Archive for April, 2012

April 10, 2012

Chicken salad

Pioneer Woman

Serves: 6-8

  • 2 cups diced or shredded chicken
  • 2-3 stalks Celery, Chopped
  • 3 whole Green Onions, Chopped, white and light green parts only
  • 2 cups (to 3 Cups) Grapes, Halved
  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Plain Yogurt Or Sour Cream
  • 1/2 cup Half-and-half
  • A Small Handful Of Fresh Dill, Minced
  • 1/2 cup Slivered Almonds
  • 1 Tablespoon (to 2 Tablespoons) Sugar
  • Juice Of One Lemon
  • Kosher Salt To Taste
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper To Taste

Chop all of your fruits and veggies and place them in a bowl with the chicken.

In another bowl mix mayonnaise, yogurt (or sour cream), lemon juice, brown sugar and salt and pepper to taste.

Add fresh herbs (dill, oregano, cilantro…whatever makes your skirt fly up) and if you’re feeling a bit brazen throw in a dash of cayenne pepper!

When the dressing tastes just right (you must taste test for appropriate saltiness especially), pour 3/4 of it it over the chicken/veggie/fruit mixture and stir gently until everything is thoroughly mixed. If you are feeling naughty add a sprinkling of bacon bits. Add more dressing if you want.

Allow the salad to chill for several hours (or even overnight). Serve on a bed of lettuce or in a sandwich or heck, eat it straight out of the bowl with a serving spoon.

*Chef’s note: This was chicken salad just the way I like it! Another reason I should meet Ree Drummond? Although I left out the dill and almonds. halved the recipe, using red grapes, all 3 green onions, the yogurt and plenty of salt and pepper, and I used only 3/4 of the dressing.

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April 10, 2012

Low-fat scalloped potatoes

Food Network

Serves:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup low-fat milk (1%), at room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup grated gruyere cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 3-quart baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the potatoes and cook until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return to the pot.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon to make a paste. Cook, stirring, until the paste puffs slightly, about 1 minute. Graduallywhisk in both milks and simmer, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the nutmeg. Pour the sauce over the potatoes and gently toss to coat.

Transfer the potato mixture to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the gruyere. Bake until heated through, about 10 minutes. Switch the oven to the broiler setting and broil the potatoes until browned on top, about 5 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

*Chef’s note: I think this definitely would taste low-fat if I hadn’t doubled the cheese and added a bit of cheddar, too. Be sure to season well with salt and pepper, and it still should satisfy a craving for traditional scalloped potatoes. I also would recommend boiling and baking the potatoes a few minutes more.

April 10, 2012

Green bean and shallot salad

Rachael Ray

Serves: 6-8

 

  • Ice water
  • 4 shallots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 pound small green beans, trimmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • Coarse salt
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO
Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside. In a nonreactive medium bowl, add the shallots, separating them with your fingers. Add 2 tbsp. vinegar and toss to coat; refrigerate.
In a large pot of boiling, salting water, cook the green beans until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain in a colander, then transfer the colander immediately to the ice bath, stirring the beans gently to encourage even cooling.
In another bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tbsp. vinegar, the paprika, Worcestershire and mustard; season with salt. Slowly drizzle in the EVOO, whisking constantly to thicken.
Drain the beans and transfer to a towel; pat dry. Transfer to a serving bowl. Add the shallots, discarding the liquid. Pour in the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Serve immediately.
*Chef’s note: Tasty and easy peasy! Love this change-up with the unique dressing. I may also try a version with sauteed shallots for a different bite. 

 

April 10, 2012

Classic lemon bars

Food Network

Makes: 24 bars

For the crust:

  • Vegetable oil, for greasing
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

  • 4 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 8 lemons)

Make the crust: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with vegetable oil and line with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; grease the foil with oil. Pulse the butter, flour, both sugars and the salt in a food processor until the dough comes together, about 1 minute. Press evenly into the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides of the prepared pan, making sure there are no cracks. Bake until the crust is golden, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Whisk the whole eggs and yolks, sugar and flour in a bowl until smooth. Whisk in the lemon zest and juice. Remove the crust from the oven and reduce the temperature to 300 degrees F. Pour the filling over the warm crust and return to the oven. Bake until the filling is just set, 30 to 35 minutes.

Let the bars cool in the pan on a rack, then refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours. Lift out of the pan using the foil and slice. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

*Chef’s note: These definitely have a pucker power to them, as they should! Very yummy. It took only 6 1/2 lemons to get the 1 c. juice for me after rolling the lemons and then juicing them with that handy hand squeezer thingy. I had problems with my food processor blade getting stuck and had to make the crust dough in my mixer and add a couple tablespoons of milk to make it come together, but it still turned out fine in the end — just a tad dense. The top of my lemon “liquid” was a bit frothy and it kind of baked in that way, but you can’t really tell when it’s dusted with powdered sugar. And it still tastes the same. Main concern. I wouldn’t worry about over-baking these, because they are very gooey. Definitely serve straight from the fridge, and wait until then to dust with sugar (the bars just soak it right up).

