Chicken Cordon Blue



You know that saying, "Like a bull in a china shop"? Well I would like to offer up a much more fitting alternative. "Like a toddler in an antique store". Yeah, I know, doesn't sound like a good idea at all, does it? And guess what? It wasn't. Now before you get too worried, I will assure you that not one single item was broken or misplaced. The trip did, however, end up in tears. And heartburn. Poor Ladybug just wanted to touch everything. And for the first part of the trip she was great, but then she was tired of listening to Mama tell her to look with her eyes and just ran from item to item. Hence the heartburn as I just chased her and didn't actually see a single thing. I did happen to find an awesome dress, though. It was super cute, only $20, and it fit like a glove. It was meant to be. And so I bought it. And now to convince Joel to put on his 3 piece suit and take me for a fancy date!


Hence more recipes from Cooking Light, since a whole year of eating Hospital Cafeteria and Dr. Lounge food has apparently made his suit just a tiny bit snug. So, if you happen to work with Joel and you happen to be reading this, you totally have my permission to swat Joel anytime you see him eating cookies, Doritos, or a big bowl of ice cream. And you tell him that I told you to. He has a date to take me on, and no cheating his diet at work! :) 


This chicken cordon blue does not taste like diet food, though. In fact, Joel asked me a whopping three times during dinner if I was sure this was from Cooking Light, and was I sure that I had followed to recipe and didn't add anything. The chicken is moist and tender, very flavorful, and super delicious! 

Chicken Cordon Blue (Cooking Light, December 2005)

1/4 cup fat free reduced sodium chicken broth
5 TBSP butter, melted
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 TBSP parmesan cheese
1 tsp paprika
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp pepper
4 slices prosciutto (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350F.
In a small microwave bowl, heat the broth for 15 seconds in the microwave.
Stir the butter and garlic into the warmed broth.
In a medium bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan and paprika.
Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of heavy duty plastic wrap and pound each to a 1/4" thickness using a meat mallet or a rolling pin.
Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with the salt, pepper, and oregano. 
Top each piece of chicken with 1 slice of prosciutto and 1 TBSP mozzarella.
Roll up each piece of chicken jelly roll fashion (I found it helpful to secure it with a toothpick).
Dip each rolled chicken into the broth mixture and then dredge in the breadcrumbs.
Place rolls, seam side down, into a baking dish coating with cooking spray.
Pour the remaining broth mixture over the chicken.
Bake for 28 minutes or until the juices run clear and the tops are golden. 
Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Popcorn



This month for Secret Recipe Club I was assigned to Anne Jisca's Healthy Pursuits! It really only took me about 5 minutes to find the recipe that I wanted to make. Not for lack of recipes, because there are a ton of good ones (and so many bread recipes!). But this recipe spoke to me.


See, when I was younger, I would go over to my best friend Dana's house and her mom would make us some really special popcorn. Peanut Butter popcorn to be exact. A whole roaster pan of it. And through the sleep-over party we would no doubt eat the entire thing. Yes, 2 pre-teen girls + a roaster full of popcorn. It was amazing and delicious and sooo addictive. I don't think I have eaten any of this delicious popcorn since I was in high school, so I immediately knew that I needed to make it! And I was even more excited to see that Anne's recipe was exactly the same the one that Dana's mom used! So invite some friends over, pick out an awesome movie, and indulge in some of this popcorn!!


Peanut Butter Popcorn (Anne Jisca's Healthy Pursuits) (yields enough for 2 to gorge or 4 to snack)

3/4 cup popcorn kernels
1/2 cup corn syrup or honey
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla

Pop the popcorn.
Sift through all the popcorn and make sure that you remove any unpopped kernels. 
Put the popcorn in the largest bowl you own (this will help with the mixing)
In a medium saucepan, melt the corn syrup and the sugar together, stirring occasionally, until simmering.
Add the peanut butter and vanilla and stir until combined well.
Remove from heat and pour the sauce over the popcorn.
Mix well until the popcorn is evenly coated.
Enjoy!



Chocolate Swirly Brioche Buns


So my dear friend Shelley was so excited when she got asked to host the Bread Baking Day #53! I'm so proud of her, not only because she is my friend, but because she's pretty awesome at baking bread, too. And because she picked an awesome topic - swirly bread! How fun is that?! You could do anything you wanted, as long as it was swirly! I immediately knew that I wanted to replicate Shelley's Chocolate Swirly Brioche Buns. They are utterly stunning and look so cool! 


