Monday, December 28, 2009

Tomato Lentil Soup/Casserole

I needed to make a quick meal and had been remembering a wonderful minestrone that I had whipped up once, so I decided to try that again. Except I couldn't exactly remember how I had made it, so what I ended up with was different, but equally as wonderful.

I call this a "soup/casserole" since it could really be either. When it was first done cooking it still had a soup consistency, but as it sat, the noodles soaked up most of the remaining liquid and it became a casserole. Either way was very good.
  • 3 cloves garlic minced (I used the garlic I grew this year)
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped or diced
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 1 pint tomato sauce (I used the sauce I canned this fall - YUM!)
  • 3 TBS ground Italian seasoning (basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary mix)
  • 1 TSP sea salt
  • 2 cups reconstituted lentils (about 1 cup dried - I used two lentils: French and brown)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced (you can leave the skins on)
  • 2 handfuls of uncooked pasta (your choice - used egg noodles)
The first thing that you want to do is start the lentils reconstituting by placing them in a bowl and pouring near boiling water over them.

Heat the olive oil on medium in a soup pan while you mince the garlic and chop/dice the onion. Saute the garlic and onions in the olive oil while you dice the celery. Saute the celery while you slice the carrots. If you like your carrots firm, hold off placing them in the pot until later.

Dump the tomato sauce into the pot. Add a pint of water and mix in the Italian seasoning. Rinse the lentils and add to pot. Simmer for ten minutes. Add the pasta (and carrots if you didn't do that earlier) and simmer until the pasta is cooked. You may need to add extra water during this process (but make sure that the liquids remain bubbly hot or the pasta will cook pasty - Yuck!)

Salt to taste.

This was quick and easy to make. I really liked this and so did my husband (who isn't a big shelled bean fan). It will make great leftovers for lunch tomorrow as well :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009


The persimmon is an over-looked, if not out-right forgotten, American-native fruit. I have a blogger friend that really likes persimmons, and I have even been contemplating getting a persimmon for my garden, so when I saw them at the co-op, I had to buy one to try it out.

It was really squishy, like an over-ripe tomato, when I bought it and I was thinking that maybe it was a bit over-ripe.

I started in on it by popping off the top. It was so ripe that this was rather easy. I then peeled the skin down, almost like you would do with a banana.

The inside was like jelly with a segmented center.

It almost had a slightly spicy orange flavor on first taste, but I think that was the mind playing tricks on me seeing as it was so orange. As I tasted it some more, it was more like squash pie flavor (like a pumpkin pie, only lighter). My husband thought it had some slight banana tones to it. As I tasted it some more, it became clear that it tasted like a cross between wild plums and squash, with the consistency of really ripe wild plums. There is definitely a delicate spicy flavor to it which is very interesting.

The interior has two textures: the outer is like gooey marmalade and the inner is of almost lychee(or firm grape)-like textured segments.

I really want to try a less ripe persimmon to see if the flavor is improved. I could definitely see eating these as a mock pumpkin pie by throwing a little whipped cream on top; or even mixing the persimmon into a milk shake! I have read that the Japanese let the persimmon freeze on the tree and eat them like popsicles - that would be worth a try, too.

These fruit definitely have possibility, and I think that they'd make great, unusual gifts.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Moroccan Stuffed Acorn Squash

I had two acorn squash that I had to use up soon since I accidentally tore the stem off while harvesting - Oops! Oh well, my loss is my gain as I found some great recipes for this particular squash, and not your run of the mill "drizzle it in honey" recipes. In fact, I found two really interesting ones and couldn't decide, so I made them both!

The recipe base came from Just like Eliza, I had to make a few changes. The original recipe came from the October 2009 edition Martha Stewart Living magazine if you are interested.

The following is my version of this recipe...

  • One medium acorn squash, cut in half and seeded
  • 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 scallion, separate the green and white parts and chop
  • 1 slice sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup chicken bouillon
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cups of veggie burger mix
  • 1/2 cup barley
  • 1/8 cup raisins, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped ripe sweet pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped apple
  • 2 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoons cilantro, minced


Cut acorn squash lengthwise and remove the seeds. Bake at 350F face down in an oiled baking dish for 30 minutes.

While squash is baking, saute in a medium frying pan white scallion, onion, and garlic in 1 TBS olive oil. Add chicken bouillon and sprinkle in cinnamon and nutmeg. Once the bouillon and seasoning are thoroughly mixed in, add water, veggie burger mix and barley. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the barley is cooked. Add more water during the cooking if necessary to keep it moist.

