Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chicken, Sausage and Capers

A few weeks ago, my husband and I bought some pasta from a vendor at our Farmer's Market.  I let him choose the flavor (toasted garlic and onion fettucine), and then got home and was stumped as to what to do with it.

I looked all over online and through most of my cookbooks in order to find something that I thought would work.  I stumbled across this recipe in my Weight Watchers cookbook that I thought had potential. 

I don't usually cook a lot of pasta because I'm allergic to most tomato based sauces.  But I recently have found that there are a few that I can eat through some food trials.  This to me is the closest thing to spaghetti that I've been able to eat since I was a little kid.

Chicken, Sausage and Capers
adapted from the Weight Watchers recipe

¾ lb skinless boneless chicken breasts
¼ lb Italian turkey sausage
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ cups canned crushed tomators
½ cup low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
pasta of your choice


1) In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Saute the chicken until golden and cooked through, 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a bowel with a slotted spoon.  (We grilled both the chicken and the sausage since it was really nice outside).
2) In the skillet, cook the sausage, stirring frequently, until cooked through and browned, 8-10 minutes. Pour in the vinegar; cook until the liquid evaporates, 1-2 minutes. Add the bell peppers, onion, garlic and oregano; cook, stirring, until the peppers are tender, 4-5 minutes.
3) Start boiling pasta.
4) Stir in the tomatoes, broth and capers; bring to a boil. Return the chicken to the skillet and sprinkle in the cheese. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly. (If it doesn't thicken as much as you want, add some cornstarch to the skiillet)
5) Slice chicken and sausage into bit sized pieces and then return to the pan to simmer in the sauce for a few minutes.
6) Garnish with a little extra cheese when serving.

I thought the pasta was amazing.  The pasta was a little weird, but all the ingredients worked together to make a great meal.  The chicken and the sausage had absorbed some of the tomato sauce.  The green bell pepper retained it's crunch and provided a different texture in a soft dish.  My husband said that the canned tomatoes drown out some of the flavors in the dish, but I thought they all worked together great.  We agreed that next time I'll make it with fresh tomatoes instead of the canned ones. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tilapia Packets

The last time I tried to make fish, the meal (fish tacos) completely bombed and we ended up getting takeout.  It was one of my biggest meal failures, so I have to admit that I was scared to take on fish again.  However, we have a lot of fish at our house, so I had to pick myself up and try it again. 

This meal was a great weeknight meal.  It takes about five minutes to throw together in the bag and only twenty minutes to cook, so it was very convenient.

Tilapia Packets
adapted from Cook This, Not That (Halibut in a bag)
Two tilapia fillets
1 jar of marinated artichoke hearts
1 tablespoon of artichoke juice
1 cup of cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp chopped kalamata olives
1/2 medium yellow onion
1 lemon, half cut into thin slices, half cut into quarters
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt and black pepper

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
2) Take two large pieces of foil, place a fillet in the center of each.  Top fillet equally with artichoke hearts, tomatoes, olives, onion, and lemon slices. 
3) Drizzle each packed with the olive oil, artichoke juice, and wine and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4) Seal both packets so that they are completely sealed. And place on a baking sheet for 20-25 minutes.  Serve with the remaining lemon wedges.

This meal was amazingly light and fresh.  I have to admit that I used the wrong olives and didn't care much for them at all.  I will definitely leave them out when I make this again.  I loved the artichoke, onion, and tomato combination though.  The dish had a great amount of acid for the piece of fish and just tasted moist and fantastic.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Chicken Cordon Bleu Rollups

The theme for this recipe swap was tailgaiting/apps.  I received Chicken Cordon Bleu rollups, and when I told my husband he was super excited...but then never sat down to watch football during the entire time I had the recipe.

So the night before this was due I decided to get on it.  I felt like this recipe had a lot of areas for adaptation: rolling the ingredients in a tortilla and making those kind of rollups, making the cream of mushroom soup from scratch, or just messing around with the ingredients.  In the end, I just decided to keep it pretty simple and just alter a few of the ingredients. 

