Thursday, May 31, 2012

Spinach Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I had what I will call a brilliant idea, stuff chicken breasts with spinach and feta cheese.  Well I did do that but it didn't work like I thought it would.  I figured that when I pounded the chicken breasts flat that I could easily spread my feta spinach mixture on it and roll it up with no problem at all and that they would be perfect.  Well I did spread the mixture on the chicken breasts but it wasn't as easy and they were somewhat messy.  But in the end they turned out fantastic and were absolutely delicious.

Spinach, Feta Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts
3 chicken breasts, pounded flat (I flattened mine to about 1/2 inch)
Spinach Feta Cheese Mixture
Cooking twine
Flour, I use my gluten free flour mixture (I think it helps to make a crisper crust)
Egg Wash
Bread Crumbs
For the spinach mixture:
In a blender add about 1 cup of spinach, 1/4 cup feta cheese (I used fresh feta cheese from a local farm), blend until somewhat smooth, it may be a little chunky in places (but that is okay).  You may need to add just a little bit of extra virgin olive oil.  You want a thick paste. Depending on your feta cheese you may want to add salt.  Add fresh ground pepper to taste.
Spread spinach mixture to each chicken breast.  Roll up as best you can and add cooking twine to hold the chicken breast together.  I used about 3 pieces of twine.  Place chicken breasts into a coating of flour, then egg and then bread crumbs.  Make sure that each coating has a coating all over.  Heat a skillet over the stove with olive oil and some butter or ghee (I used ghee instead of butter).  Add chicken breasts to a hot skillet.  Cook until browned on all sides, about 15 minutes total depending on the heat of your stove.

Fried Plantains
Have you ever wondered what those funny looking bananas are in the vegetable section of your grocery store?  Ever wondered what do I do with these.  There are many things that you can do with plantains.  My husband and I love them but just haven't had them in a while so I decided to pick some up the other day.  You want to make sure that they plantains are yellow to black when you buy it.  If it is still green you can let it sit as it will ripen (just like a banana).  I like mine leaning more toward black with yellow.  The blacker they are the sweeter.   To cook them I peel the outside off, slice the plantain into slices.  Take those slices and add to a warm skillet.  I add about 1 tablespoon of butter to the skillet and let it melt before adding the plantains.  Add plantains to skillet and cook, flipping several times until they reach a golden brown.

Along with our meal we had cooked asparagus.  I cooked the asparagus in boiling water for about 5 minutes at the most.
I served the meal with a 2010 Chardonnay from Savoy Lee Winery.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Picnic Fixin's

My husband and I along with a friend will be heading out today on a wine adventure.  We will be heading out to visit 4 Virginia Wineries in Nelson County, Virginia.  I wanted to take along a picnic lunch and munchies for us to eat along our journey.

Honey Roasted Nuts
This recipe came from Sue Bee Honey.
6 cups peanuts, or any combination of pecans, almonds or cashews (I used pecans, almonds and cashews)
1/2 cup local honey
1/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt (if using unsalted nuts)
Melt together honey and butter.  Pour mixture over nuts and stir to coat.  Spread evenly on a cookie sheet (I used non stick foil on top of the cookie sheet - helps with cleanup and easier to stir) and sprinkle with cinnamon and salt.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring several times until golden (I stirred them every 5 minutes which worked perfectly).  Spread onto waxed paper and cool completely.  Break nuts apart and store in airtight container.  Makes approximately 12-1/4 cup servings.

**When I make these again I will add more cinnamon and salt to add more flavor.  Also I think these would be great if a little cayenne pepper was added along with the cinnamon.  I think there are a lot of flavor combinations that can be done.

