Thursday, April 16, 2015

Bean and Broccoli Pasta Casserole

Every now and then it's fun to throw together ingredients and see how it turns out. This is one of those instances where I threw a bunch of "safe" ingredients together. There was really no way to screw this combination up. It's a simple, hearty casserole. It easily becomes vegetarian by leaving out the beef. It's flexible, too. There's nothing stopping you from swapping chicken in for the beef and adding in some hot sauce for a Buffalo style casserole. Anyways, we liked it and that's all that counts.

Bean and Broccoli Pasta Casserole
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. mostaccioli
  • 1 lb. frozen broccoli, defrosted
  • 1 - 15.5 ounce can white (cannellini) beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 - 10.5 ounce can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried minced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups pasta sauce 
  • 1 cup ground beef, cooked and drained (optional)
Directions
  1. Cook pasta according to directions, then drain.
  2. Combine all other items besides the reserved cheese with the pasta and mix. Spread evenly in a baking dish. Top with reserved cheese.
  3. 375F for 30 minutes or until cheese on top is golden brown and bubbling.
Good times!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

RC-Tequila Carnitas

     I am a Goddamn genius. I'm just putting it out there right now. This recipe is proof of my towering intellect.  I have created a meal of such unsurpassed deliciousness that even the most accomplished chef would bow before it. I can say without fear of contradiction that this is one of the greatest things I have ever cooked. All bombast aside, this is truly a fantastic dish. It's also super easy to make, though it does take a while. I have always enjoyed the carnitas I would get at Mexican restaurants and wanted to make them at home. Granted, I don't think RC and bottom shelf tequila qualify as authentic Mexican, but such is life. It's good. So good. Change your pants good. Just make it. Then shower me with the praise I no doubt deserve.

RC-Tequila Carnitas
Ingredients
  • 2 pound pork shoulder (Boston Butt)
  • 1 sweet onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 2 cans cola (we used RC)
  • 1/3 cup tequila (I imagine the tequila you use will slightly effect the flavor. We used Sauza white tequila)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds
Directions
  1. Rub meat (*snicker*) with salt, pepper, red pepper and fennel. Set aside.
  2. In a large enameled cast iron dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons oil at medium-high heat. Add onion and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown. 
  3. Turn up heat a bit and add roast, searing on each side for a couple minutes or until it starts to brown.
  4. Add the cola and tequila. Liquid should be deep enough that at least half the meat is submerged. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. 
  5. Cover and put in oven preheated to 350F (180C, Gasmark 4) and cook for 3 hours. Check level of liquid, adding more if necessary to keep the roast about halfway in the liquid.
  6. Reduce heat to 250F (130C, Gasmark 1/2) and cook another hour. 
  7. Remove meat from dutch oven and use two forks to pull the meat into chunks (don't fully shred the meat. You want some nice quarter-sized chunks of meat)
  8. Spread the meat on a baking sheet or in a Pyrex dish. Put under the broiler for 5-10 minutes or until the meat starts to crisp a bit on the edges.
  9. Take any remaining liquid and onion from the dutch oven and stir it in with the meat. 
Better than the usual Good Times!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Soup

     While Yahoo is one of the most worthless sources of reliable news reporting, they do have a fairly robust food section that I refer to on a regular basis. The Wife happened across this slow-cooker recipe in her search for quick and easy meals for the week. In addition to being quick and easy, this was also right tasty, which is something I don't often say about slow cooker fare. Throw down some good crusty bread with this and you're good to go. I do suggest you take the suggestion for the pasta you'll see later in the recipe; you'll thank us for it. Or not, if you're totally ungrateful. We give and give and give and all you do is take and take and take. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Soup
via Yahoo Food
Ingredients
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (we got lazy and used 3 teaspoons minced garlic from a jar)
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped (The Wife doesn't like green peppers, so we went with red)
  • 14 1/2 ounces crushed tomatoes (we used a can of undrained diced tomatoes)
  • 1/2 pound raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
  • 3 cups chicken broth 
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (none on hand, we used 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (none on hand either, 1.5 teaspoons dried)
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
  • 4 ounces uncooked dry gemelli or penne pasta
  • Chopped fresh basil or parsley, for garnish (no fresh on hand, omitted)
Directions
  1. In the slow cooker, stir together the garlic, bell pepper, crushed tomatoes, chicken, broth, onion, the cheese, basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook on high for 3 1/2 hours, or on low for 7 hours.
  2. Transfer chicken breasts to a cutting board and coarsely shred them; return them to the slow cooker; stir in the pasta. Cook on high for 30 minutes longer or until pasta is cooked al dente (adding the pasta at this step is a Bad Idea unless you plan on eating everything in one sitting. That pasta will turn to mush overnight if you put any aside for later. We suggest cooking the pasta separately and adding it as needed when you serve the soup. Unless you like mushy pasta. We won't judge. Yes we will. Don't do it.)
  3. Serve garnished with more Parmesan cheese and chopped basil or parsley.
Good times!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Swedish Rye Bread

