Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Basil Ice Cream

Number two in an occasional series of "unique" ice cream flavors.

This is where savory meets sweet. I love the sweet, heady fragrance of fresh basil and found myself intrigued at creating a decadent, creamy treat with the leaves. The chopped basil perfumed the milk while cooking, tempting me to taste the unfinished, liquidy product.

This ice cream stays pretty soft-almost like soft serve-even after being in the freezer overnight, but I really liked the consistency. It has a vibrant, but sweet, basil flavor that made me think of spring; this was also a favorite of several of my co-workers. Definitely give this one a try!

Basil Ice Cream
Source: Gourmet Magazine

Printable Recipe


2 cups whole milk (I used low-fat)
3 heaping tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup sugar, divided
pinch salt
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream (I used heavy whipping cream)

Combine milk, 1/4 cup sugar, basil, and salt in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the mixture reaches a boil, remove from the heat and let steep for 30 minutes.

Pour into a blender (keep the saucepan, you'll be using it again soon) and puree until basil is finely blended, about one minute.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar until well combined. The mixture will be pale yellow and thick.

Slowly pour the basil milk mixture into the egg yolks, stirring until well combined.

Pour the mixture back into the reserved saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 175 degrees. Do not let it boil. Immediately remove from heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Set the medium bowl into a large bowl, filled with ice water, and stir until cool.

Refrigerate 4 to 6 hours, or until completely chilled. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker, following manufacturer's directions to freeze.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Oatmeal Banana Breakfast Muffins

I saw these muffins on Stephanie Cooks and knew immediately that I wanted to try them. I am a huge fan of muffins and I already had all the ingredients on hand, so I couldn't wait to bake up a batch.

Well to say these were a hit would be an understatement. The husband and I gobbled them up in 2 days, scarfing 2 at a time. He was upset that I ate the last two muffins for breakfast without saving him any. In my defense, I eat in the car while driving on the freeway and I need a portable breakfast. The husband wakes up long after I have already left for work, has time to eat before leaving home, and only has a 4 mile commute straight down the street. He can deal. :)

These are not very sweet, but they are really flavorful and incredibly moist. I might add some brown sugar next time to up the sweetness factor (I have a huge sweet tooth), but then they won't be very health-friendly.

Oatmeal Banana Breakfast Muffins
Source: adapted from
Stephanie Cooks
Printable Recipe

3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 cups Old Fashion or Rolled Oats
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
3 tablespoons mini chocolate chips (or you can chop up regular chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Mix all ingredients together.

Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray.

Divide batter into 15 muffin cups, filling nearly all the way.

Bake 20-30 minutes, until the edges begin turning to brown and they are slightly firm to the touch.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Grilled Stuffed Potatos

I am a pretty laid back wife when it come to Valentine's Day. I love celebrating Christmas, birthdays, and our anniversary, but for some reason I am just not that into Valentine's Day. I don't think it has to do with the "commercialization" of the holiday (umm, hello, Christmas is super commercialized, but I still love it), but maybe it's just that it was never a big deal for me growing up.

The thought of waiting around forever to get a table at a restaurant, only to overpay for sub-par service and food I can do a better job of making myself, makes me want to just stay home. Which is what we did this year. No flowers, no cards, just a couple of lobster tails grilled up on our patio and served with these potatoes. The perfect accompaniment to our understated holiday.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Grilled Stuffed Potatoes
Source: Cooking in Cucamonga Original

Printable Recipe


2 baking potatoes
1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tablespoon sour cream
1/4 cup chopped green onions, white and green parts
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper

sour cream
green onions

Wash and scrub the potatoes, making sure to get all the dirt off the skin. Pierce the potatoes several times with a fork and then microwave them for 8 minutes, or until for tender.

Cut each potato in half lenghtwise and scoop out all the flesh, being careful to keep the skin in tact.

In a medium bowl, combine the potato flesh with the remaining ingredients and mash together.

Spoon the potato mixture back into the skins, filling each skin completely.

Grill the potatoes for about 10 minutes, until the skin is crispy and the flesh is warmed.

