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Friday, December 2, 2011

Slow-Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili

Hi all, I'm back.. ish.

I've continued to fall off the blog wagon, and honestly, I do feel bad about it.  I really enjoy(ed) posting my recipes and restaurant visits, etc. up here, and I have recived a ton of positive feedback from all of you.  And plenty of requests to keep GVK going.  However - and I can speak freely because this is my blog, darnit - I don't know how regular bloggers do it.  I read a LOT of blogs, but as for writing, man, sometimes it's tough.  I don't know how people write every day, or close to every day. Most times Sometimes, I just don't feel like it.  Haha.  But the ones that are dedicated, they have some great results.  And I want to be like that.

So, after a talk with E (my number one supporter), and some internal soul-searching, I'm deciding to re-vamp the site and have a "grand re-opening" in 2012.  Perhaps not Jan 1st (too hungover), or really anytime immediately after.  But, it will be soon, after the holidays have passed, and things get back to post-Christmas normal.  But I am dipping my toes in the water yet again.  And it feels good.

Please stick around - and check out my previous blog posts, you'll be impressed.  My most popular ones are:
Baked Eggplant Parm : Classic, reduced-fat, and really busting with flavor.  You'll be amazed!

Chocolate Caramel Trifle : The perfect dessert for a party.  Your guests will be raving - that's a guarantee.
Lobster Mac and Cheese : The perfect blend of comfort food and elegance.  Chicken can easily be a replacement as well!

If this is your first time visiting Girl Versus Kitchen, welcome!  Follow me, and stay tuned.  I am always, always open for suggestions and guest posts.  Leave a comment or two!

I posted the following picture on my Facebook page and recieved rave reviews on how good it looked.  It's the beginning of December, and the perfect time to bust out the slow-cooker.  After a long, cold day of working, Christmas/Hanukkah/Festivus shopping, or just being out in the winter weather, nothing warms the soul like a big bowl of.. this.  Nothing beats having dinner already-ready for dinnertime.

A nice change from the regular beef-and-red-bean chili my dad someone in almost everyone's family makes; it's low in fat and calories, even if you do decide to garnish it with sour cream and cheese, it's only an extra 70 calories more.  Let me know if you want me to include the nutrition facts - if that is an interest for my readers I'll be happy to do it!

Slow-Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili

1 small onion, diced (optional)
3 or 4 cloves garlic, diced
1 (4-oz) can chopped green chile peppers

1/2 can (4-oz) diced jalapeno peppers (or the whole can for added heat)
3 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground red cayenne pepper

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
3 (15-oz) cans reduced-sodium white beans (Cannellini beans)
1 small can corn (optional)
4 raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts, each cut into quarters

Throw everything into slowcooker and give a stir to blend ingredients.  Put on "Low" for 6 hours or "High" for 3 hours.

Afer this time has passed, remove chicken pieces with a slotted spoon, put into a large bowl, and shred the chicken with two forks.  Put chicken back in and put on "Low" for 30 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and, optional, garnish with sour cream, shredded cheddar/pepper jack cheese, and diced green onions.

Serve with fresh warm cornbread and a veggie on the side!  SERVES 6 to 8.  Freezes well.

Tastes even better the next day.  :)

Cheers, C

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lobster Mac & Cheese with Gruyere and Cheddar

{Out Of Retirement. Again.}

Just call me Brett Favre.

After a gorgeous week vacationing in the Carribbean with E, I feel refreshed and ready to start, yet another, Day One.  I have really appreciated the words of encouragement from all of you.  I'll do my best to bring you good things!

ALSO - tell me what you'd like to see!  Quick meals, fancy meals, basics, you name it, I'll do it.  Promise.

The weather's getting colder and comfort food is becoming more and more appealing.  Especially since I'm back from vacation and won't be putting a bathing suit back on til 2012.  Besides, who doesn't love a good, piping bowl of mac and cheese? 

..but why not class it up a little?

I saw a similar recipe on Yahoo while planning the week's meals and knew I had to try it.  If you don't like lobster, you can substitute cooked chicken, but the flavors of the Gruyere really lend themselves to the creaminess and tang of shellfish.

Lobster Mac & Cheese with Gruyere and Cheddar

  • 2/3 box corkscrew pasta
  • 6 tbsp. melted butter (I used Smart Balance), divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 3 cups whole or 2% milk
  • 1 & 1/2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 & 1/2 cups (or one block) grated Gruyere cheese (I had never knowingly eaten a piece of Gruyere until getting a block of this stuff yesterday.  I could have wiped out the whole thing.)
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon or brown mustard
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh chives (not to be confused with green onions - chives are much thinner.
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 &1/2 lb. coarsely chopped cooked lobster meat.  I bought some pre-cooked lobsters from ShopRite.  They were already chilled, so easy to handle, and more importantly $4.00 cheaper than the live ones! :)  Be sure you get enough, though - three or four lobsters should be suitable.
  • 1 cup oyster crackers, crushed
Cook pasta until al dente according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again so pasta is cold.  Get all the meat out of the lobster claws, tail, and legs, and cut into a-little-larger-than-bite-size pieces.  I wish I had more lobster here.  Set pasta and lobster aside.

