Wednesday, July 8, 2009

When He Fends for Himself

This week has been busy with work, so the regular author of "When He Fends for Himself" has been unable to write his weekly post. Here are some highlights from the past week.

We had leftover dip from the Mediterranean appetizers that we made for our dinner out. He made a quick broiled chicken breast and used the dips to create pita sandwiches for dinner - one with tzaziki sauce and one with olive tapenade. Pretty resourceful! Here's a look:

He was also in charge of Sunday breakfast. Usually he has trouble coming up with flavor combinations on the spot - but this one was quite a hit. With help from Jiffy baking mix, he whipped up some delicious honey-almond-walnut pancakes. They were golden brown and nice and fluffy.
Stay tuned for the next When He Fends for Himself!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Old Favorite - Sloppy Joe Sandwiches

A few years ago I figured out that it was cheaper - and tastier - to make my own sloppy joe sauce. Don't get me wrong, Manwich is tasty, but it is salty! And once you read the label, you realize that you have most of the ingredients in your pantry and it takes no time at all to make a homemade sauce.

I downloaded a new iPhone app from Whole Foods that lets you put in a few ingredients you have on hand and it will suggest recipes for you. This is an entertaining app to play with on the train ride home from work. I've gotten good at coming up with impossible combinations for the WF recipe gurus (soy milk + peas + beef stumps them). One of the featured recipes last week was for sloppy joe sandwiches so I decided to give their recipe a try. I had ground beef in the fridge and all the other ingredients in the pantry. I didn't have any onions, so I decided to use up the last of the rainbow carrots from the farmer's market. Don't they look good?

On the side I decided to make a 'quick' baked beans. I figured that the carrots counted for our vegetable, so I didn't make another one on the side. I served the sandwiches on potato rolls for a delicious meal! Here's the recipe and the photo for 2 servings. You should start the beans first and then move on to the sloppy joes.

Quick Sloppy Joe Sandwiches
Adapted from a Whole Foods Recipe

1/2 pound ground sirloin
About 1/2 cup carrots, diced into small pieces
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground pepper, to taste
1/3 cup tomato ketchup
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
2 burger buns

Heat a medium sized skillet to medium heat
Put the beef in the pan and brown for about 5—7 minutes
Add the carrots and season with salt and pepper
Cook until carrots are almost soft about 5 minutes
Add in ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and mustard and stir well
Simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes
Spoon over burgers

These would be tasty with some sharp cheddar cheese or a nice colby jack.

Quick Baked Beans

1 can kidney beans, drained
1 garlic scape chopped into bean size pieces (or 1 garlic clove minced)
1 teaspoon bbq rub (or your favorite spices)
1 tablespoon water

Heat a small pot (with a lid) over medium heat
Add garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes
Add beans, water, and seasoning to the pot
Simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes (or until you're done making the rest of the meal)

Summary (for both dishes):
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Cook Time: 25-30 minutes
Skillet, cutting board and knife, small pot with lid, measuring spoons and cups, spoons, serving dishes

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Farmer's Market Finds - Part 3

I know it's supposed to be summer, but the weather around here has been anything but summery. We've had 20+ days of rain and no signs of dry weather in the week ahead. Sunday was especially cool and dreary and chicken soup sounded like just the thing for dinner. I pulled out a recipe that I've had since junior year of college, when I had my first apartment. It's for chicken matzo ball soup and chicken salad. I got it off of the Food Network website and have pulled out the same stained paper every time I feel like making 'real' chicken soup (not to be confused with quick chicken soup that I adapted from a Rachael Ray recipe).

I had some leftover rainbow carrots from the farmer's market and thought they would make a colorful addition to the recipe. Instead of a whole chicken, I used a bone-in chicken breast (with skin). I typically don't buy bone-in chicken (especially with skin), but it really gives the soup a better flavor. The chicken also stays more moist for the chicken salad.

I didn't have the time to make matzo balls for the soup, so I picked up some fresh pasta from the grocery store. If you plan to freeze your soup or keep it in the fridge for more than one day, cook the noodles separately and add them in before you serve the soup. The noodles will absorb all the liquid if you leave them in the soup.

Now, on to the recipe! I've modified it to fit the amount of ingredients and soup that I wanted to make (about 4 big servings). You can add or subtract ingredients as you like. If I have parsnips on hand, I always use those instead of carrots.

Matzo Ball Soup and Chicken Salad
Adapted from a recipe on the Food Network Website by Sandy Whiteman

For the soup:
1 double chicken breast (bone in, skin-on)
3 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces (I used the baby rainbow carrots this time)
4 celery stalks, cut into 1 inch pieces (throw in the tops too)
1 whole yellow onion (cut half into small pieces and leave the other half in one piece)
1/4 cup parsley/ chopped
4 sprigs dill (couple of shakes of dried dill if that's what you have on hand)
Salt and pepper

Cut chicken breast into 2 pieces using a sharp knife
Place the chicken into a stockpot and fill the stockpot with enough water to
cover chicken (I use an 8 quart pot and fill it about 2/3 full)
Bring the water to a boil
Skim the top of the water, removing as much fat as possible
Add the vegetables, herbs, and salt and pepper (don't add too much pepper, you can always add more later but can't take it away)
Turn heat down and let simmer for approximately 1.5 hours or until tender
Strain the soup, reserving the chicken (for the chicken salad) and the carrots, celery, and chopped onion to put back into the soup
If you plan to cook the noodles in the soup, put the soup liquid back into the stockpot and bring to a boil
Add noodles and cook until al dente (follow the instructions on the box)
Add the vegetables into the pot and serve

Chicken Salad
Chicken from the soup, shredded or cut into smaller pieces
Approximately 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise (will vary based on how much chicken you use and how mayonnaise-y you like your chicken salad)
Dash of Garlic powder
Salt and pepper

Let chicken cool before making the salad
Mix chicken, celery, and mayonnaise together
Season with garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: Active - 15-20 minutes; Inactive: 1.5 hours
Cutting board, knife, stockpot, colander, ladle, measuring spoons, bowls


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