Making it up as I go along, Part 1

Earlier tonight, I updated my Facebook status to the title of this post. I was actually refering to the dish I’m making for a holiday luncheon tomorrow. Turns out, I would also be referring to tonight’s dinner.

We have chicken and asparagus in the fridge and enough grain products to last till 2011 in our pantry. I was thinking of an almond-crusted chicken breast (baked) with some Asian-inspired treatment for the asparagus with rice for dinner tonight.

Then Chris took forever coming home from Kroger. He went to buy lunch meat. He finally got home after 7, with no lunch meat but with a rotisserie chicken. So, no almond-crusted chicken and I decided to use the rice cooker for the holiday luncheon dish.

This left me with asparagus and in need of a starch. I looked around and realized we have 2 bags of potatoes to use up. We will be leaving for the holidays on 12/19 (sunny, warm, lovely Florida!) and I’m trying to get rid of anything perishable. Okay: new game plan! And make it quick.

Lemon Scented Potatoes with Asparagus

Potatoes Asparagus


3-5 fingerling potatoes
1/2 bunch asparagus, medium thickness
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
garlic-infused olive oil
lemon juice
salt & pepper
fresh parsley, for garnish


  • Cover potatoes with one inch of water in a pan. Bring to a boil then reduce to a high simmer, cook 10 minutes until fork-tender.
  • Wash & trim asparagus. Cut on the bias, in thirds.
  • In a small bowl, lightly wisk 1/4 cup oil with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1/8 cup finely grated Parmesan.
  • When potatoes are cooked, remove from water and let cool slightly.
  • Turn heat back up on water and return to a boil.
  • Add asparagus to boiling water. Cook 2 minutes then drain.
  • While asparagus are cooking, roughly slice potatoes.
  • Toss potatoes and asparagus in serving dish with dressing.
  • Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, salt & pepper and more Parmesan cheese.

Notes: This was quick, 15 minutes start to finish. Easy to multiply for more servings. As described, this would serve 4.

I used my brand new ribbon grater for the garnish cheese. Its awesome.

A second photo, mostly to put some focus on the awesome dish I put this in. This is part of a set of baking casserole dishes I bought “for” Chris last year for Christmas. He likes them but he usually likes whatever food I put in them more.

asparagus potato dish

Thanksgiving Day: The Results

From the top:

Green beans, stuffing, chicken, gravy, smashed potatoes, baked beans, corn muffins, honey butter, regular butter. Not pictured: butternut squash bake; assorted wines.

The Gravy: No recipe but basically, heat some broth/stock over medium heat.  When bird comes out of the oven, place chicken/turkey on serving platter to rest.  Heat roasting pan over a burner, add wine, stock or water to deglaze tasty bits.  Pour off drippings in to a measuring cup. I had some big solid flavor-enhancers (whole garlic cloves, sprigs of fresh herbs) in the roasting pan so to save time, I filtered the drippings through a 3-ply square of cheesecloth, squeezing to get all the liquid through.  Let the liquid settle/cool so the fat starts to rise up and can be skimmed off (you can put it in the fridge/freezer to speed things up).  While the drippings were cooling, I was jazzing up the broth by mashing the garlic cloves from the roasting pan and adding a little dried sage.  Add defatted drippings to broth, bring to a rolling boil and allow to reduce by about 1/3.  Add 2 tablespoons cold butter and 1 tablespoon flour to thicken. Serve immediately.  This makes a moderately thick gravy; you could add more broth to make a thinner style.

Baked Beans: Yeah, I had big plans for these. I was going to dice up bacon, make the beans in the crockpot and so forth. Then I got busy and voila, one can o’  beans. With maple flavor and bacon, as requested.  It turns out my brother was envisioning the beans my aunt Bonnie makes.  And I don’t know how to make those anyway except it was described as “a bacon sandwich, with beans in between.”

Wines: We had a bottle of Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel & one of Susana Balbo Malbec with dinner then had a very dark cherry-chocolate cabernet from Mitolo (soon to be on the Winning Wines list).

Pre/Post Dinner Snacks: We had cheese and crackers with some yummy Vidalia-Onion fig sauce and sliced bell pepper. We also had a mushroom-cashew nut spread made by my mom. Excellent on crackers or slices of bread.  And this quite frankly evil dark chocolate-matzo cracker-pistachio concoctation that I’m really glad is all gone.  I’m not so glad that its all gone because I ate most of it.   Sweet-salty and just not right!

Delicioso Green Beans & Potatoes (and Baked Chicken)

A little late, but here’s the recipe for that Sneak Peek photo from a few days ago.

Baked Chicken with Potato-Green Bean Saute


Green Beans, about 2 handfuls fresh. Trimmed and cut in half
5-6 fingerling potatoes
1/2 red onion, frenched
Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Breasts (from Kroger)
balsamic vinegar
1-2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 tablespoon rosemary
butter & olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth


If you follow these directions in order and with the right timing, it all comes together exactly right. Not planned that way, I just got lucky.