Summer Pasta Salad
This recipe came from an issue of Cuisine at Home.
For the Yogurt Herb Sauce:
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup feta, crumbled (picked up fresh from the farmers market Saturday)
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
3 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves (have this growing in my garden)
2 tablespoon fresh mint leaves (have this growing in my garden)
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon local honey
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
Combine spinach, yogurt, feta, herbs, lemon juice, salt and pepper for the sauce in a food processor.  Drizzle in oil and process until smooth; set aside.
For the Pasta:
2-1/2 cups dry penne pasta
1 cup roasted red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 cup kalamata olive, pitted and halved
Yogurt Herb Sauce
Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water.  Toss pasta with bell pepper, olives and sauce.  Place in refrigerator.

Rosemary Chicken Salad
This is a recipe I found in a cooking light magazine several years ago and use this every time I want to have chicken salad sandwiches. I love the freshness of the rosemary.
3 cups chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 3/4 pound)**
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup smoked almonds
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (I grow this in my garden and have it year round)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Bread or rolls of your choice.
Combine first 9 ingredients. Place salad onto bread of choice and serve.  **I cooked my by first cutting up the chicken into small bite size pieces.  Place chicken into a skillet drizzled with olive oil over medium heat.  I try not to brown the chicken as this makes it somewhat tough in the salad.

Napa Cabbage Coleslaw
My husband went to the farmers market in Forest, VA Saturday and picked up a bunch of really fresh organic vegetables.  Among those vegetables was a head of napa cabbage.  I decided to make a cole slaw.
1 head of napa cabbage
2 carrots, shredded
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup dried cranberries
salt and pepper to taste
Cut the cabbage by slicing it.  Chop the slices into smaller pieces.  Place cabbage into a large bowl.   Add remaining ingredients, mix well.  Every time I make cole slaw I can always hear my grandmother leaning over my shoulder telling me to use my hands to mix the slaw up.  By using your hands it makes it easier to get the ingredients to incorporate.  So of course I used my hands to mix the slaw.  Add more or less mayonnaise as needed.

Crispy Cheese Wafers
To go along with the nuts for a little snack I chose this recipe.  This recipe goes back to when I was in high school cooking class.  I haven't made them in years but thought that these would pair perfect with wine.
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used a white sharp cheddar)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour
Combine cheese and margarine.  Stir in Worcestershire sauce and salt.  Add flour, mix well to form a dough.  Add any of the below seeds, optional.  Form dough into a roll about 1-1/2 inches in diameter.  Wrap tightly in wax paper and chill in refrigerator several hours or overnight.  To add a little variety you can add all or any of the following:
1-1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
1-1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds (I used poppy seeds)
1/8 teaspoon oregano
1-1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cut dough into thin slices.  Place on greased cookie sheet, leaving enough space for them to spread out a little bit.  Bake 10 minutes.  Leave on cookie sheet for about 5 minutes to cool then transfer to a cooking rack.

This post was shared on Easy Natural Food Summer Salad Sundays 6/03/2012

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Grilled Flat Iron Steak

Since it is Memorial Day weekend it wouldn't be right not to grill something.  So we opted for steak.

Flat Iron Steak with Garlic Herb Rub
This recipe came from the Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground fennel
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1-1/2 tablespoons coarse salt (We don't use this much salt so I usually use much less than what the rub recipes call for)
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Rub both sides of the steak and let sit.  Grill steak on grill at high heat 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 4 minutes and then flip and cook for 4 minutes more.  This achieves the doneness to medium rare. Let rest before slicing.

Sweet Potatoes in Foil
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
4 tablespoons butter
cinnamon sugar
Place sweet potatoes onto a large piece of foil, add butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Place on a   high heat grill and cook for 5 minutes, flip over and cook for 5 minutes more.  Place on warming rack for 5 minutes and then flip for another 5 minutes.  Serve.

Sugar Snap Peas
My husband picked these up at the local farmers market yesterday.  Couldn't wait to sink my teeth into them.
Remove the top of each bean to remove the string by pulling down the back of each bean.
I decided that the best way to cook them was to steam them.  Place beans in a steamer basket and place onto a pan with water.  Steam beans until they are tender.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Philly Cheese Steak Subs

I was out running errands today and was trying to rack my brain as to what to make for dinner.  As I was driving around I thought about a philly cheese steak sub.  Now I do not make my subs like those in Philadelphia where the cheese steak was made famous, I do it my way!  We get a cut of meat from the local farm (Mountain Run Farm) called Philly Steak.  The beef is cut super thin so that it cooks really fast.  I cook the meat on a flat griddle type pan until it is done.

