Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Skillet Chicken with Cranberries & Apples

I knew I'd have lots to do this summer between semesters so that I could catch up with everything I didn't get to do while I was non-stop studying during the semester, but I thought I'd have a little time to relax and even to blog. I have been busy with mommy/house duties, attending my children's programs and concerts and still getting only 5 or 6 hours sleep a night even without studying. I know I could squeeze time for a pondering post in if I could make myself be in the right mood to write something uplifting (for me and you) and not depressing. So for now, I am just leaving another recipe post.

I found this recipe on Eating Well. Never thought you'd hear me visiting a site like that with all my desserts, huh? Gotta have balance for sure! My neighbor gave me some Gala apples so I was glad to use this recipe that was in my file. I tried 3 stores and couldn't find cranberries, frozen or fresh, so I substituted cherries. And I didn't make the pretty pink sauce with the flour and apple juice. I was in a hurry and followed the recipe up until time to add the flour. I just added a splash of apple juice to the cooked chicken and fruit and cooked it for a minute and was done. I like fruit in my main dishes and this has the aromatic flavor of thyme too. If you don't like thyme, feel free to substitute an herb that you do like.
Skillet Chicken with Cranberries & Apples  
1 lb. chicken tenders, trimmed and cut in half on the diagonal
3/4 t. dried thyme, divided
3/4 t. salt, divided
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
2 T. canola oil, divided
2 crisp red apples, such as Braeburn, Fuji or Gala, thinly sliced
1 lg. red onion, quartered and sliced
3/4 c. apple cider or apple juice, divided
1 c. cranberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)
2 T. all-purpose flour

Sprinkle both sides of chicken tenders with 1/4 teaspoon each thyme, salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add the chicken. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes total. Transfer to a clean plate.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Add apples, onion, 2 tablespoons cider (or juice) and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon each thyme and salt. Stir to combine. Cook, stirring often, until the apples and onion are softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add cranberries and sprinkle flour over everything in the pan; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Return the chicken to the pan and pour in the remaining cider (or juice). Cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes more.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

White Chocolate Blueberry Blondies

This is the last of the polka dot desserts from Sabrina's party. My bars ended up more yellow than Lindsey's at Hot Polka Dot did since I used margarine instead of butter. I would definitely use butter next time if I could. Mine look like lemon bars, but there is no lemon in them, although I did think about adding it. Maybe next time.

My bars took longer to bake and didn't seem to set up in the middle of the pan as much as they should. But they were still really good and rich.

White Chocolate Blueberry Blondies

1 c. white chocolate, chopped
1/2 c. unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350° and position a rack in the center. Line a 8 or 9 inch pan with parchment paper with enough overhang to grasp then set it aside.

In a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over simmering water melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally. Once it's melted and smooth take the bowl off the heat and stir in the sugar using a whisk. Add the vanilla next then the eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition. Finally whisk in the flour and salt until the mixture is smooth.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Chicken, Chive & Spinach Burgers

Taking a break from all the party dessert recipes, I wanna share what we had for dinner tonight since we really liked it. It was the first time I made it, but it's now in my file to make again. I found it on Fox 13, but the link to the recipe there no longer exists. So lucky us that I had copied and pasted it already. I included it as it was below, even though I didn't do it exactly the same, but close.

I didn't wilt the spinach first, just chopped it pretty small and threw it into the ground chicken fresh. This was the first time I ever used ground chicken and know nothing about it besides that it is a bit slimy-er feeling than ground beef when it's raw. I don't have a seasoning blend so I just used salt, pepper, garlic and thyme. I forgot to put the cheese on them, but I think I would like it better without the cheese anyway. We also just used regular buns and we skipped the mustard. Lots of flavor and a nice, moist burger.

Chicken, Chive & Spinach Burgers
2 c. packed baby spinach leaves
16 oz. ground chicken breast
2 T. honey Dijon mustard
1 small bunch fresh chives, snipped (about 1/3 c. snipped)
1 t. favorite all-purpose seasoning
1/4 c. panko (or regular) bread crumbs

For serving:
3 T. low-fat mayonnaise
2 t. Dijon mustard
2 T. snipped fresh chives
Lettuce, cheese slices, tomato slices
4 thin sandwich buns such as Aunt Millie's 90-calorie Slimwiches

Preheat or prepare the grill. Rinse the spinach leaves. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach leaves with water still clinging to the leaves. Saute the spinach until wilted.

In a bowl, combine the ground chicken, honey Dijon, cooked spinach, chives, seasoning blend and bread crumbs. Mix well. Shape into 4 patties about 1/2-inch thick.

