Tamale Chicken Potpies

It’s January, which that means we’re due for a deep freeze. And we’re right on course; the last week and more we’ve seen sub-zero temps for days at a time. So when the thermometer dips, I always look for meals to cook in the oven to heat up the kitchen. This potpie was a perfect solution; it’s healthy, easy to make on a weeknight, plus it’s baked in the oven so it warmed both the house and myself!

I don’t have individual ramekins, so I made this in a 1 3/4-quart casserole dish, and although it went over the edges a little bit, I would still say it was a success. I feel like I sound like a broken record, I found it “warm and comforting,” but I really did! That’s my kind of supper this time of year. I served this with a crisp, green salad, although the suggested black beans would be a perfect complement!

tamale

Tamale Chicken Potpies

This recipe originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of Cooking Light.

Serve these individual potpies with a side of spicy black beans: Heat 2 teaspoons canola oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper and 2 minced garlic cloves; sauté until soft. Stir in 1 (15-ounce) can rinsed and drained black beans, 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, and 1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind; cook until thoroughly heated (about 5 minutes). Stir in 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, if desired.

Serves 4

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
12 ounces ground chicken
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 cup chopped zucchini
3/4 cup fresh corn kernels
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained
1 (8-ounce) can unsalted tomato sauce
Cooking spray
1/2 cup coarsely ground yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 cups water, divided
3 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded and divided (about 3/4 cup)

Preheat oven to 400°.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes, stirring to crumble. Stir in cumin, chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 1 minute. Add zucchini, corn, tomatoes, and tomato sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Divide chicken mixture evenly among 4 (10-ounce) ramekins coated with cooking spray. Place ramekins on a jelly-roll pan.

Place remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, cornmeal, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl, stirring to combine. Bring remaining 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Gradually add cornmeal mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Stir in 2 ounces cheese. Divide cornmeal mixture evenly among ramekins. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 ounce cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until light golden brown.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Animal Farm’s Butter!
A while back I brought you the recipe for Chicken Stew with Old South Buttermilk Biscuits, made with the buttermilk from Animal Farm in Orwell, Vermont. At the time, I told you about Diane St. Clair’s incredible butter that is nothing like you’ve ever tasted (it’s $19 a pound, so at that price it’s like eating gold!). Last month a local television station did a story on St. Clair, her cows and farm, and her butter that she sends to top chef Thomas Keller’s Per Se restaurant in New York City.

It’s a fun story and you can watch it here, Butter Makes Its Mark at NYC Restaurant.

Tis the Season for Light Eating: Chicken and Rice Soup with Lemon and Ginger

Good Wednesday morning! How did you fare over the holiday? Were you hit by the snowstorm? It arrived for us mid-day Wednesday, but cleared out by Thursday morning. For the first time in many years, I think I can say my big dinner went off without a hitch—and I didn’t even draw up a timeline! Granted, the turkey was done about 45 minutes than I planned and I left the rolls in too long, but everything was delicious with leftovers kept at a minimum. And I’ve boiled up the turkey carcass for some soup later on this winter!

So now that our bellies are filled to the rim and it’s December, which means lots of sweets and out of the ordinary eating, I try as much as I can to have light meals throughout the day. Sugar and sweets are terrible for my waistline as well as my psyche, so I try to make healthy and delicious meals that aren’t fussy. This soup, which I made for lunches, was perfect. With accents of lemon and ginger, to me, this was a souped up (pardon the pun!) version of miso soup you get in Japanese restaurants.  While it is light yet filling, you don’t go away feeling like you ate a heavy meal.

For substitutions, I poached a chicken breast instead of using the rotisserie chicken and I cooked up the brown rice instead of the instant and made a pilaf of the leftovers. But their suggestions are excellent quick replacements if time is lacking. This was so delicious, it has become my new favorite soup! And for those gluten-intolerant, just use tamari instead of soy sauce!

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Chicken and Rice Soup with Lemon and Ginger

This recipe originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

Serves 6 (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon white miso
1 (8-ounce) package presliced cremini mushrooms
4 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock
1 1/2 cups shredded skinless rotisserie chicken breast
3 cups chopped bok choy
1 (8.5-ounce) pouch precooked brown rice
1 tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, ginger, and miso; sauté 4 minutes. Add mushrooms; sauté 2 minutes. Add stock, chicken, and bok choy; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes.

