Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I found this recipe while doing an online search and thought it would be good for one of those....Sunday night meat and potatoes type meals.  The recipe served as a guide, since I didn't use the dried tomatoes in the filling and used bread crumbs instead of cornflakes.

It was fine...not great....not terrible...just an OK thing to have.  I probably wouldn't put this on any usual rotation but it was fine for a one time dinner.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hibiscus Flower Enchiladas

Hibiscus Flower Enchiladas
I saw this in the recent BonAppetit magazine and was ready to try it.  I know.  I know.  It sounds really strange, but...whatever it is (different vacation, different workout, different book genre)...I think it's good to go outside the box.  We have an awesome chain of Mexican grocery stores here in Milwaukee, so this was the excuse I needed to go there and get some dried hibiscus flowers.

I know that this sounds unusual.  Some friends have commented that much of my blog is outside their comfort zone for cooking, so this must be way out there...'cause it's even a bit out there for me!  I wanted to make this since it does sound so intriguing.  I think that I would have tried it even before I started blogging, but thinking of recipes for posting just makes me even more adventurous than I was earlier in my life.

The blurb in Bon Appetit talks about this being a Oaxacan recipe.  Oaxaca is on my bucket list for trips, so maybe I'll get to experience this dish in its native place.  It's one of those places that has intrigued me since I read about it in the book The Night of the Radishes.    I like the bit about the flower growing supporting the people too.  Eleanor's violin teacher actually happened upon the night of the radishes a few years ago...very cool!

I noticed the last time we were at Rick Bayless' restaurant  agua de Jamaica was being served  I didn't try it then, but may need to try it now that I bought a couple packs of the flowers. It's just an interesting thing...learning about the hibiscus flower and its use in cooking in other places. I found this link about the hibiscus...don't know that I believe all that is said about it, but I do think it must have some good property to it.  I have to say that I was a bit nervous about it after reading the quote about one man's meat is another's poison; however, I decided to ignore that gem and continue on with my dinner plans.

It's always good for me to head to an ethnic grocery store when I'm feeling in a bit of a rut.  I think that's one of the reasons I like living where I do.  Milwaukee has a bit of small town feel to it...like you can get downtown in a couple minutes and get free on-street parking most of the time...yet there are big city things here too.  We often will go to the Mexican and Asian grocery store on the same trip since they aren't too far apart.  We also have an awesome Italian grocery store and Indian grocery store.  It's fun to browse and to get some ideas.  It's hard to get new ideas if you keep shopping in the same aisles and look at the same cookbooks every week.....

I had a bit of an upper respiratory thing the night I made these, so I don't know if I had a problem from the hibiscus flowers or just from my symptoms...but I felt a bit itchy after eating these.  That does freak me out a bit as I read the quote about one man's meat being another's poison.  I had Eleanor's epi-pen ready to go.  That aside, I did like the taste and texture of these, but I'm not sure what my body is telling me.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Chicken Piccata

One of the benefits of using RecipeThing.com is that every time you sign in, there is a random recipe on the home page. Recently, it was this Chicken Piccata recipe. The boys love veal piccata with the capers, but Meghan and I would rather not have capers. This recipe was a great option since I didn't "omit" the capers, they weren't part of this recipe!

I used fresh chicken breasts and they pounded out to be huge! Makes you realize how much you are actually eating when you eat a whole breast. In the future I will use Tyson "Perfect portion" chicken as it will be easier to pound out and will be a smaller portion. The kids had been at work together and had each had a snack so instead of eating 4 chicken breasts, we only ate 2...leftovers!

Everyone loved this recipe. I served it with roasted Brussell sprouts and sweet potatoes for a great Sunday meal.

  • 2 thin chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • Good olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), lemon halves reserved
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Sliced lemon, for serving

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a shallow plate. In a second plate, beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon of water together. Place the bread crumbs on a third plate. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce.
  5. For the sauce, wipe out the saute pan with a dry paper towel. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Discard the lemon halves and serve 1 chicken breast on each plate. Spoon on the sauce and serve with a slice of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Roast Pesto Chicken

Roast Chicken with Pesto and Potatoes from Epicurious
 What could be better than pesto and chicken? This was fabulous! I served it with a side of carrots from the CSA and we gobbled it down. The chicken was tender and very flavorful and the potatoes with chewy on the outside and soft on the inside. 

One change I did make and would do again was to thicken the sauce to make more of a gravy.  I also stuffed the chicken cavity with  a lemon cut in half to help keep the bird moist. This also added a lemon flavor to the meat which was a nice accent to the pesto.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pesto Pull Apart Bread

 Another old recipe that I found when reorganizing. I guess being organized has its benefits. I don't think I have made this bread in close to twenty years and I'll have to check with Brian to see if the time frame is true.  If he remembers it, it is less than 20 years since I made it, otherwise, its been over 2 decades.  The good thing is that a good recipe remains the same over time, unlike most everything else!

