Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cider Glazed Chicken with Browned Butter-Almond Rice

I was so excited to try this recipe, because it sounded terrific. I love chicken with a hint of sweetness, and browned butter and rice just sounded like a perfect addition. Plus, it was in the new issue of cooking Light, and I am a sucker for the recipes in any "new issue." So, this is an easy recipe. Truly, it takes under 30 minutes. I made it with roasted cauliflower, since I had some left over from the curry I had made the day before. Well, the finished product was really... beige. As you can see, there was little color on the plate, and you may have noticed that I am not a big fan of a colorless plate. Anyway, other issues included overcooked chicken, too little cider glaze, and boring, bland rice. So, here's the thing - all of these issues could be easily fixed, and I'd like to try it again, because I think this recipe has a ton of potential. Next time, I'll make it with thinner cut chicken breasts, like the super thin kind (I think Perdue) makes them. This will allow quick cooking, which should keep the inside moist, and the outside less "tough." Then, I will double the cider glaze. It definitely needed more. I felt like most of it ended up stuck to the bottom of my pan. This may be the fault of my 14-inch skillet, but I'm not sure. Last night I also made too much rice. The recipe called for "Boil-in-a-Bag Brown Rice," but I chose to use regular, and I clearly made too much. The browned butter and almond flavor just didn't shine through. Next time, I'll make much less. Lastly, though my cauliflower was the best part of the dish, I might make it with broccoli or roasted carrots next time, just to add some color to the plate. It makes the meal much more satisfying for me.

So, the moral of my story is...

Maybe you should try this.

I was thinking I might change my rating system to 3 options: "Try this," "Maybe you should try this," or "Don't try this." What do you think?

Cider-Glazed Chicken with Browned Butter-Pecan Rice
*Adapted from Cooking Light

Other Time: 20 minutes minutes (Yeah right - it takes 30. The Cooking Light people are machines.)
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cutlet and about 1/2 cup rice)

1 (3.5-ounce) bag boil-in-bag brown rice (such as Uncle Ben's) (or make your own!)
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 pound chicken breast cutlets (about 4 cutlets) (Use the thin kind - you won't be sorry)
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup refrigerated apple cider (Double it. Seriously.)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (Double it, again.)
1/4 cup chopped pecans (I used sliced almonds, because that's what I had.)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Cook rice according to package directions in a small saucepan, omitting salt and fat; drain.

2. While rice cooks, melt 1 teaspoon butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan. Add cider and mustard to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until syrupy. Add chicken to pan, turning to coat. Remove from heat; set aside.

3. Melt remaining 5 teaspoons butter in saucepan over medium-high heat; cook for 2 minutes or until browned and fragrant. Lower heat to medium; add pecans, and cook for 1 minute or until toasted, stirring frequently. Add rice and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; toss well to coat. Serve rice with chicken. Sprinkle with parsley.

CALORIES 333 ; FAT 13g (sat 4.4g,mono 4.9g,poly 2.2g); CHOLESTEROL 81mg; CALCIUM 23mg; CARBOHYDRATE 24.2g; SODIUM 601mg; PROTEIN 29.1g; FIBER 1.9g; IRON 1.5mg

Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fall Vegetable Curry with Basmati Pilaf

We obviously love curry dishes in our house, and this one boasted a quick cooking time, so I thought I'd give it a try tonight. I rarely cook vegetarian dinners that aren't soup, so I was looking forward to trying this one. The recipe recommended serving it with Cashew Rice, but I decided to try a rice pilaf recipe that looked really interesting. The flavor of both recipes was great. I loved the curry. It was a nice blend of sweetness from the potatoes, and salty spiciness, from the curry and chickpeas. The only problem with it, was the cooking time. It seemed to me, that everything needed to be cooked longer. The onions still had a bit of bite to them, and the potatoes were a tad toothsome as well. It was frustrating, because it was pretty uneven - some of it was cooked to perfection, while parts of it seemed underdone. I loved the flavor, however, so I'd like to try this one again.

