Friday, August 31, 2012

Wednesday dinner...Mahi

I had a package of Mahi in the freezer from Trader Joe's. It was not the usual filets but random chunks.  As it was, I had come home from an exhausting day and apparently passed out on the sofa till about 6. Feeling groggy and a bit cranky, I got up and made dinner. The previous day at the market we found gigantic heads of cauliflower cheap so I had Brenda cut up about 2 cups of florets.

For the thawed fish (I took it out before I passed out), dried it and coated it in flour. Nothing else. I sauteed it in a bit of butter and olive oil till golden and crispy, set it aside.

For the veggies I made this:

Aloo Gobi

450gms Potatoes
450gms Gobi (Cauliflower florets)
2 tbsp Oil
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 no. Chopped green chillies (I had jalapenos)
1 tsp Coriander paste (I used powdered both here and cumin)
1 tsp Cumin paste
1/4 tsp Chili powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric paste (powdered)
1 tsp Chopped coriander leaves
Salt To Taste
My recipe called for mustard seeds too.

How to make aloo ghobi :
Par boil the potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the cumin seeds for about 2 minutes, until they begin to splutter. Add the green chili and fry for a further 1 minute.
  • Add the cauliflower florets and fry, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, the ground spices and salt and cook for 7-10 minutes, until the vegetable are tender.
I had no potatoes in the house save for a few canned ones. They worked great!  Basically I par boiled the cauliflower a bit and then made the rest. I cut up the canned spuds and added them in. Great dish, really great. Beautiful color too.

I got up at 6 pm and we ate at 625. How's that for fast food?

Chicken Tikka Masala...a better recipe.

We had Tuesday off so I took out some chicken for our typical grill experience. While I was at it I decided to prep food the next meal and chucked up a few of the breasts for this dish.  Well, one thing led to another and I wound up making this along with a few grilled breasts.  The result was spectacular. Rumor has it this is not even an Indian dish as in native to the country but a British invention. Well done I say! The secret was marinating the chicken and grilling it. I did not use skewers at all but I used a grill basket and simply gave it a few shakes. wow, this was good. I used half Greek yogurt and cream to cut the calories down a bit but it was very savory served with Naan. Made a great lunch the next day too.

Recipe: Chicken Tikka Masala

Marinating the Chicken:
3-4 boneless chicken breasts, skins removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
250g thick natural yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
Skewers, If using wooden skewers completely submerge them in water for approx. 30 minutes. This will hinder them from catching fire while grilling.
Tomato Gravy:
250g canned cocktail tomatoes (I used a can of San Marzanos, go big)
250g heavy cream (try 50/50 yogurt/cream)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 red chilies, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika powder
1 tablespoon ghee or clarified butter
Handful of coriander leaves/cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper
Mix all of the ingredients for the marination in a large bowl. Thoroughly mix until the chicken is nicely coated. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
On the next day, either prepare your charcoal grill or heat up the grill function of your oven to high.
Thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers, discarding the marinade. Grill the chicken evenly on all sides, until juices run clear – approx. 5-6 minutes.
To prepare the gravy, heat a large skillet to medium and melt the ghee/clarified butter. Saute the garlic and chopped chilies until fragrant. Sprinkle the ground cumin, paprika powder and a pinch of salt. Saute for a further minute or two until the mixture turns into a paste-like texture.
Pour in the canned tomatoes, scraping the bottom of the skillet to deglaze it and to release any bits stuck to the pan. Simmer uncovered for approx. 10-15 minutes on low heat until the sauces begins to thicken, then add the grilled chicken pieces and cream. Simmer for a further 10 minutes, thickening the sauce further and to heat the chicken and cream through.
Serve sprinkled with fresh chopped coriander leaves and with steamed Basmati rice, fresh naans and pickles.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Eating Chicago


This past weekend we had the privilege of attending our friend's son's wedding in Chicago. While the bridal parents were busy with details, we were out on the town visiting some favorite haunts in Chicago and some new experiences we don't recommend and of course, shopping.

