Cooking Fruity Curry Chicken Salad

Chicken salad’s one of those great meals that doesn’t usually take too long to make and also has an incredibly amount of versatility. Earlier this summer I tried making an Asian Chicken Salad that turned out pretty well, but I’ve got to give a major shout out to Fruity Curry Chicken Salad I found on All Recipes. Like most chicken salad recipes I’ve seen, the only real cooking you have to do is the chicken, which I just cooked in olive oil, salt and pepper in a pan.

The rest of it is just cutting stuff up and mixing things in a bowl including grapes, golden raisins, a green apple, curry powder and toasted almonds. I’d never had golden raisins before, but I liked their taste because they were less bitter than the traditional purple ones. Also, the curry we have is straight out of Sri Lanka from when my wife went to visit our friend from college there, so it’s top notch stuff (I assume, I really have no idea, but it’s tasty).

I really liked how all these flavors came together. The curry is a chicken one, of course, and worked so well with the grapes, apple, nuts and mayo. There’s also a lot of interesting textures going on in there too, from the crisp apples to the chewy raisins. As far as I’m concerned, this recipe takes the cake and will definitely make it into my regular rotation, assuming I actually start having a regular rotation.

Cooking Emeril Lagasse’s Deep Fried Eggplant

This might sound a bit weird, but I found it important to cook some really good meals around the time I heard of my grandma’s passing last week, both in her honor and to fortify my wife, daughter and I. That week I had decided to cook one of my favorite recipes, Smitten Kitchen’s Tomato Sauce With Butter & Onions and had also picked up an eggplant at a farm stand. I knew I had posted about the sauce before, but I figured it would be worth writing about my attempt at making Emeril Lagasse’s Fried Eggplant to go along with it, instead of the breaded variety I made last time I wrote about this recipe.

Right off the bat, I realized this would be a tricky one because — after staring — I discovered I didn’t have a thermometer. That meant, I had no idea when I got the oil to the recommended 375 degrees. At that point I decided to move forward and wing it. Like any recipe that involves deep frying, you’re working with several parts. In this case, it’s the sliced eggplant (which I didn’t quarter), the egg wash, the corn starch and the bread crumbs mixed with spices (I just put it together for this one recipe instead of making a full batch of Emeril’s Essence mixture).

Because I didn’t know how hot my oil was, I really just had to guess. The earlier pieces I dropped in didn’t seem to fry enough, but I think I got to a good place towards the end of the process. I’ve got to pick up another thermometer.

The chicken, pasta and sauce all went off without a hitch. The only regret I had with it this time around was not reserving some of the sauce specifically for the eggplant. My mom used to cook eggplant along with a very time consuming pasta recipe that’s also one of the best I’ve ever head. I kept tasting memories of that eggplant while eating this one, but it never quite got there. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a new thermometer and bang this one out a little more efficiently next time.

Honoring Gramma With A Malley’s Tin Roof Sundae

The reason posts have been so spotty lately is because my grandmother passed away last week. Even though she’d been sick for a while and we knew it was coming, it was still a tough blow and one that made me not want to write about food so much. This past weekend, my wife, daughter and I traveled to Cleveland to say goodbye and pay our respects along with my mom and dad, aunt and uncle, cousins, their kids and lots of other people whose lives she touched. I have plans to write more extensively about her, but for right now, I thought it would be appropriate to show a picture of her favorite sundae.

Gramma’s preferred place to get ice cream and chocolate was a local place in Fairview Park called Malley’s. I didn’t get a great shot of the inside, but they actually have a carousel inside with a group of tables that you can sit on. It slowly rotates around, giving you a great look at all the chocolates and other treats they sell while you’re waiting for and then devouring your ice cream. I used to spend a week or two every summer with her and we would always wind up heading over to Malley’s and, if memory serves, we always ate on the carousel.

But this wasn’t just a tradition with me, she did this with my two older cousins as well as their children, so it became a family tradition. As a way to pay our respects, we rented out the carousel after her funeral on Saturday and all got together for another sundae. I’m not the biggest dessert fan in the world, but I thought it would be appropriate to get her favorite, a tin roof sundae.

As it turned out, we filled all the seats on the carousel except for one, which I think wound up being pretty appropriate.

Cooking Burrito Pie

I’ve become a pretty big fan of AllRecipes.com, especially their app for the iPhone which has a spinner option that allows you to put in what kind of meal/dish you’re working on, the main ingredient and how long you want to cook it. I’ve come up with some really interesting recipes thanks to that like this one for Burrito Pie. It’s a really simple recipe that had pretty tasty results and most of the ingredients are canned which means the utensil you’ll be using the most is your can opener.