Fall Vegetable Curry

Other Time: 30 minutes minutes
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup curry and 2 tablespoons yogurt)

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup diced peeled sweet potato
1 cup small cauliflower florets
1/4 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
1/2 cup organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt

1. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sweet potato to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Decrease heat to medium. Add cauliflower, onion, and curry powder; cook 1 minute, stirring mixture constantly. Add broth and next 3 ingredients (through tomatoes); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with cilantro; serve with yogurt.

CALORIES 231 ; FAT 3.9g (sat 0.9g,mono 1.6g,poly 0.9g); CHOLESTEROL 2mg; CALCIUM 106mg; CARBOHYDRATE 40.8g; SODIUM 626mg; PROTEIN 10.4g; FIBER 8.6g; IRON 2.5mg

Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2010

The rice dish was interesting, because it called for both rice and vermicelli in the same dish. I had a lot of green onions in my fridge, so it was a good way for me to use them. I've never used my Calphalon pots in the oven, so I was a little nervous about how this one would come out. I was supposed to cook it in a dutch oven, but I don't have one, so I had to settle for my soup pot. The rice came out underdone, though it had absorbed all the liquid and was stuck to the bottom of my pot. So, basically, it seemed like it, too, needed more cooking time, and more liquid. Once again, parts of it were fine, while parts were toothsome. I loved the flavor though, and the parts that were well cooked, tasted delicious. This might have happened because I didn't use a dutch oven. Perhaps there's a reason it didn't call for making it in a giant pot. Hmph. Anyway, this one was a keeper as well, but it needs some refining, if I want to make it in my big pot again. Or... I may just have to break down and buy a dutch oven.
Basmati Pilaf with Vermicelli and Onions

This is a version of arroz con fidellos (rice with pasta). Fidellos is a thin Sephardic pasta similar to angel hair or vermicelli.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)

5 teaspoons olive oil
3/4 cup chopped Rio or other sweet onion
2 cups uncooked basmati rice
3/4 cup (2 ounces) uncooked vermicelli, broken into 2-inch pieces
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped green onions

Preheat oven to 350º.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 3/4 cup sweet onion; cook 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add basmati rice and pasta; cook 2 minutes or until rice is opaque, stirring frequently. Stir in chicken broth, salt, and black pepper; bring to a boil. Cover and bake at 350º for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Let stand 15 minutes. Uncover; stir in parsley and green onions

CALORIES 140 (19% from fat); FAT 3g (sat 0.4g,mono 2.1g,poly 0.3g); IRON 0.6mg; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 10mg; CARBOHYDRATE 25.2g; SODIUM 289mg; PROTEIN 3.1g; FIBER 0.8g

Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2006

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Black Bean - Salsa Chli

I've made a lot of chili recipes in the past few years. A lot. They are always vegetarian, full of beans, and easy. I always like them, but I never love them. This recipe comes from Cooking Light, and it's not vegetarian. It calls for ground turkey and smoked bacon, which I omitted from the recipe, because I can't bring myself to get on the bacon wagon. Anyway, this is easy, much like my other chili recipes, only this one is about one thousand times more delicious. Now, I think adding bacon, would have added a smokey saltiness that I would have adored, but we are not pork eaters, so I skipped it. Instead, I added a new Penzey's spice, called "Arizona Dreaming," which is a Mexican inspired blend, that has a nice smoky bite. The end result was a really high flavor, yet mildly spicy chili. It was thick and meaty, with a perfect amount of beans. This was the first time I've tried eating a chili with meat, and now I know what all the fuss is about. It lends such a nice texture to the dish. This was a great, low fat dinner, served over brown rice. It will be a great dish to serve for casual dinner guests in the Fall and Winter (well, at those who we know like chili), and I can easily whip it up for my family at the drop of a hat. Winner!

