Spicy Summer Grilling

Unlike last year, we aren’t dealing with dusty drought conditions so our garden has taken off and going like gangbusters.  Except the parsnips.  We planted that twice and not a sausage.  Not one seed sprouted.  But given that this is the only failure we are in great shape for the most local shopping of all, just outside our door.

By the time autumn comes, I’ll be tired of salads but I do enjoy the quick summer meals with fresh veg.  For this meal I sautéed swiss chard from our garden in lemon juice and olive oil.  I also roasted potatoes as they needed to be used up.

I think one of my favourite ingredients is garlic.  And it works really well with spicy dishes.

Spicy grilled chicken 1 2017

In a bowl big enough to hold the chicken thighs add about 1/3 cup of olive oil or peanut oil and a 1/4 cup of lemon juice.  Finely chop 3-4 cloves of garlic and add to the bowl.  Here is where you get a bit free style.  Because everyone’s taste is different when it comes to spice you want to add sriracha sauce until you find the balance you want.  We like it spicy so I added a lot.  Make sure you do adjust the lemon juice as needed so you don’t drown out that flavour.

Spicy grilled chicken 2 2017

Season the chicken with sea salt and pepper then add it to the marinade.

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The longer you marinade the stronger the flavour will be when cooked.  You can do this quickly but the flavour will be much more subtle.

Spicy grilled chicken 4 2017

Grill on medium heat until the chicken is cooked through.  If it is a bone in chicken keep in mind that the meat will take longer to cook.

Spicy grilled chicken 5 2017

This would work with any sautéed veg or a salad.  Thank goodness for the grill, I’d be lost without it!

Caprese Stuffed Chicken

Battle with the garden has commenced.  We may be winning but I’m not sure yet.  I find it ironic that the stuff we don’t want growing in the garden are the toughest to get rid of.  They are tenacious.  Our grass never grows as well on the lawn as it does in the flower beds.

Some of it is our own doing and not understanding how invasive something can be.  A few years ago, because we like to brew beer, we planted hops.  One was very lackluster while the other is determined to take over the world.  The first season or so wasn’t too bad, the hop plant just grew like gangbusters.  Hops can grow a foot a day, which is crazy.   But last year the hops broke the lattice that sort of held them and crawled across the rest of the flower bed.  It wasn’t pretty.

This year we’re rethinking the hops.  Not to get rid of them but we definitely need to put them elsewhere.  In the meantime we are being brutal with them.  The root system snakes everywhere under the soil.  We were taken aback by the length and thickness of those suckers. They were like tree roots.  I have a feeling there will be more battles with the hops.

Along with the work in the garden that comes with the warmer weather, the lighter dinners start up again.  Which I am very ready for!

Caprese stuffed chicken 1 2017

Recently I thought it would be fun to do a pan seared caprese stuffed chicken over salad. In a skillet heat up a tablespoon or so of olive oil.  Add about a cup of sliced sun dried tomatoes and cook on low to medium heat for a few minutes.  Finely chop 3-5 cloves of garlic, depending on size, and add to the skillet.

Caprese stuffed chicken 2 2017

Saute for several minutes until the garlic is nearly cooked and then toss in a handful of shredded fresh basil and a few splashes of balsamic vinegar.

Caprese stuffed chicken 3 2017

Slice 4 chicken breasts 3/4 the way through lengthwise.  Evenly distribute the caprese mix between the chicken breasts.  Season with sea salt and pepper and brown on both sides.

Caprese stuffed chicken 4 2017

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.  Remove the chicken from the skillet and add fresh mozzarella cheese inside the chicken and bake until the chicken is cooked through.

Caprese stuffed chicken 5 2017

Serve on top of a salad.  A dish light enough for the warm weather but gives you enough energy to conquer the garden.  Which we definitely need!

 

Southwestern Turkey Burgers

Winter is back with a vengeance!  Mother nature does like to mess with us.  Offices were closed so I got a snow day.  It was lovely to watch the snow come down in the comfort of home.  It also allowed me to catch up with some projects I’m working on.  There is a possibility I might have to have hand surgery soon so all my knitting and crocheting projects need to get done.  Which might guarantee I won’t need surgery!  Fingers crossed.

