Baked Chicken Alfredo Ziti

The husband loved this dish. I think mostly because it was made of leftovers but totally remade. We had some ziti that was cooked for meat sauce and we had the beer can chicken leftovers. Luckily, we had milk, Parmesan, chicken broth, garlic and some mozzarella too.

I cooked 2 cloves of minced garlic with 3 Tbsp of unsalted butter. Then I added 1 Tbsp of flour and cooked it a bit. Then, I added 1/4 cup of chicken broth and about a cup of milk, a good pinch of salt and a couple shakes of dried oregano. I let it cook until it thickened a bit. I then added freshly grated Parmesan.

In a pie dish, I layered cooked pasta then cooked cubed chicken, then a sprinkling of mozzarella, finished with more cooked pasta and dumped the sauce over all of it. I added a bit more Parmesan and then popped it uncovered in a 375 degree oven for about 17 mins.

I let it sit for 10 mins before serving.

You can add other stuff to. I think some red pepper flakes would be good or cooked mushrooms. My kiddos don’t like either so, it was made just as I said above.

Enjoy!

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The Best Belgium Waffles

People! The holidays are just on the horizon and that means we can indulge a bit on the sweets and decadent breakfasts. Who am I kidding? We make these monthly.

These waffles are a family favorite. They freeze really well and can be popped in the toaster for a quick weekday breakfast. You can serve it with fried chicken or cheesy toppings to make it savory.

The trick to making the best waffles is the waffle maker and mix. You can get both at Williams Sonoma. The waffle maker is an investment. Well, shoot so is the mix but it’s sooooo worth it. The waffle maker is the All Clad 2 waffle maker. It’s great and consistent. The mod is the gluten free or regular Willams Sonoma Bellgem Waffle Mix.

Go out and splurge on this set for yourself, your kids or someone who has those little humans running around their house. It’s a great gift.

Notes: I heat the waffle maker to 4. I add an extra tablespoon of butter to the mix (and always let it sit 15mins before cooking). I use a 1/3cup mix for each waffle. I freeze them flat in the freezer and then bag them (otherwise they bend in funny shapes and won’t fit In the toaster).

Happy Waffle Wiggles!!

Honey Cakes

These are typically eaten for the Jewish New Year to insure a sweet new year. I’m a bit late posting because I wanted to see how well they froze. The answer: perfectly! These would be wonderful holiday gifts too especially in the little loaf pans.

Honey Cake

Exact recipe from Smitten Kitchen

    3 1/2 cups (440 grams) all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder
    1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    4 teaspoons (about 8 grams) ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
    1 cup (235 ml) vegetable oil
    1 cup (340 grams) honey
    1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
    1/2 cup (95 grams) brown sugar
    3 large eggs at room temperature
    1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
    1 cup warm (235 ml) coffee or strong tea
    1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh orange juice

Fits in three loaf pans, two 9-inch square or round cake pans, one 9 or 10 inch tube or bundt cake pan, or one 9 by 13 inch sheet cake. I made mine in one full-size loaf pan plus four miniature ones.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease pan(s) with non-stick cooking spray. Line the bottom with lightly greased parchment paper, cut to fit.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Make a well in the center, and add oil, honey, white sugar, brown sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee or tea, orange juice and rye or whiskey, if using. (If you measure your oil before the honey, it will be easier to get all of the honey out.)

Using a strong wire whisk or in an electric mixer on slow speed, stir together well to make a thick, well-blended batter, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom.

Spoon batter into prepared pan(s). Sprinkle top of cake(s) evenly with almonds, if using. Place cake pan(s) on two baking sheets, stacked together (this will ensure the cakes bake properly with the bottom baking faster than the cake interior and top).

Bake until cake tests done, that is, it springs back when you gently touch the cake center. For angel and tube cake pans, this will take 60 to 75 minutes, loaf cakes, about 45 to 55 minutes. For sheet style cakes, baking time is 40 to 45 minutes.

Let cake stand fifteen minutes before removing from pan.

Freeze once cooled and store for up to 3 months.

Spicy Basil Chicken and Yellow Curry

I could eat this everyday. It’s fun to mix it up too by plopping an over easy egg on top. After the first day, the gai gra prow gets spicier and the richness of the fried egg perfectly balances the spice. I think I’ll make this tonight.

I do have two little humans at home. So, I pull half the sauce from the pan of the gai gra prow before adding the chilies and they devour it.

Gai Gra Prow (Spicy Basil Chicken)

  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce (I used Hoisin sauce because I didn’t have oyster and it was delicious)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, or as needed
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced Thai chilies, Serrano, or other hot pepper (I used jalapeños and it was fine)
  • 1 cup very thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

Whisk chicken broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, white sugar, and brown sugar together in a bowl until well blended.

Heat large skillet over high heat. Drizzle in oil. Add chicken and stir fry until it loses its raw color, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in shallots, garlic, and sliced chilies.

Continue cooking on high heat until some of the juices start to caramelize in the bottom of the pan, about 2 or 3 more minutes. Add about a tablespoon of the sauce mixture to the skillet; cook and stir until sauce begins to caramelize, about 1 minute.

Pour in the rest of the sauce. Cook and stir until sauce has deglazed the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until sauce glazes onto the meat, 1 or 2 more minutes. Remove from heat.

Stir in basil. Cook and stir until basil is wilted, about 20 seconds. Serve with rice.

Yellow Curry

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Half a yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 3/4 carton of firm tofu cubed
  • 1/3 cup yellow curry paste
  • 10 baby golden yukon potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Handful of mushrooms, cut into quarters
  • Half red bell peppers, cubed
  • Handful of green beans, cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut cream (it’s like coconut milk, but even more luscious)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional)
  • cilantro and rice for serving

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium low heat. Add the onions and saute for a few minutes until the onions are fragrant and softened. Add the chicken and curry paste; saute for 3-5 minutes. Add the potatoes and stir to coat with the curry paste.

Add the coconut cream and 1/2 cup water to the pot – simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the veggies are fully cooked, adding more water depending on the consistency you want for the sauce. Stir in the tofu toward the end so it doesn’t break up.

Stir in the fish sauce and brown sugar to really take it up a notch. Seriously – so good. Serve over rice.

Beer Can Chicken For The Win

This is a very easy Sunday night meal that gives the best leftover chicken for the rest of the week. Cook 2 and your weeknight protein is set.

Beer Can Chicken

(NY Times Recipe)

  • 1 whole chicken, approximately 4 to 5 pounds
  • 4 tablespoons sweet paprika, or mild smoked paprika
  • 2tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chile de arbol or red-pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 can beer, ideally yellow in hue, with the top half consumed or poured off (Tecate is a great choice)
  • Barbecue sauce (see recipe, or use whichever recipe you like), for basting chicken and for serving (optional)

Build a fire in your grill, leaving approximately half the grilling area free of coals. If using a gas grill, turn burners to high and then, when ready to cook, turn off the burner on the side where you will place the chicken. If using an oven, heat to 425 degrees.

Remove neck and giblets from chicken. Rinse the chicken in cold water. Pat dry.

Combine all the spices in a large bowl, then apply the dry rub to the chicken, inside and out.

Put the beer can on a solid surface. Pick up the chicken and, taking a leg in each hand, put the cavity over the can and slide the bird down onto it. Carefully transfer the bird and the can to the cool side of your grill, its back to the fire, balancing the chicken upright and using the legs to support it in this position. If using an oven, place the chicken upright in a roasting pan using the same method and place carefully into the heat.

Cover the grill and cook for approximately 1 1/4 hours, basting with barbecue sauce twice during the final half-hour if you’d like, until the breast meat registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer or until the legs are loose in their sockets. (If you’re using an oven, you can tent the bird with foil after 45 minutes to keep the skin from getting too dark.) De-can and carve.

