Olga's Flavor Factory http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com Step by step, easy, homemade recipes Fri, 22 May 2015 18:55:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2 Pico de Gallo http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/appetizers/pico-de-gallo/ http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/appetizers/pico-de-gallo/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 18:54:10 +0000 http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/?p=16569 I absolutely love Pico de Gallo. If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s basically a fresh tomato salsa. The main difference between Salsa and Pico de Gallo, at least from my observations, is that Pico de Gallo is always made with fresh tomatoes and is chunkier than salsa. Salsa is sometimes made with cooked... 

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Pico de Gallo-1-5I absolutely love Pico de Gallo. If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s basically a fresh tomato salsa. The main difference between Salsa and Pico de Gallo, at least from my observations, is that Pico de Gallo is always made with fresh tomatoes and is chunkier than salsa. Salsa is sometimes made with cooked or canned tomatoes and can have a thinner consistency. Many recipes for salsa will have you make it in the blender. Since tomatoes are probably my top favorite vegetables, I love them both:). What can I say, I can’t hurt either of their feelings. 

This is the version that I have been making for many years. I love the combination of fresh flavors – the juicy, ripe tomatoes, fresh cilantro, slightly spicy jalapeño and aromatic garlic and shallot. You can use onion instead of the shallot, but I prefer the shallot, since it’s much milder and doesn’t have such a strong onion bite. Also, many recipes for Pico de Gallo do not include garlic, but for me, it just feels like something is missing without the garlic.

Of course, the classic accompaniment to Pico de Gallo are tortilla chips. I will be sharing a recipe for Loaded Nachos very soon, which is absolutely AMAZING. You can also serve it with Chicken Quesadillas, it will be really yummy too.

I love making a little bit extra Pico de Gallo and enjoying it with an Omelet, a Breakfast Burrito or Breakfast Quesadilla the next morning.

Ingredients:

3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 jalapeño, seeded and minced

1 very small shallot, minced (you can also use red or yellow onion instead, in which case use only 1/4 of the onion)

1 small garlic clove, minced

1/2 Tablespoon lime juice

1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped

salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Pico de Gallo-1-8Combine all the ingredients together.Pico de Gallo-1-7

Pico de Gallo-1-6Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or up to 1 day in advance.Pico de Gallo-1-5

Pico de Gallo
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Miscellaneous
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 very small shallot, minced (you can also use red or yellow onion instead)
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • ½ Tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  • salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all the ingredients together. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or up to 1 day in advance.

 

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Almond Apple Puff Pastries http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/sweets/almond-apple-puff-pastries/ http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/sweets/almond-apple-puff-pastries/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 10:45:56 +0000 http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/?p=16070 Thank you so much for all your warm comments, everyone! I am so touched by how many caring people are reading my blog and have been praying for us and encouraging us since the birth of our baby. I am doing much better, but would appreciate all your continued prayers so I can make a... 

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Almond Apple Pastries-1-22Thank you so much for all your warm comments, everyone! I am so touched by how many caring people are reading my blog and have been praying for us and encouraging us since the birth of our baby. I am doing much better, but would appreciate all your continued prayers so I can make a complete recovery. You guys are the best!

I am back today with a great recipe to share. I know how much many of you love desserts, so this is just for you. This recipe is such a cinch to prepare. Homemade goodies are the best and you can use some store bought ingredients to give you a head start. In this recipe, store bought puff pastry and almond paste make this recipe especially easy and convenient. You can also make the puff pastry and the almond paste from scratch.

These pastries are so beautiful and elegant. They are very quick to prepare too. One of the nice bonuses about this recipe is that you can keep all the ingredients on hand and when you have unexpected company or want a simple baking option, this is the recipe to reach for.

I love flaky, tender puff pastry. It’s a great staple to have on hand for both savory and sweet food. Almond paste and apples are a great combination for this very humble sweet treat. You can even use pears for another delicious option.

Ingredients:

1 (1 lb) package puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed

2 apples, peel and cut into thin pieces

3 Tablespoons butter, melted brush apples with melted butter,

sprinkle with sugar

Egg wash (1 egg and 1 Tablespoon water)

1/2 cup apple jelly

Homemade Almond Paste:

1 cup Almond Meal/Flour

3/4 cup Powdered Sugar

1/4 tsp Almond Extract

1  Egg White

Instructions:

Almond Apple Pastries-1-13Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Prepare the almond paste. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. You can also just mix it by hand. If you’re using store bought almond paste, add one egg white and a splash of vanilla extract to the almond paste and mix to combine until the paste is soft and workable. If you make the almond paste from scratch it will be soft and very easy to work with.

Peel and slice the apples thinly. You can also use pears in this recipe instead of the apples.

Prepare the egg wash by lightly beating the egg and water. You can use milk or cream instead of the water too.

If you would prefer to make puff pastry from scratch, there are many recipes online. I also have a Quick Puff Pastry recipe on my website that you can use.

Unfold the puff pastry and roll it out on a lightly floured counter just until the seams are evenly rolled out.  Each sheet of pastry should be rolled out into 11-12 inch square. You don’t have to be too precise with it, since you’ll be cutting out circles out of it anyway.

Almond Apple Pastries-1-14Cut out circles out of the dough. I used a 3 1/2 inch round cookie cutter. Almond Apple Pastries-1-15Place about 1/2-3/4 of a Tablespoon of almond paste on top of each circle of dough and spread it out evenly, leaving a rim around the edges. Almond Apple Pastries-1-16Shingle the slices of apples on top of the almond paste. The apple slices need to be very thin, so that they will bake through completely. Almond Apple Pastries-1-17Brush the apple slices with the melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Brush the edges of the pastries with the egg wash.

Almond Apple Pastries-1-19Bake the pastries in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the pastries are golden brown.

While the pastries are baking, place the apple jelly in a small saucepan and heat it up just until the apple jelly is liquid. You can also warm up the apple jelly in the microwave for about a minute. When the pastries are baked and still warm, brush the pastries with the liquid apple jelly. Almond Apple Pastries-1-20This will not only add more apple flavor and sweetness to these pastries, but also give them a beautiful glossy finish.

Almond Apple Pastries-1-21

Almond Apple Pastries-1-23

 

Almond Apple Puff Pastries
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Sweets
Serves: 18 pastries
Ingredients
  • 1 (1 lb) package puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
  • 2 apples, peel and cut into thin pieces
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, melted brush apples with melted butter,
  • sprinkle with sugar
  • Egg wash (1 egg and 1 Tablespoon water)
  • ½ cup apple jelly
Homemade Almond Paste:
  • 1 cup Almond Meal/Flour
  • ¾ cup Powdered Sugar
  • ¼ tsp Almond Extract
  • 1 Egg White
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Prepare the almond paste. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. You can also just mix it by hand. If you're using store bought almond paste, add one egg white and a splash of vanilla extract to the almond paste and mix to combine until the paste is soft and workable. If you make the almond paste from scratch it will be soft and very easy to work with.
  3. Peel and slice the apples thinly. You can also use pears in this recipe instead of the apples.
  4. Prepare the egg wash by lightly beating the egg and water. You can use milk or cream instead of the water too.
  5. Unfold the puff pastry and roll it out on a lightly floured counter just until the seams are evenly rolled out. Each sheet of pastry should be rolled out into 11-12 inch square.
  6. Cut out circles out of the dough. I used a 3½ inch round cookie cutter.
  7. Place about ½-3/4 of a Tablespoon of almond paste on top of each circle of dough and spread it out evenly, leaving a rim around the edges.
  8. Shingle the slices of apples on top of the almond paste.
  9. Brush the apple slices with the melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.
  10. Brush the edges of the pastries with the egg wash.
  11. Bake the pastries in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the pastries are golden brown. While the pastries are baking, place the apple jelly in a small saucepan and heat it up just until the apple jelly is liquid. You can also warm up the apple jelly in the microwave for about a minute. When the pastries are baked and still warm, brush the pastries with the liquid apple jelly. This will not only add more apple flavor and sweetness to these pastries, but also give them a beautiful glossy finish.

