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I love good leftover challenge. I peek into the refrigerator and swing open the pantry doors. I hear Ted Allen from Chopped announce my arrival and think what leftover basket items would I use tonight. Would it be gooey duck and squid ink or beef tongue and spam? I pick refrigerator bowl number 3, refrigerator bag number 4 and glass container number 1. I accept the challenge.

As I place the containers on the smooth kitchen counter, I'm imagining right about now that Alex Guarnaschelli is thinking I'm the culinary at-home-dad superman. She sees me with my knives and cape and can't wait to taste what I bring her on my over sized triangular art plate with bamboo asymmetrical edging and American Western Nouveau Asian fusion styling.

I fire up the stove, combine containers number 3 and 4 in carefully measured equal amounts and simmer gently. I lose total track of time and Ted says I have almost no time left. I quickly plate up my culinary delight and sprinkle it with what was in bag number 4. I season the dish as Mr. Allen calls time and throw my hands up into the air. I'm so proud of myself. I look at the others. They've got nothing. I wipe off my knives and think Alex is gonna love me tonight.
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Here's my winning recipe from the leftover basket:

Ingredients

  • Cooked White Rice
  • Beef Tomato Chili Soup or Chili
  • A Few Ounces Of Shredded Cheese
  • Dried Parsley
  • Black Pepper

Preparation
  1. Heat equal amounts of the first two ingredients in a sauce pan over medium low until bubbling.
  2. Plate.
  3. Sprinkle with cheese, parsley and pepper.

Hints


Serving
Usually 1 cup of rice and 1 cup of soup together make a serving.

Nutrition
Approximately 325 calories.


© Russell W Peterson | DayParentDad.com | 9.17.14
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I almost always have chicken and an array of vegetables in the house. This can lead to many dishes, but one of my go to basics is chicken stew. It is the base for my chicken and dumplings, chicken and drop biscuits, chicken with mashed potatoes, and chicken pot pie. You can adapt the spices and flavors in a variety of ways, but this is the basic method. My kids love having this on a cold evening after school. I hope you enjoy it.

Ingredients
  • 2 T Butter
  • 1 T Olive Oil
  • 1 Yellow Onion Finely Chopped
  • 4 Medium Carrots Sliced Thin (I use a mandolin on 2 or 3 setting.)
  • 2 Cups Cooked Chicken In Pieces
  • 1 Cup Frozen Peas
  • 1 Cup Frozen Corn
  • 1 Can Green Beans

Sauce Ingredients
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 8 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 32 Ounce Box Chicken Stock
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Tumeric
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Parsley
  • Salt As Needed

 Preparation
  1. Heat the butter and oil in a heavy pot over medium low heat.
  2. Add the onion and carrot. Cook until onion softens.
  3. Add the chicken, peas, corn, and beans. Cover. (Be creative here, you can add other vegetables.)
  4. In a large sauce pan, heat the sauce butter, add the flour and stir with a whisk until the mixture starts to turn light brown.
  5. Add the stock and whisk. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medrium.
  6. Add the herbs and spices and stir thoroughly.
  7. Pour the sauce into the vegetable and chicken pot. Stir and cover.
  8. Cook over medium to medium low 30 minutes to 1 hour. The longer you cook low and slow the more flavor will develop. You may need to add a bit of water if you cook longer due to evaporation.
  9. At this point you can either pour into a pie crust for pot pie, drop in biscuits and bake in the oven covered, pour over mashed potatoes or bread or be imaginative.

Nutrition
Less than 200 calories per cup.

Hints
  1. Substitute olive oil to make this dairy free.
  2. In addition to the olive oil if you eliminate the chicken and substitute vegetable stock this makes a great vegetable stew.
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Ingredients
  • 1 Pound Ground Beef
  • 1 Chopped Red Onion
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup White Wine (Or Red, Whatever You Have)
  • 1 Jar Kirkland Marinara
  • 1 Heaping Tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Dried Basil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Dried Onion Powder

Preparation
  1. Heat olive oil in large pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and sweat them.
  3. Add ground turkey and cook through until it begins to brown.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. 
  5. Cook on medium low approximately 20 minutes.
  6. I like to toss my sauce with cooked pasta and a little olive oil in another pan to meld the flavors.
 
