Saturday, April 30, 2011

Chicken and Barley Pilaf

I  originally saw a recipe for Barley Pilaf in an issue Everyday Food while waiting at the dentist office. I added chicken to bump up the protein and it turned out delicious! Don't forget to rinse your barley before using.

Chicken and Barley Pilaf
recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

1 ½ cups pearl barley
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
Zest and juice from 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pearl barley until tender but still al dente, about 35 minutes. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking. Return barley to the warm pot.

Meanwhile, pat the chicken breasts dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large oven safe skillet over medium heat. Add chicken breasts and cook 5 minutes per side or until chicken is browned. Transfer skillet to oven and continue cooking for 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from oven and rest 10 minutes before slicing into bite size pieces.

While the chicken is resting, melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook until the shallot is soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the shallot mixture to the drained barley and stir in pine nuts, parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer barley mixture to a large serving bowl, add chicken and stir to combine. May be served hot, warm or at room temperature.

Serves 2

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bacon Pierogi Bake

This recipe is all over blogosphere so I decided to jump on the bandwagon and give it a try. This is so delicious I forgot to take a picture!

Bacon Pierogi Bake
recipe adapted from Cooking Light

16-ounce package frozen potato and onion pierogies
Cooking spray
3 center-cut bacon slices, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 ounces low-fat cream cheese
½ cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
¼ cup thinly diagonally sliced green onions
¼ cup chopped seeded plum tomato
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Arrange the frozen pierogies in an 11 x 7-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cook bacon in a saucepan over medium heat until crisp; remove from pan. Set aside.

Add garlic to drippings in pan, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add cream cheese to pan, and cook for 1 minute or until cream cheese begins to melt, stirring frequently. Gradually add chicken broth to pan, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Pour the cream cheese mixture evenly over pierogies. Top evenly with ½ cup cheddar cheese.

Bake at 400° F for 20 minutes or until bubbly and thoroughly heated. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with bacon, green onions, tomato, and pepper.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3 pierogies and 2 tablespoons sauce)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Basic Pizza Dough

I usually buy frozen pizza dough from my local market but the flavor can be a little bland. When this post popped up on my reader I knew I had to give it a try. I followed the tips and tricks from this post on Annie’s Eats and the results were amazing. No more store bought pizza dough for us!

Basic Pizza Dough
recipe courtesy of Annie's Eats originally adapted by Brown Eyed Baker from Baking Illustrated 

½ cup warm water (about 110°F)
1 envelope (2 ¼ teaspoons) instant yeast
1 ¼ cups water, at room temperature
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
22 ounces (4 cups) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 ½ teaspoon salt
olive oil or non-stick cooking spray for greasing the bowl

Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room temperature water and oil and stir to combine.  

Measure your flour by weight.

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed. 

Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. 

Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.

If you don’t plan on using your dough immediately, freeze it. After dividing the dough into two equal portions, wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and store inside a freezer-safe bag, and transfer to the freezer immediately.  The double layer is important here. Even after the dough is moved to the freezer, it will continue to rise a bit before the rise is completely suspended. It always, always pops through the plastic wrap so the extra layer of protection is needed to prevent exposure. Freeze the dough until it is ready to be used.

The day you plan to use the dough, transfer it to the refrigerator in the morning to thaw in time for dinner that evening. (If using the dough for lunch, transfer to the refrigerator the night before.) Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes to take off the chill. Place a pizza stone in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 500°F for at least 30 minutes.  

After the dough has been at room temperature for 30 minutes, it is ready for shaping. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Working with one piece of dough and keeping the other covered, shape the dough with lightly floured hands and transfer to a pizza peel or round of parchment dusted with semolina or cornmeal. If the dough springs back a lot while you are trying to shape it, let it rest for 15 minutes and try again. This allows the gluten in the dough to relax and should make shaping easier. Sometimes the dough requires multiple resting periods for gluten relaxation, other times it shapes perfectly right off the bat.

Top as desired and brush the outside edge of the crust lightly with olive oil. Slide the dough onto the pizza stone. Bake until the crust edges brown and cheese is golden brown in spots, about 8 to 12 minutes. Repeat with remaining ball of dough.

