a quick and easy way to wow a man…with food

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When you have spent several days at a conference filled with teachers and it’s the night before conferences of the parent-teacher variety, you really don’t feel like spending lots of time cooking Sunday dinner. That said, you also don’t want to do a frozen pizza or take-out anything since you have been eating out for three days straight.

What is one to do?

Consult a recipe, of course!!!  For me, there are only a few better ways to unwind than drooling over a cookbook or the newest issue of Cooking Light magazine (these ways include massage, Jamaica, endless episodes of Say Yes To The Dress, or napping).

The most recent edition of CL offered a “quick-and-easy” weeknight chicken dish, which is what I had hunted for since hubs took out some chicken from the freezer earlier in the day.  All I lacked was one ingredient—apple cider—and since Thanksgiving is just a few gobble-gobbles away, we picked some up to have around anyway.

Now, I have made several dishes this fall with cider and cider variants, so I was afraid of overdoing it with the cider.  On the other hand, it is autumn, and I feel like I need to eat up all the leave-changing, brisk-blowing, cider-soaked goodness that I can!

NOTE:  What I loved about the following dish:

1.  super fast–from start to finish was about 20 minutes.

2. the flavors were both sweet and savory, without one particular ingredient overpowering another.

3. the side and the main were meant to be, really.

4.  pretty much had all of the ingredients on hand. I applaud this convenience!

5.  it was a light dish, but not so light that I was still a little hungry.  On the contrary, it was just the perfect amount of food to fill my appetite without making feel the need to put on my I-just-ate-a-big-dinner-pants (that one’s for Webb).

With a meal like this one, there is no need to order take-out:

CIDER-GLAZED CHICKEN with BROWNED BUTTER-PECAN RICE

1–Make brown rice however you usually do, omitting salt and fat. (We used Uncle Ben’s Boil-In-A-Bag brown rice.)

2–While the rice is cooking, melt 1 tsp. butter in a large pan over med-hi heat.   Add 1 lb. of pounded chicken breasts that you have already seasoned with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 3 minutes on each side or until done (mine took about 5 minutes) and remove from pan.

3–Mix up 1 tsp. Dijon mustard (I am sure you could use a honey mustard, or a spicy brown if you like; we like Dijon) and 1/2 cup. apple cider. I also added the lightest dash of cinnamon. Pour into the chickened pan and cook for 2-3 minutes till thickened, scraping up the bits on the pan as you go.

**NOTE:  I followed the CL recipe (minus my addition of cinnamon) and it said to cook until syrupy.  Well, my ‘sauce’ didn’t get really thick or syrupy, but it did thicken up—so the moral of the story is that it will still taste good, so don’t second-guess!**

4–Add chicken back to pan, turn it around and let it swim and glaze over, set aside.

NOW……for the buttered pecan rice:

1—melt 5 tsp. butter in a small saucepan. over med-hi heat. Let it really melt, let it brown; it MUST get brown! After about 2-3 minutes—when it’s brown and smelling awesome—lower the heat to medium and add 1/4 cup chopped pecans to the pan.  Stir nonstop for 1 minute so the nuts toast and don’t burn!

2–pour the mixture over the rice with about 1/4 tsp. salt and stir well.

Farley (he who I feed) walked in and said it smelled like fall in the house, that it smelled like home.  He took one bite, I took one bite,  and before I knew it our Martha Stewart plates were as white as the day we got’em.

hubs, post-meal. quite content and delighted.

 

(You too can wow your husband with this very simple dish).

 

Enjoy!

slow, cooked, and southern.

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I have succumbed to my slow cooker.

And why not?

It’s getting cold outside, kiddos.  Cold to warrant a wool coat with sweaters and jeans hiding underneath.

It’s also *holiday shopping time* according to commercial America, even though we haven’t even APPROACHED our gobble-gobble day of giving thanks yet!! Ugh…but that’s for another blog….

Since my husband has his weekends back, we are doing normal, newlyewed-ish types of things on the weekends:  house-hunting, shopping, daydreaming, being lazy, seeing all of our families (there is a lot and on my side and his), and we, of course, are having fun with all of the new kitchen toys we received as wedding gifts!  (Most recently made purchases at Crate & Barrel with a generous gift card—see?  A normal and newlywed-ish place to shop on the weekends, told ya!)

And while we’re busy being out and about, we still want to cook dinner at home on weekends, but there isn’t always time.

Lo and behold! The slow-cooker to the rescue!

