Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pretzel Chicken with Honey Mustard Sauce


When I eat pretzels, I always have some kind of mustard to dip it in: Dijon, honey mustard, or just plain yellow.  I've made recipes of fish and chicken dip in nut chips, but never pretzels.  So when I saw this recipe I knew I would make it and it would not disappoint.  Check, check.

It's another quick and easy recipe with ingredients you'll likely have on hand.  I served it with sauteed carrots and steamed Brussels Sprouts (both good with the mustard sauce, so you might want to make extra!)

PRETZEL CHICKEN with HONEY MUSTARD SAUCE (4 servings)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
1 cup crushed pretzels (about 1 1/2 oz)
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp plus 4 tsp Dijon mustard, divided
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp light mayo
2 tsp honey
2 tsp EVOO

Preheat oven to 425F.  Spray a large baking pan with cooking spray.  Wrap the chicken breasts in plastic wrap and gently pound to 1/4" thickness.  Set aside.

In a wide, flat bowl, place the pretzel crumbs, mustard powder, onion powder, and 1/2 tsp pepper, and stir to combine.

Smear 1/2 tsp of Dijon on each side of breast, and roll chicken in the crumb mixture until evenly coated (use finer crumbs to cover bare spots).  Place chicken on prepared baking sheet, lightly spray with cooking spray, and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until cooked through.

While chicken is baking, in a small bowl, whisk together the remaining Dijon, vinegar, mayo, honey, olive oil, a pinch of black pepper, and 1 Tbsp of water.  Serve each chicken breast wtih 1 Tbsp of the sauce.

Recipe Source:  "Eat What You Love Everyday," by Marlene Koch, p. 250

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Shrimp and Snap Pea Stir-Fry


This is the absolute perfect dinner for end of a hot, tiring day.  It's ready in minutes, really...minutes, and includes just a handful of ingredients.

A couple of notes.  I used frozen snap peas which I simply thawed and then heated (just a few minutes in the pan).  I would definitely use fresh, as the frozen peas were a tad bit soggy.  Also, the recipe called for large shrimp, but I used 51/60s (I got a 12 oz bag for $5 last week!)

I had some leftover rice I had popped in the freezer, so I just let it thaw for a few hours and the rest of the dish came together in less than 10 minutes.

SHRIMP and SNAP PEA STIR-FRY (4 servings)

2 Tbsp canola oil
2 tsp minced garlic
2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed (Google "How to Trim Sugar Snaps" if you need help)
1/2 cup canned, sliced water chestnuts, drained
12 oz large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tbsp Ponzu sauce (found in the Asian aisle, it's a citrusy-type of soy sauce, use soy if you can't find it)
3 cups cooked long-grain white rice
toasted sesame seeds, optional, for garnish

In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the sugar snap peas and water chestnuts; season and cook, stirring, unti the peas are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to a medium bowl.

In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil over medium-high.  Add the shrimp in a single layer.  Cook, without stirring, until pink on the bottom, about 2 minutes.  Turn the shrimp, add the ponzu and cook until the shrimp are cooked through, about 2 minutes.  Season and serve witih the rice.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

Recipe Source:  Everyday with Rachel Ray magazine, June 2014, p. 71

Friday, August 22, 2014

Spicy Angel Hair Pasta Salad


I hope you'll forgive the lacks of posts of late.  I've been dealing with stinky Skunk-Dog and climbing temps and stifling humidity.  I think I should be back on track and am looking forward to getting back in the kitchen.  I can only hope this heat breaks soon but I really can't complain.  It's been a relatively easy summer here in SE Tennessee and, well, it is mid-August.  I'm so ready for some soups and chili.  I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But back to this super-easy pasta salad I picked up at Fresh Market the other day.  Every once in a while as I'm passing the deli case in the market and am so hungry I could eat my own shoe, I'll pick up a small container of some salad to help me get home.  This is a knock-off of what they created, nice because you can customize it to your own tastes.  For example, I added more tomatoes, cheese, and basil than they used in theirs.  I also used chopped, marinated garlic cloves (I've been looking for a good MGC for years...the ones I've tried weren't crunchy.  But I found some really crisp ones in the olive bar at EarthFare and they were perfect for this salad.....but I would simply use minced fresh garlic in lieu if I hadn't been lucky enough to find these).

So, this is my interpretation of a nice pasta salad to have around as a snack.  All amounts are absolutely variable....tweak it to your own preference.

SPICY ANGEL HAIR PASTA SALAD (2-4 servings)

4 oz angel hair pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 small jalapeno, seeded and diced small
2 small to medium Roma tomatoes
2 oz (3 Tbsp) small diced Asiago cheese
1 tsp minced fresh garlic, or 4-6 chopped marinated garlic cloves
6 large basil leaves (3 Tbsp)
1-2 green onions, chopped
2 tsp EVOO, or more to taste
seasoned salt, to taste

Cut with a knife or scissors the cooked pasta (for easier eating).  Add the next 6 ingredients (jalapeno through onions).  Fold ingredients together.  Add olive oil and salt to taste.  Chill.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Shrimp Noodle Salad with Peanut Sauce


Well, we're hitting mid-90's this week with lots of humidity.  This weather definitely calls for light eating (I am so looking forward to autumn and cool weather and soup!)  I ran across this recipe and knew it would be a perfect meal after yard work.

