Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chicken Souvlaki Pita with Skinny Tzatziki

I had some leftover chicken breast tenders from my trip to H-Mart, so when this simple recipe popped up on the Tasty Kitchen blog I thought it would be a great way to use them up! (Don't worry, I kept them frozen since I bought them!)

I use chicken breast tenders pretty frequently. I'm not sure of the nutritional difference between full breasts and the breast tenders, but the tenders are usually a lot less expensive.  When I'm chopping up the chicken by the end of the recipe anyway, like I do here (especially because I pounded it out), it made a lot of sense to go this route.

The real secret ingredient to this recipe is Cavender's All Purpose Greek Seasoning.  I know, another pre-mixed spice blend, but they are so easy to use! I found it at a specialty market, but hopefully you can find it in larger grocery stores as well.  Penzy's also has a greek spice blend, and it may be worth trying that instead (probably has less sodium!), although Cavender's does have a very unique flavor.

Tzatziki is one of the most delicious condiments - and it's so easy to make a skinny version.  I adapted this recipe from missamy's version on Tasty Kitchen as well as the version on Gina's Skinny.  Greek yogurt is now really easy to find in grocery stores and it gives the tzatziki the perfect tang!

Don't cut up the cucumbers in the tzatziki too small - it's nice when they give a little bite to the sandwich!

P.S. there is no cottage cheese in this recipe.  I used the old container to store the tzatziki!  It's all about recycling!

Overall, we really enjoyed this sandwich.  I loved that I could prep everything either in the morning, the night before, or even right when I get home from work, and then, when we get hungry, throw the chicken on the Foreman for 2 minutes and have a meal ready in under 5. When the Monkey Scientist got home from a late flight, I had dinner ready before he could walk to my apartment from the metro, even though I'd been running errands all evening. And he told me I make a mean tzatziki - didn't even notice that it was skinnified! The chicken has so much flavor from the greek seasoning, and the tzatziki balanced it perfectly.

Now that the weather is warming up (it's been in the 80s in DC!) and we're days away from the pool being open on weekends, I'll have to have this prepped at all times for a perfect Sunday lunch by the pool!

Chicken Souvlaki Pita with Skinny Tzatziki
Serves 2-3

for the chicken
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast (about 6 tenders)
4 teaspoons Cavender's All Purpose Greek Seasoning
4 teaspoons olive oil

for the tzatziki
6-8 oz plain, non-fat greek yogurt
1/2 cucumber, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper

3 whole wheat pitas

Pound out the chicken breast until they are about 1/2 inch thick.

Rub down with a little bit of olive oil, then season both sides generously with the Cavender's Greek Seasoning. Wrap in plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator to let marinate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, mix greek yogurt, chopped cucumbers, minced garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Grill the chicken until no longer pink. (This takes about 2 minutes on the George Foreman grill, but you could definitely use a real grill!)

Spoon a good amount of tzatziki in each pita.  Slice chicken into strips and divide evenly between pitas. Enjoy!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Brunch: Zucchini-Potato Frittata

Today, I want to welcome another wonderful new guest blogger, Beth! Beth is another one of my college roomates who taught me many new tricks in the kitchen. She left us for the great Pacific Northwest where she is able to eat a lot of local, organic foods.  She makes a lot of vegan or vegetarian dishes but manages to maintain all the flavor! Since I posted my Passover recipes, I'm glad I could have Beth post an Easter recipe as well!  I hope you all enjoy her vegetarian frittata! (and I'm going to enjoy actually getting to see her this weekend while she visits the East Coast, which makes me so happy!!)

Hello yelleBELLYboo readers! I'm so excited to contribute to Dani's wonderful blog. Easter brunch is definitely one of my favorite meals of the year. And even thought I was unable to spend this Easter with family, it didn't stop me from enjoying a great brunch!

Overall, this meal was pretty easy and very tasty. The main dish was a Zucchini-Potato Frittata.

I love the aroma that fills the kitchen when cooking onions and potatoes, yumm. Be sure to flip the potatoes occasionally and cook them until they are soft, this took me longer than the 20 minutes suggested in the recipe.

Salting the zucchini and letting them set in a colander for about 30 minutes before cooking prevents the final product from being too watery, definitely a must.