Mine look nothing like Shelley's. This month has been crazy busy, I haven't been feeling well, I totally left it to the last minute, and then I tried to bake with a tired and grumpy 2 year old who just wanted me to color with her. I know, I know. It didn't help that I had to make the chocolate filling three flipping times before it finally set, and even then it wasn't right (and totally my fault and attitude, too). Ultimately these buns did turn out, and they were super tasty. And even though they don't look nearly as cool as Shelley's do, I still liked them a lot! 


Chocolate Swirl Brioche Buns ( adapted from C Mom Cook and food beam)

300 grams flour
60 grams sugar
1 tsp yeast
125 grams milk
1 egg
50 grams butter, room temperature and diced

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the butter and mix until it forms a rough ball.
Keeping the dough inside the bowl, start kneading in the butter until it forms a smooth ball (about 8 minutes).
Cover the dough with a cloth and leave at room temperature to double for 2 hours.

(make the chocolate filling, see recipe below)

Gently pat the brioche down and then roll it into a 30x20cm rectangle.
Place the chocolate filling in the center of the dough and fold the dough over it, sealing it together.
Roll the dough into a long rectangle and then fold each edge so that they touch each other in the middle, and then fold the dough in half.
Roll the dough out into a long rectangle and then repeat the folds.
Roll the dough out one more time, about 12"x8".
Starting from the long side, roll the dough up to form a log.
Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1" slices (about 12 of them)
Spray the wells of a 12-hole muffin tin and place each slice into one well, cut side up.
Cover loosely and allow to rest for 30-45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Bake the buns for 15-20 minutes and cool on a wire rack.
Enjoy!


Chocolate Filling
1/3 cup milk
1 egg white
1/4 cup sugar
3 TBSP flour
3 TBSP cocoa powder
1 1/2 TBSP butter

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg white and sugar until combined.
Whisk in the cocoa powder and flour and beat until it is combined (it will be very thick)
Heat the milk slowly to boiling, and then slowly, slowly whisk it into the cocoa mixture (slowly, don't cook your egg white!!)
Transfer the mixture back into the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens.
Turn off the heat, whisk in the butter until melted and incorporated.
Spread the mixture into a baking tray lined with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly. 

Pork Chops with Cherry Couscous


I'm getting really excited, guys. The temperatures are no longer 100 each day. Slowly, it is getting just a little bit cooler out. The kids in our town went back to school today. Do you know what that means? Fall is coming!! Fall is my favorite time of year - cardigans, hot cider, pumpkins, and cardigans! Camping, and corn mazes, and cardigans! Um, I kind of like cardigans. It's not quite time for cardigans yet, but its sooo close, so close! 


Everyone thoroughly enjoyed this dish! The pork chops are simple yet tasty, but the real star here was the couscous. Oh man, the couscous. I think I ate not only a second helping of this, but a third! And then Joel and I fought over what was left of it and I ate even more. Haha. Yes, its good. 


Pork Chops with Cherry Couscous (Cooking Light, July 2011)

3 TBSP olive oil, divided
4 (6 ounce) pork chops 
1 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp pepper
cooking spray
1 cup uncooked couscous
3/4 cup boiling water
1 cup coursely chopped pitted cherries
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/3 cup dry roasted almonds, chopped roughly
2 tsp lemon zest
2 TBSP lemon juice

Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
Brush 1 TBSP of olive oil evenly over both sides of the pork and sprinkle evenly with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. 
Place the pork on the grill rack and grill 4 minutes per side or until done. Let pork stand for 5 minutes.

Place the couscous in a large bowl and add 3/4 cup boiling water.
Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
Uncover, fluff with a fork, and stir in the remaining 2 TBSP of olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, the cherries, green onions, almonds, lemon zest and juice.
Serve with the pork.
Enjoy!

Sweet Cherry Pie with Sourdough Pate Brisee


When Shelley and I were first planning Sourdough Surprises, I put "pie crust" on the list of things I wanted us to try. I am pretty sure Shelley thought that I was crazy, and even I was wondering if it was even possible to get a nice flaky crust, but I also knew it was something I definitely wanted to try. I mean, who would possibly expect there to be sourdough inside a pie?! 


I was serisously so excited when we finally picked Sourdough Pie crust that I could hardly stand it. I was giddy. I almost peed my pants. Ok, not really, but I was really excited. 


