Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Chicken Fajita's with whole wheat spinach tortilla's

Chicken Fajitas (crock pot)
1 yellow onion, sliced
3 sweet peppers, sliced
1 ½ pounds boneless chicken breast or thighs
1/4 to ½ cup chicken broth, depending on preference
½ teaspoon salt
1 Tbsp of fajita seasoning
Squirt of lime juice
Fajita fixings

Combine sliced onion and peppers in the bottom of a greased crockpot. Lay chicken on top of veggies. Pour chicken broth over top. Sprinkle everything with cumin, salt, and chili powder. Give a nice quirt of lime juice over the top. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours (or on High for 4-6 hours). When meat is done, shred with two forks and stir back into juices. Serve meat mixture with slotted spoon on tortillas with your choice of fixings.

 Whole Wheat Spinach Tortilla's

(About 15 tortillas)
1 Tbsp ground flax seed
5 oz spinach (thawed, not drained)
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp oil
1/8 c water
1 c all purpose flour
1 c wheat flour
 In a blender or mini-food processor puree oil, flax seed, salt and spinach together (this may take a while). Pulse in flour, 1 c at a time. Drizzle in water until the mixture forms a dough, but stop before it gets sticky.  Divide dough into balls roughly smaller than a ping pong ball. (I got 30 from this recipe) Cover with a towel while rolling out. 

Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand (one at a time).  In a pasta machine, roll each ball out until very thin.  Start on the thickest setting and roll progressively thinner.  I got up to setting 6 on my pasta machine.  If you go too thin and it rips, just squish it into a ball again.  If you want to, you can cut the dough into rectangles or circles or other desired shape before cooking.  I went rustic and went with the shapes formed naturally.

(You could also roll them with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface).

Cook tortillas on an non greased pan on medium heat (I used my electric skillet at 300 F) for a minute or so on each side.  Small bubbles will form and they will brown slightly.  When finished cooking, transfer to a large plastic baggie and seal to keep steam in.  This will keep them soft.  Store in refrigerator.

NOTE: I divided the tortilla recipe and it made 4 large ones :D 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Satay meatballs and pita bread

Since I was last on, I had made satay meatballs in home made pita bread with salad.

The pita bread went a lot better than that bread I did a while back but thats not to say I won't change or improve it next time. Mine were eatable but very thin (got a bit too enthusiastic with the rolling pin!) Thus making them really hard to cut into with a serrated knife. We managed it but it was a squeeze. Next time I will make them thicker so theyre a bit more softer than hard. Here is the recipe taken from google:

Pita Bread
  • 1 package of yeast, or quick rising yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until water is frothy.
Combine flour and salt in large bowl.

Make a small depression in the middle of flour and pour yeast water in depression.

Slowly add 1 cup of warm water, and stir with wooden spoon or rubber spatula until elastic.

Place dough on floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes. When the dough is no longer sticky and is smooth and elastic, it has been successfully kneaded.

Coat large bowl with vegetable oil and place dough in bowl. Turn dough upside down so all of the dough is coated.

Allow to sit in a warm place for about 3 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

Once doubled, roll out in a rope, and pinch off 10-12 small pieces. Place balls on floured surface. Let sit covered for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 500 deg F. and make sure rack is at the very bottom of oven. Be sure to also preheat your baking sheet.

Roll out each ball of dough with a rolling pin into circles. Each should be about 5-6 inches across and 1/4 inch thick.

Bake each circle for 4 minutes until the bread puffs up. Turn over and bake for 2 minutes.

Remove each pita with a spatula from the baking sheet and add additional pitas for baking.

Take spatula and gently push down puff. Immediately place in storage bags.

Storing Pita Bread

Pita bread can be stored for up to a week in a pantry or bread box, and up to a month in the freezer. Be sure to use freezer bags when storing in the freezer.

The satay meatballs that I put into the pita bread were tasty but tricky in terms of the sticky quality the peanut butter gave them thus making them stick and burn a little bit in the pan even with plenty of olive oil. Next time I think I'll coat them with breadcrumbs before frying to prevent that stickiness. I think also that its not worth it making meatballs. Its a nice idea to be sure but its so messy and it think it would be easier if thin but medium to large patties were made to fit in the pita breads. Or even better, make decent sized burger patties and have them with buns instead. Mmmm.

