Maple Chicken

Maple Chicken1

Have any of you guys ever come across a recipe on television, in a magazine or cookbook and been super excited to try it out, then looked at the ingredients list and did a little sigh inside. Not because you thought that the recipe looked too difficult, but because one (or maybe even more than one) of the ingredients was just a liiiittle bit more pricey than you were willing to pay? That happens to me quite a bit, especially in some of my more ‘swanky’ cookbooks, or also in recipes from the ‘swanky’ chefs.

I did a quick Google search of some of the more common ingredients that I see in recipes that I really want to try, but haven’t as of yet because my wallet is still giving me a resounding “No, Jess!”

  • 1 Gram of Saffron: $8.95 , 2 Grams of Saffron: $13.00, 1 Ounce of Saffron: $58.00 (I get it: a little of this stuff goes a long way, but come ON!)
  • 2 Vanilla Bean Pods: $9.95 (I know that the comparison of vanilla beans to vanilla extract is like comparing cubic zirconia to diamonds. I also know that $9.95 is enough for me to buy two jars of vanilla extract that will last me more than just two uses.)
  • 8 oz. Pine Nuts: $12.63 (No. Just…just no.)

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While for the most part, I’m  willing to remain frugal on certain ingredients, there are others that I’m willing to be more flexible about- it all depends on the day and what kind of mood I’m in, honestly. If I’m caught on a good day, I’ll probably be more willing to splurge. If I’m having a bad day, then Scrooge is my middle name.

Confession alert: I’m one of those idiots that usually buys and settles for the cheap ‘syrup’ from Hungry Jack, Aunt Jemima or Log Cabin when eating her pancakes and waffles. I know, I know. Feel free to pelt me with tomatoes for that one. I deserve it. But here’s the thing: maple syrup- the REAL Grade A and B maple syrup, isn’t cheap where I come from. I’m talking a bare minimum of $10.00 dollars for a 12 oz bottle. And if you want to buy it Organic? An automatic average of $10-$15, and that’s only at the general grocery store. The Better Health store thinks they have the right to charge $20.00. It’s rough out here in these Lansing streets, you guys just don’t know.

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Maybe some of you are thinking: “Well , gosh Jess, isn’t 12 oz enough to eat with waffles/pancakes?” My answer would be, maybe if I lived by myself. But I don’t. I live with a whole house full of other people who happen to share my habit of dousing her pancakes or waffles in puddles of syrup. When there are three other people that are doing this at the table, that 12 oz bottle of maple syrup doesn’t last very long. So typically, I just don’t buy it.

However, I recently had a very good day where I was smiling and feel like a Super Foodie and I happened to come across this recipe when brainstorming what I was going to cook for dinner. Long story short, I suckered myself into buying a $12.00 bottle of maple syrup. On the way home, I consoled myself with the thought that so long as I reserve it for very important recipes (and not just for my pancake/waffle baths), it was a worthwhile investment.

After eating this dish, I strongly second that consolation. And third it. And fourth it.

Real maple syrup is worth the money, if only to make Maple Chicken. I’m Jess(ica) and I approve this message.

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Maple Chicken

Recipe Courtesy of Great American Recipes

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  •  6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 6 oz each)
  •  1 tbsp vegetable oil
  •  1 tsp paprika
  •  1 tsp salt
  •  1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  •  1/2 tsp ground cumin
  •  1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
  •  1/2 tsp. black pepper
  •  2 tbsp maple syrup
  •  1 tbsp. butter, melted

 Directions

 1. Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place the chicken on the prepared baking sheet and brush with the vegetable oil.

2. Combine the paprika, salt, cinnamon, cumin, tarragon and pepper in a medium bowl; mix well. Coat the chicken evenly with the paprika mixture and bake for 15 minutes.

3. Combine the maple syrup and butter in a small bowl. Brush half of the mixture evenly over the chicken, return to oven and bake for 5 minutes.

4. Turn the chicken over and brush with the remaining maple syrup mixture. Bake until juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a knife, about 5 minutes longer. Serve hot.

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Blackberry Jam- Filled Muffins

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Hey guys. Let’s talk about forgetfulness for a few minutes. What are the types of things that we can forget?

I forget things when shopping at the grocery store (for some reason, it’s almost always the mouthwash. I ALWAYS forget to to buy the mouthwash. Don’t ask why, cause I don’t know).

Sometimes I forget to send in my monthly check for 1 of my latest student loan payments (which is actually really bad and you think I would’ve learned my lesson by now, but I think it’s an unconscious desire on my part to stick my tongue out at the Powers That Be that make education so ridiculously expensive these days).