 

 

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After a Month Long Absence…. http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/miscellaneous/after-a-month-long-absence/ http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/miscellaneous/after-a-month-long-absence/#comments Mon, 04 May 2015 21:47:52 +0000 http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/?p=16516 I’m back! Wow. It’s been over a month since I last posted a recipe. I don’t think I’ve ever been away from blogging for more than a week since I first started. That certainly wasn’t the intention. In fact, before I had my c-section, I made sure to store up about a month and a... 

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Family Life Pictures 2015-1-73I’m back!

Wow. It’s been over a month since I last posted a recipe. I don’t think I’ve ever been away from blogging for more than a week since I first started. That certainly wasn’t the intention. In fact, before I had my c-section, I made sure to store up about a month and a half worth of blog posts in advance to post while I was recuperating.

A lot has happened in the past month, and even though I had those new recipes developed and photos taken, I just did not feel well enough to edit photos and work on transferring the recipes from my handy dandy notebook to a blog post.

I never expected to have such a hard time recovering after the c-section. I thought that after having the baby I would be back to my normal self and feel good again. That was not to be.Family Life Pictures 2015-1-48

I lost so much weight after having the baby that the doctors decided to put me on TPN for a little while to give me a boost of nutrition. (TPN is total parenteral nutrition, basically nutrition given intravenously. It’s a mixture of electrolytes, proteins, lipids, vitamins, etc, that you would normally get through the gastrointestinal tract that is given intravenously.)

“When it rains, it pours”, as they say. My incision was not healing properly, my GI system was acting up like crazy (I’ll spare you the details there) and my electrolytes were wacky (for those of you in the medical field – I was getting 4-5 grams of magnesium IV every day). I was dealing with so much pain I could hardly function. I also ended up getting a blood infection in my PICC line which meant I had to spend a week in the hospital and get IV antibiotics for a few weeks and get another PICC line in my other arm. (A PICC line is a peripherally inserted central catheter, that is a more permanent type of IV, through which I’ve been getting IV fluids, TPN, IV medications and lab draws.)

Family Life Pictures 2015-1-46

Family Life Pictures 2015-1-47Throughout this pregnancy, I’ve been to more doctor’s visits than during the rest of my life combined.

Family Life Pictures 2015-1-44I was getting so discouraged and just felt miserable all the time. Every time I would start to feel better, I would eventually have one setback after another. I just begged God for a little relief.

My only comfort and distraction was my precious baby boy and my sweet, caring husband. Even though we were confined to the house and couldn’t really do anything fun, at least I could cuddle with Nathaniel, talk to him and just enjoy my little baby.Family Life Pictures 2015-1-43
It was scary to realize that week after week I just wasn’t getting better. I spent the last 8 months confined to the house and even though I am an introvert and a home body, after a while it started to feel like the walls were closing in.

Despair and dejection have a way of closing in when you’re sitting at home alone, not having any energy to get anything done, in extreme pain and simply feeling wretched. Sergi had to take off a lot of time from work when I was hospitalized, for all the doctor’s visits and on days when I felt especially bad.

Family Life Pictures 2015-1-55So many times when I just didn’t have any strength left to pray and felt hopeless and scared, I knew I had to lean on a strength that wasn’t my own. I made a playlist of all my favorite songs a while ago and it was especially soothing to turn it on and listen to it.

The song “Shoulders” by the band For King and Country was a favorite of mine.

Finally, this past week and a half I started to feel better. Thank God!

I went for a walk around the neighborhood with the baby all by myself, just breathing in the fresh air and savoring the feeling of being pain free and feeling happy!

Family Life Pictures 2015-1-64I am finally off the TPN and hopefully my labs will be normal and I won’t need to have any more IV intervention. If all goes well, I’ll finally say good bye to my PICC line and Lovenox. What a celebration that will be! Sergi and I recently counted that I’ve had more than 450 shots in the past 8 months. That’s right. That wasn’t a typo – a minimum of 2 every single day, not counting all the other ones, such as B12 injections, Rhogham, and lab draws when I didn’t have the PICC line. I’m beginning to feel like a pincushion.

Family Life Pictures 2015-1-60Even though I’ve always been really grateful for good health, I will now be even more thankful. Every day that I wake up feeling good, I will be especially intentional to thank God for good health.

Last Sunday, I finally felt well enough to go to church for the first time since giving birth. As I sat in the sanctuary listening to God’s Word, I just closed my eyes and took comfort in being in the house of God and couldn’t help getting emotional and crying just a bit:).

Celebrating my first Sunday back in church by going out for brunch.

Celebrating my first Sunday back in church by going out for brunch.

On a positive note, our baby is growing, changing and becoming more alert and playful. He is such a joy to both my husband and myself. We are so grateful that God blessed us with his miracle birth.

PicMonkey CollageI look forward to finally being able to take him on walks, to the park, the beach and on errands with me. Even trips to the grocery store sound like fun.

I am slowly starting to get back to cooking again and can’t wait to share more recipes with you. I still have quite a few recipes stored up to share which I developed in February and will share with you soon. However, I still recovering and get tired very quickly, so please be understanding when I don’t answer your comments or e-mails quickly. Thank you so much for all your prayers and support. Please continue to pray for our family and for my health to continue to improve and for me to get strong again.Family Life Pictures 2015-1-65

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Beef, Shiitake, and Green Bean Stir Fry http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/main-course/beef-shitake-green-bean-stir-fry/ http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/main-course/beef-shitake-green-bean-stir-fry/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 12:49:25 +0000 http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/?p=16068 Sergi and I both really enjoy green beans and I serve them as a side dish almost every week. I decided to make them the star in a beef stir fry, which just happens to be my favorite protein to use. With just a few other simple ingredients, this dinner is just chock-full of flavor.... 

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Beef, Shitake and Green Bean Stir Fry-1-24Sergi and I both really enjoy green beans and I serve them as a side dish almost every week. I decided to make them the star in a beef stir fry, which just happens to be my favorite protein to use. With just a few other simple ingredients, this dinner is just chock-full of flavor.

Stir frys hardly take any time at all to be cooked. Cutting and preparing all the ingredients takes more time than the actual cooking process, and since there aren’t that many ingredients, you can be sure that this dinner should be to on your menu for busy days. One of my biggest time savers is to cut up all the ingredients in advance and then it all comes together so quickly. The flavors are spot on and 50 times better than any take out you can ever get. 

Ingredients:

1 lb Beef sirloin or flank steak

2 Tablespoons soy sauce (I really like Tamari)

1 1/2-2 Tablespoons oil

1 red onion, sliced

1 large bell pepper or 4-6 mini peppers, thinly sliced or julienned

7 oz (2 packages 3.5 oz each) shiitake mushrooms or 8 oz any other fresh mushrooms, sliced

1 lb green beans, ends trimmed and green beans cut in half

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon grated or minced fresh ginger

1/2 cup chicken broth

green onions, to garnish

Sauce:

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup oyster sauce

2 Tablespoons soy sauce (1 Tablespoon if it’s not reduced sodium)

2 teaspoon sherry (or mirin or rice vinegar)

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Instructions:

Beef, Shitake and Green Bean Stir Fry-1-26To cut the beef into thin strips, it really helps to place it in the freezer for about 15-30 minutes, which will make it easier to cut. Cut the beef in half lengthwise, with the grain. Beef, Shitake and Green Bean Stir Fry-1-27Then slice each half of beef against the grain, into thin pieces, about 1/4-1/8 inch thin strips.

Beef, Shitake and Green Bean Stir Fry-1-28Marinate in 2 Tablespoons soy sauce. I really like the taste of Tamari. Set aside for 15 minutes, while prepping the rest of the ingredients.

