Sunday, March 22, 2009


This was an experimental week.  I made three things I have never made before and one was a smashing success, one was okay (needs a little tweaking in the future) and one was a complete flop, so much so that when I looked at the photos of it I actually felt a little ill.  Needless to say I will not be including that one in this post.  The one good thing about it was that in order to rid the taste from our mouths we had to go for ice cream!  Any excuse!

This Week's Menu:
So this was the smashing success.  A sleeper really.  I was not expecting it to be great and I actually put off making it for a week.  The reason I put it on the menu in the first place was that I was wanting to try a new recipe with quinoa.  I have a quinoa salad recipe that I love but I am getting a little tired of it.  So anyway, I finally made it and not only did I love it but Jeremy did too, zucchini and all!  That is definitely a success in my book!  

1. Zucchini with Quinoa Stuffing
From Real Simple
makes 4 servings

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed (The brand I usually buy, Bob's Red Mill, comes pre-rinsed which is great because the dry quinoa falls through my finest mesh strainer.  This drives me crazy!)
4 medium zucchini
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup almonds, chopped (about 2 oz.)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup grated Parmesan (3 oz.)
4 T olive oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large saucepan, combine the quinoa and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the water is absorbed, 12-15 minutes.  Meanwhile, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Arrange in a large baking dish (something with walls, not on a cookie sheet), cut side up.  Fluff the quinoa and fold in the beans, tomatoes, almonds, garlic, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and 3 T of the oil.  Spoon the mixture into the zucchini.  Top with the remaining T of oil and 1/4 cup Parmesan.  Cover with foil and bake until the zucchini is tender, 25-30 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake until golden, 8-10 minutes longer.  

Experiment number 2.  The flavor in this dish was good but something wasn't quite right.  I have been thinking about what is was and what I have come up with is this:  The pieces of chicken were too large, next time I will slice them thinner, and there was not enough of the sauce.  I am going to make these adjustments in the recipe below and hopefully it work out a little better for you.  

2. Thai-style Stir-fried Chicken and Basil
Modified from Fine Cooking
makes 2-3 servings

3 T vegetable oil
4 medium shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb. chicken breast cutlets (about 1/4 " thick), cut crosswise into 1/2" wide strips
1 1/2 T fish sauce
1 1/2 T fresh lime juice
3 t packed light brown sugar
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves

Heat the oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot.  Add the shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots start to soften but not brown, 1-2 minutes.  Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until it's no longer pink and the shallots are beginning to brown, 2-3 minutes. 
Add the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and 1/2 cup water.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is just cooked through and the liquid reduces to a saucy consistency, 2-3 minutes.  (If the sauce reduces before the chicken is cooked through, add water, 1 T at a time.)  Remove from heat, add the basil, and stir to wilt it.   

This is an oldie but goody.  Every time I make it I am surprised that Jeremy eats the asparagus and frankly a little surprised that I eat it too.  This is one vegetable that I hated growing up but I have developed a taste for.  

3. Balsamic Poached Chicken
From Real Simple
makes 4 servings

1 lb new potatoes, halved or quartered
3 T olive oil
1 t kosher salt
1/4 t black pepper
1 lb asparagus, trimmed
1 14.5 oz. can low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup balsamic vinegar
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Place the potatoes in a roasting pan.  Drizzle with the oil, season with 3/4 t of the salt and the pepper, and toss.  Roast for 30 minutes, shaking the pan once.  Add the asparagus to the pan with the potatoes, season with the remaining salt and toss.  Roast until the asparagus is tender, 12-15 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring the broth and vinegar to a boil.  Add the chicken and, if necessary, enough water (up to 1/2 cup) to cover it.  Simmer for 1 minute.  Cover, remove from heat, and set aside until cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a cutting board.  Return the liquid to medium-high heat and simmer until reduced to about 1/3 cup, about 10 minutes.  Thickly slice the chicken.  Divide among individual plates.  Drizzle with the balsamic mixture.  

These are kind of a cross between pancakes and blintzes.  I love the flavor combination of the sweet applesauce and the creamy sour cream.  We like to have breakfast foods for dinner.   

4. Apple Blintz Pancakes
From Real Simple
makes 6-7 pancakes

1 cup pancake mix
1 egg
1/4 cup cottage cheese
1 cup whole milk (you could substitute a reduced fat milk)
1 T vegetable oil
3/4 cup sour cream
1 cup applesauce
ground cinnamon

Place the pancake mix in a large bowl.  In another bowl, whisk together the egg, cottage cheese, milk, oil and 1/4 cup of the sour cream.  Stir the wet ingredients into the pancake mix and let rest 5 minutes.  Place a nonstick griddle coated with oil, butter or cooking spray over medium-high heat.  Spoon about 1/3 cup of batter for each pancake onto the griddle.  Turn when bubbles rise to the surface and the edges look cooked.  Repeat with the remaining batter.  Before serving, spoon 1 T of the apple sauce onto one half of each pancake; fold in half and top with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.

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