Buffalo Chicken Chili

If you follow my FB page, you might recall that I was trying out a new recipe for dinner.  Well, here is said recipe and wow, was it a winner-winner-chicken dinner!! Combining two American classics in one pot and you'll get a new contender for the next chili cook-off.  I mean, this was a "why didn't I think of that" recipe.

My only change to the original recipe was adding an onion because I like onions and I think they go hand in hand with any type of chili or stew.  And speaking of hand in hand, the accompaniments (sour cream and blue cheese) do just that; they complete the entire dish.  Cornbread crackers and tortilla chips are also welcome to the party😋.


Sunday Dinner

Rosemary Crackers

Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb
Flageolets in Thyme Jus

Lemon Custards

Remember when I was I was sharing my chicken stock recipe? I referred to it as a 2 for 1 special. Well, here is another 2 for 1 deal.  I also refer to this as a building block or culinary platform because it can be used in multiple ways.

Confit is anything that is suspended in oil or sugar for a lengthy amount of time. Both solids and liquid can be used in many recipes. Tonight, I used the garlic confit and oil as part as the marinade for the lamb and I used the whole garlic confit cloves when finishing the flageolets.  The garlic can also be spread on toast and used in baking bread.  It is really good when added to a shellfish broth as well. The oil is well, garlic oil. I could spend a lot of time talking about the uses of garlic oil.

The original (ok that made me laugh out loud🧛; garlic and original- cue the CW series) recipe called for canola oil, but I prefer Safflower oil.  It is a neutral oil with added health benefits like vitamin E. The recipe also calls for copious amount of garlic cloves. You can either take the time to peel them or you can take a short cut and use peeled garlic cloves from the store if available (I use Christopher Ranch). 

Upon looking at my written recipe you might ask, What is a diffuser?? To put it simply, mine is a black thingy that you put over your stove burner to "diffuse" the heat. I use mine all the time (it actually has a permanent home on the top left burner) even if I am keeping water warm for tea. Your stove is different than mine so it might look a little different, but the garlic confit will be on point.

Happy Sunday!


Rumchata Cheesecake

Last week I was surfing the web for something new, festive and sweet to end our Get me out of the cold themed menu and with that, tropical beaches and poolside cocktails came to mind. I stumbled on a few contenders, but this one ultimately won because, well, I have never tasted RumChata before and I was intrigued.  What's not to like about a little booze, cream and spices in a luscious creamy dessert?  

As usual, I do have to talk about and point out a few things in the recipe. First up, the crust. The original recipe called for a certain cinnamon toast cereal which is not something I keep in my pantry.  I like a more traditional graham cracker crust for cheesecakes, so I thought I would go with tradition and add a little bit of cinnamon to the mixture. Well, let me tell you that when I was at the store, I strolled down the cereal isle out of curiosity and low and behold there was a new kid on the block; CinnaGraham Toast Crunch Cereal™. I could not believe it! I don't buy sugary cereals like that, but I decide to make an exception and I am glad I did.

The original recipe also called for a sour cream topping and a caramel drizzle, but I opted for a cinnamon sugar shake all over, a homemade caramel sauce (because I had some in the refrigerator but store bought can be used) and a lightly sweetened whipped cream that I used to pipe rosettes around the finished cake. All of these made for a beautiful presentation and certainly added to the taste!  After his first bite, my husband declared this to be one incredible cheesecake!


Papaya Pomegranate Guacamole

Have you ever heard a cook say, "One can never have too many _______ recipes"? Well, I think guacamole would fill in that blank rather well. That green goodness of the fruit world can be simply made  a very traditional way with just onion, garlic and lime, but it can also be married with a multitude of other fruits and vegetables to be transformed from an ordinary to extraordinary guacamole. How about Guacamole with Pico de Gallo or Mango Guacamole or Tomatillo and Poblano Guacamole? I have even shared Avocado Dressed Shrimp a la Mexicana which is pretty much guacamole with shrimp?And those are just the ones that I have shared thus far!

