intrepid archaeologist, avid cook

Dinner

What do you do with leftover turkey?

I have a million recipes for leftover turkey, like biscuit crust pot pie and turkey soup and tetrazini, but today, while at the grocery store, I saw egg roll wrappers and I decided that this needed to happen. By this, of course, I mean I needed to make turkey dinner egg rolls. This may be one of the best ideas I have ever had. (and this time, I have some pictures)

I got really excited when DH came home with purple sweet potatoes. Yes, that is right, PURPLE sweet potatoes. Most people know I am about obsessed with purple potatoes, but I have never had purple sweet potatoes. I think I am in love. Seriously. I took one of those, some celery and carrot and brussel sprouts and chopped them up all fine, shredded some turkey added a couple of cranberries and rolled them up in the wrappers. After a couple of minutes in hot oil, I had amazing goodness.

Here’s the recipe:
1/2 onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery (no greens) chopped fine
1 large shredded carrot
1 med-large sweet potato shredded
1 small white potato shredded
10 med brussel sprouts chopped fine.
1 cup turkey chopped fine
handful cranberries
salt, pepper, about 1 t each
package egg roll wrappers
oil for frying

Mix everything in a large bowl and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Take out the wrappers and follow the directions on how to roll them. I used about 1/4 cup in each wrapper, folded the sides, and then rolled it up, using water to seal the last side. Set them sealed side down on a plate until you are ready to fry.

put about 1-1.5 inches of oil in a pan and heat the oil to about 350 or so. If you drop water in the pan and the oil goes crazy, you are probably good to go. Set the egg rolls in sealed side down, let them brown and then turn them. It takes about 3-5 minutes for them to be done. Set them on a paper towel to drain the oil. If you are doing a lot, or just want them good and hot when you eat them, put them in the oven at 350 on a piece of parchment paper until you are ready to serve them.

Use leftover gravy or cranberry sauce (or both) to dip the egg rolls and enjoy them

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Coconut curry chicken with quinoa

Sorry, I have been so lazy and absent the last month.  I know, I know, you are dying to know what I have been doing in the kitchen.  Well, the answer is not a whole lot.  Forces have conspired to make me work late and fix things in a crockpot, and other forces conspired to make those things less than tasty….namely that DH has no idea what to do in a kitchen.

AT ANY RATE

last night I had a pound of dark-meat chicken (nice and cheap, I usually get about 10 pounds of chicken chopped up from the butcher and freeze it in individual packages, which make it even cheaper – and apparently no one likes dark chicken meat except DH, so the butcher always has a lot to sell for not a lot of money).  So I have all this chicken, and I stood in the middle of the kitchen, staring at this chicken and not knowing what to do with it.  I thought maybe stir fry…

I walked into the pantry, intending to get materials to make a stir fry, some water chestnuts, soy sauce, rice vinegar, etc.  and I saw the cans of coconut milk, waiting, inviting me, calling my name… and it hit me.  I want coconut something.  I thought curry.  I do not know how to make coconut curry.  I looked on the internet.  All of the recipes I found were for Thai food (no surprise) but I have nothing to make Thai food with, no curry paste, none of the chilis, no fish sauce. Thai was out.  I do have some very nice curry powder I picked up on my last trip to Kenya (it is probably the same as any you get here, but damnit, I think it is BETTER).

I chopped some onion and garlic and put it in the pan, added the chicken and browned that.  I dumped on the curry powder, added some other things that I like the taste of, and then, with a short prayer to the chef gods, dumped in the coconut milk and deglazed the pan.  Immediately, the coconut milk turned a beautiful tan color and the kitchen started to smell like heaven.  I knew I had made the right decision.  Now, what to serve with?

Back into the pantry.  Quinoa.  I have it, I don’t make it nearly enough, and it seemed like a good idea, but not on its own.  Keeping with the theme, I grabbed the shredded coconut and put it on the counter.  I started the quinoa and stared at the coconut.  WTF am I going to do?  I thought.  I struggled.  I won’t lie.

