Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Wonders of Homemade Chicken Stock

        Lisa's Dinnertime Dish has moved.  Please visit me at my new and improved blog site!  The new address is  I look forward to seeing you at the new site!!

     Ok, I admit it....I've become a chicken stock snob.  I used to be fine with buying the canned broth, then I moved up to stock in a box.  Then, one crazy day I decided to try making my own and since then, I try to always have homemade stock on hand.  It pains me when I run out and have to go the store for the pre-made stuff.  It's not that stock in a box is so terrible, it actually can taste pretty good.  But it can have a fairly high sodium level and it's not cheap.  A quart size box can cost upwards of $3.00.  Making your own  costs next to nothing, you control how much salt goes into it, it tastes really good.....and it's not that hard to make.

     Homemade chicken stock is really cheap to make because the main ingredient is something that you'd normally throw away, chicken bones and the scraps of meat and skin.  The other basic ingredients are water and vegetables.  Water of course is free and it's a good way to use up your vegetables that are a little past their prime.  Now, I don't mean they're going moldy, they're just not the ones that you'd use for a crudite' platter.  So anytime I roast a chicken, I put the bones and leftover scraps in the freezer so I'll be ready to go the next time I need stock (If you never roast your own chicken but you buy rotisserie chicken, you could use the bones from that).

     Making chicken stock does not require a lot of hands on time either.  Basically, you throw your ingredients into a big pot (the bigger the better, because that means more stock) and let it simmer for several hours.  Then you put it in the refridgerator to cool it off and let the fat congeal (I usually leave it in overnight).  Finally, you strain it, put it in containers and freeze it.  Then you've got plenty of stock on hand for making soups and sauces.

Homemade Chicken Stock


 The amount of ingredients will vary based on the size of your pot.  I use a gigantic 16 quart pot.  So if you're using an 8 quart pot, you'd use the smallest amount that I list.
  • bones and scraps from 1 to 2 chickens (I put them in the pot still frozen)
  • 2 to 4 large stalks of celery, broken into large pieces
  • 2 to 3 whole carrots, cut into chunks (I didn't have any, so I used up some baby carrots)
  • 1 to 2 onions, quartered
  • a handful of parsley
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns
  • 1 to 2 tsp salt (I purposely don't put much salt in.  I prefer to add the salt when I use it in a recipe)
  • enough water to cover the chicken and vegetables, about 2 to 3 inches from the top of the pot

Put chicken and vegetables in your pot

Then fill your pot with water

Cover pot and heat over high heat until it comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, move cover off a bit so that steam can escape and simmer for 3 hours.

Remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Remove as much of the chicken and vegetables as you can with tongs or a scoop.  Put in the refridgerator for several hours or overnight, until fully chilled and fat has congealed on top.

Skim off as much of the fat as you can.

Then take a clean kitchen towel, a colander and a large bowl.  Line the colander with the kitchen towel and place in the bowl.

Then ladle the broth into the cloth.  The cloth is going to strain out any solids that are in the stock.

You will then have a nice clear stock.

Ladle into freezer containers.  I like to put the stock in a combination of 2 and 4 cup containers.  My 16 quart pot yielded me 9 quarts of stock. 

Isn't that beautiful?  I hope you all give this a try.  It's really worth the effort!!

Shared at Easy Natural Food on 12/4/11

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fish in a Sack: It's What's For Dinner

        Lisa's Dinnertime Dish has moved.  Please visit me at my new and improved blog site!  The new address is  I look forward to seeing you at the new site!!

     Well I'm going to start out by sidetracking.  I just have to talk about truffle salt some more and give you one more reason why you should splurge and buy some of your own.  It is great on popcorn!  Steve, Alex and I discovered this a few months ago when we went out to dinner at a place called Muffeleta's in St. Paul.  Along with the bread, they brought out popcorn that was cooked in duck fat and then sprinkled with truffle salt.  It has to be one of the most delicious things I've had!  We had to restrain ourselves from asking for more since we'd ordered an actual meal.  Since then we like to sprinkle our popcorn with truffle salt at home.  It's a little bit of heaven on earth!

