Chicken with Veggies and Rotini

I don’t really have a recipe for this, more of a process? This is a pretty standard thing I make for the family almost every week, and as people are getting a little bored with their pandemic cooking, thought this might be useful.

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Chicken with Veggies and Rotini, maybe in a Cream Sauce, if you feel like it, and you could also add a little Sausage or Shrimp (yeah, I don’t know what to title this one!)

1. Set some water boiling for pasta. Dice 1-2 onions, maybe some garlic if you’re feeling ambitious.

2. Heat a little olive oil in a big sauté pan, sauté onions / garlic for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. If you have the heat on medium-low, you can do the next step while this is going.

3. Cut up some chicken thighs (much more flavorful and moist than breast). Turn the heat back up to high, stirring so the onions don’t burn, and add the chicken (and about a teaspoon of salt, plus some black pepper). Brown it a little bit, stirring, then turn heat back down to medium, and cook a few minutes longer, until chicken is cooked through. (If you want, you can also add some cut up Italian sausage at this point. Mmm….)

While that’s going, stirring occasionally, you can cut up veggies. I used bell pepper and pea pods for this, but you could do broccoli, carrots, whatever veggies you want, really. Frozen peas or mixed veg would also work fine.

4. Somewhere around here, the pasta water has probably come to a boil. Dump in a box of pasta and a bit of salt. Set a timer — for rotini, I think this was 7 minutes.)

5. If you want more of a sauce, at this point, you can sort of scooch chicken and onions over in the pan, making enough room that you can add a T of flour to the oil (add a little more oil if needed) and brown the flour for a minute. Then mix that all together, and add a little milk or cream, stirring to make a sauce. A little butter at this point wouldn’t hurt anything either. If you’re feeling super-fancy, simmer in a little white wine or sherry.

You can also skip this step; the result will be a little more dry, that’s all. If it’s too dry, add a little olive oil, at least.

6. Add the veggies, and at this point, you really don’t want it to cook for much longer, so the veggies don’t get mushy. My kids hate mushy veggies, and would generally prefer to just eat them raw, but I’m trying to get them to like cooked veg. too, so this dish is helping with that.

7. By now, the pasta timer is probably going off. Drain in, and then dump the pasta in with the chicken and veggies. Stir it around, and you’re basically done.

8. If you’re feeling ambitious, try grating some fresh Parmesan in at this point. Don’t try to use the cheese from the shaker — it has additives that make it not blend well into a sauce.

9. And if you’re like me, the only person in your family who likes shrimp, maybe you have some grilled shrimp in the fridge. Portion out some of the dish for your family, and then add the shrimp to what’s left, for you to enjoy. 

I Got to Use a Flamethrower

Kevin made creme brûlée for Kavi’s French-themed birthday, and Kavi got to try torching for the first time.

She excitedly texted her friends afterwards: “I got to use a flamethrower!” 

Plants + Food = Joy

The FB group I started for the local garden club has been wildly successful, up to almost 2000 happy members in just a few years. So, y’know, I decided to try starting a sister cooking club. Plants + food = joy.

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This group was started as a sister group to the Garden Club of Oak Park-River Forest; all lovers of cooking are welcome to join, including neighbors from Chicago and nearby suburbs. Beginners welcome, and you don’t need to have be a good cook to join us!

Some of the things you could use this group for: recipe recommendations, requests for cooking advice, sharing a dish you’re proud of, asking where to find specialty ingredients, loaning out / borrowing specialty cookware, recommending good podcasts or TV shows about cooking….etc!

NOTE: This is an open public group, and will remain so, which means people outside the group can view your posts.

NOTE 2: If you have an ad for a cooking-related business, please post no more than once / month; we recommend on the 15th. Thanks!

Join us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/588119708722159/

Birthday Lunch Crepes

Birthday lunch crepes! In addition to the chicken filling and the apple filling, we put out lemons and sugar, plus Nutella. I would’ve sliced some bananas to go with the Nutella, but we didn’t have those on hand. Oh well!

I was very happy with first a chicken-and-Emmenthaler crepe, then apples-and-Emmenthaler, then finishing with a perfect lemon-sugar. Kevin and Kavi did similarly, but Anand — oh, Anand is our experimental cook. He did one crepe with Nutella and apples and Emmenthaler (he LOVES cheese), which is reasonable enough. But then he did one with Nutella and sautéed chicken and Emmenthaler.

