Saturday, April 28, 2012

Maple Nuggets with a Spicy Sauce

These are chicken nuggets for grownups although I do know many kids who like spicy food.  The chicken is marinated in maple syrup and cayenne and then breaded, fried and baked.  Dip them in the spicy sauce and they pack a nice punch.
NOTE:  If you or the kids don't want them spicy, omit all cayenne pepper and dip them in maple syrup...they're still great!

For the sauce:
1 cup homemade or good quality purchased mayo
1 Tbl sambal oelek (spicy ground chili paste)
4 Tbl dark amber maple syrup
Combine all ingredients, cover and refrigerate until serving time.

For the nuggets:
4  -  6 to 8 ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into 1 to 1  1/2 inch cubes
2 tsp salt, divided
2 tsp cayenne pepper, divided
1/2 cup dark amber maple syrup
1 egg, lightly beaten
1  1/2 cups all purpose flour
Vegetable oil (enough to fill a large frying pan about an inch for pan frying)

Place the chicken cubes in a bowl and stir in 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cayenne and the 1/2 cup maple syrup. Cover and refrigerate for about 45 minutes to an hour.
After marinating, place the chicken cubes in a colander to drain the liquid and then place them back in the bowl and stir in the beaten egg to coat.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 tsp salt and 1  1/2 tsp cayenne.  Dredge the chicken cubes in the seasoned flout and set on a wire rack.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and then pan fry the cubes for just a few minutes to brown all sides.   Transfer the cubes to a rimmed baking sheet. (Fry the cubes in batches - don't over crowd)
Bake the cubes in a pre heated 425F oven for 10 minutes.  Serve hot with the dipping sauce.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Grilled Scallion and Spinach Salad with a Scallion Dressing

Here's a nice twist on a spinach salad...lots on oniony flavor with grilled green onions.

For the dressing:
6 large green onions, white and light green parts only
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Refrigerate until ready for use.

For the salad:

12 loosely packed cups fresh baby spinach leaves
20 green onions (most of the dark tops removed)
Olive oil for grilling the onions
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/2 cup of your favorite blue cheese, crumbled

Make a few cuts on the green onion bulbs to create a little flower like appearance once they're grilled.
Toss the green onions in a little olive oil and then preheat a grill pan until it's smokin' hot.  Grill the onion until they get a nice little char and soften a bit.
Cut the onions into one inch pieces saving the bulb for garnishing the finished salad.
Toss the spinach, bacon, blue cheese and straight green onion pieces together.  garnish  the top of the salad with those pretty onion "flowers".  Serve with the sweet onion dressing.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Green Garlic Stuffed Mushrooms

Lots of green garlic growing in the yard, a big tub of brown mushrooms in the fridge and a love for appetizers inspired this.  I think they would be equally as good with diced leek if green garlic is unavailable.

Makes 24

For the Green Garlic Confit (Molly Wizenburg's method)
1  1/2 cups quarter inch sliced green garlic stalks (I had about 14 medium)
2 Tbl butter
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt

In a small sauce pan with a lid, melt the butter and add the sliced green garlic, water and salt.  Cover and gently cook over medium-low heat, stirring often until the liquid is almost evaporated.  This should take about 20 minutes.  Set aside to cool a bit while you prep the mushrooms.

For the mushrooms and stuffing
24 brown or white button mushrooms, caps about 1  1/2 to 2 inches in diameter
2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces softened cream cheese
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 Tbl finely grated parmesan cheese
The green garlic confit
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and then clean the mushrooms with either a mushroom brush or wipe them with paper toweling.
Place the mushrooms in a bowl and toss them with the 2 Tbl olive oil and then place them, cap side up, on a baking sheet.  in a preheated 425F oven, roast the mushrooms for 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and turn them over.  Lower the oven temp to 350F.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, panko, parmesan and green garlic confit. Distribute the filling into the mushroom caps and then drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over each mushroom.
Roast the filled mushroom caps at the 350F temp for about 20 minutes or until the filling  just begins to brown.  Let cool for a minute or two before enjoying warm.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

We had the BBQ Chicken Sandwiches last night made with the leftover Slow Roasted BBQ Chicken that I made the night before.  Some good eating!

NOTE:  Have your ingredients measured before you start putting everything together.

