I’m Thankful For Fiddlestix

 

I’ve got a lot to be thankful for this Turkey Day. My folks have come in from Toledo to share a meal with Em, Lu and I so that’s great. But, since this is a food blog and there’s no way I’ll be able to turn around photos of our Thanksgiving prep until next week, I figured I would keep things on topic.

Regular readers will know that I love Fiddlestix. I’ve never had a bad meal there and love the variety of specials they present every week. Here you can see a collection of photos I’ve taken in the past few months. I can’t quite remember all the details. Up top is some kind of breakfast quesadilla. Then you’ve got a roast beef wrap above this paragraph followed by a double whammy of a sausage omelet and what I believe are raspberry and something pancakes.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever talked about this, but even the sides at ‘Stix are something to talk about. At a lot of other places, breakfast potatoes feel like an add on, but theirs are always crisp and paprika-y. Better than that are the lunch sides which consist of homemade potato chips and what seems like a different pasta salad every time.

I hope you’ve found a great place like Fiddlestix and go there on a regular basis. It’s important to support local restaurants, especially when they’re awesome.

Advertisements

Cooking Herbed Turkey And Wild Rice Casserole

Turkey and bacon make a great combination. Really, anything and bacon is super tasty, but these two proteins work especially well together. This idea was tested and proved once again when I made Herbed Turkey And Wild Rice Casserole from Betty Crocker’s Slow Cooker Cookbook  (p 120). This recipe isn’t as easy as some of the “throw everything in the slow cooker, flip the switched and wait, but it was definitely worth the effort.

First up, you cook the bacon. Instead of cooking the whole strips, I like to dice it up. Saves on time and effort down the line. While that cooked, I chopped up the turkey breasts, carrots and onions and also mixed together chicken broth and a can of condensed cream of chicken soup. I don’t usually use cream of anything soup, but I had already written down most of the ingredients on my list and was in it enough.

Once the bacon is removed, you through the turkey and veggies into the pan. When that’s done, the rice goes in the slow cooker bowl as do the cooked meat and vegetables. At this point you get to put the lid on and cook on low for six or seven hours.

This turned out to be a pretty enjoyable recipe thought brought a few things into our meals that we don’t usually eat: wild rice and turkey. Oh, also that soup. There’s got to be a good substitute for that, though right? Anyone have any suggestions?

Bonus Food Pic: Great Wall Chinese Food

Even though I make a lot of recipes in my wok, there’s just something awesome about getting Chinese food carry out. Maybe it’s because I mostly try recipes of dishes I’m not familiar with or maybe it’s because I lived behind a Chinese food restaurant growing up, but I feel a connection to this food, even if I only ate white rice with soy sauce for YEARS.

We ordered House Lo Mein, Sesame Chicken, Crab Rangoon and Pork Egg Foo Young with some pretty spectacular gravy. The food came from a place literally two minutes down the street called Great Wall, but I’ll be honest, all the Chinese food I’ve had around here has been pretty darn solid with the exception of a now-closed buffet place that was truly awful.

Cooking Smitten Kitchen’s Spaghetti With Broccoli Cream Pesto

I didn’t take a lot of pictures of my process for making Smitten Kitchen’s Spaghetti With Broccoli Cream Pesto because it’s not a particularly photo-worthy post (plus, there’s no way I can take better one that SK’s Deb Perelman). You’re boiling water, steaming broccoli, cooking pasta, cutting up broccoli, shredding cheese, chopping garlic, throwing stuff in the food processor, cooking onions and eating.

I’ve made plenty of pesto recipes before and love the variety you can come across even without the traditional ingredients of pesto and pine nuts. In this case the cooked broccoli and onions take the place of those fancier greens. The real genius of this recipe is how you basically use one pot and the food processor to make the whole thing. I got a pot of water boiling and put the steam basket in the top of it. Once it was ready, I added the cleaned and trimmed broccoli. Once that was done and set aside, I threw the pasta in.

While that cooked I took care of some of the other prep stuff. I cut up the onion and shredded the parm. When it was done and drained, I then cooked first the onion and then the broccoli in the pot. When that was done, everything but the pasta went into the food processor and we had diner after a few whirs.

I can’t really say that I’d kick my other pesto recipes to the curb for this one, but I do appreciate that it’s so simple to put together. If you’ve got an extra box of pasta and some broccoli you’re good to go. In a pinch you could use milk instead of cream, You could also cook up some chicken and add that in for added protein if you wanted. Super easy.

Cooking Pat Neely’s Famous Beef and Pork Chili

I’ve made plenty of chili in my days. Most of them kind of blend together, but then I made Pat Neely’s Famous Beef and Pork Chili which I saw over on Food Network’s website and things changed for me all because of one spectacular ingredient: bacon. You can hit the link to head over and see the the recipe which is super easy to follow, but I want to talk about the addition of that delicious, salty substance known as bacon. The flavor might have faded a bit in the leftover phase, but that first bite of bacon-infused chili was just slap-you-in-the-face amazing. Why had I never thought of this before? Why hadn’t I come across a recipe like this before? You can darn well bet that every chili I make from here on out will feature bacon.

I Finally Had My Own Under The Big Top At Fiddlestix!

