Saturday, October 17, 2009


So cooking has not been going so well this month...oh well, it's a process right? I have been juicing quite a bit so I thought I would share a little of that with you here. Two years ago my awesome mother-in-law got me a Jack Lalanne Power Juicer and I love it!! It's a great way to get in some fruits and veggies. While the pulp is discarded and you miss out on the nutrients and fiber it contains, homemade juice is still far superior to what you would buy in a store. It has no added sugar or preservatives, and is as fresh as it gets. I have The Complete Idiot's Guide to Juicing and it's got some great recipe ideas and general juicing tips.

I made some fruity carrot juice with apples, grapes, carrots, oranges and a hint of lime. You could also easily sneak some other kind of veggie in here since the sweetness of the fruit helps mask the flavor. You peel the oranges and lime, pull the grapes off the stem and quarter the apples, then drop them in the shoot and out comes the juice.

I know it doesn't look that appetizing, but this one is delicious. Ya'll know how picky Rich is about all things health-food and he loved this one.

Next up is a mango/yellow bell pepper juice with some celery, orange and lime added. You remove the seeds and half the pepper, peel and seed the mango, and peel the orange and lime.

Here's the celery going in the juicer, you can see the juice coming out and going directly into the glass.

The only bad thing about juicing, other than the vast quantities of pricey organic fruit and veggies that we use, is the cleanup. You have to disassemble and clean after every use which takes about 5 minutes. It's really not that big of a deal, and a small price to pay for fresh, healthy juice.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Chicken in a mustard pan sauce with risotto and veggies and homemade brownies

Chicken in Mustard Pan Sauce

4 boneless chicken breasts (halved, with skin, about 2 lbs) Note: I used skinless
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)

1Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Pat chicken dry . Season with salt and pepper. Add the oil to the hot pan and swirl to evenly coat. Lay chicken in pan skin side down; cook without moving the pieces until the skin crisps and browns, about 5 minutes. Flip chicken and cook about another 3 minutes. Transfer to a baking dish, skin side up, and bake until cooked through, about 10 minutes.
3Pour the wine into the hot skillet. Use wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits in the bottom of the pan. Boil until almost all the wine evaporates and it gets a little syrupy, about 3 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil.
4Mix the flour and water together to make thin paste. Whisk the paste and mustard into the broth and boil until the sauce thickens, 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat. Swirl in the butter, if using, to give the sauce a little richness. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce on top and serve.

It turned out pretty good, nothing super spectacular though. There are a million great chicken recipes out there so I don't think this one will be a keeper although there was really nothing wrong with it.

Here's the ingredients:

Rich was in charge of the sauce and somehow managed to crank the heat up so high that we had wine and oil splattered from ceiling to floor. but he missed the vital step of mixing the flour with the water and then adding to the sauce, and he just added the flour and water individually and wound up with a clumpy mess. This is his unhappy cooking face:)

We didn't love the risotto so I'm not going to post the recipe unless someone wants it, then I will be more than happy to. I enjoyed making it just to learn how since it's kind of complicated with the addition of small amounts of liquid while stirring constantly. I thought it was ok, but Rich said it just reminded him of gummy rice without much flavor. Next time I think I'll try a flavored one instead of just plain.

Risotto ingredients:

The finished products, with a side of steamed veggies.

I also made deep dish brownies from scratch but we each ate a piece and threw them out.
Fail! Their consistency was very dense, almost like a heavy dark chocolate cake. I like my brownies a little sweeter and chewier. These definitely did NOT top the boxed mixes so I'll keep searching for a good homemade brownie recipe.

One final misadventure was when I caught a dishrag on fire. I didn't notice that it was a bit too close to my favorite fall candle (Yankee Candle Pumpkin Pie...smells so good!) until the rag started smoking and flaming. Yikes! All in all not our favorite dinner. Oh well, I guess they can't all be great.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Reflections from month 1 and where to go from here

It's been a month already since I started this blog and I think September was a success. I really enjoyed all the cooking and blogging about it. I realized that with a little planning, it's not that difficult to plan meals, cook a couple days a week, and have leftovers for the rest of the week. Most of my recipes from the past month came from online. I have several cookbooks that go unused as I turn to the internet again and again for new recipes. So, the next phase of Adventures in our Kitchen is to choose a cookbook per month and cook only recipes from that particular cookbook during that month.

October's Cookbook of the Month is How to Boil Water from Food Network Kitchens. This cookbook is a must-have for any new cook or just for anybody who could use a review of some basics. It is full of great, easy recipes with pictures and notes on how to modify them, how to freeze and thaw them, where to find unusual ingredients, etc. In addition to recipes, it has lots of charts and information such as what to do with different vegetables, what different cuts of meat mean, what temperature to cook certain things to, how to tell when things are done, and lots more. I've made a few recipes from this cookbook over the last year or two, but I'm really looking forward to getting more in depth with this one. Here's to a tasty October!