I decided to go into some uncharted territory for the filling here. I knew I wanted to do a lattice topped cherry pie (Joel's favorite!) but I wanted to do something different. Sweet Bing cherries happened to be on sale, but to sweeten them up a bit I added some orange zest and juice. I also went wild and added some almond extract instead of vanilla and some fresh thyme in there. Crazy, I know, and a ton of flavor going on, but I went with my gut instincts and just did it.  The crust was awesome and so super beautiful, too. Easy and fun to put together (its actually called a pate brisee, which is french for pie crust with lots of butter, haha). I loved adding whole wheat flour, ground flax seed and wheat germ to it. The pie crust was hearty but still delicate and flaky. And it rolled and cut like a dream. Seriously, I might never ever ever stray from this recipe. Ever. 



This pie turned out AMAZING!! Oh my god, I am soo excited about this pie, I LOVE how it turned out! It was definitely so unique and so delicious! My mom doesn't like cherry pie at all, because she says it is too tart and sickly sweet for her, but she actually licked the plate clean! No, really, my mother. Licked the plate. I am as shocked as you are. 


Check out all the other lovely pies that were made for Sourdough Surprises, and don't forget to check Sourdough Surprises in a few days to see what we will make for September. Oh, PSA: As soon as we get 20 participants (bloggers and non-bloggers welcome!) we are going to splurge and get the fancy linky tool that shows the thumbnails for each participant! So spread the word!!! 


Sourdough Pate Brisee (Bojon gourmet)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 TBSP sugar
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, cut into 1/2" chunks and frozen for a few minutes
1 cup 100% hydration sourdough starter

In a bowl whisk together the four, salt and sugar.
Dump in all the butter and using your fingers rub and smash the butter into the flour, as fast as you can, so that it resembles sand with some clumps of butter still left.
Add in the sourdough starter and fold in until it just starts to gather together in large clumps.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces.
Using the heel of your hand rub the dough along the counter, to smear the butter through the dough.
Gather the dough into two pieces, flatten into discs, cover with saran wrap and place in the fridge for 45 minutes.

Lightly dust the counter top with flour and take ONE of the crusts out of the fridge.
Place it on the counter and roll it out until it will fit in the pie dish (you will want a bit of an overhang.
Place the crust in the pie pan and place it in the fridge while you roll out the other crust.
Roll the other crust out as large as you did the first one, but this time use a pizza cutter to cut out 8 nice sized strips.
Pull the pie out of the fridge and dump the filling in (recipe is below).
Place four of the strips on the top of the pie, evenly spaced.
Working from one side at a time, overlay the four remaining strips, weaving them over and under.
Rip off the excess of the strips, smash the ends into the bottom crust, and fold them over and under each other. 
Crimp the edges. 
Bake at 425 for 20 minutes.
Tent with foil, lower the oven to 350 and bake for an additional 35-45 minutes. 

Twisted Sweet Cherry Filling (Gingered Whisk)
4 cups bing cherries, pitted 
2 TBSP orange juice
2 TBSP cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt

Mix and allow to sit for 15 minutes.
Add in:

1/4 tsp almond extract
1 TBSP orange zest


Earl Grey Lemon Bars


I have mysteriously and surprisingly hit a reading rut right now. The last three books I have read have been pretty much... terrible! I didn't even finish the last two, they were that bad! I am currently almost finished with the fourth Game of Thrones book, but it seems to be draggggging for ever long. Last night I told Joel "Screw Westeros, I'm ready to go back to Hogwarts!" Because if all else fails, Harry Potter is ALWAYS a good read. 


Luckily both of my book clubs (yes, I'm awesome enough to be in two!) came to the rescue with some awesome choices for this month - The House of Velvet and Glass, and  The Art of Racing in the Rain. Both books have been on my "To Read" list for a while now, so I am really excited to finally get to them! And while I was shopping on Amazon (I really really really really miss having a bookstore in town!!!) I saw that one of my favorite authors, Kate Morton, has a new book coming out! Before I knew what had happened, The Secret Keeper was preordered! YAY! I think I am officially out of my reading rut now, I am so excited! Have you read any awesome books lately?! 


These lemon bars were a huge hit! I took them to a dinner with friends, hoping to bring some home with me. We ended up fighting over them all and I barely got to eat the one I did manage to grab (little voices asking "You? You?" are hard to resist...) These definitely don't taste light, and the combination of just a little bit of Earl Grey with the lemon is perfect! Some lemon bars I feel are too "metallic" tasting, but these are perfectly sweet without being too sweet. Try them today! :) 


Earl Grey Lemon Bars (Cooking Light, June 2012)

Crust:
Cooking spray
5 3/5 ounces (about 1 1/4 cup) flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 Earl Grey tea bag
1/8 tsp salt
8 TBSP chilled butter, cut into pieces

Filling:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Earl Grey tea bag
1 cup sugar
2 TBSP flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp lemon zest
3 eggs
1 TBSP powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.

