Any Kitchen Will Do

Give me a kitchen and I will cook.

Peanut Butter Chicken

peanutbutterchicken

Chicken chicken and more chicken! It seems to be the dish of choice lately, what with all the business in the house of late. I am probably not the only one that has noticed my posts are full of quick proteins and vegetables and mixes. I don’t think it is a bad thing, but is far from earlier posts of more time consuming dishes, like king cheesecake, tortillas, posole, cinnamon rolls or fondue.

This dish came from a combination of pre-gymnastics pending meal time and a bit of exhaustion from a day of baking for Grain Free Haven. If I ever worry about my family being interested in eating something all I have to do is slather it with peanut butter. The idea inspired me and this is what I came up with.

If it is not spread on top of a piece of bread it may just be a spoonful scooped out of the jar. If all else fails there are cookies, whether sugar free or just grain free. It is hard to find a jar with simple ingredients. I tried to make my own a few times but burned out food processors, grinders and blenders. Seeking out basic peanut butter (leaving out chemicals and preservatives) that will hold together is not easy. Natural butters are an easy choice, but, frankly, don’t have the stability of butters with sugars. Honestly, we lean towards the butters with simple sugars alternating with sugarless ones. Everybody has a vice, right? This chicken recipe relied on peanut butter with some simple sugars – usually labeled ‘natural’ on the side of the jar. I hope you enjoy the chicken, for what does not go well with peanut butter?

Peanut Butter Chicken

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 – 8 chicken thighs and legs, bone in and skin on
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl whisk together peanut butter, Worcestershire sauce, water, garlic, onion and sea salt.

Generously season all sides of each piece of chicken and place, skin side up, on a shallow baking sheet.

With a knife or back of a spoon spread the peanut sauce on the skin top of each piece of chicken. Place baking sheet on top level of oven. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and sauce is beginning to brown.

Remove from oven and let sit for about five minutes before serving.

Italian Sheet Bake

italiansheetbake
I love one dish wonders. Throw some yummy ingredients on a pan, slide it 
in the oven and viola! Dinner! 

We recently had chicken leg quarters and some hot Italian sausage in the 
fridge, which brought on this Italian feast. It was inspired by my 
mother in law. She regularly makes a delicious dish with chicken, sausage 
and a lovely tomato sauce with fresh herbs, served on top of pasta or 
spaghetti squash, or the spiffy new veggie noodles that are popular these 
days. I did not have the fresh herbs, but definitely had the other elements. 
I decided to pull out a sheet pan and fill it up with our future dinner.

Next time I will probably double the amount of cabbage, but the organic 
head I got this week was tiny, so maybe not. 

The star of this dish, surprisingly, was the tomato sauce. The low and slow 
cooking temperature roasted the tomatoes, so they had a rich, powerful 
flavor that perfectly complimented the chicken and sausage. The cabbage 
absorbed the flavors of the juices and it evolved into a great side dish. 

The recipe is flexible as well--the chicken and sausage ratio could vary 
significantly depending on your supplies, just make sure the tomato sauce 
is on top and the cabbage is below.

Italian Sheet Bake

2 cups jarred or canned diced tomatoes (about 16 ounces)
1 Tablespoon dried basil leaves
2 teaspoons dried oregano Leaves
1 tablespoon dried parsley leaves
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cabbage head, medium chop
5-6 hot Italian sausage links
4 chicken leg quarters
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Place oven rack on the second level from the top. Preheat oven to 325 
degrees. 

In a medium bowl (if using a stick blender) or food processor add the 
tomatoes, basil, oregano, parsley, garlic and salt. Purée tomatoes 
and herbs into a sauce. Set aside.

On a shallow baking sheet evenly spread the chopped cabbage. Make 
a slit in one side of each sausage, arranging the links around the edge 
of the pan, slit side up. 

Generously season all sides of the chicken quarters with salt and 
pepper. Arrange chicken in the middle of the bed of cabbage, skin side 
up. Drizzle tomato sauce on chicken and sausage, spreading it to 
cover the surface of all the pieces. 

Sprinkle the cheese over the sauce. Place sheet in oven and bake for 
one hour and 15 minutes, until sausage and chicken is fully cooked, 
at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Remove sheet from oven and let sit for five minutes before serving.

Big D’s Breakfast Mix

bigdbreakfastmix

Big D and I have a big love of oatmeal. It started when we were children and carried on into adulthood. It has always been a staple on our camping and kayaking trips – easy to pack and prepare simply with water (ideally hot if we properly manage our alcohol stove fuel). Although our love for the stuff carries on, our desire to avoid high carbohydrate foods is now ever present.

