Monthly Archives: August 2011

Simple Technique: Seasoned Breadcrumbs

Italian Herb Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs couldn’t be easier to make, but yet I continue to rely on the kind I can buy at the store. I mean really, all they are crumbs of bread, right? And I do always have the leftover ends a loaf of bread that no one will eat.

Shopping List:

3 slices of your favorite bread (I used whole wheat sandwich here)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dry Italian herb mix

Instructions:

1. Toast the bread lightly and then let it cool for 5 minutes after toasting.

2. Tear up the bread into small pieces about an inch big  and place in the food processor.

3. Use the Chop mode for a few seconds and then change to Grind to make the consistency even and fine.

4. Add in your seasonings and give the machine one last whirl to make sure the seasonings are distributed.

5. Place in a 2 cup Tupperware storage container, but leave the lid off and cover it with a paper towel. Let the crumbs air dry for about 12 hours (I did mine overnight) then cover it with the storage container lid and store in the fridge or freezer. It will stay fresh about 3-4 weeks.

Stuffin’ Sliders

Stuffin’ Sliders

What’s cuter than mini burgers? Ok, there’s a lot that’s cuter:) But really, anyone who knows me well, knows that I have a weakness for mini food.

Tiny crackers. Teeny pasta. You name it– I love it if it’s bite-sized.

So yeah, these burgers could be made regular -sized too, but it’s a whole lot more fun to make em mini.

These burgers are laced with yummy mushrooms and celery and spices that will remind you to stuffing. This mix can be formed into meatballs or meatloaf too. Or to keep it extra moist stuff it in a pepper and bake it (see the recipe here).

Shopping List:

1 lb. chicken

4 large button mushrooms

1 celery rib, chopped

1/3 cup breadcrumbs

1/3 cup parmesan

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Instructions:

1. Place the mushrooms the celery, the chicken, the breadcrumbs, the parmesan and the seasonings in a medium mixing bowl. Smoosh all of the ingredients together with your hands to get everything evenly distributed.

3. Form these into golfball-sized meatballs, then flatten to about 1/2-inch thick with your palm. This will end up making about 12 patties 2 1/2 -inches in diameter.

Freeze them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Then transfer to a freezer-safe bag to store for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator when you're ready to use them.

4. Fry these in a skillet (or on a grill) on medium-high heat 3-4 minutes per side. Top with a bun and your favorite condiments. 

Serves 3-4.

I Stuffed My Chicken in a Pepper!

Stuffed Peppers

 Who doesn’t love stuffing? Come on, it’s the best part of Thanksgiving dinner, right? Ok, maybe that’s the pumpkin pie, but really I do love my stuffing. And, I have made many variations of stuffing over the years, but nothing stands up to the basic, celery,  onion and sage mix.

This is not a recipe for stuffing! It is a recipe for Chicken Stuffed Peppers.

Ok, so it’s not a stuffing recipe, but this one certainly fooled my discerning 5-year old into thinking it tasted a lot like stuffing. Yay! Success! One more favorite food twisted in to a more adult friendly dish. Not to mention that this versatile recipe requires very little prep time and is on the table in less than 45 minutes, start to finish.

Shopping List:

1 lb. chicken

4 large button mushrooms

2 large red peppers

1 celery rib, chopped

1/3 cup breadcrumbs

1/3 cup parmesan plus 2 tablespoons for the tops

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Instructions:

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees and spray an 8 x 8 baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Chop the mushrooms. The first time I made this I did a rough chop, but someone made me pick out all of the mushrooms. So the second time I did a quick pulse in the food processor to be sneaky.

3. Place the mushrooms, celery, chicken, breadcrumbs, 1/3 cup of the parmesan and the seasonings in a medium mixing bowl. Smoosh all of the ingredients together with your hands to get everything evenly distributed.

4. Cut the peppers in half and fill each with the chicken mixture. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining parmesan cheese.

5. Bake  uncovered for 35 minutes then test for doneness (no pink in the center and a firm texture, like the base of your thumb).

Serves 3-4.

Variation: Instead of stuffing this mixture in a pepper, click for Stuffin’ Sliders.

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Chicken Enchilada Soup

On the way home from work you are fried, so you pick up a rotisserie chicken, only to serve it with rice and salad. And then you come to find that the chicken which looked so juicy at the market was pretty dry. Why succumb to eating it this way?

Ok, yeah, you’re short on time–we’ve all been there. I have fallen in to that trap quite often too. But I started to think about this type of chicken for what it is, a helper in creating a quick meal. There’s no way that chicken which has been sitting under heat lamps for the last 20 minutes is still moist. So why not improve upon it and transform it and still get dinner on the table fast.

And as school gets back to session and the kids start-up their busy schedules once again, I thought it would be nice to add a 20-minute meal to the blog. So many of us are rushing around as it is, sometimes it’s hard to find the creativity and the time to make something different. 

Shopping List:

2 cups shredded chicken (about 2 chicken breasts)

1 (12 oz.) can medium enchilada sauce

2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 cup salsa

1 cup frozen mixed veggies (I used a carrot, pea and green bean mix)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup tortilla chips

2 limes

1 avocado, diced

Instructions:

1. In a medium-sized pot combine the chicken, enchilada sauce, chicken broth, salsa and frozen vegetables in the pot. Bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, or until all of the veggies are hot.

2. Now pull out 4 big bowls, I like the shallow ones for hearty soups and stews. Place at the bottom of each bowl a handful of tortilla chips that you have crushed in your hand and 1/4 of the avocado. Top with a couple of ladles of soup, then a big handful of cheese and squeeze a quarter of a lime in each bowl. Dig in!

Serves 4.

Tart Pops: Raspberries and Greek Yogurt

That is one Tart Pop!

