March – Asian Spiced Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

March – Asian Spiced Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

Asian Inspired Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

Asian Inspired Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

The meat section of the store was almost empty, I could tell that the butchers were delving into the very bottom of their freezer or cooler. I bet many of you are experiencing the same situation. I was looking for a family sized package of chicken drumsticks, but there were none to be had. I searched in vain. I wanted to make a recipe from the Frugal Hausfrau for BBQ chicken drumsticks in the Instant Pot. The weather has been mild enough to uncover the BBQ, which I was hoping to do. The recipe made a lot of chicken and leftovers for the week’s lunches would be welcome (it’s always a challenge to figure out lunch and here we are, home all day, every day). As well she has a recipe for making a delicious BBQ chicken chili with the juices left in the pot. It was the winner at our 2020 New Year’s Day chili party.

They did have family sized packages of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Menu change coming up.

In search of a recipe on Pinterest and the www, the only ones I came across were for 4-6 thighs, not the 10 that were in the package. Time to improvise. I think the result was repeatable.

Asian Inspired Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

Asian Inspired Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot – browned in the oven

I didn’t want to go through the trouble of browning that many thighs before cooking, something that every recipe I came across recommended. Why not do that step at the end, a quick roast in a 425 degree F oven would do it. As well, that means the thighs could be cooked ahead and just finished at the end. I was roasting some thick fries at the same time, the oven would already be on. Served with a big salad it was an easy meal with plenty of leftovers.

Salad

Salad with Sweet Candied Pecans

Ingredients:

  • Family sized package of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Trimmed of extra fat and skin.
  • 1/3 cup of honey
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup of ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil

Method:

  1. Place the chicken thighs on the rack in your Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker. You can stand them up to minimize overlap but don’t worry too much about it.
  2. Mix the sauce ingredients together and pour over the chicken, trying to coat all of the thighs.
  3. Set the pressure cooker to high pressure, cook for 13 minutes once full pressure is reached.
  4. Use quick release (I put a kitchen towel over the valve so the steam doesn’t spray all over the kitchen).
  5. Open the cooker and remove the thighs.
  6. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F when you are ready to eat (or heat up your BBQ)
  7. Line the baking sheet with foil for easiest clean up.
  8. Roast the thighs until the skin is brown and crisp, about 15-20 minutes.

Note: Save the juices left in the pressure cooker. Refrigerate them, any fat will come to the surface making it easy to remove. Look for another post about using those juices in an Asian inspired chicken noodle soup.

Asian Inspired Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

Asian Inspired Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

The recipe is a keeper.

 

 

 

 

March – Italian Soup

March – Italian Soup

My kitchen and garden are my refuges, solace in this time of anxiety. Are you sequestered at home? Our county put out Shelter-in-Place directives a couple of days ago. Here it is the first day of spring, and absolutely lovely out, but a dark cloud lies over everything. I worry about friends and family far away, how are they? I am not a big one for talking on the phone, much preferring face to face communication, but it has become my lifeline right now. How are you doing, what are you doing for comfort? The virtual world is one place to make connections with people.

I find making soup very comforting. And if you are going to make soup, you might as well make a big batch so you can put a quart or two in the freezer. It’s not any more work and then you have that lovely insurance for days you just don’t feel like cooking. It’s like money in the bank. This one came about because of an old friend’s message and it is a winner. It keeps several days in the fridge, and makes a large potful.

Here is the backstory:

A text requesting a specific soup recipe sent me searching through my old recipe files for a zucchini, sausage and tomato soup. One that did not have chicken or another broth. The appeal had come from my high school best friend, Abby, the recipe was a fondly remembered one from our childhood. Since our mothers had been best friends as well, she thought maybe I had inherited a copy from my mother. Regretfully I couldn’t find one, but a search of the WWW found a replica that fit her description.

Never being one to leave well enough alone, I had to take a walk down memory lane and make it myself. The basic recipe was Zucchini Soup III by Irene Yousey. Of course I did some tweaking,  I think it is an improvement on the original.

Italian tomato, sausage and zucchini soup

 

The cool and rainy weather of March makes this a perfect month for soup. This one is substantial enough to be a full meal, it’s almost a stew. When life gets too insane, like the present moment, make soup. It is very therapeutic.

