I hate things going to waste. I also hate opening up the fridge and seeing small containers of mismatched leftovers. It’s annoying. A few days ago I made Spinach Artichoke dip for people hanging around the house. It was a huge hit but I had about a cup of it leftover. I also made some quick rise rolls in my cast iron skillet (I’ve loved making these fast rolls) but since the skillet only holds twelve rolls, I have dough left over. I also had ONE piece of grilled chicken left over. It was time to clean out all this stuff and make one dish. I am also a big fan of Danny’s Kitchen, a great blog. A few months ago Danny started a contest called The Great Leftover Challenge. I participated in that first challenge and had a lot of fun. Danny has thrown down the gauntlet again for The Great Leftover Challenge #2. So….since I’m throwing stuff together anyway, I thought I’d enter the challenge. Judging by how quickly the pizza got eaten, I’d say it was a hit.
I did pre-heat my oven to 500 degrees with my pizza stone in it. This made the surface really hot and I think helped the crust develop really nicely. I have other great recipes for pizza crust but this “leftover” dough made a pretty darn good showing!
Chicken Artichoke Spinach Pepperoni Pizza
Quick Rise Rolls (half recipe)
Any leftover grilled or pre-cooked chicken
1 cup Spinach Artichoke Dip (I’ll post the recipe for this soon)
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/3 cup cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 500°F with Pizza Stone in it (or if you’re using a metal pan, heat that as well). Roll out the dough and carefully lay it on the preheated pizza stone. Spread spinach artichoke dip evenly over the dough. Sprinkle the chicken and pepperoni and finish off with cheese on top. Place back in oven and turn heat down to 450°F. Cook for approximately 8-10 minutes until crust is brown and cheese is bubbly.
We had a little party last night. It was only about 19 people if you counted all the kids. For our house that’s not a lot of people. We almost always have more people than we actually invited. One year for Thanksgiving I invited 15 people and 55 people showed up. How does that happen, you wonder? Well, people bring people. They know they’ll be welcome at our house so they bring their friends. The only problem it sometimes poses is that I don’t know about it in advance. It’s hard to feed 55 when you’re cooking for 15-20. I have learned to always make extra for those unexpected (but welcome) guests. Now my friends from the Marshall Islands, they know how to “partay”. They routinely have get-togethers for large crowds. There is no such thing as a small Marshallese gathering. They celebrate EVERYTHING. Oh, it’s Tuesday…let’s have a party. They never miss a chance to live in community. I love that about them as a people group as much as I love their grilled chicken. Of course when I asked around for a recipe nobody could really quantify anything. So, I decided to come up with my own concoction. You’ll be happy to know that many Marshallese have eaten my chicken and given it the “NOD” of approval!
Come on over for some good food, good times and mehndi (henna tattoos). There’s always room for a few extra people…
Marshallese Style Grilled Chicken
10-12 bone-in chicken thighs with the skin off and visible fat trimmed
1 1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 bunch flat leafed parsley, chopped
1 whole garlic
2 inch piece of fresh ginger
1 small onion
dash of chilli flakes
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Take the skin off the chicken thighs and trim all visible fat. Wash and set aside. Blend in a blender or processor garlic, ginger and onion together. In a bowl, mix together all ingredients before pouring in soy sauce, stir to incorporate well. Pour over chicken and either place in a large ziplock bag and seal or put in an airtight container. Marinate overnight in refrigerator. Grill over medium heat and serve!
Bollywood movies are always these epic musicals with really good looking people who play the lead. They are three hours of unreality with usually 6 song and dance numbers. I was riveted to a recent one because it was dubbed over in Mandarin. An incredibly unlikely combination. The high-pitched Mandarin speaking voices did not match any of the actors or actresses and added a crazy dimension to the already melodramatic movie. The mix reminded me of Indonesian food (I always think about food). What I love about Malaysian, Singaporian and Indonesian cuisine is that it is a fantastic fusion of South Asian flavors traditionally seen in India, Bangladesh or Pakistan with more East Asian influences. The results I think are phenomenal. The movie….not so much!
