Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays!

So it's been a while since I've posted, but you know I've been getting in with taking pictures of the food I've been making.  But with  Thanksgiving and now Christmas coming, it's been so difficult to get on here to post!  Not to mention, I just finished another semeter of school (29 MORE CREDITS to GO!!!!).  Anyways...

I just wanted to wish you all a happy holiday... may it be peaceful, restful, and may love fill the air.  We have so much to be greatful for... life... love... family... friends.  Let us remember that even though we spend a lot of our time shopping for this holiday, that it should be more about telling your loved ones how you feel about them... giving them hugs... and just taking the time to say I love you.

In the new year, be on the look out for some FUN blog posts!  I can't wait for 2012... and I bet it can't wait for me.

Onward and upward,

-Vince

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

This is the Remix #4 - Chicken Stock


This is… the last remix.  With the holidays coming up, I thought that doing a chicken stock blog post would be well worth it.  It seems that during the holidays, people buy the most chicken stock than other times of the year.  You use it to make dressing (or stuffing as some call it), different rice dishes, or as a basting liquid for your turkey.  It has so many uses, and at $2.50 for a 32 ounce tetrapack (tetrapack is a word I first heard in the Philippines, and it essentially means a juicebox), it may be worth it to you to make stock when you have a roasted chicken.  Once again… a $5.00 pre-roasted chicken will make you at least 96 ounces of stock.  Stock also freezes really well and can be defrosted quickly for when you want to make soup or add it to your favorite recipe.  So how do we do this?  Lehggo!

Once you have eaten everything you wanted off of your preroasted chicken, pick off the leftover meat off the chicken until you get to bare bones.  Save the meat to make soup, chicken-salad sandwiches, or another remix meal (See Remix Meal #1).

Ingredients:

1 chicken carcass (I use the leftover bones from the pre-roasted chicken we had been eating off of for the week)
4 carrots, roughly chopped (notice, I didn’t even bother to peel them)
4 celery stalks, roughly chopped (greens and all)
2 peppers roughly chopped
1 onion, cut into quarters (once again, no need to peel)
1 clove of garlic (you can leave the papers on)
Water to cover (Usually about 10-12 cups).

Vegetables

Bones


Put all of your ingredients into your largest stock pot.  Put in enough water to cover your ingredients.  

video

Place on high heat and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce to a simmer.  (You can also do this in your crockpot if you don’t feel comfortable with leaving your stove on for long periods of time)



 Now, depending on how intense you want your flavors to be in your stock, you can allow your stock to simmer all day (which will give you a more concentrated stock), or you can just simmer it for an hour. 

As you simmer your stock, you will notice a thin film of scum (or as another blogger called it, “chicken foam”) that will start to collect around the edges of the pot.  If you are worried about the clarity of your stock, go ahead and skim that off.  For me… I leave it in because (1) its tasty and (2) I’m lazy.

Once you’ve gotten your desired flavor profile, cut off the heat and allow it to cool.  Once you’ve cooled the stock, you want to strain out the veggies and the chicken bones.  I do this with a slotted spoon.  And if you aren’t clumsy, you can use a colander with another pot underneath to strain out your solids.  You can eat the veggies if you want, but I don’t because they no longer have any texture.  Essentially, they are mush.  So toss them out along with the bones, they’ve done their job.



There are several methods of storing your stock.  One method that I’ve learned is that you can freeze the stock into ice cube trays.  In using this method, you can then take your chicken stock cubes, remove them from the trays once frozen and place them in a gallon freezer bag.  For some, it may be easier to store the stock this way.  For me, I only have 2 ice trays… and quite honestly… I only want ice in them.  So what I do is save the large plastic containers that you get with your egg drop, wonton, hot and sour soups and freeze the stock in those containers.  Right now, I have about 3 of those containers in my freezer, waiting for use!



You may also be wondering… “Vince, why didn’t you add any salt or pepper to your stock?”  Trust me, there’s a method to my madness.  I leave my stocks salt and pepper free because I use the stocks as an ingredient for other dishes.  If I add salt and pepper to the stock, I run the risk of over-seasoning the foods I plan on making later.

Chicken stock is one of the best ways to use all of your chicken parts and get rid of your leftover veggies.  Since lately I’ve been doing a lot of food shopping at warehouse stores, I am always afraid that the veggies and things are going to go bad before I can get around to using them.  So before that happens, make stock.  You don’t have to be limited by the vegetables I’ve listed for you.  You aren’t limited by just chicken bones.  If you use have short-ribs or marrow bones, use those to make a beef stock.  If you have a bunch of scallions that are about to go on you, throw them in the pot!  If you have fresh herbs that are starting to get dry and brown on you, throw them in the pot!  If you find yourself with a hambone after a holiday meal, make stock out of that!  Stocks are so versatile, its worth the time and effort.

