Dreamy's Delights

It's all about the food!

Kicked-up Scrambled Eggs

I hate scrambled eggs. It was the first thing I learned to cook around age 3-4. I ate them as a kid with no problems. The problem was when I became an adult and a LOT more discerning in my tastes. Scrambled eggs usually have one of two things wrong with them. They’re overcooked, dry and rubbery (the way I grew up with them) or they’re undercooked and slimy (gross).

The other day I was hungry and eggs were about the only thing left in the house since we’re technically on a juice fast. I have discovered though that I need more protein so I’m usually eating at least one heavy protein meal a day. Anyway, I digress, back to why I made something I hate.

I was thinking that if I made a couple of changes to the standard “dump the eggs in a hot skillet and stir” method, I might get something more edible. (Sorry, Mom, I just don’t like the way you cook scrambled eggs)

Now, one way to avoid dryness is to add a little bit of liquid. Heavy cream is PERFECT for this because it adds a bit liquid without overpowering the eggs, is very thick and rich with fat so increases the softness of the finished product.

Next, I wanted a bit more  flavor. I decided dill and shallots would give me an herby, oniony flavor without being too strong.

Finally, a little more protein, bacon and feta cheese.

Recipe

3 large eggs

1 TB heavy cream

1-2 tsp chopped fresh dill (use 1/3 this amount if using dried dill)

1 tsp freeze dried shallots (use a bit more if using fresh and saute them in the pan to tenderize them before adding the egg mixture)

1/4 cup bacon bits

ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Grease a small skillet and preheat over medium heat.

In a bowl, mix together everything except the feta cheese. (If using fresh shallots, saute them in the skillet you’re making the eggs in until translucent. You can dump the rest of the egg mix right on top.)

Pour this mixture into the hot skillet. I like to use a silicone spatula for this part because the eggs don’t stick to it but use what ever stirring implement you have on hand. Gently scrape around the edge of the skillet and then underneath the egg mixture to bring up the cooked bits and let the raw mix get down to the bottom. Basically, this is your standard scrambling technique. You want the eggs to be cooked so that they’re not slimy but still have just a touch of sheen to them.

Dump them into a bowl and top with the Feta cheese. I think it took me less than ten minutes to make.

kickedupscrambled eggs

A note about my ingredients: I used the pre-cooked bacon pieces you can buy at the store. I know that I try to stay away from processed and preservative laden foods but I’m lazy and yes, I use pre-cooked bacon pieces. Freeze dried shallots are the bomb and I really prefer the freeze dried shallots over fresh because the flavor is a bit milder.

 

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Triple Cheese Chicken Parmesan – Gluten Free

Jene and I have been eating mostly ground beef dishes this week so I decided to cook chicken for a change. Plus, we’re trying to get all the solid food out of the house. We just spent $430 on a new juicer (Omega VRT400HD) and are going on a juice fast when it gets here next week. So… anyway, back to talking about chicken.

I asked Jene if he was willing to have chicken and dumplings. He said No. Ok… So then I thought of chicken parmesan. I preserved lots of seasoned tomato sauce last year and this was a perfect excuse to use some up. I grabbed a quart and started it reducing in a saucepan. I wanted a nice THICK sauce for this, thus the reduction. I mixed together some home-made ricotta that I had left from making mozzarella earlier this week, some shredded parmesan cheese and shredded mozzarella. That’s where the title of the recipe comes from 😉

I wanted to add a note here after a comment made by a friend of mine. I know that chicken parm should be made with thin cutlets of white meat. I deliberately did it with the thighs. Honestly, I’ll eat white meat but I don’t much like it lol. Make it with whichever cut of meat makes you happiest!