I didn’t have any raisins or cashews which I really wanted.  (I know what you’re thinking, you have kids, how do you not have raisins? Well, kids are the reason I don’t have them.  Little Girl had found and eaten them all earlier in the week).  So, no raisins or cashews.  So I decided to go with carrots and apples as compliments to the coconut.  I grated them (also keeping with a theme) and after the quinoa was done cooking, I just mixed them in.  I served it with a pile of the quinoa salad and the chicken and sauce on top of that.  I was worried about the sweet, and warned our guest C that the entire meal was an experiment.  I wasn’t guaranteeing that it would taste good, but I wasn’t going to apologize if it wasn’t.

I was surprised at how much I like it.  I was also very surprised by how much my kids liked it.  Little Man sat in his highchair yelling for more, which meant there were no leftovers to savor over lunch today, but I am OK with it.  (It’s hit or miss with him sometimes…).  C said it was a successful experiment and even DH got over the weirdness he felt over the quinoa (which he never remembers ever eating before) and said it was not bad.  I think cashews would make it amazing – next time.  I liked how the savory of the coconut curry complimented the sweet of the quinoa salad, and the flavors of the salad brought out the flavors in the curry sauce.  In all, successful on all fronts, except picture taking.  Sorry guys – if I make it again, I promise I will take some photos.

Chicken coconut curry:

1 lb chicken, cubed

1/2 – 1 cup onion, chopped

1-3 cloves garlic, minced

3 T curry powder (invest in this, and get something from an Indian grocery, I think it definitely tastes different)

1 t salt

1/2 t pepper flakes

1/2 t cumin

pinch coriander

14.5 ounce can full fat coconut milk (you might be able to use fat free)

1 cup broccoli, chopped

Salad

1/2 cup quinoa

1 cup water

pinch salt

1/2 cup shredded carrot

1/2 cup grated carrot

1/2 cup grated apple (try to get a tart type)

 

Add the onion and the garlic to a large skillet on med-high heat.  Add the chicken and brown the hell out of it.  Add the curry powder, salt, pepper flakes, cumin and coriander and mix into the chicken well.  Add the coconut milk and deglaze the pan.  Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat.  Let it simmer and the sauce will thicken.

Put the quinoa, water and salt into a small saucepan.  bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered till the water is absorbed.

When the water is half absorbed into the quinoa, add the broccoli to the curry – cover and continue to simmer.  You can add the broccoli whenever, but too soon and the broccoli will get very soft.

When the water is absorbed into the quinoa, add the shredded coconut, grated carrot and apple.

pile on the quinoa and top with the chicken curry.

enjoy, it is SO good.


Bacon-wrapped Stuffed Chicken

OK.  It’s been a while.  Did you miss me?  I know you did.  It’s been tres busy over here, what with me freaking out about messes and shampooing carpets.  Not to mention the need to get some last minute fun things out of the way before summer officially ends (NEXT WEEK!!) and I can no longer take a Tuesday, grab my kids, and go to the shore.

So, here I sit, with a glass of wine and a folder full of photos of food, and I thought I would share them with you.

This is one of my ‘fancy’ recipes.  I make it when I want to impress someone.  The first time I tried this, DH told me it was as good as restaurant food.

 

I generally use chicken fingers, because they are smaller, and easier to pound out and roll up, but you can do it with a whole breast as well.

 

The first step is to prepare the filling.  I like to use swiss chard in my filling, but any leafy green will do.  The Chard has a nice kick which contrasts with the chicken and compliments the bacon.  You saute the chard with onions and garlic in olive oil, with a little salt and pepper.  Just saute until the greens are wilted – they will cook more after being rolled up into the chicken.

Pound out the chicken.  This is important because unpounded chicken does not roll up well, and is generally too fat to want to roll up.

 

After you have thoroughly pounded the will to live and be fat out of your chicken, you take some grated cheese.  Did I mention there is cheese in this dish?  There is.  I like to use some provolone and sharp cheddar.

 

After the cheese, add the chard mixture.  Not too much, just a layer.

 

Then you roll it up.  Start at the narrow end and then roll toward the fat end, tucking in any of the filling that falls out.

 

Next, take a piece of bacon and wrap it around the rolled up chicken.  I wrap the bacon in the opposite direction of the chicken roll, to help keep the chicken together without having to use a toothpick.  Repeat all these steps until you have no more chicken left and place the rolls of chicken in an oven safe dish.  I use a wonderful stone dish from Pampered Chef that has ridges on the bottom, so the chicken isn’t sitting in too much fat, but I have made this without the special ridged pan and it turns out fine.

