Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sauteed Collard Greens

For whatever reason, collard greens have always been my favorite vegetable. So when I saw a fresh bunch of collard greens in my produce share last week, I was pretty excited. While I have long loved eating collard greens, I've never tried my hand at cooking collard greens.

From what I remember, the collard greens I had growing up were boiled. Although I never really paid much attention so I could be wrong. I did some research and decided that sauteeing the greens in bacon grease was the way I wanted to go. The results were fantastic. I don't know if it was because it had been so long since I had collard greens or if this recipe was so much better than my grandmother's recipe but these collard greens were the best I had ever had.

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Sauteed Collard Greens

2 slices bacon, chopped
1 bunch collard greens

Place the bacon in a hot skillet.
 Cook until the bacon has released most of its fat and is beginning to crisp then add the collard greens in batches, letting the leaves wilt before adding a new batch.
 Saute until the greens have wilted down to fit in the pan.
 Cover with a lid and simmer for about 10 minutes.
 Remove from the heat and serve along side your favorite protein.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Easy Marinara Sauce

Work has been a little crazy the last couple of weeks so I've not had as much time to cook elaborate meals. As a result we've eaten out a little more than normal, and the meals I have cooked have been either ones I can cook from memory, or those than can be made in less than an hour.

This meal was a quick substitute for my usual spicy spaghetti and turkey meatballs that, while delicious, takes close to two hours from start to finish. Instead of 2 hours, we were ready to eat in 45 minutes, which is great for a busy weeknight. So keep this in mind the next time you want a quick meal that tastes fresh and homemade. And leave the take out for another night.

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Easy Marinara Sauce

1 28 ounce can whole plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano tomatoes)
5 tablespoons butter
1 medium yellow onion halved
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

Roughly chop the canned tomatoes.
 Place in a large saucepan with the onion and butter.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
 After 45 minutes remove the onion and discard.
 Add the brown sugar and stir until mixed in.
 Serve over whole wheat spaghetti and grilled Italian sausage.
Source: Adapted from Steamy Kitchen

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Roasted Chicken

Do you ever walk by those Roasted Chickens at the grocery store and just immediately get hungry? The smell is intoxicating. I thought roasted chicken would be the perfect dinner last night, but I am not one that usually buys precooked meats, I just get worried about bacteria and things along those lines. So, I decided to try my hand at my very first roasted chicken. It was surprisingly easy, and satisfyingly tasty and moist!

I looked at a few different recipes to get an idea of what to do, so this is an amalgamation of about 5 different recipes. You should do the same! Look at a few and get the basics of what you have to do (cooking temperature, time, things like that) and then play around with the flavorings!

Happy roses from the garden! Flowers make any normal evening special. 

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1 Roasting Chicken (not frying chicken)
Salt and pepper and other seasonings of choice (I used Cavender's Greek seasoning)
1/4 stick (two tablespoons) of butter, melted
1 lemon cut into slices
5 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
1 yellow onion, cut into large chunks
20-30 baby carrots, almost one whole small bag (I snacked on the rest of them!)
Butcher's twine

1. Gather your ingredients and preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

I had already washed and seasoned my chicken in this picture.

2. Remove any innards from the chicken, and then wash with water and pat dry.
3. Liberally season the outside and inside of the chicken with salt, pepper and your choice of other seasonings.
4. Fill the cavity of the chicken with as many pieces of onion, garlic, carrot, and lemon you can possible fit.

5. Tie the legs together with the Butcher's twine.
6. Spread the remaining carrots, garlic, onion and lemon slices evenly across the bottom of a large baking dish or roasting pan.

7. Place the chicken (with legs up) on top of these veggies.

8. Brush the chicken with all of the melted butter.

9. Bake the chicken for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Basted the chicken every so often with the juices that accumulate in the dish. My chicken came with one of those devices that pops up when it is cooked through, but I also used my meat thermometer just to make sure. When you cut into the meat, the juices should run clear, as that indicates fully cooked chicken.

10. Enjoy with mashed potatoes, corn muffins and a fresh salad!

Shafer helping Bunker with some late night work!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lemon Cake: Housewarming Gift

The weather in Texas is just delightful today! My back door is wide open, letting in a the sounds of spring and the sweet soft breeze. Anyways, the weather makes me feel so fresh and happy, and something else that makes me happy is to bake, and lemons are the epitome of freshness. Therefore, I am baking a lemon cake! One of Bunker's cousins and his wife just moved into a new house, so I thought it would be a nice treat to bring this sweet treat over to make their new house feel like home.

Yes Shafer, I love you no matter what!

Cort keeping guard at the door!

I love these girls!

I found this recipe at Smitten Kitchen. I lessened some of the lemon amounts to keep the cake from being too tart.

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2 sticks of butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups of sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup of grated lemon zest (6-8 lemons)
3 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice for the cake
1 cup of buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice for the glaze
2-3 tablespoons of water for the glaze
2 cups of confectioners (powdered) sugar

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and gather your ingredients. Prepare you bundt pan.

2. In your standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the 2 sticks of butter and 2 cups of the sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Add each egg, one at a time, to the sugar and butter.

4. Add the grated lemon zest to the mixture.

5. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
6. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract.
7. Slowly add the flour mixture and the buttermilk, alternating between the flour and buttermilk, to the sugar mixture. Mix to combine.

8. Pour the batter into your prepared bundt pan and bake for about an hour in a 350 degree oven.

9. Meanwhile, combine the 1/2 cup of lemon juice and the 1/2 cup of reserved sugar in a small sauce pan, and set over low heat. Cook until the sugar is fully dissolved, about 30 minutes.

10. Once the cake is baked, inverted, and cool (about 10 minutes of cooling), spoon the lemon syrup over the top of the cake.

Boo....oh well...the bottom of the cake is now the top. At least it will still taste yummy!

11. Then make the glaze by combining the 2 cups of confectioners sugar with the 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and the 2 to 3 tablespoons of water. Whisk together until smooth, and then pour over the cake.

12. Enjoy this fresh and sweet treat!

All wrapped up and ready to be delivered to the new homeowners! 

Shafer says bye!