Near the end of the cooking process, add the raisins, pepper and apple.

Turn the heat up a little, add 1TBS olive oil and allow the mix to dry out so that it holds a form. Add the pine nuts and cilantro and mound into squash halves. Bake for 15 - 30 minutes until squash is soft.

The following are pictures of the squash before and after cooking.

The dark is the Moroccan (the light is the other recipe I tried: Corn Chowder Acorn Squash). This was definitely a great recipe, and, it was even better as leftovers!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Corn Chowder Acorn Squash

I had two acorn squash that I had to use up soon since I accidentally tore the stem off while harvesting - Oops! Oh well, my loss is my gain as I found some great recipes for this particular squash, and not your run of the mill "drizzle it in honey" recipes. In fact, I found two really interesting ones and couldn't decide, so I made them both!

The base recipe came from fredlet.
  • 1 acorn squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 1 egg
  • 1 can sweet corn, drained
  • 1/3 cup grated Italian cheese (I used Romano and Asiago)
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 sweet pepper, ripe (orange or red are great) chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1. Turn on your oven to 350F
2. Cut the acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon
3. Cook acorn squash cut side down in an oiled baking pan for 30 minutes.
5. Put the corn, shallots, garlic and sweet pepper in a frying pan (I used cast iron) over medium heat. You want to roast these ingredients. A little charring is ideal, just don't burn them.

Mix egg, half & half, cheese in a saucepan. Warm over low heat to melt the cheese.

Add the roasted mix and continue heating until the chowder thickens. Stuff the squash halves with as much of the chowder as they will hold.
Bake at 325F for 40-45 minutes.

The following are pictures of the squash before and after cooking.

The light one is the corn chowder squash (the dark is the other recipe I tried: Moroccan Stuffed Acorn Squash). This was definitely a great recipe. My son ate a half of one clean and I froze the other for a quick dinner later.

TIP: Cutting Winter Squash

For cutting this rock hard squash in half, make a shallow slit in it where you intend to cut it in half, pop it in the microwave for 2 minutes, get a chef's knife firmly into the squash and pound it onto the counter.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Leek and Potato Soup

I have been trying to grow leeks for three years now since I love them but they get a little expensive in the stores. Well, this year I finally have some!

Not the huge ones you see in the store, but they will work just fine for my leek and potato soup. I evolved this recipe from the one in Renny Darling's Vegetarian Fast and Fancy (one of my favorite cookbooks.

  • 4 small leeks
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 4 medium potatoes (I recommend one of the golds)
  • 6 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
  • 4 TBS chopped chives
  • Olive oil
  • White pepper
  • sea salt

Slice the leeks and chop the onions. Saute in a little olive oil.

I use chicken bouillon for the broth and like to add it with the oil as the oil helps break it down faster.

Once everything is sauteed, add all the broth (add 6 cups water at this point if using bouillion), white pepper and salt. Simmer while preparing the potatoes.

Cube the potatoes into 1/2 - 1 in cubes and fry over medium heat.

Once the potatoes are well seared, add them to the soup.

Simmer for about ten minutes.

Add the chopped chives right before serving. Delicious!

This soup always goes fast in my house, and this batch was the best ever!

Maybe it was the home grown leeks...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Apple Chips

I went a little nuts this year. I told my apple orchard friend that I would like 3-4 bushels of apples for making applesauce. He gave me close to four bushels. What was I thinking?! After having made about forty quarts of apple sauce, I decided that I might want to make something else with the remaining apples.

I love the apple chips that I have gotten from the stores -- the very expensive apple chips. So why not make those? And guess what? They are easy!

I borrowed a cast iron apple peeler/corer/slicer. This tool slices the apples to the perfect thickness - about 1/8 inch --, but you could do that by hand. You don't have to peel or core the apple. Just slice the apple into 1/8in thick slices and pop the seeds out. If you use the peeler/corer/slicer, disengage the peeler. The apple will be sliced in a spiral with this tool, so line up your knife with the spiral end and slice through one side of the apple. This will leave you circles instead of a spiral.

If you want them flavored: mix 4TBS brown sugar, 1/2 - 1TBS cinnamon, and 1/8-1/4 cup water. Dip the slices in the mixture, shake them off and lay them in a single layer on a dehydrator* tray sprayed with Pam. IMPORTANT: If you do not Pam the tray, you will not be able to get the chips off the tray! I learned this the hard way and lost half my first batch.

