Sunday, August 29, 2010

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Peaches

Tonight's dinner was really good. Both recipes are from Cooking Light and were very fast. The chicken recipe is originally for thighs but since I don't care for thighs, I cut breasts in half (and thirds, for one large piece) and used the same cooking times. Worked great. The recipe is really stuff you already have in your pantry and spice cabinet, which makes it budget friendly. The chicken has a good kick to it. I'm pretty sensitive to heat and I ate it fine but just as a warning. You could leave out the cayenne and probably still get good flavor without the heat.

I love quinoa, and I'm glad there are more and more recipes using it. It's very healthy and easily versatile, plus I think it's cool looking. I had to punt on the quinoa recipe, as I didn't have a lemon and I used up my honey on the chicken but it was still perfect. The peach really makes it; it melds so nicely with the quinoa.

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (I used 3 large breasts)
Cooking spray
6 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1. Preheat broiler
2. Combine first 6 ingredients in large bowl. Add chicken to the bowl and toss to coat. Place chicken on a boiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side.
3. Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well. Remove chicken from oven; brush honey mixture on chicken. Broil 1 minute. Remove chicken and turn over. Brush with honey mixture. Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is done.

Quinoa Salad with Peaches
Bring 1.5 cups water to boil in medium saucepan. Add 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Cool quinoa slightly. Stir in 1/4 cup minced red bell pepper, 1/4 cup chopped green onions, 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1.5 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1.5 teaspoons honey, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 sliced ripe peach.

My changes: I left out the bell pepper, used lime juice instead of lemon, and used corn syrup instead of honey. Hey, I was desperate!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gnocchi with Shrimp, Asparagus, and Pesto

Tonight's dinner came from the Sept Cooking Light magazine. It was the perfect summer meal - light, bright, just used one pot, and VERY fast. Start to finish was 20 minutes, and that includes the peeling of shrimp and chopping.

Gnocchi are potato dumplings; they are usually found in with the dried pasta. They cook in 3-4 minutes and can be used like a pasta.

Gnocchi with Shrimp, Asparagus, and Pesto
1 (16 ounce) package vacuum-packed gnocchi
4 cups (1 inch) pieces of asparagus (about 1 pound)
1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp, coarsely chopped
1 cup basil leaves
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (use the microwave!)
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
4 teaspoons EVOO

Bring about 2 quarts of water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add gnocchi and cook 4 minutes or until done (it will rise to the surface). Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl. Add shrimp and asparagus to the pot; cook 5 minutes or until shrimp is done. Drain. Add shrimp and asparagus to the gnocchi.

Combine 1 tablespoon water, basil, pine nuts, cheese, lemon juice, and garlic in a food processor. Process until smooth, scraping sides. Drizzle oil through the chute with the processor on and process until well blended. Add basil mixture to bowl and toss well to coat. Serve immediately.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Grilled Achiote Chicken

This recipe came from the Relish magazine that my dad had passed onto me. The whole issue is ethnic foods and this was from Mexico. I've never even heard of Achiote seasoning before but now that I have a box of it, I will use it again soon. Evidently it's a good marinade on just about anything. I found it in the Mexican food section of the ethnic aisle at Kroger.

This chicken was very easy and quick. I took the magazine's advice and sliced the chicken very thinly and mixed it in with the sauce. Then, served it in warm tortillas with chopped cilantro, sour cream, some cheese, and cubed avocado. We both really liked the flavor. It's hard to describe. It's not spicy but sorta tangy.

Grilled Achiote Chicken
Marinated Chicken:
1 (7 ounce) packet achiote seasoning
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts

Achiote Citrus Sauce:
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper

To prepare chicken, dissolve achiote seasoning in vinegar and oil. Add chicken, turn to coat well, and marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour.

Prepare the grill. Remove chicken from marinade, reserving marinade. Grill chicken until done, about 7 minutes on each side.

