Archive for June, 2008

Lemon-Basil Risotto with Tomato Topping

June 26, 2008

I’ve been on a bit of a Cooking Light kick lately. I don’t have a subscription (but I want one…*cough*mom*cough*) but for a couple years in college I would buy the latest issue on newsstands every now and then. That is, until I realized how darn expensive that got! So lately I’ve been squelching my Cooking Light cravings by revisiting old issues that I held on to. You’ll see a couple recipes coming up in the next few days that are all from Cooking Light. I love the fact that the magazine instructs you on how to make lighter dishes but you totally don’t feel like you’re reading and/or eating a light recipe!

Like Lemon-Basil Risotto with Tomato Topping…..yum! While eating it I felt a moment of total guilt for eating something so INDULGENT until I remembered it was from Cooking Light. Guilt be gone! Plus it has tomatoes on top which are providing you with much needed Lycopenes (or something like that?).

This was the perfect pairing to go with our Parmesan Chicken. It felt like such a fancy meal! In Alex’s words, “This meal is fricken’ awesome!” The only thing I changed was I cooked the risotto the “old-fashioned” way on the stove rather than in a pressure cooker like the recipe suggested. I did have to use about 1 cup more stock than was called for in the original recipe. And now I’m mad at this recipe because it has planted the seed in my brain of how much I “need” to buy a pressure cooker now. Darn you Lemon-Basil Risotto!!

Lemon-Basil Risotto with Tomato Topping

Source: Cooking Light

1 1/2 cups chopped seeded tomato
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1 1/2 teaspoons extravirgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Dash of sugar
Dash of salt
Dash of freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil

To prepare topping, combine first 8 ingredients. Cover and let stand at room temperature.To prepare risotto, melt butter in a 6-quart pressure cooker over medium heat. Add onion; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add rice and garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine; cook 1 minute or until liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently. Stir in broth, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and nutmeg. Close lid securely, and bring to high pressure over high heat. Adjust heat to medium or level needed to maintain high pressure; cook 6 minutes. Remove from heat; place cooker under cold running water. Remove lid. Stir in cheese, rind, juice, and basil. Top with tomato topping.

Yields 6 servings (serving size: 1 cup risotto and 1/4 cup topping)

writeNutrient();CALORIES 368(24% from fat); FAT 10g (sat 5.7g,mono 3.4g,poly 0.4g); IRON 1mg; CHOLESTEROL 23mg; CALCIUM 262mg; CARBOHYDRATE 52.6g; SODIUM 869mg; PROTEIN 13.7g; FIBER 2.3g

Robin Kline , writePublicationAppearance();Cooking Light, MAY 2004

Barefoot Bloggers: Parmesan Chicken

June 26, 2008

This week’s Barefoot Bloggers recipe was Parmesan Chicken. It was a very tasty dish. Alex especially enjoyed it. The only thing I changed was the cooking method. I planned on making a risotto as a side dish and there was no way I could oversee the Parmesan Chicken cooking in the skillet while simultaneously stirring the risotto. So I just baked the chicken in 375 degree oven for about 35 minutes. Unfortunately some of the breading peeled off of the chicken but it was still really good. Thanks to Megan of My Baking Adventures for picking the recipe. To check out other Barefoot Blogger’s results go here.

Parmesan Chicken
Source: Barefoot Contessa Family Style

4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 extra-large eggs
1 tbsp water
1-1/4 c seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
Unsalted butter
Good olive oil
Salad greens for 6, washed and spun dry
1 recipe Lemon Vinaigrette, recipe follows

Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4-inch thick. You can use either a meat mallet or a rolling pin. Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate. On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts. Toss the salad greens with lemon vinaigrette. Place a mound of salad on each hot chicken breast. Serve with extra grated Parmesan.

Lemon Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Double-Decker Chicken Nachos

June 26, 2008

Alex and I are nacho freaks. In fact, it was the first thing we made in an oven after our 3 month stint in an ovenless hotel room. I must say, those take the cake for the best nachos ever simply because we had been oh-so-deprived of all things oven-baked for so long. However, these nachos are our new favorites! They were sooooo yummy! I saw Pioneer Woman’s Cowboy Nachos and thought they sounded amazing. Only problem was I didn’t have any leftover brisket. So I decided to adapt the nachos to something we could easily make and that meant grilled chicken!

I loved her idea of stacking an extra layer of nachos on top of the first layer. There is never enough room for all the nachos you want in one layer so this totally solves that problem! I also thought it was very intriguing that she didn’t use frijoles (refried beans) on her nachos. Instead she used the beans from her Pinto Bean recipe. Again, I didn’t have leftover Pinto Beans so I decided to substitute canned Ranch Beans. Lastly, I added Queso Fresco to the top because I had some leftover from the Avocado, Tomato, and Red Onion Salad.