This particular guacamole is especially nice this time of year when tomatoes are not at their peak, but citrus and tropical fruits are looking good.  Papaya are wonderfully sweet and tender fruits that pair nicely with the richness of avocado. I like to use the smaller Hawaiian variety instead of the Mexican kind (it is just my preference). As for the pomegranate seeds or arils, you can seed a pomegranate yourself using my kitchen tip HERE or most stores this time of year carry arils already packaged. I think some type of chile is a must in guacamole because it balances the richness of the avocado and sweetness from other fruits and veggies.  I do indicate that you can use serrano or jalapeño peppers.  Serranos are typical hotter than jalapeños, but to be honest, you really never know what the heat level from either will be until you take a taste test.


Sunday Dinner

Papaya Pomegranate Guacamole

Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)

Rumchata Cheesecake

My reason for tonight's Sunday dinner menu would be that I wanted some good eats that would transport my mind to somewhere South of the border because it has been cold! And not just cold, but also days of icy conditions on the roads and sidewalks.  Walking two dogs in such weather is not good.  But what is good, is this meal! Four pounds of pork butt simmered in a flavorful broth and then "pulled",  glazed and then broiled until crisped and caramelized. These carnitas or "little meats" are great for taco and burrito fillings, but they are wonderful when served on a dinner plate with all of these other good eats.  I am starting to feel better all ready. Happy Sunday!


Chicken and Rice Soup with Shiitake Mushrooms, Ginger and Scallions

I have shared my roast chicken, the beautiful stock and now, I give you the holy grail of chicken soup!! I kid you not. This bowl has a little bit of everything to provide comfort at anytime of the year and cold-fighting remedies which is perfect for this "sniffly-snuffy-I don't feel so good" time of year. So let's have a chat because I don't think you can see all the goodness in this photo.

There are onions (yellow and scallion), mushrooms, ginger, garlic, chicken stock, soy sauce (low-sodium), chicken, rice and cilantro.  Ok, so what? Well, that means there are plenty of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties going on that help with digestion and fight bad things in your body. There is also fiber and protein. And if you really have the tummy troubles, there is sodium from the stock (or broth) and soy sauce (just a little and it's low-sodium) which our bodies need to retain fluids if we are losing them.  Did you know that soy sauce is also anti-allergenic? Serve it warm and steamy and those vitamin and mineral enriched vapors will help clear those clogged airways.  If you really want to take home remedy to the next level (that is if your tummy is in good shape), be daring and add a bit of Sambal Oelek. That hot Thai chili garlic paste will clear up just about anything!

Let's move on to Make it for you, make it your own. (Maybe I should include that kind of paragraph in each post🤔). First, you'll see it quite frequently in my recipes that if vegetable or canola oil is called for, I usually substitute with Safflower oil because it is high in antioxidants and vitamin E. Next, the original recipe called for four ounces of Shiitake mushrooms, but I can find a five ounce container at my local store that is pre-sliced. Who wants to pay more for stems that you are not going to use? I added garlic because I love it and it's good for you. I also added the soy sauce because I wanted to enhance a bit more of that umami flavor that the mushrooms were providing. The rice was in the original recipe, but I think you could sub it for some broken noodles, like soba noodles, or you can just leave the healthy starch out all together, but it does provide some body. The Sambal Oelek was also my addition, but I kind of have an iron stomach and will put some sort  of heat in just about anything. Ok, not Cheerios😉. Lastly, If you are one of those individuals who thinks cilantro tastes like soap or you just don't care for it, just omit it.

I hope this recipe finds you all healthy and well with strength to get in the kitchen to make this soup! If you are under the weather, pass this recipe on to a neighbor, friend or loved one as a "get well soon" hint. 


Quick Chicken Stock (made with leftover carcass)

Broth, stock (white or brown) and bone broth...What's the difference?? Well, I will try to keep it as simple as I can without getting too particular.  

Broth is made using just the meat and vegetables and is cooked in a short amount of time.  It is lighter in color and quite thin in texture.  

