Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Garden Chicken Risotto

Who here needs that perfect One Pot Wonder recipe?

I know I do!!

Garden Chicken Risotto
Recipe from my mother-in-law

TIP: Prepare all the ingredients BEFORE starting the recipe.  Once you get started, this recipe comes together very quickly.  And it's really hard to chop and measure with one hand while stirring with the other.

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (10.5oz each) condensed chicken broth, undiluted
2 cups broccoli florets, cut into bite-size pieces
1 3/4 cups uncooked orzo pasta
1 can (15oz) whole kernel corn, undrained
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Rinse chicken with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into 1" pieces.  
Great way to stretch two chicken breasts to feed probably 6-8 people!

2.  In a large nonstick skillet heat oil on medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook for 2 minutes.  Add broth, broccoli and pasta. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook for 6 minutes, stirring frequently.  
I like to toast the orzo a couple minutes before adding the broth and broccoli.

3.  Add chicken; cook for 6 minutes. Mix in corn, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  
Whenever possible, I prefer to use fresh broccoli.

4.  Remove pan from heat. Stir in cheese.
"Behold the power of cheese"

Ok, ok.  I know what you're thinking.  "But Jeanna, how could this be called risotto if it uses pasta instead of rice??"   Truthfully, I have no idea and quite frankly, I don't really care.  I LOVE risotto and this dish does pull off a very similar consistency to risotto.  It's creamy.  It's cheesy.  It's got that great crunch from the broccoli and corn.  It's comforting.  And at the end of a long day, when I just want a filling, healthy dinner on the table in under 20 minutes, the recipe can call itself whatever it wants and I'd still inhale it.
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Monday, March 26, 2012

Banana Bread

Am I right in thinking that pretty much every household has their own banana bread recipe?  Perhaps it's a Traditional Family Recipe... one that's been passed down generation to generation, and Godhavemercyonyou if you even dare think of tweaking it.  Or maybe it's one you just stumbled across one day.

I had one, not a family recipe, but one I've been making several years.  It was fine, my family ate it joyfully, but there wasn't anything about it that got me super excited.  And then I saw this in my new birthday cookbook (Thanks Mom!!!!!)... I think I have a new banana bread recipe!!

Banana Bread
Recipe from Ellie Krieger

1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large, ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.  Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until fragrant, about 8 minutes.  Set aside to cool.
I love walnuts!!

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
The usual baking suspects

3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla.  Whisk in the bananas.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, just until combined.  Stir in the toasted nuts.
Looks a little curdled after adding the bananas.  That's ok.

4.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50-55 minutes.  Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
Mmm... I kinda want to dip graham crackers into this.
One of my favorite ways to eat banana bread is with a healthy smear of peanut butter on it.  Yeah, it's kind of a nod to Elvis.  I keep thinking about taking it one step further and sprinkling on some chocolate chunks, adding another piece of bread to make a sandwich, and dipping it french toast batter for uber-ific stuffed french toast.  I've had pointed out to me that Nutella would also make for an unbelievably decadent filling.  If you happen to beat me to this crazy breakfast, would you please let me know if it's as awesome as I think it would be?  Thanks!

Oh!  And if you notice you have bananas heading toward Crazy Ripeness Land but no time to do any baking, no worries.  Go ahead and mash them up, put in a quart-sized freezer bag and freeze until you do have the time.  I do this so much, I couldn't tell you the last time I made banana bread using freshly mashed bananas.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Black Bean Burgers

A while back my cousin asked me about veggie burgers.  Although I loooooooooove to experiment with new flavors and textures, I'm married to a Committed Carnivore.  Creating a dish that is normally, primarily, made of meat and making it completely from non-meat ingredients just hadn't crossed the threshold of my mind.  Sure I may have played around with adding veggies to burger patties, but a whole patty made completely from vegetables??  Yeah no.  I got nothing.

But her request stuck with me.  It bothered me that I had no answer.  I haaaaate when I can't help someone out.  So I thought on it.  And thought.  And thought.  Why couldn't I make some veggie burgers, alongside some regular ones for Rob to eat?
So pretty AND yummy!

Why not?

Black Bean Burgers
Recipe adapted from AllRecipes, based on recommendations by a reviewer

1 (15.5oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 onion, cut into wedges
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 egg
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp Sriracha or hot sauce of choice
1/2 cup Panko

1.  After rinsing the canning juices off the beans, dry on a paper towel-lined plate*.  Transfer beans to a medium bowl and mash until thick and pasty.
Use a fork, potato masher, or, like I did, your hands.

