Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sweet Tea Brined Chicken

Cookbook Recipe #47

Another one of my fav cookbooks! I still have not cooked a ton of recipes from any of them yet, but I probably have over 100 recipes that I want to try in each one. I was looking through my cookbooks last week trying to figure out what recipe I was going to choose for this week. I saw this recipe for Sweet Tea Brined Chicken and thought it sounded perfect for the nice weather we are starting to have. And when it is nice out I like to drink iced tea. I actually do not like southern sweet tea. I prefer just a nice tall glass of plain iced tea with a lemon slice. It is such a thirst quencher for me. I do like sweet flavors on my chicken though so I figured I would like this.

This was my first time brining something and it definitely won't be the last. The flavor of the chicken was so good. I would not say it tasted like tea at all, but it was really good. I suggest following the instructions of the full 24 hour brine because I think that gave it time to soak in all the flavor into the chicken. Phil and I teamed up on this one. I made the brine and he grilled the chicken. He grilled this perfectly. I think this was the perfect recipe to start out the nice warm days. 

Sweet Tea Brined Chicken
Recipe from Southern Living Annual Recipes 2011

8 regular tea bags
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 small sweet onion sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, halved
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon cracked pepper
2 cups ice cubes
1 whole chicken cut up, or a mix of chicken pieces

Bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add tea bags. Remove from heat, cover and steep for 10 minutes. 

Toss tea bags. Stir in sugar and next 6 ingredients. Stir until sugar dissolves. Cool mixture completely, about 45 minutes. 

Stir in ice. 

Place tea mixture and chicken in a large plastic bag. Refrigerate for 24 hours. 

Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade. Pat chicken dry. 

Light one side of the grill to medium heat. Leave other side unlit. 

Place chicken skin side down over the unlit side of the grill. Cove with lid and cook 20 minutes. 

Turn chicken and grill, covered for 40-50 minutes or until done. 

Transfer chicken, skin side down to the lit side of the grill and grill 2-3 minutes until skin is crispy. 

Let stand 5 minutes before serving. 

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Roasted Chicken Florentine Soup

Cookbook Recipe #46

I saw this cookbook at Barnes and Noble awhile back. I saw on the cover that it was a restaurant that Rachael Ray had been to on her show Tasty Travels. I also love soup so naturally I picked it up and thumbed through it. The cookbook is really well done in that all the pictures make the soup look amazing. I did not realize until after I bought the book that the restaurant The Soup Box, is actually in Chicago. Although 99% of the recipes in the book contain onions, as most soups do, so I do not know if I would actually like the soups at the restaurant.

 For some reason I have been wanting to try a chicken florentine type of recipe so I thought this would be perfect. I changed up the original recipe as always. I used frozen spinach instead of fresh, I used cheese tortellini instead of spinach and cheese, and I left out the onion and celery. I also added another cup of broth because I like my soup a little thinner. The soup came out soooo good. I would have to say it is one of the best soups I have made in a long time.

Roasted Chicken Florentine Soup
Adapted from The Soup Box Cookbook

1 carrot, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon thyme
32oz box chicken broth, plus 1 cup if you want more liquid
1 cup whole milk
1 box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 12oz package frozen cheese tortellini
2 cups pre-roasted chicken, shredded

In a large dutch oven over medium heat, cook carrots in olive oil. Cook about 8 minutes until tender.

Add flour, garlic, salt, pepper and thyme. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add broth and milk and bring to a boil.

Add spinach, chicken and tortellini. Cook for 10 minutes.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Chicken Fajita Pie

I found this recipe on My Biscuits are Burning blog. I receive her emails whenever she posts a new recipe and this was on a there a couple weeks ago. I thought it looked really good. This is another one that Phil really liked and I just kind of liked. I used leftover smoked chicken that I had shredded up and frozen from a couple of weeks ago. I do not think it was the right chicken for this recipe. Also I think next time I would use some fajita seasoning on the chicken. I didn't not like this recipe I think I just didn't like the way the smoked chicken tasted in it. Phil really liked it though, but he also agreed that we should use regular chicken next time. I thought it was a little strange that there was a whole cup of flour in it. But it came out really nice. I thought it might taste like a quiche, but not really. I bet you can't guess which half is Phil's? haha

Chicken Fajita Pie
Adapted from My Biscuits are Burning

1 (10) inch tortilla (burrito size)
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
3/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon mexican oregano
1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 large eggs
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Spray a 9 inch pie plate with cooking spray. Place tortilla in pie plate.

