Honey soy chicken

Y’all, I have somehow done it again. AGAIN I have a lovely camera lens that is now in two pieces. I don’t even know how, but I do know that iPhone photos of food aren’t quite the same. Better than nothing, though, right?

This is based on the Honey Roast Orange Chicken recipe from The Minimalist Cooks at Home by Mark Bittman. The Yankee and I both loved it!

Honey soy chicken

Ingredients

  • You will need:
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (lower sodium kind is great)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Combine everything but chicken in a bowl and whisk to combine
  3. Lay chicken breasts in a single layer in a cast iron skillet or baking dish and spoon over about half the sauce
  4. Bake at 375F for about 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked all the way through, turning over halfway through cooking to keep it evenly coated in the sauce
  5. When chicken is done move it to a plate to rest, then pour remaining sauce into the skillet; cook uncovered on medium high until sauce reduces and thickens
  6. Slice chicken into strips (against the grain) and serve over rice and vegetables, using thickened sauce to finish it all off. So tasty!

This was so fast and easy. Let me know what you think!

Cornbread taco pie

A few months back I tried to make something out of an old cookbook of my mama’s; it was similar to this but used polenta and unseasoned ground beef. It was… dismal. So last night I decided to make up my own version. Success! SO tasty and good gravy it smelled amazing. The Yankee ate three helpings for supper; this counts as a thumbs-up, no?

Cornbread taco pie

Ingredients

  • One pound ground beef
  • One packet taco seasoning
  • Water
  • One cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
  • One box Jiffy corn muffin mix
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 eggs

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F
  2. In a deep skillet (I obviously used cast iron) brown up and drain the ground beef; add in taco seasoning and 2/3 cup water and let it simmer (i.e. follow directions on taco seasoning packet)
  3. Mix up Jiffy cornbread according to package directions, but use two eggs instead of one to give yourself a little extra batter
  4. Turn off the heat under the ground beef and sprinkle on shredded cheese; spread cornbread batter over the top and bake at 400F for about 15-20 minutes or until cornbread is lightly browned on top

That’s it! This is perfect for a quick fall supper that tastes like you put hours of work into it. So warm and filling without you actually having to stand over the stove forever and a day. What’s not to love?

Disclaimer: Jiffy cornbread does not know that I exist; I just love the stuff.

Brined pork chops with white gravy

When The Yankee and I were first dating he announced one night that he was making me pork chops for supper.

Boy howdy.

I, ah, was not a fan of the chop of pork. The pork chops of my childhood were strikingly reminiscent of the sole of a shoe. An old shoe. In my mother’s defense, the recommendation at the time was to cook pork to something like 4,000 degrees, and it was quite a challenge to make it edible (enter: applesauce).

Now, fortunately, pork is safer. And the pork from our CSA? Also yummalicious. These pork chops in particular? Awesomeness. When you add in a brine? Oh my moly. I am never again making pork chops without brining; it’s that good.

Brined pork chops with white gravy

Ingredients

  • Pork chops (I made two)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • water and ice
  • 2 Tbsp. AP flour + more for coating pork chops
  • Salt, pepper
  • Oil: olive, vegetable, or bacon grease — whatever floats your boat (and your pork chops)
  • 1 cup milk (I always use whole milk)

Instructions

  1. Whisk together sugar and salt in cold water, and lay pork chops in the water; add more water if needed to cover chops, and add plenty of ice. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes or so; I did 45 minutes
  2. Preheat oven to 350F
  3. Drain pork chops and heat oil in a heavy skillet, ideally cast iron. When the oil is heated dredge pork chops in flour and put immediately into oil to fry until brown on both sides. Check the temperature of the pork; assuming it’s brown on both sides but isn’t quite done in the middle, spoon off 2 Tbsp. of the grease into a second skillet, then put the chops in the 350 oven to finish cooking
  4. In the second skillet whisk in 2 Tbsp. flour to the 2 Tbsp. of pork fat till smooth; whisk in 1 cup milk and heat till bubbling and thickened
  5. Serve chops with gravy

Biscuits and gravy

Wondering what to do with all those biscuits?

Wondering how to add a few calories to your breakfast?

Allow me.