The other morning we decided to try some of our staple pantry ingredients to make a low carbohydrate version of a morning porridge. The chia seeds worked well as a thickener, and gave us all serious boosts of energy that lasted pretty much all day, which is very much needed during a cold winter day.

After making a thinner version for Little B, she came on board with our concoction as well, followed by the demand to recite the old porridge-centric fairy tale, The Three Bears. Quite appropriate, I thought! I am thinking future batches may include a bit of peanut butter, or sprinkling of cocoa powder for fun. Little B will eat pretty much anything with berries on it, so it is almost a sure thing in the future for her too!

The mix recipe can easily be doubled or tripled, as long as it is kept in an air tight container, so go ahead and stock up!

Big D’s Breakfast Mix

1 cup golden flaxseed meal
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2 cups almond meal
2/3 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons sea salt

For Single Serving
1/2 cup breakfast mix
1/2 cup hot water
¼ cup heavy cream or other milk product (soy, almond, cashew, lactose free…)
Dash of preferred sweetener (optional)
Nuts or berries (optional)

Combine flaxseed meal, coconut, almond meal, chia seeds, cinnamon and salt in an air tight container. Stir or shake until ingredients are well mixed together.

To prepare a bowl of breakfast mix, stir the bulk mix, then scoop ½ cup of the mixture in a bowl. Add hot water and stir, then add sweetener and cream. Stir once more and then let sit for at least one minute to thicken. Add more hot water to adjust thickness as desired. Add nuts or berries if desired and eat immediately.

Blue Plate Chops

blueplatechops

I know this recipe looks suspiciously like a chop recipe I shared in December, but it is definitely different. It has bite and goodness that the other does not. They do share a crisp brown on top, but can anyone get enough of crisp brown on sauce topped meats? Not me!

I call it a blue plate special because it is comforting, easy and filling. The traditional blue plate special is thought to first be offered during the Great Depression of the 1920s and 1930s, consisting of a meat and three sides on a blue colored divided plate. Another thing about the blue plate special–you take what you get and don’t get upset. There were not any choices with the original blue plate special – to keep the price low the meal elements were made in bulk quantities and included in every serving. Don’t like the peas offered? Then pay more and order something else.

On this plate I prepared the inexpensively cut bone in pork steak and combined three veggies in one side – onion, zucchini and yellow squash, for which the recipe can be found here. The main point is that an inexpensive protein can be made to taste absolutely delicious without much effort. Make your oven do the hard work!

Since our squash needs eating while still presentable, it was an unconditional veggie side for the night. I don’t have a traditional divided blue plate, but maybe a blue rimmed plate will work in this century? Everybody ate without complaint. Maybe it was because it was a busy day of working and play group meeting frenzy and light lunching, but I think it may have been because we were all hungry. Regardless, it was yummy and it was gone. No need to package leftovers….

Blue Plate Special Chops

4 large bone in pork steaks (approx 2 1/2–3 pounds)
1/2 cup tomatillo or Verde salsa
1 cup shredded cheddar or co-jack cheese
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons granulated Garlic
Salt And pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees.

Line shallow baking sheet with foil Generously season both sides of all chops with salt and pepper. Place on sheet evenly spaced out. Divide the salsa among the four chops, spreading it evenly on the top facing side.

Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on each cup, followed by grated cheese. Sprinkle granulated garlic and a little bit more salt. Place sheet on top level if oven. Bake for 30 Minutes. Cheese layer should be brown and crisp.

Remove from oven and serve immediately.


 

 

Fourth Blogiversary Escargot

escargotEscargot. A name for slimy little things thought to be elite delicacies since ancient times. I am not necessarily a judge of elite delicacies, but I do know about what I consider nostalgic foods that may also be considered elite and delicate. The first time I learned of the existence of escargot was an anniversary dinner held by my parents when I was a kid. What I remember from back them was pretty little sea shells bubbling with butter. I soon found out there were also snails, garlic and salt in the shells. Using some funky tongs and little forks, the snails slid out, then mom and dad dropped them in their mouths and they smiled. I know that part of that smile was remembering doing the same thing in France many years prior, but they were also enjoying the here and now–the simple flavors of butter and garlic covering a common gastropoda.

It is almost hard for me to call this a recipe, but one thing I like to do on this blog is to include some basic recipes that help appreciate the common and slightly less common. Along with the plethora of quick and easy chicken and pork chop recipes I like sharing other more delicate items, like lobster, scallops and fondue.