I made a few changes to the recipe, and one of them was doubling the zucchini and omitting the bacon. I wanted to roll with a vegetable frittata, so the bacon was served on the side. Next time, I will add some sun-dried tomatoes during this step. It will complement the other vegetables well and give the dish more color.

Combine all cooked vegetables with the beaten eggs and cheese in a medium bowl, then pour mixture into the warm skillet. I went with feta, but any cheese would be great (the original recipe called for cheddar). Make sure the skillet you use oven-safe, because after the bottom is set (~10 minutes) you pop this in the oven for another 5-10 minutes so that the top can set. And then you can enjoy this egg-cellent (ha) dish!

I paired this with the Easy Peasy Whole Wheat Bread recipe that Dani posted a while back and a simple fruit salad. All in all, a very satisfying Easter brunch.

Zucchini-Potato Frittata
adapted from goodLife {eats}

2 medium zucchini, sliced
4-5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. golden potatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
6 eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 c crumbled feta

Combine the zucchini and 1 teaspoon salt in a colander and toss well. Set aside to drain for 30 minutes. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat in a large, well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or ovenproof nonstick skillet. Add the potatoes and onion, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, flipping and stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are soft.

Increase the heat to medium-high and continue cooking, tossing occasionally, until the potatoes are are brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the potatoes but keep the skillet on the burner. Transfer the zucchini to a clean kitchen towel and pat dry. Add the zucchini to the skillet and saute over medium-high heat, until the zucchini is just tender, about 4 minutes. Remove the zucchini.

Keep the skillet over the heat. Beat the eggs and pepper to taste in a medium bowl until well blended. Fold in the potatoes, zucchini, and cheese. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil to the skillet as needed to lightly coat the bottom. Pour in the egg mixture, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook without stirring until the bottom is set, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the top is set, 5 to 15 minutes, checking every 5 minutes. Place a serving plate on top of the skillet and carefully invert. The frittata should fall out of the pan. Cut into wedges and serve.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Southwestern Pulled Brisket

This is the last of my Passover recipe this year. I mentioned a few times that I made meat with all of my milk dishes.  Definitely not Kosher, but I felt like brisket was necessary for Passover.

I picked up this brisket frozen several weeks ago, before my farmer's market closed for its spring hiatus.  It was from a local farmer in southern Pennsylvania.  It was my inspiration for hosting a Seder!

Make sure you scrape up all the tasty brown bits before you put it all in the crock pot - they're the best part!!

The veggies in this recipe end up getting cooked to death.  I mixed a few into the meat, but most of them I threw out.  That's ok because they did their good deed - donating all of their delicious flavor to the brisket.

Chipotles in adobo are the best secret ingredient for anyone who lives spicy foods. My coworker told me she often mixes the adobo into my latin slaw and it comes out great! I need to try it next time I make the slaw.

The crockpot was the key to making this for Passover.  I had so many things to do, but being able to throw this in the crockpot in the morning and let it do its thing was a huge help!

This was far and away the biggest hit of my Seder.  My aunt has made this a few times for dinner and said it was really convenient and a big hit served with slaw. It's spicy and flavorful, while still juicy. It definitely isn't your traditional brisket, but it's a great alternative!  I recommend you make it anytime you need to throw a recipe together hours before your guests arrive.

Southwestern Pulled Brisket

3 pounds beef brisket
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 Spanish onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juices
1 to 2 whole canned chipotle chiles en adobo [Read: 1 or 2 from a can, not one or two cans. Many misread this amount!] (I used two because I like it spicy!)
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup molasses

For serving:
If sandwiches, soft sandwich buns. If tacos, small soft tortillas. For Passover, either eat it alone or on matzo.

Season the beef generously with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat just until beginning to smoke. Add the meat and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker; leave the skillet on the heat.

Add garlic, onion, chili powder, coriander, and cumin to drippings in the skillet and stir until fragrant, about one minute. Add vinegar and boil until it’s almost gone (and seriously, get your head out of the way of the steam; inhaling vinegar is no fun!), scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in water and pour the mixture over the brisket. Crush the tomatoes through your fingers into the slow cooker; add the tomato juices, chipotles, bay leaves, and molasses. Cover the cooker, set it on LOW, and cook the brisket until it pulls apart easily with a fork, about 8 to 10 hours.

To serve, leave the meat in the slow cooker and use two forks to pull it apart and stir it evenly into the sauce; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove and discard bay leaves, draining most of the liquid.

Don’t have a slow cooker? Cook in a Dutch oven in the oven at 350°F for 3 hours.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Chicken with Mustard Mascarpone Marsala Sauce

I am so excited to announce my second guest blogger, Sarah, to yelleBELLYboo!  Sarah is another former roommate who explored many a new recipe with me.  This recipe was the first really complicated meal I ever made without my Mom, and Sarah was right by my side. It is still one of my absolute favorite meals, and I know you'll enjoy it too!  Welcome, Sarah!

Dani and I discovered this recipe during college from all the Food Network we watched in our tiny shared bedroom sophomore year. We made this recipe a handful of times and it gave us a little taste of a home cooked meal that was so rare during our college years.

I ended up cutting up the chicken into smaller pieces than shown above because they took less time to cook and when I combined it with the pasta it was easier to eat.

The Marsala wine really makes this sauce. Definitely don't substitute with any kind of wine you have around the house because the Marsala really gives it the sweet taste that makes this dish so so good.

Once you add the mascarpone cheese and dijon mustard, the sauce really starts to come together and you can smell the delicious sweet aroma of the onions and garlic combining with the cheese and mustard. This dish is very rich because mascarpone cheese is a dessert cheese generally used to make tiramisu. But when you combine it with the other bold flavors in this dish, it really doesn't taste like it is made with a dessert cheese.

The recipe calls for fettuccine but I used regular thin spaghetti pasta because that is what I had in my pantry. I also forgot to garnish with parsley which really would have made the presentation better (and taste better, too)! I paired it with a fresh goat cheese salad (because the dish is so rich) and a glass of sweet Moscato wine. It was a delicious dinner and I highly recommend this recipe!

Chicken with Mustard Mascarpone Marsala Sauce

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, each breast cut crosswise into 3 pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons butter, divided
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup dry Marsala wine
1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves, plus whole sprigs, for garnish
12 ounces dried fettuccine

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and cook just until brown, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cool slightly.

While the chicken cools, melt 2 tablespoons of butter to the same skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onion and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and saute until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 12 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Stir in the mascarpone and mustard. Cut the chicken breasts crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through and the sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain. Toss the fettuccine with 3 tablespoons of butter and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Swirl the fettuccine onto serving plates. Spoon the chicken mixture over top. Garnish with parsley sprigs and serve.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Potato Kugel Klein

Potato kugel is almost nothing like it's noodle alternative.  It is more of a casserole, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have its place at the Passover table.  I made it as my second vegetarian side for my Seder.

This recipe had loads of onions and potatoes.  What recipe can go wrong when you have onions and potatoes?  I used one GIANT onion to get 5 cups.

Instead of using the fresh herbs or dill, I used dried herbs de provence.  They contain most of the same herbs and worked great.

Again, this recipe shouldn't be served with meat if you're being strictly Kosher.  We served meat at my Seder, but it was a very loose interpretation of the rules. At least I didn't serve any bread!

I also made this a day before, and kept it in the fridge until I was ready to bake it.  Making food ahead of time helped me keep a low stress level on the day of the meal.

I really enjoyed this recipe! I never thought I liked potato kugel (I'm partial to the noodle version) but this was fluffy and delightful.  It was super easy to make and enjoyed by all!

Potato Kugel Klein
from my mom's friend Suzie, who got it from Gourmet, Sept 1996
Serves 12-18

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter or margarine
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh marjoram
5 cups chopped onion
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
3 tbsp dried dill
4 large eggs, beaten lightly
2 1/4 cups sour cream
1/2 cup matzo meal
3 russet (baking) potatoes, peeled (about 1/2 lbs)

In a large, heavy skillet heat 4 tbsp butter over moderate heat until foam subsides and cook herbs 3 minutes. Add onions and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes, or until softened. Add mushrooms, dill, remaining 3 tbsp butter, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender.

In a bowl, stir together eggs, sour cream, and matzo and let mixture stand.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and butter a 13- by 9-inch baking dish.

Under running water coarsely grate potatoes into a colander. Squeeze excess water from potatoes and drain 2 minutes. Stir potatoes and onion mixture into matzo meal mixture. Spoon mixture into dish.

(At this point, you can cover and let sit in the refrigerator up to 12 hours, as long as the potatoes are drained well)

Bake in middle of oven 50 minutes or until golden.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Eggplant Matzo Lasagna

Some of my guests at my Passover Seder were vegetarian, so I tried to make a few dishes for them.  This  matzo lasagna was one of those options.

Of course, if you keep Kosher and are serving meat, you cannot serve this meal.  It's full of cheese! But the cheese is what makes this guy tasty.  I'd probably even add more next time around!

I made the lasagna a day or two earlier but waited until the day of my Seder to bake it.  The matzo soaked up some liquid and it tasted more like pasta.  Definitely the way to go.

Also, I used crushed tomatoes instead of pureed.  I'd probably add sugar next time to counteract the acid from canned crushed tomatoes.

The assembly is really easy, just like a traditional lasagna.  You just stack up the layers!

Once you get to the top layer, you bake it off.  Could it be any easier?  If it wasn't Passover,  you could use no-boil noodles instead.

I have to admit, this wasn't the biggest hit at our Seder.  I think the main reason was that it was cold by the time I served it since we ate outside.  I still liked it a lot and I think it would great if served piping hot!

Eggplant Matzo Lasagna
from my Mom, who I think got it from Cooking Light
Serves 6 for a meal, or 20 as a small side

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups sliced mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes (or tomato puree)
1 large eggplan, cut into 1/2" slices (about 1 1/4 lbs)
Vegetable cooking spray
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
1 15-oz container nonfat ricotta cheese
3-4 slices unsalted matzo

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and garlic; saute 5 minutes. Stir in wine, basil, oregano, peppers, and puree. Partialy cover, reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat.

Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooing spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, turning the slices over after 15 minutes. Remove from baking sheet, and let cool. Cut the eggplant slices into 1/2 inch pieces, and set aside.

Combine 1/4 cup Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese and ricotta cheese; stir well, and set aside.

Spread 1/2 cup tomato mixture in the bottom of an 11x7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Arrange 1 1/2-2 slices matzo over tomato mixture, and top matzo with half of the cheese mixture, half of the eggplant, and half of the remaining tomato mixture.  Repeat, ending with the tomato mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons grated cheese.

(at this point, you can cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours)

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chocolate Caramelized Matzo

I tried to make a flourless chocolate cake for Passover and it really didn't come out well.  My aunt was visiting and suggested I make chocolate covered matzo - it is easy and everyone loves it.  It was a great suggestion!

What really sets this matzo apart is the carmel crunch.  It isn't hard to make but it adds that extra something that makes you eat enough to motivate a long run the next day.

I used bittersweet chocolate because that's what I had leftover from my failure flourless chocolate cake.  I'm not even a big chocolate person, but I love this recipe.

If you're having a lot of people, you can break this up into a lot of pieces and it will go pretty far.  I was surprised but I did have some leftover after my 20 person seder.

Did I mention how good this is?  Go make it.  Now.  Quick, before Passover ends!

Chocolate-Covered Caramelized Matzoh Crunch
From David Lebovitz
Makes approximately 30 pieces of candy
4 to 6 sheets unsalted matzohs

1 cup margarine, cut into chunks
1 cup firmly-packed dark brown sugar
big pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (160g) semisweet chocolate chips (or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate)
1 cup (80g) toasted sliced almonds (optional)
1. Line a rimmed baking sheet (approximately 11 x 17″, 28 x 42cm) completely with foil, making sure the foil goes up and over the edges. Cover the foil with a sheet of parchment paper.
Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
2. Line the bottom of the sheet with matzoh, breaking extra pieces as necessary to fill in any spaces.
3. In a 3-4 quart (3-4l) heavy duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the mixture is beginning to boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add the salt and vanilla, and pour over matzoh, spreading with a heatproof spatula.
4. Put the pan in the oven and reduce the heat to 350F (175C) degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. As it bakes, it will bubble up but make sure it’s not burning every once in a while. If it is in spots, remove from oven and reduce the heat to 325F (160C), then replace the pan.
5. Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread with an offset spatula.
6. If you wish, sprinkle with toasted almonds (or another favorite nut, toasted and coarsely-chopped), a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, or roasted cocoa nibs.
Let cool completely, the break into pieces and store in an airtight container until ready to serve. It should keep well for about one week.
Note: If you are strictly following Kosher Passover rules, omit the vanilla extract or find a kosher brand.