To prepare sauce, pour reserved marinade into saucepan; add garlic and juices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook, stirring, until sauce is the consistency of a thin cream sauce. Add salt and pepper. Serve sauce over chicken.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Roasted Green Chile Cheese Grits from Bonnell's Restaurant

We had a staff hosted dinner over the weekend for a group of people who won it in a fundraiser auction a few months ago. Typically, we talk about a menu and see what each person could make and bring to complement it. I decided to bring a starch - we talked about risotto (too time consuming), polenta, and grits. I'm a fan of cheese grits. I've never been to Bonnell's but a colleague said their chile cheese grits would be perfect for the meal so that's what I made. Since the grits can get gummy, I roasted the chile and chopped everything at home and cooked the dish there.

Grits are always easy to make and even non-grit loving people typically like cheesy ones that are really creamy. These grits are really, really tasty. Probably the best grits I've had to date. Since Jason wasn't at the dinner, I can't wait to make them at home again sometime soon so he can taste them. They were flavorful, cheesy, and creamy.

This would be delicious with a big steak and some grilled asparagus.

Roasted Green Chile Cheese Grits
1 teaspoon butter (I'm sure I used more...)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 roasted poblano chile, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped garlic (I used more)
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup quick grits
2 ounces grated cheddar cheese
2 ounces grated jack cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
Creole seasoning blend, to taste

Saute chile, onion, and garlic in butter until soft.

Add cream and chicken stock and bring to a simmer (just before a rolling boil).

Quickly whisk in seasonings and grits. Stir constantly until grits begin to thicken (a colleagues help in whisking was helpful!)

Gently fold in cheeses and let sit for at least 5 minutes.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

(Starbucks knock-off) Mocha Frappuccino

Each month, Food Network Magazine (which I love) makes a copy cat recipe from a popular restaurant. I've made several of them and they are always spot on. This month was the mocha frappucino from Starbucks. I rarely order the frapp at Starbucks because it's pricey. I'm just as happy with an iced coffee (half the price and larger size). But they are delicious... and the mocha is my favorite. This recipe is really good. I thought it tasted like it, and I didn't even do all the steps. I realized (after making the coffee mixture) that I don't own a single ice cube tray so I had to punt. Also, it's a pain in the rear. If I make it again (which you know I will...) I will make a huge batch to have on hand for awhile. Or invite over a lot of friends.

Mocha Frappuccino
Makes: 4 drinks

For the coffee ice
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups warm strong coffee

For the chocolate syrup
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ounce milk chocolate, finely chopped (I used dark - life's too short for milk chocolate)
1.5 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frappes
1 cup reduced fat milk
Whipped cream, for topping

Make the coffee ice. Stir the sugar into the coffee until dissolved, then let cool. Pour into a 16 cube ice cube tray and freeze until solid, about 3 hours.

Make the chocolate syrup: Combine the sugar and cocoa powder in a saucepan and slowly whisk in 3/4 cup hot water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking, until the sugar dissolves, 3-5 minutes. Do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate, honey, and vanilla until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until cool.

Make the frappes: Puree 8 coffee ice cubes, 1/2 cup milk, 1/3-1/2 cup chocolate syrup, and 1 cup plain ice in a blender until smooth. Pour into 2 glasses, then repeat to make 2 more drinks. Top with whipped cream and more chocolate syrup.

Monday, August 9, 2010

ABC Baby Shower



This weekend I hosted a baby shower for my sister and her new baby, Zoe. I didn't want to do a typical frilly shower with pastel colors and teddy bears so I decided to do a bright, modern color scheme of tangerine, hot pink, and green and use ABCs. The invites had the alphabet on them and said "Z is for Zoe."

I was really pleased with all the food - most of them were new recipes. I'm one of "those" that tries a new recipe out on guests. In my defense, I tasted everything prior and would have trashed anything gross and just left it off the table. I did 3 different sandwiches, 2 salads, fruit, a bread, chips, and cake for dessert. Enough for lunch but not overly heavy.


