Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Goat Cheese and Cranberry Stuffed Chicken

I admit, I just love chicken, I love all the many ways you can easily cook and prepare chicken. There's a reason the saying is "winner, winner chicken dinner," not T-bone steak dinner. Ok perhaps I just made that up, but it sounds legit, right?

What's my favorite way to fix chicken? Stuffing it full of delicious herbs, cheeses and/or veggies. This is my second stuffed chicken recipe to share with you and I already have a third planned for next week - all very different, I assure you. However, this was my first stuffed chicken recipe to make and it is a staple in the meal rotations. I've been making this for a while now, and seem to re-create it every time, and tonight, I decided to add the cranberries. Best decision of my day.

Prep time for this meal only about 20 minutes, cook time about 15 minutes. I like to serve this with a fresh salad and a rice pilaf or risotto, but I've been challenged to remove grains and add more greens so I made my garlic green beans instead.

Grocery List:
6 ounces of fresh, creamy goat cheese (I got goat cheese with garlic and herbs already mixed in)
1 bunch fresh chives, finely chopped (Tonight I just used the dried version in my spice cabinet)
1/2 bunch of fresh parsley (flat leaf, not curly), finely chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 boneless chicken breasts (I got thin cutlets this time to help with cook time)
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar Glace (Found with salad dressings, oils, marinades)

Additional Needs:
Mixing Bowl
Knife, Cutting Board
Meat Mallet (or soup can, or bottom of a glass cup... this is only if you use a thick chicken breast)
Oven safe dish

Now, I've played with various stuffing methods for chicken: creating a pocket and stuffing; stuffing and rolling; flattening, stuffing and folding in half.... I'll tell you I like the flatten and fold method best because 1) the chicken cooks faster and 2) it is most evenly dispersed through out the chicken, rather then 1/3 - 1/2 of the chicken, which is my personal preference. I want flavor in every bite, not just partially through the bird.

Set your oven to 400 degrees and let it heat up. Next take your chicken and lightly coat it in olive oil. If you have a thick chicken breast, take your meat mallet (I've previously shared my pre-mallet techniques - if you have one, use it, if not, canned goods, glass cups, any kind of blunt force object you can inflict pressure with, will work) and begin to flatten out to about 1/4 of an inch thick, at most.

Once your chicken is flattened, spread your goat cheese along the center, from side to side.

Top with dried cranberries, parsley and chives, then roll or fold the chicken breast closed.

Top with the balsamic glace and you are ready to bake! Let cook for 20 minutes.

While the chicken was baking, I sauteed some tasty garlic green beans, adding a bit of olive oil, 1 shallot and 3 chopped garlic cloves. Simply let it saute on medium heat until fragrant, then add your haricot vert green beans, let cook for about 10 minutes.

Mix up a nice salad with mixed greens, dried berries, avocado, cucumber, croutons and a honey balsamic oil dressing - then serve it all up! Mmmm mmmm mmmmm.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Teriyaki Salmon


That was my own instrumental regale playing in my head, you know like the trumpets and horns play in movies for some grand royal exclamation? Think Princess Bride, before they announce Pwincess Buttahcahp (I couldn't resist...)

I do this because I have two fantastic announcements - the first is that I finally got a new camera! Patience on Craigslist paid off my friends, I got this amazing little Sony touch screen nugget at a fraction of the retail cost. What's wrong with it, one may ask? NOTHING... except maybe the battery flap doesn't clasp shut but that is what scotch tape is for and so not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. It's not like the battery falls out at all even when the do-jigger pops open. Get scrappy, scotch tape it up, problem solved. Loving my new electronic toy, enjoying the better picture quality. My regards to Mr. Max's iPhone camera for the last few recipe postings with pictures...but onto better things.

My second grand announcement is that my new knife set has arrived!!!!! A varying blade-type, culinary quality, kind of knife block you register for, KitchenAid knife set - miiiine. And no mother, I didn't drop a pretty penny to get them, I found them on my boutique for only $39.99 (down from $79.99, might I add) and they are just beautiful. To the women of my family, yes hell hath frozen over, I have become a bargain shopper.