Top with sour cream, bacon, and additional green onions.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Pizza Sauce

This is my new favorite pizza sauce. I threw it together with items I already had on hand and the husband and I both agreed: much better than jarred sauce. You actually don't even have to cook it, but I like to do so as it breaks down the tomato chunks and helps the flavors meld.

You can easily adapt this to your personal preference: up the amount of herbs, use fresh instead of dried (defi
nitely increase the quantities if you do this), omit the pepper flakes, etc.
This is the sauce that is pictured with the pizza bites.

Pizza Sauce

Source: Cooking in Cucamonga Original
Printable Recipe

1 can tomato sauce
1 can stewed italian tomatos
1 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried tyme or rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1 tablespoon pepper
2 teaspoons garlic salt

Pour all ingredients into a pot and simmer on medium-low. Smash the stewed tomatos up a bit as they simmer, to your desired chunkiness. Once the sauce is heated through and the tomato paste and stewed tomatos are fully mixed together with the herbs, spread on your favorite pizza crust, add your desired toppings, and bake.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pizza Bites

The husband and I were invited to a Super Bowl party at his new boss' house this year. The boss and his family are huge Saints fans, so they went with a New Orleans theme, serving up gumbo and red beans and rice, which were fabulous! But, when the husband informed me that we needed to bring an appetizer to the party with us, I knew it wouldn't be football without pizza, and turned to this recipe from Annie's Eats.

Everyone was really impressed, and the small bites made it easy to eat these without making a mess. One word of caution though, don't use a ton of dough for each bite, unless you like really bready pizza. Less is more here.

Football season may be over, but these would work just as well at a March Madness party, a baseball game, or even some hockey. :) I plan to make these the next time we host a party at our house, no matter what event we are celebrating.

Pizza Bites
Source: Adapted from Annie's Eats
Printable Recipe

Olive oil dough
turkey pepperoni
mozzarella cheese, cut into 1" chunks
Parmesan cheese
dried basil
olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Spray a 9 x 13" pan with non-stick spray.

Grab a small chunk of dough and flatten into out a bit into a round disk. Place a piece of pepperoni on top of the dough, top that with a piece of cheese, and top with another pepperoni.

Wrap the dough up and around the pepperoni, sealing the edges and forming into a ball. Place in the pan and repeat with the rest of the dough.

Brush the dough balls with olive oil, sprinkle with dried basil and shredded Parmesean cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the dough is golden and the cheese is lightly browned.

Serve with homemade tomato sauce for dipping.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Avocado Ice Cream

This is the first in an occasional series of "unique" ice cream flavors. I've been browsing the web recently and found a plethora of exotic and extraordinary ice cream flavors, so I've decided to create a series of non-traditional ice cream posts. I'm sure the husband is wondering why I can't be normal and just make a batch of chocolate ice cream.

My mom once made avocado pie when I was in high school, and while it sounded funky and the bright green flavor turned my friends off, I couldn't get enough and looked forward to snacking on a slice after school. Those memories came flooding back to me as I prepared, and sampled, this ice cream. It also reminded me of Mitchell's ice cream in San Francisco; they serve up all sorts of unique flavors, including avocado.

Avocado Ice Cream
Source: Adapted from Alton Brown of the Food Network

Printable Recipe

Flesh of 3 small to medium avocados, peels and pits discarded
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 cups whole milk (I used low-fat)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream (I used heavy whipping cream)

Add the avocado, lemon juice, milk and sugar to a blender and puree until smooth.

Pour the mixture into a medium bowl, add the heavy cream and whisk until combined.

Chill in the refrigerator, 4 to 6 hours.

Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's directions. Keep an eye on this as it freezes; it will set up quickly.

Transfer to a freezer container (I use Gladware) and freeze. Or serve immediately if you want avocado soft serve.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Parmesan Stuffed Chicken Breasts

This was the main dish at my recent dinner party and was the crown jewel of the meal. Pardon my cliche terminology, but this chicken was fab! Everyone commented on the huge size of the breasts, but all the plates were clean by the end of dinner. It looked really fancy, with the green parsley tucked underneath golden crispy skin, but it was actually incredibly easy.

