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Archive for the ‘Main Course’ Category

Salt-Baked Chicken

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

When I was 17, my family went on vacation to southern Spain.  One night, my mom and I split salt-baked fish at a restaurant on the beach, and it was delicious.  Ever since then, I have been obsessed with the concept of salt-baking, so when I saw the following recipe, I knew I had to try it.

The chicken that resulted from this recipe was perfectly cooked and was so moist.  While the following recipe is a Chinese preparation, I am curious about trying this method with other roast chicken recipes.  More to come on that experiment!

Salt-baked Eight Flavor Chicken (Adapted from Martin Yan’s Chinatown Cooking)

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

3 pound whole chicken, rinsed

3 tablespoons Chinese rice wine

2 teaspoons hoisin sauce

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon five spice powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/3 cup sliced shallots

3 tablespoons chopped ginger

4 chopped green onions

4 lbs of Kosher salt (1 1/3 boxes of Kosher salt)

Combine the soy sauces in a small bowl.   Rub the mixture into the skin of the chicken and let stand while you prepare the other ingredients.

Combine the rice wine, hoisin sauce, sugar, sesame oil, five spice powder, and salt together in a small bowl.

Heat a wok over high heat.  Add the oil and swirl to coat the sides of the wok.  Add the shallots, ginger, and green onion.  Cook for about a minute and then add the rice wine mixture to the wok.  Stir to comibine.  Remove from heat, and remove the contents of the wok to a small bowl.  Allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spoon the contents of the bowl into the cavity of the chicken, and wrap the chicken in parchment paper.

Cover the bottom of a covered casserole dish with half of the Kosher salt.  Placed the wrapped chicken over the salt layer.  Cover the top of the bird with the remaining salt.  Cover the casserole dish and bake in the oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Check the temperature in the thigh and the breast.  Once both are above 160 degrees, remove the dish from the oven and serve.

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We enjoyed this dish as part of a Chinese New Year celebration including fried rice, spicy green beans, lo mein with pork, and whole salmon.  Delicious!


Roasted Chicken Breasts with Butternut Squash

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

I’m really bummed that I didn’t take pictures of this recipe, but I decided to post it anyway because it was delicious!  This is a really quick one dish meal for a weeknight.

The recipe suggests making foil pans for the chicken and squash, but I just used a 9×13 pan, with the chicken in the middle and the squash lining the sides of the dish.

Roasted Chicken Breast with Creamy Butternut Squash (Adapted from Cook by Jamie Oliver)

4 chicken breasts, cut in half

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 jalapenos, minced (I left the seeds in mine)

2 TBSP olive oil

1 TBSP oregano

salt and pepper

1 butternut squash, seeded and sliced

1/2 cup of cream

1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the chicken breasts in a bowl.  Toss with olive oil, garlic, jalepeno, oregano, salt and pepper.

Place the chicken breasts in the middle of a 9×13 baking dish.  Line the dish with the butternut squash.  Pour the cream over the butternut squash, but avoid pouring it on the chicken.  Season the squash with the nutmeg.

Put the dish in the oven and roast until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 40 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!


Hoisin Pork Tenderloin

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

My mother-in-law made the following recipe on a family vacation a few years ago.  After begging her for the recipe, I finally tried this on my own a few weeks ago.  Better late then never I guess!

Because of the sugar and honey in the marinade, the outside of the pork cooks very quickly, so make sure you check the internal temperature before removing the pork from the grill.

Hoisin Pork Tenderloin

1 jar hoisin sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp spicy mustard (I used spicy Chinese mustard)

1/3 cup honey

1 TBSP terriaki marinade

1/2 tsp ground ginger

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 pork tenderloins, about 3 pounds total

Combine all of the ingredients in a larg Ziploc bag.  Marinate the pork in the refridgerator for 2 hours.

While the pork is marinating, heat a charcoal grill.  When the grill is hot, cook the pork.  The cookbook I used recommeded 4 minutes per each of the four sides of pork.  We kept rotating the pork every 4 minutes, but we cooked the pork for a total of 30 minutes.

Let the pork rest for 10 minutes before slicing.  Slice to pork and enjoy with the dipping sauce recipe below.

Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup sour cream

1/3 cup mayonaise

1 TBSP chopped green onion

1 TBSP dry mustard

horseradish to taste (I used a Wasabi horseradish sauce we keep around the house)

Mix all the ingredients togther in a bowl and serve with the pork.


Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

I tried this recipe for barbecued pulled chicken sandwiches a few years ago, and since then, I’ve made it at least once a year.  I’m at a loss for words trying to describe this recipe, so I’ll just say that I think this recipe is delicious and leave it alone.

Barbecued Pulled Chicken (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated 2005)

For the Chicken:

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Rub with Love, Pork Rub

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Coat the chicken breasts and thighs with the Pork Rub, and cook over a hot charcoal grill.  The chicken breasts took about 4 minutes per side, while the chicken thighs took about 2 minutes per side.  We cooked the chicken while cooking a few other things on the grill and let the chicken cool overnight.  This is in no way necessary, and the chicken just needs to be cooled enough so it can easily be handled.

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For the sauce:

1 large onion, diced

1/4 cup water

1 1/2 cups ketchup

1 1/2 cups apple juice

3 tbsp Worchestershire sauce

3 tbsp dijon mustard

1/4 cup molasses


4 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp vegetable oil

4 garlic cloves

1 1/2 tbsp chile caribe

1 tsp cayenne

Process onion and water in food processor until pureed, about 30 seconds.  Whisk the onion and water mixture with the ketchup, apple juice, Worchestershire, mustard, molasses, pepper and cider vinegar in a medium bowl.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil, and add the garlic, chile caribe, and cayenne.  Cook for about 30 seconds, and add the ketchup mixture.  Bring the sauce to a boil, and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer, uncovered, until the flavors combine, about 15 minutes.  Transfer about 2 cups of the sauce to a bowl.

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While the sauce is cooking, shred the chicken breasts and thighs, removing any excess fat in the process.  Place the smaller chicken pieces (or about 1/2 the shredded chicken) in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, about 5 1-second pulses.

Mix the pulsed chicken and the shredded chicken into  the saucepan and cook until heated through, about 10 minutes.

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Then, make sandwiches with the chicken mixture, serving the remaining barbecue sauce as a dipping sauce.  I used about 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture for each sandwich.

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I served the sandwiches with corn on the cob and roasted potato salad.


Steak au Poivre

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

My parents called while I was making dinner a few days ago.  When I told my dad what I was making, he told me to hold dinner; he could be here in about 3 hours if he left for the airport right away.

I don’t make steak very often, so the following recipe was a real treat.

Steak Au Poivre (adapted from the Way the Cookie Crumbles)

1/2 stick unsalted butter

1 medium shallot, minced

1 cup beef broth

3/4 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup cream

1/4 cup brandy + 1 tablespoon

1 teaspoon lemno juice

4 strip steaks, 10 oz each


1 tablespoon black peppercorns, crushed

Heat 1 tablespoon of utter in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallot and cook until the shallot is softened.  This should take about two minutes.  Add the broths and increase the heat to high.  Reduce the mixture to about 1/2 cup, about 10 minutes.  Set the reduced mixture aside.

Sprinkle both sides of each steak with salt.  Rub one side of each steak with the peppercorns.  Press the peppercorns into the steaks.

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Heat a skillet over medium heat until hot, about 5 minutes.  Lay the steak, un-peppered side down, in the skillet.  Increase the heat to medium-high and press down on the steaks with the bottom of a cake pan.  Cook the steaks without moving until browned, about 6 minutes.  Flip the steaks and cook the peppered side, about 4 minutes longer for medium-rate.  Transfer the steaks to a cutting board and tent with foil to warm.

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In the pan used to cook the steaks, add the reduced broth, cream, 1/4 cup of brandy and cream.  Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Scrape the bottom of the pan with a spoon to loosen the browned bits.  Simmer until deep brown and thickened, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining butter, brandy, lemon juice, and any meat juices.

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Set a steak on each plate and spoon a portion of the sauce over each steak.  I served this with brussels sprouts and twice baked potatoes.

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Chicken Alfredo Lasagna

Friday, April 16th, 2010

I love lasagna, but my husband was a little hesitant when I suggested this recipe.  He has since decided this is one of his favorite lasagna recipes.

The original recipe called for fresh lasagna noodles and bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, but I used store bought noodles and boneless skinless chicken.  I cooked the noodles according to the package instructions, and I had enough noodles and filling for an 8×11 pan of lasagna.

