Saturday, August 23, 2014

Citrus Couscous

I've had a few boxes of plain couscous in the cabinet for a while now.   Previous attempts at using it wasn't greeted by much enthusiasm from anyone but myself.     In an effort to start clearing my pantry out, I searched through MasterCook to see how I could use some up.   

I settled on this recipe from Cooking Light, but played a little loosey-goosey with it.    First, I don't ever remember to buy green onions, and on the rare occasion I do, my menu plan gets moved around and they go bad before I can use them.    I substituted Penzey's dried chives, about a tablespoon.    I also used dried parsley, about 3/4 of it stirred into the mixture when it called for it, and the rest over the top when it hit the plates.    I used half the zest from the orange, next time I'd use it all.    I used 2T of lemon juice, because I didn't want the rest to go to waste.    Normally I'd pour any leftovers into an ice cube tray, freeze completely and then put it in a ziploc bag, but my freezer is packed right now.

I had put a little spoonful on my son's plate, expecting it to be pushed around and not eaten.   Not only was I wrong, he asked for more.     Victory!       He asked for a little butter to be added to his, and I added a teaspoon to my serving as well.  

Simple, and a nice change of pace from the rice we've eaten a lot of this summer!

* Exported from MasterCook *

                             Citrus Couscous

  1 1/4 cups  water
     3/4 cup uncooked couscous
     1T dried chives
1 tablespoon dried parsley (divided)
  2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
  1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
     1/4 teaspoon salt
     1/8 teaspoon black pepper

In a medium saucepan,  bring water to a boil.   Slowly stir in couscous.  Remove from heat.   Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.    Stir in the remaining ingredients, reserving a little parsley for sprinkling on top after it's plated. 


  "4 "
                                    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Creamy Chicken and Herb Skillet

Been feeling like fall here in New England the last week or so.    It's making us all start to crave comfort foods.    I saw this recipe on Pinterest, and I thought it would make a great meal for us.   I used chicken tenderloins, about 1 3/4lbs.    I upped some of the ingredient amounts for the sauce because I was going to serve it with pasta and wanted plenty to coat it and the chicken too.     I used a 6.5oz container of Aloutte cheese, it was all I could get my hands on.   I wish I could keep fresh herbs and things in the house, but I never have them on hand when I need them.    I used dried tarragon and shallots (I reconstituted them slightly by soaking them in chicken broth/lemon juice).  

This was so fast to come together, and both guys had seconds, which is a rarity here.    On a 1 to 10 scale, they both gave it a 9.5, and asked that it be made again.    Huge thanks to  Kristen at Iowa Girl Eats for this new family favorite!   This is my second hit from her blog, and believe me, I'm going looking for more  :)

* Exported from MasterCook *

                     Creamy Chicken and Herb Skillet

  1 3/4 lb  chicken breast tenderloins
                        extra virgin olive oil
                        kosher salt & fresh cracked black pepper
  1              large  shallot -- minced (used Penzey's dried)
  6.5                 oz  spreadable herb cheese- used Alouette
     3/4           cup  chicken broth
  2         Tablespoons  fresh lemon juice (about 1 small lemon)
 1        Tablespoon  dried tarragon  (or basil, parsley, or chives)- divided
1/2 box angel hair pasta, cooked according to package directions

Combine lemon juice, chicken broth and dried shallots.   Set aside.

Sprinkle chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.    Brown chicken in olive oil in a medium high skillet.    Cook until chicken is no longer pink in the middle and remove from skillet.  

Reduce heat to medium, add lemon juice mixture.   Stir for about a minute and then add herb cheese and half the tarragon.     Stir to combine well.    Add pasta and chicken and toss to coat.  Serve, topping with remaining tarragon. 


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Meatball Patty Melts

Rainy, cool day yesterday.     We've had pasta a few times already this week, but I couldn't shake the craving for meatballs.    I ran across this recipe on Pinterest from the Taste and Tell blog, and the amazing pictures had me hooked.  

