Thursday, November 27, 2008

White bean chicken chili

We had this with the cheesy beer bread. This is the most cooking I've done in several weeks -- it was like I knew what I was doing with an infant and a 6-year-old.

From Annie's Eats

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½ -inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 ½ tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. oil
2 (15.5 oz) cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth
2 (4 oz.) cans diced green chiles
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup reduced fat sour cream
½ cup whipping cream
fresh cilantro and paprika, for garnish

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, sauté chicken, onion and garlic powder in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Add beans, broth, chiles and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer; let simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream and whipping cream. Sprinkle with paprika and top with fresh cilantro for garnish, if desired.

Cheesy Beer Bread

Look at this, me cooking like I had my act together or something.
This bread was really good. We've still got half a loaf of it, and I'm resisting the urge to go eat it all right this moment.
Only thing I would add is that next time I might use even more cheese. Because you can never have too much cheese.

Adapted from Annie's Eats

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
4 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar (or more!)
12 oz. beer (we used a really light time I'll use an ale or dark beer)
2 tbsp. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 9×5” loaf pan.
In a large bowl, combine flours, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and garlic powder. Whisk to combine well. Add cheese and whisk to combine. Slowly add beer to dry ingredients and stir lightly until just combined, and all ingredients are completely moistened. Place into a prepared loaf pan and pour melted butter over the top. Place in the oven and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Black Forest Cake

Todd asked for a Black Forest Cake for his birthday this year. I've never made one, but this one was pretty easy. Many recipes I looked at called for more alcohol (kirsch or cherry liquor). This one didn't call for it at all, but I added a bit of brandy to the cherry filling mixture. I thought the cherries were really tasty. A little on the sweet side, but matched well with the cake which was moist but not overly sweet. All in all, it worked out well and everyone liked it.

2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 (20 ounce) cans pitted sour cherries (I used 2 bottles of Morello dark cherries from Trader Joes)
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup of brandy or kirsch, optional
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar

Drain cherries, reserving 1/2 cup juice. Combine reserved juice, cherries, 1 cup sugar, and cornstarch in a 2 quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly (I briefly brought mine to a boil before dropping it back to medium to thicken up). Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and brandy or kirsch if using. Cool before using. Do this step first, so the cherries can chill in the fridge while you work on the rest of the cake. You want the cherries to be cold when you fill the cake layers.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch, round, cake pans; cover bottoms with waxed paper (I used cocoa powder to dust the pans, rather than flour).

In a large bowl, combine flour, 2 cups sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, milk, oil, and 1 tablespoon vanilla; beat until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool layers in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Loosen edges, and remove to racks to cool completely.

Combine whipping cream and confectioner's sugar in a chilled medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form.

With long serrated knife, split each cake layer horizontally in half. Tear one split layer into crumbs; set aside (I did not do this - I split both layers and used all 4 layers in the cake). Reserve 1 1/2 cups Frosting for decorating cake; set aside. Gently brush loose crumbs off top and side of each cake layer with pasty brush or hands. To assemble, place one cake layer on cake plate. Spread with 1 cup frosting; top with 3/4 cup cherry topping (I put the cherry layer down first, so that the cherry juice could soak into the cake and make it more moist, then topped with a layer of whipped cream). Top with second cake layer; repeat layers of frosting and cherry topping. Top with third cake layer (and fourth, if you're not going to use the last layer to make crumbs for decorating). Frost side of cake. Pat reserved crumbs onto frosting on side of cake. Spoon reserved frosting into pastry bag fitted with star decorator tip. Pipe around top and bottom edges of cake. Spoon remaining cherry topping onto top of cake.

Notes: I did not tear the last layer into crumbs. Instead, I made a bit more of the whipped cream frosting, stacked all four layers of the cake with the cherry filling and whipped cream between each layer, and then I frosted the entire cake with whipped cream frosting. If you do this, you can't really pour the extra cherry mixture on top of the cake, because it will just turn the top of the cake pink and will probably run off the sides. So, just decide ahead of time how you want to decorate your cake, and plan accordingly. I frosted the whole thing in the whipped cream frosting, and then gently placed just a couple of cherries (no juice) in the center top, and then I sprinkled chocolate shavings around the top (just use a vegetable peeler on a bar of chocolate).

