Roasted Chicken Breast with Balsamic Cream

A foody friend of mine gave me this recipe for a balsamic cream sauce and it sounded so delicious and simple that I tried it that very night with a roasted chicken breast. I was not disappointed.  In fact, that rich, creamy sauce immediately landed among my favorite recipes, not only because it is delicious, but also because the ingredients are ones that I generally have on hand, and preparation is incredibly simple.  And, although I have this paired with chicken, I think it would go incredibly well with any cut of steak or a pasta dish.

Ingredients:

Chicken:
2 chicken breast halves, bone in
2 Tbs butter, divided
Drizzle of Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Balsamic Cream Sauce:
2 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Tbs Butter
¼ cup minced sweet onion (Mayan or Vidalia work well)
1 Cup heavy Cream
2 tsp chicken bouillon granules
2 Tbs Balsamic vinegar
½ Cup grated parmesan cheese (the kind in the can works best)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Rinse the chicken breasts and pat dry.  Gently loosen the skin to create a pocket, but don’t pull it off.  Cut the butter into 8 chunks and slip it under the chicken skin, 4 chunks for each breast.  Season the skin of the chicken well with salt and pepper and any additional herbs you prefer.  Place breasts in an oven-safe dish and drizzle with olive oil.

Roast the chicken for about 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches a safe 165 degrees.
While the chicken is roasting, heat the olive oil and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.  Stir in the minced onion and cook until it has caramelized, about 15 minutes.  Stir in the balsamic vinegar and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the bouillon and cream.  Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and stir in the parmesan cheese until melted.

Note: I used fresh parmesan in this picture, which tasted great but left the sauce a little chunky.  For a smoother sauce, use the pre-grated parm in a can, the stuff you sprinkle over spaghetti.

When the chicken is done roasting, allow it to rest for about 10 minutes.  Serve it whole or slice it up, but either way, be sure to serve with a generous portion of the balsamic cream.  I LOVE this combination with Oven Roasted Potatoes.  Enjoy!

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Oven Roasted Potatoes

Aside from coffee, potatoes are probably my biggest weakness in life.  Put a potato in front of me in any form and I have a hard time resisting.  I have a weakness for french fries and potato chips (especially salt & vinegar flavored!) but I would take these savory roasted potatoes over those any day!
The sweet onions compliment the potato perfectly and the garlic adds a nutty flavor that completes the dish.  The simple preparation and inexpensive ingredients make this a fantastic addition to your dinner repertoire.
This method is really delicious with sweet potatoes as well.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 lbs medium red potatoes OR white sweet potatoes
1 sweet onion, wedged
10 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, snipped into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp dried parsley
3 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Tbs Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper


Directions
:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Scrub and quarter potatoes, or if using sweets, chop into approx 2×2 in chunks.  Try to make the size as uniform as possible.

Place potatoes and all other ingredients in a bowl or a large seal-able bag and toss to combine.

Spread out in one layer on a baking sheet or roasting pan.  I recommend using a baking stone for this as it reduces the chances of burning.

Roast for about 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Carefully remove rosemary stems.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

Cider Brined Pork Roast with Roasted Veggies

I have to admit, this is not my recipe although I have made  a tweak or two.  This recipe originally came from Bon Apetit Magazine.  My boss made this for a dinner that we were hosting and it was so mouth watering and tender and delicious I had to make it myself and it’s become a favorite in my household.  In true Janna fashion I’ve added alcohol to the recipe.  Note-  The pork in this recipe will need to brine for at least 12 hours.  ~Janna

8 servings

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Ingredients:
1 C packed brown sugar
1 C kosher salt
8 bay leaves (divided)
2 tsp Coriander
1 tsp black peppercorns plus more freshly ground
24 oz unfiltered apple cider
1 12oz bottle of hard apple cider
1 8 bone pork loin roast (about 5lb), chine bone removed, rib bones frenched and tied with kitchen twine
3 Yukon gold or russet potatoes pealed (or just scrubbed) and cut into about 1 inch chunks
1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1 /12 inch chunks
1 large beet peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
4 Tbs olive oil (divided)

Bring brown sugar, salt, 2 bay leaves, 1/2 tsp of ground coriander, 1 tsp black peppercorns, and 2 cups water to a boil in a medium sauce pan.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar and salt dissolve, about 4 minutes.  Transfer brine to a large bowl and add apple cider hard cider and 2 cups ice.  Let cool.

