Cardamom Chili Chicken with Ginger Almond Rice

Cardamom Chili Chicken

8 pieces boneless and skinless chicken

2 tablespoons sesame or peanut oil

4 cloves minced garlic

1 cup diced onions

1 teaspoon ground chili peppers

½ teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground pepper

¼ cup sake or white wine

Heat oil and add garlic and onions and sauté until translucent. Place chicken pieces in baking dish and sprinkle with chili, cloves, cardamom, salt and pepper. Drizzle garlic, onions, oil and sake over the spiced chicken. Bake at 350 for an hour, or until chicken is tender. Serve with ginger almond rice.

Ginger Almond Rice

1 cup long grain rice

2 tablespoons butter

¼ cup blanched slivered almonds

2 tablespoons minced onions

1 teaspoon powdered ginger

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups chicken broth

Melt butter in pan and add almonds and onions. Sauté for a few minutes. Add rice and coat with butter. Stir in ginger, salt and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook about 20 minutes until rice is tender.

Stuffed Red and Green Peppers with Parmesan Polenta

4 green bell peppers

4 red bell peppers

8 ounce package cream cheese

8 ounce package feta cheese

8 ounces bay shrimp

8 ounces diced pepperoni

1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, diced

1 can diced green chilies

½ cup cornmeal

½ cup quick grits

1 teaspoon each chicken and beef bouillon

½ teaspoon cumin

2 tablespoons hot sauce, or to taste

3 cups water

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cloves minced garlic

8 ounce jar roasted red peppers, diced

1 cup marinara sauce

½ teaspoon thyme

½ teaspoon oregano

½ cup Parmesan

½ cup minced Parsley

Start the Polenta. Place cornmeal, grits, bouillon, cumin, hot sauce and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn off heat, stir in Parmesan cheese and let sit while you prepare the peppers and sauce.

Cut the peppers in half sideways and remove the veins and seeds. Trim them up to resemble shallow boats. Mix cream cheese with feta, shrimp, pepperoni, artichokes and green chilies together and place an equal portion in the middle of each half pepper. Bake in the oven at 350 until the filling is hot, about 10 to 15 minutes.

While peppers are cooking sauté garlic in olive oil and add red peppers, sauce, thyme and oregano. Bring to a simmer and taste. Add salt if needed.

Pour polenta on a platter. Place stuffed peppers on top. Drizzle the sauce on top and sprinkle with ½ cup Parmesan and parsley.

Bacon, Scallop and Shrimp Skewers with Mushroom Rice with Chili Vegetables

1 pound 24 count shrimp

1 pound bay scallops

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

½ teaspoon ginger

1 pound thin sliced bacon

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

1 cup uncooked rice

2 ½ cups broth

1 teaspoon salt

8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup cauliflower, cut up

½ cup sliced onions

2 tablespoons garlic chili paste

Peel shrimp and put the shrimp and scallops in a bowl and marinate in fish sauce, rice vinegar and ginger. Cut 6 slices of bacon each into 2 pieces each. Take twelve skewers and divide the scallops shrimp into twelve servings and thread them on skewers. Loosely wind ½ slice of bacon along with the shrimp and scallops. Place them in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook them. Fry the rest of the bacon until it is crispy and reserve for later. Cook the rice in broth and teaspoon salt. Cut up cauliflower, broccoli and onions. Heat sesame oil and sauté vegetables and stir in chili paste. Keep warm. When rice is done reheat bacon grease and add mushrooms and rice. Broil seafood skewers while mushrooms are cooking with the rice. Place rice in a serving bowl and sprinkle with green onions, sesame seeds and the bacon crumbled on top. Serve with scallop and shrimp skewers and garlic chili vegetables.

Mojave

     The black car slowly makes its way down the smooth dirt road headed towards the ranch that is the destination for the occupants of the car. The sagebrush and cactus are barely visible beyond the headlights and the lights of the house they are headed towards are barely visible on the horizon. There is only a sliver of a moon hovering over the desert as the car glides down the road.

     “Stop the car, I see one laying across the road.”

Sherrie brings to car to a stop. “I don’t see anything.”

Tom has a large flashlight in his hand and he hands it to Sherrie. “It’s right there stretched out across the road. I want you to point this light right in front of me and keep it there.”

Sherrie grabs the flashlight and turns it on as Tom gets out of the car. She focuses the beam in front of him as he walks around in front of the car. All of a sudden she can see the six foot rattlesnake that is stretched across the road. It is soaking up the warmth from the dirt that has been absorbing the hot desert sun all day.

“Pay attention. You need to keep the light right in front of me.” Tom yells at her.