Prepare crust:
Line an 8" square metal baking pan with parchment paper that extends 2" beyond the sides.
Coat with cooking spray.
In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, 1 tsp tea leaves (keep the rest),  and salt.
Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles course meal.
Press into the bottom of the baking pan.
Bake for 19 minutes or until lightly browned.

Prepare filling:
Place the lemon juice in a medium microwavable bowl.
Microwave the juice on high power for 30 seconds.
Add the remaining tea from the open tea bag, plus the second tea bag into the juice; cover and steep for 10 minutes.
 Combine the sugar, flour, and baking powder in a bowl.
To the juice/tea mixture, add the eggs and lemon zest and mix until combined.
Add the sugar mixture to the juice mixture and whisk until well combined.

Remove the crust from the oven and pour the filling onto the hot crust.
Bake for 23 minutes or until set.
Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
Remove the bars from the pan using the parchment overhang.
Dust with the powdered sugar, cut into 16 bars and enjoy!



Quinoa Pilaf

Quinoa Pilaf


Side dishes are one of the things that I struggle with. Not that I struggle making them, but that I struggle actually preparing them. Usually I'm attempting to cook dinner (and most often its a recipe I've never done before), Joel is usually at work still, Ladybug is hungry and clingy, the dogs are probably barking at something, and on and on. I just don't put much thought into side dishes - prepare some fresh veggies and some kind of rice or potatoes and dinner is served! So yeah, there aren't a whole lot of side dishes in my repetoire. 


I recently stumbled upon this recipe and thought it would be a good one to try. It is still rather simple, but its more jazzed up than just regular quinoa. And since I paired it with baked chicken, it was really easy to prepare this while the chicken was baking away! It turned out simply delicious! We really liked the added veggies and flavors this recipe lent the quinoa, and will definitely be making this again! 


Quinoa Pilaf (Cooking Light)

1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Rinse the quinoa under cold water, rubbing the grains together; drain.
Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add the oil to the pan, swirling to coat.
Sautee the carrot, shallot and garlic for 2 minutes.
Add the quinoa and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Add 1 1/4 cups of cold water and the white wine; bring to a boil.
Cover, reduce the heat and cook for 20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is tender.
Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
Stir in the thyme, salt, and pepper.
Enjoy! 



The Daring Cooks Use Corn Meal (plus a cookie!)



Rachael of pizzarossa was our August 2012 Daring Cook hostess and she challenged us to broaden our knowledge of cornmeal! Rachael provided us with some amazing recipes and encouraged us to hunt down other cornmeal recipes that we’d never tried before – opening our eyes to literally 100s of cuisines and 1000s of new-to-us recipes!

This was such a fun challenge! I love how easy it was, but gave us all the freedom to do lots of research and find fun new things to do! I tried three recipes (one is technically baking, but who cares, right?!) but we ended up not liking one, so I'm not even going to tell you about it. Except I just did.



Savory waffles have been on my "to make" list for a while now, and this was the perfect perfect way to do it! Oh holy mama these were amazing! I have never had problems finishing two waffles before, but I  honestly barely survived. I went straight passed the full stage into the "I'm stuffed" stage, took a short break to unzip my pants and then barreled passed the holiday feast fullness. And I still left some on my plate. Make these. Seriously, you really need to make these. But maybe only eat one.



I also really wanted to make these cornmeal cookies for a long time. And while this is the Daring Cooks challenge and not the Daring Bakers, I decided to just go for it! Cornmeal + zucchini + lemon in a cookie? I had to try it. Joel thought they sounded absolutely disgusting, but I was so intrigued that I really wanted to try them! I expected these cookies to be sandy, but they were surpringlsy soft with a slight grainy texture. A very subtle flavor, too, until I maxed out the lemon by adding a lemon glaze on top! Yum! They were a fun change from the normal overly sweet cookie, and I am glad that I made them.



