October 9

Fall Food

I’m a seasonal cook. I like to try and use seasonal ingredients and shop local, so my menu has to change with the seasons. This means spicier and hardier dishes, lots of winter squash and legumes, and more oven and slow cooker recipes.

In fact, just this past weekend I made my first batch of October chili. I made a huge pot – six quarts – so there’s enough for a couple of dinners for my partner and I, then I can freeze the rest for those nights I don’t feel like making something from scratch. I’ve been making chili since I was a teenager and the recipe has evolved over the years.

Truth be told, it’s never really quite the same thing twice. If you’ve seen my cooking videos on YouTube or read previous cooking posts here on my blog, you know that I like to mix things up when I cook. So while the base of my chili remains the same, the add-ins are always different. And don’t worry, it’ll be sharing it on YouTube soon.

But I also like butternut squash soup. Oh my, it’s one of those recipes that I’ve been trying to fine tune for years….and I think I’ve finally gotten it just right. I like this recipe because it’s only a handful of ingredients and easy to make (like most of the things I cook).

There’s an amazing variety of winter squash. I roast it, make soup, mash it, even cook it on the grill outside. It’s versatile, incredibly healthy, and stores well. Sort of like a perfect veggie, in my opinion. The only thing that I can complain about is cleaning it. That can take some time and patience. But if you do it right you can also end up with a bunch of squash seeds, which you can then season and roast. That’s good eatin’!

I have a bunch of recipes I’ll be sharing soon on my cooking channel. Hope you stop by and check them out. You never know, you may find something you’ll love! Click the image below to view my cooking vids.

Richard's Kitchen Logo

RB

September 23

Baking Frustration

If you haven’t noticed, I enjoy cooking. I write about cooking here on my blog and I post cooking videos on my YouTube channel. To me, cooking is just another way to be creative. My favorite recipes are the ones that allow me to experiment with seasoning and switching out ingredients. It allows me to make it my own way. Usually, that’s a good thing. Usually.

Baking, on the other hand, is my Achilles Heel. The thorn in my side. My kitchen nemesis. Yes, it’s still cooking, mixing ingredients together, using heat or cold to meld them all together into something interesting. And believe me, I try to bake. Working from a box of mix is a no-brainer. Anyone can make brownies from a mix.

My trouble begins when I try to bake from scratch. For some reason, no matter how hard I try, I can never seem to get the recipes to come out right. There’s always something off about them. Too gummy, underdone, or maybe too dry, a little overdone on one end. Drives me up the wall.

However, this past week I tried to bake bread using the instructions in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Basically, I make a large batch of bread dough to keep in the fridge and pull a handful out every couple of days to bake a small loaf. It’s simple and specific, and while I don’t deviate from the recipe, it’s been fun.

But the loafs…well, I may not be as precise as I need to be when mixing the dough. I’m switching between measuring by volume and measuring by weight. Using weight is supposed to be better, but for me using volume has worked better. I have no idea why.

So I made enough dough for three loafs. The first one turned out okay, but I needed to let it brown more. The second loaf browned nicely on top, but I forgot to pull the parchment paper out from underneath it midway through, so the bottom didn’t cook as well as it should.

But the third loaf…ah, that was were things came together. In fact, I was so pleased with it I took a few pics to share. Unfortunately, my partner got ahold of it before I could grab my phone, so a piece is missing. Not to worry, it was still warm and covered in fig jelly. And no, she didn’t share.

Loaf of bread loaf of bread

The only thing I forgot (because I ALWAYS forget something when baking) is to score the top. Other than that, it turned out almost perfect. Nice thin, crispy crust and a decent crumb.

Once I get this recipe under control, I’m going to try my hand at baguettes. And pretzels. And seeded bread…

I may have an addiction.

RB

September 16

Quick and Easy Shrimp

This isn’t a fancy recipe by any means, but it’s a quick and easy way to prepare shrimp. Plus, only a handful of ingredients!

All you need is:

  • 1 lb of shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 TB of butter
  • 1 TB of Worcestershire Sauce
  • black pepper
  • Juice from half a lemon

Cleaned Shrimp

cut lemon

First, melt the butter in a 10 inch pan over medium heat until it’s nice and foamy.

Butter melting  butter foaming in pan

Next, season the shrimp with the black pepper and add them, along with the Worcestershire Sauce and lemon juice.

shrimp sautéing in pan

This only takes a couple of minutes, so watch them so they don’t overcook.

And voila’!

shrimp cooked in butter

A couple of thoughts on this recipe: First, I thought using salted butter would be enough. I was wrong. I suggest you season the shrimp with a pinch of salt.

Also, while the flavor was nice – how could it not be since it was cooked in butter? – it could have used a little more…something. Next time I’m going to add maybe a bit of garlic powder (or cook the shrimp with some minced fresh garlic!), maybe a little cayenne pepper, or a bit of curry powder. It just needed a little extra something to make it kick.