“I’m trying. I really wish you wouldn’t do this.” She wasn’t too happy when Tom told her his plan to kill a rattlesnake so he can skin it and make a hatband out of it. She suggested that they purchase an already dead snake. Tom said they were too expensive and he has killed them many times before. He used to live in this desert.

“Hold the light still.” Tom says as he takes the pitchfork he had put in the trunk when they left the house.  They went to go to the county fair in nearby Lancaster. It was a much bigger fair than she had expected considering how small all the towns in the desert were. It had quite a few rides and a lot of food booths. Tom won her a stuffed animal at one of the carnival games. They stayed a couple of hours and headed back to his parents ranch. “I’m trying to. Don’t move so fast.”

Just about then the snake became aware he was being stalked and quickly coiled up and lashed out at Tom. Sherrie screamed.

“Damn it. Shine the light on the snake. Do you want me to get bit?” He sounds pissed off.

“No. I would prefer you wouldn’t even be doing this.” She is totally freaked out after watching the rattler strike out at Tom.

“You have made that perfectly clear.” Then Tom lunges with the pitchfork and pins the snake to ground. “Shit, it just bit itself. Now we can’t eat it.”

Sherrie is just glad he has stopped it from striking. She couldn’t care less about the meat of the snake being ruined. “That’s alright. Didn’t you just want to make a hatband out of it?”

“Yeah, but I was hoping to eat it also. It really does taste like chicken.” Tom stabs the snake again to make sure it is dead. He picks it up and puts it in the trunk of the car.

Sherrie starts the car up and drives back to the ranch. When they get there she makes Tom walk in front of her as they go into the house. She doesn’t want to run into another rattlesnake. After he walks her into the house he goes back to the car and brings in the dead snake.

“One time when I was a kid my mom ran over a big rattler on the way to town and I got out and put it in the trunk. We went to the store and then started to come back here to the ranch. Mom spotted the snake on the back seat in her mirror and freaked out. She stopped the car in the middle of the road and jumped out. I took a stick and killed it but she didn’t want it in the trunk again. She made me sit on the trunk all the way home holding the snake. Dad thought it was funny.”

“I don’t blame her.” Sherrie watched as Tom skinned the snake that he had already cut the head off of. She couldn’t believe it as she watched the skinless and headless snake meat coil up as if it were going to strike. It was amazing what the natural reflexes of this creature were. It is a truly prehistoric monster.

When she went to bed that night she had a nightmare of a huge white headless snake striking at her. She knew where that nightmare had come from.

The next day Tom’s parents host a barbeque for their friends and neighbors to celebrate their son and his girlfriend coming to visit them. They had bought a lamb from one of their neighbors and they were going to bury it in a pit and cook it overnight. This made for a two day party.

The first day consisted of playing croquet and badminton on the grass and sand play ground that was set up next to the outdoor barbeque pit. All day long everyone played croquet and badminton in teams while taking turns throwing chunks of wood onto the rock lined pit under a large grill that they would barbecue chickens on for dinner the first night of the party. Everyone drank and ate all day.

That evening they dressed out the lamb and stuffed it with onions and garlic and poured jars of homemade salsa all over the outside. Then it was wrapped in wet burlap bags. The rocks in the barbecue pit were shoveled into a hole that was dug in the sand next to it and the burlap package of lamb slathered in salsa and onions was placed on top of the hot rocks and more rocks and then dirt buried the carcass.

The next afternoon the party started again and the lamb was dug up. The burlap was removed and the lamb that was falling off the bone tender was placed on platters. Piles of fresh tortillas and roasted vegetables were placed on a table for the guests to dig in. Cold beer was served along with the melt in your mouth tender lamb.

Later on in the evening, next to the barbeque, lay a six foot long rattlesnake. He is enjoying the heat provided by the warm rocks that were removed from the barbeque pit.

Tom is drinking beer and enjoying the succulent lamb along with everyone else. His parents are really excited to meet his girlfriend. He told them that they were planning on getting married. He walks over to the barbeque and walks right into the snake that is resting on the rocks. Before he has time to react the huge snake coils up and lunges at him.

BAMM!!!

The snake strikes him on the leg. No one has any weapons. They are all drinking and eating.

BAMM!!!

The snake strikes again. This time Tom manages to jump back and someone starts beating the snake with a shovel. The snake is killed.

Tom’s parents had a snake bite kit.They live in the Mojave Desert and it is home for rattlesnakes.

