Week 5 – Tomatoes (Abby)

Tomatoes are one of my (many) favorite things about summer. Our parents have grown tomatoes since before I can remember; when I was little (and even still) I loved being able to stop by the garden while playing outside and pop a few fresh cherry tomatoes in my mouth for a quick snack.

This recipe is a simple and quick one. Plus, in my opinion, anything with fresh tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella must be good; add the fact that it is grilled and I’m not sure you could go wrong. Luckily I have a basil plant growing at Scott’s (the boyfriend) house these days; it has been the best purchase I have made I think. My basil is a boxwood basil, so the leaves are pretty tiny, but I like the texture of it better than the big leaf basil.

While we were eating this the other night I asked Scott what his favorite recipe that I had tried on him so far was. He responded quickly, and said that this dish was his favorite. The marinade keeps the chicken incredibly moist and flavorful, and when  combined with the mozzarella, tomatoes, and fresh basil each bite just melts in your mouth. It is absolutely delicious.

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As I mentioned, it is a simple recipe. You marinade the chicken for a half hour or so in a sun-dried tomato dressing (I just had it marinade while the coals were heating up). Then, you grill one side of the chicken while you prepare the topping. The topping is just a couple of tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil, and a little bit of dressing. Once the dressing is mixed up and the chicken is ready to flip, you turn the chicken onto a piece of tinfoil on the grill (with the already grilled side up) and cover it with the tomato mixture. Then you grill the chicken until it is fully cooked. See, simple.

prep

Grilled Bruschetta Chicken

Adapted From: The Girl Who Ate Everything

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 ¾ cup KRAFT Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing (divided)
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, diced

Instructions:

  1. Place the chicken in a large resealable bag. Pour in 1 ½ cups of dressing (or enough to completely cover the chicken), seal the bag, and refrigerate for a half hour, or up to a full day.
  2. Prepare the grill and bring to medium heat. Place a large piece of tinfoil over half of the grill grate.
  3. Place the marinated chicken on the uncovered side of the grill, and cook for around 6-7 minutes (depending on size of chicken breast).
  4. While the chicken is on the grill combine the basil, mozzarella, tomatoes, and 1/4 cup of the remaining dressing. Stir until well combined.
  5. Turn the chicken over onto the tinfoil (grilled side up) and spoon the tomato mixture on the chicken breasts. Close the grill lid, and cook for another 8 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked.

Enjoy! 

And as always, please feel free to share!

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Week 4 – Quinoa (Kari)

This recipe was very good, and is something I will be making again. The cashews were the best part of the dish.

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Quinoa Indian Chicken Curry

Author: I Can Cook That
Recipe type: Dinner, Weeknight Meal, Poultry
Prep time:  15 mins
Cook time:  30 mins
Total time:  45 mins
 Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 6 teaspoons curry powder, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • ½ tsp fennel seed
  • ½ tsp tumeric
  • ⅓ cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • ⅓ cup nonfat sour cream
  • ½ cup cashews
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. Add the quinoa and 2 cups chicken broth to a pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until almost all the liquid has been absorbed.
  3. Cut the chicken into 1 inch pieces. Add the chicken to a bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 teaspoons curry powder. Mix to coat.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook for about 7 minutes or until just done, stirring to cook evenly. Set aside.
  5. Using the same saute pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the yellow onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  6. Add the peas, cauliflower, cumin, celery seed, fennel seed, tumeric, and the remaining 4 teaspoons curry powder.
  7. Add the remaining 2 cups chicken broth and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. (The original recipe didn’t specify when to add the chicken pieces back in. I decided to add them along with the chicken broth to allow them to simmer in the mixture.)
  8. Remove from heat and stir in the low-fat yogurt and nonfat sour cream.
  9. Stir in the quinoa, cashews, cilantro, salt, and pepper.

Week 4 – Quinoa (Abby)

Things have been crazy busy for me lately. Between various trips, shooting a wedding, and moving I haven’t had a chance to get this posted until now. My sister and I have fallen a bit behind in the recipe challenge, but I’m hoping in the next few weeks we can get back on track.

So, back to business. A few weeks ago we decided on quinoa for our ingredient of the week. If you haven’t tried quinoa before, it is considered a super food, and is absolutely packed with great things. It has a pretty unique texture, and a slightly nutty taste. While searching for recipes I knew I wanted something with some contrasting textures, and summer flavor. I found a recipe on Two Peas & Their Pod and decided to put my own spin on it.

I made this delicious salad for dinner with Scott (the boyfriend) one night, and it was a huge hit. He had never tried quinoa before, and was fairly timid when first dishing up. But, after having a few bites he piled it on his plate! It is full of incredible nutrients, and has lots of great summer flavors. One of the nice things about this salad is that you can switch it up based on what you have around the house, what is in season, or flavors you are craving at the moment. And, quinoa comes in different varieties, each with their own color and slightly different taste, that you could play around with as well. This time I decided to go with red quinoa since I had never tried it before.

