Thursday, May 31, 2018

Grilled Ginger Ale Chicken

Ooh, this is good chicken!  I came up with the recipe on the fly based on ingredients I had on hand and was rather impressed with myself because it turned out so nicely.  The real key here is to a) not cook the chicken at too high a temperature so it cooks evenly and doesn't dry out, and b) use a really good, very gingery ginger ale.  I used Reed's Ginger Ale, it is very potent and delicious if you are fond of ginger.  Seagram's or Canada Dry will probably result in something tasty, but it also probably will not taste like ginger.  You are warned.
Grilled Ginger Ale Chicken
1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts (probably 3)
6 oz good quality ginger ale
4 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
Clean chicken breasts and each cut in half horizontally to make thinner pieces.  You can cut bigger breasts into more than 2 pieces.  Consider how many people you are wanting to serve and adjust accordingly.
Place the chicken pieces a in doubled gallon Ziploc bag.  Add marinade ingredients, seal bag, and squish to coat.  Place bag in a bowl and refrigerate at least 4 hours.  
When you're ready to cook the chicken, preheat your grill to medium low (or whatever temperature you know from experience will cook the chicken slowly enough so it can be cooked through and have grill marks without entering the Earth's atmosphere), do whatever pre-grilling tasks are required for your specific grill, and oil the grate.  Grill the chicken for 10 minutes without disturbing it, flip it over, and grill 10 minutes on the other side, or until cooked through.
Serve immediately.
Yield: However many pieces of chicken you end up with, probably 6.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Instant Pot Lime (or Not) Quinoa

And here is the quinoa recipe to go with the Cheesy Baked Lentils!  In the Instant Pot is actually the only way I've made quinoa, but why mess with perfection?
We've been eating a lot of quinoa cooked this way lately.  It basically goes well with anything that you'd serve with rice, and I think it both tastes better and more interesting than rice.  
You can leave out the lime juice and lime zest if you aren't going for a limey effect, but do toast the quinoa first to enhance the flavor, and use the salt and butter.  I haven't actually made it with the lime to go with the lentils, usually I add that if it's more of a stand alone side dish because citrus is awesome.
Instant Pot Lime (or Not) Quinoa
2 C quinoa
2 Tbsp butter
2 C water
3 Tbsp lime juice (optional)
3/4 tsp salt
zest of one lime (optional)
Place quinoa in pot of Instant Pot and set to saute.  Stir frequently until quinoa is lightly toasted, about 5 minutes.  Add butter and stir until melted.  Add water, lime juice, and salt.  Stir.  Turn off Instant Pot, then set to Manual for 1 minute.  Seal.  Do a 15 minute natural pressure release, then unseal, fluff, and serve.
Yield: 8 servings

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Cheesy Baked Lentils

This is only the second lentil recipe I've posted on my blog in almost 8 years!  Lentils are just kind of hard to love.  They're dull with a sort of mealy texture.  I don't hate them, but my response to a recipe featuring them is not usually, "Lentils?  Ooh, baby, I'm there!"  Don't get me wrong, I've tried many lentil recipes over the years (and have given up on ever finding a lentil soup more than just passable), and this is a gem among, uh... less appealing rocks.
I know it may not look super fantastic from the ingredient list, and I have no explanation for why exactly it is so good, but really, it is.  I also have no explanation for why the cumin goes so well in it, but I stirred it in after baking the first time I ever made it (pre-cheese) and it added exactly the flavor boost that was needed.  Since that first time (it was one of the first meals I made for my now husband, then boyfriend in his college apartment kitchen back in 2006), I've made this several times and it's so incredibly easy, delicious, and healthy.  We like it best served over quinoa.  It also freezes well, just leave the cheese off whichever portion you want to freeze. 
If you're super pressed for time, you could chop up some baby carrots, use maybe 1/2 tsp each garlic and onion powder instead of the real ones, and an undrained 16 oz can of diced tomatoes instead of fresh ones.  You can also add an additional 8 oz can tomato sauce if you'd like, as written this recipe doesn't have much sauce, but my husband likes it that way so I leave it alone.  It has plenty of flavor regardless!
Oh, and this recipe originally comes from the More with Less cookbook.  It has been pretty heavily edited by me, though.
Cheesy Baked Lentils
1 can V8 or tomato juice, or alternatively one 8 oz can plain tomato sauce and 1/2 C water
2 1/4 C water
1 lb lentils, rinsed and looked over for stones and other weirdies
3 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 C chopped fresh tomatoes
1/2 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp sage
2 1/2 C grated cheddar
Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9 by 13 baking dish.  Add all ingredients to baking dish except cheese, and mix together.  Cover tightly with foil.  Carefully place it in the oven so it doesn't slosh.  Bake 50 minutes, remove foil, stir, and bake another half hour, or until lentils are cooked through and completely tender.  Sprinkle with cheese and bake until cheese is melted.
Serve over quinoa or rice if desired, or just have by itself with salad, fruit, or veggies on the side.
Yield: 8-10 main dish servings

