Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hammy Jammy Chicken

Before I post a recipe, I always ask my husband if it is "blog-worthy", all the recipes you see on this blog have been deemed "worthy" in my husband's eyes. Of course, there are some dishes that we find especially worthy, and this Hammy Jammy Chicken is definitely that! As you know from past blogs, I am not a huge meat-lover, but, if you saw the way I devoured this dinner tonight you would have never guessed it! I think it was the ham, cooked up nice and crispy...or maybe is with the jam and shredded gruyere...or it most definitely could have been the side salad with the homemade dressing! All in all, five stars! Make this one for sure!

3 Tbl preserves (I used strawberry...but, you could also use fig or apricot)
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp each salt & pepper
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 c. shredded gruyere cheese
4-6 thin slices of ham
4 Tbl extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 Tbl butter
1 shallot, minced
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 Tbl red wine vinegar
4 cups of romaine, chopped
10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
3 Tbl sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 400F

Mix the preserves, thyme and salt & pepper in a small bowl and set aside.

Melt 1 Tbl olive oil in a medium sized non-stick skillet on medium-low heat. Saute minced shallots for three minutes. Place shallots from skillet in a new small sized bowl (leave as much of the oil in the pan as you can). Return the skillet to the stove (you will use this same skillet to cook the chicken in). To make the salad dressing, combine the cooked shallot with 1 Tbl of the preserves mixture, Dijon, red wine vinegar and remaining 3 Tbl olive oil. Use a fork to mix well and set dressing aside.

Place both chicken breasts in a large Ziploc bag and gently pound the chicken with a meat mallet. Overlap two pieces of ham on a cutting board (you will be wrapping the chicken breasts with the ham) and place a chicken breast on top. Repeat for the second breast. Spread 1 Tbl of the preserve mixture on the top of each chicken breast. Top each breast with 1/4 c. shredded gruyere. Wrap the chicken with the ham. If the ham slices do not touch, place a third slice on the top to cover the cheese.

Put butter in the same skillet you sauteed the shallots in. Turn heat to medium. Once butter starts to froth a bit and skillet is hot, use tongs to VERY carefully place wrapped chicken breasts in the skillet, cheese side up. Cook the bottom side only for 4 minutes.

Use tongs to VERY carefully transfer each chicken breast into a square baking dish. Pour the pan drippings right on top of the chicken breasts. Bake chicken in the oven for 17-20 minutes until cheese is fully melted and the ham looks browned and crispy.

Prepare the salad while the chicken is baking. Toss chopped lettuce, tomatoes & sliced almonds in a salad bowl and drizzle with dressing (you will not use all of the dressing- save the rest of it for another salad at a later date).

Plate the cooked chicken and dressed salad side by side on a plate. Try eating the chicken and salad together in one forkful- they taste great combined! Serve with crusty bread. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

French Onion Dip

This home-made french onion dip is SO much better than the canned version! My friend, Shannon, sent me this recipe awhile back and I finally got around to making it! It will definitely be one of my go-to hors d'oeuvres from now on! Of course, my chip of choice is Ruffles, but cut carrots or wheat thins would also work well alongside this delicious appetizer.

2 large yellow onions, cut in half and sliced into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds.
3 tablespoons butter
3 Tbl canola oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup cream cheese (4 oz), at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.

Place the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise in a bowl and beat until smooth (you can do this by hand, but, it is easiest with an electric mixer). Add the onions (reserve 1 Tbl of the onions) and mix well. Taste for seasonings. Serve in a dip bowl with reserved 1 Tbl of caramelized onions on top (looks pretty) alongside chips or crackers.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Peanutty Peanut Butter Cookies

Oh wow, these are good! No, they are better than good- they are really the best peanut butter cookies I have ever had! My friend, Melissa (over on Harper Street Treats), and I share an immense love for the Baking Illustrated's our baking bible! Melissa told me about this recipe and I jumped on it! Adding ground peanuts to the dough just puts them over the top!

