Friday, February 25, 2011

Fast, Easy, Fresh

My local Border's is, unfortunately, one of many that are closing. The Aussie and I stopped in last weekend. My word, the line was as bad as for the midnight release of Breaking Dawn, but without the squealing girls. I immediately headed over to the cookbook section. I may make the same things over and over again, but I love cookbooks. One of the first I picked up was Bon Appetit's Fast Easy Fresh cookbook. I'm so glad I did. It has some great recipes. Last night I made sauteed chicken with garlic and rosemary. I did substitute balsamic vinegar for the red wine vinegar, but it was super easy. The recipe calls for chicken thighs, but I'm sure you could make it with chicken breast if you prefer white meat. The recipe serves 4, but I cut it in half. My version is below.

Sauteed Chicken with Garlic and Rosemary

1 pound of chicken thighs, with bone and skin
1 T olive oil
1 T minced garlic
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 c low sodium chicken broth
1 T balsamic vinegar

Heat heavy skillet over high heat and add oilive oil to skillet. I used my huge cast iron skillet. Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add chicken to skillet, skin side down, and brown for about 7 minutes. Flip chicken over and brown on the other side for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and cover. Cook until chicken is cooked through (at least 165 degrees). This took 20-25 minutes for me because one of the pieces was larger than the others. The recipe calls for 15 minutes, but I don't like any red near the bone, so I cooked it longer.

Transfer the chicken to a plate. If there is a lot of drippings in the skillet, drain all but 2 tablespoons. Add the garlic and the chopped rosemary. Saute for a minute. Add the chicken broth and the vinegar. Reduce the sauce by half, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Return the chicken to the skillet and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes. Serve with sauce spooned over the chicken pieces.

My thoughts: this tasted wonderful. I usually give my chicken skin to The Aussie, so having the sauce to spoon over the chicken was really lovely.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Baked Chicken Parcels

In honor of Valentine's Day, I wanted to post a quick and easy, yet elegant recipe.

Baked Chicken Parcels

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup of baby bella mushrooms, finely sliced
2 yukon gold potatoes, finely sliced
1 cup baby carrots
2 T olive oil
1 T parsley, finely minced
1 t lemon zest
juice of one large lemon
4 small bay leaves
1 t garlic powder (optional)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Score the top of each chicken breast in the thickest section 2 or 3 times. Salt and pepper each side to season.

Combine all of the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss to combine.

Cut off four sheets of heavy foil large enough to hold a single chicken breast and an equal portion of the potato and carrot mixture. Place a handful of the potato mixture in the middle of each sheet of foil, making sure each has a bay leaf. Place a chicken breast on the top of each portion of vegetable mixture. Fold together the foil, bottom to the top and then the sides, folding over and crimping the edges closed. You want to make sure that each pouch is completely sealed, but that there is room in the parcel for the steam.

Place the parcels in a shallow pan and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the chicken is
done (165 degrees). Be careful opening up the pouches, as steam will build up.

Simple, yet elegant. You can't go wrong!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Memories of Egypt

Along with the rest of the world, The Aussie and I have been watching the events unfolding in Egypt on television. This is a new chapter in their history. We had the privilege of travelling to Egypt several years ago and met many lovely people. We wish them well.

The view of the Nile from our hotel. Tahrir Square is to the right of the first bridge

Outside the Muhammad Ali mosque

My first glimpse of the pyramids

Cairo at night

Entering the Khan el-Khalili market

The Great Pyramid

The Aussie and the pyramids

First camel sighted
The Sphinx, with the pyramids in the background

The crowds at the Sphinx were overwhelming

The Temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel shortly after dawn

Carvings at Philae

Philae - stunning place

Balloons at dawn on the Nile

Valley of The Kings

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Oatmeal Pumpkin Creme Pies

It's such a winter-y, icky day for so many of us today, I thought I'd post a recipe to help cheer you up. I made these on Sunday, but I had a lot of leftover batter, so I baked up a fresh batch to share with the class.

I read about these creme pies here and here. I love how people make recipes their own. Beloved Green tweaked the original and I tweaked it too, to suit my taste and on-hand ingredients. This recipe makes A LOT of creme pies. The original said 12, but I can't see how that's possible unless a serving is 5 pies. I made 16 pies (32 cookies) on Sunday and didn't even use half of what the recipe made in batter and filling. I used parchment paper on my cookie sheets, per the original recipe. I read you can use no stick cooking spray, but I can't confirm that.

Oatmeal Pumpkin Creme Pies

For the cookie:

1 c brown sugar
1/2 Splenda
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/2 c apple sauce
1 can pumpkin (15 oz.)
2 whole eggs (I was out of Egg Beaters)
1 t vanilla
1 c ground oatmeal (I put in the blender to grind)
1 c white whole wheat flour
1 c AP flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 T ground cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/4+ t ground cloves (I love these, so I used 1/2 t)
1/2 t salt


1 package of low fat cream cheese, softened (8 oz. box)
1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
16 oz. powdered sugar (half the regular sized bag)
1/2 t vanilla
1/2 ground cinnamon
1 t milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat together the brown sugar, sugar, oil, apple sauce and pumpkin. When that's mixed well, add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg. Add in the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together. Slowly add the dry mixture to the pumpkin mixture until combined.

Cut off parchment paper, if using, to fit your cookie sheet. If not using, spray your cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon the batter into a large zip top plastic bag. Smush down (like my technical term?) until the batter is in the corner. Snip of a small corner of the bag. Starting in the middle of your cookie, squeeze the batter into concentric circles until it's about 2-3 inches big. Repeat until your cookie sheet is filled. Try and do even numbers of cookies so you don't have an odd cookie out. Or don't worry and eat the odd cookie!

Bake for 12-14 mintes. I tried the 11 minutes the original recipe called for, but it wasn't enough in my oven. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Now for the filling! In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.

Frost the bottom cookie in the sandwich and pop the top on.

If you were impatient, like me, and the cookies are still warm, it may get a little messy!


Wordless Wednesday