Monday, July 28, 2014

Blackberry-Lemon Grilled Chicken w/ Cherry Tomato and Parsley Salad

Creating this recipe was a real pleasure and produced delicious results.  I love the freshness of Summer and the bright and wonderful flavors that accompany these months. I was able to procure many of these ingredients from my personal herb and veggie garden like thyme, parsley, borage leaves and the cherry tomatoes.
The blackberries for this recipe were furnished by my dear friend Carter from the patch at his home.  He was planning a cobbler for his berries!  I wanted to take a different route this time, especially considering my girls ate 3/4 of the berries sprinkled with a bit of sugar, immediately after I brought them into the kitchen and rinsed them. I couldn't resist letting them enjoy these little guys fresh, because they are rich in Vitamins A and C, potassium, magnesium and anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that are contributory to heart health and cancer fighting agents.  Anthocyanins are also responsible for the gorgeous red to purple hues of fruits and veggies, the more they have, the richer the color!
 I figured since this was a rather tart batch, they would make for a great marinade, infused with lemon, some herbs, garlic, sherry and fish sauce.
The Tomato and Parsley Salad was contributed to add a splash of color and raw herb flavor, tossed with olive oil, vinegar and a pinch of salt.  The salad provides a fantastic compliment and contrast to the flavor profile of the chicken.  Carter has more berries to pick and I anticipate some other new and wonderful things to come....not to mention the berries ripening as we speak in the field behind our house, where the peach  and pear trees are, as well as  along the fence at the driveway! Country life ROCKS!
2 frying chickens, about 3-3 1/2 lbs. each
1 1/2 c. fresh blackberries
1/2 c. Dry white wine
1/4 c. fish sauce
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. sugar
4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
3 sprigs Lime thyme, de-stemmed
1 lemon, juiced and zested
pinch red pepper flakes
olive oil for drizzling
Remove back bones from chickens and the breast bones , so they can lie as flat as possible and cut into four pieces each.
Puree the blackberries, sherry, fish sauce and oil together. Send through a sieve or strainer to remove seeds if desired.
Pour into medium bowl.
Using an immersion blender or food processor, blend pureed berries, sugar, garlic, lemon juice and red pepper flakes until smooth, then stir in thyme leaves and zest.
Coat and massage chicken in marinade, then transfer to large resealable bag, pressing out excess air.
Marinate for 4 hours or overnight.
Pour off excess marinade .
Pat dry and drizzle with olive oil.
Grill indoors or out, until juices run clear, or internal temperature reaches 165 *F,  about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile , prepare the salad.
8 cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
splash of olive oil
splash of vinegar
scant pinch of kosher salt and sugar
Halve tomatoes.
Combine ingredients in a small bowl and garnish chicken after resting and on serving plate.
Serves 8

Friday, July 25, 2014

BLT w/ Panko Crusted Fried Green Tomatoes and Onion Jam

There's nothing quite like a BLT with fresh lettuce and tomato from the garden ( or grocer) with smoky, salty and crunchy bacon along for the harmonious ride.  Adding an old time summer favorite of fried green tomatoes really sets the crunch and flavor factor on it's ear.  I  created a wonderful onion jam to slather on the tomatoes and this sandwich or any other delectable you desire with this naturally sweet and savory spread that pairs perfectly with the golden discs of tomato.
I fondly remember my days as a girl, and my then best friend Danielle, we would raid our gardens religiously.  We would gather tomatoes from our expansive garden for the ripe and ready to eat, grab the whole container of salt, and sit on our front porch to enjoy our literal shirt loads of tomatoes until we were full. Then on other days , we would scurry on to her family's garden and grab the biggest green tomatoes we could find. Danielle and I would go into their kitchen, at the time I had no place in ours,where she would fry those slices and we'd enjoy them hot from the pan!  Those were some of the awesome memories amassed over the years, as precious as any fine stone or metal.
sliced green tomatoes, 1/4 inch
seasoned flour
egg wash
oil for frying
Toss sliced tomatoes in seasoned flour and dip in egg wash.
Toss in Panko and Fry in 350* oil until floating and golden.
Drain on paper towels and serve hot or warm.
Onion Jam
3 c. yellow onion, thinly sliced, about 2 medium
1 tsp. brown sugar
3 sprigs lime thyme or regular thyme
2 tbsp. butter
In a large saute pan over medium high heat, melt butter and add onions , brown sugar and thyme.
Cook for about 2 minutes, then reduce heat to medium low and slowly cook onions until golden and reduced to about 1/2 c., about 30 minutes ,
Remove stems of thyme
Transfer to bowl and cream onions with an immersion blender or use a food processor.
Transfer to serving dish.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Gluten Free Deep Dish Portobello Mushroom Pizzas

