Friday, January 27, 2012

Edible Sunshine

For those of you that didn't know,  National Pie Day was Monday, January 24.  [Not to be confused with Pi Day (3/14)].  How did I figure this out?  My very pie-obsessed husband clued me in on the secret via e-mail that today was pie day and what exactly were we going to do about it?  As we pondered the subtle complexities of what constituted pie (he proposed cheesecake was pie's cousin, and I said no, no.  We cannot make cheesecake on pie day.  Save that for cheesecake day), we then moved on to types of pie. I mean there are so many types of pie out there! Cream pie, pizza pie, fruit pie, chocolate pie, pizookies, fruit pizzas, savory pizzas and pies, Oh my!

Finally, wonder of all wonders, we agreed on a pie.

Lemon Cream Pie, which I quickly dubbed Edible Sunshine Pie.  You may be thinking, " does this differ from lemon meringue pie?" Well, believe it or not, several ways.  To sum it up in one word it's lighter, fluffier if you will.  Lemon meringue pie is great, don't get me wrong, but its sister, lemon cream is the light-hearted and carefree version of its French counter part.

As far as taste goes, I initially thought it tasted like a lemon meringue pie with whipped cream instead of meringue, but the more I ate it, the more I knew I was wrong.  It's got a different depth of flavor that's subtle but ever present. The best way to describe it is edible sunshine in the middle of a very grey Missouri winter.

Have I convinced you to try it yet?  No? Well how about this, prep time was about 15 minutes, no joke.

How about now? Trying it yet?

That's what I thought...

Lemon Cream Pie A.K.A. Edible Sunshine Pie

1 prepared graham cracker crust
8 teaspoons grated lemon zest (about 6 large lemons)

1 cup lemon juice

8 large egg yolks

1 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream

6 T powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Using a rasp or other small grater, zest the lemons. Then cut the lemons and juice them. You want approximately 8 teaspoons of zest and approximately 1 cup of juice. Rest assured that the pie will still be delicious if you only get ¾ cup of juice or 6 teaspoons of zest. No need to run to the store again.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the 8 egg yolks with the lemon zest until the eggs have lightened a bit in color, about 2 minutes. Add the sweetened condensed milk and whisk it into the egg mixture. Finally, slowly add the lemon juice and mix it in as you go. Set the filling aside for about 5 minutes to thicken up a bit. When the filling has thickened a bit, gently pour the filling into the crust. You may have a tiny bit of filling left over.

Place the pie into the oven and allow it to bake for approximately 15 minutes. Bake until the pie is set, but still slightly wiggly in the center. Remove the pie from the oven and cool to room temperature and then place it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours to chill.

Before serving, place a medium mixing bowl and your electric mixer beater attachments and whisk in the refrigerator to cool. Pour cold heavy whipping cream into the bowl along with the powdered sugar and using your electric mixer or whisk, beat the cream until stiff peaks form.  Spread the whipped cream onto the pie and serve.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chicken Leaky Mufasa?

A lot of times around our house food conversations get a little convoluted.

M "What are we having for dinner?"
Me "Chicken cacciatore"
M "Oh, okay sounds good"

...Weeks later...

Me "What do you want for dinner this week?"
M "How about chicken catch a tory?"
Me "What are you trying to say?"
M "You know, the chicken dish we had a few weeks ago."
Me "Chicken cacciatore?"
M "Ya, isn't that what I said?"

No. No that is not what you said.  This happens on a regular basis in our house meringue has been murang and this week Chicken Tikka Masala turned into Chicken Leaky Mufasa.  Even though it can be confusing at times, I have to say, it adds to Mike's charm.  When he says something funny, he'll just grin and say, "I don't know the name, I just know whatever you made is good!" One of the many reasons I love that man.

Surprise of all surprises, today's recipe is Chicken Tikka Masala

I first had this dish in Japan of all places at an Indian restaurant.  It is a wonderful and warm blend of spices, chicken, and rice.  The secret to this delicious chicken is all in how you cook it.

You cook the chicken in yogurt of all things.  Sounds disgusting right?  Well I dare you to make the chicken and not love it. The first time I made it, I nearly ate all of the chicken before making the sauce - so there's your word of warning.  It is truly a warm hearty winter dish!