     Now....on to fish.  I wanted to make something light and healthy for dinner again tonight.  So I went to my "go to" fish recipe.  It's a Rachael Ray recipe and I have been making it for a number of years now.  It comes together pretty fast.  There is a little bit of chopping and then it's just assembling individual parchment paper packets.  It is a great recipe to make if you're entertaining because you can make the packets up ahead of time and put them in the fridge.  Then when your guests arrive all you have to do is put them in the oven for 20 minutes.  Clean up is really easy with this meal too!  I always use halibut, but you could use any white fish that you like.

Fish in a Sack
Adapted from Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals
  • parchment paper
  • 1 lb ready-trimmed green beans
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 16 strips thinly sliced roasted red pepper (I always buy it in the jar)
  • 4 - 6 to 8 oz pieces of halibut
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 scallions, chopped (white and green parts)
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • 1 lemon, cut into 8 slices
  • 1/2 cup white wine

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Rip off 4 sheets of parchment paper, each a little over a foot long.
Place 1//4 of the green beans in the center of each sheet, 1/4 of the garlic, 1/4 of the roasted pepper strips and the halibut portions.
Season the fish with salt and pepper and top with equal amounts of the scallions and parsley.  Drizzle with olive oil liberally and pour 2 tbsp of white wine over each piece of fish.  Top each piece with 2 lemon slices.

Fold the top and bottom edges of the parchment together.  Then, starting at the creased corner, start rolling the edges together to seal the packets.

Place packets on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes.  They turn out perfectly every time!

Shared at Amee's Savory Dish on 9/28/11
Shared at Family Fresh Meals on 1/1/12.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Healthy Post-fair Meal: Grilled Steak and Grilled Vegetables

       Lisa's Dinnertime Dish has moved.  Please visit me at my new and improved blog site!  The new address is  I look forward to seeing you at the new site!!

       After pigging out at the state fair all day on Saturday, I felt we needed to repent and eat a healthy dinner of vegetables along with a lean protein for dinner on Sunday.  What exactly would that be?  I remembered that I had some beef tenderloin steaks in the freezer (that I of course had bought when they were on sale).  So I took them out to defrost and then checked the fridge and found a bag of mixed greens.  Then I was off to Trader Joe's for more veg.  I picked up some bell peppers, zucchini, broccolini, portabella mushrooms and red onion.  We were going to grill!

     Grilled vegetables are so easy to make and they taste fantastic!  If you have picky vegetable eaters in your house, it's a great way to get them to try new veggies.  Something magical happens to the veggies when they're grilled, I don't believe I've met a grilled veggie that I didn't like.  They take on the smoke flavor from the grill and they get nice color on them and things like broccoli or broccolini get a kind of nutty flavor to them.  Try it!

     The nice thing about grilling something like beef tenderloin is that you don't have to do much of anything to it.  It's already tender and it has great flavor.  Last night I seasoned them with fresh cracked pepper and truffle salt.  If you've never tried truffle salt (or truffle oil)  you should.  It is sooooo good!  The one down side to it is that it's pricey.  But I think it's well worth the price, a little goes a long way and so it lasts forever.  Truffles (they're a kind of mushroom) have a very distinctive flavor that's really like nothing else, so it's hard to describe.  Once you've had it, though, you will recognize it as soon as you smell it or taste it and it will make you want to lick your plate!  I have found truffle oil at the grocery store and I found truffle salt at Chef's Gallery in Stillwater.

The menu I came up with for Sunday was:
  • Truffled tenderloin steak
  • Grilled  vegetables
  • Mixed greens salad with balsamic vinaigrette (8/22 post)

Grilled vegetables

You can use whatever vegetables you like, in whatever quantity you like.  I made quite a bit so that I would have leftovers.
  • bell peppers
  • zucchini
  • portabella mushrooms
  • broccolini
  • red onion
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper.
Preheat grill to medium high heat
Cut vegetables up into fairly large pieces, so they don't fall throught the grate on the grill.  It works well to slice the onion into about 1/2 inch thick slices and slice the zucchini lengthwise into about 1/4 inch slices.  I just left the broccolini whole as well as the the mushrooms.  I cut the bell peppers into pieces about 2 inches wide

Brush all of the veggies with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper

A flat pan for the grill works great for onions and peppers, they tend to slip through the grate easily.

Place all of the veggies on the grill and cook for about 15 minutes or until they start to get grill marks and soften up.

Since I had so many veggies, Steve grilled them first and then I put them in an oven set to warm until the steaks were done.

After dinner, I cut up the leftover vegetables and will use them this week for things like a frittata or omelet or top a salad with them.  Check back for details later this week.

