Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Spice Destination - Huntington Station

Pardon my rhyming.


What is important is that down on Route 110 in a tiny plaza with an Arthur Murray and some other less interesting places there is a Penzeys Spice Store.

And yes it does have pretty much every spice and blend you can think of.

Go check it out!


Penzeys Spice Store

326 Walt Whitman Rd
Huntington Station, NY
(631) 271-7707

Mon.-Sat.: 10:00AM - 6:00PM
Sun.: 11:00AM - 5:00PM

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Different Kind of Pasta Sauce

I'm sure by now you're all pretty clear on the Vixen is lazy principle. I know I am.

I don't really like cooking for myself. It's a togetherness thing. Food is love and the point of love is that you share it. If I'm the only person sharing, the major effort isn't worth it.

So when I'm trying to feed myself, I go for quick and easy.

Today I'm making one of my favorites. See, we keep our freezer stocked with frozen things and that includes things like ravioli (The Fiance's favorite) and pelmeni (a filled pasta dish that I love). So I often dig out a bag of pelmeni and boil it up.

But I'm sure just as much as you know I'm lazy, you probably by now realize I'm not a fan of bland, boring food.

Now traditionally, pelmeni are served with butter fried onions. But I like to take things a step further. So I am making a sauce, that by the way would do fine with any kind of pasta, and it already smells good.

Earthy Veggie Pasta Sauce
-one onion, sliced thinly
-half a package of button mushrooms, sliced thinly
-half a zucchini, grated (but yes you can also slice it thinly)
-fresh, chopped parsley
-white wine (I swear I'm not addicted to using wine in recipes... really I'm not.)

Heat up a pan with some oil (olive if you're going Italian, veggie otherwise). Toss in the onions and mushrooms and let them brown for a few minutes before turning down the heat to med-low. Add zucchini, garlic and seasonings. Let it all meld together into that delicious caramelly-earthy palate of scents and flavors.

When all the veggies are soft but not mushy, add wine, as much as you like, and stir through. Let the alcohol cook off and, poof, you have an amazing and easy sauce that works well with any kind of pasta you like.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go eat my lunch. Mmmm.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Boring Leftover Pasta? No Problem!

Imagine for a moment that you are a twenty-five year old law student. Imagine that you are visiting your parents with The Fiance. Imagine that you are hungry.

Now imagine that you get horribly outvoted by your non-foodie parents and your suddenly-taken-leave-of-his-senses Fiance and have to go to Olive Garden.

Take a moment to mourn now. I'm sure you need it.

So you go. (Grudgingly of course.) And you eat. (But you don't enjoy it.)

And then you bring home the leftover linguine which is supposedly richly flavored with a garlic-butter-wine sauce. (But is of course completely flavorless, if creamy.)

Now since you are that twenty-five year old law student... you have tight funds and thus cannot afford to just waste food.

But... you don't really want to eat... whatever you want to call that pasta dish.

So what do you do?

Don't worry. I'll tell you. =)

OG Pasta Make-Over
-leftover boring/flavorless/tasteless pasta in the form of linguine
-1-2 chicken breasts
-olive oil
-white wine

Now I'm not a big fan of chicken breast so I like to dice it into bite sized pieces before cooking but I suppose if you like it better than I do then you can leave it in one chunk or slice it into strips. Either way. Dump it in a bowl and coat it in olive oil, basil and garlic. Then get out a frying pan - any kind but non-stick. If you get out the non-stick, do not pass go and do not make this recipe.

I'm not being elitist here. I swear. It's just that you really need the properties of those sticky pans for this to work.

Okay so heat up your good ole sticky pan with some more olive oil. Then when it's nice and sizzley (Yes it is a word! I'm a law student and I get to make up terminology!) , you want to get your chicken in there and then... leave it alone.

Yes I said it.

Don't touch the chicken! Leave that spatula be! For the love of all that is delicious, let the meat brown!

Phew. Okay. So once it's brown on one side, flip or otherwise move it around so it browns the other side.

Repeat until perfect browning has been achieved. Then remove the chicken to a bowl - I'd recommend a clean one. Salmonella is not your friend.

This might be a good time to get those leftover pasta thingies out of the fridge. It's best to get them to room temperature.

Anyhow, that's where that wine comes in. Pour it into the pan until it covers the bottom and using a nice wooden spoon scrape up all those glorious brown bits of awesome. Stir some more and let the wine cook off a little. Here I'd add some butter, just a tablespoon or two, to thicken the sauce. But if you're really against that sort of thing, I suppose you can leave it out. If you must.

Then add the chicken back into the pan along with the pasta. I like to add a little more garlic too. Stir that about, salt and pepper it, stir some more. And then... well this would be the eating part.

Mmm. Chickeny-pastay-garlicky goodness.

(Now if only Olive Garden would learn how to do that!)


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Leftover Turkey Pot Pie

I'm sure I'm not the only person whose Turkey Day dinner produces a ridiculous number of leftovers. And I'm sure I'm not the only person who wants to transform those leftovers into... something different.

This is my favorite way to do it.

Leftover Turkey Pot Pie
-a couple of Tbs of leftover garlic-sage butter (or plain butter... or even oil of some sort)
-2-3 tsp of leftover minced garlic
-handful or so each of leftover diced onion, celery and carrot
-a tsp or so of minced ginger
-several Tbs of flour
-a couple of cups diced turkey meat
-some of that awesome turkey stock you made out of the carcass (or, ya know, some canned broth)
-summer savory/thyme/sage
-frozen peas
-sherry or a white wine
-canned biscuits

Get a big pot started with some of that yummy butter until it melts and starts to sizzle a little. Then dump in the garlic, ginger, diced veggies and some salt and pepper. Let them wallow in the butter until they soften a bit and get a bit translucent. Then dump in the flour and stir the mess quickly so it all mixes together.

This is a good time to add a mix of stock and water. I use a mix cause my stock is kind of intense - I like to cook it down a lot. Then add some milk (or if you, like me, discover that you're magically out of that delicious, creamy liquid, you can sub in heavy cream). And let that simmer up for 10-20 minutes.

And now in goes the turkey, the herbs, the peas and a glug of your choice of alcohol. Let it simmer for a little bit then taste.

Soup is a highly taste as you go sort of thing. At this point, you should definitely taste and adjust seasonings but I tend to taste at pretty much all stages. Find your happy medium.

Anyhow, now that it's all simmered together and you tasted and seasoned and whatnot, it's ready for the oven. (Which you totally should have preheated to whatever the biscuit can says! Like... I didn't.) Or you can stick it in the fridge or even the freezer and take it out when you need it.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. Oven. So my favorite way of doing this is getting a bunch of oven safe mugs but you can use what you like as long as it's oven safe. Fill your containers with soup goo and then pop some biscuits on top.

Bake until the biscuits puff up and turn golden brown. Then eat. Well.... wait for it to cool off so you don't burn your tongue and then eat. No, I totally have never burned my tongue that way... Why do you ask?

Happy leftovers!


P.S. The fiance likes me to add parboiled potatoes into the soup but we have a ton of mashed taters left so I'm going to serve the soup with potato cakes. I looove potato cakes.