30 March 2011 0 comments
This was a pretty simple recipe, but it turned out great!  This dish was easily one of the most delicious things I've ever cooked.

I was coming home late after work and decided to stop by the food store to pick up dinner.  We didn't have much in the fridge -- just some nice jack and cheddar cheese I'd picked up a few days earlier to make quesadillas, but we were out of tortillas.  I figured I'd pick up some meat and garnish and we'd have some quick, simple meat quesadillas for dinner.

Ingredients (enough for two very large quesadillas):
 - Skinless, boneless chicken thighs (~1/2 lb, cut into small pieces and cleaned of fat and gristle)
 - 3 medium tomatoes (diced)
 - half a large, sweet yellow texas onion (diced)
 - mild taco sauce (~6 oz)
 - a large dash of: cayenne pepper, oregano, cumin, crushed and dried basil leaves (to taste)
 - salt (~4 tsp)
 - 2 very large, stretchy tortillas
 - jack and sharp cheddar cheese, grated (~1/4lb each)
 - olive oil (~1 and 1/2 Tbsp)
 - fresh garlic (1 clove)

Garlic butter:
 - fresh, salted butter (~2 Tbsp)
 - fresh garlic (2 cloves, diced)

 - 1 soft, ripe avocado (mashed with a fork)
 - green salsa (~1/2 cup)

I first chopped the tomatoes and onion and set them aside in a bowl.  Then I prepared the chicken by peeling the thighs open with my fingers, and cutting the meat out of the fat and gristle.  It was a pretty messy meat, but after removing the excess it was tender and delicious.  I cut the meat into small bite-sized chunks, to fit in the quesadillas.

I pan-fried the chicken lightly in olive oil in a large frying pan, starting on very high heat and then reducing to barely more than a simmer, after searing the meat to retain its juices and flavor.  I then added the salt, and scrambled it in the pan with a spatula, making sure there was no pink left on the outside.  I cooked it for about 5 minutes after the pink was gone.  This made for a very tender, juicy meat, but without a hint of pink inside.

I then added the diced onion and tomatoes.  I also poured the taco sauce over it, just enough to moisten and flavor the whole mixture.  I cooked this on high heat for ~20 minutes.  This made the mixture into a sort of stew.  As I cooked (stirring occasionally), I added the spices and 1 clove of finely diced garlic.  The mixture began to bubble as the water boiled off, reducing the mixture into a flavorful sauce.  I left this on a simmering heat as I prepared the quesadillas.  It was important to keep this moving so the sugary tomatoes and sauce didn't stick to the pan and burn.  I also moved the meat to the side from time to time and used very high heat so the sauce could boil down more.  I did that for about a minute at a time, then reduced the heat again.

Before finally making the quesadillas, though, I decided to add garlic butter to the sauce at Michelle's suggestion.  We didn't agree whether this was a good idea in the end-- it was very garlicky, but also very tasty.  It might have been a bit better with less garlic.  I made it by melting the butter at low heat in a small pan, then adding the garlic and turning up the heat until it bubbled and fried the flavor out of the garlic for a few minutes, without burning the butter.  Then I added the mixture to the chicken and sauce.

I prepared the tortillas by heating them on the open flame of the stove on high.  I turned them around over the flame slowly, but not slow enough to burn them.  This made them soft and ready for pan-frying.  I put one aside, and put the other in a very large frying pan on very high heat.  I put in half of each type of grated cheese.  After it had begun to melt, I put in enough of the chicken and sauce to cover the cheese, but not too deeply.  I used a spatula to fold the tortilla over itself, making a large, cheesy, delicious quesadilla!  The high heat of the pan seared the outside of the tortilla, making it crispy and strong enough to hold in the juicy interior, which in turn kept it cool enough not to burn.  I left this on high heat for about another 30 seconds to 1 minute, and flopped it onto a plate (that was the hard part...)

Finally, we decided to make a simple guacamole garnish.  Michelle mashed one ripe avocado with a fork in a small bowl, and I added green salsa as an afterthought.  It made for a delicious cooling addition to this great dish!