I made a few swaps, first being that I somehow managed to buy chicken stock 3 weeks in a row, but no beef broth.     I had a 14.5 oz can of Diced tomatoes with herbs on hand,  I tossed that and all the other ketchup ingredients into the food processor and gave them a whirl.      My guys don't like super spicy, I used just a few flakes of the crushed red pepper, and I never ever have fresh basil in the house, so I used dried.   

I doubled the recipe for the burgers.  I rarely can get any kind of onion by my guys, so my go to is dried minced onion from Penzey's.  Since it was grated in this recipe, next time I may give it a try with the real thing.   I used my square burger press to make enough patties for dinner, and then the remaining mixture I scooped into balls to cook and freeze**  

This isn't a fast meal, or a meal for a dieter  LOL   It was filling, delicious, cheesy, meaty, crispy, tomatoe-y goodness on a plate.    Thank you so much to Deborah at Taste and Tell for this recipe, and please, hop over to her blog and check out her pictures.    I am a mediocre photographer at best, but factor in a rainy day and my only light source being energy saving bulbs, and my pictures are not spectacular.     I rushed, because I wanted to eat  :)

* Exported from MasterCook *

                           Meatball Patty Melts

                        Balsamic Marinara Ketchup:
     1/4           cup  tomato paste
     1/4           cup  beef stock -- used chicken broth
  2             cloves  garlic -- minced, used jarred
  1                can  tomato sauce -- minced fine
  3        tablespoons  balsamic vinegar
  3        tablespoons  brown sugar
     1/2      teaspoon  dried oregano
  1              Pinch  crushed red pepper -- tiny, tiny pinch
                        Torn basil leaves -- used dried
  2             slices  white bread -- crusts removed
                        Milk (for soaking bread)
  1              pound  ground beef
     1/2         pound  ground pork
                        Salt and pepper
     1/4           cup  flat-leaf parsley -- finely chopped, used dried
  2             cloves  garlic -- minced, used jarred
  3        tablespoons  grated onion -- used dried
     1/2           cup  grated Parmesan
                        Olive oil
  3        tablespoons  butter
  3             cloves  garlic -- minced, used jarred
  8             slices  sturdy Italian-American bread -- sliced 3/4-inch thick
  8             slices  deli-cut mozzarella
  8             slices  deli-cut provolone -- (omitted)
For the ketchup-
Combine tomato paste, stock and garlic in the food processor.   Add diced tomatoes, balsamic, brown sugar, oregano, basil, and crushed red pepper.     Pulse until all the tomato chunks are gone, and pour into a saucepan.    Heat over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 20 to 25 mins.

For the burgers-
Soak bread in milk in a large bowl for a few minutes.   Squeeze out the excess, discard the milk and return the bread to the bowl.     Add beef, pork, salt, pepper, parsley, garlic, onion and Parmesan.   Mix lightly until well combined, but don't overwork the meat or your patties will be tough.   I formed my patties using my square burger press.  

I used my All Clad griddle to cook my burgers, heated to medium-medium high and then brushed with olive oil.    Cook for about 5 mins per side.  I removed them to a plate until assembly and wiped the pan down with a paper towel to remove the excess grease.     Melt butter with garlic in the microwave for 30 to 45 seconds. 

Build your sandwiches-
Lay out four slices of bread.   Add sliced mozzarella to each.   Spoon balsamic ketchup on and spread slightly.   Top with burger patties, more balsamic ketchup and another slice of mozzarella.   Top with remaining slices of bread.    Brush the top piece of bread with garlic butter mixture and then put the buttered side down on the griddle.    I used a weighted press for my sandwiches.   When the first side was golden brown, I garlic buttered the top pieces of bread, flipped them and replaced the press.    Cook until the second side is golden brown and the cheese is melted.