Oh and I should give credit where credit is due, Alex actually was the master behind these nachos. I gave him some guidance but he took over and put them together. Plus, he made his “famous” Pico de Gallo to go with it. Thanks, hubby, for a great dinner!

I’ll try to explain how he did these but you really can do it anyway you want to!

Double-Decker Chicken Nachos

Adapted from Pioneer Woman’s Cowboy Nachos

  • Grill up some chicken sprinkled with a little fajita seasoning until done. Once it has rested, cut the chicken up into small pieces.
  • Place one layer of tortilla chips on a cookie sheet.
  • Drain a can of Ranch Beans and sprinkle a few beans on each chip.
  • Place a chunk or two of chicken on each chip.
  • Sprinkle grated Monterrey Jack cheese and crumbled Queso Fresco on top of chips.
  • Make some Pico de Gallo by mixing chopped tomatoes, jalepeno, onion, cilantro, lime juice, and salt. There’s no real trick to pico de gallo. Just make it with as much of each ingredient as you like to suit your tastes.
  • Sprinkle 1/3rd of the Pico de Gallo on top of the first layer.
  • Repeat this process again with a second layer of nachos.
  • Place the nachos into the oven and broil until cheese is melted and starting to brown.
  • When the nachos come out of the oven sprinkle the last 1/3rd of the Pico on top. Cut up an avocado into small pieces and sprinkle those on top as well.
  • Eat and enjoy!

Strawberry Hand Pies

June 25, 2008

Strawberry Hand Pies

When I first saw these on Good Things Catered I knew they sounded right up my alley. Then, when I saw them on Annie’s Eats I took it as a sign that I needed to make them ASAP. They were so very delicious, especially served with freshly whipped cream.

I definitely had some issues with them though. First, the recipe says it should make 10 to 12 pies but I could BARELY get 8 pies out of the dough recipe and I really don’t think my pies were all that big. Also, the recipe suggests using confectioners sugar instead of flour for rolling out the dough and to keep it from sticking. Well, this didn’t really work for me. It just ended up making a stickier mess than before so I had to switch to flour. I wish I could have stuck with the confectioners sugar though because it added such a nice sweetness to the dough. Next time I might make a half and half mixture of flour and sugar. Then, I had issues with filling the dough with the strawberry mixture. See I had mixed my strawberries with the sugar and stuck them in the fridge about an hour before I started filling the dough rounds so there was lots of strawberry juice by the time I got to them. Well, the juice made the pies not want to seal so there were tons of holes that opened up during cooking. Also, when eating the pies I just felt that they were a little too “crusty” and could have used more fruit filling but I have NO IDEA how I could have put more filling inside without them bursting open completely.

Now after all those “issues” you’d probably think I would never make them again but that is SO WRONG! They were so good and so worth the amount of work and headache that they caused. Plus, I think this is the type of recipe where the more you make it the better you get at it. I can’t wait to try other fruit fillings too! Thanks for another great recipe, Katie!

Strawberry Hand Pies

Source: Good Things Catered

1 recipe sweet butter pie dough (see below if needed)
3 c. fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice

powdered sugar for dusting

2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment.
-In medium bowl, combine strawberries, granulated sugar and lemon juice and set aside.
-Turn dough out onto a powdered sugar-dusted work surface and cut pie dough in half (rewrap other half and place back in fridge to stay cold).
-Roll one half of pie dough out about 1/8 in thickness. Using round pastry cutter (or trace knife around small plate), cut out about 5-6 inch rounds.
-Place round onto baking sheet and place about 2-3 Tbsp strawberry mixture into center.
-Using pastry brush dipped in a small amount of egg, brush the edge of half of the round.
-Fold dry edge onto egg brushed half, forming semicircle shape, and press edges together to seal with the tines of a fork.
-Brush the top of the pie with egg mixture and sprinkle with sugar.
-Use a small knife to make a 1 inch slit in the top of the pie for steam to escape.
-Repeat with remaining pastry dough.
-Place in oven and bake until tops are beginning to turn golden brown, about 20 minutes.
-Let cool on sheets for 7-10 mins and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
-Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 10-12

Sweet Butter Pie Dough

2 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp lemon zest
2 sticks (1 c.) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 in pieces
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6-8 Tbsp cold buttermilk (whole milk with a dash of fresh lemon juice can be subbed)

powdered sugar for dusting

-In small bowl, combine vanilla and buttermilk, stir to combine and set aside.
-In large bowl, add flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest and whisk to combine.
-Use pastry cutter or two knives to cut butter into flour mixture until resembles course meal or just until all pieces are less than pea-sized.
-Add buttermilk mixture and stir in until dough comes together.
-Transfer dough to powdered sugar-dusted work surface and shape into flat disk.
-Wrap disk tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.

