Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Raw Tomato & Green Bean Pasta

*Adapted from here.

Serves: 6 (as entree servings; serves at least 8 as a side dish)
Prep: 25 minutes

salt & pepper
3/4 lb. orecchiette (or other small pasta)
1 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb. beefsteak tomatoes, diced medium (I used 1 1/2 very large tomatoes.)
1 small garlic clove, mashed to paste (I chose to mince the garlic because it didn't break up well enough.)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp red-wine vinegar
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (4 oz.)
1/2 cup fresh dill or mint (I recommend the mint.)

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes less than package instructions, then add beans and cook until bright green and just tender. Drain and return to pot, removing from heat.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine tomatoes, garlic, oil, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Add pasta, beans, and half the feta and herbs; toss to combine and season. Serve warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with remaining feta and herbs.

*Notes for myself: Use half the amount of garlic and no mint if serving to the kids. Additionally, this recipe could easily be halved.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

*Adapted from here and here.

Serves: 3-4
Prep: 40 minutes

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup green salsa
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice (juice from half a lime)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 cloves garlic, minced; or 1/4 tsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp sliced green onions
2 cups shredded cooked chicken*
1 cup shredded Mexican-flavored cheese
small flour tortillas (10-12)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, and garlic. Once combined, stir in cilantro and green onions. Add the chicken and cheese; mix thoroughly.
3. Working with a few tortillas at a time, heat them in the microwave between two damp paper towels until they are soft enough to roll (20-30 seconds). Spoon 2-3 Tbsp of the chicken mixture onto the lower third of a tortilla. Roll the tortilla as tightly as you can. Place the rolled tortilla seam-side down on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas until the mixture is gone. Make sure the taquitos are not touching each other. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with kosher salt.
4. Bake 15-20 minutes or until crisp and golden.

Serve with guacamole, salsa, or sour cream.

*Recipe for taco-flavored chicken adapted from here:
1 lb. chicken breasts or thighs
lime juice from 2 limes
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2-3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a sealable plastic bag. Marinate for 4-8 hours, turning occasionally to coat. Grill or broil.

**To freeze: Before baking, freeze the taquitos in a single layer on a baking sheet for about 20 minutes, then place in a labeled freezer bag and store up to 3 months. To bake a frozen taquito (no need to thaw first): Preheat oven to 425 degrees and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Russ & Sharon's Barbecue Chicken

*Adapted from here. I found the original recipe far too spicy after my first attempt so I reduced the chile powder and cayenne by half on this version.

Serves: 4

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or whatever kind of chicken you prefer)

for "Magic Dust" rub (makes approx. 1 cup):
1/4 cup paprika
2 Tbsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp mustard powder
3 tsp chile powder (or less)
2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp granulated garlic or garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp cayenne

for BBQ sauce:
2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp prepared yellow mustard
1 Tbsp magic dust (recipe above)
1/2 tsp black pepper
hot sauce (such as Tabasco) to taste

1. Combine all ingredients for Magic Dust. Rub all but 1 Tbsp of the Magic Dust over the chicken pieces to coat thoroughly. Cover loosely in the refrigerator for 2-8 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place chicken pieces on a broiler pan. Cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until internal temperature is 150 degrees. Turn chicken after 15 minutes.
3. While chicken is cooking, prepare barbecue sauce. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer mildly, whisking occasionally, until sauce is dark and thickened, about 10-15 minutes. (This can easily be prepared in advance.)
4. When chicken is heated to 150 degrees, turn on broiler to 400 degrees. Brush sauce thickly onto chicken. Turn chicken every few minutes and re-coat with sauce, until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees and sauce is caramelized. Remove chicken to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes.

Lena's Spicy Apple Barbecue Sauce

Makes: 2 1/2 cups, prepared
Prep: 45 minutes

1 cup ketchup
2 cups apple juice
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup firmly-packed dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp celery seed
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients to a large saucepan and gradually bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking to mix. Reduce heat to low and simmer, whisking often, until sauce is thickened, about 40 minutes.

Recommendation: Serve with Lena's Dr. Pepper Pork Loin.

Lena's Dr. Pepper Pork Loin

Serves: 4-6

4 cups Dr. Pepper (do NOT use diet soda)
1/2 cup kosher salt
3-4 lbs. boneless center-cut pork loin
1 jar (9 ox.) tart cherry preserves
1/2 cup Dr. Pepper
1/2 cup water
1-2 Tbsp minced canned chipotle in adobo
2 tsp Dijon mustard
vegetable oil

1. Pour the soda into a large bowl and slowly add the salt (the mixture will foam up quite a bit so be sure to use a bowl large enough to prevent overflowing.) Stir until the salt dissolves completely, 1-2 minutes. Place a large, disposable plastic bag inside a large bowl and carefully pour the brine into the bag.
2. Trim excess fat and silver skin from the pork. Submerge the pork in the brine, seal the bag, and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
3. In a small bowl, combine the glaze ingredients.
4. Remove the pork from the bag and discard the brine. Pat dry with paper towels. Lightly coat the pork with oil and let stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before cooking. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
5. Preheat a dutch oven pot on high heat. Sear all sides of the pork for several minutes, then turn off the heat and pour the glaze over the meat. Cover and transfer to the preheated oven. Roast at 350 degrees for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Rotate the meat in the glaze every 10 minutes and add a little water or more soda if glaze gets too thick or starts to scorch. Remove meat when internal temperature reaches 145-150 degrees.

*If grilling, do not use a dutch oven. Instead, sear all sides over direct high heat then transfer to a disposable foil pan containing the glaze. Continue cooking over indirect high heat with grill lid closed, rotating the meat as indicated above.

Recommendation: Serve with Lena's Spicy Apple Barbecue Sauce and Lena's Cranberry & Cilantro Quinoa Salad.

BLT Pinwheels

*From here.

Serves: 3

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 - 1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, finely chopped
6 slices of crisp bacon, crumbled
3 tomato-flavored wrap-style tortillas
1 cup chopped seeded tomatoes
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
sliced deli turkey meat (optional)

1. In a small bowl, mix together cream cheese, mayo, and sun-dried tomatoes. Stir in bacon.
2. Spread mayo mixture evenly over tortillas. Top with deli meat, if using, and lettuce and tomatoes.
3. To serve as pinwheels, roll the tortilla up tightly and wrap the roll in plastic wrap. Refrigerate one hour, then use a serrated knife and cut each roll into 1-inch-thick slices. To serve immediately, fold in sides and roll into a wrap (burrito-style).