Beef, Shitake and Green Bean Stir Fry-1-29Whenever you are making a stir fry, it’s important to have all your ingredients prepped before you start stir frying. Everything cooks so quickly, you won’t have time to be slicing and chopping in between. You can even prep all the ingredients earlier in the day, or even a few days in advance. Prepping all the ingredients actually takes more time than cooking them.

Beef, Shitake and Green Bean Stir Fry-1-30In a 12 inch nonstick skillet, heat 1/2 Tablespoon of oil on high heat.  Drain the beef and sauté on high heat in two batches for about 3 minutes, until the beef is spotty brown on one side. You will have some of the oil left each time, just add a bit more to the skillet if needed. Beef, Shitake and Green Bean Stir Fry-1-31Set the beef aside in a large bowl.

Beef, Shitake and Green Bean Stir Fry-1-33In the same skillet, add the onion and peppers. Beef, Shitake and Green Bean Stir Fry-1-32Saute on high heat for 3-5 minutes, until tender. Set aside with the beef.

Beef, Shitake and Green Bean Stir Fry-1-34Using the same skillet again, add another 1/2 Tablespoon of oil and add the shiitake mushrooms, cook for about 3 minutes. When prepping the shiitake mushrooms, cut off the mushroom stems and discard (or save them and use them in broth, etc.). The stems are too tough and woody and won’t become soft like the mushroom caps. Slice the mushrooms caps thinly.

Beef, Shitake and Green Bean Stir Fry-1-35

Beef, Shitake and Green Bean Stir Fry-1-36Add the green beans, mix to combine and cook for 1-2 minutes on high heat, until the green beans are spotty brown. Beef, Shitake and Green Bean Stir Fry-1-37Make a space in the middle of the skillet and add the garlic and ginger, cooking for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.

Beef, Shitake and Green Bean Stir Fry-1-38Mix to combine and pour in 1/2 cup of chicken broth, reduce the heat to medium, cover the skillet and cook until most of the broth is absorbed and the beans are as tender as you like them.

Beef, Shitake and Green Bean Stir Fry-1-39Meanwhile, combine all the sauce ingredients together.

Beef, Shitake and Green Bean Stir Fry-1-41When the beans are cooked through, pour in the sauce into the skillet, increase the heat to high and cook for just a few minutes until the sauce thickens up.

Beef, Shitake and Green Bean Stir Fry-1-42Return the beef, onion and peppers to the skillet, mix to combine and just heated through.

Beef, Shitake and Green Bean Stir Fry-1-43

Beef, Shitake and Green Bean Stir Fry-1-44Serve with noodles or rice. Garnish with green onions.Beef, Shitake and Green Bean Stir Fry-1-25

Beef, Shiitake, and Green Bean Stir Fry
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Beef sirloin or flank steak
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce (I really like Tamari)
  • 1½-2 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 large bell pepper or 4-6 mini peppers, thinly sliced or julienned
  • 7 oz (2 packages 3.5 oz each) shiitake mushrooms or 8 oz any other fresh mushrooms
  • 1 lb green beans, ends trimmed and green beans cut in half
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ - ½ teaspoon grated or minced fresh ginger
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • green onions, to garnish
Sauce:
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • ¼ cup oyster sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce (1 Tablespoon if it's not reduced sodium)
  • 2 teaspoon sherry (or mirin or rice vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
Instructions
  1. To cut the beef into thin strips, it really helps to place it in the freezer for about 15-30 minutes, which will make it easier to cut. Cut the beef in half lengthwise, with the grain. Then slice each half of beef against the grain, into thin pieces, about ¼-1/8 inch thin strips.
  2. Marinate in 2 Tablespoons soy sauce. I really like the taste of Tamari. Set aside for 15 minutes, while prepping the rest of the ingredients.
  3. In a 12 inch nonstick skillet, heat ½ Tablespoon of oil on high heat. Drain the beef and sauté on high heat in two batches for about 3 minutes, until the beef is spotty brown on one side. You will have some of the oil left each time, just add a bit more to the skillet if needed. Set the beef aside in a large bowl.
  4. In the same skillet, add the onion and peppers. Saute on high heat for 3-5 minutes, until tender. Set aside with the beef.
  5. Using the same skillet again, add another ½ Tablespoon of oil and add the shiitake mushrooms, cook for about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the green beans, mix to combine and cook for 1-2 minutes on high heat, until the green beans are spotty brown.
  7. Make a space in the middle of the skillet and add the garlic and ginger, cooking for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  8. Mix to combine and pour in ½ cup of chicken broth, reduce the heat to medium, cover the skillet and cook until most of the broth is absorbed and the beans are as tender as you like them. Meanwhile, combine all the sauce ingredients together. When the beans are cooked through, pour in the sauce into the skillet, increase the heat to high and cook for just a few minutes until the sauce thickens up.
  9. Return the beef, onion and peppers to the skillet, mix to combine and just heated through.
  10. Serve with noodles or rice. Garnish with green onions.

 

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Chicken, Mushroom and Buckwheat Casserole http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/main-course/poultry/chicken-mushroom-buckwheat-casserole/ http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/main-course/poultry/chicken-mushroom-buckwheat-casserole/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 19:29:29 +0000 http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/?p=16232 As a girl with strong Slavic roots, I grew up eating buckwheat and I still love coming up with different recipes that will incorporate this nutty, flavorful and very nutritious grain. Even though my favorite way to enjoy buckwheat is as a kasha with mushrooms, I wanted to come up with a way to make... 

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Chicken, Mushroom and Buckwheat Casserole-1-15As a girl with strong Slavic roots, I grew up eating buckwheat and I still love coming up with different recipes that will incorporate this nutty, flavorful and very nutritious grain. Even though my favorite way to enjoy buckwheat is as a kasha with mushrooms, I wanted to come up with a way to make it into an entree. Cooking the entree and the side dish at the same time is such an awesome idea. Not only do you save time, but there are less dishes to wash.  I can appreciate that for sure. 

I made this dish many months ago when I was still pregnant, and my husband and I both loved it so much, I knew I had to share it with all of you. The fluffy buckwheat groats are flavored with both dry and fresh mushrooms, which is a match made in heaven, in my opinion. I topped the buckwheat with juicy, lean chicken and it’s all baked together under a golden, cheesy crust.

You can even assemble it ahead of time and then just finish baking it in the oven. That’s especially convenient for Sunday dinners, when we come home from church hungry, but don’t want to spend hours preparing a meal. Of course, there are plenty other days of the week where a prepped dinner is such a life saver. 

Ingredients:

1/2 oz. dry mushrooms (I used porcini)

1 Tablespoon butter or oil, plus 1 more Tablespoon to butter/oil the casserole dish

1 onion, chopped

8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 cup buckwheat groats, roasted

1 1/2 cups water

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (you can also use boneless, skinless chicken thighs)

salt, ground black pepper, to taste

2 Tablespoons sour cream or mayonnaise

3/4 – 1 cup cheese, finely grated (mozzarella, provolone, monterey jack, gruyere, cheddar, colby, etc.)

Instructions:

Chicken, Mushroom and Buckwheat Casserole-1-28Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Generously butter a 2 quart casserole dish on the bottom and sides.

Pour boiling water over the dry mushrooms to rehydrate. Set aside for 10 minutes, until they soften. When they soften, strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve lined with a paper towel. ChickenMushroomBuckwheatCasserole1 copyDry mushrooms are very gritty, so you definitely want to take extra care to make sure you get rid of all the grit. This mushroom liquid is very flavorful, so we will use it to cook the buckwheat. Add enough hot water to the measuring cup to have a total of 1 1/2 cups of liquid. Set aside. Finely chop the dry mushrooms.

Meanwhile, heat the butter or oil in a large deep skillet on medium heat. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the onions are tender.