Chicken, Mushroom, and Spinach Alfredo Lasagna (adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles)

1 tsp vegetable oil

1 lb chicken breasts

4 tbsp unsalted butter

8 oz button mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 large shallots, finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 c flour

3 1/2 c milk

black pepper


1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

4 oz spinach, sliced into 1/4 in ribbons

1 1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese

1 package lasagna noodles (regular, not “no boil noodles”)

Picture 013Heat the oven to 450 degrees.  Heat a small oven safe skillet over medium heat. (I used a Dutch oven).  Add the oil and chicken breasts.  Cook the chicken for 5 minutes on one side until browned, about 5 minutes.  Turn the chicken over, and move the pan to the oven.  Roast the chicken in the oven until an instant read thermometer reads 160 degrees.  (Since I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts, I also added a cup of chicken broth to the pan before placing it in the oven.)  Remove the chicken from the oven, and once the chicken has cooled, shred the chicken with your fingers or two forks.

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Decrease the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are slightly browned, about 7 minutes.  Add the shallots and cook for another 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

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Add the flour and stir frequently with a wooden spoon.  Cook for about a minute, until slightly thickened.

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Whisking constantly, add the milk slowly, and continue to to cook for about 7 minutes.  The sauce should thicken slightly.  Add salt, pepper, the  nutmeg, spinach and half of the Parmesan cheese.  Cook for about 3 minutes and add the chicken.  Remove from heat and adjust seasoning to taste.

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Spray an 8×11 baking pan with nonstick spray.  Spread 1/4 cup of the sauce on the bottom of the dish.  Try to avoid large chunks of chicken.  Top with a layer of noodles (I used 3 noodles).  Continue to alternate sauce and noodles until you run out of noodles.  I was able to make five layers.  Top with the remaining sauce and the Parmesan cheese.

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Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue to bake for another 20 minutes.

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We ate this with a nice salad.  Enjoy!


Simple Pleasures

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

Funny how moving kind of got in the way of cooking and posting.  Now that we’re finished with the moving process, I’ve been experimenting in my new kitchen.

Today is one of the first nice days of spring, and my husband and I decided to grill on our new deck.  I wasn’t planning on posting this meal because it’s pretty simple, but in the end, I decided simple isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Today’s lunch consisted of bratwurst, mac n cheese, and tater tots.  It was delicious.  I used my dad’s cooking method, which has always been a favorite.

Bill’s Brats

6 Bratwurst (I used Boulder Sausage’s Beer Bratwurst)

3 12 oz. cans beer (Dale’s Pale Ale!)

1 Onion, sliced thin

6 Hot Dog Buns

Add the onion, beer and bratwurst to a large pot.  I used Oskar Blue’s Dale’s Pale Ale, one of our Colorado favorites.  I thought the hoppy flavor of Dale’s Pale would complement the flavor of the bratwurst, and I’m happy to say I was pleased with the results.

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Slowly bring to a simmer.  Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes or so.

In the meantime, start the coals for a charcoal grill.

After the bratwurst have simmered for 30 minutes, cook on the grill.  On a hot grill, they will not take long, about 5 minutes per side.

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My husband cooked the brats on the grill while I toasted the buns.  I placed the buns on the middle oven rack in a 450 degree oven.   After about a minute, I removed the buns from the oven.

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Chicken Enchiladas

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

My husband and I keep a grocery list on our refrigerator, and a couple of weeks ago, I came home to the words “chicken enchiladas” on the list.  I took that as a hint.

The following recipe is adapted from The Best Cover and Bake Recipes from the Editors of Cooks’ Illustrated.

1 TBSP canola oil

1 medium onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 TBSP chili powder

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp sugar

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

15 oz tomato sauce (I used 8 oz. fire roasted tomato sauce and 8 oz. Mexican style tomato sauce)

3/4 c. water

1/2 c. cilantro leaves, chopped

12 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese

10 6 inch corn tortillas

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Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until golden.  This should take about 6 minutes.  Add the garlic, chili powder, coriander, cumin, salt and sugar.  Cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds.

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Add the chicken, and stir until the chicken is coated with the spices.

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Add the tomato sauce and water.  Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low.  Continue to simmer and stir until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

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Separate the chicken and the sauce.  To do this, I drained the chicken mixture over a bowl to collect all of the tomato sauce.  Allow the chicken to cool.  (The recipe called for freezing the chicken mixture on a plate for 10 minutes, but I just left the chicken in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes while I started another recipe for the week.)

Once the chicken has cooled, mix with the jalapenos, and 8 oz. of the shredded cheese.

Heat the oven to 300 degrees.

Spray both sides of each tortilla with cooking spray, and place the tortillas in a single layer on a baking sheet.   Bake for about 4 minutes, until the tortillas are soft.