Chicken Tikka Masala
Adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventures

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup plain yogurt (I used greek, but use what you have/like)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced fine 
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 serrano chile, minced (ribs and seeds removed)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro 

To prep the chicken: Mix the cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt together in a small bowl.  Sprinkle the mixture evenly over both sides of the chicken.  Put the chicken on a plate, cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.  Whisk the yogurt, vegetable oil, garlic and ginger together in a wide bowl.  You'll use this to coat the chicken later before cooking - set aside for now.

Meanwhile, pour the oil into a large Dutch oven set over medium heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic, ginger, serrano chile, tomato paste and garam malasa.  Cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes, stirring almost constantly.  Stir in the crushed tomatoes, sugar and salt then bring the sauce to a boil.  Reduce the heat so your sauce is simmering and cover the pan.  Let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring a few times.  Add the heavy cream, stir to combine and bring the sauce back to a simmer (uncovered).  Take the pan off of the heat and cover to keep warm.  (You can also make the sauce ahead - just refrigerate it once it cools slightly then rewarm when you want to serve.)

To cook the chicken:  Position an oven rack about 6 inches from your broiler and preheat the broiler.  Set a wire rack inside of a foil-lined baking sheet.  Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and dip each piece in the yogurt mixture.  You want a relatively thick layer coating the chicken.  Transfer the chicken to the wire rack.  Broil the chicken until it is cooked through (to an internal temperature of 160 F), about 10-18 minutes, flipping the chicken over halfway through the cooking time.  (The cooking time will depend in large part on the thickness of your chicken pieces.)  Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes, then cut it into 1-inch pieces and add to the warm sauce.  Add the cilantro to the sauce as well and season to taste before serving.


Anyone notice I didn't post Monday?  Well, I did anyway - completely escaped me.  So as an apology, here are some cute puppy-in-the-snow pictures.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Roasted Garlic & Pesto Chicken Pizza

This has been the first full week of classes (well, full-ish, we did have Monday off) and let me tell you. I am exhausted.  I'll show you why:

Notice anything consistent about every day, oh say, maybe something like an 8 am class everyday. Yes. 8am. every. day. Might as well just shoot me now.  To say I'm not a morning person would the understatement of my life.  Add that to the fact that on two days I have 4 straight hours of class in the morning and you get a walking zombie by noon.

Oh yes, and let's not forget that the inevitable failure of my immune system (due to the fact that I'm now around a lot of other people) has of course kicked in.  Yeah.

All in all it hasn't been a bad week - I really enjoy all of my classes this semester and although I have to use toothpicks to keep my eyes from drooping, the topic of property really does interest me.

So really, all that to say that this was leftover week at our house.  Between both of us waking up much earlier than usual (oh yes, I had to drag Mike into this too - the joys of a one car household) and the severe exhaustion from trying to up my running mileage, there's just not a whole lot of Jessica-brain-power left over at the end of the day.

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite leftovers:

Yes, this post's namesake comes from this wonderful concoction pictured above.  I will warn you, people who are traditional I-want-marina-for-the-sauce-on-my-pizza eaters, like the husband, probably will not care too much for this type of pie. (Sorry to rat you out honey!) 

 However, if you like to play with your food or could care less what's on pizza so long as it's called pizza, you should be good to go.  Hope you enjoy and keep warm; spring is just around the corner (hopefully)!

Roasted Garlic Chicken Pesto Pizza

1 recipe pizza crust (any kind will do; store bought is fine too!)
1/2 cup prepared pesto (store bough or homemade)
1 bulb of garlic
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked
8-12 oz Mozzarella cheese, depending on how cheesy you are
Parmesan cheese to taste

To roast the garlic: Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Using a knife, cut off 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of the top of cloves, exposing the individual cloves of garlic. Place the garlic heads in a baking pan; muffin pans work well for this purpose. Drizzle a couple teaspoons of olive oil over each head, using your fingers to make sure the garlic head is well coated. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400°F for 30-35 minutes, or until the cloves feel soft when pressed. Remove garlic gloves and smash with a fork.

