Monday, December 28, 2009

This Week's Menu

In case you didn't know, my nephew (along with his parents, of course) are coming to visit us for the week! They are driving and are en route as we speak!!! They will be here tomorrow and we are all jumping up and down in excited impatience. We haven't seen them since June and since we like them all, we are all a little high strung over here.

So, this week's menu is a bit scarce since I'm sure we'll be eating out a few times and since I don't know when that will be, I've put together 4 dinner meals and left some room for wiggle for the rest of the week.

Here's the menu:

Monday: Yummy Meatloaf
Leftover wild rice dressing

Tuesday: Creamy Chicken Enchiladas
Spanish Rice

Wednesday: Baked Ziti
Something Green
Olive Cheese Bread

Thursday (New Year's Eve!): APPETIZERS FOR DINNER

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Our Christmas Goose.

Here it is. Our Christmas goose.

I bought this goose at Super Target, which seems an odd place to find a goose, but it was by far the best deal. It weighed 8.5 pounds and, I won't lie, it intimidated me.

I had read countless accounts of people claiming that their goose was too greasy after being cooked and I was determined to not have that happen to my goose. So, I browsed the internet looking for recipes and I found two that I liked and decided to combine them and make them my own.

Now begins my goose roasting journey...

First, after having the goose thaw in my refrigerator for two days, I scrounged around to find a container big enough to brine my goose in. Elisabeth's art box did the trick.

I filled the box until the water covered the goose.

Then I measured out 1/4 cup of Kosher salt (you could use sea salt too)

and poured the salt into the water and stirred it around.

We had the goose sit in its salt bath overnight in our garage, since it was fricking freezing outside and our garage is quite chilly.

Here's what it looked like when we brought it in Christmas day. See all the fat floating around. Ew.

I planned on stuffing the goose with an assortment of fruits and veggies. Apples, oranges, garlic, onions and celery. Oh, and make sure you're enjoying a cup of coffee in a Santa mug. It is Christmas after all.

I cut every thing up into quarters and smashed my garlic cloves.

Then I started prepping my goose. I took out the neck and bag of giblets. Next, I took off all the fat by the tail. Geese have fatty bottoms, and if I'd left all the fat there, it would have made the goose very greasy.

I made sure that I dried my goose and

started stuffing. I poured lemon juice, salt and pepper inside the goose's cavity and used my hand to make sure it was completely coated.

Then I stuffed in all my fruits and vegetables.

I put the flap of skin back over the legs. You can use twine to make sure that it's snug, but i chose not to.

I sprinkled the top of the goose with Kosher salt and rubbed it into the skin.

Okay, here's an important part! I pricked the skin of the goose with a knife to let out the fat that is under the skin while the goose is cooking. This is yet another step to making sure your goose is not too greasy.

Because I do not have a proper roasting pan, I cut up some onions and use them as a "rack" so that my goose did not touch the bottom of the pan. Otherwise my goose would have been all soggy and bleh. I also added two cups of water to the pan.

I had preheated the oven to 450 and put the goose in. Once the goose was in, I turned the temperature down to 350. They say to cook the goose 20-25 minutes per pound, so I set my timer for 3 hours.

While it was cooking, I started putting together my basting syrup. I found one recipe I liked and modified it a bit. I mainly modified it to accommodate this:

My in-laws bought us some sides for our Christmas dinner from a store online that had English food. It was shipped to us before Christmas. This brandy butter not only smelled so divine I almost ate it with a spoon, it brought some real depth to my basting sauce. My sauce consisted of 1/3 C. of corn syrup; 1/3 C. of cane syrup; 1/3 C. of the brandy butter, melted (yum yum yum); 2 Tbsp. of apple juice; and 1/4 C. of brown sugar. Mix together and baste the goose every half hour. This helped us to check the goose to make sure that it's fat wasn't about to spill over into the oven (which would have been not good because grease fires tend to not be good things).

