Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

In which we improvise

Posted: November 9th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 2 Comments »

Tonight’s recipe was sort of off-the-cuff.
I’d seen a recipe for gorgonzola-stuffed chicken breasts on Epicurious, and was intrigued. But I felt like that was putting a lot of pressure on the Gorgonzola to flavor the chicken. Gorgonzola doesn’t need that much pressure in its life. So, I decided to help it out a little. I added some spinach. And I wrapped the chicken breasts in Pancetta. Like you do. :) Who doesn’t love a little pork fat?

Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Pancetta:

2 big bone in chicken breasts with ribs. Skin on is preferable, unless you’re grossed out by that.
About 2 ounces of Gorgonzola crumbles (or domestic bleu cheese, I’m not picky)
2 handfulls of spinach
4 slices of pancetta (you can totally use bacon too. stick with the same 2 slices/breast ratio)
Obviously, just double all this stuff if you have more than 2 people to cook for.

Season the chicken breasts on the outside with salt and pepper, and using a sharp knife cut a pocket into the upper portion, opposite the ribs, of the chicken breasts. Put a little salt and pepper into the pocket. Leave the chicken breasts to sit, and wash your hands.

Grab the handfuls of spinach, and scrunch all the leaves together, kind of rolling them up together too. Slice them perpendicularly, so that the leaves turn into long ribbons. Mix together with the bleu cheese crumbles.

Cut the slices of pancetta in half. (or grab the bacon slices – 2 per chicky as noted above).

Preheat the oven to 350.

Stuff the spinach and bleu cheese into the pockets you’ve cut in the chicken breasts. Stuff in a lot of it…. it’s ok if it spills out. I promise.
Wrap the pieces of pancetta or bacon around the chicken breasts. If you’re fancy, you can use toothpicks to secure it. If you’re not, don’t worry. Just tuck the pork product under the chicken breasts and put the end-side down in the baking pan.

Put the chicken pieces in a baking pan. I used a silver one that’s the perfect size for brownies. Put them in the oven, at 350, for about an hour. If things start looking dry or crackly, you can drizzle with a little olive oil. But basically, just put them in the oven and wave at them every now and again. After an hour, check to make sure the juices are clear, and NOM!!!

I also made some sauteed spinach, which was just as simple as putting some butter, garlic, and shallot in a pan, and then adding several handfuls of chopped up spinach. I tossed it around, added a little olive oil, salted and peppered, and when I was just about done, I splashed on a teeny bit of balsamic. Next time I’ll probably add more. Or even some white wine vinegar. Just something a little acidic to offset the other flavors.

It was delicious. And a good kickoff. Tomorrow we’re scheduled to have Musty-Crusty chicken I think. Or maybe it’s Leah’s taco soup. Regardless, we’re having musty-crusty chicken, taco soup, pizza, mac & cheese, and left over taco pork this week. Stay tuned!!

In which I moonlight as a butcher.

Posted: November 8th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 2 Comments »

A few weeks ago, when I first endeavored into pork cookery, Leah suggested I make these bomb pork tacos. They go in the slow cooker. They’re a lot like pulled pork. I know that Jesse likes pulled pork, and that I like tacos. So…. we ordered some pork shoulder from Fresh Direct, so I could make them. I have a tiny slow cooker. It’s the perfect size for two people, but most slow-cooker recipes are not written in base-2, so I’m always trying to figure out how to scale stuff down for size if nothing else.

Fresh Direct decided it was going to be funny. When I ordered 1 boneless pork shoulder from them, they projected the size at about 5 1/2 pounds. So, I planned to cut it in half and use the other half for some other slow cooker recipe.
The pork shoulder we got was SEVEN POUNDS!!!
So this morning, there I was, sawing into a 7pound pork shoulder, trying to get a hunk off that would fit in my ittybitty crock pot.
I finally managed it, and set the thing up to cook.

Fast-forward eight hours. I pulled the pork out in chunks (because it was so tender that it fell apart…. WIN) and shredded it, like the recipe said. But then, the recipe said to pour a half-cup of the liquid from the cooking over the pork, and serve.

That liquid did not look to me like it would enjoy being poured straight over hte pork. So, I did what anybody who’s like me would do. I poured it into a saucepan, reduced it a little, pureed it with my immersion blender, and then put the pork into the sauce and let it stew for a few minutes, to really infuse it with the flavor of the sauce stuff. I stand by that decision, because it was delicious.

We had these in wraps with shredded spinach and cut up tomatoes, and ricotta instead of sour cream or other cheese. Ricotta serves the purpose of both. It was….. delicious and fabulous.
And luckily, I now have tons of that left over, and probably 4 pounds of pork shoulder still sitting in my fridge waiting for me. Maybe even more. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it, but I’m definitely open to suggestions!!!

In which I’m the Breadwinner

Posted: November 7th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | No Comments »

For some reason, all the early-waking and late-sleeping of the past week has really gotten to me. So when I got home from work tonight, instead of following my immediate plans, which were to start bread dough and get things ready for tonight’s burgers, so that things could be all set by the time groceries got delivered and before Band Practice (!!) — I decided to lie down on the couch and read a few blogs that I really respect.

