Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chicken Barbeque Sandwiches

Chicken Barbeque Sandwiches

This is the last recipe using last week’s chicken and I believe it was my favorite.  Not only did Big Mama love it, the Little Mouths did too and they had NO idea of the extra nutrients the sweet potato added to the mix. 

Rachel Ray’s recipe was the inspiration, but I changed it quite a bit to please the Little Mouths palates.
I also froze half of this for another day, since the recipe was enough for 8-10 sandwiches.

1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons dark amber maple syrup
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup apricot all-fruit spread or preserves
2 shots good-quality bourbon (optional)
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 sweet potato
Salt and Pepper to taste

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cups Pulled Poached Chicken, recipe follows
1 cup chicken stock
8 slices of Provolone Cheese
8 Buns or Rolls

Poke holes in the sweet potato with a fork and cook in the microwave according to manufacturer’s instructions. While it’s cooking, combine the rest of the sauce ingredients in a saucepan on medium heat.  Let it simmer and thicken for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. Peel and mash sweet potato. Add to the sauce and whisk together. Simmer until the sauce is well combined and will coat a spoon when you dip it into the sauce.
In a sauté pan, cook one large onion over medium heat in the olive oil.  When the onion is just starting to caramelize, add the chicken and heat through. Deglaze the pan with the chicken stock and allow to reduce by half.  Add the sauce and simmer until it reaches the desired consistency.  Stop here and freeze or top rolls with a scoop of the chicken mixture and a piece of cheese.  Place under the broiler until the roll is toasted and the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Carmelized Onion and Fennel Pasta

When I saw this recipe on Rachel Ray's Week in a Day I knew it was right up the Little Mouth's Alley.  It was pasta in what looked to be a regular cream sauce, but it was pureed onions and fennel, both of which I love. So we tried it with mixed results.

First of all, the recipe was billed as a fix ahead meal, so I can't blame the consistency on refrigerating it for two days before we ate it. The key to this recipe, is getting the onions and fennel very, very, very cooked.  I cooked them for maybe an hour and I thought they were as done as they could get.  However, when I put them in my food processor to puree, it ended up kind or like a soupy mess that tended to separate.  Even so, the flavor was good, so I added the chicken and thought maybe it would be better when I warmed it up.

Not so much.  I warmed it though and in that process, the very tender chicken left over from the stock pretty much disintegrated.  So now I had a really disgusting looking sauce. But it still tasted good. 

So I whipped up a very fast Alfredo sauce, using only two tablespoons of butter and calculating the rest of the ingredients accordingly.  I stirred the whole mess together was GREAT.

The flavor was spot on. It had a lovely sweetness from the fennel and onions. I would have preferred the chicken be in chunks instead of just an explosion in the sauce, but it was good.  Best of all, the Little Mouths LOVED it. Picky Icky Little Mouth had seconds. Imagine that.

1 Large Yellow Onion
1 Blub Fennel
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1-2 cups chicken stock (Depending on Consistency)
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Flour
1 cup Fat Free Half and Half
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1 cup diced chicken

Thinly slice onions and fennel and saute over low to medium heat until very, very tender. Throw he whole mess in the food processor and puree, then return to the saute pan.  Stir in the Alfredo, chicken and pasta.

Huge thumbs up from Big Mama and Little Mouths.  Picky Icky Little Mouth had seconds!

Sorry no photo, some kind of photography malfunction!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Menu Plan Monday!

After taking the summer off for book launches, softball, baseball and three weeks in Florida, I'm really, really trying to get back in the swing of things.  I've missed my little blog, missed cooking and most of all, I've missed eating healthy meals instead of take out (so has my backside, I must admit)

So,  is back.

Remember, it's CHICKEN week.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and Grilled Cheese

Leftovers Night (Cub Scouts)

Carmelized Onion and Fennel Pasta (Recipe coming this week)

BBQ Chicken Sandwiches (Recipe this Week)
Garlic Fries

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Chicken in Big Mama's Pot

Have you caught Rachel Ray's new show on the Cooking Channel called "Week in a Day"? Even though all the recipes except for one are mine, her show gave me the idea. 