As mentioned previously, receiving new kitchenware has become just as exciting as fabulous clothing and shoes, and even more so when you find amazing little bargain deals. My reaction to opening the packaged box today was that of Carrie Bradshaw opening her closet and saying "Hello Lover", to her Manolos. Yes, I am excited about amazing knives, no I am not a female Dexter Morgan. And just to clarify, I would still get ecstatic if I had Manolos to look at, too. Perhaps my new culinary toy will enable me to get back to basics and not rely so much on my food processor. Relax my little pint-sized chopping hero, you are still my number 1.

Let's begin tonight's cooking adventure.

I received a homemade recipe to create my own teriyaki marinade that I used over fresh Atlantic Salmon. Ring-a-Ding....think of this as the bell and you are one of Pavlov's dogs. It's okay to salivate, it is well-deserved. Here we go...

Grocery List:
2 fresh cut salmon fillets
1/3 cup Tamari (or soy sauce) - found in the Ethnic food aisle
2 tbsp Mirin (rice wine) - found in the Ethnic food aisle
2 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tbsp chopped ginger
1 tbsp lemon juice

Additional Needs:
Medium Sized mixing bowl

Take your mixing bowl and pour the Tamari and Mirin in first, followed by the apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, honey then ginger. Taste and add a pinch of whatever you think is needed - I added a dab more honey to make it sweeter.

Cover your salmon fillets with the mixture, set aside and let marinate for at least 20 minutes, flipping often to fully coat the salmon in the teriyaki sauce.

At this time, I began preparing the double broccoli quinoa, which you will see posted below, also labeled in "Entree's Fashionable Accessories".

After your salmon has had a nice long teriyaki bath, place it in the skillet to let it begin to cook. To better the cooking process, cover the skillet with a lid.

This should only take 15 minutes at most. The teriyaki sauce thickens as it cooks, so you can spoon some of the sauce over the salmon to serve!

Enjoy this absolutely delicious and rather guilt-free supper! See below for double broccoli quinoa recipe.

Double Broccoli Quinoa

Two words for you:
Delicious & nutritious.

My first time to experiment with this little seed-like grain was with my first entry, the Halibut en Papillote recipe. I used it as a simple bed for the entree and I liked it. Tonight, I dressed it up and made it the belle of the ball with this little recipe sent to me by my nutritionist from the 101 Cookbooks blog, and I really, really liked it. My meat and potatoes man gave it his seal of approval as well. We have a winner!

Grocery List:
1 cup of quinoa
5 cups raw broccoli, cut into small florets and stems
3 medium garlic cloves
2/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 big pinches salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup heavy cream (I used Half and Half to cut back on calories)
Sliced Avocado
Crumbled feta
Additional Needs:
Knife, cutting board
Small sauce pan
Large boiling pot
Food processor (must have)
Large mixing bowl

First thing is first, take your quinoa and set it in a small sauce pan. Use 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of quinoa used. Cook the quinoa like you would rice, bringing to a boil, then turn heat to low, let simmer and cover.

While your quinoa is cooking, begin slicing up your raw broccoli into small florets, just starting at the bottom and moving up to each "branch". Fill the 5 cups worth and pour them into the pot, fill with about 3/4 cup of water and barely steam the broccoli through. Once they are tender, drain in a colander and set aside.

Next, you will take 2 cups worth of your cooked broccoli and put into your food processor. My little super chopper is what you might call, small, so I processed the broccoli 1 cup at a time. After your broccoli is chopped, add the garlic, slivered almonds, parmesan and lemon juice, then process all together.

Finally, add the olive oil and the half and half, then process. Now you have your broccoli pesto!
You know your quinoa is done when it looks fluffed in the pot and once you see the curlicue in each grain. Take your finished quinoa and scoop it into a mixing bowl, then add at least 1/2 of the pesto to start with and stir together.