Escargot is fun and delicious. My family downed six dozen snails over the holidays while we laughed, cried and told stories. They brought back memories because they were shared before. Little B tried one, but honestly could not down it. I think it was because it was too similar to a mushroom, which is currently a hated element. Maybe it was too garlicy or salty. Maybe we were too excited about her trying it. I don’t know and probably never will. It does not matter. What matters is that next time she is presented with escargot I hope that she smiles, remembering the first time she tried it, regardless of whether or not she sticks another snail in her mouth. Memories count. A lot.

This is the fourth anniversary of this blog. There have been an amazing number of things that have happened, both personally and professionally during the past four years. What I can say, at this point in time, is that I am excited and emboldened by where I am in my life right now.

It is scary to start a business, especially for me. As a lifelong introvert it is impossible for me to explain to you what I feel when stepping forward with my love and passion to total strangers and the general public. It is a strange and wonderful experience as time passes and the reactions of other people are experienced and evolve.

It all started with this blog in a small Texas town and is now a business with a passionate family behind it. Thank you to family and friends who have been there the whole time, and to the new friends who are becoming a lovely reality in the now. Life could not be better.

Fourth Blogiversary Escargot

Six dozen snails, canned
Three to six dozen snail shells, boiled and drained
1 pound salted sweet cream butter, room temperature
8 finely chopped garlic cloves
3 Tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 Tablespoon brandy
Sea salt to taste

Combine butter, garlic, shallots, brandy and some salt. Stir until well combined. Let rest at least one hour before cooking snails, leaving it at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

For each shell drop approximately one teaspoon of butter mixture into a shell, press the snail in, small side down, until resistance is felt. Add more butter on top. Place filled shell on baking dish so large opening is facing up. If an escargot plate is not used, then rely on a medium iron skillet, making sure shells sit in skillet snugly so they cannot roll over during baking process. Repeat until all shells are filled. Place dish in oven for 10–15 minutes, until butter is bubbly while garlic and shallot bits begin to brown.

Remove dish from oven and serve immediately. Fully utilize butter sauce by dipping with power bread, foccacia or other absorbent, wonderfully consumable element.

Foccacia

Foccacia

Over the holidays I had a slew of opportunities to feed grain eaters and prove to them that grains are not necessary to enjoy celebratory meals. A couple of guest left after their visit, happy with the discovery that they not only enjoyed their eating experiences, but they in fact lost instead of gained weight during their visit. Win!

One way we were able to accomplish such a feat was adapting some of our recipes to meet celebratory needs. One need was to have a flatbread that easily soaked up sauces and juices, allowing guests to enjoy the tradition of dipping and revelling in soupy leftovers.

FoccaciawholeThis foccacia was an easy transition from our traditional Power Bread and fun to make! Instead of ensuring the dough was properly packed in a loaf pan I was able to mold it without edges and create exactly what we needed for our celebration. I am still enjoying the new memories made over the holidays and hope you can make some of your own with some of our grain free creations.

Foccacia

1 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup golden flaxseed meal
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
9 eggs, room temperature
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup melted lard, butter or extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
1/4 cup freshly chopped basil
1/4 cup freshly chopped oregano
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare shallow baking pan by lining with aluminum foil.

In a large mixing bowl combine coconut flour, golden flaxseed meal, salt, baking soda, garlic, parsley, basil and oregano, then stir until well blended.

In a separate bowl combine eggs and apple cider vinegar. Whisk together until egg whites and yolks are well combined. Add lard/butter to eggs and continue whisking. Add immediately to bowl of dry ingredients.

Place dough in the middle of prepared baking pan. Gently spread dough towards the edges of the pan, making a rectangular shape that is 1/2 inch or less in thickness. Press edges towards the middle, ensuring that they are firmly shaped.

Using your hands gently spread the olive oil over the top and edges of the shaped dough. Sprinkle generously with sea salt. Place in preheated oven on the middle shelf. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, until middle is cooked and top of bread is evenly brown.

Remove from oven and let sit for at least 15 minutes. Slice bread into approximately 12-15 squares. Serve immediately or reheat before serving later. Store chilled in airtight container.

Spicy Stuffed Tomatoes

spicystuffedtomatoes

There must have been a bumper crop of tomatoes somewhere nearby, because there were tons of big, beautiful ‘maters in the local produce section at the store this week! We often have fresh tomatoes in our kitchen and chop them up raw as a quick side dish, but I decided this time to stuff them and bake them. The cooler weather leads me towards warm food. You can never have too many variations on vegetable dishes, can you?