Spanish Style Stuffed Chicken with Saffron Rice

Chicken Breasts with Pimento Spinach Stuffing and Mustard Cream Sauce with Saffron Rice with Spanish Olives

Because of the red and green in the stuffing and the rice it makes a good dish for Christmas Eve. You can make everything ahead of time and reheat when you are ready to serve.

Chicken Breasts with Pimento Spinach Stuffing

8 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon paprika

8 ounce package fresh spinach

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves minced garlic

¼ cup chopped almonds

¼ cup minced roasted pimento or red pepper

1/3 cup grated Manchego cheese

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

8 slices prosciutto

Place chicken breasts on saran wrap and pound even thickness on cut side. Sauté chopped fresh spinach in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper until the liquid is rendered out. Mix in chopped almonds, pimento and cheese. Place prosciutto slice, cut in half if it fits betters on chicken breasts cut side to cover, leave side that skin came off of down on saran wrap. Place an amount of stuffing on top of the prosciutto that can be fully enclosed when you wrap the chicken around it. Reserve leftover stuffing for plating the breasts. First wrap the prosciutto around the stuffing and then fold the chicken around the prosciutto packet and secure with a toothpick or skewer. If you make these ahead wrap each one in the saran wrap they are on and refrigerate until you are ready to cook them, they can also be frozen for up to a week if you want to make them ahead of time.

Sprinkle outside of breasts with salt, pepper and paprika. Place stuffed breasts in a baking dish or on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes until breasts are done.

While chicken is baking make rice and sauce.

Saffron Rice with Spanish Olives

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup minced onions

1 cup long grain rice

½ cup chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon saffron

2 ½ cups chicken broth

½ cup chopped Spanish olives

Heat olive oil in saucepan and sauté onions for a few minutes and then stir in rice, tomatoes, salt and saffron. Mix flavors together for about 5 minutes and add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until rice is done. Sprinkle chopped olives over rice after it is arranged around the chicken breasts on a large platter. See bottom of recipe for serving suggestion.

Mustard Cream Sauce

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon flour

1 cup white wine

¼ cup capers

1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ cup cream

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon paprika

Melt butter and mix in flour. Add white wine and bring to a simmer and reduce by a third and mix in lemon juice, cream, salt, pepper and paprika.

Heat up leftover spinach stuffing. Place chicken breasts in the center of a large platter. Spoon the rice around the outside of the chicken. Spread the leftover stuffing on top of the chicken breasts, sprinkle the olives over the rice and drizzle sauce over stuffed chicken and rice.

 

Roast Chicken with Nutty Stuffing Casserole

3 tablespoon butter

¼ cup minced onions

2 cups cubed bread crumbs

¼ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup golden raisins

¼ cup hazelnuts

¼ cup sliced almonds

¼ cup thinly sliced celery

¼ cup chicken stock

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon rosemary

1 teaspoon black pepper

8 pieces chicken, skinless and boneless thighs and breasts work best

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon thyme

Melt butter in a saucepan and add onions. After a few minutes pour butter and onions over bread crumbs and add cranberries, raisins, hazelnuts, almonds, celery, stock, salt, rosemary and pepper. Mix well, stuffing should be slightly moist. It is going to absorb juices from roasting chicken so only more stock if stuffing isn’t moist at all. Place stuffing in a casserole dish that chicken pieces can all be arranged on top of the stuffing in a tight single layer. After placing the chicken on top sprinkle them with salt, pepper and thyme. Cover pan with a lid or foil and bake on middle rack at 350 for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes. Remove the pan and take out chicken and return pan to oven and put the stuffing under the broiler, second rack down works better, for about 5 to 10 minutes or until the stuffing starts to get crispy and lightly browned on top. Watch carefully so you don’t burn the stuffing. Put the pieces back on top of the stuffing and serve.

​Beef in Bacon, Mushroom and Wine Sauce over Pasta

4 slices bacon

2 pounds boneless beef, cut into 2” cubes

3 tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

¼ cup butter

1 ½ cups chopped onion

1 cup sliced carrots

3 coves minced garlic

1 cup sliced mushrooms

2 teaspoons paprika

½ teaspoon thyme

2 tablespoons brandy

1 ½ cups red wine

1 tablespoon sun dried tomato pasta

Fresh Pasta

Fresh grated parmesan

Cut bacon into 1” pieces and cook in a large soup pot. Remove bacon. Salt, pepper and flour beef and brown in bacon grease. Remove beef. Add butter, onions, carrots garlic and mushrooms to pot and sauté about 10 minutes. Add brandy, then add back beef and bacon along with the paprika, thyme, red wine and tomato paste. Simmer over low heat about 30 minutes. Pour over fresh pasta and top with grated parmesan.