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 and bring a pot of water to a boil on the stove.
  • When water boils, add potatoes and keep boiling, 7-10 minutes. The potatoes are done when you stick a knife in about 1/2 way.
  • Drain potatoes and return to pan to cool slightly.
  • Place onion wedges in a small baking pan, coated with non-stick spray or olive oil. Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar on the onions then lay chicken breasts over the top of the onions. Bake in oven, uncovered, about 15-20 minutes.
  • While chicken bakes, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add garlic, cook 30 seconds then add green beans and cook 3-5 minutes until beans are softened up. Remove beans to a bowl.
  • While beans and chicken are cooking, quarter potatoes and sprinkle with a little salt.
  • After 15 minutes in the oven, check chicken for doneness. Depending on the size of the breasts, 20 minutes may be all that is needed. Sometimes we get really big chicken pieces from Kroger. This time, they were normal sized, individual portions.
  • During last 5 minutes of baking for chicken, heat 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in pan (same one from green beans). Add dried rosemary and potatoes; saute about 5 minutes.
  • Remove chicken from oven and set aside, covered to keep warm. Add onions and reserved green beans to pan with potatoes. Cook 2-3 more minutes then add chicken broth to deglaze pan and glaze vegetables.


As I mentioned, the timing on this worked out really well especially since I wasn’t really trying. The chicken came out of the oven right about the time I needed those onions for the potatoes.

We have come to like the Parmesan Chicken Breasts from Kroger’s meat department as they can easily be jazzed up. Garnish chicken breast with balsamic vinegar, if desired.

This dish is very similar to my Summertime Potato-Tomato Saute.

We really like balsamic vinegar, especially the pictured variety from Cherry Creek.  The bottle is almost gone.  Yikes!

1106 dinner

Mad-Lib Meatballs

I hate coming up with names for recipes.

After getting off to a late start this morning (see previous post, did I mention it was past 4 am when we got home?), I ran some errands and spent too much money at Younkers (but everything was on sale and I gave stuff to charity for extra discounts so its all good). And in the back of my head I was working through this idea involving turkey meatballs, potatoes and a gravy/pan sauce.

By the time I got home and settled down to make dinner, I had a general plan. This is how it played out:


1 package ground turkey (Jennie-O brand, its about 19 oz)
1/4 onion, very fine dice
2 tsp. dried basil
one egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
Garlic powder
1/4 onion, diced or sliced
1 sweet bell pepper, diced or sliced
mashed garlic
1 tbs butter
1/8 cup flour + 1/4 cup water, combined
1 cup vegetable broth
seasoning of your choice- I used a Mrs. Dash salt-free Onion and Spice mix.
salt & pepper, olive oil
8-10 small potatoes, red or yellow, maybe some fingerlings, halved or quartered depending on size

Directions: NOTE: Since I was winging it completely, most measurements are approximate.

  • Saute the finely diced onion in a little olive oil with some garlic until the onions are translucent and soft. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  • While the onions are cooking, combine ground turkey, basil, egg, garlic powder (several shakes from the jar) and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl. After onions have cooled slightly, add to bowl. Stir in approximately 1/2 cup bread crumbs. The mixture should stick together easily but not be goopy from the egg or overly dry. I used Panko bread crumbs which are a little bigger than regular so keep that in mind.
  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place a rack on a large rimmed baking sheet and give it a shot with the non-stick spray. Roll the turkey mixture in to meatballs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Space evenly on the rack. The rack is important here because the fat will drain away while the meatballs are cooking. We need some of the fat for a later step. Cook meatballs for 15 minutes then flip them over (this step is optional but they do look prettier this way) and bake for 10 more minutes.
  • While meatballs are in the oven, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook about 10 minutes or until potatoes just break when squeezed with tongs. Drain and keep potatoes warm.
  • While potatoes are cooking, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saute pan. Add 1 mashed garlic clove and the 1/4 onion that was diced or sliced. Let cook about 3 minutes then add bell pepper pieces. Season with salt and pepper plus seasonings of your choice (Mrs. Dash in my case, about 1 tsp worth). Allow the peppers and onions to cook in the pan without browning or going dry. When the meatballs are done, remove from the oven. Scoop up some of the fat drippings in the bottom of the baking sheet and add to the onions and peppers. Saute about 1 minute then add vegetable broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Use a spatula to scrape up any good bits in the bottom of the pan. Stir-in the flour-water mixture then reduce heat to low. Add 1 tbls butter to further thicken the gravy.
  • To serve, puddle some gravy with peppers and onions on the plate, top with meatballs and potatoes. Drizzle additional gravy over the top and garnish with fresh chives. Steamed snap peas tossed with lemon make an excellent side dish.

From the package of turkey, I got about 14 meatballs. Each serving tonight was 4 meatballs, five or 6 pieces of potato and enough gravy to make us both happy so we have plenty for leftovers.

I think that next time, I’d use chicken broth instead of vegetable for a little more poultry flavor in the sauce.