Savory Cornmeal and Chive Waffles with Salsa and Eggs (slightly adapted from Joy the Baker). Yields 5 6" round waffles

1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal (make this an overflowing cup of course grain and you'll be happy)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup melted butter
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
3 TBSP chopped chives
2 TBSP chopped parsley
1/2 cup corn
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salsa and fried eggs, for serving

Turn on your waffle iron and let it preheat.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, and pepper.
In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter.
Add the wet ingredients on top of the dry, sprinkle the cheese, corn, chives and parsley over top and stir until just incorporated - don't over-mix, its ok to have some lumps!
Cook the waffles according to your waffle instuctions - about 1/2 cup at a time, or whatever it takes so that the waffle iron doesn't over flow. Cook until golden and crispy.
While the waffles cook, fry up some eggs according to how you like them!
Serve the waffles immediately with fresh salsa and the hot fried eggs, sprinkling some extra chives and parsley on top.



Zucchini Lemon Cornmeal Cookies (Martha Stewart)

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla exract
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 medium zucchini, grated, about 1 cup

Preheat oven to 325F.
In a large bowl, mix the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy.
Stir in the vanilla, lemon zest, and salt.
Add the flour and cornmeal and mix until it is crumbly.
Add the zucchini and stir until a thick dough forms.
Drop by rounded tablespoons, 2" apart onto two parchment lined baking sheets.
Bake 25-30 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges, rotating sheets halfway though.
Cool completely on wire racks.
In a small bowl, combine what remains of the lemon zest and juice with 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and drizzle over the cookies.

Strawberry Almond and Camembert Sourdough Loaf


While my mom was here last week she told me that she wanted to make a sourdough loaf. "A Fun One!" she said. Given my mom and I have shared a love of strawberries since I was old enough to eat them, it was only natural that strawberries be the main component. We also decided to throw in some chopped almonds and some chunks of camembert cheese, just for fun. This also happily coincided with a fun new bread challenge in town called Twelve Loaves (because the 5 other groups I bake along with each month aren't enough). This month was all about using fresh summer fruits in your bread!  I promise, however, that this will be the only sourdough bread that I make for Twelve Loaves. :) I had to promise Joel that I would broaden my horizons to other kinds of bread, too. 
Visit Lora, The Cake Duchess, Barb, Creative Culinary, Jamie,Life’s a Feast or Lisa, Parsley, Sage and Sweet, for more information on how you can join in the baking fun.



I didn't really find a recipe that I wanted to use, so I just kind of made it up. I kind of feel like I have been playing with sourdough enough to do that, and the results turned out great! I wanted a huge strawberry flavor, so used both strawberry puree and chunked strawberries in the mix. We really love how this bread turned out! It had a nice crusty crust, a chewy texture, and awesome flavor! I was worried the cambert would melt into the bread, but they ended up perfect! Slices of these were awesome toasted, slathered with fresh butter and sprinkled with a little cinnamon and sugar! I bet they would have been awesome as french toast, too, but we ate it all before I could find out! 


I am also submitting this yummy bread to Yeastspotting, a weekly showcase of all things yeasted and delicious! 

Strawberry, Almond and Cambert Sourdough, The Gingered Whisk

Levain:
3 ounces starter
5.25 ounces water
8 ounces flour

Leave overnight, covered.

Bread:
all of the levain
9.25 ounces flour
3.25 ounces water
4.75 ounces strawberry puree
3.25 diced strawberries
1.75 ounces chopped almonds
3 ounces camembert cheese, chopped roughly
0.125 ounces salt

Mix together the levain, flour, water, salt and strawberry puree and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
On a lightly floured counter, stretch out the dough into a long rectangle-ish shape.
Sprinkle the diced strawberries, nuts and cheese evenly across the dough, and fold/roll the dough over top (which ever method you want to do this is fine, you just need to get it in there).
Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rest for 1 hour.
Stretch and fold the dough, place back in the bowl and allow to rest for 1 hour.
Make another stretch and fold, place back in the bowl, cover, and place in the refrigerator overnight.
The next morning, pull the dough out of the fridge and place in a well floured couche.
Allow the dough to proof and come to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 500 F and prepare for your steam.
While the oven is preheating, dump the dough out onto a floured parchment paper and score.
Place the bread in the oven and turn the oven down to 450. 
Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the lid if you are using one.
Bake another 10-20 minutes, until nicely golden brown. 
Cool for at least 1 hour before slicing. 


Grilled Chicken with Fresh Grape Glaze


Poor Ladybug is just heartbroken right now. We took "Gamma" back to the airport last night so she could fly home. Having her here for two weeks was so much fun, and so exhausting at the same time! We did so much fun stuff - took a road trip to PA to see family, spent a few hours at an Amish community shopping and eating, did lots of crafting, even more cooking and eating, went to the mall, went to the Columbus Zoo, went to an antique mall, cleaned up my garden, and played, played, played. Ladybug loved having Gamma here, so much so that I didn't put that girl to bed once, and I think I only changed like 3 diapers the whole time. But oh how tired we are, and Ladybug just can't handle Gamma being gone now. She went to sleep last night saying "Gamma Do it! Gamma NOW!" Poor girl. 