Giant raspberries seem to have flooded the stalls at the farmer’s market lately. Although I am happy to shovel this fruit into my mouth by the handful, or toss them in a salad for pizzazz, this time I tried out a recipe from Everyday Food for a popsicle that I couldn’t resist.

Ok, I admit it I have been making fresh fruit popsicles all summer. And that is no thanks to my intoxicating purchase of a Zuko Duo Quick Pop Maker at the beginning of the summer. Yes, this machine is close to $40 to make two darn pops, but it does it in 7 minutes flat! Ok, for those of you who were not lured into this crazy purchase, I made these popsicles the old-fashioned way– with Dixie cups.

 Shopping List:

1 cup fresh raspberries

3/4 cup sugar

1 6-oz. container non-fat Greek yogurt

1/4 cup light sour cream

Tools:

8 5-ounce Dixie cups

8 popsicle or cookie-pop sticks

plastic wrap

Instructions:

1. In a small saucepan on high heat combine the berries and a 1/4 cup of the sugar. Let this come to a boil and simmer for about 3 minutes on high, until they become syrupy. Then, remove from heat and transfer to a separate dish (I recommend a glass measuring cup) and refrigerate for 30 minutes to cool the mixture.

Here are my syrupy raspberries.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine the yogurt, sour cream, half and half and remaining sugar. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved. This mixture does not need to be totally smooth, in fact, I left mine a little lumpy because I like the variety of flavors it adds to a lick.

3. Arrange the Dixie cups in a 8×8 inch baking pan and fill the cups by alternating between the raspberry and yogurt mixtures, leaving about a 1/2-inch at the top of each cup. Using a small knife, swirl the mixtures together with an upward figure 8. I don’t think I swirled enough, but they still were devoured by two kids after summer camp in about 10 minutes flat.

aren't they so cute lined up in these neat rows? makes you wanna eat em up!

4. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the dish and cut slits over the center of each cup. Then, insert the popsicle sticks. Place the pan in the freezer and freeze for 6 hours. To eat, peel away the cup. Once these are frozen, you can store them in a zippered freezer bag in the freezer for 3 months.   

Adapted from Everyday Food

White Bean Picnic Salad

White Bean Picnic Salad

With Labor Day right around the corner, and school starting up again, I thought I’d try to squeeze one more salad into my repertoire.

Since  I do love white beans (and my kids do too), I thought I’d try to create a simple dish that could be made ahead (Yay!) and served at room temperature. This is definitely perfect  for a picnic or as a light meal or a side dish. With garlic and green peppers adding a spicy bite and vinegar bringing the tang, this one is a keeper.

Shopping List:

1 cup white beans, cleaned and soaked overnight

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 garlic clove sliced

3 green onions, sliced

1/2 a green pepper diced

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions:

1. After soaking the beans overnight it’s pretty this is a pretty simple dish. Drain the beans and then place them in a stockpot. Cover them with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil, then continue to cook them for 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, you can dice the veggies and place them in a bowl.

3. When the beans are ready, drain them and rinse them with cool water. They will be tender, but with a bit of a bite to them still. Toss the beans with the olive oil, vinegar, salt and veggies. Voila! A lite lunch or perfect potluck dish is ready.

Serves 4  -6.

Fresh Strawberry Hand Pies

 

Fresh Strawberry Hand Pies

The super-concentrated flavor of ripe strawberries had permeated our house. We had hit our limit on the berry in its raw form, since I grabbed multiple boxes for multiple weeks when they were on sale at the grocery store. Now what to do with the last box before they go bad? Ah Ha! I thought I’d take another stab at making hand pies, but this time a sweet take on the pleasureful pocket. My version of the store-bought breakfast toaster pastry, but in this adaptation there’s real fruit and not nearly as much sugar. Not to mention that these babies are pretty easy to make and store for a quick breakfast on the run.

Shopping List:
1 package pre-made pie dough (includes 2 dough circles)
1 lb. strawberries, roughly chopped to about 2 cups
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water
powdered sugar for dusting
cookie cutters for fun shapes
 
Instructions:
1. Remove pie dough from the refrigerator, but not packaging. It must come to room temperature before working with it.
2. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare your baking pan with parchment paper or silpat for even baking.
3. In a small sauce pot on medium heat cook the strawberries and sugar until the strawberries start to resemble jam.This will take about 15 minutes.
4. Remove the strawberries from the heat and let them cool while you are working with the dough.
5. On a floured cutting board, unroll one of the pie dough circles. Cut out 6 3-inch rounds using either a highball glass or cookie cutter. Smoosh together the remaining scraps and roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and cut two more rounds. These are your bottoms. Lay them out on your baking sheet leaving about an inch between them.
7. Now, unroll the second pie dough circle and repeat the process to make 8 3-inch rounds. With this set of rounds you need to create a vent so the pies don’t explode. I cut out little ovals with a tiny cutter, but you can snip a 1/2 slit in the center of each.
8. Spoon about 1 tablespoon strawberries on top of the first set of pie rounds, leaving about 1/2 inch border on the edge of the dough. Moisten the edges with just enough egg wash to get the dough wet.
9. Place the vented circle on top of the first one and press them together with your fingers or gently with the back of a fork. Paint a bit of the egg wash on the tops of the pies, so that they get golden brown while cooking.
10. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the pies are golden and cooked through. Dust with powdered sugar or make your own icing for more sweetness.
**Friendly Tip: You can let these cool and then pop them in a freezer-safe bag. Just like the store-bought brand you can pull one out of the bag at a time and reheat it in the toaster before you head out the door.
***Variation: You could replace the strawberries with other fresh berries, stone fruits or apples.
 
Makes: 8 hand pies