Adapted from Allrecipes

S'Mores Bars

From Williams Sonoma by way of Annie's Eats

I don't know why I made these, since I knew I was going to have a big cake. At any rate, they turned out pretty well.... almost fudge-like in consistency. I was afraid the graham cracker crust would crumble, since it didn't require baking, but it didn't. It held together well. Also, this is listed as one of W-S's kid-friendly recipes, since it doesn't require baking and the steps are pretty simple.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
6 whole graham crackers
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt
1 cup miniature marshmallows
2 whole graham crackers or 1 cup mini-graham cracker shapes

Line an 8-inch square baking pan or dish with aluminum foil so that the foil hangs over the sides. Grease the foil with butter. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the 3 tablespoons butter. Using a pot holder, move the pan to a heatproof surface. Let cool for 5 minutes. Put the 6 whole graham crackers into a zippered plastic bag. Press out all the air and seal the bag. Using a rolling pin, gently but firmly crush the cookies to make tiny crumbs (or, process in a food processor). You should have 1 cup of crumbs. Add the crumbs to the melted butter and stir with a wooden spoon until blended. Scrape the crumbs into the baking pan.

Lay a piece of plastic wrap loosely over the crumbs. Place your hand on the plastic wrap and spread the crumbs to coat the bottom of the pan. Once the crumbs are in place, press down firmly to make a solid, even layer. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the condensed milk and chocolate chips. Heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the vanilla and salt and stir until blended. Pour the filling over the graham cracker crust and spread evenly with the spoon.

Scatter the marshmallows evenly over the chocolate filling and press them in gently. If using the 2 whole graham crackers, break them into little pieces. Stick the broken crackers or mini-cracker shapes into the filling among the marshmallows.

Cover and refrigerate the bars until they are firm, about 4 hours. To serve, lift the foil from the pan and set the s'more square on a cutting board. Peel the foil away from the sides, and cut the square into rectangles with a sharp knife. Keep refrigerated until just before serving.

Makes 12 bar cookies.

Cheesy Bread

From Simply Recipes

I made this as one of the appetizers at Todd's party tonight. I actually halved the recipe, because we only had 12 people, and 2 loaves of bread seemed like too much. The amount of cheese (1/2 the recipe) worked well with the one loaf of Italian bread that I bought. I also popped the bread under the broiler first for a couple of minutes first, before I topped it with the cheese, to toast it up a bit. It was a big hit.

8 oz shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 lb shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 to 1 cup chopped green onion (to taste)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp sour cream (optional)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup, 4 ounces), softened to the point of being slightly melted
1 to 2 loaves of French or Italian bread, depending on the size of the loaves

1 In a large bowl, mix together the cheeses and the green onion. Stir in the mayonnaise and sour cream. In a separate small bowl blend the butter and garlic until smooth. Add the butter mixture to the cheese mixture (I did not mix together with the cheese - I spread the garlic butter mixture on the bread first, then topped with the cheese mixture).

2 Preheat broiler. Slice loaf of bread in half horizontally, lay crust side down. Spread cheese mixture over the bread. Place under the broiler until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes.

3 Remove from broiler and let sit for 5 minutes until cool enough to handle. Slice the bread with a bread knife. Serve.

Makes 30 to 40 slices.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Heather's Black Bean Pinwheels

Heather always has these at her parties, and made them for my bridal shower earlier this year. I'm going to make them for Todd's birthday party game night this weekend...if I don't eat them all first.

4 oz. (1/2 pkg) cream cheese, softened
1/2 C. shredded jack, pepper jack or cheddar
1/4 C. sour cream
1/4 tsp. onion salt
1 C. canned black beans, drained, rinsed (Heather suggests using a full can)
3 flour tortillas (10")
Salsa for dipping

Mix cheeses, sour cream, and onion salt with electric mixer on medium speed. (Or, mix by hand).
Puree beans in food processor.
Spread a layer of beans on tortilla.
Spread cheese mixture over beans
Roll tortillas up tightly. Refrigerate 30 minutes (or overnight).
Cut into 1/2 inch slices.
Serve with salsa.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Roasted Garlic and Butternut Squash Cassoulet

From: Cooking Light

I make this a lot in the fall/winter. I can't believe I never posted this recipe before, but I couldn't find it in the archives. I like this dish, but I think it needs to be seasoned well or else it is a little bland. For this reason, I typically increase the amounts of herbs, salt and pepper, and I use the full head of roasted garlic instead of just the half that the recipe calls for. Tonight I tried roasting the butternut squash first, and it honestly didn't make a ton of difference in my opinion. But the herbs and garlic do make a difference here. Don't skimp on those things.

8 servings (serving size: 1 3/4 cups)

1 whole garlic head
4 ounces pancetta, chopped (regular bacon is also fine)
2 cups vertically sliced onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
4 1/2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
1/2 cup organic vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (I used a little more)
1/4 teaspoon salt (I used a little more)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (again, I used more)
4 (16-ounce) cans cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
1 bay leaf
2 (1-ounce) slices white bread (I used some panko breadcrumbs instead)
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 350°.

