The Determined Cook

A place where perfection lies in the tasty morsel that finds its way into your mouth.

Maya’s 2nd Birthday

Maya’s 2nd Birthday Party was on Saturday.  We had lots of family and friends over, and that means lots of food.  Having worked all week, the menu had to be something super simple, with minimal prep time.  The menu combined both Maya’s Indian and Caucasian heritage.  There was Chicken Curry with Potatoes, Lentil and Spinach Curry, Shepherd’s Pie, and Betty’s Famous Green Salad.  I served appetizers beforehand using Elle’s New England Kitchen’s (http://www.ellesnewenglandkitchen.com/) recipe for her Chevre and Dried Fruit Spread.  The table was bare and after opening presents, everyone was ready for birthday cake and Auntie M’s marshmallow salad.  Happy 2nd Birthday Maya Rosie!

1 Comment »

Super-Duper Meatloaf

Why super-duper?  Well, because my husband finished what was on his plate and because my Mum-in-Law took two helpings.  You see, she is the Meatloaf Queen.  A good meatloaf to me has been almost unnattainable – too dry, too soupy, doesn’t stand on it’s own…just to name a few of the comments I have received.  So, I decided to go to the source, and “barely” added my personal touch to this one. Here’s the recipe.

1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1 green bell pepper (chopped into tiny pieces)
1 white onion (pureed)
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 pkt. Lipton Onion Soup Mix
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce (save 1 tbsp for later)
1 egg
3 handfuls of Quaker rolled oats
1 8oz can tomato puree
1 8oz can of tomato sauce
1 tsp dijon mustard

Combine all ingredients except for the tomato sauce, 1tbsp Worcestershire Sauce, dijon mustard, egg, and oats.  Let the mixture marinate for a couple of hours.  Set oven to 360 degrees.  Combine oats and egg into the ground beef mixture.  Place into a casserole dish and mold into a loaf shape (keep away from sides of dish).  Mix the tomato sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, and dijon mustard, and pour over the meat loaf.  Bake for 1 hour.

1 Comment »

Monday Night Comfort Food

Monday nights are usually busy as we try to clean up our “weekend mess”.  Who likes to stay home on the weekends and clean house…that’s what Monday nights are for. Without much time to cook an elaborate meal, I usually resort to the comfort of pot roast and mash.  My trusty recipe for pot roast is fool proof.  To feed about 5 people (with delicious leftovers) all you need is 2 1/2 lbs of  top round, 1 1/2 packets of Lipton Onion Soup Mix, 1 1/2 tbsp of good olive oil, and a crock pot. Mix the soup mix with the olive oil and rub it into the meat.  Marinate for 24 hours. Then comes the even-easier part.  Plot the marinated roast into a crockpot that has been pre-heating on the highest setting.  Add about 3tbsp of water to the crockpot.  Cover and reduce the cooking heat to medium.  The roast will be tender and tasty after about 6 hours.
Combined with decadent (cream and garlic) mashed potatoes, this is the perfect comfort food!

Leave a comment »

Roasted Curried Chicken Breasts with Roasted Fennel

Over the weekend, I thought that I would prep an easy meal for Monday, that would allow me to spend some time with the fam, yet enjoy some comfort food.  Well…talk about a plan not quite working out.  Food was great, but the fam chose a chili bowl instead.  Here’s my recipe anyway.

Roasted Curried Chicken Breasts (the key to this is the simple marinade)
2 large chicken breasts cut into three inch pieces
3 tbsp Patak’s curry paste
Rice vinegar (to make the paste a bit liquidy)
1 tsp salt

Marinate for 24 hours.  Heat a large pan, and add some corn oil and fry the chicken pieces until they are golden brown.  Place in an oven-proof dish.  De-glaze the pan with 1/4 cup of chicken broth and use as basting liquid (or you could make a sauce by adding cream).  Bake at 360 degrees for 40 minutes.  Easy, peezy!

1 Comment »

Weekday Pork Roast Dinner for the Padres

A good pork roast is something that I have been craving for the longest time, so over the weekend, I found a nice pork tenderloin and decided to pick it up, to be used during the week.  Searching online for ways to roast a pork tenderloin, I saw that it was a slow process which started with an oven temperature of 450 degrees and then was followed by about a hour and a half of slow roasting at 250 degrees.  That would be great on a weekend, but I needed my pork roast on a Wednesday evening. So, I defrosted the tenderloin and marinated it for 24 hours.

Marinade (for a 2lb tenderloin)

Patak’s Curry Paste (2 tbsp)
Apple Cider Vinegar (1/4 cup)
Crushed Garlic (2 tsp)
Crushed Ginger (1 tsp)
Salt (1 tsp)
Olive Oil (1 tbsp)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl to make a “liquidy” marinade.  Once mixed, pour over the tenderloin and let it refrigerate for 24 hours.

On Wednesday morning, I started my crockpot on high and put in the tenderloin for about a half hour, turn it twice.  Then I reduced it to 3 and it cooked for 6 hours.  After that it was reduced to 2 until we were ready to eat.  The meat was tender and the tenderloin just fell apart.  There was a great sauce to it that worked as a curry. 


Then, I called the folks over and asked them to make rice and dahl…a perfect accompaniment to the pork roast.

1 Comment »

Healing the Sick with Yummies in the Tummy

On Saturday, I was on sick duty with Brad and Maya.  A good, hearty soup would have been the way to go, but instead, I decided on ingredients like chicken, yams, fennel, and red onions…all infused with fall flavors.  I went straight to my One Pot Recipes book and came upon two recipes that looked good: Chicken and Fennel, and Roasted Yams.  The chicken recipe called for tarragon, tarragon mustard, and tarragon vinegar.  Not having either ingredient in my pantry, and having no luck finding them in my local grocery, I had to improvise.  As for the yams, the dish ended up being fall in a casserole dish.  The house smelled good, the sickies were curious, and after Brad getting up for seconds, I knew that I had done good.

Chicken and Fennel
3 chicken breasts
Fresh rosemary sprigs (crushed)
Juice of 1 lemon
Olive oil (enough to coat chicken)
1/4 cup of white wine
Crushed garlic (4 cloves)
Crushed fennel seeds (1tsp)
Chicken broth ( 2tbsp)
Fennel (2 heads)
Wash and dry the chicken breasts, then cut them (on the diagonal) in thick strips.  Sprinkle a bit of salt on the chicken and coat in some olive oil.   In a separate bowl combine the rosemary, lemon, white wine, garlic, and fennel seeds.  Toss marinade onto the chicken and refrigerate for about 2-3 hours.
Once marinated, put chicken on a hot pan and fry until golden brown.  Remove chicken and deglaze pan with the chicken broth.  Chop fennel into bite sized pieces and combine with browned chicken.  Put all ingredients in an casserole dish and bake for 45 minutes at 365 degrees.

Roasted Yams
Yams
Red Onions
Olive Oil
Cinnamon
Salt
Pepper
Chop up the yams into bite sized pieces and steam them until medium-tender.  Cut red onion into wedges; soak in salt water for 15 minutes.  Once yams have steamed, combine with the red onions, sprinkle with salt, cinnamon, and pepper, to taste.  Toss with olive oil and place in an casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes at 365 degrees.

Leave a comment »