Monthly Archives: September 2015

Inspired Supper: Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu-Italian Style

I absolutely love coming up with recipes. It’s so much fun to ponder, “What should I make for supper?” and then let my mind wander until the perfect blend of ingredients comes to mind. I must confess, however, sometimes my ideas are not always completely my own.

I like nothing better than to read a cookbook as if it was the hottest best seller. There are so many things to learn from the pages of any given culinary tome. Another source of inspiration comes from the myriad cooking magazines that are available. I make it a point to pick up two or three every month, choosing something different each time. The inspiration for this recipe comes from one of those magazines.

Food Network Magazine featured a Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe in its September issue. It was a classic recipe turned inside out and prepared on the grill. It was interesting enough to catch my eye. Once my eye was caught, my brain started thinking about how I could make it my own. It was easy to prepare and the ham and cheese wrapper was definitely open to interpretation. The question became, “Where should I go with this recipe?” The answer was quickly obvious. Why to Italy, of course. I kept the chicken breast and the grill leaving the other ingredients behind. Except, that is, the zucchini which is always a pleasant partner in any Italian caper. Prosciutto and provolone cheese became the wrapper. A few sage leaves came along to provide an earthy surprise.2015-09-20 18.58.24

I decided that boneless, skinless chicken breasts can always use a little help in the flavor department, so I marinated them in olive, oil, lemon juice, and some Italian herbs. A bit of onion and some garlic also joined the mix. Then the grill did its magic and when the chicken was almost done, I added the sage, cheese, and prosciutto, 2015-09-20 19.35.29The beautiful bundles returned to the grill for a few minutes to turn a lovely pale gold. I decided to top it with some of my pesto to round the final turn for a classically Italian dish.2015-09-20 19.46.00Then there was the matter of the zucchini. My grill isn’t very large and can only provide a friendly and hot haven for one thing at a time, so the zucchini roasted in the oven. It was paired with red and sweet onions a glug of  olive oil and some Italian herb blend.2015-09-20 18.51.15Towards the end of the cooking I added a sprinkle of finely grated Romano cheese and let it brown up under the broiler. A little roughly chopped parsley and it was ready.2015-09-20 19.38.26This was a very satisfying supper, not too heavy and bursting with flavor. Other than marinating the chicken, everything was ready in about  half an hour. Perfect for a weeknight, but great for a weekend meal after a busy day.2015-09-20 19.48.05

Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu: Italian Style
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Servings
2
Servings
2
Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu: Italian Style
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Servings
2
Servings
2
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Place the chicken in a zip top bag. Mix together the lemon juice, grated garlic, chopped onion, one teaspoon of the herb seasoning, and one tablespoon of the olive oil. Pour into the bag with the chicken squeeze and turn the bag to coat the chicken evenly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours
  2. Remove the chicken from the bag and place on a hot grill. Grill until lightly browned. Turn and grill until the second side matches the first.
  3. Remove the chicken from the grill and lay three sage leaves on each breast. Top with a slice of the cheese and wrap with the prosciutto. Return the chicken to the grill cheese side up and cook for a few minutes to melt the cheese and crisp up the prosciutto.
  4. While the chicken is grilling, combine the zucchini, onions and the remaining olive oil and herb blend in a baking dish. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 - 25 minutes.
  5. Top the zucchini with the Romano cheese and broil until the cheese is golden. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley.
  6. Top each chicken breast with 1 tablespoon of the pesto. Plate it up and serve.
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I’m happy that this recipe inspired me and happier that the inspiration turned into something delicious. The moral of this story is that any recipe worth “borrowing” is worth making your own. 

Steak Night Saturday and Porcini Pasta With Mushrooms and Cream

We have a tradition at Mama D’s house. Saturday is Steak Night. This is an inexpensive alternative to going to a pricey if not wonderful steak house. The steak is almost always a Petite Sirloin, a tender and flavorful steak that rivals a much more expensive filet at easily half the price. Many markets around here are starting to carry it and the going price is around $6.99 per pound, so you can indulge in its meaty goodness and not break the bank. Salt and pepper or a bit of Montreal Steak Seasoning is all it needs before the grill does its magic.

This isn’t about the steak…it’s about a side dish that was an inspired alternative to the potatoes I usually serve. It started with some Porcini Flavored Pasta that I found at a specialty store. I don’t often opt for these kinds of pastas, but Papa D fell in love with them and the price was right, so I thought I’d give them a whirl. I’m glad that I did.

Inspired by the earthy mushroom aroma that greeted my nose when I opened the bag, I knew that I had to add more layers of mushroom flavor to create a dish that would hold its own next to the steak. So I invited some Crimini Mushrooms and a good dose of my Porcini Rosemary Salt to the party.DIGITAL CAMERAThis was a heavenly trio that became a quartet when some shallots joined in to provide a subtle onion flavor.2015-09-12 16.39.05The mushrooms and shallots sautéed in some olive oil. I added some chicken stock to keep everything moist while keeping the fat content at bay.2015-09-12 17.15.26 After all, there would be some cream joining the pan shortly and I felt that one indulgence was enough.2015-09-12 19.25.15A good dose of fresh rosemary continued the woodsy flavor profile as the sauce thickened ever so slightly. The addition of the Porcini Rosemary Salt took the flavors to another level as the sauce continued to simmer gently until the pasta was ready. Once the pasta entered the pan the it was a few minutes to Side Dish perfection.2015-09-12 19.33.58