Cut to Jesse coming home an hour and a half later, to me sound asleep on the couch with my laptop open in front of me. Fabulous.

Luckily, I was figuring that I still had about 2 hours before the groceries would come, so I set the bread dough. And then, about 3 minutes before 8, the buzzer went, and teh Fresh Direct guy showed up!!! I was amazed — we had scheduled the delivery for between 8 and 10.
So I kind of forced the bread to rise faster by covering the bowl with foil for a while, which traps all the heat and moisture and gets the yeasties on overdrive. Then, I let it relax and covered it with a tea towel for a few more minutes, and then, punching time!!! I knocked it down, made 2 rolls, and turned the rest into a loaf. I love making rolls.

So they went for a quick second rise, and then, into the oven. Meanwhile I mixed up the burgers. Pretty basic stuff – shallot, garlic, worcestershire, hot sauce, salt and pepper. I put the last of our swiss cheese on them, and called them dinner. It was pretty spectacular. I absolutely love homemade rolls. They’re so much better than regular burger buns.

And in a few minutes, we will have band practice with some Harpers. And then…. tomorrow we hit the slow-cooker once again. GLEE!!!

In which we Thai it up

Posted: November 7th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | No Comments »

No cooking again tonight, because it was my dear friend K’s birthday dinner!! We went to Thai on Two for some delicious Thai food, that was incredibly cheap. This was most definitely the kind of Birthday dinner I could get behind– $15 a person! :)
However, we ordered groceries tonight so that the plan can continue, which means that starting tomorrow, we will have real food to talk about. I will recommence with the cooking and the actual blogging. Get excited!!!!

In which nothing much happens

Posted: November 5th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | No Comments »

Today kind of sucked. It started out so great, so bright, so exciting!!! The whole world was glowing, and everybody that I saw was happy because finally, FINALLY the good guys won. And yet, today I ended up so miserable because of where I work and who I work with that all I could muster tonight was soup from a box, and grilled cheese sandwiches. I swear I’m getting it together, but today….. today sucked.

Of course, once I opened the box of soup, I added cumin, cury powder, garam masala, and hot sauce, as well as salt and pepper, to the soup. Because what’s tomato and roasted red pepper soup without a few embellishments??
The sandwiches were basic grilled turkey and cheese. A little mustard on the inside of the bread, right next to the cheese, and the turkey. It was good. It was satisfying. And on a day where I basically hate everything that involves my job…. and the only bright spot is the president-elect of our country…. soup with grilled cheese is probably just what I needed.

We the people….

Posted: November 4th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | No Comments »

Ok, I’m so nervous I can barely type. I’m so excited that I can barely sit still. I’m counting down the minutes until 11pm, when they close the polls on the West Coast and call California for Barack. I’m dying. I need this to happen.
Let me back up.

We got up and got to the polls at 5:30 this morning. We happily finished voting in time to come home and eat oatmeal for breakfast. On the way to work I booked it to Starbucks to get my free “I Voted” coffee. :) I love free things. We also had plans to go to Ben & Jerry’s after work, to get our free I Voted Ice cream.
However, when we got to the Ben & Jerry’s on 3rd ave, the line was even longer than it had been to vote this morning. So….we skipped out on the ice cream. And instead, we went to Pommes Frites and had delicious french fries. This does, of course, mean that all I cooked today was Oatmeal. But I’m too excited right now about the prospect of the future of our country to really worry about whether or not I cooked today aside from Oatmeal.


Monday, Monday

Posted: November 3rd, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | No Comments »

Today, I was a little lazy food-wise. We weren’t really sure what the plan was, we hadn’t made another grocery order/menu, we were kind of in limbo. So, I had to improvise.

I knew that we would be getting up REALLY early tomorrow to vote, so obviously I didn’t want to make something that would take a long time either to cook or to eat. In the end, I opted for breakfast sammiches. They accompanied our television fare of The Daily Show/Colbert Report perfectly. They will also go well with what we watch next – SNL’s Presidential Bash!!!! :)

So anyways. Breakfast sammiches. I made Alton Brown’s biscuits, and while those were baking and cooling, I fried eggs, and sizzled up some sliced turkey. Then, I split a biscuit for each of us and topped it with a piece of cheese, some sizzled turkey, and the egg.

It wasn’t fancy. But it was yummy!!!

In which we epic fail.

Posted: November 2nd, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | No Comments »

Ok. So I missed blogging yesterday as the start of NO JO Mo or whatever the heck it’s called. But it was for a good reason!! I promise! I was throwing a party, and I didn’t really cook except for breakfast, and then making dip and guacamole.

Fail. But I made mulled or spiced cider. And that was a win. Especially with rum poured in.
A gallon of cider, a gallon of apple juice. Two orange peels. 3 cinnamon sticks. 6 whole cloves. Simmer. Forever. All day – this only gets better as it simmers, and it makes your house smel all pretty and it’s very nice. And then you add rum and it just becomes an even more beautiful thing.
Today, I’m making carbonara for dinner. Lots of carbonara. Because it is delicious and we are hungry kidlets.
And it’s cold, and let’s face it, it’s always better when you’re eating dinner out of one dish with two forks. And you’re sitting all snugged up on the couch in your *remarkably* still clean post-party place. :)