Black Bean-Salsa Chili

(Adapted from Cooking Light - See mods in italics)

6 servings (serving size: 1 cup chili and about 4 teaspoons sour cream mixture)

2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
Cooking spray
1/2 pound ground turkey
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 sweet hickory-smoked bacon slices, chopped (skipped it!)
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups mild salsa
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium beef broth (I used chicken broth)
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream (I didn't make the sauce, so I skipped the last 3 ingredients)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1. Combine 1 1/2 cups beans, 2/3 cup water, and sugar in a food processor; process until smooth. Combine bean puree and remaining beans in a bowl.

2. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add turkey; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove turkey from pan.

3. Add onion, bell peppers, and bacon to pan; cook 5 minutes or until bacon and onion are lightly browned. Return turkey to pan. Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, and crushed red pepper to pan; stir well to coat. Stir in bean mixture, salsa, tomato paste, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Combine sour cream, cilantro, and juice in a small bowl. Serve chili with sour cream mixture.

CALORIES 199 ; FAT 6.2g (sat 2.6g,mono 1.9g,poly 1.2g); CHOLESTEROL 34mg; CALCIUM 88mg; CARBOHYDRATE 22g; SODIUM 740mg; PROTEIN 14.8g; FIBER 5.9g; IRON 2.6mg

Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2009

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hoppin' John

When I told Kevin I was making rice and beans for dinner, he balked, meaning that he didn't think he'd be satisfied, so I settled for making Latin Chicken, and Hoppin' John. I've posted about the Latin Chicken before, and we really like the flavor, so I won't get into that recipe, except to say that it was a nice addition to the Hoppin' John. For those who don't know, and have a thirst for history, Hoppin' John is a classic Southern dish, that originated in West Africa. Traditionally, Hoppin' John is eaten on New Year's Day, and is thought to bring a prosperous year, filled with luck. The peas are symbolic of pennies or coins, and a coin is sometimes added to the pot or left under the dinner bowls. Collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, chard, kale etc. along with this dish are supposed to also add to the wealth since they are the color of money. When you eat Hoppin' John after that day, you can call it "Skippin' Jenny," which signifies the frugality that will further the hope of prosperity in the new year. Good info, huh?

Anyway, I got this recipe from the Eating Well site, and though it was supposed to be adapted, using barley instead of rice, I used brown rice anyway, I also substituted carrots for the celery, since my celery looked less than stellar. The end result was a tasty, lightly spiced rice and beans dish, that was really comforting and filling. For me, this could have easily been a main dish, but for Kevin, it was really nice with chicken. As an added bonus, Maya loved it, too. I will definitely make this again, but next time, I think I'll make it with barbecued chicken, because they will go better together.

Barley Hoppin' John
Adapted from Eating Well

4 servings, 1 1/2 cups each | Active Time: 20 minutes | Total Time: 40 minutes

* 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
* 2 stalks celery, chopped (I used carrots)
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 14-ounce can vegetable broth
* 1 cup quick-cooking barley (I used brown rice)
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
* 2 teaspoons lemon juice (I used lime juice)
* 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 15-ounce cans black-eyed peas, rinsed (I used 1 can of black eyed peas, 1 can of pinto beans)


1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper and celery. Cook until the vegetables soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add broth, barley, thyme, lemon juice, crushed red pepper and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until the barley is done, 15 to 20 minutes (If using brown rice, extend cooking time to 50 minutes). Remove from the heat and stir in black-eyed peas. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve hot.