**For the meatballs-
Shape mixture into walnut sized balls.   I used a cookie scoop to keep them uniform, but didn't pack the mixture in, just lightly ran it across.  Form into ball shape with palms.   Repeat with remaining mixture.    Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a large skillet (one with a lid, you'll need it later).   Add meatballs and shake handle of the pan to brown on all sides evenly.    Do not overcrowd the pan, it's better to do them in batches so the meatballs crisp up instead of steaming.   When desired browness had been reached, the meatballs will not be cooked through.   I added the leftover balsamic ketchup and enough Ragu Traditional sauce to about halfway up the meatballs.   Simmer for 30 to 60 mins, until they are cooked through.    Serve immediately with the pasta of your choice, in sub rolls, or cool and freeze in sauce for later use.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Buttermilk Brined Chicken Salad

Chicken on the grill is my nemesis.    I always seem to overcook it.    I saw this recipe on the Eating Well web site, and it just looked so delicious and easy.    I brined the chicken for about 7 hours, and it was good.   Next time I'd probably do the full 12 hrs.    I had 4 breasts in the package, and no two were the same size, so I was creative in placing them around the grill where I knew the hot and cooler spots were.     I checked to make sure they were cooked through with an instant read thermometer, pulling them each when they were 160º.   Carryover cooking took care of the rest. 

For the salad, I had some baby spinach to use up, and sliced up some red onion.   I drizzled the dressing over the chicken, took my photo and then tossed everything with the greens.     Absolutely fantastic summer meal!

* Exported from MasterCook *

                  Buttermilk-Brined Chicken Breast Salad

  2               cups  buttermilk
  2        tablespoons  sugar
  1                     shallot -- finely chopped (used Penzey's dried)
  4             cloves  garlic -- minced (used jarred)
  1         tablespoon  salt
  1         tablespoon  chopped fresh oregano (used dried)
  1 1/2      teaspoons  fresh thyme leaves (used dried)
  1 1/2      teaspoons  chopped fresh rosemary (used dried)
  1 1/2      teaspoons  Worcestershire sauce
     1/2      teaspoon  freshly ground pepper
  2                     boneless -- (8-ounce) skinless chicken breasts (used 4 boneless breasts, varying sizes)
  5        tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil -- divided
  2        tablespoons  red-wine vinegar
  1           teaspoon  chopped fresh oregano and/or thyme (used dried)
  1           teaspoon  minced garlic (used jarred)
  1           teaspoon  Dijon mustard
     1/4      teaspoon  salt
  1              Pinch  sugar
                        Freshly ground pepper -- to taste
  10              cups  mixed salad greens (used baby spinach and red onion)

For the brine: Combine buttermilk, sugar, shallots, 4 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon oregano, 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme, rosemary, Worcestershire sauce and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve.   Place chicken in a sealable gallon-size plastic bag. Pour in the brine mixture, seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours.

(Remove the chicken from the brine (discard the brine) and pat dry with paper towels. Rub 1 tablespoon oil all over the chicken and let stand at room temperature for at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes.)-- I did not do this, I went straight from the brine, letting the excess drip off, to the preheated grill.     Next time I will follow the recipe.  

Heat grill to high, then reduce heat to medium.   Rub the grill rack down with some olive oil, or use a nonstick spray.    Grill chicken with the lid down, about 6 minutes per side.   I rotate it a quarter turn on each side for nice grill marks.   Cook until the chicken reads 160º on an instant read thermometer, then move to the serving platter and cover.    Let rest about 5 mins before slicing.

Whisk together remaining 4 tablespoons oil, vinegar, 1 teaspoon oregano and thyme, 1 teaspoon garlic, Dijon, salt and pepper.   Divide salad among plates and top each with sliced chicken.  Drizzle dressing over chicken and greens, toss to coat.


NOTES : Nutrition

Per serving: 322 calories; 21 g fat (3 g sat, 14 g mono); 64 mg cholesterol; 7 g carbohydrates; 1 g added sugars; 4 g total sugars; 26 g protein; 3 g fiber; 631 mg sodium; 680 mg potassium.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Old Fashioned Chocolate Fudge

My husband loves fudge.   There's a place in Maine called The Candy Man that makes the most amazing fudge.   We even used it as our wedding favors.    Tim's been craving that fudge for a while, but we've been too busy to make the drive up there to get some.    I found this recipe and though I've had terrible results with fudge in the past, I gave it a go.