Spread roasted garlic over pizza dough. Do this to taste. I used almost the whole (small) bulb, but we LOVE garlic. Spread the pesto on the pizza. Add the sliced, cooked chicken. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Top with fresh grated parmesan.
Bake on preheated pizza stone for 8 - 12 minutes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hello, Good Friend

[First off, 10 points to anyone who can correctly name the band who uses the post title as an album cover.  I may even send you something! ]

Hellooooooo audience.  It has been a very long while.  I hope that you have missed me because I have been very anxious to get back to you all!  This is a non-recipe post so if you're just in it for the food, I can respect that and will allow you to forego reading this post - just this once.

This post is all about New Years and whatnot. But before we get into that, let's recap my hiatus from studying the law. It's gonna be quick.  Ready? Here it goes

  • Went to the land of Okies and saw everyone.  And when I say everyone, I mean everyone.  We were at Norman, OKC, Tulsa, Lawton, Walters, and Edmond, which may not seem like a lot but we did it in about 5 days.  It was exhausting but great!
  • Went to Florida for a youth ministry conference. Yes, that's right Florida, in January.  It was glorious.  As our pulpit minister said, "Youth ministers are not stupid people".  I'd have to agree; we had a marvelous time.
  • Kora learned that she can get into the front yard from the backyard which prompted a mean call from our neighbors for animal cruelty.  Long story short, they thought our very spoiled dog didn't have shelter from the cold because they'd never been around the back of our house.  
  • Sleep.  Lots and lots of sleep. It was glorious.
  • Reading books not involving the law or anything close to the law. 

  Okay, now back to New Years (yes, I realize it is January 18th).  Don't worry, it won't be the obligatory, I-will-tell-you-all-my-resolutions-and-make-you-feel-guilty-for-not-making-any kind of a post (no offense to you all who share your resolutions).  This is more of a, I-have-something-in-my-head-I-want-to-share-so-I'm-going-to-because-this-blog-is-written-by-me.

Well, with that out of the way, here are some things I've been thinking.  My sister-in-law said something about having a "theme" for the year; some type of word or phrase to help you reach the goals you want for that year and it got me thinking.  [If you'd like to check out very adorable pictures of my very cute niece, check out my SIL's blog here].

So here's what I'm thinking: I'm not a big resolution person.  I don't like being resolute about something I may fail at.  Resolution to me has the connotation that you either pass or fail, trying has no value in resolutions, and I am a very results driven person.  I decided that "goals" are probably a better term, to me goals, give a lot of credit to trying.  Anyone with me? So, in my infinite Jessica wisdom decided that my goals seemed to have a theme, so I thought, why not just have a theme too? Well here it is people.

My theme for 2012 is stronger.  Let me elaborate before you silently gag to yourself.  When I say stronger, I mean physically (duh!), spiritually, and mentally stronger.  Last year was tough in many different ways and to make this year better, stronger is what I need to be.  Let me list it out for ya.

  • Physically:
    • I am a runner.  Don't get too awe-struck, I am a slow, laborious runner.  It takes me a looong time and I have to work at it continually.  It seems that my expectations with my physical abilities and the realities of such do not always line up.  Shock.  I want better.  Well this year I am running 2 half marathons and full marathon in 2013.  Half marathons, been there done that, but I've never felt like I've done my best, so this year, I want to do my best and who cares how others do in comparison.  As for the full marathon, well, I'm just hoping I don't die.  It's 26.2 miles people!!!
  • Spiritually:
    • Have those times when you're just tired spiritually?  I feel like that has been the epitome of my last year for a variety of reasons, but the one I keep coming back to is that I'm not devoting enough time to it - I don't make it a priority.  I mean, reading, praying, speaking, acting in the word people.  Know what I mean?  
  • Mentally: 
    • One thing that occurred over break I didn't mention is that grades came in.  They were not pretty.  This is how grading works: schools take the cream of the crop from undergrads, those used to doing really well all the time, and then they punch you in the face come finals time.  There are literally only so many slots for an "A" and when you don't get that after being used to getting it all the time, it is a huge ego dump. Let's be honest here, law school is hard. Think unrequited love - you love your classes, spend a lot of time nurturing them and being with them and then your grades come in and it's like the law dumped you and told you it hated your guts.  It's rude, but fact.  So the goal in all of this?  Do my very best to understand, to prepare, to learn, and if at the end of the semester my grades are the same, well, then I've done my very best, and I can certainly live with that.

This concludes my rant portion of this post.  Never fear, I will return with recipes soon and hope to not drop off the face of the earth for so long again.  Before I go though, what are your resolutions?