A Chicken in Every Crockpot!

Karen's Kitchen Adventures

Turkey Time! December 31, 2009

Filed under: poultry — frappqueen @ 12:03 pm
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I woke up this morning to find snow! Also warnings to stay home for now, the roads are apparently treacherous! No worries, my husband Mike and I have plans for the New Year wayyy later at around 9:30 pm and our only other plans for the day were to maybe go see Avatar and for me to do some cooking! So, I just did the cooking first.
We’re having “second Christmas” on Saturday at our house, which is really just yummy dinner with our friends and then gifts. We do it every year and usually my friend Jen does the delicious cooking, but she let me do it this year. I also hosted Thanksgiving for the first time ever this year: 16 people in our tiny little house and a 30 pound bird! I wanted to show my family that turkey can be amazing, so I did a LOT of research, including trying out this recipe a few weeks before for just Mike and me, and trust me, it is a WINNER! Jen requested it for second Christmas, so I had to oblige.

I got the recipe from epicurious, and its rather long, so I’m just going to link to it. HERE! The turkey comes out soooo moist and delicious, although I do add my own touches to the bird before it goes in the oven, which I’ll tell ya about when I get there! The gravy is also amazingly amazing and I’ll show you how to do that too! But, first things first:

Brining the Bird

People are often afraid of the idea of brining. Leaving it in tons of salty liquid for days? Are you crazy?! But, once you get over the fear and give it a go, I promise you will be so glad you did! The salt evaporates mostly when cooking and leaves you with moist, flavorful, delicious results! Making the brine is also really simple!

All you need is a giant pot or some kind of holding device, brining bags (which you can buy at the grocery store, but um, I’m totally a cheap cheater and I just use garbage bags. People argue whether this is ok or not, but no one’s died yet, so i guess it is!) kosher salt (MUST BE KOSHER, it means giant granules, not just that it is specially blessed!), whole peppercorns and whole allspice. That’s it!

Toss it all in a pot with four cups of water and let it simmer away til the salt is incorporated into the liquid. I stir it a lot to move it along and will be honest. To get two cups of salt to absorb into four cups of water might take all day, so I usually add four more cups and it goes quickly.

delicious brine, before the salt gets absorbed

While this thing is cooking away, prep the bird by you know, removing the packaging, giving it a rinse and being brave and shoving your hand inside to get out that gross package of giblets and stuff. I always chuck it and never use it for anything as they creep me out, but that’s just me! I also leave the weird plastic leg holders in at this point as it keeps the bird compact in the pot while its chilling.

Next, as the brine is ready, add cool water to the hot to bring it to lukewarm temperature so you don’t boil half of your bird. Put the bird in the pot lined with two garbage bags and add the brine. Then just add water til the bird is covered. A good tip is to place the bird so that the breast is down in the pot, thats the part you’re gonna eat so it should be fully covered. It will not look pretty at this point but it will be delicious later!

bird plus brine!

clear a spot in your fridge, tie the bags up super tight so that no air can be found and stuff that pot in the fridge! Then you can leave it there for up to two days but at least 24 hours. After you take it out of the brine you don’t even have to rinse it off, just place it in your roasting pan with some paper towels under it, cover it with plastic wrap and put it BACK in your fridge for another 12 hours or so. So basically don’t make this guy if you don’t have a few days notice! I HAVE however, cooked it without the 12 hours resting period as I didn’t read the directions the first time all the way through and it was still really good, so I guess if you are hard pressed for time you can skip the drying out in the fridge part, but it makes a better browned and pretty bird if you can give it time to dry. Does that make sense?!

Anyway, this is where it will live til tomorrow afternoon:

bird in fridge

tomorrow I’ll dry it out and Saturday I’ll show you how to prep it for cooking!!

 

baby it’s cold outside! December 29, 2009

Filed under: casserole,poultry — frappqueen @ 8:37 pm
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brrr! It’s a whopping 20 degrees outside tonight, whipping winds and everything. So, it’s definitely a cozy night in for me! I was originally going to make a Rachel Ray dish tonight: asparagus and potatoes and chicken, I forget the exact name. But, driving home in the freezing wind earlier, I decided we needed something cozier than that. I made a superawesome rotisserie chicken Monday evening and we still had a bunch of leftovers. Pot pie is always good, but I wanted something lighter, we’ve been eating like crazy lately!

So, I did some quick googling and came up with a recipe for Chicken Noodle Casserole. Yum! I haven’t had that in probably years, and the main thing I remember about it is that I love the breadcrumbs and also the sauce. This one was a bit full of bad for you stuff, so I changed it a lot and halved it because really, no one wants leftovers when you made the dish using leftovers, right?

I wish I remembered where I got the recipe from, but its okay, I didn’t love it anyway. It was good, but next time I would add a few more veggies and a little more chicken stock to flavor it more.

casserole!

I have no idea why these pictures came out so…yellowy, but oh well, I promise it tasted better than it looks here! Anyway, here is the basic recipe I used:

Chicken Noodle Casserole (super good for you version!)

1 c. cooked chicken, shredded or diced

1/2 bag egg noodles

1 tbsp butter

1 swirl in the pan of olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 c. skim milk

1 c. fat-free or low-fat chicken broth

1 egg yolk (you can probably do without this)

1/2 c. sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas)

1 small onion, chopped

2 tablespoons sherry

salt, pepper and poultry seasoning to taste

1 tsp. tarragon (cuz I like it!)

Method:

heat oven to 350.