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (16 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup extra-crunchy peanut butter
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup salted dry-roasted peanuts, ground in food processor into crumbs

Preheat oven to 350F

In a bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together and set aside.

In another bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Add brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat until fluffy.

Add peanut butter, eggs (one at a time), vanilla, dry ingredients and ground peanuts, beating after each addition.

Roll the dough into 2 inch balls (use about 2 Tablespoons of dough for each). Place on baking sheets. Press each ball with the back of a fork twice to make the classic peanut butter cookie design on top.

Bake approximately 10 minutes until the edges are just beginning to brown and the cookies are slightly puffy in the middle (they will look a little underdone in the middle). Let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sweet Potato, Spinach & Hominy Enchiladas

I only cook meat about twice a week. I’m not a vegetarian by any means (some of you will recall my love of bacon), but, I’m just not a huge meat fan. Of course, I still want to serve my husband a hearty meal- one that doesn’t feel skimpy or leaves him hungry. Well, these enchiladas are just perfect! They are flavorful and filling and at the same time the spinach and sweet potato are very healthful. I served these tonight and they were a big hit! Try doubling the recipe and making them for a crowd...I don’t think anyone will miss the meat!

2 Tbl canola oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 medium sized sweet potato, peeled and shredded on a cheese grater
1 Tbl garlic, minced
1 Tbl cumin
2-3 handfuls of fresh baby spinach
1 c. yellow or white hominy
1/4 c. cream cheese
2 c. Monterey Jack cheese, divided
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 15oz can enchilada sauce
6-8 flour tortillas (depending on how much filling you put into each one)

Preheat oven to 400F

Coat a 9X13” glass baking dish with nonstick spray.

Heat canola oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add the shredded sweet potatoes, garlic and cumin. Cook for 5 minutes. Toss in fresh spinach and cook until wilted, 1-2 minutes. Add hominy and cream cheese and cook until cream cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Add salt & pepper, give it a good stir. Add 1 c. Monterey Jack cheese. Stir to combine.

Spread 1 c. enchilada sauce on the bottom of the glass baking dish. Fill each tortilla with 1/3 c. filling, then roll. Place enchilada in dish, seam side down. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Top with remaining 1 c. enchilada sauce- pour it right down the middle of the enchiladas in a horizontal stripe. Following the same stripe, top with remaining 1 c. Monterey Jack cheese.

Bake until cheese melts and tortillas brown on the edges, 15-20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Serve with black beans and rice. A little guacamole & sour cream on top doesn’t hurt either!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Apple Crisp

It was a beautiful, brisk, almost-fall day today! The kind of day where you need a light sweater and the air smells like burning wood! It was THE perfect day to go pick apples- so, that’s what we did! And what a bounty of delicious Empire apples we picked! It was all of our first time to pick an apple straight off the tree and eat it right there on the spot! The kids loved it and so did I! Now I have a large box of apples sitting in my, of course, I absolutely had to bake something with them! I love apple pie, but, I wasn’t in the mood to make a crust, I decided on a simple crisp.

This recipe comes from my most beloved cookbook- Baker’s Illustrated. The apple crisp was warm and sweet. I served it up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream...the perfect end to our lovely day!

6 Tbl all purpose flour
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. white sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
5 Tbl cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 c. coarsely chopped nuts, such as almond, pecans or walnuts

6 medium apples, peeled cored and cut into 1 inch chunks (sweet-tart apples work best like Jonagold, Jonathan, Pink Lady, Jazz, Braeburn, Fugi...)
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 1/2 Tbl lemon juice
1/4 c. white sugar

Preheat oven to 375F.

For the topping:
Place flour, sugars, spices and salt in a food processor and process briefly to combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 times, about 4 seconds for each pulse. The mixture will first look like dry sand, with large lumps of butter, then like coarse cornmeal. Add the nuts, then process again, four or five 1 second pulses. The topping should look like slightly clumpy wet sand. Be sure not over-mix or the mixture will become too wet. Refrigerate the topping while preparing the fruit, at least 15 minutes.