Finally, I breaded and fried my chicken (boneless, skinless thighs) and finished it off in the oven because they were really BIG thighs and I couldn’t fry them to doneness without burning the breading. As usual, I didn’t actually measure anything so it’s a rough guess 🙂

Recipe

3.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

4 ounces Penzeys Brady Street seasoning (or other Italian seasoning, Brady Street is made with parmesan cheese, it’s worth getting some)-this is also gluten free

quinoa flour (I used some for a plain dredge and some mixed with the Brady Street for the second dredge, maybe 2-3 cups total) – as an additional note, you can use regular all purpose flour, I just like the flavor of the quinoa

2 eggs

1/2 – 3/4 pint of heavy cream

1 quart thick, italian seasoned tomato sauce

3/4- 1 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1-2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

If your chicken thighs are large (there were only 8 in my 3.5lb package), preheat the oven to 350F. Get out a broiler pan and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray. You can skip this step if the thighs are small.

Put the tomato sauce in a saucepan to heat up. If you want it thicker, start it early and let it reduce a bit.

Whisk together the eggs and cream in a shallow dish. Place some quinoa flour by itself on a paper plate. Place more quinoa flour one another paper plate and mix in the Brady Street Seasoning.

In a large skillet, melt 1 TB of butter with 1-2 TB of olive oil.

This part is messy… Take a thigh, dip it in the egg/cream mixture, dip it in the PLAIN flour, making sure it’s got a light coating of flour. Dip it in the egg/cream mixture again. Now dip it in the SEASONED flour mix. Shake off the extra and put it in the skillet to fry. Fix as many pieces in at a time as you can without crowding. In my case, in a 12 inch skillet, I was able to cook 3 thighs at a time. Because they were so thick I knew I would have to finish them in the oven to make sure they were cooked through. I used a broiler pan to make sure no liquid accumulated underneath making the bottom of the breading soggy.

friedchickenparmesan

As you can see, the breading came out beautifully. The dipping in liquid, flour, liquid, flour, helps to make a better bond so the breading doesn’t come off so easily. Using heavy cream and eggs for the liquid created an almost custard like mixture that turned into a gorgeous brown crust. I finished these off in the oven at 350F for 15-20. Basically until my thermometer gave me an internal temp of 180.

While stuff was cooking (since it was done in batches) I mixed together the cheeses. I gave those oh so precise measurements because i really had no idea how much I used. I know that I had roughly 1 cup of ricotta but it might have been more or less. It was in a bowl in the fridge and I just used the same bowl to mix it all together. Here’s what it looked like when I was done.

cheesemixtriplecheesechickenparmesan

As you can see, the ricotta adds some creaminess to it but not too much.

So, the final assembly. When the chicken is all done, spoon some tomato sauce on top of the chicken thigh. Put some of the cheese mixture on top of that. The cheese it not going to melt on it’s own so put the plate under the broiler in the oven for a couple of minutes. Just until the cheese is melty and starting to bubble a tiny bit. You can see where the cheese has started to turn golden around the edges.

finishedtriplecheesechickenparmesan

I apologize for the bad lighting in the photo. I forgot to turn the flash on and I was hungry! The verdict from Jene was that it was good and I could make it again. Myself, I was really happy with it. This is definitely going on the make again list. Maybe next time both the ricotta AND the mozzarella will be home made. 😀

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Oven Baked Pot Roast

Jene and have I have been eating a lot of chicken and pork lately. I had a craving for some beef. So in addition to the 5 lbs of hamburger, I also got a couple of nice London Broil steaks. I got a rough idea from another source but then turned it into something completely different. Now, you’ll notice that the title of the post says “pot roast.” That’s because we decided that london broil is really much too lean for this sort of long cooking period. The flavor was there but the meat was really dry. So this would be perfect with a tough fatty cut like chuck roast.

Recipe

3-4 lbs of Chuck Roast

1 28oz can of San Marzano (or stewed) tomatoes – I used San Marzano because I could

6 cloves garlic minced

1 large onion chopped

several fresh sprigs lemon thyme (you can use normal thyme)

4-5 large fresh basil leaves torn into pieces

4 large celery stalks chopped

4 large carrots chopped

1 – 1.5 lbs crimini mushrooms quartered

Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the london broil in the bottom of the pan, season with a bit of salt and pepper. I laid the springs of thyme directly on the meat. Pour the tomatoes over the steak. The San Marzano tomatoes were whole in the can so I broke them up with my hands a bit. I sprinkled in the torn basil, minced garlic, chopped onion, celery, carrots and mushrooms. Total cooking time is about 2.5-3  hours (possibly longer, you want the meat fork tender).

