Rolled chicken over spinich linguine with alfredo

>> Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tonight I made a delicious little dish of chicken rolled around spinach and ricotta cheese served over spinach linguine with alfredo. The dish is pretty simple to make with an extraordinary return on the effort.

You will need:

Raw chicken breast tenders (3 per serving)
Ricotta cheese
Chopped spinach
Spinach linguine
Alfredo sauce
Butternut squash
Butter pecan syrup
Fresh cracked pepper

For starters, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

To prepare the chicken, you will need a meat hammer. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap over your workstation and situate your chicken breast tenders a few inches apart from each other. Cover with another layer of plastic wrap and gently hammer the meat flat, starting in the center and working your way around the edges.

Once your chicken is flattened into a thin layer, spread a spoonful of ricotta cheese over the top of each piece then top with chopped spinach. Pull the two short ends together, enclosing the cheese and spinach inside the chicken. Overlap the edges and stitch closed with a toothpick. Repeat for all pieces of chicken. Place the chicken rolls in a baking dish with a spot of EVOO and gently brush the tops with EVOO as well. Put in the oven to bake for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, cook the linguine according to box directions, boiling for approximately 7 minutes.

Next, wash your squash and slice into quarter inch rounds then halve. Cut out the center seeds and remove the skin from each half moon then dice. In a small skillet, saute squash in butter. Add in salt and pepper to taste. After the squash has softened, add a few drops of butter pecan syrup to the skillet, toss and continue cooking.

Tending to your chicken again, brush the tops of each chicken roll with the butter pecan syrup. This makes your chicken brown up nicely with a sweet, yet nutty flavor.

Once your pasta is done cooking, drain and return to its large skillet. Add in two tablespoons of alfredo sauce and toss, simmering over low heat. Add the butternut squash and continue to cook together.

Plate the pasta and top with chicken rolls. Enjoy!


Homemade pizza

>> Friday, November 27, 2009

For a quick and simple meal after Thanksgiving without leftovers, I went for pizza. No, I didn't order from my favorite pizza place, Marcos, but rather made my own.

For the crust I went for a flaky alternative to the traditional pizza crust. Thaw one sheet of puff pastry and open to lay flat. Top with Ricotta cheese, spreading thinly all over the crust. Next, lay Italian Prosciutto and top with shredded Romano cheese. Add black olives, pine nuts, onions and add another layer of Romano cheese. Spoon marinara sauce over the pie and top with Parmesan cheese. Season with Oregano and pop in the oven for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from the oven and top with fresh avocado. Enjoy!


Creamy farfalle pasta with beef brisket

>> Monday, November 23, 2009

In preparation for a week full of way too much delicious food, I decided to clear my fridge of my remaining beef brisket from the weekend and create a simple pasta dish for dinner. Pasta is a great way to utilize meat leftovers after Thanksgiving day so I thought this appropriate for tonight's little blog.

The ingredients:

Farfalle pasta
Beef brisket (or chicken, turkey, ham, etc.)
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons cranberry chutney
Fresh cracked pepper
One lime
Romano cheese

Cook the pasta according to the box directions. In a small bowl, mix yogurt, sour cream and cranberry chutney together. Crack fresh pepper in the cream sauce and pour into cooked, drained pasta. Add in cut pieces of brisket and cut chives then cook over low heat, stirring frequently. Slice the lime and squeeze one half of the lime over the the pasta. Continue stirring until heated through and serve with Romano cheese. Enjoy and remember you can make a great dish with all those yummy leftovers after Turkey Day!


Beef brisket with Asian cabbage slaw and twice baked potato

>> Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tonight, I catered to the request of my 87 year old next door neighbor for a home cooked meal. You see, his wife is in the hospital after breaking her hip so I am keeping an eye on him while she is away in recovery. When I asked what his favorite meal is, he said "beef brisket with cabbage and a baked potato with all the fixin's." Not my typical meal, I went to Food Network to see how I could take a meal that seemed a little bland and "Emilyize" it.

For the beef brisket, I whipped up a rub with flavor as big as Texas that included:

2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 bay leaf, crushed
4 pounds beef brisket, trimmed
1 1/2 cups beef stock

Mix the first 8 ingredients together and rub on all sides of your brisket (which has been brought to room temperature). In a roasting pan, put your seasoned meat into the pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour, uncovered. After an hour, add beef stock and enough water to bring the liquid level up to about 1 1/2 inches. Cover tightly and resume cooking for 2 more hours, lowering the temperature to 300 degrees.

(An hour or so later)

It's time to start on the cabbage. Now, this is not just your everyday boiled or sauteed cabbage. It is a cold cabbage slaw that has an Asian influence and is really amazing. To make it, you need:

1 lime, juiced
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Asian chili oil
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 cups finely shredded napa cabbage
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup water chestnuts
3 scallions, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together the lime juice, vinegar, chili oil, mayonnaise and soy sauce in a large bowl. Add the cabbage, peppers, water chestnuts and scallions and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

(A little later still)

he meat is nearly done so it is time to make the potatoes. Thoroughly wash the potatoes, wrap in a wet paper towel and pop in the microwave for 12-15 minutes to cook initially. In the meantime, mix together in a small bowl a few spoonfulls of:

Greek plain yogurt
Sour cream

Add in some chopped chives and bacon and mix. Season with oregano, salt and pepper to taste.

Once the potatoes are done cooking, cut the tops off lengthwise and peel the skin off the top portion. Mash the removed, de-skinned tops in a bowl and add in the creamy mixture you just created. Mix thoroughly and spoon back into the bottom potato "bowls". Pop the potatoes into the oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. At this point, go ahead and remove the beef brisket from the oven and let the meat rest prior to cutting it.