Stock on the other hand is made with bones in addition to vegetables and sometimes meat. Because of the collagen-rich bones and the longer cooking time, stock has a more viscous texture. White stock is made from blanching the bones before simmering and brown stock is made by roasting the bones (sometimes with tomatoes or a tomato paste mixture) before simmering.

Now what is bone broth?? It is simply white stock that is cooked for quite a long time. As stated above, white stock is made by blanching the bones first before simmering.  That removes some of the scum or impurities from the bones that float to the surface and needs to be skimmed (that is if you are making stock from fresh bones and not a roasted carcass). It also releases vital minerals which is one of the reasons that some people like to drink bone broth stock.  I cannot explain why they call it bone broth. It just makes it confusing.

Speaking of simmering for a long time, you may have heard of demi-glace or seen that rather small and expensive container at the store by such a name. That is simply stock (that's with the bones) that is reduced until is almost like a jell-o like paste.

You can use broth or stock interchangeably for most recipes, but stock will give you a much richer flavor.

So, broth vs. stock, that is pretty much it in a nutshell. On to my recipe...

This is quick chicken STOCK because I am using the leftover carcass and wing and leg bones if available (I don't care to use the ones that were gnawed on😝).  Unlike the Simple Turkey Stock that uses just the carcass and water, I do like to throw in some veggies and aromatics.  If I did not use garlic and thyme to baste the roast turkey, then I would throw some in the pot.  If I have a leek on hand, that will sometime go in too. If you are using a dry rub, like a BBQ or Cajun seasoning 🤔, well I say go for it and use that stock for maybe a Brunswick Stew or Cajun Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya. Why not?  Get creative and,  "Make it for you, make it your own".

But why go through the trouble of making homemade stock if you can buy it from the store? I think the obvious reason is that it is economical. Whether you buy a rotisserie chicken from the store or roast one yourself, you are getting the meat, as well as a leftover carcass to make stock. I like to think of it as a 2 for 1 special. 

But it takes too much time! If you have time to read this post, then you have time to make stock. And if you are short on time after removing the meat for a meal or recipe, put the carcass in a freezer bag and freeze it until you do have the time. (You can also freeze any veggies that might normally go to waste in the refrigerator and then add them to the pot with the previously frozen carcass). 

Let's see...what else? It is very healthy because there are no additives, there are lost of minerals and you control the amount of salt. 

Lastly, it is just plain good.  Good for the mind, body and soul! Happy cooking!


Roast Chicken

Do you have a New Year resolution? I don't normally take part in this cultural practice, but this year I have one or two for TGG.  

The first one is something that I have been wanting to change for quite sometime (almost 11 years to be exact).  September 19, 2010 was my first post published (you can read it HERE).  I was new to the blogging world, new to writing and completely new to photography, but I was most certainly not new to my passion for the culinary arts.  For that post, I wanted to share our/my most beloved recipe; a simple roast chicken.  I don't think I have made anything more in my kitchen than a roast chicken.  As you know, it has been featured on my Sunday dinner menus countless times, but I make it more often during the week with a simple salad or to use in another recipe.

What is my resolution, you ask? I am finally getting around to updating the photo.  I was so proud of the original at the time, but now it just makes me cringe! To be honest, it is still hard to take a picture of a roast chicken. I will not take down that original post because it has a lot of meaning to me and I think it is important to have it as a reminder as to how far I have come along behind the lens, even though I will continue to learn about everything I am passionate about.

As far as the recipe, I have not changed a thing.  This is the one.  But, having said that, feel free to change or omit the garlic and herb at the end.  Maybe you want just chicken with salt and pepper.  Maybe you want to try a different dried spice blend.  As I always say- Make it for you, make it your own. Making those changes will only affect the flavor profile of the final product.  It is the method that is the key to the perfect roast chicken. Here's to more good recipes to share in 2022! 

P.S. Once you carve and pick off all of that beautiful meat, DO NOT toss out the carcass! I'll show you what to do with it.