These are fast and don't take many ingredients though, which in my mind makes them great football food.  The longest part was cooking them and even that didn't take too long.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Rollups
adapted from The Cookaholic Wife
1 package chicken tenders
2 packages of prosciutto
8 oz. package Swiss cheese
1/2 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons milk
salt, pepper, and garlic

1. Preheat the oven to 450.
2. Spray a large baking dish or pan with non-stick spray.
3. Season the chicken tenders with salt, pepper, and garlic.
4. Wrap each chicken tender in a piece of Swiss cheese then wrap with prosciutto.
5. Bake the chicken tenders for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through.
6. In a small saucepan, add sour cream, cream of mushroom soup and cream of chicken soup, and milk over medium low heat. Stir well until soup thins out and keep warm over low heat until chicken is done.
7. Drizzle cream of mushroom soup mixture over chicken cordon bleu roll ups.

I have never had prosciutto before, so I wasn't sure how these would turn out.  I thought that everything went well together.  The prosciutto turned really crispy in the oven and was great with the moist chicken tender.  The only thing that I found wrong was that I thought they were a tad salty.  If making them again, I'd just use pepper and garlic powder and skip the salting of the chicken.  I thought the sauce turned out great too.  Nice creamy component to the dish.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Garlicky Red Beans and Pork

I have never made a meal with dried beans before. When I read through this recipe, I thought it sounded good, so I figured I'd try something new.
I realized when I walked into the living room with the recipe that this didn't have a picture, and I am usually horrible at making things without a picture.  The picture provides an end result goal for me and it seems like without it, I don't know if I'm doing anything right or not.  I had doubts the entire time I was making this meal.  I kept saying 'I didn't know it was going to be so stew-like.'  My husband reminded me that it would turn out however it turned out, but for some reason, I didn't find solace in that.

Garlicky Red Beans and Pork adapted from SparkRecipes
Ingredients1 tablespoon olive oil
1.5 lbs lean boneless pork loin, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 red onion chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 cup dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon cumin
3 green chiles, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 cup water

1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the pork and pepper; cook, stirring as needed, until the pork is cooked through and lightly browned, 8-10 mins. Add the onions and garlic; cook, stirring as needed, until the onions are tender about 8 mins.

2. Stir in the tomatoes, beans, chiles, cumin and water; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the beans are tender, 80-120 mins.

I realized that dried beans are another thing that take FOREVER at high altitude.  I tasted them at 50 minutes like the recipe said, and the beans were still rock hard.  I soaked them for 10 hours, so I know I did followed the process correctly, I guess the altitude just plays more of a part than I realized.  It ended up cooking for about 2 hours at our house before it was done.  Just taste everything along the way.

The good part of everything cooking for 2 hours is that the flavors melded so well.   It was warm and filling on a cold Wyoming autumn night.  The thing that I loved about it was that the pork tasted amazing.  It is probably the best pork that I have ever eaten.  It flaked really easy and was juicy and flavorful.  When I got full, I picked all the pieces of pork out like a kid does with a meal they don't like and just ate all the pork.

My husband says this meal would be great with some kind of bread.  Since it was chili-like he kept mentioning cornbread, but I didn't have the stuff for it.  I thought it was great, although I'll have to tackle the beans in a different fashion next time. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Reuben Burgers

I have to admit that I absolutely hate Reuben sandwiches.  There is just something about the meat and the marbled rye bread that I can't eat.  I've even tried making variations of the Reuben and still have not found a Reuben that I like.

Unfortunately, the Reuben is THE sandwich for my husband.  If we go out to eat and there is a Reuben on the menu, you don't even have to ask him what he's getting, you could pretty much order them for him.

Last week, I was meal planning and thought that this recipe looked like a great spin-off.  It had everything I liked from the Reuben while eliminating everything I couldn't stand.  So I thought I'd put it on the menu.