Let them dehydrate about 18-24 hours. They may feel a little pliant when you remove them, but once they cool they should be as crispy as a potato chip.

These are addictive, but as healthy as they are, that's just fine. You should be able to store these as long as any other dried fruit, but you probably won't have to worry about storage times as they won't stick around long!

*If you do not have a dehydrator, you can do this in the oven. I didn't do any batches in the oven, so I'm not sure the best way to do that, but I hear a SilPat is indispensable. I don't have one, so I would line my cookie sheets with my cooling racks, Pam those and lay the apple slices on that. If I ever try the oven, I will update this post with directions.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sweet Zucchini Pickles

I had a late bumper crop of zucchini and usually I grate it and freeze it for pancakes, but I was on a canning kick, so I decided to try making pickles with them. Zucchini isn't that much different from cucumbers, except that they have way more flavor and can be HUGE!

I got the base recipe from kitchengadgetgirl website. I say base, because I changed it drastically as I am apt to do. Here is my final recipe:

  • 1 monster zucchini (the kind that you find in your garden and can't believe that you missed it for so long!), fairly scar/blemish free
  • 1/2 cup salt in 1/2 gallon water for soaking zucchini
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • SAUCE:
  • 2 quart apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 cups brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 6 teaspoons mustard seed

Slice the zucchini and onion thinly, about 1/16-1/8in thick. When you hit the part that has well developed seeds, just pick them out and leave the slice as whole as you can. Soak the zucchini in the salt water for about an hour.

While the zucchini is soaking, sterilize your jars (if you are going to can this), mix the sauce and bring to a boil. Drain the zucchini and mix with the onion slices.

Pack the hot jars with the zucchini/onion mix and pour the sauce into the jar so that it covers the vegetables and leaves a little less than an inch head space (just past the shoulder).

Process the jars for 10 minutes using the hot water bath method.

These were much different than the sweet pickles I usually make and I think I just might like them even more.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Grilled Portabella & Pastrami Sandwich

  • Pastrami (I used turkey pastrami)
  • Portabella mushroom cap
  • Mozzarella cheese (I used shredded, you could also use very thin slices)
  • 2 slices of bread
  • Butter
  • 1/2 TBS Olive oil
  • Fresh rosemary
Fry the pastrami and portabello in olive oil and rosemary. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Sprinkle a little cheese on one unbuttered side, lay on the fried pastrami, sprinkle a little more cheese, lay on the portabello, sprinkle little more cheese, add the second piece of bread buttered side out. Set the sandwich in the hot pan to grill both sides.

My son was so excited about this sandwich he had almost half of it gone before I could even take a picture! Two thumbs up from my teen. He reluctantly gave me a taste as well, and I agree it is a keeper.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cherry Bomb Salsa

I have a bunch of tomatoes ripening in my garden, so I have been canning. I only can high acid foods since I don't have a pressure canner, and I never had experience with one (that may change next year). Most tomatoes are naturally high in acid, so they can be canned using the hot water bath method.

I wanted to make salsa but didn't have enough jalapeños, so I ordered a pound of Cherry Bomb peppers from our local coop. I like these peppers a lot because they have the sweetness of the ripe red sweet pepper but a nice bite of a mild jalapeño.
This makes four quart jars of salsa.
  • 1 gallon crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 lb Cherry Bomb peppers, tops and seeds removed (leave seeds for more heat)
  • 1 medium sweet onion, bottom and skin removed
  • 1 bulb garlic, skins removed
  • 1 tsp sea salt, or more to taste
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (necessary for water-bath canning; you can omit if pressure canning)
  • 2 TBS brown sugar (it cuts down on the harshness of the acidity necessary for water-bath canning these)

Chop everything and put in a large pan to reduce until thickened. You can either let cool and eat it right away or you could can this for later. I did can this but had some leftovers to try. It was very good, but mild. I will add more peppers or leave the seeds in for more heat next time.

For canning:
*Please visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation site for proper canning instructions. Although no one has ever fallen ill from my canning methods, I may be omitting proper procedural steps here.*

While the salsa is boiling down, put the rack in the water-bath pan, fill 1/3 way with water, and bring to boil. Wash four jars, lids and bands. Carefully examine each jar for any damage; do not use jars with any amount of damage (you can save these for storing dry foods). Sterilize the jars and lids by placing in the boiling water for ten minutes.
Fill the jars with the hot, reduced salsa to 1/2 inch from the top. Wipe the rim with a clean, damp towel. Place a lid on and hand-tighten a band on the jar.
Place the jars in the water bath. When the temperature has reach at least 212degrees, place a lid on the pan and maintain temperature for 35 minutes.
Remove the jars carefully. Place on a towel or cooling rack leaving at least an inch in between all jars. You should hear the lids contract, making a popping/pinging sound. Let them cool for 24hrs before checking for proper seal, labeling and storing in a cool, dry, dark place.

