Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chicken & Dark Chocolate

Chicken & Dark Chocolate.
No, not together. But delicious. And a two-fer. One whole chicken, one basic recipe & two completely different tasting dinners.

Ready? GO!

Start with a whole chicken, about 3-4 pounds. Bake or grill your chicken before hand -- rinse &  pat dry, then cut down the backbone & separate in your pan or roaster. Season with salt & pepper & bake at 400-425 degrees until the juices run clear, about an hour. Cover the chicken & let it rest for about 30 minutes before dividing in half and refrigerating until ready to use. It helps to do this maybe over a weekend & later in the evening when its not so awful to turn on your oven.

Want an even easier batch of recipes? Pick up a roasted chicken from your local deli.

First, we have a quinoa salad, then a stir fry over rice.

Quinoa Salad:
Serves 2 with excellent lunch leftovers

1 cup quinoa
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen green beans
1/3 cup feta
salt & pepper
1/2 cooked chicken, deboned in bite-sized pieces without skin

Cook quinoa with a pinch of salt & pepper in a rice cooker. This takes about 20-25 minutes. When the quinoa have just begun to pop -- there is a little ring inside the grain that comes out when they are about done -- add in the peas, beans & chicken & allow to cook for 5 minutes or until the veggies are done. Remove pot from rice cooker & stir in feta. Serve & enjoy!

Chicken-Broccoli Stir Fry:
Serves 2 with excellent lunch leftovers

1 cup rice
1/2 + pound fresh broccoli
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1/2 cooked chicken
salt & pepper

Cook rice according to directions. 

In a saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and cook onions with a pinch of salt until caramelized, about 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, cut & trim broccoli into bite-sized pieces and debone the chicken, removing the skin. You can almost ignore the onions, but don't let them burn. The longer they go, the better they taste. 

When the chicken & broccoli are ready, add into the pan & saute until the broccoli is bright green & just tender, seasoning with a pinch more salt & plenty of fresh ground pepper. Serve over the rice & enjoy!

Now for the chocolate! This is what you've really been waiting for!
Chocolate Mint Sandwiches:
Mmmmm. This is only the beginning. Since Katie is now in Central Standard Time, we decided to celebrate with some ridiculously chocolatey cookies. Martha delivered & we made these cookies. 

Friends, when the recipe calls for parchment paper, be sure to use it. As you are rolling the cookies out, be sure to taste test the dough & add a bit more powdered sugar to sweeten them up as necessary. Buy your favorite dark chocolate bars to use for the ganache & glaze. I happen to love Ghirardelli's Twilight Delight -- 72% cocoa & perfect for me. 
These little sandwiches were a bit of work, but lots of fun. It helps to have excellent company!
Delicious, I tell you!


Monday, August 22, 2011

Chicken-Bean Soup & Other Good Things

Life is going back to "normal" -- if you know what "normal" is, please let me know. Here are a few recipes from the last week or so.

Shrimp with Farfalle and Spinach:
Serves 2

1 small onion, sliced or diced
20+ pieces of shrimp, or about 1/2 a pound, frozen
2 cups whole wheat farfalle or your favorite pasta
2+ cups spinach
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon oregano

Cook pasta according to directions. Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a saute pan. Cook onion in oil until transparent, 3-4 minutes. Add shrimp, garlic, & oregano & cover, cooking until the shrimp is just pink & firm, about 4-5 minutes more.

Shred the spinach, bunching it together in large handfuls. Drain pasta, reserving about 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Add pasta & spinach to shrimp in pan and stir to combine, adding reserved water to reach preferred consistency. Serve immediately.

Whole wheat buttermilk pancakes:
Mmmm. Pancakes.
Serves 2

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2/3+ cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
dash vanilla

Whisk together dry ingredients & wet ingredients separately. Slowly combine with a fork until just mixed, don't worry about any lumps. Set aside the batter while your skillet or griddle heat over medium.

When your skillet is hot, test the batter -- add more milk (regular or buttermilk) to reach your desired consistency. Pour large spoonfuls, about 1/3 cup or so, onto your skillet & do your pancake thing. Mom always used a tortilla warmer to keep prepared pancakes warm while the others cooked & it works marvelously.

If you don't have buttermilk, you can always use a buttermilk powder & water per the directions on the container or make buttermilk with regular milk & a good squeeze of lemon juice. These pancakes are great layered with Greek yogurt for extra protein with strawberries or whatever fresh fruit you like. And sausage. This all makes for a great Sunday breakfast.