Reuben Burgers
Adapted from The Cookaholic Wife
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt
1/2 white onion
1 tablespoon of olive oil
4 slices swiss cheese
1/2 cup cooked sauerkraut
4-5 tablespoons Thousand Island dressing
2 1/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
8 slices Jewish rye bread

1) Form the ground beef into long, rectangle shaped patties and sprinkle with garlic salt.
2) Add the sauerkraut to a small saucepan and warm over low heat.
3) Add the olive oil to a saute pan along with the onion and cook until onions are cooked through and soft.
4) In a small bowl, combine the Thousand Island dressing and the prepared horseradish.
5) Place the patties on the grill and cook for 6-8 minutes or until cooked through.
6) Toast the bread for the burgers.
7) Once the burgers are done, top with a slice of Swiss cheese and let melt over the burger.
8) Remove the burgers from the grill and set on a plate.
9) Spread the dressing and horseradish mixture on the insides of the bread, place the burger on one side, top with an onion slice and some of the prepared sauerkraut. Top with the other slice of bread and cut in half.

I loved these burgers.  I thought it brought to the table everything that I liked from the classic sandwich and enhanced it.  The best part is that Jacob loved it too.  I think that it was similar enough to the sandwich that Reuben needs were met.  So, we were both happy.

I used a horseradish sauce when making mine (because the grocery store didn't have regular horseradish) and unfortunately I couldn't taste much of the horseradish.  I like horseradish though, so next time I may increase the amount of horseradish in the sauce mixture.

The bread held up well with all the ingredients, but it is still messy.  I guess that is what it makes it great American food, right?  It isn't great unless you're licking your fingers afterwards. :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bruschetta Chicken Pasta

We were eating at Applebee's a couple of weeks ago and my husband found a dish called Bruschetta Chicken Pasta.  I thought it looked amazing, but I still went towards my safe choice of a wrap.  Something I knew that Applebee's couldn't really mess up. 

I have been on the hunt for a knockoff recipe ever since that day though.  I found a recipes for TGI Friday's recipe for their Bruschetta Chicken but didn't find one for the Applebee's version.  So, I decided to improvise and make up my own version.

Bruschetta Chicken Pasta
adapted from Life With Elizabeth
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 fresh tomatoes, diced
3 Tbsp basil
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 slices of mozzarella

1)  Combine tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and let the mixture sit in the fridge for at least two hours.

2)  Grill or pan fry chicken.  Right before it is done, spoon some of tomato mixture onto each piece of chicken and topp with a piece of mozzarella.  Cook until the chicken is done and the cheese is melted.
3) While chicken is cooking, boil the pasta of your choice until it is done.  When it is done, mix some of the tomato mixture in it as well as some additional chunks of mozzarella.  Let the mixture and cheese heat up in the pasta. 
4) Serve the chicken over the pasta. 

This meal turned out a lot better than I thought it would.  The tomato mixture was amazing with the balsamic vinegar kick.  I think the whole mixture just worked really well together.  I think that putting the tomato mixture both on the chicken and in the pasta reinforces the flavors.  It could easily be served over pasta with tomato sauce as well, but I wouldn't put too much sauce on the pasta, it may detract from the chicken flavors. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bacon Pierogi Bake

A couple of weeks ago while I was at home during lunch, the Schwann man came up and asked if we'd like to become regular customers on their route.  Jacob and I had been talking about ordering ice cream from them because we have great memories of their ice cream when we were kids. 

Something that caught my eye as I was flipping through the catalog was pierogies.  There is an awesome restaurant here that makes Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches and also does pierogies and so I've been thinking about making them for some time, just haven't picked them up at the grocery store.

They are usually just pan-fried and served with butter or sour cream so I was looking to do something more with them.  I was poking around ATaste of Homecooking and saw that she had an entire pierogi category.   I decided to make the first one that I saw since it complemented the pork that I wanted to serve for dinner.

