Using up the refrigerator (that’s what I do around here)

We had lots of unused vegetables from our CSA and leftover ingredients from Feastly and life, and needed to get rid of them. So… I made a casserole; a crazy veggie corn casserole. And it has in it: 2 eggplants, 6 ears of corn , 6 bell peppers, 3 hot peppers, 1 red onion, 5 cloves of garlic, and 1 cup of leftover rotisserie chicken. This was literally what we had in our fridge, and it needed to go away.

So I diced and salted the eggplant. Cut the corn off the cob. Diced the peppers (bell and hot). Diced the chicken (again). And mixed it all up in a bowl.

Then I made a cheese sauce. Oh god. Diced the red onion. Got it simmering in olive oil. Added several tablespoons of all-purpose flour (too many tbsp of flour). Added oil back to try to recover from too many tbsp of flour. Then pulled out leftover chicken broth. And in that pan, I keep stirring and stirring until it got thin enough to add a quarter of a pound of parmesan cheese and an eighth a pound of cheddar cheese (both of these were also leftovers). I mentioned this was a cheese sauce, right? And then I added a little bit of milk to thin it out more.

And after Laura very kindly transferred the mix of veggies into our covered casserole, I poured the sauce over and mixed it in. Then I covered it with panko crumbs from our pantry and shoved it in the oven at 350°F.

We’ll let you know how it turned out.


P.S. We also made apple sauce today, finishing the apples from our insane, mistaken purchase of a bushel of apples.

Dictated by Adam, transcribed and edited by Laura

Stealing Adam’s Schtick – don’t worry, I’ll give it back

Soups, stews and casseroles are Adam’s thing. The way breads and stir-fries are mine. Hmmm, Adam’s seem a bit more coherent/related to each other there… Anyrate, one of us attempting the other’s thing is likely to produce cries of “but that’s my schtick!” around here. Maybe even a fake pout.

Look, if I’m making soup in a wok, I think I can legitimately claim indulgence and/or a stretching of the boundaries of things. 🙂

Originally, I thought this soup would be an appetizer. I mean, that’s when soup is served right? Including the hot & sour soups served in Chinese-American restaurants, right? So, I’d marinated a chicken breast overnight, slapped it on the mini George Forman grill, and tossed a small salad on the plate too.

Didn’t need it. Between the ground meat and tofu already in the recipe (… the ground meat may have been upped from what was originally called for. What can I say, ground chicken is sold in 1 lb packages, not 10.5 oz packages), the leftovers are working handily as a full meal.

Maybe I should invest in small soup bowls. Or not use our soup/cereal bowls for dinner.

Personally, I think this one is a bit light on the spiciness (hot) and the sour part, but Adam’s reaction was ‘you’re keeping this right?’. So, I’ll probably use more chili garlic sauce and/or less sugar next time. Just to see what happens.

Hot and Sour Tofu Soup

Recipe Count – 31 left
Section Count – Appetizers: 4 left
original from The Spice Bible

Serves 6

  • 2:1 ratio of vegetable oil:sesame oil – get enough for the size of your pan
  • 1 bunch scallions, white part chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ground white pepper
  • 1 lb ground chicken (or pork)
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can sliced bamboo shoots
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tsp superfine sugar
  • 1 lb firm tofu, cut into bite-sized dice
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  1. Heat the vegetable & sesame oil in a wok over medium-high heat until shimmery/hot. Add the white part of the scallions, garlic, and pepper; stir-fry for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the ground meat and stir-fry, breaking up any lumps, until it browns (about 5 -8 minutes). Add the broth, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, for 30 minutes, or until the meat is tender.
  2. Mix the vinegar, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and sugar. Add the sauce mixture and tofu to the wok. Combine 2 tbsp water and the cornstarch, mixing until smooth. Stir it into the soup and cook until the soup thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.
  3. Drizzle the beaten eggs onto the top of the soup and leave for 1 minute without stirring, then stir through just before serving. Can garnish the soup with shredded scallion greens.

Hot & Sour Soup

A moderately long stew

This one’s been sitting in my queue for a while – I was put off by a) the whole chicken aspect (I’m working on it!) and b) the hour long cooking time. I don’t mind a longer cooking time, it just means I’d rather deal with it on a weekend than a weeknight. But Adam got a new job that ate his weekends while simultaneously making him the only real logical choice for grocery runs (this being a one-car household). So the grocery run got pushed back until the cooking couldn’t happen until a Monday night. Aaaaand, I wasn’t clear through the grocery app we use – instead of a 3 lb 6 oz whole chicken, Adam got me more of the chicken breasts Wegmans sells in large quantities. I think they call it a family pack or something. Oh well. Forwards – it’s not like I can’t substitute chicken breast for a whole chicken. It’ll just come out a bit different.

