Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Simple Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Phil the Groundhog gave me false hope and Mother Nature is such a tease.  We had a couple GORGEOUS days recently.  It got up to 60 degrees and was sunshine all around.  You could literally feel the energy coursing through your veins.  But then as quickly as it came, it was ripped away.  We were plunged back into dreary grey skies and biting cold days.

Thank goodness for this simple soup.  Not only does it warm your body physically but *chicken soup*, it soothes your soul.  For those that want a comforting, steamy bowl to warm up to and/or are feeling a bit under the weather right now (as it seems the flu is still in full swing), this is the perfect remedy.  In no time at all you'll be slurping away.

Want to make it a bit healthier?  Omit the cream.  I personally thought it tasted better without it as its presence mutes the flavors, too.

One Year Ago: Pretzel Chicken Tenders

Simple Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Soup
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  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 4-6 medium-sized carrots, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup frozen or canned corn
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half (optional...though, if you're omitting it then it's not creamy, now is it?)
  • handful chopped parsley
  1. Put chicken, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and seasonings in to a large stockpot and then add enough water to cover the chicken breasts and vegetables.  Bring to a boil and simmer about 20-30 minutes. 
  2. Remove chicken breasts and set aside on a plate or cutting board.  When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken into bite size pieces using forks or your hands.  Skim the liquid of any fats and debris.
  3. Stir in the chicken, potatoes and corn. Simmer for another 20-30 minutes. Check for seasoning then if desired, add in the heavy cream and chopped parsley.

Source: Very slightly modified from Sing for Your Supper 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Peanut Butter Crisscross Cookies

As I was putting the signature crisscross hatchmarks on these cookies with a fork Chris tells me they look JUST LIKE his Grandma's.  I proceed to tell him that this is how ALL peanut butter cookies look.  He asks why and I tell him I suppose it's for people who are allergic like my brother to know they should watchout because they're peanut butter and not a sugar cookie or similar looking goodie.

Peanut Butter Crisscross Cookie Closeup

There's something about making those crisscross fork imprints that I also just find very relaxing.  It's like an artist putting their finishing touches on a masterpiece.  Yeah...I guess I'm kind of weird like that.  I really can't tell you why it's taken me so long to make this very traditional cookie.  It's always been a favorite and it's not difficult so it was an easy decision for me to add it to my 23 Things in 2011 List.  This one in particular was bursting with peanutty flavor, lightly crunch on the outside and oh-so-soft-and-chewy on the inside.  Perfect!

For this recipe I turned to the experts at Cook's Illustrated The New Best RecipeThe recipe article, as with all of the recipes in the book, go through a very thorough process talking about why each ingredient was selected versus other options you might find in alternate recipes.  For example, they determined that butter accentuates the peanut flavor while margarine and Crisco diminish it.  In terms of the peanut butter itself, the chunky style lends the best peanut flavor and they advise against using natural peanut butter because it makes the cookies sandy.  Of course the preferred brand itself is Jif...because everyone knows Choosy Moms Choose Jif!  To further boost the peanut flavor, they add ground up peanuts.  Last but not least, for the sugar, the brown sugar alone is too sweet but does lend a nutty taste to the cookie so that's how they arrived at a blend of white and brown sugars.  Genius.

In one recipe (but not this one) I remember reading that they did a comparison of the recipe using natural vs. artificial vanilla.  You'd think that the natural would be better tasting (especially given the price difference!) but in reality they found no detectable difference or even slight preference for the artificial version.  Nice!  Now I don't have to feel guilty about buying the Kroger Value brand of Vanilla :P.

Call me a nerd but I have to say that I enjoy reading the science behind each recipe.  What can I say, I'm an engineer by training so this is right up my ally.  I think it helps educate a budding chef and in the future would help you to create original recipes, too.  If you don't already have it, I really do recommend this cookbook.  What it lacks in beautiful pictures (my only complaint) it makes up for in quality content and educational value.  There are 1000 recipes in it and the tutorials (such as how to make a lattice pie, how to make homemade pasta, etc.) are fantastic!

