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jen223's Profile

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Best sauce recipe for bland, mealy tomatoes?

My mother proudly gave me a bag of tomatoes she grew in her backyard. I was excited until I tried one - it was bland and mealy. I have a LOT of these tomatoes (they look to be plum) and a few really tasty tomatoes from my farm share. They're going to go bad if I don't make them before my upcoming vacation, so I was wondering if anyone has a good recipe that transforms bland, mealy tomatoes? I can add a bunch of basil, oregano, etc. and spice the heck out of the sauce but wanted to see if there is a "tried and true" recipe for such a situation.

Aug 20, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking

First time canner: I can't get the lid off!

I have these lids as well... never knew the ink from a Sharpie washes off easily! Better than my current practice of writing on masking tape and taping that onto the lid...

Aug 05, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking

First time canner: I can't get the lid off!

I had to look up what a church key was! I think there is one in a drawer at my parents' house, but I recently moved into my home, so my junk drawer is light on junk!

The jam set enough, I guess. It'll spread on toast and worked well in yogurt. If I tipped the jar upside down, though, it'd all slowly fall out. I never got it up to 220F but pretty close!

Aug 05, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking

First time canner: I can't get the lid off!

Thanks, everyone! I ended up dropping the jar during an attempt to open it, and I guess that gave me the extra push I needed to be able to pry it off.

Aug 05, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking

First time canner: I can't get the lid off!

So I did my best to meticulously follow directions to can some peach jam, although my jam is quite liquid (I did reduce the sugar a tad) and there are itty bitty air bubbles I couldn't get out. I did get a good seal with a concave lid.... But I wonder if my seal is TOO good. Is that possible? Because now I want some jam and can't get the lid off!

Two questions:

1. Does this in some strange way indicate that my canning was done incorrectly and my jam is no longer safe?

2. How do I get the darn lid off? I removed the ring and am hurting myself trying to pry the lid off.

Thank you!

Aug 05, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking

Your most used fish cookbook?

Thanks for the suggestions, all - looking forward to all the tasty fish!

Jun 22, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking

Your most used fish cookbook?

Love cookbooks! Much more than the interwebs. Check them out sometime!

Jun 22, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking
1

Please help me like chicken breast!

But it's healthy and easy to prep! This is also the reason I buy pork tenderloin instead of pork belly or shoulder (which are much tastier), although those are easy to prep because I don't eat them thinking I'm being healthy so leave the fat on.

Jun 19, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking

Please help me like chicken breast!

I think it's because I know if I leave the fat on, my husband will eat it all (if it melts, he insists on taking the fat and putting it back on or adding it to the starch), and I'm looking out for his health (plus I don't think my toddler needs chicken fat either). And because I'm such a perfectionist, once I get going, I really can't stop myself. It's a disease.

Jun 19, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking

Your most used fish cookbook?

Wow, that is quite the endorsement! It is now in my Amazon cart, thanks!

Jun 19, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking

Please help me like chicken breast!

I didn't know Kenji thinks 150F is OK! Maybe that's my problem... always cooking to 160F because I'm worried about food safety.

Any dry brines you recommend in particular?

Jun 19, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking

Please help me like chicken breast!

These sound tasty and fairly simple... thanks!

Jun 19, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking

Please help me like chicken breast!

Mmm I do love chicken marsala but hesitate with the wine b/c I have a toddler. I'll have to try making the piccata!

Jun 19, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking

Please help me like chicken breast!

It's a good idea... my sous vide machine was bought years ago, and it's a monstrosity to lug around. Maybe I'll set it up in the basement permanently so I actually use it again.

I worry about sous vide with chicken and getting it to temp over a slow period without any ill effects, though...

Jun 19, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking

Please help me like chicken breast!

What temp and how long?

Jun 19, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking

Please help me like chicken breast!

What temp do you bake?

Jun 19, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking

Please help me like chicken breast!

It's been awhile since I've bought BSCB, but I do still trim those. I think there is much more fat in the thighs, though, and more hidden and harder to remove.

Where are you guys buying your chicken that is so much better prepped than mine??

Jun 19, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking
1

Your most used fish cookbook?

Recently I've been on a mission to cook different proteins than normal and realized I rarely buy fish, which is a shame because it's healthy and tasty!

My current repertoire for fish is limited - pretty much S&P/lemon, some rub, or steamed Chinese style. I know little about differences in various fishes and usually just buy something that's not too expensive.

Looking for a good fish cookbook (other seafood welcome as well!) that will guide me through different types of fish, how to buy, and good recipes for them. Learning things like wild caught Alaskan salmon is better for you than farm-raised, or swordfish is endangered, or a cheaper but good substitute for haibut/chilean sea bass would be useful to me.

Basically my goal is to introduce fish into my family's dinner rotation at least once a week with varying but relatively simple recipes without breaking the bank. Not wanting to focus on sushi (not toddler-friendly).

I saw a post a few years back about Rick Moonen's fish book, and I see there is one by Mark Bittman. Any thoughts on these or any others?

