Sunday, October 24, 2010

Jen v. Rachael...Again

I am now really looking forward to Rachael Ray's new cookbook. The title escapes me right now, but I'll probably remember in the morning while I am watching her show and nursing. The other day, my daughter (age 2) and I were watching her show (since Rachael makes yummies, as the little woman puts it) when Rachael made chicken with apples and pears. Now the Little Woman has taken quite the liking to all three of these things, the fruit only because her baby brother gets it in Gerber form, so she had to try the big girl version. So I knew I had to make this for her. Tonight, she was a very happy princess. This recipe seriously rocks! It's going into the regular rotation.

One slight variation I did was in the mashed potatoes. I used shredded cheddar cheese instead of the camembert cheese. I didn't think that the kids would eat such an exotic sounding cheese. I knew I couldn't go wrong with cheddar though. I also skipped the lemon zest, chives, and thyme at the end. I also sliced the fruit without peeling. No time wasted on peeling and dicing. We were hungry and ready to chow down!

When selecting your skillet to cook the chicken and fruit in, plan carefully. Once you put the chicken in, you don't want to move it until it's time to flip after it's nice and pretty. I used a 12 inch skillet, I think. It might be even bigger. Either way, plenty of room.

So, here is Rachael Ray's chicken with apples and pears.

2 pounds baby Yukon Gold potatoes
1 tablespoon EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast
Black pepper
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1 Gala, Honeycrisp or Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored and cut
into 1/2-inch dice
1 Bosc pear, peeled, cored and diced
Freshly grated nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 pound ripe Camembert cheese, diced into bite-sized pieces
1/4 to 1/3 cup milk, half-and-half or cream
10 to 12 blades chives, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped

Yields: Serves 4


Halve the small and quarter the larger potatoes into bite-sized pieces and cover with water in a large pot. Bring the water to a boil and season with salt. Cook for 12-15 minutes, until the potatoes are forktender.

Heat the EVOO in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and cook until golden and firm, about 12 minutes, turning once. Place the chicken on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

In the same skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apples and pears, and season with salt and the nutmeg. Stir in the lemon juice and cook for 5 minutes, or until tender-crisp, then stir in the honey and cook for minute more.

Drain the potatoes and return them to the hot pot. Mash them with the cheese and milk or half-and half and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the potatoes among 4 plates. Slice the chicken breasts on an angle. Arrange the sliced chicken alongside the potatoes and top with the apples and pears. Combine the chives with the thyme and lemon zest and scatter over each plate.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Beat the Hell Outta Arkansas!

Well, we tried at least. Since the Arkansas mascot is a pig, we made a day of it. Sausage biscuits for breakfast (call it semihomemade McDonald's), BBQ pork from the crockpot for lunch, and jambalaya w/ sausage and ham for dinner. It really can't get much better. Now if only the game had gone this well.

The sausage biscuits were easy. Open a package of precooked sausage patties and heat after baking up a can of biscuits. Real hard there.

I wish my nose had been working all night and morning. It probably really smelled good in here with the BBQ pork in the crock pot. This one was equally as easy. My sweet hubby started it for me while I dealt with a sinus headache (and resulting drainage once I relieved the pressure)...stupid allergies. Throw a 3-4 lb. boneless pork roast (Boston Butt) into the crockpot. Pour a 18 oz. bottle of the barbecue sauce of your choice and 12 oz. of coke (from a can or 2 liter) over it, and cook on low 8-10 hours. Shred meat and toss back into degreased sauce. Our roast ended up being 5 1/2 lbs. Sweet hubby also started it on high. Oops. No biggie though, since I turned it down when I got up and turned it off a little earlier than I would have otherwise. By about noon, the meat was falling apart. It only took stirring it with a fork to shred it! The biggest problem I had was degreasing the sauce without just throwing the whole thing into the fridge overnight. Even with my nice degreasing pitcher, I still ended up with a lot of fat to skim off once it's solidified tomorrow. This was out of the current issue of Southern Living. They suggested serving w/ buns and slaw, over cornbread, or over cheese grits.

The jambalaya took the most effort, but is still easy. It's out of my 2004 Southern Living Annual Recipes, p. 289. Should you choose to kick up the heat (which I usually did until I had the princess), add in your choice of tobasco, crushed red pepper, or cayenne pepper just before the beef broth.

1 lb. smoked sausage, sliced 1/4 in. thick on the diagonal
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
garlic to taste, chopped
2 c. beef stock (or 1 can and 2 oz. water)
1 c. rice
chopped ham or chicken
1 can diced tomatoes, drained

Brown sausage over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add in onion, bell pepper, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies are soft. Add in garlic, stirring until fragrant. Add in beef stock. Once boiling, stir in 1 c. uncooked rice. Reduce and simmer 20 min. or until rice is done. Stir in ham and tomatoes, and heat through. Serve with potato salad and french bread.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Chocolate PB Bread

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. (Where have we '80's children heard that before?) Chocolate is a food group. This time, it works out to our advantage. Now, some really mean moms would insist that since this bread is basically a Reese's PB Cup, then it falls under dessert. Not me. Flavored breads are for breakfast! If we really must rationalize it, chocolate comes from cocoa beans, so that makes it a vegetable. There. We're now eating a veggie.

So, here we go! Happy baking!

Chocolate PB Bread (from the Hershey cookbook)

1/3 c. butter, softened
1 c. granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/3 c. Hershey's cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. milk
1 c. Reese's PB Chips

Cream butter, sugar, and eggs in large bowl. In a separate bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt; add alternately with milk to creamed mixture until well blended. Stir in PB chips. Pour batter into a well-greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan; bake at 350 for 60-65 minutes or until cake tester inserted comes out clean. Remove from pan; cool on a wire rack. Serve with cream cheese or butter if desired.