Remove white papery skin from garlic head (do not peel or separate the cloves). Wrap garlic head in foil. Bake at 350° for 1 hour; cool 10 minutes (I actually roast this in the toaster oven while I'm working on the rest of the ingredients). Separate cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Set half of garlic pulp aside; reserve remaining garlic pulp for another use. (I actually put all of the roasted garlic in this dish. I think it needs the extra flavor). Discard skins.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pancetta; sauté 5 minutes or until crisp. Remove pancetta from pan, reserving drippings in pan. Add onion and 1 tablespoon oil to drippings in pan; sauté 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 25 minutes or until onion is very tender and browned, stirring frequently. Stir in vinegar.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Add garlic pulp, pancetta, squash, and next 6 ingredients (through bay leaf) to onion mixture, stirring well. Place bread in a food processor, and pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure about 1 cup. Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon olive oil; sprinkle evenly over squash mixture. Cover and bake at 375° for 50 minutes or until squash is tender. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until topping is browned. Discard bay leaf. Sprinkle with parsley.

Tomato and Spinach Soup with Tortellini

Yes, another soup recipe from Isaac's. But it's good and why not, anyway? I did this from memory so the quantities are not exact. This is so easy and fast and makes great leftovers for lunch. You could make this in your crockpot but it's not the kind of thing where you could dump all of it in along with the tortellini and leave it for 6 hours or so b/c your pasta will probably fall apart. If you're going to be home, then add the tortellini an hour or so before serving.

1 package tortellini (I used cheese and roasted garlic)
3 large tomatoes, chopped (you can use canned but we still have fresh 'maters at the market)
1 medium onion, small dice
1 small carrot, small dice
1 stalk of celery, small dice
fist-full of a combination of thyme, oregano, parsley and basil (or to taste)
46 oz (give or take) of tomato juice
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 large pkg of baby spinach, roughly chopped
2 T o.o.

Saute onions, carrot and celery until softened and add garlic. Add spinach and stir until mostly wilted. Add remaining ingredients EXCEPT tortellini and bring to a boil. Add tortellini and cook according to pkg directions (you could cook them separately but why bother dirtying another pot?). Serve with crusty bread and a sprinkling of parmesan.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Chopped Miso Salad Recipe

the love-hate relationship with Heidi continues...
I can't get enough of this salad, but I just start go all RachRay on her a**when she starts with the holy grail ingredients and meticulous prep instructions.

(even my inner kitchen witch sees no need to improve on this perfect dressing)
2 tablespoons miso
1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard (or a bit of whatever mustard you have around)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (or honey or agave)
1/4 cup (brown) rice vinegar
1/3 cup mild flavored extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon pure toasted sesame oil (optional)

1/2 of a medium-large cabbage (bag o' slaw. BAM. done. Both regular cole slaw mix or Trader Joe's broccoli slaw mix are awesome.)
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted (I rock and roll two handfuls of roasted almonds with my mezzaluna)
1/2 medium red onion, sliced (I saute these for a couple of minutes to take the onion bite down.)
3/4 cup chives, minced
8 ounces extra-firm or baked tofu (I like teriyaki flavored baked tofu), room temperature

(there's this whole part about sauteed shallots that I DELETED, Heidi. Kiss!)

Make the dressing by whisking the miso, mustard, and brown sugar together. Now whisk in the rice vinegar and keep whisking until it's smooth. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, and then the sesame oil. Two pinches of fine grain salt. Taste and make any adjustments if needed.

(paragraph including the phrase "whisper thin slices" DELETED!)

Gently toss the cabbage, almonds, red onion, chives and tofu in a large mixing/salad bowl. Add a generous drizzle of the miso dressing and toss again - until the dressing is evenly distributed. Add more a bit at a time if needed, until the salad is dressed to your liking.

now all it needs is a perky new name...

Serves 3 - 4 as a main dish, 6 - 8 as a side.

adapted from

The chocolate chip cookies everyone is going nuts over

I made a batch of these for company. The company went a little nuts for them. My husband went a little nuts for them. The neighbors enjoyed them the following day. These are the kind you eat one, maybe two of (and I am NOT usually that girl) and are full.
This recipe does things a little differently and I went ahead and listened instead my usual routine of sniffing skeptically and making up work-arounds that require minimal effort and time.
I saw significant effects from:
1) letting dough set up overnight in the fridge
2) using the paddle instead of the wire whip attachment on my mixer
3) using two kinds of flour and sifting each like crazy

Leite’s Consummate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from David Leite via The New York Times

Takes: 45 minutes, plus at least 24 hours’ chilling
Makes: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons
(8 1/2 ounces) cake flour (I used pastry flour and could taste it, which was both good and bad)
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter (whoops, I just realized I used 3...I'll be back; I need to go for a run now)
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (I found dark chocolate chunks at Wh. Fds.)
Sea salt (skipped this step)

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and try to incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. [Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.]