Bacon Pierogi Bake
slightly adapted from A Taste of Homecooking
Ingredients- for two
8 pierogies
Cooking spray
4 center-cut bacon slices, chopped

1 garlic cloves, minced

4 ounces cream cheese

1/2 cup chicken broth

2 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 white onion , chopped  (If you're not a huge fan of onions, leave this ingredient out and only use the green onions)
1/2 cup thinly diagonally sliced green onions

1 cup chopped seeded plum tomato

1)Preheat oven to 400°.
2)Arrange the frozen pierogies in an 11 x 7-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cook bacon in a saucepan over medium heat until crisp; remove from pan. Set aside.
3)Add garlic, bell pepper, and onion to the grease drippings in the pan.  Cook until pepper and onion are soft.

4)Add cream cheese to pan, and cook for 1 minute or until cream cheese begins to melt, stirring frequently. Gradually add chicken broth to pan, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Pour the cream cheese mixture evenly over pierogies. Top evenly with cheddar cheese.
5)Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly and thoroughly heated. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with bacon, green onions, and tomato.

After making this dish, our house smelled overwhelmingly of the sauce.  I think this was a great side dish.  The tomatoes and onions on the top kind of cut through the richness of the pierogies and the sauce.  You could still taste the potato filling of the pierogi.  I thought this dish was a great bake (and was super easy to make).  Will probably make this dish again if I have a craving for pierogies.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chicken and Pineapple Quesadillas

I met Ree Drummond last spring when her book came out.  She came to Denver and a friend and I drove down there and spent three hours in the bookstore waiting in line to meet her.  It was totally worth our 3.5 hour wait and 1.5 drive.

While we waited, we talked about her recipes that we had tried of hers and liked and recipes that we still hadn't tried and wanted to try.  I know that her recipes are not made for city people who have office jobs and sit all day, so I try to use her recipes sparingly in my rotations.  The other day I was watching her show on Food Network and thought it would be fun to throw one of her recipes onto my meal plan this week.

This chicken and pineapple quesadilla caught my eye a long time ago.  I have never made quesadillas other than the classic ones that you get at Mexican restaurants or at fast food places like Taco Johns.  So I thought it would be interesting to see how the flavor combinations worked.

Chicken and Pineapple Quesadillas
adapted from Pioneer Woman
4 whole Flour Tortillas
2 cups Grilled Pineapple, Sliced
2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Salt And Pepper, to taste
3 cups Monterey Jack Cheese or Cheddar, Grated
1/2 whole Jalapeno, Sliced
3 Tablespoons Barbecue Sauce
1 green onion stalk


1)We used canned pineapple for our quesadillas.  The pineapple in the produce section were looking really nasty, so I decided to just use the canned pineapple I already had.  Grill pineapple on skewers until they have a nice char on them.
2) I used leftover chicken from taco salads to make these.  They were cooked in the crockpot with orange juice, lime juice, and some garlic. 
3) Warm griddle (we used our panini maker griddle) over low heat and spray with Pam or some cooking spray (if you don't have cooking spray, butter would work fine too).
4) We made quesadillas with one tortilla folded in half, so to assemble, sprinkle four browned tortillas with grated Monterey Jack. Arrange chicken slices evenly over the surface. Add pineapple slices, jalapeno slices, and a little bit of the onion. Sprinkle on cilantro. Squeeze the lime juice on top of everything.  Drizzle barbecue sauce over the top. Fold the other half of the tortilla over and cook.  If you don't have a panini maker griddle, cook one side until it is to your desired level of done and then flip over and finish on the other half.
5) Cut each quesadilla into three wedges. Serve with sour cream and pico de gallo.

I loved the combination of the sweetness from the pineapple and the taste of the cilantro.  The barbeque sauce boosted this flavor combination to be something out of this world.  We chopped the jalapeno into really fine pieces since neither of us can handle too much heat, but I you could still detect that they were in the quesadilla.  I think that the flavor marriage in this quesadilla was perfect.  I can't wait to try other quesadillas that aren't just fast food knockoffs.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Shredded Chicken Taco Salad

I love taco salad.  Layers of great flavor all together on top of chips or in a bowl.  I have always made my mom's version that is ground beef that is cooked down and then you add Catalina dressing to it.  It is the version that I grew up on and love.