Definitely use a meat thermometer here. My chicken was done in 30 minutes, as noted below, but I actually relied on my thermometer to let me know the meat was cooked all the way through, without having to cut into the chicken. The benefit to this is, you *know* the meat is done, and it gets a chance to reabsorb all the juices, creating an even moister, juicier hunk of meat.

Also, you do need to use skin-on, breast halves on the bone for this recipe; boneless, skinless chicken won't cut it in the flavor department here.

Parmesan Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Source: Martha Stewart's Great Food Fast

Printable Recipe

1 cup fresh flat-leaved parsley, chopped
¼ cup plain dried breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Mix the parsley, breadcrumbs, Parmesan and lemon zest together in a small bowl. Season the mixture with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Divide the parsley mixture into 4 piles. Carefully loosen the chicken skin from the meat, using your fingers; tuck the parsley mixture under the skin. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Place the chicken in a 9 x 13” pan (spray the pan with nonstick spray first) . Bake until the skin is crispy and a meat thermometer (stuck in the thickest part of the meat) reads 165 degrees; about 30 minutes. Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes before serving to allow the meat to reabsorb the juices.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Red and Bleu Mashed Potatoes

I love bleu cheese and am always looking for new dishes to incorporate it into. I had a hunk of bleu in the fridge, left over from making buffalo bleu cheese pizza recently, and rather than let it go bad, I immediately thought about adding it into mashed potatoes.

The bleu cheese was the perfect addition! My friend's husband mentioned that he doesn't like bleu cheese, but thought these were wonderful. As tempting as it may be to add more bleu to these potatoes ( I know, I wanted to, too), don't. Restrain yourself. You will thank me later, I promise. The bleu adds a nice understated flavor, almost like a faint aftertaste, that combines fantastically with the roasted garlic flavor.

I woke up the next morning after our dinner party and immediately pulled the leftover potatoes out of the fridge to reheat for breakfast. *sigh* Just as good as the night before.

I can't wait to make these again.

Red and Bleu Mashed Potatoes

Source: Inspired by
Printable Recipe


8 to 10 medium red potatoes
5 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons crumbled bleu cheese
1 stick butter
1 cup milk or cream
Salt and pepper, to taste

Wash the potatoes, but do not peel. Boil them for about 20 minutes, or until fork tender. Meanwhile, roast the garlic cloves in the oven. Or you can add them to the boiling potatoes to cook.

Once the potatoes are tender, remove them from the water. Place in a large bowl, and mash with other ingredients until fluffy.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Friday, February 12, 2010

Oven Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli with Mushrooms

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I hated most veggies as a kid. I suffered through many mushy veggies, and later cruched on raw vegetables dipped in Ranch dressing throughout my time living at home, wondering how anyone actually enjoyed eating vegetables.
But then my mom discovered this recipe for cauliflower when I was a teen, and all of a sudden, I was actually asking for cauliflower. So when I was planning the menu for my dinner party, I immediatly thought of this dish, knowing I needed to serve some sort of veg. My mom's recipe doesn't include broccoli, but I decided to add it for a bit of variety and color. There's no broccoli in the picture though; I served myself last, and by the time I got to this dish, all of the broccoli was gone! :)
The balsamic vinegar adds a savory tang to the veggies, without overpowering your taste buds. Balsamic is actually a great, flavorful addition to most vegetables.

Oven Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli with Mushrooms

Source: adapted from my mom's recipe

Printable Recipe


3 cups cauliflower florets (about a lb.)
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cups chopped mushrooms
½ cups chopped red onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 teaspoons lemon juice
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, plus extra for drizzling
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cups chopped green onions (optional)

Preheat oven to 350d. Spray a 13x9 pan with non-stick spray.

Chop the broccoli and cauliflower into large chunks; chop the broccoli into bigger pieces than the cauliflower so it won't over cook.

Mix all ingredients and spread in the pan. Drizzle additional balsamic vinegar over the top.

Bake uncovered 40 to 45 minutes, until tender and golden brown. Sprinkle with green onions before serving.

Serves six.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


My aunt and uncle live in Fallbrook, which is known for growing avocados, and they have several avocado trees on their property. We used to drive down to visit them on Saturdays when I was a kid, and if avocados were in season, they'd send us home with a big bag of 'em. My mom would then make a batch of guacamole for us to snack on.

