Friday, November 4, 2011

November 4, 2011

Fantastic; we have two new dinner ideas, a side dish or appetizer, and a breadstick recipe! I would say this week was a success. There were a few other new things we tried that were not voted keepers (Shrimp and Scallop Baked Ziti, Balsamic Roasted Parsnips), but to have 4 keepers to share in one week does make me happy!

Yeast scares me...I never feel confident working with it. I run to the computer, google how to proof yeast, watch a video or read a description about it EVERY TIME. I think I get nervous because I haven't had fabulous success in the past with recipes that need to rise. I know the biggest part of my problem (beyond my general inexperience with the ingredient) is my very open kitchen. Smaller spaces work better for yeast recipes to rise appropriately. So, to combat this I put my trays of breadsticks in our laundry/utility room. It is a very small room, and it is fairly warm because of the furnace. I also let my breadsticks have PLENTY of time to rise...I mean PLENTY! And as hoped, the breadsticks doubled in size, tasted light and fluffy after baking, and I must say, they were delicious. Even heated in the microwave for 15 seconds the next day yielded great results. I am going to keep working with yeast, and maybe I will gain confidence over time.

The lemon onion chicken was a huge success...Liam ate just as much of it as the older kids, and everyone was looking for more when it was all gone. That rarely happens at our table with a chicken dinner. Normally everyone has enough and is satisfied, but this time the kids wanted a third helping. I know for next time...I need to make more than I made this time! The recipe makes a ton of sauce, so feel free to make quite a few chicken breasts. Also, in the picture you will see that the onion seems to have lost the red color. This particular onion didn't have all that much red to begin with, so the cooking process stole the rest of the color. But don't let the lack of color turn you off...I really think you should try this recipe!

I served the jalapenos as a side dish with the salmon because the salmon called for jalapenos in the ingredient list. Everyone (except Liam) loved these. I think I could have made 50 and they all would have been eaten! I will certainly be serving these as an appetizer the next time I host dinner. I think the kids and Ryan are hoping they end up on the dinner table next week! We'll have to see about that...

Happy November!

New Recipes
Lemon Onion Chicken
Stuffed Jalapenos
Skillet Seared Salmon

Lemon Onion Chicken


* 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, sliced or pounded thin
* 1 teaspoon dried thyme, plus 1 small bunch fresh thyme
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 4 tablespoons olive oil
* 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 red onion, thinly sliced
* 1/4 cup white wine
* 1 cup chicken broth
* 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (approx 3 lemons)
* 1 tablespoon butter


1. Season chicken with dried thyme and salt and pepper. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and add the oil. Dredge the chicken in flour, add to the hot oil and saute until cooked through. Set chicken aside to rest in 9 x 13 pan covered with foil.
2. In same saute pan, turn heat to medium high and de-glaze the pan with the wine, chicken broth and lemon juice until starting to reduce
3. Lower the heat to low, add onions and fresh thyme and cook until aromatic.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and finish the sauce by whisking in butter. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

We loved this dinner! Liam had as much chicken as the older everyone thought it was a keeper! I would serve this with noodles or rice next time so there is something with which to enjoy the extra sauce.


Ingredients for the dough
* 1 package active dry yeast
* 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour,plus more for dusting
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 1 tablespoon fine salt

Ingredients for the breadstick topping

* 3 tablespoons unsalted melted butter, divided
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
* 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
* Pinch of dried oregano


1. To make the dough, place 1/4 cup warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer; sprinkle in the yeast and set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, butter, sugar, fine salt and 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons warm water; mix with the paddle attachment until a slightly sticky dough forms, approximately 5 minutes.
2. Knead the dough by hand on a floured surface until very smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Roll into a 2-foot-long log; cut into 16 pieces. Knead each piece slightly and shape into a breadstick; arrange 2 inches apart on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Cover with a cloth; let rise in a warm spot until almost doubled, 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on your environment.
3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the risen breadsticks with 1 1/2 tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Bake until lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt with the garlic powder and oregano. Brush the warm breadsticks with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle with the flavored salt.

I have an open kitchen which is wonderful for cooking and entertaining but not great for yeast breads that need to rise. So, I had my breadsticks rise in the utility room on the dryer, near the furnace and water heater. I had tried these in the past and had not let them rise long enough. This time, I had them rise for 2 hours, and it finally did the trick. When I don't leave them alone for long enough, the breadsticks turned out very dense. This time, when given enough time to properly rise, they were much lighter and delicious. My suggestion to you, especially if you don't work with yeast very often, is to err on the side of more time vs. less. I would rather have big fluffy breadsticks than smaller dense ones, wouldn't you?

One other note: flour your hands as well as your board when you turn the dough out to knead will be glad you did!

Skillet Seared Salmon

* 4 5 - 6 ounces skinless salmon fillets, about 1 inch thick
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 4 large roma tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped (or whatever kind you want, but you need about 1 1/2 cups)
* 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
* 1 tablespoon butter
* 1/4 cup fresh cilantro


1. Lightly season salmon with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add salmon; cook 8 to 10 minutes or until salmon flakes easily when tested with a fork, turning once halfway through cooking. If salmon browns too quickly, adjust heat to medium.

2. Transfer salmon to serving platter. Add tomatoes, jalapeno, and butter to skillet; cook and stir 1 minute. Spoon over salmon; sprinkle cilantro. Serves 4.

Stuffed Jalapenos


* 4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into strips
* 7 jalapeno peppers, halved length-wise and seeded
* 2-4 tbsp dry bread crumbs
* 2 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled


1. Preheat oven to 425. Lightly spray a baking sheet.
2. Wash the jalapenos; cut them in half and remove the seeds and ribs
3. Place the peppers on the baking sheet. Put a piece of cheese in each pepper, then add some breadcrumbs and bacon on top of the peppers
4. Cook the peppers for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted and the peppers are soft.
5. Serve out of the oven!

The peppers weren't too hot, I didn't even think they were too spicy. If you wanted to make them a bit spicier, you could try to make these with pepper-jack cheese.

Using the spray on the baking sheet made clean up easy because of the cheese and breadcrumbs that spilled onto the sheet. Liam didn't try these, but the rest of them devoured them!!! The kids already want to know when we are making these again!