In a large saucepan heat oil and saute onions coriander, chili, garlic and ginger over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently for 5-7 minutes. Add lime leaves, cinnamon, whole chilis and lemongrass. Cook stirring occasionally for about 2 more minutes until all the flavors are released. Increase the heat to medium and add the chicken and cook turning once until golden brown about 8 minutes. Stir in one cup of coconut milk and 1 1/4 cup water and salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally until chicken is tender about 20-25 minutes. Add remaining coconut milk and cook for 2 minutes. Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving with plain rice or Coconut Fried Rice.
I am doing a shout out to my former student “Nate”. He mentioned several times in class how much he loves to grill and I promised him some Indonesian/Thai inspired food…. so here it is Nate!! Not only are these Chicken Satays very quick and easy to do, they are high in flavor and low in fat. Perfect accompaniment for our summer workouts. (I should mention that we’re almost done with our first week of P90x and Insanity and I’ve lost 1 1/2 pounds so far….13 1/2 to go!).
I should mention that I always prefer to use chicken thighs over chicken breast because they have a lot more flavor and they are a lot cheaper too. You can buy boneless, skinless chicken thighs or you can easily de-bone the chicken thighs at home. All you need is a sharp knife and the ability to cut along the edges of the bone and you’re done!!
The secret to this dish of course is the sauce. I love how this sauce turns out. I could eat it by the spoonful but then I’d have to work out some more. Please do use the Sweet Soy Sauce instead of the regular soy sauce. If you must use regular soy sauce then choose the low sodium kind and use only 1/8 cup otherwise your sauce will be very salty. This is great as an appetizer or a main dish served with Coconut Fried Rice and a fresh crunchy salad. We also ate other veggies dipped in the sauce along with our chicken!
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into strips
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (or you can grind up some peanuts) – I like chunky
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sweet soy sauce
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, minced
scallion, diced (for garnish)
In a saucepan place all ingredients except chicken and scallion. Cook over medium heat until sauce is bubbly. Take off heat and cool sauce. Divide sauce into two parts.
Cut chicken into 1″ inch long strips and thread onto skewers. If using bamboo skewers make sure you soak them before hand so they don’t burn and fall off. Spray chicken with non-stick cooking spray and place on hot grill (about 300-350 degrees) cook for 6-10 minutes covered, turning once. Baste with half of the sauce (make sure the dipping portion is never in contact with the raw chicken) during the grilling process and serve with remaining sauce garnished with sliced scallions. The sauce is also fantastic for dipping carrots, cucumbers and other fresh veggies as well.
Being married to a Bajan (slang for someone from Barbados) I’m usually alternating between cooking Caribbean style food and South Asian food among other flavors we usually try out. Jerk seasoning originated in Jamaica but it’s used throughout the Caribbean islands. I usually grind up my version of Jerk seasoning and use it for marinating a variety of meats. I love using Jerk seasoning when baking whole chicken because the flavors are so fantastic. The left over bones make an incredible stock as well. This weekend I was incredibly busy. I was making food for three different events, attending a wedding, working and my baby girl came home from college for the summer (YAY). I didn’t have a chance to take my usual detailed pictures. But I do hope you make up some Jerk seasoning to have on hand. It’s wonderful to have it ready for the BBQing season!!
1 tablespoon all spice powder – if using whole allspice the use 2 1/2 tbsp
1 tsp whole peppercorn
5-6 whole star anise
3 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
8 whole cloves
1/4 of a whole nutmeg
4 dried whole red chilies
1/4 cup light brown sugar (I use raw sugar)
Toast everything (except the sugar) together in a dry pan until flavors are released, approximately 2-3 minutes. Grind in a coffee or spice grinder until smooth. Store in an airtight container.
Jerk Seasoned Roasted Chicken
5 tablespoons Jerk seasoning
2 tablespoon garlic and ginger paste (1:1 ratio)
1/2 onion finely chopped
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tsp kosher salt
Mix everything together and rub chicken inside the cavity and all over the skin. Roast uncovered at 350°F for 1 1/2 hours or until done. Let it rest before carving.
