winner because Thor asked for two of these breakfast sandwiches, and it took under 15 minutes to make.  Pre-heating your oven to cook the biscuits is what takes the longest.  It is also a winner because you can pre-make the egg patties and refrigerate or freeze them, then warm them up when you’re ready to eat.

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Thor, enjoying his Sunday Morning Picnic breakfast sandwich. The second one.
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The finished breakfast sandwich. This one has just a tiny amount of bacon on it because I miscalculated how much of the bacon I could eat before making the sandwiches. Oops! Mmm, bacon.
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This is what your little egg patties will look like when they come out of the microwave.
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Fill your microwavable egg poaching dish about 1/4 way full with your Egg Beaters, or whatever liquid egg you prefer. Top with a pinch of the cheese of your choice. We like sharp cheddar.  You could crumble your COOKED bacon (sausage/tofurkey/whatever) into this mix and have your meat cooked into your egg patty for convenience.  Thor doesn’t like his food mixed, so I didn’t do that here.
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Want an easy breakfast sandwich? Here’s one! You will need liquid eggs, cheese, bacon (or sausage, or tofurkey, or whatever), canned biscuits, and a microwavable egg poaching dish, or some small, circle shaped thing you can throw in the microwave.  Get your bacon and biscuits cooking, then–er, scroll back up to see what to do?
Posted in Food, housing, Reviews, travel, Uncategorized

A Review: Randy’s Steakhouse in Frisco, and the NYLO Hotel in Plano


B and I try to hit a new restaurant during Dallas Restaurant Week, every year.  This year, he sent me the list of participating restaurants and I narrowed it down to five I wanted to try, and he picked Randy’s Steakhouse of out that short list.  The Open Table reservation options were limited, so we did the unorthodox thing of setting our reservation for the evening of Thor’s birthday, sending him to Grandma’s house (where he wanted to be anyway), and celebrating the anniversary of our having become parents over Randy’s prix fixe Restaurant Week menu.

We shared appetizers of beef empanadas with horseradish sauce and calamari with remoulade sauce, then had a first course of turtle soup, followed by entrees of prime rib and sea scallops, with desserts of cheesecake and bread pudding.  Randy’s also offered a wine pairing to go with each course, so we indulged in that as well.  Randy roamed the restaurant chatting up guests and making sure everyone was  happy.  We certainly were.

The empanadas were light and flaky, and the beef filling was juicy–I would order those on their own for a meal if offered!  The calamari were all right, but nothing special.  Neither of us had ever had turtle soup before.  I liked the taste, but I couldn’t get past the fact that I was eating turtle, and that ruined it a little for me.  The turtle itself (which was ground) had the texture of pate, or soft tofu.  B enjoyed his more than I did mine, but we both agreed that it tasted quite nice.

B said his prime rib was excellent, and my scallops were absolutely perfect.  I didn’t try the cheesecake because our wine pairings (don’t even ask me what we drank, but all of it was lovely) had gone to my head, but the bread pudding was very nice.

The atmosphere was pleasant and friendly.  The waitstaff was attentive and helpful.  Randy seemed like a really nice man.

This is a place we would certainly go to again.

4.5 out of 5 stars

After dinner, we drove over to the nearby NYLO hotel for the night.  The NYLO wants to be in Manhattan, and I thought it did a really good job of bringing that industrial, hipster-loft feel to the bustling yuppie-land of Plano.  Our room overlooked one of the frou frou strip malls on Preston, so not exactly the Meatpacking District, but still fun.

Room with a view (of a bunch of restaurants.)

The loft rooms at NYLO are long and skinny, and reminded me alternately of the tiny apartment showroom displays at Ikea and my dad’s RV.  I think the size of it was about the size of the RV, and the clever furnishings and use of nook space was 100% Ikea.

I loved the platform bed (good mattress and a billion nice pillows), and that you could go up two steps to stand behind it and set the air conditioner to your level of cool, and work the blinds that did a surprisingly good job of blocking out all the neon from across the street.  Also surprisingly good: how well the room was soundproofed from the traffic of Preston and 121.

The room was tricked out with all sorts of useful gadgetry, and was comfortably furnished.  I wouldn’t have minded staying there for a couple of days, save for one thing.  The bathroom.

And on this wall, you have the bathroom.  Smoked plexiglass shower stall–great for making shadow puppets!

The bathroom itself wasn’t bad.  The shower was big and roomy, and the sink was a really nice, deep bowl that sat up on the granite counter.  However, the bathroom was only separated from the rest of the room by a glorified screen.  You had a good 3 feet of open space from the top of the sliding door/smoked plexiglass shower wall and the ceiling, meaning that when I was in the bathroom, I could converse with B easily.  I didn’t even have to raise my voice for him to hear me. So you can guess what else he could hear.  And vice versa.

I’m not shy about bodily functions, but I did really consider going down to the hotel lobby to use the restroom this morning.  Fortunately, my digestive system didn’t kick into gear until after we left, so I could have my privacy without making it clear that I was going to have some privacy.

For a night, I thought the NYLO was great.  If I were on my own, I would absolutely take advantage of their great rates (really, really good rates) and great digs.  For a night where I am sharing a room with someone else?  No way.  That bathroom thing kills it.

2.5 out of 5 stars for more than one person

4 out of 5 stars for one person