Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

We’re also stealing the term “rerack.”

April 21, 2011 @ 8:28 am | Filed under:

Scott sent me this recipe from an interview with actress Julie Bowen:

“The recipe is embarrassingly easy,” Bowen admits. “I put a little grated cheese on top, and honestly, my husband thinks I’m a chef every time I serve it. All my kids eat it because it’s one of the only things I can make,” she says with a laugh. Here, in her own words, is the secret recipe. Just don’t tell her husband.

1. Pour two 32-oz. cartons of chicken broth into a pot.*

2. Buy one of those roasted chickens at the supermarket, take all the meat off, and dump it into the pot.

3. Add two cans of cannellini beans, a big jar of salsa verde, and some cumin. Let it sit on the stove for an hour.

4. Throw some grated cheese on top and serve.

*Note: CHICKEN BROTH. Not chai tea latte!

So, yeah, that’s dinner tonight. I even have an open jar of salsa verde in the fridge that needs using up. The salsa verde, not the fridge.

You’re wondering why Scott’s reading a Parade magazine interview of Julie Bowen. I’m telling you, the guy reads everything.

The Chicken Tikka Masala Post

January 14, 2010 @ 1:18 pm | Filed under: ,

Whenever I get the opportunity to go out for Indian food, I order chicken tikka masala and aloo gobi. From the very first bite, my whole self is suffused with the most incredible sense of well-being. Must be something in the combination of spices, or maybe it’s one spice in particular, who knows: whatever it is, I think it affects me sort of the way chocolate does. Massive endorphin rush? Scott laughs because I shovel in the food and say, “I’m so happy!” after every bite.

So last week I decided to try my own hand at these favorites. I found a video tutorial for chicken tikka masala, and a friend sent me an excellent recipe for naan. I do believe these dishes will become regulars in my kitchen. Today I want to give aloo gobi a try. I’ve googled a recipe, but if you have a favorite—or pointers—I’d welcome the advice.

My cookery notes (recording them here because this is the easiest place for me to find things later):

Chicken Tikka Masala

• I couldn’t find cardamom pods in the grocery store, so I omitted those from the first step. (You season the oil with the cardamom pods and a cinnamon stick—which I also omitted—and remove those things before sauteeing your onions.)

• I forgot to defrost the chicken the night before, so I just took it out in the morning and converted the recipe to a slow-cooker dish. After Step 5 (you have already sauteed the onions, added the spices, tomato, and water, and cooked the sauce for a few minutes), I transferred everything to the crock pot. The chicken had thawed enough for me to cut it into cubes—it’s actually easier to cut when it’s a little frozen—so I just plopped it into the sauce and set it on high for an hour, then low for about three hours. I added a little extra water to the sauce so it wouldn’t cook down too much. This worked fine, and freed me up to fry the naan at dinnertime.

• The recipe calls for adding plain yogurt (amount vague) or coconut milk just before serving. I used plain yogurt, about 3/4 cup—had no idea how much to add. We would like to try coconut milk next time, but the yogurt was fine.

Garam Masala question. I bought a jar at Henry’s: Spice Hunter brand salt-free garam masala blend. The final dish seemed a little heavy on cloves (to me; Scott didn’t think so) and the flavor wasn’t quite what I’ve experienced at Indian restaurants. I assume there is some variation among different garam masala blends, just like one jar of Cajun seasoning never tastes exactly like another. Anyone got a recommendation for a blend that isn’t quite so dominated by the cloves?

Despite the ubercloviness, the final dish was delectable. Definitely a shovel-in-the-mouth-I’m-so-happy meal.

UPDATED! How much do I love Twitter? I tweeted a request for a good aloo gobi recipe, and @KrisBordessa suggested I ask @mbhide, aka Monica Bhide, author of Modern Spice. I added a second question about garam masala spice blends, and Monica replied with a link to this piece in the Washington Post about a garam masala taste test she took part in. (Scroll down a bit.) So very cool.


This recipe produced some of the best naan I have ever tasted—and that’s in spite of my rookie hamhandedness. So flavorful, slightly sweet. The recipe called for 1/4 cup sugar, but I was afraid it would be too sweet, so I cut that a bit—I used an 1/8 cup and then a little more (maybe a third of the 1/8th cup measure; I’ll let you work out the math on that). 😉

• I should have read the comments below the recipe before I started. There are some helpful tips there. Several people advised to cut the flour to 3 1/2 cups, and I wish I’d seen that earlier! I should have added it more gradually than I did. I didn’t need much more than 3 1/4 cups, I think.

• I did add the minced garlic—YUM.

• The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of salt. This seemed rather high, so I halved it.

• I cooked on my cast iron grill pan (thanks, Mom), the side with the grill lines. It worked a treat. I think I need to make my dough balls a bit bigger this time—my naan came out more the size of silver dollar pancakes than the dinner-plate size I’ve always seen. Then again, the smaller size was great for my kids. The little ones would rather have their ownty-downty pieces than half a big one.