I took Arabic as a second language in college for 3 years. Anyone who’s ever learned a foreign language outside of their native one knows that the key to getting really good is retention. It’s been a while since I was learning it 7 days a week and taking exams on it every two weeks or so and needless to say, I’ve forgotten more than a few things of what I learned of that lovely language. Don’t get me wrong, I can still read and write it phonetically, but my translation skills are very rusty.

I also forget to do laundry. And dishes.

….and who am I kidding? No one really forgets to do laundry and dishes, I just pretend to forget them sometimes because I don’t feel like doing them. Don’t act like you’ve never done it before.

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I’ve got a question for some of my fellow bloggers out there: am I the only one who will make a dish, take all the pictures in a photo shoot, and even eat all of the food, but then just set aside the actual post to put on ‘for later’ in favor of another post, the end up forgetting about it by mistake? I’m pretty sure I can’t be the only one who does that. I’d feel kinda silly if I was, so please go ahead and tell me in the Comments section that it’s happened to you before. Seriously, tell me if you’ve done this before.

Why am I asking you this? Well, because that’s kinda what I did with this recipe. Do you all remember a few weeks ago when I made the scrumptious Blackberry Jam for the ‘Scandal’ series? If you don’t, or just weren’t following my blog when I posted it, go ahead and check it out, cause not only is it bomb.com, it’s also featured in this recipe that I may or may not have made a while ago and accidentally forgot to put up on the blog.

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But, if I had forgotten to do so entirely, it really would have been a shame. Because despite being extremely easy to make, these muffins are really quite good. For one, they’re bursting with delicious and lovely blackberry jam that provides the perfect balance between sweet and tart. What is really the unexpected hero of this recipe though, is the cinnamon that’s sprinkled on top. After the muffins are baked, it provides a kind of ‘crunchy’ texture to the soft muffins that just works really well.

You definitely don’t have to make jam from scratch to make these muffins (although I certainly won’t discourage you from doing so). A jarred jam of your choice would work just as well with these.

Note to self: don’t forget to post yummy recipes. Ever again.

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Blackberry Jam-Filled Muffins

Recipe Adapted from Great American Recipes

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup, plus 1 tbsp sugar, divided
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup blackberry jam
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

 Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Mix the flour, 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

3. Combine the milk, vegetable oil and egg with in a medium bowl.

4. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, stirring gently until the dry ingredients are moistened.

5. Fill the muffin cups halfway  with batter. Place 1 tsp jam in the center of the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the jam.

6. Combine the remaining sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over each muffin. Bake until golden, about 12-15 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Serve warm.

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Roman-Style Chicken

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If you guys have read my ‘About’ page, then you already know that I’m a self-professed Food Network addict. That was not an exaggeration. I definitely am. The default station that I always turn to on my television is Food Network. I know all of the tv personalities and their shows. I splurge and buy the Food Network magazine every single month. I’m also a member of their website and frequently save and try recipes that I see on TV or see online. One of my goals for the blog is to have a themed recipe series for each one of my favorite Food Network stars, where I only cook about 3-4 of some of my favorite of their recipes and share them with all of you. It’ll happen. I’m determined. Stay tuned.

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One day I was perusing the Food Network website for ideas of what to do with the standard package of chicken breasts that I bought from the grocery store (that I always end up buying every week). There was a side bar that showed the current most popular/saved recipes at present. One of them was given 5 out 5 stars and had 1,151 reviews. It was a recipe called Roman Chicken from Giada de Laurentiis.

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I literally couldn’t find anyone that said anything negative  about this recipe. Everyone on Food Network’s website said that it was just awesome, and even better (and perhaps most importantly), I had all of the ingredients to make it already on hand in my kitchen/pantry. So I gave it my best shot.

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I  love when I decide to try a completely new recipe and it turns out exceeding my expectations, and this chicken was definitely one of them. I usually don’t care much for Italian-style food, but I could eat this dish all day long. The name is so befitting of it, as it really reminded me of a rustic Tuscany evening. The sauce is super flavorful and it just screams to have a loaf of crusty, Italian-style bread on the side to dip it into- which I also happened to have on hand.

This is an easy dish, but it’s also one that I would serve to guests or a significant other to impress. Moral of the story: when not in Rome, make Roman-Style Chicken and you just may feel like you are.

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Roman-Style Chicken

Recipe Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 red bell peppers, sliced
  • 3 ounces bacon, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

Directions

1. Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

2. In a heavy, large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, cook the chicken until browned on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

3. Keeping the same pan over medium heat, add the peppers and bacon and cook until the peppers have browned and the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes.

4. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, wine, and herbs. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.

Return the chicken to the pan, add the stock, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes. Serve.