For the filling:
Toss the peeled, cored & 1 inch cubed apples in a bowl with juice, zest and sugar. Scrape the fruit mixture with a spatula into an 8X8” baking pan or a 9” deep dish pie plate.

To assemble & bake:
Distribute the chilled topping evenly over the fruit. Bake for 40 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 400F and continue baking until the fruit is bubbling and the topping turns deep golden brown, about 5 minutes more. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream! Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Southwestern Chicken Baked in Foil

Southwestern Chicken Baked in Foil

This delicious dish comes from The Joy of Cooking; although, I have added a few ingredients (capers & tomatoes) and changed the ratios up a bit.

This meal definitely has some prep-work on the front end! But, once the chicken packets are assembled, the whole meal just cooks itself! My husband literally gets excited when I make this meal! He loves how the tangy goat cheese and savory sun dried tomatoes pairs so well with the black beans and spicy jalepenos! I don’t like my food very spicy, so I omit the jalepenos on mine! Each packet can be customized! A great quality to have in a meal when you are dealing with picky family members!

2 Chicken breasts
4 oz fresh goat cheese at room temperature
1 Tbl capers
4 sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
1 15 oz can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 Roma tomato, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 c fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp cumin
2 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar
fresh or jarred jalepenos, sliced (optional)
salt & pepper
Serve with cooked rice

Preheat oven to 375

In a small bowl combine softened goat cheese, capers and sundried tomatoes.

Lay the chicken breasts, smooth side up, on a cutting board. Make an incision about 3 inches long and 2 inches deep in the middle of the thick side of the chicken breast to create a pocket. Spoon half of the goat cheese mixture into each chicken “pocket” and press to seal the edges.

Refrigerator the chicken breasts for 15 minutes while you prepare the bean mixture and the foil packets.

In a medium bowl combine black beans, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, cumin, olive oil and red wine vinegar. Set aside.

Cut two 15 inch squares of foil and crease them in half on the diagonal. Spoon half the bean mixture on one side of each piece of foil. Place the stuffed chicken breast on top of the beans. Generously sprinkle the top of each chicken breast with salt and pepper. If you are using sliced jalepenos, put them on top of the chicken breast.

Fold the empty half of the foil over the chicken to cover. Fold the edge of foil together all the way around closing the packet tightly. Place foil packets on a baking sheet that is covered in foil (saves with clean up if the packets leak!). Bake for 30 minutes.

Divide cooked rice evenly between two dinner plates. Be SO careful when handling the chicken packets!!! A lot of steam escapes when you open them, so, I find it best to do it with a fork while wearing oven mitts! Slide the beans and chicken right on the dinner plate- try to keep the beans on the bottom as best as you can (it looks prettier like this!). Enjoy!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sundried Tomato Basil Muffins

This recipe comes from one of my favorite cooking magazines, Cuisine at Home. I was drawn to it as soon as I saw it because I just love a savory muffin! Please note that I made mini-muffins instead of regular sized muffins. I baked them at 350F for 15 minutes and they turned out great! A nice accompaniment to soup or pasta.

2 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 salt
1 c. olive oil, divided
3/4 c. whole milk
2 eggs
1 bunch basil, finely chopped
1 c. shredded Parmesan
1/3 c. sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, finely chopped
1 Tbl minced garlic
1/4 c. pine nuts

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with nonstick spray.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl; form a well in the center.

In a another bowl combine 3/4 c. oil, milk and eggs and lightly beat. Slowly pour mixture into the well of the dry ingredients. Stir until dry ingredients are moistened (do not over mix).

Fold in basil, Parmesan, sun dried tomatoes and garlic into batter until evenly distributed into the batter.