• We started mixing up the dough around 2pm, which was plenty of time for two risings before 5pm when I was ready to start grilling it.

Which means it’s almost time to move kitchenward for today’s dough-mixing.

Our Favorite Potato Soup

November 30, 2009 @ 8:35 pm | Filed under:

Mamalion asked for my potato soup recipe. I’ve been making this soup since college; my aunt gave me an old cookbook she’d had since the 50s and this was pretty much the only recipe I ever tried in the whole book. Easy and oh so yummy.

Peel and dice one small onion* and 5 or 6 big potatoes (more if they’re small; I think we used about 10 small potatoes last night, maybe 12).

Put in your soup pot and add just enough cold water to cover potatoes.

Pause for ten-minute discussion with husband about why the water should be cold. (Answer: because the book said so.)

Salt the heck out of it, bring water to boil, and simmer until potatoes are soft. Pretty standard potato cookery here.

Mash the potatoes right in the pot. Don’t drain the water! I use a potato masher because we like this pretty chunky, but you could use a hand mixer if you want a smoother soup.

Add a big chunk of butter and a can of condensed evaporated** milk. Or, as we did last night, dump in a lot of cream.

More salt! Pepper. Cubed ham if you have it. We always make potato soup a day or two after we bake a ham.

You could add parsley or other herbs if you like, but we never bother. It’s so flavorful with just the salt and pepper. I like lots and lots of pepper.

Sometimes I grate some cheddar cheese to sprinkle on top, but Scott considers this an abomination. I will concede that cheese is completely superfluous in this perfect, perfect soup. But I’m not budging on the cold water. So there. (She says maturely.)

Potatoes, onion, water, butter, milk, salt, pepper, ham. Doesn’t get much simpler than that. When we eat it we have to talk about it a lot in a redundant and emphatic fashion. Oh man, this is SO GOOD. I know, it’s really good. Can you believe how good this is?

* Edited to add the onion. I forgot it until Phoebe reminded me!

**Edited again! I meant evaporated milk, not the sweetened condensed stuff. See why I seldom post recipes? LOL. Pioneer Woman I am not. Many thanks to Linda for the discreet inquiry. 🙂

Pizza Dough Recipe Wanted

April 6, 2009 @ 10:14 am | Filed under: ,

I need to use up some mozzarella and was thinking about making a pizza tonight. A Google search for “pizza dough” turns up almost 900,000 hits. I want something tried and true—and EASY—so I thought I’d ask you lovely Bonny Glen readers. You’ve never steered me wrong before! Got a favorite recipe?


Go Ahead, Make My Dinner

March 12, 2009 @ 8:43 am | Filed under:

tastydishI have a lot of cooked chicken left over from last night. Ordinarily we’d have fajitas tonight with the leftovers, but the baby gets a diaper rash every time I eat anything acidic, including (sob) salsa. So what are your favorite ways to use cooked chicken?

I Had No Idea

February 26, 2009 @ 1:12 pm | Filed under:

In the comments on the cobbler post, Andrea shared this nugget of information about making whipped cream:

“FYI: If you did ever overbeat the cream, thus turning it into butter? Just beat in some additional cream and it will magically turn back into whipped cream…”

That is so good to know. Who knew?

Comments are off

Our Presidents Day Dessert

February 16, 2009 @ 12:55 pm | Filed under:

I just put a cherry cobbler in the oven—yes, I know it’s not even lunchtime here yet, but I’ve learned that if I don’t cook early in the day, I won’t cook at all—and I thought that in honor of Presidents Day, I’d reprise this old post which contains a very  nice cobbler recipe, if you can wade through all my nonsense to find it.


(Whyyy won’t WordPress center my images anymore? I keep telling it to center, and it blatantly ignores me.)

Breakfast of Champions

Originally posted November 2005

I have just polished off—with considerable help from children doing their finest ravenous-baby-bird impersonations—the remnants of the cherry cobbler I baked for teatime last week. We will pause here while people who know me well digest this news. Yes. I BAKED. From scratch. Well, the cherries were canned but I did actually have to crack an egg. And measure things. And—are you ready for this?—”cut in butter.” Oh sure, most of you out there probably cut butter into a flour mixture as easily as breathing, but SOME of us find these things a lot more complicated than, say, writing a novel. To be fair, I must disclose that Jane did most of the actual cutting-in. But I put the cobbler in the oven and took it out when it was done. Not burned. Not still gooey in places. Really truly perfectly done. Also, I whipped cream. (Gasps arise from my friends.)