Next, add the remaining broccoli to the quinoa. At this time, I decided to add some of my leftover homemade teriyaki sauce from my salmon for additional flavor and that was a fabulous addition! Mix this all together, adding more pesto if needed. Last you can garnish with more almonds, feta cheese and/or avocado. I mixed the feta cheese in, then added slices of avocado to the finished product on the plate!

Ta-da! Truly a treat :-)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad

This little creation is again compliments to the fabulous Pioneer Woman. In her blog she says she found this recipe and has since adapted it to find the perfect pasta salad mix. I did a little of that as well - mainly giving the boot to the kalamata olives, I'm "allergic" to olives. And when I say allergic, that means I am politely declining it because in my head I'm saying ewww please no. I used to be "allergic" to several things, these days it's really only mushrooms and olives. I don't see that changing.

Grocery List:
1 box of corkskrew pasta (I went with a spinach pasta, playing on the salad aspect of pasta salad and adding some green)
1 jar of sundried tomatoes in oil (I got the 8.5 oz jar)
3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
4 cloves of garlic
1 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pint of ripe cherry tomatoes
10-15 basil leaves
1 - 1 and 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

Additional Needs:
Food Processor or Blender - can't chop it all up this time :-(
Bowl with lid
Cutting board, knife
Large Mixing Bowl

(I swear I'm getting a new camera, these pictures will be better soon. Bless Mr. Max's iPhone for providing me pictures in the interim)

To make this recipe, I would recommend you do the dressing a good 12-24 hours before you plan to serve it. The Pioneer Woman instructs that out of all the times she has made this, it is definitely better after the dressing chills in the fridge for a day, to allow all of the flavors to really blend and become fully potent. I made this the night before it was needed for a dinner party.

First you will want to drain your sundried tomatoes by pouring the contents of the jar into a colander and removing excess oil. Yes, you use olive oil later, no I don't know why you drain this oil. Thought I would address that since I was asking it to myself as I did this. Once the sundried tomatoes are drained, set them in your food processor, along with the 4 cloves of garlic and red wine vinegar. Begin pulsing that to get it chopped and smooth as much as you can. Then begin to pour the 1 cup of olive oil into the food processor between pulses until you've added the whole cup.

Draining the sundried tomatoes

Combining the sundried tomatoes, garlic and red wine vinegar

All processed together

After adding the olive oil to the mix

There will be separation from the oil and mixture - that is normal! Put in a dish and let it chill in the fridge until tomorrow.

Separation anxiety...
Poured in its plastic bed to be tucked in the fridge for the night.

It is now tomorrow. Boil your corkscrew pasta in a large pot until soft. Drain and then rinse in cold water until pasta is cool. While your pasta is cooling, take your fresh basil leaves and begin chopping. I julienned the basil leaves by stacking them on top of one another, then rolling them tight like a cigarette. Hold them together in that tight rolls and begin thinly chopping. Do this until you have your desired amount of basil.

Stacked basil leaves

Tightly rolled... Basil guys, it is basil.

Julienned bits of basil

Next, take your tomatoes and begin cutting them in halves. I decided to then cut those halves in half as well.

Cutting the cherry tomatoes into halves

The halved halves of tomatoes

Once your pasta is cool, you may now add your tomatoes and then your dressing! Add 1/2 to start with and begin churning with a big spoon. Add more of the dressing as you go and continue stirring to make sure every little noodle cranny is covered. The reason corkscrew is so good for this pasta is that the dressing chunks settle so well in all of the grooves, it makes it just full of flavor!

Adding the tomatoes

Adding the dressing

Tossing, Stirring, Churning, Flipping.... repeat.

Now, you take your cup of parmesan and cover up to 3/4 cup worth. Mix all of that into your pasta as well, then add about 1/2 of your basil. At this time, you may decide you want your salad to be a little more "oily" so you can add straight olive oil if you would like, but I liked the current consistency. Toss, toss, toss, toss, toss, done.