April 10, 2012

Tender white cake

King Arthur Flour

Makes: Two 8″ or 9″ round layers; one 9″x 13″ x 2″ sheet cake’ or 20-24 cupcakes

  • 2 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour Blend
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar; superfine sugar is best
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 large eggs whites plus 1 whole large egg
  • 1 cup full-fat vanilla yogurt or 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare two 8″ x 2″ or 9″ x 2″ round pans; a 9″ x 13″ pan; or 2 standard cupcake pans (20 to 24 cupcakes) by greasing and flouring; or lining with parchment, then greasing the parchment. Note: Make sure your 8″ round pans are at least 2″ deep; if they’re not, use one of the other pan options.

Mix all of the dry ingredients on slow speed to blend. Add the soft butter and mix until evenly crumbly, like fine damp sand. It may form a paste, depending on the temperature of the butter, how much it’s mixed, and granulation of the sugar used.

Add the egg whites one at a time, then the whole egg, beating well after each addition to begin building the structure of the cake. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition.

In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt (or milk) with the vanilla and almond extracts. Add this mixture, 1/3 at a time, to the batter. Beat 1 to 2 minutes after each addition, until fluffy. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes for 8″ or 9″ rounds; 36 to 42 minutes for a 9″ x 13″ x 2″ sheet cake; or 18 to 20 minutes for cupcakes. A toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean when done. Remove from the oven, remove from the pan, if desired (not advisable for a 9″ x 13″ sheet cake), cool on a rack, and frost.

*Chef’s note: Delish. I halved the recipe (a bit tricky with this one) and got 11 cupcakes out of it. I have to admit that I left out the almond extract (mine was expired, and I didn’t want to risk ruining the whole cake but didn’t feel like running to the store on Easter Sunday), but I wish I hadn’t. This cake was very moist and had a nice subtle sweetness, but I think the addition of almond extract would have made it by giving it a little something special. It still was a great base for my coconut frosting (1 stick butter, 2+ cups powdered sugar, 2 tsp. vanilla, 2/3 cup sweetened coconut flakes).

April 10, 2012

Caramelized chicken with mushroom sauce and grilled herb bread

How Sweet It Is

Serves: 2

  • 4 thinly sliced boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • bread of your choice (I used whole grain talonica bread)
  • salt and pepper
  • for bread: 1/4-1/2 cup butter, softened + herbs of your choice (I used parsley, basil and thyme – a good sprinkling of each)

Season the chicken breasts (make sure they are very thin or slice them thin!) liberally with salt and pepper. Add the flour in a bowl and dredge the chicken in the flour – you want a very thin and light coating on the chicken. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat and add the olive oil. Add the chicken to the skillet and brown on each side, about 3-4 minutes per side. While the chicken is browning, chop the onion and get out your mushrooms. Slice your bread as desired. Combine 1/4 cup of butter and herbs of your choice (you really can’t go wrong here! I’ve used dried and fresh, just add a sprinkling to the butter.) and mix. Spread on one side of bread. At this point you can either use a grill pan and grill the bread buttered-side down first, or heat your broiler and set the bread underneath for 30-90 seconds.

Once chicken is done cooking (after about 7-8 minutes total), set it aside on a plate. Turn heat down to medium and add 1 tablespoon butter and onion. Saute for 1 minute. Add the remaining butter (2 tablespoons) and mushrooms. Stir and saute for 6-8 minutes, until mushrooms are soft. Add in wine to deglaze the pan and stir well to remove brown bits from bottom of the pan. Add chicken back in with the mushrooms.

Serve hot with bread for dipping.

*Chef’s note: I didn’t make the grilled herb bread but still included the recipe because it looks fabulousss (I probably would use parsley, thyme and rosemary). The browned chicken had a great flavor, but I wish I had browned the mushrooms and onions more. And it didn’t create so much of a “sauce” for me; I could have added some flour to thicken it up. It seemed to be missing something to me, but it was very yummy!

April 2, 2012

Bacon-wrapped pineapple shrimp

Rachael Ray

Makes: 4 appetizer servings

  • 12 jumbo shrimp, deveined
  • 1/4 fresh pineapple cut into bite sized chunks or 1 (14-ounce) can pineapple chunks in natural juice, drained
  • 6 slices center-cut bacon, cut in 1/2 crosswise
  • 12 wooden toothpicks

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Holding a shrimp, nest a chunk of pineapple in the natural curve of the shrimp then wrap bacon around the shrimp and pineapple and secure with a wooden toothpick. Wrap and secure all 12 shrimp then add to the hot pan and cook 3 minutes on each side or until bacon is crisp and shrimp are opaque and firm.

