Moroccan Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup

My kids crack me up.  Yes, there are times when I have had enough, and I just snap, but sometimes the things they say are just too much.  Last month when we were with my father-in-law, my youngest was playing a guessing game with him.  She wanted him to guess the person she was thinking of – he happens to be a very famous person, with a very big job.  She said, “His first name begins with a B, and his last name begins with a B.”  At first we thought we knew who it was, but when she told us the last name began with a B, we were all stumped.  After a few more clues, we were sure she was talking about the President.  We asked, “Are you sure his last name begins with a B?”  She said, “Yes, Barack0 Bama.”  I swear I could not stop crying, I was laughing so hard.

Now back to food…I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, and I knew it would be risky.  Squash is not a fan favorite among the little people of the house.  I decided I wasn’t going to let that stop me though.  If it was tasty enough, they would love it.  I happened to make it one night when my older one was not home for dinner – which sometimes helps my younger one to be more adventurous.  I served the soup, and my husband and I loved it.  It had a really nice tomato flavor, and chock full of stuff – chicken, squash and couscous – with this lovely cinnamon flavor.  It was even better than I imagined.  Then came the moment I was waiting for – she was all excited to have soup for dinner, and took a bite, and actually went in for another.  After a few bites she said, “Mommy, I wouldn’t say I hate this.”  Well, that is better than the alternative.  She didn’t eat a ton of the squash, but managed to eat around it and got lots of chicken, couscous, and soup.  At least we avoided the cold cuts…success!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 (4-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 3 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons no-salt-added tomato paste
  • 4 cups Chicken Stock or fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup uncooked couscous
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange rind

Preparation

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken; cook for 4 minutes, browning on all sides. Add cumin, cinnamon, and pepper to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add butternut squash and tomato paste; cook 1 minute. Stir in Chicken Stock, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes. Stir in couscous, salt, and zucchini; cook 5 minutes or until squash is tender. Remove pan from heat. Stir in chopped basil and orange rind.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Moroccan Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup

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Butterscotch Blondie Bars with Peanut-Pretzel Caramel

So, when is enough enough, and when is it overkill?  That is a question I ask myself constantly – mostly at work, but pretty much in all situations.  I learned years ago that there is a big difference between good enough, and too much.  The difference can actually mean good enough somewhere else – if you understand where I am going with this.  The time we invest in going overboard could be time actually well spent somewhere else.  In a world (at least like mine), where there is never enough time – it is an important question to ask, and I think the most successful people are the ones that know exactly how much time to spend to get the biggest return.  I admit that sometimes it is luck, but I have to believe this is something you can get good at over time.

Take food for example, the time it takes to make homemade caramel vs. buying a jar in the store, in my opinion, is well worth it.  I have had some good purchased caramel, but it is nothing like what I can make using sugar, butter and cream.  Homemade pretzels though that you are going to crush up and cover with caramel after placing on the blondies – in my opinion, not worth the time.  I’m sure you can make some pretty amazing pretzels, but that my friend, seems like overkill.  This recipe from Bon Appetit, well worth every minute I put into them – the chewy blondies, the salty pretzels combined with the sweet homemade caramel – it was over the top, but wonderful at the same time.  I guess sometimes overkill is the way to go…as long as you leave some time for the next amazing quest.

Ingredients

Blondie:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups (packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Peanut-pretzel caramel:

  • 4 cups roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups 1 1/2″-wide thin twisted pretzels, coarsely crushed

Special equipment: A 13x9x2″ metal baking pan

Preparation

For blondie: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 1″ overhang on long sides of pan. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Stir butter in a medium skillet over medium heat until browned bits form at bottom of pan, 7–8 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add brown sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat until well combined and mixture resembles wet sand, 2–3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until fluffy and well combined, about 2 minutes. Add dry ingredients; beat until smooth (batter will be thick). Using an offset or regular spatula, evenly spread batter in prepared pan.

Bake blondie until golden brown, edges pull away from sides of pan, and a tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 20–25 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

For peanut-pretzel caramel: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread peanuts over sheet in an even layer. Bake, stirring frequently, until golden brown and fragrant, 5–7 minutes. Set aside.

Stir sugar and 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until caramel is deep amber, 12–15 minutes. Add honey; return to a boil, stirring often, about 1 minute longer. Add butter; stir until blended. Add cream (mixture will bubble vigorously); whisk until smooth. Stir in peanuts and pretzels. Pour over cooled blondie. Chill until cool, about 30 minutes.

Run a knife around short sides of pan to release blondie. Using parchment-paper overhang, lift from pan. Cut lengthwise into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 10 bars.