Adding the shredded greatness

Adding the delicious fresh basil

As mentioned, I was taking this as a contribution to a dinner party so I decided to transfer it from a bowl to a baking dish. I used the rest of the parmesan and basil to top it for presentation. The concensus was great, people enjoyed this pasta salad as much as the Pioneer Woman said they would. This is a perfect summer side that would go great at any lake house or BBQ.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Pork Chops in Dried Cherry Chutney Demi-Glace

Fancy pants, huh? After making it, I feel as though I should have saved it for one of our date-nights-in, or our 27-month anniversary (I don't actually count the months just making up a reason to celebrate). Tonight, I was exhausted, Mr. Max was hurrying to football, we approached this meal as any other Monday night dinner and were pleasantly surprised at the delicious elegance in front of us. I re-established a relationship with pork chops a few weeks ago, and we thought that was the best pork chop ever... until tonight. This recipe got that award. All you culinary cuties out there, mark this one as a "show off" recipe for a special someone or like "hey mom, look at me, look how well I can cook now!" You shall impress with this one...and I think a good Pinot Noir (perhaps, Francis Ford Coppola label) would accompany it fabulously.

I credit my America's Test Kitchen Light & Healthy Cookbook for this one, coming in at only 380 calories - this is just a winner on so many levels. Now, I did slightly adapt as I went and will include my recommendations for you. The process was only about 20 minutes at most!

Let's get going...

Grocery List:
4 6-oz Pork Chops (I did not get bone-in)
1 tablespoon of Canola Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 shallot minced (about 3 tablespoons worth)
1 1/2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth (I personally like to skim on the chicken broth, so I only used 1 cup, I think I could have done 3/4 cup...)
1/2 cup sweet red wine (recipe calls for Ruby Port Wine - I could not find that so I looked up a sub and discovered that any sweet red wine would work, so I chose Chianti and actually added more like 3/4 cup to balance the chicken broth I didn't want to use, for a sweeter taste)
1/2 cup dried cherries
2 tablespoons of whole milk (I used skim, whatever you have will work)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary (they were out when I was at the store so I used the dried spice instead, doubtful that a truly tasteful difference was made)

Additional Needs:
Something to mince with
Cutting board
Meat Tenderizer
Small whisk
Small mixing bowl

For the pork, add your canola oil to the skillet and set on medium-high heat. I like to use meat tenderizer on pork since it can tend to be a little tough. Sprinkle your tenderizer over both sides, stab it with a fork a few times to open it up and allow the juices you will be cooking it in, seep in. Lay the pork in the skillet and let it begin to cook. After about 5 minutes flip. Repeat process until cooked through.

Cooking the chops

and flip it...

Once the pork is cooked through, set it aside on a plate. You can tent it with aluminum foil to help keep the heat in.

Next mince your shallot - I used my best friend, the mini processor - and throw it in the leftover oil. Scrape up some of the brown bits left over from the pork and cook until fragrant and softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the broth, wine/port and finally the cherries. Bring it to a simmer and cook until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes. I decided to add the pork back in to let it simmer in this sauce for more flavor. If you decide to do this, let cook for about 3-5 minutes, then remove to previous plate.

I got lazy on the picture process... this is after adding the minced shallot, the chicken stock and the wine/port

This is when I decided to cook the pork in the demi-glace

After adding the cherries

In a separate small bowl, whisk the milk and cornstarch together. Next whisk the mixture into the simmering sauce. Continue to simmer the sauce until it has thickened. Take it off the heat and add the rosemary, then season with salt and pepper to taste. At this time, you can add just a splash of additional sweet wine if you think it is needed. I did.

After removing the pork and adding the cornstarch/milk combo

Arrange your pork chops on plates to serve and spoon a generous helping of the sauce over the pork! Mr. Max requested my potatoes again, so this meal was accompanied by my posted mashed potato recipe and simple steamed carrots. I may do a garlic green bean recipe with it next time!

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