Cover the bottom of a baking dish with the tomato chili sauce.  Spread 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture in a tortilla.  Roll the tortilla and place it, seam side down, in the baking dish.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas.  Cover with the remaining sauce and cheese.

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Increase the heat in the oven to 400 degrees.  Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes.

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I served this with rice and beans.


Cincinnati Chili

Friday, January 8th, 2010

I once watched two of my co-workers nearly come to blows during a debate over what makes “Cincinnati Chili” Cincinnati Chili.  One- originally from Ohio- contended it’s the pasta.  The other- from Chicago and no stranger to Chili Mac- contended it’s the chocolate.

While I tend to agree with the Chicagoan on this one, it doesn’t really matter who is right.  Cincinnati Chili is delicious and has a very unique flavor.  The following recipe is delicious and pretty easy to make.

Cincinnati Chili Mac (adapted from The Best Cover and Bake Recipes from the editors of Cook’s Illustrated)

2 lbs. ground beef (I used 85 percent lean)

1 TBSP vegetable oil

3 medium onions, minced

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 TBSP chili powder

1 TBSP cocoa powder (I happened to have Xocolatl powder, which is a mixture of cocoa, chilies and cinnamon)

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. ground allspice

4 c. chicken broth

2 TBSP cider vinegar

1 1/2 TBSP brown sugar

28 oz. tomato sauce (I used chunky tomato sauce)

2 c. water

1 lb. elbow macaroni

Heat a Dutch oven over medium low heat.  Add the ground beef.  Breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon, cook the beef until it is no longer pink.

Food Blog 001Food Blog 003Remove the beef with a slotted spoon, and drain the beef in a colander.

Once the beef is removed from the Dutch oven, add the oil.  Add the onions, and cook, stirring frequently until the onions soften and start to brown.  Add the garlic, chili powder, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, and allspice.

Food Blog 004Cook the onion and spice mixture over medium heat for about a minute.  Add the broth, vinegar, brown sugar, tomato sauce, water, and beef.  Bring the mixture to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cook covered for an hour.

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After an hour, add the macaroni.  Mix the macaroni in thoroughly, and cook uncovered for another 20 minutes.  Make sure to stir the chili occasionally to cook the pasta evenly.  The pasta should be tender after 20 minutes.

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I served this with some grated cheddar cheese and some chopped green onions.


Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

My parents went to Canyon Ranch, a spa in upstate New York, in May, and they have been raving about the food and their Canyon Ranch cookbook since their visit.  I got a copy of the book in October and have slowly started experimenting with some of the recipes.

Nourish, the Canyon Ranch cookbook, focuses on healthy eating, and the recipes are very easy to follow.  This past weekend, I tried Spinach-Stuffe Chicken with Artichoke Caper Sauce.

For the chicken:

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

6 oz. package spinach leaves

2/3 c. crumbled feta

1 TBSP olive oil

1 c. chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a heavy skillet, saute the spinach over medium heat, until wilted.  Set the spinach aside to cool.

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Place a chicken breast on a cutting board covered with plastic wrap.  Cover the chicken with another piece of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet until the chicken is 1/4 inch thick.

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Stuff the chicken breasts with 1/6th of the wilted spinach and 2 TBSP of the feta.  Roll the chicken breasts up and secure with kitchen twine or cooking bands.

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Heat 1 TBSP olive oil in a heavy skillet.  Sear the chicken breasts in the pan, cooking for about 2 minutes per side.  Transfer to a baking dish and add the chicken broth to the pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, or until a thermometer reaches 165 degrees.  I started checking the temperature after 25 minutes.

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While the chicken is in the oven, make the sauce.  If you can find artichoke hearts packed in water, use those.  For some reason, I can only find artichoke hearts packed in brine, so if that’s all that you can find, make sure you rinse the artichokes well.  I ran mine under cold water for about 5 minutes.

For the artichoke caper sauce:

12 oz. canned artichoke hearts

1 TBSP olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 c. capers

1 c. chicken broth

juice of one lemon

1 TBSP unsalted butter

Chop the artichoke hearts into small pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet.  Add the artichoke hearts, garlic, and capers.  Cook for three minutes.

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Add the chicken broth and lemon juice and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Add the butter to thicken the sauce slightly.

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The chicken breasts I used were very large, so I cut the chicken breasts in half to serve them.   Once the chicken is ready, top with the sauce and serve.  I served this with orzo and a salad.

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