Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Saffron Chicken and Rice

Saffron. The most expensive spice in the world. I purchased my first little bit of extravagance a few months ago. The only thing I’ve ever cooked with saffron is bouillabaisse* – which I love and adore, but I haven’t been up to making it with reams of frozen seafood, much less trying to equal the taste of my sister’s dish.

*Where “cooked” = “drinking any kind of alcohol while my sister tends the pot".

So, having no clue what I wanted to cook with it, I told myself I’d look around and see what struck my fancy.

Apparently what struck my fancy was to put it in my newly-reorganized spice cabinet and forget all about it. Occasionally I’d remember as I shoved it out of the way to get to the red pepper flakes or the basil – I had left it in front of the cabinet so that it wouldn’t get lost. Genius, you have met your match.

Except for the fact that I still managed to forget about it.

Tonight’s menu was chicken and rice, and I relentlessly pawed through my spice cabinet looking for just the right flavors. I think I must have shoved the saffron out of the way at least 3 times before it leapt up, grabbed my by the eyeballs and threatened me with dismemberment.

I took the hint, Thank Goodness, because this is the best flavored chicken and rice I’ve ever made. Take that, Genius!
This is where a picture would be, if I hadn't let all my batteries go dead. I did, and there isn't. So just imagine a slightly smoky red (how many adjectives can I use for one dish?) skillet of chicken and rice. And a Very Happy Professor.

Saffron Chicken and Rice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb chicken breasts
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp sweet paprika
  • ¾ cup rice
  • 1 ½ cups veggie broth (or chicken broth, white wine, water or any combination of the above)
  • A pinch of saffron threads

Heat olive oil in a skillet, and brown chicken on both sides. Remove from the pan.
Sauté onion and garlic in the skillet for about 3 minutes, until the onion softens.
Add paprika and stir til it’s all coated.
Add rice and stock to the pan. Bring to a boil.
Sprinkle in the saffron and return the chicken peaces.
Simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is done.
I was so excited about this that I didn't even cook vegetables with it. Come to think of it, some green beans or snow peas stirred in for the last 5 or 6 minutes would have been awesome. Or Broccoli, maybe, if you're into That Kind Of Thing. Whatever - it was awesome.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

We went to have lunch with my Stepson today, and I really wanted to bake him some cookies. Male + 18 years old = ALWAYS STARVING, so I can indulge baking yearnings and then he eats {almost} all the calories for me. It's a good relationship angle.

But last night was Halloween (party + bonfire = late night), and I forgot to pull butter out to soften overnight. So I hunted around for a non-butter-using chocolate chip cookie recipe. Success! It even has 4 stars on RecipeZaar.

So I started happily mixing. And the problems began with ingredient #2: salad oil. Salad oil? Oil in salad is gross, and I usually serve EVOO for those who need it. I bake cakes with vegetable oil, so that's what I chose.

Problem #2: I started running out of ingredients. It's like I forgot what was in my baking cabinet. I had less than 2 cups of sugar, and had to sub a half cup of Splenda. I only had 3 eggs, and subbed...nothing (but I did end up using a half cup less flour, since I've made enough cookies to judge the right consistency). I ran out of white flour, and had to use a cup of whole wheat. I only had fat-free sour cream (full fat was recommended in a comment or 2).

But I am stubborn, and I wanted to make cookies!

When I got the batter mixed, I did a test tray of 6 cookies. And then while they baked I looked at my bowl of batter and realized I was in for a lot of teaspoon drops. So I did the smartest thing I did all day: I pulled out my 13x9 inch pan and my 11x7 inch pan, coated them with spray, filled them with batter and stuck them in the oven. A pan for the Stepson, a pan for the Bestest Friend, 6 cookies for me, and The Professor got to lick the bowl and spatula. Perfect.

While I was cleaning the kitchen, I found 2 sticks of butter flavored Crisco in the baking cabinet.

I'm going to put the original recipe from Pennie42 at RecipeZaar below because I'm fairly certain some weird kind of karma was watching over my baking this morning...



  1. Combine sour cream, salad oil, white sugar and brown sugar. Mix well.
  2. Add beaten eggs and vanilla.
  3. Mix baking soda and salt into some of the flour.
  4. Add this flour mixture to wet ingredients.
  5. Then add remainder of flour, a cup at a time.
  6. Blend thoroughly after each addition.
  7. Drop by teaspoon onto a greased cookie sheet.
  8. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.
I baked my bars at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Somehow, the 13x9 and 11x7 pans got done at the same time - they were equally browned and equally done. Kitchen Karma for the Good, this time.

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip