Thursday, March 31, 2011

Balsamic chicken sandwich and Asian slaw



I found both of these recipes in the Parade magazine that comes in the Sunday paper. I tend to like their recipes as they are usually both easy and at least somewhat healthy.

The chicken sandwich is adapted from Jessica Seinfeld; cookbook author and wife to Jerry Seinfeld. She is known for her recipes that incorporate including vegetables into the diet of fussy children (and possibly husbands). Fortunately Husband and I like veggies and include them willingly in our diet. Her original recipe called for a broccoli puree in with the chicken mixture. Sounded great; but I didn't have any broccoli on hand.



Ingredients:

2 pounds Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
½ tsp Salt
½ tsp Pepper
¼ cup Whole-Wheat Flour
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup Balsamic Vinegar
6 Tbsp Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
6 Ciabatta Rolls
6 large Slices Tomato
½ cup Grated Part-Skim Mozzarella
Fresh Basil (Optional)


Directions:


1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Spread flour on a plate  and toss chicken chunks in flour to coat completely. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Warm oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add chicken. Lower heat to medium and continue to cook until chicken begins to brown, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.

3. Add chicken broth, vinegar, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 10–15 minutes stirring occasionally until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the center and vinegar mixture is thickened. 

4. Place rolls on a large baking sheet. Top each of the 6 bottom halves with a tomato slice (and fresh basil, if desired); divide chicken among them and sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake until cheese is melted and edges of rolls are crisp, 5–7 minutes. Serve immediately.

*That vinegar/brown sugar mixture on the chicken is delicious. Make sure to scrap up all the wonderful sweet, flavorful goodness and get it into the sandwich. Yum.

I didn't have any fresh basil, so I sprinkled a little dried on the tomato slice. Not the same, but I wanted to incorporate the Italian flavor. 

The Ciabatta rolls are homemade too. I took my standard recipe for Ciabatta bread and separated the dough in half. I baked a small loaf of bread with one half and made four rolls with the other half. It worked. :) True Ciabatta rolls are pretty putzy; if my internet browsing is to be believed. Maybe someday when I feel like putzing.

From an Italian-ish sandwich to an Asian-ish coleslaw....

Asian Slaw



This is a fun take on traditional coleslaw, with a nice spicy flavor. So far I have served it with Chimichangas and these sandwiches. Both worked. It's very versatile!

Ingredients:

4 cups Shredded Cabbage
1 cup Shredded Carrots
1 small Onion, finely chopped
Pinch Of Pepper
1 ½ Tbsp Rice Vinegar
⅓ cup Mayonnaise
1 ¼ tsp Sesame Oil
½ tsp Sriracha Sauce
¼ tsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Sesame Seeds Or Chopped Peanuts (Optional)


Directions:


1. Toss cabbage, carrots and onion in a bowl. Season with pepper.

2. Whisk together vinegar, mayonnaise, sesame oil, sriracha, and sugar until smooth. Taste; add pinch of salt if needed.

3. Pour dressing over shredded vegetables and toss to combine. Serve slaw immediately or chill for a few hours, tossing again before serving. Finish with a shower of sesame seeds or some chopped peanuts, if desired.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Shrimp tacos


Spring is coming; I hope. This will be a great recipe when the weather finally warms up. It has lots of great fresh flavor.
I have never seen the concept of cole slaw for a base for tacos, but it really worked. Normally I love sour cream with tacos and the cole slaw was that, only better.  The avocado was also good with the shrimp. We have become avocado fans recently, so I was happy for another excuse to buy one.

Adapted from Kasey's Kitchen

Ingredients:

Flour Tortillas
Shrimp, cleaned & shelled (plan on 3-4 per taco)
Fresh Garlic - minced
Chili Powder
Cayenne Pepper
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Avocado
Tomato
Cole Slaw (see below)

Directions:

Clean, peel and de-vein shrimp. Mince garlic. Mix shrimp, garlic, chili powder, cayenne pepper, olive oil, and salt & pepper together in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 20 minutes to marinate.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and saute shrimp until cooked through, approximately 2 minutes on each side.