Here's how the goose is looking with just an hour to go. Look how golden brown the goose's skin is!

We took the goose out once it reached 170 degrees inside the breast. Look how yummy it looks!!!!

Evan carved the goose. Look how dark the meat is! It had the texture of turkey and was not greasy. In fact, I probably could have left in a little bit of the fat, but no biggie.

I served the goose with my Wild Rice Dressing, Mashed Potatoes and Mushy Peas. The Mushy Peas (which are not shown on my plate because I don't like peas AT ALL, so I did not eat any) were another contribution from my in-laws. Mushy peas are a side dish they often ate when they were visiting London. We also had a traditional Christmas Pudding (yet another contribution from NinaPapa) that was like a bread pudding filled with dates and raisins. Julia and I loved it, Evan thought it was okay and Elisabeth hated it.

Overall, the goose was very good. The meat is very rich in taste, which means we couldn't eat a large portion of it like we would have with turkey. Both girls liked it and I have some plans with the leftovers.

Will we be having goose every year? Um, no. Would I make it again in the future? Absolutely. It was no harder then roasting a turkey and I liked the flavor of the goose more then I do a turkey. It's flavor is intense and dark in a way that the turkey's is not. Having said that, it's a flavor that isn't as easy to mask as a turkey's (say with gravy or salt). Evan was very happy with his Christmas goose, and really, that's the whole reason I cooked it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Slim Jim Chicken

I don't really know why its named this. It always makes me think it'll be kind of Chinese-foody, but it's not really. It's very lemony and tart. I love it though. It barely has any ingredients and can be teamed with a variety of sides that really bring out it's flavors. For this meal, I decided to use it as the meat for my Fried Rice recipe. If you like a lemony zang to your chicken, you are definitely going to love this recipe.

Here are the ingredients:

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts; garlic salt; paprika; lemon and lemon juice; 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

First you're going to season your chicken breast with the garlic salt. Just dump some on and then rub it into the chicken.

Now, I cut up my chicken because I wanted to save a step later. Normally, I leave the breast whole and cook it that way. Either way is fine, depending on what you're planning on doing with the chicken. Once you've put the chicken in the baking dish (cut up or whole), sprinkle paprika on top.

Now, please remember, paprika is Evan's absoultest favoritest spice of all time, so I put it on pretty heavy. If it's not your ultimate favorite, then sprinkle as much as you like, but get a nice sprinkle on. The paprika and the lemon really favor each other well.

Fill up a measuring cup with half a cup of water.

Please zest some lemon into the water. About a teaspoon is perfect.


Now take half a cup of lemon juice and add it to the water as well.

Also add that 1/2 teaspoon of oregano to the water.

Stir together. Look at my cyclone. It made me so happy I showed Evan. He thought I was a dork.

Pour over the chicken.

Put the chicken in the oven for 35 minutes.

Flip the chicken breast (or pieces) over and cook for another 15-25 minutes depending on the doneness after the first round of cooking.

I put my chicken on top of a bed of my home made fried rice. I like how the tang from the lemon mixes with the tart from the soy sauce. Plus, it's super pretty all together.

I've served Sum Jim Chicken with steamed vegetables and noodles as sides. I've also served it with a baked potato and all the trimmings. Evan and I really like it, but Elisabeth thinks it's "too spicy". Julia seemed to be in agreement since she didn't eat nearly as much as she normally would if it were a different chicken recipe. Just remember to leave yourself time for all of the cooking and turning. It's not an under 30 minute meal! Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Our Weekly Menu

Here's this week's menu!!

Monday--(Created by Elisabeth)
Chili Mac
Peas, corn and oranges

Tuesday--Caper & Mustard Porkchops
Roasted brussel sprouts
Noodles of some sort

Wednesday--Pasta with red sauce & mushrooms
Olive cheese bread

Thursday--(Created by Elisabeth)
Oven fries
Macaroni & Cheese

Goose (yes, that's right, a goose)
Wild Rice Dressing
Mashed Potatoes
Mushy Peas
Christmas Pudding

Friday, December 18, 2009

Chickpea Pasta with Almonds & Parmesan

I think I found this recipe in a magazine. Had I read it even a couple of years ago, I would have flipped right past it, because of the word "chickpeas". Then I actually ate a chickpea and realized that I was wrong. So very, very wrong. Chickpeas are a wonderful, wonderful food that are very nutty and delicious, and mixed with this pasta, FABULOUS! Oh, and this was so simple to make as well.

Here are the ingredients:

1 Tbsp. olive oil; 3 cloves of garlic, chopped; 7 C. vegetable or chicken broth; 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper or 1/4 tsp. powdered red pepper; Kosher salt; 12 oz. angel hair pasta; 1 15.5oz. can chickpeas, rinsed; 1 C. fresh flat leaf parsley, rinsed; 1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese; 1/4 C. roasted almonds, chopped.

I am also showing you the side we had--brussel sprouts.

Brussel sprouts are a favorite in our home and we eat them either steamed or roasted. I decided to roast them for this meal. First I take my frozen brussel sprouts and steam them. They steamed while I prepared my pasta.

Next, take your almonds, throw them on the cookie sheet, and let them roast in the oven at around 400 degrees for maybe 10 minutes. Check them so they don't burn.

Heat some oil on medium heat (in a pot, not a skillet like me) and...

chop up those garlic cloves.

After you've chopped them, let them sizzle in the oil for a minute or two. Try not to burn them. I am still trying to learn how to not burn my garlic. It's hard.

After you've let those garlic sizzle, start pouring in the broth. I used chicken.

Add the red pepper to the broth

and 1/4 tsp of salt and bring the broth to a boil.

Here you will notice that I went from my large pan to a giant pot. Yeah, I realized that I should have used the big pot the whole time, there was no way the 7 cups of broth was going to fit in my big skillet. I am just used to always grabbing my handy skillet and cooking away. Sorry.

How are your brussel sprouts doing? They look steamy enough to me!!! Go ahead and remove them from the heat.

Take those cooled off roasted almonds and start chopping them.

I love love love roasted almonds.

Your broth is boiling? Fabulous! Add the pasta, then. You'll be occasionally stirring the pasta until most of the moisture is evaporated, so keep it at a pretty high boil.

Take those brussel sprouts and just slice them in half. Aren't they so pretty?

Now, take some seasoned salt, and salt those brussel sprouts to your heart's desire. Sometimes I sprinkle oil before I salt, but this time I did not. Throw those into the already hot oven (400 degrees from when you roasted up the almonds) and roast them for about 15 minutes or so. Check them to make sure you don't burn them.

It is time for the chickpeas. Aren't they so delicious looking?! I love them, I truly do. Drain and rinse them, please.

Chop up that fresh parsley. It doesn't super matter if it's flat leaf or not. I like the curly stuff, but I'm partial to curly.

Look, the broth is almost all the way evaporated. Awesome!

So, go ahead and dump those chickpeas in.

Then the parsley. Isn't it so pretty? I love using fresh herbs when I actually remember to buy them. Which isn't often. They really add color to dishes. Oh, and flavor.

Stir, please.

Pour the pasta into a serving bowl and sprinkle the crushed almonds on top.

Add the parmesan.

Stir again. How delicious does this look? And the smell of the pasta with the almonds and cheese is to die for. Seriously.

And here are those roasted brussel sprouts. Yummers.

This meal was well received by everyone (even the children!). But it made SO MUCH! I will either half it next time or serve it when company comes over. Also, because it made so much, we couldn't keep up with the leftovers. After a few days, Evan went to have another helping of leftovers and said that when he warmed it up, the ingredients that made the pasta so delicious (the chickpeas, almonds, cheese, parsley) were too overpowering when he went to eat it after a few days of sitting and stewing in our refrigerator. So, try to eat it ASAP or serve it to a large crowd. They will love it!