Saturday, December 7, 2013

Chicken Spaghetti with NO Velveeta or Canned Soups




The Mister and I have both been nursing wicked colds all week.  I'm finally getting my appetite back and decided that a big batch of chicken spaghetti would be just the thing to revive my neglected taste buds.  Most of the recipes I came across centered around cans of cream-o'-crap and a big block of Velveeta.  I'm not a fan of either, so I was excited to see that a blogger had created a version of this dish with a cheddar sauce.  The outcome was delicious!

Note:  I went ahead and baked my spaghetti, which makes for a drier dish.  You are free to just mix everything in the pot and skip that step if you'd like.  If you want to bake it but prefer a saucier casserole, I would recommend upping the liquids by about a cup.

Also, a lot of cooks use poached and shredded chicken breast for this dish.  I opted to dice my chicken, season it with seasoned salt, cumin, and chili powder, and sear it on the stovetop.

Adapted from Lauren's Latest

INGREDIENTS
3/4 lb. thin spaghetti
3 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
1/2 lb cheddar cheese, shredded
1 can Rotel tomatoes and green chiles, drained
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt & pepper, to taste
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350.  Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook spaghetti to al dente and drain.

Meanwhile, melt butter and saute onions until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in chicken broth and milk to prevent lumps. Increase heat to medium high.  Allow to bubble until sauce thickens.

Reduce heat to medium low.  Sprinkle in shredded cheese a bit at a time, stirring continuously until melted into sauce. Stir in cumin, salt, pepper, Rotel, chicken, and cooked spaghetti. Toss to coat everything evenly in sauce.

Pour into greased 9 X 13 glass dish.  Bake 30 minutes.


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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Soft and Chewy Double Chocolate M&M Cookies





Wow oh wow, these past several months have flown.  I graduated with my masters in May and wrapped up the school year with my first graders.  In late July, I took a trip to Vermont and Montreal with my parents.  (Vermont is the land of King Arthur Flour and Mom and I took a baking class together.  HECK YES SCORE!)

Anyway, while I was up there I wound up doing two phone interviews for literacy/instructional coach positions back home.  A couple days after I got back, I got an offer and began the long process of packing up all of the stuff I'd accumulated during my six years in the classroom and hauling it home.  I LOVE my new job and have met some wonderful people because of it.

Anyway, that's my personal update for now.  Let's get on the cookies.  Toward late October, my friends and I co-hosted a Halloween bash.  I was in charge of dessert and, after sifting through zillions of cookie recipes, decided to try these.  They were a HUGE hit.  I made two batches and they were almost all gone before the end of the night.  The subtle crunch of the M&M shells contrasted beautifully with the cookie base.  Winner, winner!

From Tracey's Culinary Adventures

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mini M&Ms





DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and then the vanilla. With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients, beating just until combined. Mix in the mini M&M's.

Using a small cookie scoop (mine measures about 1 1/2 inches across), portion the batter onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 8 minutes (rotating the baking sheets halfway through if you're doing both at once) or until the edges of the cookies are set (the centers may look underdone - don't overbake!). Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes, then remove them to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with all of the dough.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

 
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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easy Maple Granola

 
First of all, I hope everyone has had a lovely Easter holiday!  I have been a busy little bee the last few days.  See, I'm graduating (WOOHOO!!!!!!) with my masters' in May, and was feeling the mid-semester crunch.  I decided on Thursday that I might feel better if I just wrote out a to-do list with due dates for both of my classes the rest of the semester so that I could quantify my stress instead of stressing without bound.  :-)

Once I did that, it all started to seem more manageable.  I started tackling my to-do's and before I knew it, I had read four chapters, taken 3 tests, knocked out 2 major projects, and written 3 papers. 

Like a boss.

So now all that stands between me and my M.Ed. has been pared down to 6 lines on a to-do list.  (Two of them are going to be pretty intense, but we're just going to ignore that for now.)

