Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Apple & Cheddar Stuffed Chicken

Adam's mom gave me the latest issue of Semi-Homemade by Sandra Lee. There are so many decorating ideas and recipes in the magazine which got me so excited for fall! Just last night I put out a navy blue and hunter green plaid tablecloth and orange pumpkin placemats and lit a spicy candle.

Anyway, on Saturday I made one of Sandra's fall-time recipes for lunch. The recipe is Apple and Havarti Stuffed Chicken Breasts but since I couldn't find havarti in Pine Grove, I used extra sharp cheddar and it turned out very well. We ate the chicken with honey carrots and fries (not much color in this meal but we were trying to use up what we had on hand). Here's Sandra's recipe:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 very thin peeled apple slices
1/4 cup shredded havarti or cheddar cheese
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup apple cider

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a knife, cut a slit about 2 inches long in the thick side of each chicken breast to form a pocket (do not cut in half). Sprinkle inside pockets and out side of chicken with salt and pepper. Stuff each with 3 apple slices and 1 tablespoon cheese. Pinch edges to seal; secure with 1 or 2 toothpicks.

In a large oven-proof skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook for 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until done, turning once.

Once done, remove chicken from skillet (be careful with that skillet handle! I have a bad burn on my palm because I've just started using oven-proof skillets and I'm not used to those hot handles! ugh!) and place on a serving platter. Discard wooden picks.

In a small saucepan, pour skillet drippings through a fine wire-mesh strainer; discard solids. Stir in cider and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes until mixture is reduced to 1/3 cup. Serve apple cider mixture with chicken.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

German Foods = Honeymoon Foods

After our wedding on July 23, we left 2 days later for our honeymoon in Munich, Germany. We had a great time and I wanted to share some of our food experiences. We ate a lot! And it was all so scrumptous. I failed to take pictures of everything we ate but I did get photos of our favorites. g

To begin, as soon as we arrived in Munich, we dove right into exploring the area. We stopped at a restaurant at the Marienplatz - city square - around 10:45 am for a snack and to watch the Glockenspiel - a 10 minute show of figurines dancing in the bell tower of the city hall. We ordered weisswurst, a traditional white sausage in the Munich area. It's historically eaten in the morning because it is not smoked and can spoil after noon time. You eat the sausage with a pretzel and mustard. Our waiter failed to tell us that you do not eat the skin of the weisswurst :( But we still enjoyed it's unconventional creamy texture.

We also had a bratwurst and sauerkraut. The sauerkraut was the best I've ever had and I'm a huge kraut fan!

During our touring adventures in the old town of Munich, I took a break and slipped into a bakery and got a huge meringue. So sweet and crunchy!

While Adam was in a crowded soccer shop getting his Bayern Munich jersey, I enjoyed a gelato! So many flavors to choose from but I settled on raspberry! Look how divine the flavors look all mounded up in their containers, screaming at me to try each one!

We then wandered on to the Viktualienmarkt to see what the vegetable, fruit, meat, cheese and florists had to offer. I really wanted a pickle. Adam played along and tried it first so I could get a photo. It was both sweet and spicy at the same time - like no pickle I've ever had before. I like it but Adam did not (he's strickly a bread and butter pickle man).

Oh the beer!! We drank lots and lots of beer! Again, the beer was so much better than any beer in the U.S. And I think Adam has only had one U.S. beer since we've been home because nothing can compare to the brews in Bavaria! Pictured below is weissbier and a radler we enjoyed near the English Garden. During our trip Adam drank mostly weissbier. I fell in love with radlers - half beer and half lemonade. So freshing, especially for someone like me that can't drink a ton of beer.
Adside from all the beer we had at cafes, we visited beer gardens and beer halls. Adam's favorite beer was Augustiner and we visited the Augustiner beer hall. We also visited the famous Hofbrauhaus. While in the English garden we drank at the beer garden by the Chinesischer tower. Below are photos of the Hirschgarten, a beer garden a few blocks from our hotel. We went there twice!

Here, Adam enjoys a liter (or mas) of dunkel beer.

Of course we need pretzels with our beer! I ate several soft pretzels on our trip. The outsides were quite hard but the inside was so soft and doughy! In the background of this picture you can see the little shanty where you go to get your beer.

Ahhh! The beer garden cuisine! Let me say, I am hooked on currywurst! A sausage covered in curry ketchup with a side of fries! I was sure to bring home a bottle of curry ketchup and we're going to recreate this dish! I had currywurst 3 times on our trip!

