Goodcookbecky's Blog

Letting the juices of life (or food) drip from my chin!


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Greek on a Budget

IMG_3439My husband is currently unemployed and I have risen to the challenge of feeding our family on 10 dollars or less for dinner. My girls are in college, but teenage boy makes up for their lack of being here. Last summer hubby and I celebrated our 25th Anniversary with a cruise that included Greece and the Greek flavors have grown on me. I pulled from one of my favorite sites (Budgetbytes)  she has tasty recipes and calculated the cost to make the dish on her site. Her Greek Marinated Chicken recipe looked inviting. I paired this with Greek Tomato and Cucumber Salad from theMom100 and Greek Lemon Rice from themediterraneandish.

This combination of recipes made for a very tasty and affordable feast. I had kalamata olives, yogurt, and feta cheese in my fridge already. A friend had gifted me a bag of rice and another friend gave me lemons off her tree. My well stocked pantry had the orzo and I had shallots that I used instead of onions and red onions… the chicken thighs that I used were 6 dollars for 12 thighs – a deal! I did add 1 cup more broth to the rice because 2 cups of broth did not seem enough to steam two cups of rice and cook orzo pasta. I am glad I did. It was delicious. I did double the marinade for the chicken since I had so many thighs.. so I have another bag of chicken in the fridge ready to cook up later this week.

A note about the Greek Chicken – I doubled the ingredients and marinaded the chicken thighs in two zip-lock bags.  Cooking up 6 thighs for the three of us to eat tonight and have another batch for later this week.  Marinate them for at least 30 minutes – I did for 5 hours.  I used thighs because they were really cheap – you could use any chicken pieces.

Greek Chicken

adapted from BudgetBytes.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 heaping Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 medium lemons (zest and juice)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley (originally 1/4 bunch fresh parsley)
  • about 6 lbs chicken thighs (about 12 pieces)

Instructions:

  1. Combine the plain yogurt, olive oil, minced garlic, oregano, salt, cracked pepper, zest of two lemons, juice of two lemons, parsley. Place 6 thighs in a gallon size freezer bag and 6 in a second bag. Divide the marinade between the two bags – squeeze out air and close the bag. Make sure the chicken is well coated and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to a day in advance.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375F. Place the chicken thighs in a 9×13 inch baking dish. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until the chicken skins have turned golden brown.

Printable Recipe

Greek Tomato and Cucumber Salad

adapted from theMom100.com     |    Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cucumber, peeled and seeded, diced
  • 3 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced (or shallot if you don’t have red on hand)
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped roughly
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta

Dressing:

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

In a medium bowl, combine the diced cucumber, tomatoes, red onions (or shallots), kalamata olives, and crumbled feta cheese.

In a small measuring cup combine the ingredients for the dressing and adjust the seasoning to taste. Pour over the veggies and stir to combine. Serve.

Printable Recipe

The Greek Lemon Rice is so good! The garlic and lemon and orzo really make this rice dish special. My husband who is not a huge fan of rice took seconds! I did increase the chicken broth to 3 cups because the original 2 cups did not seem enough to cook 2 cups of rice and 1/2 a cup of orzo. I also used more garlic and more lemon juice. Enjoy:

Greek Lemon Rice

adapted from themediterraneandish.com   |   Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups long grain rice
  • water
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions, or shallots
  • 1 heaping soup spoon of minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup orzo pasta
  • 2 lemons (zest of one lemon and juice of two lemons) After squeezing the lemon I threw the whole skin in the pot to add even more flavor!
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley (use a handful of fresh parsley if you have it on hand)
  • 1 tsp dried dill

Instructions:

  1. Rinse the rice in water and place it in a quart sized measuring cup.  Cover with water and allow it to sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, heat a medium sized saucepan over medium high heat.  Add olive oil to the pan and saute the onions for about 5 minutes or until softened.  Then add garlic and orzo pasta and cook stirring frequently until the pasta begins to brown and get toasty.  Add lemon juice, lemon zest, chicken broth, salt, parsley, and dill.  Drain the water from the rice in a colander and add the rice to the saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover with a tight fitting lid.  Let it cook for 20 minutes.  Then remove from heat and allow to sit another 10-15 minutes.  Stir before serving.

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Chicken and Leek Pot Pie

 

When my husband and I were on our cruise last summer, the ship dining room featured some celebrity chef dishes by Curtis Stone.  One of the most memorable was Chicken and Leek Pot Pie with a Puff Pastry lid.  When I returned home, I looked for a recipe and to my delight found one posted by Curtis Stone. I love making these in individual size ramekins.  I have doubled the recipe and it makes 6-8 servings depending on the size ramekin that you use.