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The dish is extremely simple to make. Basically you cook and cool the quinoa, and mix it all together. I mixed all the ingredients together while the quinoa was cooking, and then just stirred in the quinoa and the dressing when the quinoa was cool.

Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked Quinoa (any variety works)
  • 2 cups water
  • 8-10 cherry tomatoes, quartered (I used a large handful or two)
  • 1 large mango, diced
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 medium avocados, diced
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook the quinoa according to the directions on the packaging (some come pre-rinsed, some you will need to rinse prior to cooking), and allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. While the quinoa cooks, combine the tomatoes, mango, onions, cilantro, and avocados, and black beans in a large bowl.
  3.  Once the quinoa is cooled, mix into the other ingredients.
  4. In a small bowl whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, and cumin. Pour over the quinoa dish, and gently mix together until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Enjoy!

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Week 3 – Strawberries (Abby)

Oh my, this should have been posted weeks ago. Kari and I are quite behind on things at the moment, due to a few unexpected events. We took a couple of weeks off, and will probably have one more week without a recipe to share, but hopefully after that will be back at it.

Over two weeks ago (yikes) we had decided on strawberries for our weekly ingredient. I have such a long list of strawberry recipes that I have been wanting to try that it was difficult to choose. In the end I went with a strawberry lemonade cake.

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I had never made a cake from scratch before, so this was a bit of an adventure for me. And it didn’t start well. Watching Julie & Julia years ago, and reading My Berlin Kitchen this past winter taught me to expect disasters while I worked on new recipes, but I didn’t expect them so soon. While whisking the butter and sugar (just the first step of the cake) one of the wires on my wire whisk snapped. It shocked me, and needless to say  I was not happy. This was all happening at Scott’s house, so he and his roommates had to deal with my ranting about how much I hated this cake already, how awful it was that my wire whisk attachment broke, how there was no way the cake was going to turn out, and I even threatened to throw it all out and scrap the idea (I may have been a bit dramatic). I was not a happy person that night. I warned Scott that though it was the first time I got upset at a recipe, it probably would not be the last, and he luckily was very understanding of this (and kind of made fun of my mini-tantrum about the whisk, which managed to lightened my mood).

My poor broken whisk :(

My poor broken whisk 😦

I managed to keep going despite the broken whisk, and only ran into more (minor) problems. I don’t have a stand mixer, so I had to call in reinforcements for adding in the dry ingredients and buttermilk. It ended up alright, but was a pain and just added to my frustration that night. The batter ended up tasting delicious, so I had hope for the cake still. By the time the cakes were done baking I was frustrated and sick of being in the kitchen so I covered the cakes and decided to make the frosting the next night.

It ended up being two nights before I had time to make the frosting, which wasn’t the best situation. But, the frosting was simple, and probably the most delicious frosting I have ever tasted. Once I got that made I was able to throw together the cake, and we were finally able to enjoy a piece. By the time we were able to eat it I think the cake had dried out a bit. The cake seemed a bit dense to begin with, and the slight dryness didn’t help. It was still incredibly delicious though, and the lemon cake balanced perfectly with the strawberry buttercream. If I make it again (which Scott has said is a requirement) I may try to figure out how to lighten up the cake, and I will definitely put it all together on the same day.

Also, photography wise, photographing a whole cake is not very easy, or interesting (at least to me). And I was losing light fast, so I wasn’t able to grab many shots. And, I still haven’t figured out a good way to format my recipes. WordPress automatically changes things around and I can’t seem to figure out a way of fixing it. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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Strawberry Lemonade Cake

Recipe from Heather Christo’s Generous Table

Ingredients

Cake

·       1 cup (2 sticks) butter at room temp

·       1 1/2 cups sugar

·       2 tbsp fresh lemon zest

·       2 1/2 cups AP flour

·       1 tsp baking powder

·       1 tsp baking soda

·       1/2 tsp salt

·       4 eggs

·       1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

·       1 cup buttermilk

Strawberry Buttercream

·       1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

·       5 cups powder sugar

·       2 tbsp whole milk

·       4 large strawberries, chopped

Instructions

Cake

1.    Heat oven to 350 and prepare two 9-inch round baking pans.

2.     In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, place the butter, sugar and lemon zest. Beat until light and fluffy.

3.     In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients and set aside.

4.     With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, combining thoroughly in between. With the mixer still running, add the lemon juice. (batter will look curdled, but its not)

5.     Add one third of the dry ingredients and 1/2 cup of the buttermilk. Mix, then stop and scrape the sides of the bowl. Repeat, adding another third of the dry ingredients and the remaining 1/2 cup buttermilk. Mix, then stop and scrape. Add the remaining third of the dry ingredients and mix until completely combined and the batter is light and fluffy.

6.     Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

7.     Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let the cakes cool before removing from the pans.

Strawberry Buttercream

1.     Combine butter and powder sugar in a large bowl or standing mixer. Mix together on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the milk and strawberries and mix on high speed until the frosting is very fluffy and pale pink in color, with flecks of strawberry.

Week 2 – Fresh Herbs (Abby)

I’m a bit behind on this post, since I didn’t make the meal until late last week and then was out of town over the weekend. This spring Scott (the boyfriend) and I bought some basil, chamomile, and mint plants. I have fallen in love with using fresh herbs while I cook, and so I was excited when Kari and I decided to go with them for our second week ingredient. In fact, this almost turned in to a week long “challenge” for me, since almost everything I made last week had fresh herbs.

My cute boxwood basil plant :)

My cute boxwood basil plant 🙂

For the specific challenge meal, I decided to use the huge piece of salmon that Scott had bought. I thought rosemary would be a good pair for the fish, so I picked some up while at the grocery store as well. It was such a simple meal to prepare; I first rubbed it with some olive oil, and then seasoned it with some roughly chopped fresh rosemary, sea salt, cracked black pepper, and a little crushed thyme (unfortunately not fresh). I then grilled it on top of some tinfoil, skin side down. I didn’t get any pictures of it, but I served the salmon with some baby red potatoes that I boiled and seasoned with butter, olive oil, fresh basil, chopped rosemary, and salt and pepper. It was a perfect summer meal.

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Week 2 – Fresh Herbs (Kari)

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From Kari:  With all this rain, the oregano in my garden was starting to take over the world.  This recipe was easy and so delicious.  I added just a little basil from my garden to the oregano.

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I used the pesto with quinoa pasta and tomatoes.  While the pasta cooked, I sautéed some chopped tomatoes and added a little cream and a spoonful of the pesto.  Then, when the noodles were done and drained, I added a couple more spoonfuls of pesto to the noodles and mixed it all together–and ate it up!  I still have some leftover pesto to use…pesto pizza?  Any other pesto ideas?  Feed it to my cute chickens?

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Oregano Pesto

Ingredients
1 cup of fresh oregano
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
1 large garlic clove
1/2 cup of almonds
1/3 cup of olive oil
salt and pepper
Instructions
Combine the oregano, cheese, garlic, almonds and salt and pepper in a food processor, until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
Slowly stream in olive oil until the mixture become smooth.
The cute chickens :)

The cute chickens 🙂

Week 1 – Rhubarb (Kari)

Kari here. This past weekend my in-laws were visiting.  The smell of rhubarb filled the house.  Everyone loved it– we even caught George (my father-in-law) helping himself to a piece at lunch time while we were away.  Delicious. The parchment paper was a must.  Also delicious for breakfast the next day 🙂

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RUSTIC FRUIT TART

Makes 2 (12-inch) tart crusts.
Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. When making two tarts, double the filling ingredients.
For the crust:
• 21/2 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough
• 2 tbsp. sugar
• 1 tsp. salt
• 12 tbsp. cold unsalted butter (11/2 sticks, cut in 1/2 -in.pieces)
• 1/2 c. cold vegetable shortening
• 1/2  c. ice water
For each tart filling:
• 1/2 c. sugar
• Pinch of salt
• 1 tbsp. cornstarch
• 2 c. fruit of choice, sliced thin or left whole, depending on the fruit
• Melted butter and sparkling sugar
Directions:
To prepare crust:
Whisk together flour, 2 tbsp. sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. With pastry blender, cut in butter and shortening until well distributed. The mixture should resemble coarse cornmeal.
Sprinkle water over flour mixture, blending and sprinkling until all the liquid is used. The dough may seem rather sticky, but that’s OK.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, pat it into a loaf shape and cut in 2 equal pieces and flatten into fat disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. (You can also double wrap 1 disk and store in the freezer for use within 2 months.)
About 30 minutes before you want to bake, remove dough from the refrigerator and place it on the counter to take off the chill. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet and fold over the edges about a half-inch to create a rim, to capture the fruit juices if they should begin to ooze.
On a well-floured pastry cloth or silicone sheet, roll out the dough, working from the middle to the edges, until you have a rough circle about 12 to 14 inches around. Don’t roll the dough too thin or the fruit may break through the sides of the tart.
Drape half the dough over the rolling pin and use the pin to lift the dough gently onto the parchment paper.
To prepare filling: 
Mix together the 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch and pinch of salt. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the mixture over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Toss the remaining mixture with the fruit (1 cup Rhubarb + 1 cup strawberry). Arrange fruit in center of dough circle.
Gently lift the border of dough up and toward the fruit, folding or pleating as you complete the circle. If desired, you can brush the dough border with some melted butter and sprinkle with sparkling sugar.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. If fruit juices have oozed onto the parchment, gently work the tart loose, slipping a knife under the crust. Then slide the tart onto a wire rack to cool slightly (or completely) before serving.