In a large bowl mix chicken, pepper, 1 cup of shredded cheese and black beans. Pour mixture into pie plate.

In another large bowl whisk eggs, flour, baking powder, oregano, salt and pepper until well combined.

Pour over chicken mixture.

Top with the rest of the shredded cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until set.

Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Chicken Paella

Cookbook Recipe #45

I was at World Market for the first time about a month ago. I had some money that I got for my birthday that I was itching to spend and I heard that World Market was a cool store. I saw this cookbook for Spanish recipes and started flipping through it. I always look at Spanish recipes and think they look and sound so good. But so many of them involve seafood, which I am not a fan of. I saw some recipes for Paella that was made with chicken instead of seafood. I thought it sounded like a fun recipe to try to I decided to get the cookbook. They also sold paella pans in the store for a really good price so I picked up one of those as well. I always want to try other ethnic recipes but have always been so picky that I never had the nerve to. Within the last few years with all of the cooking I have been doing I have been braver in my choices.

The original recipe called to use chicken and rabbit. Rabbit is one thing I will not change my mind on, so that was definitely out. I used Spanish chorizo instead and included some shrimp for Phil. Phil absolutely loved this recipe. I was on the fence about it. First thing was that the rice came out a little under done. I do not know if it was because of the arborio rice or somehow the ratio of rice to liquid was off a little. I think next time I will use regular rice instead. The flavor was really good. I was surprised how easy this was to make. It looks like such a complicated dish. I am excited to try it again with different rice.

Chicken Paella 
Adapted from Spanish by World Market

2 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon tumeric
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
Olive oil
1 red bell pepper
1 onion, cut into large pieces
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tomatoes diced
1 cup frozen peas
3 cups arborio rice
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 link Spanish chorizo, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups mini frozen shrimp, thawed, peeled and deveined
Lemon wedges

In a saucepan over high heat bring chicken broth, water, rosemary, thyme and tumeric to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Meanwhile heat a paella pan over medium high heat with olive oil.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan and brown for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Add onion, pepper and garlic to pan and cook 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, chorizo and peas. Cook 2 more minutes. Add rice, parsley and paprika. Stir to coat. Return chicken  back to pan.

Strain broth with a colander to remove herbs. Pour into paella pan and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes without stirring, then reduce heat and cook for a few more minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add shrimp to the pan.

Place pan in oven and cook for 12 minutes until rice is cooked.

Remove from oven and cover pan with a kitchen towel and leave for 5 to 10 minutes.

Serve with lemon wedges.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Pork Schnitzel with Dill Cream Sauce

This is another one of those dishes that I have seen several recipes for that I think sound good and then never make them. I was looking for something healthier to make for Phil and I for dinner this week and came across this recipe on Cooking Light. I like any dinner recipe that is ready in under 30 minutes. And this one definitely was. When I first made the cream sauce I wasn't so sure I liked it. I decided to add a little garlic powder and ground red pepper so jazz it up a bit. I still wasn't so sure about it until I put it on the pork. The pairing together was really good. I would recommend this one for a night when you do not want to spend a lot of time on dinner.

Pork Schnitzel with Creamy Dill Sauce
Adapted from Cooking Light

1/4 cup fat free sour cream
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 tablespoon dried dill
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 large egg
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder, divided
4 boneless center cup pork chops, pounded 1/8 inch thick
2 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil

Combine sour cream, dill, 2 tablespoons buttermilk, ground red pepper, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside.

Combine rest of buttermilk and egg in a shallow dish.

Combine breadcrumbs, parsley, rest of garlic powder, salt and pepper in another shallow bowl.

Dip pork chops in milk mixture and then in breadcrumb mixture.

Add olive oil to a large skillet and preheat to medium high heat.

Cook pork chops 3 minutes per side or until done.

Serve with dill sauce.

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Smoked Chicken Ravioli with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Let me just start out by saying that this is not a weeknight recipe. This is definitely a Sunday all day kind of recipe. Our friends Eric and Nicole came over for this culinary adventure today. Eric has had this idea to make smoked chicken ravioli. Since I got Phil a smoker for Christmas I said they should come over and we would try it. I had my first go around with homemade ravioli not to long ago so I was feeling pretty confident about it. We did not really have a recipe so I just kind of winged it. I was trying to think of what kind of sauce would be good that would not mask the flavor of the ravioli. I found this recipe for roasted red pepper cream sauce on allrecipes.com. I thought that sounded like a good pairing. Phil smoked the chicken. I made the pasta dough. Nicole and I rolled the dough through the pasta machines (she brought hers over, which was perfect because it would have taken all day otherwise). We all filled the raviolis. I cooked them and then Phil made the sauce. It was quite a team effort. It was a fun project for us all. They came out really good. You could really taste the smokiness of the chicken and the roasted red pepper sauce paired really nicely with the pasta. We doubled the recipe below so we would have several raviolis to freeze as well.


