Sunday, March 30, 2008

Broiled Chicken with Roasted Fennel and Tomato Sauce

Flavor Galore!

I don't know about you but, if I'm going to spend the time to cook a meal, it better be tasty. That is why I tend to roast my vegetables. It may take a bit longer but in the end, it's worth it. I mean, why go through the trouble of cooking at all if you're not going to be totally satisfied. You could go out to eat or for that matter, pop a frozen meal in the microwave. Brrrrrrrrifff, sorry I just gave myself shivers.
The point is...if you are going to cook, make it worth your while!

This recipe is not only very tasty but also healthy and good for you. By broiling the chicken, you are cooking it in a healthy way but also getting the flavor your looking for. If you prefer, however, to brown the chicken in the skillet, go for it. Do whatever works for you...

Broiled Chicken with Roasted Fennel and Tomato Sauce
by Mixed Salad Annie

For Sauce:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, washed, bulb part only sliced into rings about 1/4" thick
1 - 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained, juice reserved
6 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
1/2 can black olives, whole
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 pound cooked farfale or your favorite pasta shape

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Spray a 13 x9 inch baking dish with the cooking spray. Add the fennel, drained diced tomatoes, olives, garlic, salt and sugar to the pan. Add the oil and toss well to coat everything evenly with the oil. Put the dish in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened and start to caramelize. Remove from oven.

For Chicken:
4 skinless boneless chicken cutlets, cut in smaller pieces or use chicken tenderloins
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
Olive oil or canola cooking spray
1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth or reserved pasta water

Preheat broiler.

Mix flour, garlic powder, onion powder and poultry seasoning in a pie plate. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper and dredge in the seasoned flour. Shake off excess flour. Spray a large oven proof skillet with the cooking spray and add the chicken pieces. Spray the chicken pieces with cooking spray and place skillet in oven about 6 inches from broil element.

Cook for 3-4 minutes on one side and 3 minutes on the other. Don't worry about it being completely cooked through because it will cook in the sauce. Remove from oven.
Add the reserved tomato juice and chicken broth to the skillet with the chicken, and scrape the bottom of the pan to release any brown bits (de-glaze).
Add the fennel mixture and simmer for 15-20 minutes on low heat until chicken is cooked through and all the flavors have blended.

Toss with pasta and sprinkle with fresh parsley and grated cheese if desired.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Potato and Scallion Frittata

Great Way to Use Leftover Roasted Potatoes!

One of the reasons why I love frittata's is that they are perfect for using up almost any leftover. I've made them with almost everything- pasta, vegetables, sausage, pepperoni, chicken, you name it.
The potato and scallion (or onion) frittata s a classic combination. There is just something about this combo that screams comfort food. I made this a light version by omitting some of the egg yolks but feel free to use the entire egg if you want.

Potato and Scallion Frittata

6 egg whites and 3 egg yolks

1 Tbs. milk
1 Tbs. olive oil
6 scallions, white and lighter green parts only, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 - 2 cups leftover roasted potatoes, sliced
1/4 cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat broiler.

Place oil in a medium oven proof skillet over medium heat; add scallions and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes until scallions are soft but not brown. Add the potatoes and mix well.

In a large bowl combine the eggs and milk. Add the parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.

Pour the mixture into the skillet and mix all ingredients. Allow mixture to set for a minute and stir to form large curds. With the top still wet, place the skillet under the broiler for about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and let set for 5 on a cooling rack.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter (Optional) Coconut Lime Cake with 12 Minute Coconut Frosting and Peeps

I Went a Little Peep Crazy...

Since my family planned on eating out this Easter, I decided to do something a little extra special for dessert. My inspiration for this cake came from the winner of the ultimate recipe challange on the food network. The name of the original recipe is Put the Lime in the Coconut Cake. The cake sounds delicious as is, but my brother in law is lactose intolerant, so I changed the recipe to make it lactose free.