I don't see my aunt and uncle as often anymore and it's been a long time since they've given my parents avocados, but I still love guacamole. One of the many benefits of living in southern California is the ability to get avocados for a decent price. They were recently on sale in my grocery store, so I scooped a bunch up, and whipped up a batch of guacamole for our dinner party. At the end of the night, there was only one big bite left, so my friend grabbed a chip and finished off the dip, before washing the bowl for me!


Source: Cooking in Cucamonga original

Printable Recipe


4 avocados, cut in half
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 tomato, diced
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno, diced (optional)- remove the white membrane and seeds it you don't like a lot of heat
a lot of pepper

Scoop the avocado flesh into a medium bowl, including the large seeds. (The seeds help prevent the avocado from browning quickly.) Squeeze the lime juice over the avocado.

Add the tomato, garlic salt, cayenne pepper, and jalepeno. Mash into the avocado, leaving it slightly chunky.

Serve with your favorite chips and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

My mom made this restaurant style dip as an appetizer for Christmas dinner and everyone quickly gobbled it up. When I began planning the menu for my recent dinner party, I immediately emailed my mom, asking for this recipe.

The recipe calls for 10 ounces of Alfredo sauce, but I could only find 15 ounce jars. I didn't feel like measuring it out, so I just dumped the entire 15 ounces into the mix. The dip came out creamy and wonderful, and not overly Alfredo-y.

I baked this about an hour before my guests arrived, and then turned the oven down to 225 degrees and left the dip in to keep it warm. Once my friends showed up, they quickly scooped it onto their plates, and devoured it with pita chips and tortilla chips. Even the toddler loved it!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Source: my mom

Printable Recipe


4 cloves garlic
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (10 ounce) container Alfredo- style pasta sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place garlic in a small baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven 20 to 30 minutes, until soft. Remove from heat. When cool enough to touch, squeeze softened garlic from skins.

In an 8x8 inch baking dish (I used my deep dish pie pan), spread the roasted garlic, spinach, artichoke hearts, Alfredo-style pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and cream cheese.

Cover and bake in the preheated oven 30 minutes, or until cheeses are melted and bubbly. Serve warm with pita chips.

Serves 12.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Learn-to-Cook Dinner Party Menu

The husband and I recently hosted our first dinner party; well, other than having family over for Thanksgiving, that is. When we bought out condo over a year ago, we chose our floorplan for the reason that it is a great home to entertain in. When we were renting a home, the husband and I used to tour model homes for fun, and we'd often stop by the condo community we now own in and visit "our" model. I'd sit on the couch, wistfully looking at the huge entertaining kitchen and cute patio, and tell the husband to buy the condo for me. He'd sigh and agree that it was nice, but that we probably couldn't afford to buy since we live in the sky high real estate market that is Southern California. But then the market tanked, real estate dove off a cliff, and we needed to move; fate smiled upon us and we became home owners.

Well, it's been over a year, and like I said, other than hosting Thanksgiving for both of our families this year (which went so well!), we haven't entertained the way we planned when we bought our home. So when a friend from work asked if I'd teach her to cook, and wanted to do it at my place, I jumped at the chance. The one-to-one cooking lesson quickly turned into an 8 person dinner party, with the invitation of 2 more co-worker friends and all of our husbands. I was nervous planning the event, but the whole thing worked out really well and everyone raved about the food. I also got to play with my friend's adorable two-year-old daughter, which was a highlight of the evening for me. :)

Anyway, being that I was trying to teach people to cook, while also get dinner on the table at a reasonable hour, and be a good hostess, I forget to take any pictures of the event itself. Don't worry I did get some shots of the food, but none of my friends and I workin it in the kitchen. :( I did however create a packet of the evening's recipes for each girl to take home and re-create in her own kitchen; it's the teacher in me.