Chicken-Bean Soup:
Today was an excellent day for soup -- not to mention I've been dreaming of fall & football for weeks now. This soup can even be made in one pot, even better!
Serves 2 with great lunch leftovers or 4

1 1/2 pound chicken thighs
2 small yellow onions, sliced
1 cup black beans, dried, rinsed & cooked
1 cup red kidney beans or navy beans, dried, rinsed & cooked
1 cup frozen corn
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
freshly ground pepper

In a large stock pan, heat about 2 teaspoons vegetable oil over medium heat. Cook onions with salt until transparent, 3-4 minutes. Add chicken thighs, cumin, & oregano & cook until the chicken is cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan & set aside.

Add beans & corn to onions. Roughly slice or dice the chicken, removing any fat, & add back to pan with any juices. Bring soup to a boil & stir with wooden spoon to break down beans into stock. Crank on some freshly ground pepper. Add water 1/4 cup at at time to reach a soupier consistency if desired. Serve hot with saltines or a crusty bread.

If cooking dried beans isn't your thing, just use a can or two for each cup -- the more the merrier -- draining & rinsing them before adding to the soup.

Dessert?! Yes, I made dessert! If you are on any sort of a diet, stop reading now. I make the hubby eat most things like this.
Popcorn balls make me think of fall & I must really be dreaming. Look at all the chocolate in the corner there!
6 cups plain popcorn, popped (about 1/4 cup kernels)
large handful Hershey's kisses
1/2 cup peanuts
1/2 cup pretzel sticks, broken into smaller pieces
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 bag mini marshmallows

Melt the butter over medium-low heat & add marshmallows, stirring until melted. Mix together the rest of the ingredients in a medium-large bowl. When the mallows are melted, pour over popcorn mixture and stir to combine. Give the mallows a few moments to cool, but working quickly once you can handle the mixture, use your hands to form the mixture into balls. Set out on parchment paper to cool & enjoy!

A few tips on this quick sweet -- don't use a metal bowl, the heat transfer will melt your fingerprints & squirt a little spray cooking oil on your hands to keep the mixture from sticking. You can use any ingredients you like: almonds, pecans, M&Ms, mini Reese's, anything that sounds delicious to you.


Thursday, August 11, 2011


A backlog of recipes here. Lots of good food & even better company this summer.

Let's start at the beginning: Enchiladas!
Serves 8+

3 whole chicken breast
20 oz ground turkey
3 cans red enchilada sauce
2-3 larger cans green chiles
2-3 white or yellow onions, chopped
16 whole wheat tortillas
16 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons taco seasoning

In a large stock pan, heat about 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add ground turkey & cook until browned. Drain if necessary. If using the 97% fat free, you can get away without draining the turkey. Season with taco seasoning and set aside.

In the same stock pan, heat about 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Saute onions until softened, 4-5 minutes. While the onions are cooking, cut the chicken breast pieces into cutlets and layer on top of the onions, cooking 2-3 minutes. Add 2 cans of the enchilada sauce and all of the green chiles. Allow pot to boil and cook chicken until done, 4-5 minutes more.

Turn burner off and remove chicken from pan. Cut or shred chicken into bite sized pieces. Add chicken and turkey back to pan. Allow filling to cool a little before filling the tortillas.

Spray 2 13X9 pans with spray oil. Fill tortillas and layer in pans, about 8 per pan. Divide the last can of enchilada sauce between the pans and top with cheese.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Enchiladas should be browned & bubbly.
This recipe can easily be halved for a smaller batch. You can also make the filling ahead of time & refrigerate until you're ready to fill the tortillas & enjoy.

Fish Sticks!
Serves 2

2 tilapia filets, defrosted
2 pieces whole wheat bread
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon parsley
salt & pepper

In a blender or food processor, combine the bread, cheese, & spices to make a bread crumbs. Put bread crumb mixture in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Cut the tilapia filets into 3-4 pieces each on a diagonal to make your fish sticks.

Place a baking rack over a baking pan. Press each fish stick into the crumb mixture, coating on both sides. Lay each piece on the baking rack. Bake fish at 425 degrees until cooked through & browned, about 12-14 minutes.
Serve with couscous, brown rice, or quinoa and roasted vegetable.

Diablo Pasta
Serves 2

This meal is inspired by my favorite dish at Bela Luna -- their Diablo Pasta.

20 medium shrimp, raw & defrosted
2 cups whole wheat pasta like penne or rigatoni
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 medium-large green peppers, sliced
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
parmesan cheese for garnish

Cook pasta according to the directions. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a saute pan. Add onions & peppers & cook until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle half of the spices onto the vegetables & mix. Add shrimp & cook until just done, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle in the remaining spices.

Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Return pasta to pan & add shrimp mixture. Stir in yogurt, adding reserved water a necessary to get a creamy consistency.