One Year Ago: Pizza Bites and Spicy Sausage Dip

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Crisscross Cookie

Yields: About 36 cookies 

  • 2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened by still cool
  • 1 cup packed (7 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup extra-crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup salted dry-roasted peanuts, ground in a food processor to resemble bread crumbs (about 14 pulses)
  1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper, silicone baking mat, or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy.  Add the sugars; beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes with an electric mixer, stopping to scrape down the bowl as necessary.  Beat in the peanut butter until fully incorporated, then the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla.  Gently stir the dry ingredients into the peanut butter mixture.  Add the ground peanuts and stir gently until just incorporated.
  4. Working with a generous 2 Tablespoon each time, roll the dough into 2-inch balls.  Place the balls on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.  To make a crisscross design, dip a dinner fork into a small bowl of cold water and then press the fork into the dough ball.  Rotate the fork 90 degrees and press it into the dough ball a second time.
  5. Bake until the cookies are puffed and slightly browned around the edges but not on top, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time.  (The cookies will not look fully baked.)  Cool the cookies on the baking sheet until set, about 4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack with a wide metal spatula to cool completely.
Source: The New Best Recipe from the Editor's of Cook's Illustrated, p. 781

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Candied Orange and Walnut Salad with Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette

Look at all the beautiful colors and textures in this salad!

Do you see how the candied oranges glisten like stained glass?

And the candied walnuts?  Crunchy, tantalizingly spicy and sweet and to die for.  If you're not into spicy, watch out and suggest you reduce the level of peppers used or omit it all together.  Personally I loved the surprise little kick to these crazy nuts :).

You may be asking yourself right now what's up with all of the candied stuff.  Well, for our recent Dinner Club our hosts Sig and Kristen chose the theme of candy.  Sweet, sweet sugary candy.  Wanting to be up for a challenge, I chose to bring something from the salad/vegetable category.

Yes, this certainly stretched our culinary imaginations to the fullest.  Emily and Scott chose to serve GUMMY BEAR kiwi wontons with blackberry dipping sauce as our starter.  Surprisingly this was quite delicious and if I wasn't told there were gummy bears inside I don't think I would have known any better.  We joked that they were filled with Gummiberry Juice as the sugar started coursing through our veins and we got a bit bouncy from the extra energy.  But we were just getting started because then came my salad, Kemani and Toni's delightful homemade raviolis filled with cocoa encrusted pork and topped with a white chocolate alfredo sauce, Kristen and Sig's peanut butter cup chicken and lemonhead chicken along with caramel, oreo cookie, and chocolate filled croissants, and lastly, Jackie and Jeff's peanut butter cup cupcakes and lemon pop rock cupcakes.

Caramel croissant, gummy bear kiwi wontons, homemade ravioli with white chocolate alfredo sauce, and peanut butter cup cupcakes.  Photo credit: Emily H.

The sugar rush that followed?  OH. MY. GOD.  Let's just say it's a good thing our hosts had very fun Minute to Win It games to help us expend all of our energy before we subsequently crashed.

Minute to Win It games to burn off all of dinner's sugar: Candy Land Card Flip, Bolt Stacking, Football Roll, and Licorice jump roping.  Photo credit: Emily H.

This salad not only looked beautiful but it tasted really good too.  Kemani said that it was just like the salad at  Dewey's.  Wow what a complement!  I was very pleased with how it turned out and I know I'll be making the candied nuts again for snacking.  The oranges tasted just like those fruit slices so Chris really enjoyed them (it's his favorite flavor).  Though, you can also candy other citrus like lemons and grapefruits, if you prefer.  And then the dressing?  Delicious.  Will make again, too.

So serve up this sweet salad for your sweetie on Valentine's Day.  You'll thank me later :).

Looking for more Valentine's Day Ideas? It seems that the clear favorite on my site are these Heart-shaped Red Velvet Whoopie Pies but the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles will be the way to a chocolate lover's heart.  But if you want a full meal, try this Linguine with Clam Sauce.  Not only is it delicious but it's simple and I hear that clams are an aphrodisiac.  Ooh la la!

Candied Orange and Walnut Salad with Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette
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Photo Credit: Emily H.