2.  In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Line a sieve with a paper towel or coffee filter.  Pour pepper mixture into the liner and press out as much of the liquid as possible*.  Then stir into mashed beans.
You'll be amazed how much water is in this.

3. In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties. 
Press into an even layer and score for equal patties

4.  Lay patties on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.  Freeze at least one hour.
Ready for freezing!


5.  FOR GRILLING: Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. Place frozen patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side.  FOR BAKING: Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil a baking sheet.  Place frozen patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side. FOR FRYING: Heat 1 tbsp of canola oil in a frying pan.  Fry frozen patties about 5-8 minutes per side, until edges get that yummy crispiness.
I wanted that flat-top-grill texture to my burger.

*You want to remove as much moisture as you can from the bean mixture to help prevent the patties from falling apart as you handle/cook them.  Freezing them also helps with this.

I really wasn't sure what to expect from this.  I'd had the occasional veggie burger before but usually stuck with meat burgers.  At first, I wasn't too sure about the texture... I mean, it's just mashed up beans in the shape of a circle, right?  I chose to fry mine because I wanted that crisp burger-esque edge to them.  The result?  DANG tasty!! 

I also love that with this recipe you can make up a bunch of patties and keep them in the freezer.  Since there's no need to thaw them before cooking, this makes for an EASY long-day dinner with a tasty pile of chips and crisp salad.
Three more ready for later meals.  Woo hoo!!

p.s. Despite the amount of chili powder and hot sauce, these are NOT spicy.  It's just enough to give the flavor a little kick.  If you like spice, maybe use a hot pepper instead of a bell pepper.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Parmesan Potatoes

Mashed?  Meh.

Boiled?  No thanks.

Roasted?  Not in the mood.

Baked?  Yawn.

I like think that's pretty much what was going on in my mom's mind when she tried out this recipe.  Just goes to show you to never underestimate the power of boredom, my friends.  Boredom, when carefully channeled, can yield AMAZING results. 

And if it's not carefully channeled you get Toy Box Explosion that is my boys' bedroom.
Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.

Parmesan Potatoes
Recipe from my mom, whom I think got it from my aunt

1/2 stick butter
4 potatoes, peeled
1 egg
Splash of milk
3/4 cup Panko
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/4 tsp Emeril's seasoning (or similar seasoning blend of choice)

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  While oven heats up, put the butter on a large baking sheet and stick it in the oven to melt.
That little half stick will coat the whole pan

2.  While the butter melts and baking sheet heats up, thinly slice the potatoes.  You want them about a 1/4" thickness.
Yeah, about that thick.  No need to be precise.

3.  Whisk the egg and milk in a shallow dish.  In another, combine the Panko, Parmesan, and seasoning.  Dip the potato slices in the egg mixture, then coat in the breadcrumb mixture.  Place in a single layer on the butter coated baking sheet.
Like my fancy schmancy new breading trays??

4.  Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden.

Single layer.  Everyone shares a little butter bath.
I really can't decide how best to describe these delectable little beauties.  On the outside, they're like a potato chip: crisp from the butter and breadcrumbs, with a nutty saltiness from the Parmesan.  However they're waaaay thicker than a chip, which means the inside is still soft and velvety.  You think regular ol' chips are addicting??  I dare you to stop at just one of these.

You can serve these alongside whatever main dish you'd normally do potatoes with.  Since it is a slightly more involved side dish than I normally prepare, I like to make these on Grill Nights, when the main dish is left in Rob's care.  Makes it just a bit easier for me!
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Monday, March 12, 2012

Meatloaf Sandwiches

I've been really frustrated the last week or so.

Last month I took the boys to visit my in-laws for a week and ever since then Gavin has decided to take up whining as his new hobby.  He practices this hobby everyday.  Religiously.  And it's not because of anything I or my in-laws did or didn't do; he's 4.  This happens.  Right now I just want to know does it ever END?????

On top of this reallyreallyreallyREALLY irritating habit, I haven't been having much success in the kitchen lately.  I've tried a few new recipes, and they've turned out ok... but that's just it: meh, O-K.  Nothing that makes me excited to find my laptop and tell you how much you need to make this RIGHT THIS SECOND.

So I've been frustrated.  And there is only one thing that can beat back Kitchen (with a smidge of Mommy) Frustration: comfort food.

Does it get any more comforting than meatloaf?  Didn't think so.

