Friday, August 13, 2010

Eggplant, Zucchini and Tomato Casserole

Inspiration for this is from the garden, obviously.  All the veggies were fresh off the vine. I'm up to my neck in ripe tomatoes!

Eggplant, Zucchini and Tomato Casserole

3 medium eggplant, sliced thin
2 medium zucchini, sliced thin
several large tomatoes, seeded and diced
olive oil
grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup vegetable broth

Preheat oven to 375°.

Arrange eggplant and zucchini in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat vegetables with cooking spray. Bake for 15 minutes. Arrange half of eggplant in a single layer in an 11 x 7-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with half of zucchini and half of tomato. Drizzle olive oil evenly over vegetables, sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Combine breadcrumbs, cheese and next 4 ingredients; sprinkle half over the tomato layer. Repeat layers with remaining eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, oil, salt, pepper, and breadcrumb mixture. Pour broth over top. Bake at 375° for 1 hour or until vegetables are tender and topping is browned.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Roasted Poblano, Avocado and Cucumber Soup

Long time, no post. I apologize.  I've been fairly uninspired in the kitchen lately, relying mainly on good, old staples.

But now that the garden is producing more than just salads, it's time to get back in the kitchen. Tonight's dinner is inspired by a recipe by Food & Wine, an abundance of cucumbers from the garden and wanting to do something with them other than yet another salad, and a husband who made gagging noises at the idea but who is, conveniently, at soccer tonight.  He doesn't know what he's missing.

Roasted Poblano, Avocado and Cucumber Soup

2 medium poblano, cored and seeded and cut in half
3 cloves garlic
5 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
4 avocados, chopped
~4 cups chicken broth
~3 tsp hot curry powder
dash of tumeric
dash of saffron
1 tbsp lime juice (or to taste)
salt to taste
cilantro to taste

Preheat broiler to 500*.  Line a baking sheet with tinfoil, spray with cooking spray.  Place poblano halves skin-side up.  Broil 5-10 minutes or until skin is charred.  Remove from oven, let cool. Remove the skin and coarsely chop.

Heat a large stockpot over medium heat.  Add olive oil and heat thru.  Add garlic and sautee until lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes.  Add poblano and sautee about 5 minutes.  Add curry powder and toast until fragarant.  Add broth, cucumbers, and avocado; cover.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer 10 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree the vegetables until smooth, adding more broth if necessary to maintain texture.  Add in spices and lime juice to taste.  Simmer another 5-10 minutes.

This soup can be served hot or cold, depending on your preference.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Oven-Friend Buttermilk Chicken

This was 5 million times better than KFC.  The chicken was perfectly moist, the skin was crispy.  I think using the convection settings on the oven helped this.

Oven-Friend Buttermilk Chicken

3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup Frank's Hot Sauce
4 chicken breasts, bone-in, skin on

1 cup breadcrumbs
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Combine buttermilk and hot sauce in a large ziploc bag.  Add chicken breasts to bag, turn to coat.  Let sit at room temperature for 15 mintues.

Preheat oven to 425ºF.  Combine breadcrumbs and seasoning in a large bowl.  Line a baking sheet with tinfoil.  Place an oven-safe cooling rack in the baking sheet.

Dredge chicken in breadcrumb mixture, coating evenly on all sides, and arrange on cooling rack.  Place in oven on a middle rack and bake at 425ºF for 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160ºF, turning halfway thru.

Increase heat to 450º and cook 5-10 minutes or until skin on top is crispy and internal temperature reads 175-180º.  Remove from oven and serve.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Cheddar Bay" Biscuits

Tonight's dinner was your basic tilapia in a lemon-butter sauce.  But I wanted to have biscuits with it.

I poked about online for a replica of the only reason people go to Red Lobster - the Cheddar Bay biscuits.  And all of them, to the last one, called for Bisquick mix.

Really?  You're too lazy to mix together some flour, baking soda and baking powder??

I've been using this biscuit recipe for four years now.  So I just took this basic recipe and modified it.  The results?

Delicious, fluffy biscuity goodness.  YUM.

"Cheddar Bay" Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried chives
1 cup extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4-5 tbsp butter
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add in cheese and toss lightly to coat with the flour.  Cut in butter until flour resembles crumbs. Using a wooden spoon, mix in buttermilk until combined.
Line a baking sheet with parchment. Drop heaping tablespoons of the batter onto parchment. Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes or until biscuits are done (insert a toothpick to test).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Limoncello Scones

This is a unbelievably delicious variation on my standard scone recipe.  I'm not quite sure what made this idea pop into my head but ginger and limoncello just sounded divine.  And it IS.  So, so divine.