Porcini Pasta with Mushrooms, Rosemary, and Cream
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Servings
4
Porcini Pasta with Mushrooms, Rosemary, and Cream
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, but cut the time by one minute. Drain. While the pasta cooks make the sauce.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a medium fry pan. Add the mushrooms and shallots, and cook until the shallots are soft and the mushrooms are beginning to brown.
  3. Add about 1/3 of the stock and simmer for a few minutes until the stock is almost absorbed.
  4. Add the remaining stock and rosemary and cook 4 or 5 minutes.
  5. Add the cream and simmer for a few more minutes. The sauce should thicken slightly. Add the porcini salt and taste. If you think it needs more of the salt add a pinch or two. Add some fresh ground pepper and serve.
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It joined the grilled steak with pride and made Steak Night Saturday something very special.2015-09-12 19.44.01This dish could easily take center stage and be a delectable main dish as well, so find some Porcini Pasta, make some Porcini Salt, and welcome Fall with a dish that sings of the earth.

 

Supper Without Meat: Overstuffed Poblano Peppers

Having established my supper parameters, I’d like to share another recipe that fits my working definition of Supper, more or less. This also is a Meatless Monday Meal that can be considered gluten-free, more or less.

I remember my mother’s stuffed peppers. she started with large green bell peppers  that she filled with a mixture of rice, tomato sauce, and ground beef. They roasted  in her oval dutch oven until they were tender and golden. They were hearty and satisfying, yet a little boring. Now that I am entering into a Stuffed Pepper Supper, I wanted something a little more adventurous. I have shared another Stuffed Pepper Recipe that is more of what my mother’s used to be but with a distinctive Italian flavor. This time out I was feeling a bit Southwestern and the resulting dish really goes in that direction. I was also looking for something that was quick and easy and this recipe delivers on that level as well.

I chose Poblano Peppers as the vessel, cutting the tops off to create  boats of deep green. These were more like a canoe than a boat and that is how the “overstuffed” came to be to be in the name.2015-08-31 18.53.39The poblano pepper tops joined red and green bell pepper along with some jalapeno to create the veggie base. Of course it wouldn’t be a Mama D recipe if there wasn’t some onion and garlic, so that made a noticeable presence. These ingredients all got happy as they sautéed in some olive oil.2015-08-31 18.53.07

Brown rice came along as the starch. This is a great use for leftover rice or any other grain for that matter, because you only need a cup or so. Mine wasn’t leftover which allowed me to cook it in some vegetable stock that was seasoned with cumin and chili powder. You can always give that Latin flair to your leftovers by adding some of the above spices to you grain. 2015-08-31 19.04.30Instead of the usual tomato sauce, I used some Red Chili Sauce that I had in the freezer. I’ve shared this recipe before and it’s another great item to make ahead and have for occasions such as this. 2015-08-31 19.05.32Last but not least, I added a can of Black Beans.2015-08-31 19.11.56 These were the reduced sodium variety that are becoming easier to find these days.Everything simmered together for 10 minutes or so before it was spooned into the pepper boats until they were quite overflowing and in serious danger of sinking. 2015-08-31 19.33.44They baked in the oven for 20 minutes before they were topped with some cheese. In this case it was Munster (because that’s what I had on hand), but any melting cheese would be good. I’ll try Pepper Jack or Quesadilla Cheese next time. A quick pass under the broiler and they were ready to serve.2015-08-31 20.12.01This recipe makes enough to over stuff four peppers. I only made two and used the rest of the filling for some killer “chip-less” nachos the next day. This is a great recipe to personalize. Add more veggies if you like or use quinoa, couscous, even farro for your grain. I kept this on the mild side, but you could add more jalapeno and spicier chili powder to up the heat ante. There’s always hot sauce du jour that can be added at the table to bring on more heat. In my case it was Tapitio, a Mama D favorite.2015-08-31 20.13.53

Overstuffed Poblano Peppers
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Overstuffed Poblano Peppers
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Slice off one side of each poblano to create a boat like vessel. Chop the removed pepper pieces and add to the other peppers. Place the pepper boats in a baking pan that has been coated with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. If you don't have cooked rice, cook 1/2 cup of brown rice in 1-1/2 cups of vegetable stock or water that is seasoned with half of each the cumin and chili powder. This should take 30 - 40 minutes. You can do this earlier in the day or even the night before.
  3. In a large fry pan heat the olive oil. Add the chopped onions, peppers, and garlic, tossing to coat everything. Cook over medium heat until everything begins to soften.
  4. Add the remaining cumin and chili powder and let them cook and get fragrant for a couple of minutes. Stir in the rice and toss until well combined with the vegetables. Cook a couple of minutes more.
  5. Add the chili or tomato sauce, stirring it in well. Allow to cook a few more minutes. If the mixture seems dry add some of the vegetable stock as the mixture cooks. Stir in the drained beans and toss to combine.
  6. Divide the filling between the pepper boats. They will be filled to overflowing which is perfectly fine. Cover loosely with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes. The boats should be soft and the filling hot.
  7. Remove the foil and sprinkle some of the shredded cheese on top of each pepper. Broil for 3 minutes or so until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Pass your hot sauce of choice at the table.
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There are probably as many variations on a stuffed pepper as there are readers of this post. Make you own version that will float your (pepper) boat. As always you are welcome to share your adventures right here. I hope that you do.