Chicken and Leek Pot Pie

adapted from Curtis Stone | Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 5 whole chicken legs (legs and thighs attached)
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 large leeks, dark green leaves cut off, halved lengthwise, washed thoroughly, chopped into 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 Tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 (14 oz) box Pepperidge Farms puff pastry, cut into squares to fit the ramekins
  • brush tops with 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp whole milk for glossy finish

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400F. Place the chicken thighs on wire racks over a rimmed baking sheet.  Season both sides of the chicken legs with kosher salt and pepper.  Place skin side up on your rack.  Drizzle olive oil over the chicken.  When the oven has come to temperature, roast the chicken for 30 minutes or more until cooked through.  Remove the pan from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375F.  Allow the chicken to cool off before discarding the skin and pulling all the meat off the bones and placing the meat in a bowl.  Discard the chicken bones.  Pour chicken drippings in a fat separator and add the juices to the pot pie mixture later.  Discard excess fat.

In a large sauce pan, over medium high heat, melt the butter and add the chopped onions and chopped leeks to the pan.  Cook until tender about 5 to 10 minutes.  Stir in the mustard and flour and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes.  Add chicken broth, milk, heavy cream, pan drippings and bring to just a simmer.  Continue to cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes until the soup begins to thicken.  Stir in the chopped chicken, chopped tarragon.  Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

Fill the ramekins nearly full with the pot pie filling.  Roll out puff pastry and cut them into squares slightly larger than your ramekins.  Cut slits in the puff pastry and cover the filled ramekins with the puff pastry squares.  Brush the puff pastry with egg and milk mixture.  Bake the ramekins on a baking sheet for 25 to 35 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden brown and has puffed up.  Carefully remove the ramekins from the baking sheet and allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.  Beware ramekins will still be quite hot.

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Bouyiourdi (Baked Spicy Feta)

IMG_1286When my husband and I were in Athens after our cruise we ate in a little Greek restaurant and ordered a dish called bouyiourdi (pronounced a lot like boyardee).  It was a baked feta cheese appetizer served with toasted bread and pita bread.  My husband and I loved it and after returning home I wanted to try to make it as well.  It is a very easy appetizer to make.

 

 Baked Spicy Feta (Bouyiourdi)

Ingredients:

  • 1 block feta cheese
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Sliced small Cherry peppers (4-6)
  • salt and oregano
  • chopped shallots
  • drizzle of Olive Oil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a small baking dish place a layer of sliced tomatoes and cherry peppers.  Sprinkle with salt and oregano. Top with feta cheese.  Sprinkle with oregano.  Layer the top with more sliced tomatoes and cherry peppers and chopped shallots. Season with salt and oregano.  Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Bake at 400F for 25 minutes.

Serve with toasted fresh bread or pita bread.  Great appetizer or lunch.

Printable Recipe


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25th Anniversary Cruise Part 9

In case you missed it: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5 Part 6  Part 7  Part 8

June 13

The island of Corfu was our next stop.  We took a tour of the Paleokastritsa Caves by boat and had a panoramic view stop at the top of Corfu’s peak to see the harbor below.  I loved Paleokastritsa, because of its stunning green water.  The reason the water is so green is that the sand is white and the depth of the water is 80 feet or more even close to shore.  The landline is dotted with caves that small boats can navigate (we were in a larger one, so we did not get that good a view of it, nevertheless, we really did enjoy the beauty of this tour). Our guide threw a loaf of bread into the water and the fish came to the surface to eat the bread.  I did manage to get a few good shots of the fish. Corfu is probably my favorite stop of the Greek islands that we visited.

The one downside to Crete was the fact that there was a garbage strike, so dumpsters were overflowing littering the streets a bit.

Pictured: Best of Corfu, Paleokastritsa Caves, Fish, also of interest here is where they filmed the clashing rocks in “Jason and the Argonauts”

Next stop Crete, Greece

 


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25th Anniversary Cruise Part 7

In case you missed Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6

June 10

Port Salerno, Italy  Tour of Pompeii

This was a morning I woke up with a sore throat and watery eyes – NOOO, I don’t want to get sick!  I had packed some airborne that I had started taking the day before when I first felt a touch of a sore throat.  I had packed cold and flu meds as well as Benadryl in the event that we would need them.  I read the symptoms of the box and decided my symptoms were more in line with those of allergies. I took two Benadryl tablets and went to breakfast.  My head felt in a fog and we went to our tour meeting point on the ship.  I was so sleepy!  If David had asked me again if I wanted to do the tour I would have said no, but because he did not ask… we went.  I fell asleep on the bus and missed the beautiful countryside on the way to Pompeii.  When we arrived, I was feeling slightly better and as the tour wore on, I was almost back to normal again.  David said joked that I was a living corpse – or a character from the movie “Weekend at Bernie’s”