The recipe says to start the oven at 350 first, but I waited until I was further along with cooking the beef, onions and all the other canned stuff before getting to that step. No sense in wasting gas, right? So, I got to work on the beef and onions, then mixed in all the canned goods. While doing this I actually got my finger pretty bad on one of the lids, so watch out for that. That’s never happened to me, but I’ve also never had a toddler pushing me around while trying to cook, so it might not be as much of a problem for everyone else.

Anyway, as you can see in the pics, I used my high-sided pan, but I would probably ditch that in favor of my Dutch oven next time because it was hard to mix everything together without it spilling all over the place. While that was simmering for the allotted 20 minutes, I got the oven heating, shredded the cheddar cheese and got everything else ready for assembling. This is pretty much the same thing as putting a lasagna together where you’re layering the ingredients over and over. The recipe suggests using a high baking dish, but I decided to split it in half and use pie plates which I thought worked out well. Those went into the oven and boom, you’ve got a filling dinner that doesn’t take as much work as, say, enchiladas, which I like to eat out, but don’t like making.

I would imagine you could freeze a whole pie if you made this recipe the same way I did, though I’m not sure how long it would keep. We had a few tricky days after I made this, so we wound up eating both and it tasted great fresh and re-heated. All those classic Mexican ingredients mingled well together and didn’t get too spicy, so this will definitely be a keeper, especially for days when things are getting a little crazy and you don’t have time to do a ton of prep work.

Cooking Rachel Ray’s Spinach Artichoke Whole-Wheat Penne

Pesto, pesto, pesto, I love me some pesto. You can tell because it has its own category on the righthand side there. I’ve actually made Rachel Rays Spinach Artichoke Whole-Wheat Penne┬ábefore, but that was before the blog, so I figured it made for not only a good recipe to revisit, but also post-worthy. I’m still not sure how I feel about Rachel Ray, but she does have some good recipes that can be made with fresh (or mostly fresh) ingredients.

Anyway, this was another recipe I went with because it’s not super hot to make. You basically get the pot of water boiling for the pasta first, then get the pesto together in the food processor and cook the artichokes, mixing the various elements together at different times.

After getting the water going, I also put some of my homemade frozen stock in a pot to defrost and toasted some almonds. By the way, I love replacing the very expensive pine nuts, which I always skip, with toasted almonds, this is a good substitution. Anyway, after those things were moving along, I put the stock, toasted almonds, spinach, basil, shallot, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil in the bowl of the FP and gave it a few whirls.

At the same time, I started cooking the artichoke hearts in some olive oil in the Dutch oven. Once the sauce was done, that went into the pan with the hearts. Once the pasta was done cooking, it also went into the DO along with a bunch of shredded parm. All that got cooked together for a few minutes and you’ve got dinner.

I thought this was a pretty good alternative pesto. I wouldn’t completely replace traditional pesto with this version, but it’s nice to have an easier — and let’s face it, cheaper — version that can be easily put together. Adding in artichokes hearts makes everything better in my book, so that’s an added bonus as well. You could also grill up some chicken and include that to add some protein, something I might do next time.

Bonus Food Pics: Geeky Chocolate At Krause’s

I am not a chocolate fan. I do like the occasional truffle, but it’s not the kind of thing I normally jones for. When we were walking around New Paltz this past Saturday, we stopped in a place I never noticed before called Krause’s Chocolates. We walked around a little bit, but didn’t want to get anything, but I did see a few things I just had to snap pictures of and write about. Above you can see chocolate pops based on Spider-Man (come on with the hyphen guys) and Batman. But the most impressive geek treats I saw were…

Star Wars chocolate! The picture isn’t great, but you’ve got C-3PO on the far left, then Chewbacca, R2-D2 and Darth Vader! They were about 6-8 inches tall and probably look tasty if you’re into chocolate. Anyone every been there and sampled these geeky delicacies? How do they compare to norm candy?

Cooking Food Network’s Asian Chicken Salad

I’m fairly convinced that there’s no good meals to prepare when it’s beastly hot out. Maybe something you can just throw out on a grill and check occasionally, but considering we’re in a place where that’s not an option, I’m sure it’s impossible for me. Unless you just want to eat salad all summer. I thought Food Network’s Asian Chicken Salad would have made for a nice, cool meal to put together and eat, but was definitely wrong on the first half of that idea.

This is actually a super easy meal to put together. You make a dressing, marinate some chicken, grill it, chop up some veggies and you’ve got yourself a meal with plenty of protein and veggies that also happens to be tasty. You can see how the recipe is prepared and that’s basically what I did. I got the dressing together first which was just whisking a bunch of stuff together. Part of that went over the chicken for ten minutes.