Place pork and brine into a large 2 gallon zip top bag, seal bag and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.

Remove pork from brine and pat dry with paper towels.  Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Toss potatoes, onions and beets in 2 Tbs olive oil in roasting pan, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside.

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Place oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.  Season pork with black pepper and 1 tsp of coriander.  add remaining olive oil to a large skillet over high heat.  Sear pork until browned on all sides.

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Transfer pork to a roasting pan and surround with vegetables.  Tuck remaining bay leaves into the kitchen twine over top of pork.  Wrap bones in foil to prevent burning, roast pork  until an instant read thermometer reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit.  when done, let roast sit for 30 minutes before slicing.  Vegetables may need to be roasted for additional time while pork is resting.
Pork

Green Beans n Shallots

I have never had a green bean casserole that I really enjoyed, it just reminds me of canned, lethargic green beans and gelatinous canned cream of mushroom soup…ick!!  The green bean casserole seems like somewhat of an afterthought, something that you throw into a dish at the last minute and pass off as a “healthy vegetable” so you feel less guilty about stuffing yourself silly with homemade dinner rolls, buttery stuffing and 5 varieties of pie a la mode.   Face it, nobody ever says “awe, too bad were out of green bean casserole!”  So here is my alternative.  It’s super easy to prepare, you can do most of it the day before, and it’s a whole lot  healthier than traditional green bean casserole.  I guarantee people will be asking to please pass the green beans at Thanksgiving this year!  ~Janna

DSC_0320Ingredients:

1lb fresh green beans or french beans (I actually prefer French beans, because they’re more tender and delicate).
2 Tbs olive oil
1 med shallot
salt to taste

Method
:

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To begin, start by cutting the stem and tip off of the green beans.  You can leave the ends on and just cut the stem off but I think they look more uniform when cut on both ends.  Rinse green beans in cold water.

Next you will blanch the green beans.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil (about 8 cups), also prepare a large bowl full of ice water.  Once your water is boiling put in the green beans and boil for 2-4 minutes, depending on how soft you like them.

When done, immediately submerge the beans in the ice water.  This will stop the cooking process and the beans will keep their bright green color.  At this point you can refrigerate the beans to finish later or you can finish now.  If you are finishing the beans later I would not blanch more than 24 hours in advance (unless you are freezing them) to prevent the beans from getting too soggy and limp.  Store in a gallon zip top bag or in an air tight container.

Take the beans out of the ice water and blot dry.  Mince the shallot and set aside.

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In a large skillet on med/high heat the olive oil, once hot, add the green beans and toss a few times.  Add the minced shallot and cook a few minutes until shallots are tender and beans are hot through.  Add salt to taste and enjoy!
GB&Shallots     GB&Shallots2

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

IMG_3747You’ve carved your pumpkin, now don’t throw out those seeds!  Pumpkin seeds are a great, healthy snack as they’re full of zinc, vitamin E, and healthy fats.  They are simply delicious with just a little salt, or you can get creative and try some different herbs and spices.

Ingredients:
Pumpkin Seeds
Olive Oil
Salt and/or Desired Seasoning

Directions:

Preheat oven on to 300 degrees.

Remove the seeds from the flesh and wash thoroughly.  Lay them out on a clean towel and pat dry.  They will stick to your towel…this is okay.  Spread seeds out evenly on a lightly greased (or sprayed) baking sheet and roast them plain for 30 minutes.

Remove roasted seeds and toss them in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and/or whatever seasonings you have chosen.  Put them back in the oven for another 20 minutes.  Enjoy!  (See variations below.)