Although it would have helped if I’d correctly divided the 8 pieces called for by 2 (splitting a breast in half) to get 4 instead of three and defrosted the proper amount of chicken.

I swear I can do math, really I can.

All those little mishaps aside, this one really did come out well. The chicken was tender, the sauce had nuts in it, giving me a textural contrast with the chicken (did I mention it was tender?), and the saffron gave Adam some subtle tastes.

‘So, want me to keep this one?’

::CHESHIRE grin::

‘I’ll take that as a yes then’

Chicken in Saffron Stew

Recipe Count – 32 left
Section Count – Main entrees: 3 left, subcategory – poultry: 1 left
Original from The Spice Bible

6 servings

  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • bread cubes (~1/2 cup or the results of 1 thick slice)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • dried parsley, to taste
  • 3 chicken breasts (~1lb each or slightly less)
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • thyme
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 egg yolks
  1. Heat some oil in a heavy-bottomed stove-top safe casserole dish, over medium-high heat. Add the cashews and bread; fry until golden, about 3 minutes. Remove to a paper towel and drain. When cooled slightly, move to a food processor (or a mortar and pestle). Add the cinnamon, saffron, garlic, and some parsley (about half the total amount you intend to use). Process or grind to a coarse, crumbly consistency.
  2. Heat enough oil to brown the chicken in over medium head in the casserole dish. Brown for about 5 minutes, then remove to a plate. Add the onions and cook gently until translucent, about 5 minutes. Return the chicken to the dish and add the wine, stock, bay leaf, and thyme; simmer, covered, over medium-low heat for 1 hour, or until tender. Remove the chicken and keep warm.
  3. Add the cashew-bread mixture to the dish and cook until thickened slightly, roughly 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the lemon juice, egg yolks, and other half of parsley. Return the casserole dish to the stove-top and stir over low heat, until just thickened again (do not allow to boil or the eggs and lemon juice will separate). Season to taste, return the chicken to the dish, and gently warm before serving.

It looks a bit like goop, but I promise, it’s tasty.

Chicken in Saffron Stew

Improvising for McCormick – Mushrooms, Ginger, Chicken Broth, and Kale

Adam here. I’ll be your writer for this Christmas week. Happy Holidays to you and yours, dear readers!

So, back in the middle of November, Laura pointed out McCormick, the spices company, was tossing out challenges (Go 4 Gourmet Challenge if you’d like to know) along the lines of “here are 4 ingredients including one of our products – go forth and make a meal with them.” The specific challenge Laura pointed to and said “let’s do that” was Mushrooms, Ginger, Chicken Broth, and Kale. Being the improviser around here I thought it would be cool to whip something up and toss it into the proverbial ring.

To that end, I decided to stuff some mushrooms. That’s because Stuffed Mushrooms are one of life’s pleasures and, when right out of the oven hot, they make a great appetizer.

One last thing before I get to the ‘recipe,’ do not rest these before you serve them. Seriously, these have to be served immediately because as they cool the mushrooms get soggy. And no one wants a soggy mushroom.

One other last thing – we had quite a bit of left over kale and crab goodness. So I cracked a few eggs and turned it into quiche. It was yummy.

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Kale and Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 24 white mushrooms, with 2 inch caps
  • olive oil
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 oz finely minced ginger
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • 3 cups chopped fresh kale
  • 5 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp flour
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • ¾ cup crabmeat
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
  1. Pull off the stems from the mushrooms and lightly rub each cap with a small amount of olive oil. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the kosher salt and diced tomato. Transfer tomato to a colander and leave it to drain in the sink, for approximately 30 minutes.
  3. In a saucepan, simmer the tomato and ginger in the vegetable broth, until infused; approximately 10 minutes.
  4. Add chopped kale, basil, and flour to the saucepan; season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix well and simmer until reduced in size, about 15 minutes. With an immersion blender, purée. Simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced by a third. Remove saucepan from heat.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Add the crabmeat to the kale mixture and stir until blended. Add the breadcrumbs to the crab-kale mixture. Stir until incorporated.
  7. Spoon about 1 tsp of crab-kale mixture into each mushroom cap; top with a sprinkling of cheese. Season to taste.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes on the cookie sheet. Serve immediately.