We always have a surplus of flour tortillas in our house and I can't really ever find enough uses for them before they go stale.  I decided last week that I was finally going to attempt to make my own taco salad bowls. 

After researching how to make taco salad bowls, I realized how easy would be to do.  The more I cook, the more I realize that the things I thought would be hard to make from scratch are really super easy and they taste so much better than the stuff that you buy in the grocery store.

Taco Salad bowls
Makes 2 Salad bowls
recipe from Food.com
2 small tortillas (taco ones)
pieces aluminum foil (12-inch)
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
2 aluminum cans

1) Drape a foil square over the top of each can.
2) Fill a pizza pan or another rimmed container with about 1/2 inch of warm water and add 1/2 teaspoon of olivee oil.
3) Quickly immerse a tortilla in water and then lift out and drape over the foil on the empty food can.
4)  Bake the shell in a preheated 450 degree oven until they're light brown and firm, about 10 minutes.
5)  Carefully lift the shells off the cans and flip them over so that they brown the part that was on the can.  Bake for 1-2 more minutes.

Taco Salad filling
2 pieces of chicken
2 cups Orange juice
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon of garlic

1) Place chicken and other ingredients into a slow cooker and let them cook on low for 6 hours.
2) Pull chicken out and shred it.
3) Combine chicken with other desired "toppings".  Ours consisted of lettuce, black beans, corn, jalapenos, cheese, sour cream, and guacamole.

I love the flavor of the chicken after it comes out of the crock pot.  It is nice and tender and comes out with a hint of the lime juice flavor.  The shell turned out perfect.  It was crunchy and supported any toppings that you put on it.  The corn and blackbeans added a little extra filling to it.  The jalapeno added just a little heat.  They turned out perfect, and I'll definitely be making my own taco shells again.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pretzel Bites and Beer Cheese Dip

I'm still trying to like football.  I can make it through about half a game before my mind wanders to other things that I could be doing instead of watching football.  

I do like making food for football games though.  Pulled pork sandwiches, potato skins, nachos have all been part of my menu before, but I've never baked anything for a football party.  Since Thursday was the start of football and the Packers (my husband's favorite team) were playing, I decided to start the season off with these fun little pretzels and beer cheese dip.

I found them on the Sunny Side Up in San Diego Blog, which I seem to have an obsession with lately.  I followed a combination of her recipe and the allrecipes.com recipe though because I only dipped them in the water and the baking soda.

Soft Pretzel Bites
Adapted from Allrecipes.com and Sunny Side Up in San Diego 
4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter, melted

1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water

1) In a bowl dissolve the yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Set aside. (Mixture should become foamy, if it doesn't your yeast may be bad or your water too hot)

2)In the bowl of a standing mixture fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, sugars, and salt on low speed. Turn off the mixer and pour the yeast mixture and melted butter into the bowl. Turn the mixer on and knead for 8 minutes or until the dough is smooth. If the dough is too dry, add extra water, a tablespoon at a time.

3) Lightly oil a large bowl. Remove the dough from the mixer and shape into a ball. Place the dough ball in the bowl, cover with a clean towel, and allow to rise for one hour (*or until double in size).

4) Towards the end of rising, preheat oven to 450 degrees and prepare baking sheets with parchment paper and cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the hot water and baking soda.

5) After the dough has risen, punch down the dough and then knead with hands for one minute. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide dough into 12 even portions. Roll each portion into a snake then cut the snake into bite size pieces, about 1 1/2 inches in width.

6) Dip the pieces in the baking soda water and place on the baking sheet (dab the pretzels with a paper towel if they seem too wet) then sprinkle with kosher salt.

7)Bake for 7-8 minutes, until browned.

Beer Cheese Dip Directions
Sunny Side Up in San Diego 
6 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup good quality beer
1 Tbsp horseradish
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2-3/4 cups cheddar cheese, grated

1) Microwave cream cheese for 30-45 seconds until very soft. Stir in the beer, horseradish, and garlic powder. Microwave again for 30-45 seconds. Add the grated cheese and stir until smooth, microwaving again if necessary.