Post eating note: Don’t bother with the basil until the very end. The flavor is too delicate for this long of a bake. Sprinkle it over the dish about 15 minutes before you pull it out of the oven.

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Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas with Verde Sauce

This is one of those “take a bunch of already made stuff and put it together” recipe. I don’t make anything from scratch in this recipe but it’s one I never get tired of. It’s also pretty easy to toss together on a weeknight. It takes about 20 minutes of prep time and a half hour of baking.

Recipe

1 rotisserie chicken, peeled and bones saved to make stock

12 6″ corn tortillas (I prefer the white corn)

1 – 1 1/4 lbs of shredded monterey jack (or colby jack) cheese

1 large can of green enchilada sauce (verde sauce, i prefer La Victoria brand)

oil

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray.

Heat the oil in a skillet until water sizzles. Then put one tortilla in the oil, frying for 8-10 seconds per side, just until the tortilla is soft. You do NOT want it crispy! The purpose of the heated oil is to cook the corn just a tiny bit and soften the tortilla so it  rolls instead of breaking.

Do this to all the tortillas and drain on paper towel.

Now… about the cheese. As you might be aware, I like cheese. I really, REALLY like cheese. These enchiladas have LOTS of cheese. So, feel free to cut back a bit if you like.

Take a tortilla and put a fingersfull of cheese in a line down the center. Put some chicken meat on top of that and then spoon about a tablespoon of verde sauce over that, roll the tortilla around the filling and place seam side down in the baking pan. You can fit 12 enchiladas in a 9×13 pan. 8 going along the pan, side to side and then four more across the tops in sets of two. enchiladalayout

          It’s not a pretty picture but you can get the idea of what I’m talking about.

You should have some chicken meat left over since the tortillas are pretty small. Don’t worry, it gets used!

Once all the tortillas are filled and in the pan, pour the remaining verde sauce over top. Try to make sure you get as many of the edges as possible. Sprinkle with the remaining chicken meat and then with more cheese. Don’t be shy with the cheese unless you don’t like cheese for some weird reason. Of course if you don’t like cheese you’re probably not going to make these.

I made two pans of these earlier this week and I used a 2.5 lb bag of cheese. 

After you have everything sufficiently cheesy, put the pan in the oven and bake for about half an hour. You want it to be hot, melty and bubbly with the cheese just starting to brown. 

I like to serve mine with sour cream but feel free to add whatever embellishments delight you. 🙂       

 

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Vegetarian Chili

Now that I’m back home, I’ve been busy making a mess of the kitchen. And although I haven’t been posting this week, I’ve been busy cooking up quite a lot. The first thing Jene asked me to make was a vegetarian chili. I made this for a party a couple of years ago that had a vegetarian attending. I guess it made an impression because Jene wanted me to make it again lol.

After rummaging around in my memory for a bit I came up with the following recipe. (I apologize for the lack of a picture. I was too lazy to go get my phone.)

Recipe

4 cans of beans (1 can each of black, canneloni, pinto and kidney)

1/2 head of celery, chopped

1 onion, choppped

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb carrots, chopped

20 oz mushrooms, sliced and sauteed to remove the water

1 lb asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces

chili powder, to taste

cumin, to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

This makes a pretty big batch so I used my 6 qt crockpot. It can also be made on the stove over very low heat.

Spray the inside of the crockpot with non-stick cooking spray. Drain and rinse the beans then dump them in the pot. For the celery I washed the entire head without pulling any stalks off. Then I just started cutting it from the end until I’d used up half of it. This way you get the leaves in the chili. They have lots of good flavor. Add the celery, onions and carrots to the pot. Season with salt, pepper and chili powder to taste. Do NOT put the mushrooms and asparagus in yet. Set the crockpot on low and let it cook for about 5-6 hours. Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms in some butter in a skillet over medium low heat for about 20 minutes. The purpose of this is to cook out the water so they don’t make the chili runny. Chop the asparagus. When you’re about 45 minutes away from wanting to eat, add the mushrooms and asparagus to the pot, stir them in and and check the seasoning. If necessary add a bit more seasoning. Let cook just until the asparagus is tender. Turn of and serve with shredded cheese, sour cream and chopped green onions if desired.