Per serving : 320 Calories; 5 g Fat; 1 g Sat; 3 g Mono; 0 mg Cholesterol; 58 g Carbohydrates; 12 g Protein; 11 g Fiber; 677 mg Sodium; 529 mg Potassium

Monday, September 20, 2010

Broiled Tilapia with a Thai Coconut-Curry Sauce

I have never really been a fan of seafood. I want to like fish, because it's healthy, and supposedly delicious, but I feel sort of meh about it. Anyway, on Yom Kippur, I decided to give it another try. I have been told that tilapia is one of the mildest white fish out there, so I figured it was a good place for me to start. In keeping with our love of Indian, Thai, and curry dishes, I decided to make this dish, which was very highly rated on the Cooking Light website. The fish itself is quite plain - brushed with sesame oil and kosher salt. The sauce, though very easy to put together, was super tasty - perfectly sweet, spicy, creamy and chunky. It coated the chicken and brown rice, and gave it a really nice, rich flavor. Unfortunately, I think I overcooked the fish a little, which made it a tad mushy. I liked it, but I sort of felt like the fish itself, was just a vehicle, to get to the sauce. We had a lot left over though, and it will be really nice over rice or chicken. I served this dish with balsamic green beans, and it was a really nice addition. I'm not sure I'll make this tilapia again, but I will keep trying fish. A wise woman (my mom) once said, "Fish is an acquired taste." Hmph.

Broiled Tilapia with Thai Coconut-Curry Sauce

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 fillet, 1/2 cup sauce, 3/4 cup rice, and 1 lime wedge)

1 teaspoon dark sesame oil, divided
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped green onions
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons red curry paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
Cooking spray
3 cups hot cooked basmati rice
4 lime wedges

Preheat broiler.

Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add pepper and onions; cook 1 minute. Stir in curry powder, curry paste, and cumin; cook 1 minute. Add soy sauce, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and coconut milk; bring to a simmer (do not boil). Remove from heat; stir in cilantro.

Brush fish with 1/2 teaspoon oil; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil 7 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve fish with sauce, rice, and lime wedges.

CALORIES 506 (30% from fat); FAT 17.1g (sat 5.9g,mono 6g,poly 2.5g); IRON 2.7mg; CHOLESTEROL 82mg; CALCIUM 47mg; CARBOHYDRATE 56.6g; SODIUM 616mg; PROTEIN 29g; FIBER 3.1g

Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 2002

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Classic Shepherd's Pie

The idea of Shepherd's Pie has always appealed to me. After all, what's better than meat and veggies topped with mashed taters? This recipe came from Food Network (I think Bobby Fla and it's a really basic recipe, though it involves quite a bit of prep work. I made the mashed potatoes early in the day, and then prepped everything else, and stuck the un-baked pie in the fridge, until an hour before dinner. It cooked up beautifully, and it looked lovely, when we scooped into it. Kevin liked it, though he claims that all Shepherd's Pies are created equal. Hmph. Well, it looked and smelled divine, and both Maya and Kevin enjoyed it. Maya didn't like the marshmallows (a.k.a mushrooms), but besides that, it was a winner.

Beef Shepherd's Pie

Adapted from the Food Network Kitchens and "How to Boil Water."


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 rib celery, sliced
  • 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 cup canned low sodium beef broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups Mashed Potatoes, recipe follows
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, optional
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.


Heat the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, mushrooms, garlic, half the salt, and oregano. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until mushrooms are soft and tomato paste has turned brick red, about 8 minutes more. Stir in the beef, the broth, the remaining salt, the Worcestershire, and some pepper, breaking up any large clumps of meat, cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 3 minutes.

Transfer the meat and vegetables to a 2-quart oval casserole dish and spread the mashed potatoes over the top, leaving a 1/4-inch boarder around the edge. Make a decorative pattern on the top of the potatoes, if desired. Sprinkle with cheese, if using, and dot with the remaining tablespoon of butter. Bake until potatoes brown and the juices bubble around the edge, about 40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Copyright 2005 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved.