Limoncello Scones

4 cups all purpose unbleached organic flour
1/2 cup Splenda (or sugar)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tsp Five-Spice Powder
6 tbsp Smart Balance (or butter), cold and cut into pieces
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup ginger nibs (you can get them at the Spice House)
1 cup buttermilk (or substitute)
1/3 cup limoncello
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Preheat oven temperature to 400º F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and five-spice powder. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture until the mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chips, walnuts and ginger nibs. In a small measuring cup combine the buttermilk with the maple syrup and then add to the flour mixture, add limoncello. Stir just until the dough comes together. Do not over mix the dough.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough gently four or five times. Divide the dough in half.  Working with each half, pat the dough into a circle that is about 4 inches wide by 3 inches deep and about 1 inch thick. Cut the rectangle in half, then cut each half into 4 squares.  Repeat with the other half of the dough. You will have 16 scones altogether. Place the scones on the baking sheet that is lightly coated with spray oil.

Bake for about 16 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ground Turkey and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

We don't make stuffed peppers often.  I still have this deep-rooted aversion to the dish from my childhood.  If my mother were reading this post, she wouldn't believe I was the one writing it.

But this isn't your typical ground chuck mixed with onions and tomatoes (or ketchup, in some cases).  Consider this a step up.

The mix makes more stuffing than for the peppers I had on-hand.  I think it would probably stuff about 2 more peppers.  But the stuffing itself would make excellent stuffed pitas or even mixed into a fritatta.

Ground Turkey and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

2 cups chicken broth
2 saffron threads
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp cumin
1 cup uncooked quinoa

2 tbsp olive oil
1 14oz can artichoke hearts
2 shallots
1/2 cup kalamata olives
1 lb ground turkey
2/3 - 3/4 cup parmesan cheese

3 red bell peppers

To make the quinoa:
Combine the chicken broth and spices in a 3 qt sauce pan.  Bring the broth to a boil.  Add quinoa, stir, reduce heat and cover.  Cook 12 minutes until the broth is absorbed.  Removev heat and set aside.

To make the stuffing:
Combine artichoke hearts, shallots and kalamata olives in a food processor.  Pulse until chopped.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat until shimmery.  Add artichoke heart mixture and cook 3-5 minutes.  Add ground turkey and cook until browned, about 8 minutes.  Remove from heat; stir in quinoa.  Let cool slightly; stir in half the parmesan cheese.

Preheat oven to 400F. Slice the bell peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and membranes.  Stuff the peppers with the turkey-quinoa mixture and place in a 13x9" pan.  Sprinkle the top with remaining parmesan cheese.  Add about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of the dish and cover the dish loosely with foil. Bake for 40 minutes or until the peppers are tender. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Greek-Style Buffalo Pita Burgers

I'm really in love with buffalo meat as a substitute for ground beef.  Don't get me wrong, I still love ground turkey for things like tacos and chili.  But sometimes you just want a juicy burger off the grill.

Measurements are estimates.  I just sort of measured into my hand or into the bowl.

Greek-Style Buffalo Pita Burgers

1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
2 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp water

1 lb ground buffalo

Feta Cheese
Pita bread

Combine first nine ingredients into a large bowl and stir to combine.  Add ground buffalo to the bowl and mix well with spice mixture.  Form into patties.

Heat grill to medium-high heat.  Add patties and grill 8-10 minutes, turning once halfway thru.  During last minute of grilling, top with slices of feta and allow to melt slightly. Remove from grill and let rest 2-3 minutes.

Slice pita bread in half.  Into each pocket, place the burger.  Serve.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Herb-Grilled Chicken

We had some unseasonably warm weather this week, so grilling was a must.  This made a nice, light dinner.  The leftovers were great stuffed into pita bread.

Herb-Grilled Chicken

2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp dry white wine
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Cucumber-Feta Salad

Whisk first 7 ingredients in a shallow dish; remove and reserve 2 tablespoons marinade for Cucumber-Feta Salad. Add chicken to dish; cover and chill 30 minutes, turning breasts halfway thru.

Prep grill. Place chicken on grill over direct medium heat.  Grill 6 minutes on each side or until internal temp is 170-175ºF. Remove chicken from grill, tent with foil and let rest 3-5 minutes.  Serve with Cucumber-Feta Salad.