While soup simmers, prepare rice according to package directions. Stir rice, soy sauce, salt, and pepper into soup; cook 4 minutes or until bok choy is tender. Remove from heat; stir in lemon rind and juice.

england's flagMVK Eats London!

Hopefully no one noticed I was gone for a few weeks as The Eater of the House and I took the trip of a lifetime to London! Our good friends, Jen and Bill, had given an open invitation to visit them for two years and we finally took them up on their offer! November is always dark, overcast, and cold in Vermont, so it was a great time to travel, plus the weather was perfect, upper 50s, and I definitely didn’t need the winter coat I chose to bring!

Look at those doughnuts! Despite all my walking, I resisted!

Look at those doughnuts! Despite all my walking, I resisted!

London is a city for walkers, so you don’t need to worry about calories and how much you’re eating, as I averaged about ten miles every day! Our first real walk took us to Portobello Road and Notting Hill, where we walked along, checking out the stands and looking at all the food. Vegetables, bread, jams, doughnuts, you name it, they had it!

Gorgeous vegetables.

Gorgeous vegetables. I wish I could have taken some of those parsnips home with me!

All that walking made us hungry and instead of choosing to wait close to an hour at an Italian restaurant we selected, we instead walked across the street to the Spanish tapas restaurant Galicia. At first, we weren’t sure if they were open, the lights in the upstairs dining room were off and there was only a smattering of men at the downstairs bar. But they took us up, turned on the lights, and we had the most incredible lunch I think I’ve ever eaten. We selected nine dishes to share, and there almost wasn’t enough room on the table for the food and our plates. Mussels, sausages, jambon, meatballs, octopus, chicken, shrimp, avocado, everything was cooked to perfection and was so delicious with no room for dessert. Before lunch, Jen took me to the bookstore, Books for Cooks, which was an entire bookstore devoted to cookbooks and books about cooking! My kind of heaven!

Tapas lunch!

Tapas lunch!

 

 

london5

From the top of Primrose Hill.

Since Jen and Bill have lived in England for two years, I’ve heard about Sunday roast. I always do some sort of roast in my house on Sundays, albeit for dinner not lunch, but this was an authentic meal I wanted to experience. After a long walk from home to Abbey Road then Primrose Hill (where you can get the most gorgeous view of the city as you can see above), we took a short cab ride to Hampstead. This was a favorite part of the city for me that I would love to revisit. A small town, at the top of a windy and hilly neighborhood street was The Holly Bush, which is about as traditional an English restaurant as you can find. As luck would have it, they were able to seat our party immediately as we were all famished from all the walking.

london4If there is roast chicken on a menu, you can guarantee I will order it, but when in England, I was going to eat like the natives, so I selected the beef with Yorkshire pudding. I like my beef really rare and the piece I was given was perfection and just the right size. Small potatoes accompanied along with a big puffy Yorkshire pudding, which for those who don’t know what it is, is a popover, not what we know as “pudding.” And speaking of pudding, since we weren’t stuffed following dinner, we ordered traditional Sticky Toffee Pudding for dessert. Again, not what we know as “pudding” in our country, I would say this was similar to steamed bread, topped with a little bit of ice cream. And it truly was delicious! (We also discovered that the British word for rutabaga is “swede” and that the actor, Timothy Dalton (aka James Bond), was sitting behind us during our meal!)

london6Of all the meals I ate in London, if I were to recreate one at home, this would be it. Potatoes aren’t my usual favorite, but these seemed to be boiled then roasted; so the outside was crunchy but the inside perfectly creamy. The meat, which I think was grass-fed and probably local, was perfectly cooked to my preference, spices just right, with a little bit of horseradish and gravy on the side. The veg, served family style in a bowl, was a combination of root vegetables, carrots, turnips, rutabaga, all my favorites. I left that meal incredibly happy and perfectly satisfied.

Next week, I’ll bring you two or three more memorable London meals!

london7

Slow-Baked Chicken Thighs with Tomato, Fennel, and Lemon

‘Tis the month of November, when it is cold, rainy, and blustery outside, so I find myself in the kitchen more on Sunday afternoons as opposed to a lazy day at the lake. And this recipe, which originally appeared in the October issue of Cooking Light, is perfect for warming up the kitchen. Slow roasted chicken with a flavorful sauce makes for a delicious meal in addition to inexpensive. And leftovers warmed wonderfully for lunches.