 

And now, into the oven.  I cook these for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees, until the juices are clear and the bacon is done.

You can make a lovely sauce for this by taking the juices from the bottom of the pan in the oven and whisking in some cornstarch and a pinch of house seasoning.  Cook it on medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture bubbles and then remove from the heat.  It will thicken a bit as it cools.

 

When the chicken is done, take it out, let it sit for about 5 minutes and then plate it with the sauce, like I did in the photo at the beginning.  This is a favorite dish in my house, mostly because the girl likes bacon and as far as she is concerned, if there is bacon, it is gourmet.  It is really not difficult to do, and only has a few ingredients.

The details:

3 leaves Swiss Chard, chopped

1 onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

Chicken fingers or chicken breast.

bacon

for the sauce:

1/3- 1/2 cup drippings from the pan

3 Tbsp cornstarch

 


Gumbo fritters

In my house there are two things that are always a hit: gumbo and pancakes.  So one night when I was feeling particularly lazy and didn’t want to make an actual meal, I invented gumbo fritters.  I know, most people would order Chinese food when they were feeling lazy, but I had a lot of okra that needed to be used, and we had Chinese the night before owing to the fact that I couldn’t put the boy down long enough to peel a potato.

These were an instant hit.  DH told me they were the best thing I had invented ever.  I disagree, but they were still pretty good, and frankly, anything you can eat with your fingers is bound to be the best thing ever.

I had started the day without eggs, and this situation had not changed, owing to the fact that I did not stop on my way home.  In the morning, we had wanted pancakes, so I looked up an eggless pancake batter recipe right here on the web (it’s here: http://www.free-old-time-cooking-recipes.com/desserts/pancakes/pancake-recipe-without-eggs.html, if you are ever in need.  Some of the comments there are not the nicest, but I thought the pancakes I made with it were delicious.).  I started with that recipe as a starting point.  I changed some things, obviously, since I was making a savory dish, but essentially, the important parts were all the same.

My father is a volunteer firefighter, and 4 or 5 times a summer, they hold a BBQ and make the best chicken.  I get extras and freeze them because they are perfect for gumbo (which is, as I mentioned, a perennial favorite in my house).  I grabbed one of these bad boys out and defrosted it.  I suppose you could cook up some chicken fresh for this, but it really is a great recipe to use up some leftovers, and it’s much easier to prep if the chicken is already cooked.  Anyway, I deboned and cut up the chicken and added it to the batter.  I then chopped up some onion and garlic and put them in a skillet to saute and then added that to the batter as well.  grated carrots, potatoes and zucchiniThen I grated two carrots (white and purple, well, really mostly red, but the outside is purple) a zucchini, and a potato (also purple).  I chopped up some okra (both green and purple – i just love heirloom varieties) and cut some corn off the cob.  I added chopped celery leaf and chopped parsley.  I mixed this all together and made a rather thick batter.  In actuality, there was more added to the batter than there was batter, but that is really the secret to a good fritter.  The only thing left to do was put them in hot oil and fry these bad boys up.  remember, don't crowd them!

I used a cookie scoop to get about a tablespoon of the batter and dropped it into the oil, which was good and hot.  Remember to check the oil before you put the batter in.  Flick it with water and then add a little bit of your batter.  If your oil isn’t hot enough, the batter will absorb a lot of the oil and they won’t be very good.  I flattened out the batter into the oil and let it brown on one side, flipped it and let it brown on the other side.  Then I pulled them out and put them on a plate with a paper towel on it.  I separated layers of fritters with a paper towel.  This recipe makes a lot (around 35-40) of fritters, so either be really hungry or invite some people over to eat them…

I also made a sour cream dip for these.  They don’t need it, really, but it adds a nice touch to the fritter.

Gumbo Fritters:

1 half chicken, cooked, deboned and chopped

1 potato grated

1 zucchini grated

2 med carrots grated

1 med onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

8-10 okra chopped

1 ear of corn, cut off the cob

~1/4 cup fresh celery leaf, chopped

~1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped

for the batter:

2 cups flour

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 cups milk

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp water

4 tbsp butter, melted

For the dip:

1/4 cup sour cream

1 tsp house seasoning

1 tsp crushed red pepper

To make the batter, mix the flour, baking powder and salt together.  Add the milk, water and oil and mix until just incorporated.  It will be and should be pretty lumpy; let it sit for a few minutes.  In a skillet, melt the butter, then add the melted butter to the batter.  Get your oil started in the pan.  I put in at least a 1/2 inch of oil in my skillet.  Heat it up on high heat, and when it is hot, but before you are ready to add your batter, turn it down to medium.   Add all the good stuff (i.e. the things you chopped up and sauteed at the beginning of this adventure) to your batter.

