Saturday, March 27, 2010

Teen Cooking: Episode 3: Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken

Now I realize that a young man who turns 20 in 4 months (YIKES!) may not be a teen by some peoples definition.  Well, I am going to do my best to ignore that (he CAN'T be that old) and include him under the "Teen Cooking" title anyway. 

Ryan was hesitant to participate in my new adventure for them and did his best to explain to me that with all the work he had for his college courses he just didn't have time. But in spite of his efforts he found himself assigned to cook dinner this last Tuesday.  Good Try!  He wasn't sure what he was going to make so I gave him a half dozen ideas and his sister helped him decided by giving her opinion. 

Ryan decided to make Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken.  He had a few questions but did very well.  He was smart to remember there was a good amount of left over steamed rice from the night before so he warmed that up, steamed some green beans in the microwave and toasted some prepared garlic bread.  Once again one of my children proves that they are more capable than they may want the world to realize.  It turned out great.  The chicken breast was moist and everyone loved it. 

Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken 

6 tsp unpacked Brown Sugar
3 Skinless Chicken Breast halves
2 cloves Garlic, minced
3 tbsp Butter 
Salt & Pepper to taste

Season chicken with salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a frying pan.  Good the garlic in the butter, until lightly golden. Add chicken breasts to garlic and butter and cook thoroughly, turning chicken over half way through. When chicken is fully cooked add brown sugar on top of each breast, cook one minute longer. Cover chicken with a lid.  Allow the brown sugar to melt into the chicken (about 5 minutes).
I am not sure where I found this recipe so if it is yours please claim it, I am happy to give credit.

Teens Cooking: Episode 2: Noodle Soup with Beef and Tofu

Two days after episode 1 Tara took a turn. Tara decided to take a different approach.

Tara has done some cooking in the last few years and  has been introduced to many different Asian foods.  She decided to do something easy but very good.  Seeing as she did this off the top of her head there is not really a recipe to share but you should be able to get the gist of it.

She started with 12 cups of water in a pot.  When the water began to simmer she added beef bouillon cubes, and some garlic and onion powder.  In the meantime she cut up some cabbage, beef and firm tofu.  Once the broth was boiling she added the beef.  About 5 minutes later she added a package of long noodles.  When the Noodles were about half cooked the tofu was added.  The last 3 minutes cabbage was added. 

Tara prepared a dipping sauce made of Hoisin sauce, soy sauce and Sriracha (aka Rooster sauce, an Asian hot sauce).  She instructed us to eat the beef and tofu by taking them from our bowl and dipping them in the sauce.  It was simple but good and was enjoyed by all.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Teens cooking: Edisode 1: Mac n' Cheese

A week ago I told my children that each of them needed to plan and prepare two dinners a month.  I have done this in an effort to teach them the skills they will need when they leave home but also in hopes that they will appreciate the efforts of others.

When I discussed with Nathan what he would be preparing he decided to make baked macaroni and cheese with diced ham and vegetables on the side. I asked him if he wanted to make the macaroni I make periodically or the new recipe Tara brought home from her culinary class.  He decided to use the recipe Tara brought home. I told him I would make sure we had everything he needed and that I would be there to guide and help him seeing as this is the first time he has ever prepared a meal.

When I got home from work yesterday I called Nathan to the kitchen and told hm it was time to start preparing dinner.  I told him to read recipe the recipe all the way through first and then he could begin.  I looked at me and asked where to box of macaroni and cheese was.  I had to remind him that he said he would make baked macaroni and cheese that the box mix is not the going to be used.  Once he realized I wasn't kidding (did he really think I would agree to this, silly boy) he got to work.

The first thing we realized was that Tara doesn't always write down all the measurements and directions.  I am sure this doesn't shock those of you who know my princess.  I asked her a few questions and told Nathan not to worry about it I could help him wing it when needed.

Nathan did an excellent job and everyone LOVED dinner. He set his mind to getting it done and was good about following directions and being patient.  After pulling it out of the oven he steamed some broccoli and cauliflower in the microwave and announced that dinner was ready.  Both Ryan and Tara made sure they told him how good it was and they all laughed at me when I started taking pictures. 

One dinner down, many to go.  Can't wait to see what they come up with in the future.

Macaroni and Cheese with Ham

12 oz package of dry macaroni
6 oz ham steak, cubed
2 Tbls. olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
4 cups heavy cream
2 cups finely shredded mild cheddar cheese
1/2 panko breadcrumbs
2 Tbls. melted butter
1-1/2 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. paprika, divided
1 tsp. Tabasco
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add some salt and the macaroni, cook 8-9 minutes until al dente; rinse with cold water, drain and reserve.

In a small bowl combine breadcrumbs, parsley, paprika and melted butter.  Set aside.

Add olive oil to a skillet and cook ham for about 4 or 5 minutes over medium heat.  Removed ham from pan and drain on a paper towel.  Add onions to the skillet (if needed add a very small amount of additional olive oil to the pan first) and cook over medium heat until soft.  Add cream to the pan and stir until mixed.  Turn heat to low and add the cheddar cheese a handful at a time, stirring constantly until all the cheese is melted. Add mustard, paprika and Tabasco stirring to mix well.  Add the ham to the cheese sauce. Remove from heat.

Combine the cooked macaroni and cheese sauce and transfer to a two quart oven proof pan. Top Macaroni with breadcrumb mixture.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the breadcrumbs have browned and the cheese sauce is bubbling.  Removed from oven and allow to cool sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lavender Rice Pudding

It has been a little while since I have posted. I know, I am bad. I have several things I would like to share with you and hope to post them all in the next few days.

First - Lavender Rice Pudding.  Oh my gosh! Or as a very cute toddler says Oh By Dosh!

I have recently seen many blog posts about rice pudding. Many people have a little something different they like to do with it, but it basically comes down to rice, milk/cream and sugar. For about a week I thought about making rice pudding and decided I wanted to infuse it with Lavender. The kids thought I was crazy, nothing new, but teased me relentlessly humored me as usual. In the end they were very happy with the results. I did cook it a little longer that I would have liked so it was slightly less creamy than how I usually prefer, but it was still very, very good.  Slightly sweet, creamy with a hint of lavender.  YUM!

Lavender Rice Pudding

1-1/2 cups water
3/4 short grain rice (I used long grain because it is what I had and it worked great)
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups nonfat milk
2 cups heavy cream
3 Tbls. loose herbal lavender tea (3 tea bags should do if you don't have loose tea)
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbl. vanilla paste (1-1/2 tsp. real vanilla extract)

Cook rice, salt and water over low heat, covered, until water is absorbed.

Meanwhile combine milk and heavy cream in sauce pan, add tea, heat on medium until heated through but not simmering. Remove from heat and allow tea to infuse for about 10 to 12 minutes.
Strain milk through a fine sieve if you used loose tea.

Add sugar, infused milk/cream and vanilla to the cooked rice. Cook over a medium fire, uncovered, stirring occasionally until rice is soft and mixture has thickened a little, about 25 minutes. Stop cooking right before you think it is done, it will thicken upon standing.
(Can you see the vanilla bean seeds?  They are small, and let's face it, I need a better camera, but they are definitely there)
Divide into small bowls or serving bowl and serve warm or cold (I prefer warm). If by some chance your family/friends/stranger who knocked on your door when he smelled this cooking don't eat it all, store it in the refrigerator with plastic wrap pressed against the pudding in order to prevent a 'skin' from forming.