Thursday, June 30, 2011

Easy Rosemary Lemon Chicken

I really have been trying to cook this week, but with schedules and the heat and laziness all setting in, our dinners have looked more like this than actual food:

Um, yeah, that would be frozen potstickers in pho broth.

So it was a little sad how excited I got about making an "actual" dinner, even if it wasn't anything earth shattering. But it was easy and it was tasty, so if you're in the same I don't wannnnna cook spot, you may want to keep something like this in mind. Cause really, it doesn't have to be fancy to be good, as much as the Martha Stewart in me wants to disagree.

Lemon Pepper Rosemary Chicken
two large boneless skinless chicken breasts
zest of one lemon (keep the lemon)
about a tsp olive oil
big pinch fresh pepper (red kampot is pretty!)
2 minced garlic cloves
tsp or so of rosemary

Mix the zest, oil, pepper, garlic and rosemary in a small bowl.

Slice deep "pockets" down the long side of the chicken, and spread the lemon mix inside each breast. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Slice the lemon into thin slices.

Over medium high heat, coat a large saute pan with cooking spray. Add chicken and top with several lemon slices. Let brown about 3 minutes, then move the slices aside and flip the chicken. Brown other side another few minutes, then reduce heat a bit to medium. Do whatever with the lemon slices…put them back on top of the chicken as it cooks, or next to it, take it out, whatever you want (but they get pretty tasty if they cook with the chicken the whole time). But keep an eye out-the lemon juice caramelizes a bit and will burn, so if it looks like it needs a little water, add some. I ended up adding about a 1/4 cup after about 10 minutes, then covering partially with a lid and cooking another 5 minutes. (Total of about 20 minutes cooking time)

Served with baked sweet potatoes (pierce with fork, then cook at 400 for 40-50 minutes or until soft…length of time depends on size of potatoes) and spinach steamed in the same pan the chicken cooked in-just added a bit more water, added spinach, then covered over medium-low heat until wilted.

Monday, June 27, 2011

I'm so in love with my new office.

Thanks to Dali Decals, my 'fishbowl office' just got a whole lot fishier. Swoon.
Now I'm thinking I need a gigantor ocean print in the middle of the wall...

Friday, June 24, 2011

I apparently have no idea what season it is.

How did summer just HIT? Holy crap, it's beautiful, then the next day it's warm, then the next day it's so hot all I want to do is stand in my sprinklers (Um, I actually did that today. And it was all I had hoped it would be). It was over 100 again today, which means I am hot. and sweaty. and miserable. It's like, salad and popsicle weather-something light and cold and easy to make. So what did my brain become utterly fixated on for dinner? Soup, of course. And I'm not talking, like, broth. I'm talking full on, hearty, cheesy broccoli ridiculousness.

At least it was easy to make, which was especially nice since I'd never attempted broccoli soup before. And it's low fat, compared to what it could have been. Plus, I got to use my red Kampot pepper for the first time. Look how gorgeous this stuff is!! I'm sure white pepper would have been a better fit, since it's spicier, but this stuff is damn purdy, and that counts for something in my world.

So here you go. Pump up the a/c and then get cooking. Or save it til you actually need to be warmed the meantime, I'm off to take another cold shower.

Cheesy Broccoli Soup

cooking spray
one medium onion, chopped small
4 cloves garlic, minced
8-10 baby carrots, thinly sliced
medium sized broccoli head, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces (including the stalk part)
3.5 cups broth (I used beef, but only because I was out of chicken)
2.5 cups 1% milk
a little less than 1/2 cup flour
8oz shredded 2% cheddar
1/2 tsp fresh pepper
couple dashes Tabasco
salt to taste (only if needed)

Heat stockpot over medium high, coat with cooking spray. Saute onions and garlic until soft. Add broth and broccoli and carrots, bring to a boil, and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Pour milk in medium bowl, and whisk in the flour. Add slowly to broth mixture, and continue stirring for about 5 minutes. The soup should thicken just a bit. If you've got an immersion blender, stick it in for a minute, but not enough to blend it completely smooth-you want some broccoli chunks in there still. (Or maybe you don't, in which case, blend away.) Otherwise, you can blend it in batches in a blender, or leave it chunky, either way.

Over very low heat, stir in cheese and pepper until all is melted. Serve hot.

