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Moroccan Stew over Couscous

IMG_1106Growing up as a missionary kid, I had plenty of opportunities to try International foods.  One such occasion, a family friend, who had served in Morocco as a missionary, made a wonderful stew with chicken and chickpeas served over couscous. Our friend Lena has since passed away, but my parents were able to ask for an authentic recipe for Moroccan Couscous from another missionary family that they know.  This family had served in Rabat, Morocco for over 20 years.  It had been on my bucket list to make this recipe for a few years now, and this week, I finally had the time to make it.  It has a long list of ingredients and several steps to make the stew.  It serves 10 – I did not think this through with only 3 of us home at the moment to enjoy it- I have a feeling I will be freezing some of this.  You do need to start the night before, by soaking the  dry chickpeas.  The stew takes about 3- 4 hours prep time to finish. I cooked mine longer, because I wanted to get my Sunday nap! It made the meat ever so tender.  This recipe is broken down into 3 stages because there are so many ingredients.

Moroccan Couscous

Serves 10  – McCrostie Family recipe for Authentic Moroccan Couscous

Ingredients (Stage 1):

  • 1 cup dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas), covered in water and soaked overnight
  • 6 bone in skin on chicken thighs
  • 1 lb lamb shoulder, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 lb meaty soup bones
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lb chopped onion
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp saffron
  • 1/4 tsp dried ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3-4 quarts low sodium chicken broth

Stage 1 Instructions:

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat.  Brown the meat in batches on both sides.  Remove the meat to a large platter.  Cook the onions in the drippings for about 4 minutes.  Add the meat back into the pot.  Add soaked and drained garbanzo beans (chickpeas), chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper, paprika, saffron, ginger and turmeric to the pot and stir to combine.  Cover the meat in 3-4 quarts of low sodium chicken broth.  Bring the broth to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook coverd for 1 hour (or longer).

Stage 2 Ingredients:

  • 1 lb peeled carrots, cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp dried ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 lbs turnips, peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 lb pumpkin, peeled and diced (I used about 1/3 of a sugar pumpkin)
  • 1/2 lb zucchini, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 small Asian eggplants (long pink eggplants- use a small regular one if you can’t find the Asian type)
  • 1 leek, dark leaves removed, sliced lengthwise and washed thoroughly, diced
  • cabbage, chopped (optional – I did not use)

Stage 2 Instructions:

Add carrots, turnips, parsley and cilantro to the stew. Continue cooking the stew at a low boil uncovered for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes add the remaining ingredients listed in stage 2 and cook an additional 30 minutes.

At this point I removed the chicken thighs from the stew and removed the skin and bones and added the meat back into the stew.

Stage 3 Ingredients:

  • 2 jalapenos (divided use)
  • 2 lbs thinly sliced onions
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 cup raisins (soak in water for 10 minutes, then drain)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup honey (or you can use sugar)

Stage 3 Instructions:

In a small sauce pan, ladle 2 cups of the broth from the stew.  Split a jalapeno about 1 inch from the tip and put into the broth.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 20 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium high heat. Saute the onions in the butter until they are golden brown, stirring occasionally.

While the onions are caramelizing, spit the remaining jalapeno and remove the seeds.  Mince the jalapeno finely. Add the jalapenos to the onions along with cinnamon, black pepper and saute for a minute or two.  Add the raisins and honey to the onions and stir to combine.  Discard the jalapeno from the small saute pan and add the broth to the onion mixture.

Add this onion mixture to the stew. Stir to combine.

Cook couscous according to package directions.

To Serve: Mound the cooked couscous on a large platter.  Ladle the Moroccan stew over the couscous and allow each person to eat a wedge from the common plate (this is how it is traditionally served and enjoyed) if you prefer however you can place couscous in a small  individual bowls and serve the stew over it.

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Pork Chops with Lemon Thyme Sauce

IMG_0900I came across this nugget of a recipe through Pinterest.  It is adapted from bakeatmidnight. I increased the quantities of the sauce and I am glad I did.  The sauce of this recipe is out of this world.  I served it over rice as well.  Since then I have made the sauce with chicken as well.  I prefer it with chicken for that matter. I will add it to my regular rotation.  I have added the chicken version below.

Pork Chops with Lemon Thyme Sauce

adapted from bakeatmidnight.com

Serves 6

Ingredients

For the Pork:

  • 6 bone in or boneless pork chops (1/2 inch thick)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp butter

For the sauce:

  • zest of 1 lemon (1 Tbsp)
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp butter

Instructions:

For the pork: Combine the flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a shallow bowl.  Dredge the pork chops in the flour mixture on both sides until well coated, shaking  off any excess.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add the butter and olive oil to the pan.  Cook the pork chops 5-8 minutes on each side until golden brown.  Set pork chops aside and make the sauce.