Guys! Guys! I finally had the breakfast I couldn’t stop thinking about it for myself! We went to Fiddlestix in Cornwall this weekend and I immediately stopped reading the menu as soon as I saw something called Under The Big Top on the weekly breakfast special menu. As soon as I saw “pretzel” I was super in. This version was actually written a little differently than the one my wife had as it was supposed to have sausage, but they were out of sausage, so they put bacon on. That made things a bit salty in some bites (pretzel plus bacon, you know how it is), but overall this was delightful. The pretzels and bacon were joined by a wonderful cheese sauce and a pair of poached eggs. Man oh, man. This was amazing. I need to figure out how to make pretzels and try this out at home!

Wok This Way: Five-Spice Chicken With Sugar Snaps

This was another pretty simple wok recipe to throw together and the results were something I’d never had before. Most of the work involved in making Five-Spice Chicken With Sugar Snaps as seen on page 120 of Stir-Frying To The Sky’s Edge revolved around getting the chicken ready. Instead of the thighs suggested in the recipe, I went with breasts as I always do. I chopped those up and then mixed it together with ginger, soy sauce, honey, cornstarch, sherry and five spice powder. I also mixed together chicken broth, ketchup and soy sauce. Aside from that, all you have to do is clean the peas. I’m not sure if I got sugar snaps or some other kind of peas to be honest. I have much to learn about peas.

From there, it’s a matter of tossing things in the wok in the right order. The chicken goes in first, cooks a bit and then gets put on a plate. Then the peas go in, the chicken rejoins the party along with a few other things and you’ve got dinner. Instead of rice, which my wife says is poisonous now (not really, but kinda), I got lucky and had a few nests of egg noodles in the pantry that I prepared as well.

I’ve used Chinese five spice before, but never as such a central part of the dish. There was a nice sweetness coming through from the honey and then that distinct mixture of peppercorns, star anise, fennel, cinnamon and cloves (the quintet of spices that make it up).

Cooking Food Network’s Chicken Paprikash

Chicken Paprikash is a dish that I don’t have a lot of history with, but one I still enjoy. I don’t think my mom made it when I was growing up, but when I was in college I joined a fraternity with an awesome cook named Sharon who would make it every couple weeks. When I was looking around on FootNetwork.com for recipes to try and saw this one for the Food Network Magazine’s Chicken Paprikash I figured I’d give it a whirl. I mean, it’s basically Beef Stroganoff with chicken, bacon and some different spices, so I’m all over that.

I didn’t get a picture of the final dish, but I prepared egg noodles to serve this over. While the water heated I got bacon cooking in my Dutch oven and then added in the onion and red pepper. After that the chicken got added to the mix along with the spice mixture (paprika, marjoram) and flour. The broth then gets added to the Dutch oven and you simmer for 10 minutes.

There’s some more covering and uncovering and temperature changing, but the next major step is adding sour cream and parsley (I didn’t have fresh, so I went with dried). Swirl that all together, drain the pasta and mix it all together. I really enjoyed this recipe and would be interested in checking out some variations. Like I said above, it’s hard to go wrong with me when you’re serving up bacon, sour cream and a gravy-like substance over noodles.

Cooking Pasta With Chicken & Brussels Sprouts

Every month when I got my mysterious issue of Good Housekeeping (I still have no idea where the subscription came from, but I’m not paying for it) I flip to the recipe section, rip out whatever sounds interesting, place those pages in my cooking binder and recycle the mag (I don’t know anyone who’d want it, otherwise, I’d pass it along). A few months back they did a feature of different pasta recipes, so you know I was all over them. The first one I made was called Pasta With Chicken & Brussels Sprouts and it turned out pretty well with a few tweaks.

Speaking of the changes, I went with chicken breasts instead of thighs because we prefer white meat. I also skipped the red pepper flakes, used a quarter cup of chicken stock instead of water and therefor didn’t need to bother with the bread crumbs, but I used them anyway. As always I got my prep work done first and kicked that off by getting my pot of salted water ready and on the stove. Next I chopped up the Brussels sprouts which I had cooked before, but never cut up. While doing this I realized they’re basically just little cabbages which is kind of cool and interesting. I put those in the strainer and sprayed them down to clean.

Aside from that the only prep work involved dicing three cloves of garlic, measuring out the breadcrumbs, grating the Parm and preparing the chicken. Instead of cooking the chicken pieces whole, I cut them into bite-sized chunks, salted and peppered and then got them cooking in some olive oil. Once that was done, I added the butter, the sprouts, salt and chicken stock. I went with chicken stock because I had some extra in the fridge and figured that would add a lot more flavor than boring old water. From there I followed the recipe as written.

I’m sure this recipe would have been just as good as written, but I’m glad I made the changes I did. I’ve only ever cooked Brussels sprouts in the oven as a side dish, but actually taking them, doing something interesting with them and making them the spotlight of the dish was a great idea, one that easily gets some veggies in the dishes. I was surprised that our then-17 month old actually gobbled them up but even more surprised that my wife did who doesn’t like Brussels sprouts.

Snack Attack: Original Beer Nuts Peanuts

 

While driving to New Hampshire a few weeks back, we stopped at a rest stop to get gas and I went in to get a drink and a snack. I wound up discovering Beer Nuts, which I know have been around forever, but I don’t remember ever having them. They reminded me of honey roasted peanuts with their sweet and salty combination, but that’s pretty much the idea, right? Get people drinking and eating these cheap snacks that make them want to drink more. Brilliant! It also happens that they’re quite tasty and while not the healthiest snack in the world, seemed like a better choice than a candy bar or something.