Yields: 2 entree-sized or 4 starter-sized salads

  • 2 large handfuls of baby salad greens
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup dried cranberries (craisins)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 to 1/2 candied spiced walnuts (recipe to follow)
  • candied oranges (recipe to follow)
  • orange balsamic vinaigrette (recipe to follow)
For the candied spiced walnuts 
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon chipotle, ancho, or cayenne chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 heaping cup walnuts (or can use pecans)
For the candied oranges
  • 2 organic oranges, washed (can also use lemons or grapefruit)
  • Water for boiling
  • Ice water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
For the orange balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1/4 small sweet onion such as Vidalia
  • Zest of 1 large orange (preferably organic)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 Tablespoon orange marmalade or undiluted frozen orange juice
  • 6 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 12 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  1. Allow at least 24 hours to make the candied oranges since they need ample drying time.  To make the candied oranges, cut the oranges into thin slices (not too thin or else they tear apart too easily) removing the ends and any seeds. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan and blanch the orange slices for about a minute. Drain the orange slices and plunge them into a bath of ice water. Drain. Meanwhile, combine the sugar and 1 cup of water in a large saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a simmer and add the orange slices. Let simmer (don’t boil) for an hour (you can simmer as much as 2 hours). Remove slices from hot sugar syrup and set on a cooling rack over a baking sheet to dry. Take up to 24 hours to dry.
  2. To make the vinaigrette, in a blender or food processor, puree the onion, orange zest, garlic, and orange marmalade.  Add the vinegar, olive oil, and salt then blend to emulsify.  Taste and balance sweetness (add a pinch of sugar, the syrup from the candied orange slices, or more marmalade), acidity (add a few more drops of vinegar), and salt.  Pour vinaigrette into a squeeze bottle.  Cap and refrigerate.  Can be made a day ahead.
  3. To make the candied walnuts, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium-sized bowl, mix together sugar, chili powder, and salt.  Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil.  Add nuts and boil for 3 minutes (if using pecans, boil only for 15 seconds).  Drain the nuts well then shake in bag of sugar mixture until thoroughly coated.  The sugar will melt slightly.  Transfer the nuts to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.  Bake until they are a deep golden brown, turning halfway through baking, about 15 minutes. Watch closely because the sugar burns easily.  Cool completely and then store in a air-tight container until ready to use.
  4. When ready to serve, in a large mixing bowl, toss salad greens and 1/2 to 3/4 of the dried cranberries, feta cheese, and walnuts with enough of the vinaigrette to coat each leaf.  You will likely have vinaigrette leftover for a couple more salads later.
  5. Arrange the dressed salad in the middle of the salad plate.  Finish the salads by garnishing with remaining dried cranberries, feta cheese, walnuts, and candied orange slices.
Source: A Christine's Kitchen Chronicles original with inspiration from many sources.  Candied walnuts, salad dressing, and salad concept adapted from Luna Cafe.  Candied orange slices slightly modified from Use Real Butter as originally adapted from Martha Stewart and Culinary School of the Rockies.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Roasted Tomatillo Enchiladas

Why oh why is Mexican food so difficult to photograph?  Again, don't eat this one with your eyes because my photo doesn't do it justice.  (Though, if you travel over to Proceed with Caution's blog where I found the recipe, you'll find it's 100000000000x nicer looking!).  This is the most flavorful enchilada I have ever eaten.

Over the summer I purchased a half-season, half-CSA share from Burgefurd's Farm.  I had an abundance of hot peppers from my share and one of the weeks I also got these really cute tomatillos (see them in the center, below?).

I can't say that I have ever eaten them and hadn't the slightest idea of what to make.  Most of the recipes I found on google involved slicing and frying them but I'm sure you already know that this is not a preferred method of mine.  Thank goodness I stumbled across this recipe.  Once I read the ingredients I knew it would be fantastic!


One Year Ago: Chinese Almond Cookies

Roasted Tomatillo Enchiladas
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For the chicken: 
  • about 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1/3 bunch of cilantro,
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp lime juice - added about an hour before cooking
For the enchiladas:
  • 4-5 strips roasted red pepper (from jar), diced
  • 1 avocado, peeled and fruit diced
  • 1/4 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese, plus more cheese for topping the enchiladas
  • Creamy Roasted Tomatillo Sauce (recipe follows)
  • 7-8 corn or flour tortillas, warmed