I made this the night we had Italian Garden Soup, pesto being a common ingredient in both. I did use a square pan and some prepared pesto I had purchased for a last minute recipe that I had to whip up and I didn't have time to make homemade. If I use prepared pesto again, I will definitely use closer to 1/2 cup...or the pesto I used didn't have enough flavor. My batch had little to no pesto flavor, so I think I will try to stick to the original recipe in the future since I have always loved the results.

1 clove garlic
1/2 t salt
1/2 c firmly packed basil leaves
1/2 c grated romano cheese
1/4 c olive oil

    OR 1/4-1/2 cup prepared pesto
pinch sugar
1 package yeast
1/4 c warm water
3 c flour

Mince basil with garlic. Add romano. Place in bowl and gradually add oil, whisking constantly. Set Aside.
Place generous pinch of sugar, yeast and 1/4 c warm water in bowl of mixer, set until foamy.

Mix 2 cups flour with 1/2 t salt. Add to yeast mixture along with  basil mixture and 1 c water. Stir and add 1 cup flour gradually. Knead with dough hook. Place in greased bowl, cover, rise for 1 hour. Punch down,knead briefly. Divide into 14-16 balls. Fit around edge of 14 inch greased cake pan, leave room for rising. Rise 30 minutes. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 375F

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Italian Garden Soup

For those of you watching your waistline, this isn't exactly a low calorie meal, but it is definitely worth the splurge. This recipe has been part of my collection for at least 15 years, but I honestly lost it for a while since my recipes weren't very organized. During my recent reorganization I found it and wanted to make it immediately.

Full of sausage and laced with pesto, this soup is a hearty meal full of flavor. A simple salad and a bit of bread is all you will need and I recommend you double the recipe and freeze the leftovers. Don't add the pasta to the part you freeze, add it when you pull it out later, otherwise the pasta falls apart.

For those of you who shop at Costco, they sell Italian sausage in six pound packages. The day I made this soup I also made a double batch of Italian Gravy(see 9/21/2010 post). These two recipes took 4 of the six pounds...a great way to meal plan and stock the freezer!

Italian Garden Soup

1/2 lb salt pork, diced, rind removed (can use bacon)
3 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 c chicken broth
2 cans cannellini beans, drained
4 carrots, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley
1 t dried rosemary
2 T olive oil
1 lb Italian Sausages
1 cup small pasta
2 c shredded spinach leaves
1/4 c prepared pesto
Fresh Parmesan

   Saute salt pork in heavy large pot or dutch oven. Add onions and garlic and saute until vegetables are soft. Add chicken broth, beans, carrots, celery, green pepper, parsley, rosemary and bay leaf. Slice Italian sausages into chunks and saute. Add sausages, pasta, and spinach to soup and cook until pasta is tender. Add pesto and season with salt and pepper.
   Serve with parmesan

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Gingerbread Muffins with Lemon Glaze

Gingerbread Muffins with Lemon Glaze
On a recent Sunday Eleanor decided to browse recipes for breakfast ideas.  Although I have fully converted to the hot breakfast idea, it is a bit tricky to come up with new ideas.  As with any meal rotation, we get tired of having the same things, so I was excited when she found a few things for me to make.

The gingerbread was a great idea for a rainy fall morning.  And the lemon glaze...really good.  We were remembering that we had made a gingerbread recipe a few years ago with a lemon cream cheese frosting.  My memory may be a bit foggy, but we are thinking that it came from the book The Tea Shop Girls by Laura Schaefer.  Even if the recipe didn't come from this book, we both read this and enjoyed the story, the setting, and the recipes. After finishing this book we had hoped that there were more by this author...and now there's a sequel.  I didn't know about the sequel until I was typing this blog post; I'm so glad to be blogging so I learned this.  Along those lines, we wish there would be more Callahan cousin books, and more Chicks with Sticks books......  And if we're wishing about books, I wish Eleanor got into the Trixie Belden series, but she never did.  Gleeps!

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Caramelized Onion and Garlic Pasta

 Caramelized Onion and Garlic Pasta

 Recently Brian decided to sign me up for a free preview of Taste of Home. Of course, the free magazine had a bill attached to it, I guess they think I MIGHT pay it to continue my subscription, but I am one of those people that  has stopped all subscriptions, including the newspaper. Anyway, I thought I would take a look and I was pleasantly surprised by the caliber of the recipes. In one magazine I found 4 recipes that made the "try" pile.

I made this on a Sunday night that was the end of a very busy swim weekend and it came together quickly.  I used half leeks, half onions and chopped regular tomatoes since I had them and not grape tomatoes.