The finished product!  (Pardon the quality of the lighting -- I used a cellphone camera)
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Pork Chop, Lobster Ravioli and Swiss Chard

07 January 2011 0 comments

For this recipe, we got used a pack of ravioli from trader joes and tried out some swiss chard that my friend Alice gave us from her bountiful basket (http://www.bountifulbaskets.org/). It all took about two hours to make. The recipe for the swiss chard, is the same recipe for asparagus almondine posted here : http://foodnerdicus.blogspot.com/2011/01/chicken-eggplant-parmesan-asparagus.html The sauce on the ravioli is an alfredo type sauce that I either invented or adapted from a few other recipes, it isn't very healthy but tastes amazing.

Pork Chop
- pork chops
- honey (I like clover honey)
- mustard (any kind will work, I think we used some spicy brown kind of mustard)

I rubbed the porkchops first in mustard, then in honey, and let it soak in a bit (as long as you want, ideally would probably be overnight but I think I did like 5 minutes or something). Then I cooked them in a pan on medium heat until they were golden brown

Alfredo Sauce
- butter
- two egg yolks
- half and half
- whole milk

In a pot on low heat, make a mixture of 1/2 milk, 1/2 half and half. Pour in two egg yolks and stir. Melt in butter. Pour over raviolis. (To make them, just follow instructions on package).

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Peppermint Bark

06 January 2011 0 comments

This one I made on my own, it is based on this recipe here: http://browniesfordinner.com/2009/12/10/marbled-bark/
It was a really easy holiday treat to make, and I bought a few gift boxes and wrapped it up to bring to friends' for the holidays.

Peppermint Bark
- dark chocolate chips (about 2 bags)
- white chocolate chips (about 2 bags)
- peppermint extract if desired (I bought it for this, but forgot and left it out)
- candy canes
- hammer
- kitchen towel
- ziplock bags
- wax paper

For this, I first crushed up the candy canes by double bagging them into ziplock freezer bags, then wrapping the bags in a kitchen towel. I put that on the floor and used a hammer to crush up the candy canes into pieces. After, I put the chocolate chips in separate bowls and microwaved them until they were melty. Don't over-microwave, stop it every so often (I did about every 15 seconds) and mix the chips around so that they cook evenly. If you are using peppermint extract, add it to the white chocolate chips. Once they are all liquidy, pour in stripes onto a piece of wax paper in a baking pan. You can pour one on top of the other, or do it in stripes and mix it around with a knife like I did. Then, sprinkle candy canes over the top and stick it in the freezer until it gets hard, then break into pieces. For more information, I really recommend checking out the original recipe because I followed it for the most part.
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Chicken & Eggplant Parmesan, Asparagus Almondine and Garlic Bread

05 January 2011 1 comments

Oh what a classy table we put out. This is Bodie with our feast. We stuck a power-outage candle into a beer bottle for added class. The dishes here are eggplant and chicken parmesan, asparagus almondine, spaghetti and garlic bread. This was sort a bigger feast, and took about two to three hours to make, with prep. Also, in most of these recipes I do not include salt and pepper, but you can add them to your liking. Personally, I don't add much salt when cooking, but you can do as you like!

Chicken and Eggplant Parmesan 
- chicken breasts or eggplant, sliced (we made both)
- eggs 
- bread crumbs
- mozzarella cheese (I used big mozzarella balls)
- olive oil
- rosemary, thyme, oregano, and other spices if you want
- parmesan cheese (grated)
- red sauce (you can make your own or use a can)

First, get a large pan and put some olive oil in it on low heat. Then, put the eggs in a bowl and beat them, and then put bread crumbs on a plate next to it. If you have an eggplant, slice it into circular pieces. Dip the chicken and or eggplant first into the egg and then into the breadcrumbs on both sides. then put them into the pan and sautee until golden brown. After, put your chicken/eggplant into a baking dish, and put slices of mozzarella on top. then you can add the spices and pour the red sauce over it all. After, sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top and broil it until the cheese is melted and everything is golden brown.