While that was going on, it was time to chop up the veggies. You’re working with carrots, cabbage and snow peas here, so it’s nothing too complicated. I tried to get all that done in the ten minutes it took to marinate, but am honestly not sure if I accomplished that. One thing I have to deal with on the regular is a very needy one year old wanting to be held while cooking. I do remember having to chop the cabbage one handed, no small task.

I grilled the chicken on a cast iron grill pan until they were done, then chopped them up, put it in the bowl with the veggies and added the rest of the dressing and the chow mein noodles. Boom, you’re done. I will say that, since I’ve made some Thai and other Asian dishes here and there, I felt the flavors were a little lacking. When I ate this as leftovers the next day, I warmed up some peanut butter and poured that in as well. I would also add some lime next time. And there will be another next time because it is so easy, I’ll just make a few tweaks to make it even better.

Making Pancakes For The Family Reunion

Two weeks back, my family and I traveled to Michigan for a family reunion hosted by my parents. Aside from some playing sous chef to my mom who was handling 99% of the cooking for the three day event, I had a break from cooking. My wife and I were however asked to handle the blueberry pancakes one morning. I don’t know exactly what recipe we were using, but you can see most of the ingredients above. Mom is a great planner, so she actually had all of the dry ingredients measured out and packaged ahead of time (you can see one of them on the table, it’s the black-topped container). We doubled the recipe and took the batter outside to the grill where a cast iron griddle was on the heating gas grill.

My wife wound up doing most of the actual cooking while I watched the baby and ran done blueberry pancakes into the house to keep warm in the oven or later for eating. She did about three at a time and just dropped some blueberries in right after. They went really quickly, so I guess they were a pretty big hit.

Bonus Food Pic: Steak Teriyaki Sandwich In New Hampshire

One of the great things about traveling to different parts of the world is getting a chance to check out local foods. We go to New Hampshire roughly once every two months to visit my wife’s parents and there’s an aspect of the local food scenes that I’m a huge fan of. No, it’s not seafood (though I do like that), it’s local sandwich shops.

Where we live in New York, we have some sandwich shops, but they’re more delis than anything and they ALL feature Boar’s Head lunch meat exclusively. I’m not sure what the deal is there, but since I worked in a sandwich place in high school and college that used some really great meats not sold by BH, I’m not as big of a fan as everyone else.

Aside from that, though, you’re SOL. What NH has in spades is steak sandwich places. The favorite one of my inlaws is called All American Subs, I believe. The above picture was taken at a newer place that opened in the last year inside an old Taco Bell that I stopped in on one of my few solo outings in the past 15 months of fatherhood. It’s so simple to cook a bunch of steak or chicken, throw some cheese on and grill that I don’t know why more places around here don’t do that. Roast beef sandwiches along the lines of an Arbys are also very popular there. I hope to pick up some of those sandwiches in the next trip or two to the Hampsh.

Cooking Bow Ties With Sausage, Tomatoes & Cream

As you can probably tell by now, I’m a big fan of Italian food. Garlic, tomatoes, basil and pasta are pretty much perfect foods as far as I’m concerned and go with almost everything. I also really like sausage, so when I came across this recipe for Bow Ties With Sausage, Tomatoes and Cream on AllRecipes, I was in from the jump. I made two small changes when making this, I ditched the red pepper flakes and substituted the heavy cream for whole milk we had in the fridge. Aside from that, I went by the book.

The problem with my love of pasta? It makes for a very hot kitchen in the summer. Still, I persevere. You get the water boiling and then start working on the sauce which kicks off with browning the sausage. I went with the Dutch oven for this because it’s better for mixing in the pasta later on, things tend to get messy for me when I do this with a regular high sided pan. Anyway, you then mix in the garlic and onion, cook some more and then stir in the tomatoes, cream (or in my case milk). Because I used milk, I cooked it a little longer to thicken up. Once that’s done and the pasta is drained, mic in the Dutch oven and cook like you’re supposed to do with pasta dishes.

By the way, to go along with the pasta, I also made some asparagus. I cleaned them, put them on a baking sheet, sprinkled with olive oil and some ground lemon pepper. I just get the oven going at 375 and cook them for about 10 minutes, or until you can stick easily with a fork.

You can probably guess that I liked this recipe, which I did. The fam, including the baby, also seemed to like it. When coming up with a menu every week, sometimes I get a little tired of the usual ground beef/chicken breast/pork chop triumvirate, so it’s nice to mix a few things like sausage in there. Will definitely return to this recipe again in the future.