I try to use up my canned goods within a year for best taste and throw out everything that's older than three years just to be safe. But when I was growing up, we often ate home canned goods that were over five years old and we're all still alive!!

*I also found this site to be very good at basic canning instructions.*

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chez Jude

Last weekend I went camping with my husband and son near the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota. When we go up there, we like to go eat at really nice places - hey, we're saving so much money camping, why not? We have chosen our camping clothes to be dirt resistant, wrinkle free, and stylish so that we don't look like total bums walking into these fine dining establishments - although we have found that if they feel like you can pay, they aren't too choosy as to what you look like. Especially in outdoor rec areas; they are used to getting people straight out of the woods.

And we were finally there and hungry when Chez Jude was actually open, so we decided to give it a try.

The place was as beautiful on the inside as the outside. The waitress was friendly and let us pick our own seating - nice. It was chilly, so I grabbed a table next to the fireplace. The fire wasn't burning, unfortunately, but it was the furthest away from the door.

The bread plate we got with our meal was fabulous. Fresh baked bread with mixed olives and what tasted like freshly made butter. I would have been satisfied with just that.

But then I got these spring rolls. They were light and delicious, but it was the pickled salad accompaniment that was really fascinating. It was their version of bread and butter pickles on arugula and possibly fresh tarragon as well. The flavors were a fantastic mix, definitely something I would like to try to recreate.

My son got the fish and chips. The chips are tucked in a spiral wire vase. What a fun presentation. The fish was not greasy. It tasted like it had been flash fried then baked. The tartar sauce was light and flavorful. Not the best that I've ever had, but far superior to most.

My husband got the side salad. My goodness! He said that if that was the side salad, he was so glad that he didn't order the full order! This was a fantastic salad. The cheese was a blue, I believe; very flavorful. He made the mistake of mixing it all into his salad only to find out that this was too much for him. He spent much of the rest of the meal picking most of it out. I would recommend taking a small bit of the cheese and crumbling it into fine particles over the salad and setting the rest aside or it overwhelms the delicate variety of tastes that this fine salad has to offer.

They offer their coffee by the cup or French press. We chose French press (2 cups worth). I was a little nervous because they only had French roast which is normally too dark for me (a.k.a. burnt), but this coffee was wonderful. It tasted like mocha. I wanted to sit there drinking that coffee, looking out onto the lake all day (did I mention that their restaurant has beautiful views of Lake Superior?), but we had to be off to set up camp.

They get a little nit-picky about splitting plates and take outs, but their afternoon tea sounds intriguing.

We may be back, Chez Jude.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Piel de Sapo

The grocery store was having a sale on various melons. This particular melon caught my eye. Although I had never tried it before, and didn't know what "piel de sapo" meant in Spanish, I had a good feeling about it.

I got it home and Googled it. It means "toad skin". Hmm. Hope it tastes better than it's name implies. It is also sometimes labeled "Christmas" and "Santa Claus" because they ripen into winter ready for Christmas, although I think that is a misnomer as those melons are said to have yellow-orange flesh.

A little more research and I found rave reviews for the piel de sapo melon. Apparently it is widely served in Spain. In fact, it is so popular in Spain that when melon is mentioned, it is assumed to be this one. Some travelers said that it was the best melon that they had ever tasted.

Most admitted that it is difficult to tell when it is ripe since it is a hard-skinned melon that is ripe while it is still green. Supposedly, you look for a spreading of yellow tinting across the melon. It has fairly good keeping qualities, so even if you buy it from the store a little unripe, you can ripen it at home. I was pretty sure that mine was not fully ripe when I bought it so I waited. I had this one for two weeks before I caved and cut it open.
It still was not quite ripe, even after the two weeks, so I would wait for the skin to get a little more yellow. Also, the ends give a little as it ripens, so maybe wait until more of the end is springy.

The flesh is white and somewhat juicy, much like honeydew. The seeds form three cases which were easy to remove. There wasn't much of an aroma.

The melon sliced up easily. Slice into thin slices, then filet the rind off. It is a little difficult to tell where the rind end as the flesh and rind are similar in color. Check for where it gets firm, the ripe flesh will be crisp but easy to bite into.