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Herb Roasted Rutabaga

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When I was very little girl, there was this show that used to come on the tv station Nickelodeon called ‘Allegra’s Window’. It was a very Muppet/Sesame-Street-esque show about a little girl puppet named Allegra that had these mild 3 year old problems (if those can even really exist) that she, her brother and best friend would spend the entire episode trying to solve and overcome. It was a pretty cute show and I still smile even when I think about it now. I don’t know why shows with puppet and human interactions like Allegra’s Window and the Muppets don’t seem to come on that much anymore on kid’s stations. Maybe they figure little kids of today in the age of the iPad and Wii don’t have the attention span of kids from the 90’s like me did- which i find to be kinda unfortunate. Moment of silence for Childhood Nostalgia.

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Now onto the main point: what the heck does Allegra’s Window have to do with today’s recipe? Well believe it or not, the truth is that Allegra’s Window was the very first mention that I had of the vegetable rutabaga. Honest, it was. One of the puppets in Allegra’s town was a zany, goofy kind of chef  puppet called Mr. Cook. It’s been nearly 20 years, so naturally I don’t remember a whole lot from the show, but the one thing that I do still recall is that the only ingredient that Mr. Cook ever wanted to cook with was rutabagas. He was legit always trying to shove a dish of rutabagas into Allegra and her friends faces, to which they would always squeal and yell in disgusted protest. Because apparently for little kids rutabagas are…not very tasty. I know it sounds crazy you guys, but the truth is that for twenty years, Allegra’s Window has successfully put me off ever wanting to have anything to do with rutabaga- which is crazy because anyone who knows me knows that I’m a vegetable-addict. There’s little to nothing I won’t try…except rutabagas (and peas. Don’t ever ask me to have anything to do with peas. It’s just not gonna happen.)

Whenever I saw rutabagas anywhere, I always remembered Mr. Cook and his nasty looking dishes of rutabaga and turned my nose up at it. So I guess that’s really saying something about the power of television over our minds.

….Yeah, I know. I’m weird. Moving on.

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About a month ago, I was having dinner at my grandparent’s house and my grandma offered me this orangey-looking mashed dish that she’d made as a side. When I asked her what it was, she said that it was mashed rutabaga.

Duh- duh- duhhn!

I knew that I’d avoided rutabagas my entire life. I knew that Allegra’s Window had taught me that they were ‘nasty’…but I also knew that it was an impossibility that anything that came out of my grandma’s kitchen could ever, ever EVER be nasty. I tried the mashed rutabagas.

I’ve been believing a lie for the past twenty + years, guys.

Rutabagas are absolutely DELICIOUS.

That night began a semi-obsession with rutabagas that is still ongoing as I speak. This recipe is a result of that, and I can’t recommend it enough. Roasting is the perfect method of bringing out all the natural sweetness of the rutabaga, while the herbs are the platform on which it can stand. Try this, guys…because Everyone need rutabagas in their life.

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Herb Roasted Rutabaga

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 large rutabagas, peeled and cubed into equal pieces.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried dillweed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon garlic and herb seasoning (Like Mrs. Dash)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425°

2. Place cubed rutabaga into 2 9 x 13 glass baking dishes. Drizzle with olive oil and toss until evenly coated.

3. Combine remaining ingredients together into a small bowl. Sprinkle over rutabaga cubes and toss again until even coated.

4. Roast in oven until golden and tender, about 45-50 minutes, stirring half-way through. Serve.

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Beer Bread

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The ‘in’ trend on food blogs right now food that’s geared towards the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day. In keeping up with the Joneses (as I am SOMEtimes inclined to do) I decided to throw in my own contribution to the holiday (even if I don’t do a single thing to celebrate it) with this recipe. But first things first: the trivia. Because I love my holiday trivia:

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1. Your odds of finding a four-leaf clover are about 1 in 10,000. (I used to try and do this all the time when I was little. I was convinced that if I could find a four leaf clover the stars would align and my life would be perfect.)

2. Corned beef and cabbage isn’t a traditional Irish dish. It’s just about as Irish as spaghetti and meatballs. (Eh, I don’t care for the dish much anyway.)

3.  St. Patrick’s Day used to be a dry holiday. Today’s booze-bags look to the holiday as a great excuse to start drinking Guinness at 9 AM. Until 1970, however, all pubs in Ireland were closed in observance of St. Patrick’s Day. (I’m not a drinker, but this still amuses me.)

