Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

My tip for today: sweat the onions.  Always saute them for the best flavor of your soups, casseroles, and sauces.  The strong flavor in onions is volatile and will cook off if you saute them first. I use olive oil that doesn't like extreme high heat.  Any oil works fine.

If you throw them in the soup pot or casserole raw, they add a strong flavor and make your food taste like institutional food.  If you want a subtle seasoning that onions provide, saute them first.  I don't like raw onion, but have to have it in certain foods even though the aftertaste is too annoying to me.  What is a hamburger without a sweet onion?  I will put up with the aftertaste.  

Real sweet onions are Vidalias in the Spring, Walla Walla in the Summer and Peruvian onions in the winter.  Bermuda onions are not that sweet to me.

Did you know that you cannot get rid of onion or garlic breath by brushing or breath mints?--at least not for long.  Onion and garlic flavor goes into your bloodstream and you continue to breathe it out for many hours.  Just saying.  Sauteing the onion reduces that annoying problem.  

My recipe today is one I developed after trying those frozen pasta dinners like Birdseye Voila Garlic Chicken with frozen broccoli and carrots.  I like the convenience, but don't like the frozen veges. So I make my own--One Pot Garlic Chicken. 

Carrots, broccoli and cauliflower

Oops, I forgot the garlic.  Saute the garlic with the onions, but not as long.  Garlic burns easily.  Add carrots with garlic and saute a few minutes.  Heat cannot be too high.

Another tip:  Never turn the heat on your pan above medium unless it contains liquids.  You will warp the pan.  Been there, done that.

Add three cups of water and the pasta.  Turn up to medium high and lightly boil for four minutes stirring occasionally.  Place the broccoli, cauliflower and canned chicken breast on top.  (Need recipes to rotate my canned food storage. You can add cooked chicken strips or your own cooked chicken.) Do not stir; do not put a lid on the pot; cook four more minutes.  Let the veges steam on the top. Keep the temperature to a bubbling simmer, but not boiling because you will not be stirring.

Another tip:  Never put a lid on the pot when cooking green veges. They give off a chemical when cooked that turns the vegetable yellow if it is trapped in the pan.  Not pretty.

Stir in the bottled Bertolli's Alfredo Sauce.  I buy that brand at Costco when available.  It stores for a limited time.  Bertolli's is my favorite.  The pan will have a lot of liquid in it and the pasta may not be completely cooked. Turn off the heat and let it sit for about five minutes.  It will thicken and finish cooking the pasta.  Now, voila, serve with grated hard cheese sprinkled on top.

One pot pasta meal

One Pot Garlic Chicken

1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots peeled or scrubbed, sliced
1-2 small heads of broccoli, cut in small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 of head of cauliflower, cut in small pieces
3 Cups water
1-2 Cups Rotini pasta
1 12.5 oz canned chicken gently broken apart
1/2 to 1 bottle Bertolli's Alfredo Sauce
Grated Romano or Parmesan cheese 

Gently saute onions in hot olive oil until soft.  Add garlic and carrots and saute 2 more minutes.  Add water and turn up heat to medium high.  Add pasta and gently boil for 4 minutes stirring occasionally.  Place broccoli, cauliflower and chicken on top, reduce heat to high simmer for 4 more minutes.  Do not stir; do not put on a lid for 4 more minutes.  Stir in Alfredo sauce, and turn off the heat.  Let sit for about 5 minutes to thicken sauce and finish cooking the pasta.  Serve with grated cheese.

Makes about 5 servings.

Note:  this is a low carb meal with extra veges and much less pasta. I use only 1/2 bottle of Alfredo Sauce and save the rest for a later use. The chicken and sauce have plenty of salt for my taste.  Add more if you like.  Also, I never put more than 1/2 of an onion in my recipes no matter what it calls for.  I don't want the onion flavor to overpower the dish, and my husband doesn't like onions anyway.

Final Tip:  If your cauliflower gets black spots on it before you get it used, scrub it off with a vege scrubber then use it.

When I get the 'recipe' for this little scrubber, I will post it.  I received two of them for a Christmas gift.  They are crocheted with netting.  

Happy Cooking!

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