Creamy Roasted Tomatillo Sauce
  • 10 small/medium tomatillos; remove husks and wash; cut into halves or quarters
  • 2 jalapenos, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 cup cilantro, thoroughly washed
  • 1/2 cup 2% cottage cheese, blended thoroughly
  • 3 oz Monterrey Jack cheese
  • Dash of salt 
  1. Combine chicken with marinade ingredients (except lime juice) in a large ziplock bag or bowl. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, adding the lime juice during the last hour.  After removing the chicken from the marinade, saute it until golden brown on all sides. Shred the chicken, or chop it up into rough cubes.
  2. In a bowl, combine cooked chicken, red pepper, avocado, and 1/4 cup Mexican blend cheese. 
  3. Coat the bottom of a baking dish with some of the tomatillo sauce.
  4. Take a tortilla shell, dip both sides in the tomatilla sauce, then add some of the chicken mixture.  Roll it and put into the baking dish, seam side down.  Continue until you have filled the casserole dish, making sure the enchiladas are tightly packed together (but not overlapping).  Spoon the tomatillo sauce over the enchiladas, and finish with a sprinkling of shredded cheese.
  5. Cover and bake on 375 for about 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
For the Creamy Roasted Tomatillo Sauce
  1. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a baking dish. Roast on 450 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until tomatillos are tender.
  2. In a pot, add roasted veggies, cilantro, and the salt. Mix everything together and then puree using an immersion or regular blender.
  3. Add the cottage cheese and stir thoroughly.  Add the cheese and stir until melted.  Let lightly simmer until you are ready to assemble your enchiladas, stirring occasionally.
 Source: As seen on and slightly adapted by Proceed with Caution from Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Metamucil Pineapple-Orange Smash Smoothie

Disclaimer: It's true, I have a real job other than cooking and blogging.  I work for the company that sells Metamucil and at one point in time even worked on that brand.  But, the content posted on this blog are my opinions alone and not those of my employer.  I'm off the clock and right now, I'm just wanting to talk friend-to-friend and share a great recipe and contest with my readers :).

Okay now that that's out of the way....yes, you read that correctly.  I'm about to share a recipe that contains Metamucil.  Now, before you go and judge this recipe (like my friend Toni...who I now dedicate this post to...) because it has Metamucil in it I will ask you to be open minded.

Ready?  Is your mind opened?  Okay, here goes nothing then.  Yes, I've heard it all before from consumers.  You're probably thinking "Grandma's laxative" and something along the lines of *ahem*...having digestive problems.  Your experience in the past is a messy, gritty orange powder that when mixed with water turns thick and gloppy.  But it comes in multiple flavors (Orange, Berry, Pink Lemonade) and there's a reason for that thick gelling behavior.  That's what makes it so special and gives it its magical powers (view the video)!  No big deal, it's a fiber supplement and everyone can benefit from added fiber.  Did you know that the average American only gets 15g of fiber but really should be eating 25-38g every day?? 

Did you also know that Metamucil with psyllium fiber can do so much more for your health?  In fact, that's why it's a MultiHealth fiber!  Not only can Metamucil promote your digestive health+ but it can also help lower your cholesterol to promote heart health*+.  It can do these things in a gluten-free (less than 20 ppm)*, low glycemic index*+ product.  Now that's something to get excited about, right?!  By the way, it also comes in single dose sachets so you can take it on-the-go as well as in convenient capsules (with or without added calcium) and delicious fiber wafers (They're kind of like cookies, really.  Note: wafers do not provide the same heart health benefits as the powders and capsules).  Or, if you really just can't stand the gelling/grit and just want to fill your fiber gap, there's Metamucil Clear and Natural for that.

Dr. Oz recently named Metamucil psyllium fiber as one of his 5 Simple Ways to Lower Cholesterol.  As a cardiac doctor, he knows best, right?  Oh and by the way, if you're a fan of Dr. Oz and/or Metamucil, register to win a Heart-to-Heart with Dr. Oz.  You could be the lucky winner of a 3-day trip to NYC to have lunch with Dr. Oz and see a taping of his hit TV show.

Now to this smoothie recipe.  Smoothies are a delicious snack to begin with but adding Metamucil can really boost the nutritional fiber content of a regular cup of juice.  And, since smoothies have a little thickness and texture to them naturally, you can sip and enjoy.  Metamucil provides a number of mixer recipe ideas on their website but you can always add a serving of Metamucil powder to your favorite smoothie recipe.  (Just make sure you're adding at least 8 oz of liquid for every serving of powder.)  For this recipe, I created a hybrid of the Pineapple-Orange Smash and Tropical Fruit Smoothie because I liked the fruits used in the first version but wanted the extra fiber and protein boost from the banana and yogurt.  Bonus: No added sugar!

Personally, the Pink Lemonade flavored powder mixed in water is my favorite way to enjoy Metamucil but every once in a while a smoothie just hits the spot.  It was the perfect post-Jazzercise snack.

So cheers and here's to your health!  Enjoy the recipe and become one of the cool people that can rock the Meta :).  It's okay, fiber is both hip and healthy!