 
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I find it quite amusing when a company titles their product: Epicurean. I think few of them really know what it means. The free online dictionary defines it as: Devoted to the pursuit of sensual pleasure, especially to the enjoyment of good food and comfort.

Yet, Epicurus was more complicated and interesting than that. He shunned superstition and divine intervention for a philosophy that claimed pleasure was the only good. Some mistake his philosophy to be about Hedonism. But really he was about simple pleasure through modest living and knowledge. Pleasure was the good, knowledge was the key.

I think this is the perfect recipe to represent an Epicurean lifestyle. A simple recipe that tastes good with a little knowledge of what and how ingredients go together.  Nothing divine here.
Ingredients
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 to 3 jalapeno(s) finely diced (depending on desired heat)
  • 4 cups cooked assorted beans (Epicurean mix from Costco)
  • 3 medium potatoes diced 
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 4 cups chicken stock (substitute vegetable stock for vegetarian recipe)
  • small container of salsa
  • 1/2 cup chicken gravy or 1/4 cup cream (substitute soy based dairy product, a little cornstarch in water, or vegetable gravy for vegetarian recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small bag frozen corn
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried onion
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt if needed

Preparation
  1. Cook the jalapeno(s) and onion in the olive oil for approximately 5 minutes over medium heat in Dutch oven or heavy pot to release the flavors.
  2. Add all the other ingredients and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 2-3 hours covered.
  4. You could substitute taco seasoning for the spice mix indicated herein.
  5. Top with a bit of finely shredded English cheddar cheese and some sour cream.


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Nutrition
About 290 calories per serving.

Tips
  • This recipe can also be prepared in a crock pot.
  • This makes a large pot and extra can be frozen for up to 3 months.
 
 
Many flat breads don't have yeast, but I like this one because of the wonderful flavor. It is easy to whip together in the morning and ready to bake that evening. Also, you can refrigerate the dough for a week and have flatbreads whenever you like. 

The added bonus is that this dough makes great rolls too! So if you get tired of flatbread, just make a roll or two for your favorite sandwich or eat warm with butter. Yum!

Ingredients
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp quick yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup plus 2 T lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 T olive oil
  • spray oil
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Preparation
  1. Mix the dry ingredients with a whisk or fork in a large bowl.
  2. Add the water and olive oil and mix until incorporated. It should be lumpy and wet, but not glossy. Adjust water as needed.
  3. Spray oil the top of the dough and bowl sides, flip the dough and then spray again.
  4. Cover dough with plastic wrap and towel. 
  5. Place in warm area to rise about 5-6 hours. I put on my stove top and turn the oven on to 150 degress F and the vent keeps the top warm. It needs to be about 70-74 degrees F.
  6. Pour dough out onto greased counter top and fold over twice. Cover with wrap and let rise another hour.
  7. Uncover and divide dough evenly into six pieces.
  8. On a floured counter top, shape the dough pieces into quick balls. Set aside and rest for a few minutes.
  9. You can roll out the dough very thin after about 10 minutes or you can refrigerate the extra balls wrapped in plastic for about a week.
  10. Brush top of dough with a little olive oil and salt and bake at 450 degrees F on a preheated pizza stone or heavy cookie sheet for 3 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven, top with toppings, and return to bake for an additional 15 minutes or so depending on wetness of toppings.