These are really super easy to make (along with, uh, everything else I ever blog) and are such comfort food for breakfast!

Biscuits and gravy

Ingredients

  • 1 pound breakfast sausage
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 can evaporated milk or about a cup and a half of milk (I guarantee nothing with skim milk; I’m a whole milk kinda girl)

Instructions

  1. Brown up the sausage till it’s crumbly and completely cooked — no pink! — then evaluate your sausage grease situation. I put all the sausage on a paper-towel lined plate so I can see what I’m working with. You want to end up with about three tablespoons of grease left in there; drain off anything in excess of that
  2. Turn the burner to medium or so and sprinkle in three tablespoons of flour; whisking to combine. Pretty soon your mixture will look super thick and you’ll want to sock me one because this can’t possibly be right, but it is! Stay with me
  3. Now pour in your milk and keep whisking! Remember that flour doesn’t hit full thickening power till it’s bubbling (unlike cornstarch), so don’t give up; in just a couple minutes you’ll have gravy
  4. Now add back in the sausage and serve over your hot biscuits

This dish may or may not cause a Yankee to propose do you. I’m just sayin’.

Biscuits

We’ve seriously never talked about how to make basic biscuits? This is mind boggling to me.

This is one of those recipes I make by throwing stuff into a bowl; I very rarely measure this at all, so I had to go back and make these again and actually pay attention. The sacrifice! I make pretty small batches of this because I make small biscuits and I make them pretty often, so there are always more on the way; the recipe is easily doubled.

Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. instant/bread machine yeast (you can certainly leave this out; I like the little extra rise and the flavor of it)
  • 1/4 cup cold butter, shortening, bacon drippings (seriously) or any combination thereof
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup milk or buttermilk (see instructions)

Instructions

  1. Combine flour, salt, baking powder and yeast in a bowl or in the work bowl of a food processor, then cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork, or pulse in the food processor till the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal
  2. Slowly add milk, gently stirring with a rubber spatula or your fingers; add just enough so that it turns into dough
  3. Turn onto a floured surface (I do it right on the counter lately); knead it four times, folding it back over itself as you go. FOUR! Then STOP, no matter how much fun it is. Overworked dough = unhappy biscuits
  4. Roll and cut out biscuits and bake at 400F till just starting to brown on top; I do these in a cast iron skillet, but any kind of dish or baking sheet with a little butter in the bottom works just fine

September, 2011 update: be sure to check out the lovely Fearless Homemaker’s version of these too — are those not the prettiest biscuits you’ve ever seen?

Lazy woman’s peach cobbler

This recipe comes from my great grandma, who maybe named it thusly? Or maybe that was always its name? Either way, it is, indeed, one of the easiest desserts you’ll ever make.

Lazy woman’s peach cobbler

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 cups fruit (cut up; don’t drain)

Instructions

  1. Combine sugar, flour, baking powder and salt; cut in butter like you’re making biscuits, or pulse in a food processor, then stir in milk till well combined
  2. Pour batter into a buttered cast iron skillet or baking dish and top with fruit and its juice
  3. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes; sprinkle sugar on top for the last few minutes of baking

Saving a cast iron skillet

Remember when I wrote a cautionary tale about cast iron? Allow me to review:

Rust is not your friend.

I know. This is shocking news to you all.

I’m happy to report that picture up there is all the same pan. A bit of an improvement, yes?

The folks at Lodge told me that I should have this pan sandblasted. Being stubborn determined, however, I went at it with some sandpaper and did the best I could. It was not great, and the pan went back to live at the bottom of my pantry while I sulked about it thought of another plan.

Then last week we took a road trip to “Chagganooga” (so sayeth Kiddo) and I obviously could not resist swinging through South Pittsburg on the way back up to Nashville. At the Lodge factory store they had this little rust eraser thing sitting on the counter for a couple bucks — worth a shot, right?

Y’all. It’s a miracle! The rust just fell from the skillet and the pan without even that much elbow grease involved. A MIRACLE I TELL YOU.

So the next step was to re-season it in the oven, then put it to work. The perfect first job?

Bacon, of course.

This one will need a lot of use to start to start getting dark like my generations-old skillets, of course, but we’re certainly off to a better start now.