We are also getting ready for our exchange student to come this weekend.  She has actually been here since August but they way they do it now is the student spends three months with a host family then moves on to another one.  So now it’s our turn. She is from Denmark and I’m looking forward to trying out recipes from there.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  I am looking into the Danish rye breads to give that a go.

Before winter returned we had some fabulous warm weather which meant lighter meals.  I do miss salads.  I thought it would be fun to do turkey burgers, not realising how mushy the ground turkey can be to work with.  Very sticky!  But if you can get past that you can have a great meal.

Southwestern turkey burgers 1 2017

To make the burgers I mixed a pound of ground turkey meat with half a cup of freshly grated cheddar cheese, a few splashes of hot sauce, 1-2 tablespoons of chili powder, and a teaspoon of ground cumin.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Mix and form into burgers.  Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Brown both sides.

Southwestern turkey burger 2 2017

Finish off in the oven at 350F/175C.  Finely chop scallions, peppers, garlic, and mushrooms.  Add them to the skillet with 1-2 cups of frozen corn.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of chili powder, a teaspoon of ground cumin, 1-2 tablespoons of lime juice, sea salt and pepper, finish with fresh cilantro.

Southwestern turkey burger 3 2017

As the burgers finish cooking top with pepper jack cheese to melt.  Serve over mixed lettuce greens and top with the veg mix.  We also cooked up some sweet potato fries.

Southwestern turkey burger 4 2017

An easy dinner to put together when you want loads of flavour on a busy night.

 

 

 

Lemon and Garlic Chicken and the Importance of Having a Great Team

If you have the bad luck of falling and injuring yourself over the years more than once it is very important you don’t wait years to fix yourself.  If I could go back in time I would do so many things differently.  Aside from trying to avoid falling in the first place I would get help.

Which means finding a great team and I have been very lucky in that respect.  I have Pam, my exercise guru, who is very knowledgeable with body mechanics and takes the time to make sure those of us in her pilates and TRX aren’t doing nutty things with our alignment.   I have Christine, who is an amazing massage therapist that battles my knots and tension.  And Maria, my physical therapist, spent nearly two years helping me get strong and healed.  I just finished my last appointment with her and fingers crossed I don’t do anything stupid and lands me back in PT!

Of course I’m seriously grateful that my husband supported me through all this.  I really couldn’t have done it without him.  There have been some painful and tough times and he never wavered.  He’s my rock.

lemon-and-garlic-chicken-1-2017

For Christmas my dad found some really cool cookery books for us.  The one for my daughter is called “150 Mediterranean Recipes” by Jacqueline Clark & Joanna Farrow.  Loads of delicious recipes in the book and I chose to make the Chicken Thighs with Lemon and Garlic.   I mostly followed it so here is my version.

Prep the lemon by peeling it and then thinly slicing it.  Set aside.

lemon-and-garlic-chicken-2-2017

In a small saucepan bring to a simmer about 14oz of chicken stock.  Add 8-10 garlic cloves cut in half.  Simmer while you cook the chicken thighs.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet.

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Season 4 chicken thighs with sea salt and pepper and begin to brown the chicken.  While the chicken is cooking, preheat the oven to 375F/190C.

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Once browned, transfer to a baking dish.  Spoon out the garlic from the stock and add it to the baking dish along with the lemon slices.  Set aside.  Add 2 tablespoons of flour or corn flour to the skillet, use a whisk to scrape up the browned bits of the chicken.  Cook for a minute or so to cook the flour.  Then add 6oz of dry white wine.  Keep stirring constantly.  Pour in the stock.

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Stir until the sauce thickens.

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Add the sauce to the baking dish and bake until the chicken is cooked through.  Meanwhile cook up some rice pilaf.

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Once the chicken is cooked, top the rice with a chicken thigh and pour sauce over the dish. Add some fresh chopped parsley and voila!  Dinner is served.

