Sunday, October 27, 2013

Easy, Moist Chicken Breasts

1 to 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon freshly chopped herbs (optional)
Olive oil
1/2 tablespoon butter
Pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness with the handle or flat of a knife.
Lightly salt and pepper the chicken breasts.
Mix about a half teaspoon of salt in with the flour along with a little pepper. Chop the herbs finely, if using, and mix in as well.
Quickly dredge the chicken breasts in the flour, so that they are just lightly dusted with flour.
Heat the sauté pan over medium-high heat. When it is quite hot, add the olive oil and butter. Let them melt, and swirl the pan.
Turn the heat to medium. Add the chicken breasts. Cook for just about 1 minute to help them get a little golden on one side (you are not actually searing or browning them). Then flip each chicken breast over.
Turn the heat to low. Put the lid on the pan. Set a timer for 10 minutes, and walk away. Do not lift the lid; do not peek.
After 10 minutes have elapsed, turn off the heat. Reset the timer for 10 minutes and leave the chicken breasts in the pan. Again, do not lift the lid; do not peek.
After the 10 minutes are up, take the lid off, and tada! Soft, tender, juicy chicken breasts that aren't dried out in the least. Doublecheck them to make sure there is no pink in the middle. If you want to be absolutely sure it is cooked, you can use an instant-read thermometer to check (the chicken should be at least 165°F). Slice and eat.

Chicken Enchiladas with Spicy Black Beans and Yellow Rice

1 lb. tomatillos, husked
1 white onion, peeled, sliced, quartered or whole
4 garlic cloves
2 jalapenos
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 lime, juiced

Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. chicken stock, store-bought
Chopped cilantro leaves
1 deli roasted chicken (about 3 lbs.), boned, meat shredded (I used this recipe instead)
Freshly ground black pepper
10 large flour tortillas
1/2 lb. Monterery Jack cheese, shredded
2 c. sour cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

On a baking tray, roast tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapenos for 12-15 minutes.  Transfer the roasted vegetables and any juices on the bottom of the tray to a food processor.  Add the cumin, salt, cilantro and lime juice.  Pulse mixture until well combined but still chunky.

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft and caramelized--this should take 5-7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cumin; then cook for a minute.  Sprinkle on the flour and stir to ensure the flour doesn't burn then gradually add the chicken stock to make a veloute.  Continue stirring over a low simmer until the flour cooks and the liquid chickens.  Turn off the heat.  Add half of the roasted tomatillo chile sals, some additional fresh chopped cilantro and fold in the shredded meat.  Season to taste, with salt and pepper.

Change the temperature of the oven to 350 and begin assembling the dish.  Take a large baking dish and smear the bottom with some of the reserved tomatillo salsa.  Take the flour tortillas and briefly flash them over the stove-top flame (or put them briefly under the broiler if using an electric stove).  Using a shallow bowl, coat each tortilla lightly with the reserved salsa mix.  Put a scoop of the shredded chicken-enchilada mix on top of the tortilla followed by a sprinkle of the shredded cheese.  Fold the tortilla over the filling and roll.  Using a spatula, place the tortillas in the baking dish and continue to do the same with all the tortillas.  Finally, pour over some of the salsa and top with remaining shredded cheese.  Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes or until bubbly and cracked on top.

2 c. (about 1 lb.) dried black beans, picked over, soaked overnight
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot, soak beans overnight covered in water by 2 inches.  Drain and set aside.  In the same pot, heat the olive oil.  Add the onion, jalapeno pepper, garlic, and bay leaf and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the beans and cover with water by about 1 inch.  Bring to a boil; reduce the heat.  Cover and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the beans are tender.  Remove the bay leaf and discard.  Season with salt and pepper.

2 c. long-grain rice
4 c. water
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 Tbsp. turmeric
1 tsp. kosher salt
1  bay leaf

Put all ingredients into a heavy-bottomed pot.  Stir well.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cover and cook over low heat until the rice has absorbed the water, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove the heat and let sit, covered for 5 minutes.  Discard the garlic and bay leaf.  Fluff with a fork.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Chewy Butterscotch Brownies

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
1 2/3 c. Butterscotch morsels, divided
1 c. chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl.  Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy.  Beat in eggs.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in 1 c. morsels and nuts.  jSpread into ungreased 13x9 inch pan.  Sprinkle with remaining 2/3 c. morsels.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on wire rack.  Cut into bars.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Chicken and Mushrooms

2 chicken breast halves
salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 pinch salt
1/2 c. water
1 Tbsp. butter
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400.  Season chicken on all sides with salt and ground black pepper.  Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in an oven-proof skillet.  Place chicken in skillet and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.  Turn chicken over; stir mushrooms with a pinch of salt into skillet.  Increase heat to high; cook, stirring mushrooms occasionally, until mushrooms shrink slightly, about 5 minutes.

