Chicken Thighs with Spinach

For all the complainers who complain about my lack of food photos.

I tend to waste a lot of time watching other people cook on YouTube. But every now and then I actually make a dish I’ve watched someone else make and say to myself, this is a keeper.

“I make simpler things in a simpler way, now—as you get older your metabolism changes and you want something simpler, without embellishment.”

Jacques Pépin

Chef Jacques Pépin got through the pandemic with kitchen utensils, a video camera, and a great wardrobe — https://thecounter.org/rewrites-covid-19-chef-jacques-pepin-facebook-recipe-cookbook/

Salt, pepper, garlic, chicken thighs, and fresh spinach. That’s it. No added fats. Some rice or potatoes on the side and you have dinner on the table in 45 minutes or less. Check out the video.

I learned a lot by watching Jacques Pépin make chicken thigh. Incredible technique.

Egg Salad (because you will be eating more eggs)

https://investigatemidwest.org/2021/06/03/408469/

I just bought a dozen large eggs for $0.89. This is an inexpensive sandwich filling!

First boil some eggs. Add the eggs to a saucepan and fill with cold water. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover and let the eggs bathe for 12 minutes. When time’s up carefully drain the eggs and add cold water to the pan. Drain again then add cold water and lots of ice to the pan with the eggs. This shock treatment will allow for easier to peel hard boiled eggs in about 15 minutes. ( I used to hate peeling hard boiled eggs until I learned this technique);

4 large eggs
2-3 T mayonnaise
1/4 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 stalk celery diced
1 dill pickle spear diced
couple of dashes of onion powder and garlic powder
salt and black pepper to taste

Peel the eggs. Slice in half lengthwise and pop out the yolks. Place the yolks in a medium sized bowl and smash with a fork. Dice the egg whites and add to the bowl.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust your seasonings. Four eggs will make enough egg salad for 2-3 hefty sandwiches. If you need more egg salad double the recipe.

Odds and Ends

Use just enough mayonnaise to hold the egg salad together. You want to taste the ingredients and not just the mayo.

Some folks will use fresh onion and garlic. I feel using fresh adds harshness and a certain pungency to the salad and prefer to use garlic and onion powders or granules. Diced carrots work well instead of celery. I’ve never tried using both carrots and celery but if you are a daredevil, be my guest. A couple of slices of crumbled bacon adds another depth of flavor if you like bacon.

Dill, no. Mustard, also no.

Many thanks to Ol Red Hair for nudging me to write this recipe down. This recipe holds a dear place in my heart because during the first year of the pandemic I ate more egg salad than I have eaten in my entire life. I also lost 25 pounds during the first year of the pandemic and some of the credit has to go to this egg salad recipe. It fills you up and as a result I snacked a whole lot less. When I told this story to my doctor she just looked at me and said,

“I can’t wait to see your blood work.”

“I’m eating more eggs to train my liver to produce less cholesterol.”

She smiled at me as if she wasn’t quite sure whether I was joking or being serious.

CHOLESTEROL 175 mg/dL
TRIGLYCERIDE 69 mg/dL
HDL 65 mg/dL
LDL CALCULATED 96 mg/dL
NON-HDL CHOLESTEROL 110 mg/dL

I was serious.

Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew

A few weeks ago I cooked too many chickpeas. Some got roasted with this Veggie Burrito Spice Blend. The rest got tossed into this concoction. The problem I have saving a recipe to revise at a later time is I tend to forget to revise and post. Then I can’t remember what stopped me from posting earlier. Like this recipe which I thought needed revisions but actually didn’t. I think.

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger (or 1 tsp ginger powder)
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  • 3 cups cooked chickpea
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 15oz. can no salt diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups MOL vegetable broth and bean cooking liquid (MOL= more or less)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

  • Add the onion, garlic, and ginger to a soup pot with the olive oil and sauté over medium heat
  • After a few minutes toss in the curry powder, smoked paprika, sweet paprika, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Keep sautéing for another few minutes.
  • Add the potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and chickpeas to the pot. Pour enough vegetable broth and/or bean cooking liquid to cover the ingredients by an inch.
  • Turn the heat up and bring to a boil. When boiling, turn the heat down to low and simmer for about an hour, lid on partially covered. Stir occasionally. Add more broth/cooking liquid as the stew thickens.
  • After an hour taste and adjust your seasonings. The amounts of seasonings I used results in a very mild stew that allows all of the flavors to shine.
  • Serve over rice (or not).