And easy.  Quick and easy.  This recipe, however, calls for using frozen cooked shrimp, but just about the only way I prepare shrimp is by roasting it (thaw frozen, uncooked shrimp, remove shell, leave tail on, toss with a bit of EVOO and a little black pepper and roast on high for 3-7 minutes, depending on size).  There are also a few other things you could add to this salad like diced or strip-cut red peppers, diced cucumbers, chopped peanuts, and mint or parsley instead of cilantro.  Also, I found the dressing a bit too thick, so I would either reduced the amount of peanut butter by half or increase the soy, vinegar, and water by doubling.

 SHRIMP NOODLE SALAD with PEANUT SAUCE (4 servings)

1 pkg (8 oz) rice vermicelli (rice sticks/cellophane noodles)
1/2 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 carrot, grated
1/2 green apple, grated
12 oz frozen, cooked, peeled tail-on large shrimp, thawed
1/2 cup (or more) frozen shelled edamame, thawed
3 Tbsp chopped cilantro, mint, or parsley
red peppers, optional
cucumbers, optional
chopped peanuts, optional

In a large pot of hot tap water, soak the noodles until al dente, about 15 minutes (start checking about every 5 minutes), change the water halfway through.  Drain and season to taste with salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk the peanut butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and 3 Tbsp warm water until smooth.

Divide the noodles among plates and top with the apple, carrot, shrimp, and edamame.  Drizzle with the peanut dressing and sprinkle with the cilantro.

Recipe Source: EveryDay with Rachel Ray, July/August 2014, p. 98

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Mama's Meatloaf


Always in search of a way to keep my kitchen cool during the summer (I have only used my oven twice since May!), I recently bought a Cook's Essential microwave pressure-cooker.  Never in a million years would I have dreamt of making a meatloaf in the microwave, but I did it and it came out wonderfully!

Generally, I would make a meatloaf out of ground turkey, but I wanted to stick with their recipe to experiment with timing, etc.  This is a great basic meatloaf recipe which you could certainly cook it in a conventional oven (about 350F for 45-60 minutes or until internal temp reaches 160F).  The sauce is great and there is plenty extra for dipping or putting over mashed potatoes.  I couldn't believe how moist the meatloaf came out (and how cool my kitchen stayed)!

MAMA'S MEATLOAF (4-6 servings)

Meatloaf:
2 pounds (900 g) mixed ground beef and pork
1 medium onion, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (120 ml) tomato ketchup
1 Tbsp steak sauce
1/2 cup (75 g) dried or Panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp onion powder
S&P to taste
1/2 cup (120 ml) chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish

Sauce:
1 14.5 oz (411 g) can crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey

Combine all of the meatloaf ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well.  Shape the mixture into a rectangle loaf.  Using a knife, score the top of the loaf in a diagonal patternw tih 1/2" (1 cm) cuts.  Place the meatloaf into the microwave pressure-cooker.

Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl and pour the sauce over the meatloaf.

Place the lid on the pressure-cooker and lockk into the closed position.

Cook the meatloaf on HIGH for 27 minutes (for a 1000 watt microwave).

When the time is up, let the pressure come down naturally by leaving the lid on the cooker until the white pressure indicator has dropped.

Allow the meatloaf to rest for a few minutes and then transfer the meatloaf to a serving platter.  Slice the meatloaf and drizzle the sauce over the slices.  Sprinkle with parsley on top and serve.

Recipe Source:  Cook's Essential's "Microwave Pressure-Cooker: A Month's Worth of Dinners," p. 31

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Linguine with Artichokes, Shrimp, and Mascarpone


I'm still working on the skunk debacle (nice start to a food blog post, ya think?)  In fact, when I went out this morning to edge and mow, guess what I found?  A hint:  a dead critter waiting for Jim to get home and dispose of.  Yikes.  I don't know if Lindie killed it the other night, or if this is a new one.  Creepy.  And yes, our home still smells.

But on a brighter note.....!!!!  I have an incredibly lucious pasta dish to share with you!  As I mentioned earlier, I came across some mascarpone cheese at a great price.  I rarely use the stuff because it is a bit pricey, so I had to find several uses for it.  This is an Emeril Lagasse recipe which I am posting exactly as I found it; however, for my/our tastes, these are the adjustments I would make for our table:

*  I cut the recipe in half.
*  We Americans serve way too large of portions.  And since I try to keep my pasta dishes to just a few times a month since I refuse to use whole-grain pasta, I usually make our pasta servings just 2 ounces each.  That is perfect for this dish so you get more shrimp and artichokes instead of too much pasta.
*  I use artichoke bottoms instead of artichoke hearts.  I find that the "hearts" still have some of the prickly leaves on them and I think the name is actually is misnomer.  The bottoms are actually the "heart," it's just the meat of the 'choke.  Emeril's recipe states to quarter the hearts, but I cut my 'choke bottoms in 8ths (bite-sized).
*  Any size of shrimp will work with this recipe, just adjust the cooking time so you don't over/undercook the shrimp.
*  I barely used the tiniest dash of cayenne, but it was still too hot for Jim.  We're very sensitive to cayenne, so if you are also, be careful.
*  I would double the amount of tarragon, but the, I love fresh tarragon.