Add the fresh mushrooms, dry mushrooms and garlic. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the mushrooms are golden. ChickenMushroomBuckwheatCasserole2 copy

Chicken, Mushroom and Buckwheat Casserole-1-22Add the buckwheat to the skillet and roast it in the skillet with the mushrooms for about 2 minutes. Chicken, Mushroom and Buckwheat Casserole-1-21Pour in the mushroom liquid, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes, just until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Chicken, Mushroom and Buckwheat Casserole-1-20

Chicken, Mushroom and Buckwheat Casserole-1-19Transfer the buckwheat mixture to the prepared casserole dish and spread it out in an even layer. Chicken, Mushroom and Buckwheat Casserole-1-18Cut each chicken breast in half horizontally and then in half. It will be easier to serve it you cut it into smaller pieces. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Chicken, Mushroom and Buckwheat Casserole-1-23Place the chicken on top of the buckwheat.

If your skillet is oven safe, you can just leave the buckwheat in the same skillet you use to partially cook it and layer the chicken on top.

Spread the sour cream or mayonnaise over the chicken and top it all with the cheese. ChickenMushroomBuckwheatCasserole3 copyBake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the cheese is bubbly and golden. Chicken, Mushroom and Buckwheat Casserole-1-15

Chicken, Mushroom and Buckwheat Casserole
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • ½ oz. dry mushrooms (I used porcini)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter or oil, plus 1 more Tablespoon to butter/oil the casserole dish
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¾ cup buckwheat, roasted
  • 1½ cups water
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (you can also use boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
  • salt, ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons sour cream or mayonnaise
  • ¾ - 1 cup cheese, finely grated (mozzarella, provolone, monterey jack, gruyere, cheddar, colby, etc.)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Generously butter a 2 quart casserole dish on the bottom and sides.
  2. Pour boiling water over the dry mushrooms to rehydrate. Set aside for 10 minutes, until they soften. When they soften, strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve lined with a paper towel. Dry mushrooms are very gritty, so you definitely want to take extra care to make sure you get rid of all the grit. This mushroom liquid is very flavorful, so we will use it to cook the buckwheat. Add enough hot water to the measuring cup to have a total of 1½ cups of liquid. Set aside. Finely chop the dry mushrooms.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the butter or oil in a large deep skillet on medium heat. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the onions are tender.
  4. Add the fresh mushrooms, dry mushrooms and garlic. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the mushrooms are golden.
  5. Add the buckwheat to the skillet and roast it in the skillet with the mushrooms for about 2 minutes.
  6. Pour in the mushroom liquid, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes, just until most of the liquid is absorbed.
  7. Transfer the buckwheat mixture to the prepared casserole dish and spread it out in an even layer.
  8. Cut each chicken breast in half horizontally and then in half. It will be easier to serve it you cut it into smaller pieces. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the chicken on top of the buckwheat.
  9. Spread the sour cream or mayonnaise over the chicken and top it all with the cheese.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the cheese is bubbly and golden.

 

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Pasta with Artichokes, Fennel and Onions http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/uncategorized/pasta-artichokes-fennel-onions/ http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/uncategorized/pasta-artichokes-fennel-onions/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 16:57:34 +0000 http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/?p=15884 Sometimes, I like challenging myself to play the “pantry game”. I like to spend at least one week per month, not buying anything new, but using up whatever I have. This can seem a little bit depressing, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s actually a lot of fun to see how creative and resourceful you... 

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Fennel and Artichoke Pasta-1-32Sometimes, I like challenging myself to play the “pantry game”. I like to spend at least one week per month, not buying anything new, but using up whatever I have. This can seem a little bit depressing, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s actually a lot of fun to see how creative and resourceful you can be. The trick to saving money on groceries is to have fewer trips to the grocery store. Not only will you save money, but you will also save so much time. With a well stocked refrigerator, freezer and pantry, you can go for a few weeks without having to go to the grocery store, as long as you plan well. One of my favorite tricks is to use up perishable ingredients first, leaving the ingredients that will stay fresh longer to be used during the later weeks. You can cook many delicious dinners that will not make you feel as poor as a church mouse. You can create many ingenious dinners that taste really fresh and even gourmet.

I’m always well stocked up on pasta of all shapes and sizes. Adding vegetables to a pasta dish is a very easy way to make it more interesting and add lots of flavor. You can keep canned baby artichokes in your pantry for dinners just like this one, or you can even use frozen artichokes instead. Fennel, onions and garlic are pantry ingredients that will stay good for weeks without spoiling, so they are the perfect ingredients to add fresh flavor.

Roasting vegetables gives them such a great caramelized and savory taste. Adding the roasted vegetables along with all the aromatics to the pasta creates a really memorable meal that even looks and tastes fancy. Crunchy and golden breadcrumbs add even more interesting taste and texture and fresh herbs is another trick that I like to use to make any dish fresh. Do you want to know how to store fresh herbs so they will last longer? I’ve got you covered.

Ever since I had the baby and we came back home from the hospital, I’ve not been feeling well enough to leave the house much. Besides, all my tubes, IVs and other medical equipment make it extra difficult. My husband does almost all the grocery shopping and I’ve only been to a grocery store once, which I deeply regretted on the way home:). Meals like this one are especially appreciated during times like this. Even when I’m perfectly healthy, meals like this are very convenient for unexpected company, extra busy times or when you just don’t have the energy for something really time consuming. 

Ingredients:

1 fennel bulb, sliced and some of the fronds reserved for garnishing

1 (14 oz) can baby artichokes, drained and cut in half

1 -2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon for the breadcrumbs

1 Tablespoon butter

1 onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 cup chicken broth

8-10 oz pasta

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Fennel and Artichoke Pasta-1-18Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut off the top portion of the fennel  bulb. Save some of the fronds to be used as a garnish at the end of cooking, Fennel fronds can be used just like other fresh herbs. Cut the bulb in half and slice. Fennel and Artichoke Pasta-1-19Gently toss the sliced fennel bulb and the baby artichokes with 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Fennel and Artichoke Pasta-1-20Roast in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes, turning over halfway through.

Fennel and Artichoke Pasta-1-26Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil to cook the pasta. Cook the pasta so that it’s slightly less done than how you like it, because it will finish cooking in the sauce.

In a large skillet, toast the breadcrumbs with 1 teaspoon of oil until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Fennel and Artichoke Pasta-1-21Wipe out the skillet, heat another Tablespoon of oil or butter on medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt and cook for about 5-7 minutes, until the onions are translucent and starting to turn golden. Add the minced garlic to the center of the skillet and cook for another 30 seconds-1 minute, until the garlic is fragrant.Fennel and Artichoke Pasta-1-23

Fennel and Artichoke Pasta-1-24Pour in the broth, scraping the bottom of the skillet to release any fond.

Fennel and Artichoke Pasta-1-25Bring to a boil and cook on high heat until the liquid has reduced by half.  Fennel and Artichoke Pasta-1-28You can finish the sauce with some lemon juice or vinegar. Add the roasted fennel and artichokes to the skillet. Be very gently when mixing the vegetables, since the artichokes are very delicate.