Notes: You can also make the dough in the bowl of a food processor, just be careful not to over process (30 secs should be enough to bring it together.)

Pie dough may be made ahead and frozen for up to 2 months if wrapped well.

Tomato, Avocado, and Red Onion Salad

June 15, 2008

I took inspiration for this recipe from an episode of 30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray that I had playing in the background the other day. It’s really simple and really delicious. I especially like the different way she suggested cutting the avocado into thick, round slices. I had never thought to do it that way. I hope my instructions below explain it well enough. It was the perfect accompaniment to the Beer Butt Chicken that Alex grilled.

Tomato, Avocado, and Red Onion Salad

Inspired by an episode of 30 Minute Meals

2 large ripe tomatoes

2 Haas avocados

1/2 red onion

drizzle of olive oil

drizzle of balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper

2 ounces of Queso Fresco (or the crumbled cheese of your choice…blue, feta, gorgonzola, etc.)

Cut the tomatoes into thick round slices and lay flat on a plate.

Slice the avocado around the middle (the opposite way you would normally do it) and pull out the pit. Then scoop out the flesh with a spoon in one chunk. Slice the avocado into rounds mirroring the thickness of the tomato rounds and then arrange a slice on top of each piece of tomato.

Cut the red onion into thick slices as well and place on the avocado rounds.

Drizzle the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar over the salad and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Crumble the Queso Fresco on top and enjoy.

Pasta, Pesto, and Peas

June 15, 2008

So I’d like to apologize in advance for being so totally late on getting to this week’s Barefoot Blogger’s event. We were supposed to post our recipes this past Thursday but here it is Sunday and I’m just now posting. Why you ask? Well, this week’s recipe called for us to make homemade pesto which requires lots and LOTS of fresh basil. Fresh basil at my local grocery store comes in TINY portions and costs a lot. I searched and searched for farmer’s markets or other places where I might be able to buy basil in bulk to no avail. So I sucked it up, halved the recipe so I would only have to buy 2.5 cups of basil, and went shopping.

My pocket book may be hurting but my tummy is happy! This was a delicious pasta dish that we enjoyed for lunch but would also make a great take-along dish to a pot luck or barbecue. You could also throw in some chicken and make a dinner out of it.

The only problem I had with the recipe was that I found it to be kind of confusing. The pesto part of the recipe makes 4 cups of pesto but the pasta part of the recipe only calls for 1.5 cups of pesto to be processed with the mayo, lemon juice, parmesan, and spinach. I just wish it only called for you to make the amount of pesto that you need for the recipe. I ended up freezing the leftover pesto but the LAST thing I really needed was more stuff to fill my already too full freezer with. If I had paid attention to the recipe I would have cut down the pesto recipe to only make the needed amount for the pasta and saved my money on that darn basil! Grrr! Oh and unless you’re taking the recipe to share with an army of people, definitely halve or even quarter the recipe because it makes tons!

Pasta, Pesto, and Peas

Source: Food Network (Ina Garten)

3/4 pound fusilli pasta
3/4 pound bow tie pasta
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 cups pesto, packaged or see recipe below
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 cups good mayonnaise
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
1/3 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook the fusilli and bow ties separately in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 to 12 minutes until each pasta is al dente. Drain and toss into a bowl with the olive oil. Cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the pesto, spinach, and lemon juice. Add the mayonnaise and puree. Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta and then add the Parmesan, peas, pignolis, salt, and pepper. Mix well, season to taste, and serve at room temperature.

1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.

Notes: Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out.

To clean basil, remove the leaves, swirl them in a bowl of water, and then spin them very dry in a salad spinner. Store them in a closed plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel. As long as the leaves are dry they will stay green for several days.

Yield: 4 cups

Citi’s Oven-Fried Chicken

June 15, 2008

Despite the ugly photo, this chicken was really very good. This recipe comes from Katie over at Good Things Catered and it was her Grandma Citi’s famous chicken recipe. The coating is a very interesting combination of cornflakes, oatmeal, and flour which makes for a very crispy crust. Just be sure to flip the chicken halfway through or else you’ll end up with soggy undersides (like I did)! Also, be sure you realize that the chicken needs to MARINATE (I forgot). My chicken only got to marinate for about an hour but I’m sure it would have been even better had I remembered and started it earlier! Thanks Katie for sharing your awesome family recipe! I served this with Crash Hot Potatoes, salad, and Cheddar Bay Biscuits and it was REALLY a delicious meal!