Mashed Potatoes:

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled quartered

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

3/4 cup whole milk

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Freshly ground black pepper

Put the potatoes in a saucepan with cold water to cover by about 1-inch and add the salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes. At the same time, combine the milk and butter in a small saucepan and warm over low heat until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

Drain the potatoes and return to the saucepan. Toss the potatoes over medium heat until dry. Add the heated milk mixture and mash the potatoes until just slightly chunky, then stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Roast Chicken with Balsamic Bell Peppers

I've made this dinner many times, but this time, I had all the ingredients on hand, which made it much easier to whip up. This is a quickie, and it is definitely a staple in our house. I really like the flavor of the chicken and peppers together, and the hint of balsamic brings out a really nice sweetness in the chicken pepper combo. This time around, Kevin found it a tad too salty, but I thought it was perfect. The chicken may have been a little overcooked this time, as well, but I like it that way, so I think this was much more of a success for me, than for Kevin. Maya isn't a very tough audience, so she liked it just fine! This dish pairs really nicely with rice pilaf, or roasted potatoes. We had just bought 10 pounds of red taters at Costco this weekend, so I served it with garlic roasted potatoes. It was a nice, weekday dinner. I will be making this again - only juicier, and less salty!

Roast Chicken with Balsamic Bell Peppers

Other Time: 40 minutes minutes
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 breast half and about 1/2 cup bell pepper mixture)

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed (I omitted these, because I didn't have them on hand)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Cooking spray
2 cups thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 cup thinly sliced yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 1 large)
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Combine 1/2 teaspoon salt, fennel seeds, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, garlic powder, and oregano. Brush chicken with 1 1/2 teaspoons oil; sprinkle spice rub over chicken. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken over; cook 1 minute. Arrange chicken in an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until done.

3. Heat remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers, shallots, and rosemary; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Stir in vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve bell pepper mixture over chicken.

CALORIES 282 ; FAT 11g (sat 2.1g,mono 6.4g,poly 1.7g); CHOLESTEROL 94mg; CALCIUM 38mg; CARBOHYDRATE 8.8g; SODIUM 644mg; PROTEIN 35.9g; FIBER 1.9g; IRON 2mg

Cooking Light, JANUARY 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Best Red Lentil Soup

I have tried dozens of lentil soup recipes, ranging from incredibly simple, to very time and labor intensive. This basic red lentil soup recipe is so easy, and so delicious. I've been making it for a couple of years, and I really can't find any other recipe that is comparable in taste. I found this recipe on, which is a site hosted by Heidi Swanson, who calls herself a "Supernatural Cook." Her recipes look and taste delicious, and this is no exception. It is definitely one of her easier dishes, and it only has a few basic, cheap ingredients. If you are new to the world of lentils, or even just new to the world of red lentils, you should try this. It is the ultimate comfort soup. It would also be terrific, with the addition of any root veggies, like potatoes, carrots, parsnips - even broccoli or cauliflower would go beautifully.
I add broccoli to just about everything...

Red Lentil Soup
Adapted from

1 1/3 cups red lentils
1/2 cup brown rice (short grain is perfect here)
3 shallots (chopped)
1 onion (chopped)
1 (or 2 or 3) Red Bell Peppers
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
6 cups of water or vegetable broth (I use refrigerated veg base)

Toasted slice almonds (optional, but delicious as a topping)

Sautee shallots, onions, crushed red pepper, and bell peppers in the olive oil for a few minutes. Then add the other ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for about an hour, or until rice is tender. Top with toasted almonds, pesto, anything else that sounds good...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins

Maya has officially started pre-school, which means we'll need to leave the house at 8:15 on Tuesdays and Thursdays now. This may make for a very rushed morning, so I decided to whip up some muffins, that I can grab out of the freezer in a pinch. This recipe, adapted from a Cooking Light recipe for "Raspberry Cream Cheese Muffins," is easy, and quite delicious. I would even go as far as to say that they almost taste like bakery muffin! They are really moist, light, and flavorful, with just the right blast of fruit andhint of cream cheese. I usually don't care for nuts in my baked goods, but this time, the walnut pack such a nice texture and taste, so I'm glad I chose to include them. By the way, this recipe makes 2 dozen muffins, and they are actually quite large. I made them a tad too small, and ended up with 27 muffins. I think I need a second muffin pan, so I can be sure to make 24, equally sized, larger muffins. This recipe is a keeper. Anyone want to come and share my leftover 23 with me?