The cake turned out delicious. It was very dense and super, super moist, which I guess was due in part to the lime glaze. I decorated it in two ways to show how versatile this cake can be...Fun and colorful or soft and sophisticated. You decide.The only bonehead thing I did while making this recipe is that I colored an entire bag of coconut with green food coloring, not realizing that I only needed about 1/2 a bag. So now I'm trying to figure out what to make with the rest of the green grassy looking coconut. Got any ideas?

Easter Optional Coconut Lime Cake with 12 Minute Coconut Frosting and Peeps

Lactose-Free Version by Mixed Salad Annie

13 Tbs. margarine (Fleishman's unsalted is lactose free)
3 Tbs. coconut oil (If you don't have coconut oil, increase margarine to 16 Tbs.)
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup lite coconut milk

Coconut-Lime Glaze

1/2 cup sugar
1 large lime, zested and juiced
3/4 cup coconut milk
2/3 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut

12 Minute Coconut Frosting

3 egg whites
1/3 cup cold water
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

Dash of salt

1 tsp. coconut extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Several drops green food coloring (optional)

1/2 - 14 oz. bag sweetened shredded coconut
Several drops green food coloring (optional)
Peeps, chicks and bunnies (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Cut 2 round parchment disks to fit 9 inch cake pans. Place the disks on the bottom of the greased pans. Grease disks and flour pans. Shake out excess.

In an electric mixer or using a hand beater, cream butter, coconut oil and sugar until light and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Add eggs 1 at a time.

Place the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the coconut milk to the butter sugar mixture in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Do not over mix.

Divide the batter evenly between the pans and bang the pans on the counter top several times to remove any air and to distribute the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes rotating pans halfway through.

Allow to cool 10 minutes hen remove and transfer to a cooling rack; cool completely.

For Glaze: In a medium bowl combine sugar, lime zest and juice, coconut milk and shredded coconut. With a bamboo skewer, poke holes in cake and spread glaze on tops both cakes. Cover with plastic wrap, chill until ready to frost cake, preferably overnight.

For Frosting: Place the egg whites, sugar, water, cream of tartar and salt into a medium size-mixing bowl. Set bowl over a pot of simmering water; do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water. Begin beating with a hand mixer set to low speed. Beat for 1 minute; increase the speed to medium and continue to beat until frosting is stiff and holds soft peaks (about 10 minutes). Remove bowl from the heat and add coconut and vanilla extracts and the green food coloring, if desired; beat an additional minute. Set aside to cool.

Add the food coloring to the coconut and mix well until evenly colored. Frost cake. Coat top and sides with green shredded coconut. Decorate with peeps if desired.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Almond Oatmeal Nutella Cookie Tart

In Honor of St. Joseph's Day...
Almonds, Hazelnuts and Amaretto.

Who needs Zeppoles? I mean they are alright but they can't compete with this cookie tart in my book. And I think St. Joe would agree.

This is a really easy, yet elegant tart. But lets face it, it's really just a giant cookie. I guess that's why I love it. Underneath all the pretentiousness, it's an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie.

It goes to show you that anything can be made elegant with a little imagination. Almond butter is one of the main ingredients and with the addition of Amaretto and Nutella, how can you go wrong?
I made this to bring to work for my fellow Italo-American friends. Do you think they will mind the missing piece? Well, I had to test taste it to make sure it was edible. (The missing piece somehow got even larger after the photo, hmmm, I wonder how that happened?)

Almond Oatmeal Nutella Cookie Tart
by Mixed Salad Annie

1/3 Cup Almond Butter
1/3 Cup soy milk
2 Tbls Canola Oil
1 Tbls. Amaretto
2 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup Sugar
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup AP flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Cup Oatmeal
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Nutella Hazelnut Spread

Mix together first 6 ingredients. Add remaining ingredients (excluding Nutella) and mix. Spray a non-stick tart pan with removable bottom with cooking spray. Add mixture and spread out evenly. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 18-20 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool and spread with Nutella.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Herbed Roasted Chicken Thighs

Ugly to look at...Great to Eat!

This is a great recipe from Cook's Illustrated that is easy and really flavorful. The chicken is smothered with an herbed butter, is placed on a broiler pan and cooked at a high temperature. Some how this method produces moist and tender chicken.