Adam's favorite beer garden fare was schweinshaxe - a pig leg with incredible crispy skin! In this photo he had it with potato salad but other times he had it with fries.

After spending 3 days in Munich, our friends Susi and Jeff came to pick us up to take us to Susi's hometown, Furth im Wald - about 2 hours from Munich.

While in Furth we had some great food! We had one of the most traditional Bavarian meals, schweinsbraten - sliced pork served with gravy and a knodel. One of the best pork dishes ever!

We also enjoyed some local schnapps one evening! And we knew we loved schapps because we've had it several times at Susi's house in Maryland.

In Furth Adam mostly enjoyed Erdinger beer, brewed locally.

One night we went to a beer tent and Susi and I enjoyed gluwein - a hot spiced wine - because it was a very chilly night for July!

Below is a photo of Susi's sister serving up a snack of little sandwiches - delicious bread, some smothered in herbed cream cheese topped with cucumbers and radishes and some topped with sliced cheese and a gerkin.

We were also in town for Susi's son's christening. It was very special becuase I am his U.S. godmother and we was able to be there for the service. After the christening, we went to a restaurant for a champagne toast, dessert and coffee. Here is Susi in front of the dessert table.

To sum things up, we had pork and beer every day and were as happy as can be! We had an amazing trip and we cannot wait to go back soon!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Garden Tomato Sauce with Pasta

One of my new favorite recipe blogs is called Gina's Skinny Recipes. My friend Rebecca introduced me to the site. Gina features a lot of low fat recipes that happen to be Weight Watchers-friendly. Even though Adam and I aren't technically counting points, her recipes help us make flavorful foods without all the calories.

This year our garden wasn't as fruitful as we had wanted. Because of the wedding and honeymoon, I expected some of the plants wouldn't get as much attention as they needed. However, our green beans, basil, sunflowers and yellow pear tomatoes were the stars of the garden! I used some of the yellow tomatoes for one Gina's recipes.

Easy Garden Tomato Sauce

1 Tablespoon olive oil
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 pounds grape tomatoes, halved (we used mini yellow pear tomatoes)
salt and black pepper
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
a handful of fresh basil or oregano, chopped (we used basil)

In a large pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until golden, making sure not to burn the garlic.

Add tomatoes, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir well and reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Add basil or oregano and cook for another 15 minutes.

Serve over your favorite pasta.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Chicken Satay with Cucumber Mango Rice

Chugging through my Cuisine at Home magazine, I came across this chicken satay recipe and let me say, it was my favorite meal from this magazine yet!

So many flavors are in the chicken paste and all flavors I love - lime, ginger, coconut! Mmm!

This recipe uses cashews and cashew butter instead of the traditional peanuts. I assume you could also use peanuts and peanut butter and have the same results. According to Cuisine at Home, cashews are "richer" and have a "lighter flavor" for the sauce.

For the Paste:
1/3 cup coconut milk
3 cloves garlic
2 shallots
2 Tablespoons canola oil
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon chili garlic sauce
1 Tablespoon minced lime zest
1 piece fresh ginger, peeled (2-inch)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground tumeric

12 chicken breast tenders, cut in half lengthwise, seasoned with salt and pepper (1 1/4 lb)

For the dipping sauce:
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup chopped cashews
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup cold water
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup cashew butter
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon chili garlic sauce
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice

Preheat grill to medium-high. Brush grill grate with oil.

For the paste, puree all of the paste ingredients listed above in a mini food processor until smooth.

Toss chicken with paste and thread onto 12 pre-soaked wooden skewers; set aside (Can be made and refrigerated up to a day ahead).

For the dipping sauce (use amounts as listed above), head oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add cashews, garlic and ginger, cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Whisk in water, coconut milk, cashew butter, brown sugar, chili garllic sauce and soy sauce, simmer 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in lime juice. Divide into little bowls for each person dining.

Grill satay, covered, until chicken is browned, 2-3 minutes per side.

Serve with a side of the cashew dipping sauce and cucumber mango rice.

We loved this rice so much! We even took some to work the next day for lunch and it was just as good then!

3 cups coconut water (I used 1 1/2 cups coconut milk and 1 1/2 cups water - either works)

1 1/2 cups dry jasmine rice

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups half-moon sliced cucumbers

1 mango, pitted, peeled and diced

chopped cashews

Boil coconut water in a large saucepan.