Scoop batter into each muffin cup filling two thirds full (about 1/2 cup). Drizzle remaining olive oil evenly on top of each muffin. Sprinkle with pine nuts (lightly press the nuts into the batter).

Bake muffins for 20 - 22 minutes until a wooden toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean. Remove muffins from the oven and turn on broiler. Return muffins to the oven and broil for 1 minute or until tops are golden brown.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Creamy Mushroom & Vegetable Soup

Okay, this picture just doesn't do this soup justice! Although it looks simple, it is quite delicious! My husband told me the other night it's one of his favorite soups I make. It's very rich and creamy- yet it's very healthful! The perfect soup to eat on a brisk autumn evening with a loaf of crusty bread!

2 Tbl butter
2 Tbl olive oil
1 c. onion, finely chopped
1 c. celery, finely chopped
1 c. carrots, finely chopped
1 c. mushrooms, finely chopped
1 Tbl garlic
1/4 c. flour
4 c. vegetable broth
1 c. water
1/2 c. dry brown rice
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 c. milk

In a large soup pot heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add celery, carrots and mushrooms. Cook for another 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for two minutes more.

Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add vegetable stock, water, rice and spices. Give it a good stir and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, making sure the rice is cooked once the 30 minutes are up.

Turn off the heat and let soup cool for a bit. Slowly add the milk (never add cold to hot suddenly). Turn on the heat again and cook until completely heated through.

Enjoy this healthy soup with a crusty loaf of bread and a side salad.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Artichoke Dip

This dip is my total go-to appetizer! People ask me to bring it to get togethers...and as you can see from this picture, it's always a big hit! I served this dip at a family reunion this weekend and before I could snap a picture, it was almost gone! My sister in law said to take the photo anyway- it was proof that everyone loves it! I serve it with Wheat Thins or a sliced baguette. Enjoy!

1 c. onion, finely chopped
2 Tb. olive oil, divided
1 c. mayo
1 1/2 c. shredded Parmesan
1 15 oz can artichokes (not marinated), drained and finely chopped
1 Tbl. lemon juice
1 tsp ground black pepper
3 Tbl. bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a small skillet, heat 1 Tbl olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and slightly browned, about 5 - 7 minutes.

In a medium mixing bowl combine mayo, Parmesan, artichokes, lemon juice & pepper. Add cooked onions and mix well. Transfer mixture to a small baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs and lightly drizzle with remaining 1 Tbl olive oil.

Bake at 400F for 20 minutes until bubbling around the edges. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. I serve this in the dish I baked it in and it is definitely best served hot/warm!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Tortellinis in Creamy Tomato Sauce

I whipped this up the other night because I happened to have all the ingredients in the refrigerator and thought, “I’ll give it a whirl!” It turned out super yummy and was VERY easy to make! There was enough for the whole family- and it was a hit with the kids. I know it’s not super healthy- sorry about the cream (it just tastes so great)!! But, that’s why the side salad is so imperative to this meal...A little bad with a lotta good!

2 Tbl butter
2 Tbl fresh sage, finely chopped
3 Tbl shallots, finely chopped
1 Tbl garlic, chopped
8 oz mushrooms, diced
salt & pepper
1 1/2c. to 2 c. jarred tomato pasta sauce (depending on how tomato-y you want it!)
1/4 c. to 3/4 c. cream (depending on how creamy you want it!)
20 oz package fresh tortellini, your family’s favorite kind
1 c. shredded Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350F

Add butter to a large frying pan on medium heat. Add sage and shallots. Cook for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for one more minute. Add mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes until mushrooms are brown. Add salt and pepper to taste. Very carefully add the pasta sauce and cream. Stir to combine.

Lightly spray a 13X9” glass pan. Add uncooked tortellinis to pan. Evenly pour the mushroom sauce over the tortellinis. Sprinkle the whole dish evenly with Parmesan.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Serve with crusty bread and a side salad. Enjoy!