Tales from the Kitchen

Kitchen table discussions with recipes and ideas for shopping on a budget, cooking for a family, meal planning.

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I'm happily married, mom to four boys and four girls at home, with one in the presence of God. We are slowly working on raising our own food and making much of what we need. I knit, cook, read, pray, think, write, crochet, and I'm trying to sew, too.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Rich's Theory

He thinks that I didn't make it as a finalist, because my recipe was too much like actual food, rather than an instant meal that requires much in the way of packaged goods. He says he will come up with some such abomination next year, and thinks he will have a good chance of making the finalist list. I love that he's trying to make me feel better.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Melanzane Photographs

Here they are, in all their blurry glory. I forgot to put the camera back on landscape after taking some detail photos of something else.

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Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Melanzane al Forno, the Cheater Way

I have an incredible recipe for this, but in order for me to make it in a hurry, I have come up with a cheater version. Pictures will come tomorrow. I made this tonight, for our vegetarian meal.

Melanzane al Forno

2 medium eggplants, about a pound each
12 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil, with 2 tablespoons reserved
2 cups tomato-basil pasta sauce, homemade or jarred
1 pound frozen, sliced mixed peppers
2 cups shredded mozzarella, provolone and parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice off green stem end of eggplants and cut in half lengthwise. Score a diamond pattern in the meat of the eggplant with a sharp paring knife, being careful not to cut through the skin. Slice the garlic into slivers. Slip about seven slivers of garlic in each of the eggplant halves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In a large frying pan, one that can hold all the eggplant in one layer, heat almost half a cup of olive oil over medium heat. Carefully put the eggplant in the pan, skin side down, reduce heat to medium low and cover. Cook for about five to ten minutes, until the skin is browned and wrinkled. Turn with a slotted spoon and cook three to five more minutes, until the flesh is browned, and soft.

Carefully put the eggplant in a 9 X 13 pan, skin side down. Cover the eggplant with the tomato sauce. In the frying pan, splash in about two tablespoons of olive oil and add the remaining garlic silvers. Stir to cook, add peppers and saute in the oil. Spoon over the sauce and sprinkle the cheese all over the top (you can either shred them yourself or buy a bag of mixed Mediterranean cheeses). Bake for 20 minutes.

While they are baking, make a salad and start some salted water boiling for pasta. Cook about a pound of pasta, any kind you like, in the water. The eggplant needs to rest about 15 minutes, to be cool enough to eat. While it's doing that, drain the pasta and toss with olive oil, ground pepper and crushed garlic. If you really want to be fancy, you can infuse the olive oil with chopped garlic and use that instead of just tossing the whole mess together.

Serve the eggplant with the pasta and the salad. We serve a half to adults and a quarter to each child, so this meal feeds our whole family.

Dinner Last Night: Chicken Ottoman

Last night I made Chicken Divan for the family, this is something we all like, and it goes together quickly, even if I don't have leftover chicken and need to cook it up from raw. I got the recipe from someone online, who I think got it from his wife, and I have changed it a bit, like I change every recipe that comes into my hands. However, we were a bit broccoli-ed out, so I used green beans instead, which really isn't Chicken Divan, so if you make this, call it Chicken Ottoman and the food police won't get you.

Here is the recipe with my changes.

Chicken Divan (or Ottoman)

1/4 cup butter
1/2 onion, peeled and diced
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 cup grated parmesan (or romano, we like it either way, last night's used romano)
1 lb broccoli, peeled and chopped (or any other vegetable you like, we've made it with cauliflower, green beans, among others)
2 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite sized pieces (this is about 2 chicken breast halves)

note: if you use the frozen chicken that has the sodium solution in it, you will not need to salt anything, but if not, taste for salt and salt as necessary. Also, if I am not using leftover chicken, I cook the chicken in olive oil after sprinkling it with black pepper, I make the sauce during the time it takes to cook the chicken.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter and saute the onions lightly. When they start to soften, add the flour and cook, stirring, to make a light roux. Add the chicken broth and cream, and cook, stirring, to thicken, about three to five minutes, then add the mustard, sherry and worcestershire sauce. Stir to blend and take off the heat. Add the parmesan and stir to melt.

In a 9" X 13" pan, put the broccoli and chicken, and mix. Pour the sauce over the top, and stir to coat all the pieces.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until bubbly and heated through. Serve with rice and a salad.