Archive for June, 2007

Cranberry Almond Bread

June 24, 2007

I’ve been travelling quite a bit for work which allows me to eat fabulous meals in fabulous cities, but leaves my cupboards looking quite bare from neglect.   But, I’ve had the urge to cook something, anything.  Since my trip this week is short and my desire to hit the grocery store is low, I decided to just bake something.  My mom gave me a cookbook put together by her coworkers a few weeks ago and I’ve been paging through it.  I found a Cranberry Almond Bread recipe that looked promising.  I tweaked it a bit since it seemed heavy on the sugar, but I think it needs even more tweaking. 

Cranberry Almond Bread
2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt (I used 1/2 tsp.)
1 egg
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. melted butter
2 tsp. almond extract (I used vanilla, but it would benefit from the extra almond flavoring)
1 – 6 oz. package of Craisins
1 T. sugar (I used 1/2 T.)
1/4 c. sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a loaf pan. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl. In another mixing bowl, combine egg, milk, butter, almond extract and Craisins. Add to dry ingredients, mixing just until dry ingredients are moist. Spread batter in loaf pan. Sprinkle with sugar and almonds. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Makes one loaf.

I used about 4 oz of Craisins and you should definitely use the full 6 oz. Also, wait to slice! I was impatient and wanted to taste it. It also seemed like a lot of butter and a lot of sugar. Next time I’d compare this recipe to a few online and possibly try to find ways to reduce one or both. I’m not one to use applesauce instead of oil, and I hate Splenda so really, I’d just like to see if those ratios are good.


Something towards the healthier side

June 10, 2007

My cousin came over for dinner last night and since she’s trying to lose weight, I wanted to do something that was healthy, but didn’t feel like the standard grilled chicken and vegetables fare.  Mark Bittman’s Chicken Curry in a Hurry that Elise had highlighted had been in my head as something easy, yet high in protein.  But, I needed a salad, some vegetables.  I looked through all of my cookbooks and found a recipe in Local Flavors that I liked, but I knew my grocery shopping was going to be limited and I wasn’t sure I would be able to find the ingredients that I needed.  I had bookmarked the recipe for Carrot and Avocado salad from Chocolate and Zucchini and that stuck in my head.  I love avocado’s and will use them anytime I can, so I decided to go with it.

Carottes Rapées à l’Avocat

– One small ripe avocado, about 150 grams (5 1/3 ounces), diced
– The juice of a lemon or an orange
– A dash of balsamic vinegar or oxymel
– Fine sea salt, freshly ground pepper
– Tabasco sauce or similar (I use Bayou Red) or strong mustard, to taste
– 4 medium carrots, about 450 grams (1 pound) total, peeled and grated
– 250 grams (9 ounces) firm tofu or cooked chicken, diced
– Toasted seeds — sunflower, sesame, flax, or a mix thereof

Serves 2.

Combine the avocado, lemon juice, and balsamic vinegar in a medium salad bowl, and mash the avocado roughly with a fork. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce. Fold in the carrots and tofu, and stir until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for half an hour or up to a day. Toss again before serving, adjust the seasoning, and sprinkle with liberal amounts of toasted seeds.

I do think that you could substitute some jicama for one of the carrots and it would be fabulous. I used tofu because I was doing chicken in the main dish, but I think if you do do chicken here, it needs to be flavorful, not just grilled chicken. Again, this salad was fabulous and bright and perfect for summer.

Chicken Curry in a Hurry
1 Tbsp corn, grapeseed, or olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1/3 cup golden raisins (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons yellow curry powder, or to taste
4 skinless, boneless, chicken breast halves (1 to 1 1/2 pounds)*
1 cup sour cream
Minced fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish

* Chicken breasts can be so huge. I prefer smaller pieces and so cut each breast into thirds to make something more like chicken tenders.

1. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add the onions (and optional raisins), sprinkle with some salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium, sprinkle with half of the curry powder, and continue to cook a minute or two.

2 Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle it with the remaining curry powder. Move the onion to one side of the skillet and add the chicken in one layer. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate.