Onwards and upwards,

Vince

Thursday, November 3, 2011

This is the Remix Meal #3 - Pizza Muffins


 THIS IS THE REMIX…If you are like me, when you make your favorite spaghetti meat sauce, you make entirely too much of it.  In my case… I make a lot so I can freeze some and have some for the week’s meals.  But you can only have spaghetti bolognese so many times in a week!  So how do you remix it?  I turned my bolognese sauce into PIZZA MUFFINS.

Keep in mind, this recipe isn’t completely like pizza in that it doesn’t have the classic pizza toppings.  However, there is NOTHING stopping you from using classic pizza toppings.  This is just a method.  You can adjust it to your liking and your favorites.

Lehhgo!

Ingredients

1 package of premade pizza dough (I used the pop-can style by Pillsbury)
½ cup of your favorite sauce (I used my own bolognese sauce)
¼ cup of ricotta cheese
¼ cup of mozzerella cheese (Reserve a bit on the side to top your muffins)
¼ cup of cheddar cheese

1 Muffin Tin greased with a bit of non-stick spray
Mozzerella, Cheddar, Ricotta, and Pizza Dough

Pizza dough

Bolognese Sauce

 
Unroll your pizza dough and cut it into six pieces.  Roll out these pieces so that they fit into the holes of the muffin tin and that they create cups.  Bake this per the directions on the package of pizza dough.   Just a tip, I baked the cups for 5 minutes longer than the package instructions to ensure that you have a fully cooked cup.

Pizza Dough in the Muffin Tins


While your muffins are in the oven. Combine the rest of your ingredients together.  What you are looking for is a soft mush… the consistency of mashed potatoes.  If you find that your mixture is too wet, add a bit more ricotta to get the proper consistency.

Bolognese, and Cheese Mixture


Remove muffins from oven.  Now that you have a “cup”, fill them with the mixture you just made and top with the reserved mozzerella cheese.  Place back in the oven for 8-10 more minutes, or until the cheese mixture is all melted and gooey.

Remove from oven and there you have it… PIZZA MUFFINS!



Serve with a side salad.



When I tell you that the pizza muffins were ridiculously good!  I’m not lying.  And they were so quick to make!

Try it out!

Onwards and Upwards,

-Vince

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

This is the Remix Meal #2 - Vegetable Frittata


In my P. Diddy voice “This is the remix…”.  A couple of weekends ago, my partner was in charge of making the protein for Sunday dinner, while I was in charge of sides.  So we had rice (of course...LOL) and steamed veggies.  My veggie medley included julienned carrots, peppers, onions, frozen broccoli florets, and a few cloves of garlic, mixed with a bit of olive oil, salt, and lemon pepper.  All of this was thrown in the microwave for about 6-7 minutes, mixed once about halfway through the cooking process.  But as we sit in the afterglow of fullness, I wonder, “What the heck am I going to do with those leftover steamed veggies?”  And there we have it… the vegetable frittata.

You may ask, what in the world is a frittata?  It is an open-faced Spanish omelet, or as I like to call it, a “man-quiche”, since you don’t have to bother with rolling out a pie-crust to make this happen.  So let’s get started!

Leftover steamed veggies (your favorite mix will always work)
6 whole eggs, cracked and beaten
½ cup of milk
1 tbsp. of dried parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste
Non-stick spray
1 tsp. of butter

Leftover steamed veggies

Eggs


1 Glass (Pyrex) pie plate

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl, beat your eggs and beat in your milk.  Then add your salt, pepper, and parsley.  Set this mixture aside.

Bout to beat the eggs!


Next, prepare your pie plate by lightly spraying it with your non-stick spray.  Now, this may seem extra fat, but there is actually a purpose to what I am about to do.  Take your teaspoon of butter and rub the bottom and sides of your pie-plate with it.  Your are doing this to add a bit of that butter flavor to your frittata, without having to actually add butter to the frittata itself. 

Place your steamed veggie mixture in the bottom of the pie-plate, ensuring that your vegetables create an even layer.  

Veggies in your pie-plate


Pour your egg mixture over the top of the veggies, ensuring that the eggs seep into every crack and crevice of the eggs.  
The beginnings of a frittata


Cook in your preheated oven for 30-45 minutes, or until your eggs have completely set and are lightly browned on top.  Serve this with your favorite grain or a salad for lighter fare.

All Done!
Are you ready to eat?
Come and get it!


The beauty of this dish is, you can add just about anything to your frittata.  Have a bit of leftover grated cheese?  Throw it in there!  Do you have some leftover steak?  Chop that up and throw it in there!  Are your fresh herbs wilting on you?  Throw it in your frittata!

All I have to say is, experiment, experiment, experiment!  And EAT THOSE LEFTOVERS!

Onwards and upwards,

-Vince


Sunday, October 2, 2011

"This is the REMIX" Meal #1 - Chicken Pesto Pasta with Asparagus!


