August 30, 2011

Sans Grill Burgers

Good evening, friends!

Most apartment dwellers like me are typically not allowed to have grills on their patios (if they have a patio at all), but when it's summer time and you're craving a nice side of beef on a bun, whatever is one to do?

Pan sear.

This is a very home cook friendly application, so let's get started!

You will need:

1lb lean ground beef
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper

Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat and if your oven has an overhead vent, turning it on would be wise.

Mix salt, pepper, and beef, and form into 1/4" thick patties. Even the leanest of beef will smoke in the skillet, so searing the burgers one at a time will avoid excessive amounts of smoke.

Sear your burgers for 3 to 4 minutes on each side depending on how you like your meat cooked. When you flip your burgers, please take special care not to squish them with your handy spatula. You will be rewarded for your patience.

Add bun and consume.

Tasty Tips for this recipe: A dash of cayenne would be a nice addition if you seek burgers with a little extra kick.

Happy cooking and happier eating!

August 26, 2011

Lunch Time, Crunch Time

This recipe may not be the best for a four course dinner, but if you want a light lunch or quick snack, it's perfect.

For two quesodillas you will need:

2 chicken breasts
2 12" tortillas
14oz quesodilla melting cheese (the authentic stuff that comes in the round package)

You know the drill- broil your chicken! You may be wondering why I've had so many recipes including chicken. It's simple really. Personal preference. Trevor and I prefer more white meat in our diet than red, but never you worry. My crystal ball foresees pan seared burgers in the near future!

While your chicken is broiling, put a 10" cast iron skillet over high heat and start melting your cheese. At first, you'll need to chop it into chunks with a knife or large spoon, but once the chunks are soft enough to slice with little effort, break out a whisk. Your cheese will start to seize if you let it sit too long, and we don't want that. Whisk the cheese like you would eggs whenever the cheese starts to stiffen.

When your chicken is fully cooked, put a 12" cast iron skillet over medium heat. Slice your chicken the way you like it. Add your tortilla to the skillet and place half the chicken in the center. Pour half the cheese onto the chicken and fold the tortilla in half. Press the quesodilla down lightly with a spatula for about 30 seconds, flip and repeat.

Tasty Tips for this recipe: Try adding bell peppers and/or onions if you like them. The bell peppers would definitely add a sweet contrast.

Happy cooking and happier eating!

August 25, 2011

Welcome Home!

Greetings readers! First of all, a thousand apologies for my extended absence. Due to some unfortunate financial circumstances, I have been unable to cook as many meals of substance as I would like; however, the prodigal blogger has returned!

Tonight, I give you one of my favorite recipes- chicken pot pie. This recipe was one of the first to make me feel accomplished as a home cook. The recipe is very simple and a great dish to use when you have leftover vegetables.

You will need:

1-2 chicken breasts
2 cups vegetables
1 10oz can of potato soup
1 tsp tarragon
1 8 oz package of crescent rolls
Cheese (optional)

The first thing you will need to do is broil your chicken for 12 minutes (if you need a reminder, see the method in margarita chicken).

When your chicken is ready, put a 10-12" cast iron skillet over medium low heat and pour in your soup. Now, here is the part where you can customize as you please. Mix your 2 cups vegetables in with your soup. For Trevor and me, I use a mix of corn, peas, and carrots, but feel free to use whatever choices suit your fancy! Lima beans and green beans would also be excellent selections.

Set your oven to 400 degrees and slice your chicken into cubes.

When the soup has slightly thinned (and your vegetables have thawed if you use frozen), add your chicken and teaspoon of tarragon (dried is a lot easier to keep on hand).

If you would like to add shredded cheese (chedder or mozzarella are what I prefer), now is the time to do it. Stir in until slightly melted.

Pour your glorious mixture into a 9" x 9" baking pan and top with your crescents.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cresents are golden brown.

Devour without mercy.

Tasty Tips for this recipe: Make it your own! Experiment with different vegetables and or try it with turkey. I'd love to hear about your results!

Happy cooking and happier eating!

August 16, 2011

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

To find its way into yummy chicken tacos of course!

Tonight, my friend Sarah came over for dinner and as she is on the Atkins diet, I wanted to be an accommodating hostess. I chose chicken tacos, because it met Sarah's low carb needs, my budget, and it doesn't even take thirty minutes to make.

Remember how we broiled the bird when we made margarita chicken earlier this week? Well, do that again.

Take plain chicken breasts and broil them for 12 minutes (6 on the top rack, 6 on the middle rack).

When the chicken is cooked, slice or chop as desired. I like small strips, since I munch in small bites. Put a cast iron skillet over medium heat and melt a tablespoon of butter in the skillet. When your chicken is shredded, place in the skillet with the melted butter and add (depending on how much chicken you have) a half cup to a cup of corn and a half cup to a cup of black beans.

I keep fresh corn I've sliced off the cob in my freezer, but you are welcome to use canned corn if you wish.

When you add the black beans and corn, add another tablespoon of butter. Once the butter has melted, stir in a package of taco seasoning and you are ready to chow down.