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

Spinach Squares

I had a giant clamshell of spinach in my fridge that wasn't getting eaten fast enough, so I adapted a recipe I found in Simply in Season. It was very easy and who doesn't like egg, spinach and cheese? It would be a good potluck or brunch contribution.

4 eggs
1/2 C wheat flour
1/2 C wheat pastry flour
1 lb spinach, chopped
3/4 C shredded cheese
1 C cottage cheese
1/2 t nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix eggs, wheat four, pastry flour, nutmeg and salt in bowl.
Stir in cottage cheese and shredded cheese.
Fold in spinach.

Grease a square baking pan.
Bake for 30-40 min.

Baby Bok Choy and Shiitake Mu Shu Wraps

I especially like to eat food that I can wrap up in a tortilla. We often have "chinese burritos" in our house, and even though I adjusted some of the ingredients (portos instead of shiitake, reg. bok choi instead of baby, reg, stir fried tofu for smoked) this particular recipe is really really good. From Veg Times, Jul/Aug, 2008.

2 lg eggs
2T sesame oil
1/2 shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
3/4 lb baby bok choy
2 med carrots, matchsticks
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T soy sauce
1 t balsamic vinegar
5 oz. smoked tofu, matchsticks
12 warmed tortillas or mu shu wraps
hoisin for garnish

Make omelet with egg; transfer to cutting board to slice thin ribbons.

Stir fry in sesame oil in the following order:
mushrooms - 5-7 min.
bok choi, carrots, onions - 3-4 min
garlic - 1 min
Add soy sauce & vinegar to pan.
Add tofu & egg to warm through.

Serve with wraps & hoisin

Apple-Raisin Bread

thank you again, "The Helpful Housemate"

1/2 C sugar
1/4 C brown sugar
2 C flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1 egg
1 C applesauce or chopped apples
1/4 C melted butter, or veg oil
1 t vanilla
1/2 C raisins
1 C milk (handwritten under typed ingredients)

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium sized bowl, sift together the sugars, flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices.

Add the egg, butter, apples and vanilla. Finally, stir in the raisins.

Pour into a greased loaf pan or muffin tin and bake at 350. The loaf will take 1 hr to bake and the muffins will take 20-25 min.

Scotch Oaten Bread

another one from "The Helpful Housemate"

makes 12 muffins or 1 loaf

2 C flour
1/2 C sugar
2 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 C oatmeal
2 T veg oil/melted butter
1 1/4 C sour milk (mix milk with 1 t vinegar)
1/2 C dried fruit
1/2 C nuts
cinnamon & sugar

Prehead oven to 350.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and oatmeal.

Add the oil or butter and milk and stir until smooth. Stir in the fruit and nuts.

Pour into greased loaf pan or muffin tin and dust the tops with cinnamon sugar.

Bake loaf for 1 hr.
Bake muffins for 20-25 min.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ken's Light Wheat Pizza or Calzone Dough

from a homemade cookbook called "The Helpful Housemate," written by my friend Emily's friend, Kristen

makes 1 lg pizza crust or 4 calzones

1 1/2 C lukewarm water
1 T (or 1 pkg) yeast
1 T honey
1/2 C whole wheat flour
3 1/4 C (divided into 1 1/2 and 1 3/4 C) unbleached white flour
1/3 C cornmeal (plus some for baking sheet)
1 1/2 t salt
2 T olive oil

In a large bowl, dissove yeast and honey in water. Cover and let it stand for 10 minutes or until frothy.

To the yeast mixture, add the whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 C white flour and cornmeal and beat thoroughly. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let mixture stand for 10 min.

Add salt & olive oil and slowly begin to stir in the rest of the flour until the dough becomes kneadable. Turn it out onto a clean surface and knead for 5 min., until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise in a warm oven for an hour. (turn on oven to 200, until it gets warm, then turn it off.)

Preheat the oven to 425. Divide the dough into four if you're making calzones. Otherwise, press out onto baking sheet (dusted with cornmeal) and top with whatever you wish. Bake for 20 minutes, or until edges and bottom are crispy.