Cucumber-Feta Salad

A light, summery salad.  Perfect accompaniment to many grilled dinners.  You could easily turn this into a panzanella, too.

Cucumber-Feta Salad

1 medium cucumber, seeded and diced
1 medium red onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
1 roma tomato, pulp removed and diced
2 tbsp reserved marinade from Herb-Grilled Chicken
red-wine vinegar
balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup crumbled feta

Combine first 9 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well to coat vegetables thoroughly.  Let sit 30 minutes.  Add crumbled feta, toss and serve.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chicken and Summer Vegetable Tostadas

It's a little early in the year for some of these veggies.  But The Spouse and I agree that this would be an excellent way to make use of our garden's harvest as the year progresses.  Some early tomatoes would go well with this.

Chicken and Summer Vegetable Tostadas

1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup chopped shallot
1 cup corn kernels
1 cup chopped zucchini
1/2 cup green salsa
1 tsp dried cilantro
3 (8-inch) flour tortillas
Cooking spray
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat broiler.

Combine first 3 ingredients, stirring well. Pound chicken to 1/4" thickness and cut into cubes. Sprinkle the spice mixture evenly over chicken. Heat a large skillet over medium heat; add oil and heat until shimmery.  Add chicken to pan; sauté for 3 minutes. Add onion, corn, and zucchini to pan; sauté for 2 minutes or until chicken is done. Stir in salsa and cilantro. Cook 2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring frequently.

Arrange tortillas in a single layer on a baking sheet; lightly coat tortillas with cooking spray. Broil 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Spoon chicken mixture in the center of each tortilla; sprinkle each serving with cheese. Broil an additional 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Sprinkle each serving with remaining cilantro. Serve immediately.

Quick Shrimp Chowder

This recipe was inspired by one on MyRecipes that called for two cans of CoC.  For brevity's sake, I won't go into how to make your own "cream of" soup - though it's quite easy and a variety of recipes abound online.  Or you can look for alternative options available at the store (Amy's and Health Valley are two brands that come to mind).

I had made a cream of potato soup earlier in the week, so I used those leftovers and added some homemade chicken glace. The result was divine.  A definite repeat meal.

Quick Shrimp Chowder

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 large shallot, chopped
1 cup cream of potato soup
3 tbsp chicken glace
3 1/2 cups milk
1/4 tsp ground pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds medium-size fresh shrimp, peeled
1  cup  (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Garnish: chopped fresh parsley
Oyster crackers (optional)

Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add butter and melt until lightly browned. Add shallot and sauté 8 minutes or until tender. Add flour and stir until coated.  Stir in soup, glace, milk, pepper, cayenne and salt to taste; bring to a boil. Add shrimp and simmer, stirring often, 5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Reduce heat to low and simmer until well thickened.  Stir in cheese until melted. Garnish, if desired. Serve immediately with oyster crackers, if desired.

Barbecued Chicken Pizza

This was a great meal.  The Spouse is usually not a fan of cream cheese, but in this context he loved it. 

For all the talking up I do of their sause, I'm thinking Rudy's needs to give me a commission.  But, sincerely, their sause is a must for any real BBQ.  I've not found anything that's comparable to their combination of sweet and spicy.

Rudy's BBQ Chicken Pizza

1 lb boned, skinned chicken breasts
1/3 cup Rudy's BBQ Sause
Salt and pepper
2 homemade whole wheat pizza crusts, about 8" round
1/4 cup cream cheese
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 4oz can diced green chilies
1/2 cup shredded jack cheese
hot chili flakes

Prep grill.  Rinse chicken and pat dry.  Pound chicken to 1/4" thickness. Coat with about 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill chicken until done, about 8 minutes, turning once halfawy thru. Let stand until cool enough to handle, then tear into bite-size chunks. In a small bowl, mix with remaining barbecue sauce.

Place pizza crusts on a 12- by 15-inch baking sheet. Spread each with about 2 tablespoons cream cheese. Spoon chicken in sauce evenly over both crusts; top with red onion, green chilies, red  jack cheese, and hot chili flakes.

Bake pizzas in a 400° regular or convection oven until cheese is browned and bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a board and cut into wedges.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Chicken and Asparagus in White Wine Sauce

This was an exquisite dinner, worthy of company but quick and easy enough for a week night meal.

Chicken and Asparagus in White Wine Sauce

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 ounces)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb asparagus spears, trimmed
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Sprinkle chicken breasts evenly with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add olive oil. Place flour in a shallow dish. Dredge chicken in flour. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Add wine, broth, and garlic to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook 2 minutes. Add asparagus; cover and cook 3 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Remove from heat; stir in parsley and juice. Serve asparagus and sauce with chicken.

Herbed Chicken Parmesan

This was unexpectedly delicious.  Something about the balsamic vinegar in the sauce did wonders.  I served this over spaghetti noodles.

Herbed Chicken Parmesan

1/3 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp salt, divided
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp butter
1 jar tomato-basil pasta sauce
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) shredded provolone cheese

Combine 2 tablespoons of Parmesan, breadcrumbs, parsley, basil, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a shallow dish. Pound the chicken breasts thin under a piece of wax or parchment papper; cut into tenders.  Dredge each tender in the breadcrumb mixture. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from pan.

Combine 1/8 teaspoon salt, pasta sauce, vinegar, and pepper in medium bowl. Add sauce to pan; bring to a simmer.  Place chicken back in pan and simmer until chicken is cooked thru. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining Parmesan and provolone cheese; heat until cheese melts.  Serve immediately.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Risotto with Italian Sausage, Caramelized Onions, and Bitter Greens

This dinner was unbelievably delicious.  It's definitely going to make it's way into our regular meal rotation.  I can't wait to make it again!

Risotto with Italian Sausage, Caramelized Onions, and Bitter Greens

4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
2 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
8 oz. sweet turkey Italian sausage
1 shallot, chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
1/3 cup white wine
2 cups endive leaves
3 tbsp freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
1 tsp grated lemon rind
salt to taste

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil and heat thru until shimmery. Add chopped onion to pan; sauté 7 minutes or until golden.

Removing casings from sausage. Add sausage to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add chopped shallots; sauté 2 minutes. Add Arborio rice; sauté 30 seconds. Stir in white wine; cook 45 seconds or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup hot broth; cook 2 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total). Remove from heat; stir in endive and remaining ingredients.

Quick-and-Easy Turkey Burgers

The Spouse made this recipe.  I believe he used an additional spice blend that we got from a friend of ours that you can only get in the Twin Cities area.

Quick-and-Easy Turkey Burgers

1 lb ground turkey breast
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp light teriyaki sauce
1 tbsp water
Cooking spray
1 large onion, cut into (1/4-inch-thick) slices (about 2 cups)
1 tsp olive oil
4 (1 1/2-ounce) hamburger buns
8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato (optional)
4 curly leaf lettuce leaves (optional)

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Divide the turkey mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each portion into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Combine the teriyaki sauce and water in a small bowl.

Place a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat until hot. Add the onion slices; cover and cook 10 minutes or until onion is golden brown, stirring frequently. Stir in 1 tbsp teriyaki mixture. Remove onion from pan, and keep warm. Add olive oil to pan. Add patties, and cook 5 minutes over medium heat. Add remaining teriyaki mixture to pan. Carefully turn patties over, and cook for 3 minutes or until golden.  Place burgers on buns and serve with various garnishes.

Pork Medallions with Olive-Caper Sauce

The Spouse made this meal, which was a great, easy weeknight dinner.

Pork Medallions with Olive-Caper Sauce

1 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pitted kalamata olives
2 tbsp capers
2 tsp dried parsley

Cut pork crosswise into 8 pieces. Place each pork piece between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap and pound to 1/4-inch thickness. Sprinkle both sides of the pork with salt and pepper. Place the flour in a shallow bowl; dredge pork in flour. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; add 1 1/2 tsp olive oil and heat until shimmery, tilting the pan to coat. Add pork to the pan and cook 2 minutes on each side or until done. Add wine and broth; bring to a boil. Stir in olives and capers; cook 4 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley; serve.

Chicken Sandwich with Arugula and Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

These would also be spectacular grilled.  A light meal for spring/summer. We used home-made sun (well, oven) dried tomatoes in this. Delish.

Chicken Sandwich with Arugula and Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup sun-dried tomato halves
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove
4 burger buns
2 cups trimmed endive

Heat a pan over medium-high heat; coat with cooking spray. Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap, and pound each piece to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Sprinkle both sides evenly with 1/8 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Add chicken to pan, and cook 4 minutes on each side or until done.