We are going to try to recover by not leaving the house much the next few days, taking it slow and easy and not really doing much of anything. Just sit, and be, and enjoy 


The grape glaze was definitely something fun to try! It made for a sweet and slightly tangy sauce, which carmelized awesomely on the grill. It had really good flavor, and we all loved it! It was a fun, fruity, healthy way to grill up some chicken legs and we really enjoyed it! It definitely takes a bit more time than opening a bottle of barbeque sauce, but this is so much better for you, and tastes great, too! 



Grilled Chicken with Fresh Grape Glaze (Cooking Light, June 2005)

Glaze:
3 cups seedless red grapes
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
2 tsp spy sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

Chicken:
1 TBSP olive oil
6 chicken drumsticks
6 chicken thighs
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp pepper
3/4 tsp salt

Place the grapes in a blender and process until smooth.
In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tsp olive oil over medium heat.
Add onion, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the garlic, cover, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the pureed grapes, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and 1 tsp rosemary.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until slightly thick.
Cool slightly and then process in a food processor until smooth.

Heat the grill.
Brush 1 TBSP oil over the chicken, sprinkle 2 tsp rosemary, pepper, and salt evenly over the chicken.
Place the chicken on the grill, cover, and grill for 25 minutes, or until done, turning and basting with the grape glaze frequently.
Enjoy!

Penne with Zucchini Pistou


Good Morning Friends! I don't know about you, but I am pretty much exhausted. Our new backyard is pretty much a jungle, the one place we haven't really done anything to. So when I found a bunch of beautiful coneflowers and black eyed susans on sale the other day, of course I bought more than I knew what to do with. But that meant that first I had to tackle the mess we already had, so I've been busy pulling up a massive amount of hops that were planted 10 years ago (and are now taking over the yard!), as well as tons of other crazy tall weeds and brambles, finding new homes for bees and toads and half rotten logs of wood. Luckily I have some great friends who have let me borrow some gardening tools and Grandma is still here to play with Ladybug and to lend a helping hand, too! I feel like I have a loooooong way to go, but I WILL make this yard look nice! 


This might be one of my new favorite ways to eat zucchini. It is definitely my new favorite way to eat zucchini and pasta together, which is saying a lot since I really enjoy both! The pistou (which is a sauce made with garlic, olive oil, bail and parmesan) is awesome with the addition of shredded zucchini, its light and still creamy and cheesy. There is definitely a lot of good flavor here, but it is still a light meal. You don't feel like this is healthy at all. In fact, Joel kept asking me "This came from Cooking Light? Are you sure?!" With the addition of a sprinkle of water, it even microwaved really well the next day! I hope you make this and enjoy it as much as we did! 





Pasta with Zucchini Pistou (Cooking Light, July 2010)
* I threw in a few handfuls of corn that I had on hand, for color and because they needed to be eaten. You can add them or leave them, as you prefer.

4 tsp olive oil, divided
2 1/2 cups sliced zucchini (1/4" thick), about 3/4 pound
1 cup packed basil leaves
1/2 cup shaved parmesan cheese
2 TBSP pine nuts, toasted
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chopped vidalia onion (about 1 large)
8 ounces uncooked pasta (whatever shape you desire)
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp pepper

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tsp of oil and saute the zucchini for about 5 minutes, or until tender and golden.  Remove from pan and cool.
Place 1/4 cup of the zucchini, the basil, 1/4 cup of the cheese, pine nuts and garlic in the food processor and process until finely chopped. Leave it in the processor for now.
In a large pot, heat 6 quarts of water until boiling and cook the pasta according to package directions.
Heat the remainig 2 tsp oil in the same large skillet as before and saute the onion for 10 minutes, or until golden.
Return the rest of the zucchini to the pan with the onion and remove from heat.
When the pasta is done cooking, drain, saving 1/3 cup of the pasta water.
Add the pasta to the vegetables.
Add the reserved pasta water to the food processor and process until smooth.
Add the basil mixture to the pasta.
Add the cream, salt and pepper and stir.
Top with remaining cheese and Enjoy!