Variations:

The sky is the limit with flavor combinations!  In addition to standard salted seeds, here’s what I used:

1.  1 Tbs Olive Oil, 1 Tbs Cinnamon Sugar
2.  1 Tbs Olive Oil, ½ tsp Garlic Powder, ½ tsp Oregano, 1 Tbs Grated Parmesan, ½ tsp Himalayan Pink Salt
3.  1 Tbs Sesame Oil, tiny pinch of Cumin, ½ tsp Himalayan Pink Sea Salt

Our pumpkin masterpieces:

Chipotle Sweet Potato Bisque

BisqueThere are two main varieties of sweet potato here in the U.S.  Many people mistakenly refer to them as “yams” but sweet potatoes are actually not even related to the yam.  The first (and my favorite of the two) has a golden skin and white flesh.  The second is that deep copper -colored tuber with the softer, bright orange flesh, commonly used in the traditional holiday dish “candied yams.”  

Either variety, or even a mix, will do nicely for this recipe.  This bisque is not an original idea.  I found it years ago in a magazine (which magazine, I can’t remember) and have made it many times since, with a few of my own adjustments.

The beauty of this soup is that it is NOT sweet.  The potatoes offer a subtly sweet base, but the ginger, lime and chipotle really take the forefront to create a savory soup that can be as spicy as you want it.  

 Ingredients:

2 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Tbs Butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 Tbs minced garlic
1 Tbs minced ginger
3 Tbs brown sugar
3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
7 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup dry vermouth
1 chipotle pepper in adobo (you can find this in a can in the hispanic section of
your grocery store) OR 1 tsp chipotle powder (more if desired)
2 tsp salt
2 cups heavy cream
Zest and juice from 1 lime

*Serves about 10*

Directions:

Heat oil and butter in a stockpot over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook until onion is soft, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.

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Add sugar, sweet potatoes, stock, vermouth, chipotle and salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until potatoes are soft.
Remove from heat and puree the soup until smooth with a stick blender (you can use a traditional blender, but I find the stick blender makes much less of a mess).
Return soup to a simmer, add heavy cream, lime juice and zest.  Salt and pepper to taste. A sprinkle of chopped pistachios would make an excellent garnish.


Bisque

Vegetable Stuffed Portobello’s

I’ve been trying to cook lighter lately, and sometimes that can be challenging when cooking for a man too.  Both John and I love mushrooms, but they are usually “in” something.  This time, I decided to make them the star.  This dish is incredibly simple, with fresh, clean ingredients.  The meaty mushrooms are hearty and filling, and the fact that this dish is primarily vegetables is pleasing to the health-conscious individual.
I’ve included directions for a simple garlic pasta, but there are many things that would pair well with these mushrooms, or even use younger crimini mushrooms and serve as an appetizer.
By the way, these are delicious for lunch the next day!  🙂

Ingredients:

Mushrooms:
●10 (or so) 3-inch portobello mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed
1 zucchini, chopped
●1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
●1 6-oz jar of artichokes in brine, drained and chopped
●1/2 cup onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 ½ cups mozzarella
●1 tsp dried oregano
●sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Garlic Pasta:
●Angel Hair Pasta (about 4-5 servings)
●3 cloves of garlic, minced
●3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375.

Arrange mushroom caps upside down on a lightly sprayed baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste.    

Mound the filling into the mushroom caps, distributing evenly.  Try to use all the filling, it will cook down quite a bit.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until heated through and golden brown.

Meanwhile…

Cook angel hair pasta according to package directions.  In a saute pan, cook garlic in olive oil on medium heat until golden brown.  Toss pasta and garlic oil together and salt to taste.  Serve immediately with hot mushrooms.

Thyme Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

I love fingerling potatoes and have had this simple recipe in my mind for the past couple of weeks.  They’re nothing fancy but very flavorful!   I served my potatoes with scrambled eggs with onion and green pepper, but they would go perfect with a roast, chicken, fish, steak or whatever your heart desires!  ~Janna

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Ingredients:

1/2lb fingerling potatoes, washed and patted dry
1 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp of fresh thyme
1/4 tsp kosher sea salt (more to taste)

Turn oven to 375 degrees.  Cut the potatoes in half length wise, toss with olive oil in a bowl, add thyme and toss again to coat evenly.  Add the salt and stir.

