Thursday, May 27, 2010

Citrus Grilled Chicken Over Mixed Field Greens

Here is a very healthy, fresh and flavorful meal. Great for summertime!

2 lemons, zest and juice, divided
1 lime, zest and juice
1 garlic clove, passed through a garlic press
olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 chicken breasts, split in half into cutlets
mixed organic greens
roasted sunflower seeds
goat cheese

In a medium bowl, zest one of the lemons and the lime. Add the juice from both and the garlic. Whisk in some olive oil, about 1/3-1/2 cup. Place the chicken in the bowl and coat well. Let marinate for 10 minutes.

Heat a nonstick grill pan or skillet over medium high heat. Place the chicken on the grill and cook for about 4 minutes per side, until cooked through. Remove to a pan and let rest for a minute, slice.

For the dressing, whisk the juice from the other lemon with the mustard. Slowly add in a little olive oil, about 1/3 cup. Place some field greens on each plate, crumble a little goat cheese and sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Add some of the dressing and top with the chicken.

You could also use an orange along with the lime and lemon if you wanted.

Paula's Best Desserts

I am very excited because my issue of Paula Deen's Best Desserts came in the mail today. Stay tuned for an influx of sweet-related postings soon!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ina's Sun-dried Tomato Dip

This is one of my favorite dip recipes, probably because it has one of my favorite ingredients in it - Sun-dried tomatoes. I just love them. Anyway, I just joined this amazing women's networking and social group, High Hopes in High Heels, and I made this dip for an event we had last night. I am now the chair of the food committee, so I'll be posting a lot about the food I make for our events. This recipe is courtesy of Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped (about 8 tomatoes, and I admit I usually throw in a little extra because I love them!)
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (use regular, lowfat or nonfat is just not the same)1/2 cup sour cream (here you can use light sour cream)
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
10 dashes, hot red pepper sauce (I like Crystal for this)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
assorted veggies and crackers

Puree the tomatoes, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, red pepper sauce, salt and pepper in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the scallions and pulse twice. Serve at room temperature. I usually serve this dip with whole-wheat crackers, carrots and celery, but you can use any veggies you like.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Roast Chicken

I noticed my local grocery store had whole chickens for only .99 cents a pound this weekend! The voice inside my head said, "Sunday dinner, Sunday dinner." So that is what I did. You can't pass that up. A four pound chicken for $4? Crazy good deal. I made a traditional Sunday dinner with gravy, mashed potatoes and green beans.

For the perfect roast chicken:
Pull out the giblets. Mine mysteriously didn't have any, but the directions on the package said to remove them. So a good rule to live by, always check for giblets because you never know. Instead of stuffing the bird with stuffing, I like to stuff it with half a lemon, a couple cloves of garlic and half an onion. (Adds lots of moisture.) I tie up the legs with twine and tie the wings closely to the body. (See picture below.) Keeping everything nice and tight keeps the bird really juicy. Now you can either rub olive oil all over the bird or you can take room temperature butter and spread over the bird and under the skin. Either way, season well with salt and pepper all over.

Place in a roasting pan on a rack. Bake at 350 for 20-23 minutes per pound. So I baked my four pounder for about 90 minutes. The juices between the leg and breast should run clear or you can put a meat thermometer in the breast and it should read 165 degrees.

Gravy is super easy. Don't let it intimidate you. Start off by making a rue. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium to medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted, add 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Whisk until the flour is incorporated and golden brown. Voila, you've mad a rue. Add some of the chicken juices. (Super great flavor here.) While whisking, slowly add some chicken stock or broth, about a cup, maybe more, until it reaches the consistency you like. Season with salt and pepper.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Barefoot Wine and Bubbly

So I had seen Barefoot Wines in the store, but had never tried them. Then last weekend I volunteered at a local art festival, Chalk Walk, where we sold wine and beer. Barefoot Wines had generously donated the wine and had local reps there serving. I tried their Moscato. It was delicious, very sweet and fruity. Perfect on a hot, summer day. I have since purchased the pinot grigio for cooking and the riesling. The best thing about the wines are they not only have won a bunch of awards, but they are very affordable. My store has them for $6.99 a bottle. Check out all of their wines here.