     There seems to be a sharp division on rye bread. It's like pumpernickel. People either love it or hate it. There is no middle ground. Those people who don't like it are totally entitled to their opinions. They are however, totally wrong. Rye bread is great. Especially this rye bread. Granted, this bread will qualify as a PITA due to the 2+ hours of rising time. It's worth the wait. The recipe makes 3 loaves and the loaves freeze really well. Just wrap each loaf in plastic shrink and then in a layer of heavy aluminum foil. When you're ready, just take it out and let it get back to room temperature on it's own. This is a good, hearty bread with just a touch of sweetness. You'll love it. Or you're wrong. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Swedish Rye Loaves
via Taste of Home Everyday Light Meals
Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided (we omitted the 1 divided tablespoon of butter for reasons that will become apparent)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 cups bread flour (theoretically, if you use any flour for bread, doesn't it count as "bread" flour? I hope they meant white flour, because that's what I used)
  • 2 packages (.25 ounce each) of active dry yeast
  • 3 cups rye flour
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds (omitted. The Wife is not a fan of bread with seeds)
Directions
  1. In a bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, molasses, 4 tablespoons butter and salt; stir in boiling water. Let stand until mixture cools to 120-130F, stirring occasionally.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of bread flour and yeast. Add the molasses mixture. Stir in rye flour and enough of the remaining flour to form a medium stiff dough (we used all the flour called for in the recipe and a tiny bit more). Turn out onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes (we did this entire step in our KitchenAid with the dough hook. I plan on using that thing until it explodes)
  3. Place in bowl covered with non-stick cooking spray, turning once to coat the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  4. Punch down dough, cover and let rise in again until doubled, about 30 minutes. 
  5. Punch down dough, Turn out onto floured surface and divide into three portions. Shape into loaves (I went with round loaves because it's the easiest and very rustic looking. Everybody loves that rustic looking stuff). Place on baking sheets covered with nonstick cooking spray (I used a pizza stone and everything came out wonderfully). Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes (I know! The rising times qualify this as a PITA. This is the last rise. I promise. This will be totally worth it. Unless you don't like rye bread, in which case you just wasted a bunch of time and ingredients).
  6. Cut a shallow cross across the top of each loaf to prevent uneven expansion during baking, Bake at 375F (190C, Gasmark5) for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown (our oven consistently takes 35 minutes to cook these loaves)
  7. Cool on wire racks
  8. Melt remaining butter; brush over loaves and sprinkle with caraway seeds. Cool. (Omitted)
Good times!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken with Cheesy Grits

     Cheesy grits seem to be all the rage lately. You can't open a cooking magazine and not find something served over grits. For me, grits were always something you'd order at Huddle House- a bowl of mush swimming in melted butter. This time, it's swimming in cheese. Cheese makes everything better. At the very least, cheese makes The Wife happy, which makes my life very easy. Though the recipe isn't made entirely in the slow-cooker, it is about the lamest, laziest recipe I've ever devised, which is hilarious because it's really damned good. Give it a try and tell me I'm wrong. You'd be lying, because I'm not wrong. It's really damned good. As always, notes are in blue.

