Thursday, July 9, 2009

Rosemary and Balsamic Chicken Thighs with Grilled Veggies

So my fridge is STOCKED with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, there was a sale that I could not resist and I intend to use everything in my freezer before I go out and buy any more meat. I love using these chicken thighs because they are so tender and moist, plus they are extremely versatile. Not to mention, if you trim up all the fat, they are very healthy and nutritious.

Last night I decided to experiment with a few ideas. I love veggies but wanted to make everything on the grill. I had a few portobellos, perfect for grilling and some fresh broccoli. Now I have never grilled broccoli, but something told me it would be delicious. And sure enough the broccoli was incredible! I could have probably eaten a pound all on my own! I cut the broccoli into huge florets and seasoned them and the Portobellos with just salt and olive oil. There was no fuss and extremely easy clean-up! The broccoli retained its gorgeous green color and had this incredible smokey flavor.

As for the chi was tender...sweet...tangy...woodsy and delicious! Please enjoy! (Sorry about this....but for some reason the pictures did not come out very clear :( )

6 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tsp Brown Sugar
1/2 a Lemon, juiced
3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
2 Shallots, Minced (I used my microplaner for mincing the shallots as well)
2 Sticks Rosemary, Chopped

1. Combine all the ingredients except the chicken into a microwave safe container. Place into the microwave for 30 seconds...just enough for the sugar to melt.
2. Pour marinade onto chicken and marinade for at least 30 minutes. Grill on high for 5 minutes per side and enjoy!

*I wanted to include nutritional information in my recipes from now on for anyone who is health concious like me :)

Nutrition Facts

6 Servings

Amount Per Serving 1 Thigh

Calories 97.1

Total Fat 2.7 g

Saturated Fat 0.7 g

Polyunsaturated Fat 0.7 g

Monounsaturated Fat 0.8 g

Cholesterol 57.3 mg

Sodium 513.7 mg

Potassium 194.5 mg

Total Carbohydrate 3.2 g

Dietary Fiber 0.1 g

Sugars 0.1 g

Protein 14.2 g

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Simple Vegetable Soup

I always love having homemade soup in the house because it goes well as a quick lunch or dinner, paired up with a salad or a small salad it is perfect. In the summers I like to make vegetable soups without any meat. I find them to be lighter in the summers and yet still comforting. This soup reminded me of a Provencal soup I used to make in culinary school. It has great simple flavors in it and can be made with chicken stock, vegetable stock or even water!

1 quart Stock or Water
1 Large Parsnip, Diced
1 Large Leek, Using only the Light Green and White Parts, Washed Well
1 Medium Onion, Diced
2 Carrots, Sliced
2 Small Turnips
2 Handfuls Frozen Peas
2 Stems of Fresh Thyme
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

1. Preheat a pot to medium high heat. While chopping the veggies, drop them into the pot to make everything go faster.
2. Let all the veggies, except the sweet peas, sweat together for 10-15 minutes or until tender and very aromatic. *If you are using water try and sautee the veggies for longer to extract as much flavor as possible from them.*
3. Add cooking liquid of choice and simmer on medium heat for 30-45 minutes, or until desired flavor is achieved.
4. Finish off with the peas when the heat is turned off.

Pan-Fried Skate with Shallots, Garlic and Lemon Juice

I love to buy fresh wild fish from local super markets. Since I do all my grocery shopping in the beginning of the week, I try and cook the fish the same day I buy it so that it actually tastes fresh. There was some really beautiful skate on sale this week and since I had not cooked with it ever since culinary school, I decided to give it a shot. I open it up, ready to dredge and pan-fry and then I realize... I HAVE TO FILLET IT! Oh GOSH! It's been years since I filleted my own fish and I did not even know where to begin with skate! My Internet was down so I could not even look it up! With a sharp fillet knife in hand I went at it...slowly and carefully...eventually the rhythm worked its way back into my hands and I started to remember how it was done...I ended up with 3 beautifully white fillets (the first one, was a bit of an embarrassment actually...oops).

I decided I wanted to go back to my French Culinary roots with this recipe. It was very simply dredged in corn meal and seasoned with salt and pepper. Served with a simple sauce made of shallots, garlic, parsley and lemon juice. Some sauteed seasonal veggies and a glass of wine created the perfect dinner for us!

*Here is a link detailing how to fillet a skate fish*

Pan-Fried Skate with Shallots, Garlic and Lemon Juice

1 lb Skate, yielding to fillets
Corn Flour for Breading
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil for Frying

2 Shallots, diced
2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
Juice of half a Lemon
3 Tablespoons Parsley
3 Tablespoons Butter

1. Heat oil in a non-stick pan.
2. Season the corn flour with salt and pepper and dredge skate making sure to cover all surfaces.
3. Once the oil is preheated, pan-fry the skate about 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown. *Remember the second side always takes a bit less time. This is a very delicate fish so try not to overcook it or it will be rubbery*
4. Once complete, place fish on paper towels to absorb some of the excess oil. Wipe out pan.
5. Add the butter, shallots and garlic to the pan over medium heat. Let this sweat a little bit, you want them to be tender not caramelized.
6. Turn off the heat and add lemon juice, parsley and remaining butter. Once butter melts, immediately spoon sauce over fish and serve!

*In case anyone is interested, for the veggies, I just sauteed some sliced red peppers with garlic and some frozen Trader Joe's French Green Beans I had. It's a simple and healthy side dish for almost anything.*

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

4th of July Camping Adventures and Delicious Bites

I will admit it...I was a camping virgin! So over July 4th Weekend we decided to pop my camping cherry and go for it! A friend of ours' client graciously offered up his tiny cabin and 64 acres of land for us to use! The cabin had a full size refridgerator and 3 bunk beds for the little kids to use. We were 6.5 hours away from our homes, surrounded by nothing other than 64 acres of forest! Our nearest neighbor was 5 miles away and it was acres and acres of hay!!!

It was a blessing in disguise that our phones had no reception in that area...we really got to experience the great outdoors (and I mean outhouse and everything) and finally clear our minds and think of nothing but the roaring fire and the relaxing enviornment... The boys fished and chopped wood...the girls tanned...we all ate non-stop...and partied at night!

My fiance provided the pyrotechnics for the weekend as well!

As Russians normally do...we brought an ABUNDANCE of food! All day...all night...we ate! Breakfasts were grilled panini sandwiches with havarti and swiss cheeses and BACON! Lunches were usually hot dogs or sandwiches...and dinners usually lasted the longest and were the best!

One of the nights we had incredible Georgian Shish Ka Bob, cooked over hot embers until beautifully caramalized and tender!

On another day we had a huge burger extravaganza! Sirloin burgers (from Cosco) were grilled on a tri-stand over the fire.

My cousin's hubby grilled up some BBQ and hot sauced applewood smoked bacon for us...I made sweet caramalized onions deglazed with Crown Royale...there was a variety of cheeses, from Cheddar, Havarti to Swiss to All American! Sliced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, sliced red onions, guacomole and the typical condiments finished off the burger toppings. And so with this...I give you the BURGER FEST!

This was my Cheddar Bacon Bacon Burger!


Overall this was probablly the most fun I have had in a really long time! We slept well, laughed a lot and cleared our minds...I could not have asked for a better time...I am already planning our next camping trip for Labor Day Weekend...I will however be bringing my own portable toliet :)