Legal jargon:
* Psyllium fiber, as in Metamucil powders and capsules, is recognized by the FDA to treat occasional constipation and help lower cholesterol. Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 7 grams of soluble fiber per day from psyllium husk may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol. One adult dose of Metamucil has at least 2.1 grams of this soluble fiber. Use as directed. May contain trace amounts of gluten. If you have specific dietary needs, you should consult your doctor before consuming this product. This Metamucil product has a low glycemic index, a measure of the effect of dietary carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. 


Metamucil Pineapple-Orange Smash Smoothie
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  • 1/3 cup (~3 oz) chopped pineapple
  • 1/2 medium peeled banana
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) vanilla low-fat yogurt (used non-fat plain yogurt)
  • 1/3 cup (~3 oz) orange juice
  • 1/4 cup (~2 oz) pineapple juice
  • 1 rounded tablespoon Metamucil Orange Smooth Texture or 1 rounded teaspoon Metamucil Sugar Free Orange Smooth
  • Crushed or cubed ice (1/2 cup or 4 oz)
  1.  Blend fruit, yogurt, juices, and ice until ice is crushed. 
  2. Add Metamucil and blend until mixed in. Garnish with your favorite tropical fruit!  Drink promptly (it will continue to thicken as it stands).
Nutritional Information (approximate since I modified the recipe - this is for the original Tropical Fruit Smoothie recipe since I think it's closer to that): Calories: 257, Protein: 6.19 g, Fat: 1.73 g, Carbohydrates: 56.57 g, Dietary Fiber: 4.53 g

Source: Modified from Metamucil Mixers

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chicken Cacciatore

For Christmas this year Chris bought me a beautiful red dutch oven which just-so-happens to match my shiny red Kitchen Aid mixer.  It wasn't Le Crueset (too rich for my blood though now having one already doesn't stop me from dreaming and entering giveaways on blogs!) but it works wonderfully and the cost wasn't so painful to bare.  Brand names, though a nice touch, aren't everything to me.  And, since it came from Costco, if anything happens to it (like chipping, for example), they'll let you return it in the future.  Love their return policies!

I wanted to choose the perfect dish to highlight the properties of a dutch oven and when I saw this Chicken Cacciatore recipe pop up on Pioneer Woman's site I knew this was it.  The cast iron construction provides a nice even, hot temperature for perfectly searing the chicken in this dish while the enamel prevents sticking and makes for easier clean up.  It also transfers from stovetop to oven beautifully for a long, slow simmering helping the delicious flavors to meld into something magical.  This is a perfect dish to make on a lazy snowy weekend or weekday when you're snowed in.  The smells are wonderful but the taste.  Wow the taste!

I halved the recipe and it served four of us and still some leftovers.  Pioneer Woman must make hearty portions (I can imagine things are bigger on farms!)...either that or we were just overwhelmed from Christmas treats still as we feasted on this mouthwatering meal :).

One Year Ago: Crockpot 40 Clove Garlic Chicken

Chicken Cacciatore
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Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
Yields: 6 Servings

  • 1 pound Pasta Or Egg Noodles
  • 8 whole Chicken Thighs, Skin On (can Use Any Whole Piece Chicken)
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • ½ cups All-purpose Flour
  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Halved And Sliced
  • 2 whole Red Bell Peppers, Cored And Sliced (not Too Thin)
  • 2 whole Green Bell Peppers, Cored And Sliced (not Too Thin)
  • 5 cloves Garlic, Diced
  • 12 ounces, weight Mushrooms (white Or Crimini), Sliced
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Thyme
  • ¼ teaspoons Turmeric
  • ½ teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • Red Pepper Flakes, Crushed, To Taste (optional)
  • ¾ cups Dry White Wine
  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Or Diced Tomatoes (with Their Juice)
  • Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley
  • Parmesan Cheese, For Sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Do not overcook! Drain and set aside.
  3. Salt and pepper both sides of the pieces of chicken. Dredge chicken in flour. Heat olive oil and butter in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Place chicken skin down in pan, four pieces at a time. Brown chicken on both sides, then remove to a clean plate. Repeat with remaining chicken. Pour off half the fat in the pan and discard.
  4. Add sliced onions and peppers, as well as the garlic. Stir around for 1 minute. Add mushrooms and stir around for 1 minute. Add thyme, turmeric, and salt. (And crushed red pepper flakes if you like things a little spicy.) Add extra black pepper to taste. Stir, then pour in wine. Allow to bubble.
  5. Pour in canned tomatoes and stir to combine. Add chicken back into the pan, skin side up, without totally submerging the chicken. Place lid on the pot and put it into the oven for 45 minutes. Remove lid and increase heat to 375 degrees. Cook for an additional 15 minutes.
  6. Remove pan from the oven. Remove chicken from the pot and place it on a plate. Remove vegetables from pot and place them on a plate. Return pot to burner and turn heat to medium high. Cook and reduce sauce for a couple of minutes.
  7. Pour cooked, drained noodles on a large platter or in a big serving bowl. Add vegetables all over the top, then place chicken pieces on top of the vegetables. Spoon juices from the pot over the chicken and pasta (amount to taste.)
  8. Before serving, sprinkle on chopped fresh parsley and grated Parmesan.