I thought the melon tasted like sweet, juicy cucumbers. My husband said it tasted like a really firm watermelon. We both liked it. It had crisp flesh and was light and refreshing.

I will definitely try it again.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Reynolds Handi-Vac Review

I have wanted a food vacuum sealer for quite some time. Two things have kept me from getting one:
1) Space. All the vacuum sealers that I have seen were HUGE! My kitchen isn't tiny, but I am not giving up precious space if it isn't something that I will be using all the time.
2) Price. Most of the vacuum sealers that I have seen were over $100. Not a bad price if you will use it all the time and you know that you are getting something that will work the way that they say it will, but I don't want to dish out $100 and find out that it isn't going to cut it.
Plus, did I mention the space?

Then I saw the Reynolds Handi-Vac. It was small - about the size of a handmixer handle. It was inexpensive - $8.90! And the accessories weren't that badly priced either - the bags are $0.20ea for quart and $0.33ea for gallon.

I checked it out on the internet to see what others had to say about it. Most of the reviews were very good. Some, however, complained that it was difficult to use, or they just couldn't get it to work. I figured at the price, and with that many favorable reviews, I could afford to see just how difficult this was to use.

You judge for yourself - watch this video of my very first attempt at sealing a bag. A disclaimer is necessary, I didn't have a cameraman so I had to film with one hand and do everything else with the other.

It was SO EASY!! Kind of noisy, but very easy; I literally was doing this one handed. This video shows my very first attempt. I did not even read the instructions (who needs stinking instructions, right?). I just picked it up and went for it.

There were a lot of reviewers that said that it was tricky to get the bag to lay flat with bulky items; but I didn't even try to get it to lay flat and it worked fine, as you can see. I think the only thing that matters is that the vacuum surface has complete contact with the bag's vacuum valve.

There are no parts sticking out the bag; the vacuum valve is flat and smooth. The ziplock is easy to close (did I mention I did this one handed?). You can write on the bags just like other freezer bags. And these bags can be opened and vacuum-sealed over and over; so you can take a little food out and reseal the rest for later. I am thinking that this will be great for fresh vegetables that tend to slime before their time - like cilantro and green onions.

And, it came with batteries! It requires 6 AA batteries, which is a lot of batteries; but, I buy rechargeables, so that's not such a big deal. It would have been nice if they had included an AC option.

Also, the bottom of the device is rounded, not flat. So it does not stand upright, which would have been nice. My husband said that they might have designed it this way to prevent falls that might damage the vacuum nozzle. OK. Fair enough, but I'm sure there could have been other ways around that -- like a storage base to stick it in.

The vacuum itself is ergonomic and lightweight. Although it sounds like it is vibrating terribly while in use, there is only a slight vibration.

The nozzle end detaches for cleaning in the event that some liquids get into it. Since I was sealing steamed beans that were still steamy, this end filled with steam. You should not try to vacuum seal really wet ingredients, like sauces and soups, since they will just suck right into the vacuum. These are easy enough to seal in regular freezer bags by just squeezing the air out by hand before sealing -- I've been doing that for years!

Over all I would give the Reynolds Handi-Vac high scores on usability, price, comfort, size, speed and effectiveness. I would recommend this for anyone looking for a vacuum sealer that wants something small and inexpensive.

I will be updating this post in a couple months to let you know how the food actually stored in my crappy freezer that burns everything that isn't vacuum packed.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Coconut Cream Sundae

I had some left over coconut milk from making Thai Chicken the other night and thought it might make a great whipped cream substitute for making a sundae -- I was SO RIGHT!

  • vanilla ice cream
  • coconut milk
  • Hershey's chocolate syrup
  • sweet pecan halves (or other nut)
Put a few scoops of ice cream in a serving dish. Mix the coconut milk well then spoon on top of the ice cream. Sprinkle whole or chopped nuts on top. Drizzle with chocolate syrup.

The coconut milk doesn't really taste coconutty. It isn't as light as whipped cream, but it is as creamy. Also, it does a neat trick -- it freezes quickly and hardens sort of like Magic Shell.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Grilled Pastrami Sandwich

I only had a little bit of time for lunch and had some wonderful Black Forest rye bread & turkey pastrami. I almost made a grilled cheese sandwich for my son the other day - so why not grill this?

  • your favorite bread
  • pastrami - regular or turkey
  • Swiss cheese
  • spinach
  • butter
Fry the pastrami before assembling the sandwich if you want a great bacony flavor. Place cheese on both halves of the sandwich so that when they melt, they will hold the spinach and pastrami in place. Add the spinach and pastrami, close the sandwich and butter the top and bottom of the sandwich. Place in a pan over medium heat. Cook both sides until toasty and the cheese has melted.