For the sauce: In the same skillet you used to cook the pork add the lemon zest, minced garlic, white wine (or broth if you prefer), lemon juice, thyme, and salt.  Stir with a whisk.  Add the pork chops back into the skillet.  Cover with a lid and cook for 15 to 20 minutes over medium heat.  Remove the pork chops to a platter and keep warm.  To the remaining sauce add the heavy cream and butter and stir until the butter has melted.  Serve over pork chops with a side of steamed rice or pasta and veggies.

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Chicken with Lemon Thyme Sauce

Serves 6 – by goodcookbecky sauce adapted from bakeatmidnight.com

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

  • 3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts spit in half horizontally to make 6 thinner chicken cutlets
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp butter

For the sauce:

  • zest of 1 lemon (1 Tbsp)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup white wine (or chicken broth)
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp butter

Instructions:

For the chicken: In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika with a fork.  Dredge the chicken cutlets in the flour mixture on both sides, shaking off any excess.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the butter and olive oil to the skillet and cook the chicken 5 to 8 minutes on each side.  Remove the chicken to a plate and make the sauce.

For the sauce: In the same skillet combine the lemon zest, garlic, lemon juice, white wine (or broth), thyme, and salt over medium heat.  Whisk to combine.  Add the chicken back into the pan and cover over medium low heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked through.  Remove the chicken to a platter and keeps warm.  To the sauce add the heavy cream and butter and stir until the butter is dissolved and the cream is well stirred into the sauce.

Serve the sauce over the chicken and steamed rice (or pasta) with green beans or broccoli.

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Chicken Fajitas

IMG_0919My family loves to eat Mexican food.  I am fortunate to live in Southern California where we get as excited about avocados being on sale as we are when it rains!  I usually buy the premixed fajita mix at the grocery store, but last time I did so, the chicken was in huge chunks and there were hardly any onions and peppers in the mix.  I set out to find a recipe to make from scratch. I tried one from Taste of Home that had good reviews and was quite happy with the flavors. I like being able to control how much salt goes into the dish.

Note: (To julienne means to cut food into short thin strips) I serve the onions and peppers separately because I have picky eaters that do not care for one or both, but if your family likes everything combine them with the chicken before serving.

Flavorful Chicken Fajita

adapted from Taste of Home Magazine (online) | Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into thin strips
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 green bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 large sweet onion, but into thin rings and separated
  • 10 flour tortillas (warmed for 1 minute in microwave between damp paper towels)
  • Toppings: Mexican cheese, salsa, slices of avocado

Instructions:

In a large zip-top bag, add the following ingredients: 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, lemon juice, seasoned salt, oregano, cumin, garlic powder, paprika (red pepper flakes if using) and the sliced chicken breast strips. Close the top of the bag and massage the ingredients together until they are well combined and refrigerate the chicken for 1 to 4 hours.

Heat a large non stick skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.  Add the onions to the pan and season them with salt and pepper. Sauté the onions until they are softened and lightly caramelized. Remove cooked onions to a oven safe dish and keep warm.  Using the same pan, cook the bell pepper strips until softened. Season them with salt and pepper and set aside to keep warm.

Add remaining vegetable oil to the pan and cook the chicken mixture in batches until it is no longer pink.  Keep the chicken warm as you finish cooking the remaining chicken.

Heat the tortillas between damp paper towels in the microwave for 1 minute.

Serve.  Place a tortilla on each plate and top with chicken, onions, peppers.  Top with cheese, salsa, avocado if desired and fold two sides of the tortilla over the filling.  Enjoy!

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Mennonite Apple Crumble

IMG_0924

My mother sent me this recipe some time ago, but I never got around to trying it.  It is similar to Apple Crisp, but sweeter. My family loved this dessert.  It is especially good served warm with ice cream of whipped cream.  Best of all, it is really easy to prepare.  I think next time I will increase the apples to 7 or 8 granny smith apples from the 5 I used this time.

Here is the recipe:

Mennonite Apple Crumble

Serves 5  |  adapted from an old Mennonite Recipe Book

Crumble topping:

  • 3/4 cup quick cooking oatmeal
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

Apple filling:

  • 5-8 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Instructions:

Melt the butter.  In a small bowl, combine the oatmeal, sugar, baking soda and stir.  Add the melted butter and stir into the oatmeal mixture.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt and stir to combine.  Add the apple pieces and stir to coat with the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Evenly spread the apple mixture in a greased baking dish (spray with Pam).  Top the apples with the oatmeal topping and gently press the crumble over the apples.

