I should begin with this alert: I am toting a serious soap box in this blog post, so beware the roaring culineer!!!
That said, I was in Sam's Club yesterday. And I just don't know what to say. I used to be turned off by 5 pound jars of mayonnaise even when everyone around me was singing the praises of LARGE equals GOOD. Now I'm just turned off altogether. Is this bashing? No. Is this an honest opinion by someone who, over the course of refining my cooking techniques over the last few years has reached a point where I am almost sickened by what we pass off as food?
Why? Because someone is fooling you into thinking your lives are complete WITHOUT it. By relegating nourishment to the basement of your priority list, you're depriving yourself of something so wonderful.
You have five senses. So do I. Some folks have perhaps lost the use of theirs, which is not the case for most of us. We just choose not to use them. It's like we are all morphing into creatures who can only taste salty and sweet. I'm just wondering why TASTE and QUALITY got trampled along with bell bottoms and rotary phones back in the 70's? We have all seen the charts. We spend less of our earned living on food today than 50 years ago. And in America, where food is plentiful, we still go for big, puffed up, sugary fillers instead of choosing to explore the most rewarding adventure of all: REAL FOOD.
I get it. We turned the tide on civilization when food became easy to grow, distribute and buy. We saved countless people from starvation and helped entire countries create economies that allowed them access to better education, healthcare and the opportunity for peaceful lives. But somewhere along the way we started caring more about the quality of gas for our cars as opposed to the quality of food that goes into our bodies. We started feeling like if we could get dinner for $1, why on earth should we pay $20? And while there is certainly an argument to be made that expensive is not always good, why not use a different benchmark, if you can, to calculate what your own body is worth?
Hmmm. Let me just show you with pictures. Which of course come with recipes. Because that's what I do. And to get them you have to read a little editorial. But I will make sure I give you some tips along with the raving and ranting. Deal? And you? You will promise to try something new and give those two senses, SMELL and TASTE a little more excitement and reward than usual?
Excellent. I feel MUUUUCH better now.
So enjoy these four main dish recipes from someone who wishes I was COOKING THEM FOR YOU!
The quintessential chicken dinner. Except that everything is prepared by your hands. And although it is tempting to buy that $4.99 rotisserie chicken, how about just this once you spend $10 on one without hormones and see what real chicken is supposed to taste like? YOU'LL be hooked. I promise.
RECIPE: Easy Roasted Chicken with Herbs
1 6 lb chicken, preferably organic or cage free.
1/2 white onion
1 lemon, quartered
4 T olive oil
salt and pepper
sprigs of thyme and rosemary
1 head of garlic, top trimmed and extra layers discarded
4 C good chicken stock. Use your own if you have it! SO MUCH BETTER!
You can use 1 C of white wine and 3 C water as well.
Although this is debated, I choose to rinse my chicken thoroughly removing any gizzards that may be included. Please, be careful about where your water splatters, and blot the chicken dry with paper towels. Thoroughly clean and dry your surface after cleaning.
Rub external skin with the olive oil and salt and pepper. One word, here: GENEROUSLY. Including a little salt and pepper inside, too. Then cut the onion into small chunks and stuff into the cavity of the bird along with the onion, garlic, lemon and herbs.
Put in a large dutch oven, with a tight fitting lid. Roast at 300 degrees F for 4 hours. When done simply watch the meat fall off the bone!
I mean, what doesn't go with chicken? I know, trick questions. Here's what I served with it:
1. Cook 1 C of white jasmine rice according to package directions using chicken stock. Add 1/4 T tumeric, 1/4 t coriander, 1/8 C sliced white onion. Salt and pepper to taste.
2. Cut up 4 C broccoli, 1/2 red pepper, 1/3 C craisins, and 1/4 C yellow onion. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, a pinch of allspice, a pinch of curry powder, zest from one orange. Roast until perfectly irresistible.
You know why I posted this....because Chinese Chicken Salad with your own roasted chicken is simply the ASIAN Bomb!!!! By the way, those aren't tongs. I eat it in giant bites! Hahah!!!