About 1460 total calories per recipe. (If 4 servings, 365 cals each, if 6 servings, 244 cals each)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

On the off chance you've been wondering about the kits...

The spoiled little fatties have been making themselves comfortable, as usual. At least they (Greta) are getting better at tolerating each other (Ramona), even if it requires some sort of buffer between them...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It may take awhile, but ask and eventually you shall receive.

One of my girls asked for this recipe, like, a million years ago, and I haven't gotten around to making it again until now. So, Laura, I'm sorry. But here you go.

While you may recognize this as Tom Ka Gai at your local Thai haunt, it's known as Kobe Soup around the Pammy H. house. We were eating this soup while watching the Laker game in which our boy dropped a ridiculous 81 points on the poor Raptors...we felt it was deserving of a name change in his honor. Cause come on, whether you're Laker/Kobe fan or not (we are both, stop hating), that's some impressive shit.

Whatever you want to call it, this is a surprisingly easy and delicious soup. I happened to make it with just tofu this time, but it's better with chicken or a combination of the two...and I'm just now realizing we have chicken, and so now I'm kicking myself. Oh well.

Kobe Soup
1 lb chicken breast, thinly sliced
(or 1 package extra firm tofu, cubed, or a mixture of the two)
2 cans light coconut milk (I like the Thai Kitchen brand)
Cooking spray
2 cups chicken broth (or water)
2 tbsp minced ginger (or 1 tbsp powdered/dried)
1 tbsp or so chopped lemon grass (optional)
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
about a 1/2 tsp turmeric
1-2 tsp Sriracha (or 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne)
One can straw mushrooms, drained
Thinly sliced green onion and chopped cilantro, to serve

Heat a large soup or stock pot over medium high, coat with cooking spray. Add chicken, and cook a couple minutes until it turns white (do the same thing if you're using tofu, but it obviously won't turn white). If you're using fresh ginger or lemongrass, go ahead and throw it in now so the chicken gets a little of the flavor.

Add broth and coconut milk, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, stir in remaining ingredients (besides the cilantro and green onion), and let simmer about 15 minutes.

Top with the green stuff, and that's it!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Just squash it.

Is it just us, or do we all have people throwing excess squash at us right now? Don't get me opposed to the six bags of grapefruit we got this spring from our neighbors—there is only so much acid this tummy can take, people!—I am NOT complaining; I will always take veggies off your hands. (Hear that, Char? Where's my okra??)

Hubby's aunt brought over a bag of mixed summer squash last weekend, and as thrilled as I was, I really wanted to find a new way to cook them besides steaming. I assume this is a common 'problem,' as I found this little gem on Cooking Light under the topic "Help! I'm drowning in zucchini!" Heh. I actually used a variety of squash for this, including yellow and green patty-pan, yellow squash, and zucchini. I love basil, so I ended up using more than they recommended, and a bit more feta, as well. Whatever, it's low fat...just be careful which brand of feta you go with. I used Athenos, which was really good, but I've used other brands, and their low-fat versions are just plain gross. When it comes to cheese, if in doubt, go full-fat. Cause trust me, nobody wants to eat gross cheese. (In case you weren't sure.)

If you're not used to cooking with leeks, here are a couple quick tips: Make sure and wash it well, which is sometimes easier to do after you've sliced it (rinse well in a colander), since dirt gets way down in the crevices. You can also go ahead and use some of the dark part...there's no reason to just use the white base. Keep in mind that they're basically just enormous green onions.

Sauteed Summer Squash with Basil and Feta
4 cups squash, cut into large bite-sized chunks or slices
2 leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
A little less than 1 tbsp canola oil
Pepper (I used white Kampot pepper, which gives a little kick)
About a 1/4 cup fat-free feta
handful of thinly sliced basil (1/4 cup or so)

In large saute pan, heat oil a minute or two until very hot. Add squash and leeks, and stir-fry about 5 minutes or until tender (bite one if you need to!). Turn off heat, and season with a large pinch each of pepper and salt to taste. Add basil and toss gently. Top with feta to serve.

Super easy, and went well with Spicy Turkey Meatloaf for a low-cal dinner.

Monday, June 20, 2011

I have no more excuses.

