Monday, December 31, 2007

I am feeling ambitious today

Today is my last day of winter break from work.

I have done a fair amount of cooking this past week, and I have so enjoyed it.
I rarely get this much time to just make a good, easy dinner more than two nights in a row.
And the manfriend has enjoyed my break, too. He is the beneficiary of all these meals.

Since I have been in a cooking groove, I decided that the best way to use my time today will be to stock my freezer with some more yummy things.

So I am making more twice-baked potatoes. Last night, I thawed and baked the two halves I had leftover from Christmas and they came out so great. I have three potatoes to work with there, so that will be six portions of hearty potato goodness. I could eat just one of those and a salad and be happy.

I have no real recipe for these, I just make them how I remember my mom making them when I was a kid. This works great if you make baked potatoes and have some leftover. This time around I specifically baked the taters to make these.

This recipe has no real measurements. It is all about adding stuff until it tastes good to you.
  • Bake the potatoes, let them cool, then cut them in half and scoop out the inside, saving the skins to be restuffed.
  • Then I mix the scooped potato with some butter, shredded cheese and and sliced green onion or chives. If I want them to be extra decadent, like I did for Christmas, I add some sour cream to the mix. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Then restuff the skins with the potato mixture, sprinkle a bit more shredded cheese on top and bake once again until they are hot and the cheese on top is melty and golden.
Health food they are not. But if you need a good portion of comfort food, these fill the bill.

I also am making some more of the creamy red pepper soup that I like so much. I used the last little freezer bag of it last night as a starter to a simple supper of baked salmon, potatoes and salad that I made for the manfriend. I was reminded of how much I like it, so I need to make more.

It is a Giada DeLaurentis recipe. It is quite easy and tasty. It makes a great dinner-party starter or a nice simple dinner when paired with a salad or a sandwich.
I make a couple changes to this soup:
  • I use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. I think it works well with the overall flavor of the soup. Plus it keeps it vegetarian. I am not a vegetarian, but I have some friends who are and it is nice to be able to serve them this soup.
  • I also omit the mascarpone cheese. I am not a huge fan of mascarpone. And in this soup I use a touch of sour cream for the creaminess it needs. Fat-free works just fine.
I decided to make some chili to keep in the freezer. No special recipe for this. I just find my favorite seasoning blend at the market and follow the directions. Usually I do end up with beans and meat in my chili. I know for some people this is sacrilegious. My chili tends more toward to spicy and tangy than the sweet.

Finally, I will be making an arroz con pollo (Cuban style chicken and rice) for dinner tonight and the work potluck tomorrow.
I will experiment with a recipe I found on Smitten Kitchen. I think this is my new favorite blog right now.

I will modify this dish by making the chicken in the slow cooker. And I am using only boneless, skinless chicken breast. I want a nice, lean dish. Plus I hate funky chicken parts and the way the skin gets when it stews. Gross.

And I am omitting the chorizo. Mostly because I think it will be hard to find. Plus I know I like it, but I am not sure how the work people will feel about the sausage. So out it goes. I am sure it will be tasty anyway.

I also will do some simple black beans. I probably will just get the canned type and dress them up with some extra onion and herbs. I am not sure yet if I will do this for the potluck, too.

Finally, my last part for this meal will be some fried plantains. These are so good and really easy to make. These will not be part of my potluck meal. I am thinking they will not reheat well, especially since I will only have access to a microwave.

Well, I think I have my shopping list set, so I should get moving while the day is still young.

I will try to remember to take some pictures of all this culinary activity. This will be a really great workout for my kitchen.

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