Italian Soup – AKA Sausage, Zucchini, and Tomato Soup

8 generous servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pounds of bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups of carrots (about 4 medium), cut into cubes of about 1/2 inch
  • 1 large red pepper, cut into cubes of about 1/2 inch
  • 1 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes, preferably fire roasted, plus 1 can of water
  • 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning (I didn’t have any) or
    • 1 teaspoon of oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds, ground
    • 1 teaspoon of rosemary (I used 2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary)
    • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 4 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes – optional
  • 4 medium zucchini, chopped into 1/2 inch slices, large ones halved
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Chopped parsley and parmesan for serving

Other optional ingredients include canned white beans, cooked penne pasta, fresh tortellini, and fresh basil if you have some. This is a very pantry friendly soup.

Method:

  1. In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage, breaking it up and saute until browned. Drain any excess fat.
  2. Add the onion to the pot, saute until softened.
  3. Add the Italian seasoning with a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  4. Add the garlic, saute for a minute, then add the chopped red pepper and carrots to the pot. Continue to saute for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the crushed tomatoes and one can full of water. Bring to a simmer.
  6. Add the optional potatoes, cover, turn down the heat, and cook for about 30 minutes until the potatoes and carrots are softened but still holding their shape.
  7. Add the zucchini and continue to simmer until softened, about another 10 minutes.
  8. Serve with a sprinkling of chopped parsley and/or parmesan

This soup can be frozen and it’s even better the second day.

Zucchini, sausage and tomato soup

Zucchini, sausage and tomato soup

Zucchini, sausage and tomato soup

Zucchini, sausage and tomato soup

Stay well, please also stay in touch. Your comments are always welcome. Let me know if you try this recipe.

I am taking this to a friend’s party on the www. It’s a virtual party ‘Fiesta Friday #320‘ hosted by Angie! Click on the link to read all the interesting things going on in the world of food and crafts.

If you would like to join us you can add your link at the bottom of the party page at FiestaFriday.net. I am cohosting this week with Angie and look forward to reading all your posts.

If you’re new to Fiesta Friday, please read the guidelines.

Also linking this to Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen’s Country Cottage.

March – Lemony Chicken Thighs with Roasted Butternut Squash

March – Lemony Chicken Thighs with Roasted Butternut Squash

The inspiration for this recipe came from the NY Times, Melissa Clark’s Roasted Chicken Thighs with Winter Squash. She used bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, delicata or acorn squash, fresh sage, and lemon. I didn’t exactly have those on hand and my sage plant is late to the party called spring. But I loved the flavor combination of ingredients and I did have a lemon. So here is my adaptation, Lemony Boneless Chicken Thighs with Roasted Butternut Squash. 

Boneless chicken thighs with butternut squash, lemon and baby kale (see the steam rising from the dish?)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lemon, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, and thinly sliced crosswise into wedges
  • 4 boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil – divided
  • 1 rounded teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, use less if not kosher plus additional 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup of cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon chile powder, depending on the heat of your brand and your tolerance
  • 4 cups of butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach or kale

Method:

  1. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil; drop in the lemon slices and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain well.
  2. In a small skillet toast the coriander and cumin seeds until you start to smell their deliciousness and they are light brown. Remove to a plate to cool. Then grind in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder to a medium powder. You want some texture to remain.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the chicken with the lemon slices, 1 tablespoon of oil, cumin, coriander, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and the pepper. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or several hours.
  4. When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil
  5. In a large bowl combine the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the maple syrup, chile powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt with the cubed butternut squash. Toss to mix, then add the cornstarch, again tossing so the cubes are evenly coated.
  6. Spread the squash out onto the baking sheet and roast for about 30-40 minutes until brown and caramelized. Remove from the oven and cool.

    Roast butternut squash

    Roast butternut squash

  7. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and lemon slices plus any marinade. Toss until browned and cooked through, add the butternut squash, and kale (or spinach) to the skillet and continue to toss everything together until warmed and the kale is wilted.
  8. Serve with rice, polenta, or other grain.

The tip here is coating the butternut squash with cornstarch, this works with sweet potatoes as well. It results in a crisp exterior and meltingly soft interior.

Chicken with Winter Squash and Baby Kale

Chicken with Winter Squash and Baby Kale

How are you adapting recipes for what you have on hand?

 

March – The Ides of March 2020

March – The Ides of March 2020

The 15th of March is supposed to be an unlucky day, the Ides of March. But why?

If you’ve heard of the Ides of March, you might know you’re supposed to beware of it. Why? In ancient Rome, the Ides of March were equivalent to our March 15. In the Roman calendar, this date corresponded to several religious observances. The Romans considered the Ides of March as a deadline for settling debts. But – for our modern world – if you’ve heard of the Ides of March, it’s probably thanks to William Shakespeare and the play Julius Caesar. (Link here.)