The herbed butter can be made whenever you have left over herbs on hand and frozen for future use. Or you can even make a double or triple batch like I did and freeze the unused portions for other uses.

Because different cuts of chicken cook at different rates, it is recommended that you use one of the following options: Use only one cut of chicken (such as all breasts or all thighs) or be prepared to remove the various different cuts from the oven as soon as they reach their appropriate temperature for doneness. Any strong-flavored fresh herb, such as rosemary, tarragon, or sage, can be substituted for the thyme.

Baked Chicken with Lemon & Herbs
by Cook's Illustrated

4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (whole breasts, split breasts, whole legs, thighs, and/or drumsticks), trimmed (I used thighs)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened, plus 2 tablespoons, melted
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon table salt (I used coarse sea salt)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a broiler-pan bottom with foil and lay the slotted broiler pan on top.

2. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and arrange, skin-side up, on the broiler-pan top. Mix the softened butter, thyme, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Rub the mixture underneath the skin of the chicken. Brush the chicken with the melted butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. (I brushed on olive oil instead of the extra butter).

3. Roast until the breasts register 160 degrees or the legs, thighs, or drumsticks register 175 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 30 to 50 minutes. (Mine were cooked in 24 minutes). Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

P.S. Happy Saint Patty's Day!

Strawberry Shortcake... Sort of.

A Childhood Favorite

I've always liked strawberry shortcake. I remember when I was a kid we would have it all the time. My mom would buy those little round yellow sponge cakes and we would fill them with lots of strawberries and top them off with some Reddi Whip whipped cream.

My mom would always prepare the strawberries ahead of time, by washing, cutting and sprinkling them with sugar and letting them sit overnight, to bring out their natural juices and create a delicious sauce. I didn't know it then, but this is known as macerating the fruit. It's kind of like marinating meat, only its with sugar, not an acid. This process really brings out the flavor in the strawberries and makes them softer and easier to digest.

I can even remember the container that my mom would use to macerate the berries in. I think it was an old ham container. Funny, huh? I guess she liked it because it was made of metal and had a clear plastic lid and it was the perfect size for the amount of strawberries she had.

My dad also loved this dessert. He would always have seconds, and following in his footsteps, so would I (and still do).

Technically I didn't make the traditional strawberry shortcake, which uses, well shortcake.
I made this on the fly, so I kind of cheated by using fat-free cool whip and made angel food cake cupcakes which takes a lot less time than a whole cake. But you could use whatever cake you wish. Even pound cake would be good.

Strawberry Shortcake

1 quart strawberries, washed, de-stemmed and cut in half or smaller if they're really big
1 tablespoon sugar
Cake of your choice, short cake, angel food, pound cake or even those little round yellow thingys
Topping of your choice, homemade whipped cream, Reddi Whip whipped cream, or even fat-free cool whip

Place the strawberries in a bowl and add the sugar. Stir until well coated, cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Top your cake of choice with strawberries and top with your choice of topping.

Serves 4-6

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Apple Cinnamon Butterscotch Muffins

More Boxed Muffins...With a Special Touch!

Looking through my cabinets lately has been so exasperating. I can't believe how many boxed baking mixes I have. I am kind of addicted to buying them. The weird thing is I really like to bake from scratch, but I forget about that when I see those pretty boxes with all the beautiful pictures of delicious baked goodies on the front cover. Whether it's muffins, brownies, cakes, cookies, you name it, I've got them in my cabinets.

It's a little frustrating because I have so many homemade recipes that I want to make, but I don't want these mixes to get too old, so I have to use them up. So be prepared for lots of "semi-homemade" posts.

I did jazz these muffins up. Because they are organic, I figured that they would need a little extra something, something to make them even better. I added toasted walnuts for some crunch, organic apple sauce, and organic cinnamon and butterscotch chips for a little sweet surprise. I thought it would be a good flavor combination with the apple cinnamon. I was right! YUM. The butterscotch chips kind of give a caramel flavor to the muffins.

*Note: If you prefer a low-fat muffin omit the butterscotch chips and reduce the walnuts to 1/4 cup.