Place 4 Tbsp. melted butter in a saucepot over medium-low heat. Add garlic and onion; cook 5 minutes or until onion is softened.  Then whisk in flour; cook 1 minute.

Pour in milk; bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking frequently. Then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 3 minutes or until sauce is smooth and thickened.

Remove from heat, and whisk in both cheeses, mustard, chives, cayenne pepper, and half the salt and pepper. Fold in pasta and lobster.

Pour into a greased 3-quart baking dish.

Combine crushed crackers and remaining 2 Tbsp. melted butter. Stir in rest of salt and pepper. Sprinkle over casserole.

Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until crust is crisp and sauce bubbles. Let stand 5 minutes before serving; serve with a veggie or side salad.

Enjoy!  We sure did!  And leave me your comments - they motivate me to keep blogging!

Cheers, C

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Prodigal Food Blogger: Creole Seafood Gumbo

Alas, alas, the Prodigal Blogger returns, if only for a minute. 

Yes, I miss blogging.  It's been months.  I've made idle promises.  I've failed you all.  Friends and family alike, you all have told me how much you've missed reading about what I'm eating.  To you, I apologize sincerely.  You know, life happens and all, but this is one of those many somethings with which I'm in need to be consistent. 

Ah, consistency.  My favorite foe.

In lieu of a longer, more detailed post, I'll leave you with this as I dip my toe into the blogosphere once more.  I recently moved offices and now am seated in the corporate campus of a large telecommunications company.  I love my job, and more importantly, I love the cafeteria. 

Today had this:

Southern Creole Gumbo with Shrimp, Crab, and Andouille. 

Check out that chunk of REAL crab.  So mouthwatering.  Loaded with bacon, kidney beans, tomatoes, celery, and love.  Yes, from a corporate food vendor.  I'm telling you, these guys do NOT mess around.  I'd say I'd blog about what I eat at work once a week, but.. I'll let my track record speak for itself for now, and do the best I can in the meantime.

Not to mention, every Tuesday, we sponsor a local New Jersey Farmers' Market.  So they came in and, well you know me.  I bought a GORGEOUS purple eggplant,

And these ridiculous yellow summer squash.  They don't even look real.  I've never seen yellow summer squash this big, this un-bruised, this ...healthy.  Not in the grocery stores, not anywhere else.  You know I had to buy it.  And for $1.29/lb, I was beyond thrilled.  E, get ready for dinner this week!

Oh, and of course they were giving out samples of cakes and breads.  I heard they had tiramisu - a personal weakness - , but they ran out of it and everything else (raspberry lemon cake, shortbread, cookies, puddings, you name it) by the time I got there.  The only thing left was this:

Crumb Coffee Cake with Walnuts.  Not my first choice, but I couldn't turn it down.  And I'm glad I didn't.

Plus, being myself - an extreme sucker for flowers - I bought myself some of these beauties for $2.00.  They really brighten up my cubicle!  (Not that it needs much brightening.  I'm a pretty colorful girl.)

So there you have it.  I've been up to a lot these weeks.. months.. but, I'm back.  And I plan on staying a while.  You'll still keep up with me, right?  Right?  Please do.  I'd love to have you here!

Cheers, C

Sunday, May 1, 2011

First GVK Barbecue of 2011! and Turkey Burger Recipe

Happy Weekend!  E and I had a really eventful weekend visiting friends in North Jersey.  We had some superb eats, including Cuban Pete's in Montclair (link) which was out. of. this. world.  I didn't take any pictures, but I can tell you that everything we had was outstanding.  E got the "naked" paella, and I got the mango chicken.  Yes, those are the English names, but I cannot remember the Spanish!  Let me just say, this is by far the best Cuban food I have ever had.  Please, go here (BYOB)!  You wont be disappointed.  And take me with you.

Upon coming home, we were absolutely stuffed, but we had to have dinner tonight, right?  After eating out for every single meal since Friday, E thought of something brilliant:

C, let's cook.  And let's make it burgers and doggies on the grill.

Um, yes?!

my dining room aka the clutter space bc i have no room for anything in my @)#(!^@ apartment.  And E. <3
 Reminder: I hate my kitchen. (Reference blog title.)  That also expands into the majority of my apartment, which I loved six years ago upon moving in, however.. it's six years later.  This even expands a little further, past the 900 square feet onto my deck.  Yes, I do love it, and I love the beautiful view I have.. 


