Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Braised Chicken with Celery and Potatoes

A couple of months ago, we bought a giant 10 lb bag of red potatoes from Costco for $8. I thought this would be a good idea. Potatoes are versatile. We could make all sorts of recipes with potatoes. But with so many other options for meals, the supply of potatoes decreased very slowly, and for the past couple of weeks, we've been trying to use them up before they rot and liquify (that may have happened before). As a result, we're really tired of potatoes. But this recipe for braised chicken with celery and potatoes - adapted from this Whole Foods recipe - used them well and it was a good final dish for the giant bag of potatoes (which we are not buying again anytime soon).


One thing that was great about this recipe is that we had most of the ingredients on hand (everything but the plain yogurt). I did make some adjustments - (1) using frozen chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken, (2) using all those red potatoes instead of 4 medium new potatoes, (3) using plain regular yogurt instead of Greek yogurt, and (4) adding fried onions - but otherwise the ingredient list is generally the same as the recipe.

Recipe ingredients (other than the chicken)

- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts ($2)
- Salt ($0.05)
- Black pepper ($0.05)
- 1/2 cup flour ($0.30)
- Canola oil ($0.10)
- Celery stalks ($1.10)
- Potatoes ($1.60)
- 1/2 cup white wine ($2)
- 1 can low sodium chicken broth ($0.72)
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard ($0.40)
- 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt ($0.40)
- Fried onions, to garnish ($0.60)

A nice dinner for two for about $9. Not too bad for a dish that includes chicken, lots of celery and potatoes, and wine. [Note that I pulled the wine price out of thin air; it's wine that is leftover from our reception so I have no idea how much it cost this many years later.]


Chicken in progress

I followed the recipe (here) with very little variation, so I won't recite all the steps in detail here. The only changes I made were that (1) I mixed the salt and pepper into the flour mixture instead of doing it as a separate step and (2) I added some water at the same time as the chicken broth to make sure there was enough liquid to cover most of the chicken.

But the short version of the steps are: prep, dredge chicken in flour mixture, brown chicken, cook celery and potatoes, add wine, add broth and mustard, return chicken, bring to boil and then simmer covered for about 20 minutes. The sauce is just the leftover liquid reduced a little, plus yogurt whisked in. It's fairly simple, and it used techniques that I know I can replicate with other ingredients, which was exactly what I was looking for.


The finished dish

We liked this dish. It tasted like simple comfort food, French style. A little rich and creamy, but in a healthy way.

I think next time, since we're not buying the giant bag of potatoes again, this chicken would go well with a vegetable base of celery, carrots, onions and garlic (and maybe one potato for creaminess). I might also use more mustard, salt and pepper. I liked this a lot, especially as healthy comfort food, and would definitely try making this again.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Goodbye Frens

After our pancake treat, we continued our Amsterdam farewell tour with another spot from the day before - Frens Haringhandel. We were so surprised by how much we enjoyed our herring sandwich from the day before and decided to go back for another one.

Another herring topped with pickles and onions on a soft roll was consumed. I didn't like it as much as the day before since it was a little bit fishier, but it was still enjoyable. A thought that the herring was a bit fishier as well. Maybe it was just less fresh? Overall it was still extremely tasty.

We didn't know when we would have a chance to get herring like this again (we hadn't yet learned about the annual new herring festival at the Grand Central Oyster Bar that we've hit up for the past two years), and were happy to have one more herring sandwich to split before leaving the Netherlands. We're still big fans of Frens Haringhandel (and have also seen that spot appear all over TV) and would try to go back on a return trip to Amsterdam.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Another summer flashback! Why do I have so many posts in drafts that were done but never posted? This one is from Monday June 17...

We were out in Queens last weekend (for Cuban WorldEats!) and on our walk back to the train, decided to stop at a grocery store. I figured there would be some things out in Corona that might be cheaper than what we could find in Manhattan, and while there, I spontaneously picked up two poblano peppers. I liked the taste of poblanos, but I had no idea what to do with them. I also didn't know how much they usually cost, but I was pretty sure they had to be cheaper at Bravo than my usual stores. A recent trip to Fairway confirmed my hunch (double the price!) and I was happy I picked up the poblanos while we were out in Queens.

The short and squat stuffed poblano pepper

I was looking for a simple recipe for the poblano peppers and after reading quite a few, the one that stuck with me was one for stuffed poblano peppers on the blog, a couple cooks. I especially liked that it didn't require the skins to be taken off the peppers (and they were indeed soft enough that they didn't need to be). I'm not going to recite the entire recipe here, since I followed the baking option in the recipe almost exactly. (You can find the original recipe here.) I just made less rice since we only had 2 peppers and the recipe was for 4. The salsa I used was a tasty garlic chipotle salsa from Trader Joe's, which added some other flavors.


I forgot to take photos of the poblanos whole (honestly, I also forgot to wash them until after I cut them in my absentminded state), and I forgot to put the salsa in the "group picture" but most of the ingredients are covered in the photos.