Fennel and Artichoke Pasta-1-29Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and very gently toss with the sauce. Reserve some of the pasta cooking water, 1/2 – 1 cup. As you are mixing the pasta with the vegetables, add some of the reserved pasta water, if you think it needs to be loosened up a bit. Serve garnished with fresh parsley and fennel fronds and sprinkle generously with the toasted breadcrumbs. You can also add some finely grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

You can easily make this into an entree by adding some chicken to this dish.Fennel and Artichoke Pasta-1-32

Pasta with Artichokes, Fennel and Onions
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced and some of the fronds reserved for garnishing
  • 1 (14 oz) can baby artichokes, drained and cut in half
  • 1 -2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon for the breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • 8-10 oz pasta
  • ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Gently toss the sliced fennel bulb and the baby artichokes with 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes, turning over halfway through.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil to cook the pasta. Cook the pasta so that it's slightly less done than how you like it, because it will finish cooking in the sauce.
  3. In a large skillet, toast the breadcrumbs with 1 teaspoon of oil until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Wipe out the skillet, heat another Tablespoon of oil or butter on medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent and tender. Add the minced garlic to the center of the skillet and cook for another 30 seconds-1 minute, until the garlic is fragrant, but not golden.
  5. Pour in the broth, scraping the bottom of the skillet to release any fond.
  6. Bring to a boil and cook on high heat until the liquid has reduced by half. You can finish the sauce with some lemon juice or vinegar. Add the roasted fennel and artichokes to the skillet. Be very gently when mixing the vegetables, since the artichokes are very delicate.
  7. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and very gently toss with the sauce. Reserve some of the pasta cooking water, ½ - 1 cup. As you are mixing the pasta with the vegetables, add some of the reserved pasta water, if you think it needs to be loosened up a bit. Serve garnished with fresh parsley and fennel fronds and sprinkle generously with the toasted breadcrumbs. You can also add some finely grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.
  8. You can easily make this into an entree by adding some chicken to this dish.

 

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Enjoying Our Time At Home http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/miscellaneous/enjoying-time-home/ http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/miscellaneous/enjoying-time-home/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 02:01:43 +0000 http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/?p=16364 We’ve been home from the hospital for a week and a half and let me tell you, there’s no place like home. It’s wonderful to be in the midst of familiar surroundings and in my safe haven. I love to relax with my books, a cup of tea and in the presence of family.  My... 

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Recuperating at Home-1-35

“Home is the nicest word there is.” Laura Ingalls Wilder

We’ve been home from the hospital for a week and a half and let me tell you, there’s no place like home. It’s wonderful to be in the midst of familiar surroundings and in my safe haven. I love to relax with my books, a cup of tea and in the presence of family. 

Recuperating at Home-1-32

My parents with all their Floridian grandchildren.

My parents came to Florida the morning of my c-section and they stayed for 2 1/2 weeks. What a treat it was to spend so much time with them and it was such a huge help for us.

We didn’t expect to be in the hospital for ten days. I thought I would be home within 3 days, like most normal c-sections. What a bummer. Nathaniel was in the NICU for some acute respiratory issues and I ended up having another surgery the Saturday after delivery. My c-section incision developed a huge hematoma (collection of blood) and that needed to be cleaned out. They had to leave the wound open and now I have a wound vacuum there, which helps with the healing. Since I had the blood clot back in September, I’ve been on blood thinners ever since, which is one of the reasons that I was prone to a hematoma, and also because my protein levels are so low that my body has a hard time healing. We were discharged from the hospital very late on Thursday night, March 5th.

Finally on the way home. What a joy to leave the hospital with a baby in our arms.

Finally on the way home. What a joy to leave the hospital with a baby in our arms.

As they were wheeling me out of the hospital and we got Nathaniel settled in the car in his car seat, I remember getting really emotional, realizing that the hospital stay was finally over and we were going home as a family of three. From now on, we will always be a family of three and that is such a happy thought.

Recuperating at Home-1-31Sergi took two weeks off from work and unfortunately most of it was spent at the hospital. He only got to enjoy Friday, Saturday and Sunday at home before going back to work.

We had many visitors in the hospital and at home. Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by and shared our happiness with us. Our room looked and smelled like a garden, it was so full of lovely flowers.

Recuperating at Home-1-51Nathaniel is 3 weeks and 2 days now. Time sure has flown by so quickly. He will be one month this Monday.

We have gone to two doctor’s appointments with him since he was discharged from the hospital and we are so pleased with how he is doing. Recuperating at Home-1-29

Recuperating at Home-1-54He is growing quickly and is gaining weight and is finally able to fit into newborn outfits. When he was born, he was in a really awkward size, since preemie outfits were too small on him and newborn outfits were too big.

He is such a good baby. We feel very blessed that he has a very happy disposition and isn’t fussy. Of course, he still wakes up often at night to eat, but that is normal for newborns. He is very alert and smiles so much. He smiles at least 5 times a day, and not just in his sleep. I’d like to think that he smiles because he’s so happy and because he feels how much he is loved. Recuperating at Home-1-52

Recuperating at Home-1-30My favorite activity is gazing at my beautiful son. I never get tired of it. I’m still amazed that I am his Mama. He loves to snuggle and I love it even more. You will find me many times just holding him in my arms, perfectly content to stay in that position, just soaking it in.

Recuperating at Home-1-36

Recuperating at Home-1-45Throughout the pregnancy, I struggled with gaining weight and was actually a few pounds less right before I delivered the baby than before I got pregnant. As many of you know, after my whole medical scare in 2007, I was on TPN for almost 2 years at home. TPN is total parenteral nutrition, basically nutrition given intravenously. It’s a mixture of electrolytes, proteins, lipids, vitamins, etc, that you would normally get through the gastrointestinal tract that is given intravenously.

Recuperating at Home-1-46

My weekly supply of TPN

It took me many years to gain weight and be able to maintain my health by diet alone, without medication or TPN. That is a miracle that just can’t be explained.

Right before I got pregnant, I was the healthiest that I’ve been since before everything happened in 2007. I felt great, was able to stay at a healthy weight and did not take any medications, besides triple doses of vitamins. It was such a blessing to become pregnancy during the time when I was the healthiest. I truly believe that this is what helped with this pregnancy and the fact that Nathaniel is perfectly healthy and strong and doesn’t have any medical issues at all. Praise God for answered prayers.

Recuperating at Home-1-27The moment after I had the baby and the spinal wore off, my appetite returned and I’ve been happily munching on food ever since. I’m so happy to be enjoying food again. Recuperating at Home-1-26However, I feel very drained and weak, because I’m so depleted nutritionally. Even though I’ve been eating again, the food just isn’t staying with me and i’m still losing weight. My doctors have put me on TPN once again for the next few months so that I can gain some strength and hopefully some weight back as well. I was really hoping to leave the hospital without any foreign objects and medical devices in me, but I guess I’ll have to settle with knowing that it won’t be much longer. I can be patient a little bit more. Even though it’s not fun to be hooked up to the IV all night, at least I’m getting nutrients and hopefully this will be short term and I’ll be back to normal very soon.

I am so happy to be home and I feel like the most blessed woman on the planet. God has been so good to our family and shown us His grace again and again. Nathaniel was worth it all and I would go through it all again in a heartbeat.

Recuperating at Home-1-55

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Pan Fried Butterflied Trout http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/olgastips/kitchen-tips/pan-fried-butterflied-trout/ http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/olgastips/kitchen-tips/pan-fried-butterflied-trout/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 19:44:30 +0000 http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/?p=14849 Sergi and I love seafood, as you are well aware of, if you’ve been hanging around this blog for a little bit. We never seem to get tired of the taste, and it also helps that it’s not complicated and quick to prepare. Pan frying it on both sides until it’ s golden brown and juicy... 

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Pan Fried Butterflied Trout-1-29

Sergi and I love seafood, as you are well aware of, if you’ve been hanging around this blog for a little bit. We never seem to get tired of the taste, and it also helps that it’s not complicated and quick to prepare. Pan frying it on both sides until it’ s golden brown and juicy is my favorite way to prepare it. I’ve posted this dinner on social media several times and was asked to share the recipe, so here I am, fulfilling my promise.

Trout is very affordable, it’s mild, so it doesn’t taste “fishy”, one medium sized fish is the perfect portion for one person and like I said earlier, it’s on the table in no time. Normally, we just serve  it with a wedge of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh herbs, since lemon and seafood are such a lovely pairing. When I have a little extra time, I like to make a lemon butter sauce. It’s creamy, tangy and “buttery” of course. I’ll share a recipe for that whenever I feel up to it. However, it’s so delicious plain and simple, that you don’t need a sauce to enjoy it.

Whenever I ask Sergi to pick up some trout at the store, he is more than happy to oblige, since this is his favorite seafood preparation too. I love when our taste buds match up. I really hope Nathaniel will grow up to like it too. 