I loved this sandwich! It tasted very much like a non-sour reuben.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts

There has been a constant sale on boneless, skinless chicken breasts lately, and the champagne chicken was such a success; I decided to try another stuffed chicken breast. Since I had fresh spinach, I decided to use that. I looked at a couple of spinach stuffed chicken breast recipes and created the following.

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cup chopped spinach
  • 3-4 sliced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup French onion dip (because I had some and thought onion would go well with this) or sour cream for milder flavor or even cream cheese for creamier filling
  • 1/4 cup cheese (I was going to use colby jack, but used pepper jack instead)
  • sea salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Mix the chopped spinach, sliced garlic and French onion dip until the spinach is completely coated and the garlic is evenly distributed.

Butterfly the chicken breasts and stuff the filling into the chicken. Top the filling with cheese.

Fold the chicken back up and sprinkle with salt, pepper and oil.

Bake in the oven at 400F for 1/2 hour, or pan fry over medium heat until completely cooked.

This was a very tender, flavorful chicken breast. I definitely want to try this with just sour cream or cream cheese to allow the spinach flavors to show through better. But with the French onion dip the spinach tasted very much like artichoke, which was nice.

My family loved this. I would make it again. It was easy! This can even be made up ahead and stored in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Champagne Chicken

This is a great way to use up left over champagne from any celebration, mine was Valentine/anniversary weekend. I had this at a local Italian restaurant a couple of times and liked it enough to try to make it myself. I like mine better.

  • 3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 6-8 sprigs of fresh young rosemary
  • 6-8 cloves garlic (sliced)
  • 1/2 tsp dried sweet basil
  • 2 TBS butter
  • a little flour
  • 8oz fresh mushrooms
  • 2-3 TBS olive oil
  • 2-3 TBS butter (optional)
  • 1 - 2 cups champagne (I like Ballatore Gran Spumante)
  • 1/8 cup half-n-half
  • salt & pepper

Butterfly the chicken breast (slice the breast like a hot dog bun). Rub each chicken breast with a little sea salt. Stuff each breast with 2-3 sprigs of rosemary, a sprinkling of dried basil, a TBS or more of sliced garlic, and 1/2 TBS of sliced butter. Pepper each breast and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow all the spices to penetrate the meat. The longer you leave it, the more the meat will absorb the flavors. If you like, you can set the chicken in 1 cup champagne about 1/2 hour before cooking.

When ready to cook, heat a frying pan on medium heat. Add 2-3 TBS olive oil. Place the breast in the pan and dust with a little flour. Keep an eye on the heat; you don't want to burn the flour. Flip them carefully away from the cut side and dust the other side with flour. Once the one side is seared, flip again to sear the other side.

Push the chicken to the side of the pan and add the sliced mushrooms and the additional butter if desired. Once the mushrooms are seared, add the champagne - you can add the champagne that the chicken was sitting in as well.

Turn to low heat. Cover and let cook for about 5-10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Take the chicken from the pan. Turn the heat back to medium. Add the half-n-half to the pan. If you would like a thicker sauce, mix a little flour to the half-n-half before adding to the pan.

Serve the chicken topped with the sauce.

This, as I said, was delicious. The sauce had a tangy, almost bubbly zip. I served this with a cabbage salad and fried mashed potato patties.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Yummus Tacos y Taquitos

As you may remember from my Yummus post, I had a large amount of it left over from the New Year Eve party. Remembering what a friend of mine had said when I had first introduced him to hummus, "Oh, it's like a bean dip!" I decided to make tacos from the remaining hummus.

The Yummus recipe was:
  • 1/4 garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4-1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 TBS lemon juice
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 2 TBS lemon grass
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
To this I added a packet of taco seasoning. The mix should be just thin enough to spread - not too thin!

Bake at about 350F for about 10 minutes (5-7 minutes if using a toaster oven). If you want a more pliable taco, bake at a lower temp for less time.

I also made taquitos since I had kids in the house that day and didn't want taco toppings all over the living room while they were playing video games. I just cut the taquitos into bite sized pieces. Some have cheese in them, some don't. The kids cleaned two plates of these!

The tacos I topped with a mix of my home-made salsa, sour cream, and avocados with some romaine lettuce thrown on top.

OMG!! It was SO GOOD!! I would buy this at a restaurant.