Thursday, January 28, 2010

City Chicken

Ah, city chicken. A great meal my mom used to make. This really was mainly a winter dish for us... as it was a great when it's cold type meal. It's relatively simple, and a little different as well which always makes for something great when you're craving variety!

I always love recipes that don't require a ton of ingredients, as that means there's less I have to buy! Chances are, I already have it in my cupboard, you know?

Of course, there's a lot of things in my cupboard.

Anyway, let's go ahead and gather our ingredients up!

Looks pretty simple right?

Now I am sure you have noticed by now... there is no chicken in this picture.

In fact, there is no chicken anywhere in my house at the moment.

"But Elizabeth you said this was City Chicken!"

I also said once that cats will rule the world before I die. That doesn't mean it's automatically true.

What you see here, is pork. More specifically, a pork roast.

Oh trusty Wikipedia, what would I do without you?
The origins of the entrée and its name are not entirely known, but its first references in cookbooks are during the Depression Era in cities such as Pittsburgh, when people took meat scraps and fashioned a makeshift drumstick out of them. It was a working class food item. During this period, pork was cheaper than chicken in many parts of the country, especially for those far from rural poultry farms. Sometimes the meat was ground, and a drumstick-shaped mold was used to form the ground meat around a skewer. Today, better cuts of meat (usually pork loin, beef or veal) are used. In spite of the name, the dish almost never contains chicken.
I feel like I need to use that "The More You Know" graphic over and over.

So go ahead and cut the fat off your pork loin/roast/shoulder/whatever you have on hand.

And start cubing your meat. I like pretty chunky cubes myself!

Place 5 to 6 cubes of meat on each skewer, keep in mind though, you may have to cut your skewers slightly later, so leave a bit on the end. Oh, and a second important note here... soak your skewers!

You will be pan browning these with heated oil, and a soaked skewer will not burn in the pan. That's important y'all!

They look like the shish kabobs that vegetables forgot.

Now you're going to take about 1 to 2 cups of flour, and go ahead and put it in a flatter container. That will make it easier to coat your skewers...

And to this add about 2 Tablespoons of seasoning salt...

And 1 Tablespoon of Black Pepper...

And then you can be like me and decide that 2 Tablespoons isn't enough and use a different, more paprika-y type of Seasoning Salt on top of that.

Because I'm funky like that.

Go ahead now and add 2 Tablespoons of oil to your pan. Feel free to use more if you'd like, just depending on how your pan is set. Mine curves up a bit in the middle so I do end up adding a bit more halfway through cooking every time.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain... Uh I mean the washed out hand in the foreground!

Now go ahead and start heating up your oil on medium high. While you are doing this however, get out your favorite dutch oven.

Now, I add 2 beef bullion cubes to this because it's what my mom always did. But you could use beef broth, plain water, or get funky and use some chicken or veggie stock!

Add about 3 cups of water to this.

Go ahead and let those cubes dissolve if you added them, or just set aside the dutch oven. You will be using it soon!

Now go ahead and coat your skewers in your flour mixture...

And start placing them in your pan with the heated oil. You may find that you need to cut your skewers down. Go ahead and do so to whatever size you need.

You want to brown them, get a nice crust on them. Definitely don't burn them or try to cook them all the way through, but get a nice brown on each side...

Until they look just beautiful!

I love you brown crispy skin...

Anyway, once they have browned, go ahead and place your skewers in your pot. Your cubes should be dissolved, go ahead and stir it just to make sure if you're using cubes before putting them in.

Now comes the easy part! Plop these in a 350 degree oven for about 40 to 45 minutes, covered.

This is going to give your meat a chance to cook through, and absorb the beef broth flavor (or whatever stock you use) as well. Mixing of flavors is delicious darn it! It sounds ew but it tastes yum.

You're just going to have to trust me on this one.

These are going to shrink a bit. But it will be delicious!

And if I would have remembered to take the picture right as I would have pulled them out of the oven, you would have seen all 4!

Such is life!