Earl Grey Sourdough with Apricots and Cranberries


I feel like I've been seriously behind in some parts of my life right now. So much has been going on and we are trying to fit the most into everyday that certain aspects are falling in the dust. My mom has been visiting this week, and all next week, too, and we have been having so much fun! We have been shopping, crafting, gardening, did a day of garage sales, baking, eating, and lots and lots of playing! Whew! I seriously need to do some laundry. And sweep my floor. And pay attention to my blog. I have a ton of comments to leave, and other blog posts to read. Plus I feel like I have 846 new blog post to write! I'm getting there friends, I'm getting there. :) 


I am completely in love with this bread! It had a lovely crust, a good crumb, and yet is so moist and flavorful!! I've been wanting to try a bread with "stuff" in it for a while, and when I saw this bread, I knew I had to make it. I love the addition of tea in the bread (and really, soo versatile! I cannot stop thinking of ways to use this!). The Bergamont in the Earl Grey is not as strong and pungent as you would think, and just like when used for the Earl Grey Banana Bread, it gives off a subtle almost flowery flavor. The dried fruit rehydrated beautifully here, and turned almost jammy. I might have had two whole slices by myself the first time I cut it open. And didn't stop there. :) Ladybug also loved it, and in fact scooted her tower all the way across the kitchen by herself and then called out "Mama! Cut! Bread!" Haha, yes, I have created a carb-lover. 



I have also learned that bread keeps best if you simply stand it, cut side down, on a wooden cutting board! 


I am submitting this bread to Yeastpotting, a weekly showcase of all things yeasted and delicious! 

Earl Grey Sourdough with Apricots and Cranberries (slightly adapted from Mr. Punchy, Sourdough Companion
1 TBSP Earl Grey tea leaves (1 bag)
300 grams water
500 grams flour
200 grams 100% mature sourdough starter
20 grams maple syrup
7 grams salt
5 grams cinnamon
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Boil the water and pour over the tea leaves. Allow to cool to room temperature.
In the mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and cinnamon.
Pour the tea (and leaves) over the flour and start mixing.
Add the starter and maple syrup and mix until it comes together.
Allow the dough to sit for 10 minutes.
Knead the dough for 5 minutes.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and allow to sit, covered, at room temperture for 2 hours.
Stretch the dough and fold it over itself a few times and return the dough to the bowl. 
Let the dough sit covered for another 2 hours.
Add the apricots and cranberries to the dough and stretch and fold/gently knead until the pieces are well incorporated.
Place the dough back in the bowl, cover, and place in the fridge overnight.
The next morning, pull the dough out of hte fridge and place in a well floured banneton (or cloth lined bowl) until it comes to room temperature.
Heat oven to 450F and prepare a method of creating steam (I bake my bread in a covered dutch oven, which I preheat with the oven and use the lid to create steam).
Place the bread on a piece of parchment paper and slash with the design of your choosing.
Place the bread in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Turn the temperature down to 425F and bake for an additional 30 minutes, removing the lid for the last ten minutes (if you are using one).
Allow the bread to cool all the way before slicing.
Enjoy! 



This Daring Baker (finally) Made A Battenburg Cake!



Seriously, this cake almost didn't happen. But it did, even if it is over a month late, was hurried and looks like crap. June was such a ridiculously busy month, I didn't even have the opportunity to make it, especially with the power outage and all. I almost just skipped the challenge all together, which I really hate doing, but when I saw all the beautiful battenburgs on the reveal day, I just couldn't skip! I wanted to make this cake!

But as it so often does, life gets in the way, and I just couldn't get in the kitchen to get it done, and I couldn't decide what flavors to do, either. Until one crazy day, in admist a play date involving 8 toddlers and paintbrushes, Joel working a 24 hour shift, and one exceedingly brief nap (for Ladybug, not me), I made this cake. In one fast, messy, kitchen exploding, go. I wish I would have had a day where I could have leisurely worked on it, but I figured if I was ever going to do it, I needed to just get in the kitchen and go.



I inadvertently put in coffee grounds instead of instant coffee granules, so I don't have the beautiful checkerboard pattern that I am supposed to (its there, but just barely. Or maybe only because I've been staring at the cake and wishing there was a checkerboard pattern...). And the covering...ah, chocolate plastique, my new nemesis... I have never done fondant or plastique before, so this was definitely an experience, but I don't think it turned out too badly. I also definitely needed more frosting in between each layer. So, it isn't as pretty as I would have liked it to be, but I am glad that I finally made time for it.



Mandy of What The Fruitcake?! came to our rescue last minute to present us with the Battenberg Cake challenge! She highlighted Mary Berry’s techniques and recipes to allow us to create this unique little cake with ease.