Absolutely no changes to the recipe.   The flavor is excellent, and I liked it a lot better by the second day.    Is it as good as The Candy Man's?  No, but it was close and for this week, good enough.    I think it might have done with another minute or 90 seconds of beating with the wooden spoon.   Thank you so much to Book_Worm at Allrecipes for sharing this one, which I found through KitchMe.   


* Exported from MasterCook *

                      Old-Fashioned Chocolate Fudge

  2                cup  white sugar
     1/2           cup  cocoa
  1                cup  milk
  4               tbsp  butter -- or margarine (used butter)
  1                tsp  vanilla extract

Prepare an 8"x8" baking pan by greasing the bottom and laying in a piece of parchment or foil large enough that the edges hang out over the sides.   This makes for easier removal of the fudge.   Great the parchment and set aside.  

Sift cocoa if necessary, then combine with sugar and milk in a medium saucepan.   Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.   Reduce heat until mixture is simmering, and do not stir any more. 

Using a candy thermometer, cook to soft ball stage (238º).    Remove from the heat, add butter and vanilla.    Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is no longer glossy, about 3 to 5 minutes.    Pour into the prepared pan and let cool slightly.   Score the squares lightly into servings and let cool completely.   


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Herbed Tomato Cucumber Salad and Spicy Lemon Basil Chicken

Can't believe that it is already August, this summer just continues to fly by!   One of the good things about August is that tomatoes are hitting the farms here in NH.    I had this recipe for Herbed Tomato Cucumber Salad in my to-try file, and it made a perfect side dish in this warm weather.    My only changes were white wine vinegar for the champagne vinegar, I already have 2 or 3 other kinds in the cabinet and I didn't want to buy another one.      This would also be great with halved cherry tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes.

I had taken out thin sliced chicken breasts without any real idea what to do with them.   I was puttering around I realized I hadn't filed my printed/tried recipes into my big binder, and while I was doing that I ran across the Spicy Lemon Basil Chicken.    Last time I had rather large chicken breasts and I had to finish them in the oven, but these thin sliced ones would be perfect.     Minor changes to this recipe, subbing jarred garlic for fresh and adding it to the egg.   I combined the pepper with the panko, and held the salt til the end.     Crispy, sweet, spicy, delicious!     Thank you again to Cindy at Pick Fresh Foods for this family favorite. 

* Exported from MasterCook *

                       Herbed Tomato-Cucumber Salad

  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
  1         tablespoon  olive oil
  2          teaspoons  champagne vinegar (used white wine vinegar)
     1/4      teaspoon  salt
     1/4      teaspoon  Italian seasoning
     1/8      teaspoon  black pepper
     1/2      teaspoon  minced garlic (used jarred)
  2             medium  tomatoes -- cut into wedges
  1                cup  cucumber slices
     1/4           cup  diced sweet onion (used red onion)

Whisk together first 6 ingredients.    Stir in tomatoes, cucumbers and onions.   Serve immediately.

Source: Cooking Light

  "4 servings (3/4c)"

* Exported from MasterCook *

                        Spicy Lemon Basil Chicken

  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
  4                     boneless skinless chicken breast- used thin sliced
     1/2      teaspoon  salt -- sprinkled on at end
     1/2      teaspoon  black pepper
     1/2           cup  panko bread crumbs
  1               Tbsp  fresh basil -- finely chopped- used Penzey's dried
  1                     garlic clove -- pressed-  used jarred minced
  3        Tablespoons  olive oil
     1/2           cup  fresh lemon juice
     1/2      teaspoon  Tabasco sauce -- used Sriracha
  4        Tablespoons  honey

Combine lemon juice, Sriracha and honey with a whisk.  Set aside.

Set up breading stations.  In one cake pan, combine egg and minced garlic.   In second cake pan, combine panko, basil and pepper.    Heat oil over medium heat.     Dip chicken in egg mixture, dredge in panko mixture and then cook until golden brown on both sides.   Sprinkle with salt and let rest on paper towel lined platter.    Repeat with remaining chicken.      Serve with sauce drizzled over.