I mean, a chocolate molé sauce is great on chicken, so he’s not SO far off adding Nutella, I guess? But I don’t think I’d do it. Anand did conclude that he would’ve liked that one better without the chicken. 

We Went with Crepes

For Kavi’s birthday trip-to-France-themed lunch, we went with crepes. I love a crepe selection, personally, and when we did it for Sunday dinner, the kids had a lot of fun deciding what they wanted in their crepes. Normally I’d do a spinach-feta filling (sauté onions and garlic in olive oil, add chopped spinach (thawed from frozen works great, if you squeeze out the extra moisture), salt and pepper, stir in the feta), but we were out of spinach AND feta. Oh well. 

I did a chicken filling instead. Sauté 1 chopped onion in a few T butter, stirring ’til golden, add bite-size pieces of chicken thighs, 5-6 thighs (I could have cut it a little smaller, but was in a bit of a rush, and this worked fine), 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper. Sauté until chicken is browned and cooked through, then add 1/4 c. heavy cream and simmer until well-blended and the cream has thickened into a sauce. Mmm…

Kevin diced up some apples and we sautéed those in butter too (separate pan), adding a teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Both of those go well with Swiss cheese, if you feel like adding that — we used Emmenthaler, because we had some on hand, and it was delicious.

#kaviturns13

All About Food Around Here

It’s all about the food around here. For Kavi’s birthday party-day dinner, we went with unicorns — Annie’s mac-and-cheese unicorn-themed pasta. Not the fanciest dinner, but she was delighted, and we were pretty tired, so grateful for an easy meal. (I had leftover rice and curry myself.)

I set up the dining table for her actual birthday, clearing off all the sewing stuff. I used the checkered tablecloth (symbol of France, but will also hopefully be useful for picnics in the park / woods once the weather gets a little less wet, so I bought a good quality one for us to use, and I quite like it — it’s twice this size, I have it doubled up in the pic), and managed to salvage enough of the flowers despite their use as a balloon swatting device to make a cute little vase.

 

Kavi went for her standard cereal for breakfast — if I’d been more organized, I’d have had a few chocolate croissants on hand, but she seemed happy enough with this. And mid-morning, I cut up two mangoes for the kids, because cutting fruit for people = love.

#kaviturns13

Sri Lankan Curried Cod

Sri Lankan Curried Cod

(25 minutes, serves 4)

This is a simple curry rich with coconut milk and green chili, appropriate for any whitefish. Cod is lovely in this, but you could also use tilapia, bass, grouper, haddock, catfish, snapper — mildly flavored, quick-cooking fish that usually aren’t too expensive.

A great weeknight meal, and feel free to double the recipe for leftovers in the next few days; this will also freeze well for a rainy day; rice freezes well too, in a Ziplock with the air pressed out, so you could portion this out into meals and freeze. Add a little moisture to rice when reheating in the microwave.

INGREDIENTS:

2 lbs cod or other whitefish

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2-3 onions, chopped

1-2 T fresh ginger, chopped

5 cloves garlic, chopped

2 finger hot green chilies, chopped (adjust up or down as desired for heat)

1 TBL mustard seed

1 TBL cumin seed

1 tsp fenugreek / methi seed

Pinch of saffron threads

6-12 curry leaves, optional

1 tsp salt

2 cups coconut milk

Juice of one lime

NOTE: If making rice, start it first; it’ll be ready by the time you finish the curry.

1. Wash fish and dry on paper towels. Cut into roughly 1 inch pieces.

2. Sauté onions, ginger, and garlic on medium-high with spices, curry leaves, and salt until golden-translucent, stirring as needed.

3. Add coconut milk. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes, until well blended. Add lime juice, stirring so it doesn’t curdle.

4. Add fish and simmer an additional 5-10 minutes, until fish is cooked through, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve with rice; also nice with string hoppers, dosai or roti, or in a bowl with kale sambol.

Mother’s Day Request

My main request for Mother’s Day was that I not have to think about feeding anyone. The kids took care of breakfast, I had seeni sambol buns for lunch and have no idea what the rest of them ate, and Kevin made us this lovely Sunday dinner. I particularly liked the chard with cherries — YUM. I’d give you a recipe, but I have no idea what he did.

The first two photos are Kavi not in a mood to be photographed and hiding behind her brother. She was willing later, though, as she practiced carving the roast.