Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Grilled Chicken Breasts with Orange Chipotle Glaze

For the last couple of years, I’ve been in a slump when it comes to chicken breasts.  I used to eat chicken breasts all the time.  I enjoyed the mild flavor of the white meat with a teriyaki marinade, barbeque sauce or a spice rub.  Then I stopped enjoying my go-to choice of meat.  I began to find chicken breasts, okay I’ll just say it, boring!  I switched to chicken thighs, and I appreciated the succulent flavor and texture of the thighs.   But thighs aren’t as low in fat and calories as I would like, so I have been experimenting with new ways to serve my old favorite.

The orange tree in my backyard is bursting with fruit, and the oranges are full of juice from all the rain we got this year, so I am trying to use up my harvest (I’ll have to tell you about the orange marmalade in another post).  I used the oranges as my inspiration for the glaze below.  And I love sweet and spicy together, so I added the chipotle pepper.

I few months ago, I made a Beer Can Chicken, and I had some of the rub leftover.  I sprinkled the rub on the chicken, and then Les grilled it.  I added the glaze to the cooked chicken after Les took it off the grill, and I passed the rest at the table.

My family loved Grilled Chicken Breasts with Orange Chipotle Glaze.  And when dinner was over, my thoughtful husband started to do the dishes, or I at least I thought he started to do the dishes, but no he was just looking for something else to dip into the glaze that was still on the stove!

 Grilled Chicken Breasts with Orange Chipotle Glaze
4 chicken breasts
¼ to ½ cup Beer Can Chicken Rub
Orange Chipotle Glaze

Coat the chicken breasts with the Beer Can Chicken Rub, and grill over a medium fire for 3-5 minutes per side, or until cooked through.  Brush the glaze over the cooked chicken.  Slice the chicken and pour more glaze over the top.

Beer Can Chicken Rub
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
¼ cup sweet paprika
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1½ teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon celery salt

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Store any extra rub in an airtight container.  Makes about a ½ cup.

Orange Chipotle Glaze
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp olive oil
Juice from two oranges
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (omit zest if using orange marmalade)
½ cup jelly (I used homemade pepper jelly that was tangy but not spicy, you could use apple jelly or orange marmalade)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Heat olive oil in a small saucepan. Add the onion and cook until the onion is soft.  In a small bowl mix together the orange juice, orange zest, jelly, thyme, chipotle, cornstarch and salt.  Add the orange juice mixture to the onions in the saucepan and simmer until the sauce thickens.  Pour over the cooked chicken.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Banana Wheat Waffles

I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve made waffles.  My kids usually ask for pancakes, so the waffle iron hasn’t gotten much use recently.  But, I woke up Saturday morning, and like Donkey  I said, “I’m making waffles.” 

I don’t know why I decided to make waffles.  I had different plans for my morning, but my waffle craving won out.  These Banana Wheat Waffles hit the spot, and the kids loved them.  They both gave Banana Wheat Waffles their approval.  My son even had the leftover waffles for breakfast on Sunday morning.  Of course, I didn’t tell them I used whole-wheat pastry flour, and they didn’t notice.  I love when I can sneak healthy into their food!

I loved these waffles too.  I love the flavor of banana and maple syrup together.  I usually slice a banana over my pancakes and French toast, but these waffles have the bananas baked right in.  I still couldn’t resist slicing a banana on top of my Banana Wheat Waffles!

Banana Wheat Waffles
Adpated from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
4 egg yolks
3 cups milk
¼ cup canola oil**
1 ½ cup mashed banana
2 egg whites

**Update:  I've changed the amount of oil from ½ cup to ¼ because I made the waffles again with the smaller amount of oil, and I thought they were better with only ¼ cup.

Combine all-purpose flour, whole-wheat pastry flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl.  In another bowl, beat egg yolks slightly, and beat in milk and oil.  Add mashed bananas.  Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix just until combined.

In a small bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold egg whites into the batter being careful not to over-mix.

Pour ½ to 1 cup of batter into lightly greased waffle iron.  Bake according to the directions of your waffle iron.  Repeat with remaining batter.  Makes 12 4-inch waffles.  Serve with maple syrup and sliced bananas.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

Who doesn’t love the flavor of peanut butter and jelly?  My mom says I would only eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch when I was in first and second grade.  And, it remained my lunch of choice during much of my elementary school years.  I wish my son’s lunches were so easy!  I’ve outgrown my love of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, but I haven’t outgrown my love of peanut butter and jelly.  I now love the same flavors in my cookies.  I added raspberry jam to my favorite peanut butter cookie, and I was transported back to first grade!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies
½ cup butter
½ cup chunky-style peanut butter
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
1 egg
1¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup chopped peanuts
granulated sugar
½ cup raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, combine butter, ½ cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg, vanilla and chopped peanuts, and mix thoroughly.  In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture and mix until combined.   Chill dough about 3 hours or overnight.  Roll dough into 1-inch balls, and roll the balls into granulated sugar.  Place 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.  Press the top of a wooden spoon gently into the dough to create a small indentation.   Bake the cookies for 9 minutes.  Remove the baking sheets from the oven and place ½ teaspoon of jam in the small indentation.  Bake the cookies for another 1 to 2 more minutes or until the cookies are slightly brown and the jam is set.  Makes 36 cookies.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites

I had such high hopes for dinner tonight, or I should say I had high hopes for blogging dinner tonight.  Since we moved on Sunday from standard time to daylight savings time, I couldn’t wait to blog about dinner this week.  I could cook and I would have plenty of light to take pictures.  Well, that was how it was supposed to work, but I had to pick up my son from practice, so dinner was delayed a bit.  By the time my delicious oregano chicken was finished, I missed the light, and I didn’t get any good pictures.  I’ll have to make the chicken again (my family loved the chicken, so it won’t be a hardship).  So, I’ll tell you about a snack I made with the kids instead.

The kids were helping me make these Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites, and by the time we finished, they could shape the pretzels better than I could.   We had a blast making them, and the kids enjoyed these snacks.   The pretzels are good, but I didn’t love them.  Once I drizzled chocolate on them, my taste buds needed the base to be sweeter.  I liked the pretzels better plain. My son packed them for snacks the week we made them, so he liked them.

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens 1990 Best Recipes Yearbook
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup milk
1/3 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons water
Chopped peanuts

In a small saucepan heat the milk, peanut butter, sugar, butter and salt until just warm (110° - 120°F) and the butter is almost melted.  Pour the milk mixture into the bread machine.  Add the flour and yeast, and turn the bread machine to the dough setting.  Once the bread machine has completed its cycle, place the dough into a lightly greased bowl, and place in a warm draft free place (I use my microwave) until the dough has doubled in size, about an hour.  Divide dough into 4 portions.  Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.  Divide each portion into 6 pieces.  Roll each piece of dough into a rope about 16 inches long. 

Shape each pretzel by twisting the two ends together about one inch down from the ends. Place the twist inside the circle and wrap the ends on the outside of the circle.  Moisten the ends and press to seal.  Place the pretzels about ½ inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled, about 20 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together the water and egg.  Brush the pretzels with the egg mixture.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.   Cool on the parchment paper on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave over low heat.  Stir in sifted powdered sugar and water until a smooth glaze forms.  Drizzle over the pretzels, and top with chopped peanuts.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls

For years I had a problem—more of a fear, really.  A fear I refused to acknowledge, but a fear that would regularly freeze me in my tracks.  A fear of…yeast!  Every time I got a new baking cookbook, I would flip through it, skipping over the yeast bread section with trembling hands.  I would move straight to the quick bread section.  I felt at home with quick breads.  I knew how to treat them.  How mix the ingredients, but not to over mix the quick bread batter.  I was in my comfort zone.  Despite my fear, yeast breads called to me.   I was drawn to the cranberry cinnamon rolls in a home-style baking book so heavy with yeast breads recipes I had to get rid of it. 

Then one day, my dad gave me a bread machine for my birthday.  With this gift I began to conquer my fear of yeast bread.  I started with an actual loaf of bread baked in the bread machine itself.  It wasn’t so hard to make, but it wasn’t very good either.  I didn’t like the crust, and what was the big hole in the bottom of the bread? We didn’t normally eat bread with dinner, so the bread was just contributing extra calories we didn’t need.  I gave up making yeast bread again. 

The bread machine sat lonely and sad, until I came across a bread machine pizza dough recipe.  Now, pizza is something we ate often, and creating pizza from scratch was something we enjoyed.  So I began making pizza dough with my bread machine.  Pizza night was fun and exciting, and slowly I began to see yeast not as something to fear, but simply as an ingredient!

The cranberry cinnamon rolls still haunted me.  Why did I get rid of that cookbook?  Could I try the recipe on my own?  Did the recipe use fresh cranberries or dried.  Should I use bread flour or all-purpose?  I needed answers!  Lucky for me, has a recipe for cranberry cinnamon rolls.  I could finely satisfy my craving!  And, I didn’t even use my bread machine!

If you have a fear of yeast, these rolls are a great way to conquer your fear.  Rolls fresh from the oven are worth the effort.  These delicate, tart and sweet rolls are a new family favorite.  The kids have requested them for Easter, and since I don’t fear yeast, I will make them.

Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from


½ cup warm water (105°-115°F)
2 (¼-oz) packages active dry yeast (5 teaspoons)
½ cup granulated sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 cup warm milk
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), softened

¼ cup water
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar, separated
2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
1 stick unsalted butter, very soft
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 ¼ cups powered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

To make the dough:
  In a small bowl, stir together warm water, yeast and a pinch of sugar, and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, discard and start over)

Put 5 cups of flour, salt, and remaining sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix the dough with the dough hook at low speed until combined.  In a small bowl, mix together the eggs and milk.  Add the egg mixture and the yeast mixture to the dry ingredients.  Beat on low until the flour is incorporated.  Change the speed to medium and beat until a very soft dough forms, about 7 minutes.  Add the butter and continue beating at medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes.  The dough will be sticky.

Rinse a large bowl with hot water, and add the dough to the wet bowl.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let dough rise in a warm place until it doubles in bulk, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. (I use my microwave.  It is the warmest place in my kitchen)

To make the filling:
  Bring water and 1 cup of granulated sugar to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the cranberries and simmer until they begin to burst, about 2 minutes.  Pour though a large strainer.  Reserve the juice for another use, and cool the berries.

To form and bake buns:  Turn out dough out onto a well-floured surface.  Dust with flour and roll out into a 16-inch square.  Brush off excess flour, then spread the softened butter evenly over the dough.  Stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar.  Sprinkle evenly over dough, and dot with the cooled and drained cranberries.

Roll the dough, starting with the side nearest you, firmly but not tightly.  Once you have a log, pinch together the seam.  Trim off about 1 inch of each end, discard.  Cut the log crosswise into 12 slices.

Butter two 9-inch cake pans, and place 6 slices into each pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F while the buns are rising.  Bake buns in the lower third of the oven until golden brown and puffed, 30 to 35 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes in the pans.

To make the glaze:
  Stir together the powdered sugar, milk, orange juice, and zest with a fork until smooth.  Drizzle over the rolls while they are still hot.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

Both of my children like to have hot lunches, and I’ll admit I like hot lunches too.  My daughter and I will eat a sandwich or a salad in a pinch, but we are happier if there is soup involved.  (My husband is another story.  He will eat anything for lunch, including cold food that should be warm. Yuck!)  My son’s hot lunch preference works fine most of the time, since his school serves healthy hot lunches, but when my son needs me to pack him a lunch, then I’m in a quandary.  If he is going to eat at school,  I can pack him soup or chili in a thermos, but if he needs a sack lunch for a fieldtrip,  I have few options.  And, when I finally find something he will eat, he will turn up his nose at same lunch the next time!

At least I can make my family a hot lunch when we are home on the weekends.  Sunday was cold and blustery, so I was happy to make a hot lunch for my family.  And, not only were Chicken Parmesan Burgers healthy (and hot), but they were from my March issue of Bon Appétit.  So, not only was I making my family happy, I was making something from this month’s magazine collection!

Chicken Parmesan Burgers weren’t an unqualified success for the kids. (Les was working and didn’t get to sample the burgers, and I took the fourth burger to work today.  Shh!)  My son loved the burger, and he ate the whole thing, but I had to pull the cheese off, and then he ate it plain on the bread.  My daughter said the burger was “okay,” but I’m used to her proclaiming, “That was amazing!”  So, I was a little disappointed.  She couldn’t tell me exactly what was wrong with it, but she, like my sister, is a dark meat lover, so the burgers might not have been to her taste.  As for me, I loved the burgers!  I wasn’t sure how the bitter radicchio, the peppery basil and the chicken would play together, but all the flavors got along like best friends.  I will definitely make Chicken Parmesan Burgers again.

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

Adapted from Bon Appétit
10 ½-inch-thick French bread slices, toast 8 slices, remove the crust and dice the 2 remaining slices
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil, plus 12 large leaves
¾ cup purchased refrigerated marinara sauce
16 ounces ground chicken
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon grated onion
¼ teaspoon salt
4 slices whole mild mozzarella
4 large radicchio leaves

Place the Parmesan cheese and diced bread into the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until the mixture is in fine crumbs.  Reserve ½ cup of the Parmesan mixture and transfer the remaining mixture to a pie plate.
Mix the marinara and the chopped basil in a small saucepan.  Remove 2 tablespoons of the marinara and place in a large bowl.  Heat the marinara in the saucepan on low, stirring occasionally.   Add the ground chicken to the bowl with the 2 tablespoons of marinara, and mix in the ½ cup of reserved Parmesan mixture, the onion, salt and the ½ tablespoon of olive oil.  Mix until just combined and form into patties.  Dredge the patties in the Parmesan mixture.

Heat the 1½ tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet.  When the oil is hot, add the patties.  Cook the patties until the bottoms are golden brown and have developed a crust, about 4 minutes.  Turn the patties over, top with cheese and cook for another 3 minutes.  Cover and cook for 1 minute or until the cheese is melted.