Pizza and mushrooms go hand in hand in our household.  I figured , why not combine the two and get rid of  the Gluten, some of the carbs and shave a substantial measure of fat , while receiving a healthy dose of Vitamin D and calcium.  I found these beauties at Walmart, in a package boasting four beautiful Portobellos for less than 5 bucks!!!  I was very pleased with the results of this recipe.  My daughter Bronwyn LOVED it, as well as sisters Gayle, Bonnie and Hollie.  The Portobello in all it's meatiness, leaves nothing to be desired and makes a wonderful and nutritious meal with the addition of a simple green salad!!  This recipe may easily be doubled.
2 Portobello Mushrooms, about 8 oz.,wiped cleaned and stem trimmed if necessary
 1/4 c. mushroom and olive spaghetti sauce(or personal favorite)
2 slices Provolone cheese
3 oz. Mozzarella fresca
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. fresh oregano and basil, julienned
olive oil for drizzling
additional sauce for serving if desired
Preheat oven to 400*F.
Brush mushrooms with olive oil and sprinkle with scant amount of kosher salt on a baking sheet.
Roast for ten minutes to extract some of the moisture and cook mushrooms, flat side down, flipping during last 3 minutes to rid of accumulated juices.
Remove from oven and flip back to textured underside.
Mix 1 tbsp. Parmesan cheese with sauce and divide among mushrooms.
Place a slice of Provolone on each.
Divide mozzarella and fresh herbs among mushrooms.
Drizzle with olive oil and Broil on bottom rack until slightly golden., about 5 minutes. 
Garnish with remaining Parmesan and SPST.
Serves 2 or makes 4 appetizer portions.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hearty Brown Sausage Gravy and Mom's Coffee

Breakfast, along with being the most important meal of the day, is also my favorite meal.  Growing up, my parents left together for work at 6:25 every morning, give or take a few minutes, but never was this done without my mom preparing breakfast for the family.  I recall those days before school and sometimes on Saturdays, my dad in the car blowing the horn, because mom had "just one more thing " to do or say, then out she went, her coffee oftentimes barely touched and still piping hot on the kitchen table.  Not to be wasted of course, I relished in that special treat, knowing mom had prepared and sipped the creamy and delicious caramel tinted cup of goodness that sat before me.  I love coffee to this day, probably beckoning to my carefree days of a blessed and loving childhood with memories unmatched.
Sausage gravy is a great way to stretch your buck and feed more with the same amount of protein.
This can be further achieved by adding more flour and more milk, depending on personal circumstances.   I have only been making it during this past ten years , here and there, but as I developed my prowess in the kitchen, a good go-to sausage gravy recipe became imminent.  I feel this one fits the bill.
 Fresh thyme and parsley from my herb garden help create the homemade ,wholesome and highly regarded implement of color and flavor.  Calories and fat may be regulated by the type of milk used and properly draining your sausage before creating the gravy.  Turkey sausage may be used or even ground beef if desired.  I chose to use beef bouillon to help tint the gravy and get away from the ( to me ) off-putting, yet equally delicious color of the regular white gravy version.
1 lb. good quality sausage
1/2  soft beef bouillon cube or 2 c. beef stock
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tbsp. AP flour
2 c. 2 % milk
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp. butter
Brown sausage over medium high heat with bouillon cube.
Drain off rendered fat, leaving about 1 tsp.
Move sausage to one side of the pan and brown flour, among the browned bits in the bottom of the pan.
Incorporate into sausage and add milk (if using stock, add it here).
Bring up to a boil and reduce to rolling simmer for about 5 minutes.
Stir in butter and parsley and reduce heat to low.
Finish with fresh cracked black pepper
Serve hot, with biscuits or toast, and eggs any style you desire.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Easiest Crock Pot Green Beans and Mushrooms

Just about everyone loves green beans and have a surplus right about now from their gardens.  I grew some last season, but this year I am able to enjoy fresh green beans from the sumptuous garden of my sister Gayle.  She has quite a variety in tow, as well as three different types of green beans growing together.  One day I dropped by her home , she is my next door neighbor, and she had picked several pounds of beans from her garden and offered me some, to which I of course obliged!  I had some fresh mushrooms to utilize that I had purchased earlier in the week and thought the two would pair wonderfully! 
 Packed with vitamins and minerals like magnesium,. iron, Vitamin A , Vitamin B-6, calcium and potassium, fresh green beans are a great way to round out any meal.  The earthy and meaty tasting mushrooms compliment this recipe perfectly, and I found my tasters enjoying this recipe as a stand alone dish, which totally rocks!  Omit the salt pork and sub in olive oil for a satisfying and delicious vegetarian dish or meal! 
1 lb. fresh green beans, washed, trimmed and broken into thirds
8 oz. whole button mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
1/2 oz. salt pork with lean, rinsed,  cut into pieces, rendered
1 packet Italian dressing 
Preheat crock-pot on high.
Toss green beans with Italian dressing packet and set aside.
Render pork fat in microwave until crisp.
While still hot, add to crock-pot, then add mushrooms.
Stir to coat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Add green beans and fold together to coat well.
Add lid and cook for about 2 hours or until desired tender-crispness!
Serves 6 to 8.

Summer Peaches w/ Brie

Summer is here and and so are the bounties of some wonderful fruit trees.  Entertaining can be made easy and delicious with the addition of just a few pantry and herb garden items, for an impromptu appetizer that is light and fragrant, with nutritional benefits to boot like Potassium, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.    I came up with this recipe as a result of peaches and Brie both being on sale ( the peaches on our tree aren't ripe yet and are much smaller) and I wanted an appetizer for family to critique for future gatherings.  The finished product is full of fresh and bright flavors, with a hint of salty, provided by a splash of Sherry.  Recipe may easily be doubled!
1 half  wheel Brie, about 4 oz. ( allow to come to room temperature before saute of peaches)
1 1/2  to 2 tsp. butter
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 peach, sliced about 1 c.
splash Sherry
2 basil leaves, julienned
In a medium pan over medium high heat, melt butter and add peaches .
Saute for about one minute .
Add brown sugar and continue for about one minute more.
Add splash of sherry to de-glaze pan and remove from heat.
Fold in basil.
Pour over Brie and garnish with fresh cracked pepper and Lime Thyme.
Serve with crackers ( I used bacon Ritz)