Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Braised Chicken with Butternut Squash and Cranberries

Plated and ready to be devoured!
Every fall, recipes containing butternut squash can be found anywhere. As crazy as this sounds, I've never even had butternut squash! After 2 years of blogging and scanning fall recipes, I had change that today! 

As you know, chicken is a favorite in my household so combining my go-to protein with a new seasonal veggie only made sense. 

I have to say, I've been missing out! Butternut squash added an amazingly sweet and nutty flavor to the dish. Paring them with the cranberries tasted like a little bit of Thanksgiving in every bite. Yum!

4 chicken leg quarters, split into 4 drumsticks and 4 thighs
1 1/2 lb butter nut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, cut into 1 inch wedges
1 tbsp ground sage
4 tsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dried cranberries

1) In a large Dutch oven heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook skin side down, until skin is golden brown, about 5 minutes. This works best by doing so in two batches. Transfer chicken to a plate and pour off fat.
2) Add remaining tablespoon of oil to same pot along with butternut squash and onion to pot and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add sage, coriander, nutmeg and flour cook until fragrant, stirring continuously. Add broth and stir, scrapping browned bits for about 1 minute.
3) Nestle chicken, skin side up in squash mixture. Add cranberries and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through and squash is tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Fastest Chicken Noodle Soup, Ever!

Some nights, the last thing I want to do after a long day at work is cook. Yesterday was one of those instances. I am constantly telling myself that I am going to leave work at 5pm, then 6:15 rolls around and I'm still sitting at my desk. Maybe one day...

Luckily, I made a pit stop at Costco on Tuesday so that only means one thing: it's soup night! I've made chicken noodle soup enough times now that I have the recipe pretty well memorized so it was time for some easy tweaks. Rather than creating a stock from scratch, I used pre-made organic broth. Instead of slicing, dicing and sauteing fresh veggies, I opted for a package of frozen mixed ones. These simple switches saved at least 20 minutes of time. 

2 cups shredding chicken
2 qts organic chicken broth 
1 tbsp McCormick's All-Purpose seasoning
1 80z package of frozen mixed veggies
8 oz egg noodles
salt and pepper to taste

1) Place broth, All-Purpose seasoning and chicken in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer.
2) Add noodles and cook until el dente. With about 1 minute remaining until noodles are at their ideal texture, toss in frozen veggies. Cook for another 2 minutes.
3) Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

I've been planning this lazy day dish for a few weeks now but with the weather getting cooler, I've made sure to take advantage of every beautiful day possible. Yesterday was no exception. 

At 8:30am, I set out at on a breath-taking 5k walk through Central Park, along side thousands of fellow American Cancer Society supporters. And after that walk, I was hungry!! What better way to relax and recoup than to pull out a slow-cooker let time do the cookin'!?

This is NOT my best photo. Once I realized how hard this dish would be to present cleanly, I opted for the classy paper plate. ;)

3 to 4 pound roast beef
flour to coat
salt and pepper
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 pkg. french onion soup mix
1 cup water
½ cup katsup
2 teaspoon dijon mustard
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ cup red wine

1) Pat meat dry then dredge in flour then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2) Place meat in slow cooking pot. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl then pour over meat. 
2) Cover and cook on low 4-5 hours, on high.
*If desired, add small peeled potatoes, mushrooms and carrots to the pot with one hour remaining. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Throwback: Strawberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I'm calling this post a "throwback" because in the age of this blog, it technically is. I baked these for a dinner party while I was on a trip in Michigan, back in JANUARY! The fact that it's take me this long to post is shameful. (But to my defense, I couldn't find the photo.) ;)

In any case, back in January, I went to one of my favorite couples houses for an amazing family dinner! My friend Michelle and her Husband, Vito were our hostesses with the mostestes. :) We were joined by Matt, Amanda, their adorable daughter Lisi, Moss and Erin. It was so great to catch up and even better to do so over an authentic, home-cooked, Italian meal! (I forgot to mention, Vito is a master Italian chef!)

After we stuffed ourselves silly it was time for dessert!

Cupcake Recipe:
8 large fresh strawberries
2 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup veggie oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp instant vanilla pudding mix
1 drop red food coloring, or as needed

1) Prehead oven to 325 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
2) Place 8 strawberries into a blender, and blend until smooth. Pour the puree through a strainer to remove seeds. Puree should equal about 3/4 cups. Set the puree side.
3) In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, white sugar, veggie oil, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, lemon zest, and strawberry puree until well combined. Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla pudding mix and red food coloring to reach a desired shade of pink. Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake cups, filling each about 2/3 full. 
4) Bake in preheated oven until the cupcakes have risen and a toothpick inserted into the center of cupcake comes out clean, about 23 minutes. Allow the cupcakes to cool at least 10 minutes before frosting.

Cupcake Recipe:
3/4 cups cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large fresh strawberries, sliced

Beat cream cheese and butter together in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until smooth, and mix in confectioners' sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract to make a lump-free icing. 

Frost, serve and enjoy!

And that we did! The lightness of the strawberries made for a great treat after all the carbs we consumed at dinner! ;)

Recipe courtesy of allrecipes.com

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Chicken and Barley Soup

It pains me to say this, but Fall is here. As always, the initial on-set leaves me scrambling to get dressed every morning. Is it still warm out? Can I still wear skirts without tights? Is it boot weather yet? Oy! So many questions, so little time! 

Luckily, deciding what to make for dinner is not as difficult. No matter what the temperature is outside, soup never fails as the perfect end to any Autumn day. Since Costco Rotisserie Chickens are easy to come by and getting out of work on time is never is a challenge, last nights menu was a piece of cake: Chicken and Barley Soup. 

A few weeks ago I spotted a chicken and barley soup recipe in Everyday Food magazine so I figured I'd give it my own twist. 

Before I begin, I have to admit that I don't always pay attention when I'm grocery shopping. Martha's recipe called for quick cooking barley and of course, I bought the non-quick cooking kind. I was a bit frustrated, but I made a few adjustments and still ended up with a very tasty meal in about 30 minutes!

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced small 
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 Rotisserie chicken, shredded (your favorite pieces)
Coarse salt and ground pepper 
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth 
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 cup quick-cooking barley 
2 scallions, chopped for garnish

1) In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Add broth, chicken and thyme and bring to a simmer, about 8 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, cook barley according to package.
3) Once barley is fully cooked, stir into soup and continue to simmer for about 2 minutes.
4) Toss in frozen corn and peas and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
5) Season with salt and pepper and top with scallions to server.