The Return to Cooking

It would seem that since The Hubbs was on vacation, I stopped cooking.

I dunno how it happened, but I have a feeling it was a combination of wanting to go out to different restaurants to eat while on vacation, paired with a recent return of The Hubbs’ GI Infection, caused a severe lack of good meals being had lately.

Proper meals in this household had altogether blown to the wind and in its place, easily digested foods like: mashed potatoes with peas and carrots, soups, multiple meal replacements of Ensure or Boost, and some generally unhealthy foods like, say, a constant flow of ice cream have turned up in their place. This in turn has left me with making meals only for myself and thusly been horribly uninspired to make anything really memorable.

I did manage to make myself a decent steak dinner one night with a rather generous side of stewed veggies that I was most impressed with — one can of diced tomatoes, one diced zucchini, onions, garlic (duh), a few handfuls of baby spinach, some olive oil, capers and a couple of chopped anchovies. Start with the usual olive oil in pan plus onions, garlic and anchovies until soft and melted, then progressively add the rest of the veggies. Let it all hang out in the pan til it’s nice and mushy and some of the tomato liquid has evaporated. The addition of sliced mushrooms at the start of cooking with the onion mixture, then left to brown nicely before the addition of the remaining veggies would have been a very good idea. I just failed to remember that I could have done so until the last moment. That veggie concoction lasted me a good few days in different meals along with the steak, on bread, in pasta, plain, etc..

With The Hubbs not partaking in meals for the last few weeks, I’d been at a loss at what to make for dindin for his proper return back to work. I did have the forthought last night to ask him what he would like and pulled out some chicken to defrost. Go me. I just didn’t have any inkling of what to do with it. So I spent most of my “morning” today searching for recipes that sounded appetizing and would hopefully not aggravate his still tender tummy.

So tonight was the first night in a really long time that I actually made dinner that the both of us could enjoy together: chicken paprikash with spaetzle and I’m rather proud of the outcome.

Originally I had about 4 different chicken recipes to choose from and gave The Hubbs final say on what sounded most appetizing. In case you were curious about the other three recipes that I had on my list of possibilities, I give you these: Five-spice grilled chicken thighs with blackberry glaze, Balsamic Chicken with roasted tomatoes, Chicken with cider & bacon sauce.

The original recipe for the chicken paprikash, I also got from Cooking Light, but of course doctored by pairing it with an Allrecipes.com version of the dish.

The reason that I tossed in the chicken paprikash recipe was because for one, I’d never had it before and two, we had just watched the movie When Harry met Sally a few weeks ago. Funny enough, when I showed The Hubbs his list of options, he automatically chose the paprikash recipe for the exact same reason I did ^_^

On to the recipe, which by the way… is no longer low fat with the melding of the two recipes and changes I made ^_^;

Chicken Paprikash
1 Tbsp bacon grease
4 chicken thighs
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 big Tbsp minced garlic (I use jarred stuff lately.. I have a love-hate relationship with the jar)
1 Tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1 bay leaf
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5oz)
1 cup chicken broth (enough to rinse out the tomato can)
2/3 cup sour cream
salt, pepper

* Prep chicken by removing skin & large chunks of fat. Cut meat away from bone, but do not discard! Slice chicken into thin strips.
* Heat bacon grease in a large skillet over medium heat.
* Saute onion, garlic and red peppers until translucent. Add paprika and caraway seeds and cook until fragrant.
* Add chicken pieces plus meaty bones and cook until browned.
* Add chicken broth and scrape up all the tasty bottom bits from the frying pan.
* Pour in tomatoes, add bayleaf and stir until combined. Cover pan and simmer for one hour.
* Stir in sour cream and let sauce come back up to a simmer before serving.

As for making the spaetzle recipe, I think I need to get myself a spaetzle gizmo. I am so tired of fighting with the dough, it’s not even funny. It’s a simple recipe that is so incredibly tasty homemade, but it’s lots of work sweating over a hot pot of boiling water with a super sticky dough, dropping little bits into the water.

Spaetzle
2 cups flour
3 eggs
1/4 tsp nutmeg (I accidentally just put two shakes from the bottle.. they were kinda large shakes, too)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2-2/3 cup water

* Mix all ingredients together until you get a sticky dough that’s almost like a batter.
* In a large pot of salted boiling water, squeeze dough out into the water using spaetzle maker or by pressing through a colander with large holes.
* When noodles float to the top of the water, they are done (3 to 4 minutes).
* Drain noodles and toss with butter and season with salt & pepper to taste.

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