Cider Glazed Chicken Bites

Well, here it is, the day before Thanksgiving, and I’ve been up since 6 a.m. cooking.  It didn’t occur to me until some time later that I had a recipe to post this morning, so I’m taking a break for a bit from sweet potatoes and mushrooms and pie crusts.

I know a lot of food bloggers are concentrating on Thanksgiving dishes in the early parts of this week, but I figured if you haven’t figured out what you’re cooking tomorrow, it’s too late for me to help.  I suppose if you’re really desperate and are determined to keep your holiday meal reasonably “clean” you can find a list of delicious, autumnal recipes here.

In the meantime, I’ve got a fun and incredibly tasty, kid-friendly recipe for you to file away until after the Turkey Day excesses are over.

This is one of those recipes that I just sort of pulled out of my, um, refrigerator.  Beloved and I had come home for lunch one day recently and discovered there were no real leftovers that could be reheated, but I did have 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the fridge I’d planned to cook for dinner that evening.  Instead, I took some tenderized round steak out of the freezer for dinner and made this for lunch.

Because we ate it for lunch, this is quick and easy.  It’s also pretty darn good – we just loved it, and it occurred to me that The G Man would really like it too.  I can’t wait to make it for him.

Since I was cooking for just me and Beloved – who inhaled this – the recipe makes 2 servings, but there’s no reason it can’t be scaled to make more servings.

Cider Glazed Chicken Bites. This quick and easy, one pan dish is sure to please the entire family.

Click the image to enlarge

Cider Glazed Chicken Bites
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon lard or bacon fat
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon honey
Instructions
  1. Place the cubed chicken in a large bowl and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Add the rosemary and sage and toss until all the chicken pieces are coated.
  2. Heat the lard or bacon fat in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add the seasoned chicken to the pan and cook, turning occasionally, until the chicken is well browned on the outside but still slightly pink in the center. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  3. Pour the cider into the hot skillet and bring to a boil. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Stir in the honey.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and return the chicken to the skillet, along with any juices that accumulated. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the chicken is glazed and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  5. Serve immediately.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 419 calories, 12.7g total fat, 157.1mg cholesterol, 278.1mg sodium, 1034.2mg potassium, 23.4g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 8.6g sugar, 50.3g protein

 

Sprout Kraut

The last batch of sauerkraut I made is but a memory, the dilly beans are long gone and the escabeche is but a few pitiful carrots and jalapeno slices floating around in a jar.

Time for another ferment.

The idea for this came from a recipe for Brussels sprouts, halved and fermented with dill, garlic and chilies I found at Saveur.com.  I was tickled that it was actually fermented; most mainstream recipes I find for pickles (and that’s all a ferment really is) are made with vinegar.  But since Beloved has been asking me to make more ‘kraut – he loves it with the grass-fed beef hot dogs our butcher has begun making – I decided to see just how it would taste using my favorite cruciferous vegetable.

It’s interesting.  I tend to prefer ferments before they get too terribly sour (the exception to that was the dilly beans, which just got better the longer they fermented); not much of a problem because we eat them quickly once they make the transition from the counter to the refrigerator.  This particular ferment, however, is different.

Brussels sprouts have a much stronger flavor than cabbage and even a week after transferring the jar to fridge, the kraut still tasted overwhelmingly of garlic and Brussels sprouts.  The longer it cures, though, the more sour – and the tastier – it becomes; I’ve begun to wish I’d left it on the counter for at least a week before putting it in cold storage, which slows down the fermentation process (but does not stop it).

Again, it’s interesting; I pull the jar out of the fridge every day or two and eat a big forkful to see how it’s coming along.  I’m literally tasting it as it changes character from salty, garlicky Brussels sprouts to a sharp, sour kraut that makes my tastebuds tingle.  It’s going to be marvelous by the time we get to the end of our jar, and I’ll make it again.

I used celery seed in this instead of the fresh dill called for in the original recipe because, for one, I have a large jar of celery seed in my spice cabinet that should be used and because the fresh dill in the dilly beans, while delicious, was a bit of a mess at the end and I didn’t want to have to pick most of it out of the kraut in order to eat it.  It was a good choice; the celery flavor is subtle, but delicious.  You can leave out the red pepper flakes if you like, but they do a lot to tame the strong, cabbagey flavor of the sprouts.  The garlic is a must – don’t skip it.

Sprout Kraut. For a twist on traditional sauerkraut, shredded Brussels sprouts are fermented with celery seed, peppercorns and garlic.