Anyway, I have decided that cherry cobbler is the world’s most perfect food. (Well, right after dark-chocolate-and-marzipan bars. And my mom’s fried okra.) The cherries, not too tart, not too sweet, bursting with antioxidants, so the can assures me. The biscuity cobbler topping, only slightly sweet, with a lovely cake-like texture. And then of course the whipped cream, which, now that I think about it, really might be God’s most awesome invention. And so foolproof that even I can’t mess it up.

I have informed my children that we’re going to be eating lots and lots of cobbler from now on. They appear to be amenable to this plan. I will now share the recipe so you know what to serve for dessert next time you have me over. (more…)

A New Departure in Flavorings

January 22, 2008 @ 10:49 pm | Filed under:

“Anne Shirley!” she exclaimed, “what on earth did you put into that cake?”

“Nothing but what the recipe said, Marilla,” cried Anne with a look of anguish.  “Oh, isn’t it all right?”

“All right!  It’s simply horrible.  Mr. Allan, don’t try to eat it.  Anne, taste it yourself.  What flavoring did you use?”

Vanilla,” said Anne, her face scarlet with mortification after tasting the cake.  “Only vanilla.  Oh, Marilla, it must have been the baking powder.  I had my suspicions of that bak—”

“Baking powder fiddlesticks!  Go and bring me the bottle of vanilla you used.”

Anne fled to the pantry and returned with a small bottle partially filled with a brown liquid and labeled yellowly, “Best Vanilla.”

Marilla took it, uncorked it, smelled it.

“Mercy on us, Anne, you’ve flavored that cake with anodyne liniment.  I broke the liniment bottle last week and poured what was left into an old empty vanilla bottle.  I suppose it’s partly my fault—I should have warned you—but for pity’s sake why couldn’t you have smelled it?”

—Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery

You remember how excited I was to make that tortilla soup. I checked the pantry for ingredients yesterday and thought about it all night. Mmm. Now, astonishingly, I was out of diced tomatoes. Diced tomatoes are my little-old-lady-stockpile item. I usually have half a dozen cans. I buy them every time I shop; it’s a compulsion; I can’t explain it—and yet today? Out.

But I found a carton of Trader Joe’s roasted tomato and red pepper soup: this seemed like a tasty substitute. And I had some pollo asada, which promised to make a delicious-sounding recipe absolutely stunning.

For what happened next, I believe I shall blame my friend Alice. It’s her fault for being so engaging on the phone. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

We were chatting, and I was merrily assembling my soup. Sauteed the onions and the chicken: smelled good already. Added the tomato/red pepper soup, half the carton. Frozen corn, a can of black beans, lots of garlic, a can of green chilis. Mmm. I rummaged in the fridge to see if there was a carton of chicken broth open already. There was, almost full. I poured it in, added pepper and cumin.

It looked delicious. My mouth was watering. I had to taste it.

I was expecting that savory, spicy, cumin-and-chili tang. You may imagine, therefore, my bewilderment at what was unmistakably a sweet flavor. And what was that, nutmeg? Cloves? What on earth?

In a sudden panic I checked the tomato-pepper soup ingredients. What if Trader Joe had served up a nutmeg-spiced soup? Had I blown it, mixing this into my spicy green chilé dish?

But no, the ingredients reassured me. Tomatoes, peppers, no nutmeg, no cloves. I tasted the soup again. Odd. So very sweet! Really pretty horrible. Definitely a strong taste of—what? Ginger? Cinnamon?

And that’s when I noticed the little yellow teacup on the golden carton of chicken broth. A teacup? On broth?

Oh, no.


Oh yes.


“Break from the everyday” indeed. Black tea, vanilla, spices (nutmeg! cinnamon!), and honey. Just add milk! And tomato soup! And onions, garlic, chicken, and green chili!

Oh, I am a brilliant cook. My recipes? You will not find the like of them anywhere. Food Network keeps ringing my phone off the hook. I’m sorry, I tell them. I already have a job. Three or four of them, actually. I cannot be your next Food Network Star. Yes, “Melissa’s Melting Pot” is a fabulous name for my unique and eclectic kind of culinary fusion. But I’m sorry. You’ll have to get by without me. Tell you what, you may give my recipe for Tortilla Chai Soup to Rachael Ray, with my compliments. I’m pretty sure Alton Brown could get some good mileage out of it as well. There must certainly have been some interesting chemical reactions happening in my stew pot.

Well, the Food Network may be heartbroken, but my story, like Anne’s, has a fairly happy ending. I am glad to say I saved the soup. I sieved it and rinsed off all the vanilla tea broth. Saved the good stuff, the chicken, beans, veggies. Tried again with the rest of the tomato-pepper soup, some salsa, and, yes, ACTUAL CHICKEN BROTH MADE FROM CHICKENS. Not from a fancy tea concentrate Scott bought me as a present, and which it causes him great pain to know was poured down the drain. I am sorry, babe. But the soup turned out to be pretty good, didn’t it?

I think it was that hint of nutmeg beneath the cumin.