4. March 17th is the day St. Patrick died.

5. St. Patrick’s color is blue.

Source

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Have any of you guys ever found a recipe that really helped you fake the funk in the kitchen? No, this doesn’t have anything to do with smells or odors. By the ‘fake the funk’, I mean giving the appearance of something  as grand or spectacular, when in reality, it may not be as grand or as  spectacular it manages to come off to be. People do it all the time in general, and I’m willing to admit that I can be one of them. My favorite way of doing it through is in the kitchen. I love putting something together that was actually very easy to make, then be complimented effusively because it seems and tastes like it was something that required a whole lot of skill and time. It’s kinda like a private joke that I can be privy to by myself. It also gives a lot of t.l.c. to my ego.

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This bread is definitely a ‘fake the funk’ recipe. Not only does it have that ‘artisan’ bread taste, texture and look, but  you guys wouldn’t believe how easy it is to really put together. I think this loaf was in the oven ten minutes after I took out all the ingredients, Then about forty minutes later, it was finished. Bada-bing, bada-boom. To the person that’d never made beer bread or soda bread before, it probably looks like I had to put in a great deal of effort for this loaf- just look at that golden, crusty exterior and soft, tender inside. Great stuff, huh?

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Beer Bread

Recipe Courtesy of  USA Weekend

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 12 ounces beer
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

3. Add  beer (no sips!) and stir with a fork until just combined. Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead quickly to form a ball.

4. Place bread on a greased baking sheet and confidently slit an X on top with a serrated or very sharp knife.

5. Brush loaf with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve.

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Girl Scout Cookie Lemon Tart

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Well, it’s about that time of year again…

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a uncontrollable, somewhat dangerous obsession with Girl Scout cookies. Somehow or other, whether it be through family, friends, work, or even in the parking lots of grocery stores, everyone is going to have the chance to get some and most of us would be hard pressed to pass them up.  I remember when my younger cousins were Girl Scouts and we ordered boxes and boxes of cookies- I don’t quite know how it works specifically, but I think the gist of it is that the more cookies that a Girl Scout sells, the more badges she gets. I think we ended up giving away Girl Scout cookies to anyone who would take them that year- just so we wouldn’t have too many in the house. Anything for the cause, right?

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I hate wasting food. Hate, hate, hate it. I’m the person in my house that will continue to eat the leftovers after the third, fourth or even fifth day. And maybe longer than that. Don’t judge me. I’ve never gotten food poisoning before and until I do, I will likely continue this habit. Throwing perfectly good food away seriously gets on my nerves – especially if it’s something that I cooked, or something I know I can cook into something great. That little pet peeve was where my inspiration for this recipe basically came from. We ended up with an excess amount of Girl Scout cookies in my house- like we do every year- and rather than toss them, I wanted to find something to do with them. This is what I came up with.

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I’ve made no bake tart crusts before with vanilla wafers, so I saw no reason why I couldn’t do the same with Girl Scout cookies. One thing I hadn’t made before was lemon curd. I’d seen the Barefoot Contessa do it, so I decided to take pointers from her recipe. I did find however, that I needed to chill my curd rather than just let it set at room temperature. The taste is AWESOME, but the curd didn’t set up as firm as I would have preferred it to be. That’s on me though: the daylight was fading fast and I needed to hurry and do the photo  shoot before I lost the invaluable tool of photography that’s called natural light, so I took it out of the fridge early. Ideally I probably would’ve left it there for another hour, but I don’t think it looks all that bad… Right?

I’m really proud of how this turned out. I don’t even like lemon desserts all that much and this still sold me enough to want it again. I’m also already brainstorming other Girl Scout cookie combinations I could use for this concept. We’ll just leave that on a ‘To Be Continued” note, shall we?

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Girl Scout Cookie Lemon Tart

Recipe Adapted from Ina Garten and Allrecipes.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

Cookie Crust

  • 3 packages of Lemon Girl Scout Cookies, or any other Lemon Sandwich cookies (about 30)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted

Lemon Curd Filling

  • 4 Lemons at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

1. For the cookie crust: place lemon cookies into a food processor and pulse until very finely crushed. You can also place cookies in a sealed plastic bag and use a rolling pin to finely crush.

2. Mix melted butter with cookie crumbs. Press mixture onto bottom and side up of a greased 9-inch tart pan, or deep pie plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

3. For lemon curd filling: Remove the zest of the lemons with a vegetable peeler or zester, being careful to avoid the white pith. Squeeze the lemons to make 1/2 cup of juice and set the juice aside.

4. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the sugar and process for 2 to 3 minutes, until the zest is very finely minced.

5.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar and lemon zest. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.

6. Pour the mixture into a 2-quart saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes. The lemon curd will thicken at about 175 degrees F, or just below a simmer. If need be, GRADUALLY increase the heat until curd reaches appropriate temp. Remove from the heat.

7. Fill the tart shell with warm lemon curd. Refrigerate overnight to allow lemon curd to set.

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