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Chicken and Northern Bean….Something

July 4, 2011

I don’t know what to call it other than really, really good.

It ended up being something like a soup, which wasn’t what I was going for, but it was tasty so it doesn’t matter really. I laid off the veggies a bit for the BF who is notoriously picky about vegetables.

So our grocery store had split chicken breast on sale for $1.29/lb which is an awesome price for meat and of course I stocked up while it was on sale.

I used one of the packages of split chicken breast (which has the skin and bones still, but also includes the tenderloin so it’s a lot of meat); each package had just over two pounds of meat in it.

First, I coated the bottom of my dutch oven with some olive oil with a pat of butter and warmed two cloves of crushed garlic and a bit of red pepper flakes on low heat til I could tell by the smell that the oil absorbed the flavor. Then I removed the garlic to avoid burning it, because burned garlic is super bitter and you don’t want that. Turn the heat up to medium.

Next, I patted the chicken breast dry and sprinkled it with salt and pepper, and placed it in the pot to sear for six minutes, until it was nice and brown. While the skin side was searing, I sprinkled the chicken with paprika. I drained a bit of the fat after the chicken was as brown as I wanted it, then flipped the breasts over and poured four cups of chicken broth in.

I added a cup and a half of northern beans that I’d soaked this morning and an onion cut into wedges. I also added four other crushed garlic cloves. Cover the pan and let simmer on low for an hour. I didn’t open the pan often, but several times throughout the hour I spooned some of the broth over the chicken.

After an hour, I flipped the breasts over and cooked for another hour. Then I added three carrots cut into rounds and let cook for thirty minutes, then added half a cup of acini di pepe (tiny pasta that bf loves) and cooked for another fifteen minutes.

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So here are the ingredients all nicely organized:

2 split chicken breasts

olive oil

paprika

salt and pepper to taste

six garlic cloves

red pepper flakes

4 c chicken broth

1 onion

1/2 c acini di pepe or other tiny pasta

1 1/2 c northern beans, soaked

3 carrots

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It made about six servings. We have a bunch leftover, and I might end up making it into a more vegetable-y soup with chopped spinach and broccoli and all sorts of tasty plants.

Cooking On The Fly

July 4, 2011

Usually I have some sort of meal planning prepared to last us for about a month, with a lot of flexibility thrown in there.

I have no clue what to make for tonight. I took chicken breast out of the freezer to defrost for last night’s meal, but BF ended up being out late so I didn’t bother making it.

I didn’t have a plan for it, and now I kinda want to use some of the northern beans I bought last time we went grocery shopping.

So here’s what’s up: it’s about 7am right now, and I’m going to try and come up with some sort of meal just using what I’ve got in the fridge and pantry.

There’s not much that isn’t earmarked for some other planned meal, but this chicken has to be cooked and I have ‘chicken and northern bean…..something‘ in my head, trying to become a recipe.

This is what I have to work with: chicken breast, carrots, northern beans, onions, chicken broth, chopped spinach, cabbage, tomatoes, and all sorts of pasta shapes.

I’m going to start the beans soaking for tonight and I’ll write up the recipe for whatever it turns out to be later on after dinner.

This should be interesting. Or gross.

I’m hoping for pleasantly surprised.

Mmm…Hashbrowns!

July 1, 2011

I don’t know if I’m the only one who could never figure out how to get good hash-browns at home, but just in case, I’m sharing the ‘secret’ with you. Or, how I do it anyway.

It’s not really a recipe, I just noticed that grated potatoes were still soggy when I cooked them on a griddle or in a skillet, so I messed with it a bit til I figured it out.

Super simple: all you do is grate potatoes – I use red potatoes because they have a great texture for this (not too crumbly, a fairly high sugar content so the outside crisps up, and a good amount of starch so it keeps some potato-ey texture).

Oh also: I use the smallest size holey thing. They cook quicker that way.

Next, put some butter in a skillet or on a griddle and heat it on medium til it gets nice and hot.

Then, take a *clean* dishtowel, set the grated potatoes in it, and squeeze out all the moisture you possibly can. Sprinkle the grated potatoes over the hot butter and let sit for a few minutes, until it browns to your liking. Then flip it over and do the same on the other side.

Done!