While chicken cooks, combine 1/8 teaspoon salt, tomatoes, vinegar, and garlic in a small food processor; process until garlic is minced and tomatoes are well chopped.

In a small bowl combine the endive and tomato mixture; toss gently to coat. Place chicken on a lightly toasted bun, top with endive mixture.

Menu Planning

First, I have to apologize for the hiatus.  In addition to the computer troubles, our router died and now it seems the cable modem is on the fritz, so we've been sans interwebs at home.

The Spouse and I have been doing quite a bit of menu planning lately.  It's been a huge success thus far - we've discovered some great new dishes, trimmed the grocery bill, eliminated the "What do you want for dinner?" "I dunno. What do you want?" "I dunno." routine, etc. has this lovely feature called 1 List, 5 Meals that we've been using.  We started with Week 1 and are now currently finishing up Week 3.  Some recipes we didn't do, some are not worthy to post here.  But I have a fair backlog of recipes to post that I'm hoping to address.  Also, The Spouse has taken to cooking a meal or two a week, which has been a nice respite for me.  I'll note those recipes as well

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chipotle-Marinated Pork Chops with Chimichurri Sauce

Chipotle-Marinated Pork Chops with Chimichurri Sauce

3/4 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp homemade chipotle in adobo sauce
4 (6-ounce) center-cut pork chops (about 3/4 inch thick) chimichurri Sauce:

3 tbsp dried parsley
1/4 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup minced fresh onion

To prepare pork chops, combine 3/4 cup chicken broth and chipotle chile. Combine chile mixture and pork chops in a large zip-top plastic bag. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 2 hours. Remove chops from bag; discard marinade.

To prepare Chimichurri Sauce, combine parsley and next 8 ingredients (parsley through onion) in a blender; process until smooth. Pour into a bowl; set aside.

Prepare grill.

Place the chops on grill rack coated with cooking spray; cook 5 minutes on each side or until done. Serve with Chimichurri Sauce.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Roasted Mushroom Baked Polenta

I had some button and shitake mushrooms in the fridge, so this was a good way to use them up.

Roasted Mushroom Baked Polenta

1 pound white button mushrooms, quartered
1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps quartered
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tbsp butter
1 small onion, chopped
4 cups water or chicken stock, divided
1 1/2 cups cornmeal (polenta)
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 375º. Toss the mushrooms with olive oil, salt and pepper and place in a large casserole dish. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

While mushrooms are baking, heat a very large skillet over medium heat. Add butter and warm. Add onion and sautee until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Combine cornmeal and remaining water and gradually add to the sauce pan, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes until thickened.

Remove mushrooms from oven. Pour half the polenta over the mushrooms and stir. Top with half the cheese. Pour remaining polenta over and top with remaining cheese. Place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until done. Remove from oven and let set for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chicken Peperonata

Another F&W recipe! I couldn't find Peppadew peppers at my local store (surprising, actually, since they're fairly good about stocking odds and ends like that), so I wracked my brain trying to think what would add the right amount of heat - they're similar to a peperoncini on the scoville scale - without adding smokiness. I was rummaging thru my spice cabinet when I came across the answer - harissa.

I served this with roasted mushroom baked polenta.

Chicken Peperonata

1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 large white onions, halved lengthwise and thickly sliced crosswise
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds, coarsely chopped
One 28-ounce can peeled Italian tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/2 tsp harissa
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 whole chicken (4 pounds each), cut into wings, thighs, drumsticks and breasts

Preheat the oven to 350° and set a rack in the center. In a very large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the bell peppers and onions and stir until coated with olive oil. Cover and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the peppers and onions are slightly softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and fennel seeds and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and Peppadews and season with salt and pepper. Pour the contents of the skillet into a large roasting pan.

Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper and arrange the pieces skin-side up in the roasting pan. Roast for about 45 minutes, until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Turn on the broiler and broil the chicken for about 10 minutes, until the skin is browned and crisp. Transfer the chicken to a platter.

Set the roasting pan over 2 burners and cook over high heat until the pan juices are reduced slightly, 7 to 8 minutes. Spoon the vegetables and juices into a deep platter, arrange the chicken on top and serve.

Citrusy Mojito Chicken

Yet another winner from Food & Wine, though, again, overly complicated. Making a homemade citrus salsa is fine and good but not practical for a weeknight.

