Monday, February 14, 2011

CSN Winner!

We have a winner for the CSN Store giveaway! Chosen by Random. org, the winner is-

Rachel, who said....
Being the most indecisive person, I'm struggling to narrow down my choices to just one item!!!.........

Thankyou to all who entered this contest and left comments; I love you guys!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Moroccan Chicken Stew (Djej Kdra Touimiya)

I stepped outside of my comfort zone this week and tried food new to my palate. Not anything too drastic mind you, but I have not eaten Moroccan food before this. According to Saveur, this kdra is a cousin to a tagine. I did not have a clay pot to cook it in , just my dutch oven, but I thought it turned out delicious. And since this was my first foray into this type of dish, I need some feed back from any of you, my readers, as too how authentic this dish is. My husband was so quiet while eating that I thought he must not like it, but he said he was just enjoying the new flavors. So, I'll be making this again and next time I'll try some other dishes to go with it! I cut the recipe in half for just the two of us, and changed a couple of other things. My store didn't have blanched almonds, so I had to blanch my own, but it's quite easy to do. I'll give you the directions for that at the end of the recipe. Be sure to use the fresh lemon juice if you try this recipe; it really freshens the dish and adds pizazz to the flavors. The turmeric added a golden hue to the sauce and the almonds. The sauce is mildly sweet because of the cooked onions and with a hint of cinnamon and a splash of lemon, it is very tasty. It was a rather exotic meal for us in this cold weather. Let me know what you think!
Don't forget my CSN Giveaway; You have until Saturday, February 12th at 11:00 Pacific time to enter! Scroll down to the post to leave a comment to to enter. (Links are not working for some reason.)
adapted from Saveur ( which is adapted from "Couscous and other Good Foods from Morocco")

1 3 1/2 lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces- I used 4 thighs because I made half the amount
1 cup blanched whole almonds- directions at end of recipe
1/4 teaspoon turmeric or saffron-I used turmeric
1 tsp. ground white pepper
1 tsp. ground dried ginger
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons butter
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
4 cups chicken stock or low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped parsley
kosher salt to taste
1/2 cup canned chickpeas, drained
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1. Melt butter in a dutch oven over medium heat. Combine the chicken pieces, blanched almonds, turmeric, pepper, ginger, kosher salt and cinnamon stick in the pot and cook, turning, about 3-4 minutes. Add half of the sliced onions and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 30minutes.
2. Add remaining onion and parsley to chicken; cover and cook until chicken is tender, about 20-30minutes. Remove chicken from the pot and set aside. Bring the sauce to a boil; cook until thicken 13-15 minutes. Since I halved the recipe, it took only about 5 minutes to thicken. Use your judgment with this. Return chicken to the dutch oven along with the chickpeas; heat through. Taste and add salt only if needed. Drizzle with the fresh lemon juice and serve. I served this dish with couscous, which soaked up the wonderful flavors of the sauce. Enjoy!
How to blanch almonds: Boil a pan of water; pour almonds into the hot water and soak for 1 minute. Almonds should be covered with the hot water. Drain the almonds into a colander, and then put almonds into cold water to cool them down. The skins will pull apart and slip off when you squeeze them between your fingers. Lay on a paper towel to dry.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Ahhh, soup, it's soul and body warming on these frigid winter nights. Today the high was 12 degrees Fahrenheit. Tonight it's going to be below zero and we are expecting more snow tomorrow (sob). I can't seem to stay warm, so this soup certainly hit the spot this week. My daughter-in-law Steff gave me a bunch of mushrooms this week and I had a butternut squash that needed to be used. I found this soup recipe that called for wild rice, and I happened to have a nice wild and brown rice blend. This Chicken and Wild Rice Soup is awesome, a nice earthy flavor and rich broth from the mushrooms, plus it's full of healthy vegetables. The addition of chicken (or leftover turkey), makes it hearty enough for even the guys. In short, we love it; I hope you'll give it a try. Now I'll stop whining about the weather. CHICKEN and WILD RICE SOUP
adapted from Kitchen Parade

5 cups chicken stock, or broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced or diced
about 6 ounces mushrooms, thickly sliced
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme- recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 stalk celery, sliced
2 cups of butternut squash, peeled and diced
2/3 cup of wild rice - I used Lundberg's Wild Blend rice
2 cups of cooked chicken or turkey

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat; add the diced onion, carrot, sliced mushrooms, thyme and the kosher salt. Cook until the mushrooms cook off all their liquid. Add the chicken stock and rice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Simmer for 15 minutes and then add the celery and diced butternut squash to the pot. Cook until the rice is done, about another 30 minutes, ( 45 min. total cooking time). Stir in the chicken and season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and enjoy!

NOTE: When reheating the soup, you may have to add more chicken stock to the soup as the rice absorbs the liquid. According to Alana at Kitchen Parade, this soup does not freeze well. But we didn't have any left to freeze!
Also, she states that different wild rices may require different cooking times. Native wild rice may cook in 30 minutes, while commercial wild rice will take 45-60 minutes. I learned something new!
Also (again), you can add the butternut to the pot when you add the broth, but I was afraid it would be too mushy with the 45 minute cooking time, so added it a bit later.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Giveaway from CSN Stores!

Contest is now closed. I hope you all had a great week end. We still lots of snow on the ground here, as you can see from the photo where my hubby was shoveling our buried sidewalk, and there's more expected tomorrow. I have a soup recipe to share later, but right now I have a giveaway for you.