I've been busy.
I've been up-to-here in work and free-lance.
I dealt with turning 30 (Which wasn't a big deal til, like, the day of, but still).
I've been re-watching the entire series of My So-Called Life on Netflix On-Demand (even a better deal now that I cut us down to only 2 DVDs at a time...sigh. Who am I kidding...I've been watching this for the same reason at 30 that I did at Hubby says, "Oh, there's your Jared Leto..." And, BTW....he's 40 this year. Just saying.*)
I've been admiring (and driving) my new grown-up car.
I had a graduation party to put together for the hubby.
And I find myself more often dealing with one awesome (yet FAT and who sometimes claws the sofa) cat and one increasingly difficult adolescent (who yowls and mews every second she's not getting her way) cat.

What I haven't been doing? Cooking...well, I've been cooking, but I haven't been cooking anything new. Which gets rather boring. And so it's time to start. While I'm at it, I'm going to start writing. And, as I proved earlier, I am going to start reading.

Or I'm at least going to try my damndest...cause I just remembered we just got a new thing to distract me with.


*I'm writing this while watching the episode when Rayanne sleeps with Jordan. Ab-solute. heart. break. Also, Rickie's semi-homelessness=*tear*...And NO wonder I've been trying to figure out who Meredith Gray's dad is all this time...Sharon's mom turns out to be the creepiest mom ever on Big Love...And I still love the Krakow-fro. Siiigh, I love this show.

Seriously Literate, June'11

Yes, I still read...and I'm trying to get back to reading regularly. Like writing, it seems to be something I'm struggling with lately. (Oh, you HAVEN'T noticed I haven't posted in two months? You're sweet. And a liar. But thanks all the same.)

But it's summer, and summer is perfect reading time. I like having a book to take with me outside, to lie on the couch with, and to take to the gym. But since soooooommmmeone forgot to return a book on time and therefore wasn't allowed to borrow any more til the fine was paid (Um, oops...though I paid it under was NOT a week late. It was like, two days. Come on.), I haven't been at the library until recently. I will also apologize in advance that ONCE AGAIN, I read an Anita Shreve and a Sarah Addison Allen novel...I'm a little short on recommendations lately, so I'm happy to take any and all suggestions! In the meantime...enjoy.

A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
This book was actually a highly thoughtful gift from the Boss Lady—I love that a memoir about learning to cook while discovering one's lost culture made her think of me. And it was so good. Written by an ex-fashion writer from New York (and Singapore before that), Cheryl comes to realize she not only cannot cook (a shame on its own!), but cannot cook the Singaporean dishes she grew up on and misses in her life in the US.

After realizing the best way to learn is by experience, she sets off on a roughly year-long journey back and forth between her homeland and home, learning from the best—family, chefs, and friends. It's funny, clever, and sweet. I also love that the book has a collection of the recipes she attempts to master...I'm hoping to try one or two when I get the book back from Boss Lady (it seemed the least I could do was loan it to her when I finished!)

A Change in Altitude, Anita Shreve
Finally, a story by Shreve set somewhere other than the North East coast! It's funny, because I was just reading some reviews about this novel on Amazon, and it's very split...I'm wondering if that shift is part of the reason. For me, I found it refreshing. Set in Kenya several decades ago, the story revolves around a young married couple—the husband Patrick has signed on to a Doctors Without Borders-like program, and the wife Margaret, a photographer, has come along for the bumpy ride.

Of course, through a series of events, including a beyond-disasterous (non-spoiler:someone dies) hike to the top of Mount Kenya, their marriage is tested, strained, and irrevocably changed. Some of you may find Margaret's actions and feelings bordering on the inappropriate, but I found them frighteningly honest and even understandable, especially as her marriage grows more and more unlike what it once was.

It's not an uplifting story, which isn't exactly surprisingly for Shreve, but it's an interesting one.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon, Sarah Addison Allen
Allen's stories are just. so. cute. As usual, this one takes place in a small town full of 'unexplained' going-ons...wallpaper that changes according to the tenant's mood, lights that dance through the forest at's fantastical without being what I consider "fantasy"—there are no demons, trolls, or spells in this world; it's got just enough magic to make it a fairytale without being completely out there.

I didn't like it as much as I loved Garden Spells, but it was delightful all the same. If you're looking for an easy, sweet way to immerse yourself into a summer book, I definitely recommend.