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Pumpkin Fettuccine Alfredo

Oh, this recipe is so good!  I'm a lifelong fettuccine alfredo lover and this is among the best.  It's thick, rich, creamy, amazingly delicious, and is less bad for you than traditional fettuccine alfredo.  It's so good that I would serve it to guests with a nice side salad and garlic bread.  This is seems like it would be geared solely towards autumn or winter, but we make it year round.  It's always a good choice for my husband to make because it's so straight forward.  If you're skeptical about the pumpkin flavor, do know that it's pretty mild.  Mostly it adds bulk to the sauce and offers just a little bit of pumpkin deliciousness.  You could add more pumpkin if you felt so inclined, and a little grating of fresh nutmeg.
If you have leftovers, unlike regular fettuccine that turns into a horrifying greasy mess, this pumpkin version reheats very well.  Just reheat it in the microwave and stir in a little milk so it isn't dry.  

Pumpkin Fettuccine Alfredo

4 Tbsp butter
4 cloves minced garlic
15 oz can pumpkin
8 oz cream cheese
2 C milk
1 C freshly grated parmesan, plus more to sprinkle on top
salt to taste
1 lb dry fettuccine noodles
Cook the fettuccine in salted water while you make the sauce.

Saute garlic in butter over low-medium until it barely gets golden, this will take 3 minutes or so.  Garlic burns quickly, so watch it carefully and have the pumpkin ready to add in right when you need it.

Add pumpkin and cream cheese, whisk until smooth.  Whisk in milk and salt.  Heat over low until well combined.  

Add to drained fettuccine, and serve!

Yield: 6 servings

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Garlicky Enchilada Sauce

I will be very upfront and say this is not an authentic Mexican enchilada sauce.  It is, however, quite a tasty Americanized version- definitely the best homemade enchilada sauce I've ever had.  It's flavorful, not too tomatoey, and quick and easy to make, too.  Just use it whenever you need enchilada sauce.  It would even be good on pasta with other enchilada or taco-like ingredients.
This recipe is a slightly tweaked version of one from Taste of Home.  I cut back on the flour substantially the second time I made it, as written below.  Even so, it's a little thicker than most enchilada sauces.  Feel free to reduce the flour to 1/4 cup if you want it more like enchilada sauce from a can.
Quick Note:  How much chili powder you need will entirely depend on how strong your chili powder is and what your preferences are.  Start with 1 Tbsp and go up from there.
Garlicky Enchilada Sauce
1/3 C butter
5 cloves garlic, minced 
1/3 C flour
16 oz chicken broth
16 oz can tomato sauce
1-2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute for a minute, but don't let it get browned.  Make a roux by adding the flour and stirring for a minute or two.  Stir in the broth a little bit at a time, stirring it smooth between additions.  Add the tomato sauce, 1 Tbsp chili powder, and the rest of the sauce ingredients.  Taste and add more chili powder or salt if needed. Let sauce simmer, stirring constantly, for 2 or 3 minutes, until thickened.  Remove from heat and use in your favorite recipe!
Yield:  About 4 1/2 cups