The family all liked this but all felt the balsamic vinegar overpowered the dish. In the future I would use red wine. The other comment was that they would have preferred the onion mixture to be more saucy as the onions tended to clump.

This is definitely a twist on a typical pasta dinner...definitely will be repeated.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Leek Tarts

It must have been a great year for leeks.  Wow!  We sure seemed to get a lot of them in the CSA box this year.  Leek soup seems to be my usual use for them.  I got a huge bunch last week in the box and decided I needed to come up with another use for them. I decided on leek tarts but really made them the easy way by purchasing some puff pastry.  Sendik's looks like the locusts have been through it lately with many items completely off the shelves; I'm attributing this to the Packers winning ways.  For awhile this fall the Brewers were still playing, the Badgers were doing really really well, and our Super bowl champions were winning and winning.  But, I'm not so sure what's going on now...but maybe it has to do with the Green Bay Packers.

Anyway, puff pastry sheets were out of stock but the puff pastry tart shells were still on the shelf, so I nabbed those.  Eleanor hadn't seen those before and thought they were about the most awesome thing.  I baked them and popped out the middles (which she got).  I sauteed leeks in butter slowly over low heat.  When the shells were done I sprinkled a bit of bleu cheese in the bottom and topped them with the leeks.

So, probably the soup is a bit healthier than the puff crust, but we did enjoy these decadent treats!

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Molasses Cookies

Another find in my Taste of Home magazine, these molasses cookies were in an article about baking and sending cookies to our Troops abroad. The recipe is actually called Giant Molasses cookies and it claims to make about 2 dozen cookies. Making average sized cookies, this recipe made just shy of 7 dozen! The recipe is easy to throw together and I decided to bake 3 dozen and freeze the rest.

When I freeze cookie dough I actually make cookie drops, freeze them on a cookie sheet and then put them in a ziplock bag. It is a little extra effort up front that makes cookie a batch of cookies in a couple weeks a breeze.  Below is a picture of the cookie drops ready to go into the freezer.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chicken Curry

How is this different than the chicken curry I posted on 10/10? Good question, since they are similar. That recipe comes together a bit quicker but I got this recipe from my friend Linda. I like them both but probably wouldn't make both in the same week. Curry recipes...always good to have a few in this house since we all like curry dishes.

The day before I made this I chopped about 1 lb chicken breasts into bite size pieces and marinated in plain yogurt (no picture since that is a bit ugly).

The spice list is a bit long, so I took a deep breath and combined them before making this so the recipe could come together quickly.
2 t cardamom
2 t cinnamon
1 t turmeric
2 t ground coriander
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t cayenne

2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2" piece ginger, chopped

Saute onion, garlic and ginger in 2T oil until soft (about 10 minutes). Add spices listed above and cook 10 more minutes or so.

Add chicken/yogurt mixture and cook another 10 minutes or so. Add 1/4 c or so of water. Add 1 T shredded unsweetened coconut and stir. (The recipe from my friend had 1 chopped tomato added at this point, but I omitted it).

Add 1 T garam masala or curry powder and stir well(see below for more information.

Serve with:
Additional unsweetened coconut
mango chutney

Also good: Peanuts and sliced apples.

I hadn't made this in YEARS but Paul and Eleanor both liked it (and so did I).

Curry powder and garam masala are both blends of spices, so they are different within each kind depending on what brand you buy. Either one contains some of the spices that I mixed together the previous day. I have read that curry powder and garam masala shouldn't be used interchangeably. I respect that opinion and would not interchange them if I was making an authentic dish. That being said, at our house, when dinner needs to get on the table quickly, I do use them interchangeably...GASP! It seems like garam masala has cinnamon and cloves while curry has turmeric. From my research for this post it sounds like garam masala is used at the end of cooking and curry earlier in the recipe preparation, in general.

The blend of curry powder I used is from an Amish store in Princeton, Wisconsin. When my co-worker Sue goes there to visit friends she likes to stop in the store and typically offers to pick up herbs and spices for anyone interested. It seems like I'm nearly always interested since plastic containers of both are inexpensive and fresh. I will give her a list, receive a plastic grocery bag from her with my requests, and owe her $5.00 or so. The curry blend is tasty too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Reorganizing the Recipes

Recently, Karen shared her method of collecting and managing her recipes. I thought it was appropriate that I share my method.

Several years ago, I found myself with a Recipe Card Box, a Recipe Book that was a ring binder, a Recipe Journal that I was given by a friend in France, and an online account at MyRecipes.com.  Whenever I went to find a recipe, I couldn't.  I would have to think back on when I acquired the recipe and usually I would remember which recipe system I was using and I could find it, but I was always searching and was often forgetting great recipes.

To try to streamline the recipes, I entered frequently used favorite recipes into Myrecipes.com. The website has an option to add your own recipes. I also started two other online files, the first held recipes from the website we had tried and liked which I labeled Keepers! and the second was filled with recipes I wanted to try.