I had some trouble sectioning the lemons, so I found after I was done a lot of the fruit was still left in the peel. So I turned my lemon peels into lemon water! I gathered them up and had lemon water all week long!

I bought parsley which I completely forgot about adding, along with the cheese and breadcrumbs. But it was still delicious. Served over linguine, it was a perfect dinner to end the weekend!

slowbaked chick
Slow-Baked Chicken Thighs with Tomato, Fennel, and Lemon

This recipe originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of Cooking Light magazine. You can serve on crusty toast or a bed of pasta if you like.

2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 cups shaved fennel (about 2 bulbs)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes, drained
12 garlic cloves, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slice
3 lemons, sectioned
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 (1-ounce) slice whole-wheat bread
2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Preheat oven to 325°.

2. Melt 1 tablespoon butter. Pour into a 13 x 9–inch glass or ceramic baking dish; tilt to coat bottom of dish. Top with fennel.

3. Rub salt into chicken; arrange chicken over fennel. Hand-crush tomatoes; tuck between thighs. Scatter garlic and lemon over chicken; sprinkle with thyme.

4. Cut 1 tablespoon butter into pieces; scatter over dish. Cover; bake at 325° for 1 hour or until a thermometer registers 180°.

5. Uncover; bake 45 minutes, basting every 5 to 10 minutes.

6. Combine bread and cheese in a food processor; pulse for coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over chicken; drizzle with basting juices. Bake 10 minutes. Top with parsley.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Prepare for Thanksgiving with These Tips
Clever_Cookstr_podcastClever Cookstr is a new podcast from the Quick and Dirty Tips family that I recently discovered and it is terrific! Each podcast, less than ten minutes in length, takes on a food topic to discuss, from 7 new ways to cook pumpkin, what to serve vegans at your next dinner party, to the more timely “Thanksgiving Day Countdown Begins Now”-October 21. For those cooking the meal this year, whether it’s your first or tenth, I found some great bits of information that can help all Thanksgiving cooks!

Spiced Chicken Thighs and Parsley Couscous

I’ve really gotten into spice rubs for meat lately. Easier and less messy than marinades, they are a nice way to spice up (no pun intended) a boring piece of meat, with spices and herbs that already are in the cupboard.

This was an easy Sunday dinner. Always one for looking for simplicity, by browning and roasting the chicken in the same pan, it makes a one-dish supper–less cleanup! I had Israeli couscous in the cupboard, so I used that, which made it more of a pasta side dish. If you’re looking for a gluten-free alternative, quinoa or rice can certainly be used. Served with the first corn of the season, it was a delicious meal and the leftover chicken was perfect on my salads for lunch!

herbed chix

Spiced Chicken Thighs and Parsley Couscous
This recipe originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

Sip on a cool glass of ginger lemonade for just 32 cents per serving: Bring 4 cups water and 1/3 cup sliced fresh ginger to a boil in a medium saucepan; remove from heat. Steep 30 minutes. Strain; discard solids. Mix the liquid with the juice of 2 large lemons and 3 tablepoons honey. Serve over ice.

Serves 4 (serving size: 2 thighs and about 1/2 cup couscous)

2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed and skinned (about 2 1/2 pounds)
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
2/3 cup uncooked couscous
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Combine cumin, sugar, chili powder, ginger, 1/2 teaspoon salt, red pepper, lemon rind, and black pepper in a small bowl; rub spice mixture over both sides of chicken. Heat a large ovenproof skillet or cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken to pan, placing it skin side down; cook 5 minutes on each side or until chicken is browned. (If necessary, work in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan.) Transfer pan to oven. Bake chicken at 425° for 14 minutes or until done. Remove chicken from pan; let stand 10 minutes before serving.

3. While chicken rests, heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add couscous and garlic to pan; cook 2 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring frequently. Carefully stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and chicken stock. Bring liquid to a boil. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 4 minutes (avoid opening the lid). Fluff couscous with a fork, and stir in parsley and lemon juice.

summer_box1MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Lovethesecretingredient.net
Far be it for me to think I’m the only food blog out there worth reading (there are zillions out there, so I know I’m only a teeny spec in the cyber world!). But I came across Mary Frances’s blog, Love the Secret Ingredient, a couple of years ago, and have thoroughly enjoyed reading her adventures in the kitchen since then. She cooks a little bit like me; I have this in the fridge, what can I make?