Makes enough dough for 2 large pizzas

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Balsamic Chicken with Swiss Chard and Kale

This recipe is a great way to get picky eaters to eat more dark leafy greens.

Balsamic Chicken with Swiss Chard and Kale
recipe adapted from Ellie Krieger

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved
1 large bunch Swiss chard, tough stems removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large bunch kale, tough stems removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup low-sodium canned diced tomatoes with juice
2 cups brown rice, cooked

Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to the hot pan; cook about 4 minutes per side or until cooked through. Remove the chicken and set aside.

To the same pan, add the Swiss chard and kale; cook just until wilted, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Lower the heat to medium, add the garlic to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Add the balsamic vinegar and chicken broth to the pan and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits. Add the tomatoes, bring to a simmer and cook 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chicken back to the pan to warm up.

Place the rice in a serving bowl. Top with the spinach, chicken and balsamic-tomato sauce.

Serves 4

Monday, April 18, 2011

Braised Rapini

Rapini is commonly known in the United States as broccoli rabe. Rapini has a nutty flavor and can be slightly bitter in taste. This braising method allows the flavor of the rapini to shine through without being overly bitter. I served this with baked chicken breasts and cornbread dressing.

Braised Rapini (Broccoli Rabe)
recipe courtesy of Closet Cooking

1 bunch rapini, trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
Kosher salt to taste

Bring a large sauce pan of water to boil, add the rapini and cook until the stalks are tender, about 2-4 minutes. Drain, chill in ice water, pat dry and set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauteed until fragrant, about a minute. Add the rapini and toss to coat in the oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes.

Servings: 4

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bulgur Greek Salad

This recipe is easy to prepare with ingredients I usually have on hand. Bulgur is a wonderfuly nutritious grain that happens to be delicious as well. The leftover salad makes an excellent light lunch.

Bulgur Greek Salad
recipe adapted from Taste of Home

1 ½ cups bulgur
3 cups boiling water
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 ¼ cups chopped cucumber
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
¼ cup sliced green onions
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup crumbled feta cheese

Place bulgur in a small bowl. Stir in the water, ¼ cup lemon juice and ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Drain well and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, green onion and basil. Stir in bulgur.

In a small bowl, whisk the oil, oregano, pepper, cayenne and remaining 3 tablespoons lemon juice and ½ teaspoon salt. Pour over bulgur mixture; toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese. 

Yield: 12 servings

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Angel Food Cake with Strawberry Coulis

I am always looking for low-fat desserts to satisfy the sweet tooth in our house. I saw these recipes on Joelen's Culinary Adventures and knew we had to try them.

Angel Food Cake with Strawberry Coulis
recipe courtesy of Alton Brown

1 ¾ cups sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup cake flour, sifted
12 egg whites (the closer to room temperature the better)
1/3 cup warm water
1 teaspoon almond extract, or extract of your choice
1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar
Strawberry Coulis, recipe follows
Strawberries, sliced

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a food processor spin sugar about 2 minutes until it is superfine. Sift half of the sugar with the salt the cake flour, setting the remaining sugar aside.

In a large bowl, use a balloon whisk to thoroughly combine egg whites, water, orange extract, and cream of tartar. After 2 minutes, switch to a hand mixer. Slowly sift the reserved sugar, beating continuously at medium speed. Once you have achieved medium peaks, sift enough of the flour mixture in to dust the top of the foam. Using a spatula fold in gently. Continue until all of the flour mixture is incorporated.

Carefully spoon mixture into an ungreased tube pan. Bake for 35 minutes before checking for doneness with a wooden skewer. (When inserted halfway between the inner and outer wall, the skewer should come out dry). Cool upside down on cooling rack for at least an hour. Carefully remove the cake from the pan by running a flat knife along the edges.

To serve, thinly slice cake and spoon over the Strawberry Coulis. Garnish with a sliced strawberry.

Strawberry Coulis
recipe adapted from Epicurious

1 pound frozen unsweetened strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice

In a medium saucepan, combine the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Transfer to a blender. Purée until smooth, strain, and set aside. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.