To assemble the sandwiches, place 1 slice of radicchio and 3 slices of basil on a slice of toasted bread.  Add a chicken patty and top with marinara and the second slice of bread.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Parmesan Thyme Crackers

I originally made Parmesan Thyme Crackers to go with the tapenade I made a couple of weeks ago.  But, once I tasted the crackers, I realized the flavors of the two would not pair well.  The sour salty combination of the tapenade needed a neutral base for its flavors to shine.

Parmesan Thyme Crackers don’t need a tapenade, cheese, or any other spread to complete them.  No, they are delicious on their own.  You only need to serve a glass of wine or champagne with these crackers to set off their rich buttery flavor and delicate texture, making them a perfect before dinner nibble to whet your guest’s appetites without filling them up.

Parmesan Thyme Crackers
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics
½ pound (1 stick) of butter
4 oz freshly grated parmesan cheese, about 1 cup
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for 1 minute.   Turn the mixter to low, and add the Parmesan, thyme, salt and pepper.  Mix until combined.  Add the flour and mix until the mixture combines in large crumbles, about 1 minute.  If the dough is dry add water 1 teaspoon at a time until the dough comes together. (I had to use about 5 teaspoons)

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and press it into a ball, and then roll into a 9-inch log.  Wrap the log in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 4-days. 

While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F. 

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Cut the dough into 3/8-inch-thick rounds, and place them on the prepared sheet pan.  Bake for 22 minutes, or until very light browned.  Rotate the pan once during baking.  Cool and serve at room temperature.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Joe’s Special Quiche

Joe’s Special is a San Francisco tradition allegedly dating back to the gold rush era with many restaurants claiming to be the restaurant that first offered the dish.  I had never heard of Joe’s Special until I moved from southern California to the San Francisco Bay area, but I loved it once I tried it.

I will make Joe’s Special occasionally (usually when we are camping), but my family usually chooses pancakes for breakfast.  With this in mind, I decided to serve my version of Joe’s Special for dinner.  And, to change it up even more, I decided to serve it as a quiche.

I did change the original recipe slightly by adding Italian sausage instead of hamburger, but I think the quiche needed the extra flavor.  Joe’s Special Quiche was a big hit with my family (well, a big hit with my daughter, husband and me.  My son wouldn’t even touch it.  Too green, I guess).  My daughter even earmarked the leftovers for lunch.

Joe’s Special Quiche
½ Recipe Pioneer Woman’s Perfect Pie Crust
1 medium onion, sliced in half and then sliced
½ pound Italian Sausage (I used ½ sweet and ½ hot), casings removed
10-12 ounce frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained
6 eggs
1 cup whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large skillet, heat the oil.  Add the Italian sausage.  Brown the sausage, breaking it into small bite-sized pieces.  When the sausage starts to brown, add the onions. Cook until the onions are soft and the sausage is cooked through.  Stir the spinach and nutmeg into the onion and sausage mixture, and cook for another 2 minutes.  Cool slightly.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a large circle.  Place the dough into a deep-dish pie plate.  Fold under any excess pie dough and crimp the edges, set aside. 

In a large bowl, beat the eggs.  Stir in the milk, cream, salt and shredded cheese. Add in the slightly cooled sausage mixture, and mix well.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell.  Place the pie plate on a baking sheet, cover loosely with foil.  Bake the quiche for 15 minutes at 400°F then turn the oven to 350°F and bake for an additional 45 minutes to 60 minutes, or until the middle of the quiche no longer jiggles.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Warm Barley Salad with Red Cabbage and Feta

Do you have a stack of food magazines sitting on your coffee table?  I certainly do.  I receive Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Fine Cooking, Cooks Illustrated, and until it became defunct Gourmet in the mail every month.  I also pick up other magazines from the newsstand, so  I have quite a magazine collection.  I usually flip through a magazine when I receive it, but then it waits until I have some time before I can flip through it again to find interesting recipes.  If the stack grows too big, I sometimes lose hope and give the magazines away. 

I would like to get more out of these magazines (other than a bigger recycling pile), so I've decided to try and make at least one recipe from each of the magazines that come into my home.  Sounds like a New Year’s resolution doesn’t it?  Can I call it a New Year’s resolution if I start in March?  I don’t know.  Call it what you may, I am resolved!

The first recipe from my new resolution is from Food & Wine, and I decided to try it because it falls in with another resolution to add more healthy grains to my family’s diet.  I served Warm Barley Salad with Red Cabbage and Feta as a main dish salad, and it was great, but it would also be good with some grilled chicken breast or pork tenderloin.  The barley has an amazing flavor. My husband and I enjoyed the salad with the cabbage, walnuts and feta. The salad is both beautiful and tasty with the sweet and sour cabbage and the flavorful barley.  My kids didn’t enjoy this salad as much as my husband and I did, but they enjoyed the barley by itself.


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