For those of you who know me, you know I’m a big fan of Penzeys spices. I used their Chili 9000 for the chili powder. The number has nothing to do with heat so it’s not very hot. It’s just  very rich, flavorful chili powder with something like 26 ingredients in it. I highly recommend it. 🙂

And no, I didn’t eat any of this chili. I hate beans lol. Jene really enjoyed it and has been taking it to work for lunch this week.

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Pork Chili

It’s cold. Some parts of the country actually have snow this time of year (poor buggers). Here in the Bay area it’s mostly just kind of chilly. It’s still good weather for making a nice thick hearty chili.

Recipe

This makes about 6 quarts so use a big enough pot.

5-6 lbs boneless pork butt/shoulder cubed into 2″ pieces

1 head celery, chopped (yes, it’s a lot)

3 cans diced tomatoes

2 onions chopped

chili seasoning of choice

salt

I like to use my crock pot for this. I’ve got a nice big one, about 6 quarts I think. I spray the inside with non-stick cooking spray and just toss everything in. For the BEST flavor, brown the cubes of pork over medium high heat in a skillet on a the stove before putting them in the crock pot. I didn’t do that today because I wasn’t feeling good. Thus the chili was a little bland. Once you have all the pork in the crock pot (browned or not) add the canned tomatoes, salt and chili seasoning. I used about 4 TB of Penzeys Chili 9000 which is probably my favorite. I also kicked it up with a bit of extra cumin. I let the pork, tomatoes and seasoning cook on high for about three hours and then added the celery and onions. It cooked in the crock pot for another hour until we had to leave for the party. My crock pot was too full so I moved everything to a large stock pot. Then it simmered on the stove at Darren’s house for another hour or two. So probably, a cooking time of about six hours. I could have started it last night and kept it on low.

Garnish with sour cream, green onions and shredded cheese. Pretty tasty. 🙂

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today is a day to appreciate love. Usually people think about it in terms of romantic love but I prefer to think about it as love in general. The love we feels for our friends and family, the love we feel for the around us in general. It’s a day to remember compassion and acceptance to to kiss our sweethearts. Well, if you kiss your pets you’ll probably get fur all over your face and yes, I did lol. So here’s to all of you who take time out to read my blog. I love you!!

Now, in case you’re wondering what I fixed for dinner… Ribeye Steaks with Lemon Basil Fettuccine in cream sauce and tomato/asparagus salad. It was a simple meal but tasty and satisfying. For dessert we had a glass of Orange Moscato and Gingerbread Spice Chocolate.

The ribeyes were seasoned with plain salt and pepper and a bit of butter at the end. For the cream sauce I melted 3 TB of butter in a saute pan, added 1/3 cup of heavy cream, a tiny pinch of nutmeg, salt and white pepper. Once the cream had reduced by about half, I tossed in the fettuccine and about 1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese. This creates a coating of cream and parmesan on the noodles without leaving it swimming in a thick, greasy sauce. Finally the tomato/asparagus salad is the one I’ve posted here.  It wasn’t anything new or particularly excited but there’s a great deal of satisfaction in a meal well cooked.

I hope everyone enjoyed their day and spent it with people you love. 🙂

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Sausage and Sauerkraut

I occasionally get really random food cravings. Yesterday I decided I wanted some polish sausage and sauerkraut. With that in mind, I got the ingredients and cooked it up tonight. It’s a pretty easy dish to put together but very tasty.

Recipe

2 packages kielabasa or polish sausage (13 oz each), sliced

1 32oz jar sauerkraut (I used Claussen brand)

1/4 large onion, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring frequently until browned. Reduce heat to medium and add the onion, bell pepper and sauerkraut. Cook, stirring frequently until the onions and peppers are tender.

