Food and Garden Dailies started as a way to record my family's favorite recipes. It has come in handy many times when I'm asked for a recipe. I simply email a link to the blog! But I couldn't just stick to recipes. The kitchen is tied to the garden in so many ways...and so I let you into my ever changing garden as well.

If you're interested in my all-time favorite recipes, check out this post first: My Favorite Recipes

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Chicken & Beef Sate

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Last weekend I spent a lot of time re-stocking our freezer with prepared meals/meat. I made up several new recipes, including this one, which we made for our dinner tonight. Brian gave me a thumbs-up at the dinner table. We'll be making this again for sure. It was soooooooo good! I can't wait to taste it with beef, though I think I'll prefer the chicken. Brian said the peanut sauce would also be good with Buffalo Wings.

Chicken & Beef Sate
(Good Housekeeping, August 1996)

Slice into 1" thick strips:
2-2 1/4 lbs of skinless, boneless chicken breasts -or- boneless top sirloin steak

In a medium bowl combine:
2 tsp lime zest
2 TB fresh lime juice

1/4 C soy sauce
1 TB fresh gingerroot, grated
2 tsp sugar

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Add meat strips to the above mixture and marinate for 30 minutes.

Spicy Peanut Sauce
In a small bowl combine:
1/4 C creamy peanut butter
1/4 C very hot tap water
4 tsp seasoned* rice vinegar

1 TB soy sauce

1 TB light molasses

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (more/less depending on preferred spiciness level)

Thread meat onto wooden or metal skewers, weaving it on accordion style. If you’re using wooden ones, soak them in water for at least 20 minutes so the wood won’t burn.

Grill meat for 2-7 minutes, turning once, until cooked through.

Serve with the Spicy Peanut Sauce.

If you want to freeze this recipe, fill 2 separate freezer bags with the meat/marinade and the peanut sauce**. Defrost and prepare as mentioned above.

* I did not have seasoned rice vinegar on hand. The regular rice vinegar worked fine, but I’d like to try the seasoned kind to see how that would taste.

**I successfully froze the meat/marinade, but did not try freezing the peanut sauce. It seems like it should freeze well. If not, it’s quick and easy to make just before serving.

Cheese and Sausage Strata

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The following recipe is one my friend, Anna, made for our meal exchange. She called it "Breakfast for Dinner". Our family liked it so much we've added it to our "Family Favorites" cookbook, and have made it a few times since she gave us the recipe.

Cheese and Sausage Strata
(; variations by Anna, with variations by us!)

Line a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish with:
Bread slices, about 1" thick (a great use for day old French bread)

In a skillet, cook over medium heat until no longer pink:
1 pound bulk pork sausage

Stir in:
1 teaspoon prepared mustard

Sprinkle evenly over bread:
Sausage mixture
1/2 C shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese

In a bowl, beat:
3 eggs (or 1 C of “Best of the Egg”)
1 1/2 C milk
2/3 C half-and-half cream (I use non fat half & half)
1 pinch pepper

Pour over cheese, making sure to moisten all the edges of bread.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cut into squares; serve immediately.

This dish can also be made ahead and frozen. To freeze, line a 9" x 13" dish with heavy foil. Assemble as directed above. Place in the freezer overnight, or until completely frozen. Remove the food (& foil) from the casserole dish. Leave the foil on, and wrap with additional foil, saran wrap, etc. -OR- vacuum pack it with something like a FoodSaver. When you're ready to cook it, let it thaw in the refrigerator (24-36 hours), and cook according to directions above.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Hot Wings/Buffalo Wings

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At our gathering last night, our friend, Dave (the one with the killer BBQ sauce...still need the recipe, Heidi!!) brought some Buffalo Wings with a killer sauce. I'm not a wing person, but I did sample the sauce. It was GOOD! Dave laughed as he shared the recipe with me: Frank's RedHot Sauce by Durkee and brown sugar. That's IT. Mix to your liking (whether you want it sweeter or hotter), nuke it a bit in the microwave for the brown sugar to melt, stir, and it's ready.

I'd definitely recommend it for Buffalo Wings at your next gathering. I'm planning on using it as a marinade for chicken breasts. It's sooooooo easy!

Twice Baked Potatoes

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Brian and I had a gathering last night, so I decided to do something with the sack of potatoes that was sitting in the pantry. I shredded a bunch of cheddar cheese, cooked up some bacon, and got out a stick (or two) of butter, some salt and pepper. Sometimes I add fresh chives to them as well, but it was rainy, and I wasn't up to checking the garden to see if any were sprouting. (Often I have chives year-round.)

I rely so much on recipes. I've said before, I am not a "throw in a little of this, a little of that, to taste...." type of cook. I like a little more guidance, if not precision in what to do. But with this recipe, I'm loosening up, and relying completely on taste. The only way you can do wrong is to add too much salt and pepper. And, if you do that, just get a few more potatoes, and balance it all out.

The end result is pure heaven. Cheesy potato-ey goodness.

Here's what I do:

Twice Baked Potatoes

1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

2. Scrub a bunch of potatoes. (I do a whole bag, freezing a bunch of them for later.) Use a fork to pierce each potato. For the really large potatoes, I pierce twice. I'm not sure if this is necessary or total over-kill, but I've never had a potato explosion in the oven, so I'll keep on pokin'.