Serve with some mashed potatoes and gravy, or roasted rosemary red potatoes and fresh cut green beans like I did!

Outer skin that tastes like fried chicken...

Inner meat that's moist and delicious...

And who doesn't like eating things off skewers? They make everything more fun!

City Chicken

1.5 lbs Pork Roast, Beef, Veal, or any other meat, but not chicken!
2 cups flour
2 Tablespoons Seasoning Salt
1 Tablespoon Black Pepper
2 Bullion (Beef) Cubes (Optional)
3 Cups Water or Various Stock
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
Bamboo Skewers

Trim the fat off your meat, cut into cubes. Put 5 to 6 cubes on each skewer, set aside.

Mix flour, seasoning salt, and black pepper together. Coat meat on skewers and place into hot oil in a frying pan. Brown on each side.

In a large dutch oven put 3 cups of water/stock and bullion cubes in bottom. Dissolve cubes, place browned skewers into bottom, cover.

Bake 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes. Serves 4.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

I have been scared of from scratch cakes for years. When I was younger, during my first marriage I tried making a carrot cake from scratch using baby carrots because we had no other carrots. After wrecking my fingers and lots of tears it tasted like... well... I would rather not use that sort of language in my blog!

So I was always a box mix person. And for a lot of cakes that is easy, convenient and quick quick quick! But a whole cake is too much for my husband and I. And sometimes you just want a little bit of a sweet snack!

So I pulled myself up by my cooking bootstraps and got myself to make some chocolate molten lava cakes from scratch. And they were amazing!!

I don't have a fear of from scratch cakes anymore, that's for sure! And I hope you brave this recipe too, because you will be really glad you did!

Just gather just a few ingredients...

Oh yeah. Just for ease go ahead and measure the 6 tablespoons of flour ahead of time, because measuring 6 tablespoons of flour when you're in the middle of a recipe is a pain in the butt!

The first thing you are going to want to do is take an extra tablespoon of butter or two and butter your baking dishes.

This is in addition to the 1 stick that will go in the cake batter.

The last thing you want is your cakes to stick!!

Now take two of your eggs and separate the yolks.

I would have taken a picture of me doing so, but you've already seen that!

Set them aside, and go ahead and unwrap your chocolate. I love using the Ghirardelli chocolate, but I really really like the taste. It's just smoother to me than normal bakers chocolate.

God I feel like I've got a golden ticket...

'Cause I've got a golden ticket
I've got a golden chance to make my way
And with a golden ticket, it's a golden day!!

Yeah okay enough of that.

Go ahead and break it up in a microwave safe bowl.

Throw in a stick of butter or margarine...

And microwave for one minute. Or at least until that butter is melted!

And mix that all together until the chocolate is melted and it's all smooth.

Use a wire whisk preferably. Anything else really isn't going to get that chocolate and butter combined quite as well.

Now add the following ingredients in order...

Making sure to mix in the ingredient before moving onto the next one!

You'll need 1 cup of powdered sugar...

2 Eggs and the 2 Egg Yolks you separated earlier...

And 6 Tablespoons of flour.

Mix that all together until it's smooth. You'll find that in between ingredients that the batter is going to start getting thicker and harder to stir. It's supposed to, don't worry.

And with the flour, you're going to want to fold it in the first few times before really mixing. Otherwise it's going to go everywhere! And trust me that's the voice of experience there.

I'm so sick of cleaning flour off the floor...

Anyway, mix that until it's smooth!

Divide the batter between the 4 cups, and put them in an oven preheated to 425 degrees for about 13 to 14 minutes.

The sides should be done while the middle should still be soft. The lava element actually comes from the fact that the cake batter isn't quite cooked all the way in the middle. It will be hot, but it will not be solid.

*catchy jingle* The more you know!

Oh yeah that looks amazing! Now very lightly run a knife around the inside, and turn the Lava cake over on a plate upside down. Serve these warm! Otherwise, there's just not much lavaness to the lava cake.

My husband personally likes 2... I can't say I blame him!

It looks so delicious!