She’s had a project for the last few months that I really admire: seasonal food boxes, all to benefit Feed the Children. I ordered the summer box (pictured), and received a delicious spice rub, some yummy salsa, and other goodies. And the box was totally gluten-free. This sort of project is totally out of my realm, so I’m excited to find something foodie related–and impressed she took her blog and food interest to the next level!

I’ll be ordering the fall box soon! Check it Mary Frances’s blog at www.lovethesecretingredient.net.

Marinated Grilled Chicken Legs

My apologies for no food photo for this week, but I made the chicken to enjoy at our week of evening outdoor music! I think Mother Nature put on a better show this evening than the actual act!

My apologies for no food photo for this week, but I made the chicken recipe to enjoy at a week of evening outdoor music! I think Mother Nature put on a better show this evening than the actual act!

When I find a recipe I love, I tend to hold on to it and bring it into my cooking repertoire without looking back. This recipe is one of the best marinades out there, and you know I love it because I’ve been making it at least once every summer since it first appeared in Cooking Light in 2005!

Chicken legs are inexpensive and take well to marinades. Most everything on the ingredient list I have in the cupboard, so it’s just a matter of getting out the measuring spoons and pouring everything into a plastic bag. I’ve never used basil oil, just canola or vegetable oil, and I’ve also omitted the onion powder. It works well if you’re grilling or even roasting the chicken. The directions say to marinate for two hours, but I’ve marinated for a day and they’re still delicious.

I like to cook the chicken the night before, so there is cold chicken ready for a picnic the next day!

Marinated Grilled Chicken Legs
This recipe first appeared in the June 2005 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 drumsticks)

1 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 1/2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons basil oil
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
8 chicken drumsticks (about 2 1/4 pounds), skinned
Cooking spray
Green onion strips (optional)

1. Combine the first 11 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken to bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 2 hours, turning bag occasionally.

2. Prepare grill.

3. Remove chicken from bag, reserving marinade. Place reserved marinade in a small saucepan; cook over medium heat 3 minutes. Place chicken on grill coated with cooking spray; grill 30 minutes or until chicken is done, turning and basting occasionally with reserved marinade. Garnish with green onion strips, if desired.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week

gluten-freeGluten-free foods seem to be popping up everywhere; there is a gluten-free crust pizza at our pizza shop in our little town, you see it on labels from everything to crackers to meat (yes!), and the aisle that used to be reserved for “international foods” in the grocery store is now all gluten-free. I know restaurants have been hit hard by this food trend, and I read this article with interest last month in the New York Times about how the city’s high-end Italian restaurants are dealing with this. You can read the article here.

 

 

Week Night Dinner Series: Chicken Marsala (or Madeira) with Pasta

One thing I like to do to challenge myself as a cook is to recreate dishes I eat in restaurants. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, but I always find the attempt fun. One afternoon, the Eater of the House and myself stopped for a late lunch after a morning of traveling. My meal was mediocre, but the dish he ordered was delicious. What I thought was going to be traditional Chicken Marsala turned out to be pieces of Chicken Marsala in a creamy sauce over pasta. I took only one bite, but I thought it would be easy to recreate for a work night dinner. And I was right! There was only one problem. And let this be a word to the wise to all cooks: make sure you know what is in your cupboard before you start cooking!

I could have sworn I had an old bottle of Marsala wine lingering in the far back of the liquor cabinet. But as I was making the sauce and reaching down beneath, I came up with two different kinds of sherrys and Madeira, but no Marsala! So in an effort to turn lemons into lemonade (by no means a reference to last week’s post!), I pulled out the Madeira, since it is the closest in taste to M­arsala and used that instead. I had bought it for making turkey gravy at Thanksgiving, and it has a rich, deep flavor that’s good for cooking. And it worked!

I made the sauce a little thinner than the one in the restaurant and served it over egg noodles topped with a little bit of cheese. For those going the gluten-free route or wanting more vegetables, I thought it would be great over sautéed zucchini or even rice or couscous.