The following is the evening's menu; I will be posting each of the recipes throughout the week:

Hot spinach and artichoke dip
Hummus with pita chips (Store bought)
Sliced veggies
Chips and salsa (store bought)

Oven-roasted cauliflower & broccoli with mushrooms
Red, white and bleu mashed potatoes
Cous Cous
Parmesean stuffed chicken breasts

Chocolate cupcakes

Monday, February 8, 2010

Crispy Sesame Maple Ginger Tofu and Broccoli

The husband loves tofu and is always up for trying new tofu recipes, but I have a fear of cooking tofu. I feel like it never comes out right, no matter how much I squeeze out the water or how I cut it up. I usually just crumble it up a bit and throw it in stir frys, but even then, I still am less than thrilled.

Where is that crispy on the outside, soft, almost creamy, on the inside texture I find in Thai restaurants? Why can't I recreate that at home? Do I really have to fry tofu to get that texture I crave?

Well, apparently not. I saw this recipe on Cara's Cravings recently and decided to give it a try. She mentioned some of my same frustrations, but then went on to describe her success at achieving crispy, yet creamy tofu. Well, let me tell you, she was right! This tofu came out wonderfully well! It had a nice crispy exterior and a soft interior, with a ton of flavor.

I made some modifications to Cara's recipe, including adding broccoli to make this a more filling meal. If you'd like to see her original recipe, check out Cara's Cravings. Don't be afraid of the maple syrup here; I thought it might be cloying and overly-sweet, but it just added a subtle hint of sweetness to round out the flavor profile.

Crispy Sesame Maple Ginger Tofu and Broccoli
Source: Adapted from Cara's Cravings
Printable Recipe

1 14-ounce block extra-firm water-packed tofu
2 small heads of broccoli, stems removed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 teaspoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 teaspoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Preheat oven to 475°F.

Squeeze the water out of the tofu and cut into 1" cubes.

Spray a 9 X 13" baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and add the tofu cubes; lightly spray the tofu with more nonstick cooking spray and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 10-12 minutes, or until the pieces of tofu are lightly browned. Turn the pieces over, and roast for another 10 minutes.

Whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, maple syrup and vinegar in a small bowl.

Cut the broccoli into small chunks.

Remove the tofu from the oven, and add the broccoli to the dish. Toss with the maple mixture, sesame seeds, ginger, and crushed red pepper.

Return to the oven and roast for another 5-10 minutes, turning once, until desired crispiness is reached.

Serve over brown rice.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Lemon Sorbet

My parents have a small Meyer lemon tree in their backyard and whenever it is in season, the branches are laden down with the tangy fruit. They've offered me lemons in the past, but I've never really taken any...I didn't feel like I had much use for them. But then I found this recipe for lemon sorbet and immediately called, asking for some lemons.

Meyer lemons are difficult to find in the grocery store because their thin skin means they don't ship well. I did recently see them in my neighborhood Henry's (part of the Whole Foods family) for $3.00 a pound! Rather than pay that exorbitant price, I called up good ole mom and dad and asked for a bagful of lemons the next time they came over. My dad warned me that their lemons are small this year, but I said it was fine, just give me some lemons. He wasn't lying; they are tiny, about the size of a golf ball! This isn't Meyer lemons in general, just their particular crop. Even with about 10 lemons, I barely got a 1/2 cup of juice, so I had to halve the recipe below.

I've given you the full amounts, but if you don't have a lot of lemons, or don't want much sorbet, this halves easily. Also, this sorbet is really tart. If you prefer a sweeter lemon treat, I'd add another 1/4 cup of sugar. You need to do this in the beginning, with the water though, or the end result will be grainy. One last note, you don't have to use Meyer lemons for this recipe, but they are less tart than their regular counterparts. If you don't use Meyers, I would definitely up the sugar content.

Lemon Sorbet
Source: The Perfect Scoop

Printable Recipe

2 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 lemons
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 6 regular sized lemons)

In a medium, nonreactive saucepan, combine the sugar and 1/2 cup water. Zest the two lemons directly into the mixture, being careful not to add the pith. Heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar has completely dissolved.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the rest of the water. Refrigerate until completely chilled (several hours or overnight is best). Stir in the lemon juice and freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker, following your manufacturer's directions.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chile Chicken with Rice and Black Beans

Do you ever click on any of those blogs on the right over there? I love browsing through the new entries every day and seeing what other bloggers are coming up with, and those are some of my favorite blogs. You all know I love Annie's Eats, but another big fav of mine is Pink Parsley. I made her tomato-mozarella tart with basil crust this summer, which we loved, so I had a good feeling about this recipe.
One of the best things about this meal, besides the fact that is is pretty healthy, is that it is made in just one skillet! I love one pot meals because it means less clean up, lessening the chance that my kitchen will look like a tornado swept through. This also makes the husband happy, as he's usually the one who cleans up after dinner. (Yeah, I'm an advocate of "I cook, you clean!")
Despite the jalapeno and chili powder this was not spicy at all-just really flavorful. The husband even gave it his ringing endorsement: "Add it to the rotation."

