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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Pesto Chicken

I recently tried to make a kind of deconstructed chicken parm with pesto or a backward chicken parm.  It didn’t go exactly as I had planned, and when I make it in the future I will definitely adapt it.  I like the flavors enough to definitely keep perfecting a good way to blend the flavors for a better outcome.

1 chicken breast per person

1 cup Panko breadcrumbs

1 cup prepared pesto

1/2 flour

salt and pepper to taste

3 plum tomatoes

6 slices mozzarella cheese

note: the 1 cup portions were for 2 servings, adjust accordingly.

Set out 3 bowls; place flour and a pinch of salt and pepper in one, pesto in the second and panko breadcrumbs in the third.  Dredge the chicken breasts in the flour and then coat with pesto.  You really need to get in there with your hands and rub the pesto all over.  Then dip into the bread crumbs.  You also need to really press the breadcrumbs in.

Warm oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Place the chicken in the skillet and brown.  Flip the chicken after 5-7 minutes and cook on the other side.  Cover the pan to make sure the chicken cooks through.

Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds.  Salt and pepper the tomatoes and place in the oven at 350 for about 5 minutes.  This gets them just soft.  Remove them from the oven and place the slices of cheese.  Place under the broiler for just a couple of minutes to brown and bubble the cheese.

Once the chicken is done, place the tomatoes on top or on the side.  We added more pesto on the top of the chicken to give more flavor.  The pesto flavor did really cook out.  Which is why I’ve concluded that that step isn’t really worth it.  In the future I will probably just season the chicken with salt and pepper and bake it and then top it with the pesto.  I will let you know how that turns out when I try that!  I served this with pasta with pesto sauce.

 

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Triple C Slaw (Carrot, Chile and Cilantro)

This dish was in my most recent Bon Appetit magazine and I was very excited to try it.  Doing a bar-b-q picnic dinner recently gave me the perfect opportunity.  It was such a great (healthy) alternative to a heavy cole slaw that you would find accompanying a typical bar-b-q meal.  I really liked how it turned out, and will definitely make it again in the future!

12 ounces carrots (they suggested using colors, but I could only find trusty old orange) peeled and julienned

2 TBSP vegetable oil

1 TBSP fresh lime juice (I forgot to grab a lime, so I just used lemon juice)

1/3 tsp kosher salt, please some additional to season

2 jalapenos, stemmed, seasoned and minced

1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro

3/4 tsp ground coriander

Pinch of black pepper to taste

Julienne the carrots (my mandolin wasn’t working, so I just roughly julienned the carrots by hand and they weren’t as consistent or pretty as I would’ve liked).

Toss the carrots, oil, lime juice, salt, pepper and jalapenos in a large bowl.  Let marinade for about 15 minutes.

Add the cilantro and coriander and toss to incorporate evenly.  Season to taste.

Sooo yummy and pretty!!

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Momma G’s Potato Salad (AKA as the most incredible tot salad out there!)

This is seriously a great THE BEST potato salad that I have ever had.  It’s not heavy and ordinary like so many potato salads.  It is light without being fussy.  This will be gobbled up at your next picnic faster than you can get worried about leaving mayo out in the sun.  I got this recipe from Momma G (Therese Ganster) several years ago, and my family has never made another tot salad since.  You will really love this recipe and I’m sure be asked for it every time you make it!

2 lbs potatoes (5-6 medium), peeled and cut into bite size chunks (and sometimes I’m lazy and don’t even bother to peel them!

1 cup Hellmans

2 TBSP lemon juice

1 packet of Splenda (and if you are like any members of my family, you snag these from restaurants on a regular basis!)

1/2 medium red onion, chopped

4 hard boil eggs, chopped

Pinch of black pepper

Loads and Loads of fresh dill (yes, that’s an exact measurement straight from Momma G)

Cover the potatoes with salted water and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Once it boils, reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are just fork tender.  You DON’T want them to be too mushy, because we’re not making mashed potatoes!  Drain and cool.