Give it a shot. It’s quick and easy and you can customize the flavors. I think this goes well with some thick, crusty bread or over some rice or pasta. Let me know if you make this. I’m interested in what flavor combinations you tried.

RB

 

September 9

Real Men Eat Quiche

Before anyone is offended by the post title, it’s a joke. Back in 1982, Pocket Books published a satirical book titled, Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche.” Basically, it made fun of male stereotypes and was popular enough to be on the New York Times Best Seller list for fifty-five weeks. The best part was that a segment of the U.S. population thought the book was serious (because they didn’t actually read it). There were actually marches by men who didn’t want to eat quiche because they considered it too feminine. Good thing we don’t have to deal with that kind of craziness any more.

Personally, I love quiche. I like to make a couple of them on a sleepy Sunday morning, then have a piece for breakfast every morning over the course of the week. Just toss it in the microwave for a minute and it’s a quick, warm, and mostly healthy breakfast.

One of the best things about it is that it’s versatile. As long as you have your base ingredients – eggs and milk – you’re good to go. Everything else depends on you and what appeals to your tastes. In fact, even the base is adjustable. So if you’re vegan or lactose-intolerant, you can switch out the eggs and milk for alternatives.

Me, being me, forgot to pick up pie crusts when I was grocery shopping this past weekend, so I ended up making crustless quiche. Which I guess you could simply call an egg casserole. But I made it in a pie pan, so I’m going to call a technicality and claim it’s still a quiche.

Pretty, isn’t it?

Quiche

Here’s the recipe I used. It’s enough for two quiche, with or without crust. If you do go with a pre-made pie crust, I recommend you use a deep dish one. Less chance for spillage.

10 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup of Almond milk
12 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 bag frozen spinach, heated and drained
Salt
Pepper
1 pound bacon, cooked, degreased with paper towels, chopped

Start off by sautéing the peppers and onions. Microwave the spinach while you’re sautéing, then put it in a colander to drain (you can also use some paper towels to get out the excess water). I’ll also cook the bacon at the same time (in the oven).

Once all that is done, let it cool off for a few minutes. Tossing the hot veggies and bacon into the raw egg will start to cook it, and you don’t want that. Also, set the oven for 350f (176c) and put the rack in the middle.

Crack your eggs into a good-sized bowl and whisk until well-blended. Add the milk and blend. I then add some salt and pepper and the cheese, blending it all together. Once the veggies and bacon are cooled off, toss them in, as well, and blend it well with a whisk or spoon.

Grease or oil your baking dish with some olive oil, butter, or if you’re feeling frisky, bacon grease. I used a couple of glass pie pans, but you can use a casserole dish. If you have pie crusts, you obviously don’t need to do this.

Pour the mixture into the pans/casserole/pie crusts, then put in the oven and set the timer for about 45 minutes. When the alarm goes off you can check to see if they’re cooked in the center. You can do this with a toothpick or a knife. Just stick it in the center of each quiche and see if it comes out clean. If not, give it another ten minutes and check again. Once it comes out clean, remove from the oven and let cool for about ten minutes before digging in.

Like I mentioned above, you can do so much to personalize quiche. Try adding a tiny pinch of cinnamon or some fresh herbs. Switch out kale for the spinach, or use fresh greens instead of frozen. Use different veggies, like tomato or thinly sliced carrots or parsnips. You can omit the meat if you’d like, or switch it up by cooking some ground sausage, shredded cooked chicken, or maybe some cooked crab meat. The options are limitless so let your imagination run wild.

If you try the recipe, or a variation of it, let me know how it turns out.

RB

August 26

Recipe – Lentil Stew

I try my best to eat healthy, and that includes eating vegan at least once a week. I’ll admit, it took some getting used to, but now I actually look forward to it.

So yesterday I decided to make a big pot of lentil stew. I ended up with enough for my partner and I to have dinner, provide some to my in-laws, and still have enough to store in the freezer. Efficient AND healthy.

So here’s what I did: First, I made a batch of vegetable broth using the scraps I keep in the freezer (carrot, onion, celery, bell pepper, mushroom stems, salt, bay leaf, and pepper kernals). That took about two hours and turned out fantastic.

After that was done, I chopped up some fresh carrot, celery, onion, and red bell pepper (the scraps helped to refill the freezer bag for next time) and sautéed them in a pot with some olive oil. A little salt and pepper helped to soften and season them.

While that was cooking, I picked through and washed 16 ounces of brown lentils. Super cheap at the grocery store. I think I paid a dollar for bag. Luckily, not much debris to speak of. Just one tiny pebble.

Once the veggies were glistening and the onion was looking opaque, I added the lentils and the stock, along with a can of diced tomatoes, a little more salt and pepper, garlic powder, yellow curry powder, a bay leaf, and a bit of thyme. After that, I brought it up to a boil, put the lid on, then dropped the heat to low. I let it cook for about 30 minutes.