But I am not allowed to have a grill on my deck.  See that house directly across from me?  That's my superintendent's house.  So anything I do, she sees.  Damn.
Enter my tiny little Walmart-special itty-bitty-baby travel-sized propane grill:

 to create the following feast:

messy dining room table from the 1970s

Turkey Burgers (recipe below) with muenster cheese on a potato bun

Oscar Meyer turkey dogs
Mediterranean pasta salad with feta, black olives, and whole cloves of roasted garlic (delicious!!  thank you SR deli)

Famous GVK garden salad (recipe at this link)
 And pickles, corn on the cob, chips, and all the trimmings.  We don't mess around here.

GVK's Favorite Turkey Burgers

  • 1 lb ground turkey breast
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup good tomato sauce.  I use chunky veggie tomato sauce to get pieces of goodness in each savory bite.
  • 5 shakes Frank's hot sauce
  • 5 shakes Worchestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp of each of the following:
    • Lawry's seasoned salt
    • fresh-ground multi-colored peppercorns
    • garlic powder
    • onion powder
    • oregano (dried or fresh)
    • basil (dried or fresh)
    • barbeque seasoning
    • Italian seasoning (I use Mrs. Dash salt-free)
Really easy: Mash up everything together, mix evenly with your hands, and make four to six patties (depending on what size you like).  Let sit for a half hour in your fridge.  Then grill at 375* til cooked through (internal temperature should be 170*).


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Main Street Trattoria and What's the Scoop, Metuchen NJ

Tonight I got together with two of my Most Wonderful friends from college, one of whom I haven't seen in YEARS.  I missed you, C!!  We met for dinner in the cute little town of Metuchen, NJ.  It's close to the three of us and they have tons of nice restaurants in the area that I've been meaning to try; I've driven through the town many times with E but have never stopped; now, I've been to THREE different places in the town within five days!

Friday I celebrated my friend J's birthday at Hailey's Harp and Pub (link).  This place reminded me of a frequently every-so-often visited pub by my college - Firkin Tavern (link).  Yes, that's the name of it.  Check it out.  The only thing Firkin has on Hailey's?  Human-sized Jenga.
Hailey's has a large space, great bar, live music, and a separate game room where we hung out and played bar games.  Rumor has it the food is good too!

Tonight was dinner with J and C at Main Street Trattoria (linked). Of course, I forgot to take pictures of my food, but the company was so good I cannot be blamed.  So there.

We all had specials - C had the Crab-Stuffed Flounder, J had the Mushrooms and Feta with Spinach Gnocci in a Sherry Cream Sauce (I know, right?  Both sound phe-nom!).  I had something that I probably could have made at home, but I couldn't help it:  Chicken with Artichokes and Olives with Linguine in a Creamy Spinach Pesto.

Man, why did I not get pictures.

We ate al fresco under a gorgeous sunny sky, and caught up on our lives.  In eating with these two ladies, I was brought back to our college days and spending tons of time together.  We are all so alike in many ways, and  even though our lives have obviously distanced since those great years together, we laughed and joked like we hadn't missed a moment.  Love you ladies so much!

I ordered an espresso, and finally remembered to take a picture.  Oh well, it was great, freshly made, and complimented my dinner perfectly even though it made me stay up til after 1 AM.  When will I learn?

We went hopped across the street and went to an ice cream parlor, where J knew one of the employees.  It is called What's the Scoop? and they have roughly 145 fantastic flavors.  And this really cool flower arrangement that I just had to capture.

My ice cream selectionn?  "Dirty Sneakers" - Vanilla with caramel, peanuts, and a hint of chocolate syrup.  I had it with crumbled Take 5 (chocolate, pretzel, and peanut butter).  MMmmm..  Ice cream and I are such best buds.

This was a great dinner with some really special friends.  I'm so happy we made it happen!  So where are we going next time?

Monday, April 25, 2011

NYC Cooking Class.. I Wish.

So.  It's been a slow blogging week for me.  I went to my parents' house for Easter, and we had a gorgeous Sirloin steak, baked potatoes, spinach, broccoli, carrots, corn (we're big on the veggies, in case you couldn't tell) on Saturday night.. and a Ham, cabbage, and potatoes on Sunday night.  Yes, I forgot to take pictures.  But I was too busy eating.

This is just a quick note of jealousy - yes, lime green jello jealousy:

My dear, sweet E, courtesy of his sweet, sweet job..

gets to go on a team-building COOKING CLASS.. 

in NYC..

For free.

At least he gets to teach me everything he learns!