 Source: Pioneer Woman

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Quiche Lorraine

The food blog world is filled with Superbowl Gameday Man Food and so I thought why not break the mold and post something ultra girly.  Besides, real men eat quiche...especially when it's delicious as this one!

As part of my 23 Things I want to Make in 2011 list I put Quiche on it because it's something I enjoy ordering at Mimi's Cafe.  The tricky part about this recipe though is that Chris doesn't eat anything that tastes like or resembles eggs in any way (desserts containing eggs, however, are fine...apparently because they're not egg-like or egg-tasting).  So, I decided why not invite our family's over and have New Years Brunch and as part of the menu, I served quiche (along with homemade waffles, savory muffins, creme brulee french toast casserole, french toast cups, and fruit salad so that Chris wouldn't starve; Some of those recipes to come in good time, by the way).  What's nice about the quiche is that it can be served at room temperature so you can make it ahead of time and then tend to other dishes as it cools.

Having gotten over my fear of leeks after making the Cheddar Cauliflower Soup I decided this would be a piece of cake...err...quiche.  But what made it really special was the fact that the leeks were carmelized.  Okay.  Now we're talking business!  Carmelizing anything gives food an extra special flavor.

Seriously, this quiche was FANTASTIC and gave me the chance to use my tart pan that my friend Jackie gave me from Dinner Club Secret Santa.  My brother had thirds and probably ate at least a good quarter of the quiche by himself.  The filling was silky smooth (I'm guessing from the addition of sour cream in this recipe) and just glides right down your throat.  Within each bite hides the rich goodies of caramelized leeks, bits of savory ham, and melty Swiss cheese.  The only thing I regret is not making the pie crust from scratch.  That truly would have been perfection to have a nice flaky crust holding all of the rest of the goodness.  If you recall, that was also on my 23 Things in 2011 List.  But, I wasn't ready to tackle that yet and frankly, I want my homemade pie crust to feature something fruity versus savory.  I'm including the homemade pie crust recipe in case you want to give it a whirl but if you're lazy like me just use a pre-made pie crust.

I will be making this again...perhaps making it and New Years Brunch at our house a new tradition :).

Quiche Lorraine
Printer-Friendly Version


For the crust:
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Salt, to taste
  • 6 tablespoons butter, diced
For the filling:
  • 1 3/4 cups diced leeks, white and light green only (from about 2 large leeks
  • 3/4 cup diced onion
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 eggs, divided
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups diced ham (1/4 -inch dice; I used about 1/2 pound)
  • 3/4 cup grated Swiss cheese

  1. Heat a large sauté pan over low heat. Sauté the leeks and onions in the olive oil 30 to 40 minutes until caramelized, occasionally stirring. Remove from heat and cool.
  2. If you're using a pre-made pie crust, skip Steps 2 and 3.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch and one-fourth teaspoon salt. Cut the butter in with a pastry blender, fork or two knives until it is in very tiny bits. Add one egg (a fork works great for this) and mix it until a dough forms. (Dough can also be made in a food processor, or in theory, and as the original recipe suggests, in a stand mixer.)
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 12-inch circle. Place the dough in a 9-inch pie plate (I used 10-inch tart pan) and press to remove any air bubbles. Crimp the edges, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. While the quiche shell chills, mix the heavy cream and sour cream in a medium bowl. Whisk in the remaining three eggs. Add a pinch each nutmeg, salt and pepper and combine to form a batter. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Remove the quiche shell from the refrigerator and spread the leek and onion mixture evenly over the base. Sprinkle the ham and then the cheese over the leeks and onions. Pour in the batter and place the quiche in the oven.
  6. Bake until puffed and golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Source: Adapted from Le Pain Quotidien as seen on Smitten Kitchen

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chinese Scallion Pancakes and Asian Beef

Happy Chinese New Year!

