Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sweet Potato and Chicken Risotto

Making risotto is the perfect excuse to pull up a stool, hand your husband a glass of something special after the kids are in bed, and catch up on the day while patiently stirring and cooking and stirring and cooking . . . this was delicious, and possibly even better on the second day.  There were lots of different and wonderful flavors pulled together.  Thank you to my Aunt Pam for passing on the recipe.

5 oz blended oil
1 oz Pancetta, diced (I used bacon)
3 oz sweet potato cubes, roasted
2 oz Asparagus, grilled, bias cut (I roasted them)
6 oz chicken stock
6 oz Risotto (see ingredients and directions below)
3 oz pulled chicken
1 oz butter
1 tbsp reggiano, shredded
1 pinch salt and pepper
1 tsp Pine nuts, toasted
1 tsp Thyme, fresh

Heat oil in a sauté pan.  Add pancetta & sauté until golden brown and crispy.
Add sweet potatoes, asparagus, chicken stock and risotto.  Stir to combine and cook risotto.
Add chicken, butter, Reggiano or Parmesan and salt and pepper.  Stir to mix.
Place on a serving plate and garnish with pine nuts and thyme.

Roasted sweet potatoes (I included the asparagus bites on the same pan and roasted everything together):
Peel and dice 2 sweet potatoes, mix with salt and pepper and olive oil to coat. Place in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, stirring after ten minutes, and cook until slight browning occurs.  Set aside.


1 quart chicken stock
2 cups water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup white wine
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

2 Tbsp reggiano, shredded

In a large pot, heat the stock and 2 cups water over medium low heat.
In a risotto pot or large skillet with a rounded bottom, heat the extra-virgin olive oil over medium to medium-high heat.  Add the onions and garlic to pan and saute to soften 3 to 4 minutes.
Stir in the rice and heat the rice for one to two minutes, then add the wine and cook until evaporated.
Add in the hot stock a few ladles at a time and stir for a minute with each addition to develop the starch and the creamy aspect. Total cooking time will be about 18 minutes or so. Keep adding stock each time the pan starts to become dry at the edges.
When rice is cooked to al dente, stir in the butter and cheese. Season with salt and pepper, to taste and transfer to a sheet pan and cool.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Caramel Corn

The kids and I made this for a family movie night last weekend.  Delicious!  It was baked just right to get a good crunch, not chewy.  I split the measurements in half to make just one pan and we still have enough left over to munch on the next few days.

1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
5 quarts popped popcorn

Preheat oven to 250.  Place popcorn in a very large bowl.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Boil without stirring 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in a soda and vanilla.  Pour in a thin stream over popcorn, stirring to coat.

Place in two large shallow baking dishes and bake in preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, for 1 hour.  Remove and let cool completely before breaking into pieces.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fizzy Chicken with Lemon Vinaigrette

I don't know what's worse - no photo or a lame phone photo.  But don't judge this recipe from my picture.  The meal was delicious!  It was easy to put together, but tasted special and I would confidently serve this to guests.  The vinaigrette, rice, and chicken put together made for a yummy party in my mouth!

adapted from a recipe in More Tastes of Genesee Home

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp honey
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice (I like jasmine best), uncooked
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup carbonated water or club soda
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/3 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp unsalted butter

Combine the lemon juice, honey, and mustard in a bowl.  As you whisk it together, drizzle in the oil until it has emulsified.  Set aside.

Cook rice according to package directions.  

While rice is cooking, trim the chicken breasts of any fat then season with salt and pepper.  Dredge the chicken pieces in flour then saute in 2 Tbsp oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes or until golden.  Flip and sauté for 2 minutes more.  Then deglaze with the carbonated water and reduce heat to medium.  Add the 1 Tbsp butter and red pepper flakes.  Cover and simmer until liquid is syrupy, about 10 minutes, turning the chicken to coat.  Keep the chicken warm over a low heat.

Take the cooked rice and add Parmesan cheese, cream, and butter.  Mix together until everything is melted.  

Serve the chicken breasts over the rice with the lemon vinaigrette drizzled on top.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Peaches & Cream Muffins

We've had a lot of rain and gray days lately.  I've been needing a taste of summer and peaches speak of warm weather to me.  I'm sure this recipe would be even better with fresh peaches, but the canned ones will work for now.  The muffins are more like a scone - low sugar, high butter - almost like a shortcake with peaches, but not as dense.  Definitely yummy.  A dollop of whipped cream would be appropriate!

taken from More Tastes of Genesee Home by Lorraine Hanson

2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 15-oz. can sliced peaches, drained and chopped in 1/4" bits
Preheat the oven to 350.  Prepare a 12 cup muffin tin with spray or paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, butter, sour cream, sugar and vanilla.  Then gently fold in the peaches.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups.  They don't rise much, so don't be afraid to fill 'em up.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden and toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Either serve warm or transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Herb Cheese-Stuffed Salmon

Jessie's photo
Friday nights are typically date nights around here (either in-house or out and about).  This was a great meal for a date at home.  It tasted special but wasn't difficult to put together.  I cut the recipe in half and had plenty of filling and topping to make two fillets, which we thoroughly enjoyed eating without having to share a single bite with our littles!

6 (6 ounce) salmon fillets, skinless
1 lemon
5 1/4 ounces spreadable cheese with garlic and herbs (I used Boursin)
sea salt
1 cup soft breadcrumbs (about 1 1/2 slices)
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, freshly shredded (1/1/2 oz)
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

Thaw fish, if frozen. Rinse fish; pat dry. Preheat oven to 425.

