Sunday, January 31, 2010

Chicken Stuffed with Leeks and Goat Cheese

I'm always looking for a way to improve basic chicken breasts, and I noticed this one in an issue of Cooking Light recently. The recipe called for spring onions, but mentioned you could substitute leeks. I love leeks and don't cook with them nearly often enough, so I used this recipe as my chance. As with anything with goat cheese, this was yummy!

Chicken Stuffed with Leeks and Goat Cheese
From Cooking Light

1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
1 1/3 cups thinly sliced leeks (I used two)
3/4 tsp. salt, divided
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
1 tbsp. fat-free milk
1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (I used 1/2 tsp. dried)
6 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Cooking spray
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to pan; cook 12 minutes, stirring frequently. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook 5 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly. Combine onion mixture, 1/4 teaspoon salt, cheese, milk, and thyme in a small bowl, stirring with a fork.

Cut a horizontal slit through thickest portion of each chicken breast half to form a pocket; stuff 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese mixture into each pocket. Sprinkle chicken evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Return pan to medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; sauté 5 minutes; turn chicken over. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 10 minutes or until chicken is done.

Remove chicken from pan; let stand 10 minutes. Add wine to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook until reduced by half (about 2 minutes). Add broth, and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 9 minutes). Serve with chicken.

Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup

I have been in a soup mood lately, and love how quick and easy soup is to make and how delicious. After making this pasta soup a few weeks ago, I was thinking that I would really like a soup with tortellini. I did some internet searching and found a recipe on Epicurious that sounded like a winner. It was! Chad and I both loved this, and enjoyed the leftovers over the next few days for lunch as well. I made a few changes for convenience (canned tomatoes instead fresh) and for our taste preference (left out green peppers).

Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup

1 pound sweet Italian sausage or chorizo sausage, casings removed
1 cup chopped onion
2 large garlic cloves, diced
6 cups beef stock or canned broth
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 large zucchini, sliced
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tbsp. dried basil
1 tbsp. dried oregano
16 ounces purchased fresh cheese tortellini
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Sauté Italian sausage in heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat until cooked through, crumbling with back of spoon, about 10 minutes. using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to large bowl. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon drippings from Dutch oven. Add onion, zucchini and carrot to Dutch oven and sauté five minutes. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook for one minute. Return sausage to Dutch oven. Add stock, tomatoes, wine, basil and oregano. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before continuing.)

Add tortellini to soup and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pasta, Beans and Greens Soup

My aunt made this soup for us at a family gathering last year and Chad and I both thought it was delicious. When we had a cold snap a couple of weeks ago, I kept craving soup so I pulled out this recipe to make myself for the the first time. This is a really good soup, and if you wanted to make it even more filling, you could add some chicken. Perfect for a cold, wintery day!

I didn't realize this was a Cooking Light recipe when I made it, but I just looked at the original from my aunt and realized that is where she got it from. In the picture on their website, the soup looks really thick. As I was cooking it, I thought it was too thick and kept adding broth to thin it out. Make it to your liking!

Pasta, Beans and Greens Soup
From Cooking Light

2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 (15.75-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup uncooked penne (tube-shaped pasta)
1 (16-ounce can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 (10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add carrot, onion, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add the oregano, salt, pepper, broth, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high; add pasta, beans, and spinach; cook 14 minutes or until pasta is done, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle each serving with cheese.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year's Eve party!

We had a great party at my friend Karen's house for NYE. I am our resident menu planner, and decided on an upscale finger food menu for our bash.

Are you ready to drool? We had....

Assorted cheeses, ham and scallion cheese ball and crackers
Hummus and Black Bean dip with pita
Blue Cheese Shallot dip with pita and carrots
Shrimp Cocktail
Chicken Feta Phyllo Cups
Beef Bruschetta with Carmelized Onions and Horseradish Cream
Red Velvet Cake Truffles
Cookie Dough Truffles

Sounds amazing, right?! Here are some of our favorites!

Beef Bruschetta with Carmelized Onion and Horseradish Cream

For my friend Karen's baby shower I made a beef tenderloin sandwich with horseradish cream from Barefoot Contessa that was pretty amazing. When I started thinking about New Year's, I decided I wanted to adapt that recipe to an appetizer and here is what I came up with. These were awesome, and every single one was gone before midnight!

There are a lot of parts to this dish, but I prepared everything earlier in the day and assembled right before the party.

Beef Bruschetta with Carmelized Onion and Horseradish Cream
Adapted from Food Network

2 skinny French baguettes
olive oil
garlic powder

1 1/2 pounds beef tenderloin
1 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

3 sweet onions, sliced thin
olive oil

1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
olive oil
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

3/4 cup good mayonnaise
1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp whole-grain mustard
1/2 tbsp prepared horseradish
2 tbsp sour cream
Kosher salt

To prepare horseradish cream, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustards, horseradish, sour cream, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Keep in fridge until ready to assemble.

Preheat oven to 400.

