Friday, May 21, 2010

Anyone can do this

Not many things make our menu on a regular basis. Well, there are some exceptions to that. Since Phil and CJ cook on Monday nights, it's usually a rotation of spaghetti, breakfast for dinner or something else easy. So those things do make a regular appearance.

Most of the time, though, I enjoy trying out new recipes. Lately, though, we found one that is a "repeater". It's fast. It's easy. It's delicious. And it's cheap. You just can't beat that. And, it doesn't really even require a recipe. But, I'll give you one anyway, because I like recipes.

I first saw this recipe on Chaos in the Kitchen (make her chicken fajitas!) and then Dine and Dish posted about it as well. The recipe is so basic it sounded too good to be true. Let me tell you, it's good and that's true.

Baked Chicken Legs
4 lbs. chicken legs (about 20 legs, enough for 3-4 per person) - I use about half that, since there are just 3 of us and we eat about 2 legs a piece, if they're large
Salt, pepper, seasoned salt (or whatever seasonings you like - I used paprika, garlic powder and onion addition to salt and pepper)
2 TB olive oil
Hot sauce (like Frank's Red Hot), optional
Or, Parmesan cheese, optional

Heat oven to 475 degrees. Dry chicken legs with paper towels. This helps the spices to stick. In a large plastic bag, toss chicken with salt, pepper and spices. Add oil and toss until well coated. Spread legs onto 2 (or 1 if you halve the recipe) baking sheets and place in oven. Cook, turning occasionally with tongs, for 40 minutes or until meat easily separates from bone. Then, you can broil them briefly to crisp the skin, but I've never needed to. By the time they've cooked for 40 minutes, the skin has been pretty crispy. Remove from oven. If desired, brush with hot sauce OR sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (I don't think I'd do both.).

We've never tried the hot sauce, but they are delicious with Parmesan and without.

Serve with smashed potatoes or homemade Rice-a-roni (from the same site) and broccoli. Yum. Wish we had some right now.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday night dinner

After Chris's week of cooking, I was ready to get back to planning and cooking the meals this week.

We had a delicious dinner on Tuesday night but that post will wait for another time. Wednesday night was...ehhh, okay. But, tonight more than made up for it. We had Honey Chipotle Ribs, Iceberg Slaw and Sweet Potato Fries (normally I make these, but tonight we used a package from the freezer).

It was my first attempt at ribs, and they turned out even better than I expected. The slaw was another first time to use herbs out of my garden (parsley and dill). Iceberg gets a bad rap these days, but it sure is yummy with a fresh ranch dressing on top.

Honey Chipotle Ribs
from Everyday Food

1/4 c. minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. mustard powder
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 racks spare ribs (2 1/2 pounds each) - I used a 4 1/2 pound rack.
vegetable oil (for grill)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, combine chipotles, 1/4 c. honey, mustard powder, 3 TB salt (I might try a little less than this next time), and 2 tsp pepper.

Place a large double layer foil on a large rimmed baking sheet. Place ribs on top and rub with chipotle mixture. Wrap ribs tightly in foil and bake on sheet until meat is fork-tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Heat grill to medium-high. Clean and lightly oil hot grates. Remove ribs from foil adn let excess liquid drip off. Brush ribs with 1/4 c. honey adn grill until lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Cut between bones to separate. Serve (with lemon slices if you like).

Iceberg Slaw
Also from Everyday Food

In a large bowl, whisk together 3 TB buttermilk, 3 TB plain yogurt, 1 TB chopped fresh dill, 1 TB chopped fresh parsley, and 1/2 small shallot, minced; season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Fold in 1 head of iceberg lettuce (about 1 pound), quartered and shredded. Taste and season.

Christopher said it was the best coleslaw he had ever tasted! (It was a little more like salad to me than slaw, but it was tasty!)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Chris Cooks Days 4 & 5

Chris really did finish his week of cooking...for the most part. I'm just a little slow posting about.

While he originally planned for 7 straight days of cooking, we decided to call it quits after 5. This was not by his choice but out of necessity for our schedule. The boys went camping Friday night, and Phil and I celebrated our anniversary Saturday, so those two days got scratched. Well, not completely, because Phil and CJ are making hamburgers tonight (on the menu for last Friday). And I'm sure we'll have Italian Beef sometime soon.

Enough about what we didn't cook and on to what we did...

Day 4 was Sloppy Joes, Carrot and Grapes. CJ's friend Tristan joined us for both the making and the eating again. The Sloppy Joes were from Paula Deen's My First Cookbook. If your kids are interested in being in the kitchen, I highly recommend this cookbook. The instructions are clear. On the left side of the page are pictures of all ingredients and equipment needed. And, CJ could pretty much cook without any help from me. Last week, he made milkshakes, cinnamon rolls and the sloppy joes, all from this cookbook.

His sloppy joes were delicious. (I don't think he even remembers that when he first moved in, he HATED sloppy the kid will eat almost anything.)

Day 5 was the recipe I was most impressed with his choosing. It was from Everyday Food, my go-to food magazine. And the recipe was for Pasta (Orecchiette) with Bacon and Tomato Sauce. This is one of those recipes that sounds good but tastes even better than you would expect. And, it was easy and called for everyday ingredients.

One of CJ's all-time favorite meals is something his family often made, called Mac and Tomatoes (shell pasta, a can of tomato juice, a stick of butter). It's also better than I would have expected. Well, he thought this recipe tasted like a little fancier Mac and Tomatoes...and that's high praise around our house.

One more thing: It. Is. Spicy. We love spicy, so it worked at our house. You, however, might want to go light on the red pepper flakes.

Here it is:

Orecchiette with Bacon & Tomato Sauce
From Everyday Food

• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
• 1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes
• Coarse salt and ground pepper
• 1 pound orecchiette or other short pasta
• Grated Parmesan and chopped fresh parsley, for serving

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add bacon and cook until browned and almost crisp, about 4 minutes. Add onion and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and red-pepper flakes and stir until fragrant, 1 minute. Add tomatoes, breaking them up as you go, and season with salt and pepper. Bring sauce to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook until slightly reduced, 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted water, cook pasta 1 minute less than package instructions. Reserve cup pasta water; drain pasta and return to pot.

Add sauce and pasta water to pasta and toss to combine; cook over medium-high until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate 3 cups pasta for a separate dish. Serve remaining pasta topped with Parmesan and parsley.