Veggie Burrito Spice Blend

Spice Blend for Veggie Burritos

2 tsp chili powder – 1 tsp cumin – 1 tsp smoked paprika – 1/2 tsp coriander 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 1 tsp garlic powder

Chickpea and Broccoli Burrito — https://www.badmanners.com/recipes/roasted-chickpea-and-broccoli-burrito

This blend of spices is literally stolen from the chefs at https://www.badmanners.com/. The last time I took a theme on a spice blend the author tracked me down and threatened something close to legal action if I didn’t give her credit and a link to her website. So this time around I’m giving credit AND three links. I’m also not going to write down any instructions for making a roasted vegetable and chickpea filling for burritos. I suggest you go to the original recipe at https://www.badmanners.com/recipes/roasted-chickpea-and-broccoli-burrito if you need detailed instructions.

My Tips, Hints, and not too Secret Secrets

A really good tortilla makes all the difference. But today I’m going to wrap this filling in a Greek style whole wheat pita for lunch. I tend to roast vegetables for at least 40 minutes with a good stir midway through to prevent sticking. You can also add more olive oil at this point too. I hope I have a lime in the fridge. The last time I made this filling The Boss used it as a topping for a Taco Salad. She liked it. I hope she was telling the truth because when you cook up a pound of dried chickpeas it is a LOT of chickpeas. One cup dried will produce between 6 and 7 cups of beans. I used about 4 cups for today’s mix. The other 3 cups went into a Sweet Potato and Chickpea Stew (no link yet, recipe is still in draft form).

I used some metal pie pans as roasting pans because I didn’t want to use the big pan which is a pain in the ass to clean because of its size. Preheat your pan(s) before roasting. I leave the mixing bowl uncleaned and use it again once the veggies are roasted and done. Let the mixture cool for a bit, toss everything back into this bowl, mix well again to capture the spices that have stuck to the bowl and then adjust your seasonings.

Postscript

No lime. I used lemon instead.

I wasn’t kidding about using pie pans.

Baked Tomatoes with Egg

From the language comments the country of origin appears to be Greece. This dish is absolutely brilliant (but try to find tomatoes like this in the US). I love the chef using the tops for bottoms. AND…wait for the cat.

Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic and Parmesan

Have you ever roasted frozen vegetables? Me neither.  But a quick referral to Dr. Google offers up recipes and instructions for this time and money saving technique. Maybe this method actually works (because everything you read on the internet is TRUTH). So a few weeks ago during a Pandemic Pantry shopping trip I picked up a few one pound bags of frozen cauliflower ( a buck a bag). I also bought a small jar of minced garlic which I promised my younger self I would never use because fresh is better until I used some at my son’s house. Hmmm…..

Here’s the original Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan post from several years ago. Here’s what’s in the oven right now:

Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic and Parmesan

One package frozen cauliflower (32 ounces)
Extra virgin olive oil
Minced garlic
Dried thyme
Parmesan Cheese
Salt and black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Place the florets into a baking/roasting pan with sides.
  3. Spread the pieces into the pan. Make sure they don’t touch each other.
  4. Drizzle the cauliflower with olive oil. Toss with a spoon. You want a nice thin coating of oil on each piece.
  5. Lightly salt and pepper, dust with Parmesan and sprinkle with a hint of thyme.
  6. Add two tablespoons of minced garlic. Toss lightly again
  7. Place in the oven and roast for approximately 35-40 minutes. Shake the pan or stir/toss every 10 minutes or so to ensure most of the surfaces of each floret get browned (this is why you want a pan with sides).
  8. When nicely browned add a handful of shredded Parmesan cheese over the cauliflower. Roast for an additional 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  9. Transfer the cauliflower to a serving bowl and add more Parmesan.
  10. Eat.

TIPS – The amount of garlic is personal preference and dependent upon how garlicky you like your food and the number of guests at the table. Same for the cheese but you can never have too much cheese or garlic. This dish is not vegan but if you must, leave out the cheese. Don’t forget the shake and/or stir part because when you use minced garlic it can and will burn.