2 Tbl vegetable oil
3 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbl sweet paprika
1 Tbl plus 1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup ketchup
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 to 5 cups shredded roast chicken (store bought rotisserie chicken is fine here) both dark and white meat
Salt and pepper to taste
Coleslaw ( find a recipe here :
Burger buns

In a large saute pan saute the garlic in the oil until soft. Add the sweetpaprika, smoked paprika, cumin and cayenne to the pan and stir over the heat for about 30 seconds.
Stir in the ketchup, sugar and vinegar and bring up to a boil.
Stir in the shredded chicken and heat
Serve on buns with a little coleslaw on top.
Season with salt and pepper to taste

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Slow Roasted BBQ Chicken

Last week I received the latest Cooking Light Magazine in the mail and in it was a recipe for barbecued chicken sandwiches using a store bought rotisserie chicken and a recipe for the bbq sauce.  My mind has been on those sandwiches all week and I was determined to make my own, as well as a sauce of my own making.  Tonight's the night and hopefully all will go well and I'll be showing off the sandwich tomorrow.  Anyway, last night I made the roast chicken using the 5 hour slow roast method with a barbecue rub instead of my normal Greek seasoning rub.  It was extremely good served up with the Asparagus and Bacon Stir Fry and some scalloped potatoes.  And a dipping sauce is included!

For the rub and dipping sauce:

2 tsp sweet paprika
1 Tbl smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp granulated garlic
2 tsp sugar
2 Tbl vegetable oil
2 Tbl plus 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup mayo

In a small bowl mix together the sweet paprika, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, garlic and sugar.
Mix 1 tablespoon of the rub with the mayo and 1 tsp apple cider vinegar.  Cover and refrigerate until dinner time.
To the rest of the rub add the vegetable oil and the 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.

For the chicken:
One 4 to 5 pound whole chicken
5 or 6 garlic cloves
The rub-oil-vinegar mixture

Place the chicken in an open roaster and rub the whole chicken inside and out with the rub-oil-vinegar mixture.  Place the garlic in the chicken's cavity. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.(longer is good)
Preheat your oven to 250F.  
Roast the chicken uncovered for 5 hours, basting every 45 minutes or so with the pan juices that will accumulate.  Tip the pan now and then to get those juices out of the cavity. When done, let the chicken rest a few minutes before carving.
Serve with the dipping sauce
NOTE:  I saved and refrigerated the pan juices because I might use them for the sandwiches.  We'll see...


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Asparagus and Bacon Stir Fry

Okay...this is just too easy and so good!  Take advantage while we're still getting beautiful fresh asparagus.

One bunch (about 3/4 to 1 pound) fresh asparagus cut into one to one and a half inch pieces
2 slices bacon cut into small pieces
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saute pan cook the bacon pieces until they are 3/4 of the way to crisp.  Add the asparagus pieces and stir fry for about 3 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Good hot or at room temperature!

Note:  I think this would be great tossed with a little fresh pasta..think I'll try it soon.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Creamy Creamless Artichoke Soup

You know I've been experimenting with quinoa lately and using it as a thickener in this soup gives it a creamy quality without using cream....not to mention the protein and fiber boost.  Feta and dill turn the artichokes into a Greek party!
Note:  This one's good warm or chilled!

Makes 2 to 3 quarts

For the quinoa:
3/4 cup rinsed and drained quinoa
1  1/2 cups chicken broth
In a medium sauce pan combine the quinoa and broth, bring up to a boil and then simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed into the quinoa.  Set aside.

For the soup:
1 Tbl butter
1 Tbl olive oil
1 cup diced white onion
2 large cloves minced garlic
6 cups chicken broth
16 ounces fresh cooked artichoke hearts or thawed frozen artichoke hearts
2 Tbl minced fresh dill
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 tsp white pepper
The previously cooked quinoa
Salt to taste if needed (depending on the saltiness of your feta)

In a 4 quart soup pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil and butter until the butter has melted.  Add the onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until the onion softens.
Stir in the dill and add the chicken broth.  Bring up to a boil and then down to a simmer for 5 to 8 minutes.  Turn off the heat and add the artichokes, white pepper, quinoa and feta.
Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender until smooth.  Reheat and season with salt if necessary or season and chill in the fridge if serving cold.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Maple Carrot Pancakes with Butter Pecan Syrup

Here's a way to sneak veggies into your kids' diet (as well as your own!) without them ever realizing it.  These are good pancakes!

Makes 8 to 10 medium pancakes

For the syrup:
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
3 Tbl butter
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and add the pecans.  Saute them for a couple of minutes, until they become fragrant and then add the maple syrup and heat to warm.  Keep warm while making the pancakes.