Bake at 375 F for 35 to 40 minutes.  Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

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Kung Pao Chicken Zoodles for 2

IMG_0076Pinterest is one of those sites that can suck you in and suddenly you have found that hours have passed.  I found this recipe at skinnytaste. I did not have the hoisin sauce that the recipe called for and used the same amount of oyster sauce in its place.  It was still very good.  I will be making this again.  I am trying to curb how much pasta I eat and the spiralized zucchini give me the satisfaction of having “noodles” without the guilt!  My 12 year old son also enjoyed it, though he thought it was a little spicy.

Kung Pao Chicken Zoodles for 2

adapted from skinnytaste.com

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchini, washed, trimmed of the edges and spiralized (cut into 6 inch strips to make it easier to eat)
  • 1 tsp grapeseed oil (or canola)
  • 6 oz boneless skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed of fat and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • freshly ground pepper and sea salt (to season the chicken)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tsp freshly ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup roasted dry peanuts
  • 2 Tbsp thinly sliced scallions

For the sauce:

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp hoisin sauce (or oyster sauce)
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 – 1 Tbsp Sambal Oelek Red chili paste
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch

Instructions:

Spiralize the zucchini into noodles following the directions on the spiralizer.

Season the diced chicken with salt and pepper.  Heat a pan over medium high heat and add 1 tsp of grapeseed or canola oil. Cook the chicken stirring from time to time, until it is cooked through.  Remove the chicken to a bowl.

Combine the sauce ingredients together and stir to combine.

Add the sesame oil to the pan, reduce heat to medium, and add the garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the bell peppers and cook for two more minutes. Next, add the zucchini noodles and saute for 2 minutes longer.  Add the sauce to the zucchini and toss to coat.  Add the chicken back into the stir fry.  Sprinkle with peanuts and scallions and divide into two large bowls.

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Peach Crisp

IMG_9865When I think of summer, I think of peaches.. there are few things in the world that are as good as the peaches I have eaten in South Jersey – juicy, drippy, goodness.  Well, I am in Southern California, and bought some peaches that were begging to be used up.  I found this recipe for Peach Crisp in my America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook.  Unfortunately, I did not have as many peaches as the recipe called for, because two of them had gone bad, but I used what I had: 4 large peaches. Reading over the ingredients, I found I had everything except for lemon zest to make this dish, so make it I did. And yummy it was.

Peach Crisp

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook (15th Anniversary Edition page 804)

Ingredients:

Filling:

  • 3 lbs of peaches, peeled, pitted and cut up into bite size pieces
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon, optional

Crumble Topping:

  • 6 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 Tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 F

Place the peach pieces in a pie dish. Add the sugar and lemon juice and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Stir with a fork.  Add the pieces of butter and work with your hands to combine them into a crumb like topping. Stir in the pecan pieces.

Spread the crumb topping across the top of the peach filling.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes.  Cook an additional 5 minutes at 400 if the topping is not browned.

Serve warm.  Great with ice cream of whipped cream.

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Old Fashioned Potato Salad

IMG_9625There is something about the recipes of Ina Garten – when I make them it always is very good.  This Old Fashioned Potato Salad recipe is no exception to that rule. The dressing consists of mayonnaise, buttermilk, mustard, fresh dill, and other ingredients that work together in harmony with the red potatoes.  My husband thought the potatoes should be cut smaller, but it has very good flavor!  I will make this potato salad again and again.  This recipe is from her Barefoot Contessa At Home cookbook.  I made a smaller amount since it was just for my family, using 2 lbs of potatoes instead of 3.  I also reduced the amount of dressing because of that.

Old-Fashioned Potato Salad

adapted from Ina Garten Barefoot Contessa at Home (p 86)

Serves 10

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs small red potatoes
  • kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1.5 oz buttermilk
  • 4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tsp whole grain mustard
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup small diced celery
  • 1/2 cup small diced red onion

Instructions:

Place the potatoes in a large pot of water and cover with cool water.  Add 2 tablespoons of kosher salt to the water and bring it to a boil.  When it comes to a full boil, reduce the heat to medium low , cover, and cook for about 12 to 15 minutes.  Drain the potatoes in a large colander.  Off heat, place the colander over your empty pot and cover the potatoes with a clean kitchen towel and steam the potatoes for 10 minutes longer.

Meanwhile prepare the dressing.  Stir together the mayonnaise and buttermilk, Dijon and whole grain mustard, dill, salt, and pepper.  Set aside.

Chop the celery and onion.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them into halves and quarters (or smaller if you desire).  Place them in a large bowl.  Add the celery and onion to the potatoes and pour the dressing over the potatoes. Stir to combine the potato salad.  Taste and adjust the seasonings (salt and pepper).  Cover and refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

NOTE:

Next time I will make additional dressing to add to the potato salad, because it does absorb into the potatoes as they sit.

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