In these tough economic times, we have to consider ways to save ourselves some money.  No one ever said that you couldn’t eat well on a budget… and damn near gourmet too!  How many of you all buy those pre-roasted chickens from the grocery store?  In a bind, I definitely do.  And honestly, at less than $7 a bird, it’s a pretty good value for something that is already pre-made.  But, are you like me and get tired of eating the chicken after a while?  Well… here’s a great remix meal for you…

1 cup of cooked chicken (pick the meat off of your pre-roasted chicken when you get tired it)
1 cup of asparagus, chopped at an angle
½ box of spaghetti, boiled per the box directions
4 tablespoons of store-bought pesto sauce (this is a great value, and keeps really well in the fridge)
1 tbsp. of butter
1 tbsp. of olive oil
1 tsp. of chili flakes
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
salt and pepper to taste






In a large pot, boil your water for your pasta.  Drop your pasta in the boiling water, stirring occasionally.  Takes about 8 minutes for al dente pasta. 

While your pasta is cooking, heat up a frying pan.  Melt your butter into the olive oil in this pan.  Add in your asparagus and spices.  What you are looking for here is for your asparagus to get tender.   



Once the asparagus has gotten to your desired tenderness, turn down the heat and throw in your chicken.  You just want the chicken to warm through.

Now… drain your pasta, reserving a half-cup of the cooking liquid. (You’ll see what we are going to do with it in a few.)


Take your pasta and add it to the frying pan with your asparagus.  Add in your pesto sauce, and let everything combine and warm through.  If you find that you are having a hard time incorporating your pesto, throw in a few teaspoons of the reserved pasta water.  This should loosen your pesto enough to get better coverage on your pasta.



Serve it up and enjoy!
Onwards and upwards,

-Vince

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Leftovers and Saving Dollars



In this day and age of recessions and folk trying to save money, I think it’s really important to do your best to save money by not wasting food.  I mean, we spend so much money each year on food, why not make the most of it?  I know for some, it’s really difficult to get through leftovers… by the end of the week… most people are tired of eating that same spaghetti, meatloaf, or grilled chicken breasts.  So what do you do?  You can’t stop cooking (cooking is one of the BEST ways to save money) and you HAVE to eat the food!  Well, here are a couple of tips.

1.  At the beginning of each week, try to make two or three different entrees, so that they can be alternated throughout the week.  You can bring these leftovers for lunch as well and not feel like you are eating the same things over and over again. 

2.  Trade up your side dishes with these entrées.  Sometimes switching your side from a salad to buttered noodles really makes a difference!

3.  Use EVERY part of the food you buy.  For example, when you roast a chicken, once all the meat is eaten, use the chicken carcass to make your own homemade chicken stock.  Save the tough ends of your asparagus, they can be the base for an asparagus soup.  There are TONS of ways to use every part of the food you buy.

AND…. MY FAVORITE TIP…

4. (In my P. Diddy Voice) THIS IS THE REMIX.  There are ways to take your leftovers and turn them into whole other meals.  Let’s say you have leftover steamed veggies and you have no idea what to do with them.  Use them on top of your favorite salad greens to bulk up your salad.  Or take them and add them to a frittata (Spanish omelet).  Do you have leftover grilled chicken?  With a cup of chicken stock and a cup of your favorite barbecue sauce, you can create a quick pulled chicken to be put in between your favorite Kaiser roll.  Leftover meatloaf?  Chop it up, add some tomato paste and a bit of water, and you have a sauce to go over spaghetti.  And let’s not forget, the sandwich.  Most entrees can be turned into a sandwich.

I write this to say, be creative with your food.  These are some great techniques that you can use to save money and to get through your leftovers!  Be on the lookout for my recipes for remixes!

Onward and upward,

-Vince

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Quinoa Pilaf


So, how many of you have ever heard of quinoa?  For my foodies, quinoa is what my health conscious aunt would call a “Super food”, not only containing carbohydrates but containing 14 grams of protein per 100 grams!


Kinda crazy right?  What’s great about it is, it cooks just like rice and can be used in the same ways rice would be used.  So, here’s my recipe for quinoa pilaf.

2 cups of quinoa
4 cups of chicken stock
1 packet of chicken base (Yeah… I ganked that out of a pack of ramen noodles, DON’T JUDGE ME! LOL)

1 celery rib, diced
1 cup of frozen peppers
1 cup of frozen spinach
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. dried parsley
1 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste



Chicken base... hahahahahahaha!






Heat the olive oil in a pot and lightly toast your quinoa.  About 2 minutes.  Doing this helps to develop the flavor of the quinoa.  You can also do this with rice or any other grain you cook.



Then add in your celery and sauté it allow it to soften.  This will impart that light celery flavor that a lot of people love.  Takes about 2 minutes.

After you’ve toasted the quinoa and , add in your chicken stock.  Bring the liquid to a boil, and reduce to simmer, stirring it every so often.  Add in your seasonings.  Simmer for about 10 minutes covered, until the liquid starts to become absorbed by the quinoa.



At this point, drop in your frozen veggies, stir, and allow them to cook for another 10 minutes with the quinoa, or until ALL the liquid has been absorbed by the quinoa.

Turn off the heat and fluff with a fork.  This side dish goes great with grilled chicken and fish.  Try something new!



Onward and upward…

-Vince