Wrap all that goodness in a whole wheat or flour tortilla, top off with a little shredded cheese, and that's all you need.

Happy cooking and happier eating!

(This recipe was inspired by the methods of Yvonne Starlin. Thanks a million!!)

August 14, 2011

Ahoy, Mates!

Hello friends! My apologies for not getting this online last night, but I wanted to take as much care and consideration in writing about this dish as I did in making it. This post may be a bit more lengthy than usual, but I want you to get the most out of this experience.

Tonight's adventure is a beloved classic- Fish and Chips!

This is probably one of the most ambitious recipes for a novice cook for several reasons, but mainly A) Most home cooks are intimidated by working with fish and B) most home cooks are intimidated by frying food themselves. My goal with this post is to show that neither of these endeavors are insurmountable.

You will need:

For the fish:
1lb of cod (this will easily feed two to four people)
1 cup all purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
½  to 1 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning (depending on your tastes)

1 cup brown beer- The rule of thumb for cooking with any alcohol is, "If you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it." I'm not much of a beer person, so as Trevor is my resident fermented wheat beverage expert, I went with his recommendation. English beers like Newcastle and Samuel Smith's have been brilliant.

2quarts of oil- Vegetable, canola, or safflower (or sometimes I've used a combo of all three) work well. And, especially with safflower oil, the price for oil may seem like a lot. However, as long as you strain the oil after use and store it properly, you can use it to fry again.

Cornstarch (for dredging)

For the chips:
2 large russet potatoes
Kosher salt

The first thing you will need to do is preheat the oven to 200 degrees. This is where you will keep the fish warm later.

As far as actual food, go ahead and cut the fish into one ounce portions, and move to a plate in the refrigerator. Wash the potatoes slice them into strips like so:

Once you have the potatoes sliced, move them to a container large enough for you to submerge them in cold water.

Let's put the batter together. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and Old Bay in a medium size mixing bowl. Then, slowly whisk in the beer and continue to whisk until the batter is smooth. When the batter has come together, refrigerate.

Now is the perfect time to set up your fry station. Instead of having an electric deep fryer (a clunky, space consuming unitasker), I use a cast iron Dutch oven and I love it! Pour the oil in the Dutch oven and attach a fry thermometer. I also keep a cookie sheet draped with paper towel handy, so your chips have somewhere to go when you remove them from the oil. This is what my set up looks like:

Reading your fry thermometer will be crucial, because you will need to make frequent adjustments to the heat.

When your fry station is ready (and by ready, I mean the oil has reached 320 degrees), drain the water from the potatoes and pat dry with paper towels to remove as much water as possible.

Congratulations! You are now ready to fry.

Working in batches, cook the chips for about two minutes. They'll be a little floppy, but that's just great. To remove them onto the cookie sheet, tongs are okay in a pinch, but I love spiders- a wire mesh spoon with a wood or bamboo handle:

While your chips rest, heat the oil to 350 degrees and pull the batter out of the fridge.

Put enough cornstarch in a pie pan to dredge your fish. Dredge your fish in the cornstarch, dust off any excess, and dip in the batter. Ease the fish into the oil to avoid splatter (which smarts a tad bit. Just saying). Be sure not to overcrowd the pan and when the batter becomes golden brown, remove (with the spider) onto a pie pan and keep warm in the oven.

When all your fish is in the oven, crank up the oil to 375 degrees. Working again in batches, return the chips to the oil until they, too, are golden brown. Remove and return to the cookie sheet.

Sprinkle the chips with a dash of salt and your finished product should look a little something like this:

Tasty Tips for this recipe:

Where an apron. It will keep you and your clothes safe from messes.

When dredging and battering your fish, make sure you keep some water and a hand towel close by to rinse your hands.

Happy cooking and happier eating!

August 12, 2011

Salud, Amigos!

Today, I celebrate one of my favorite ingredients- alcohol! Wines, beers, and liquors can do so much more than provide a healthy buzz on a Saturday night. Alcohol will bring flavors to your dishes in distinct ways and tonight, friends, I give you…

Margarita Chicken!

My mother is allergic to chicken, so I have never really dealt with it much in my life, and when I have, I always found it to be very bland, tough, or dry. I have found that the secret to great chicken is to incorporate a marinade. Unless I am cooking chicken to be used for something else (soup, pot pie, etc.), I always marinate it first.

But what is a marinade? A marinade is a seasoned, salty and acidic liquid that reacts with the surface of the food in such a way that, to me, makes the rest of the chicken taste infinitely better.

So other than acid and salt, the next best ingredient for a marinade is time. The longer you let the chemistry work its magic, the better. I marinate my chicken between 2 and 4 hours, which I realize is a thousand years in hungry people time, but trust your sensei.

Let’s begin. You will need:

2 chicken breasts (I am allowed to say breasts on the internet, right? Anywho…)
2 cups of margarita mix
½ cup tequila
1 teaspoon thyme (dried- if you use fresh thyme, use a tablespoon)
½ teaspoon rosemary
¼ teaspoon tarragon
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of honey

Place your chicken in a gallon size plastic bag, and pour in the margarita mix and tequila. Add the herbs, oil, and honey. Zip up the bag and massage the bag so everything mixes relatively evenly. Put the bag in a mixing bowl and stick it in your refrigerator for the recommended amount of time.

