Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stuffed Summer Squash

Squash has been an abundant item in my farmers market basket for the past few weeks. I decided that we would have a veggie plate for supper featuring market basket produce and knew squash needed to be one component. However, I wanted to do something different, so I stuffed it with chopped tomatoes and breadcrumbs. It was a tasty accompaniment to the Sweet Potato Latkes and Fried Okra and Green Tomatoes. Enjoy!

Stuffed Summer Squash
2 summer squash, cut in half
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup chopped grape tomatoes
1 cup breadcrumbs (I used these.)
1 tsp. dried basil

1. Use a spoon to hollow out squash. Place in a baking dish; drizzle squash with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Combine tomatoes, next 2 ingredients, and salt and pepper to taste; scoop mixture into squash shells. Drizzle with additional olive oil. Pour a small amount of water into baking dish.
2. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until squash is tender.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Greek-Style Chicken With Feta

This is a very quick and healthful weeknight meal; it is based on Chicken Souvlaki. The main change is the addition of halved grape tomatoes, compliments of last week’s market basket. Instead of serving the chicken mixture in pitas or with pita chips, I spooned it on top of brown basmati rice. A sprinkling of salty feta and a spoonful of Tzaziki Sauce are the perfect finishing touches. Enjoy!

Greek-Style Chicken With Feta
Olive oil
1 onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 small green bell peppers, cut into thin strips
1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into cubes
Greek seasoning
Zest and juice from 2 lemons
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
Salt and pepper
Freshly crumbled feta
Hot cooked brown basmati rice

1. Sauté onions and bell peppers in hot oil for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add in garlic, and cook 1 minute. Toss chicken with Greek seasoning, and add to pan with vegetables. Stir in lemon zest and juice, and cook for 10 minutes or until chicken is done. Stir in tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste; cook 10 more minutes or until tomatoes begin to soften. Sprinkle with feta and serve over hot cooked rice.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Blueberry Scones

Andy loves scones, so when I saw The Pioneer Woman's post on Petit Vanilla Bean Scones, I knew I had to try them. However because I rarely make recipes the way they are written, my version is a variation. First, I used vanilla bean paste instead of whole vanilla beans (same flavor and look with no scraping). Second, I added dried blueberries (Andy's favorite) and omitted the glaze (would be too sweet for our taste). I worked the dough too much and therefore didn't achieve pretty triangles. Next time, I will also leave the dough a little thicker. The texture is similar to a soft shortbread, thanks to all the butter. Enjoy!

Blueberry Scones
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cups sugar
5 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, cut into pats
1 egg
1/2 cup dried blueberries

1. Combine cream and vanilla. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and next 3 ingredients. Cut in half of butter with a pastry cutter or two forks; cut in remaining butter. Mixture should resemble wet sand.
2. Beat egg into cream mixture, and pour into flour mixture. Add in blueberries, and stir just until combined. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll into a rectangle about 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. Cut the rectangle into smaller rectangles and the smaller rectangles into triangles. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
3. Bake at 350° for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ranch Dressing

For dinner tonight we had Tomato-and-Goat Cheese Tarts and salad. My go-to dressing is balsamic vinaigrette; however tonight I had a craving for something a little creamier. This recipe is super easy; you can substitute cilantro for the flat-leaf parsley if you prefer. For a thicker consistency, add in more sour cream or mayo. Enjoy!

Ranch Dressing
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbsp. chopped chives
2 Tbsp. sour cream
Salt and pepper

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small jar; shake to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tex-Mex Chicken and Rice

Chicken and rice says comfort food to me. I have yummy childhood memories of Grannie's buttery chicken and rice for supper, and Andy and I have it often in winter. This recipe, which is loosely based on one I found online, definitely updates the flavor of the old-fashioned original. This dish uses quick-cooking chicken tenders and comes together in less than 45 minutes (just the amount of time it takes the brown basmati rice to cook). The friends who taste-tested this dish for me really liked it. I'll definitely make it again. Enjoy!

Tex-Mex Chicken and Rice
1 (1-lb.) package chicken tenders, cut into pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
Zest and juice from 1 lime
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried cilantro
1/4 cup butter
1 onion, chopped
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (15-oz.) can tomato sauce
2 cups half-and-half
Brown Basmati Rice

1. Combine chicken and next 6 ingredients in a bowl; set aside.
2. Melt butter in a Dutch oven, and add in chopped onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender. Add in chicken mixture, and cover and cook for 30 minutes. Stir in diced tomatoes and next 2 ingredients; cook until thoroughly heated. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Brown Basmati Rice:
1 cup brown basmati rice
2 1/4 cups chicken stock

1. Combine ingredients in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 45 minutes or until rice is tender.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Potatoes With Bacon

We love potatoes, and this dish combines them with bacon, so how could we go wrong? A few weeks ago, my friend Jamie sent us some bacon from Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Hams in Madisonville, Tennessee. This isn’t just any bacon—it’s spicy-sweet and much smokier than what you buy at the grocery store. I have been rationing it by only using it in dishes where the flavor will shine—it was a must for this recipe! I used a combination of russet and sweet potatoes, which paired beautifully with the bacon. Be warned: The potatoes are cooked in the bacon drippings, so this isn’t a health-conscious dish. I served it with Tarragon Chicken, but it would be equally good for breakfast. Enjoy!