Chicken Cacciatore

This is my version of chicken cacciatore created by looking at a couple of different versions and using what I had around my house. It was my first time making it and I must say, it came out pretty good. My husband even went back for a little a bit of seconds, which is always a sign of success. I'll definitely be making this again.

2 Tbsps olive oil
1 and half pounds chicken breast, cut into 2-inch pieces
salt and pepper
1/4 thick-cut pancetta or bacon, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
12 ounce package of mushrooms, sliced (any kind you like, regular button, baby bellas or portabellas)
1/2 cup dry red wine (I used a white because that is what I had, but a red would probably be better)
1 cup beef stock (could also use chicken stock, but the beef adds a richer flavor and goes well with the mushrooms)
1 (15 ounce) can of whole, peeled tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can of tomato sauce
1 tsp tomato paste (enriches the tomato flavor)
a handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 lb whole grain spaghetti

Season the chicken cubes with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and chicken. Let the chicken cook for 3-4 minutes, then turn it and brown the opposite side for 2-3 minutes. Once the chicken is brown and cooked through, transfer it to a plate and reserve.

At this point, put a large pot of water on to boil. Once it comes to a boil, add a generous amount of salt, add the spaghetti and cook according to the package directions.

Return the skillet to the heat and add the bacon to the pan and let crisp for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, stir for 30 seconds, then add the mushrooms and brown for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until deep brown and tender. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper after they've browned. (At this point the pasta water should be boiling and you can add the spaghetti.)

Add the wine to the pan with the mushrooms to deglaze the pan and reduce it for 30 seconds, then stir in the beef stock, tomato sauce and peeled tomatoes, crushing them in your hand as you add them to the pan. Add the tomato paste. Bring the sauce up to a bubble and add the chicken back to the pan. Simmer for five minutes. Add the parsley.

Drain your pasta and divide among four plates. Top with the cacciatore sauce and serve with grated cheese.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May: National Salad Month

May is National Salad Month, which I was unaware of until I came across this article in the St. Petersburg Times. The food editor has developed a list of salads, one for each day of the month. A few of them sounded quite good - such as the salad nicoise, chopped Mediterranean and salmon hash - so I thought I would share the list with you.

Check them out here.

Here are some dressing recipes to accompany the different salads.

I hope you'll try some out and share your thoughts with me. When I try some I'll let you know how I like them.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Book Club: Before I Fall

Here is this month's book club read: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. It is actually a young adult read, I'll admit, but it deals with a very mature subject: what happens right before we die. It is about a popular high school girl named Sam who dies and relives the day of her death seven times to try to make things right. Through the process, she gains a little perspective and discovers the true value of everything she's about to lose.

My thoughts? I liked the book, but was hoping for a little bit of a different ending, but I guess if it had been different, the lesson would have been lost.

Update: Cinco de Mayo

As previously posted, I planned to make Food Network's Pork Carnitas for Cinco de Mayo. See the post here. Well, I did make them and they were absolutely delicious. I think I only made one substitution in the recipe and a couple of changes to the process.

Instead of the fresh chiles, which I couldn't find at my store, I used a small can of diced green chiles. And where it says to microwave the garlic and chiles to soften, I just skipped that step. So you basically throw everything in the food processor for the sauce and reduce it down with chicken broth.

I suggest making the sauce the night before, so in the morning all you have to do is cut up the pork shoulder into big chunks and pour over the sauce. I also cooked it on low for 8 hours instead of on high for 5 hours. Hope you'll try this recipe and enjoy it. They were a little spicy, but not overwhelming.

I also made a big batch of fresh guac to go along with the tacos.