Ingredients:

2 rainbow trout, about 3/4 lb each

1 Tablespoon oil

1 Tablespoon butter

freshly squeezed lemon juice

fresh parsley, chives, dill, minced

Seasoned flour:

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1/2 teaspoon dry herb mix (thyme, basil, oregano, parsley, etc.)

Instructions:

Pan Fried Butterflied Trout-1-16

Butterflying a fish basically means that you are removing the backbone and ribs of the whole fish. This opens up the fish like a book, creates more surface area, flattens out the fish and also removes most of the bones. I think it makes a really nice presentation too.

You don’t have to use the butterfly method for this recipe though. It will work just a as great if you use regular fish fillets. I have a tutorial on how to fillet a whole fish too, or you can just buy the fish already filleted at the store.Filleting a Whole Fish-1-9

How to Butterfly the Trout:

There are several methods of butterflying whole fish, and this is the one I use most often. Most whole fish that are sold at the grocery store already have the insides removed. Cut off the head and the fins. You can also cut off the tail, but I like to leave it on just because I think it looks cool.

A good boning knife and kitchen scissors are the best tools for this job.

Pan Fried Butterflied Trout-1-18

Insert the tip of the boning knife right underneath the bones in the ribcage. Since the knife is so thin, somewhat flexible and sharp, it does a beautiful job.

Keep the knife as close to the bones as you can and cut upward and then keep moving toward the tail until you have separated the fish ribcage from the flesh.

Repeat with the other side. Pan Fried Butterflied Trout-1-19

Pan Fried Butterflied Trout-1-20When you get to the center of the fish, the ribcage should be very easy to remove. You can use your kitchen scissors or the knife to help out in places where the bones are a little stubborn. Pan Fried Butterflied Trout-1-22

Pan Fried Butterflied Trout-1-23When you get to the belly part of the fish that is still intact, keep slicing it open, following the incision that was made by the fishmonger when they removed the insides of the fish. Continue cutting using the boning knife in between the ribcage and the flesh of the fish, until you get to the tail.

Pan Fried Butterflied Trout-1-24Use the kitchen scissors or the knife to cut off the bone near the tail.

Pan Fried Butterflied Trout-1-21You will be left with a smooth and flat surface on the fish. Run your fingers along the flesh of the fish and feel for any bones that may still be left in the fish. Remove them with your fingers or use tweezers.

Pan Fried Butterflied Trout-1-25Making the Seasoned Flour:

Coating the fish in flour will help keep it from sticking to the pan, the flour seals in moisture and helps keep the fish moist as it’s cooking and most importantly, the flour will help make the fish extra crispy and golden brown.

To maximize the flour’s usefulness, I also like to season it very liberally, so that the fish gets plenty of flavor too.  If the fish that you are using is thick, season the fish as well as the flour.

Make the seasoned flour by combining the flour with all the seasonings in a rimmed pan, plate, etc. These are the seasoning that I like to use, but you can get as creative as you like and adjust it to your taste preferences.

Since we make this dish very often, I will double the recipe for the seasoned flour and set half of it aside to use another time. Don’t save the flour that you’ve dipped the fish into already, though. Mix it up, save part of it and then proceed with the recipe. You can also use this seasoned flour for chicken, pork or beef. It’s very versatile.

Pan Fried Butterflied Trout-1-17

Pan Frying the Fish:

Heat half of the oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add half of the butter. Dredge one of the trout in the seasoned flour on both sides, tapping off all the excess flour. Pan Fried Butterflied Trout-1-26Place the fish flesh side down in the hot skillet. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, uncovered, until the fish is golden brown. Pan Fried Butterflied Trout-1-27Carefully flip the fish over onto the skin side and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Pan Fried Butterflied Trout-1-28Take the fish out of the skillet, wipe out the skillet and repeat with the second fish. Serve the fish with freshly squeezed lemon juice and fresh herbs. Pan Fried Butterflied Trout-1-30

Pan Fried Butterflied Trout
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • 2 rainbow trout, about ¾ lb each
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • fresh parsley, chives, dill, minced
Seasoned flour:
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon dry herb mix (thyme, basil, oregano, parsley, etc.)
Instructions
  1. Butterfly the fish.
  2. Butterflying a fish basically means that you are removing the backbone and ribs of the whole fish. This opens up the fish like a book, creates more surface area, flattens out the fish and also removes most of the bones. I think it makes a really nice presentation too.
  3. You don't have to use the butterfly method for this recipe though. It will work just a as great if you use regular fish fillets.
  4. How to Butterfly the Trout:
  5. Most whole fish that are sold at the grocery store already have the insides removed. Cut off the head and the fins. You can also cut off the talk, but I like to leave it on just because I think it looks cool. A good boning knife and kitchen scissors are the best tools for this job.
  6. Insert the tip of the boning knife right underneath the bones in the ribcage. Since the knife is so thin, somewhat flexible and sharp, it does a beautiful job. Keep the knife as close to the bones as you can and cut upward and then keep moving toward the tail until you have separated the fish ribcage from the flesh.
  7. When you get to the center of the fish, the ribcage should be very easy to remove. You can use your kitchen scissors or the knife to help out in places where the bones need a little help. When you get to the belly part of the fish that is still intact, keep slicing it open, following the incision that was made by the fishmonger when they removed the insides of the fish. Continue cutting using the boning knife in between the ribcage and the flesh of the fish, until you get to the tail.
  8. Use the kitchen scissors or the knife to cut off the bone near the tail.
  9. You will be left with a smooth and flat surface on the fish. Run your fingers along the flesh of the fish and feel for any bones that may still be left in the fish. Remove them with your fingers or use tweezers.
Making the Seasoned Flour:
  1. Coating the fish in flour will help keep it from sticking to the pan, the flour seals in moisture and helps keep the fish moist as it's cooking and most importantly, the flour will help make the fish extra crispy and golden brown.
  2. To maximize the flour's usefulness, I also like to season it very liberally, so that the fish gets plenty of flavor too. If the fish that you are using is thick, season the fish as well as the flour.
  3. Make the seasoned flour by combining the flour with all the seasonings in a rimmed pan, plate, etc. These are the seasoning that I like to use, but you can get as creative as you like and adjust it to your taste preferences.
  4. Since we make this dish very often, I will double the recipe for the seasoned flour and set half of it aside to use another time. Don't save the flour that you've dipped the fish into already, though. Mix it up, save part of it and then proceed with the recipe. You can also use this seasoned flour for chicken, pork or beef. It's very versatile.
Pan Frying the Fish:
  1. Heat half of the oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add half of the butter. Dredge one of the trout in the seasoned flour on both sides, tapping off all the excess flour.
  2. Place the fish flesh side down in the hot skillet. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, uncovered, until the fish is golden brown.
  3. Carefully flip the fish over onto the skin side and cook for about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Take the fish out of the skillet, wipe out the skillet and repeat with the second fish. Serve the fish with freshly squeezed lemon juice and fresh herbs.

 

 

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Honey Lemon Glazed Chicken and Baked Barley http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/main-course/poultry/honey-lemon-glazed-chicken-baked-barley/ http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/main-course/poultry/honey-lemon-glazed-chicken-baked-barley/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 16:03:26 +0000 http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/?p=15991 We are finally home! After a 10 day hospital stay, it is especially nice to be in our comfortable, cozy surroundings. This weekend, we basked in the joy of having our son home with us and have the hospital experience behind us. We feel so blessed and are incredibly happy. I shared some really cute... 

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Glazed Chicken and Baked Barley-1-18

We are finally home! After a 10 day hospital stay, it is especially nice to be in our comfortable, cozy surroundings. This weekend, we basked in the joy of having our son home with us and have the hospital experience behind us. We feel so blessed and are incredibly happy. I shared some really cute pictures of our baby boy yesterday on Facebook and Instagram, so head on over to check them out if you haven’t seen them yet. While I am recuperating and enjoying my “maternity leave”, I have some really yummy recipes stored up to share with you.