Here is what the sub consists of:
Sub bun warmed in oven
American Cheese Slices (this is what I had available that I bought from the deli)
Banana pepper slices
Sauteed green peppers and onions (slice the green peppers and onion and place in a skillet or pan and cook with some olive oil over medium high heat.  You want the peppers and onions to get soft and cooked)
Tomato Slices
Cooked beef

Place all ingredients in the sub bun.  Now just like all sandwiches it won't be perfect and it will fall apart on you as you eat it.  But like most great sandwiches they are messy.

Along with the sub we had some tater tots (called spud tots for the ones we buy) and a side salad.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Halibut with Thai Basil Asparagus Sauce

Decided to do some halibut for dinner tonight.  We bought the halibut frozen from SeaBear.  The seafood we get from them is fantastic.  We have been out of town and decided to stop at the grocery store and a farmers stand on the side of the road on the way home.  From the grocery store I bought some asparagus and figured that it would be a great side dish.  I have some Thai Basil growing in a pot outside.  Thai Basil has a lemon, anise flavor.  It isn't too strong but just a little bite that gives a nice flavor.  My brain starts working and I come up with some concoction in my head and plan it out as I am in the kitchen.  Here is everything I cooked tonight for dinner.

Halibut with Thai Basil Asparagus Sauce
I cooked the halibut in a skillet.   Drizzle the halibut with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place in a heated skillet over medium heat, drizzled with olive oil.  Begin by cooking halibut face down for about 6 minutes, turn and cook for 6 minutes more.  The length of time depends on the thickness of the halibut and the heat of your skillet.  Cook until done.

For the Thai Basil Asparagus sauce:  The side dish with this meal is asparagus.  I snapped the asparagus stalks (to remove the tough ends).  The tops I cooked in a pan of boiling water for about 5 minutes.  Take the bottoms of the asparagus, cut off the bottom (the part that is really woody) and discard.  Take the remaining part of the asparagus and cut into pieces.  Place the pieces into a blender (I use a vitamix blender), add several leaves of Thai basil.  Blend together until chopped up, add some olive oil, salt and pepper.  Add just enough olive oil to make a sauce but don't over do it.   Add more salt and pepper to taste.  Serve the sauce over cooked halibut.

Also had a side dish of cooked red potatoes.  Wash red potatoes, cut into cubes.  Place cubes into a pan with water.  Place pan on stove over high heat.  Bring to boil and cook potatoes for about 10 minutes.  Cook until a a fork can be stuck into the potato cube.  You want to cook it until soft but not mushy.  Drain potatoes, add to bowl with butter and a little bit of dried parsley. (my parsley plants haven't come up enough to have fresh).

Monday, May 14, 2012

Salmon Salad with Asian Dressing

We still had some of the fresh salmon that we received on Friday, so I decided that it would be perfect for dinner tonight.

Heat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.  Drizzle salmon with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for about 20 minutes until done.

The salad was romaine lettuce, chopped tomato and fresh feta cheese (this is some of the cheese we bought at the Land and Table event last Tuesday).  Place cooked salmon on top.  Pour dressing over salad and serve.

Asian Dressing
1/3 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons tamari
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Place everything in a small jar and shake until mixed.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Roast Chicken

I decided to do roast chickens for dinner tonight.  I cooked 2 chickens together in my pan since they were small.  I have a 6 quart LeCreuset pan that I love to cook in.  I have to say that out of all the items I have in my kitchen this is by far my favorite thing.  It was big enough for me to place 2 chickens side by side to cook.

