Tuesday, July 29, 2008

At's Chicken Curry Crepes

After months of cool kitchen cooking (consisting of mostly salads) since it's been so warm out, we are actually enjoying a spurt of cooler weather, i.e., the 90's. It was cool enough yesterday that if I turned on the oven for dinner, we may not get roasted out of our house. So I decided to dive right in and take advantage of the opportunity to make a recipe that I have been craving literally for months now.

This is a great, versatile recipe and goes right along the lines of comfort food. It's great for when you have company over, because just like any other casserole or pan of enchiladas, etc., guests can serve themselves. This recipe makes one 9x13 pan of crepes. Basically, it was just enough for my husband and I to enjoy dinner and have enough left over for lunch today. You may want to double or triple this recipe based on your crowd size.

I found recently that my local grocery store actually carries pre-made crepes in the produce section. Not only were they expensive ($5.49 for a 10-pack) but they just didn't look homemade. I've grown up having crepes my entire life, and know what the homemade ones look, feel, and taste like. Even though buying the pre-made ones would have saved me time, I thought it would be worth it to make them from scratch. Plus, I would have needed to buy two packages of the pre-made things to equal what one homemade crepe recipe would have yielded (I managed to get 19 crepes out of this recipe last night, and as professional chefs will advise, it's always best to throw the first one out. I don't like wasting food though, so Mr. Mack the pup got a little treat in his bowl).

Oh, and a little history on this recipe. It's one that I've grown up with. My aunt found this recipe when I was a wee one and would make it when we were over her house or she would come to ours. These were the days before you could buy pre-cooked chicken at every supermarket, so when she made these, she'd have to make the crepes, then the chicken, and then finally assemble and bake. It took me about an hour from start to finish to make this meal last night, imagine how long it would take her? But, she kept making it because it was always a favorite in our family. I had nearly forgotten about the recipe until we were at her house last year for a family get together and she busted these out of the oven. I knew what they were right away, the curry combined with the celery and onions have that distinct aroma. I asked her for the recipe and she happily passed it along. So here's to you At - I hope I've done it justice!

Crepe Recipe
from Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book

In a bowl, combine 2 beaten eggs, 1 1/2 cups milk, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon cooking oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; beat until combined. Heat a lightly greased 6-inch skillet; remove from heat. Spoon in around 2 tablespoons batter; lift and tilt skillet to spread batter. Return to heat; brown on 1 side only. Invert over paper towels; remove crepe. Repeat with remaining batter, greasing skillet occasionally. It's not necessary to place a paper towel in between each crepe, they won't stick together too much. Just t
reat them gently, they are delicate little guys. Also, most avid French chefs will tell you that it's advisable to throw the first crepe away - this is up to you. The reasoning for this is because the texture of the first crepe won't turn out like the rest, due to the temperature of the pan still figuring itself out. If your first crepe turns out alright though, then keep it.

Chicken Curry Crepes

2 cups cooked chicken (I used pre-cooked chicken breast strips)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2-5 tablespoons of flour
1 tablespoon curry
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup onion
Parmesan cheese

Prepare crepes and chicken ahead of time. Saute celery and onion until tender in a little bit of olive oil. Heat chicken broth in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk the flour into the milk with a fork or a whisk, and add gradually to the broth, whisking constantly, to combine the flour. Add the salt and curry, and simmer. The sauce will thicken as it cooks, continue whisking occasionally. Save 1 cup of this sauce and set it aside. Then add the celery, onions, and chicken to the sauce in the pan. Fill each crepe with about two tablespoons of the chicken mixture, and place seam side down into a lightly greased 9x13 glass pan. Pour reserved sauce over crepes, making sure each crepe has some on it. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Voila!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Chicken-Biscuit Melts

This was a quick, shortcut dinner, and it was so good and fast, we'll definitely make it again! It's not gourmet by any means, but it fits the bill for a snappy dinner.

Chicken Biscuit Melts

1 large can refridgerated biscuits (I used Grands)
3 5 oz cans chunk white chicken in water (or leftover chopped chicken, if you have it)
2/3 cups medium chunky salsa
1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 4.5 oz can diced green chiles
1 bunch green onions
2 cups shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese
Additional salsa, sour cream, etc for topping

Bake biscuits according to package directions. Allow to cool for several minutes and split and place on a baking sheet.

Combine chicken, salsa, cumin, and chiles and onions in a saucepan and heat over medium heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring often. Spoon mixture over biscuits and sprinkle with cheese.

Broil under high heat with oven door partially open for 2-3 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve with additional salsa, sour cream, onions, etc.

Seared Scallops with Olive & Tomato Compote

This was a recipe that I found in a magazine (I can't remember which one!). I have to say that this is probably the first recipe that I've followed where the meal came out looking very close to the picture! It ended up being really delicious.

Seared Scallops with Olive & Tomato Compote

2 tbsp olive oil
1 sm. onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed with press
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes in juice
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
1/3 c. Kalamata Olives, pitted and chopped
1 1/4 lbs. sea scallops
Polenta (see recipe below)

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil on medium until hot. Add onion and cook 6-8 minutes or until soft and golden. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes with their juice, vinegar, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Heat to boiling on medium-high, cook 8-10 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Stir in olives and transfer mixture to a bowl, cover with foil to keep warm.

Meanwhile, prepare polenta.

Remove and discard the muscle on the bottom of each scallop, rinse with water and pat dry with paper towels. Evenly season the scallops with salt and pepper. In a clean skillet, heat remaining tablespoon oil on medium-high until hot. Add scallops and cook 5 minutes or until opaque throughout and lightly browned on both sides. Serve scallops with tomato compote and polenta.

Microwave Polenta

2 1/4 c. boiling water
1 c. lowfat milk
3/4 c. yellow cornmeal

In a deep 2 1/2 quart microwave safe bowl or cassarole dish, stir boiling water, milk, cornmeal, and salt. Cover with waxed paper and cook in microwave for 5 minutes.

Remove bowl from microwave and whip mixture vigorously until smooth. Microwave covered on high 2-3 minutes longer or until thickened, whisking again once cooking is over.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Chicken and Artichokes with White Wine Sauce

Almost two weeks ago, my husband, Chad, requested, as I was on my way out to do some "big" grocery shopping, if we could mix up our dinners some more and not eat so much chicken. "But we love chicken," I said. "Not every single night", he replied. Sure enough, I checked out the bright yellow sheet of legal paper on our fridge, which has about two weeks worth of our past meals, and, although I don't keep the meals on this sheet in the exact order we will eat them, there sure were a lot of chicken recipes on there.

So, I have tried to vary things since that last grocery shopping trip, and picked up some pork tenderloins (see previous blog posts), ground turkey for tacos, and sliced ham for Ham and Swiss Stuffed Crepes (coming soon). However, my old standby continues to be chicken, or pasta. Chicken is a lean protein, you can make it gazillion ways, and it's cost effective. At Costco, I can buy 6.5 pounds of frozen, boneless, skinless, chicken breasts for a little over $14.00. This particular sack that I'm on started out with 14 chicken breasts. Coincidence? I think not.

So while I'll continue to use chicken for several of our meals a week, I will continue on the quest to making the chicken flavorful and interesting. This particular recipe from my trusty Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook didn't disappoint. Since the recipe calls for four chicken breasts, and I only cooked two, I kept the same equivalents for the sauce so that we were getting a good dose of the oh-so-flavorful veggies. Towards the end, I chose to throw in a couple tbsp of capers, but really, the dish didn't need them. It was quite good on it's own.

Chicken and Artichokes with White Wine Sauce
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book

1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp dried sage or Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 fresh sliced button mushrooms
1 6 oz jar artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
1 tbsp butter
1/3 cup dry white wine (I used a white cooking wine)
1/3 chicken broth
1/8 tsp salt

2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

In a shallow dish, stir together flour, sage or Italian seasoning, the 1/4 tsp salt, and pepper; reserve 1 tbsp of the flour mixture and set aside. Dredge the chicken breasts with the flour mixture, and cook chicken in hot oil over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink inside, turning once. Remove chicken from skillet, cover with foil. In the same skillet, cook mushrooms and artichoke hearts in hot butter over medium heat for 3 minutes or until artichoke hearts are tender.

In a small bowl stir together the reserved 1 tbsp flour mixture, wine, broth, and 1/8 tsp salt until smooth. Add wine mixture to skillet, cook and stir until thickened and bubbly, about 2-3 minutes. Pour sauce over chicken, sprinkle with cheese, and serve.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Bacon Wrapped Tenderloin with RR's Super Stuffed Potatoes

What a yummy, yummy Valentine's Day meal this ended up being! We decided not to go out to stick to our budget and also avoid the V-Day crowds, so I tried to make our at-home dinner a little special. Yes, we ate at the kitchen table for once, and yes, I lit candles and used (gasp!) our cloth napkins. Hooray!

This is a spin on a Rachael Ray recipe from her 365 No Repeats book. One gripe about this book is that there are very, very few pictures: I like seeing what my food is supposed to look like when it's done! So, I kind of adapted this recipe to suit us, since I didn't know what RR was really going for with this one. (Turns out she uses tenderloin steaks, and I used a complete pork tenderloin). Another note to go along with this recipe: I used a Pampered Chef Deep Covered Stoneware Baker to cook the tenderloin in, but RR's recipe calls for the steaks to be cooked on the stove.

In any case, this ended up being a great little special meal for the two of us, and I'll definitely make it again!

Bacon Wrapped Tenderloin and Super Stuffed Potatoes
Adapted from Rachael Ray

2 large russet potatoes
4 tbsp EVOO
1/2 pound button mushrooms
1 small yellow onion
2-3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp fresh thyme
salt and pepper
6 slices center cut bacon (the thick kind)
1 pork or beef tenderloin (I used a pork tenderloin)
1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 pound smoked Gouda cheese, shredded

Preheat the broiler to high. Clean and prick the potatoes several times with a fork, place them on a plate, and microwave on high for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat a skillet over medium-high heat with about 2 tablespoons of the EVOO, add the mushrooms, and once they start to brown, add the onion, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook 4-5 minutes.

Line the bacon slices next to each other on your cutting board or a piece of waxed paper, having them overlap slightly. Place the tenderloin lengthwise across the bacon and begin rolling the tenderloin up into the bacon slices, making sure they are fairly taught. Place into a deep covered stoneware baker suitable for microwave use, and microwave for 15 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing. (Or, if you will be cooking on the stove, use remaining EVOO in a skillet over medium high heat, and cook tenderloin 2 minutes on each side. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking for another 6-10 minutes for medium rare).

To finish the potatoes, allow them to cool slightly once removing from the microwave, and slice them in half lengthwise, making your cut take off just a small top portion of the potato (if you cut it directly and evenly in half, you will have too much leftover potato filling). Scoop out the flesh of the potatoes into a medium sized bowl, taking care not to rip the potato skins. Using a potato masher, smash the potato flesh together with the sour cream, and then stir in the sauteed mushroom mixture, shredded Gouda, salt, and pepper. Scoop the filling back into the potatoes and pack it down slightly (the filling will mound the potato skins). Place on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler until lightly browned, 3-5 minutes.

Chicken Enchiladas

Not your average chicken enchilada recipe!

This recipe had ingredients in it that I wouldn't even think to add to enchiladas... cream cheese? Almonds? Nonetheless, they were fantastic :)

Chicken Enchiladas
courtesy of Better Home and Gardens New Cook Book

1/4 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1/4 chopped onion
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1 4oz can diced green chile peppers, drained
1 3 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp ground cumin
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
12 7inch flour tortillas
1 can cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
1 8oz carton sour cream
1 cup milk
3/4 cup shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese
2 tbsp slivered or sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium skillet, cook the 1/4 cup almonds and the onion in hot butter over medium heat until onion is tender and nuts are lightly toasted. Remove skillet from heat, stir in 1 tbsp of the green chile peppers, reserve remaining peppers for sauce.

In a medium bowl combine cream cheese, the 1 tbsp milk, and cumin; add nut and onion mixture and chicken. Stir until combined, and spoon about 3 tbsp of the mixture onto each tortilla near one edge. Roll up and place seam side down in a rectangular baking dish.

For sauce, in a medium bowl combine the reserved chile peppers, soup, sour cream, and 1 cup milk. Pour evenly over the tortillas in the baking dish. Cover with foil. Bake for about 35 minutes or until heated through. Remove foil, and sprinkle enchiladas with cheese and remaining almonds. Return to oven and bake about 5 more minutes or until cheese melts. Serve immediately.