In a skillet, melt butter and olive oil til it starts looking bubbly. Add mushrooms, onions and garlic and saute until everything is lightly browned.  Stir in flour and let cook one more minute. Using a whisk, slowly whisk in milk and broth, stirring without stopping to eliminate lumps. Lower heat.

In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolk. Temper this by adding a small amount of the milk mixture into the eggs and stirring rapidly. Then add yolk mix back to the other pan and stir rapidly.  Add in the chicken, sherry and egg noodles to the pan at this point and stir to combine.

transfer to a casserole dish thats been sprayed with cooking spray, top with buttered bread crumbs and parmesan cheese if you are feeling frisky! Let bake 25 minutes or until brown and bubbly. Enjoy!

In the future, I’d also add carrots and celery to the mix, and maybe a bit more flour to thicken up the sauce a tad more. But, Mike liked it just the way it was, so who knows!

 

Filed under: meat,soup and stew — frappqueen @ 2:47 pm
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So I’ve got this whole week off and nothing much planned at all, aside from hair appointments and trips to the movies. Mike’s off too, so whatever shall I do?

Make beef bourguignon of course!! And not just any recipe, oh no! I’m making the original by Julia Child herself. Really, what better way to start a food blog anyway?!

I’ve been wanting to cook this for like my whole life, but of course with all the Julie/Julia stuff the past year, the urge has become too strong to resist! So, I printed out the recipe and held onto it for a day when I had a good six hours to kill and nowhere special to go. That day, my friends, was yesterday!

I started out late though, slept in til 9, spent the morning lazily drinking coffee and watching random tv with mike, and then we went out and spent christmas money on clothes and new pots and pans and fancy knives (holy crap are they nice knives!! the carrots sliced like butter!) and then we went to the gym and got subway and well, I did not begin prepping for dinner til about 3:30. Now, that sounds like I’m pyschotic and that i began way too EARLY. but uh, this thing takes FOUR HOURS to cook, along with a recipe for baby pearl onions that must simmer for FIFTY MINUTES. So really, early is never early enough! In fact, I didnt really get the pot in the oven til 5, so uh, we weren’t eating until 8. whoops!! Its okay we got subway at 3pm anyways!

So yes, this beef bourgignon.  Its pretty crazy! Easy enough at points, but crazy all the same. For starters, I assembled my ingredients and was right away perplexed. It called for a lardon of bacon, with the rind. Now, this is the what? 21st century? I can’t find a lardon anywhere! Not even sure what that is..so I just got some Oscar Meyer. Sorry Julia, I really am!  Next it told me to boil it in 1 1/2 quarts of water. So i’m like, okay, la la la, filling up the pot, doing the chopping and then it dawns on me: She wants me to BOIL the BACON? ick! But, I faithfully did as Julia told me to. It was a bit weird, but i think it actually eliminated some of the fat….can’t be sure though! Next thank goodness it had me strain it and then saute it in olive oil, so it seems to be okay. I also learned that drying off the meat really DOES make it brown better. Who knew?!

The rest, was surprisingly easy. Sautee veggies, add some flour and stock and a butt ton of red wine, simmer, place in oven and let cook til 8! I then sauteed some baby pearl onions (which I wanted to do frozen as I’m lazy, but couldn’t find a frozen bag of them, so I settled on  a peas/onion combo and guess what? There were TEN pearl onions and like a million peas. False advertising frozen food people at Stop and Shop!)  and then prep the mushrooms which Mike can never see or he won’t eat it, and then do some irritating thing where I strain the whole stew, boil the liquid to reduce it and then add it all back again. Every step of the way, by the way, involved adding butter and broth and while I thought it was a tad overkill at the time, it really made a difference! Have you ever cooked onions and peas in butter and beef broth? If not, please run right now and do it! I don’t care that its breakfast time! It’s totally worth it, oh yum!

Whatever, cooking like this is totally a process, and while I do not generally have five hours to spend on a single task, there is something so very calming and happy about it. Cooking just exactly like Julia Child did decades before, and also like millions of others who have tried to recreate this very same recipe. Its not rocket science, but its important to me, all the same.

And the end result: pure heaven! Best stew I’ve ever eaten! The sauce! Oh I could write poems about it!! Sooo good. We both ate two bowls, and I’m still full this morning. I took a picture, but its from my iphone so not sure how great it looks, but here it is all the same. And now, back to my coffee.

 

Well hello there…

Filed under: Uncategorized — frappqueen @ 2:20 am

Everyone I know thinks I’m crazy obsessed with food. I cook like all the time, I eat all the time, I love the idea of food, the smell of food, the way food looks right before it gets devoured. I can’t say that I make up my own recipes often, as I don’t, but I do love to follow others and change them ever so much. In fact, my cooking has helped my husband lose about 40 pounds! No joke! And no, not cuz it tastes awful you jerkface, but because I learned a long time ago that food can be totally amazing and delicious, but also low in fat and bad stuff as long as you are conscientious about how you cook and what types of ingredients you use.  As a result, he’s lost a lot of weight and I’m still able to fit through doorways! Its a win-win situation, really!

This past summer, my husband and I actually went on our first amazing roadtrip: we visited a bunch of states in the northeast (we’re from NY) and went to a baseball game in every city (His dream) plus, visited a ton of places visited by Man vs Food and Diners, DriveIns and Dives (My dream). It was a match made in heaven and we plan on one day visiting every state in this manner, we will be bored with baseball and full of good food by the end of it! For now, this blog will mostly cover what I’m cooking most nights, what it looks like, and how spazzy I am at times. It is all important information you know!

 

Hello world!

Filed under: Uncategorized — frappqueen @ 12:31 am

Let’s figure this out!