Stir in rice, butter and salt. Return mixture to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook rice until tender, 15 minutes.

Add cucumber and mango, season with additional salt if needed and garnish with chopped cashews.

Caesar Salad Linguine with Grilled Shrimp

Continuing my quest to make healthy, fresh and unique meals, I tried Caesar Salad Pasta, also from Cuisine at Home. This recipe calls for a can of anchovy fillets in order to make an authentic caesar dressing. I have never worked with anchovies before but I am happy to report they are easy to use and taste great. But I think you have to try it for yourselves because I was hesitant!

I had some trouble with the croutons - they burned on the grill! Next time, I would make skewers of shrimp only and croutons only, which is how I wrote the recipe below. I wouldn't alternate on the same skewer as the recipe says because the bread will burn before the shrimp is done.

8oz dry linguine
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup diced shallots
1 can (2 oz.) anchovy fillets in oil, minced
3 Tablespoons minced garlic
2 Tablespoons minced lemon zest
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
salt and pepper

Boil linguine in a large pot of salted water according to package directions; drain and set aside.

Melt butter with oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add shallots and anchovies and cook until shallots are soft and anchovies melt, about 3 minutes. Add garlic; cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Stir in lemon juice, zest, Worcestershire and pepper flakes. Toss linguine with sauce to coat.

Off heat, toss romaine and Parmesan with pasta and season with salt and pepper.

Serve pasta with grilled shrimp and croutons.

Grilled Shrimp & Crouton Skewers

1/2 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon minced lemon zest
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
24 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails left on
24 cubes Italian baguette, 1-inch thick

Preheat grill to medium. Brush grill grate with oil.

Whisk together oil, zest, juice, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and set aside.

Thread shrimp on 4 metal skewers. Thread bread on 4 metal skewers. Brush all skewers with lemon oil. Grill, covered, 2-3 minutes per side.

*You can use wooden skewers as long as you soak them for at least 15 minutes before use or they will burn.*

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wedding, Honeymoon & Tuna Sandwiches

I feel like such a slacker for not posting in over a month!

But over the past year I've been so busy planning our wedding that sometimes we'd take the easy route on meals and I just wasn't trying anything new.

It was all worth it though because I had the best day of my life on July 23rd when I became Mrs. Pankake. See a few of our wedding day photos on our photographers' blog - Part 1 and Part 2. And see our cake baker's blog: We love Jasmine at the Couture Cakery! And more on our food caterer and event coordinator, C&J, in another post.

Photo by Bec

Then we went to Munich, Germany for a week. We had the most wonderful time! It was a whirlwind trip but we saw a lot and visited some friends.

Adam at the Hirschgarten

Once we got home I made a trip to the grocery store because we have now vowed that we are going to eat well, incorporating lots of fresh food into our diet.So the first meal I made for my husband was Blackened Dixie Tuna Sandwiches and they were so amazing!! It was Adam's first time trying ahi tuna steaks and he loved them. And it was the first time I used celery root and it is so delicious! It's a starch that tastes like celery. This recipe if from the August 2011 issue of Cuisine At Home.

For the remoulade:

2 Tablespoons mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons minced red bell pepper

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup peeled, matchstick-cut celery root

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 Tablespoon capers (I omitted)

1 Tablespoon chopped scallions (I omitted)

For the tuna:

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried thyme (I omitted)

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 ahi tuna steaks

olive oil

2 rolls (the recipe is for an open face sandwich but we used used the top and bottom of the bun for each sandwich)


Lettuce leaves

Preheat grill to medium-high. Brush grill grate with olive oil.

For the remoulade, combine mayo, bell pepper and Dijon in a bowl. Stir in celery root, parsley, capers and scallions; cover and chill until ready to use.

For the tuna, combine brown sugar, garlic powder, thyme, paprika, black pepper and cayenne in a small bowl.

Brush tuna with oil and firmly press the spice mixture on both sides of the tuna steaks.

Grill tuna, covered, 2-3 minutes per side. Brush cut side of rolls with oil, then grill, cut side down, to toast, 1-2 minutes.

To assemble, brush the bottom roll with mayo, top with a lettuce leaf and a tuna steak. Divide roumoulade evenly between sandwiches.

I have lots of other great meals planned too! Stay tuned!