Transfer skillet to the preheated oven and cook until chicken is no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, 15-20 minutes.  An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 165 F.  Transfer chicken breasts to a plate and loosely tent with foil; set aside.  Set skillet on the stovetop over medium-high heat; cook and stir mushrooms until brown bits start to form on the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes.  Pour water into the skillet, and bring to a boil while scraping the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan.  Cook until water is reduced by half, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Stir in any accumulated juices from the chicken into the skillet.  Stir butter into mushroom mixture, stirring constantly until butter is completely melted and incorporated.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spoon mushroom sauce over chicken and serve.

Granola Bars

2 1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 c. whole almonds, coursely chopped
1/3 c. honey
1/4 c. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Between 1 and 3 Tbsp. peanut butter
1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp. mini chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350.  Line bottom and side of an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil.  Lightly oil or spray with cooking spray.  Add oats and almonds to a small baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Stir and bake of another 3-5 minutes until lightly toasted.  Transfer to a large bowl.  

Combine butter, peanut butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and the salt in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally until butter melts and the sugar completely dissolves.  Pour butter mixture into bowl with toasted oats and almonds.  Mix well.  Let cool about 5 minutes, then add 1/4 c. of the mini chocolate chips.  Stir to combine.  Chocolate chips will most likely melt a little; this is fine--they turn into glue and help hold the bars together.  

Transfer oat mixture to lined pan; then use a rubber spatula or damp fingertips to firmly press the mixture into the pan.  Press hard and at least for one minute.  Scatter remaining 2 Tbsp. of chocolate chips over pressed granola mixture then use a rubber spatula to gently press them into the top. Cover; refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Remove block of granola mixture from pan; peel away aluminum foil. Cut into 12 bars.

I prefer to freeze these, especially with the humidity of Hawaii.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Homemade Oreo Cookies

For the dough:

1 1/3 c. Cocoa powder
1 1/2 c. Flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 c. Sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla


1 stick butter, softened
1/2 c. Vegetable shortening
3 c. Powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Prepare the dough:  sift together the cocoa powder, flour, and salt.

Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, then vanilla,  incorporating each ingredient before adding the next.  Add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Divide the dough into two pieces; place one piece between two lightly floured sheets of parchment paper and roll into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle. Repeat with other piece of dough. Refrigerate both rectangles, covered with parchment paper, until firm, at least one hour or up to several days.

Using a two-inch round cutter, cut the dough into 64 circles. Place the cookies about 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets and chill about 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Bake cookies until they are set and slightly darker around the edges, about 20 minutes.  Cool completely on wire racks.

Prepare filling: using a mixer, cream butter and shortening until fluffy.  Beat the powdered sugar and vanilla.

Flip half of the cookies upside down.  Top each with one level tablespoon of filling. Press the remaining cookies on top to make sandwiches.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Emeril's Hash Browns

5 medium baking potatoes (about 4 lbs), scrubbed clean
1/4 c. vegetable oil
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 c. diced yellow onions
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. Essence (recipe follows)
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

2 1/2 Tbsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. dried leaf oregano
1 Tbsp. thyme

Place the whole potatoes in a large pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and summer until half-cooked and almost tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain and let sit until cool enough to handle.  Take the skins from the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice.

Heat the oil and melt the butter in a skillet over high heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.  Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, for 20 seconds.  Add the potatoes, Essence, thyme, salt, and pepper; cook without stirring, but shaking the pan occasionally to keep the potatoes from burning.
until the potatoes begin to color and crisp on the underside, about 4 minutes.  Turn the potatoes being careful not to mash, and continue cooking until uniformly golden.  

Great with meatloaf or as a breakfast side with eggs and bacon.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

1 pouch complete crust from Krusteaz Lemon Bars Supreme Mix
8 oz. (1 c.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 pouch lemon filling mix from Krusteaz Lemon Bars Supreme Mix
1/3 water
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease 8x8x2-inch pan.  Press full pouch of complete crust firmly onto bottom of pan.  Bake 8 minutes (will be pale).  Place cream cheese and sugar in medium bowl.  Using an electric mixer, mix on low speed until smooth.  Add 1 egg and vanilla.  Continue to mix on low speed until smooth.  Pour cream cheese mixture evenly over hot crust.  In another bowl, stir full pouch lemon filling mix, water, and 3 eggs together using a whisk until eggs are well incorporated.  Pour lemon filling over cream cheese layer.  Bake 35-40 minutes or until center does not jiggle when shaken.  Cool completely and cut into squares.  Store covered in the refrigerator.  Makes 16 bars.