Personally, I like to add finely minced onions to mine, but BF likes his plain so I don’t usually make them that way.

If you do add onions, depending on how much you add, you may want to squeeze out the moisture from those as well. Onions have a lot of water in them.

You could go really crazy and add a bunch of stuff to them: green peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, breakfast sausage, eggs, etc. But then it wouldn’t be ‘hash-browns’. It’d be ‘hash’. Or something.

Or just, you know…

really, really good.

Sunset

June 30, 2011

Check out this spectacularity:

Farmland

June 29, 2011

So we’ve been discussing moving more and more lately, and sometimes even checking out houses that we think might be worth looking into.

One of them was way out in the middle of the most gorgeous nowhere I’d ever seen in Florida, and I fell in love with the area.

It was a grey, rainy day, but the fields were so green, most of them were dotted with cows or bales of hay, and there were few houses.

And not one strip mall, distribution center, big box store, or gang-infested, crime-ridden neighborhood with the potential to bring burglary or other even more dangerous things into our lives.

Well, no burglary aside from food-stealing raccoons, that is.

If I had chickens I’d have something to worry about, but I don’t. So I still like ’em.

The whole drive up there was incredibly beautiful, but at one point we had a semi riding our tail so we pulled over to let Leadfoot McGee pass and I snapped this picture:

Honestly, I had no idea Florida could even be so beautiful. If we do end up moving to a place like this, I know I could be really happy there.

Did I mention the cows? ‘Cuz they have those.

They’re adorable.

Double Rainbow!!!

June 28, 2011

Lookit! We saw this on our way home from our exhausting trek the other day:

A Matter of Taste

June 27, 2011

I haven’t done much posting lately, I know.

We’ve actually been busy. Like, with things other than the incredibly exciting life of a Crappy Gardener (haha!).

The other day, we had to make the trek way up past Dade City to pick up a very interesting….thing (?) for a car. Cars and car things fall under the category of Man Stuff in our household, so I really don’t know what it is. It’s metal.

Anyway, on the way back, since we were going to go right through the area of downtown Dade City with all the awesome antique shops and the sweet little cafes, we decided to stop at one of our favorites. It’s called A Matter of Taste and is the best little place. I mean, in my opinion. And bf’s.

Unfortunately, their website is having a few glitches and even though it doesn’t list their evening hours, they do have them. I believe they re-open at 5pm and I know they don’t close until 8pm.

I didn’t have my camera with me this past time otherwise I would have gladly taken pictures of the deliciousness we had. Bf got a pulled pork sandwich and french fries (seriously, best french fries ever.); I got Ybor Chicken and rice: chicken with veggies in tomato sauce over yellow rice, and a side of black beans, plus fried plaintains, which were pretty new to me. And actually really good. The servings are HUGE! And the prices are very reasonable, anywhere from $6 to $14.

It was so tasty. If you’re ever in downtown Dade City – which is totally worth the drive, they have wonderful stores and equally wonderful restaurants – you should really give them a try. Each time we’ve gone, the owners have been so very nice, and this past time their son was our server, and he is just the nicest boy ever.

Sadly, there have been some recent victims of the current economic situation and I was bummed to see some of the stores closed. That’s one of the worst things about this depression (I will not call it a ‘recession’ because it just isn’t, I don’t really care what the MSM is saying): seeing the small business owners being forced out. The big companies don’t feel it as much, but it kills me to see Mom & Pop shops with their windows boarded up and the buildings gutted.

Haven’t seen too much of that in  Downtown Dade City luckily, they’ve still retained their small-town feel and every shop owner we’ve ever met has been super nice and very helpful and welcoming and just wonderful. You should definitely go check it out.

Here’s an excellent and well set-up website for: Downtown Dade City; if you click on the different sections in the black bar near the top, you can find out all that’s going on there this year.

We’ll definitely be going to the Christmas In July celebration, we try and make it out every year because it’s so fun. All the stores are open and tons of people are there, they offer deals and promotions and it’s just a great time.

ALSO! In September there’s the Antique Faire which is always a great time. You can find the coolest stuff there! All sorts of people come out and bring their best samples from their stores all over Florida, many times you can get great deals. For example, a few years ago we got a little fridge from the forties for $45. It’s awesome. Needs a bit of work, but still awesome.