To hard boil the eggs, place them in a pot and cover with cold water.  Bring to a rolling boil.  As soon as they boil, turn off the heat and cover for 17 minutes.  Not 16 minutes.  Not 18 minutes.  17 minutes!  When the buzzer dings, drain the water from the pot and add cold water continuously while draining and adding water.  This stops the cooking process and gives you perfectly yellow yolks.

In a separate bowl, mix together mayonnaise, lemon juice, Splenda, pepper and dill.   Add the onion and eggs to the potatoes.  Pour the liquid over the potats and give it a gentle stir to combine.  Top with loads and loads more dill for a pretty presentation!

Tip: It tastes really great if you make this the night before and give the flavors time to meld.  But, if you do let it sit over night the onion can become over powering (at least to me).  So, I would recommend adding the onion not too long before serving.

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Pulled Pork Omelet

This pork is so good that you will be happy if there are left overs to enjoy the next day.  If you still have some after that, you may want to mix it up and not have another pulled pork sandwich.  So today for breakfast, I got creative!  I made an omelet with pulled pork, diced jalapeno and fresh cilantro.  It was delish!  If you have some cheddar cheese, that would also be amazing with that.

It was a very filling meal, so it’s definitely an indulgent weekend treat!

Eggs, I went with 3 because I had 3 left

A splash of water

Left over pulled pork

1/2 jalapeno, diced

a handful of fresh cilantro

Crack the eggs into a bowl and add a splash of water, it helps makes the omelet nice and fluffy.  Beat the eggs lightly with a fork or whisk.  Use butter or cooking spray in a skillet and melt over medium heat.  Pour in the eggs.  Meanwhile, dice the jalapeno in small pieces.  But, DON’T leave the skillet for too long because the eggs will cook quickly.  Actually, maybe dice the pepper first.  Use a spatula to gently lift an edge that has started to cook and tilt the pan to let uncooked eggs under to cook.  Keep that until the majority of the egg is set.  Once the egg is almost all set, place the pulled pork, jalapeno and cilantro down the center.  Gently fold the egg in half.  Let the omelet continue to cook briefly.  You can either slide the omelet out, or put a plate over the top and flip the skillet (that’s what I did because the top wasn’t as pretty!).

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Pulled Pork with Bourbon Bar-B-Q Sauce

This was my first try at pulled pork and I was a little nervous!  I know it seems silly to be nervous about something that I was planning to put it in the crock pot; what could go wrong?!  Luckily, nothing did and it was pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, preeetttttyyyy tasty (that’s my little homage to the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm starting!).

My main concern was the balance of the sauce, but as it cooked it melded well.  Next time I make it, I will probably adjust a bit to get an even better balance.

This is another meal that can be extremely easy to make for a group on a budget, and keeps you out of the kitchen for the most part.

Bone in pork butt roast (about 3 pounds will serve 6-8 people)

1 medium onion

Rub

2 tsp ground mustard

2 tsp oregano

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp pepper

1 tsp Tastefully Simple Seasoning Salt

1 tsp Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic

1 tsp Garlic Salt

Bar-b-q Sauce

1- 20 oz bottle of ketchup

1/3 white vinegar

1/4 bourbon

1 1/2 – 2TBSP liquid smoke

1 TBSP red wine vinegar

1 – 1 1/2TBSP Worcestershire sauce

1/2 – 1 tsp paprika

1/2 -1 tsp chili powder

3/4 cups brown sugar

Combine all of the spices and then rub into the meat.  Really get in there!  Place the rub into a sealed plastic bag and refrigerate over night.

Mix together all of the ingredients for the sauce in a sauce pan.  Prepare the night before also to give the flavors time to marry.

In the morning drizzle a little bit of vegetable oil in the crock pot and swirl to coat.  Place the roast in the crock pot and pour about 1/2 to 3/4 of the sauce over the roast.  Chop the onion in thin strips and place over top.  Cook the roast for 9-11 hours over low heat or 5-6 hours over high heat.