Chop avocado and tomato.

Toss together shredded cabbage (or a packaged cole slaw mix), a spoonful of mayo or sour cream, a dash of rice vinegar, a pinch of sugar, seasoned salt, and pepper

Warm tortillas slightly in non stick skillet or microwave,  for about 15-20 seconds each.

Top each tortilla with cole slaw, shrimp, avocado and tomato.

*The spices for the shrimp are to taste. I used a pretty generous amount of hot chili powder and cayenne pepper and they still were not overly spicy. I marinated for about 20 minutes, but next time I would like to allow to spice to sit longer.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Irish soda bread


I am celebrating St. Patrick's Day early this year. Since Thursdays are my busiest work day I decided to make my special meal a day early. I have been wanting to try beef stew using Guinness beer instead of wine for a long time and what more perfect time than St. Patrick's Day?

We almost always have bread with soup; usually either beer cheese bread or Ciabatta bread. But in the spirit of the holiday I thought I would try Irish soda bread. Most recipes I have seen have raisins and sound more sweet.  But this recipe even mentioned how well it goes with soup and stews.

This was adapted from the The Unofficial Harry Potter cookbook.  It's a Weasley recipe. :)

Ingredients:

4 cups All Purpose Flour Plus Extra For Dusting
1 ½ tsp Baking Soda
1 ½ tsp Cream Of Tartar
1 tsp Salt
3 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
4 Tbsp Butter (½ Stick)
1 large Egg - Beaten
1 ½ cups Buttermilk


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. in a large mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients; flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and sugar. Cut the butter in small pieces and work the butter into the flour mixture with your hands. You want the butter cold for this; it is much easier to work it into the flour. Continue rubbing the butter into the flour until combined and the mixture is uniform without any chunks of butter. Fold the beaten egg and buttermilk into the mixture until just mixed and a dough forms. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead a couple times until the dough comes together.

2. Form the dough into a circle and place on a cookie sheet or 9 inch round baking dish. Dust extra flour onto the top of the dough and with a shape knife make an X about a ¼ inch deep on the top of the dough.

3. Bake for 15 minutes at 425. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 40 minutes until golden brown.

4. Remove from pan and allow to cool on wire rack.



Don't worry about getting the dough perfectly shaped and round. Every photo I have seen looks very rustic. It supposed to look like that! I did like making it in a round 9 inch pan; it was very easy to manage that way.
To make the X in the dough use the sharpest knife you have. If not you will stretch instead of cut the dough. Not the end of the world, of course, just not the same effect. I have read a razor blade is the absolute best way to cut it. 

It did go very well with the stew and is supposed to make amazing toast. I will try that out tomorrow morning.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Creamy Cajun chicken pasta


This is so good.

Ever since I made Jambalaya for the first time I have made note of any recipe incorporating Cajun spice. Imagine traditional Alfredo with a kick of spicy seasonings. It was also very easy and came together in no time. I could easily make this dish on a weeknight.

Loosely adapted from Food.com

Ingredients:

2 small Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into pieces or thin strips
4 ounces Linguine, cooked al dente
1 tsp Cajun Seasoning
½ tsp Hot Chili Powder
2 Tbsp Butter
½ cup Thinly Sliced Fresh Mushrooms
2 Thinly Sliced Green Onion
1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
2 Tbsp Chopped Sun-Dried Tomatoes
½ tsp Ground Black Pepper
1 clove Garlic Finely Minced
¼ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
2-3 drops of hot sauce ( optional )

Directions:

1. Place chicken, Cajun seasoning and chili powder in a bowl and toss to coat. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes. Next time I would like to try letting the spices sit on the chicken longer so the meat incorporates the flavor a bit more; but it was great just sitting for 10 minutes.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute chicken and mushrooms in butter or margarine until chicken is tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Cook until most of the liquid is evaporated.