Coffee and Walnut Battenberg:

Servings: +- 8
Ingredients
¾ cup (1½ sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened & cut in cubes
¾ cup  Caster Sugar
1¼ cups Self-Raising Flour (***see end of doc on how to make your own)
3 Large Eggs, room temp
½ cup  Ground Almonds (Can be substituted with ground rice)
3/4 tsp Baking Powder
3 tsp Milk
½ tsp Vanilla Extract
1½ tsp Instant Coffee Powder or Granules
3 Tbsp Walnuts, roughly chopped
Buttercream Frosting
½ cup (1 stick)  Unsalted Butter
2 cups  Powdered (Icing/Confectioners') Sugar
½ tsp  Instant Coffee
1½ tsp Milk or Cream
1 recipe of Chocolate Plastique (see below) 

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/160°C Fan Assisted/Gas Mark 4
2. Grease an 8”/20cm square baking tin with butter
3. Line the tin with parchment paper, creating a divide in the middle with the parchment (or foil)
- Tip: See photos or watch video above for detailed instructions
4. OR Prepare Battenberg tin by brushing the tin with melted butter and flouring
5. Whisk together dry ingredients (except walnuts and coffee) and combine with the wet ingredients in a large bowl (except vanilla and milk) and beat together just until the ingredients are combined and the batter is smooth
6. Spoon half the mixture into a separate bowl and stir in the vanilla, 1½ teaspoons milk and chopped walnuts
7. Spoon the walnut mixture into the one side of the prepared baking tin
8. Dissolve the coffee in the remaining 1½ teaspoon milk and add to the remaining batter, stir until just combined
9. Spoon the coffee batter into the other half of the prepared baking tin
10. Smooth the surface of the batter with a spatula, making sure batter is in each corner
11. Bake for 25-30mins until the cake is well risen, springs back when lightly touched and a
toothpick comes out clean (it should shrink away from the sides of the pan)
12. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out to cool thoroughly on a wire rack

13. Once completely cool, trim the edges of the cake with a long serrated knife
14. Cut each sponge in half lengthways so that you are left with four long strips of sponge
15. Neaten the strips and trim as necessary so that your checkered pattern is as neat and even as possible

16. Combine the buttercream ingredients together and mix until combined
17. Spread a thin layer of buttercream onto the strips of cake to stick the cake together in a checkered pattern (one yellow next to one pink. On top of that, one pink next to one yellow)
- Tip: See photos for detailed instructions

18. Dust a large flat surface with icing sugar then roll the marzipan in an oblong shape that is wide enough to cover the length of the cake and long enough to completely wrap the cake
19. Spread the top of the cake with a thin layer of buttercream
20. Place the cake on the marzipan, buttercream side down
21. Spread buttercream onto the remaining three sides
22. Press the marzipan around the cake, making sure the join is either neatly in the one corner, or will be underneath the cake once turned over
23. Carefully flip the cake over so that the seam is under the cake and score the top of the cake with a knife, you can also crimp the top corners with your fingers to decorate
24. Neaten the ends of the cake and remove excess marzipan by trimming off a small bit of cake on both ends to reveal the pattern




Chocolate Plastique / Modelling Chocolate:

Servings: +- 8
Dark Chocolate Plastique
200gm /7 oz Good Quality Dark Chocolate (70% Cocoa content)
¼ cup /2 oz Light Corn Syrup / Glucose Syrup / Golden Syrup 
Milk Chocolate Plastique
200gm /7 oz Good Quality Milk Chocolate (+-50% Cocoa content)
3 Tbsp /1½ oz Light Corn Syrup / Glucose Syrup / Golden Syrup
White Chocolate Plastique
200gm /7 oz Good Quality White Chocolate
2 Tbsp /1 oz Light Corn Syrup / Glucose Syrup / Golden Syrup
Directions:
1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, stir occasionally
2. Once completely melted, remove from heat and allow to cool a bit
3. Stir in corn syrup / glucose syrup / golden syrup, it will seize up almost immediately, just keep stirring until mixed and it comes away from the side of the bowl
4. Transfer chocolate into a sealable bag, spread the chocolate out then seal the bag
5. Leave overnight or refrigerate for about 2 hours until completely firm
6. Keep it in the back and knead, at first it will just break , but as you knead, it will warm up and start to become pliable - as it becomes more pliable you can dump it out of the bag to finish kneading.
7. Knead until it's pliable enough to roll out or mould, 5 - 10mins


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