Finely shred enough peel from lemon to make 2 teaspoons; cut lemon in wedges and set aside.
In small bowl combine semisoft cheese and lemon peel.

In top of each fillet, from about 1/2 inch from one end, cut a pocket, taking care not to cut all the way through the fish. (If the fish is thin, cut into the fish at an angle).  Spoon cheese mixture into pockets. Season fish with salt Place in baking pan and set aside.

In small bowl combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, butter and pine nuts; sprinkle over fillets, pressing lightly.

Bake, uncovered, about 14 minutes or until salmon flakes when tested with a fork. Serve with lemon wedges.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cornbread Salad

I'd been wanting to make this salad since I first saw it on Jessie's blog, so I was glad she put it on our menu.  It made a yummy dinner, and would be perfect to take to a group picnic or potluck.  Next time I'll only use one cup of mayo for the dressing to lighten the load a little.

One 9-oz package of cornbread mix
One 4.5-oz can chopped green chiles
1.5 cup light mayo (sour cream or plain yogurt could work as well)
1.5 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I use twice this much total)
3/4 cup lime juice
3 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 head of lettuce, shredded
One 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained WELL
One 11-oz can whole kernel corn, drained WELL
8-oz cheddar cheese, shredded
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
6 plum tomatoes, chopped and drained

Prepare cornbread mix according to package directions, adding chiles. Cool and crumble. Set aside.

Process mayo and next 4 ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Set aside.

Layer a 4 quart bowl with 1/2 of the lettuce (I add the other 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro to the shredded lettuce), 1/2 of the cornbread, 1/3 of the dressing, and 1/2 each of beans, corn, cheese, pepper, onions, and tomatoes. Repeat layers.

Top with remaining 1/3 of dressing. Cover and chill 1 to 2 hours. Garnish with green onioncurls.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Coca Cola Ribs in the Crockpot

Jessie's photo!
Wednesdays are packed for us, so I always do a crockpot meal and you can be sure my family will insist that I make this one again!  My oldest gingersnap said it might be his new favorite dinner - I lost count of how many bones he had on his plate (something about boys and eating meat off the bone!).  The meat was so tender, juicy and flavorful.

3 1/2 pound pork loin back ribs (baby backs)
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 medium onion sliced
1/2 cup coke
1 1/2 cups bbq sauce of your choice

Spray inside of slow cooker. In a small bowl mix garlic, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Rub mixture into ribs. Cut into 4 inch pieces. Layer ribs and onions in slow cooker. Pour coke over.

Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours. Remove ribs, drain and discard liquid. Place ribs on med. heat grill. Brush with bbq sauce. Cover grill and cook for 15 minutes. When we cooked this the meat just fell apart so we put it in the broiler for about 5 minutes with the bbq sauce brushed on.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Butter Chicken

I love Indian food and this was my birthday dinner - delicious!  I've never ordered butter chicken from an Indian restaurant (and never been to India!) so I can't attest to how authentic this is, but I loved it, especially the part where I got to soak up the creamy sauce with naan.  Mmmmmmm . . .

Spice Blend:

1 tablespoon garam masala seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne


3 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
1 skinless rotisserie chicken, boned out and pulled into 1 1/2 by 1/2-inch chunks
1 (10-ounce) box frozen peas, placed in a colander and run under hot water to thaw
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

Hot basmati rice, for serving
Pita or Naan bread, warmed according to package directions, for serving

To make the spice blend: Stir the ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

To make the sauce: Melt the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the pieces just begin to turn gold, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste and spice blend, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly to prevent burning. The spices will be fragrant. Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes and stir well. Add the chicken pieces, spoon the sauce over the top and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and cook, uncovered, until the chicken is warmed through and the sauce is flavorful, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently. Remove the chicken to a serving dish and cover to keep warm.

Shake any excess water from the peas. Add the peas and cream to the sauce in the pan, stir well and heat through. Do not boil. Spoon the sauce over the chicken. Serve with rice and warmed pita bread.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Veggie Tacos

My friend, Jessie, and I swapped menus for a week!  She planned my meals and I planned for her - it was so much fun!  So each day this week I'll be posting the recipes Jessie recommended.  She started us with veggie tacos for meatless Monday.  They were simple and good - I'll make them again this summer when zucchini and tomatoes are in season.

Olive oil
1 cup of roughly chopped zucchini or summer squash (1-2 zucchini or squash, depending on the size)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 large fresh mild green chile (Anaheim or Hatch), seeds and stem discarded, chopped
1/2 fresh jalapeño chile pepper, seeds and stem discarded, minced (or more, if you desire more heat)
Pinch of ground cumin
Pinch of ground oregano
1 small to medium tomato, chopped
4 corn tortillas
4 slices cheddar cheese
1/4 cup crumbled Mexican cotija cheese (optional)
A few sprigs of fresh cilantro, chopped (okay to include the stems, if small)

Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the zucchini, onions, garlic, green chiles, and jalapeño to the pan. Sprinkle with salt and cumin. Stir to coat the vegetables with the oil in the pan. Spread the veggies out in the pan and then stir only occasionally, until they are all lightly browned. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and oregano, lower the heat to low. Let gently cook for several minutes while warm the tortillas in the microwave.

Open the tacos and spoon some of the cooked veggie filling into them. Sprinkle on chopped cilantro and crumbled cotija cheese. Serve immediately.
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