Chicken and Rice…with a little bit of miso paste and and ginger

I made a tasty meal for Paula and I tonight. It was a recipe that I saw in Rachael Ray‘s magazine for April. It took a little bit of time to prepare but since we were home together and didn’t have any other plans, it seemed like a good night to try this recipe. It serves four people so we ended up with a little bit of leftovers that either of us could eat this weekend.


  • 2 tablespoons of canola oil
  • 1 pound of boneless chicken thighs
  • 8 ounces of thinly sliced white mushrooms
  • 3-4 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced on an angle
  • 3 tablespoons of finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of red miso paste
  • 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups of short-grain brown rice
  • 3 1/4 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of frozen shelled edamame (plus 1/4 cup of thawed edamame)
  • 1/2 of a red serrano chile, thinly sliced (optional…if you want some heat)

Preheat the oven to 450°. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the canola oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the skillet. Cook until browned, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add the mushrooms and the remaining tablespoon of canola oil to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the scallion whites, ginger, miso paste, and garlic. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir until coated.

Stir in the stock and frozen edamame beans. Nestle the chicken in the rice. Transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 45-50 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven and continue to cook everything over high heat until the rice is crispy on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Top with the sliced chile, scallion greens, and thawed edamame.


Risotto with Shrimp and Asparagus

Paula was not working this evening so I decided that it would be a treat for the two of us to enjoy a bit of an extravagant meal. I saw this recipe in the April issue of Rachael Ray‘s magazine and thought that it would be a good choice. It calls for asparagus, pancetta and shrimp mixed into a rich risotto made with vermouth, fresh thyme and Parmesan. If you want to try it, here is the extensive list of ingredients. (Note: I made just enough for Paula and I so you might want to increase the amounts if you are making it for more than two people.)

  • 1/2 of a bunch of asparagus, trimmed, sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 cups of chicken stock
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/4 pound of pancetta, chopped
  • 1 small finely chopped onion
  • 4 cloves of finely chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup of arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 2/3 pound of medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
  • 1/2 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry (white) vermouth
  • 1/4 cup of fresh finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

In a pot, bring a couple of inches of salted water to a boil. Cook the asparagus for 2 minutes. Using a spider or slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus to a bowl filled with ice water to cool. Drain and pat dry.

In a small saucepan, warm the stock and saffron over low heat.

In a round-bottomed saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the pancetta. Cook, stirring often, until the fat renders, about 3-5 minutes. Add the onion, 1/2 of the chopped garlic, and black pepper. Season with a little salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add the rice and stir until coated, about 1 minute. Add the wine and stir until absorbed, 1-2 minutes. Add stock, 2/3 cup at a time, stirring after each addition. From the time you start adding the stock, the risotto should take about 18 minutes to cook.

4. When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp. Season with a little salt, the thyme, crushed red pepper, and the remaining chopped garlic. Cook, tossing, until the shrimp are almost cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add the vermouth and continue to cook, swirling the pan, until the shrimp are cooked through, about 1 more minute. Add the parsley, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Remove from the heat.

When the risotto is finished cooking (Note: All the liquid should be added and absorbed.), stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter, the Parmesan cheese and the asparagus. Ladle the risotto into shallow bowls and top with the shrimp.

Incredible Cupcakes!

Paula made some cupcakes for a function at work. She volunteered to make some cupcakes since there were 12 possibilities suggested in the February issue of Food Network magazine that we still had sitting around. She picked Double Chocolate Salted Caramel Muffins. They were amazing! These muffins are made with cocoa powder and semisweet chocolate chips and are filled with dulce de leche. When they come out of the oven they are topped with a little sea salt. Truly amazing!!!

Here is the recipe (Note: Paula used semisweet chocolate chips instead of chopping the chocolate herself…)


  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/3 cup of semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 can (6 ounce) of dulce de leche
  • Flaky salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick liners. Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the chopped chocolate. Whisk the milk, vegetable oil and eggs in a small bowl until smooth and then stir into the flour mixture until just combined.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling them two-thirds of the way to the top. Bake until the edges are just set but the centers are still loose, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and working quickly, drop 1 teaspoon of the dulce de leche into the center of each muffin. Return to the oven and bake until the batter rises over the dulce de leche and a toothpick inserted into a muffin (but not into the dulce de leche) comes out clean, another 10-15 minutes.

If desired, finely grate some semisweet chocolate over the tops of the hot muffins. (Note: Paula did not do this and they still tasted fantastic!). Sprinkle with flaky salt. Let the muffins cool 5 minutes in the pan and then remove to a rack to cool completely.

If you like chocolate, then you definitely like the combination of chocolate, caramel and salt. The salt and sweet really goes great with the chocolate! Paula made two batches so I had about 9 muffins. I froze them so that I could enjoy them over the coming week.



