Cranberry Goat Cheese and Rosemary Stuffed Chicken with a Cherry and Balsamic Reduction

….Long title, I know.

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I just got back from a week at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving, and I had a lot of leftover cranberry goat cheese that I got at Trader Joe’s on a pre-Thanksgiving special. My cousin came for dinner tonight and we were supposed to have grilled chicken, but something came over me and I didn’t feel like grilling tonight. So, I came up with this delicious stuffed chicken, served with roasted asparagus and stuffed tomatoes.

The champagne mustard, cranberry goat cheese and rosemary combo is killer. Creamy, tangy, sweet. Add a drizzle of the cherry and balsamic reduction and you’re on your way to heaven.

Ingredients for the chicken(serves 2 very hungry people)

  • 2 chicken breasts, bonless (skin on or off)
  • 1 log of Cranberry goat cheese (I got mine at Trader Joes)
  • 2 tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. champagne mustard (could substitute Dijon)
  • Garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper, onion powder, mustard powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Cherry and Balsamic reduction

Directions

Butterfly your chicken breasts. Marinate each chicken breast with a few shakes paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Rub around. Flip chicken and repeat. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Spread a thin layer of champagne mustard onto both sides of the butterflied chicken. On one side, add a layer of cranberry goat cheese and sprinkle with finely chopped rosemary.

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Drizzle with olive oil and close the chicken. Tie together with kitchen twine.

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Make the reduction. Don’t let it get too thick before the chicken is ready.

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Add a little olive oil to a pan over medium high heat. Sauté the chicken until browned on both sides, about 7 minutes per side.

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Move the chicken breasts to an oiled (or buttered) baking dish. Bake the chicken for 15 – 20 minutes at 350°. Serve with roasted asparagus and stuffed tomatoes.

Nanny’s Cranberry Relish

This is my Nanny’s recipe. I grew up eating this at Thanksgiving each year and when she passed away I decided to make sure this relish did not go missing at Thanksgiving. I much prefer a cranberry relish over cranberry sauce. I even did a taste test last year to ensure that I favored the relish more strongly. I would not turn down a cranberry sauce, but when I have the choice I wil always go with relish.

This relish is so incredibly easy, cheap, and flavorful. You do not have to cook it and it takes about 5 minutes to make.

It will last in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and can be used in a variteyty of applications: on a thanksgiving burger, on a turkey or chicken sandwich, in chicken salad, mixed into plain or honey greek yogart for a healthy and refresing breakfast, on toast, as an appetizer on a baguette with brie or chevre and perhaps some apple, in a pastry, or even stuffed into a chicken breast with chevre and caramalized onions and all wrapped in a blanket of puff pastry. That chicken idea might actually be next in the line-up…

Ingredients (makes about 3 cups)

  • 3 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • Juice of 1 ½ large naval oranges
  • Zest of 1 orange

Directions

Rinse cranberries, drain, and add all other ingredients. Mix altogether with a hand immersion blender or a Cuisinart until very finely chopped, but not pureed.

Thanksgiving dinner: Modernized

Turkey sliders with gouda and cranberry mayo served with real green bean casserole and chipotle sweet potato fries. My beverage of choice tonight is an apple pie martini (along with the usual wine – tonights wine is Clarksburg Wine Company’s Delta Blanc  – it is alright but not my favorite).

HOLY. SMOKES. This was absolutely fantabulously wonderful. The thyme in the turkey burgers was an ode to the stuffing flavors that are usually present at thanksgiving. The cranberry mayo, caramelized onions, and gouda were the perfect toppers for the burgers – creamy, tangy and sweet all at the same time.

You can really use any kind of bread – I would suggest a dinner role as representative for a Thanksgiving regular: buttered rolls.

I would also like to note that this is the best green bean casserole that I have ever consumed. Making the cream of mushroom soup from scratch really makes a 100% difference in creaminess and overall amazingness. I think it is super important to use haricot verts instead of regular ole green beans because of their thickness and crunchiness. I also added parmesan, because, let’s face it, everything’s better with parmesan…

A few other side notes:

  1. You can freeze green bean casserole. Just make sure to freeze the topping separately.
  2. These sliders would make a wonderful hors d’ouevres.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 pound  ground white meat turkey
  • ½ tsp. each: ground thyme, paprika, and onion powder
  • 1 tsp. each: garlic powder, salt, and pepper
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large tbsp. plain greek yogart
  • Cranberry Mayo
  • Caramelized onions (use 2 medium yellow onions)
  • 8 Dinner rolls
  • 1 bag Alexia’s chipotle sweet potato fries (or regular if you don’t like a little spice)
  • Real green bean casserole

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°. First make the green bean casserole. This can sit while you prepare everything else and be put in the oven during the last 20 minutes.