After all that work, I retreated to the kitchen to whip up some homemade granola.  Except I couldn't find the recipe I usually use.  (Darn!)  It turned out to be a blessing in disguise- the new version I found has a fraction of the oil and cooks up in less than 1/3 the time of my usual.  (And fewer dirty dishes!  Heckyesscore!!!)

This recipe is forgiving, so if you want to throw in a few extra almonds or add some pecans or walnuts, knock yourself out.  I did!

Minimally adapted from Cafe Sucre Farine, Originally from Barefeet in the Kitchen

INGREDIENTS
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Stir together all ingredients to coat thoroughly. Spread across the parchment paper and bake for 15-18 minutes, stir the mixture after 10 minutes and spread across the tray again before returning to the oven.

3. Let cool completely before transferring to an airtight container. Use as a topping on yogurt or fresh fruit, oatmeal or for a quick, healthy snack.



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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Amtrak Trip


When I was a little girl, my mom once pointed out a passing Amtrak to me.  "Look in the windows- people are riding in that train!"  I was awestruck.  From that point forward, I dreamed of someday taking a trip on an Amtrak.  I told my husband about that dream a few months ago and the next thing I knew, we were looking at a route map, deciding where our final destination would be.

Over Christmas break, we climbed aboard the Sunset Limited; destination: Tucson.  It was AMAZING.  We saw such wonderful sights and met the most interesting, funny, and friendly people along the way.  Here are a few pictures of our journey.  Toward the bottom of this post, you'll find some tips I came up with for train travel.  Enjoy!



The Houston station featured wall-to-wall displays of old posters, tickets, photos, brochures, you name it!  It was awesome to be able to take a look through history to see how the route has changed over the years.


Here, we have just settled in to our roomette.  The train hadn't even started moving yet, and I was so giddy with excitement that I couldn't wipe the grin off my face.  :-)


We had a multi-hour layover in San Antonio, so we were able to get off the train and explore the city.


Outside the station, a Union Pacific train had been decked out in Christmas decor.  It was beautiful!



  

We took that opportunity to go check out the front of our train for the first time.  That thing was a beast!
 
The Alamo, all lit up at 2:00 in the morning.


On our return trip, we were in the middle of a snowstorm through much of New Mexico and west Texas.  Aside from the snow-covered Grand Canyon (more on that another day), it was the most snow I had seen in my life.


  Passing another Amtrak in the middle of nowhere.




All in all, it was an experience I will not soon forget.  We plan to take another train trip in a couple years.  We're thinking next time we may visit Chicago!

 And a few tips for Amtrak travel:

1.  Spring for a sleeper.  The roomettes are tiny, but are totally sufficient.  The sleeper accommodations give you a lot of privacy and are very comfortable.   Your sleeping car reservation also entitles you to three free meals a day in the dining car.

2.  Speaking of the dining car, this aspect of Amtrak travel was one of the most pleasant of our trip.  The food was GOOD.  Not "good for a train," or "good for mass-produced food"- I'm talking really, truly delicious.  Over the course of our travels, I enjoyed roasted turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce, fresh crab cakes with rice pilaf and a vegetable medley, a chicken pesto panini with kettle chips, pancakes with eggs and bacon, a flavorful four-cheese macaroni, and a seared tilapia fillet with roasted red pepper sauce.  Dinner entrees were served with a dinner roll along with a fresh salad.   It was all delicious!  There is also a wonderful dessert assortment available following lunch and dinner.

3.  Do be aware that there is community-style seating in the dining car.  A few hours prior to meal-time, your sleeping car attendant will come around and help you make a reservation for the meal.  When you arrive for your meal, you will be seated in groups of four.  My husband and I were a little nervous about this prior to our trip, but it was not a problem at all.  We got to know a lot of cool people this way!

4.  For your comfort, bring a jacket onboard.  You never know when it might be a little chilly in the dining car or in your sleeper.  In the same vein, be sure to ask your attendant for an extra pillow and blanket when you board.  You have some control over the AC in the roomettes, but it's best to be prepared.

5.  Have small bills on-hand for tipping.  A two-to-three dollar tip is sufficient for each meal.  We tipped our sleeping car attendants around $20 each way because they really helped make our experience great.