Lessons learned – minced garlic DOES burn but despite appearances did not taste burned at all. Also, one pound of frozen cauliflower is not a lot of cauliflower.

Unfortunately this dish is also Not Tiny Taste Tester Approved.  She was not present for my roasted frozen vegetable experiment.

“Is a Collie Flower a dog?”

Guacamole – Asian Inspired

Xmas 2020

Guttenberg New Jersey is a tiny town on the Hudson River. Guttenberg (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guttenberg,_New_Jersey) was where I first tasted Guacamole. I was in my early 20’s and a restaurant on the river named The Lighthouse was reported to have the best Fettuccine Alfredo in the state. So if a restaurant had the best fettuccine I had to go. The night I went the crowd was out the door and everyone was shuffled into the bar so that the business could sell more alcohol while you waited patiently for a table that was probably empty the entire time you were waiting. As I made my way to the bar atop the counter sat a large bowl filled with green stuff.

“What the hell is that?”

The bartender gave me a look like what planet do you live on and said,

“Guacamole.”

“What the hell is Guacamole?”

Realizing I was a true Yankee who lacked any sense of cultural awareness outside of the NY-NJ area his tone softened.

“Avocado dip. You eat it with chips.”

Next to the bowl of green stuff was a bowl of chips. I still didn’t know what Guacamole was because I didn’t know what an avocado was. My educational enhancement options at the time were limited in the pre-Internet, pre-cellphone days and the bartender left to serve someone else who was more likely to spend more money on alcohol. I wasn’t getting enough information to discern what the green stuff actually was. I remember grabbing what I thought was a potato chip, took a dip, and ate Guacamole for the very first time in my life. Funny to think back on this because I recall nothing about the Guacamole. All I remember was the chip.

When the bartender came back hoping I would finally order an beverage I asked,

“What the hell kind of chip is that?”

“Corn.”

And with an attitude of this guy is asking too many questions and wasting my time he went off to serve someone else. Thus ends the story of my first encounter with Guacamole and CORN chips. I wouldn’t have any more such encounters until I moved to Texas and tried Mexican (actually Tex-Mex) food. But this is another story altogether.

BTW I love Guacamole now and I know what a corn chip is.

Asian Inspired Guacamole

  • 3 ripe avocados, halved, pitted, peeled
  • 1/2 large lime fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons medium red onion, minced
  • 1 medium sized tomato, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Scoop the avocado into a small mixing bowl.
  2. Squeeze most (but not all) of the lime juice over the fruit.
  3. With a fork or a spoon mash the avocado but leave some small chunks (for chunkiness).
  4. Fold in the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  5. Sample for seasoning and adjust to your taste.
  6. Serve with CORN chips.

Tips

I take a paper towel and gently drain the tomatoes before adding to the fruit. The paper towel will absorb excess juice, pulp, and seeds. This dip is basically the kid version and is very mild. The adult version can be bold. I usually add several dashes of hot sauce. Fresh garlic and jalapeño peppers will also give a nice kick. Remember the most but not all part of the lime juice? If you’re not serving immediately, squeeze some lime juice over the top of the dip (don’t mix in) and stick it in the fridge. This will help delay oxidation. No one likes brown Guacamole.

An Avocado a Day Keeps Your Gut Happy

Avocadoes May Lower LDL

This Guacamole is Daughter-in-law Approved.

Tiny Human Avocado Smash

The Pandemic Pantry – Election Week Update- 11.08.20

Sunday 11/8

To be honest I’ve not paid much attention to the Covid-19 numbers very much for quite some time. Yesterday though, the numbers caught my attention:

Holy Crap Batman!

My initial reaction was shock. But my thoughts quickly came back to food and preparing the pantry for the next lock down.  I’m using this blog to maintain my personal pandemic pantry list and it is not intended to be THE LIST to follow.  (At least I won’t forget where I put my pantry list.) IMO there are several reasons to keep your pantry well stocked:

  • government mandated lock downs.
  • self-imposed periods of sheltering in place either from direct exposure to an infected individual, becoming infected or living with an infected person, rampant uncontrolled viral spread in your community and/or social unrest.
  • Panic buying/hoarding.
  • Supply chain disruptions due to Covid-19 outbreaks at various points in the supply chain and/or panic buying behavior.