Mix the hamburger meat: put 1 pound ground turkey and add thyme, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper, panko, and  greek yogurt. Mix altogether with your hands. Form into 8 smaller patties and press your thumb into the middle of the burger patty (this helps it not to become a ball when it cooks). Set the burgers on a plate and place in fridge.

Make the cranberry relish and then use that to make the cranberry mayo. Set both in fridge to let the flavors meld together.

All of the above can sit for at least 5 hours until you’re ready to cook everything.

Start baking the sweet potato fries.

Wrap the dinner rolls in tin foil and bake for 15 minutes.

Bake the green bean casserole (it takes about 15 minutes as well).

Drizzle a little olive oil into a cast iron fry pan and when the pan is nice and hot cook the sliders over medium high heat.  (I would not advise grilling these burgers unless you get a ground turkey with a fair amount of fat it in which is hard because turkey is so lean). Sear both sides and then lower the heat and allow to cook for 5 more minutes or so. When you flip the sliders add sliced gouda and melt. Take the sliders off the heat and allow to sit for a few minutes.

Serve the sliders on top of a dinner roll with champagne mustard (or Dijon), the caramelized onions, and a healthy portion of the cranberry mayo. Skewer the sliders with a toothpick (or in my case, a wooden kebob because I ran out of toothpicks) to keep them from falling all over your plate.

Serve the sliders with green bean casserole and sweet potato fries.

Shrimp Scampi

I hate to brag, but I was once told (recently) that my shrimp scampi was better than the nice Italian restaurant’s that we were at. WHAT a compliment!!! Due to the fact that this meal is absolutely delicious (and the fact that I have 4 bags of frozen jumbo shrimp in my freezer), we have it a lot around here.

The scampi sauce has a slight sweetness that is barely noticeable and I think that is one reason it is so delicious. The sweetness helps to counteract the zing from all them tasty lemon. I have been pondering why this is so for months and have recently come to a conclusion about why my recipe has a certain sweetness to it. I think it because when I zest my lemon, I am quite careful to only get the zest, and none of the rind, which easily happens if you zest more than one time in a spot. This may make no sense at all, but that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

Scampi is quick and easy, and most of the ingredients are a staple at our house. Serve it over a bed of angel hair pasta and alongside a salad and bread. You can always ditch the angel hair and it with couscous, rice or risotto, or you could serve the shrimp a la carte. Tonight, we had steamed broccoli to accompany our lemony shrimps and pasta.

Ingredients (serves 4)

*The shrimp can be fresh or frozen and whatever size you want – but I would suggest medium to jumbo since shrimp shrink when cooked.

  • About 20-25 shrimp, deveined and shells removed
  • Zest of 4 lemons
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp. Gourmet Garden Italian Herb Paste
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 splashes of white wine
  • Parmesan, for topping
  • Pasta (angel hair or thin spaghetti is best, but spaghetti will do as well)

Directions

Devein and remove the shells from the shrimp. Mince the garlic. Zest the lemons (I use a microplane). Juice the lemons.

In a large Ziploc bag marinate the shrimp with 2 tsp. lemon zest, a few shakes onion powder, 1 tsp. herb paste, 1 clove minced garlic, a few dashes of salt and pepper, a splash of white wine (I use pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc), and 2 tbsp. olive oil. Mix around in the bag to distribute the marinade. Let marinate at least 20 minutes.

In a sauté pan combine the rest of the herb paste, minced garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, and a splash of white wine. Simmer on medium low for about 20 minutes.

Put the pasta on and allow it to cook.

With about 5 minutes to go until the pasta is ready, pour the shrimp and marinade into a pan that has been heated over medium to medium-high heat (I use my cast iron pan). Cook the shrimp until just pink, about 4 minutes. Add the butter to the scampi sauce and stir it until it is smooth and the butter has melted.

Serve the shrimp and scampi sauce on top of the pasta. Enjoy!

Lemon-Dill Butter

The consistency of this butter is a little different due to the lemon zest and juice that are added. It melts the same and tastes just as good though.

This butter is delicious on probably anything. So far I have enjoyed it on grilled shrimp, orzo, and tilapia. It is super easy to make and adds a nice touch to your meal.

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 tbsp. dried dill (or 1 tbsp. fresh dill)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest

Directions

In a small dish, melt butter on microwave for 20 seconds. Remove and add all ingredients. Stir to combine everything. Taste for seasonings. Put in refrigerator for about 30 minutes until the butter has set.