6.  Bring flip-flops for the shower.  I didn't think I would take a shower on the train, but it was actually a very comfortable experience.  Just make sure you take a wide stance in the event that you go over a rough section of track mid-scrub.  :-)

7.  Consider bringing a fanny pack or pocketed apron  to hold your toiletries to get ready in the morning.  Although the shower room was spacious and had ample shelving to place your soap, shampoo, and all that jazz, the toilet rooms themselves were pretty compact.  I found myself having to hold my face soap between my legs when I was washing up in the sink.  (Remember what I said about assuming a wide stance earlier?  Yeah, my elbow definitely met with the bathroom wall a time or two!)

8.  Amtrak's baggage policy is awesome.  We did not have to check anything- we were able to carry our two large suitcases on board along with toiletry bags, overnight bags, and a laptop bag.  The large bags were stored on luggage racks just outside our room.  It was nice to have access to our luggage at all times.

9.   Pack earplugs.  Some sections of the track are quite noisy and can keep you from getting your beauty sleep!

10.  BRING DRAMAMINE.  You do NOT want to discover 2 hours into a 25-hour journey that you get motion sickness on trains!  Lucky for me, a kind-hearted cafe car employee named Josette took pity on me and let me borrow her Sea-bands for a couple of hours on the ride westward. 

11.  You will be a lot happier if you tell yourself that your train will arrive late.  You will be even happier if you tell yourself your train will arrive *really, really, really* late.  We experienced a few hitches on our way to Tucson, turning our 25-hour ride into a 33-hour ride.  I was very grumpy about it and wish I had prepared myself for that possibility.  Our ride back went smoothly and we were able to get to our station within 15 minutes of our designated arrival time.

12.  Alcohol is plentiful on the train.  You may buy beer, etc. in the cafe car, and sleeping car passengers are free to bring their own liquor and beer so long as it is consumed in your room.  If you choose to imbibe, however, make sure you do so in moderation.  Amtrak conductors do not tolerate any shenanigans and will be more than happy to pluck your happy hiney off the train at three in the morning and deposit you into the waiting hands handcuffs of the local police (or a team of border patrol agents, as it were).

Anyway, if you have been thinking about taking an Amtrak vacation, DO IT!  Then, come back here and let me know how it was.  Cheers!

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Italian Tomato Gravy



One of the most wonderful things my husband and I received for our wedding (almost five years ago!) was a booklet of recipes compiled by my husband's late grandmother.  Inside, my mother-in-law had placed this sticky note:


By that point, I had already heard a lot about this legendary tomato sauce.  My husband was so in love with it, in fact, that he turned his nose up at every other version.  Our first year of marriage was full of cooking fails- like the time I accidentally melted a nylon spatula into my chicken approximately one hour into my America's Test Kitchen chicken marsala.  But this tomato gravy, complex despite its simplicity, was a sure bet each and every time I whipped up a batch. 

These days, I usually serve it with Italian sausage, but it also makes a great meat sauce base and is fabulous in homemade lasagna. 

INGREDIENTS
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 6-oz cans tomato paste
3 cans water
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sweet basil

DIRECTIONS
1.  Saute onions in oil.  Add garlic, then add all other ingredients.  Cook 1 hour on low.

Makes enough to dress 1 lb of spaghetti, noodles, or with lasagna recipes.

Meat Sauces

Using the above recipe, brown 1/2 to 1 lb ground beef or pork and add to gravy, OR, 8 links of browned Italian sausages may be added.  Be sure to prick sausages with fork before browning.



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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Turkey (or chicken) Tetrazzini


My husband and I are not usually into casserole-type meals, but this tetrazzini was a very pleasant surprise.  I took several liberties with the original recipe, jazzing up the sauce with garlic and spices while cutting back on the butter and cream.  After digging into it for dinner tonight, I wouldn't change a thing next time.  It was a nice way to use up some of the leftover Thanksgiving turkey we've got in the freezer.