This photo makes it look like my portion look gigantic! (I swear it really wasn't!)

This photo makes it look like my portion look gigantic! (I swear it really wasn’t!)

Chicken Marsala (or Madeira) with Pasta
When making the sauce, start with a 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch and whisk; that may be all you need to get it a little thick. If it’s still thin, whisk in another 1/2 teaspoon of the cornstarch. The sauce isn’t thick like an Alfredo sauce, but a little thicker than a wine sauce. You’ll have less than a half cup of sauce; I found a little bit gives a lot of flavor to the chicken and mushrooms.  

8 ounces of mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
4 teaspoons olive oil (separated)
1 ½ pounds chicken breast, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon butter
3 Tablespoons shallots
½ cup Marsala or Madeira wine
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon of half and half or cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Cheese for topping

1. In a medium-sized skillet, warm 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Add the mushrooms and cook until all the water has evaporated and they are brown. Put into a dish and set aside.

2. With the same skillet, warm the other 2 teaspoons of olive oil and when warm, add the chicken and cook until it is done and no longer pink. Remove from heat and add the chicken to the bowl of mushrooms.

3. In the same skillet, melt the butter gently. Add the shallots and cook a few minutes until they are soft. Add the wine, bring to a boil, and add the cornstarch, a 1/2 teaspoon at a time and whisk. When it starts getting a little thick, add the cream. Add the chicken and mushrooms to the pan and stir until everything is covered in sauce.

4. Serve by itself or over a small bed of egg noodles. Add salt and pepper to taste and top with a little bit of cheese.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week

deliciousIf you have looked on my website where I extol the genius of all of my favorite food writers, you’ll know that Ruth Reichl is at the top of the list. So when I was given the opportunity to receive an advanced readers copy of her newest book and first work of fiction, Delicious!, I jumped at the chance! (A big thank you to the absolutely fabulous Random House reps, Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman, of the podcast Books on the Nightstand and Booktopia fame!)

Delicious! is custom-written for people like me, someone who loves food and loves to read about it. Delicious! is a longtime food magazine in the vein of Gourmet, and we meet our protagonist, Billie Breslin, just as she is hired as the assistant to the editor. When the magazine suddenly seizes publication, Billie is kept on to answer the Delicious! guarantee to readers; if readers have a problem with a recipe, the magazine will return their money for the ingredients. It’s here that Billie enters the magazine’s library, where she comes upon letters written by a girl from Akron named Lulu to James Beard during World War II.

This book has it all: food, food, and more food, a touch of mystery, intrigue, and romance, plus Reichl’s trademark beautiful descriptions of food, clothing, architecture. I know I love a book when it is hard to put down and even harder to do anything else but read! I let a lot of things go in the book; Lulu’s letters didn’t sound like they were written by a 12-year-old, the requisite ugly duckling turning into a swan, and just enjoyed the ride. And I love that there was a nod to Bonnie Slotnick of Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, a bookstore in New York City that is only cookbooks. And I have a feeling I’m going to be making a soufflé and a pan of gingerbread very soon! (You also may find me foraging for milkweed in the fall; I really want to know if it tastes like cheese!)

Weeknight Dinner Series #7! New Food Labels! A Cookbook Giveaway!

There is a lot of excitement this week! March 7th marks the third-year birthday of My Vermont Kitchen; I’ve made it through my infancy and the terrible twos! It’s the first week in March, where a sigh of relief can be heard round the world that yes, the long, dark, and cold winter is slowly winding down. This month always has warm days and cold nights, the perfect recipe for maple sugaring. The chirp of the red-winged blackbird will be making its way to the meadow by St. Patrick’s Day. Plus we spring forward this weekend! I can feel the spring in my outside steps already!

So the news first. The United States Food and Drug Administration announced last week that food labels are getting an overhaul for the first time since the early 1990s. Taking the nutrition course I mentioned last week, one week was devoted to reading food labels, which was a real eye opener. The new label changes are meant to be easier for the average consumer to understand and will focus on calories and sugar content in particular. Hooray to this, as sugar content was not on the labels before because there was no set standard for sugar consumption. But given the obesity and diabetes epidemic in this country, I am pleased to see this addition. This article printed in the New York Times clearly explains the matter in more detail.

