Monday, March 29, 2010

What's for Dinner- Brown Sugar Chicken

Another one from This one I didn't alter at all since I've never really made a recipe like this. I rarely use this much vinegar in a dish.

12 naked chicken thighs or 6 naked chicken breasts (I used breast meat)
1 c brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp soy sauce (I use gluten free, low sodium)
2/3 c white wine vinegar
1/4 c lemon-lime soda (I used 7 Up)

Written for a four qt crockpot

1. Place chicken into crock.
2. Cover with the brown sugar, black pepper, garlic, and soy sauce.
3. Add vinegar and soda (it bubbles)
4. Cover and cook on low for 6-9 hours or high for 4-5 hours. Cook until done and at desired tenderness.
**the longer it is cooked on low, the more tender the chicken will be.

I served it with Lundberg Organic Risotto Florentine. It is Gluten free, very easy to prepare and absolutely delicious! For some additional freshness, I sauteed half of a red onion and lightly steamed 6 ozs of sliced button mushrooms in beef stock, that I added to the risotto in the last few minutes. A really great dinner that made the whole house smell wonderful.

I didn't allow for quite enough time for the chicken to cook. While it was cooked through, it could have used another couple hours to really absorb the flavor. Kevin loved it though, and thought it would make the perfect base for a BBQ pulled chicken. We'll probably do that next. I think this recipe makes a wonderful, versatile chicken dish that I can make and use in multiple recipes.

big recommendation for this product, it will now be a staple in our house:

Outgrown Clothes

There is a duality to the experience of packing away a child's outgrown clothes. Yesterday, I buckled down and went through my little monkey's closet and drawers. Folding and packing away all the newborn, 3 and 6 month clothes. It was a bit of a shock to pull out some 12 month clothes and have to really consider whether to bring them out now or wait another couple months (I decided to wait although he's almost fitting them). It just doesn't seem possible that we're approaching a year. Granted we're still a few months away, but those clothes don't seem THAT big anymore.

The one that gave me the biggest pause was the monkey costume he wore for halloween. Since we call him the monkey, it was an obvious choice for a costume. But that particular costume was warm, soft, fuzzy fleece- every time we put it on him, he was so comfortable that he would fall right asleep.

Now, if we could just put that crib to good use......

Saturday, March 27, 2010

My kitchen smells amazing!

We're enjoying a gorgeous sunny day here. Windows are open, the dogs are willingly playing outside, and I see green in our potato planter!

Inside, my kitchen smells amazing. I'm roasting butternut squash for my ravioli (dinner tonight). I'm also trying out a new way of making broth. Typically, when I roast a whole chicken, I make broth from the carcass in my big stock pot. It is a bit time consuming. In one of my new favorite cookbooks, there is a recipe for slow cooker chicken broth. I decided to give it a try. There are a couple adaptations. I used the leftovers of a whole chicken I roasted (see Tahini Rubbed Chicken), celery salt instead of chopped celery ( I had finished my celery), and oregano, parsley and basil instead of Italian seasoning.

Chicken Broth

leftovers of a whole roast chicken
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp (approx) celery salt
2 carrots, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped (I had already used a bit off the tops)
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled
3 bay leaves
Sprinkle each of dried basil, oregano, and parsley
6 cups water

1. Put the chicken carcass into slow cooker.
2. Nestle the chopped vegetables in with the chicken bones
3. Add peeled garlic cloves, bay leaves, seasoning, and water.
4. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
5. Remove stoneware from the heating element and let cool completely. Debone chicken and remove all the bones.
6. Scoop liquid and vegetables into a blender to "brothicize".
7. Pour blended liquid into freezer bags in manageable portions. Place bags on a baking sheet and freeze.

Friday, March 26, 2010

What's for Dinner- Chicken Corn Chowder

I love using leftovers in a new meal. Especially when I do it on purpose. In planning this weeks menu, I had planned to cook last night's whole roasted chicken. We ate the breasts from the chicken last night with some fabulous baby yukon gold mashed potatoes.

Tonight, I'm going to debone the rest of the chicken and use it in some Chicken Corn Chowder- which happens to be an absolute favorite of mine.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tahini Rubbed Chicken

Tahini Rubbed Chicken

This was one of my "new uses for Tahini" recipes. It gave the chicken a really interesting, different dimension from my usual herb roasted chicken. And went perfectly with mashed potatoes.

