Thursday, July 25, 2013

Curried Cranberry Chicken Salad

I'm heading to a party.

A party with presents and pizza and cake and Nathan in a speedo.

It's a birthday party for Benjamin!

Yes, my adorable nephew turns three this weekend and we're going to celebrate.  There will be water games and animals (no, not a petting zoo, just our dogs Sam and Annabelle, so yeah, I guess a petting zoo) and candles (three big special candles) and balloons. 

Our little getaway starts in t-minus two days with the four hour roadtrip north.  The drive usually starts out with me driving (Nathan sleeping), then Nathan driving (me reading while Nathan is ready to chat, reading)-- ps currently reading Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl).  Very good.  Excellent writing but a bit on the morbid side.  Dark, I suppose. 

Before I headed out, though, I was hoping to share this quick and easy chicken salad with you.  (Sorry, not exactly cake and pizza but it's a perfect summertime treat, nonetheless).  Simply chicken tossed with celery, green onions, dried cranberries, and a dash of curry powder, it's a healthy meal that keeps Nathan trim for that speedo. 

Curried Cranberry Chicken Salad

Serves 2-4 (about 3-4 cups)

1 large chicken breast, cooked and chopped (mine was about 10 ounces)
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 (5.3 ounce) container plain greek yogurt (I used Oikos)
1/2 teaspoon dried italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon curry powder

Mix chicken, celery, green onions, and cranberries in medium size bowl.  In separate, small bowl, mix yogurt, itailian seasoning, salt, pepper, and curry powder.  Pour yogurt mixture over chicken mixture and toss to coat.  Refrigerate for one hour before serving.

Chelsea Original :)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Supreme Pizza Skillet Lasagna

You read that right.

Pizza and lasagna, match made in heaven.

We love love love supreme pizza in this house.  It's always a front-runner when we're in the mood for a pizza night (we usually opt for pepperoni pineapple when dining out. do it).  I dreamed up this idea one day (either at the bakery or in the shower- my two key places where inspiration tends to strike) while I was thinking of a way to use up half an onion and a red bell pepper that had been sitting in the fridge a tad too long, and were quickly reaching the end of their prime.  As a result, my brain got to churning, and this was the end result. 

As I prepared to make this meal, I made sure to include all of the essential characteristics necessary to building a supreme pizza- I sauteed up some yellow onion and red bell pepper, tossed in a handful of crumbled italian sausage, sliced up a few fresh mushrooms and black olives, and topped it all off with pepperoni and provolone.  It literally tastes like supreme pizza was dumped in a bowl with some noodles.  And it's nothing short of amazing.

Skillet Lasagna

Serves 4

4 ounces lasagna noodles, broken into thirds (I used 4 noodles)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup pre-cooked italian sausage crumbles (I used Jimmy Dean Fully Cooked Sausage Crumbles)
1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 small can sliced black olives, drained
3 large mushrooms, sliced thin
14 pepperoni slices
4 large slices of provolone cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In large pot, cook broken pasta noodles according to package directions.

Heat a large (mine was 10.25 inch) oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add in olive oil and butter, then toss in onions and bell peppers with salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 6 minutes, until soft. Add in garlic and cook for another minute, then add in sausage crumbles, cook until warmed through.

When noodles have softened, remove with a slotted spoon or drain and set aside for a few minutes.  Once sausage is warmed, add in tomatoes and basil, tossing well to coat. Add in olives and mushrooms, gently folding mushrooms into the sauce mixture.  Cover with lid for about five minutes to allow the mushrooms to cook through.  Add in the broken noodles, using the spatula or spoon to fold the sauce over the noodles. Once noodles are evenly distributed and mostly under the sauce, top with pepperoni slices and provolone. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese begins to bubble.

Adapted from my Skillet Lasagna which was adapted from here!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Rosemary Muffins

I probably should have made these into a fancy variation of the croissant.

Rosemary-infused croissants?  Hmmmm.

You see, today I had a very good morning at the bakery.  It's not every day that everything I bake lives up to my expectations (this bar is set pretty high).  Cakes stick to pans, cookies get a touch browner than I'd prefer (I'm very particular and careful with my cookies; crisp edges with a slightly under baked, gooey center is where it's at), banana bread doesn't rise at much as I'd like).  Today, however, everything turned out beautiful: red velvet cupcakes domed, buttermilk pies cracked, petit fours became a beautiful golden. 

As a result, I was feeling empowered and spent the evening at home cooking in the kitchen.  Yes, after six hours of baking, I still chose to stand in my own kitchen listening to Celine Dion (Nathan was making his weekly run to Home Depot) making mango salsa, barbecue salmon, sauteed zucchini and had the urge to make these muffins. 

These were my go-to muffin the summer before my senior year in college.  I made them almost weekly (ps great after bar food. you heard me).  If you love rosemary, than these babies are for you.  A slightly sweet muffin doused with rosemary and a light sprinkling of sugar on top.  Perfect for family brunch, an afternoon snack, or over the sink after a late night out, of course.

I'll conquer those croissants next time.  My chicken salad would like that.

Rosemary Muffins

Makes 10 muffins

3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine milk and rosemary in 2-cup glass measure.  Microwave on high for 2 minutes.  Add butter, stirring until melted. Cool to room temperature (I'm impatient and placed mixture in the fridge for 10 minutes).

Combine flour, 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk mixture and egg, and add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar evenly over muffins.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the muffins spring back when lightly touched in center. Remove the muffins from the pan immediately, and place on a wire rack.

Adapted from Cooking Light.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Spicy Ginger Balsamic Tomato Salad

We have officially had our first dinner party.

There were only four of us.  And the other couple was my parents.  And they pretty much did all the cooking.  But still.  We had guests for dinner, at our table, in our home.  We're so grown up!

Upon their arrival, the car was unloaded (wine in tow, no doubt), the tour was given (we've bought a few things since their last visit), and drinks were poured (beer for the guys, said wine for mom, fruity cocktail for me, as usual).  At last, our little party was underway.  While the men manned the grill, us ladies stayed in the kitchen making this tomato salad- a light and refreshing side dish straight from the kitchen of my sister. 

We were first introduced the evening after my brother's wedding at a small get-together at her place and Nathan's been talking about it ever since.  Once my parents announced their intentions to drive down and stay with us for a little weekend vacay, they insisted we put our lonely grill to use, and I knew instantly that tomato salad would make an appearance.  The tomatoes get a little heat from the jalapeno, a bit of a zing from the ginger, and a salty drizzle of balsamic poured over top; we definitely enjoyed good company and good food that evening.

Spicy Ginger Balsamic Tomato Salad

Serves 4

2 large tomatoes, cut into large chunks
1 green onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 jalapeno, minced

1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Combines tomatoes, green onion, garlic, and jalapeno in large bowl.  In separate, small bowl, whisk together balsamic, brown sugar, olive oil, ginger, cumin, salt, and pepper.  Pour dressing over tomato mixture and toss to coat.  Chill for one hour before serving.

Adapted from my sister, Mel.