I love using ground chicken or ground turkey in a lot of different dishes. They are low in fat, versatile and taste great. Traditional koftas are actually meat ground in a big mortar and pestle called a Shil Pata. The resulting texture is a very smooth meat mixture. I think ground chicken or turkey naturally lends itself to a smoother kofta like texture without using a giant mortar and pestle (or a food processor). I know that I say in most of my posts that the recipe was “quick”, “fast” or “easy”. A friend recently told me that she doesn’t have hardly any spices in her pantry so when she thinks of cooking something that has more than 3 spices listed she feels overwhelmed and it doesn’t seem “fast” or “easy” to her. She is also bored out of her mind with what she fixes for her family. Hmmmm. There are two options, keep eating boring food or invest in some spices. I know that many who are not used to cooking South Asian or African dishes think we use too many spices. Since we were the hub of the spice trail its kind of hard not to use what was so readily available. It does make things taste wonderful. I think that having a variety of spices in your pantry is an investment. You can’t experiment if you don’t have it handy. Some of my best dishes were accidental discoveries. When spices are in your pantry it is “easy” and “fast”. I took her shopping recently after work. Utilizing the bulk section of a local grocery store, we stocked up on 15 different spices and her total cost was less than $20. My post today is to challenge my friend to use her new spices. She has every one listed (I know that for a fact!). You go girl!
Here’s the recipe:
Chicken Kofta Curry
1 pound ground chicken
handful chopped cilantro
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 seeded green chili, chopped
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (Jeera)
4 whole cloves
4-5 cardamom pods, crushed
2 bay leaves
2 sticks cinnamon sticks (Dalchinne)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
3-4 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup greek yogurt mixed with a little water
1/2-1 cup water
Chopped cilantro for garnish
Mix together the meatball ingredients and form into golf ball sized meat balls. Set aside.
In a large skillet heat oil add onions, cumin seeds, cloves, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and cardamom pods. Stir fry until onions are tender and the spices are fragrant. Add in chili powder, turmeric and garlic. Stir fry a minute or two before adding the tomato paste. Stir to incorporate. Add about a cup of water and meatballs to the sauce, turn heat to low and cover. Let meatballs simmer covered for about 15-18 minutes, stirring often and adding water as needed until meatballs are cooked through. Add yogurt last and stir through and cook an additional minute to incorporate everything. Top with chopped cilantro. Remember to fish out the cinnamon sticks and bay leaves before serving. Serve with rice or with a naan.
The last several days were like a blur. I made too many cookies, ate things other people made that I didn’t like (green bean casserole with little hot dog chunks, bad jello salad with beet pieces and funeral potatoes – that’s a Utah thing ), skipped meals, ran around doing a million things. It was busy, it was hectic, it was crazy. But today, I wanted to come home and eat something I made because dang it, my worst effort had to be better than a casserole made of macerated hot dogs (I have HUGE issues with hot dogs, it’s a long story). I had leftover baked chicken from last night and a couple of Zucchinis in the fridge. I decided it would be great to take out my mandolin (the cooking kind, not the musical instrument) and use the zucchini as the noodle and make some kind of a filling with the chicken and other veggies. It turned out pretty great and it was fast too. Total time with prep and baking under 45 minutes. It sure beats the beet jello salad (pun intended).
I came home at 5 p.m. last night and decided to make 300 sugar cookies and decorate them for Easter Sunday because I thought everyone at church would be delighted by them. It was a brilliant idea that quickly lost it’s luster. First, I’ve not actually decorated sugar cookies before, well at home with the kids but not to pass out to people who are not family. Secondly, what was I thinking? I often have these crazy ideas and find myself knee-deep in projects of my own making. Which means, I completely forgot about dinner. I had a sea of cookies cooling on the kitchen counters and about a gallon of royal icing but NOTHING, absolutely nothing to eat for dinner…..Dang it! I opened my pantry and gazed at the contents in desperation and inspiration struck. Bengali people love to smash food. We call it “Vortha”. Sometimes, we like to smash stuff and then fry it up in oval shapes, we call those “Chops” (I have no idea why, it could have been another desperate cook at dinner time who came up with the name).
So, I found a can of chicken. I didn’t even know I had such a thing in the pantry. It wasn’t expired (yay). So I decided to make Chicken and whatever veggie was in the refrigerator chops. It was good. Really good. I think I’ll actually make them again…..on purpose.
Here’s the recipe.