I make roast chicken quite often for dinner. Usually, I make potatoes or rice to serve alongside, but since I’m a big fan of other grains too, barley is another option that I reach for. This time, I decided to bake the barley in the oven and to use chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken. With the usual onion, carrots, celery and garlic flavoring the barley, I also added butternut squash and was so pleased with the results. The honey, lemon and garlic glaze on top of the chicken ties it all together perfectly. 

Ingredients:

6-8 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin on

salt, ground black pepper

1 Tablespoon oil

1 onion, chopped

1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped butternut squash

1 carrot, grated

1 celery stalk, chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/4 cups pearled barley

2 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)

Glaze:

2 Tablespoons honey

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 garlic clove grated on microplane

Instructions:

Glazed Chicken and Baked Barley-1-34Pictured above are 4 chicken thighs. You will need 6-8 chicken thighs for this recipe. I made half of the recipe, since it was only for my husband and myself.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Trim the chicken thighs from extra fat and pat them dry with a paper towel. Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a skillet on high heat. Add the chicken, skin side down first and brown for about 5-8 minutes, until the skin is golden brown. Glazed Chicken and Baked Barley-1-33Turn the chicken over and brown on the other side as well.

The chicken will render out a lot of fat. This is actually a very important step in this recipe. If you add the chicken raw to the baking dish, it will exude a lot of fat and it will all go into the barley. Not very tasty, in my opinion. This way, you will get rid of most of the fat while browning the chicken.

Don’t mess with it, leave it alone in the pan until it’s ready to be turned.  Set the chicken aside on another plate. You may have to brown the chicken in 2 batches, or use a large skillet. Glazed Chicken and Baked Barley-1-32Discard most of the fat in the skillet, leaving behind 1 Tablespoon. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion. Glazed Chicken and Baked Barley-1-31Cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion is softened. Add the butternut squash, carrots, celery and garlic. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes, until the vegetables have softened. Glazed Chicken and Baked Barley-1-30Add the barley and the broth to the skillet. Glazed Chicken and Baked Barley-1-29

Glazed Chicken and Baked Barley-1-28Bring the broth to a boil and pour the entire barley and vegetable mixture into a 9×13 inch rimmed baking dish. Nestle the chicken on top, skin side up. Glazed Chicken and Baked Barley-1-27

As you can see, there is plenty of room for more chicken thighs in the baking dish. I magically have another chicken thigh in there:). Ha ha. Actually, I browned 8 chicken thighs, but used the other 3  for another recipe.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil or a cover and cook in the preheated oven for 45 minutes – 1 hour, until all the liquid is absorbed. Glazed Chicken and Baked Barley-1-26Uncover the baking dish and cook for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the glaze ingredients in a small bowl. Glazed Chicken and Baked Barley-1-24Brush the top of the chicken with the glaze and broil the chicken for 3-5 minutes. Brush with more glaze before serving.

Glazed Chicken and Baked Barley-1-23

Glazed Chicken and Baked Barley-1-22

Glazed Chicken and Baked Barley-1-21

Chicken and Baked Barley
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 6-8 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin on
  • salt, ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1½ cups peeled and chopped butternut squash
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1¼ cups pearled barley
  • 2 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
Glaze:
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove grated on microplane
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Trim the chicken thighs from extra fat and pat them dry with a paper towel. Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat the oil in a skillet on high heat. Add the chicken, skin side down first and brown for about 5-8 minutes, until the skin is golden brown. Turn the chicken over and brown on the other side as well.
  4. The chicken will render out a lot of fat. This is actually a very important step in this recipe. If you add the chicken raw to the baking dish, it will exude a lot of fat and it will all go into the barley. Not very tasty, in my opinion. This way, you will get rid of most of the fat while browning the chicken.
  5. Don't mess with it, leave it alone in the pan until it's ready to be turned. Set the chicken aside on another plate. You may have to brown the chicken in 2 batches, or use a large skillet.
  6. Discard most of the fat in the skillet, leaving behind 1 Tablespoon. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion is softened.
  7. Add the butternut squash, carrots, celery and garlic. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes, until the vegetables have softened.
  8. Add the barley and the broth to the skillet.
  9. Bring the broth to a boil and pour the entire barley and vegetable mixture into a 9x13 inch rimmed baking dish. Nestle the chicken on top, skin side up.
  10. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil or a cover and cook in the preheated oven for 45 minutes - 1 hour, until all the liquid is absorbed.
  11. Uncover the baking dish and cook for another 10 minutes.
  12. Meanwhile, mix the glaze ingredients in a small bowl.
  13. Brush the top of the chicken with the glaze and broil the chicken for 3-5 minutes. Brush with more glaze before serving.

 

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Preparing For a Baby http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/olgastips/kitchen-tips/preparing-baby/ http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/olgastips/kitchen-tips/preparing-baby/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 11:00:11 +0000 http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/?p=16268 I wrote this post on Sunday, February 22, the day before we had our baby. I meant to post it that day, but that didn’t work out, and now we ended up being in the hospital for ten days after the delivery. Yes, life is full of the unexpected. You can make plans and have... 

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It was a GORGEOUS Sunday today. Sergi and I on the last day before our son is born.

It was a GORGEOUS Sunday today. Sergi and I on the last day before our son is born.

I wrote this post on Sunday, February 22, the day before we had our baby. I meant to post it that day, but that didn’t work out, and now we ended up being in the hospital for ten days after the delivery. Yes, life is full of the unexpected. You can make plans and have expectations, but not everything is in our control. Having a baby does give us time to plan and prepare, so this is my story of preparing for the birth of our baby. 

I woke up really early this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. I have so much on my mind. After all, we are having our baby tomorrow morning!

Even though I’ve had nine months to get used to the idea, it still doesn’t seem real that we’re actually going to have a son. I guess it will sink in once he’s born and in our arms. Throughout this challenging, eventful but very exciting pregnancy, I have seen God’s hand in our life in so many ways. Now that we are just a day away from the finish line, I can truly say that He has brought us this far and I am so thankful.

As we’ve been preparing for the arrival of our new family member, my type A personality has been kicked into high gear. I have been making my lists, checking them twice and getting the greatest satisfaction from checking things off. I thought it might be fun to share what I have been doing recently to prepare for the baby. I realize that to be prepared for a baby, you only NEED a few very minor things and the to-do list in actuality is short. What can I say? The nesting bug has hit me with full force!

Preparing For a Baby-1-15Preparing for a baby can seem very overwhelming, but you don’t have to get it all done in one day. That’s why you have more than 9 months, right? With the way I’ve been feeling throughout this pregnancy, I only had 2-3 good days per week, and on those days, I only felt good for 4 hours, max. It took me months to get things done, and I’ve had to write the same things over and over again in my planner, because the way I feel is very unpredictable. Oh, well. You learn to make do the best that you can.

I’ll start with what is important and actually DOES need to get done before you have a baby.

1. Pre-register at the hospital.

This was required in the hospital where we are having our baby. It might not be for you, but I would recommend doing so if you have the option, or at least get all your information in a convenient place, like a folder, which will make checking in and getting admitted go so much smoother. I did mine online. Easy, peasy. Make sure to have your ID and insurance card with you when you are ready to give birth.

2. Car Seat

Preparing For a Baby-1-21In America, they will not discharge you out of the hospital if you don’t have a car seat installed in your car. We already had a car seat, since we’ve had two baby boys that we fostered for more than a year, so Sergi brought the car seat down from the attic, washed it and installed it in our car.

3. Pack My Hospital Bag

I’ve had a list going for months where I would jot things down that I didn’t want to forget to take with us. I’ve had lots of experience as a patient in the hospital, so I have a pretty good idea of what will be good to have. This includes things for myself, Sergi and the baby too. During the last few days, I’ve been setting all these things aside in our guest room. Sergi is the packer in our family. That man has a talent for fitting things in perfectly.