Apple Cinnamon Butterscotch Muffins

1 box Dr. Oetker Apple Cinnamon Muffin Mix
1 cup milk, minus 2 tablespoons
1 large egg white
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup toasted chopped walnuts
1/4 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. for shiny metal pan, 425 degrees F. for dark non-stick pans.
Spray bottom of muffin pan or use paper muffin cups.

Blend milk, egg white, oil, applesauce and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir in muffin mix and stir until just blended.

Add in most of the walnuts and butterscotch chips, reserving a small amount.
Spoon batter evenly between 12 muffins cups (about 3/4 full). Add the rest of the walnuts and butterscotch chips to the tops of the muffins.

Place muffins in oven and reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees. If using a convection oven, reduce temperature by 50 degrees. Bake for about 14 minutes turning pan half way through cooking.

Cool muffins in pan for 5 minutes. Remove to cooling rack.
Makes 12 muffins

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Corny-Blueberry Muffins

In a Jiffy...Literally!

Lately I've been trying to clear out my pantry closet, cabinets and freezer; sort of a food spring cleaning. So in lieu of that, I had some Jiffy Corn Muffin mix to use up. My mom had given me a pint of blueberries and the rest is history.

I have always liked the flavor of corn muffin with blueberries. I haven't actually made them in a long time, so it was nice to make them again. I sort of doctored them up a bit as I usually do to boxed mixes. Since these corn muffins already had 2 grams of saturated fat just in the mix, I decided to use skim milk and one egg white with a small addition of extra virgin olive oil to compensate for the fat in the yolk. And a little vanilla because it just seemed right.

In order to get the tops to rise higher, I started the muffins in a hot oven and also used my convection oven. Mini muffins were my size of choice, and filling them to the top made a very handsome muffin top. I think they came out gorgeous. What do you think??

Corny-Blueberry Muffins
In a Jiffy

1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix, 1 teaspoon reserved in shallow bowl
1 egg white
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup skim milk
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and set to convection if possible

Line a mini muffin pan with 14 paper muffin cups or spray with cooking spray.

Wash the berries and dry them on paper towels. Toss with the reserved muffin mix and set aside.

Gently beat egg white and milk with vanilla and oil. Add to the mix and blend until just combined. Batter will be lumpy. Fold in 3/4 of the blueberries and let the mixture rest for 3-4 minutes to ensure high tops. Restir and fill cups 3/4 full. Add the rest of the blueberries on top of the batter, pushing in and slightly covering with batter.

Lower oven temp to 375 and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Cauliflower, Broccoli- You Choose...

Can't Decide? Use both.

This dish was really good. The cheese sauce is easy to make and very tasty. And you have choices. If you don't like cauliflower, you could use broccoli or vice versa. Or do what I did- use both.

Oh, and did I mention, it's a lower fat version? What more would you expect from me?

Again I have delivered to you, a great lower fat version of a sinfully delicious dish.

And it's good.

I swear.

Ok, don't believe me, just try it!

Geez, tough crowd!

Creamy Cauliflower/Broccoli Bake

1 head cauliflower, cut into pieces (about 6 cups) or 1/2 head cauliflower and 1 large bunch broccoli
1 - 1/4" thick slice Canadian bacon, diced (such as Boar's Head)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon, extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups skim milk, you can even use lactose-free (I did)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan or a combo of both
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Steam the cauliflower or cauliflower/broccoli mix for 5-7 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower to a buttered or sprayed 9 by 13-inch baking dish.

In a medium saute pan over medium-high heat, brown the Canadian bacon in 1 teaspoon oil. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

In the same pan, melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the flour and stir until combined. Continue stirring for 3 minutes to cook the flour. Slowly add the milk, stirring continuously until the milk has incorporated and there are no lumps. Add the garlic and stir the sauce over low heat for about 5-6 minutes or until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. Add the Romano cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and the reserved Canadian bacon. Stir to combine. Pour the sauce over the veggies to cover. Top with a sprinkling of bread crumbs and spray with cooking spray.

Bake until the breadcrumbs are golden and the cauliflower is cooked, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.