Sunday, January 18, 2009

Caribbean Jerk Chicken with Rice


Sometime last year we went to one of our favorite restaurants, Cabana. I’ve eaten there so many times I’ve ate most of the menu. I frequently order off their specials. One time I ordered Jerk Chicken from the specials list. Never in my life have I eaten a meal that was too hot for me on the first bite. It was SO hot I got no enjoyment out of the meal. The Boy offered to trade with me, but he had ordered prime rib, cooked pretty rare. And I don’t like prime rib. I was so disappointed, because it was the first bad meal I’d had at the restaurant. I was determined that I could make that same meal, only make it enjoyable. I searched the web and found a recipe on Real Simple.

I’m so glad I found this recipe. Not only is is simple, it’s delicious & pretty healthy. I tweak it just a little. One thing is, I don’t cook with white rice. Brown rice is just so much better for you, and we’re accustomed to it now. And the other tweak was instead of using salt & pepper I used Caribbean Jerk seasoning we had in our spice pantry, to kick it up a knotch. This is a really yummy meal, and it feels like a fancy or special meal, even though it doesn’t require a lot of effort. I’ve made this a few times, and it will always have a spot in our regular rotation.

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Jerk Chicken with Rice, Black Beans, & Pineapple

adapted from Real Simple

Ingredients:

1 cup brown rice
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup spiced rum or orange juice (I chose rum, of course!)
2 tablespoons jerk sauce
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Caribbean Jerk seasoning (or Kosher salt and pepper)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
8 ounces fresh pineapple, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bunch scallions, sliced

Directions:

Cook the rice according to the package directions.

Combine the vinegar, rum, jerk sauce, and ginger in a measuring cup or small bowl; set aside.

Pound the chicken to an even thickness. Season it with jerk seasoning (or salt & pepper).

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from heat and add the vinegar mixture. Return the skillet to low heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes.

Stir the beans into the rice, add jerk seasoning if desired. Spoon rice & bean mixture onto plate or shallow bowl, top with chicken. Spoon remaining sauce over chicken. Top with pineapple & scallions.

Tip: The chili peppers in jerk sauce shouldn't overwhelm the other ingredients. Taste yours before adding it to a dish. If the sauce is too spicy, cut the amount you use in the recipe by half.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pork with Mustard-Lime Vinaigrette

This was a quick & easy meal I found on Delish.com. I really like their website, I just wish it didn’t crash my browser all the time (both at work and at home)! I served it with roasted sweet potatoes I tossed in olive oil & honey, and sprinkled with salt & cracked pepper; and steamed green beens. I only got one picture of it before the camera battery died. But The Boy was hopping up and down & ready to eat anyway. This dish was different, because it tells you to cut up the pork & toss it with the onions. I think I would of preferred it not cut up, just topped with the onion vinaigrette mixture. But it was still a yummy meal. The recipe serves 4, but you can adjust the serving size, and it adjusts the ingredient amounts for you! I really like that feature. This is the recipe for 4.

Pork with Mustard-Lime Vinaigrette
from Delish.com

2 pork tenderloins, about 3/4 pound each (we used boneless pork chops)
1 tablespoon(s) plus 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup(s) plus 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon(s) salt
1/2 teaspoon(s) fresh-ground black pepper
1 small red onion, cut into very thin slices
1 tablespoon(s) lime juice
1/8 teaspoon(s) dried red-pepper flakes (optional- I did add this)
1/2 cup(s) chopped cilantro or fresh parsley (omitted, we aren’t cilantro fans)

Heat the oven to 450°F. Coat the pork with the 1 tablespoon of mustard and the 1 1/2 teaspoons of oil. Sprinkle it with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper. Put the pork on a baking sheet and roast until just done, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the pork to a carving board and leave to rest in a warm spot for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the onion in a small bowl of cold water and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain the onion, rinse and then pat dry with paper towels.

In a large glass or stainless-steel bowl, whisk together the lime juice, the 1 teaspoon mustard and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Add the 1/4 cup oil slowly, whisking. While the pork is still warm, cut it into bite-size pieces. Add the pork, onion, red-pepper flakes and cilantro to the vinaigrette and toss.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Banana Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Sometimes, no matter how often you tell yourself you shouldn’t do something, it just makes you want to do it more. I told myself I wasn’t going to bake, but I had a sudden attack on Saturday that said “YOU MUST BAKE COOKIES”. I’m blaming it on hormones.

I went in search of a recipe I had all the ingredients for, and I ended up with a Martha recipe. Sadly I had already returned her Cookie cookbook to the library, but I am pretty sure this recipe for Banana Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies was in there. I’m so glad I found it, because it was a really great cookie. I didn’t even feel that guilty about these cookies. It uses some whole wheat flour and rolled oats, so you’re getting some healthy whole grains; and it has a mashed up banana in it, so your cutting down on eggs but not losing moisture. I scooped these smaller than she suggests, and according to my loose calculations (it’s hard to count how many this made, because *some* of the dough disappeared, and also my friend & I ate some before I counted them all!) these are around 100 calories each! I think my cookie size yielded around 50 cookies, Martha said 3 dozen, so even if you made them bigger, they still wouldn’t be a total calorie-overload.

This is a DELICIOUS and somewhat complex tasting cookie. You instantly smell the banana and the chocolate; at first bite you can taste the chocolate chunks & banana. I’ve made lots of cookies with whole grain flour, and with these I really couldn’t tell. The best part is, if you use the coarse Kosher salt, you’ll get a little kick of the salt, which, as I have been learning, really enhances the flavors of sweets. I’m definitely adding this to my cookie regulars!

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Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

from Martha Stewart Cookies Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt (like Kosher salt)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 large)
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped into 1/4-inch chunks (I used a Ghiradelli bar I chopped)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (about 2 ounces), toasted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flours, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl; set aside. Put butter and sugars into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add egg and vanilla; mix until combined. Mix in banana. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in oats, chocolate chunks, and walnuts.

Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown and just set, 12 to 13 minutes (I cooked mine around 8-10 minutes because they were smaller). Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers up to 2 days.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Red Lentil and Vegetable Soup


Last winter I wanted to finally cook a lentil dish. I found this recipe for what seemed like a healthy, filling, vegetarian soup. One of the best things about lentils is they don’t take long to cook. This soup comes together really fast. It’s great to make a big pot on Sunday, and then eat it for lunch all week. One of my favorite things about this soup is the colors! I love brightly colored food. The Boy took one look at it and sniffed up his nose and said “I ain’t eatin’ that.” He’ll eat a lot of what I cook, but I think he draws the line at lentils. And honestly, that is fine because MORE FOR ME!

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Red Lentil and Vegetable Soup

from Good Housekeeping as seen on Delish
Makes about 7 1/2 cups.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon(s) olive oil
4 medium carrots, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon(s) ground cumin
1 can(s) (14 1/2-ounce) diced tomatoes
1 can(s) (14- to 14 1/2-ounce) vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 cup(s) dried red lentils
1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
1/8 teaspoon(s) ground black pepper
1 bag(s) (5-ounce) baby spinach

Directions:

In 4-quart saucepan, heat oil on medium until hot. Add carrots and onion, and cook 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned and tender. Stir in cumin; cook 1 minute.

Add tomatoes, broth, lentils, 2 cups water, salt, and pepper; cover and heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 8 to 10 minutes or until lentils are tender. Stir in spinach.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Spicy Honey Brushed Chicken Thighs


I think sweets took up too much of my attention this holiday season. Now that it’s a new year, I’ve been trying to focus more on healthy, flavorful dishes. The kind I enjoy not only for their taste, but for my conscious. I can’t remember how I found this recipe, but I sure am glad I bookmarked it. Just as the first blogger says, the glaze is really incredible, and replicates the skin. This was a great mix of sweet & spicy. I kicked up the heat & added the full amount of chili powder, and used crushed red pepper flakes instead of ground red pepper, because it’s what I had. If you can’t handle heat, I suggest you tone it down a little. Mmm mmm good. The Boy said this one is a definite keeper. I even think it would be good to serve company. I served ours with brown rice, & a frozen veggie blend from Archer Farms (Target). They were the perfect sides!


I’m also submitting this to a blog event, Joelen’s Culinary Adventure’s Tasty Tools Measuring Tools. One measure tool I have is my Pampered Chef Measure-All. This is a great thing to have. I use it more often than one might think. For this meal alone, I used the liquid pouring end of it to measure the water for my rice, flipped it over to the dry ingredients side to measure the rice, and most importantly, the honey for the glaze in the recipe. This recipe calls for 6 Tbsp of honey. My first thought was, “Crap, how am I supposed to measure that much honey with my measly little measuring spoon? It will be a gloppy mess!” This Measure All has your standard cups & ounces, but also has markers for tablespoons! It has the thing you push & pull for sticky ingredients like mayo, peanut butter, honey, pumpkin, sour cream (all things I’ve used it for!). It made measuring the honey so easy, with much less mess than trying to use a measuring spoon!
*Photo from Pampered Chef website

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Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs

from Cooking Light, as seen on Columbus Foodie

Ingredients:

2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. ground red pepper (I used 1/4 tsp.)
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Cooking spray
6 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. cider vinegar

Directions:

Preheat broiler. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat. Place chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side.

Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well. Remove chicken from oven; brush 1/4 cup honey mixture on chicken. Broil 1 minute. Remove chicken from oven and turn over. Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture. Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is done (ours took about 4-5 more minutes - check internal temperature with a meat thermometer to be sure). Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 chicken thighs)