Pork Chops and Mashed Sweet Potatoes

We had some pork chops in the freezer and so I thought that this recipe from Food Network might be a good one to try. I thought that Paula might like it because of the mashed sweet potatoes in particular. She has a real affinity for sweet potatoes. It was not that difficult to make. I even bought the coconut oil to see if it would make any difference in the flavor and it did. Paula might use it for some of her baking in the future. If you want to try this flavorful dish, here is what you will need (to make it for two of you…)

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2cup of frozen peas
  • 2 thick pork chops
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground allspice
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, thickly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup of non-alcoholic ginger beer
  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon of habanero hot sauce (if desired)
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk

Put the sweet potatoes in a pot, cover with them with water and add a big pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are just tender, 15 minutes. Remove the sweet potatoes. Add the peas and cook until the peas are soft, about 3 minutes. Drain the peas.

While the potatoes are cooking, rub the pork chops with the allspice and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove to a plate. Add the onion to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the thyme, then the ginger beer and chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Stir in the hot sauce if using it. Return the pork to the skillet, turning to coat in the sauce.

Add the sweet potatoes to the pot and then add the coconut milk. Mash the sweet potatoes after seasoning with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a little black pepper. Add the peas and mix thoroughly.

Divide the pork chops and mashed potatoes among plates. Serve with hot sauce on the side.

This dish went well with a stout. The caramel notes in the stout complimented the sweet potato and the ginger beer that was used to cook the onion.

Vegetarian Chili Fries Return

Sometimes when you make a recipe it is hard to reduce the volume. As a result, it is just better to make the entire recipe and save the rest for a second meal. That was the situation with these vegetarian chili fries. The fries came in a large size that was more than Paula and I could eat in one meal. The original recipe called for 1 zucchini, 1 can of black beans and 1 can of fire-roasted tomatoes. It was just easier to make the whole recipe.

I froze half of the chili and we had it for dinner this evening. That worked out quite well since I went to school today and by the time that I got home, I didn’t have a lot of time. While the fries were cooking in the oven, Paula and I took a shower so that she would be ready for work. As Paula prepared her meals for work, I finished heating up the chili. It was warmed up by the time that the fries were finished baking in the oven. We sat down and enjoyed a tasty meal. Chili works quite well when it is frozen. If you want to try this recipe, I provided the link to my original post.

Pastrami Carbonara

I saw this recipe in the March issue of Rachael Ray‘s magazine and thought it was an interesting take on the traditional carbonara recipe. Instead of using bacon or pancetta, it calls for using pastrami. I made it for Paula and I. The original recipe also called for using medium shells but I used farfalle instead. It turned out to be quite tasty. Since we had some cilantro in the refrigerator, I chopped up a little bit of that instead of the parsley that was in the original set of ingredients.

Ingredients: (for two people)

  • 8-10 ounces of pasta (Note: You can use any shaped pasta such as medium shells, rotini or farfalle. You just want something to grab the sauce…)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 8 ounces of thinly sliced deli pastrami, chopped
  • 1 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley (Note: I used cilantro and it worked fine)
  • 2 cloves finely chopped or grated garlic
  • 1/3 cup of finely grated Parmesan

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente and then drain while reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

While the water is coming to a boil or when the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pastrami and cook, stirring often, until browned, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape the pastrami into a large bowl and allow it to cool.

Whisk in the eggs, yolks, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, and the garlic. Whisk in the Parmesan. Gradually whisk in the hot pasta cooking water. Toss the pasta with sauce and season. with salt and pepper.

Garnish with the remaining parsley and a little more Parmesan.

Chicken Chili with Collards

It got a bit chilly today so I decided to make this chicken chili recipe that I found in one of our recent Food Network magazines. It was not that hard. Paula was off from work and so she made some cornbread to go with the chili. It was a filling and quite tasty dish for a chilly April meal.


  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1+ pounds of boneless chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 seeded and chopped poblano chili
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 3 cups of chopped collard greens
  • 1 can of cannellini beans (do not drain…)
  • 1 cup of canned crushed tomatillos
  • 2-3 thinly sliced scallions

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon of ground cumin. Add the chicken to the pot and cook until golden, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil along with the onion and poblano to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and 1 teaspoon of ground cumin. Cook until golden, about 1 minute. Stir in the chicken broth, collards, beans and tomatillos. Stir in the chicken and any juices from the plate. Cover and bring to a boil. Then uncover and reduce the heat to a steady simmer. Cook until the chicken is tender, about 15-30 minutes.

Remove the chicken and shred it. Add it back to the chili. Divide the chili among bowls and top with the scallions and sour cream as desired.

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