Sunday, May 8, 2011

Chicken Adobo and Cake Pops

This week we planned ahead of time, but still managed to not have a couple of ingredients on hand.  Instead of running to the store, we just left them out this time. No school for the kids, so the olders "finally" (as they put it) got to play.   My sister arrived to join us, and brought with her a bunch of cake pops, so I've included that recipes below.  The challenge this week was to find eggplant that Claire likes. I didn't quite succeed, but I've included my favorite eggplant chutney recipe below anyway.

Chicken Adobo, Yellow Rice Pilaf, and
some roasted veggies on the side.

Chicken Adobo

You will not believe how tender and flavorful this chicken is.  The meat just falls off the bone. My kids loved pouring spoonfuls of the juice over their rice. I've heard this is good with pork, and if you wanted to do a vegetarian version, it would be good with tofu- just don't marinate it as long.

·     4-5 lbs. chicken thighs or drumsticks
·     1/2 cup white vinegar
·     1/2 cup soy sauce
·      4 cloves garlic, crushed
·      1 tsp. black peppercorns
·      3 bay leaves


Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Cover and marinate chicken for 1-3 hours. Bring to boil, then lower heat. Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer until sauce is reduced and thickened, and chicken is tender, about 20 more minutes. Serve with steamed rice. 

We had not a single drumstick leftover.

Yellow Rice Pilaf
I have a confession.  I have never actually made rice in a stovetop pot.  I grew up with a rice cooker, and I've my own since college.  I cook all my rice and grains in that, including couscous, quinoa, etc- and they all turn out perfectly.  What I actually did was to put everything except the almonds and the parsley (which I stirred in at the end) in the rice cooker.  But here is the recipe for the stovetop method. 

3 c chicken broth (I used my leftover homemade)
1 handful of raisins
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 pinch saffron threads
1 1/2 c white rice
1/2 c chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Bring broth, raisins, turmeric, and saffron to a boil.  Stir in the rice, cover the pot, and let it simmer on low heat for 18 minutes.  When the rice is done, add the parsley and almonds and fluff. 

Eggplant Chutney
I first made this recipe when I was 15 years old, in high school. It sounded interesting to me, and growing up in the midwest, we didn't have a lot of exotic foods. So I tried it.  I don't remember how I managed to acquire fenugreek or cumin seeds- they didn't just have that at the local Shopping Center.  The chutney is very rich, and is great as a bruschetta topping. It's from The Africa News Cookbook African Cooking for Western Kitchens.  (see below)  Don't let the oil get too hot, or your garlic and other spices will burn, and it won't taste right.

2 lb. eggplant
1 tbsp. ginger, grated
1 tbsp. garlic, pounded
3/4 cup white vinegar
6 chili peppers, sliced lengthwise or 1-1/3 tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. fenugreek
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1/4 tsp. cumin seeds, pounded
1 tsp. turmeric
2 tbsp. sugar
1-1/3 tbsp. salt

Peel the eggplant and cut into one inch cubes. Cover the pieces with cold water in a bowl, and let them sit while you mix the ginger, garlic, vinegar and chilies and pound or blend them to a paste. Next, heat the oil in a pot, and stir in the fenugreek, mustard, cumin, turmeric, sugar and salt. When the mustard seeds stop sputtering, mix in the spice paste. Drain the eggplant, add it to the pot, and simmer until tender. Spoon into clean jars, cool and refrigerate. The chutney will keep for about a month.

Apple Pie with Crumb Topping
My husband's been hankering for apple pie lately because he bought one at a local bakery that was supposed to be one of the best in our area.  When we brought it home and cut into it, it became evident that they don't peel their apples.  Who doesn't peel their apples for apple pie? My sister sings the praises of her apple peeler and corer, but I just used a plain old fashioned knife while one of my toddlers tried to climb on my back.  I used pre-made pie crust to save time. I like the kind you unroll better than the ones in the tins, which always seem to crack (which is not a huge deal).  
Oh, also, I am kind of picky about the apples that I use in my pie.  I'll spare you my full-length apple rant.  The easiest ones to get year round are Granny Smith. Sometimes I will put one or two sweeter apples into the mix, but many eating apples do not hold up well during cooking, and I hate mushy apples.  Never ever even think about using a Red Delicious for, well, for anything really. 

Prepare pie crust as directed. (I like to prebake them for about 5 minutes.)

8 cups PEELED, cored, and thinly sliced apples
Me trying to peel and cut apples
with one of my happy helpers.
1/4 c flour
3/4 c sugar (I used mostly brown sugar)
1 tsp cinnamon
dash nutmeg (also a dash each of allspice, optional)
pinch salt
1 T lemon juice (optional)

Mix ingredients above in a large mixing bowl and pour into pie crust.  Top with crumb topping, recipe below.

1/2 c brown sugar, light or dark
1 tsp cinnamon
1 c flour
1/4 c butter, chilled (one stick)

Using either a pastry blender or your fingertips, mix the ingredients above until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Spread evenly over your pie, and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.
*You can wrap the edge with foil to keep it from browning too much.
*Bake it on a baking sheet so that if it bubbles over in a yummy way, your oven won't be a mess.

Yes, that's a pi plate. 3.14159665...
Those of you that know me shouldn't even have to ask.

Also, this is what happens when you don't have chilled butter
when you make the crumb topping.  Still yummy, though.

I had a roll of crescent roll dough in the fridge, and a little bit of filling to spare, so I made Apple Pie in a Blanket.  Just wrap about 1 T of apple pie filling in the dough.  Roll it up and bake it as directed, or until golden brown.  The kids REALLY loved these.  I may or may not have shoved one in my mouth while finishing up the dishes, and another one on my way out the door to work in the morning.  You can't prove anything, and there were no witnesses.