Viola’!

Pot of lentil stew

So a meat-free dish, ridiculously healthy, and probably cost less than eight dollars (US) to make. If you’re interested in giving it a try, here’s the recipe:

3 large carrots, cleaned and chopped
3 ribs celery, cleaned and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic (I was out, so I added garlic powder)
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
6 – 8 cups of vegetable broth
16 oz lentils, cleaned and picked through
Seasoning – salt, pepper, thyme, garlic powder (if no garlic), curry powder, etc.

Sauté the veggies in oil until softened. Add the lentils, broth, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over low heat for about thirty minutes.

One final note: You can make this with meat if that’s your preference. I’ve previously made this with smoked sausage, turkey sausage, and kielbasa (because why not?).

And there you have it! If you do try this, please let me know how it turns out.

RB

August 25

Richard’s Kitchen – Beer Bread Recipe

I’ll admit that I’m not much of a baker, but lately I’ve been trying my hand at making bread. One of the easiest recipes I’ve found is for beer bread. Simple, fun, and you can toss in some additional ingredients if you’re feeling creative. The recipe is posted under the video on YouTube.

If you like the cooking show, please give it a ‘like’ and leave a comment.

 

July 24

Pulled BBQ Chicken

I was tempted to use this recipe as the subject of one of my cooking videos, but because I’m using a slow cooker I figured it wouldn’t be quite as much fun. I mean, who’s going to watch four hours of chicken breasts slowly coming up to temperature?

Slow cooking is often dismissed as “not real cooking”, but I disagree. It’s just another way to get the job done. Just like there’s no one way to write a story, there’s no one way to cook a meal. I’ve been using a slow cooker for many years and made many fine meals with the old girl.

Last weekend I picked up some boneless chicken breasts that were on sale and decided I’d try my hand at BBQ pulled chicken. I haven’t made this before and thought it might be fun. And unlike some of those cooking blogs that make you read through 1,000 words of backstory before getting to the point, I’ll give you the recipe, then show you the process. This is what I used to make this specific batch:

Pulled BBQ Chicken

  • 3 lbs of boneless chicken
  • Seasoning – salt, pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder
  • Chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups of vegetable stock

Sauce

  • 3/4 cup Catsup
  • 3/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 TB Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/4 tsp of dry mustard
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Hot sauce to your liking

As I always say, you can customize either recipe (chicken or sauce) to your liking.

First, I chopped up a couple of Vidalia onions. I love the sweetness of them and they add a little body to the final dish.

Chopped onions in slow cooker

Then I seasoned the breasts and added them. If I had thought ahead I would have seasoned the meat the night before and let it sit in the fridge overnight. The dry rub is a great way to get flavor into something bland like chicken breasts, but they really need to sit for at least twelve hours for the seasoning to penetrate.

Seasoned chicken breasts in slow cooker

I then added about 1 1/2 cups of homemade vegetable stock. I would have added beer, but I was out. I’ve also read that adding Dr. Pepper (soda) is good. After that, I put the lid on, set the heat on low, and let it do what it does for about three and a half to four hours. Surprisingly, the breasts were ready to go at about the three and a half hour mark.

(A note here about the chicken: I’m partial to dark meat. It’s has more flavor than the white meat due to the fat content. Also, this means that it’s harder to overcook the dark meat. However, the breasts were on sale and, well, I can be cheap.)

I pulled them out and used a couple of sturdy forks to shred ’em. It’s the hardest part of the recipe, but also the most rewarding when finished.

Shredded, cooked chicken in a bowl

I also used a colander to drain away the cooking liquid and retrieve those wonderful onions.

Cooked onions in colander

Then they all went back into the slow cooker. Now, for the sauce…

Homemade bbq sauce in Ball jar

I made this the other night so it could chill in the fridge and allow the flavors to mingle. Unfortunately, it turned out to not be quite enough. The thing is, chicken breasts tend to be a dryer meat, so when I added the sauce to the slow cooker, the chicken meat sort of absorbed it.

Quick thinking saved the day. Not mine. My partner’s. She suggested I make more. I quickly dumped all the ingredients into a saucepan, turned the heat to medium, then kept stirring with a whisk until it was thick and bubbly…about ten to fifteen minutes. I added the extra sauce to the chicken in the slow cooker and let it simmer over low for another hour.

Despite the small miscalculation, the BBQ pulled chicken turned out to be quite nice.

BBQ Pulled Chicken

Next time I’ll make more sauce before I begin. And I think I’ll add some horseradish to it. But hey, that’s how it goes in the kitchen. It’s all about creativity and trying new things, or trying old things in new ways.

I hope you give this a try. It hits all my favorite notes – fun, easy, and allows us to be creative.

Enjoy!

RB