Click  the image to enlarge

Sprout Kraut
Serves: 16
[i]Makes 1 quart[/i]
Ingredients
  • 4 cups shredded Brussels sprouts
  • 2 teaspoons celery seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • filtered water
Instructions
  1. Have ready a clean, dry 1 quart glass jar.
  2. Layer the shredded Brussels sprouts into the jar until it is about 1/4 full. Sprinkle some of the salt on top of the cabbage and pound it down with a wooden spoon or pestle until the sprouts begin to give off liquid. Sprinkle in a bit of the celery seed, a few peppercorns, a pinch of the red pepper flakes and a clove of garlic.
  3. Repeat the previous step, pounding the mixture between each layer, until all of the ingredients are in the jar. Add enough filtered water to cover the kraut. There should be about 1 inch between the top of the cabbage and the top of the jar.
  4. Top off the kraut with about 1/4 cup of olive or coconut oil to keep the cabbage submerged, or use a [url href=”http://www.pickl-it.com/products/94/pickl-it-dunk-r-3-pack/” target=”_blank”]glass weight[/url]. Cap loosely and store at room temperature (on a counter out of direct sunlight is fine) for 3 days, or until the kraut begins to bubble.
  5. Transfer to the refrigerator and continue to cure for 3 to 4 weeks before eating.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 13 calories, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 358.6mg sodium, 99.3mg potassium, 2.7g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, <1g sugar, <1g protein

Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch

This week’s Spin Cycle is all about “temptation.”

I think it’s fitting that Gretchen, co-proprietress of the Spin Cycle these days, made her temptation Spin about food.  Particularly, the treats found in abundance at her favorite grocery store, Trader Joes.

In response to her post, I wrote:

No Trader Joe’s here, but I wouldn’t shop there anyway. I have a standing rule that might help you – if I want something I know I shouldn’t eat, I have to make it myself. No getting it prepackaged at the store.

Or it might not help; you like to cook as much as I do, and the only thing the rule has done is make me very good at making cakes, cookies, bread, biscuits, muffins, cheesecakes, candy, egg nog and ice cream from scratch. And, heaven help me, I can make them gluten and/or dairy free. *sigh*

But I’m reeeeeaaaaallly popular with friends/family/co-workers during the holidays.

I identify completely with Gretchen’s observation that she and her family view “rewards” for good behavior in terms of food that is less than healthful (although I don’t agree with her including cheeses in the “less than healthful” category – the biggest problem with cheese, if you can handle the dairy, is the ability to easily overindulge).  I not only use food to reward myself, but to comfort myself in times of stress or sorrow and as a way to alleviate boredom, although I’ve gotten quite good in recent years at asking myself, “Are you really hungry, or just bored/stressed/angry/unhappy?”

Not that I always listen, but I DO ask.

This year, especially the summer and autumn, has been quite stressful – in some ways good, but in many ways not-so-good.  And over the course of the last several months, I’ve found myself saying things like, “You know what sounds good?  Biscuits and gravy for breakfast!!”

Yes, homemade with real all-purpose flour.  Because while I’d sooner cut off my right arm than buy a tube biscuits and a packet of gravy mix, I also know that I can make them from scratch in about the same amount of time it would take me to run to the grocery store and buy them.  PLUS, I can make sure they’re made with organic flour, butter and milk from completely grass-fed cows and pastured lard, with no weird additives/chemicals designed to improve their shelf life.

So, there have been cupcakes. And chocolate waffles (good gawd, were those good). And Bavarian Apple Cheesecake (equally delicious). And blondies.  And handmade pizza.  And lasagna with handmade pasta.  Not every day, by any means, or even every week – I haven’t really felt like cooking since The Young One left for college, which has been a blessing, really – but when the mood strikes, I haven’t denied myself the pleasure.

And a pleasure it’s been.  In more ways than one, because I love making these things and they taste so much better than anything you can buy pre-made or from a mix.  Beloved’s groused about it a little (but he’s eaten all of it, and asked for repeat performances of the pizza and lasagna), but The G Man is certainly loving it – he likes helping Meema make cookies and pizza almost as much as likes playing video games.

Now, if I’m going to be completely honest here, there have been a couple of pints of Haagen-Dazs ice cream (their “basic” flavors, like French Vanilla and Chocolate contain nothing but milk, cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla and/or chocolate).  And to be equally honest, if I over-indulge in any of the these treats, I WILL feel the effects afterwards – my digestion suffers (although not nearly as much as in the past, probably due to the amounts of lacto-fermented vegetables we eat), and my allergies and arthritis reassert themselves (again, not nearly as bad as in years past).  Just reminders that these things should remain just what they are meant to be – occasional treats.

The good news in all of this is I’ve pretty much completely cut out alcohol all together – frankly, the fact that I would come home in the evenings and immediately think about a glass of wine or a cocktail (or two…or even three) became far more disturbing to me than making and eating pizza or cheesecake a couple of times a month.  And the really nutty thing is that I’ve begun to lose weight again – slowly, yes, but it is happening.  Very encouraging, considering how I’ve been stalled for over a year now.

So, that’s my confession about succumbing to temptation as of late.  I guess what I’d really like to know is, would you all begin to leave in droves if I began exploring the realms of things like sprouted heritage wheat flours and sourdough starters, and occasionally posting about it?  Because, being completely honest, I miss baking bread.

