Tag Archives: ingredients

Cooking The Perfect Coq Au Vin

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Cooking The Perfect Coq Au Vin

We should all cook to suit our individual tastes, but there are certain dishes where the cook simply needs to stay true to the dish; its reputation, its history and, for lack of a better word, its soul. If there’s one meal that falls into this category, it’s coq au vin. The chicken, the garlic, and the bottle of wine all need to be prepared in a certain way, even if it is just a chicken stew with a fancy name! Here are some pointers on how to prepare the perfect coq au vin:

The Chicken: The older the chicken, the richer the sauce will turn out. Talk to your butcher ahead of time to ensure that you get the perfect bird for the job. Tell them that you want a chicken that will be good for some long, slow cooking, and they may be able to order an extra-mature bird for you. The best places to look for these are generally farmer’s markets, traditional butchers, and online stores. You should always go free-range, as well. With regular access to fresh air, free-range birds develop stronger, thicker bones than any chickens kept indoors, and will therefore make for a better sauce.

The Wine: Many people think that the wine used in coq au vin is a negligible detail. Don’t believe them! Using a good quality wine in your cooking can make all of the difference to the taste, so go for a full-flavored, fruity wine rather than anything thin and lackluster. You don’t need to really push the boat out, even though some chefs will insist that you can only use a wine from Burgundy in this particular dish. If you can’t make heads or tails of wine in general, then do your homework before you run to the liquor store and buy a bottle! Here’s how you can open wine without a corkscrew in case you’ve forgotten this crucial detail! Yikes!

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YUM!

The Aromatics: The aromatics that go into your coq au vin are another very important detail that will hold a considerable sway over the overall taste. A lot of recipes that you’ll come across online will only call for onions and carrots, but we recommend adding celeriac and celery for their potent, earthy notes. Large French onions are an essential foundation for the actual stew. You can add little, tight-skinned onions near the end, but this ups the risk of you putting in too much or too little. A few bay leaves and some fresh thyme are the only herbs you’ll really need, but don’t be afraid to experiment.

The Bacon: Your coq au vin simply wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t have some strips of thick, juicy bacon to complement the chicken. The thin, common rashers you use in a fry-up will be way too thin. If you don’t manage to burn them when you’re preparing your stew, the meat will disintegrate in too much heat. Ideally, you should source a tough, solid lump that you can easily cut up into thicker strips. Most brands of pancetta will do nicely.

Bon appetit!

Featured Image By: Wikimedia

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Perfect Summer Drinks

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Perfect Summer Drinks

Hello everyone and welcome to part two of this weekend’s guest posts by my darling friend, Zeighn, at oneselementblog! Yesterday featured some of Zeighn’s favorite healthy summer picnic food recipes and today will showcase some sweet drinks to wash it down with. Zeighn linked me to a Cranberry & Ginger Tea Punch that sounds fabulous and will be teaching us how to make a yummy smoothie and mango based beverage below. Cheers!

Peach & Oat Smoothie:

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe peaches, quartered, pits removed
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 frozen banana (peeled before freezing)
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • Optional: 1 tbsp agave, maple syrup, or Stevia for added sweetness. (Or honey for non-Vegan.)

Instructions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and let set for 5-10 minutes so the oats and chia seeds can soak. Then blend until smooth.
  2. To thicken, add another quarter or half of a frozen banana. To thin, add more almond milk or OJ.
  3. Taste and adjust flavor as needed. I added a touch of agave.
  4. Serve immediately.

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Super-Spiced Mango Ice:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped, frozen mangoes (or 1 fresh mango)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 pinch of chili powder
  • Optional: 1 tbsp honey
  • Ice cube tray (Not that you can eat that!)

Instructions:

  1. Thaw the mango for about 30 seconds in the microwave. It’s easier to chop if it’s still partly frozen. Alternatively, chop up a fresh mango. Chop into small cubes, about 1/4 of an inch, and divide evenly into the ice cube tray.
  2. Zest orange and sprinkle into each cube.
  3. Sprinkle chili powder into each cube.
  4. Optional: Squirt a dollop of honey into each cube.
  5. Fill a small cup with water and pour carefully over the tray to cover the fruit. Place in freezer over night.

mango

Thank you so much again to Zeighn for sharing her favorite recipes with us for a perfect summer picnic! If you want more from my lovely guest blogger, check out her blog at oneselementblog or follow her on Instagram. Happy summer! Much love. -Sarah