I made watermelon limeade, peach tea, and ice water for drinks, plus coffee with cake. The peach tea was disappointing to me so I'm not including the recipe. The watermelon limeade was raved about; it was unique and several guests asked for the recipe. I put sliced lemons and limes in the water for color and added flavor. I also put lemon wedges and fresh mint out for anyone that wanted it.

The little signs each say "W is for Watermelon Limeade, P is for Peach Tea" etc.

W is for Watermelon Limeade
8 cups chopped seedless watermelon (about 6 pounds)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 4 limes)
2 to 4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup vodka (optional)
Ice cubes, for serving
Fresh mint leaves, for serving

Working in batches, puree watermelon in a blender or food processor* with lime juice until smooth. Add 2 tablespoons sugar, and blend to combine. Taste, adding more sugar if necessary. Transfer to a pitcher. Stir in vodka, if using. Cover and chill. Before serving, stir well, and serve over ice, garnished with mint.
 
*You could also use an immersion blender

Source: Martha Stewart


I rimmed each glass with pink sugar and filled them with (Sonic) ice right before guests arrived.

For the sandwiches, I made egg salad, smoked salmon, and pineapple nut. I thought they were all tasty. The egg salad had dill in it which is my favorite herb. The smoked salmon has a cilantro-lime butter with it that is just delicious, and the pineapple nut is sweet and crunchy. They seemed to be eaten equally so I don't know if there was a favorite.


E is for Egg Salad
8 hard-cooked eggs, diced
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup dried onion flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dill weed
8 slices white bread

In a bowl, gently mix the eggs, mayonnaise, onion flakes, salt, mustard powder, garlic powder, pepper, and dill. Cover, and refrigerate 8 hours, or overnight. To serve, spread equal amounts on 4 slices bread; top with remaining bread slices to make sandwiches.

Source: All Recipes
 

P is for Pineapple Nut Sandwiches
2 cups crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup sugar
1 cup chopped nuts
One 8-ounce package cream cheese
milk or mayonnaise (if needed)

In saucepan combine pineapple and sugar. Bring to boil. Cook until thick, stirring constantly. Cool. Stir in nuts. Soften and mash cream cheese - if needed - with enough milk or mayonnaise to make a good spreading consistency. Combine with pineapple mixture. Spread on thin bread, top as sandwich. Trim and cut into squares.

*This made a LOT of filling. I made all those sandwiches and ended up still not using some of it. Next time I'd half it.

Source: Epicurean


S is for Smoked Salmon Sandwiches
24 slices thin white bread
4 ounces Ginger-Cilantro Lime Butter, recipe follows
8 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon

Spread all of the bread slices generously with the butter. Place slices of smoked salmon in an even layer on half of the bread slices. Top with remaining bread slices, trim, and cut into squares.

Ginger-Cilantro Lime Butter
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 ounces (1/4 cup) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Place butter, cream cheese, ginger, lime juice, cilantro and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse just until ingredients are combined, about 30 seconds.

Transfer mixture to a sheet of parchment or waxed paper. Roll into a 1 1/2-inch wide log. Refrigerate until ready to use. Yield: 1 (7-ounce 10 by 1 1/2-inch) log

Source: Food Network


I wanted to make salads that weren't done all the time - so I made a rice salad and a pasta salad. I knew my sister loved Caprese, esp after a trip to Venice a few years ago, so I knew this would be perfect for her shower. I don't eat tomatoes but my mom tasted it and said it was delicious. The pasta did have a nice flavor to it (I picked around the tomatoes). This recipe made a TON. I have about that much left - it grew on the platter!
 
P is for Pasta Caprese
1/3 cup EVOO
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 shallot, minced
1 small clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
2 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes, cored seeded and cut into ½ inch pieces (I used hot house, couldn't find heirloom easily)
1 pound pasta, such as campanelle, penne, or fusilli
12 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into ½ inch pieces
½ cup fresh basil
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest

Whisk EVOO, lemon juice, shallot and garlic in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add sugar, if desired (depending upon sweetness of tomatoes). Add tomatoes and gently toss. Marinate at room temp, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta. Drain and run until cold water.