That’s it lol.

sausageandkraut

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Braised Turkey

I made this at Thanksgiving and didn’t post the recipe! *GASP* Fortunately I had some thighs and legs in the freezer so I decided to make this today. The ingredient list looks a little intimidating but it’s actually really easy to make. This recipe comes from the 2011 Thanksgiving issue of Cooks Illustrated. It is one of my favorite ways to make turkey (besides smoking) and the braising liquid makes fabulous gravy.

Recipe

Published November 1, 2011. From Cook’s Illustrated.

Serves 10 to 12

Instead of drumsticks and thighs, you may use 2 whole leg quarters, 1½ to 2 pounds each. The recipe will also work with turkey breast alone; in step 1, reduce the salt and sugar to ½ cup each and the water to 4 quarts. If you are braising kosher or self-basting turkey parts, skip the brining step and instead season the turkey parts with 1½ teaspoons of salt.

Ingredients

  • Turkey
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 (5- to 7-pound) whole bone-in turkey breast, trimmed
  • 4 pounds turkey drumsticks and thighs, trimmed
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine

Gravy

1. FOR THE TURKEY: Dissolve 1 cup salt and sugar in 2 gallons cold water in large container. Submerge turkey pieces in brine, cover, and refrigerate for 3 to 6 hours.
2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Remove turkey from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Toss onions, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, porcini, and 2 tablespoons butter in large roasting pan; arrange in even layer. Brush turkey pieces with remaining 2 tablespoons butter and season with pepper. Place turkey pieces, skin side up, over vegetables, leaving at least ¼ inch between pieces. Roast until skin is lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
3. Remove pan from oven and reduce temperature to 325 degrees. Pour broth and wine around turkey pieces (it should come about three-quarters of way up legs and thighs). Place 12 by 16-inch piece of parchment paper over turkey pieces. Cover roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil. Return covered roasting pan to oven and cook until breasts register 160 degrees and thighs register 175 degrees, 1¾ to 2¼ hours. Transfer turkey to carving board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 20 minutes.
4. FOR THE GRAVY: Strain vegetables and liquid from roasting pan through fine-mesh strainer set in large bowl. Press solids with back of spatula to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard vegetables. Transfer liquid to fat separator; allow to settle, 5 minutes. Reserve 3 tablespoons fat and measure out 3 cups braising liquid (reserve any remaining broth for another use).
5. Heat reserved fat in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until flour is dark golden brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Whisk in 3 cups braising liquid and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until gravy is thick and reduced to 2 cups, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove gravy from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Carve turkey and serve, passing gravy separately.

Now, before you worry about how huge the ingredient list is, most of them are ingredients most people already have in the kitchen. The dried porcini mushrooms are something I consider to be optional. They lend a tremendous amount of flavor but if you don’t have them or can’t find them at your store, don’t worry about it. As far as the fresh herbs are concerned, the thyme really is necessary. Fortunately, it’s easy to find at the store. If you don’t want to use wine, just use extra chicken stock or water. So that’s it, follow the recipe and enjoy! 😀

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Steaks with Sauteed Mushrooms

There is nothing better than a good sale on ribeye steaks. Safeway had ribeyes for $5.99/lb when I went to the store tonight. I only got four steaks though because I had other stuff to get and a tight budget. (I used a chunk of grocery money paying off my car lol.) Since I am low on energy tonight I decided to cook something really simple and basic. For the steaks I heated my griddle over medium heat. While it was heating I seasoned the steaks with Penzeys Mitchell Street Steak Rub and started the mushrooms.

Sauteed Mushrooms with Shallots and White Wine

sliced mushrooms (however much filled my 10 inch saute pan lol)

1 TB butter

2 ounces white wine

2 TB dried shallots

Melt the butter in a saute pan. Add the shallots, white wine and mushrooms. Cook over medium heat until the moisture cooks out and the mushrooms start to brown.

As far as the steak goes, I cooked it for about 5-6 minutes a side for medium rare. Finally I steamed up some broccoli as a side dish.steaknmushrooms

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