I used to make these with oatmeal as filler, but since using it would conflict with our current habit of eating grain free, I replace it by adding more veggies and sausage. Worked out great!

As the new calendar year begins and the holiday activity wanes I ponder what is to come during the next twelve months. Last year Big D and I both shifted the work we do to bring in money, and shifted where we live. Prospects look bright for our efforts to follow our passions, with starting a new business and writing new books. This year is starting on very bright notes, we are working hard and loving it, while also finding opportunities to spend more time with family and friends. I hope you all start the year with positive outlooks, for the perspective you take will most definitely influence where you go in life. Why not do it positively. You will be amazed where you will go with it!

Spicy Stuffed Tomatoes

8 ripe tomatoes
1/2 medium onion
1/2 green bell pepper
4 ounces white button mushrooms
2 links hot Italian sausage, cooked and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons hot sauce (suggest Tabasco Smoked Chipotle Sauce)
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Cut off top portion of each tomato, making a flat top. Scrape out seeds and meat core from inside of tomato. Turn tomatoes cut side down on a towel to allow extra juice to run out. Finely chop mushrooms, onion, bell pepper and garlic. Heat oil in a medium sauté pan over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion into pan and cook about three minutes, until onions begin to sweat. Add bell pepper and mushrooms, cooking another five minutes until onions begin to brown and mushrooms release their liquid. Add cayenne pepper powder, salt, black pepper and hot sauce. Stir and simmer on low for five more minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Flip over tomatoes so cut side is up. Sprinkle the inside of each with sea salt and ground black pepper to taste. Drop sausage into the bottom of each tomato, dividing it evenly among the eight tomatoes. Spoon sautéed mixture into each tomato, dividing it equally among the eight tomatoes as well.

Place stuffed tomatoes in a baking dish that allows them to fit snugly, so as to support each other while cooking. Dish size can vary due to size of tomatoes, but 9×9 inch should work. Spoon 1/8 cup mozzarella cheese on the top of each tomato, pressing it down firmly so it stays on top of each. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top of each tomato. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until cheese browns and tomato skin wrinkles and begins to crack. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Cinnamon Whiskey

cinnamonwhiskey

I get a kick out of flavored liquors. Not so much cloyingly sweet liqueurs, but things like vodka and whiskey with some flavor added. Big D makes fun of me and is above such things, preferring the peaty taste of Laphroaig or the smokiness of Bushmills. I like them too, but the cinnamon whiskey is nostalgic for me, taking me back to days in college when we took shots of Goldschlager or experienced the horridness of cheap cinnamon schnapps. I would like to think my tastes have matured since then, and I now enjoy more subtle cinnamon now. My recent discovery of Fireball took me back to those crazy, boot scooting and ranch party Saturday nights of yore.

The problem with Fireball and other flavored liquors is the mystery surrounding the content of the added flavoring. Do they have grains? Exactly how much sugar do they use? What other chemicals are in that bottle of golden goodness? Such beverages do not have ingredient lists on the bottles or the websites of companies, so a lot of digging goes into actually figuring out what is in them.

One of my favorite flavored liquors is cinnamon whiskey. I can tell from just one sip that, among other things, sugar is definitely added. My attempts at creating my own cinnamon whiskey, so I know what was in it, resulted in two versions. They both have sweeteners, because, honestly, some sweet is why I like it.

The first approach is ideal because it is sweetened with stevia and satisfies my cinnamon hankering. The second approach, using sugar free candies with the sweetener of your choice (or sugary candy if you like) makes the end result very closely match the candy sweetness inherent in commercial cinnamon whiskeys.

Regardless of the approach you use the end result is a pretty, festive red whiskey with a lovely, spicy bite to it!

Cinnamon Whiskey

Approach One
1.75 liter bottle whiskey
5 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon pure stevia powder

Approach Two
1.75 liter bottle whiskey
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
12-15 sugar free cinnamon candies

Remove 1/4 cup whiskey from the bottle. Add cinnamon, pepper and candies or stevia to bottle. Replace top on bottle. Let whiskey sit for at least two days, shaking it two to three times a day. Shake before each use. Serve neat, on the rocks or with mixers as usual.

The last cup of the whiskey in the bottle will have more sediment and be slightly bitter, so I recommend using it for mixed drinks instead of neat or on the rocks.