1 whole chicken, cleaned
1 lemon
1 bunch green onions
1 tbsp tahini
1/2 c chicken broth
1 carrot, diced
1 small onion, diced
Fresh herbs ( I used tarragon, basil, thyme)

*Preheat oven to 425
1. Combine tahini, chicken broth, juice of 1/2 lemon in a mixing bowl.
2. Chop a handful of herbs and add to mixing bowl. Whisk until incorporated.
3. Stuff chicken cavity with both halves of lemon, fresh herbs, and half of the green onions. Tie drumsticks.
4. Season the outside of chicken with salt and pepper.
5. Spoon 1/2 cup of tahini mixture over the top of the chicken.
6. Roast chicken for 15 minutes at 425. Reduce heat to 350, baste chicken and roast for another 15 minutes.
7. Add diced onion and carrot to pan, baste chicken, and continue to cook for 45 minutes or until juices run clear (and meat temps to at least 160).
After removing from oven,let chicken rest for 10 minutes.

1. Melt 1/2 tbsp butter in a saucepan over med heat.
2. Whisk in the remaining tahini mixture.
3. Strain the juices from the roasting pan into gravy and mix well.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tahini- my new favorite ingredient

Do you have a random ingredient sitting in your fridge or pantry? The one you use in that one dish....enough to keep it around, but it shifts to the back because it's been a while since you made that dish.

Mine was tahini. I tend to have it around periodically for making hummus. Hummus is so easy to make that I feel guilty buying the prepared hummus in the grocery store (not to mention that I make mine with considerably less salt). But until recently, that was the only use I'd found for it.

I've been making an effort to really maximize what I get out of my grocery shopping by utilizing everything in my kitchen. So when I was looking for something to season kale, the tahini appeared to be a reasonable candidate.

So what is Tahini?

According to Cookthink:
"Tahini is a thick paste made from ground sesame seeds. Common in Middle Eastern cuisine, tahini is what brings that nutty richness to hummus, baba ghanoush and halvah. You can find tahini in a jar or can at most grocery stores. A fresh can usually needs stirring to mix the oil and paste."

Since that initial experiment, I've used tahini as the base for spice rub, tossed with veggies in an omelet, in an onion and potato saute, and in a vinagerette. I'm planning on dipping back into some of cookbooks- where I know I've seen recipes using tahini- to revisit those possibilities for this verstile sauce.

So, what's your under-utilized ingredient?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chicken and Gravy Sandwhiches

Kevin saw this recipe on an episode of Rachel Ray on Food Network. I made a couple small adjustments to cut the fat a bit and for personal taste. It turned out very well and will be joining the regular rotation of dinners for us.

Chicken and gravy Sandwhiches

4 naked chicken breasts
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
3 lemons(juice of)
4 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
4 pieces of baguette or sandwich rolls
2 tbsp butter
Stone Ground mustard
Chicken stock

1. Combine finely chopped garlic, finely chopped parsley, the juice of 3 lemons, and a drizzle of honey in a gallon freezer bag.
2. Whisk in just enough olive oil to mix marinade(about 4 tbsp for me), and salt and pepper to taste.
3. Add chicken breast to bag and massage to thoroughly cover chicken. Let marinate for 15 minutes.
4. Heat nonstick skillet over med high heat with 1 tbsp of marinade. When hot, add chicken.
5. Sear chicken until lightly brown on both sides and cooked through.
6. Slice cooked breasts into diagonal slices.
7. Dip chicken slices into gravy until well covered and use to fill baguette/sandwich roll.

1. Melt 2 tbsp of butter cut into thin pats over med heat in a saucepan.
2. Add in flour (approx 3 tbsp), salt and pepper.
3. Whisk flour until butter is completely absorbed and flour lightly browned.
4. Whisk in 2 c chicken stock until flour is dissolved and gravy is smooth.
5. Whisk in 1-2 tbsp stone ground mustard until smooth.
6. Simmer on low, stirring occaisionally, until needed.


I made a few changes from the original recipe that inspired it. I cut down on the amount of olive oil used in the marinade and the amount put in the pan. I also slightly reduced the amount of butter in the gravy. I also chose to use stone ground organic mustard instead of dijon mustard. I just prefer the taste.

We needed two chicken breasts for three sandwiches, leaving 2 chicken breasts that I'll incorporate into tonight's dinner. I also had almost 2 c of gravy leftover. So while the gravy is pretty fatty (with all that butter!), we probably only used a tbsp or so on each sandwich.
The original recipe served the sandwiches with "smashed potatoes", but Kevin wanted fries. The next time I make this, I'll probably grill the chicken, as I think that would better carmelize the honey in the marinade. The gravy is definitely a winner and will be making an appearance in other dishes I make.