I have always been shy of using a slow cooker, for no real reason other than I didn’t grow up with a Crock-Pot kind of mom—-my mother is an Italian-from-scratch-from-Queens-all-homemade kind of mom, and she does her own slow cooking in a slow oven—why use a Crock-Pot?

But we have one and we are determined to have fun (and good meals) and experimenting with all of our wedding gifts, so be it that the slow-cooker took center-countertop last Saturday.

My sister-in-law-to-be gave me a seriously simple and delicious recipe for pulled pork barbecue, which I couldn’t wait to try out.  Now, I also did not grow up eating this dish and I’m not even sure if you an purchase pulled pork anywhere on my beloved motherland of Long Island, but it’s one of my favorite regional dishes and I have loved it since my Carson-Newman days.  Hubs and I love it so much that we even featured it on the buffet at our wedding.  (Well, we also had chicken parmigiana and baked ziti–it was true and delicious comfort food!)

This came out AWESOME.   I sent hubs to the store, and he came back with a picnic roast—we were told to use Boston butt, but he said it looked no bueno at the store and this looked better–and cost less.  We’re in.

(But feel free to use whichever portion of roast you prefer).

Coming home from Barnes and Noble never smelled so good:

EASY, AWESOME PULLED PORK BBQ

1–Pull your Crock Pot out.

2–Dice up 2 onions.  This may seem like a lot, but I promise it’s not.  They sort of melt down and mix in and seriously, it’s bueno.  So go ahead and dice’em up.

3–Season your 3-4 lb. pork roast (we used a picnic roast) with salt and pepper.  Go ahead, get all kindsa liberal with it.  Set your pork on top of the onions.

 

make sure you put the fattiest side up! that is where the flavah is! it needs to melt down and out.

4–Pour 1/2 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce on top.

5–Turn your slow cooker on LOW heat for about 9 hours and go play outside or visit Grandma.

6–Nine hours sure does go by fast when you’re not at home, doesn’t it?  Now your house should be filled with the awesome aroma of barbecue just waiting for you to dig in and have a huge bite. But hold on partner–you’ve got to shred your meat first.

Remove the pork with two heavy forks and set in a casserole dish.  Shred the sucker up with two forks.  (This is very easy to do; the meat will be tender and fall apart easily.)  Use a slotted spoon to save the onions you left behind (place in with the meat) and get rid of the juices and fat that melted in the bottom.

7—It may not LOOK gorgeous, but who cares? It SMELLS gorgeous and it’s gonna TASTE gorgeous!
Place your shredded pork and onions back into the slow cooker, cover with 1/2 cup barbecue sauce (more if you are feeling particularly saucy) and just wait one hour longer to get your fill.

8–You can serve on buns, on plates, with coleslaw on the top, with coleslaw on the side, however you please.  Green beans would be stellar, as would my corn pudding corn bread.

 

This is seriously good food to come home to on a chilly day of being out and about, and it’s so easy! You oughta try it!

Enjoy!

the man who cooks for his woman has a happy woman, AKA, feeding mrs. farley

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When a girl dreams about her prince charming, she imagines that one day, a man who loves her and only her will come along and be a handsome, kind, loving, generous, hilarious, romantic, confident, warm-hearted and wonderful sort of prince charming.

I have been blessed to have met and married that wonderful sort, but never would I have imagined that once upon a time, the prince would sometimes cook for his woman.   But it makes total sense, doesn’t it?  I mean, that goes right along with the kind, warm-hearted, and generous part.

 

It seems like every month of the year presents its share of hectic chaos to our calendars, but fall frequently proves itself craziest for the schedule, since we are both teachers and I advise a literary magazine and my husband is the band director…..and this is more often than not his busier time than mine.

So imagine my complete appreciation, delight, and surprise when he offered to cook up something for dinner!  Yes!! Feeding MRS. Farley does this blog become today!! (That syntax was most Yoda-ish, but it works, ok? )

My husband makes several delicious dishes, but the recipe below is one that I most often request when it’s his turn to cook.  I asked him what he wanted it to be called, and it’s a nothing-fancy kind of name that he came up with.   Now presenting:

 

ROASTED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH VEGETABLES

1–Take 2 pork tenderloins and sprinkle them with freshly ground salt and pepper on all sides.  You do this in a casserole large enough to fit these loins with space to spare, says the mister.  Preheat your oven to 350 while you’re at it.

2–Chop 2 red bell peppers into 1-inch chunks, along with 2-3 onions into eighths (long-ways, he says).  “Leaf” the onions on top of the pork  (pull apart the layers) and then add the peppers.