Meatloaf Sandwich
Recipe unintentionally adapted from Jeff Mauro

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup coarsely crushed saltine crackers (about 24 crackers)
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp hot sauce
2 large eggs
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork 
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup ketchup
4 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp apple cider vinegar 

For the Sandwich:
4 slices sharp Cheddar
8 slices of potato bread
Pickle slices (3 to 5 per sandwich)

1.  For the meatloaf: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and onions, season with some salt and saute until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 to 2 minutes without letting the garlic brown. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Pre-cooking helps soften and draw out natural sweetness

2.  In a large bowl, add the crackers, milk, mustard, Worcestershire, hot sauce and eggs. Whisk together, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the meat, parsley and cooled onions. Mix with your hands until evenly combined. Using your hands, gently form the meatloaf into a loaf about 9-by-5-inches. Place on a baking sheet.
Overmixing meat = BAD.  Combine the add-ins first before adding the meat.

3.  For the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the ketchup, brown sugar and apple cider vinegar. Slather half of the glaze over the meatloaf, making sure NOT to touch the meatloaf with the spoon and then put that spoon back into the glaze.  Set remaining glaze aside.
My "loaf" looked more like a football.  I'm ok with that.

4.  Bake until the meat registers 160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 1 hour. Let rest for 20 minutes before slicing for sandwiches.

5.  To build the sandwich: Place a slice of cheese on a piece of bread, then a slice of meatloaf, spoon some of the reserved glaze on the loaf, pop on a few pickles and top with another slice of bread. Repeat to make 3 more sandwiches.
Yum yum yummy yum YUM

This is the first time I've ever used more than one meat in a meatloaf.  I know! Craziness I tell ya.  I have to say that I am a believer, a convert, a whatever you want to call me because I LOVE having pork as well as beef combined.  This was a juicy, tender, FLAVORFUL meatloaf.  The glaze was like a sweet, thin barbecue sauce... balancing these flavors with soft, hearty potato bread, sharp Cheddar and tangy pickles?  I'm pretty sure my taste buds wept.  Throw in some kettle chips and a frosty beer and I don't think any amount of frustration could withstand this amount of comforting goodness.
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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pecan Chicken

What is it about tender, juicy, succulent chicken encased in a crunchy coating?  Is it magic??

Whatever it is, it's damn good!!

Pecan Chicken
Recipe from Claire Robinson, with a little influence from Rachael Ray

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup canola oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.  Place each chicken breast between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and gently flatten with a meat mallet or heavy flat object to an even 1/3-inch thick.  Place the flattened chicken in a shallow bowl and add the buttermilk. Cover and marinate for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator.
No FP? Grocery stores carry ground nuts in the baking aisles.

2.  In a food processor, pulse pecans until finely ground (big chunks of pecans make for difficult coating; trust me). Transfer the pecans to a large rimmed dish and add the panko bread crumbs, nutmeg and orange zest. Mix to combine well.
No orange zest this time.  It's fine without but it's SO FREAKING AWESOME with.

3.  Remove marinated chicken breasts from buttermilk and shake off excess. Dip chicken in breading mixture, evenly coating both sides.
No need for flour or eggs in this breading lineup!

4.  In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil. Add breaded breasts and shallow fry about 4 to 5 minutes on each side until golden in color. Remove from oil to and drain on paper towels. Immediately season with salt and pepper.
I'd rather shallow fry than deep fry any day.

I absolutely love this with a tossed salad and some kind of starch: fresh bread, some kind of potato, rice, doesn't really matter.  The chicken is truly the star here!
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Friday, March 2, 2012

Busy Baking

There's snow in the air.  You know what this means don't you?  This means I just cannot get through the day without baking something.  Actually more like many somethings.  I NEEEEEED to have delicious aromas wafting from my oven and perfuming the whole house.

And you know I've got it bad when I've started my obsessive baking while still in my pj's.  Hey, I had to give in to my granola craving!

I also feel the urge to make bread.  Chocolate bread.  Chocolate bread with a hidden bit of nutrition.  That can't be bad, right?

OH!  And what else should I discover in my freezer but gobs of cranberries I squirreled away last fall.  Oh the OPTIONS..... Should I go sweet or savory?  Or just keep it simple and sauce them?  Decisions, decisions, decisions.

And peaking of sauce, you really don't want to know how many roasted tomatoes I still have that are also patiently waiting for me in the freezer.  It's downright embarrassing actually.  I think some saucing is totally in order for those.

With all this baking going on, what on earth is a girl supposed to make her family for supper??  Slow cooker to the rescue!  Pork loin, meet slow cooker.  Slow cooker, meet pork loin.  I think you two will get along very well. :)

Happy baking!!
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