1 12.5 ounce can of unexpired chicken breast
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 Serrano Chile, seeded and chopped
Cilantro – chopped, about a handful
1 tsp cumin powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Zucchini, grated
1/4 cup bread crumbs (helps absorb moisture)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
little vegetable oil for shallow pan frying
Mix everything together and shape into little patties. Heat a skillet with about a 1/4 cup or less of oil. Add the patties in the oil and fry until golden brown. Serve with some rice or in some pita with lettuce, cabbage and fresh tomatoes. Makes 10 patties.
There are days when things get super hectic. Today was one of those days. Time got away from me and I had to prepare dinner quickly. This is one of those dishes that packs a punch nutritionally along with exceptional taste and all that under 30 minutes. I had picked up some great food bargains at the grocery earlier which included gorgeous red, yellow and orange bell peppers and fresh flat leafed parsley. Armed with all these colors and textures I was ready for a quick meal of pepper pesto. “Pesto” in Italian means to pound or crush, basically what you’d do with a mortar and pestle. You can make a “pesto” out of a myriad of combinations not just the traditional Basil Pesto. Roasting the vegetables intensifies the flavors and makes the pesto a rich and delicious delicacy. This one was definitely a winner!
Here’s the recipe:
Roasted Sweet Pepper Pesto and Chicken Pasta
5-6 variety of red, orange and yellow bell peppers cut into large chunks
1 large red onion, cut into chunks
6 whole cloves of garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup rough chopped flat leafed Parsley
16 oz Fuscilli, bow tie or a curly noodle
1 cup cooked chicken, cut into small pieces
In a large 5 quart pan bring water and salt to boil for the pasta. In the meantime cut the bell peppers and onion into large chunks, toss with salt and pepper and a little drizzle of olive oil and place in a large cookie sheet. In a small ramekin or oven safe bowl, place the whole, peeled cloves of garlic and pour in 1/2 cup of olive oil. Place ramekin in the corner of the cookie sheet filled with the peppers and onions and roast at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. Take out the roasted peppers and onions and place them into a food processor, add the whole garlic cloves and the Parmesan cheese. Turn on the food processor and drizzle in the garlic flavor oil, reserving a couple of tablespoons. The peppers and onions should get blended well. Add in 1/2 cup roughly chopped flat leafed parsley and pulse a few times to incorporate.
In a large skillet heat the reserved garlic flavored olive oil and add the pesto mixture and stir for a few minutes. Add in chicken and cooked pasta and toss together. Serve immediately and enjoy.
Tajine is a clay pot that is used in North African cooking. If you have a long clay pot make sure you use a heat diffuser so it doesn’t crack on the stove top. If you don’t have a Tajine, don’t worry a nice big skillet with a lid will work just fine. You will need about 8-10 Chicken Thighs with skin. Please use bone in chicken thighs or even a whole chicken instead of boneless, skinless chicken breasts because you need the extra flavor of bone in chicken. Wash and pat the chicken pieces dry. Rub each piece with the spice marinade and put in a ziplock bag overnight in the refrigerator.
Marinade for chicken (preferably overnight):
1 ½ tsp Cumin
1 ½ tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Cinnamon
2 tsp Paprika
4 chopped garlic cloves
Pulp from preserved lemon (recipe included)
1 tsp kosher salt
The next day, heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large heavy bottom skillet and place the chicken skin side down. Sear both sides of the chicken for about 5 minutes each to get a nice brown color. You’re not cooking it all the way through just locking in flavor and color.
Set the chicken aside. In the same pan add the following:
1 Spanish Onion, chopped
1 Preserved Lemon – rinse well and chop the lemon skin into small pieces
1 Red bell pepper chopped
Saute a few minutes and then add the following:
1 cup golden raisins
½ cup Kalamata and Moroccan Olives (use a combo)
Fresh garlic about 5 cloves chopped
1 tsp grated ginger
½ cup each chopped Cilantro and flat leaf Parsley
Sauté a few more minutes and add chicken back into pan. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes. Add 1 cup water and cook an additional 20-25 minutes, covered. Taste for salt and adjust. Because preserved lemons and olives are salty be careful with how much additional salt you add. Serve with couscous.