*Chef’s note: Tasty, tasty, tasty. I used a whole 1.5 pounds of medium shrimp, 7 or so pieces of low sodium bacon and fresh pineapple chopped in small pieces. It was a bit tough to assemble these with smaller shrimp and short bacon, but I decided the bacon didn’t need to go all the way around; as long as everything was in one bite, who cares?! I also marinated the shrimp for about 20 minutes in Trader Joe’s “Soyaki” sauce first, which I definitely recommend, as I think it completed the dish. After reading negative reviews, I decided to precook the bacon a bit first in a skillet (until cooked a bit but still pliable), and then I finished the whole thing in the oven at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes. Easy peasy, no flipping involved! When I ran out of bacon I just used the marinated shrimp and pineapple, then just the marinated shrimp. All tasty stuff. [Another lovely plate by Ms. Kay, by the way.]
April 2, 2012

Sloppy Joes

Pioneer Woman

Serves: 8

  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2-1/2 pounds Ground Beef
  • 1/2 whole Large Onion, Diced
  • 1 whole Large Green Bell Pepper, Diced
  • 5 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1-1/2 cup Ketchup
  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Chili Powder (more To Taste)
  • 1 teaspoon Dry Mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (more To Taste)
  • Worcestershire Sauce, To Taste
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste (optional)
  • Tabasco Sauce (optional; To Taste)
  • Salt To Taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • Kaiser Rolls
  • Butter

Add butter to a large skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add ground beef and cook until brown. Drain most of the fat and discard.

Add onions, green pepper, and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, or until vegetables begin to get soft.

Add ketchup, brown sugar, chili pepper, dry mustard, and water. Stir to combine and simmer for 15 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Also add tomato paste, Worcestershire, and Tabasco if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Spread rolls with butter and brown on a griddle or skillet. Spoon meat mixture over the rolls, topping with a slice of cheese if it makes your skirt fly up. Serve hot with kettle cooked chips!

*Chef’s note: Can I first just say that I love the Pioneer Woman? She is so funny! I feel close to her, redhead-to-redhead, now that I know she likes kettle chips with her Sloppy Joes, too. Just the perfect vessel to scoop up that Joe that falls overboard! This homemade version was very tasty, and, to me, a lot different from the canned Manwich sauce I grew up on. It had a nice kick to is and was more sweet than anything else. I think I missed the extra tomato flavor; next time I might add some crushed tomatoes, a plain tomato sauce or the optional tomato paste (not more ketchup because I don’t want any more sweetness). I don’t think the recipe from her cookbook I was working off of listed the paste like this online version does. But I would still recommend the recipe as is! I didn’t butter my toasted hamburger buns, but I knowww it would add to this sammie. Butter always does. Please note that this serves 8!

April 2, 2012

Brown butter oatmeal chunk cookies

How Sweet It Is

Makes: 15-18

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup chocolate chunks
  • optional: 1- 2 tablespoons milk, if dough is crumbly

Heat a small saucepan over medium-low heat and add butter. Whisking constantly, cook butter until bubbly and until small brown bits appear on the bottom of the pan – about 5-6 minutes. Watch closely and immediately remove the butter from the heat, whisking for an additional 30 seconds or so. Set aside and let cool COMPLETELY. Note: It does not need to solidfy at all, but it should not be warm to the touch.

In a bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, oats and cinnamon, mixing, then set aside.

Once butter has cooled, add to a large bowl. Whisk in sugars, stirring until smooth. Add in egg and vanilla, whisking until smooth once again. Slowly begin to stir in dry ingredients, using your hands if necessary (I always do) to bring dough together. If you find that the dough still won’t come together, add in milk 1 tablespoon at a time (I rarely have to do this.) Fold in chocolate chips, distributing them evenly. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Using an ice cream scoop or your hands, form dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place about 2 inches apart on a nonstick baking sheet, then bake for 10-12 minutes, or until bottoms and edges are golden. Let cool before serving.

*Chef’s note: Brown butter + oats + brown sugar + chocolate chunks = sure success. Yummm! [Whispers:] And I have a confession to make: I didn’t successfully brown the butter! And they still were awesome. I even over-baked them by a minute or two because I was waiting for some brownage around the edges. And they still were awesome. Moist and chewy for all 3 days they lasted. Yay! I didn’t need the milk in the dough. Definitely use the chocolate chunks, though. There’s just something about them that makes these better. And please attempt the brown butter. I know I will again. I can only imagine its toffee tones will improve the cookie even more.

April 2, 2012

Oven-grilled bacon cheddar sandwiches

Food Network

Makes: 4 sandwiches

  •  6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 slices potato sandwich bread
  • 8 ounces sliced cheddar cheese
  • 8 slices crispy cooked bacon
  • 4 scallions, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces

Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.

Butter one side of each piece of bread. Place 4 slices, buttered-side down, on prepared baking sheet. Layer half of cheese slices on bread followed by bacon and scallions. Place remaining cheese slices on top. Cover each sandwich with remaining 4 slices of bread, buttered-side up.

Bake sandwiches until bottoms are a toasted golden brown, about 10 minutes. Flip and continue to bake until cheese melts and other side is toasted, 8 to 10 minutes more. Serve immediately.

*Chef’s note: These were a great accompaniment to some Whole Foods conch chowder. Mmmm. I used sourdough bread, which was tasty but probably a little too bready and crunchy; if you use a crusty bread like sourdough, be sure to use plenty of cheese to balance it out. I liked the new “grilled cheese” method! (I also used Publix lower sodium bacon, which tasted just fine with the salty cheese. Actually, cheese aside, it tasted the same to me…. Win!)