3. Add green onion, heavy cream, tomatoes, garlic, black pepper, Parmesan cheese and hot sauce. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sauce has reduced and thickened.

4. Pour over hot linguine or fettuccine. Makes 2 servings

*The original recipe called for the Parmesan cheese to be sprinkled over sauce and pasta at the end. I decided to make it a bit more like Fettuccine Alfredo and stir it in with the whipping cream to help thicken the sauce and it worked beautifully. I suppose you could sprinkle a little extra Parmesan over the finished dish at the end; but not necessary in my opinion.

I used a few drops of Sriracha sauce for extra spice. If you aren't into a lot of spice you could eliminate the hot sauce and the hot chili powder.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Buttermilk Biscuits


Funny how many things end up getting made just because I don't want a leftover ingredient to get wasted. In this case I had some spare buttermilk sitting in the refrigerator. I love buttermilk biscuits and figured I would give them a try.
Searching for recipes I found they don't seem to vary much from the following.

Adapted from All Recipes.

Ingredients:

2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 ¼ tsp Baking Powder
¾ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Baking Soda
⅓ cup Shortening
¾ cup Buttermilk-I used low fat

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender (actually I have always preferred using a fork) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in buttermilk just until moistened. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Roll to 3/4 inch thickness; cut with a floured 2-½-in. biscuit cutter. Place About 1 inch. apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees F for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. ( I needed about 11 minutes before they browned ) Serve warm.

You can also brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter. I didn't. I couldn't decide if I wanted to and then forget. Needless to say it wouldn't be bad. Melted butter is rarely a bad thing. :)



Melted butter is nice in the center of the biscuit. I personally like honey.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Orange Ricotta Pancakes

Wow, almost a month since my last post!

Here's the deal: My lighting has been down. Dear Husband got sick of me complaining about my photos. He insisted it wasn't the camera; it was the lighting. Flash on, flash off, natural light...didn't matter.. I HATED how the photos of my food were turning out.
So I now have a lighting system with two big, bright bulbs that make all the difference.  But it used to be set up in the dining room; convenient for taking food photos but had to taken down when we entertained friends for dinner. So after a few weeks we decided to set it up in a spare room upstairs.  I think I need to experiment with placement of lights a bit more, but I like having the system out of way.

Anyway-on to the pancakes. Sort of a staple of the weekend breakfast in this house; always made with the box mix. I love the box mix, I have no problem admitting that; easy, turns out every time and delicious. But I have been wanting to try homemade versions of foods that we traditionally eat in processed, mix, or pre-made forms.

One course of action would have been homemade buttermilk pancakes, but I have seen several recipes for ricotta pancakes and they sounded so good. I love ricotta and I was really intrigued with the idea of using it in pancakes.

Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart




Ingredients:

1 3/4 cup(s) (15 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese 
1/3 cup(s) granulated sugar 
2 large eggs 
2 teaspoon(s) grated orange zest (1 orange)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2/3 cup(s) all-purpose flour 
3 tablespoons  oil ( or bacon grease-in this case )
Confectioners' sugar or maple syrup

Directions:

In a medium bowl, whisk together ricotta cheese, sugar, egg, vanilla and orange zest. Whisk in flour until just combined. Pour batter into a measuring cup.

Heat  oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Working in batches, add batter, using a scant ¼ cup for each pancake. Cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Serve hot, dusted with confectioners' sugar or drizzled with maple syrup. Makes 4 serving.


The batter is much thicker than I am used to and makes a thick, dense cake.  I have been guilty of over-mixing since forever and I think I may have done so with the batter. It is just so easy to keep whisking. :P
They definitely take 4-5 minutes per side to cook. Which seems like forever compared to a box mix of standard cakes.
I loved the flavor with the ricotta and orange. They really stayed with me too. I am always starving in the morning and usually hungry by mid-morning despite always eating breakfast. Not with these pancakes!

It's always great to have lots of underfoot help in the kitchen. :)