Green onions, more ingredients, the bowl ready to mix, poblanos ready to be stuffed

- 2 poblano peppers ($0.79)
- 2/3 cup brown rice ($0.15)
- 1.5 cups salsa ($1.25)
- Can of black beans ($0.89)
- Can of corn ($1.59)
- 3 green onions ($0.20)
- 1 tsp cumin ($0.05)
- 1 tsp chili powder ($0.05)
- 1/2 tsp cayenne ($0.03)
- Salt and pepper ($0.05)
- Shredded Mexican cheese ($0.50)
- Chopped cilantro ($0.10)

The total was about $5.50 for our 2 stuffed poblanos. Not too bad, but not as low as I was hoping. Probably could be cheaper except I could not find an inexpensive can of corn nearby. When did canned corn get so expensive?


Basically all the items get mixed together, stuffed in the peppers and baked. We don't really use our broiler (need to figure out if it works up here) and the baking option was super simple, so we did that.

Poblanos with filling, the mixed filling, poblanos in the oven

As you can see, the pepper halves were not very "bowl shaped" so they could barely keep the filling inside the peppers. They also were not very large. As a result, we had plenty of filling left over after I filled the peppers and stuck them in the oven. Not a problem - rice salad while we waited for the peppers to bake and watched Shark Tank!


This recipe was delicious and really simple. It was probably the quickest prep I did all week, and I love baking because things cook without me having to constantly watch them.

The long and skinny stuffed poblano... the baked cheese crisps from the pan were a nice bonus!

I really liked this recipe. The flavor of the poblanos themselves really came through, even though they weren't that big or fleshy. The filling was tasty - the brown rice was a little nutty, the corn and green onions added a nice crunch, the garlic chipotle salsa was smoky - and the baked cheese was a nice crispy and melty layer on top . We also loved the little cheese "crisps" that we got from all the extra cheese that fell into the baking pan.  I've always liked poblanos but had never made them before, and I think I'll try this again. I just need to get better shaped poblanos!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Blueberry Cookies

Summer flashback! From our massive archive of draft posts... written Wednesday July 17th and for some reason, it languished in drafts until now. Posted as written back in July...

We drove back from Philadelphia (a trip we'll write about shortly, we hope) on Sunday and stopped off in southern Jersey to do some grocery shopping. One thing we needed to stock up on was produce, and we loved the look of the fresh Jersey-grown blueberries that we found at Costco and Wegmans. They were the same price at both places, so we ended up picking up a 2 lb box from Wegmans. I mean, look at them - they're so plump and juicy!

Unfortunately no photo of the box since the raspberries spilled juice all over it and we had to get rid of it

On Monday afternoon, I was snacking on some blueberries when I came across some blog posts about summer berries and desserts. What perfect timing! Inspiration hit and I decided to modify a recipe from Serious Eats for blueberry cookies. Fruit in cookies is delicious, but even more so with fresh sweet blueberries like these!

Here's what I did:

Step 1: Mix 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 3/4 tsp of baking soda, and 1/2 tsp of salt.

Step 2:  Mix 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of sugar and 4 oz (8 tbsp) of applesauce until smooth. [I used applesauce instead of using a stick of butter. I also used heaping cups of sugar for each so it was a little bit more than 1/4 cup.]

Step 3:  Mix 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract into the sugar-applesauce bowl.

Step 4: Mix 1 egg (or 1/4 cup of egg substitute) into the bowl with the sugar/applesauce/vanilla. Stir until smooth.

Step 5: Add the combination from the flour bowl into the wet bowl and mix until smooth.

Step 6: Gently fold 1 cup of blueberries into the batter.

Step 7: When the batter is well mixed, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least 2 hours. [I chilled it for 3 hours.]

Step 8: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and drop the dough onto the sheets in rounded tablespoons. [Mine might have been a little bit bigger than that.]

Step 9: Bake cookies on the upper and middle racks of the oven for 13-15 minutes.

Step 10: Pull the cookies out and let them cool for about 3 minutes.

Step 11: Cool cookies on wire racks.

The blueberry cookies were soft, sweet and delicious. They were more like muffin tops than your usual cookies, but we liked that they were soft and chewy. And after all, isn't the muffin top the best part of the muffin?

You could feel the textural difference from using the applesauce instead of butter, but they were still good. Even better, there was no guilt about eating them because they were fairly healthy and full of good stuff. The recipe made 12 cookies, which lasted us... 2 days. I would love to make these again, but the blueberries were so good that we don't have enough left!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November Custard Calendar

I can't believe it's already November! Near the end of October, it felt like there was still another week left to the month to try the custards, but sadly we had lost track of time and there were only a couple of days. Oh well. Hopefully this month we'll do better. After all, I'm pretty sure we'll be going on Sundays at the very least for our absolute favorite Shake Shack custard - chocolate hazelnut. Just like last year around this time, we're so happy to see that one back! We love gianduja (its old name) so much.

The November line-up:

Monday - Grandma's apple pie (the only real new one for us - wonder if they will mix in pie?)
Tuesday - cranberry almond (6/10 for last year's cranberry almond marzipan, which I assume is the same, but that the name was corrected)
Wednesday - pumpkin pie (8.75/10 with the usual footnote)
Thursday - toffee pear (5.75/10)
Friday - salted caramel (4.75/10)
Saturday - maple gingersnap cheesecake (4/10 for last year's maple cheesecake - did they add a new gingersnap flavor to it this year? we didn't particularly like it last year)
Sunday - chocolate hazelnut (10/10!)

I know where we'll be on Sundays (and probably at least one Monday)!