DO AHEAD: Chill for up to 1 week in an airtight container. Bring to room temperature before serving.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Butterscotch Blondie Bars with Peanut-Pretzel Caramel

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Tomato-Basil Soup

I know you have all been sitting at the edge of your seat waiting and wondering what I served with those delicious Mini Bacon and Egg Tarts…and here it is.  Tomato-Basil Soup.

When I was in college, my roommates were into food almost as much as I was.  For the most part we cooked for ourselves (and I got really good cooking for one), but sometimes we would make stuff for us all to share.  One of my roommates was not a huge fan of cheese, but she loved italian food, and had spent a lot of time in Italy growing up.  She made this amazing pasta dish for us that we would ask for again and again – the secret was that she added cream cheese to the tomato sauce, and it made this very creamy sauce, almost like a vodka sauce, that covered the pasta just beautifully so you would get a mouth full of sauce with every bite.  I absolutely loved it, and was so excited whenever it was in my future.  I had almost forgotten all about this, until I saw this Tomato-Basil Soup…

As I was looking through my Cooking Light, I spotted this soup.  My girls have been asking for tomato soup lately – mostly because they know it goes well with grilled cheese, one of their favorites.  I looked at the recipe and I noticed the cream cheese.  My mind went instantly to college and that pasta recipe my roommate used to make.  I could taste the soup before even making it – and I knew it would be amazing.  Well, I was right – and as a bonus, this was incredibly easy to make, and a light version.  Back when I was in college, I don’t think light cream cheese existed, but I tell you, you would not notice the difference.  This soup was so creamy, and so rich tasting – and together with those delicious tarts, it was just perfect.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 (28-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 2 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preparation

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in garlic; cook for 1 minute. Add basil and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Stir in cheese until melted. Place mixture in blender, and blend until smooth. Return to pan; stir in milk, salt, and pepper. Return to medium-high; cook 2 minutes.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Tomato-Basil Soup

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Crack Pie

A few years ago, the Momofuku Milk Bar craze began.  It wasn’t until I actually visited it myself in New York City did I really understand why.  This place was too much.  The desserts in the case were incredible, the cookies outrageous, and the cereal milk ice-cream…let’s just say, I am hooked for life.  It was really quite a experience, and that was before I tried the Crack Pie.  So, what kind of pie is called Crack Pie?  A pie that is so irresistibly delicious, you just can’t stop.  The name captures it perfectly.

A good friend of mine in Seattle is a huge fan as well – in fact, she lived in NYC and frequented the Milk Bar often before moving out west.  She is a huge Momofuku fan.  We had been talking about having a Momofuku dinner for a while – she would make the main dishes, I would make the dessert.  Since Crack Pie was printed in Bon Appetit a couple of years ago, I was all set.  We finally put a date on the calendar to have our special meal, and since the pie had to chill overnight, I put a note for myself on the counter on Friday night to remind myself to make it on Saturday (our dinner was Sunday).  We had some friends over on Friday night for cocktails – unfortunately I still had a ton of work to do – so after everyone left  – I went to the computer to tackle my emails.  A couple of hours later – I went back to the kitchen to look at my list for the next day – and mind you, I could barely keep my eyes open I was so tired.  I saw the pie, then brownies and cookies.  I thought I only had to make a pie?  Why do I have to make Pot Brownies and Cocaine Cookies?  I burst out laughing.  Obviously my friends were as well – as I figured out exactly what happened.  When I spoke to them the next day, we all had a good laugh about it.  No, their friend had not turned into a dug addict…just a pie addict.

Ingredients

Oat Cookie Crust

  • Nonstick vegetable oil  spray
  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1  tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons (packed)  golden brown sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons  sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons  old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose  flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking  powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking  soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon (generous)  salt

Filling

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown  sugar
  • 1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk  powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted  butter, melted, cooled slightly
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping  cream
  • 4 large egg  yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  extract
  • Powdered sugar (for  dusting)

Preparation

Oat Cookie Crust

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with  parchment paper; coat with nonstick spray. Combine 6 tablespoons butter, 4  tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Using electric  mixer, beat mixture until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides of  bowl, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat until pale and fluffy. Add oats, flour,  baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until well blended, about 1  minute. Turn oat mixture out onto prepared baking pan; press out evenly to edges  of pan. Bake until light golden on top, 17 to 18 minutes. Transfer baking pan to  rack and cool cookie completely.