Add pasta and mozzarella to the tomato mix and toss. Stir in basil, lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate.

Source: Food Network


This is one of my favorite salad recipes. I made it a few weeks ago for a church function and thought it was missing something. I had a foodie at church taste it and he suggested mango chutney - that was it! I just added the chutney and tasted it along the way until it was right. Added the right level of sweet and tang to it.
 
C is for Curry Chicken Rice Salad
1 1/2 cups cooked, cooled rice
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup shredded cooked chicken or one 12 oz. can chicken breast meat
1 cup diced celery
3/4 cup mayonnaise
Mango chutney

Mix together the rice, curry, oil, vinegar, & ginger. Place in the fridge to chill for about an half hour or longer. Once the curry mixture is thoroughly chilled, in a separate large bowl mix the remaining ingredients together. Fold the curry mixture into the chicken mixture until incorporated.

Return to the fridge to chill until you serve it.

Source: a friend


These were sooooooo good. And thankfully, my very best friend was there to make them because they would not have come out so perfectly had I done them! I just thought they tasted delicious.
 
P is for Parmesan Straws
1 large egg
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
All-purpose flour, for rolling
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a 17.3-ounce box), thawed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and 1 tablespoon water; set egg wash aside. In another small bowl, combine Parmesan, mustard powder, salt, and cayenne; set aside.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough (still folded in thirds) to a 16-by-12-inch rectangle. With short side facing you, cut in half crosswise; brush one side of both halves with egg wash. Sprinkle one egg-washed half with cheese mixture. Sandwich halves together, egg-washed sides facing in; press lightly to adhere. Run a rolling pin over dough to seal.

With short side facing you, cut dough crosswise into 24 strips, each 8 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Place strips, 1 inch apart, onto two baking sheets; twist strips, pressing down on ends to adhere them to sheets. Bake until cheese straws are puffed and golden, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.

*We doubled the recipe
 
Source: Martha Stewart


These are just skewers of fruit with fruit dip. I thought they were more fun than a fruit salad. The dip is cool whip and cinnamon - so easy but really tasty.   
 

I served salt and pepper kettle chips because I love them.
 
My amazingly talented best friend made this cake!

 
   

See the ABCs in the white frame?  
 
   

Alphabet books were scattered about.
  

The guest of honor, Zoe, with my mom. I bought her an outfit to coordinate with the shower colors... yeah, I'm that kind of aunt.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta

This is a Pioneer Woman recipe that was really good. Even Jason called it 'good' which is rare to hear from him. Has a very lemony taste, which we like, and lots of other levels of flavor.

PW suggests marinating the chicken overnight with lemon juice, dijon, honey... but I didn't have time to do that. Instead, I rubbed lemon pepper on the chicken breasts and throw it on the grill. It was really good and went perfect with the pasta.

This would also be good with shrimp or scallops.

Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta
4 whole Grilled Chicken Breasts, Sliced
1 pound Penne Pasta, Cooked Until Al Dente
½ sticks Butter
3 whole Lemons, Juiced (I used 4)
¾ cups Heavy Cream
¼ cups Half-and-half
1-½ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese (or Romano)
Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
20 whole Basil Leaves, Chopped

Cook pasta, reserving 1 cup of hot pasta water when you drain. Set pasta aside in a colander.

In the same pot, melt butter over medium heat. Squeeze in the juice of 3 to 4 lemons. Whisk together. Pour in cream and half-and-heat. Whisk until hot. Dump in cheese and whisk until melted. Add salt and pepper. Check consistency, adding some of the hot pasta water to loosen the sauce if needed.

Pour pasta and sauce into a large serving bowl and stir in half the basil. Sprinkle remaining basil all over the top, then add sliced chicken breasts.


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