Monday, April 30, 2012

Jerk Chicken Thighs

I know it has been a while since my last post, but we have been traveling for work and some fun on the side ;) and that always means eating out and no cooking. When we came home there was a new issue of Cooking Light waiting in the mailbox. I actually waited and read it over my leisurely breakfast and as usual, there were tons of recipes I ripped out to try. Jason loves chicken and I prefer the thighs for the dark meat. This recipe could be used on whatever type of chicken you like, just keep in mind the boneless can cook faster so keep an eye on them. Jason grilled a few whole mini bell peppers as well, they are so much cuter when a mini! The chicken had a lot of flavor and the serrano gave it some spice but kept it pretty mild, you can keep the seeds in if you prefer things spicier.

Jerk Chicken
Serves 4
Adapted from Cooking Light May 2012

1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
garlic cloves
1 large serrano chile, stemmed
8 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Cooking spray

1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. After preheating, reduce one side to low.
2. Combine green onions, shallots, sugar, lime juice, oil, allspice, garlic, and serrano in a mini food processor; process until smooth. Combine half of onion mixture and chicken in a medium bowl; toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Cover and grill 5 minutes on each side. Move chicken over low heat. Cover and grill 5 minutes on each side or until done. Brush chicken with remaining onion mixture and enjoy!

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Quinoa with Dried Cherries and Pistachios

I keep reading and seeing recipes for quinoa and how it is such a great grain because it is also high in protein. On its own it is kind of flavorless, so most recipes have add ins. A simple way to gain flavor is to cook the quinoa in chicken or vegetable broth instead of water so it is absorbed. I did that below and added in pistachios for crunch, craisins for sweetness and tossed it lightly with lemon juice and olive oil. Jason actually enjoyed it and had it for 2 nights, little did he know how good it was for him! It can be served on top of a bed of lettuce for lunch the next day either room temperature or cold.

Quinoa with Dried Cherries and Pistachios
Serves: 4
1 cup pre-washed quinoa
2 cups low sodium chicken broth (or water)
1/4 cup dried sweet cherries, chopped  (or craisins)
1/4 cup dry-roasted pistachios, chopped
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Fresh ground pepper

1. Add 2 cups chicken broth to a sauce pan; bring to a boil. Add quinoa; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Remove from heat; set aside, and cool slightly.

2. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, and pepper in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add quinoa, cherries, and pistachios; toss gently to combine. 

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars

I have made these a few times and each time they were gone so quickly I wasn't able to get a picture of them so it took a while before I could publish this post. I have a huge sweet tooth and normally not a cheesecake fan but these changed that. They are a huge hit with the creamy cheesecake middle, graham cracker crust and who doesn't love chocolate chip cookie dough on top! As hard as it might be, let them cool and store in the refrigerator to harden up for the best results. I promise, they will be a huge success for dessert or any party. Just writing about it and looking at the pictures has me drooling and wanting to make them again.

Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars
Yield 12 squares

For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough:
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1 cup chocolate chips

For the cheesecake Filling:
10 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil allowing a little overhang and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

2. Mix the melted butter and graham cracker crumbs until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 6 minutes. Remove pan to a cooling rack. Do not turn your oven off.

3. While the crust is cooling, prepare the chocolate chip cookie dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth and thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Mix in the flour on low speed, and mix until just incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips. Set aside.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla on low speed just until incorporated. Pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared crust. Using your hand to form clumps. Flatten the clumps of dough in your palms to flatten them out a bit. Distribute the cookie dough onto the top of the cheesecake batter. Be sure to use all of the dough. You will cover most of the cheesecake batter.

5. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until the top feels dry and firm (the cookie dough) and the entire pan looks set if given a gentle shake. Move bars to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

6. Lift the bars out by the overhang; slice into desired size and store in the refrigerator. Serve cold or at room temperature

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole

This is one of my favorite go to recipes. It was among the first things I started making when I lived on my own since it has about 5 ingredients, all goes in 1 pan and is therefore super simple and inexpensive. Another great thing about it is that it has your protein, vegetable and grain all in 1 dish so you don't have to worry about making anything to go with it. Since I was going to be traveling I wanted to make something that was easy, healthy and would have leftovers for Jason to eat when I was gone. While I know he can cook, who doesn't love coming home from work and not having to think about dinner.

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole
Slightly adapted from: Campbell's Kitchen
Serves: 4

1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (98% Fat Free or Healthy Request®)
1 1/3 cups water
3/4 cup uncooked regular long-grain white rice
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (whatever variety you like)
1 1/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken tenders
1/2 cup shredded 2% Cheddar cheese (about 2 ounces)

Heat the oven to 375°F. Stir the soup, water, rice, onion powder, black pepper, paprika and vegetables in an 11 x 8 x 2-inch baking dish.

Top the rice mixture with the chicken. Cover the baking dish with foil.

Bake for 50 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender. Top with the cheese. Let the casserole stand for 10 minutes. Stir the rice before serving.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Buffalo Hummus

One thing that I love for lunch or snacks is hummus. It tastes delicious, is easy to make and is full of protein from the chick peas. I came across this recipe that combined hummus with the flavors of buffalo wings! How can you go wrong with that combination?! Essentially, the hot sauce that you add gives the hummus the heat you would get from wings. Serve it with some veggies, on a sandwich or crackers and its a great dish. Another excuse to make this is that only uses 1 pan, the blender, which makes clean up that much easier.

Buffalo Hummus
Yields: 2 cups
Recipe from The Sweets Life

1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed (1/4 cup liquid reserved)
2 cloves garlic
1/8 cup tahini
1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp paprika
1 Tbsp barbecue sauce
2-3 Tbsp hot sauce depending on how hot you like it (I used Frank's buffalo sauce)
1/2 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
3/4 tsp kosher salt

1. Add the chickpeas, chickpea liquid, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, paprika, barbecue sauce, hot sauce, vinegar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth and creamy. If it is a little bit thick, add some olive oil slowly to thin it out.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Chip-crusted Honey Mustard Chicken & Grape Skewers

I originally saw this recipe in a Rachel Ray magazine with a yogurt marinade. When we tried it out that way it just didn't taste right. After thinking about ways to spice it up I decided to use honey mustard instead and then some more on the side to dip in. Instead of a breading you use crushed up kettle chips that provide a nice crunch. These skewers are crunchy on the outside, sweet and tangy from the honey mustard and then sweet from the grapes. I had never cooked grapes before and was a bit skeptical of how it would taste, but they were surprisingly good and sweet! This made for a perfect party appetizer or as dinner on the night I "practiced" since it's never a good idea to serve something at a party you have never made before.

Chip Encrusted Honey Mustard Chicken & Grape Skewers
Serves: 10

1 cup Honey
1 cup Dijon Mustard
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into sixty 1-inch cubes
60 red seedless grapes (about 1/2 pound)
10 ounce bag salt and pepper kettle-style potato chips

  1. Combine 1/2 cup honey with 1/2 cup mustard and whisk until combined. Add the chicken and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and a cookie sheet. *By putting the chicken on a baking sheet it allows it to brown and crisp up on all sides and not get soggy on the bottom.
  3. Thread twenty 6-inch skewers alternately with 3 chicken cubes and 3 grapes. Using a rolling pin, crush the chips in their bags. Transfer to a plate. Roll each skewer in the potato chips and place on the prepared baking sheets.
  4. Bake the kebabs, switching the pans halfway, until the chicken is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with remaning honey and mustard mixed together as a dipping sauce.

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