Our first day we hit our favorite lunch spot, Fox and Obel's. Its a grocer and a small sandwich shop. We were a bit disappointed our favorite sandwich had disappeared but I had a Roast Beef with Blue cheese and Brie. It was great.  Dinner at a Mediterranean place on the beach sounded wonderful but proved to be less than ordinary. It was no where near the grilled lamb and feta I expected. The location was superb but it is obviously a start up place and the night we visited they were not out to impress.

Breakfast the next morning at Yolks was a pleasant surprise. Mat met with us while the ladies were grooming and we met a lot of other family and friends there. We scored a beautiful spot outdoors and had a great meal.

After a full day of shopping and lunch downtown we were ready to get on our dancing shoes and attend a beautiful wedding with a great family. I have never met  a family where you simply feel part of the group. Sisters, brothers and in-laws, they are all so welcoming and inclusive. The dinner was great as was the libations, organization and party music. The happy couple winged their way to Greece the next morning while we all sat in the lobby and said our goodbyes to new and old friends and family. Later we ordered a pizza from Joe Malinati's. A deep dish Chicago delight!  The next morning before our train ride to Midway we stopped at the Austrian Bakery above. So tasty and unusual for breakfast. I was little disappointed that I did not get a Bavarian pretzel and Weisswurst. I had ham and shirred eggs instead as the pretzels were not yet baked.

Mat and Lori graciously took our bags back to Omaha in the car so we could travel a bit lighter on the train. It really made a difference.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Avocado Corn and Black Bean salsa

Great Recipe for work parties. This came to us from one of my favorite Fellows in the Cardiology department via his lovely wife. We make it all the time.

6 ripe avocados, cubed
juice from 3-4 limes
1 pkg frozen baby white corn
2 cans Black beans rinsed and drained
1/2 red onion chopped or green onion 2 bunches chopped
1/2 c Italian Dressing
2 bunches cilantro chopped
2 jalapeno, serrano or habanero chopped fine
2 t chopped garlic

I think it needed a bit of Mexico so I added 1 t Cumin.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Iconic Progression

Progess continues on the icon front. Nearly finished with the Elevation of the Cross icon. Proplasmos application on the others is coming along nicely.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Eating Omaha...Millard Roadhouse

Our last conversation revealed that even though Mat and Lori had lived in Omaha for a few years now, they had never been to the Millard Roadhouse.

This place is a comfort food institution here in West Omaha and serves some of the best fried chicken I have had. Always delicious, reasonably priced and a nice variety of foods. Dinner today after church was about $54 and we were all quite full. I left with a take home box full of chicken and leftovers. Lunch this week will be delicious! Chicken fried chicken and Fried Chicken all around. Mat enjoyed the buffet while the rest ordered off the menu. The cream gravy and mashed potatoes is to die for and I allowed myself a rare treat. Other featureed items that we love is the Garlic Crusted Parmesan Chicken. Our friends go there for Fried Chicken Gizzards and gravy. The biscuits that accompany the meal are always great but we took them all home to avoid carb overload. All in all this is a great family place with easy comfort food and nice family atmosphere. I can't wait to take Mat's brother-in-law there. It's just his style.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Chili Colorado Burritos... Sunday Dinner

Pinned Image

I can't use canned enchilada sauce. I have to make my own and its a messy, sloppy endeavor but worth it. Before I could make the Chili Colorado, I had to make a batch of sauce. After reconstituting about a gallon bag full of dry chilies, I strained them and add 2 T toasted Cumin, salt, 4 cloves of garlic, a jalapeno and a little sugar (Brenda thought it was a little bitter).

Fareway Grocer had  some nice looking chuck roast on sale so I bought a few. I cubed one about 2 pounds, dusted it with flour and browned in a skillet. It all goes in my slow cooker for 12 hours on a bed of onions with the freshly made Chili sauce. Looking good so far.

I found the Chili sauce to be a bit one dimensional today and I wanted this to be a memorable meal so I researched a bit and decided to make an Enchilada sauce from scratch. First I strained the meat from the cooked sauce and used it to flavor the Enchilada Sauce. The Enchilada sauce was surprisingly easy to make.