Satay meatballs with salad and pita
  • 500g lean pork mince
  • 2 slices bread, made into crumbs
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup sweet chilli sauce
  • fresh salad leaves
  • pita bread, burger buns or other interesting bread
Preheat oven to 210ÂșC.
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl or food processor. Use wet hands to form into ping pong sized balls and bake in a roasting pan for 20 minutes; shake pan several times during cooking so balls turn over. When cooked they will be golden brown and slightly crunchy.
Serve as a salad with bread or as an open sandwich or burger filling.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bread - Utter Failure?

So here is my first try in making bread after a decade or so. I got the recipe for a loaf of plain white bread from 'The New Zealand Bread Book' by Simon and Alison Holst. Everything but the cooking temperature worked. Which means that at the end, it wasn't technically a success. But I think Im pretty sure how to change things next time. Near the cooking phase the recipe says to bake at 200 C for 30 mins. In my oven, the bread got to 7 mins when I peeked in and saw this (see below). I pulled it out, it looked pretty good aside from the obviously burnt top. But I figured I'd cut the top off. I tapped it and it sounded hollow 'ish as its supposed to be, but when it cooled I tipped it out upside down onto the counter and the bottom immediately sank down. I cut into it and the top half was decided baked and the bottom still thoroughly dough like. 

Grrrrr. Lets just say, my husband was jumping behind the couch to avoid the debris from my temper resulting from this. Note to self, don't take anger out on husband, instead send angry letter to highschool science teacher demanding why she didn't teach bread making in class...

NEXT TIME, I will follow the same ingredients, but I will lower my oven temp to say 150 and watch it the whole time. My Mum suggested that I heat the oven from the bottom elements instead of the top. I'll do that next time but I don't think I can do another massive bread failure

Im loathe to see food go to waste so I cut out the cooked bread bits and tore out the dough bits by hand and put them in the homemade chicken soup I made :D

Chicken Soup

My last post was about the amazing roast chicken I cooked by using the bundt cake tin. After that dinner we proceeded to scavenge the leftover chicken (and amazing roast potatoes!) for lunches two days in a row. But I did save the carcass which had lots of little bits of meat all over it. So the best way to eat all those little bits of meat is not by hand - cos thats tiring and sometimes the meat are in awkward places - by by slowcooker/crockpot. Our slow cooker has four settings - 10, 8, 6, 3 hours. The longer time period Im betting means the lower the temperature. I picked the 6 hour setting and dumped the carcass in the pot, poured in 4 cups of chicken broth, added 4 chopped spring onions and chopped roughly 4 thin but long carrots and put in a tablespoon of dried parsley flakes and half a can of corn (drained). An hour before serving I added a splosh (its a measurement alright!) of half n half milk and handful of dried spaghetti by breaking off the ends in 2 inch portions. DON'T put in instant noodles - thats gross! Instant noodles have all sorts of weird ingredients in them, plus theyre fried and have tons of oil in them. Half an hour before serving I turned off the slow cooker and using a slotted metal spoon I scooped up the carcass which magically been cleaned of all its meat and put into a separate container. If any meat remains its should be very very easy to just gently pull it off anyway for anyone else out there. 

By the way - soup was AMAZING... Yum...

Monday, November 5, 2012

Chicken + Bundt cake tin = Pure Awesomeness

Roast chicken in a bundt cake tin!

This is the most brilliant idea Ive ever been told. For some reason Ive never been very bright when it comes to cooking a roast chicken. I can cook a roast lamb, roast pork. I can cook a really nice steak perfectly medium rare, and my favorite - pan seared salmon with a bit of lemon and salt and pepper. I can do all of those well. But not chicken. This drives me insane a lot. Cooking yet another failed chicken is so depressing. Theres nothing so more humiliating for me than watching my Mum or esp my chef brother exclaim that theyre going to microwave the chicken I served them. Arrgh. Im like this in other areas in my life as well. When I was in highschool I was always known to understand complicated stuff but not get the easy stuff. I guess that carried over into the kitchen.

I heard about this from Pinterest - a website I joined that is all about sharing ideas on the web. It kinda resembles an online version of a pin board with pictures on it and theyre organised by theme like a collage. Hence pinterest. Pin - interests.

The link where I got this from gave the advice to do it for the entire time - for my chicken that would have been 94 minutes. When I got to the half way point (47 mins) I checked on it and I was happy to see it was looking fantastic yet slightly starting to go a bit burnt near the top where there was a bit of bone and skin sticking out, so I turned it back on the stomach and cooked it the normal way in a plain pan and I poured all the juices from the bundt pan back onto it and down the crevices. When it was done, it looked just like the picture above and it was the most perfectly moist tender (yet crispy on the outside) cooked chicken I had ever made. Did I just magically became an awesome chicken cooker? I don't know. But I certainly using the bundt pan again next time!!