3. Place the potatoes directly on the oven racks. I put the larger ones in back, as I'll be taking the smaller ones out first. Set the timer for 45 minutes (to check on them).

4. While they're baking, cook up a pound or so of bacon, and a pound or so of cheddar cheese.

5. Take them out of the oven. How to tell if they're done? A fork will be able to easily pierce right into the middle. Obviously, the smaller ones will be done sooner, so keep checking and poking them as needed. The "done" ones will also have a little bit of potato guck bubbling outside the skin where you first pierced them.

6. Place a sliced up stick of butter and some cheese in a large bowl.

7. Once they're done, place them on a baking rack to cool slightly. Slice the potatoes in half, and scoop out the insides. Make sure you don't scoop too much, or you'll tear the potato skin. It's better to leave a little more potato as a lining, than to cut too close to the skin. Though hotter to handle, I find it's easier to cut them in half, and scoop out the insides when they are pretty warm. Cold potato insides take a bit more "umph" to scoop out. So I grab a pot holder (love these little silicone ones by KitchenAid), and scoop away, putting the potato on top of the butter and cheese. The hot potatoes will soften the butter. To aid in scooping I use a grapefruit spoon with serrated edges.

8. Add some crumbled up bacon, some salt and pepper. Mash up until thoroughly mixed. I don't make mine smooth and creamy, though you can if you like. I have little potato lumps in mine...more rustic I guess.

9. Taste. Add more cheese, bacon, salt, pepper...whatever you think it needs. When you're happy with the taste, the fun begins!

10. Get out a pan. If you're making these for a gathering within 48 hours, put them in a 9 x 13" baking pan (or whatever size you doesn't really matter). If you're going to be freezing them, I'd suggest a jelly-roll pan for flash-freezing/vacuum packing.

11. Put the filling back into the potato skins. Make little raised mounds on top. Fill up your pan.

12. To cook: These can be kept in the fridge for a day or so. When cooking, place in an oven pre-heated to 450 degrees. Bake uncovered until the filling is heated all the way through and the potato skins are once again crisp. It takes about 20-30 minutes. As long as you don't burn them, they'll be great!

If frozen, defrost them, and bake as described above. When I freeze them, I will usually make just a few at at time from the bag. I defrost in the microwave, and then put them in the oven to finish them. The hot oven crisps up the skin.

They take a little bit of time. But it's one of those things where you can make a bag full of potatoes nearly as quickly as a few potatoes. So why not make them in a larger quantity and freeze some for later?!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Tandoori-Style Chicken

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This is dish from a recipe clipping (Good Housekeeping magazine) I've had for many years. We made this for dinner tonight, though I have to admit I didn't follow the cooking directions. I was multi-tasking and just skimmed the directions, not reading the part about putting the chicken pieces on a rack in a baking dish and cooking at 450 degrees. Instead, I just put the chicken and all the marinade in a 9 x 13 baking dish and cooked it at 375 degrees until it was done. I also added some slices of extra firm tofu in the pan for my vegetarian daughter.

Though tasty, my picture does not look anything like the picture from Good Housekeeping's website! I'm sure it's the same flavor, but I wonder what it would be like if I'd cooked it as directed. We'll have to make these again someday....correctly!

The sauce: Pretty mild in flavor, I'd like it to have a bit more of a punch. I think I'd try adding more of the red a full teaspoon instead of 1/4. But I like things spicy.

Tandoori -Style Chicken
Good Housekeeping

Place in a bowl or zip-lock bag:
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

Blend together:
8 oz plain low-fat yogurt
½ small onion, chopped
1 TB paprika
2 TB fresh lime juice
1 TB minced gingerroot
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
pinch ground cloves

Pour yogurt mix over chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place chicken on a rack in a roasting/baking pan. Spoon half of the marinade over the chicken. Roast for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve over white rice, garnishing with lime slices and/or grilled onions.

6 servings. Each serving: ~175 calories, 30 g protein, 4 g carbohydrates, 4 g total fat (1 g saturated), 79 mg cholesterol, 285 mg sodium.

Stocking Up

Pin It The freezer mis-hap was two weeks ago, and since then, the pickings have been slim around our household. We finished eating the meat, the casseroles, and well...there just wasn't much on-hand. We had breakfast for dinner (eggs, pancakes, etc.), some pasta, and grilled cheese sandwiches. We went out to dinner a couple times because 1) there simply wasn't anything to eat, and 2) I had no time to go shopping to buy food!

Finally my workload let up a bit at the same time Albertsons had a good sale on the hand-trimmed chicken (2.99/lb.) and on petite sirloin steak (2.99/lb.). With these two items on sale, I went on a meat-buying frenzy, buying as much as I could prepare in 1-2 days. Tomorrow (Tuesday) should be the last day for prepping meat to re-stock the freezer.

I went through all my "To Try" recipes and found four new ones to prepare: Tandoori-Style Chicken, Jamaican Jerk Island Kabobs, Chicken & Beef Sate, and Beef Kabobs over Rice. Yes, 3/4 are for the grill! Tells you where my mind is....on warmer, dryer weather! I went ahead and prepped them, because it is possible to grill in the rain. We shouldn't have to give up grilling just because it's a tad bit wet outside.

The picture above shows some of the baggies ready to be be flash-frozen and vacuum packed.