I look forward to trying more recipes from the books we were given. 🙂

“Anybody Got a Peanut….” Chicken

Who doesn’t love a good classic?  My family loves The Princess Bride.  Though I’m not sure I’m ok with a movie I grew up with being called a classic.  To me those are the black and white films from another era.  I know it’s denial!  But I’m sticking with it.

It’s a film that we love to watch with popcorn reciting the quotes as they come up in the film.  Well to be honest we throw out the quotes even if we aren’t watching the film.  Get to the food you say?  “As you wish….”

Because it’s just been my husband and I for the past month (our kids come back tonight!) we had two chicken thighs left over from the four pack that needed to be used.

Peanut chicken 1 2016

I wanted to go with Asian flavours for this dish.  Prep the marinade for the chicken thighs first.  In a bowl whisk peanut oil and soy sauce (we use gluten free amino acids) in a ratio of 3:1.  Finely chop a clove of garlic, some scallion, and grate about a teaspoon of fresh ginger.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Mix well and coat the two chicken thighs.

Peanut chicken 2 2016

Set aside for at least a half an hour.  While you make the sauce, cook the rice noodles to the package instruction and grill the chicken.  In a skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil.  Chop 3-4 cloves of garlic and saute them on medium heat.  You don’t want to brown the garlic.

Peanut chicken 3 2016

After a few minutes add about half a cup of chopped scallion.

Peanut chicken 4 2016

Add the leftover marinade from the chicken and 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce.  Bring to a simmer and add a tablespoon or two of lime juice.  Stir in a large spoonful of peanut butter.  I chose chunky to save me a step of chopping up peanuts.

Peanut chicken 5 2016

Add more peanut butter as needed to get the right the balance between the sweetness of the peanut butter and saltiness of the soy sauce.

Peanut chicken 6 2016

When the chicken is nearly done add about a cup of chopped red bell pepper.

Peanut chicken 7 2016

Add the rice noodles with 1/2 a cup of the hot water the noodles were cooked in to thin out the sauce.  Toss to coat.

Peanut chicken 8 2016

Top with the chicken and serve as soon as possible.

I have to say even though our food bill was much lower with the kids off on their adventures I am so excited they will be home.  With huge appetites and all.  🙂

 

Orzo with Lemon Chicken and New Tools

Some learning curves can be exciting.  Some not so much, like my learning curve with statistics in college.  Loved the subject but come test time it was always like I’d never been to class.  Never got far on that curve, bell or no bell.  But now I’m liking my learning curve.  Because there are a few projects I want to do, such as start a YouTube channel, and I was in the weeds with Unix, much to my chagrin, I needed tools that I could make headway on my own.  I.e not bugging my husband/IT guy all the time.  He has always been good about helping me but I hate not knowing how to do something!

So I am now a proud new owner of an iMac.  And I’m loving my new setup.  One, I can find and set up software I need, that is a big step in getting things done.  Though if it heads into Unix territory like GIMP then I have to ask for help there but for the most part it’s been good.  And it’s pretty easy to get an apple person on the phone if need be.  I’m quickly collecting senior tech phone numbers.

I do like the iMovie on the desktop, much easier than the iPad.  So watch this space as they say, I hope to have something soon.  The big thing I need to figure out is the uncopyrighted music so I don’t get slapped by YouTube.

Going through our cupboards I realised we had orzo still so I thought it would be nice with lemon, yoghurt, and oregano. Orzo lemon chicken 1 2016

I also wanted to grill up some chicken thighs.  Prep these ahead of time with a marinade.  With a ratio of 2:1 mix olive oil and lemon juice together.  Season with sea salt and pepper. Finely chop a couple of garlic cloves and a small handful of fresh oregano.  Mix well and coat two chicken thighs.

Orzo lemon chicken 2 2016

Set aside for about an hour.  In a skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and start softening about half a cup of chopped red onion.  Once the onion starts to become translucent add 3-5 cloves (depending on size) of garlic, chopped.

Orzo lemon chicken 3 2016

At this point start grilling the chicken on medium heat.  Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 2 cups of chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a medium simmer.  It’s important to stir frequently as orzo has a tendency to stick to the bottom of the skillet.  Add more liquid as necessary because you want to make sure there is enough for the sauce.