Citrusy Mojito Chicken

1 red grapefruit
1 lime
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped mint
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Juice half the grapefruit and the whole lime into a small bowl; stir in the olive oil, cilantro and mint and season with salt and pepper. Pour mixture into a ziplock back. Add the chicken to the bag and let marinade for 15-20 minutes.

Remove chicken from the bag, reserving the marinade. Grill the chicken thighs over moderately high heat, turning them occasionally, until they are lightly charred outside and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the marinade to a small sauce pan and heat the mixture over high heat until it reaches a roiling boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and reduce until thickened. Drizzle sauce over breasts and serve.

Pecan-Crusted Tilapia

This was a very tasty meal. We had corn on the side.

Pecan-Crusted Tilapia

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
dash of chipotle pepper
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
2 (8-ounce) tilapia fillets
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
4 lemon wedges

Combine first 7 ingredients in a shallow dish. Combine buttermilk and hot sauce in a medium bowl. Dip 1 fish fillet in buttermilk mixture; dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining fillets.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 fillets; cook 3 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

While fish is cooking, in a small sauce pan, heat the buttermilk mixture over high heat until it reaches a roiling boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and reduce until thickened.

Plate the fish, drizzle with the sauce and serve with lemon wedges.

Wine Pairing: A nice, acidic sauvignon blanc.

Pickle Brined Chicken

I apologize for the delay in recipes. The truth is - all of our home computers have died. Ish. The laptop kicked the bucket and our desktop's USB drives don't work (hence, no uploading of photos).

This is still the case, but I figured "The heck with it." I've got too much of a backlog. Eventually I will try and replace the photos with our own.

So, today's photo and (highly modified) recipe is courtesy of Food & Wine Magazine. I loved the idea of brineing the chicken with pickle juice. I found the instructions of the recipe far too fussy, though, so I streamlined them quite a bit. I didn't brine them overnight and still found them flavorful, though I think the extra time would be good. I also think this could be a great recipe on the grill for a summer BBQ.

© Simon Watson

Pickle-Brined Chicken.

4 chicken breast halves, on the bone
2 cups brine from jarred dill pickles
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium onions, thickly sliced
2 carrots, thickly sliced
2 celery ribs, thickly sliced
1/2 cup semi-dry white wine, such as an off-dry Riesling
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
2 pounds Swiss chard, thick stems and ribs removed, leaves coarsely shredded
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the chicken breasts with the pickle juice and a generous pinch of ground pepper. Seal the bag, pressing out any air, and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Pat the chicken breasts dry. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in an ovenproof skillet. Add the breasts, skin side down, and cook over high heat until golden, about 6 minutes. Turn and cook for 2 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Add the onions, carrots and celery to the casserole and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the wine, bay leaves and peppercorns. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Strain the cooking liquid and wipe out the casserole. Return the cooking liquid to the pot and boil until the sauce is reduced to 1 cup, about 25 minutes; keep warm.

Meanwhile, prepare a baking sheet with a layer of tinfoil and an oven-safe cooling wire rack. Place chicken on the rack, skin side up. Place the tray in the oven and roast the chicken for about 25 minutes, until cooked through, turning once halfway thru. If desired, broil for the final 5 minutes to crisp up the skin. Transfer the chicken breasts to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering. Add the Swiss chard and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat, tossing, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in half of the sauce. Spoon the chard and chicken onto plates and serve with the seared breasts. Drizzle the remaining sauce all around and serve right away.

Wine Pairing: We had this with an unoaked chardonnay.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ginger Crackle Cookies

This recipe comes from A Baker's Field Guide to Christmas Cookies, probably one of my favorite specialty cookbooks I have. I had to modify it slightly because, when reading thru the recipe I missed the part about chilling the dough in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.

Ginger Crackle Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup sugar
about 3/4 cup molasses
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 large egg
coarse sugar

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl

In a large mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until creamy. Add granulated sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses and spices. Add egg and beat until well combined.

Reduce speed to low and gradually add in flour mixture, beating well after each addition, until just combined. Dough may be loose. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 20-30 minutes or until dough is firm enough to work.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or lightly spray with oil.

Divide dough into 4 pieces, rolling each into a rope about 12-15" long and 1" thick. Sprinkle the top with coarse sugar. Transfer to cookie sheet, spacing widely apart.

Bake until puffed and dry to the touch, about 18 minutes. Slide parchment onto cooling racks or let cookies cool on the tray (they will be too soft to transfer) and allow to cool completely. Cut each log crosswise into 1 1/4" thick cookies.