I watched her poach a whole chicken last Saturday and realized I've never, ever cooked an entire chicken.
I do have sort of a "bone phobia" and most of the meat I cook is boneless. 

So I took myself down to Fresh Market and purchased the biggest old chicken I could find...

Then I got out my big enameled cast iron pot and surrounded him with a bunch of yummy aromatics.  I used the following because I had them on hand:

2 carrots
2 stalks of celery
1 lemon, sliced
1 large onion
1/2 clove of garlic, peeled and smashed
12-15 peppercorns
1 bunch parsley stems
1 bunch fresh rosemary
1 bunch fresh thyme
and the tops to a fennel bulb I had purchased for another recipe.

I used the parts of the herbs that you'd normally throw out, like the stems and herbs that were just shy of needing to be thrown out. 

Our CSA provides us with lovely fresh herbs every week and sometimes it's a challenge to get them all used with out busy schedule.  This was a great way to use them before I had to toss them.

Cover the chicken with water and put the lid on.  Cook on high heat with the lid on until it reaches a boil.  Then uncover and simmer for 45-60 minutes depending on the size of the chicken.

When cooked through, allow to cool a bit and remove chicken.  This was a little tricky because it was literally falling off the bone.

Strain chicken stock and chill or freeze.  Don't spill a drop.  This is liquid gold!

I used chicken stock in many of my recipes and most of the time it is store bought for convenience.  But my-oh-my homemade stock is worth the effort if you have the time. I've made it from chicken pieces and parts that were on sale at the grocery, but never from a whole chicken.  This was a great because not only did I get a gallon of lovely stock for my efforts, I got chicken for two spectacular meals later in the week. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Big Mama's Melon Sorbet

Our CSA has been delivering wonderful melons lately.  Watermelons, Cantaloupe and Honeydews abound.

I love melon fresh and what we haven't been able to use I've been freezing for smoothies when its past it's peak.  This week I had a lovely honeydew and decided to try something new, although I think it would work equally well with any kind of melon.

Big Mama's Melon Sorbet

2 pounds of any kind of melon
1 small 6 oz. can of pineapple juice (could use any sweet fruit juice)
3/4 cup flavored fizzy water (I used pomegranate)
1/2 cup grenadine for color and added sweetness

Puree all ingredients in a food processor or blender. I have this one and I love it!

Pour mixture through a strainer and into your ice cream maker. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for timing.  Mine took 20 minutes. 

I've heard you can freeze sorbets in a glass casserole dish in your normal freezer, then fluff it up with a fork before serving, but I haven't tried it.

The Little Mouths love this served in a glass, slightly melted like one of those slushies from 7-11 that I don't allow the Big Little Mouth to have since they make her act like a circus act!  Red dye and sugar are not her friend...but with this sorbet, nary a issue with behavior and that makes Big Mama very happy indeed.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Big Mama's Green Goddess Dressing

I think every Little Mouth in the world loves ranch dressing, and my little mouths are no exception. However, there aren't a lot of ingredients on that label that I can pronounce, let alone spell.

With our profusion of fresh herbs from out CSA box, Big Mama set out to find an alternative, and I think I did a pretty good job.  This dressing has more zip than traditional ranch and a fresh green color, thus the name.

I made mine more of a dip consistancy because I was using it on burgers and and on some potato wedges.  Note the milk or buttermilk is optional for consistancy.

Big Mama's Green Goddess Dressing

1/2 cup mayonaise (I used Kraft Olive Oil Mayo)
1/2 cup sour cream (I used light)
2 Scallions roughly chopped
10 basil leaves rougly chopped
1 clove garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 cup of milk or buttermilk to correct consistancy, optional

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender.

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