Potatoes With Bacon
Instead of using a knife to chop the bacon, I use kitchen scissors. This is much quicker!
3 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 Russet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
3 fresh thyme sprigs

1. Cook bacon in a large skillet until crispy; remove from skillet to drain. Add potatoes and garlic to hot drippings in skillet. Cook, stirring often, over medium heat for 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove thyme leaves from stems, and add to potato mixture. Stir in cooked bacon, and serve immediately.

Tarragon Chicken

This recipe is based on one from Giada De Laurentiis. It sounded very light (important because it’s still in the 90s outside—I’m ready for fall) and requires only one pot (important because who wants to do dishes?). I adjusted this for our tastes and made enough for two; however, it's easily expandable. Splurge on fresh tarragon for this dish—it adds a brightness of flavor you can’t get from dried herbs. Enjoy!

Tarragon Chicken
Olive oil
2 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup Riesling (You can substitute chicken broth.)
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. fresh chopped tarragon
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. butter

1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper, and place in a Dutch oven. Cook in hot oil 5 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chicken to a plate.
2. Add onions and garlic to the same Dutch oven, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender. Add in wine, stirring to loosen browned particles on bottom of pan. Return chicken to the pan; add in chicken stock and 1/4 cup tarragon. Cook, turning chicken every 15 minutes, for 45 minutes or until done. Transfer chicken to a platter, and keep warm.
3. Whisk flour into broth mixture in Dutch oven; cook, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens. Stir in butter, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in remaining 2 Tbsp. tarragon; serve sauce with hot chicken.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sweet Potato Latkes

This week my farmers market basket included sweet potatoes, so I am looking for new ways to use them. Latkes are one of my favorite sides (how can you go wrong with potato pancakes?), and a combo of sweet and regular potatoes seemed to be the perfect accompaniment to the grilled salmon we were having for dinner tonight. These latkes have just the right balance of potatoes and onions. You’ll definitely want to use your food processor to grate the vegetables. It's important to squeeze out all of the liquid once the veggies are grated (Andy helped with this step). Serve latkes with a dollop of sour cream. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Latkes
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled
1 Yukon Gold or russet potato, peeled
1/2 sweet onion
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
Pinch of ground red pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
Peanut or vegetable oil
Black pepper
Sour cream

1. Grate potatoes and onion with food processor. Place mixture in a clean dishtowel, and squeeze to extract all liquid. Place potato mixture in a bowl, and stir in flour and next 3 ingredients.
2. Pour oil to the depth of 1/2 inch in the bottom of a Dutch oven, and heat. Working in batches, scoop potato mixture by 1/4 cupfuls into hot oil. Cook, turning once, until golden and crispy on both sides. Drain on paper towels; sprinkle with additional salt and black pepper to taste. Serve warm with sour cream.

Grilled Salmon With Citrus Salsa

Tonight we were craving fish, but I wasn’t sure how I wanted to cook it. After reading a few recipes, I decided grilled salmon topped with a fresh salsa would fill the bill. This recipe is based on one by Giada De Laurentis. It's very impressive and deceptively easy. When I got to the store, bourbon-marinated salmon fillets were on sale. The sweetness of the salmon paired well with the smoky char from the grill pan. The salsa is bright, flavorful, and perfectly balanced. I served the fish with Sweet Potato Latkes. Enjoy!

Grilled Salmon With Citrus Salsa
2 marinated salmon fillets
Salt and pepper
Citrus Salsa

1. Sprinkle salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Place on hot grill pan, and cook 5 minutes on each side or until done. Top with salsa just before serving.

Citrus Salsa:
1 lemon
2 oranges
2 Tbsp. finely chopped red onion
2 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil

1. Zest lemon into a bowl; cut in half. Squeeze juice from lemon into bowl with zest. Zest 1 orange into bowl. Peel and section both oranges; add to bowl. Stir in red onion and next 2 ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in olive oil.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Easy Cinnamon Rolls

We went to Callaway Gardens for Labor Day weekend with my mom and my sister and her family. The weather couldn’t have been better! We spent our time riding bikes, swimming, and just hanging out. I made this easy recipe for breakfast one morning. It’s a terrific choice for a laid-back weekend because it uses time-saving frozen biscuits and requires no kneading. The cinnamon rolls were a hit—the girls ate two apiece. Enjoy!

Easy Cinnamon Rolls
1 bag frozen Southern-style biscuits
1/2 cup butter, softened
Brown sugar
Vegetable cooking spray

1. Place frozen biscuits in three rows on a lightly floured surface. Let stand 30 minutes or until thawed.
2. Once thawed, press biscuits together to create a rectangle. Spread butter over top of biscuits; sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over the top.
3. Roll up, starting with 1 long side, to create a log. Slice log into 12 slices (cut off ends and discard). Place slices in a lightly greased round cake pan or cast-iron skillet.
4. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until done. Drizzle warm cinnamon rolls with glaze, if desired. Serve immediately.

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Stir together all ingredients until smooth, adding more milk if necessary.