After resting, cut the meat thinly. Plate the food and enjoy!


Cinnamon Coffee Cake

After traveling all week, I am finally back in the kitchen cooking. This morning, I woke up and enjoyed a nice cup of coffee and decided to prepare individual coffee cakes for the weekend. There is a bit of a chill in the air and the warm cake sounded like the perfect compliment for the morning. Cinnamon was the choice recipe for this fine day so I pulled up a recipe online to get started. I headed to the kitchen with my laptop and went to work pulling the ingredients as follows:

1 cup plus 1 additional tablespoon of all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar - packed

1/4 cup shortning

1 tablespoon cold butter - cut into small pieces

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

With a countertop full of ingredients, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease individual soufle dishes (4) or one 9-inch baking dish and flour lightly.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of flour. Cut in the butter with your fingers until mixture is the consistency of coarse wet sand. Stir in the pecans, and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. Add the shortening and milk. Mix until well combined (a minute or 2 with an electric blender). Add the eggs and beat until well blended and you get a batter consistancy.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared dishes. Sprinkle two-thirds of the pecan mixture over the batter in the pan. Pour the remaining batter into the pan, and sprinkle the remaining pecan mixture over the top.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes - until a knife inserted into the coffee cake comes out clean.

Enjoy your coffee cake and the rest of your day!


Breaded pork with artichokes and pear basil butter sauce

>> Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tonight, my Puerto Rican Cookery cookbook turned me on to a breaded pork chop which was quite delectable. Easy to make, though the wait was about an hour in the oven. To make the pork chop all you need is:

Boneless pork chops
Chopped garlic
2 eggs
Bread crumbs

Lightly season the pork chop with salt, pepper, garlic and oregano then dip in a mixture of eggs and salt (gently beat). Roll in bread crumb then place in a square, lightly buttered baking dish. Put in the oven, previously preheated to 350 degrees, for one hour.

About 30 minutes into the pork cook time, cut your artichoke in half lengthwise. Bring a large pot of water to boil and submerge the artichoke halves. Meanwhile, cut a pear into chunks, removing the core, and put into a food processor with three basil leaves, chopping into a fine puree. In a small skillet, heat the puree with three tablespoons of butter, stirring frequently.

When the artichoke is cooked through so the leaves pull apart easily, remove from the water. Pull the leaves off the core, one by one, and serve in a small dish separately to dip in the pear basil butter.

Serve aside the breaded pork chop and enjoy!


Winter peach pie

>> Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tonight I made my first pie from scratch and managed to surprise myself with the outcome. A winter peach pie with a lattice top was my goal, and my goal was accomplished. To make a pie, you first must tackle the crust. To make a pie crust, mix in a large bowl:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt

1/2 solid vegetable shortening and 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter

Break the shortening into large chunks and cut the butter into small pieces then add to the flour mixture. Cut the fat into the dry ingredients by chopping with a pastry blender until the consistency is dry and powdery, not pasty. Drizzle over the top 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon ice water.

Using a rubber spatula, cut with the blade side until the mixture looks evenly moistened and begins to form small balls. Press down on the dough with the flat side of the spatula. If the balls of dough stick together, you have added enough water. If not, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of ice water and repeat. Cut your dough into two pieces and press into two flat disks and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

In the meantime, to make the filling you will need:

2 1/2 pounds canned sliced peaches, "packed in juice"

Pour into a sieve set over a bowl and shake lightly to drain. Measure 3 cups of fruit and 1/2 cup of juice and combine in a large bowl with:

2/3 cup dark raisins
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Let stand for 15 minutes while pre-heating the oven to 425 degrees.

Roll your dough into a large circle on a floured surface with a floured dough pin. The key to rolling your dough is to apply pressure on an angle and roll in opposite directions, not back and fourth. Carefully lift your dough and lay inside the pie pan, trimming the edges to 1/4 inch and folding under the edges. Roll the second disk of dough and either cut into long strips to create a lattice top or leave in tact to create a closed top crust.

Fill your pie with the filling and top with the crust. Brush the top with an egg yolk mixture (1 egg yolk + 1/8 teaspoon water).

Bake the pie for 30 minutes. Slip a baking sheet beneath it, reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake until thick juices bubble through the vents, 25 - 35 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack before serving.



Cranberry chutney stuffed chicken

>> Friday, November 6, 2009

So, first I want to start with an apology for not cooking all week. I missed my kitchen and the smell of delicious dinner aromas filling the house but had an extremely busy week between a surprise birthday party for my grandmother (where I made appetizer sized balls which were a huge hit -- refer back to "Balls" recipe on a previous post) and hosting a charity golf tournament.

So, after a long week I decided to stay in for the evening and make a cranberry chutney, basil and feta stuffed chicken. This is a fairly simple dish to whip up so lets get started.

The ingredients you will need are:

One full boneless skinless chicken breast
Fresh basil
Feta cheese
Cranberry chutney
Fresh cracked pepper
Olive oil
Butter pecan syrup

Spread your chicken breast cut side up. Pick, snap the stems and thoroughly wash several leaves of basil and lay on the chicken. Sprinkle with feta cheese and spoon several spoonfuls of cranberry chutney in the center. With twine, bind the center and one end portion of the chicken pulling the sides together around the chutney.

Place the chicken in a baking dish with a small amount of olive oil. Pop in the oven at 375 degrees and let bake. After about 20 minutes, brush the chicken with the syrup and the juices from the chutney.

Once the chicken is cooked through, remove from the oven and plate. Serve with the side of your choice and enjoy!



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