INGREDIENTS
8 oz dry spaghetti, broken in half
3 tbsp butter
1 small onion, diced
10 oz button mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp flour
1 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
2 cups cooked turkey or chicken, diced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp black pepper
Seasoned salt to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan, divided

DIRECTIONS
1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9 X 13 pan.

2.  Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add spaghetti noodles and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes.  Drain.

3.  Meanwhile, in a large pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion and mushrooms and sauté until onions are translucent and mushrooms are beginning to brown, about 8-10 minutes.  Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 

4.  Reduce heat to low.  Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.  Add chicken broth and stir until smooth.  Add cream, milk, and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and stir until combined.  Bring to a low boil and allow to cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.  Add poultry, seasonings, and cooked spaghetti and stir well.

5.  Pour mixture into prepared pan and top with remaining Parmesan cheese.  Bake in preheated oven until cheese has melted and dish is hot and bubbly, 15-20 minutes.
 


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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Texas Sheet Cake



I sampled a bit of Texas sheet cake at a recent potluck and was hooked immediately.  The icing is poured over the cake while it's piping hot, allowing it to seep into the upper portion of the cake.  The result is a fudgy delicacy that would remind you of molten chocolate cake.  It feeds a ton of people and can be easily thrown together in a pinch.

FYI, I would use cocoa powder rather than flour to coat the pan after greasing next time.  The flour can create a rather unsightly base to your cake.

Also, my jelly roll pan was a little bigger than called for in the recipe.  I baked the cake portion for 12 minutes and it was done.

From The Sisters Cafe

Cake
Bring to a boil:
1/2 c. butter
1 c. water
4 TB cocoa

Mix and add:
1/2 c. buttermilk (or 1/2 c. sour cream)
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla

Add:
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp soda

Beat well. Pour into a greased and floured jelly roll pan (approx. 11 X 7).  Bake in a preheated 400 oven for 15 minutes.

Icing
Bring to a boil:
1/2 c butter
6 TB milk
4 TB cocoa

Add:
4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
dash of salt

Spread icing on cake while cake is still warm.


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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Weeknight Kung Pao Shrimp

What I've been up to lately:
Sharing an experience of a lifetime with the most wonderful group of six year olds I know,


Hunting for my first "new" car,


 Cutting out a metric crap-ton of lamination,


Feverishly essay-writing,


 And painting my fingernails.  Poorly.  Very poorly.


Anyway, with everything going on, I've been doing well to get dinner on the table, much less neatly photographed and accompanied by a semi-witty intro.  In fact, I haven't been inspired to blog at all lately.  Until this happened:


It may not look like much right there, but this Kung Pao Shrimp is officially my favorite weeknight meal.  It's a true 30-minute dish from start to finish.  (Don't you hate when a recipe is rated as a 30-minute meal, but they expect you to have already chopped 19 million different veggies and pre-cooked the protein?!)  Anyway, the ingredient list was so skimpy that I wasn't expecting fireworks, but the final product was amazing.  Garlicky, spicy, and flavorful, it beats my favorite take out hands-down. 

Very slightly adapted from Cook's Country, October/November 2007 issue

INGREDIENTS
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp hot sauce (I used chili paste from my local Asian grocer, & Sriracha would be fine.)
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1 lb extra-large shrimp, peeled & deveined
1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced

1.  Whisk chicken broth, oyster sauce, hot sauce, and cornstarch in a bowl.  Set aside.

2.  Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until shimmering.  Add shrimp and peanuts and cook until shrimp are speckled with brown, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to a plate. 

3.  Add remaining oil and bell pepper to empty skillet and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in sauce mixture and bring to a boil.  Add shrimp and peanuts and simmer until sauce has thickened and shrimp are cooked through, about 1 minute.  Serve over rice.


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Monday, September 17, 2012

Tortellini Minestrone


I've been on a quest lately to find healthy, filling meals that I can get on the table in a hurry.  This one definitely fits the bill- it's chock full of veggies and on the table within 30 minutes. 

I didn't care for the canellini beans in the soup and plan to leave them out next time.