While they were cooking, I thought this was going to be a massive fail.  The bites looked and smelled like little biscuits which I thought meant that they weren't going to taste preztel-like.  When I pulled them out of the oven, I grabbed one off the pan and popped it into my mouth and thought they were amazing.  I don't usually like pretzels.  But these were great. 

We used Easy Street beer, a great wheat beer made close to us.  The beer was very prominent in the cheese, and I thought it tasted amazing.  It was too bad that these finished after dinner, so they were more dessert.  We were too full to eat all of them.  Any normal game they would have disappeared.

Creamy Chicken and Asparagus on Toast

I love asparagus.  It is one of those vegetables that I would eat several times a week and be a happy camper.  I've never made it in a dish though, it has always just been served as a side.

So I thought I would try something new.  This recipe reminded me of Chicken A La King, which is a dish that I used to love as a child, so I thought I would turn this recipe into a modified version of what my mom used to make.

Creamy Chicken and Asparagus on Toast
adapted from 365: No Repeats


4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large red onion
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3 garlic cloves
salt and pepper
6 tablespoons butter
2 chicken breasts
4 pieces of toast
1 cup fresh leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup half and half
1 bunch of pencil thin asparagus ends
1 cup parmesean cheese

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2) Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil and add onions, thyme, and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently until nice and brown about 5 to 8 minutes.
3) Remove the onions and add the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter, add the chicken, season with salt and pepper and cook until lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. 
4) While chicken is cooking, combine the 5 tablespoons of  butter and the parsley to create a parsley butter.  Toast bread and then spread the butter on the bread.
5) Add the browned onions back to the skillet with the chicken, dust with the flour, and continue to cook for 1 minute.  Whisk in the wine, stock, and half and half and bring up to a simmer. 
6) Add the asparagus and cook for  two to three minutes or until the aspargus is tender and the sauce is thick. 
7) Place the chicken (I cut it into pieces instead of leaving it whole, I also think shredding it might work really well), asparagus, and the creamy sauce on top of the bread and top with cheese.  Put in the oven and cook until the cheese is melted.

I thought the dish turned out well.  I didn't particularly think that the parsley butter added much to the dish except maybe a bunch of unneeded calories.  I did like the asparagus and chicken combination and thought the red onion was a much better addition than a yellow onion like the recipe called for. 

Also as much as I wanted this to be Chicken A La King, it was much different.  It may be because I didn't use a ton of sauce on each piece of toast, but it didn't have that gravy comfort feel.  But, it was a good dinner that may come out again in the future if I run across it in the cookbook again.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Spicy Creamed Corn

It seems like there are only a few side dishes in my cooking arsenal that go with Mexican food: refried beans, rice, and chips and salsa (or guacamole). 
I ran across this recipe (which goes really well with the Cumin and Lime Roasted Pork Tenderloin) in my Rachel Ray recipe book.  It sounded amazing to me…probably because the same old side-standbys are getting old.  Plus this dish has a lot of color and brightness to it that screams summer.

Spicy Creamed Corn
Adapted from Rachel Ray’s 365:No Repeats
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 large yellow onion
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 orange bell pepper
10-oz box frozen corn kernels or 2 fresh ears
1 teaspoon flour
3/4 cup of chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and Pepper
1)      Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat with the olive oil and the butter.  Add the onion, jalapeno, bell pepper, chopped garlic, corn kernels, and salt and pepper.  Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the onions are tender. 
2)      Sprinkle with the flour and continue to cook for one minute. 
3)      Whisk in the chicken stock and heavy cream.  Bring the corn up to a simmer and then lower the heat to medium low and cook until it is thick and creamy, about five minutes.  Finish with salt and pepper.