Monday Update: Really Good Scones Edition

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Monday Update: Really Good Scones Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new week here on lifewithlilred! I hope all of you had a fabulous weekend. If there’s one thing that Lil Red loves, its cooking and baking. I could spend all day in the kitchen whipping up new meals and treats and have the time of my life. Recently, my mom acquired a new recipe from Today’s Kitchen in Wooster, Ohio to make Raspberry White Chocolate Scones and they are just as amazing as they sound. These scones are one of my favorite things to make and I just had to share the recipe with all of you since I made a fresh batch this weekend. They were delicious, if I do say so myself, so take a look at my finished product and then stick around for the recipe:

scones

Raspberry White Chocolate Scones:

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, half and half, or milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (I use 1 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup raspberries (I use 22 raspberries on the dot)
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips

The Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder (I use 1 tsp)
  • 3 tbsp cream or milk

Directions:

  1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2.  Whisk sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt together. Cut in butter until it is in small pieces. With a spatula stir in 3/4 cup cream, extract, berries, and white chocolate chips. Add more flour if dough is too wet. (Dough should form a relatively smooth, firm ball.)
  3.  Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and knead gently. (I usually have a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of flour handy because the dough will still be pretty wet.) Press or roll out into a 6 to 8 inch circle and cut into eight wedges. Place the wedges, not touching, on baking sheet. Bake scones for 20 minutes or until golden and slightly firm when pressed. (I bake mine for 12 minutes because my oven sucks.)
  4.  Cool on a wire rack and then coat with glaze.

These scones are simply to die for and I hope all of you enjoy them as much as my family and I do! Thank you so much again to Today’s Kitchen in Wooster, Ohio for the divine recipe!

So there you have it, this week’s Monday Update: Really Good Scones Edition! What is your favorite thing to cook or bake? Has anyone had any kitchen disasters lately? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Delicious Baked Ziti Recipe

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Delicious Baked Ziti Recipe

Hiii everyone and happy Tuesday! So in yesterday’s Monday Update I mentioned that I made my boyfriend a baked ziti dish for our six month anniversary. It turned out amazing and my beau and family really enjoyed it. The recipe I found on allrecipes was way too good not to share so I thought that I would post it for your super cheesy pleasure today! You’re welcome! 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups ziti pasta, uncooked
  • 1 (26) oz jar marinara sauce (Instead of plain old Ragu, I used a specialty sauce with extra garlic and herb flavoring to kick things up a little)
  • 1 (14.5) oz can diced tomatoes, undrained (I used a can that had additional oregano and Italian herb seasoning)
  • 6 oz cream cheese, cubed (The blocked cream cheese usually comes in 8 oz packaging so I just used the whole thing)
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 8 oz package of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Ingredients That I Added:

  • 8 cloves garlic
  • salt
  • pepper
  • basil
  • parsley
  • oregano
  • Italian seasoning

Ingredients I Will Use Next Time:

  • More seasoning
  • Onions
  • Green pepper
  • Zuchinni
  • Yellow squash

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cook pasta, using the directions on the packaging. Once the pasta is done cooking, remove and drain.
  3. After you have removed the pasta, turn the burner down to medium heat. Add the rest of your ingredients in the pan and let it cook for about 5 min. or until the cheese is completely melted.
  4. Add the pasta into the sauce and mix thoroughly.
  5. Layer the pasta into a 13×9 in. baking pan and then top with extra mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake for 20 min. or until heated through.

*** A word to the wise: This recipe made a GIGANTIC amount of food so be prepared for left overs! Here is the link to the recipe that I used, if you would like to reference it for any reason! Special thanks to whomever posted it, it was delicious! 🙂

The baked ziti was a hit for my family and my boyfriend so I hope all of you enjoy it as much as we did! What is your favorite food to make? What is your favorite food to eat? I wanna hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Dinner Date Night

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Dinner Date Night

Hi everyone and happy Hump Day! On Monday night, my boyfriend, Kyle, and I stayed in and made dinner together. We had so much fun cooking our meal and it was nice to have Kyle as my cheerleader/helper. We made zucchini enchiladas and guacamole and it turned out so fantastic! Take a look at our finished product and then I’ll provide you with the recipes so that you can make your own:

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^^^ YUM!

Zucchini Enchiladas:

This dish is a staple at my home so it was easy to wing the recipe. At my boyfriend’s house there wasn’t a lot of the spices that I needed to bring the heat to the enchiladas so I improvised for that. I also wasn’t cooking for a large amount of people so feel free to double the recipe if needed. My version made eight enchiladas.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 medium size red onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 package of sharp cheddar shredded cheese
  • salt
  • pepper
  • basil
  • oregano
  • cilantro
  • tortillas
  • salsa

Note that the original recipe calls for spices like cayenne pepper and cumin. The basil and oregano was what I was limited to – they are required in the recipe but are not the main herbs flavoring the dish.