To the pan I added the 2 chickens.  Add a cut up onion, 3 sliced lemons, fresh herbs (thai basil, tarragon, marjoram, and sage - I am growing all of these in containers on my deck).  Place lid on top and bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 1 hour, remove lid, check temperature of chickens.  They should have an internal temperature to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

The meal was served with leftover side dishes from Thanksgiving Dinner.  I had leftover sweet potatoes, green beans and carrots.  It was a great way to take some stuff out of the freezer as well as to not have to do a whole lot for dinner tonight.

All of the bones leftover from both chickens will be used to make chicken stock.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Baked Salmon with Spinach

We order a lot of our seafood from SeaBear, they had a special for Mother's Day which was a shipment of Fresh Wild Spring King Salmon from Alaska.  I patiently awaited the UPS truck with the shipment of fresh salmon, this is what we were having for dinner tonight.  I didn't take into account that it was in fact Mother's Day this weekend and that the UPS driver would have a lot of packages to deliver, which meant mine would come much later than normal.  Have no fear the truck arrived we came inside opened the box and the cooler to find beautiful fresh fish.  Immediately I placed 2 of the filets onto a pan to cook.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place salmon onto a cookie sheet lined with foil (I only do this because it makes clean up easier), drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Along with the salmon I fixed wilted spinach.  Heat a skillet over medium heat, add olive oil.  We bought a bag of fresh spinach from the Land and Table event that we went to on Tuesday.  It was a gorgeous bag of spinach.   Add spinach to skillet, it won't look like all the spinach will fit but it will, turn the spinach with a pair of tongs, flipping the spinach over and around so that it cooks.  Cook until the spinach is wilted but not mushy.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Baked Spaghetti

I want to start off by saying that my mind works in interesting ways.  I came home from work and was trying to figure out what I wanted to make for dinner.  The first thing that came to my mind was macaroni and cheese.  Well I didn't have the cheese I needed and I didn't want to run out to the store, it was pouring down rain and it was a little chilly.  So the first thing I did was I went to the freezer to see what I wanted to make (figuring that this would give me some ideas).  With it being cool and rainy out I was in the mood for comfort food, which is why I think my mind went to mac and cheese.  I grabbed a package of beef sausage.  It is ground so it makes it easy to break apart as you cook it in a skillet.  The sausage has some spices to it which make it very nice.  We get it from Mountain Run Farm, who sells grass-fed beef.  So as I decided on the sausage I then thought okay I will make spaghetti, and then as my mind continued to process what I was thinking I then thought, ah ha, I know what I will make.  I will make baked spaghetti.  Here is what I did.

I made my own spaghetti sauce (I usually don't have jarred sauce in the house) to use for this dish. Here is what you will need:
1 28 ounce can of chunky tomato sauce
1/2 half can tomato paste
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon parsley
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
salt and pepper
1/2 cup romano cheese, grated
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
The above spices are an estimate.  Place everything into a saucepan and heat.  Stir occasionally and keep covered.  Cook until heated through.   Meanwhile cook the sausage until done.  Add to cooked sausage to sauce mixture.  Cook 1 package of spaghetti, cook according to package.  Preheat oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit.  Take a casserole dish and brush it with olive oil.  Add half of the cooked spaghetti to the bottom of the casserole dish, add half of the sauce and half of the cheese.  Then add the next layer finishing with the rest of the cheese on top.  Place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until it is just starting to brown.

Also had a side salad to go with dinner.  It was from a bag of greens that we bought at the market portion of the Land and Table event last night.  We also bought a container of Honey Lemon Lavender Chevre (goat cheese) last night from Spring Mill Farm.  I took the greens, washed them and placed them in a bowl added the cheese, topped it with a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a light splash of red wine vinegar.  Topped with a sprinkle of fresh ground pepper.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Meatballs in Pineapple Sauce

There is an event going on at the farm where we get a lot of our products from.  It is called Land and Table which is a Sustainable Traditions initiative to help cultivate sustainable agriculture and the local food movement. Tonight is a pot luck, open mic plus a market.  So for this I wanted to make something that was easy to transport and easy to eat.  The recipe comes from the Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook by Shannon Hayes.  When I made this, I doubled this recipe.  