Working Person's Crock Pot Pot Roast
Claire is the expert on slow cooker recipes.  Her tip of the week:  do NOT open the lid to peek.  Every time you open the lid, you have to add 30 minutes onto the cooking time.   I made this ahead of time for tomorrow night's dinner.
3+ lb rump roast
The picture truly doesn't do it justice.
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can French onion soup
1 can Italian-style tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 leek finely diced
1 onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 T Cognac
2 T red wine

Cook on low heat in a crock pot for 10 hours.  Serve with roasted potatoes or noodles, and salad and veggie on the side.  Leftover meat is great for minestrone (see last week's minestrone recipe).

This was our lunch.  Lettuce wraps, borscht, and cake pops!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps
These are so yummy.  The kung pao sauce can have a tiny kick to it, so be wary with kids.  Most of our kids like it anyway because they are so fun to eat.  The lettuce has a nice cooling effect.  You can make your own kung pao sauce and leave out the spice if you want.

1 1/2 lb ground chicken or turkey
10 mushrooms finely diced
2 cans water chestnuts finely diced
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 cup kung pao sauce 
dash white pepper
4 green onions finely chopped
1 head iceburg lettuce

Saute ground chicken.  Once cooked, add mushrooms and garlic and saute for 5 minutes.  Add water chestnuts, kung pao sauce, white pepper and diced green onions.  Slice lettuce in half.  Serve cool lettuce as a cup to hold the hot chicken.

*If the sauce is a little watery, you can thicken it by taking out 3-4 T liquid from the pot and mixing it with 2 T cornstarch, and stirring it back in with the chicken mixture.  It should start to thicken within a minute or so. 

Ukrainian Borscht, the real stuff
I am a huge borscht fan, and here's where I come down on several borscht debates.  It HAS to have beets, a lot of them. It has to have oxtail, or at least a handful of cubed beef.  Dill is a must- doesn't taste right without the dill.  And, absolutely sour cream. Some people use vinegar to make the borscht sour.  This doesn't taste right to me. I will tell you that I only used 2 beets for this particular batch- thought I had more, so it didn't turn out the beautiful red that it normally does.  This recipe was given to me by Grandma Nadia, a Ukrainian neighbor that was an amazing cook.  I wish I had more of her recipes. 

4-5 beets, peeled and grated (add last)
1/2 chopped onion
1/2 c diced carrots
1/2 c chopped mushrooms
1/2 c chopped parsley
1 small tomato, diced
1/2 c finely chopped cabbage
2 small potatoes, diced
2 tsp dill weed
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 oxtails
salt to taste

Add everything to a pot, with enough water to give you the amount of broth you like. Add the beets last.  Add a dollop of sour cream for garnish.  Mix it in well and enjoy.

And last but not least....

Cake Pops

Here's what my sister had to say:  I used white cake. I had to finger shape them. I didn't have a cookie cutter. Most of the stuff is available at Michael's now, like the lollipops sticks, the candy melts, and the baggies. The cake and frosting and sprinkles you get at the grocery store

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Trim about 1/2 inch from the perimeter of the cake. Working in batches, crumble cake into the bowl of a food processor; process until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a large bowl and add frosting; blend together using the back of a spoon, until well combined, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Roll mixture into 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-inch balls; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with parchment-paper-lined aluminum foil. Transfer to refrigerator until chilled, about 2 hours or to a freezer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Begin to shape balls into cupcakes by rolling balls first into logs. Fit logs into a 1 1/4-by-3/4-inch flower-shaped cookie cutter. Push cake mixture into the cutter halfway so that some of the cake mixture extends beyond the top of the cutter. Shape extended cake mixture into a cupcake-shaped top. Push cake from cutter to remove. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Transfer to freezer until chilled, 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, melt chocolate in heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) simmering water. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Remove cupcakes from freezer and dip the bottom of each cupcake into the chocolate; transfer, bottom-side up, to prepared baking sheet. To make lollipops, insert a lollipop stick into the bottom of each cupcake. Let chocolate set, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Melt white chocolate or pink candy melts in heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) simmering water. Dip the tops of the cupcakes into the chocolate and place right-side up on prepared baking sheet or stick lollipop sticks into a Styrofoam square. Place a candy-coated chocolate in the center of each and top with sprinkles. Let dry completely.

Stuff We Like

Better than Bouillon is awesome.  
I converted Claire recently, and she thought we should mention it since we use it all the time in our recipes.  You just need about 1 tsp of it per cup of water.  The broth that it makes is flavorful and healthy, and there is no MSG.  (A lot of chicken broths have MSG in them- I hate that.)  In addition, if you don't need a whole can or box, you can just refrigerate the what's left in the jar for next time.  We get a huge jar at Costco for about $6-7, and it lasts a couple of months. You can get vegetarian and beef flavors, too.

The Africa News Cookbook: African Cooking for Western Kitchens (Penguin Handbooks)
This is now out of print,
but it's worth a look.
It's got a great recipe for
doro wat and quick injera bread.
Lee Kum Kee - Kung Pao Stir Fry Sauce 18.5 Oz.
This is what we used today,
but there are lots of other good brands.

Pi pie plate
Pi plate. This one is the closest I could find.

Cake Pops: Tips, Tricks, and Recipes for More Than 40 Irresistible Mini Treats
For tons of cute ideas, take a look at this.
Great for birthday parties!

Please leave a comment if you tried any of the recipes, or if you made it to the end of this post!


  1. I hate Red Delicious too!

  2. I need to belatedly credit Jamie for shooting the Chicken Adobo recipe to me. Thank you Jamie!