Cheese & Mustard Chicken Wrapped in Bacon

December 19, 2010

Chef’s Notes: This isn’t even really a recipe. I considered what was in the kitchen and what sounded good for dinner and concocted this. Pretty tasty.

Pound a boneless chicken breast thin. Spread with Dijon mustard and sprinkle dill over the mustard. Wrap chicken breast around a 1-ounce stick of sharp Cheddar cheese. Wrap 1 or 2 slices of (maple or plain) bacon around the chicken breast. Sprinkle with black pepper. Bake 375 degrees for 45 minutes.


Nutty Mustard Chicken Thighs

December 14, 2010

Chef’s Notes: There are two problems when seasoning chicken. One, you can put the seasoning on the skin, but the flavoring never penetrates the chicken. Or two, you remove the skin and season the meat, but then you often have dry chicken. To solve these problems, in this recipe, the seasoning is placed between the meat and the skin, allowing the flavors to come in direct contact with the chicken while keeping the skin intact to moisten the meat.

Nutty Mustard Chicken Thighs
Serves 4

8 bone-in chicken thighs
1 tsp. tarragon
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 T. finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375. On each chicken thigh, peel the skin back from the meat. Sprinkle the tarragon evenly onto each thigh. Combine the mustard, syrup and vinegar; spoon evenly onto each thigh. Sprinkle the pecans over the mustard mixture. Pull the skin back over the thigh. Place on baking sheet and cook 30 minutes.

Simple Spicy Ranch Chip Dip

December 14, 2010

Chef’s Notes: I really dislike French Onion Chip Dip, so I decided to concoct a different chip dip for a party I hosted recently. It was well liked by all…and very simple to make.

Simple Spicy Ranch Chip Dip

8 oz. sour cream
1/2 C. spicy ranch salad dressing
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. Mrs. Dash extra spicy seasoning blend
1 tsp. hot sauce

Blend all ingredients. Refrigerate for several hours. Serve with potato chips.

These Asian-type appetizer thingys

December 14, 2010

Chef’s Notes: These don’t have an official name, nor is there a precise list of ingredients. I concocted these based on something similar that my niece often makes for family get-togethers. I served them at a party recently and everyone loved them.

These Asian-type appetizer thingys
Makes about 24

(1ish) Boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
(8 slices) Maple bacon, each slice cut into thirds
(1 can) Sliced water chestnuts
3/4 C. LaChoy Garlic-Ginger stir-fry sauce
About 2 tsp. soy sauce
Toothpics with pointy ends

Fold a bacon slice in half lengthwise. Poke a toothpic through the end of bacon slice. Then add a water chestnut slice, a piece of chicken, and another water chestnut slice. (You kinna have to twist the water chestnuts onto the toothpic to keep it from snapping in half.) Then fold the bacon slice around and onto the other end of the toothpic. Lay the appetizer thingy on a baking sheet and repeat with all the remaining ingredients. Whisk together the stir-fy sauce, soy sauce, and about 1/4 cup water; drizzle over the appetizers. Marinate for a few hours. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes.

4 Pepper 4 Bean Chili

September 18, 2010

Chef’s Notes: A lot of experiments led to this chili recipe that, in my opinion, is just about perfect. Often, chili is either all about heat with little flavor, or it is bland and tastes like tomato soup with hamburger. And having nothing but kidney beans leads to a boring mouthfeel.

In this recipe, four different types of peppers add a depth and complexity of both flavor and heat, and four different types of beans create a unique shape and texture experience. (I purchased the dried peppers from Penzeys.)

One notable missing ingredient is chili powder. Because chili powder is a blend of peppers, cumin, oregano, and garlic, I just added these ingredients to the recipe instead.

Four Pepper Four Bean Chili
(8 servings)

1 48-oz can tomato juice
4 roasted tomatoes (see note below)
1 14-oz jar roasted red peppers, chopped
1 dried ancho chili pepper
2 dried cascabel chili pepper
2 dried guajillo chili peppers
1 C. chopped onion
4 cloves garlic
1 T. cumin
2 tsp. brown mustard seed
2 tsp. Mexican oregano
2 tsp. Mrs. Dash extra spicy seasoning blend
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. cayenne red pepper powder

Soak dried peppers in hot water until soft, about 10 minutes, then cut into chunks. Sauté onions in small skillet with a bit of oil. Mince garlic cloves, sprinkle with a small amount of salt, and then mash them into a paste using the flat side of knife.