Orzo lemon chicken 4 2016

When the orzo is half cooked add a few sliced mushrooms and another small handful of oregano, chopped.  Stir well.  Near the end of cooking add a third of a cup of plain yoghurt and about a cup of chopped red bell pepper.  This gives the dish a nice pop of colour.

Orzo lemon chicken 5 2016

Serve once the chicken is cooked.

Orzo lemon chicken 6 2016

The flavours of this dish are very bright with the yoghurt and lemon.  It’s a great dish if you are getting tired of salads!

Rosemary Lemon Chicken Kebabs

Tomorrow is a big day with the vote in the UK.  It’s surreal because, like for a lot of people, this vote can directly effect how we transition in a few years to move back.  But I can’t vote as subjects of the crown can’t vote if they don’t live in the UK.  So I just have to wait and see.  It will be nice to see the propaganda from both sides to die down.  Talk about muddying the waters!

In the meantime I’ll just keep cooking along.

We didn’t just have a Dalek cake for the small family gathering.  To avoid a sugar high I cooked healthy food as well.  I kept it very simple with grilled veg and chicken kebabs.  I grilled up mushrooms, peppers, onions, scallions, and aubergine.

The inspiration for the chicken came from a restaurant chain, Bertucci’s, where they have a spicy chicken wing with lemon and rosemary.  No idea what the recipe is but I figured I could get close to the recipe.

Rosemary lemon chicken 1 2016

I popped into my local store (my garden) for fresh thyme and rosemary.  I do wish there was an easy way to prep thyme, so annoying, but what can you do?  Finely chop a small handful of each.  In a bowl add a ratio of 2:1 of olive oil and lemon juice, the herbs, 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped, sea salt and pepper to taste.  Then add cayenne pepper to the level of spiciness you want.  I kept it on the mild side as my aunt isn’t a huge fan of spicy food.

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Mix well and add chicken to marinate.

Rosemary lemon chicken 3 2016

When you are ready to grill add the chicken to the skewers and cook until the chicken is cooked through.  Turn a few times so the chicken is cooked evenly.

Rosemary lemon chicken 4 2016

It was a lovely relaxing lunch with family with plenty of room left over for cake!  And any left over chicken and grilled veg is perfect for a salad later on.  Which is handy after a bike ride and you aren’t up to cooking!

Moroccan Chicken and Couscous

Spring seems to be back!  The air is fresh and the days are beautiful.  I hope it lasts awhile.  I wasn’t ready for summer and the sticky heat.  It was lovely being in the garden yesterday getting in the last of the tomatoes.  If only we can get rid of the rabbits.  They are back!  Which means putting more bloodmeal down around the veg so they stay away.

Because it was so cool I took the opportunity to make a warming dish while I still had the chance.  My first Moroccan meal, years ago, was a dish similar to this.  We ate it with our hands round a coffee table, sitting on the floor, in the traditional way.  It was delicious.

Moroccan  chicken 1 2016

Heat up several tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet.  Season chicken thighs with sea salt and pepper on both sides.  Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.  Brown both sides of the thighs then transfer to the oven to cook through.

Moroccan chicken 2 2016

In the skillet cook about 1/2 -3/4 cup of chopped onions and 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped until the onions have softened.  Add a few sliced mushrooms.

Moroccan chicken 3 2016

Add a cup of chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  I didn’t have any fresh ginger (forgot to put it on the list!) so I used ground ginger.   Start with a 1/2 a teaspoon of ground ginger, a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1-2 teaspoons of ground tumeric, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, and 1-2 teaspoons of paprika.  Allow to simmer for a bit.  Taste the broth and adjust the spices as needed.  At this point I added more tumeric and paprika.  Everyone’s tastebuds are different.  Moroccan chicken 4 2016

Dice up half of a red pepper, a great colour to go along with the tumeric, and add the pepper and the chicken to the broth and simmer for a few minutes.  While this had been cooking I cooked up the couscous according to the instructions on the package.