Citi’s Oven-Fried Chicken

Source: Good Things Catered

6 chicken thighs
6 chicken drumsticks
1 egg
1 c. yogurt
1/8 c. olive oil
1/4 c. white wine (of chicken stock if you don’t use alch.)
2 tsp salt (I love Lawry’s garlic salt for this)
2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 c. flour
3 c. cornflakes
1 1/2 c. oatmeal
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh oregano

-Clean and pat dry chicken pieces.
-Place chicken into a large freezer bag.
-In a blender, combine egg, yogurt, olive oil, wine/stock, salt and pepper and blend on high to whip together.
-Pour mixture over chicken and seal bag.
-Make sure marinade is covering all pieces and sides of chicken and place in fridge to marinade.
-Marinade chicken at least one hour and up to 24.
-Preheat even to 400 degrees.
-In bowl of food processor, combine remaining ingredients and pulse to a coarse meal, cutting the spices into the breading.
-Remove from bowl of food processor and place in a shallow dish or wide-bottomed bowl.
-Line a baking sheet with heavy duty tinfoil and top with wire baking rack.
-Remove chicken from fridge and with a set of tongs, pull one piece of chicken out of the marinade, shake to remove excess and dredge in breading mixture.
-Cover completely in breading mixture, shaking lightly to remove excess, and place on wire rack.
-Repeat with all pieces of chicken.
-Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and place baking sheet in oven.
-Bake until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees, about 50-60 minutes. (Like I said above, I recommend you flip the chicken pieces halfway through so both sides get crisp.)

Crash Hot Potatoes

June 15, 2008

I saw this delicious little side dish on Pioneer Woman’s blog and thought it sounded like a great way to change up the typical baked or mashed potato side dish. She says they originate in Australia, hence the odd name “Crash Hot Potatoes”. I don’t care if the name is weird or not though because these things are DELISH! They are relatively simple but oh so flavorful and crispy. These will be a repeat side dish in our house for sure! If you’d like to see how their made just go to her website (link above). There’s no real “recipe”…it’s more just a method. I pretty much followed her instructions exactly.

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

June 14, 2008

I think Alex and I have only eaten at Red Lobster once in all the 5.75 years we have been together. It’s just not our favorite place to eat BUT we do love their Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Those made an impression. I’ve seen copycat recipes over the years but I never made them because I guess I thought they would be too time consuming. I’d rather work on a great main dish than an unneeded accompaniment like biscuits.

However, now that I’ve finally made them I know I will make them over and over and over again. They seriously took about 12 minutes from start to finish. They are so simple and SO delicious! Alex and I both loved them.

I did some research and combined several recipes I saw into something I thought would best suit us. I’m very happy with how they turned out. I took a lot of inspiration from this recipe.

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Makes about 12 biscuits

2 cups Bisquick

2/3 cup milk

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning (or any kind of cajun seasoning if you don’t have Old Bay)

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Combine Bisquick, milk, and cheddar cheese and stir together.

3. Using two spoons or a large cookie scoop, spoon about 1/4 cup of batter at a time onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Make sure to leave room for them to expand while cooking.

4. Combine butter, garlic salt, and Old Bay in a small microwaveable-safe dish and microwave for about 30 seconds or until the butter is melted.

5. Brush the tops of the uncooked biscuits with some of the butter mixture using a pastry brush. Make sure to leave about half the butter for brushing after baking.

6. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown on the tops.

7. Once the biscuits come out of the oven brush them again with the rest of the butter mixture.

8. Eat and enjoy. These are best when served warm.

Peanut Butter Doggie Birthday Cake

June 13, 2008

Our puppy turned one year old yesterday and my mother-in-law asked if we were going to bake her a cake. Well, good idea! So I did a quick search and came up with this recipe for a Peanut Butter Cake suited for doggies.

Maddie has always been a huge peanut butter fan. When we first got her as a puppy she had a skin problem so we had to give her medicine everyday. The only way we could get her to take the meds was to tuck the pill into a glob of peanut butter. Worked every time! Well now she’s a healthy doggie who doesn’t need to take meds anymore which means she doesn’t get as much peanut butter. Literally if one of us pulls out the peanut butter jar the moment the top comes off she comes a runnin’ in like a crazy dog. So I knew that a Peanut Butter Cake would be a big hit. And it was. She chomped it down and asked for seconds, thirds, and fourths (but we stopped at thirds).

The cake recipe suggested icing the cake with cottage cheese but I though Maddie would appreciate even more peanutbuttery-ness so I just heated up some peanut butter in the microwave until it was thinner and drizzled on top.

By the way, the cake is actually pretty tasty for humans too! It’s more like a bread than a cake by human standards.

Peanut Butter Delight

Source: Dog Treat Recipe Exchange

1 cup white or whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup shredded carrots
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup honey
1 egg


Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)

Mix together flour and baking soda. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into a ring mold sprayed with a nonstick spray for 40 minutes.

Frost this cake with low fat cottage cheese and decorate with carrot pieces (I just drizzled heated peanut butter on top). Store in refrigerator.