Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lemon Rosemary Chicken

My goal is to attempt to include some heathier recipes on this blog. I'm hoping that this will be made a lot easier by the herb garden I recently planted.

I was recently trying to come up with some freezable meals for my husband's grandma. She was recovering from heart surgery and on a strict low sodium, low fat, low sugar diet. I was worried at first about what I would be able to come up with, but actually found quite a few combinations with lean meats and fresh herbs. I decided to continue the pattern by grilling some chicken for my husband and I.

One of my favorite healthy meals is lemon rosemary chicken. Not only is it easy to make, but it has a ton of flavor. I tend to get tired of chicken because it starts to seem very bland to me, but this recipe is one exception.

To make the marinade, I combine a tsp of extra virgin olive oil (just enough to get everything to stick), juice squeezed from 1/2 a lemon, a clove of minced garlic and a couple sprigs of rosemary in a ziploc bag. Add the chicken and let marinate for about 30 minutes before grilling.

I decided to try a new side with this. Lately I'd been seeing a lot of recipes for mayo-less potato salad, including this recipe on Gourmantine's blog for a potato and vegetable salad coated with a dijon vinaigrette. (Ok, so my side dish might not be quite as healthy as the chicken.) I decided to use steamed green beans in my version since my husband would prefer those over the asparagus the recipe called for. I had to alter the recipe yet again when I got home only to find out I didn't have the roasted red bell pepper strips I thought I did. Luckily the vinaigrette combined so well with the potatoes and green beans that it was hard to tell anything was missing. The only addition I made to the vinaigrette was a tsp of honey.

For the vinaigrette, I used a salad dressing mixer I'd been given as a gift last Christmas. It's really a handy little gadget to have around. I'd recommend it to anybody who makes their own dressings or vinagrette.

I know one of my helpers was pretty excited about the chicken. Sadly for her, she only got to smell and not taste.

Spring Mushroom & Bacon Soup

I should start by saying that describing this soup as good doesn’t begin to cover it. Is it really good? Not quite. How about one of the best soups I’ve ever eaten and worthy of having crispy golden bread made just for the joy of dipping in it? Yep, that’s getting closer.

I saw this recipe a week or so ago while my mom was visiting. We had a small amount of Italian leftovers from the night before, but not quite enough to round out a meal. When I texted my mom to tell her I’d fix some soup to go with our leftovers, she replied with the expected response of “I’ll grab some bread from Panera.” I’m a firm believer that when someone tells you they are making good soup, it is probably proper etiquette to respond that you’ll bring Panera bread.

After reading the ingredient list for this soup, I couldn’t resist making it that very night. The recipe I used called it “Spring Mushroom Soup with Aromatic Vegetables,” but I don’t know if that name quite covers it. However, I’m not sure I can really think of anything more descriptive.

Spring Mushroom Soup with Aromatic Vegetables
Recipe from Dishing the Devine

6 slices bacon
2 tbsp butter or vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 lb quartered cremini mushrooms
2 tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock or canned chicken broth
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
5 stalks fresh asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup heavy cream

In a large cast iron or other deep skillet, cook bacon until browned on both sides. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and let cool. Remove excess bacon grease and reserve for another purpose.

Add butter or vegetable oil to the skillet and cook until hot. Add onions, celery, and carrots and cook, stirring continuously, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms release their liquid and have begun to brown around edges, about 5 minutes. Cut the bacon into small pieces and add to the mixture.

Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add flour and stir until it makes a paste, about 1 minute. Add the stock, thyme and pepper and stir to combine.

Bring the soup to a full boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a separate skillet, cook the asparagus in some of the reserved bacon grease or vegetable oil until browned and slightly softened. Add the asparagus to the soup and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat and add the cream. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

After smelling this soup simmer and taking our first bite, we completely forgot about the leftovers.

Cheddar & Onion Smashed Burgers with Cilantro-Lime Corn on the Cob

I recently found a blog called The Bitten Word. The owners started it for the purpose of actually using their food magazine subscriptions by setting goals of making a certain amount of recipes out of food magazines each month. I particularly like this idea because I am horrible about bookmarking pages in my food magazines and forgetting about them. While food gawker and food blogs are so easy and accessible for finding recipes, I’ve decided I also need to find some time for my magazine subscriptions.

One of the recipes included in the June 2011 issue of Food & Wine was Cheddar-and-Onion Smashed Burgers. The recipe was really simple, but looked great for an easy summer weekend meal. The burgers were actually supposed to be cooked on a griddle, but we used the grill since we wanted to take advantage of the weather before it got too hot.

To assemble the burgers, I sliced onions into paper thin strips and patted them onto the tops and bottoms of some hamburger patties. When the burgers were close to finished on the grill, I put some thick slices of cheddar cheese on top. We also grilled the buns for a couple minutes to get them nice and crisp.

For a side dish, we placed some ears of corn on the grill. I took a spoonful of margarine and mixed it with lime and cilantro, then brushed the corn with this mixture as soon as it came off the grill.

I made another side a few days later that would have gone great with this also. I had some butternut squash that needed to be used, so I cut it into small squares. Some extra virgin olive oil was drizzled on the squash and then sprinkled with a little salt and pepper before roasting it at 400. I allowed it to cook for about 30 minutes before brushing a mixture of honey, lime and cilantro on it and letting it roast for another 10 minutes. My kitchen smelled amazing. The idea for this side came from this recipe.