Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Caprese Chicken?

There is a KILLER little Italian cafe in the Avenues neighborhood of Salt Lake that served me my first EVER Caprese sandwich with a gianormous piece of fresh mozzarella, thick slices of roma tomatoes, full leaves of basil and a to-die-for olive oil and balsamic vinegar to it top off between soft pieces of ciabatta bread.  This recipe reminds me of those sandwiches. 

I was looking for fresh ideas for dinner and stumbled upon a pretty cool website called  They have weekly recipe ideas for those in need of me!  A lot of the recipes on this site remind me of the dishes I had growing up, like tuna casserole, beef stroganoff and meatloaf.   

Baked Pesto Chicken with Angel Hair Pasta
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
½ cup basil pesto
2 plum tomatoes, diced
shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Cover cookie sheet with foil.

Put pesto and chicken in bowl. Toss until chicken is covered.  Place in cooking dish and top with diced tomatoes.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Sprinkle with cheese
Bake another 3-5 minutes.
Serve with a box of angel hair pasta.

To fancy up this dish a little I added two teaspoons each olive oil and butter to the angel hair pasta and a 1/2 cup grated parmesean cheese.  This is one of my new FAVORITE recipes!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Casserole, Chicken and Rice style!

Admit it...sometimes all you want is a straight up casserole, whether it be tuna casserole or one of those recipes from the Campbell's soup can. :)  I was in just that kind of mood when I made up the following recipe.  In college I used to buy those boxed recipes that you just added chicken to complete the meal to impress my boyfriend.  HA!  Funny enough, I was trying to recreate those meals. 

Chicken and Rice Casserole
2 cooked chicken breasts cubed
2 cups wild rice, cooked
1+ cup of cheese, to your preference
1 can cream of chicken
1 can cream of celery....I recall the recipe in college always had cream of mushroom, but Alex doesn't like mushrooms.  So use your best judgement.
3/4 cup salsa
1 medium onion...or less, keep on reading.

Combine all the ingredients in a baking dish. 

Set oven to 400 F and cook for 30 minutes until bubbly.

This recipe was SUPER yummy...except for one REALLY ought to cook the onions BEFORE you mix them with all the other ingredients.  I also added WAY too much onion.  I had to pick it out to keep it from over-powering the rest of the dish.  But, you live and you learn...which hopefully you learn from my mistake!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Harvest Time - APPLES II

I had a specific recipe in mind when Alex and I went to the Happy Apple Orchard to pick apples.  What better at harvest time than APPLE PIE!  A couple of years ago for Christmas my sister gave me a compliation of canning recipes.  I don't know where those recipes came from, so I just want to make it clear that this is NOT my recipe and I don't know whose it is, but it ROCKS!

I haven't done much canning outside of jams, as I am afraid of screwing it up.  A couple of years ago I made spiced peach jam.  I did something wrong because the pectin didn't make it set and I ended up with 12 jars of spiced peach syrup...which was yummy, but I digress.  This recipe was super easy, tastey and I didn't even break a jar when I used my pressure cooker to seal the jars!  WHOOHOOO!!!

Apple Pie Filling
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
10 cups water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
5 1/2 -6 pounds apples or 24 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples

In large pan blend first 4 ingredients.  add salt, stir in water.  Cook and stir until clear, thick and blubbling--sort of foamy.  Add raw apples to syrup as it is cooking and heat through.  Add lemon juice. 

Pack apples in jars leaving 1" head space and fill with hot syrup.  To seal, process in steaming water bath, 15 minutes for pints and 20 minutes for quarts.

The easiest option for sealing these is to add the apples and syrup while they are still hot and turn them upside down until cool.  This is how I can my jams.  This time I opted to seal my cans using a pressure cooker.  I have a medium sized pressure cooker and was able to can three jars at a time.  I placed three pints sized jars in the pressure cooker, made sure they were not touching, filled it with 1 cup of water and placed the lid on it.  Once the pressure was established, I 'cooked' the jars for 5-6 minutes then turned the stop top off and allowed the pressure to reduce naturally. 

VOILA!  Now I have apple pie filling anytime I want it!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Harvest Time - APPLES!

This weekend we went to Happy Apple Farms in Penrose, Colorado picked apples.  What an awesome experience.  You get to pretend you live on a farm, walk out to the orchard and pick some yummy apples.  For those who want to enhance their experience...they have tractor rides to the orchard.  The best part of this fantasy...when you are tired and hot and want to can.  :)

When we got home, I was on the hunt for apple recipes.  What is sweet, smooth, can be spread over nice warm bread and reminds you of fall?  APPLE BUTTER!  Be forewarned, Apple Butter does not have actual butter in it.  Apple Butter is extremely well cooked apples mashed into the consistency of jam.  A couple of recipes I saw actually called for apple sauce instead of apples...I guess if your lazy...just kidding.  Whatever it takes for you to make this yummy concoction. 

I found this recipe on  This is a new web site for me and I was pretty skeptical, but the recipe ROCKED!  A MUST HAVE tool is an apple peeler. 

Yes, it looks like a medievil torture tool.  As a result, you should keep tabs on where your hands are while using it so you don't lose a digit or more likely, cut yourself.

Place the apple on the prongs and twist the crank so it approaches the peeler and CRANK!
The peeler with peel, core and cut the apple into a nice spiral.  You can also remove the knife that cuts the apple into a spiral so it only peels and cores the apple.

Apple Butter in the Crock Pot
12 medium Granny Smith or other cooking apples peeled and cut into fourths

1-1/2 cup packed brown sugar shopping list
1/2 cup apple juice shopping list
1 teaspoon ground allspice shopping list
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg shopping list
1/2 teaspoons ground cloves shopping list
Mix all ingredients in crock pot. 
Cover and cook on low for 10 hours (I put it on high for 5 hours and stirred it occassionally so it didn't burn around the edges).  Mash apples with potato masher or large fork.  Cook uncovered on low for 2 hours stirring occasionally until mixture is very thick.  Cool 2 hours.  Spoon apple butter into container. 
Cover and store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks.
The apples we picked were not Granny Smith apples, but worked just fine.  I suspect the taste with Granny Smith's would be AWESOME!  Alex and I tried this out on toast, but I was dreaming of freshly baked homemade bread.  I DIG the flavor of this recipe over variations I have made in the past.  I'm planning on making this as Christmas presents for friends.