Over the years, Myrecipes.com updated their website, but in the process, many of my recipes were duplicated or moved.  I began to have as much trouble finding my recipes with this system as I had with the old system. On our first cold and snowy day last week, I set about to figure out a better system.

First I looked for a new online recipe file for my recipes from all the cards/books I  had with hard copy recipes.  I came upon RecipeThing.com.  I was able to cut and paste my recipes from Myrecipes.com fairly easily. Once I had done that, I emailed all the recipes to myself and created a backup file on my computer in the event the website ever closes.

The next challenge was how to create a database of all the online recipes I have collected over the years, from Myrecipes.com and other websites. Google Bookmarks was the solution.  I was able to make a List on Google Bookmarks and divide it into sections.  The sections were categories, ie Appetizers.

Now all the recipes I have deemed "worthy of a card", in Karen's lingo, are safely housed in one of two locations, RecipeThing.com or Google Bookmarks.  I know if I was given the recipe by someone else, it is probably on RecipeThing...otherwise it is probably on Google.

Now you may wonder what I will do with all the cards/books/journals...I still have them.  I still have recipes I haven't tried that I still want to try. Once I make the recipes, they will either become "worthy" and be entered online, or they won't and the card will be tossed.

While the day seemed to be "wasted" on this project, I am glad everything is more streamlined.  During the process I also came across recipes I haven't made in a while which will help with meal planning.  I also came across some recipes I thought sounded good that haven't been made, so I will have options when I get into a cooking slump.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Quiche of a Different Kind

I have recently posted about my family's aversion to squash. Unfortunately, I have a lot of squash to use.

On a recent walk with Karen, she told the story of a friend who had her hardwood floors sanded and the company refused to take the sawdust away. Completely ridiculous! Her solution, since she couldn't just dump all the sawdust in her garbage was to add a cup or two to each bag of garbage that made it to the dumpster. Karen's solution to my squash dilemma was to use the squash 1/2-1 cup at a time by hiding it in recipes. Brilliant!

In addition to having a lot of squash to use, also have greens in the freezer to use up and way too many hot peppers. I set to work on a Quiche for dinner. I will admit that as I put this together, I was expecting a complete failure, but it was honestly delicious!

4 strips thick cut bacon
1/2 jalapeno pepper or 1 medium heat pepper
1 cup chopped and cooked mixture of cabbage and red cabbage
1/2 cup pureed squash
8 eggs
1/2-1 cup milk
shredded cheddar cheese
Ready made pie crust.

I sauteed the bacon and added the finely minced peppers toward the end of cooking. After lining the pie pan with the crust, I added the cooked bacon and pepper and the cabbage mixture. I beat the eggs with the milk and then whisked in the pureed squash, seasoning with salt and pepper.  I sprinkled the top with shredded cheddar cheese.

Meghan's first comment was, "you better not have ruined the quiche by adding squash". Even she thought the quiche was very flavorful and she couldn't "detect" the squash except by the color of the egg mixture. I was also a bit concerned about using cabbage(especially red) in place of spinach, but it worked...I wouldn't use more than a cup, but if you have stuff to use up, hide it in quiche!

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Tomatillo Guacamole

Last year the CSA box gave me ground cherries and I made luscious salsa...this year I got a larger variety of the paper-skinned dark shade family, the tomatillo.  I have never cooked with a tomatillo, so I set to work looking for a recipe.

This is from the New York Times and I made a bunch and will freeze some of it. I did alter the recipe by adding about 1/2 of a large onion for a double batch.

Because we like a chunkier guacamole, I only pureed part of the avocado, using a knife to cut up the remainder.

The double batch made about 2 cups of guacamole, the dish pictured above was gone in about 15 minutes.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Squash, Chickpea and Red lentil Stew

Photo from Eatingwell.com

 Squash Chickpea and Red Lentil Stew from EatingWell.com

 I found this recipe and thought it might be a great way to use squash and get my family to enjoy it...they love lentils and garbanzo beans, so I thought I had a winner. While I found this quite tasty, no one else did. Jack and Brian ate it but Meghan felt it resembled baby food.  I served it over brown rice and because of my squash abundance, I doubled the recipe! The texture is a bit mushy and the flavor leans to the bland side but given the ingredients, this is what I had expected. Jack's suggestion, which I will employ with the left overs, is to add spicy sausage to give it a kick.

The moral of this story is most of my squash will have to be prepared to be used in pies and breads...I will keep those sweet acorns for lunches for me, but I guess the rest just needs to become puree. My version looked just like the picture above, but my kids didn't think the recipe was blog-worthy so they didn't want me to take a picture. To the author of the recipe and the photographer of the photo above, thanks, I thought it was pretty good!

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