P.S.  After making this and the Fig Toasts, I still had a bit of mascarpone leftover.  Never letting something so good go to waste, I happened to have a bit of marinara sauce I was getting ready to freeze, so I folded the cheese into the sauce for a wonderful smooth and creamy marinara.  Yummmm!

LINGUINE with ARTICHOKES, SHRIMP, and MASCARPONE (4-6 servings)

2 Tbsp EVOO
14 cup minced shallot
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 (15 oz) cans artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon leaves
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1 pound linguine, cooked in salted water until al dente, drained, and 1/4 cup cooking liquid reserved
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

In a 14" saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  When hot, add the shallot and pepper and cook until the shallot is soft and translucent, about 1 minute.  Add the wine, bring to a brisk simmer, and cook until the wine is almost completely evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Add the artichoke hearts, shrimp, salt, and cayenne and cook the shrimp for 1 1/2 minutes per side.  Add the lemon zest, tarragon, and mascarpone and cook, stirring, until thoroughly incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the cooked pasta and reserved pasta-cooking liquid to the pan and cook, tossing, until the pasta is warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the Parmesan, toss to combine, and serve immediately.

NOTE:  If you do not have a 14" saute pan, you may want to cook this dish in two batches.

Recipe Source: www.emerils.com

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lindie meets the Skunk





Well, it was only a matter of time.  The last few months, I have been getting a definite odor of skunk in our backyard a few times.  A couple of months ago, our neighbors across the street called to warn that their dogs had been skunked (lucky them, it happened at 8 a.m. on a weekday morning so they could get the dogs to a groomer).  And then last week as I was walking the dogs, I saw what I first thought was a black and white cat rolling around in the grass by the school next door, but on a closer vantage point, I saw it was a skunk.  We must be in Skunk Central.

Well, last night about 11 p.m. I put all four dogs out before bedtime.  The first three came in with no problem.  Now let me back up a minute.   We get squirrels and chipmunks and there is a definite bark that Lindie (the only one who seems to be interested) lets out a bark when she spots a critter.  Well, last week, I heard a yelp I had never heard before (again, at bedtime) and when I looked out, I saw an opossum sitting atop the fence, looking down, glaring at Lindie.  She was going nuts, but couldn't reach it.  I had to go out with a leash to bring her in.  The opossum never flinched.

Now, let's step back into the present.  The other three dogs had come in and I was calling Lindie in.  I heard nothing.   Not a bark, not a yelp, nothing.  But she did run right up onto the deck and into the patio.  I could smell the skunk-smell, but it was nothing out of the ordinary.  But when Lindie came through the doggie-door, she was foaming at the mouth. I saw that her back was wet and I ran my hands through her fur and smelled my hand.  It didn't smell like skunk, but it was a chemically-smell.  She was shaking her head and throwing the foam off and I'm thinking, "I'm going to need to make a run to the middle-of-the-night animal clinic."  I was able to keep her on the deck and run in and get a wet cloth to wipe her mouth off and just as I was going back in to rinse it off, she was able to squeeze through door and get into the house.

By this time, the foaming had stopped, but she was rolling all over the rug in a panic.  She stayed in the living room for a minute, then quickly ran to the bedroom.  She was rubbing first on the floor and then on the bed before I could catch her and put her in the bathroom.  I looked on-line for home de-skunking dog baths (hydrogene pyroxide, baking soda, and dish soap.....luckily, I had just bought a new bottle of HP a few days before) and got her in the shower and was able to bathe her (keep this mixture out of their eyes, FYI) and dry her off.

Luckily, the dog can no longer be called Stinky.  Unfortunately, my house reeks.  The best thing is to keep windows open and air circulating, but we ARE in the midst of August and so that only helps during the middle-of-the-night.  I have burned every candle, used every air freshener, and used all of the carpet deodorizer I have on hand.  Let's just say I didn't have a very good night's sleep last night.  My bedroom REEKS.  Please tell me this will go dissipate!  I have a feeling I'm going to be smelling this for a long, long time.

So, please forgive the lack of FOOD posts.  I hope to get back on track soon (I have a wonderful pasta recipe I hope to post tomorrow).  And I have a new microwave pressure cooker (I had never heard of such a thing) with a couple of recipes I can't wait to try.

That is, if I can tolerate eating in this house with this smell.