I loved this dish.  It was much better than what I was expecting.  The onions still had kind of a crunch to them, which worked really well with this dish.  I was scared of the heat and so I didn’t add the entire jalapeno pepper, but found that by doing that, the dish didn’t really live up to the “spicy” creamed corn that was advertised in the title.  I think the cream balances out the spicy aspect, so if you like a lot of heat, you may want to double the amount.  I thought this was a really fun twist on a so-so canned staple in many people’s houses.  Definitely didn’t seem as heavy as canned cream corn. 

Cumin and Lime Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Rachel Ray makes putting dinner on your table in 30 minutes seem so achievable.  She is always so calm and in control during those thirty minutes too.  Every movement on her show seems to have purpose and she makes everything look so easy.  Whereas I always seem to be running around trying to find the right whisk or figure out where a spice is hiding in the cabinet.  Basically I am the complete opposite of Rachel Ray.
Her recipes have so many ingredients yet everything seems to magically come together in the allotted time frame for her show.  I really wish that I could make 30 minute meals within 30 minutes, that would be amazing.  Besides marinating the meat for two hours before putting it into the oven, this recipe really did come really close to the thirty minutes.  Plus it was amazing!

Cumin and Lime Roasted Pork Tenderloin
Adapted from Rachel Ray’s 365:No Repeats
2.25 lbs pork tenderloin
1 can of orange juice concentrate, made into juice
2 limes, juiced
3 tablespoons cumin, divided
2 tablespoon ground coriander, divided
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 jalapeno, chopped and seeded
6 garlic cloves
1)      I marinated the pork tenderloins in orange juice, the spices, and the jalapenos for two hours.  I put the pork in a gallon sized zip lock bag and put enough orange juice to cover the pork in the bag.  I used one lime, took a tablespoon of pepper, a tablespoon of the coriander, and one jalapeno and threw it in with the orange juice.
2)      Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
3)      Place the pork tenderloins on a baking sheet and drizzle a little of the marinade liquid onto them. Try to dig all the jalapeno pieces out of the liquid and put them on the pork as well.  Cut 3 or 4 slits in the pork (depending on the length) and stuff the slits with garlic.  Rub the remaining lime juice and spices on onto the tenderloin.
4)      Place into the oven for about 25 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.  (I am finding that living at altitude is messing up my cooking times quite a bit).
5)      Take out and let rest for a few minutes before cutting.

The meat was so juicy from marinating it for 2 hours that the medallions could be cut with a fork.  When I first plated it, Jacob asked if there was a sauce, and I realized I hadn’t even thought of making a sauce.  I told him to try it first before worrying about it, and after his first bite he declared that it didn’t need a sauce.
I really thought the spices would be overwhelming.  The whole house smelled like cumin and coriander, and the tenderloin looked like it was coated in seasoning.  However, all the flavors worked and the pork didn’t taste over-seasoned at all.  I thought the seasoning was actually spot on.
This recipe made me start to flip through my 365: No Repeats cookbook some more and find some more recipes that I want to mark to make later.  The handy thing about this cookbook is that there are little checkboxes up at the top that say “Try this again” or “Put off til later”.    We checked the “Try this again.”  I definitely recommend this recipe.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Parmesean Quinoa

Our town opened up a Natural Grocers awhile back but it is on the other side of town from where we grocery shop.  One day I asked Jacob if we could stop in there just to see what we could find.

I love visiting new grocery stores.  I think it is fun to see what they have to offer that the other grocery stores have.  Throughout the entire store, I'd yell, "Jacob, look at what they have!" and I'd get a semi-enthusiastic "That's awesome." or "That's nice." in return. 

Even though I found so many exciting things that I wanted to try, the only thing we walked out with that day was quinoa.  Which I was more than fine with, because I didn't think any place in our town carried quinoa, so I was excited to try something new.

I decided to pair it with the Pineapple Teriyaki Salmon that I made just because it felt like a proper fit.

Parmesean Quinoa
followed recipe from the back of the bag it came in
2 cups of vegetable stock
1 cup quinoa
2 pinches of shaved parmesean

1) Bring vegetable stock to a boil.  Reduce to low heat, and add quinoa.  Let simmer about 20 minutes.
2) Add parmesean and stir to mix thoroughly.

