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Friday, January 27, 2012

Random Food Fridays - Artichoke Pesto Chicken Thighs

When I created RFF, it was my intention to share things like this. Yummy, but not really a recipe. Just good ideas for eating.

I never even knew there was such a thing as artichoke pesto until I received some from my brother and his family at Christmas. I had thawed some trusty chicken thighs and needed something to jazz them up. This pesto did the job nicely. You can use all kinds of things to marinate chicken. I suggest that you experiment. When I tasted this (before the chicken, of course), I knew a little lemon juice and cracked black pepper would punch it up that much more.

One really nice thing about marinating meat, is that in most cases, there is enough acid involved that you can plan it and let it wait for a few days in the fridge until you are ready to use it. These make a tasty weeknight dish that is ready in about 20 minutes.

By the way, parchment paper is the bomb. It's one of those kitchen tools that makes me wonder how I ever lived without it.

Artichoke Pesto Chicken Thighs
5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup artichoke pesto
juice of 1/2 a lemon
several course grinds of black pepper

Mix all the ingredients, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the marinated chicken on a parchment sheet-lined cookie sheet. Be sure to scoop all the marinade and mound it onto the chicken. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to rest for a bit before serving.

None of these made it to sandwiches, but I bet they would be great!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Random Food Fridays - Fried Rice

When Mr. Dwayne and I were young marrieds, on a strict budget, this dish showed up in the weekly rotation quite often. Back in the 80's (don't worry, I won't hit you with my cane) we tried to keep our grocery bill under $25 per week. It was a lot easier back then! I can remember running to the store with my mother-in-law for milk and seeing her drop $40-$60 just to "pick up a few things" and I was shocked! Now, I am that lady. In fact, I no longer plan every meal for the week and I no longer buy only the food that is needed for the planned meals. I'm livin' large! I'm glad that conditions, whether it's a narrow budget or a farm box with mystery ingredients, have helped to push me towards creative activity.

This fried rice uses bacon, although you could also use diced ham with good results. Really, you could pretty much clean out your fridge on this one. I like the bacon because for a few skinny rashers, you get great tasting fat for stir frying the veg and you get those salty, crispy bits to enrich the flavor.

Fried Rice
3 cups cooked brown rice (1 cup dry, I used local short grain rice)
5 slices of thin bacon
1/2 cup diced onion
1 carrot, grated
1 rib of celery, sliced thin
1 cup frozen peas
2 eggs
About 2 tbsp. soy sauce
About 1/2 tsp. sesame oil

The rice can be cooked in advance and reheated for this. I find that leftover rice keeps its shape better.

In a large skillet, cook the bacon slices over medium high heat until most of the fat is rendered and it is crispy. Remove to a paper lined plate. Add the onion, carrot and celery to the bacon fat in the pan and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the frozen peas and saute about 2 minutes more. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and cook in another pan and set aside. When the veg is just tender-crisp, add the rice and toss. Sprinkle with soy sauce to taste. Sprinkle with sesame oil to taste. While the rice is heating, cut up the egg and bacon. When the rice is hot and seasoned to your liking, add the bacon and egg and toss to combine.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Random Food Fridays - Pea Soup

 See that lemon? That's not a mistake. Fresh lemon juice over most bean soups is flavor magic!

Every time a roasted ham enters our lives, I begin to scheme. There are ham sandwiches, of course, with mayo, mustard and my plum and pineapple jam. And, then, there is soup.

Really, there are so many soups that benefit from ham. It took me almost a week to decide what this ham soup would be. Of course, the beauty of soup is that you make it from what you have and then tinker with it until it is what you want. Soup Magic.

 What I had was this: shallots, garlic, parsley, carrots, celery, yellow split peas, chicken base and ham. I'm going to give you approximate measurements, because I expect you to make your soup, not my soup. The most important thing is, MAKE SOUP.

Pea Soup
1 lb. dried peas, picked over and washed (no joke - there could be rocks in there!)
1/4 cup olive oil
a chunk 'o' ham, diced
several shallots, diced
a few carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
big handful of chopped parsley
1 or two fat cloves of garlic, diced
8 cups water
a scoop of chicken or vegetable soup base
salt and pepper
lemon wedges for serving

Heat a large pot and add the olive oil. Add the veggies and ham and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the peas and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 90 minutes. Add a spoon full of chicken base and stir. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper. I added 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and several grinds of black pepper. Continue to cook until the peas are completely tender. Serve hot with a wedge of lemon.

The perfect lunch - soup and Stephen King!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Lovely Lotion

Start by grating 2 tbsp. bees wax into the top of a double boiler. 

 I've been using straight, extra virgin coconut oil as a moisturizer for a while. It smells great and feels great. Smoothing it in after a hot shower just feels like good, solid self care. Sadly, my love of coconut oil has been hard on my clothing. I wanted to find a lotion that would give me the same yummy feel, but soak into my skin in a reasonable amount of time. After a few tries, this Lovely Lotion came into being. As usual, I didn't start from pure imagination. I started with this recipe, but adjusted it to suit my preferences. This is a rich lotion for dry times. It has been a skin saver this winter.

My friend Katy wanted to learn how to make this lotion and volunteered to document the process and did a great job. Thanks for the pictures and the swell day together!

 All of the measurements for this recipe are approximate. 
You will have to eyeball it and trust your intuition.

 While the beeswax is melting over simmering water, "measure" 2/3 cup of extra virgin coconut oil

 "Measure" 3 tbsp. shea butter.

 Allow the wax to melt completely, then add the coconut oil and shea butter. Melt them together.

 While the solid oils melt, measure 1/2 cup of aloe vera gel and 1/4 cup distilled water.

 Pour the melted oils and wax into a tall bowl. Place the glass cup with the aloe vera gel and water into the pan of simmering water to warm slightly. The emulsification will work better if everything is close to the same temp.

 When everything  is around the same temp, use a blender to slowly mix the aloe/water mix into the oils until it becomes white and creamy.

 Add the contents of one punctured vitamin E capsule...

 ...and several shakes of lavender and grapefruit essential oils. 
Whip some more!

 This is enough to fill two half-pint jars. It is quite solid at cool room temp, so I scoop it out with a little pink tester spoon from 31 Flavors. Avoiding dipping with fingers helps it last longer too. There are no preservatives you know!

Here I am, luxuriating in this scrummy lotion! Can you believe I'm an old girl with no make up! I will say that when I do wear make up over it, I have to watch that my mascara doesn't smudge. 

Lovely Lotion
2 tbsp. grated beeswax
2/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil
3 tbsp. shea butter
1/2 cup aloe vera gel
1/4 cup distilled water
1 vitamin E capsule
Several drops each lavender and grapefruit essential oils

See the directions above and enjoy!!!