Enchilada Sauce

2 T flour and butter
4 c chicken broth
1 can tomato sauce
2 t granulated garlic
1 t oregano
2 T good chili powder
1 t cocoa
pinch of cinnamon
1 cup (or more) of the Chili sauce  (from above)

Make a roux (melt butter and whisk in flour), add the broth, allow to thicken then add the rest. Cook for 20 minutes or so. Taste and adjust the seasoning. I found this to have the depth of flavor that the Chili sauce alone did not have. Its pretty tasty.  I made 6 large burritos and 3 smaller low carb enchiladas. Topped with cheese and all bubbling away in the oven as we speak. I covered the dish so it did not brown too rapidly.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Veggie Du Jour

Baby Zucchini's? Saute in a bit of olive oil or do this:

1 medium sweet onion sliced thin
2 cloves of garlic
1 thick cut strip of bacon
1 pound baby zucchini, sliced in half length wise
1 t red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper

I cooked the bacon and rendered the fat, removed and chopped the bacon. To the fat I added some oil oil (lean bacon, I guess) and sauteed the onions till translucent. To this I added the garlic and chopped bacon strip. Cook for a few minutes the add the zucchini. I cooked very crisp/tender. So not long at all, seasoned with salt, pepper and Red Pepper flakes. Serve. Yum.

On Sunday I had cooked some chicken cutlets in my usual fashion. After Chicken Milanese (recipe under 'Chicken') I had probably 8 portions left over. Last night I used 2 to make a bit of Chicken Parmesan and served it with the zucchini. Delish. Some left for lunch today too.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Gilding...trials and tribulations

After the 2nd application of Marine Varnish, I applied a thin coat of 12 hour size, another varnish that remains tacky for up to 12 hours. The key here is to allow it to tack up without drying completely but dry enough so as not to dull the gold. I applied too early and it looked a mess. I left it sit for a few days and lightly sanded with 600 grit paper. This time I waited until I had plenty of time on my hands then reapplied the 12 hour size. Checking for just the right moment, I reapplied the gold with success. Now it is bright and shiny and I can move one. This picture above shows the gold applied, shaggy and un-dressed. I like to allow it to dry overnight after the application to ensure I have no issues with wet varnish. The next step is 'proplasmos' application where the base color is laid in for the initial step of painting.

Today we made the usual Saturday rounds, shopping for groceries and a few items. We stopped and spoke to a contractor about removing the deck and installing a patio. We stopped for a quick bite and caught a 1 pm show...'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'. Nice quirky little film. Coming home and time to get dinner ready, that's when I applied the 12 hour size.

A relaxed dinner on the deck, nice wine after the first bottle was bad, a bit of music, conversation, clean up then, finally, gilding. Everyone else was busy with work or their own agenda so we were left to our own devices. A pleasant evening overall.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday dinner

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole Recipe:

1 (6 oz) pkg. chicken flavored stuffing mix
1 (10 3/4 oz) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 tablespoon prepared, Dijon mustard
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces (I boiled mine)
3 cups fresh broccoli florets
2 cups cooked, chopped ham
6 slices of extra thin Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Prepare stuffing as directed on package. Mix soup and mustard in medium bowl; stir in chicken, broccoli and ham. Spoon into 2-qt. casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray; top with cheese slices and stuffing. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until heated through.


We had this tonight and it was OK. Needs a flavor shot in the arm for sure. It was kind of bland. What would I do to fix it? Throw out the canned soup and make a nice Swiss Cream sauce with processed Swiss cheese (melts well.), half and half, cornstarch and chicken bullion.  And loose the stuffing topping and maybe make a Panko crust unless you like that flavor. It just really lacked that real Swiss flavor it needs to make it Cordon Bleu.

Halos...pre gold application

Here are four of the five icons I have on the table at this time trying to knock out some commissions. Its been a long haul to get back into painting. The first step after the research, perfecting the cartoon and transferring the image is to lay down the halo. I use a marine varnish that is self leveling, applied in a thick coat x 2. The varnish has the consistency of honey and is difficult to apply smoothly. One dry it looks smooth and shiny.

The next step will be to apply a slow drying size, allow that to tack up then apply the gold. With the price of gold sky rocketing, the process is long and slow to prevent waste. I am using the granite island in the kitchen since this is the most level place in the house and prevents the varnish from pooling on one side.


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