I have to admit, I thought it looked amazing when it was done.  I thought the beads looked really awesome, but Jacob said they looked like brains. 

I didn't really taste the parmesean shavings in there, but I still loved the taste, especially with the salmon.  If you want it really cheesy, just add and taste until the cheese level meets your expectations.
I will definitely eat this as a side again, and am now happy that I know where I can purchase it.

Pineapple Teriyaki Salmon

I am trying to use up the items that we have in our freezer and we always have a bag of frozen salmon in there, so when I ran across this recipe on Sunny Side Up in San Diego, I thought it would be the perfect thing to make since I had everything to make this in my house already.  I call that super smart meal planning. :)

I haven't ever made salmon.  My husband usually takes on the task of making it, so I decided it was my turn to take it on (with him on standby of course...haha).

Pineapple Teriyaki Salmon
adapted from Sunny Side Up in San Diego
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp Teriyaki sauce
1 tsp fresh orange zest
3 ounces pineapple juice
3 ounces orange juice (from the orange)
1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
1/4 tsp black pepper

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) In a small sauce pan, over high heat, combine the brown sugar, teriyaki sauce, orange zest, pineapple juice, orange juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool and thicken a bit.

3) Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper both sides of the salmon and set in the skillet. Cook for 3 minutes without moving. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Carefully remove the salmon from the pan and place with the cooked side up in the baking dish.

4) Bake for 4 minutes (*I found at high altitude this is more like 6 minutes). Remove from the oven and generously brush glaze over the tops of the salmon. Return to oven and cook until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees (about 4 minutes).

We served our salmon over quinoa (which I had never made before either). 

The "glaze" turned out to be more of a sauce for my salmon since it didn't reduce like it  was supposed to.  I wonder if it is because I didn't follow the ingredients in the recipe (even though I substituted measurements).   Also at 145, which our meat thermometer claims should be the internal temperature of fish, our salmon seemed just slightly overdone.  I would take it out at 140 and let it rest.

The fish tasted great though, it turned out better than I thought it would.  I'm not a huge fan of teriyaki sauce, but the orange juice and pineapple juice made it not as dominant of a flavor.  I think we'll definitely make this again, but maybe make a few more tweaks.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Chicken Hoagies

Hot sandwiches are always an easy weeknight meal.  Plus they are usually substantial enough to fill up my husband so that he doesn't need seconds.

I found this Chicken Philly Hoagy sandwich on the Sunny Side Up in San Diego and decided to give it a try.

Chicken Hoagies
adapted from Sunny Side Up in San Diego

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1/2 onion cut into thin strips
5  button mushrooms
1 red bell pepper
2-3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Sliced cheese
Deli rolls

1) I cooked the chicken in the crock pot.  I threw it in at lunch with a bunch of Italian Seasonings and some chicken broth and they were ready to go when I got home from work.
2) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2) In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, add your olive oil. When the pan is hot drop in the onions, mushrooms and peppers. Reduce the heat to low-medium. Cook until the onions start to turn gold brown about 10 minutes. Stir often. Half way through add the salt and pepper. *I added some of the cooking liquid from my crockpot which added more flavor as well*
3) Prepare the rolls by spreading mayonaisse on it and then putting the cheese on each roll.  One night we put swiss and on leftover night I used up some pepper jack.  I liked the spiciness of the pepper jack but both cheese were equally as good.  Layer the chicken and then the onion/mushroom/pepper mix.
4) Place in the oven for about 10 minutes to get a nice baked crunch into the bread and melt the cheese over the sandwich fillings.

I loved these sandwiches.  I loved the flavor of all the veggies and the chicken tasted amazing after simmering in the crock pot all day.  I love fresh bakery rolls and these definitely hit the spot.  We served these with a hearty side salad and were stuffed by the time dinner was over.  I definitely recommend these sandwiches and the Sunny Side Up in San Diego blog.  I got many meal inspirations from her and am excited to try her Pineapple Teriyaki Glazed Salmon this weekend.