Oil the grill grates and grill the burgers about 6-8 minutes per side or until thoroughly cooked. An instant-read thermometer should register 165°.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard and chives.

To assemble burgers, toast the buns, if desired. Spread a dollop of the mayonnaise mixture on the inside of each bun. Place lettuce on the bottom. Top with the burger, cheese slice and tomato. Place the other bun half on top and serve.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mint-Truffle Ice Cream Terrine with Mint and Chocolate Sauces

This was my favorite polka dot dessert and it didn't even make it to the party. I started making it the night before, but I didn't finish assembling it until the morning of the party and it didn't harden enough to be ready. It's chocolate truffles frozen in a loaf of vanilla ice cream. I like it because it's unique and also because of the rich, chocolatey truffles embedded in the ice cream. Those bites with the truffles are really good. R-E-A-L-L-Y good! I'd like to try a different flavor of ice cream next time because vanilla is my least favorite flavor. Maybe a coconut sorbet. Coconut and mint and chocolate? Sounds good to me.  

I found this recipe at Bon Appétit. I have a note about the chocolate sauce below the recipe. The recipe also calls for a mint sauce made from fresh mint, so it's green. I wasn't sure if kids would want to try it so I didn't make any. With fresh mint, I'm sure it would be really good though. For this photo I just used purchased chocolate syrup because the homemade chocolate sauce wasn't drizzling pretty for a photo.
Mint-Truffle Ice Cream Terrine with Mint and Chocolate Sauces
Truffles and chocolate sauce
1 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
16 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 t. pure peppermint extract
Unsweetened cocoa powder
5 c. (2 1/2 pints) vanilla ice cream, slightly softened

Mint Sauce:
3/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. water
2 c. (lightly packed) fresh mint leaves


Truffles and chocolate sauce

Bring cream to simmer in heavy large saucepan; remove from heat. Add chocolate; let stand 1 minute. Whisk until mixture is smooth. Whisk in extract. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours, or chill overnight.

Line baking sheet with foil. Drop scant 1 tablespoon chocolate mixture for each of 16 truffles onto prepared sheet. Dust hands with cocoa; roll chocolate mounds into rounds. Cover and freeze truffles. Cover and chill remaining chocolate mixture for sauce. (Truffles and sauce can be made 2 days ahead.)

Line 8 1/2 x 4 1/2x2 1/2-inch metal loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving long overhang. Spread 1/3 of ice cream (about 1 2/3 cups) over bottom of prepared pan. Press 8 truffles in random pattern (and spaced apart) into ice cream layer. Spread 1/2 of remaining ice cream over. Press remaining 8 truffles in random pattern (and spaced apart) into second ice cream layer. Spread remaining ice cream over. Cover terrine with plastic wrap overhang. Freeze at least 6 hours and up to 2 days.

Mint sauce

Bring sugar and 1/3 cup water to boil in small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour syrup into blender; cool 10 minutes. Add mint leaves to syrup and puree until smooth. Transfer sauce to bowl; cool. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Whisk to blend before using.)

Stir chocolate sauce over low heat until warm. Transfer to pitcher. Turn ice cream terrine out onto platter; peel off plastic. Cut terrine crosswise into slices; arrange on plates. Drizzle chocolate sauce and mint sauce around terrine.

The recipe says to use the leftover truffle chocolate as a sauce for the ice cream, but it was very thick so I added some extra whipping cream to make it a bit thinner. It was still thick. But it is sooooo heavenly. I would say I will whip some up and keep it in the fridge for impromptu ice cream nights, but that would be very dangerous. It would not last long at this house!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Peppermint Pig Cookies

Sabrina finally had her Pigs & Polka Dots party. Almost all of her grandma's piggies she got to use for decorations were pink, but she doesn't like pink. So she wanted her colors to be purple and black. Looked like Halloween, but she liked the colors. I had grand ideas, but I scaled them down lots. Sabrina was talking about how some kids get huge parties with ice sculptures and ponies so hers didn't seem so expensive to her. It was very simple, but the kids played and laughed so hopefully they still had fun.

I ran from Sabrina's Mother's Day program at school straight to the party. I had taken a video of her program so it used up all my memory card and my batteries. I did recharge the batteries and then put the video on my computer so it freed up memory and I could take a few photos before the end of the party. I didn't take a pic of the other table that was decorated the same, but had just drinks and plates, cups and stuff and the ice cream. I took some photos of the kids playing all the games Sabrina organized and made up (mostly involving running and oinking), but none of all the other pigs she put on the stairs and in the living room and I didn't take any of the polka dot pinwheels that lined the walk up to the door . I had planned on taking photos of each child with the piggies, but didn't have enough battery for that.