Topping Ideas
  • Mozzarella, caramelized onions, and pancetta.
  • Tomato sauce, Mozzarella, pepperoni and green pepper.
  • Mozzarella, tomato sauce, pineapple and green pepper.
  • Mozzarella, blue cheese, and pancetta.
  • Ground beef, tomato sauce, and cheddar cheese.
  • Mozzarella, nicoise olives, castelvetrano olives, and red onion.
  • Mozzarella, bacon, parmesan, and tomato.
  • Tomato, mozzarella, and basil.

Rolls
You can cook the six pieces individually or together as large or small rolls as well.
  1. Bring the dough to room temperature and let proof a little on an oiled counter under plastic wrap for about an hour.
  2. Heat a Dutch oven or other large covered heavy pan with a cover in a 450 degree F oven for at least a half an hour.
  3. Shape dough quickly into rounds and placed into Dutch oven. Cook covered for 15-20 minutes depending on size of your rolls.
  4. Cook uncovered 5-8 minutes depending on size of rolls until golden.
  5. Remove to wire rack to cool.


Nutrition
Depends on toppings and portion size.

Tips
I usually cook 1-3 of the flatbreads and then store the rest wrapped in plastic wrap in a recloseable plastic bag. Bring dough back up to nearly room temperature before cooking.
 
 
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Ingredients
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 4 carrots thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 pound prawns, de-veined, but not shelled
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1 tsp dried parslely
  • cracked black pepper
  • 1 packaged spaghetti cooked

Preparation
  1. Dice the onions and thinly slice carrots on mandolin.
  2. Cook the onions and carrots in the butter over medium heat until onions are translucent
  3. Add garlic cloves crushed, stock and prawns. Cook about 10 minutes
  4. Add cream and seasonings. Simmer 5 minutes.
  5. Toss with cooked pasta.
  6. Serve.

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Nutrition
When a recipe starts with 2 sticks of butter, I just go with it and don't look at the calories. 

Tips
Leaving the shells on the prawns makes for a messy dish, so you'll need empty bowls for the shells and plenty of napkins, but the extra flavor is worth it. If you don't want the mess, just shell the prawns.
 
 
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A friend posted on social media the other day that the word "moist" should only be used in reference to towelettes and turkeys. I agree.

As a waiter working my way through college in Fargo, not the movie with the wood chipper, we had frequent Canadian guests. They always asked for a serviette. So I would bring them a moist towelette. They would look at the tiny package in astonishment and try to explain what they really wanted. (Even English language speaking countries can have word barriers. Trust me.) Eventually I learned moist had nothing to do with serviette. They wanted a napkin. A very dry napkin. So goes my first experience with moist towelettes. 

As an at home dad it became immediately evident that holiday cooking was my job. Trophy Wife does much of the baking. Everybody said that the Thanksgiving turkey must be moist. I was a bit dubious. After all, isn't that why we have gravy? Apparently not. So I went to the school of moist turkey cookery. For a few years I tried a number of different recipes finally settling in on Martha Stewart's. Now, mind you, her recipe calls for numerous steps that involve cheese cloth, butter wine sauce, basting, and timing. It was like a corporate flow chart that someone had devised to be cruel to employees. The turkey was decent, but I was exhausted by the time dinner came around.

So I went in search of other "moist" turkey recipes. One day, I stumbled on an article in the Los Angeles Times about the best turkey ever. It was simple called: The Judy Bird. It was named after Chef Judy Rodgers, a friend of Food Editor Russ Parsons. You can read more about it here. They had done a side by side test of three methodologies and it was unanimous that The Judy Bird was hands down the best. I have been making this turkey ever since I found that article and I'll never go back to Stewart's cruel flow chart of moistness.

This year the mother-in-law is coming for Thanksgiving. I'm renaming it the Rachael Bird. Do you think I'll get brownie points? 

The Judy (ahem Rachael) Bird

Ingredients
  • 15 pound organic turkey (Just get it at Costco!)
  • 1 tablespoon regular salt
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon  Hawaiian Black Salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon Himalayan Pink Salt
  • (Or just use whatever salt you have. Ratio is 1 tablespoon for each 5 pounds of bird.)

