Sunday, February 21, 2016

Chicken Sweet Potato Hash

A friend gave me several sweet potatoes at about the same time I happened to tune into the Barefoot Contessa cooking show on TV.  In that episode, Ina Garten prepares her own take on a dish that Truman Capote served to guests at a Black & White Party -- chicken hash.  Her version uses regular white potatoes, so I needed to make a few adjustments in quantities and process.

The result? Delicious! It makes a wonderful dinner served with a green salad, and leftovers are terrific warmed up on their own, or with a poached egg on top.

Jan's Chicken Sweet Potato Hash
(Two generous servings)

1 or 2 boneless chicken breast halves (depending on their size)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dried basil
4 T. butter, divided
1 sweet potato, scrubbed and cut into small dice
1 large or 2 small white onions, diced
1/2 bell pepper (red, orange, or green work fine), diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. tomato paste
Salt and pepper

Rub chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until internal temperature is 165.  Set aside until cool enough to handle and then chop into dice. Set aside.

Baked seasoned chicken, diced.

Melt 3 T. of butter into a large skillet over medium heat.  Toss in diced sweet potato, salt and pepper, and saute for 8 minutes. Add onion and saute an additional 10 minutes, until evenly browned and sweet potatoes are tender.

Sweet potatoes and onions have reached
a nice color and the potatoes are tender.

In another skillet, melt remaining 1 T. butter over medium heat. Saute bell pepper and garlic to combine, then stir in paprika, thyme, and tomato paste. Saute for 5 minutes.

The bell pepper mixture is ready.

When sweet potato mixture is tender, add chicken chunks and bell pepper mixture and stir to incorporate and warm all ingredients for 2-3 minutes.

Nyum nyum nyum.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Indoor Gardening: String of Pearls Plant

It's been decades since the first time I saw a String of Pearls houseplant. It was one that my sister had. She has quite the green thumb, and always has interesting and diverse plants in her beautiful home.

The long, delicate branches and little pea-like foliage
give this plant its name.
A few months ago, I bought myself one of these unique succulents and positioned it in a southwest-facing kitchen window where it gets good afternoon sun.  When the central heat was set low during my long absence, I worried about what I'd find upon my return. Not only did the plant survive, but it seemed to thrive.

The side that faces the window even developed a few blossoms, though my photo doesn't do them justice.

After 3 months in a sunny window, the strings (branches?) have grown another 2 inches, no thanks to me.

Once the weather warms up, my plan is to put the pot in a hanger on the porch.  The "strings" should grow unabated. Gosh, what'll I do with it if those branches have grown by several feet by next winter?!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Late Fall Visit to Meadowlark

What do you do on a 70 degree mid-December day?  Visit Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, of course.

Located in Vienna off Beulah Road, Meadowlark is the area's largest botanical garden. 

The park includes various plant collections, three lakes, a spectacular Korean Bell Garden, conservation areas, and outdoor sculptures. 

Even in late fall, the area is stunning.

Part of the Korean Bell Garden.

Healthy koi in one of the lakes.

Climb up a gently sloping path on the Spiral Mound to
a rough gazebo for a lovely view.

In winter, the park opens after dark for a "walk of lights," too.  I need to plan for that next.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Niece-Inspired Applesauce

As the recent recipient of generous bags of apples from two different guests, I was inspired by the abundance of fruits in niece Kari's yard along with niece Jessie's known skills to try my hand at making my own applesauce. 

The only thing that gave me pause was all the peeling, coring, and slicing--6 pounds' worth! Then I had an aha moment and unearthed my old apple peeler-slicer-corer. Excellent! 

Not wanting to miss a beautiful fall afternoon, I scrubbed the table and set up the contraption on the deck. Plein air food prep! 

Once I'd done all the prep, I tossed the apple slices, 1.5 cups of water, and 1/8 teaspoon each of ground cloves and cinnamon into a big pot. 

After bringing it to a boil, I set the heat to low and let it all simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

I like my applesauce not too sweet, so I didn't add any sugar. 

A few minutes with the masher got me the consistency I like--slightly lumpy.

I ended up with about 8 cups of applesauce.  I froze some and refrigerated some in half pint containers--I'm all set for weeks!