We just survived the worst ice storm imaginable and several days without electricity teaches you a thing or two. So I’ve started a list of non-food pantry items which over time will consist of stuff you need to have around when the lights go out. My shopping the past several months included picking up one of this and one of that to build up and back up the pantry. So here’s what the Pandemic Pantry looks like today with the supply on hand in parenthesis. Zero = no backup.

Pandemic Pantry Items – Last Updated 11.08.20

  • Mayo (1) Mustard (0) Salsa (1) Ketchup (0)
  • Pickles (1)
  • Canned tomatoes in 14.5 and 28 ounce cans.  Diced, crushed, diced with green chilies and stewed (8)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (1)
  • Brown and white sugar (0 and 1)
  • Bay leaves, dried oregano, basil, and parsley (0)
  • Onion and garlic powders
  • Salt (1) and black pepper (0)
  • Baking powder, baking soda, corn starch (0)
  • Parmesan cheese (1)
  • Bread crumbs (plain, Panko, seasoned) (1)
  • Dried pastas (10 lbs)
  • Dried beans such as brown and green lentils, pinto, black, adzuki, mayocabo, yellow and green split peas, black eye peas and cranberry (5 lbs)
  • Canned beans such as garbanzos, black, black eye peas, pinto, great northern, navy (10)
  • Broth, vegetable, beef, chicken (3)
  • Rice – multiple varieties like basmati, brown, Texmati, arborio  and plain long grain white (6 lbs)
  • Flour and corn tortillas (0)
  • Wheat germ (1)
  • COFFEE ground (0) — K-cups (50ish)
  • COFFEE FILTERS (0) — I suggest owning a single cup drip cone.
  • Tea (120 tea bags all green decaf plus a few normal ones for me)
  • Nuts (1)
  • All purpose and whole wheat flours (or alternative flours if you’re into that sort of thing)
  • Canned tuna (6)
  • Canned green chilies (1)
  • Oats (0)
  • Cornmeal (0)
  • Dried fruits (1)
  • Whole grain and fruit/nut bars (20ish)
  • Dry cereals and granola (0)
  • Crackers (3)
  • Vinegar (red wine, white wine,Balsamic, white Balsamic, apple cider, etc.) (1)
  • Oil (besides EVO, vegetable, avocado, corn, etc.) (3)
  • Peanut butter (2)
  • Jelly and/or fruit spread (1)
  • Glenmorangie 10 and 14 Single Malt Scotch (2)

Non-food Items Paper

  • Paper towels (66 double rolls)
  • Toilet paper (56 double and MEGA rolls)
  • Tissues (16)
  • Napkins (2 small, 2 large packs)

Hopefully you’ll find this list useful. Personally while updating the list I’ve thought of items to add to this list and to my shopping list. Stay safe, stay well.

Black Bean Sweet Potato Burgers (RIP)

I’ll post the recipe if they taste good.

Update 09.14.20

Well I pulled one off the griddle and tried it. I froze the rest and heated one up for lunch today. It was good…but not great hence the RIP (recipe in progress) tag. I made a sandwich on whole wheat and swirled some Sriracha mayo on it and the burger tasted better than last night. The burger is missing something and we’ll just leave this as a RIP and keep experimenting. Definitely needs more heat. Maybe some corn kernels to balance the heat. I’m also thinking of fresh onion and garlic, not the powders which would make this burger less of a pantry mash up but oh well. Here’s where we stand today.

Update 10.08.20

I ate the last of probably five or six of these “burgers” which were in the freezer. The good news is they freeze well and taste OK. The bad news is they taste just OK so now this recipe is being retired. RIP now stands for Rest in Peace. I’ve decided they are not very “burger-like” and more like sweet potato and black bean cakes with herbs and spices. This is the final update as this recipe goes up on the shelf along with any recipes from The Stack Project – Lasagne Stack Update 04.15.15. The Stack Project contained just one experiment Lasagne Stacks which also were just OK.

Black Bean Sweet Potato Burgers (RIP)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp apiece – dried chives, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, dried cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste 2 small sweet potatoes
  • 1 can (15 ounces) low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs

I’ll add preparation instructions once I figure out how to make this burger taste better.