Slow-cooker BBQ Chicken
and Cheesy Grits
Ingredients
BBQ Chicken

  • 1 pound chicken, skin removed (we used drumsticks. There's nothing stopping you from using boneless, skinless chicken. In the long run, that would probably save you a little time and work)
  • 1 bottle of BBQ sauce of your choice. 
Cheesy Grits
  • 1 cup grits
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon adobo seasoning
  • 1 cup shredded cheese of your choice (we used a bagged mix of cheddar, American and Swiss)
Directions
Chicken
  1. Pour BBQ sauce into a slow cooker. 
  2. Fill BBQ sauce bottle half-way and shake. Pour into slow-cooker.
  3. Add chicken and cook on LOW 6-7 hours or until chicken is done.
  4. Remove the meat from the bone and discard the bones. Return the meat to the sauce. If using boneless, shred the meat and return to the sauce.
Cheesy Grits (Done on the stove)
  1. In a saucepan, bring 3 cups of water to a rolling boil. Add the adobo seasoning.
  2. Stir in grits and cheese. Lower heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. About halfway through the cooking, stir to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan (you may find this step is easier if you remove the lid first. Put the lid back on when you're done stirring)
  3. After 5 minutes, take off lid and remove from heat. Grits should be creamy.
Assembly
  1. Take a big scoop of grits and put them on a plate.
  2. Take a big scoop of chicken and sauce and place it on the grits.
  3. Unceremoniously shovel the concoction in your face and enjoy. Maybe have a beer or two with this. I'd recommend a nice wheat beer. Or Guinness. You can never go wrong with Guinness. 
  4. Damn it, now I want a Guinness and I don't have any in the house.
  5. I'll be damned if I'm making a special trip to the store to buy Guinness.
  6. It's better on draft anyway.
  7. Ah screw it, I'll just have a bourbon and cola.
Good times!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Slow Cooker Indian Style Chicken Chili

     Sometimes it's fun to make totally inauthentic food. We've all done it. Take some ingredients that follow a theme and just get stupid. That's what happened here. And I'll be damned, it worked! It is certainly no chili and definitely not genuine Indian food, it combines from both and makes for a very fragrant and satisfying meal. I didn't ramp the heat much for the base recipe, but you can certainly add more cayenne or chopped green chiles if you want more heat. Give it a try and see what you think. Or don't I know you only come here for my rugged good looks and roguish charm.

Slow-Cooker
Indian-Style Chicken Chili
Ingredients

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup dried red lentils
  • 2- 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (use more if you want more heat)
  • 1 bay leaf
Directions
  1. Load everything into a slow cooker.
  2. Cook on LOW for about 7 hours. If needed, add 1/2 cup more water during cooking.
  3. When done cooking, take out the bay leaf and discard. Shred chicken with two forks
  4. Eat and be happy.
Good tines!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Shells with Broccoli and Anchovy

     It's always a good idea to have some truly speedy recipes in your repertoire. A home-cooked meal is a wonderful thing to carry you through to the weekend. Usually when we get home from work we're not in the mood to cook. We normally reheat something we prepared with a slow cooker on Sunday. This is a fantastic and simple recipe. It also has anchovies, which I love. If you're squeamish about anchovies, get over that sort of shit. You're not six. Unless you're allergic, give it a try. If you are allergic, try it anyway, but add an Epipen to the silverware layout. As always, notes and changes are in blue. 

Shells with Broccoli and Anchovy
via The Essential Pasta Cookbook
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. medium shell pasta
  • 14 ounces broccoli (we used a 10 ounce bag of frozen broccoli and it was plenty)
  • 1 tablespoon oil (I used the oil from the can of anchovies we opened)
  • 1 onion, chopped (I used a Vidalia, figuring the sweetness would go well in here)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 anchovy fillets, chopped (in retrospect, we probably could have easily doubled the amount of anchovies. The Wife even said it could have used a bit more anchovy, which is impressive considering she's not a big fan of the little fishies!)
  • 1-1/4 cups cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for serving (we added it directly to the pasta instead of over the top)
Directions
  1. Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente (I went to school with Al Dente. Nice guy). Drain and return to the pan.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, cut the broccoli into florets and cook in a pan of boiling water for 1 minute. Drain, plunge in cold water and drain again. Set aside. Alternately, if you're lazy like us, just microwave a steamer bag of broccoli and be done with it. This frees up valuable time for wine drinking.
  3. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the onion, garlic and anchovies and cook over low heat, stirring for 3 minutes (I changed this up a bit because The Wife prefers her onions with no snap. I wound up sauteeing for closer to 7-8 minutes to make sure the onions were the right consistency)
  4. Add the cream to the pan, stirring constantly; bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for about 2 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook for another minute. Salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Add the sauce to the pasta and toss to combine. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve (we opted to toss the cheese with the pasta)
Good times!