1 whole chicken
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup white wine
3-4 cups (as needed) Mesquite wood chips


1 cup Semolina flour
2 1/3 cups "00" flour, divided
4 eggs
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons olive oil


2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 cups smoked chicken, shredded into small pieces
1 egg
1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley


1 jar roasted red peppers, diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried basil
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups half and half
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons butter

To smoke the chicken:

Preheat smoker to 220 degrees.

Soak 1 cup of the wood chips in water. Place wood chips in the tray at the bottom of the smoker. You will need to check on the chips throughout the smoking process as they will burn out. You will then take another cup of chips and soak them in water and then refill the tray, as needed.

Rub the outside and inside of a whole chicken with butter.

Place chicken in the smoker breast side down. Smoke chicken for 3 1/2 hours or until temperature reaches 180 degrees. Halfway through cooking, turn chicken breast side up.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan heat up chicken broth and wine. Bring to a simmer. Let simmer the whole smoking process.

Baste the chicken every 30 minutes with chicken broth and wine sauce.

Once chicken comes to temperature let rest for 15 minutes to cook. Then shred into small pieces for ravioli. Set aside.

To make pasta:

In a stand mixer mix all ingredients together, reserving 1/3 cup of flour. Mix for about 30 seconds. Dough will become a pea like consistency.

Add reserved flour at this point if dough seems too sticky. Continue to mix for about another minute until dough forms a ball.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead a couple more minutes.

Shape the dough into a disk and cover with  a large bowl and let rest for 30 minutes.

Flour a pasta machine lightly. Turn the dial to the highest number.

Cut the disk of dough like a pie into about 8 equal pieces. Take one of the pieces and form it into a disk.

Pass the dough through the pasta machine. Then fold the dough in half and pass through the machine again.

Continue this until you get to the second to last setting on the machine.

Lay finished dough on a lightly floured surface and continue with the remaining dough until all dough is formed
into sheets.

Cover sheets with a towel so they do not dry out to much.

To make the filling:

Combine all filling ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

To make Ravioli:

Take a sheet of pasta and lightly fold in half lengthwise to mark the center. Then unfold and lay flat again.

Beginning about 1 inch from one of the short ends, place a tablespoon full of the filling about one inch apart in a row down the center of one side of the fold.

Using a pastry brush, lightly brush water around the filling.

Fold the dough over the filling.

Press down on the dough around the filling to be sure to get any air out. 

Seal the ravioli and using a knife or pastry cutter, cut ravioli into squares. 

Set aside. 

For the sauce:

In a skillet, cook the garlic, basil, and peppers in 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. 

Cook for 10 minutes. 

Place mixture in blender and puree to desired consistency. 

Return to skillet and reheat to boil. 

Stir in half and half and parmesan cheese. Cook until cheese is melted. 

Add butter and stir until melted.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 5 minutes to thicken. 

To cook the Ravioli:

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add ravioli and cook until they float.

Serve with sauce. 

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Artichokes Parmesan

My in-laws, Dave and Linda, always bring me artichokes when they are in season. I first started liking them when Phil and I first moved back from California. We lived with his parents for a while and Linda always made artichokes when they were in season. We would just dip them in olive oil with either salt and pepper or garlic salt. This was was first stuffed artichoke I have ever had. The recipe called to cut the artichokes in half and then top them with the bread crumb mixture. I think next time I would leave them whole, dig out the middle and stuff that way. I found it hard to eat as I usually pull the leaves off from the outside in. So, it was hard to get the topping on every bite. It was really good though, just very messy.

Artichokes Parmesan
 Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

3 medium artichokes
Lemon Juice
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 teaspoons minced garlic
Dried parsley
Olive oil

Wash artichokes. Remove stems and outer leaves. Snip any sharp pieces off tops of leaves. Cut in half lengthwise.

Brush with lemon juice.

Fill a large pot with a couple inches of water. Bring water to a boil. Boil artichokes covered for 20 minutes.