Meatballs in Pineapple Sauce
For the Meatballs:
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 pound ground beef (since I doubled this recipe, I used 1 pound ground beef and 1 pound ground pork)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Mix all ingredients, except the olive oil, in a large bowl.  Shape into 1-1/2 inch balls (I used a large cookie style scoop with holds about 3 tablespoons).  Saute meatballs in the olive oil over medium heat, turning occasionally, for about 15 to 20 minutes, until browned.  Remove the meatballs, pour off the fat from the skillet, and set aside.
For the pineapple sauce:
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch (I use arrow root)
1 13-1/4 ounce can of chunk pineapple, in natural, unsweetened juice
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon tamari
1 small green bell pepper, coarsely chopped (since I was doubling this recipe I used 1 green and 1 red bell pepper)
Mix together the brown sugar and cornstarch, and add to the skillet used for the meatballs.  Pour in the pineapple and juice, and add the vinegar, tamari, and chopped pepper.  Over medium heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat immediately, add the meatballs, and simmer 10 minutes longer.

Since I didn't have a lot of time today to make this.  I made this last night, placed it into a ceramic crock pot bowl.  This afternoon I took the bowl from the refrigerator and placed it into the crock pot (the part that heats) and turned it on.  It didn't take very long for everything to heat all the way through and now I can carry the crock pot to the pot luck.

To go along with this part of the meal.  I also decided to make a pineapple blueberry mint salad.

Pineapple, Blueberry, Mint Salad
1 fresh ripe pineapple, core and outside removed, cut into bite sized chunks
About 8 ounces of blueberries (I used some blueberries that I froze last summer, if using frozen blueberries don't thaw out, just add to salad as is)
Fresh mint leaves, chopped
Add chopped pineapple, blueberries and mint together.  Mix and refrigerate.  You want to make this the same day you plan on eating it, the blueberries can be tough if left in the refrigerator too long. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Old Fashioned Pound Cake

As part of my women's club group, our club is bringing snack items to the fire department in the town we live in.  It is our way to thank them for their dedicated service to our community.  We are doing this throughout the month.  I decided to make a pound cake.

This recipe came from a 1980 Annual Recipe Book from Southern Living.  I didn't want to make my normal recipe for pound cake so I found this.

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
Cream butter and shortening; gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Combine flour and baking powder; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, mixing well after each addition.  Stir in vanilla and lemon flavorings.  Pour batter into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cake tests done (a toothpick inserted comes out clean).  Cool in pan 10 to 15 minutes; remove from pan, and cool completely.

Also, just a note, if you bring a food of any kind to a group it is always a good idea to make a label listing the ingredients.  This helps anyone who has any type of food allergy to know what is in the food.

I apologize for not taking a picture of the cake when it came out of the oven.  I wanted to get the cake to the firehouse while it was still warm.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Spinach Quiche

I had a friend over for lunch today so I wanted to make something that was easy to make that could be done somewhat ahead of time.  I decided to have quiche with a small side of Caesar salad.  Also had a pitcher of water with mint and wedges of lemon.  Fresh mint in water is very refreshing.

Spinach Quiche
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, chopped
1 - 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained
1 - 9 inch refrigerated pre-made pie crust (makes it quick this way)
1/2 cup monterey jack cheese, grated
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
5 eggs
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon dill weed
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  
Melt butter in skillet over medium heat, add onion and cook until soft.  Add spinach and stir until spinach is dry, about 3 minutes.  Cool slightly.  
Sprinkle both cheeses over bottom of pie crust.   Top with spinach mixture.  Beat eggs, cottage cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg and dill weed in a large bowl to blend.  Pour over spinach.  Bake until filling is set, about 50 minutes.   Cool slightly, cut into wedges and serve.