Spoon about 1 tbsp of batter into the hot oil and flatten it out.  When the edges of the fritter are golden, flip it over – this should take 3-5 minutes – and let that side cook.  Remove fritter and let drain on a paper towel.

While you wait for your fritters to cook, mix the sour cream up with the house seasoning and the red pepper.  It is best to do this at the beginning of when you are cooking the fritters because it allows the flavors of the spices to incorporate fully into the sour cream.

 


Campfire Pizza

This is my favorite thing to make camping.  Seriously.  There is nothing so good as a pizza cooked in a cast iron dutch oven on a campfire.  The most difficult thing is judging the temperature of the coals so you don’t burn the bottom or the top.

I start with a ‘quick’ pizza dough.  This means I do not have the patience to make a regular pizza dough and wait the hours it takes for it to rise.  This pizza dough is ready in about 25 minutes.  And I use it all the time, not just camping, since I have the same ability to plan what I am going to eat for dinner as goldfish have of remembering that they have seen this castle before.  you can see the cornmeal on the bottom of the pan

I mix the dough first, and then usually do something else for a while.  In this case, I made the potato balls detailed in the last post.  After the dough has risen, I prep the pizza.  You begin by adding flour until the dough doesn’t stick to your hands anymore, which can be as much as a cup.Then you stretch the dough and shape it into the pan.  I start by stretching the dough outside the pan, and then fitting it into the pan and stretching it some more if I need to.  The trick is to not forget the cornmeal to put on the bottom of the pan.  It makes removing the pizza actually possible.  My dutch oven is about 15 inches in diameter, so it makes a decent size pizza.  If we had had more folks in camp, though, I think we would have needed a second pie…

When you have it all stretched out and even, it should look like this: 

Then you top it.  I used a jarred pizza sauce, but you could use something that was homemade or no sauce, or whatever.  In this instance someone wanted no sauce on their slice.  I would have loved to accommodate her, but being it was one pie for 8 people, I was not making promises, and I told her that.  I did honestly try to make it at least plain cheese.  That was all I could do for her, even though I did scrape the sauce off one slice, it oozed on there when the pie cooked.

Our final product before putting the lid on and on the coals looked like this:

Then we made a little spot for it in the fire ring.  In retrospect, I should have gathered the coals on the stones outside the ring to better control the temperature on the bottom, but there is always next time… I made a bed of coals, about one layer deep to one side of the fire ring and kept the fire going on the other side.  Then I placed the oven on top of the bed of coals and coals on the lid:


you may have to replace the coals on top...You may have to add more coals to the top, but you will want to check the pizza after about 10 minutes.  Pizzas don’t take long to cook and you don’t want to burn the bottom.  Simply lift the lid to look at the pizza.  If the sides look a little golden, the bottom will be done.  You want the top to get done too, so if it is not looking like a pizza should when the bottom is done, you can just take the whole dutch oven off the bed of coals and add a few more to the top.  This is what I eventually did with this.

The end product looked like this:

sorry kid, i can't even guarantee you a slice without pepperoni...

In the end the movement of the molten pizza made the sauce ooze everywhere and the pepperoni with it.  Sorry, Kid, you’re going to have to have a new food night.  To her credit, our intrepid eater liked the new food she bravely tried.

To make the dough you need:

1 package quick-rise yeast

1 1/4 cup flour, plus more for kneading, up to 1 cup

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup warm water

Cornmeal to sprinkle on your pan.

mix the dry ingredients with the yeast.  Add the warm water and mix till dough forms.  Cover in the bowl and let sit for about 20 – 25 minutes to rise.

After rising, punch down dough and work in enough flour to make the dough not stick to your hands.  Sprinkle the pan with cornmeal and stretch the dough, first out of the pan and then in the pan, so the dough fits into the pan and up around the edges a bit.  Add your toppings.

Bake in the Dutch oven until the pizza looks like a pizza.  It should take between 15 and 20 minutes altogether.