Combine all ingredients in 4-quart crock pot. Cook on low 3 – 4 hours. Remove the dried peppers. Taste. If you’d like it spicer, add 2 – 4 T. hot sauce.

1# ground beef (or turkey, chicken, or venison)
1/2 C. chopped onion
1 T. worchestershire sauce
3/4 C. canned red kidney beans
3/4 C. canned black beans
3/4 C. canned Great Northern beans
3/4 C. canned butter beans

Brown ground beef with onion and worchestershire sauce. Drain and rinse beans. Add beef and beans to crock pot.. Cook on warm (or low) for 1 hour.

Additional notes

I roast fresh garden tomatoes in the summer and freeze them. Alternately, you could probably use a can of roasted whole tomatoes.

You will have about 2 1/2 cups leftover beans; place the combined beans in a quart bag, freeze, and use in the next batch of chili.

Per serving
Calories: 267; Carbs: 23; Fat: 12; Protein 17

Perfect Pot Roast

September 12, 2010

Chef’s Notes: Pot roast was not on my list of favorite foods. In my experience, it was always dry, tough, and flavorless so I never bothered to try to cook it myself.

The local market had shoulder roast (the cut for pot roast) on sale this week for $1.99 a pound. Cheaper than ground beef! So I decided to see if I could cook it and make it edible. Some googling revealed that the best way to cook pot roast is braising – browned and then simmered in a small amount of liquid. I took some ideas from some different recipes and created a concoction. YumO! Seriously, how did I not know how delicious pot roast could be?

Perfect Pot Roast
(serves 6)

2# shoulder beef roast
4 – 6 cloves garlic
1 T. olive oil
One medium or large yellow onion, sliced
1 C. red wine (Do NOT use cooking wine. The quality of your wine is the quality of your food…and cooking wine is about the lowest quality there is. I used a spiced wine from a local winery.)

Season the roast the night before cooking. Cut the ends off the garlic cloves and peel. If they’re bigger cloves, cut them in half lengthwise. (They should be about the width of your pinky finger.) Cut small slits in the roast and slide in the garlic cloves. (The slits should be deep enough that the garlic isn’t visible, but not so deep that the garlic pops out the other side.) Sprinkle the roast on both sides with spices – I used salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, thyme, and Penzy’s Mural of Flavor blend – and rub in. Place the roast on a plate, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the roast and brown 3 to 4 minutes on each side. For the most even and complete browning, do not move it until ready to flip. When the roast is browned, turn the heat down to the lowest possible setting (warm or simmer). Slip the onion slices under the roast and then pour wine over the meat. Toss in a few bay leaves. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid; if your lid doesn’t fit tightly, wrap foil over the top of pan before placing the lid on.

Cook for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours (45 minutes per pound). The meat is done when it is tender when pierced with a fork, or when a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees. About halfway through cooking time, check to make sure there’s enough liquid. (I threw some carrots in the pot at this point.) Ideally, the meat should be releasing enough juices and the cooking temperature should be low enough that you won’t need to add any liquid.

Protein Banana Nut Muffins

September 1, 2010

Chef’s Notes: I love muffins, especially on a chilly morning with a cup of tea. I’m trying to eat less carbs and more protein, and muffins really don’t fit into that plan. So I experimented and concocted and came up with this recipe that’s a bit more compatible with my diet. There is no sugar or sweetener at all, so they are not rich in the same way as a typical muffin, but the spices give it depth and flavor.

Protein Banana Nut Muffins
(makes 9 small muffins)

1 cup flour (I used 1/2 white 1/2 wheat)
6 tablespoons protein powder (I used MLO Super High Protein Powder)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 tablespoons natural unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 very ripe bananas, mashed (1 cup)
1/4 C. walnut pieces
2 teaspoons assorted baking spices (I used 1/2 tsp. Penzey’s baking spice, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon,1/4 each of nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with paper liners.

Stir flour, protein powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

Combine egg, applesauce, yogurt and vanilla and beat well in a medium mixing bowl. Beat in the bananas, walnuts, and spices.

Add flour mixture to banana mixture and stir just until mixed – batter will be thick. Fill 9 muffin cups nearly full. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Per muffin: Calories 134. Fat 3 Carbs 17.5 Protein 9.5

A delicious idea for day old muffins: Cut muffin in 4 or 5 thin slices (from the side, not the top) and lay the slices out on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes until browned and crispy. Tastes like banana toast!