As seen on Cook Like a Champion, originally from Cook’s Illustrated Soups, Stews & Chilis

INGREDIENTS
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 stalks of celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, minced
5 ounces mushrooms, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
3 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 3/4 cups V8 vegetable juice
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (9-ounce) package fresh cheese tortellini (preferably whole wheat)
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup pesto (homemade, or if store-bought, use the refrigerated variety)
Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving

DIRECTIONS
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until just softened. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until all the vegetables have softened, 5-6 additional minutes. Add the garlic and oregano and cook about 30 seconds, until fragrant.

Pour in the broth, making sure to scrape up any browned bits. Stir in the vegetable juice and beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the tortellini and zucchini and continue simmering until tender, another 5-7 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Divide among serving bowls and top each portion with a spoonful of pesto and a sprinkling of Parmesan before serving.


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Sunday, September 9, 2012

28 by 28: Homemade Ketchup



I made this homemade ketchup awhile back.  It is super easy and has a depth of flavor that is just AMAZING.  (I am semi-ashamed to admit that I ate a few warm spoonfuls straight from the pan!)  And best of all, it keeps in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, so you can enjoy it again and again.

Note:  The full 2/3 cup of brown sugar may make the ketchup a little too sweet if you prefer a tangier ketchup.  Try adding 1/2 cup in the beginning, then taste and add more if necessary about 30-45 minutes into cooking if you are concerned.

From Gourmet.com (Oh, how I miss Gourmet magazine!!!  *Tear*)

INGREDIENTS 
1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes in purée 
1 medium onion, chopped 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 tablespoon tomato paste 
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar 
1/2 cup cider vinegar 
1/2 teaspoon salt 

DIRECTIONS
1.  Purée tomatoes (with purée from can) in a blender until smooth.

2.  Cook onion in oil in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add puréed tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, and salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until very thick, about 1 hour (stir more frequently toward end of cooking to prevent scorching).

3.  Purée ketchup in 2 batches in blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Chill, covered, at least 2 hours (for flavors to develop).


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Sunday, August 12, 2012

28 by 28: Crispy Roast Chicken

Winner, winner, I've finally discovered the secret to a tasty chicken dinner!  
 
 
 
The chicken develops a flavorful, crisp skin thanks to a quick rubdown with salt and cornstarch prior to roasting.
 
As seen on The Teacher Learns to Cook, originally from Cook's Country
 
INGREDIENTS
1 whole roaster chicken (3 1/2 to 4 1/2 pounds), rinsed and patted dry
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons salt
2 pounds small potatoes, scrubbed and halved
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
 
DIRECTIONS
1.  Line roasting pan with foil.  Adjust oven rack to middle, place roasting pan on rack, and heat oven to 475 degrees.
 
2.  Combine cornstarch and salt in a small bowl.  Using a skewer or the tines of a fork, poke small holes all over the chicken skin.  Rub the cornstarch mixture evenly over the entire skin.
 
3.  Place the chicken wing-side up on the roasting rack, remove the roasting pan from the oven, place the rack with the chicken in the pan and roast for 15 minutes
 
4.  Carefully remove the pan and turn the chicken onto its other side (try using oven mitts, or wadded up towels to gently handle the chicken and turn it) and roast for 15 more minutes.  While the chicken roasts, toss the potatoes with the vegetable oil and a few pinches of salt.
 
5.  Remove the roasting pan from the oven after 30 minutes, take the rack with the chicken out of the pan and place it on a cookie sheet nearby.  Gather the tin foil by the corners and lift it out of the pan with all the grease and throw it away.
 
6.  Arrange the potatoes, cut-side down, in the pan.  Flip the chicken breast-side up and put it back in the roasting pan over the potatoes.  Place the roasting pan back into the oven and roast for about 20 more minutes, until a thermometer in the deepest part of the thigh registers 170 degrees. 
 
7.  Remove the chicken, pour any juices in the cavity over the potatoes, and rest the chicken upright on an angel-food cake pan insert or an empty soda can for about 15 minutes
 
8.  Toss the potatoes with the chicken juices (you may have to scrape a bit off the bottom of the pan if they are sticking) and roast for an additional 20 minutes or longer until they are as crisp and brown as you like them. 
 