Preparation
  1. Remove the turkey from the packaging, empty the fluids in the sink, and remove the other parts from the cavities,
  2. Do not wash the turkey. This just spreads yucky stuff around your kitchen. It will all get cooked off anyway. But remember to wash your hands after every time you come in contact with the bird.
  3. Mix the salts in bowl or plate. Spread the salt over the bird especially on the breast and thighs. You'll easily use 1 tablespoon on the breasts. Make sure to lightly salt the cavities too.
  4. Place the bird in a sealed plastic bag. I use a non scented garbage bag. Press most of the air out and tie it tight. Double bag it to avoid leaks.
  5. Place the bird breast up in the refrigerator. Ideally for 2 days, but I have done it for 1 day for this size turkey and it does well. I suspect the longer time is for larger turkeys. I usually start this on Tuesday before Thanksgiving, but you could start Monday for the longer time and larger bird.
  6. After a day invert the bird placing it on its breast for the second day.
  7. The evening of the second day, I take the bird out of the plastic and place it in a shallow pan so the skin dries out. This helps create a crispy skin. If you need, you could just pat it dry with paper towels before you bake it.
  8. On Turkey day, take the bird out of the refrigerator for at least 1 hour prior to baking. Turn the oven to 425 degrees F.
  9. Place the turkey in a roasting pan breast side down for at least the first hour. Then pull it out and place the breast face up for the remaining cooking.
  10. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F until an internal thermometer reads 165 degrees F. This should take just under 3 hours.
  11. Remove from oven. Keep warm. Tent with foil and let stand for 30 minutes prior to carving.
  12. When you carve, please remove each breast fully and then carve straight down. This will give you the most moist slices. Just watch this video of Alton Brown for the best carving advice.
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I use a mixture of salts for the magical moist trick!
Servings
About 15 plus servings.

Nutrition
About 330 calories per 6 ounce serving. This really depends on the type of meat (dark or light) and how much skin you eat.
Monogram Gifts & More
 
 
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One of the most important parts of parenting is allowing your children to explore who they are. It can be the most terrifying and exhausting experience of your life, especially with cooking. The whole flame, heat, burn thing is a bit frightening with kids. But sometimes you need to throw a little excitement and danger into the mix. Well, at least excitement. So I say, start small. Crack some eggs, spread some flour, make a mess. There are so many things you can do to get kids involved in cooking. Eventually, they might find their own intuitive spirit about food. Such is the case with this recipe. 

Stiletto2 and one of her best friends love to make "creations". Someday I will share with you the blue water terrace cake. Now that was frightening. But until then you will have to be amazed at this simple little recipe they cook up frequently. Way better than any chicken nuggets you get from a grocery store or at a fast food trough (note I didn't call it a restaurant). They took my breading recipe for frying fish, added some ingenuity, set up a station, and sprinkled a little Diva love and care. Presto they created the best chicken nuggets, ahemmmm, I mean bites you ever ate.
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Ingredients
  • 6 Boneless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour (Enough For Dredging)
  • 1 Cup Skim Milk
  • 1 1/2 - 2 Cups Of Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1 - 2 Cups Of Vegetable Oil (Enough To Fill Pan About 1/2 Inch)
Preparation
  1. Heat the oil in a relatively flat pan on the stove to about medium. You will need to adjust this throughout to avoid burning the Panko.
  2. Do not wash the chicken.
  3. Cut the chicken into about 1 1/2" pieces. The size will determine how long they cook. Not too big of the Panko will burn.
  4. Place three shallow bowls in a line and fill each one with flour, milk and Panko.
  5. Dredge the chicken in the flour. You can season the flour if you wish, but the Divas do not.
  6. Dip the floured chicken into the milk and then roll into the Panko.
  7. Place the Panko dredged chicken into the oil heated pan and cook about 8 minutes each side or until golden brown and thoroughly cooked. Size of chicken and temperature of oil will determine ultimate cooking time. Use a meat thermometer to check if you are uncertain. It should be 165 degrees. Click here for a great food safety cooking chart.
  8. Once done, place on towel covered plate.
  9. Serve with hot sauce. We like Frank's Red Hot Cayenne Sauce. Some may prefer their's with ketchup.