This year, 2020, it certainly seems to hold true. Bad news follows bad news. On a personal level, our trip to New Zealand which was supposed to start next week, has been cancelled due to quarantining and closing of their borders. The major local Fort Bragg fundraising event (which I help organize), the Whale Run, scheduled for this weekend has been postponed. My gym has closed its doors. My bookclubs are cancelled. The Master Gardener program, which I help host, has been postponed until further notice. On and on. I am sure this is not that different from what all of you are going through. I am sorry, you have my sympathy. The world is upside down. I wish I could give you a virtual hug or at least bump elbows. I hope you are all well and have enough toilet paper on hand. Can you believe it!!! A run on toilet paper. I suggested to one person that they could use rags and wash them, they have “un-friended” me.

What are you doing to calm yourself? How are you going to make lemonade from the lemons we have been dealt by fate? I would love suggestions and have some of my own…reread the entire Harry Potter series, hug your dogs, watch the Star Wars movies in order, binging on Downton Abbey, listen to Watchers (by Dean Koontz) on Audible while taking long walks, make soup, get an early start on spring cleaning (see the 14 day mini home edit), talk on the phone to all your best friends and family, and (if weather permits) start or nurture your vegetable garden…think of the Victory Gardens of WWI and II. Most importantly, hold your loved ones close. Life is fragile.

Italian tomato, sausage and zucchini soup

Italian tomato, sausage and zucchini soup

 

Notice I didn’t mention tequila. It can also have a temporary calming role, but only if drunk with a very good friend and lots of fresh lime.

It’s time to adapt any recipe to what you have on hand; whatever ingredients you have in your pantry, fridge or freezer. Inspiration came from a recipe by Melissa Clark published in the NY Times for Roasted Chicken Thighs With Winter Squash. The recipe called for bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and delicata or acorn squash. I didn’t have those exact ingredients but a recent trip to Costco meant I had a large container of cubed butternut squash in the fridge and a package of boneless chicken thighs in the freezer. There were lemons on my potted lemon tree. Time to make lemonade.

 The resulting dish was delicious, stir-fried chicken first marinated in lemon and spices, then mixed with roasted butternut squash. Baby kale from the garden was tossed in at the last minute, you could use spinach or leave it out entirely (it wasn’t in the original recipe).

Stay tuned for posts with recipes. Meanwhile, please stay in touch. We all need to stick together, even if it is virtually.

 

In My Garden – March 2020

In My Garden – March 2020

Where did you go February??? Gone…not a trace of it left (or a drop of rain during the entire month). Here we are in March already, spring. The Fort Bragg garden is about a month behind the gardens in the Bay Area, it’s cooler here and usually wetter. Except for the bulbs, plants aren’t exactly bursting into bloom yet. There isn’t a lot of change between my pictures from February and March. You need to look closely at the pictures below to see any change.

Yes, I did take some pictures but never got around to writing a post.

It’s encouraging and heartening (love that word) to see the beginnings of new growth. I am always somewhat fearful when plants die back in the winter, never being sure they will return in the spring. I prune with difficulty, knowing it is necessary for plant health and bushiness, but there is an element of doubt each time.

Rose

Rose, new growth

Pineapple Sage

Pineapple Sage

With the roses I was comfortable and confident that they would come back, I wasn’t so sure about the pineapple sage. At the botanical gardens they don’t cut it back but my plants were getting leggy. I was prepared to purchase new plants if required, it’s a favorite of the hummingbirds, so I am very happy to see new growth sprouting from the base.

Mint and Tarragon

Mint and Tarragon

My culinary herbs, mint and tarragon, are returning. The mint I coral in a pot to keep it in control. The tarragon is also in a pot so I can keep track of it. I use them both in cooking, they are often difficult to find in the store.

the hellebores are blooming like crazy, they are actually winter blooming plants. Some of my favorites.

The first buds are on the poppies. I can’t remember what color these will be so it will be a surprise. They look very happy.

Poppy

Poppy

The new bed at the back of the house does show a big change between February and March, unlike the other beds. It’s full of early spring blooming perennials as well as as well as dahlias for fall bloom.

The flags alert me to places where I have planted dahlia tubers. They disappear over the winter and I forget where they are in my eagerness to plant something else in that spot. I’ve unfortunately never met a plant I didn’t want in the garden.

Chores in the garden consist of weeding, weeding and more weeding…and watering. There is hope for some rain the end of this week. Fingers crossed.