 

Swedish Meatballs

swedishmeatballs

Beyond my version of a Swedish smorgastarta I made a while back, I have not done much with Swedish cuisine, traditional or otherwise. When I think of Swedish cuisine I imagine pastries, fish and meatballs. My hankering to make meatballs led me to the well known Swedish meatballs. Research into the Swedish version revealed they posses a subtle, yet well-rounded flavor. The key flavors, along with the variety of ground meats, are onion, allspice and white pepper. My other meatball versions, whether cheesy or ghoulish, have much less subtle flavors added. I was very curious about making the traditional Swedish dish.

Never partaking of the meatballs on Swedish soil, I relied on my previous experiences eating them here in America. The experiences revealed they are smaller and more delicate than those huge suckers you find in an American sandwich or spaghetti. Served on a bed of zucchini noodles and a side of acorn squash, the meatballs made for a warm, comforting winter meal. The gravy was rich and addictive, and the use of almond meal instead of breadcrumbs worked well to hold the balls together. The bit of gravy left over when the meatballs were gone became two spoonfuls of savory dessert for me!

Swedish Meatballs

Balls
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons finely grated onion
1/3 pound ground beef*
1/3 pound ground pork*
1/3 pound ground veal*
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
2 tablespoons almond meal
1 egg

Gravy
Pan juices
1 cup cream
Sea salt to taste
Finely ground white pepper to taste

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in an iron skillet over medium heat. Sauté onions in the butter until golden brown. Remove from heat and let cool until comfortable to handle when mixing with meats.

Place ground meats in medium bowl. Add allspice, salt and white pepper, almond meal, onions and egg. Using your hands combine the ingredients until well combined. Form mix into approximately 18 meatballs, each about the size of a  a golf ball. Chill meatballs for at least an hour – this will help them hold their shape when cooking.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons in the iron skillet over medium high heat. Add the meatballs, making sure there is some space in the pan around each ball. Shake the pan as you fry the balls, to brown them evenly and prevent flat sides. Continue to cook for 10-12 minutes, until they are evenly browned on all sides.

When all of the meatballs are done cooking transfer them to a plate and place on the stove top to keep them warm.

To make the gravy, lower heat under the pan to medium. Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the drippings. Add the heavy cream, salt and pepper to taste. Gently stir to incorporate the cream. Simmer for about three minutes.

Pour gravy over the warm meatballs and serve immediately. Since there is no thickener in the gravy it may separate a bit if overcooked or after it sits away from the heat. If separation occurs just stir right before spooning over meatballs.

Pumpkin Custard

pumpkincustardStill looking for a way to use up the last of the pumpkin from your holiday cooking? From my big jar of pumpkin I have so far made a pie, muffins and pumpkin spice syrup, then finished off the supply with this simple custard. It was a reeeaaalllly big jar!

Speaking of jarred pumpkin…no, I don’t make my own. I used to, but it was much more labor intensive than I wanted to deal with. By the time I bake it and smooth out all the stringiness I am tired of dealing with the stuff. I am hooked on using already smooth and prepared pumpkin (which often is not purely pumpkin, but includes other types of squash that are less stringy). I use very few prepared ingredients when I cook, but some I do rely on consistently. Besides pumpkin, I rely on prepared tomatoes and tomato sauces, as well as artichoke hearts. I will leave the time and effort needed to prepare them to other people. That way I can focus on making other stuff and doing funner things.

Although often for dessert, a custard like this is high in protein and goes great as breakfast too!

I was also feeling a bit nostalgic when making this. Four years ago today my dad died. He loved pumpkin pie. He had big slices whenever it was available. A few weeks before he died we brought family and friends together at his rehabilitation center for a pie party. He was stuck in the center for the holidays, so we brought a celebration to him! We filled up the dining room with people and pies he loved. It was probably the last time he had pumpkin pie. I think of him every time I make this, or pie in general. Bittersweet and comforting at the same time. I love and miss you dad!

Pumpkin Custard

1 cup pumpkin purée
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 large eggs
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground clove
2 Tbsp Stevita
Whipping cream to serve (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs and whipping cream. Add pumpkin purée, cinnamon, ginger, salt, clove and Stevita, whisking well to incorporate all the ingredients. Divide the custard evenly between three 1-cup ramekins.

Place ramekins, evenly spaced, in a 9×13 baking dish. Fill dish with water so ramekins are submerged half way up. Place dish in preheated oven on the middle rack. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until center of all custards is firm. Serve, topped with whipped cream, immediately or chill and serve cold.

This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to make more individual servings.

Post Navigation