This dough can be frozen! After rising, punch down the dough and put it into a ziploc, making sure to leave extra room in the bag in case it keeps rising. To use dough, let it thaw and then press it out fro pizza or calzones.

borrowed from Ken Haedrich's Country Baking, Bantam, 1994.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Carrot Casserole

I had this recently at a pot-luck, and many people asked for the recipe. It's similar to (but surely does not top) Gwen's mom's carrot casserole. Most people thought it was made with sweet potatoes instead of carrots. It seems like a simple side dish that is quick to throw together. When I make it I might try to cut back on the butter just a bit, and maybe add some cinnamon.

Carrot mixture:
1 lb. carrots
2 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. melted butter
1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 c. pecans, chopped
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. butter, softened

Cook carrots until tender. Drain. Puree carrots in a food processor or blender. Stir in eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla, butter and baking powder. Pour into a buttered casserole dish. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Meanwhile, mix topping ingredients together in a small bowl. Take the casserole out and sprinkle the topping over it. Put back in the oven and cook for another 15 minutes.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Bacon wrapped stuffed chicken

This is adapted from a Rachel Ray recipe, and it was really good. Next time, though, we'll make the pockets deeper so we can get more of the filling in each breast.

4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
4 to 5 ounces blue cheese (or Asiago) crumbles
A handful arugula leaves from bulk bins, chopped
A handful baby spinach leaves from bulk bins, chopped
4 slices bacon

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Using a small sharp knife cut into the thick end of the chicken and make an incision reaching 2/3 the way down the breast. Loosen up the incision with your fingers to make a hole. Season the chicken with pepper. Combine the cheese with arugula and baby spinach and stuff the breasts. Spiral-wrap the breasts with the bacon tightly to cover the meat evenly. Place chicken on a nonstick baking sheet and roast 20 to 22 minutes until bacon is crispy and chicken is firm.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Slow cooker french onion soup

This is adapted from a recipe found here. It was incredibly easy and tasty. Definitely not vegetarian, but I'm sure you could make it that way by substituting mushroom broth and leaving out the Worcestershire sauce.

2 boxes (32 oz) beef broth (low sodium kind)
6 T butter
3 large, sweet onions
1/2 T granulated sugar
1/4 cup sherry (or dry white wine, which is what I used)
Worcestershire sauce
French bread
swiss cheese

Heat your slow cooker to high and plop your butter in to start melting. Slice the yellow onions into rings. Break up the onion slices with your fingers, and stir them around in the melted butter. Cook this way for at least an hour, possibly two. Check to make sure there's no burning.
Add the beef broth, sugar, a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce and sherry/wine. I used 1 1/2 boxes of broth for the amount of onions I had.
Cook on high for 6-8 hours or low for 10-12. It takes a while for the onions to get translucent and pliable
Before serving, slice bread and toast it to desired crunchiness. Put soup in oven-proof bowls, add bread on top and swiss cheese. Put in oven (I used broil setting) until cheese is melty and good.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Debbie's Indian potatoes

I just saw Shannon's request for this now. This recipe comes with the caveat that even though I have cooked this about 20 times with Debbie, it never comes out as well when I do it alone as it does when she makes it. That said...

Cut a mix of sweet and regular potatoes (or either one you have on hand) into about 1" dice. Chop an onion while you're at it.

Boil water for the potatoes and cook them until they're almost soft enough to eat.

Heat oil in a skillet; I think she often uses a blend of olive and vegetable to get them crunchy. Put in about a teaspoon of whole mustard seeds and a teaspoon of whole cumin seeds to flavor the oil.

Saute onions until translucent and add potatoes. The trick is getting them really browned on at least one or two sides... this is the part that never works that well for me. It's important not to disturb them too much. Season with salt and pepper and eat a lot of them.

pasta with chicken, asparagus and blue cheese

Had some extra blue cheese to use up, so I tried this recipe without much variation. I poached the chicken, which was really easy and lets you avoid cutting it up raw.

1/2 lb. Farfalle (bow-tie) pasta [I used ziti]
6 oz. cooked chicken breast, sliced 1/4" (may be grilled, poached or broiled)
2 TB. extra virgin olive oil
1/3 C. onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1-1/2" lengths
1/2 C. red bell pepper, diced
1/2 C. basil leaves, loosely packed, sliced thinly [I used one of the frozen basil cubes in the freezer]
4 oz. Blue Cheese, crumbled

Serves 4

Cook pasta according to package directions, rinse, drain and set aside.
In medium nonstick skillet, heat olive oil; add onion and sauti until translucent. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute more; add asparagus, red bell pepper, and 1/2 cup water. Cook uncovered until water evaporates and asparagus is tender, about 4-5 minutes.

Stir in basil, pasta, and sliced chicken; add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Gently blend in Blue Cheese and serve immediately.