About 15-20 minutes before you want to pull your chicken out of the fridge, place an oven rack on the top most placement and pre heat the broiler. Yes, that’s right. We’re going to broil this bird. Broiling is one of the most underutilized cooking methods in the United States today and that’s a darn shame. You can cook things at a higher heat for a shorter period of time, and for chicken especially, I never have to worry about a morsel being underdone.

When your broiler is ready, place your chicken on your broiler pan and place your pan on the rack. Set a timer for six minutes.

(six minutes later)


Remove your chicken from the stove and move your rack to the middle placement. Pour two or three heaping spoonfuls of marinade onto the chicken. It might fuss and fizzle, but don’t worry, it won’t bite. Then return your chicken to the stove and set a timer for another six minutes.

When time has elapsed, you will find a pleasant presentation of poultry awaits your palate. It may look a little darker than some of you may be used to, but it’s not burned. It’s blackened- adding another exquisite element of flavor to your chicken.

Tasty Tips for this recipe:

Great sides for this dish would be black beans and rice, or you can top everything off with your favorite salsa!

Happy cooking and happier eating!

August 11, 2011

A Journey of a Thousand Miles...

…Begins with a single pasta.

For my first blogged recipe, I chose spaghetti, because pasta can be an amazing staple for home cooks on a budget of both time and money. Pasta noodles of any kind are very reasonably priced and you can dress them a hundred different ways.

I regularly only cook for two- me and Trevor (my amazing boyfriend), so most of my recipes will be made for pairs to happily feast. For my single readers, do not despair; you can definitely make single servings or create the dish as is and you will have leftovers (which in themselves are great money savers also!).

Spaghetti is very popular at my house, so I keep the essentials in my cupboard at all times:

Spaghetti noodles
Spaghetti sauce (in a jar is fine, I’ll talk about the make your own version later)
Ground meat (beef, turkey, or buffalo are excellent choices!)
Spices (oregano, parsley, and basil are my favorites, but feel free to try your own!)

Spaghetti in 35 minutes or less? And GO!

Pour one jar of spaghetti sauce in a 2 quart sauce pan over medium/low heat (if your burner has a scale of 1 to 9, I put it on 3) and season the sauce.

Seasoning your sauce is definitely a “to taste” experience. Since everyone’s taste buds are different, I will use the part method. Stir in two parts oregano, one part basil, and a half part parsley. Here I would recommend a part being either a tablespoon or a teaspoon, but I prefer tablespoon.

Once you have your sauce started, start your meat (vegetarians can skip this part). Tonight I used ground beef, but Trevor loves it when I use ground buffalo! Put the meat in a non-stick skillet over high heat and season with a teaspoon of Kosher salt and a teaspoon of black pepper. As you cook your meat, depending on how lean it is, drain the fat as needed. When breaking down the meat, be sure to use a plastic or wooden utensil. You wouldn’t want to scratch your non-stick surface would you?

By now, my beef was nicely browned, so spoon it into your sauce. Time to start the pasta! Pasta needs a lot of water and a lot of room to make itself wonderful, so fill a 12 quart stockpot halfway or ¾ of the way full. Drizzle in about a teaspoon of salt in the water and add the spaghetti. As your burner should still be on high from cooking your meat, the water will not take long to boil.

When the pasta is nice and al dente (slightly firm, but not raw, not gummy), slowly drain the pasta into a colander. You are working with a lot of hot water, so I cannot stress “slowly” enough. I know you’re hungry, but a burn isn’t worth it, trust me.

When your water has been drained and your pasta is safe in the colander, drizzle with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil or butter.

Tasty Tips for this recipe:

Sauce does not great pasta make! While the pasta is cooking, lightly toss in the water, do not stir. You want long, slurpable noodles, not broken bits of pasta. Pasta needs patience and love.

For the sauce, do not just season and top with a lid. Remember what you learned in Goodfellas? Gotta keep stirrin’ that sauce. You don’t have to stir it constantly, but every couple minutes or so. Find a rhythm and stir with it.

Happy cooking and happy eating!

Welcome Friends of Food!!

Hello, and welcome to Kendra's Kitchen!

For those of you who do not know me, my name is Kendra and I love food (as my hips take great delight in reminding me)!

I am in my early twenties and I have noticed that, despite the numerous shows, books, and other blogs on the subject, home cooking is becoming a lost art among people my age.

Our parents cooked (or possibly reheated) our food all our lives and as we venture off to college or enter the workforce, many of us realize we did not pay much attention to mom as she hovered over the stove.

Fear not, friends! I would like to use the vast medium of the internet to close the gap between the ingredients in your pantry and an exceptionally tasty meal.

My goal for this blog is to change the way my peers view food and I would like to do so for the next 365 days.

Bon Appetite!