Using hands, crumble oat cookie into large bowl; add 3  tablespoons butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar. Rub in with fingertips  until mixture is moist enough to stick together. Transfer cookie crust mixture  to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Using fingers, press mixture evenly onto  bottom and up sides of pie dish. Place pie dish with crust on rimmed baking  sheet.

Filling

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Whisk  both sugars, milk powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add melted butter  and whisk until blended. Add cream, then egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until  well blended. Pour filling into crust. Bake pie 30 minutes (filling may begin to  bubble). Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Continue to bake pie until filling is  brown in spots and set around edges but center still moves slightly when pie  dish is gently shaken, about 20 minutes longer. Cool pie 2 hours in pie dish on  rack. Chill uncovered overnight.

DO AHEAD Can be made 2  days ahead. Cover; keep chilled.

Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Cut pie into  wedges and serve cold.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Crack Pie

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Indonesian Avocado Milkshake (Jus Alpukat)

You would think we were Irish with the way the kids have been acting today.  They are fully decked out in green – they even found green beads to wear around their neck, and green hair accessories.  They pretty much hate green every other day of the year.  Last night they asked if I would make them green pancakes for breakfast with green milk – why not?  I told them if they made their beds in the morning, I would – now, call me crazy, but I actually think a leprechaun came in and did it for them – I found notes on their night stands…

After making green shamrock pancakes for breakfast and turning their milk green, I started getting in the spirit – and looked at that ripe avocado on the counter.  I asked the girls if they wanted green smoothies in the afternoon, and of course I got a resounding “yes.”  I remembered a while ago I saw some recipes in the Pacific Northwest Magazine about Avocado Milkshakes – so I went searching.  It was hard to decide which one to make, but I went with the Indonesian version – boy does an avocado make a smooth milkshake – it was velvety.  If you like avocados, these milkshakes were delectable with just the right amount of sweetness.  You would have sworn you were eating ice-cream it was so good.  The kids on the other hand were not too impressed.  They are not big avocado fans, so I wasn’t expecting much – but they at least had a few sips.  This was definitely my treat.  I didn’t add the espresso since I don’t drink caffeine, but I am sure it would be delicious.

So – I hope you are all celebrating your inner-Irish today – whether you are Irish or not – and this milkshake will put a little hop in your step, just like a little leprechaun.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium avocado
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 1/3 cup cold espresso and/or a drizzle of chocolate syrup
  • 2/3 cup milk, or as needed
  • 1/3 cup superfine sugar or simple syrup, or as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

Halve the avocado lengthwise and scoop the flesh into a blender, discarding the pit.  Add the remaining ingredients and blend until completely smooth.  Taste and add more sugar if desired, and/or a little more milk for a thinner consistency.  Serve immediately, with a straw and spoon.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Indonesian Avocado Milkshake

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Mini Bacon and Egg Tarts

Today I was invited to lead a “book group” discussion at work for an early in career rotational program we have in my division.  I was actually surprised they asked me to do this, until I started reading the book, then it all started to make sense.  I use the other side of my brain when I am at work, which is why I love to come home and cook – it forces me to use my creative side.  Don’t get me wrong, I have to be super creative at work – but in a completely different way.  Between my family, my job and my blog, I feel very fullfilled – even too much sometimes, which explains a lot.

We spent quite a bit of time discussing the book, and they also asked me excellent questions on the work I do.  That was all great, until someone asked me a question that started, “When you are reading the news…”  I immediately pictured myself in my office reading the newspaper, like my father does each day.  Nope, I don’t do that.  Then I pictured myself sitting down every night and turning on MSNBC to catch up on the days events.  Nope, I don’t do that either.  From the time it took the person to ask me the question, to the time I answered it – I realized that the world is so different today.  I don’t spend time reading the paper or watching the news, but somehow I know what it going on in the world, the latest technologies out there, and what our competitors are doing.  I am not sure how – but it is integrated into my day here and there, and it seems to work.  If I ever sit down and actually read something, it is usually about food.  And even that doesn’t come as often as I would like.  It is amazing these days how easily you can get information – even when you don’t sit down and pick up a newspaper.

Today I read about Pinterest – and the phenomenal growth it has had recently.  Did you know that people spend more time on Pinterest these days than Facebook?  Think about how Pinterest is having an impact on the food blogging world – it is amazing.  The majority of my hits used to come from Tastespotting and Foodgawker…now Pinterest is bringing more people to my site, and I love it.  It is just incredible to think how quickly things change.