Slice baguettes into 1/4 inch thick rounds (approx 40 pieces per baguette). Arrange on a baking sheet, brush with oil and sprinkle with garlic powder. Bake 8-10 mintues until golden and crunchy. Set aside.

Put oven temp to 475. Mix butter and Dijon mustard. Spread over beef. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 14-16 minutes. Cover with foil and let rest for at least 20 minutes.

Heat olive oil in pan, and add onions. Cook until carmelized, about 15-20 minutes on medium low. Wrap onions in foil until ready to assemble.

Arrange tomatoes on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. When meat is finished, roast 15-20 minutes until soft.

Cut meat into small bite size pieces that will fit on toasts. You will need 80 pieces.

To assemble, arrange toasts on baking sheet. Heat oven to 400. Spread horseradish cream on toasts. Top with carmelized onions and a piece of beef tenderloin. Finish with a half of a roasted tomato. Bake for 5-8 minutes.

Chicken Feta Phyllo Cups

This was a recipe that Karen first introduced us to a couple of years ago at cooking club. We all loved it and she decided to adapt it to mini appetizer portions for Christmas this year. It worked well with her family, so we did it again for New Year's Eve. She made the chicken mixture earlier in the day and then just filled the cups and baked, so it was the perfect party appetizer.

Chicken Feta Phyllo Cups
Adapted from Food Network

Coarse salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped into small bite-size pieces
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained, 10 to 12 pieces, chopped
2 boxes chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
8 ounces, feta cheese, crumbled
4 boxes mini phyllo cups (15 per package)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

To a skillet preheated over medium high heat add chicken, garlic and onions and season with salt and pepper. Saute 5 minutes, add the sun-dried tomatoes and spinach and cook another 3 to 5 minutes. Add feta and taste to adjust seasonings. This can be done earlier in the day and refrigerated until ready to assemble.

Fill the phyllo cups with the chicken mixture and bake for 8-10 minutes or until heated through.

Red Velvet Cake Truffles

The inspiration for these came from my friend Shawna who baked these little balls of deliciousness for holiday gifts. I didn't have Shawna's recipe, so I used one from Bakerella, who has an amazing website! They are super simple, but messy and slightly time consuming. I promise they are well worth any trouble they take to make them!

Red Velvet Cake Truffles
From Bakerella

1 box red velvet cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
1 can cream cheese frosting (16 oz.)
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 oz. white chocolate chips
4 tbsp shortening, divided
wax paper

After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl. Mix thoroughly with 1 can cream cheese frosting. (It may be easier to use fingers to mix together, but be warned it will get messy.) Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet. Chill for several hours. (You can speed this up by putting in the freezer.)

Melt milk chocolate with 2 tbsp shortening in microwave. Roll half of the balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.)

Melt white chocolate with 2 tbsp shortening in microwave. Roll the rest of hte balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.)

I stored mine in the freezer to harden the chocolate quickly before I put them out to serve at the party.

Cookie Dough Truffles

After I decided on the red velvet truffles I wanted to make a second option, and thought a combo of cookie dough and chocolate sounded pretty good. People didn't know which one was their favorite, they were both delicious.

Note: These were VERY messy and VERY hard to shape. I don't know how the Taste of Home people got them in perfect little balls. Mine were more like mounds...they were sticky and hard to shape so to save my sanity I just kind of piled them on the wax paper =)

Cookie Dough Truffles
From Taste of Home

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
18 oz. chocolate chips (dark, milk, semi-sweet...your choice)
3 tablespoons shortening

In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add flour, alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Stir in the chocolate chips. Shape into 1-in. balls (or little monds like I did!); place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Loosely cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until firm.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and shortening; stir until smooth. Dip balls in coating, allowing excess to drip off; place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Store in the refrigerator.

Christmas Treats!

For the holidays this year, Chad asked me to make some treats he could bring to each of his banks to share with the employees. I then called mom and told her I would be coming over for some serious baking! We put together some serious treat plates, and this was my favorite recipe.

Original Sin (Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups peanut butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
12 oz. chocolate chips

Melt butter with peanut butter. Alternately stir in graham cracker crumbs and powdered sugar until fully blended. Press into an ungreased 9x13 pan.

Melt 1/2 cup butter and chocolate chips to make the chocolate glaze. Pour over peanut butter mixture. Chill completely before slicing.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

I have had some leftover homemade BBQ sauce in the freezer for a while and in the back of my mind I knew I wanted to make a BBQ chicken pizza. I love the one at California Pizza Kitchen, so that is what I used for my inspiration.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Boboli thin wheat crust
1 cup BBQ sauce (I love this homemade version because it has pineapple which gives the pizza a Hawaiian twist)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded colby jack cheese
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced and carmelized (cook in olive oil on medium low heat for 15-20 minutes or until deep golden)

Preheat oven to 375. Spread sauce on pizza crust (use more or less to your taste). Top with a layer of mozzarella, reserving about 1/4 cup. Layer onions then shredded chicken. Top with colby jack and reserved mozzarella. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden.