Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

Just made this Lemon, Basil chicken and am so excited that I immediately had to post it. Simple, and freakishly delicious!

– heat the oven to 450 and put the roasting pan in the oven for about 10 minutes
– cut off excess fat from the chicken, rinse and pat dry
– mix a cup of thinly sliced basil, 5 tbsp of butter, finely chopped shallots and 2 cloves of garlic with the zest of 1 lemon.
– from the chicken opening carefully separate the skin from the beast and thigh and insert the mixture, a tablespoon at a time, under the skin with your hands, smoothing it down from the outside.
– once that’s complete, season the entire chicken with coarse salt.
– toss quartered potatoes in olive oil and salt, remove the hot roasting pan from the oven and place potatoes in a single layer in the pan, pushing them to the sides to make space for the chicken.
– place the chicken breast up and roast for 20 minutes
– turn over and roast for another 20 minutes
– turn over again, squeeze lemon all over the chicken and leave the lemons in the pan. Sprinkle parsley over the potato and  toss the parsley and potatoes in the juices
– roast for another 20 to 30 minutes
– let chicken sit for 15 minutes, and pour pan juices over

This is a recipe from A Bird In The Oven And Then Some” by Mindy Fox

Divine!

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Consider yourself served

Meal Plan week of April 11th:
Day
Ingredients
Sides
Monday
Crock Pot Roast Beef
Couscous
Tuesday
Surfer Dude Fish Tacos
Wednesday
Crock Pot Apricot Chicken
Quinoa (cook with chicken broth, 2 cups per cup of quinoa, chopped onions and celery)
Thursday
Our 10th Wedding Anniversary
Friday
Stir Fried Ginger Beef with Snap Peas, Shiitake Mushrooms and Carrots
Brown rice
Saturday
Roast Chicken with Basil, Scallions, Lemon Butter and Potatoes
Roast Vegetables (zucchini and eggplant, drizzled with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil)
Sunday
Turkey Turnovers
Spinach salad with feta, tomatoes and pumpkin seeds

I’m going to start trying to publish my weekly meal plans because I’ve been talking to so many people who say they’d love to do it, but don’t have the time, inclination, rotary phone, every excuse! So, I’d love to share. Of course that means that on evening like Thursday night, when Darian and I will be out celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary, you should probably prepare yourself a nice piece of fish. I’ll also provide links to the recipes where possible! They are mostly all archived at http://web.me.com/baciamille7/MyRecipes/ – if the recipe isn’t there, just email me and I can post it.

You might be wondering how I design my meal plans? I try and stay as healthful as possible and keep in mind that I have 3 kids under the age of 8. We don’t eat spicy food, so many of my recipes omit that, and a lot of the time I’ll remove some of the protein and prepare it separately for the kids. I cater to 6 people in my home and we will have guests on any given day of the week. If our guests don’t eat everything up, then Darian and I will take the leftovers for lunch at work. You’ll also notice that I have snacks on my menu plan, and those are for the adults. I find that if I don’t plan snacks, we turn to the bad stuff, and this prevents it. There is a HUGE jar of candy in my office and I try and avoid it at all costs. It’s harder when I’m hungry…

Some nights we’re busier than others, like Monday night this week, so I’ll make something that doesn’t need too much attention. And yes, I do love my crock pot!

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Lentil me tell you something…

I am a huge fan of nutritionalist Christine Avanti, and for this week’s meal plan, I used several of her recipes. I had never made this one before and definitely had to tweak it to suit my palate. Also, I’ve never made lentils before, and there might be a good reason why since they were completely tasteless to me, even though really easy to make. Alas the kids didn’t fall for me telling them that the lentils were actually “Camouflage Rice”. Go figure.

Let’s be honest here: I don’t really have the time to be wrapping things in banana leaves and making string out of said leaves, so I just skipped that part entirely. I’m sure it gets some great “oohs and aahs” from the crowd, but for my purposes, simplicity is far more impressive. I scattered the leeks on top of and around the fish, and they actually gave it a lovely flavor, although I did have to watch that they didn’t burn.

My biggest issue with the recipe is that the “curry” sauce was incredibly sweet. Also, I’m not too sure that Miss Christine and I have the same idea of what a curry is, because to me, plain old Cumin doth not a curry make. So, I added a good dash of lemon and some salt which tempered it nicely. And to stay true to it being a curry, I added curry powder. Genius, right? Also, I topped the lentils with the curry sauce because they were so tasteless, instead of topping it on the fish, and that turned out to be delicious. Another slight deviation was that I had no ground Cumin so decided to add Cumin seeds into the coconut mixture to roll the fish in – turned out to be texturally great. Darian and our Au Pair Lucie (who, I am proud to say, has shocked her mother back in France by the amount of fish she is happily eating here), both cleaned their plate. And I made two extra pieces for Darian and I to have for lunch tomorrow. Ta da!

Coconut Curry Sea Bass over Red Lentils
——————————————————————————–
Recipe By: Christine Avanti
Serving Size: 5
Ingredients:

5 3oz sea bass
5 banana leaves or string
1 leek
1/4 teaspoon cumin, ground
1/4 cup coconut flakes
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon agave
1 lb. lentils, dried

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400. Cover a medium size baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray
2. Cut off the edges of the banana leaves so you have long strips to use as ties, otherwise use string.
3. Slice the leeks. In a shallow bowl, combine the cumin and coconut. Roll all sides of the fish in the coconut mixture to lightly coat.
4. Place one piece of fish, some of the leek slices, in a banana leaf. Put 1 tablespoon of coconut milk and a drop of agave on each piece of fish and roll up each fillet.
5. Tie two banana leaf strips or string around each fish fillet, place onto the prepared baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes.
6. While the fish is baking, prepare the lentils according to package. While the lentils are cooking, place any extra vegetables, coconut milk, and 1 teaspoon of agave in a medium saucepan, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. When the fish flakes easily, place each fillet on top of  1 cup of cooked lentils and top with the coconut curry veggie sauce.

Nutritional Information:
344 calories, 25 grams protein, 42 grams carbs, 9 grams fat

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Panko Shmanko.

I’m not going to say that this was my favorite dish of recent weeks, but there were certainly several great learnings, and I guess that makes it worthwhile. Firstly, this dish was too sweet, and could have benefited from more salt on the chicken and instead of the yoghurt, marmalade, crushed pineapple dipping sauce, could have done with a more spicy chutney. Next time.

The learnings? Really just the most delicious way to make asparagus. Untrimmed, on a baking tray, brushed with garlic, sea salt, olive oil and my secret ingredient, a dash of truffle oil (don’t moan, I know it’s the Merlot of kitchens, but I think it’s delish, ok?). Roasted at about 350 until the asparagus was slightly soft. And the portobello mushrooms the same way, but without the truffle oil because I didn’t want to mask the flavor of the mushrooms.

One last success was definitely one of the easiest ways to breaded chicken: chicken strips tossed in Greek Yoghurt (their recipe called for marmalade in there, but next time I’ll use something tastier), and then rolled in a Panko Crumb, Coconut Flake mixture. Easy as pie. The yoghurt was sticky and kept the crumbs on the chicken both while I was rolling it and during baking. I just didn’t love the sweet, but next time I’ll try a version of my own and see what happens.

The biggest hit of the evening? I moulded the kids’ Jasmine Rice into egg cups and dotted it in little mounds all over their plates. The were so entranced by the “polka dot” rice that almost everyone ate their asparagus just to get more rice! Hah!

Here’s the recipe, just keep in mind how sweet you like your dinner:
===============
Ambrosian Chicken
INGREDIENTS:

– 2 lbs. chicken breast halves, boneless, skinless
– 1.5 cups panko
– 1.5 cups flaked coconut
– 3 cups plain yogurt
– 1 teaspoon almond extract
– 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
– 0.25 cup pineapple crushed

METHOD:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Toss together the panko and coconut in a bowl; set aside.

3. Stir together the yogurt, almond extract, and marmalade in a large bowl. Pour half into a separate bowl, and stir in the crushed pineapple to make a dipping sauce; set aside.

4. Coat the chicken strips in the remaining yogurt mixture and roll in the panko mixture. Place the chicken strips on the parchment lined baking sheet.

5. Bake the strips in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Continue baking until the chicken is golden brown, no longer pink, and the juices run clear, about 15 minutes. Serve the hot ambrosian chicken strips with the pineapple-yogurt dipping sauce.

SOURCE: allrecipes.com

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Good morning sunshine.

I’ve never been a breakfast kind of girl. Sunday morning bacon and eggs at my fave breakfast joint, yes. But cornflakes and eggs and home, no. Until I became a Skinny Chick. I hate to say it, yes, because it’s a really silly name. Especially since Darian is one too. But there is a book called “Skinny Chicks Don’t Eat Salad” (painful, I know) by nutritionalist Christine Avanti, and her breakfasts introduced us to a whole new world of morning deliciousness. Simple and easy to make and very transportable: we put these into Gladware containers and eat them at the office.

My bestie? A scoop of Greek yoghurt, a handful or fresh fruit (Mangoes are in the pic, but we use strawbs, blueberries and kiwi a lot too), a scoop of cottage cheese (believe me, I didn’t like the idea at first either, but now I’m in love) and a tablespoon of nuts (I like almonds, walnuts and pecans the most) and voila. Deloishable breakfast. Easy to make, nutritious and a wonderful way to start the day. Plus it’s filling enough to keep me going until lunch. MMMMMMmmmmm, lunch! Now, if we could only get Christine Avanti to rename her book and I’d be more of a follower.

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Jewish mama street cred

You can’t really be a Jewish mama if you can’t cook. At least not a bona fide, in-dangerof-getting-flabby-arms-and-a-more-than-ample-bosom Jewish mama. And this week, I think I earned my street cred. It came in the form of Brisket. You see, I have the mostly unpleasant childhood memories of eating brisket in a sort of sweet BBQ sauce, generally served from disposable foil oven dishes (why?) at large family gatherings where I was likely to be found hiding behind the sofa because I was wimpy and my cousins were like a Jewish biker gang on pixie sticks. I think that’s another story. But, I’ve always upheld brisket as the pinnacle of the Jewish family dish. And tongue. But that’s also another story.

I settled on an adaptation of a recipe I found on recipes.com and decided to take out a couple of the steps to make it my own. Firstly, I didn’t marinade the brisket for the suggested 2 hours. I really don’t like an over marinaded meat, plus my dad came for tea and I lost track of time. A little red wine (grabbed something leftover and Spanish in the fridge), a little balsamic vinegar, a healthy dollop of minced garlic, dried thyme and rosemary, beef broth and a tin of organic diced tomatoes. Placed the lightly salted brisket on a bed of onion rings, and threw the concoction on top. All told I think I cooked in for around 4.5 hours at 300 and I have to say, it was close to perfection. I didn’t add veggies at the 3 hour mark because my kids aren’t fans of cooked veggies, but I did save the onion and tomato in the pan, which made an excellent sauce for the orzo I made as a side, along with some simply steamed veggies. Best part? Kids loved it. Ess mein kind. Ess!

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Planned failure

So, looking back at last week’s plan, I think that I planned some failure. Look, there was little chance that my kids were actually going to eat anything that resembled meatloaf, and I have to admit that I was a little turned off by eating any meat that looked like a muffin. Although, Mia did eat the entire thing, but she was bribed with the prospect of watching Star Wars during dinner and that kid will do anything when bribed. Note to self. I also made the mistake of cooking our ENTIRE batch of chicken breasts for the Honey Chicken, so must remember today to get Whole Foods to portion out all of the food. Another convenience I hope to enjoy for the price. Granted we didn’t get through the whole meal plan, mainly due to an excess of leftovers thanks to my not so skilled recipe doubling, so that means that we’ll try some of last week’s meals on this week’s plan. Cook with me and let me know if there’s anything great! This week I’m all about comfort food, and traditions, so there’s a brisket and a pot roast on there. I’m also recovering from some surgery and could do with both the comfort and easy cooking. Sounds pretty soothing to me! Oh, and guys at work, just a heads up, there’s meatloaf for lunch tomorrow.

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