3 **Add the sour cream and stir constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture is nice and thick. Return the chicken to the skillet and cook for a couple more minutes, or until cooked through, turning once.

Garnish with cilantro or parsley and serve with rice.

** As I scrubbed the pan, I noticed there were tons of delicious brown bits that were wasted. When I make this again, I would deglaze the pan at this point with a little chicken broth, then add the sour cream.

Serves 4.

Saturday evening dinner party

June 6, 2007

I’ve lived in this house for almost six years and my favorite room is the screen porch.  It’s the perfect place for entertaining in the summer.  I also got a new grill recently so I thought it was the perfect time to break both in.  I invited Jessica and Amy over for a grilling feast:

Tomato and Watermelon Caprese Salad with Basil Granita
Grilled Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Sauces
Grilled Vegetable Packets
Grilled Pizza with Honeyed Goat Cheese and Strawberries

This salad was beyond amazing. The watermelon added the right amount of crispness and the basil granita was icy and perfect. The granita was a little futzy because I had to take it in and out of the freezer quite a few times to get it to the right consistency to scoop, but it was so worth it.

Tomato-Watermelon Caprese with Basil Granita – serves 4 as side dish
adapted from Running with Tweezers

For basil granita:

one small bunch fresh basil – washed, dried and de-stemmed
1 tsp. sugar
8 ounces cold water
– Add all ingredients to blender and puree on high until fully combined and there are no large pieces of basil remaining. Pour liquid into glass/non-reactive shallow baking dish and place in freezer. Periodically check on mixture and fork to loosen as it freezes – every 15 minutes or so – until it reaches desired consistency.

For salad/assembly:

8 oz. container of mozzarella bocconcini
2 cups watermelon pieces scooped with melon baller
1 pound cherry tomatoes, cut in half
course salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil & balsamic vinegar, optional
– Mix all ingredients together save for the optional olive oil and vinegar. Before serving, top salad with melon ball scoops of basil granita. If dressing the salad, do so at the very end for presentations sake.

We’d had a few glasses of wine by this point and I forgot to take a picture when I plated things, but you get the general idea. It seems like chicken breasts are so huge and thick these days, I prefer recipes where you pound them thin. It also cuts down on the grilling time and I’m much more confident that the chicken is cooked through without getting too dry.

Grilled Chicken Breasts with Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Adapted from
4 boneless chicken breast halves
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon each of fresh parsley, rosemary, oregano, and thyme
1 clove minced garlic
4 ounces goat cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

If breasts are too large, cut on the diagonal. Put each chicken breast half between two sheets of plastic wrap; pound lightly to flatten evenly. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken pieces.
Lightly oil the grill or grill pan. Grill over medium coals or medium-high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.

Goat Cheese Sauce:
Combine olive oil, wine, and chicken broth in a saucepan; simmer over medium heat until reduced by about 1/2. Add the fresh herbs, garlic, goat cheese, and salt and pepper. Continue simmering, stirring frequently, until sauce is thickened. Our sauce never really thickened, but we did let it simmer for over thirty minutes and it was still fabulous.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce:
Roast two red peppers (or use a jar of roasted red peppers).  In the food processor, combine roasted red peppers, 1/4 cup olive oil, one clove of garlic, and four or five basil leaves.  Process until the consistency you like.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Grilled Vegetable Packets
This is a recipe we came up with a few years ago. You can use just about any vegetable, although if they are going to be on the grill for a bit, I recommend putting the heartier vegetables on the bottom (such as zucchini).
2 zucchinis, sliced
4 roma tomatoes sliced
1 red onion sliced
1 stick butter
Herbs – dried or fresh to taste
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Bread crumbs

Slice all of the vegetables so they are roughly the same thickness. Divide between two foil packets. Melt the butter in a saucepan, adding the herbs and parmesan cheese. Pour the butter over the vegetables and top generously with the bread crumbs. Seal the foil packets and place on the grill over medium heat for 20 minutes. We used to flip the packets, but then the butter ran out and it just didn’t work.

I’m going to skip the grilled pizza recipe because it just wasn’t that fabulous. I burned the crust on the grill, the strawberries had too much liquor in them and really, there are better dessert recipes out there.