So – please enjoy these mini bacon and egg tarts that I saw in Cooking Light.  It is a whole new way to eat your bacon, eggs and toast.  Who knows, maybe it will take off through Pinterest and be a massive hit.  They were as delicious as they were adorable.  The girls couldn’t get over them…my only mistake was not making more.  My husband and I quickly ate ours, and then started eyeing the girls.  We must have asked them at least 4 times if they were going to eat theirs…and sure enough they did, they were just taking their time.  New things pop up all the time that change the way we do things….and what I love about food, is that is an understatement.  The possibilities to use your creative side are endless – I can’t wait to see the next best dish on Pinterest.

Ingredients

  • 8 (1-ounce) slices whole-wheat white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions (optional)
  • 2 slices smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425°.

Lightly coat both sides of bread with cooking spray. Press each bread slice into the cup of a muffin tin. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes or until bread is lightly toasted. Cool slightly.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

Combine milk and eggs, stirring well with a whisk. Divide the egg mixture evenly among bread cups. Sprinkle onions, if desired, and bacon evenly over tarts; top each tart with 1 tablespoon cheese. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until set.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Mini Bacon and Egg Tarts

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Peanut Dacquoise with Peanut Butter Mousse

Auction time!!  Remember last year when I made the Tower of Treats for an auction?  Well, this year I decided to stick to just one dessert – I am trying to simplify my life, not overly complicate it at the moment.  Give me a few months, I will get back to infusing chaos whenever I can…but for now, the word simplify is my motto.  Of course, I couldn’t just make anything, it had to be something somewhat involved to get people to want it.  I chose a recipe from Bon Appetit that I found a while ago – but never had the opportunity to make.  I was pretty excited about making it, until it was time – and then the stress kicked in.

It took a couple of days to make – not that it was so time-consuming, but with the chilling, and the waiting, I just didn’t have a block of 7 hours straight dedicate to the project.  Along the way, my younger daughter and I sampled everything.  The meringue was sick – the best meringue I have ever had.  The mousse – oh my, I could have easily eaten the entire bowl, but I kept reminding myself that it would not be a dacquoise without it – and the ganache on top was rich and decadent.  I put it together, and I was proud, it was a perfect auction dessert.  There was only one problem…I wasn’t going to the auction this year.  Remember my motto?  Well, I just couldn’t add another event to the weekend, so I declined.  My neighbors brought my dessert to the auction, and unfortunately they lost track of it when the dessert dash ended – and I will never know if it was a success.  So – take my word for it – if the pieces were all perfection, how could it be anything less than that when stacked together?  I guess I just have to make it again…but there is that word again, haunting me…and I will have to politely decline for now.

Ingredients

meringue layers

  • 1 1/4 cups roasted Spanish salted peanuts with skin (6 to 6 1/2 ounces),  divided
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pinch of coarse kosher salt

mousse

  • 1/2 cup chunky natural-style peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • Pinch of coarse kosher salt
  • 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  extract

glaze

  • 1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/3 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
  • Pinch of fleur de sel (optional)

Preparation

meringue layers

Preheat oven to 275°F. Line large baking sheet with parchment  paper. Draw three 10 x 4 1/2-inch rectangles on parchment; turn parchment over.  Finely grind 1 cup nuts with 1/4 cup sugar in processor. Coarsely chop remaining  1/4 cup nuts and set aside.

Using electric mixer, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and  coarse salt in large bowl until foamy. With mixer running, gradually add  remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating until meringue is stiff and glossy. Add ground  nut mixture and coarsely chopped nuts; fold  gently just to  blend.

Spoon 2 cups meringue onto each rectangle on parchment; spread  evenly to fill rectangles (any remaining meringue can be baked as  cookies).

Bake meringues until golden brown all over and dry to touch  but still slightly soft,  about 1 hour 30 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool  completely.

mousse

Using electric mixer, beat peanut butter, brown sugar, and  coarse salt in medium bowl to blend. With mixer running, gradually beat in 1/4  cup cream. Add another 1/4 cup cream and beat just to blend. Beat remaining ½  cup cream, sugar, and vanilla in another medium bowl until peaks form; fold into  peanut butter mixture in 3 additions. Chill until ready to  use.

glaze

Whisk cocoa powder and sugar in medium saucepan to blend well.  Gradually add 1/4 cup water, whisking until smooth. Gradually whisk in heavy  cream. Bring to boil over medium heat, whisking frequently. Reduce heat to low.  Add chocolate and whisk until melted and  smooth. Let stand at room temperature  until cool and slightly thickened, stirring occasionally, about 2  hours.