Irish Lamb Stew

Happy Wednesday, everyone…I guess.

I don’t about all of you, but the holidays are rushing at me at the speed of sound and I simply don’t know how I’m going to get everything done that I need to in time.  So, I’m going to get down to business right away today.

I’m sure you’re all very grateful. 😛

So.  I cannot vouch for the authenticity of this stew, but that’s pretty much irrelevant: it is delicious and comforting.

As well as simple, as most stews are.  It takes time, yes, if you simmer on the stove per the recipe, but it can also be made in the pressure cooker.  How do I know this?  That’s how I made it.  Simply follow the recipe to the point you cover and simmer it, and pressure cook for 20 minutes as opposed to the 1 1/2 hours.  Do a quick release of the steam, add the vegetables and pressure cook for another 5 to 8 minutes, depending on how small you dice the vegetables (I kept the pieces fairly large, because I like my stew chunky).

Voila, the quick version of this Irish Lamb Stew.

In order to keep the recipe grain- and gluten-free, I’ve used tapioca and potato flours – tapioca because it stands up well to high heat and/or prolonged cooking (unlike arrowroot powder) and potato to help with the “gumminess” that often happens when thickening with tapioca alone.  The result was a marvelously silky gravy that was neither too thick nor too thin.  You can, of course, use 3 tablespoons of regular all-purpose flour if you like.  If you don’t consume pork, substitute the lard with ghee (I think both tallow and coconut oil might be too strongly flavored).

Sub the red-skinned potatoes with sweet potatoes and this becomes Whole30 compliant, although I don’t know if you can rightly call it “Irish” then.  But who cares?  It’ll still be delicious and comforting.

Note:  Like most stews, this is even better the next day, and reheats beautifully.

Irish Lamb Stew. This satisfying stew, filled with tender lamb and root vegetables, is just the ticket on a chilly evening.

Click the image to enlarge

Irish Lamb Stew
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound lamb stew meat, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons potato flour
  • 2 tablespoons lard, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 quart chicken stock or broth, preferably homemade
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced on the bias
  • 3 large turnips, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 pound red skinned potatoes, diced
Instructions
  1. Pat the lamb dry with paper towels, In a large bowl, whisk together the salt, pepper, thyme and flours. Toss the meat in the seasoned flour mixture until well-coasted and set aside.
  2. Heat the lard in a Dutch oven over high heat. Add the lamb to the pan and cook, in batches if necessary, until the well-browned. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion; continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened.
  3. Slowly stir in the chicken stock, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom. Return the heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 1 to 1/2 hours, or until the meat is fork tender.
  4. Add the vegetables to the stew. Continue to simmer over low heat, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary, before serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 445 calories, 15.5g total fat, 88.1mg cholesterol, 1041.6mg sodium, 1425mg potassium, 43g carbohydrates, 6.7g fiber, 14.9g sugar, 33.1g protein

 

Roasted Root Vegetable Hash

Look – I’m here!

More importantly – I cooked!

It was a nice weekend; we finally got a little down time.  A good thing, too, because that won’t happen again until after Christmas.  I love the holidays, but the older I get the more I just don’t want to deal with it.

We are SO taking the week between Christmas and New Years off.

I’m also glad to report that my oven is back in working order, and this was the first thing I made once it was up and running again.  We have a ton of root vegetables in our fridge, as well as sweet potatoes and winter squash on our counter, some from the farmer’s market and some from our own garden (we were surprised at the success we had at growing sweet potatoes; there will be more next year), so I decided to see what I could do with them.

This recipe makes a lot – 6 very generous servings – and is quite easy to make, if you discount all the peeling and dicing prep-work involved; fortunately for me, my better half has no problem helping out with such tasks.  And it is just delicious – Beloved not only wolfed down a second helping the evening I made it, but ate more the next morning with breakfast.

I think he’s hording what’s left in a Tupperware in the back of the fridge where I can’t find it.

I used a delicata squash in this, but you could use any winter squash you like, as well as just about any combination of root vegetables – a rutabaga would be nice thrown into the mix, as would some red-skinned potatoes if you’re so inclined.  But as written, the hash is Whole30 compliant as well as vegan-friendly, and would make a great addition to a real food holiday table.

Roasted Root Vegetable Hash. This simple and colorful autumn hash can be made with any variety of squashes and root vegetables.

Click the image to enlarge

Roasted Root Vegetable Hash
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups turnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 large delicata squash, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large glass or stainless steel mixing bowl; toss, making sure all the vegetables are coated with the olive oil and seasonings.
  3. Spread the mixture in a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until the vegetables are fork tender.
  4. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed, and place under the broiler for 2 or 3 minutes to finish browning if desired.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 164 calories, 7.1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 547.1mg sodium, 583.7mg potassium, 24.7g carbohydrates, 5.8g fiber, 7.5g sugar, 2.3g protein