If you want, after about 15 minutes (when the butter is still soft and pliable but is not liquefied) you can move it from the bowl to plastic wrap and form it into a log. Or you can just leave it in the bowl and serve from there.

Roasted Red Peppers

Using just 3 red peppers makes more than this picture shows, I had already used some of the roasted peppers, but the jar was mostly filled when I finished making the batch.

It is so easy to make your own homemade roasted red peppers and they can be used in so many dishes. I am not a huge pepper fan, but roasting them brings out their sweetness. You can use as many peppers as you want to do this. You can use these peppers in pastas, on sandwiches, burgers, to make roasted red pepper pesto, roasted red pepper soup, or roasted red pepper mayonnaise.

Directions

Heat the oven to 450°. Put however many red peppers you want onto a baking sheet. I used 3 peppers when I made my batch, but you can use as few or as many as you would like. Bake them until each side is blackened, rotating as needed. This takes about 30 minutes total.

Take the peppers out of the oven once they are blackened on all 4 sides and place them in a large glass bowl. Immediately cover with saran wrap so that it is air tight. This will allow the peppers to “sweat” their skins off so that you can peel them.

Once cooled, peel the skins off. Pull off the stem and rip open and gently scrape all the seeds out.

Cut into slices. Pack into an old jar, drizzle with olive oil, and shake up so the olive oil is evenly distributed. Store in your fridge.

The Better Burger Sauce

This is an all-in-one burger sauce. It combines the most common condiments  (plus a few other ingredients) to make a delectable sauce that is wonderful served on burgers or on grilled steak sandwiches. I do not fancy relish or pickles but you could add some sweet relish to the mix and it would probably be good for those who enjoy that kind of thing.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup mayo (I used Dukes)
  • 1 tbs. ketchup
  • 4 dashes Worcestershire
  • ¼ tsp. rice wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • A few shakes garlic powder and paprika

Directions

Mix all ingredients together and serve on burgers or steak sandwiches.

Creamy Pesto Fettuccini Alfredo with Grilled Chicken

The other night I got a brilliant idea: mix homemade pesto into the base of my alfredo sauce for a creamy and delightful pasta. I also added grilled chicken, but you could always add grilled shrimp, or serve as a vegetarian dish.

In August I made a huge batch of basil pesto because my basil plant was going bonkers! (the recipe for the pesto is posted under sauces). You could use store-bought pesto (basil or roasted red pepper, or sun dried tomato would all work) but make sure that you get a really good one – sometimes you pay for what you get!

Ingredients for the Marinade

  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, butterflied (or 10-15 raw, deveined and peeled jumbo shrimp)
  • A few shakes of each: garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, mustard powder, salt and ground pepper
  • 4-5 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp. white wine (I used pinot grigio)

Ingredients for the Sauce

  • Fettuccini noodles
  • 1 stick of butter, salted is best for this
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup milk (2% or whole is preferable)
  • ½ to ¾ cup freshly grated parmesan (you must be careful when adding the parm to the hot milk mixture or it will clump – details to follow)
  • A lot of freshly ground pepper (maybe about 1 tbsp)
  • A lot of salt (maybe 1 tsp – or more to taste)
  • 2 tsp. basil pesto (thawed – I froze my pesto into ice cube trays when I made it and then I defrost what I want before I use it)
  • Basil oil (optional)

Directions

Butterfly the chicken by taking a very sharp knife and cutting the chicken in half lengthwise (I buy Perdue chicken breasts when they’re on sale -they come with the tenderloin still attached so you may have to trim that off as well). Marinate the chicken (or shrimp) in a few shakes of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, mustard powder, salt and pepper. Add a splash of white wine (I used pinot grigio) and about 4-5 tbsp. olive oil. Mix altogether in a large Ziploc bag and let sit for about 2 hours. *If you are using shrimp instead of chicken then you will need to skewer them onto kebobs (if they are 4\wooden make sure they have been soaked in water for at least an hour)*

Preheat the grill (I use charcoal so it takes about 30 minutes to preheat). When really hot, add the chicken and grill for about 3-5 minutes on each side. You want it to be nice and char-grilled. Take chicken off grill and set aside.

Melt the butter on low. Once butter is melted, add the flour and whisk until smooth and thickened slightly.

At this point, raise heat to medium and add the milk and whisk until thickened. Add a fair amount of freshly ground pepper (at least 1 tsp) and salt. Turn off heat and wait about 2 minutes. Add the parm and whisk immediately. Do not add the parm to scolding hot milk or it will congeal and the dish will be ruined (if this does happen, which it has happened to every cook I know, then just use a strainer to fish out the congealed parm and then  re-add the parm to the milk mixture).