Moroccan chicken 5 2016

Layer the ingredients and serve.  Make sure you put enough of the broth on the couscous as couscous can be a bit dry.  Which isn’t good for a nice meal!

Garlic Butter Chicken and Finding Peace

A few weeks ago I got to the bank before it opened and was waiting in the foyer with an older gentleman.  As we were waiting one of the employees came through and kind of just looked at us without saying anything and closed the door firmly.  I get they have to be careful with security but I commented it would have been nice if she was friendly or said hi.

The older gentleman just said it was ok and she may be having a bad day.  He chooses to not let the negativity to affect him.  And then he just smiled.  This is how I’d like to be.  Not letting the negativity round me become internalised.  He seemed to have found his inner peace and he seemed to be enjoying life.  Have to admit I was a bit envious with that.

I hope I can find that balance!  I definitely enjoy life but it would be nice to not let myself be affected by outside forces so much.  I’m getting there.  🙂

For those of you that have followed my blog for awhile you won’t be surprised when I say one of my favourite ingredients is garlic.  We also love breaded pan fried chicken.

To bread the chicken dip it a beaten egg then panko bread crumbs.  Brown in a skillet with butter.

Garlic butter chicken 1 2016

I slice the chicken breasts in half lengthwise.  One because it keeps the portions sane and two it cooks more evenly.  Once cooked remove from the skillet and keep warm.

Garlic butter chicken 2 2016

Melt a few tablespoons of butter and add 4-5 cloves of garlic that are coarsely chopped.  Saute for a couple of minutes on medium heat.  You don’t want the garlic to get browned or burnt.  Add a 1/2 cup or so of chicken stock and a 1/4 cup of dry white wine, bring to a simmer.  Add a handful of chopped fresh parsley.  Season with sea salt and pepper.

Garlic butter chicken 3 2016

While this part was cooking I cooked up some potatoes and parsnips to mash.  Serve with the chicken over the potatoes and spoon the sauce over the top.

Garlic butter chicken 4 2016

This is lovely with a glass of pinot grigio.  I don’t know what it is about panko encrusted chicken but I love it.

Roast Chicken with Bacon and Leeks and Teaching the Boy to Cook

I have wicked spring fever!  It looks like winter is leaving early this year.  Obviously this could change but I am really hoping it doesn’t.  It is so beautiful out.  And it so nice to be out of the windowless office.

A few weeks ago my son mentioned he wanted to cook dinner for us so we had him go through our cookery books to see what he would like to try out.  He found a recipe for roast chicken that had a bacon stuffing with seaweed.  With the exception of me, no one else would want seaweed and I don’t like roasting birds stuffed.  So we brain stormed and came up with our own recipe.  We finally had time to do it last night and it was a lot of fun to cook with him.

Roast chicken with bacon and leek 1 2016

Preheat the oven to 325F/150C.  Place the chicken in a shallow roasting pan.  Add water and a bit of sherry to the pan.  Coat the chicken with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper.  This chicken was just under 4lbs so we cooked it for an hour and a half.

Roast chicken with bacon and leek 2 2016

Cut up 4 rashers of streaky bacon and render it into the skillet.  While I was doing this my son was working on his knife skills getting the mushrooms and leeks ready.  He’s 11 so I handled the raw meat and he took care of everything else.  I was impressed with how he did.  🙂

Roast chicken with bacon and leek 3 2016

Drain excess bacon fat then add the leeks and mushrooms to the skillet.  Saute until the leeks have softened then add about a cup to a cup and a half of chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Add a couple of tablespoons of cognac and about the same amount of stone ground mustard.  Stir well to blend and simmer to reduce by a third or so.

Roast chicken with bacon and leek 4 2016

I had my son taste test to see if it was balanced.  I have to say he has a really good palette.  So I had him adjust the flavours as needed.  He did really well with that!

Roast chicken with bacon and leek 5 2016

Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes before carving.  We served it with roast potatoes and parsnips.

I really enjoyed spending one on one time with him doing this meal.  He’s a neat kid.  🙂