For the pancakes:
1 large egg
3/4 cup whole milk
1 cup cooked mashed carrots (about 3 medium carrots)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
The Butter Pecan Syrup

Place the egg, milk, carrots and maple syrup in a blender and blend until all the ingredients are smooth.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and then add to the blender a little at a time while processing.
Pour 1/4 cupfuls of the batter onto a hot sprayed non stick skillet. Cook each side over medium heat until lightly browned.  Serve with the syrup.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Very Simple Salmon Chowder

My in-laws were from Michigan's Upper Peninsula, their parents having migrated there during the very early 1900s from Finland.  One popular dish was a soup made with potatoes, milk and salt cod.  I remember my mother-in-law making this during the 1960s when Tom and I were dating and Tom telling me how much he didn't like it.(I did!)  Anyway, over the years Tom learned to really like fish chowders and I often make this one with salmon.  Called "lohikeitto" in Finnish, it often will have carrots and rutabaga.  I like it simple with potatoes, leeks and a lot of fresh dill.  Serve it with a sturdy rye bread.

Makes 3 to 4 quarts

6 Tbl butter, divided
2 large fat leeks, white and light green part only
4 cups peeled potatoes cut into a 3/4 inch dice (I used 3 large redskins)
3 Tbl flour
4 cups clam juice or fish stock
2 cups half and half
1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless, skinless salmon cut into one inch cubes
1 cup fresh minced dill
Salt and white pepper to taste

Cut the leeks lengthwise into four quarters each and then crosswise into 1/4 inch pieces
Melt 3 Tbl of the butter in a good size soup pot and gently saute the leeks over medium heat until soft.  Stir in the potato and flour and continue to saute to let the flour cook a little for about a minute.
Add the fish stock or clam juice, bring up to a boil and then simmer the potatoes for about ten minutes until fork tender.
Add the half and half and the fish.  Bring barely up to a simmer (don't boil!) for about 5 minutes.  Stir in the remaining 3 Tbl butter and the minced dill.  Season with salt and white pepper.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pork and Chinese Broccoli Lo Mein

As you know I'm still on my quest to make good Chinese-American take out (carry out).  I think I have Orange Chicken, Beef and broccoli, Almond Boneless Chicken and Shrimp Chow Mein down.  This week I tackled lo mein with pork and Chinese Broccoli (gai lan) and received a nod from my resident taste tester!  Note:  Best to have your ingredients measured and assembled ahead of time because this goes rather quickly.

For the pork:
1 to 1  1/2 pounds pork tenderloin cut into 1 to 1  1/2 inch cubes
2  Tbl soy sauce
2 Tbl dry sherry
2 Tbl peanut or vegetable oil

Place the pork cubes in a medium size bowl and sprinkle the soy and sherry over.  Toss the cubes in the mixture and let marinate in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
Pat the pork cubes dry and the heat the oil in a large shallow wok or saute pan.  Brown the cubes well, in batches if necessary and remove from the pan.  Set aside.

Putting it all together:
1 Tbl peanut or vegetable oil
1 large onion cut into large pieces
3 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbl freshly grated ginger
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1  1/2 pounds Chines broccoli, thick stems removed and the chopped into half inch pieces
The previously browned pork
2 Tbl light brown sugar
3 Tbl soy sauce
6 ounces of your favorite Chinese wheat noodles or linguini
6 cups chicken broth
1 Tbl cornstarch mixed with 3 Tbl water to create a slurry
2 tsp sesame oil

To the same saute pan that you browned the meat add the tablespoon of oil.  When the oil is hot add the onion and saute for about 2 minutes, stirring all the while.
Add the garlic, ginger, crushed red pepper and Chinese broccoli to the pan and stir fry until the leaves of the broccoli begin to wilt.  Turn off the heat while you cook the noodles.
Cook the noodles in the chicken broth about a minute or 2 shy of the recommended cooking time.  Strain but reserve 2 cups of the broth.
Add the pork to the broccoli mix and turn up the heat.  Add the reserved broth, brown sugar and soy sauce.  Cook about a minute or two on high heat and then add the cornstarch slurry.  Stir in the cooked noodles and sesame oil.

Makes 4 generous servings

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Maple Cheesecake Pudding

About a year ago I posted a recipe titled Pudding That Tastes Like Mom's Cheesecake, a take on her cheesecake recipe in a no bake form.  I played around with it a bit to come up with this one.  It's extremely creamy and rich and takes no time to make.  A little goes a long way!

8 ounces cold whipping cream
1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
8 ounces sour cream
3/4 cup dark amber maple syrup plus more for drizzling
Chopped pecans for serving

Place the whipping cream in a cold bowl and sprinkle with the gelatin.  Whip the cream with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.  refrigerate while you move on.
In a large mixing bowl cream the mascarpone, cream cheese sugar, vanilla and maple syrup.  Stir in the sour cream thoroughly.  Fold in the whipped cream and refrigerate at least an hour before serving.
When ready to serve, scoop some pudding into small dessert dishes, sprinkle with a few chopped pecans and drizzle with a little maple syrup.