All the food was polka dot food except the Peppermint Pig Cookies (recipe from TLC). We were going to have the guests decorate cupcakes to look like pigs, but Sabrina doesn't like cupcakes or frosting so she decided not to after all. Silly girl.
Sabrina helped me make the cookies. This is what the dough looked like before baking. We made them a little too thin. I think they started out looking like pigs, but after baking, could pass for cows. Either way, she loved them, so that's all that matters.

Peppermint Pig Cookies
package (18-oz.) refrigerated sugar cookie dough
c. flour
t. peppermint extract
Red food coloring
Prepared white icing and mini candy-coated chocolate pieces

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease cookie sheets. Let dough stand at room temperature about 15 minutes.

Combine dough, flour, peppermint extract and food coloring in large bowl; beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended and evenly colored. Divide dough into 20 equal pieces. For each pig, shape one dough piece into one 1-inch ball, one 1/2-inch ball and two 1/4-inch balls. Flatten 1-inch ball to 1/4-inch-thick round; place on prepared cookie sheet. Flatten 1/2-inch ball to 1/4-inch-thick oval; place on top of dough round for snout. Shape two 1/4-inch balls into triangles; fold point over and place at top of round for ears. Make indentations in snout for nostrils with toothpick.

Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. Use white icing and candy-coated chocolate pieces to make eyes.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chocolate Chip Oreo Muffins

I started making treats for Sabrina's birthday party. She wanted a pig party, but we couldn't find anything at party stores with pigs, strangely enough, and piggie desserts were hard to find online. But my mom collects pig stuff and she lent a lot of it to Sabrina. So she decided to keep the pigs, but add something else for more choices with food. It became a Pigs and Polka Dots party. She always has very unusual themes. Remember her Frog/Skunk/Turtle party?

I figured just about any dessert with chocolate chips or cherries could qualify as polka dots. Right??? So we had a lot to desserts to choose from on the list. Since it's Sabrina's party, I have to give up a lot of control (not easy!) and mostly let her choose desserts. She didn't actually want this one because she doesn't like Oreos, but she let me make this one as one of the desserts since it is so easy. Easy and chocolatey with melty chocolate chips and chunks of cookie. I've had the recipe in my file for years and don't know where I originally found it. Next time I'll add almond extract or vanilla for just a little change.

Chocolate Chip Oreo Muffins

1 lg. egg
½ c. milk
¼ c. butter, melted
1½ c. flour
½ c. sugar
2 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
½ c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 c. Oreo cookies, crushed

            Preheat oven to 400º. Beat together the egg, milk and butter.  Stir in the remaining ingredients except the Oreos. Fold in Oreos; batter will be lumpy.  Spoon into greased/lined muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Yield: About 12 muffins.

Monday, May 7, 2012

1-Hour Rolls

Most people already have their go-to roll recipe, but I haven't had one. My children and I tried this one that I found at Bamamoma1 and were happy with how fast it was and with the taste. I just have a cheap hand-held mixer, not a stand mixer, so we kneaded this by hand. My children had a lot of fun taking turns doing that and they did really well. I love freshly baked bread and rolls!
1-Hour Rolls

5  t. yeast
1/4 c. warm water
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. oil
1 t. salt
4 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
Preheat oven to 425°. Spray 2 cookie sheets with non-stick spray. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a small bowl. In mixing bowl, combine buttermilk, sugar, oil, and salt, then mix. Add the yeast mixture once it has become frothy, then mix well.  Add flour and baking soda. Knead (with machine or by hand) until the dough is smooth (2-5 minutes).  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Roll out the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut into triangles and roll from wide side to thin (forming a crescent). Place on cookie sheet and let rise for 30 minutes. Bake for 10 minutes.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu

Many of you, my blogger friends, also read Cherie's fun blog, Bakow Babble, and might have seen this recipe she posted recently. I made it the other night and it is definitely nice to have another quick and easy option for dinner. It seriously can't get much easier than this and still taste good! I did season the chicken with salt and pepper before putting it in the pan and I added pepper to the soup too. Other than that, I followed the directions.

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu
8 boneless chicken breasts
8 thin slices of ham
8 thin slices Swiss cheese
1 1/2 cans cream of chicken soup,
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. butter
1 box Stove Top for Chicken Stuffing

Preheat oven to 350°. Layer chicken, cheese, and ham in a baking dish. Mix soup with water and pour over chicken. Melt 1 cube of butter in saucepan. Add stove top stuffing with seasoning. Sprinkle over top. Bake covered for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes longer.

Blueberry Cheesecake Crumb Cake

Bursting blueberries in every bite! I made this coffee cake that I found on  Oh My Goodness Chocolate Desserts  (even though it's not a ...