Truffled tenderloin steaks

  • Four 6-8 oz beef tenderloin steaks
  • truffle salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

This is what the truffle salt looks like

Grill steaks (1" to 1 1/2" thick) 4 minutes per side for medium rare and 6 minutes per side for medium.  If you want them more done than that, you are on your own. 
Let rest for a few minutes before serving so that the juices have time to redistribute.

It was a delicious meal and one that we didn't have to feel guilty about!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A state fair food tour

        Lisa's Dinnertime Dish has moved.  Please visit me at my new and improved blog site!  The new address is  I look forward to seeing you at the new site!!

     A day at the Minnesota State Fair.  Summer wouldn't be complete with out it!  Yesterday was the day for my family.  For us it is all about the food and it is a completely "free" day when it comes to eating.  Do you want ice cream for breakfast?  Fine.  You want to follow that up with a footlong hotdog?  No problem.  You get the idea.  So what I have today is a photo tour of our food highlights.

First stop, the Pronto Pup

The sign does not lie, it is a banquet on a stick

I know, a little piggish.  But oh, so tasty!

Alex stepped out a bit and tried some alligator.  He had the Alligator Saute.  And as you'd expect, it tasted like chicken.

I was a little nervous to try it, but it was actually good

It came with alligator shaped cajun fries.  Isn't that cute?
 Next up?  French fries!

Gotta have fresh cut French fries!
 And next.....Spam curds?

Ok, we didn't actually eat any, but we liked the sign!

The deep fried candy bars are a must have every year.

Sugary sweet goodness!!
Nicole and Kelly's candy bar of choice is the Snickers.  You want one, don't you?
After all that sugar, it was time for something salty.  Deep fried pickles!

It's a variety pack, plain, cajun and cream cheese.  All good!
Dig in!!

The pretzel wrapped hotdog was a highlight.  Skin on hotdog, wrapped with a buttery, good pretzel.
Mmm! So good dipped in mustard.
Enough with the salty, back to sweet.  Deep fried apple pie with cinnamon ice cream.
What's wrong with this?!
Pizza from the Green Mill is always a good choice.
Believe me, it didn't last long!

We topped off our evening with an onion flower while we watched the lumberjack show.
Deep fried goodness!!
After all that, we went home and sprawled on the couch in a total food coma!  A good day at the fair, definitely!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

And on Thursday she.....baked? Yes, I made banana bread!

        Lisa's Dinnertime Dish has moved.  Please visit me at my new and improved blog site!  The new address is  I look forward to seeing you at the new site!!

      I don't normally do much baking.  But today, all the stars were aligned and I found myself in the kitchen making banana bread.  It started with today's paper and the article in the Taste section on making banana bread.  Somehow, I felt inspired.  I knew I had ripe bananas, since Nicole had put three really ripe bananas in the freezer a while ago (the exact amount I needed). I also had everything else on hand except for chocolate chips (or so I thought).  So Nicole and I made a quick trip to the grocery store for chocolate chips and I was ready to bake.....until I discovered that I only had one egg when I needed two.  Sooo, I sent Alex off to the store for eggs (it's great having a new driver in the house, they are always willing to run an errand).

     Finally, I was ready to bake!  It was a really easy recipe.  I thought it was very straight forward and came together very easily.  There were a couple of tips in the article that I thought were helpful.  The first is to toss the chocolate chips with a tablespoon of flour so that they don't sink in the batter and the other was to bake the bread at a higher temperature for the first 10 minutes.  This made the outside nice and crispy and the inside stayed nice and moist.....and it tasted really good, too!

                                                         Banana Bread
                                                     From the StarTribune

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, tossed with 1 tbsp flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Coat a 5 by 9 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.  (pan size does matter, 5 by 10 inch is fine, but 5 by 8 inch may overflow).

In a bowl of a mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Reduce speed and add eggs one at a time, mixing until combined.

Add mashed bananas and mix well.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add to banana mixture and mix until just combined.  Remove bowl from mixer and stir in chocolate chips.

Scrape batter into a loaf pan and place in the oven.

Set timer for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the top no longer looks moist and the sides are beginning to pull away from the pan.

Let sit for 5 minutes on a wire rack, then run a knife along the edges and invert loaf onto the rack to cool completely.

Slice and enjoy!!