Bring the remaining sauce to a boil 1 or 2 hours before you plan on eating and then bring the heat down to a simmer.  You want the alcohol to cook off and for the sauce to reduce a little and thicken.

About 45 minutes to an hour before serving, shred the pork with 2 forks.  With the slow wet cooking, it will be so tender it won’t take much to pull it.  Once it is all separated and the bone is removed.  Replaced the lid and let the pork continue to cook.  This will help the remaining sauce in the pot to thicken up.

That’s all there is to it!  Easy as, well pulled pork in a crock pot 😉  Serve the pork with a good quality bun, sharp cheddar cheese and extra bar-b-q sauce.

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My take on a southern bar-b-q picnic (but indoors in Pittsburgh)

This week for dinner I wanted to do a take on a southern bar-b-q.  I served pulled pork, to help fulfill my friend Leigh Ann’s birthday wish that this year be full of pork.  This meal did the trick!  I know crock pots are often reserved for chilly winter nights and coming home to a warm and comforting roast and veggies.  I had to snap out of that thinking because it’s a perfect way to come home to a delicious meal without having to turn on the hot beast that is your oven added unnecessary degrees to your kitchen.  The great thing about this menu is that if you can suffer through having the beast (or in my case the mini beast) having the stove on long enough to boil the potatoes and eggs, you can entertain while keeping your cool!

As side dishes I made Momma G’s potato salad, which cross my fingers hope to die, stick a needle in my eye, is the best potato salad that you will EVER have!  I also made a carrot, chili and coriander coleslaw that I found in my recent Bon Appetit magazine.

To make the picnic feel authentic (even though it was indoors) I got some red and white checkered fabric for a table cloth and put blue bandanas down the center.  I also saved up tin cans for a couple of weeks to make cute little candle holders after I got them squeaky clean post enjoyable tin can meals.  I drilled different size holes into the cans and painted them different shades of blue.  I then put tea light candles in the tin cans which made a rustic-ish easy candle holders.  Beverages included iced tea, lemonade (or Arnold Palmers’ for the fancy ladies!) and water and was enjoyed out of mason jars!

And, dinner was concluded with an out of this world salted caramel ice cream with chocolate covered pretzels made by my friend Leigh Ann.  Sooo amazing!

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Sparkling Mint Lemonade Deliciousness

This recipe also came from my Williams Sonoma “Dinner Parties” cookbook and it is AMAZING!!  This lemonade recipe is the perfect balance of tart and sweet and is extra refreshing because of the mint.

I found these really cute resealable glass bottles at Ikea for only $3.99 each!  http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50108908  They were really perfect for this lemonade, because they served as part of the centerpiece as well as helping to keep the carbonation contained.  If the bottles are filled and sealed for a bit, they pop like a champagne bottle!!  It adds a great amount of fun to the meal.

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

1, 3 inch section lemon peel

3 sprigs of fresh mint

8-12 lemons

3 bottles sparkling water

Combine 2 cups water and 2 cups in a heavy sauce pan.  Peel a long strip of fresh lemon peel and place in the pan.  Heat the mixture over medium heat and bring to a boil for 1 minute to make a simple syrup.  Remove from the heat and add the sprigs of mint to steep for about 30 minutes.  In the mean time, squeeze 8-12 lemons to get 1 and 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice.  Strain the simple syrup into a pitcher (so you can catch the peel and mint, make sure you squeeze your spoon against the mint to get every last drop of that syrupy goodness!).  Then strain the lemon juice so you can catch any pulp and seeds.  Stir to combine.  Right before serving add the 3 bottles of sparkling water and stir gently to combine.  Either serve from the pitcher or pour into individual bottles (the full recipes fills 3 resealable bottles).  Also, if you do the resealable bottles, be sure to leave a little room for the carbonation to expand.

I would suggest offering a funnel to help your guests guzzle this sweet and tart goodness as quickly as possible!

String a thin slice of lemon and a mint leaf on a wooden or bamboo skewer for a super cute garnish for this lemonade!!

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