I have been contacted by a representative from the CSN Stores to host a giveaway for you, my dear readers and followers. I know you've seen some of their giveaways on other blogs. This is a $60.00 gift certificate to any of the CSN Stores and is open to my Canadian and U.S. readers! CSN has over 200 stores featuring too many items to mention. They even have modern furniture for your shopping pleasure!

All you have to do for a chance to win is leave a comment on this post, and mention something you'd like to buy from one of their stores. Be sure there is a way I can contact you if you win.

This giveaway is open to residents in the U.S. and Canada through Saturday, February 12, at 11:00 PM Pacific Standard Time, and the winner will be drawn sometime on Sunday, February 13. Shipping costs are not covered in this giveaway, but you may order anything from any of the CSN Stores. Good luck everyone!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Skillet Lasagna

I needed a quick, hearty and tasty meal last night. My husband had been shoveling snow a big part of the day, and I had helped some also, so I wanted something easy to prepare. I had been wanting to make Skillet Lasagna for a while, and I had most of the ingredients needed. The original recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated, so I was reasonably sure it would be good. It was; this lasagna has a wonderful Italian flavor! The whole dish is assembled and cooked in a large skillet and ready to eat in 30-40 minutes, depending on how fast you are. All the flavor of a delicious lasagna, but this dish is so much faster to prepare. The recipe calls for a mix of ground beef and ground pork. I replaced the pork with Italian sausage since I had it on hand. It added great depth of flavor to this dish. You gotta try it! Here's the recipe that I found at Apples and Twinkies.
adapted from Apples and Twinkies and Cook's Illustrated
3 cans (14.5 oz.) whole, peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 medium garlic cloves, pressed- I only used 2
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes- I used a pinch
1/2 pound of ground round beef
1/2 pound ground Italian sausage
10 curly edge lasagna noodles- it is NOT recommended that no-bake noodles be used
1/2 cup (2 ounces) mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
pepper to taste
1 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
3/4 cup full fat ricotta cheese
Pour the 3 cans of tomatoes into a blender or food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
Heat oil in a 12 inch non-stick skillet. Add diced onion and salt and cook until softened; stir in garlic and red pepper flakes. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the ground meats; break up the meat as it cooks. Drain grease from skillet if needed.
Break the lasagna noodles into 2 inch pieces and scatter over the meat in the skillet. Pour the tomatoes over the noodles and sprinkle with the dried basil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. (I used a stainless steel skillet, so I stirred the lasagna a couple of times to keep the noodles from sticking).
When done, remove the pan from the burner. Carefully stir the mixture together, taste and add pepper to taste; more salt if needed. Lightly stir in half of the mozzarella and half of the Parmesan cheeses. Sprinkle the rest of the shredded cheeses over the top. Spoon the ricotta cheese in spoonfuls over the lasagna. Cover skillet with lid and let the cheese melt. I added some chopped fresh parsley also. Serve with some garlic bread and salad if desired. My husband and daughter loved it-it got 2 thumbs up, so I'll be making it again often. Let me know if you give this a try!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Texas Oven-Roasted Brisket (from Paula Deen)

Beef. It was for dinner tonight. This is the second time I've made this juicy, brisket. The spicy rub gives this brisket great flavor without being overpowering. Sliced thinly, this delicious meat was easily cut with a fork. Oven time is about 4 hours. The oven heat felt really good today with this massive snow storm blowing through. I hope you all in the storms path can stay warm! My daughter's car was pretty well buried by the middle of this afternoon, and it just kept on snowing. We have about 20 inches of snow, the most we've had in very many years. Thankfully we did not get much ice. Needless to say, my husband and daughter did not make it to work, nor will they tomorrow. Everything was pretty much shut down today around these parts (southwest Missouri). I know many of you are getting this storm now, so stay warm!

But, back to this delicious brisket. I cooked a 4 pound brisket. If you haven't cooked one before, please note that brisket needs a layer of fat on one side to keep it moist. The fat can be trimmed to about 1/4 inch thick, and it will retain it's juices. If all the fat is trimmed off, you will have a dry piece of beef. So the combination of fat and liquid keeps this roast juicy and tender. I hope you'll give it a try.

adapted slightly from Paula Deen

2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 bay leaf
4 pounds beef brisket, trimmed but at least 1/2 inch of fat left
1 1/2 cups low sodium beef broth
1 onion, sliced thinly

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Make the dry rub with the chili powder, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, sugar, and mustard. Season the brisket on both sides with the rub. I only used about half of the rub, maybe a tad more. Place brisket, fat side up, in a roasting pan and roast, uncovered, for one hour.
Remove brisket from oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Add beef stock to pan and enough water to yield enough liquid to come up the sides of the beef at least 1/2 inch. Add the bay leaf and sliced onion to the broth. Cover pan tightly and continue baking about 3 hours, or until the brisket is fork-tender. Larger briskets will take longer to reach the tender stage.
Remove the brisket to a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest for at least 10 minutes or longer.
Trim the fat from the brisket, and slice the meat thinly across the grain. Top with the juices from the pan. Enjoy!
NOTE: Leftover brisket will freeze just fine. Be sure to add some of the cooking juices to the containers before freezing. This brisket also makes fantastic sandwiches and the pan juices are perfect for dipping that sandwich roll into.