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Endless Summer Salad with Homemade Maple Vinaigrette


You just can't beat an entree salad as a weeknight meal.  This one is particularly special, with its crispy bacon pieces, feta cheese, and homemade maple dressing.  I've omitted measurements for the veg as people have their own preferences for salad proportions.

Oh, and my recent discovery that partially frozen chicken is WAY easier to slice than thawed has changed my world.  

Endless Summer Salad
An Ommy Noms original, shout-out to Oishii for helping me name it!
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
Spring mix
Cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Sweet onion, several thin slices
2 granny smith apples, thinly sliced
1 cup walnuts (or you can go for almonds or sugared pecans if you'd like!)
2 oz feta cheese crumbles
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
6 slices bacon, thinly sliced
Maple vinaigrette, recipe below

DIRECTIONS
1.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add bacon and cook until fat begins to render out.  Add chicken pieces and cook in rendered bacon fat until browned and cooked through, flipping occasionally.

2.  Remove cooked chicken with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.  Continue cooking bacon pieces until they reach desired level of crispness.  Remove to plate.

3.  Layer all ingredients in individual salad bowls and drizzle with maple vinaigrette.

Maple Vinaigrette
Adapted from Southern Living

INGREDIENTS
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil

DIRECTIONS
1.  Whisk together first five ingredients.  Gradually whisk in oil until fully incorporated.  Cover and refrigerate up to 3 days.

*  I tend to taste and adjust my dressings to suit my preferences.  I wound up adding more maple syrup in the end.



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Monday, July 23, 2012

28 by 28: Enchiladas Verdes



I used to avoid green things at Mexican restaurants like the plague.  Guacamole?  Nuh uh.  Green dip?  No way.  Green enchiladas?  Not a chance.

Lucky for me, I've seen the light.  I can put back some serious green dip and order a plate of enchiladas verdes at pretty much every Mexican restaurant I visit.  It's a kind of test- like ordering lasagna at a new Italian place.  If the enchiladas verdes are good, the place is okay in my book.
 
I recently made some enchiladas of my own, and they passed with flying colors.  :)  I used some leftover cooked chicken in mine, though I've included the directions for poaching some raw breasts if you don't have any around.  (Also, I used queso quesadilla rather than queso fresco, so I popped mine in the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese.  This step is unnecessary if you use a crumbling cheese.)

Adapted from Allrecipes


INGREDIENTS
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 white onion
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 pound fresh tomatillos, husks removed
5 serrano peppers
1/4 white onion
1 clove garlic
1 pinch salt
1 cup chicken broth
12 corn tortillas
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup crumbled queso fresco
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

DIRECTIONS
1. In a saucepan, combine chicken breast with chicken broth, one quarter onion, a clove of garlic, and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until cooked through, about 12-15 minutes. Set chicken aside to cool; discard onion and garlic. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken with your hands.

2. Place tomatillos and serrano chiles in a pot with water, enough to cover them. Bring to boil, and continue boiling until tomatillos turn a different shade of green (from bright green to a dull, army green). Strain tomatillos and chiles, and place in a blender with another quarter piece of onion, 1 clove garlic, a pinch of salt, and chicken broth. Blend until completely pureed. Pour salsa in a medium saucepan, and bring to a low boil.

3. Pour oil in a frying pan, and allow to get very hot. Slightly fry tortillas one by one in hot oil, setting each on a paper towel afterwards to soak some of the oil. Finally, dip slightly fried tortillas in low-boiling green salsa, until tortillas become soft again. Place on plates, 3 per person.

4. Fill or top tortillas with shredded chicken, then extra green sauce. Top with crumbled cheese, chopped onion, and chopped cilantro.


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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Recipe Index

I am pleased to unveil my brand spankin' new Recipe Index!  (Woohoo!)  It's been a labor of love to say the least, but now you can enjoy a whole blog's worth of ommy noms at your fingertips. :-)  Check it out!


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