Asparagus Almondine
- butter or margarine
- asparagus (you can also use green beans instead, but see notes on green bean prep)
- sliced almonds
- lemon juice if desired
- minced garlic (about 2 cloves) if desired

Put the asparagus in the pan with the butter or margarine and a little bit of water. Let it absorb all the water, then add the almonds, lemon juice, and garlic. Saute until golden brown. Note: If you are substituting green beans, you need to use a spoon or your fingers to remove each tip, pulling it as far as possible (there will be little strings hanging off the tip) so that water can get in and they can get juicy.

Garlic Bread
- french bread
- margarine or butter
- minced garlic, or if you prefer, a mixture of onion and garlic powder
- aluminum foil

Cut open the french bread sandwich-ways, and spread lots of butter or margarine in it. Sprinkle garlic on otop. Put it in the aluminum foil and bake on 350 until it begins to get golden edges. Then turn it to broil and leave the oven door cracked. This is very important because otherwise it will get too hot. Don't step away from it at this point as it can burn easily, but watch it until it's the perfect color.

- pasta (we used spaghetti)
- salt
- olive oil

Put water, a bit of olive oil (you dont need a lot just like a teaspoon or so) and a pinch of salt into a big pot and boil it on high. Then add the pasta, stirring occasionally until cooked. One good way to tell if its cooked or not (that my father taught me) is to throw it at a wall. If it sticks, it is done. If not, it needs more time. This of course may or may not work depending on the type of walls in your kitchen, but otherwise run it under cold water and give it a taste or follow the instructions on the package if there are any.
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Mushroom, Onion and Guacamole Cheeseburger, Kale with Bacon and Mexican Potato


For this lovely dinner, we chose two ingredients that most people don't typically use: kale and mexican potato. I had never tried mexican potato before, and to be honest I didn't like it the way that we had it. Maybe it would have been better cooked; we just sliced it into pieces and served. The rest was really easy and in all this dinner took about an hour to make. We had too many mushrooms and onions so we added them to the leftover kale and that was really tasty too.The recipes are below, we placed the mushrooms and onions and guacamole on top of the burger. For this recipe we chose some of the veges and beef from Tempe Farmer's Market. http://www.tempefarmersmarket.com/

Mushrooms and Onions
- mushrooms (sliced)
- onions (cut up)
- olive oil

My trick for onions is to put them in the freezer a little before cooking so that the juices freeze and don't make you tear up as much. This doesn't always work, but if you get the timing right it can save your eyes. I just threw these into a pan with a little olive oil and sauteed them on medium until they were halfway cooked, then cooked them the rest of the way with the meat. Stir them often, making sure that they don't get too burnt on any sides. They should be golden and the onions should have some brown bits. Early on I learned from Bodie that a really common mistake is to undercook everything. Cooking things for the right amount of time gives them a better taste, and undercooked food tastes bland and is very blah.

- ground beef 
- swiss cheese

We made these in a pan since the grills in my apartment complex are not easy to use and take a lot of time. Form patties with fingers, place in the mushroom and onions pan and cook until done. We cooked these medium, so on medium heat the entire time. For a more of a medium rare type of cheeseburger you can cook it for a short time on medium heat and then turn it to high for a few minutes to sear the outside and keep the inside pinkish reddish. Obviously, I am not advising anyone to eat undercooked meat as that could be a health issue. When they are close to being done, put the cheese on and let it melt.

- two avocados
- sour cream

This is really half-assed easy guacamole. It shouldn't even really be called that. We basically just peeled the avocados, mashed them up, and added sour cream until it looked the right color and consistency.

Kale with Bacon
- kale (you can also use collard greens or swiss chard for this recipe)
- bacon (we use trader joe's bacon)
- fresh grated parmesan cheese if desired

I forget if we actually used the parmesan in this, but if you want to you can add it on at the end. I cooked the bacon first, or maybe we had some left over from the morning, but bacon is really easy you just throw it in a pan and cook it on both sides until it looks done, but be careful not to get burnt by the oil. I then put that off to the side and put the kale in the pan and added some water, not too much but enough that it can simmer in it and absorb it. If the kale looks done, pour out the excess water. Once the water was absorbed, I added the bacon and sauteed it until it looked good.
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