3–Coat the mixture with olive oil (3-4 T) and balsamic vinegar–at least 4 T., but we like it really balsamic-y, so add more to your taste and liking.  Mix veggies with your hands to make sure it’s all super duper coated.  Sprinkle a little more salt and pepper on top.

4-Cook until the meat is 160 degrees at the thickest part; let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing up and diggin’ in!!!!!! mmmmmm mmmmmmmm good.

(you can measure the temp with this meat thermometer that I swear by, which has saved me both from dry, overcooked meat and salmonella alike)

You can really make this recipe any time of year; it belongs to no particular season, but it does definitely belong in your repertoire of recipes!

This is equally fantastic when sitting atop  roasted garlic and olive oil couscous, available at your local supermarket, found with all the rice.

(But we love mashed potatoes in the fall, hence the photo of delightful dinner below)

Enjoy and happy eating!!

 

now introducing risotto

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My husband generally refuses to believe that a meal without meat can actually be a meal, unless we’re talking about breakfast…until now.

Introducing:  risotto.

Comfort food came in the form of pot roast the just yesterday—but now it comes in a vegetarian and delicious kind of way.  Moral?  Comfort food on a cold night can mean different things to different people, but I dare you, I simply dare you, not to try a dish of delicious risotto on a November night.

A few years back, when I was living in Richmond, my darling friend Leigh Ann and I supped at a quaint and yummy spot called Millie’s.  That was my first encounter with the vegetable known as butternut squash, and my first encounter with risotto.  And what a sweet meeting it was!

I have dreamt of that risotto since then.

And I have hunted for recipes that might be as good.

And I believe I have finally found the one….

….actually, I have no recollection of how this one wound up in my books, but I have tampered with it enough so that I would call it my own.
Before you can behold the greatness in recipe form, let me share with you:

NOTE–you may go ahead and roast up the butternut squash before, if you are so inclined and desire that flavor, but the squash will cook up perfectly as directed.

NOTE–if you must have meat, might I suggest crisping up some bacon to crumble upon each serving? The salty, crunchiness of bacon will be a nice contrast to the creaminess of the risotto.

NOTE–you, of course, are free to do what you will with this recipe.  I think a good swap for the Parmesan would be goat cheese. Now that I’m thinking about it, I am so trying that next time!

FINAL NOTE:  this can be a hearty and filling main dish, or a great side to a meat dish–my hubs Farley loves it as a main now! yeah! and we’re thinking about making this again next week to go with some short ribs….yay or nay? Let me know!

Now, kind reader, please make the happy acquaintance of my new best friend,

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND PARMESAN RISOTTO

1–Before you do anything else, peel, seed, and chop up a 3 lb. butternut squash into a small dice, about 1/4 inch. This is the largest prep you need to do.  While you’re at it, chop up 2 onions (2 cups) and thinly slice 4 cloves of garlic.


2–In a large enough saucepan/stockpot (I used my 6 quart pot) heat over medium-low heat 2 T. butter and 2 T. olive oil.  Saute these until they are soft, but not golden. **make sure you have a deep enough pot!**

3–Add in the squash and 2 3/4 cups arborio rice and stir for 2-3 minutes.

4–Add in 3/4 cup dry white wine and stir until absorbed….and then have a little sip yourself. I mean, why not? You need something to do while you are stirring up this risotto for the next 30 minutes or so!  (I used Zeal wine, a great and affordable sauvignon blanc, available at Sam’s Club, which hubs and I love and keep by the case at our house.)

5–Now comes the tedious-but-well-worth-it segment of our post…the stock adding.  In 1/2 cup increments,  add chicken stock and stir until it is absorbed.  How will you know if it is absorbed or merely just getting creamier?  Easy!  Lift up your risotto and check the bottom of the pan.   When there isn’t anymore liquid there, and it looks like your risotto is lightly covered in sauce (versus swimming amid sauce), that’s when you go ahead and add another 1/2 cupful of stock.

**Should take about 7 cups of stock**

6–When your rice and squash are creamy and have a little bit of texture to them, you are finished…..almost!

7—Softly stir in 2 cups cheese (freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago are great for flavor) (but you could also use a mix of regular grating cheese –which for me is a Parmesan and Romano blen– and shredded Parmesan, since that’s what I had, or you could try the goat cheese suggestion above!), 1/2 tsp. lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.

So delicious, so creamy.

Like I said, my husband loved it last night and loved it as a main dish, and he is the carnivore of our marriage.

Funnily, I prefer it as a side when eaten day-of….but as I am devouring a healthy-sized bowl of this here whilst writing, I am enjoying it even more the second time around.

Hope you do, too!
Enjoy and happy eating!