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
1 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
6 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1 to 2 Tbsp. butter for baking dishes

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Butter four 3/4 cup custard or soufflé dishes. Place on baking sheet.

Microwave chocolate and butter in a large microwaveable bowl on high for 1 minute, or until the butter is melted. Stir with a wire whisk until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in powdered sugar until well blended. Blend in eggs and egg yolks with a wire whisk. Stir in flour. Divide batter among prepared custard cups.

Bake 13 to 14 minutes or until sides are firm but centers are soft. Let stand for 1 minute. Carefully run a small knife around the cakes to loosen, invert cakes onto dessert dishes. Serve immediately, top with powdered sugar or whipped cream.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cheesy Ravioli Bake

I love easy dishes. There are quite a few days that I just don't want to do a darn thing when I get home from running around. You should be able to tell by now that I love things that I can just pop in the oven and walk away from for a few minutes.

What can I say, I'm a multitasker. If dinner can be getting made while I'm vacuuming, scrapbooking or doing other chores I'm a happy camper! Don't get me wrong, I love my skillet meals or more complex meals with more sides but somedays you just want something that you can make in 5 minutes and walk away from.

I did find out reciently that one of my dear friends, who is a vegetarian, reads my blog on a regular basis. I felt kind of bad that I hadn't really done anything he could make! So I decided to make this post for the taterbutt!

So so simple. There's not much to this recipe really... some, if not most, of it you probably already have in your fridge and freezer!

Feel free to mix this up too. Add meat, sub the cheese ravioli for meat ravioli, different spices even different cheeses! The great part about this recipe is how flexible it is! Also, feel free to half the recipe... a 9"x9" would be more than big enough if you decide to. This recipe generally makes enough for us to have leftovers for 2 days!

But let me show you how I make it... after all it did make the husband go "Make this again. Now."!

Dump your spaghetti sauce into a bowl. This can really be any kind that you like. I choose Italian Style No Sugar Added!

Mix in your petite diced tomatoes. Do not drain these... you want that tomato juice in. It will kind of bake into the ravioli.

Then add 1/4 of water...

2 tsp. of Oregano...

1 tsp. of Basil...

And 1 tsp. of Garlic Powder...

And mix that mess all together! Make sure it's nice and blended, feel free to take a little taste test. You may find you want more of any particular spice.

Take 1 cup of that mix and get it in the bottom of a greased 9"x13" pan. Spread it evenly across the bottom.

Then layer one half of your frozen ravioli on the bottom...

Put 2 cups of cheese on top evenly...

And dump the rest of the sauce on top of the cheese. Make sure to get the sauce in the corners and that all of the cheese is well covered.

Then repeat! Only you know... just with the sauce and the remainder of your ravioli.

Now pretend I took a picture of the dish with the rest of the cheese on top.

Pretend that I didn't just cover it with foil and put it in the oven realizing 15 minutes later that I didn't take a picture of what it looks like before you put it in the oven.

Pretend I'm not scatterbrained.

I dare you!

Now after about 30 minutes of covered baking and 15 to 20 minutes of uncovered baking it's going to look like this...

And your whole house is going to smell delicious!! Let it sit for about 10 to 15 minutes so that it sets and cuts okay. Otherwise it's going to go everywhere!

Some good fresh bread a good salad...

Oh yeah that all sounds so delicious!

I'll be right back. I have to tell my husband I made his favorite meatless dish for dinner tonight!

Cheesy Ravioli Bake

1 jar (26 oz.) spaghetti sauce
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons of Oregano
1 teaspoon of Basil
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
2 lbs. frozen cheese ravioli
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese or Italian cheese blend

Heat oven to 400ºF.

Mix spaghetti sauce, tomatoes, water, oregano, basil and garlic powder; spoon 1 cup onto bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish.

Layer the ravioli and 2 cups shredded cheese over sauce. Top with remaining ravioli and sauce mixture. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese; cover.

Bake 30 min.; uncover. Bake 15 to 20 min. or until ravioli is tender and heated through. Let stand 10 to 15 min. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Serves 8.

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