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Lay the potatoes skin side down on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until tender.

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Turn oven to broil and cook potatoes for an additional 2 minutes just to brown and crisp them.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.  Enjoy.

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Savory Cilantro Sauce

Have I mentioned that I love cilantro?  It’s one of my favorite herbs.  I love the distinctive flavor and I use it in many of my dishes.  Unfortunately, fresh cilantro does not last very long once picked.  You can prolong the life of it by snipping the ends and storing it in your refrigerator in a cup of water, like a bouquet of flowers.  Or, preserve it in the freezer using this incredibly flavorful sauce.  Drizzle over meat or seafood, use as a marinade or a stand-alone sauce, toss with pasta, the sky is the limit!  ~Joanie

Ingredients:

2 cups cilantro, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic
¼ cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
½ tsp sea salt
⅛ tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:

Toss all ingredients into a food processor and puree, OR use an immersion blender.  The immersion blender takes a little more time and patience, but it works out.  Taste test it to make sure you have it how you like it.

  

Fill a clean ice cube tray with the sauce and let freeze overnight.  Once frozen, pop those babies out, throw them in a ziplock and store them in the freezer.  The small cubes make thawing a cinch, and you now can add that fresh cilantro taste to any dish.

  

Easy Cheesy Pasta with Tomato Sauce

Janna:  A few weeks ago, one of Joanie and my good friends gave us a challenge.  She said she has trouble coming up with meals with things that she has on hand, without having to run to the store for ingredients, and without an actual recipe to follow.  She challenged us to look in our cupboards and come up with a meal, just from what we already have.  So Caty, here they are, our “straight from the cupboard” meals.  Hope you enjoy and get inspired, i know I was inspired and may even do this regularly!

I chose to go the Italian route, A,  because EVERYONE has pasta in their cupboards (if you don’t, it’s about $1.00 a pound), and B, Italian food is so easy and simple, and it’s BETTER when you keep it simple, so here it goes.  While I was putting this together I kept thinking of other things I could add (but didn’t have on hand)  So I will go ahead and list those things as well, so you have a wide range of ingredients to work with, or maybe it’ll inspire you to come up with your own additions!

Ingredients:

1 lb pasta, any kind will do, chunky sauce works better with short, shaped pasta like a shell, corkscrew or bowtie, but I used linguine because that’s what I had on hand.

*You could also add meat to this dish if you wanted, hamburger, italian sausage, chorizo, ground turkey, ground chicken.  I’d use about ½ lb of meat in this dish.

½ onion, chopped  (you can also add green, red or yellow bell pepper, zucchini, mushrooms
1 15 oz can of tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, you could use stewed if you don’t have diced, just give them a rough chop.  You can use the diced tomatoes that have herbs already added.
⅓ of a 4oz can of fire roasted diced green chilies.  (More if you like it spicier).
2 garlic cloves minced (you can use garlic powder, about ½ tsp or to taste.
½ of a 15 oz can of black olives, roughly chopped
¼-1/2 tsp chili powder
¼ tsp Salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 Tbs Olive oil
Parmesan or feta cheese

Directions:
In a medium saucepan saute the onions (and other veggies if you’re using them) in the olive oil for a few minutes until tender.  If you’re using meat, brown the meat with the onion (and veggies), drain fat out and return to pan.  In the meantime, cook pasta according to package directions.  I cook 1-2 minutes less for al dente.

Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chilis, garlic, chili powder, salt and pepper.  Simmer for a few minutes until hot and steamy.  Adjust salt, pepper and  green chilies to your liking.

Plate some of your cooked pasta and scoop some of the sauce over it.  Shred some fresh mozzarella, parmesan or Feta cheese over top, enjoy!

Makes about 6 servings, serve with a tossed salad and a glass of red wine and enjoy!