RECIPE: Classic Chinese Chicken Salad
Served 4-6 / Click here for printable version.
1 small head of green cabbage, sliced thinly
1 large red pepper, chopped into small chunks
1/3 C slivered almonds
2 green onions, chopped
¾ C fresh cilantro chopped
1 ½ C chicken, chopped (I used left over roasted chicken. It’s the only way to go!)
¼ C rice wine vinegar
1/8 C soy sauce
Just slightly less than ¼ C mild oil, like canola
½ t sesame oil
Salt and pepper
1 T sugar
Okay, read closely. I know there are a LOT of directions here:
Mix dressing and set aside, combine all other ingredients, toss with dressing, serve.
I cheated. It's called "bacon glaze." And it is to die for. It tastes like candied bacon. Really! And since I wanted to try it on, of all things, salmon, I used it even though it came from a jar. It was organic, y'all! Plus, those brussel sprouts? They're roasted with apples. And that is amazing, too. And that pickled red onion on top? Well, you're gonna want to eat that first.
RECIPE: Bacon Glazed Salmon with Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Mashed New Potatoes.
Salmon filets for each person, assuming this is a dinner for 4.
6 medium new potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks.
1 head of garlic
4 T olive oil
1/4 C heavy cream
3 T butter
salt and pepper
4 C Brussel Sprouts, bottoms trimmed off and cut in half
1 large Fuji apple, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1/4 C red onion, sliced thinly
2 T honey
Flat leaf parsley to garnish
Rub each salmon filet with a little olive oil, and the sprinkle the tops generously with bacon glaze. You can also candy real bacon, cut into small chunks and use with a good lemon pepper. Roast in a shallow baking pan on 400 degrees F for about 10 minutes.
Cut top off of garlic head revealing the open cloves, then pour a slight amount of oil into the center, fold in foil, and roast in a 375 degree F oven for about 40 minutes. Let cool, squeeze out the roasted cloves, mash. Cook the potatoes until soft. Drain the water. Add the mashed garlic, 3 T butter, the heavy cream and salt and pepper to taste. Rough mash with a big fork until it's the right lumpiness and all the ingredients are incorporated.
Toss the apples, sprouts, onion, seasonings, honey and about 2 T olive oil. Spread out on sheet pan and roast for about 40 minutes on 375 degrees F until sprouts are tender!
This comfort food dinner thing was taking on a life of it's own! Seriously fun stuff and sooooo easy. Here's the stuffed peppers that got RAVE reviews!
RECIPE: Italian Stuffed Peppers with Tomatoes and Rice.
Serves 6 / Click here for printable version
6 yellow or orange peppers
1 lb ground mild Italian sausage
1 lb 92% lean ground beef
Handful of fresh oregano
3 T of fresh oregano
1 T of fresh rosemary, chopped
¼ C heavy cream
¼ C plain bread crumbs
1/3 C sweet white onion, chopped
½ C grated parmesan cheese
Zest from one lemon
Kosher Salt and pepper
½ lb mozzarella cheese grated
3 T olive oil
1 t paprika
1 T butter for greasing baking dish
2 15 ounce (or that appx size) cans of basil and oregano flavored diced tomatoes
1/3 C tomato sauce
1 T fresh oregano
Cut the tops off the peppers and dig out the white pith in each one. Make a cut on the bottom to flatten the pepper being careful not to cut so deep you cut through and open the pepper so it has no bottom. Put in a large baking dish that has the bottom lightly buttered.
Grate the cheese and set aside. Put the two cans of tomatoes and the tomato sauce in a saucepan along with the 1 T fresh oregano. Bring to simmer and cook for 10 minutes, cover and keep warm.
In another large bowl combine the sausage all the way through the salt and pepper. Blend with hands, divide and fill each of the peppers with the meat mixture all the way to the top. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle paprika on top. Cook in a 400 degree F oven for about 40 minutes. Top each with about 1/3 C mozzarella cheese and return to oven with broiler on. Cook until the cheese is melted and begins to bubble. Serve over rice, and ladle the tomato mixture on top.
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Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style is one of combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.