Servings
6 servings.

Nutrition
About 270 calories per serving.

Tips
  • I really hate the taste of canola oil. I think it tastes like the inside of a stale petroleum drum. Go figure. Anyway, I never use it. So I would suggest getting a good vegetable oil. I primarily use the vegetable oil (soybean) from Costco.
  • Do not wash the chicken. This just spreads the chicken juices around the sink and your kitchen. Anything bad will be cooked off during the cooking process.
  • I prefer to use fresh chicken. I think the texture of chicken changes when you freeze it.
Back to School
 
 
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I can count on one hand the number of times I had seafood growing up. (Canned tuna doesn't count.) My father really didn't like seafood. I'm not sure if it was because he had to endure lutefisk or if it was because my mother couldn't cook seafood or that seafood wasn't really plentiful in the 60's and 70's on the prairie, essentially the geographical center of North America and a long way away from either coast or the gulf. I didn't start having seafood on a regular basis until I met the Trophy Wife who hails from Door County, Wisconsin. (Yes, God's Country! I know. I've heard it a million times.) With two large bodies of water on either side, they were practically swimming in seafood. Well, at least really large lake food. So I have learned to both eat and cook seafood. I try not to overcook it and I try to serve it in a light way just like it came from the ocean or swam in the really large lake or was inspired by the light blue summer sky of the North Dakota grasslands. The prairie never knew what it was missing.
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Ingredients
  • 10 Medium Sized Carrots Sliced
  • 30 Brussels Sprouts Cut In Half
  • 1/2 Cup Finely Diced Fennel
  • 1/2 Cup Finely Diced Onion
  • 2 Pounds Tail On Shrimp (You Could Use Prawns)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 10 Tbs Butter
  • 3 Tbs Olive Oil
  • Juice Of Two Lemons
  • 1 Cup White Wine (Pinot Grigio If You Have It)
  • Salt & Pepper

Preparation
  1. Melt the butter with olive oil over medium heat in a large pan or pot.
  2. Add the Brussels sprouts cut in half with the cut side down so they brown a bit.
  3. Use a mandolin to slice the carrots consistently. Add them once the sprouts are cooked about half way. Maybe 5 minutes into the cooking. Add the garlic, fennel, and onion. Season.
  4. Cook until the carrots just start to get soft, about 5 -8 minutes.
  5. Add the drained and rinsed shrimp, lemon juice and the White Wine. Season.
  6. Toss and cook about 8-10 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp. They should be pink. You may need to cover the last few minutes. Adjust seasoning as needed.
  7. Serve over whipped potatoes. I prefer whipped to mashed in this dish because I like the smooth summer texture. You could also serve alone or with rice or pasta.

Servings
8 servings

Nutrition
About 375 calories per serving without the potatoes or starch.

Tips
For a low carb alternative serve this without a starch.
You could cut the butter out and reduce calories, but trust me, it isn't worth it.

Some Of The Best Tshirts On The Internet

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Sometimes as an at home parent, a dog day afternoon comes along. Actually, more than you'd like to admit. You have been called upon by everyone else throughout the week. Schedules are shifted without your knowledge. People make plans and forget to tell you. A family crisis arises. And more.. In the middle of it all, you put on your super parent at home cape and rise to the occasion. With no groceries, no time, no patience, a phone constantly ringing, children running in and out, the dogs begging at your side; you whip up this little number in less than an hour. The kids loved it. They gave it two thumbs up. Siskel would be proud. Hooray would be jealous. You are pleased and think...oh, to be a dog.