Jun 19, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking

Please help me like chicken breast!

Good point... One could wrap anything in prosciutto and it'd taste better!

Jun 18, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking

Please help me like chicken breast!

I think boneless thighs are a lot of work! So much hidden fat and connective tissue to remove. Takes me forever. Doesn't help that I'm a perfectionist...

Jun 18, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking

Please help me like chicken breast!

I never buy or order chicken breasts. I grew up eating dark meat and prefer the flavor and juiciness of it.

However, I'm now a mother and lacking time and patience. And chicken breasts, especially boneless and skinless, just seem so easy. I feel like I can't be bothered with trimming thighs anymore. Not to mention I'm quite slow at it.

Any recipes or suggestions for chicken breasts? Maybe suggestions on the chicken itself? I can go to a farmer's market if I have time, but if any stores like a Whole Foods has particularly tasty breasts, I'd like to know. Are frozen breasts any good?

My biggest beef with chicken breast (uhh... is that confusing?) is that I often find it dry, either when I'm making it or sometimes when dining out, too. Second issue is I feel like there is more work needed to make it tasty.... Unlike beef which just needs S&P for me.

Any suggestions?

Jun 18, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking

What's for Dinner #370 The Grass is Green Edition! [through June 21, 2015]

Used up leftover ground lamb, celery, and cilantro by making a cumin spiced lamb and celery stir fry. Really tasty for how easy it was! Hardest part was washing the cilantro... I hate washing small leafed greenery.

Help me find the chorizo I want!

YES the cantampalitos look right! I've had the smaller cocktail chorizos that seem drier and darker, but googling cantampalitos shows me the bright red ones I think I've had. I think I've also had and enjoyed the chistorra, although definitely in small pieces and not Slim Jim length.

Jun 10, 2015
jen223 in General Topics

CSA members: What are you doing with your veggies??

Interesting! It's blended?? Does it end up tasting like lettuce or more like all the other ingredients?

Jun 10, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking

Do you really need to *cook* frozen vegetables before using?

I get nervous about the "food safety" warning to cook to 160F, hence the nuking. I figure she'll be OK with less nutrients but not so OK if she gets sick from some foodborne illness. I do throw in some cooking water to steam and ensure the veggies are soft enough for her to gum, but maybe I should lessen both the water volume and microwave time.

First time, type A mom here... impressed by sparrowgrass for giving toddlers veggies direct from freezer for teething!

Jun 10, 2015
jen223 in General Topics

Help me find the chorizo I want!

Pretty sure... I know I had this type of Chorizo in Madrid, Barcelona, and even bought a package at the grocery store in Mallorca to cook in one of the most delicious pasta dishes I've ever made. I hate that I can't remember the package, although I think it was from a brand that made a # of other food items, and I think it may be have been in a refrigerated section.

Jun 10, 2015
jen223 in General Topics

CSA members: What are you doing with your veggies??

We've been getting a TON of lettuce! I can't bear to make another salad - any ideas on what to do with various types of lettuce?

Scallions - beef and scallion stir-fry

Chard - sauteed with lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and garlic

Lettuce - too many salads

Hakurei turnips - stir-fried with fish sauce, stirring the greens in at the end

Green garlic - I throw some into practically anything else I'm cooking

Strawberries - plop them into mouth

Jun 10, 2015
jen223 in Home Cooking

Help me find the chorizo I want!

I had some delicious chorizo in Spain, and I can't seem to find the same kind here. I'm not looking for the dry, hard kind, which is delicious as well, but I can easily find this. I don't know if I'm looking for a raw sausage, which I've also bought but haven't been happy with because the flavor and maybe texture have been off.

But I'm looking for those short little links of chorizo that you find as tapas, maybe 1.5-2" long, juicy, flavorful, and oh-so-delicious. They don't need to be short links, but I do want this type of sausage.

I've found that the raw chorizo I've purchased are just lacking in the bold chorizo flavor.

Any thoughts? Thanks!

Jun 10, 2015
jen223 in General Topics

Do you really need to *cook* frozen vegetables before using?

i wonder the same thing. i always have frozen veggies on hand to feed my toddler when i feel she needs more veggies, and after reading the instructions, i now nuke the poor veggies in the microwave to ensure they're "cooked". who knows if i've nuked the nutritional value out of them.

so i don't really have an answer, although i will say that the frozen fruits i buy don't require cooking and will suggest thawing in the refrigerator. i wonder why it's different?

Jun 10, 2015
jen223 in General Topics

Please help with my itinerary w/toddler (Alinea, Goosefoot, etc.)

Thanks! Good call on the GT reservation. I had completely forgot. I do have a reservation for Frontera Grill. I've been there (and enjoyed it), but unless you guys tell me that Topo is much different and worth trying since I've already been to Frontera, I'll stick with it as it sounds less formal (and thus more kid-friendly)

Jun 04, 2015
jen223 in Chicago Area