Whisk the alfredo sauce until thickened. Add the pesto and stir. Taste to see if it needs salt or pepper. If the sauce gets too thick, add a little more milk and whisk. The sauce should continue to thicken once it sits.

At this point, cook the fettuccini noodles, about 10-12 minutes. Drain the noodles and add to the sauce (you can also just serve the sauce on top of the noodles, instead of mixing altogether in the pot). If you do add the noodles to the sauce, let the whole concoction sit for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve the pasta with grilled chicken on top and drizzle with basil oil.

Pasta with Vodka Sauce and Basil Oil

I went to Martha’s Market this weekend and ended up only buying “foodie” things. I got this absolutely divine Basil Oil, a ceramic garlic grater and grater bowl, a garlic keeper, and Cherchie’s garlic and herb seasoning (can you tell I like garlic?!).

Tonight I have decided to make a creamy tomato sauce/vodka sauce. They are practically the same thing, except one has vodka and one doesn’t. I added about ½ cup of vodka to my sauce tonight, but you could easily leave it out or put a splash of wine in its place. You could also use penne or rotini pasta, or any other fun pasta (I wouldn’t suggest a pasta that is any thinner than linguine though).

The basil oil that I used for drizzling could easily be made at home, or left out altogether. I did a little research on how to make your own and it seems as though you basically just need good olive oil and lots of basil and you heat the mixture and then let it sit. But, I would do a little more research on your own if you choose to make your own basil oil (or really any other herb infused oil).

Tonight I am drinking a delicious new Viognier. I got talking with the wine lady at Kroger and she gave me a lot of suggestions of new wines. This was one of them. Fruity, buttery, smooth. Really tasty.

Ingredients

  • Fettuccini noodles
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (14 oz. each)
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • ¾ cup half and half (or heavy cream)
  • ½ cup vodka
  • About 15 fresh basil leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Basil oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¾ cup fresh parmesan cheese (grated)
  • Hand immersion blender

Directions

Slice the basil. Mince the garlic and chop the onions as follows: cut the ends off the onion and stand it on either end. Cut down the middle. Lay each half of the onion so that is flat and cut into 4 parts. Turn so that the 4 parts are horizontal and slice into ¼ inch pieces.

Add a little olive oil to the pan and over medium heat cook the onions and garlic for a few minutes. Add the vodka and let cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the tomatoes along with salt and pepper and let cook for about 20 minutes. Use a hand immersion blender to puree the ingredients until mostly smooth. Let cook for another 10 minutes.

Add the basil and the half and half or cream. Stir to combine. Taste the sauce to check for seasoning. Add ½ cup parmesan cheese and stir around.

Serve over pasta with crusty bread and a green and garnish with parmesan cheese and a heavy drizzle of basil oil (we had ours with broccolini and Asiago cheese bread).

Grilled Steak with a Red Wine Balsamic Reduction

Steaks were on Manager’s Special this week at Kroger so I took them home and froze them. Tonight we will be enjoying their decadence. I am serving the steaks topped with a red wine balsamic reduction that is absolutely to die for, along with rosemary garlic mashed potatoes and a grilled veggie salad.

My roommate and I are watching our portion sizes, so we have started to split larger steaks and chicken breasts, so if you tend to eat a lot then I would use 2 steaks instead of one and just double the marinade.

Ingredients  for marinade (for 2 smaller portions)

  • 1 steak (whatever steak you want) about ½ pound of meat
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegarette salad dressing (I used T. Marzetti’s light Balsamic Vinegarette)
  • 6 dashes Worcestershire
  • A few shakes of each: paprika, mustard powder, onion power, garlic powder, ground black pepper, salt

Ingredients for red wine balsamic reduction

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. chopped onion or shallot
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. red wine (I used Pinot Noir)
  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp. butter

Directions

Put steak into a large Ziploc bag and add the marinade ingredients. Marinate steak for at least 2 hours (unless you’re using a really nice cut of meat – then you can get away with less time).

Preheat grill to a high heat.

In a sauté pan, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion (or shallot), salt, and pepper; sauté until softened but not brown.

Add the wine, balsamic, rosemary, and honey. Stir up all the browned bits from the pan. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Drop the heat to a simmer and cook until mixture is reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Turn off heat.

When the grill is ready add the steaks. Cook each side until char-grilled, about 5 minutes on each side. Take off the grill and cover with tin foil.

Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl or gravy pitcher, then return to the pan over low heat (unless you want a chunky sauce…then skip this step).

Heat through, then add butter and whisk until melted. Season with salt and pepper as necessary. Plate the steaks and top with the red wine balsamic reduction. Serve with mashed potatoes and a green veggie.