Leaving meringues on parchment and using large serrated knife,  trim edges of each meringue to original 10×4 1/2-inch size. Slide thin knife  between meringues and paper to loosen. Spoon 1/4 cup glaze evenly over top of 2  meringue rectangles and spread to cover. Chill until chocolate sets, about 30  minutes. Place 1 glazed meringue rectangle on plate. Spoon half of mousse over  (scant 1 1/4 cups); spread out in even layer. Place second glazed meringue  rectangle atop first; spread with remaining mousse. Top with unglazed meringue   rectangle. Pour 1/2 cup glaze down center of top meringue. Using icing spatula,  spread  glaze over top meringue, allowing glaze to drip down sides. Smooth top  and sides to  cover evenly with thin layer. Refrigerate until glaze is set,  about 30 minutes. Pour  remaining glaze over top of dacquoise and quickly smooth  over top and sides in even  layer. Sprinkle fleur de sel lightly over top, if  desired. Chill at least 3 hours.

DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead.  Cover with cake dome and keep chilled.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Peanut Dacquoise with Peanut Butter Mousse

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Chicken with Olives and Lemons

Lately I haven’t had as much time to make dinner.  Work has been keeping me very busy, and keeping me from getting home at my usual time.  I am still managing to cook almost every night, although I have had to dig into my freezer stash a little more than I would like – for some reason I feel a lot better when the freezer is completely full of frozen meals that I have made – just in case I happen to need them.  Well, when I get home at 6:30pm and the kids are starving, isn’t that what the meals are there for?  I guess I am afraid of the day when I go downstairs, and the freezer is bare.  Unfortunately that is going to happen fairly soon…

I have been behind in pretty much everything lately, including my magazines.  I think this recipe from Cooking Light is a couple of months old, but it is a perfect dish to make when you get home from work late, but you want to cook something quick.  I loved the lemons on top, and the salty olives were a perfect accompaniment.  The kids were not crazy about the chicken only because they thought the flavor was a little strong – but with some rice, my husband and I thought it was a great weeknight dinner, that I was able to serve within 45 minutes of coming home.  Now if only I could figure out how to get more food into that freezer downstairs…

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, halved crosswise
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 15 oil-cured olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1 large shallot, sliced
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken to bag; seal. Shake to coat chicken. Marinate 15 minutes at room temperature. Arrange chicken mixture in a broiler-safe 11 x 7–inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken evenly with oregano and the next 4 ingredients (through shallot); top with lemon slices. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes.

Remove chicken from oven. Preheat broiler to HIGH.

Place chicken 3 inches from broiler element; broil on HIGH for 3 minutes or until chicken is browned and done.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chicken with Olives and Lemons

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Meyer Lemon-Infused Vodka

Well, the results are in, and I came in second in the Girl Scout Cookie Recipe Contest!  I was hoping for first, although when I found out exactly what that meant, I have to say I am just a little relieved that I came in second.  I found out last Thursday that the winner would go on television with their creation, and hand out samples to the audience – that meant 80 mini cheesecakes that I would have to make.  My weekend was already booked baking for an auction, so I must say I was a little stressed about the whole thing.  As much as I like to win, that really would have set me over the edge.  Now my team will have enough Girl Scout Cookies to snack on to last a year – and I plan on giving half to a local shelter!!  48 boxes is a lot of Girl Scout Cookies.  Thanks everyone who voted – there is always next year!

My pantry…it is my favorite room in the house.  When we decided to build a house almost 9 years ago, I remember talking to the architect about the kitchen and the fact that I needed to have a pantry.  I wasn’t sure at that point why I needed one so badly, I just did.  When my kids were young, it was like a play room for them, they would close the door and play with everything inside.  It provided hours of entertainment.  Now that they are older, I am starting to fill the pantry with all sorts of fun stuff – especially glass jars.  I bought these Weck Jars recently, and I am in love.  They are beautiful, functional, and makes me want to fill them with beautiful and colorful things.  My kids don’t eat a lot of candy, which is why we always have a lot lying around from birthday parties, Halloween, and baking.  Once I ran out of candy, my mind went to infusions.  I had a bunch of Meyer lemons in the refrigerator that I wasn’t sure what to do with, and it hit me.  Meyer Lemon-Infused Vodka – perfect for cocktails.  I found a recipe from the Martha Stewart website, and in less than 15 minutes the infusion began.  I still have another week or so before I can test it out, but it looks wonderful, and in a few days, the vodka has already begun to take on a nice yellow color.

You can find these jars online – they are selling them everywhere these days.  So, I just have to ask – what’s in your pantry?

Ingredients

  • 1 750 mL good quality vodka
  • 4-5 Meyer lemons

Directions

Peel Meyer lemons using vegetable peeler.  Add vodka.  Let steep for at least 2 weeks.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Meyer Lemon-Infused Vodka

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