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large pan and dice the vegetables. You will want them to cook until they’re golden.
  2. While the veggies are cooking, add in your herbs and spices. You’ll notice that I didn’t give an exact measurement for the seasonings and that’s because I rarely cook with the amount given on a recipe. I go a little crazy with my seasonings so feel free to add as much or as little as you wish.
  3. Now is a good time to preheat your oven to 350 while the veggies are almost done sauteing. Once the veggies are done, turn the stove top off and remove them from the heat. You will then pour the shredded cheese packet over your mixture and stir until the cheese is melted.
  4. While the oven is preheating, you will prepare the enchiladas for baking. Spray the bottom of a glass pan down with Pam and then put a layer of the salsa of your choosing on the bottom. Then you will fill your tortillas with three or so spoonfuls of the cheese and veggies, wrap them up, and place them in the pan.
  5. Once all of the enchiladas are rolled and ready, add a layer of salsa to the top of them and then sprinkle some cheese to top it off. Bake the enchiladas for 12-14 minutes and then remove from the oven.

Kyle and I also prepared a dish of guacamole together, as well. I was so happy that I had Kyle there to help me because he was such a pro at smashing all of the ingredients together! Here’s the recipe that I free styled for the guac:

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 handful of extremely finely chopped red onion
  • cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • juice of half a lemon

Directions:

  1. Cut the avocado in half and then peel away the skin from both halves. Then you will dice up the avocado and add it in to a medium mixing bowl. Be sure to remove the pit!
  2. Tear up your fresh cilantro and add that in to the bowl, as well.
  3. Chop up a small amount of red onion very finely and add it to the mix.
  4. Pour in your water and squeeze your half a lemon.
  5. Once all of your ingredients are in the bowl is when things get tricky. There wasn’t an adequate utensil at Kyle’s house for mashing our concoction so we settled for a spoon with holes in it. I was so bad at smashing our mixture so thank goodness for my muscle man to get the job done! The consistency of your guacamole is up to you. We settled for a medium consistency and it was the perfect mixture of smooth and chunky.

I love cooking for Kyle and it was so nice to have him hanging out with me in the kitchen while I prepared our meal. It was also great having him as my helper, too! Kyle kept the pit of “our first avocado together” to commemorate his helpfulness and our delicious meal – which I thought was the cutest thing ever! It’s our avocado baby. 🙂

So there you have it, Dinner Date Night with my beau! What is your favorite dish to cook for yourself or others? What dish is a staple in your household? I wanna hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Monday Update: Really Good Recipe Edition

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Monday Update: Really Good Recipe Edition

Helloooo everyone and happy Monday! As you guys know, I really enjoy cooking and once or twice a week I like to make dinner at home. This past weekend I made one of my all time favorite recipes that I just had to share – it’s that good. If you’re a fan of unique, bold, and slightly spicy dishes then you’re going to love my Peanut Noodles! This recipe is directly from the Quick Vegetarian Pleasures cookbook by Jeanne Lemlin and if you can get your hands on a copy then I urge you to do so! It’s an excellent cookbook for fast and healthy vegetarian eating. Here’s the step by step guide to making a Peanut Noodle dish of your own:

       Ingredients:

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 4 tablespoons oriental sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (I use crunchy PB but creamy will do, too!)
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or sherry
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar or other vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (I use 6)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Note: The sauce is a bit too bitter for my liking so I add about 3 teaspoons of white sugar to balance it out

Directions:

  • To make the sauce, combine 2 tablespoons of sesame oil with all of the other ingredients except the cucumber and scallions. Beat until well mixed and refrigerate.
  • Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the noodles and toss with the remaining two tablespoons of sesame oil.
  • This dish can be served hot or cold so you could refrigerate the noodles if you choose or eat it hot after the spaghetti is cooked. I prefer it hot but it’s still very good cold as well!

My mom started making this recipe forever ago and it remains one of my favorites to this day. I made the Peanut Noodles this past Friday and was left with only a small dish of leftovers which I annihilated for lunch the next day. Almost everyone in my family is a big fan of this recipe and I hope you guys enjoy it too! It’s a quick and easy dish to whip together but it tastes like you spent hours cooking it. Peanut Noodles have been my go to dinner to make for a few boyfriends and many a night when there seems to be “nothing to eat” in the house. If you like trying out somewhat “different” recipes to change things up at home then this is the recipe for you!

So there you have it, this week’s Monday Update: Really Good Recipe Edition. Once again, if you can snag a copy of Quick Vegetarian Pleasures – DO IT!! Who is going to give the Peanut Noodles recipe a try? What is one of your go to dishes to make at home? I wanna hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah