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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Chickpeas, Spinach and Baked Eggs

We really needed to use one of my "Chopped Refrigerator Challenge" nights to clear out some leftovers. When I am doing the cooking, I usually just start pulling ingredients, and tossing meals together. With Ray cooking, I needed to find a recipe with a least some general directs, that we could improvise with what needed to be used.

I love Google. I typed in spinach, chickpeas and egg, and got several hits, oddly enough. I chose this one:

because I knew I could make it work with the other ingredients we had on hand. With a couple of revisions, I have to say this is one of my favorite Google finds ! And vegetarian to boot !

Chickpeas, Spinach and Baked Eggs
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
8 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper
1 quart canned tomatoes, drained, save the tomato water
3 cups cooked chickpeas, from dried (you can use 2 fifteen ounce cans, drained, as well)
4 whole fresh eggs
Additional salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400. In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add garlic, and saute until golden. Add spinach, stir and cook until wilted, thenough remove from pan. Add remaining olive oil and onion, and cook until onions are translucent. Stir in cumin seeds and paprika, and salt and pepper, stirring regularly until onions are very soft. Add tomatoes and chickpeas. Keep heat on medium, and cook until tomatoes start to darken, about 10 minutes. Add tomato water, reduce to simmer. Simmer 10-15 minutes until sauce has thickened. Remove from heat.

Break eggs one at a time into a small bowl, then gently slide them into the broth, spreading them evenly around the pan. Place pan in the oven and bake 8-10 minutes until eggs whites are set. Serve 1 egg in each bowl.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Caprese Chicken

We always like caprese salad in the summer, when tomatoes and basil are beautiful and fresh from the garden. And I was also thinking about a dish my mom ordered when we took them to Jax for their anniversary this summer. This dish is my take on combining the two !

Our traditional caprese salad is just tomato, basil, mozzarella cheese and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. And salt and pepper, of course. The dish at Jax was almost like a Chicken Parmesan, it had breaded chicken filets, with big slices of tomato and cheese, basil and a balsamic reduction.

I didn't want breaded chicken, I knew that for sure, and I also wanted something easy for Ray to prepare on a weeknight. I think this hit it, it was quick, easy and really had that summer flavor we love, with the addition of a chicken breast to make it an entree portion. Ray added his favorite multi-grain combo on the side with some toasted almonds, it was excellent !

Caprese Chicken 
1 1/2  pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup water
4 large Roma tomatoes, sliced
1 pound fresh mozzerella cheese, sliced
Fresh basil leaves
Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
Salt and pepper, to taste.
Place chicken breasts in a large plastic bag. Combine vinegar, Italian seasoning, olive oil and water in a small bowl, and pour over chicken. Let marinate overnight. Preheat oven to 400. Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan. Remove chicken breasts from the marinade and place in pan. Brown 5-6 minutes on each side, just until cooked through. Remove from heat, place on cookie sheet. Top each breast with sliced tomato and mozzerella. Place pan in oven, and heat 5-7 minutes,just long enough to melt the cheese. Remove from oven, top with a basil leaf, and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Balsamic Chicken with Apricot Brussel Sprouts

I am in charge of menu planning the next few weeks, and Ray has to execute. I have been reviewing a lot of recipe ideas, trying to come up with suggestions for him, that aren't too difficult. But I still want variety and good flavors.

I read about a local restaurant that put apricots and honey with brussel sprouts, and something about that sounded really good to me.

I wanted to serve them with chicken, and a simple preparation is always a simple saute with balsamic vinegar. The combination was amazing !

Balsamic Chicken with Apricot Brussel Sprouts
For the sprouts:
One pound of fresh brussel sprouts, trimmed and sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup dried apricots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
Sea salt, to taste
Heat olive oil in saute pan, and add brussel sprouts. Saute 4-5 minutes, until sprouts are just tender. In a small bowl, combine honey and red wine vinegar. Stir into sprouts, then remove from heat. Season with salt to taste, and sprinkle pine nuts on before serving.

For the chicken:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons lemon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons butter
Season chicken breasts with lemon pepper. Warm olive oil in a saute pan, and add chicken. Brown 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from pan, and set aside. Add vinegar, chicken stock and garlic to pan. Simmer until reduced and syrupy. Add chicken back to the pan, turn to coat, and remove from heat.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Greek Juicy Lucy with Quinoa Tabbouleh

I was really just craving a burger. And being homebound, I needed to come up with one that would satisfy that craving, but still be something we could prepare without the grill. And then, what to have for the side dish, knowing I didn't want to have a bun or bread component with this meal. 

I started thinking about side dishes we have had in restaurants that stood out for me, and I remembered this tabbouleh from the Mediterranean Cruise Cafe in Burnsville. We liked it because of all of the fresh herbs, and the strong lemon taste, so I set about creating it at home. 

I love quinoa, but I purchased this enormous bag of it, so we literally have enough for a year. It seemed to me that I could use the quinoa in place of the couscous that was in the original dish. I just made a guess at the herbs, but I will keep this version, it was so light and zesty, a perfect match to my goat cheese stuffed burgers.

Greek Juicy Lucy with Quinoa Tabbouleh
For the quinoa:
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Black pepper
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, diced finely
Place quinoa, water and salt in saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and simmer 10 minutes until quinoa breaks apart into curls. Remove from heat, let cool, then place in refrigerator to chill 2-3 hours. Whisk together lemon juice, garlic and olive oil, set aside. Add herbs, tomato and onion to quinoa, and drizzle half of the dressing mixture over. Salt and pepper, then taste. Add remaining dressing to your taste (we liked it all on the salad, but realize it may be a bit much for some).

For the burgers:
1 pound ground meat (we used venison, but beef, turkey or lamb would work)
2 tablespoons Greek seasoning
3 ounces goat cheese
Mix the Greek seasoning into the meat, and form into 6 equal patties. Place a slice of goat cheese in the center of each of three of the patties, and top with another burger party. Make sure edges are well sealed around the cheese. Place on a hot grill or grill pan, and cook 4-5 minutes per side. Serve with salad.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Straciatella-Italian Egg Drop Soup

You can tell we are getting the Italian influence this week, because Ray is doing the cooking.

This is one of his family recipes, and it is easy to put together because it has ingredients we almost always have on hand. In Ray's family, it was traditionally the start of a multiple course Italian meal, but for us it is a quick, hearty weeknight soup.

3 large carrots, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups cooked chicken, diced
6 cups chicken stock
4 eggs
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute carrots in olive oil until tender. Add chicken and stock, and bring to a boil. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and cheese. Add approximately 1 cup of the boiling broth to the egg mixture, and continue to whisk until it comes together into silvery strands. Add the egg mixture back to the soup, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, ladle into bowls and top with remaining parmesan cheese.