Cheers, C

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Homemade Chipwich!

Tonight I went to my bestie J and her fiance R's house for dinner. She made a stir fry with chicken, bok choy, snow peas, and other yummies with hot and spicy noodles, and sesame garlic sauce. Um, amazing.

Then we made ourselves some chipwiches. Well, I did, anyway.

Dakota was jealous.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Baked (not fried!) Eggplant Parmesan

I am a complete and utter Daddy's Girl, through and through.  I owe so much of what I am to him; not least of which is my love of cooking.  Isn't it wild to think how much the actions of one person can totally affect another's?  I love you, Dad.

I saw my Dad this morning where he works, and as usual, he gave me a huge shopping bag full of goodies from him and my Mom.  One surprisingly heavy item turned out to be a big, lovely eggplant from the local Farmers Market where they live.

My Dad, according to My Mom, has been on a huge Eggplant Parm kick, of which I have been the unfortunate non-recipient.  Times like this I wish I still lived at home!  So, when he gave me this giant eggplant today, I knew what I had to do.

He - and most people, I imagine - fry up their eggplant (or chicken cutlet, veal, or whatever "parm" they're making) before adding the cheese and tomato sauce.  However, E and I had just made fish tacos for our previous dinner (GREAT recipe which I'll share another day), of which the primary ingredient is fried cod.  Therefore, I decided to make this - my first attempt at Eggplant Parmesan! - by baking, not frying.
And man, oh man, it's one of the best Eggplant Parms I've EVER had.  If I do say so myself.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

  • One large or two small, firm eggplants
  • Two eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs.  I used a 1/2 cup whole wheat and 1/2 cup regular.
  • 2/3 cups Parmesan and Romano grated cheese
  • Stuff to season your breading with.  I used a teaspoon of each garlic powder, parsley, oregano, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Speaking of salt..
  • A good type of salt - I used sea salt, but kosher salt will do.  I try not to use table salt (grains are too small).  I'll tell you why you'll need this in a sec.
  • A jar of good tomato sauce (or make your own)
  • A block of good, whole-milk or part-skim mozzarella
Preheat your oven to 450*F.

Cut off the tops of your eggplant, and peel.  Then cut lengthwise into pieces about 1/4 inch thick, maybe smaller.  It's not easy to cut these, so take your time and use a sharp knife.

Then use your good, coarsely-ground salt and lightly salt each piece of the eggplant.  The purpose of this is to make the eggplant "sweat out" the bitterness.  Without this salting process, the small seeds within the eggplant will taste somewhat bitter.  And it's kind of cool to watch.  Leave the eggplant pieces in a bowl for about 20-30 minutes.  You'll see the pieces actually release water and "sweat".  Kinda cool, right?  Google "eggplant sweating", you'll be surprised.

While you're waiting, prepare your breading: Mix the breadcrumbs with 1/3 Parmesan/Romano mix and your seasonings.  After this time has passed, rinse off the pieces with cold water and dry thoroughly.

 Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper and drizzle with EVOO.  Dredge your rinsed and dried eggplant slices in the egg, then in the breading.  Then place each carefully down on the oiled cookie sheet.

Place in your oven and bake for about 8 minutes, then flip over and bake for another 6-8 minutes or until the eggplant begins to brown.  Then remove and set aside.

At this point, I wanted to try a piece myself straight out of the oven.  WOW.  Not even kidding, the first bite surprised the heck out of me.  I was not expecting how delicious it was!  Quite frankly, you could stop your recipe right here and have some amazing eggplant cutlets that are baked and much healthier for you.  What started as a bite turned into me eating TWO full pieces of breaded eggplant.  No sauce, no (extra) cheese, just me, and this strange purple fruit.

I'm surprised I put the fork down long enough to take this picture.
An aside: When my parents got married, one of their wedding gifts was a set of sizzle platters that they still use over 35 years later.  When I moved out on my own, one of the gifts they got me were the very same plates!  (I still think theirs are better, but then again, I hate my kitchen and nearly everything about it and in it.  Remember the blog name?)
If you have these or something like it, they work great for dishes like this.  I used two of them.

Coat the platter with a layer of tomato sauce, then place your eggplant on top, then another layer of tomato sauce.  Cut pieces of mozz cheese, layer them on, and sprinkle the remaining 1/3 of Parmesan/Romano cheese.  Put back in the oven another 10 minutes so the cheese melts and everything gets hot and crispy and ..awesome.

I served this with whole-grain linguine, a side of steamed spinach, and hot fresh garlic bread.  Amazing!  And - healthy!  Perhaps I should investigate the actual nutrition facts for my recipes?

As always, please let me know what else you'd like to see.  I hope you enjoy!

Cheers, C