I was overwhelmed by the size of Pompeii.  I guess I never really thought about the fact that this was a city that had been completely buried by ash – and seeing it in person made it become real.  Large market places, temples, and even a structure similar to a Colosseum all here!  What made it real was the fresco on walls , and beautiful ornate tile floors- these were people who appreciated the arts and had public bath houses and kitchens; even restaurants.

We saw a few bodies that had been surprised by the volcano.  Even a dog who looked curled up in pain and agony – frozen in time.  We could see Mt. Vesuvius off in the distance the top covered by clouds.

Our tour guide Jose, made this tour interesting and gave a lot of background to the history and beliefs of those in Pompeii.  I think Pompeii was one of our favorite tours.  We only saw a fraction of the city – we could have spent all day there to see more, but we came away having a better idea of Pompeii.

Pictured below some of the drive between Salerno and Pompeii and the wild flowers that grew around Pompeii. The tall trees are umbrella pines that grow throughout Italy and they are the source for pine nuts and used in their regional dish of pesto (basil, garlic, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese with olive oil)

Pictured below: Pompeii Ruins, Art, Tiled Floors, Mt. Vesuvius through an Arch, Bath houses.

Next: At Sea and Port of Kotor, Montenegro


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25th Anniversary Part 6

In case you missed it Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5

June 9

Civitavecchia was our Port (pronounced Chi-vita-vechia) nearly an hour from Rome where we toured St. Peter’s Basilica, Trevi Fountains, Colosseum, and Roman Catacombs.

Florence was a long tour and this day promised to be an equally long day.  Our first stop was St Peter’s – which was beautiful and ornate with lots of gold and painted art.  I suppose if I was a Roman Catholic this stop would have been more interesting.  I found little in this church that pointed to a risen and living Lord.  It was completely about the Popes.

We next visited Trevi Fountain.  Dave and I stayed back from the crowd to avoid pick- pockets.  There was no need for me to throw a coin in the fountain.  We enjoyed a few scoops of gelato at a shop nearby and took in the sights from the sidelines.

The Colosseum was large and imposing, everything I expected it to be.  It was amazing to see the levels of the structure and the arches.  The Forum was nearby but we received little information about it on this tour.

Our final stop was Roman Catacombs a 17 mile maze of graves – photography was strictly prohibited, so we do not have pictures of this stop.  We had a guided tour through the catacombs and saw roped off passages to the sides that were closed to exploration.. I guess they frown on losing tourists in the catacombs for fear they may become part of the attraction.  It was interesting to see though.

Pictured below: the Vatican, St Peter’s Basilica (3) Colosseum, nearby Forum, Gelato, and Trevi Fountain.

Next stop: Pompeii


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25th Anniversary Cruise Part 5

In case you missed it: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

June 8

We docked at the port in Livorno and took a tour bus through the Tuscany region to Firenze (Florence, Italy) which is an amazing city to visit.  We had a tour booked through Princess once again and walked our feet off in this city.  My phone told me we walked over 4 miles in Florence.  The time we had in Florence did not give the sites the appropriate time to properly take this city in.  We sped through the museums so quickly that I was taking shots of art as I was walking by at 3 miles per hour.  It really is too bad that we could not savor our time to really take it all in.  But the beauty of cruising is that you do get a taste of a lot of different places and maybe someday you can return and take things in at a more relaxed pace. Our tour guide Sophia was wonderful. We started with the Uffizi Museum and Gallery and saw works by artists like Botticelli. We were grateful for relatively shorts waits to get into the museums as once again it was hot and humid. From the Uffizi museum we got a great shot of the Ponte Vecchio bridge which captured the Old World charm of Florence. The statues at the Piazza della Signoria were impressive.  We loved the Piazza del Duomo, but no angle on our camera could capture the  full beauty of this church.  We loved the stunning design of the Baptistery and the beautiful bronze doors.  After a refreshing lunch in a restaurant, we continued to the Accademia museum to see Michelangelo’s sculpture of David.  I loved the detail of the veins on David’s hands and feet.  We were so grateful for the opportunity to see these amazing works of art in person.

Next: Rome