Chile Chicken with Rice and Black Beans
Pink Parsley
Printable Recipe


2 Tablespoon canola oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (I used boneless, skinless thighs)
2 1/2 Tablespoons chili powder, divided
1 medium onion, large dice
1-2 jalapenos, diced
1 cup rice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups chicken broth (I used homemade turkey stock)
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/2 to 1 cup salsa, for serving
lime wedges and sour cream, for serving (optional)

Season chicken with salt, pepper, and 1 Tablespoon of chile powder. Preheat a large skillet with oil until shimmering. Brown chicken on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side (the chicken will not be completely cooked through at this point. That is ok.).

Remove chicken from the skillet and place on a plate, leaving behind as much oil as possible.

Sautee onion, rice, and jalapeno in the same skillet until the rice is toasted and is no longer translucent. Add the remaining chili powder, the garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook 1 minute, then stir in the broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover.

Simmer 10 minutes.

While the rice simmers, cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken and the black beans to the pot, stir, cover, and cook for another 10-12 minutes.

Taste a grain of rice. It should only have a slightly chalky texture in the middle. If it is at this point, remove the pot from heat, stir in the green onion and cilantro, and let sit, covered, 5 additional minutes. If the rice is not cooked through (more than slightly chalky), re-cover the pot, and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until done.

Fluff rice with a fork, and serve with salsa, sour cream, and lime wedges.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Ginger-Mango Chicken in Parchment

I've been cooking my way through Martha Stewart's Everyday Food-The Light Issue lately, and have really enjoyed the recipes I've tried. I was particularly intrigued by her tip on cooking in parchment, and fueled by the success with salmon cooked in parchment, I decided to give this recipe a try.

While the final results were delicious--slightly sweet, almost tropical--the recipe had one major annoyance for me. It calls for the chicken to be cooked at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Well, after 20 minutes my chicken was still raw! Now, I did use boneless chicken thighs, instead of the chicken cutlets Martha calls for (I don't even know what a cutlet is!), but thighs are small, and without bones, don't usually take long to cook. I kept checking the chicken for doneness every few minutes, until it was finally cooked all the way through after 35 minutes.

Either my oven temp is off (always a possibility) or Martha just got the cooking time wrong here. Despite that annoyance, I still enjoyed this recipe and highly recommend it. The mango flavor is absorbed into the chicken and the parchment makes for easy clean up. Don't be scared by the added depth of flavor without being spicy. It also helps that I removed the seeds and white membrane, where most of the jalapeno's heat resides.
Ginger-Mango Chicken in Parchment
Source: Martha Stewart's Everyday Food

Printable Recipe

1 large mango
8 chicken cutlets (I used 6 small, boneless, skinless thighs)
1 piece fresh ginger (about 1"), peeled and cut into matchsticks
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 medium jalapeno, thinly sliced (remove the seeds and membrane if you don't like a lot of heat)
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, divided (Martha actually calls for 2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons, but I found 1 teaspoon to be enough)
lime wedges, for serving

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Peel the mango and slice into bite-sized chunks. Divide the mango chunks in half, and place them in the center of 2 large sheets of parchment paper.

Top the mangoes with chicken, ginger, jalapenos, and cilantro. Drizzle 1/2 a teaspoon oil over each packet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bring the edges of the parchment up to meet in the middle, and then fold them over, creating a seam. Twist the open edges, sealing the packets shut. Place each packet on a cookie sheet
and bake for 18-20 minutes (mine actually took 35 minutes to cook).

Plate the chicken, including the cooked mango, and serve with lime wedges.


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