This week’s recipe: Chicken and Leeks. While it has a boring name, this is a simple weeknight supper that takes about 30 minutes to make and it’s a delicious and nutritious! Rarely do I make pan sauces, and I’m really not sure why, because they are fairly easy. You can always cook the leeks in the pan with the chicken, but in this case, I cooked them separately. And don’t be like me–watch the pan sauce! I reduced it a little too much, but it was still delicious! Serve along side with rice and a salad, or steamed broccoli with lemon and butter.
DSCN4266

Chicken and Leeks
Extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds of chicken tenders
1 cup chopped leeks
½ cup chicken broth
A glug or two of white wine (Optional. If not using, just use a little more broth.)
1 Tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Place enough olive oil in the bottom of a large skillet and warm. Add the chicken and cook until they are tender, turning frequently, so both sides are golden brown. When finished cooking, put on a plate and set aside.

2. As you are cooking the chicken, add 1 Tablespoon of butter to a small skillet. When it’s melted, add the leeks and cook until soft and a little brown.

3. Place the chicken skillet back on the burner and slowly add the chicken broth, scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon or spatula. Bring to a boil, add the wine if using, and reduce down until it is the consistency you like. Add the leeks and chicken to the pan, cover with the sauce and serve.

Free Cookbook Giveaway!

global kitchenAs a member of Cooking Light magazine’s Blogger’s Connection, I sometimes get a few perks and this time I get to pass something on to one lucky reader! Just this week Cooking Light’s Global Flavors will be in bookstores! And this cookbook is fantastic! Written by New York Times best-selling author and food writer David Joachim, you’ll find recipes from all over the world, but they’re easy to make and accessible for the home cook. You’ll find recipes from East Asia, India, Southeast Asia and Australia, the Middle East and Africa, Europe and Eurasia, South, North, and Central Americas. I sat down to breakfast the other morning and was salivating over all the dishes. I’m especially excited to make Chicken Tikka Masala, Indonesian Stir-Fried Noodles, and Hungarian Goulash (although there are tons more I’m going to try!)

The contest is easy! Just leave a comment with what your favorite global meal is, I’ll put all the names in a hat, and the Eater of the House will pull out a name. I’ll contact the lucky winner to get shipping instructions. Deadline is Tuesday, March 11 at midnight Eastern Time. Good luck!

Turkey (or Chicken) Tetrazzini

Every year when Thanksgiving rolls around, I see lots of recipes online and in cooking magazines of how to use up the leftover turkey and I always find a recipe for Turkey Tetrazzini. I’ll be honest, I’ve never made it before, I don’t even know if I’ve eaten it before, but I knew it was a dish of turkey, mushrooms, and noodles in a creamy sauce. So one day when I found some leftover Thanksgiving turkey in the freezer, I decided to set out create my own dish!

Both times I’ve made this it’s been weekend evenings, and while I’ll admit it’s not exactly time consuming, it uses a lot of pots and pans, so there’s a bit of cleanup. I’ve made this with turkey and chicken, and both were delicious (with an enthusiastic thumbs up from the eater of the house).  It’s also a flexible dish, and you can add more veggies if you want. I tried to cut down on some of the calories by using some chicken broth in the cream sauce, so it’s not as rich as it could be but is still flavorful. We’re still in comfort food weather here, so this is a perfect weekend meal, served with a side salad or steamed broccoli.

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It doesn’t appear it by the photo, but there are mushrooms in this dish!

Turkey (or Chicken) Tetrazzini

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped red pepper (about one pepper)
¼ cup chopped red onion
1 ½ cups chopped mushrooms

2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup milk
¼ cup chicken broth or stock
A splash of white wine or vermouth (optional)

½ pound of spaghetti (whole grain preferred), broken in half
2 cups cooked turkey or chicken, diced
1 Tablespoons panko or breadcrumbs

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2. Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized skillet. Add the peppers and onions, cook for a couple of minutes, then add the mushrooms. Cook for about four minutes until the veggies are no longer hard, but are not completely soft. Add to a large mixing bowl.

3. While the vegetables are cooking, fill a Dutch oven with water and bring to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook for 7 minutes. Drain and add to the veggies.

4. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the flour and whisk until it is a thick paste. Slowly add the milk, whisking the whole time. Add the stock, and continue whisking until the mixture is a thin sauce. (*Note: If it’s still thick, just add a little more liquid, either milk or stock, and whisk.) Add the wine or vermouth if adding. Season with salt and pepper. Add to the mixing bowl.

5. Add the cooked turkey or chicken to the mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Add it to a greased casserole dish and sprinkle with the panko or bread crumbs.

6. Bake covered for about 20 minutes.

Chicken and Chickpea Tangine

DSCN0369I have two reasons why I love my crock pot (or slow cooker as they’re now called): 1. Most recipes have few steps, basically put everything in a pot, set it, forget it, and when you get home the kitchen is filled with wonderful scents, you have a delicious meal ready to eat, and you’ve barely picked up a knife; and 2. Freezing leftovers is wonderful and you can pull dinner out of the freezer in the morning on a busy weeknight. It’s the original frozen dinner!

I love chicken, chickpeas, and stews, so this comforting meal was a home run in my house. I have a smaller crock pot, so I ended up finishing the cooking on the stove, because the chicken wasn’t getting cooked enough. And I took it one step further and shredded the chicken for easier eating. The leftovers were delicious, and it ended up being at least three meals in our house!

My apologies for no photograph of dinner this week. I took one, but when I looked at it, it made the dish look really unappetizing! I’ll have to work on my color settings!

Chicken and Chickpea Tangine
This recipe originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of Cooking Light magazine. Serves 8.

1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
8 (5-ounce) bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh garlic
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 cup unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick (MVK’s Note: I used 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon in place of a stick.)
2/3 cup chopped dried apricots
2 (15-ounce) cans organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
Lemon wedges

Preparation

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle meaty side of chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Add chicken to pan, meaty side down; cook 5 minutes or until well browned. Remove from pan (do not brown other side).

2. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Add cumin and next 5 ingredients (through red pepper); cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, stock, honey, and cinnamon, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; bring to a simmer. Carefully pour mixture into a 6-quart electric slow cooker. Stir in apricots and chickpeas. Arrange chicken, browned side up, on top of chickpea mixture. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 hours. Discard cinnamon stick. Sprinkle with cilantro; serve with lemon wedges.

I Went to a Garden Party…

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This happy yellow iris was given to me by my friend, Deb, a few years back. It greets me with its bright color every time I come home.

And a couple of weeks ago, I did just that! It was my longtime friend Chris’s birthday. She invited me over to her friend Annie’s house for a garden birthday dinner before heading out to hear music that evening. It was hotter than blazes that day, but we had a spot in the shade with some cool dishes to eat that was just perfect. Small salads that require no cooking and “finger sandwiches” were served alongside sun tea and white wine. It was the perfect dinner, and it got me thinking of garden parties and how much fun they are, mostly for the variety of food!

Annie served these “sandwiches” that were delicious, so of course I had to go home and recreate them. I always am looking for quick ideas for weekday lunches or dinner during the week when I don’t feel like cooking.

I’ve gotten in the habit recently of poaching a couple of boneless chicken breasts on Sunday or Monday for the coming week. This is great, so you have fresh chicken available to add to salads, make chicken salad, or to make these delicious sandwiches. Once the chicken is cooled from baking, I either dice or shred it so it’s ready to go.

I have no idea what to call these, Chicken Rollups? Chicken Cigars? Chicken Finger Sandwiches? Whichever name you select, it doesn’t require a “recipe” per se. Take one tortilla and add some pesto sauce. (My homemade recipe can be found here or you can use store-bought.) Cover it with some shredded chicken and some lettuce. Roll up like a cigar and slice in half. If you’re gluten-free, substituting Boston lettuce leaves for the tortilla shells would be perfect, you might need to use a toothpick to be sure everything stays in place.

As I was making these, I thought some shredded carrot would make a nice addition for some added crunch. Or maybe some nuts? But the pesto has such flavor and the lettuce adds a bit of crunch, you don’t really need to worry about adding anything else if you don’t want to. Serve with a side of fruit or another cool salad. These would be perfect to take along on a picnic, to the beach, or a short hike this summer.

Reminisce we did that evening, as we were with Chris ten years ago when she celebrated another milestone birthday. This year’s party was more intimate, but I admit, more fun. We celebrated until the temperature broke and then made our way home in the cool of the evening.

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