Gorgeous batter.

Devoured by moms and Mayas alike.

Blueberry-Cream Cheese Muffins

Yield: 2 dozen (serving size: 1 muffin)

2/3 cup (5 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (I used frozen, but any fresh or frozen berry would work)
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine cream cheese and butter in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at high speed until well blended. Add sugar; beat until fluffy. Add vanilla, egg whites, and egg; beat well.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and buttermilk to cream cheese mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Gently fold in raspberries and walnuts.

Place 24 foil cup liners in muffin cups. Spoon batter evenly into liners. Bake at 350° 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pans; cool on a wire rack.

CALORIES 142 (32% from fat); FAT 4.7g (sat 2.4g,mono 1.3g,poly 0.7g); IRON 0.7mg; CHOLESTEROL 19mg; CALCIUM 31mg; CARBOHYDRATE 22.6g; SODIUM 138mg; PROTEIN 2.7g; FIBER 1.1g

Adapted from Cooking Light, JUNE 2003

Monday, September 13, 2010

Basil Chicken Hash

The morning of Rosh HaShanah, called my mom and said, "Mom, what are you making for dinner tonight?" She answered, "I'm making Chicken Hash. It's an Ina Garten recipe." After sprinting to the computer to look it up (within 15 seconds, I might add), I decided I'd make it too. You see, I am in a recipe rut, at the moment. I need some new material. My mom adores Ina Garten (she has a show on Food Network, and several cookbooks), and I love my mom's cooking, plus, the recipe looked pretty simple, so I ran with it. The only bone I have to pick with this recipe, is that, like many other Food Network recipes, it calls for an insane (in my opinion) amount of butter. 6 tablespoons for 4 servings, plus olive oil. Honestly, there is no part of me that can possibly use 6 tablespoons of butter in anything, unless it has at least 10 servings (i.e. a cake, cookies, etc.) Anyway, I decided to swap it, for 2 tablespoons of olive oil, which I stretched through the recipe. I'm sure, if I'd used the butter it would have been much more rich, moist,decadent and delicious. Instead, my version came out pretty tasty. It was a very simple array of well seasoned, sauteed veggies and chicken. I liked it, and would eat it again in a second, but it didn't blow me away. I felt it was a little dry, which was obviously my own fault, for skimping on the fat. I was wanting it to be stew-like, for some reason, but instead, it felt like it was missing something wet. Next time, I would use a rotisserie chicken, instead of making my own. I think that would make it more flavorful, and I might (don't faint) actually use a tablespoon of butter, just to see if it adds a depth of richness to the final product. Anyway, all in all, we liked this, and, actually, my family loved it. Maya ate it for lunch for several days after Rosh HaShanah, and Kevin feasted on the leftovers as well. Thanks, Mom (and Ina)!

Basil Chicken Hash
Courtesy of Ina Garten (Food Network)


* 2 whole (4 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
* 16 basil leaves
* Olive Oil
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
* 2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and large diced
* 2 red onions, chopped
* 2 red bell peppers, large diced
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
* 1 teaspoon paprika
* 1 tablespoon tomato paste
* 4 minced scallions, white and green parts
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh leaf parsley
* Sour cream, Cheddar and sliced lemons, for serving


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Loosen the skin from the meat with your fingers, leaving one side attached. Place 4 basil leaves under the skin of each chicken breast. Pull the skin over as much of the meat as possible so the chicken won't dry out. With your hands, rub each piece with olive oil and sprinkle very generously with salt and pepper. Bake the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes, until the skin is lightly browned and the chicken is just cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones. Cut the chicken in large dice pieces and set aside.

Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large saute pan. Add the potatoes and onions, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until evenly browned and cooked through.

In a separate saute pan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the red peppers, garlic, thyme, paprika, tomato paste, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the edges of the peppers are seared.

Add the chicken and the pepper mixture to the potatoes and heat through. Add the scallions and parsley, toss together and place on a serving platter.