With about 5 minutes left, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine bread crumbs, tomato, parmesan cheese and garlic in a bowl.

Once artichokes are done boiling, remove center leaves and fuzzy choke.

Sprinkle artichokes with salt.

Top with bread crumb mixture. Then drizzle with olive oil.

Place in a 9 x 13 baking dish and cover with foil.

Bake for 15 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes.

Top with dried parsley.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Healthier Creamy Chicken and Pasta

Cookbook Recipe #44

I love those Voila or Stouffer's (I think) chicken and garlic pasta dinners. I make them every once in a while when I don't feel like cooking. I found this recipe in my Campbell's cookbook and it looked exactly like the frozen dinner. I have been trying to eat better when I can so I wanted to change up the recipe a bit to make it not so bad for you. The original recipe called to use a frozen vegetable and pasta blend, which I have never been able to find anyway. So, I used whole wheat egg noodles instead. I was surprised that the noodles did not taste very wheaty, if that is even a word. They were actually not bad. I do not think whole wheat noodles could ever be a substitute in spaghetti, but in other dishes I think I could get used to them. The recipe tasted exactly how I wanted it to. And I probably cut a lot of the calories from the original dish!

Healthier Creamy Chicken and Pasta
Adapted from Campbell's Four Ingredients or Less

2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/2 bag of whole wheat egg noodles
2 (10 3/4) oz cans healthier request cream of chicken
1 (16 oz) bag frozen vegetables
1 cup water
Dried parsley for garnish

Bring pasta water to a boil.

In a large saucepan add vegetables, cream of chicken and water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Cook pasta for 5 minutes.

Add pasta to vegetable mixture.

Season with salt and pepper and dried parsley to taste.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Carrot Cake Muddy Buddies

So many people loved when I made the birthday cake muddy buddies. I have been finding all sorts of different versions of the muddy buddies that I have been wanting to try. I saw this recipe for Carrot Cake muddy buddies and I thought it would be a fun snack to bring in to work after Easter. It has just taken me a little longer to make it. The recipe calls to use white chocolate as the binder but I decided to use the vanilla almond bark that I used for the birthday cake version. I don't know if these taste as much like carrot cake as the birthday cake version tasted like birthday cake. But they are still really good. The below recipe is for a single batch.

Carrot Cake Muddy Buddies

Adapted from Whats Cooking Love

5 cups rice Chex cereal
5 squares vanilla almond bark
1 1/2 cups carrot cake mix
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Mix the powdered sugar with the carrot cake mix in a plastic bag.

Put the Chex cereal in a large bowl.

Melt the almond bark according to the package directions. Pour melted almond bark over Chex cereal and combine well.

Pour cake mix over cereal and mix well.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Fettuccine with Mushrooms, Marsala and Marscarpone

Cookbook Recipe #43

I went to a Cookbook Club cooking class at Williams Sonoma a couple weeks ago. Nigellissima was the cookbook they were featuring. With the class you got a copy of the cookbook and full dinner with the recipes they made during the class. You know I could't pass up an opportunity to A. get a cookbook and B. go to a cooking class! They made four different recipes out of the cookbook. I actually thought all four sounded really good. This pasta was one of the recipes. It was so good at the class, I knew I had to make it at home for Phil and I. The recipe calls for dried porcini mushrooms. I had never used dried mushrooms before and boy were they good. I will have to remember that when I am making a special pasta dish, as they are a little pricey. They had a very meaty taste to them and added great flavor to the pasta. The pasta does not look like it would have a lot of flavor by looking at it, but it is delicious  It came out just as good as it did during the class!

Fettuccine with Mushrooms, Marsala and Marscarpone
Adapted from Nigellissima by Nigella Lawson

1 cup dried Porcini mushrooms
1/2 cup marsala wine
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup marscarpone cheese
Ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley
12 ounces mafalda pasta, or fettuccine
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

In a small sauce pan add mushrooms. Cover with marsala and water. Bring to a boil. Then take off heat and allow to stand for at least 10 minutes.

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a bowl add marscarpone and ground pepper. Then strain the liquid from the mushrooms over the marscarpone. Whisk to combine.

Chop mushrooms into smaller pieces and set aside.

In a large skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook about a minute. Add in mushrooms and parsley.and cook for a couple of minutes. Add marscarpone mixture and bring to a boil. Take off heat and set aside.

Once pasta is finished cooking, strain and add to skillet. Mix to combine. Add parmesan and mix again.

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