Thursday is Chinese New Year and 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit.  Those born in this Chinese Zodiac year are said to be: Gracious, good friend, kind, sensitive, soft-spoken, amiable, elegant, reserved, cautious, artistic, thorough, tender, self-assured, shy, astute, compassionate, lucky, flexible. Can be moody, detached, superficial, self-indulgent, opportunistic, stubborn.

To celebrate this occasion I was going to share a very personal recipe from my Grandmother.  But, my first trial didn't quite come out the way I would have liked so I want to re-make it before unveiling it to the world.  I want it to be perfect and do Grandma's recipe justice :).  So, stay tuned because you'll get this after the Chinese New Year and it won't make it any less delicious or special.

But no worries, you still get a Chinese recipe to ring in the Chinese New Year.  Scallion pancakes are essentially dough that has green onions mixed into it.  It's then rolled really thin and then pan fried until it is golden brown.  Typically it is then cut into wedges and served with a sweet and spicy soy sauce (kind of like they kind that's served with pot stickers) for dipping.  This is a favorite dish of my brother's.  He refers to it as "Chinese Pizza".  If you want the sauce recipe, see Ming Tsai's version which several bloggers have tried and recommend.

Wanting to somehow turn this into a full meal on its own I wondered wouldn't it be interesting to use the pancakes as burrito-style shell and fill it with meat?  So, I searched for a beef marinade and then put my vision to the test.  It was quite yummy and I'd say this creation was a success.  I'd almost call it a Chinese version of a Gordita but the meat is wrapped in the shell versus stuffed inside.

Looking for more Chinese recipes for your celebration?  Checkout my Chinese tag for ideas but if you really want to impress, I suggest the Chinese Bakery-Style Cake or Bolo Bao with Nai Wong Filling.  For a simpler sweet, try the classic Chinese Almond Cookie.

One Year Ago: Grandma B's Chicken a la King and Cream Biscuits

Chinese Scallion Pancakes
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Yields: 8 whole pancakes or about 48 triangular pieces.

  • 3 cups (750 mL) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (250 mL) boiling water
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) cold water
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon (22.5 mL) vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons (15 mL) salt, to taste
  • 4 stalks scallion/green onion, chopped
  1. Place flour in a bowl; gradually stir in the boiling water and mix well; let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Slowly add cold water; knead until smooth and dough can be formed into a ball.  Cover with a wet towel and let stand for 15 minutes.
  3. Divide dough into 8 portions.  Knead and roll each portion into thin pancakes about 10 inches (25.4 cm) in diameter, then brush with 1/2 Tablespoon  (7.5 mL) oil, sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoons (0.5mL) salt, and 1/2 Tablespoon (7.5 mL) of scallion evenly on top.  
  4. Roll the pancake into a long roll with the ends tightly closed.  Coil the roll like a snail and tuck the end into the middle.  Press the roll with your hand then roll it out into a 1/4 inch (6 mm) thin pancake.  Repeat for remaining dough portions.
  5. Heat 1 Tablespoon (15 mL) oil in a skillet over low heat.  Add pancakes, cover and cook for 2 minutes.  Turn the pancake over and add 1 Tablespoon (15 mL) of oil around the sides of the pan.  Cook until the pancake is golden brown, lifting and shaking the pan several times during cooking.
  6. If using as a burrito shell, serve whole.  Otherwise, cut pancakes into 6-8 triangular pieces.  Serve warm with dipping sauce or fill with desired meat filling.
Source: p 137 of Unnamed Chinese Cookbook

Asian Beef
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  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sherry
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon barbeque sauce
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak
  1. In a small bowl, mix together hoisin sauce, sherry, soy sauce, barbeque sauce, green onions, garlic, and ginger.
  2. Cut flank steak across grain on a diagonal into 1/4 inch slices. Place slices in a 1 gallon resealable plastic bag. Pour sauce mixture over slices, and mix well. Refrigerate 2 hours, or overnight. 
  3. To cook meat, heat a wok over high with some oil.  Stir fry the beef a few minutes until it is cooked.
Source: Marinade from All Recipes