4. Washing Baby Clothes

Preparing For a Baby-1-22We still had a whole box full of newborn baby boy clothes, so Sergi also brought that down from the attic. I am not particularly fond of doing laundry, but I got a bizarre amount of pleasure from washing all those cute baby outfits, blankets, burp cloths and tiny socks. That’s another thing I could do without too much effort and folded all the clothes while relaxing in bed. We were also very generously gifted with so many new baby clothes from our family and friends at our Baby Shower too. Our Nathaniel will be a very well dressed little man.

5. Go on a Hospital Tour

Preparing For a Baby-1-14Most hospitals, (at least the ones that I know of) offer hospital tours for expectant parents. If that’s not something that you’re interested in, at least know where you’re going, how long it will take you to get to the hospital, where to park the car, etc.

The rest of the list isn’t NECESSARY, but nice to have done.

1. Find a Pediatrician

Of course, you can have a baby without having a pediatrician lined up. They will have a pediatrician in the hospital where your baby is born, but it’s nice not to have to look for one once you get discharged. The baby will need to follow up with a pediatrician very quickly, so it’s one less thing for us to worry about when we come home.

2. Clean the House and Car

Kitchen Remodel-1-34This is another thing that is completely optional.

I’ve been cleaning for the last few months. Since there are so many days when I don’t feel good, it has taken me much longer than normal. Instead of one good weekend of pulling up my sleeves and getting it done, I only did a few things at a time, whenever I could bolster up a little energy.

I’ve had this inner urge to clean every nook and cranny, every closet, appliance and room. It’s really funny, I don’t even know where it’s coming from, but I guess that’s what they call “nesting”. It’s as though I want to impress the baby with how clean our house is:). Ha ha. I admit that it’s MUCH easier to clean a house where there are only two adults and no children to mess it up all the time. Anyway, it feels AMAZING to have a clean and organized home. I always feel so much more relaxed and happy when my surroundings are clean. Sergi and I have that in common, so he’s been a huge help and he also made sure to have the car spotless. Is it necessary? Not at all. I absolutely get it, but I’m still thrilled that we got it done.

3. Stock up on Freezer and Pantry Staples, Including Freezer Cooking

Preparing For a Baby-1-17Since I plan on taking it easy for the first few weeks that we are home, I wanted to have as much freezer and pantry items on hand as I could. This is also something very easy to do and it will be so convenient not to have too much grocery shopping to do once we are home from the hospital.

I only did a small amount of Freezer Cooking. I chose to cook things that were really easy. Having them in stock will be a big help though. My Mom will be staying with us for a while and Sergi is taking some time off work too, so I’m sure they will take great care of me.

Here are some things that I cooked:

  • Chicken Broth – This was the most important thing for me to stock up on. Besides, it takes almost no time at all – place all the ingredients in the pot, cover with water and let it cook. I have just lived on Chicken Broth and soup for months now and it’s one of the things I can eat that at least gives me some nutrients, even when I can’t eat anything else.
  • Savory Crepes – I had cooked chicken from all the Chicken Broth I made, so I saved it and made some of these crepes.
  • Breakfast Burritos – Another super easy recipe that freezes really well.
  • Lasagna and Stuffed Shells – It took me a few days to make this too, but since they both freeze really well and you need practically the same ingredients for both, it was a two for one deal. I made the same sauce and filling for both, making the sauce on one day, the filling on another and assembling it on still another day.
  • Blueberry Muffins – To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have stocked up on these, but I had some blueberries that I needed to use up and I didn’t have the appetite to eat them, so into the freezer they went. I’m hoping to get my appetite back once the baby is born, so they will be a nice treat.
  • Nutella Swirled Peanut Butter Banana Bread – The same goes for this as well. Actually, I needed to use up bananas, Nutella and peanut butter. Can you believe it? I found this recipe on Sally’s Baking Addiction and it was perfect. It was really easy to make too. Sergi loved it and we have a nice loaf that just needs to thaw and be enjoyed.
  • English Muffins – besides Chicken Broth and Soups, the other food group that I’ve been existing on is toast of some sort. English Muffins freeze really well too.

I have A LOT of other recipes and tips about Freezer Cooking, so if you’re interested, here are more posts and recipe ideas:

4. Utilize All Your Perishable Food

Preparing For a Baby-1-24Since we’ll be in the hospital for a few days and then I don’t know when I’ll have the energy to cook again, I didn’t want to chance having a lot of food spoil. I’ve been getting really creative lately by using up everything that could possibly go bad. I didn’t buy any fresh ingredients since the week before, unless I knew for sure we would use it up this week. Our fridge looks very bare.

6. Pregnancy Photos

This is one thing that I really wanted to do, since I wanted to capture the memory of having a pregnant belly. We didn’t do anything too extravagant. On Saturday, Sergi and I took the pictures right next to our house, using a tripod and spent about 30-40 minutes only. On Sunday, we took a couple more shots, also not too far from our house. Not bad, huh? Keep it simple, Sally:). It sure is nice to have a husband with such awesome photography skills.

Preparing For a Baby-1-297. Prepare the Nursery

Preparing For a Baby-1-19

Since we had the nursery partially set up already for the foster children, (it was completely done in our apartment, but we never got the chance to finish it once we moved into our house this past summer) we didn’t have to do too much. We already had most of the furniture, and just needed to rearrange a few things and add a few new additions to make it fit the new room better. I’ve been having fun browsing through different cute ideas on Pinterest and most of the new things that I got were ordered online. Amazon is a wonderful thing. The nursery isn’t completely finished, but the baby will be sleeping in a bassinet in our room for the first few months anyway. I’ll share some pictures once we have it done.

8. Make Very Good Use of the Library

We have a phenomenal library system in our county. Not only can I read the books in the library that’s closest to us, but if one a book is not available in my local library but another library in county that is part of their system has it, I can order it and it will be delivered to my local library. I love this system and take advantage of it all the time. It sure saves us lots of money:).

Recently, I haven’t been to the library that often. Most of the time, I just ordered the books online and Sergi picked them up for me. I’ve collected quite a stash to await my recuperation time. I know, I know. Some of you will tell me that I won’t have time to read once the baby arrives. I’m one of the odd people that reads all the time. Even with two foster babies that we had before, I still enjoyed reading, so that’s something I’m sure won’t change. My books and I are just meant to be. It’s my favorite way to relax and I’m looking forward to enjoying all those new tomes. 

Perusing the shelves; I'm not including a picture of all the books I actually got so I don't scare anybody:).

Perusing the shelves; I’m not including a picture of all the books I actually got so I don’t scare anybody:).

The last thing on the list is the most important of them all:

Prayer, Practicing a Sprit of Gratitude and Having the Right Attitude

Nathaniel-1-2I can’t tell you how much it means to me that SO MANY people have been praying for us and our baby this whole time. Sometimes it’s hard to give up control and trust that God has our best interest in mind.

There are so many things that have happened throughout this pregnancy and so many things that are still unknown. The only way to staying sane and feel at peace is to be very conscious about keeping my mind on things that will build up and inspire. My secret is lots of prayer, reading the Bible, listening to my favorite music and hanging around encouraging people. I also love our church and our church small group. All of this has really kept my spirits up and helped me to stay calm and excited, not scared and anxious.

We have a chalkboard in our dining room and I like to write down different Bible verses on it. It’s a great reminder that we see all the time. For the past few weeks, I have had this verse from Isaiah 26:3 up on the board:

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.

 Our son is 10 days old today. I wrote more about his birth in this post – Welcome to the World, Nathaniel Caleb. My heart is brimming over with thankfulness that he was born healthy and even though we had some little bumps in the road, it was all temporary and nothing serious. I will be forever grateful for God’s goodness and mercy and that He answers prayer.  

Nathaniel-1-4

Nathaniel-1-5

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