Arroz Con Pollo

You really, really, really need to make this now. It is the perfect comfort food that has just enough freshness that you feel healthy after eating it. Healthy comfort food – that’s an oxymoron.

Arroz Con Pollo

(Small adaptations from SmittenKitchen)

Chicken

  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
  • 4 chicken breast halves with bone, halved crosswise
  • 4 chicken drumsticks
  • 4 chicken thighs

Rice

  • 3 ounces Spanish chorizo (cured sausage), skin discarded and sausage cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (I used a bratwurst because I didn’t have chorizo)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 California bay leaf
  • 1 lb. tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 12-ounce. bottle beer (not dark)
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice (14 ounces) I used Jasmine and it was great
  • 1/4 cup roasted red pepper, cut into strips

Marinate chicken: Mince and mash garlic to a paste with 2 teaspoons salt, then transfer to a large bowl. Stir in vinegar and oregano.

Remove skin and excess fat from chicken, then toss chicken with marinade until coated and marinate, covered and chilled, at least 1 hour.

Cook chicken and rice: – Cook chorizo in olive oil in a 6- to 7-quart heavy pot (12 inches wide) over medium-high heat, stirring, until some fat is rendered, 2 to 3 minutes. Add onions, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add cumin, oregano, paprika, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and bay leaves and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add chicken with marinade to chorizo mixture and cook, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring frequently, 10 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes, beer, broth, and rice and bring to a boil, making sure rice is submerged. [Deb note: I actually had a really hard time keeping the rice underneath the chicken so that it would cook evenly. I’d suggest that you use tongs to temporarily remove the chicken from the pot, mix the rice in with the other ingredients in the pot, and then replace the chicken, pressing it into the broth a bit before going onto the next step. ]

Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover mixture directly with a round of parchment or wax paper and cover pot with a tight fitting lid. Cook, stirring once or twice, until rice is tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Discard parchment paper and bay leaves, then scatter pimiento strips over rice.

Do ahead: Chicken can be marinated up to 2 hours in advance.

Salmon Cakes

Living on the Northern California coast blesses us with abundant access to everything from freshly picked fruit (wild olalliberries) to fish from the sea. We recently drove to the harbor and one of our fishermen were selling salmon. I couldn’t resist buying a whole salmon – one that was way bigger than my little family of four could eat in one sitting. On our way home, we stopped at our local hardware store to buy out first Food Saver knowing we would need to freeze a lot of fish.

I then donned on my apron and set up a table outside. I brought parchment paper, a sharp fillet knife, a pastry cutter, roll of paper towels, and my phone. My hubby pulled up a “how to fillet a whole fish” video tutorial on my phone by Jaimie Oliver and I began to fillet a whole 11 lb salmon for the first time. Generally, it went well. Note: descaling fish with a pastry cutter works super well.

I was lucky last night to have a very gracious guest over for dinner – my mom! We are “like kings” as she would say. Salmon was just one of the protein on the menu. So, we had leftovers. Tonight, we made salmon cakes.

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Salmon Cakes

Inspiration from a dear friend

  • 1/2 lb of cooked salmon, flaked and deboned
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbsp mayo
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, minced
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 cup Panko
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

Combine all the ingredients except the last two. Mix with your fingers until it looks like an uncooked crab cake.

Let it sit.

In a separate bowl, add Panko (should be shallow as you’ll add the cakes to coat soon.

Once the salmon has sit for 10-15 mins, form into silver dollar, 1″ thick discs.

In a large skillet or frying pan, heat on medium heat and add olive oil.

Lightly pat salmon patties into the Panko until they have an even layer. They will not be completely covered.

Slide these into the hot oil and cook until golden on each side.

Serve with a wedge of lemon, avocado slices and Pepper Plant hot sauce (it any hot sauce of your choosing).

I have 2 more cakes leftover and I plan to make salmon cake Benedict’s tomorrow. NBD

ENJOY!!