Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sourdough Chicken Casserole


This recipe was a blend of my favorite crock-pot recipe and Ina Garten's recipe for a full roasted chicken. In the crock-pot recipe the chicken is placed in cream of mushroom soup and then stuffing mix is poured and top and then it bakes for several hours in the crock-pot. Ina's recipe is very simple and includes olive oil, lemon, pepper, salt, and a whole chicken.

So for this recipe I added in my favorite spice, (oregano), and used some sourdough bread I had leftover from a fondue I'd made the day before. The sourdough turned out to be a great choice, as it really put that distinctive and delicious sourdough flavor into the chicken and the marinade. It was also really easy, which is always a plus.

Ingredients:

3 Chicken Breasts, cut in half and trimmed of excess fat
1 Lemon, cut into sixths
1 10.5 oz can Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 Loaf Sourdough Bread, torn into pieces
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Oregano
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste

Pour the olive oil into a roughly 8 x 10 casserole pan. Add the garlic and oregano and stir. Mix in the cream of mushroom soup, salt and pepper. Place the chicken breasts in the casserole pan and flip back and forth until coated in the mixture. Scoot the thick mixture over the chicken so that they are mostly covered. Place the lemon slices between the pieces of chicken and sprinkle the bread chunks on top, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cover and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 50 minutes or until the inside of the breast reaches 165 degrees.

Extremely Rich Brownie Cake


My friend Alana and I made this concoction for her Hanukkah party this past weekend. As if the Latkes weren't filling enough!

This recipe isn't so much about baking as it is about how absurdly rich the cake is. The ingredients are all store-bought and once the brownie-cake is assembled, it is amazing. But beware! Take a small slice, as it is very very filling and heavy.

But still delicious.

Also, apologies for the low-quality photograph on this one. It was a very low-light situation so the flash kind of got out of hand, especially with the frosting being so shiny.

Ingredients:

1 16 oz can Pillsbury Creamy Supreme Chocolate Fudge Frosting
4 eggs
1 and 2/3 cups vegetable oil
1 cup fresh raspberries (optional)

Follow the instructions on the brownie mix box. Grease 2 13" diameter cake pans. Pour equal amounts of the brownie mixture into each pan. Bake at directions indicated on box or until an inserted toothpick comes out relatively clean (if you stick it in a chocolate chip portion it shall not be so). Allow to cool for about an hour.

Remove the layers from their pans. Frost one of the layers, then place the other layer on top of it and finish frosting. Garnish the top with raspberries and serve with a cold glass of milk.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Sugar Syrup and Ricotta


A few months back Jeremy, our friend Joe and myself went down to the Culver City Hotel where they were having a special Oktoberfest meal, which was made up of five different courses, each course paired with a matching beer. All of the food was fantastic, but what I enjoyed the most the butternut squash ravioli. It was served drizzled with a dark sweet syrup and sprinkled with pecans. The butternut squash just had such a nice creamy sweet taste; I had never had butternut squash ravioli before nor had I seen it anywhere before but it made a hell of an impression. After that meal, I tried looking for it at grocery stores but couldn't find it at Trader Joe's or at Albertson's, which are the two stores I usually go to. (EDIT: Trader Joe's now carries Butternut Squash "Triangoli" in their chilled, not frozen, pasta section). This weekend, however, I ended up near a Whole Foods and stopped inside with the hunch that they might have it. Sure enough, there it was! It's Whole Food's 365 brand and located in the frozen pasta area. And at about $4 for a two-serving size case, it doesn't break the bank either. I tried to recreate the dark sweet syrup and added ricotta into the mix because it's a really nice cheese to pair with any sweet flavor since it's not too salty and has a light creamy taste. No nuts though, just because I didn't have any on hand. But oh my goodness, I think this is the single most delicious recipe I have ever made. The cheese, the squash, the sweetness just all melded together into a melodious mess. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Ingredients:

1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Package 365 or Trader Joe's Brand Butternut Squash Ravioli
1/4 Cup Ricotta

Bring 4 cups water to a boil. Cook the Butternut Squash Ravioli according to package directions. In the meantime heat the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan on medium-low heat until completely melted, turn down the heat to lowest setting. Heat the Ricotta in the microwave on high for 30 seconds. Once the ravioli is done cooking, drain and plate it. Scoop the ricotta onto the ravioli and drizzle the syrup on top.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Fresh Squeezed Lemon Bars



What to do with a paper bag full of lemons....

I was faced with this dilemma at work this week when one of my coworkers gave me a bag of lemons that they had picked from their lemon tree which had been over-producing to an excessive extent.

Since lemons are used frequently in Greek cooking, I knew I would be able to put them to some sort of use. I decided to make the two recipes seen here, one for my Mom's tasty Potato Lemon Chicken and the other for a delightfully English dessert known as Lemon Bars.

For these Lemon Bars I infused two different recipes I'd used before into one, basically just picking what I liked most from each. They turned out lovely, especially with the sprinkled powdered sugar on top. They also go really well with a nice cup of Princess Earl Grey, which is basically Earl Grey tea infused with rose petals...elegant AND delicious. There's a similiar tea that's a bit easier to find called Zhena's Gypsy Tea in Gypsy Love that's quite similar and I know for a fact that New Seasons caries it. The rose and lemon flavors go incredibly well together. Now that I think about it, I will have to add a few tablespoons of rose water the next time I make these.

Ingredients:

Crust

2 Cups Flour
3/4 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg

Lemon Filling

4 Eggs
Juice from 2 Lemons
2 cups Granulated Sugar
1/4 Cup Flour
2 Tbsp Grated Lemon Rind

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a bowl cream together the sugars, butter and salt until smooth. Stir in the flour. Press onto the bottom of a 9 x 13 greased baking pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden.

While the crust is baking, whisk together the eggs, flour, sugar, lemon juice and lemon rind until smooth. Pour into the pan over the baked crust and bake again for 25 minutes or until the lemon is set. Let it cool and then cut into bars. Makes about 20 bars.

Lemon Potato Chicken

This is one of my favorite recipes that my mom makes back home. My parents grow their own Greek oregano and it just has such a wonderful and aromatic taste to it. I started growing an herb garden out on my patio here and believe it or not I got cilantro seedlings to sprout at the end of November! The weather here is wonderfully convenient for gardening, but at the cost of the loveliness of the fall season.

In the photo I have a sprig of thyme on the right and oregano on the left. The thyme I had bought fresh at the store and couldn't use it all up so I just dried it in the window (waste not want not), while the dried oregano was given to me in a large satchel back in May from my parents. We get our spices pre-bottled so often that I think its nice to be reminded of what they actually look like on their stems. These are both dried of course, my fresh plants are too young to start trimming yet but hopefully soon I'll be able to get a few snips off without damaging the growth. I just think they're so lovely with their textures and their smells. Ah spices, thank you for your boundless flavor...



Ingredients:

2 Ibs Chicken pieces (thighs, breasts, drumsticks)
5 large Potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
Juice from 1 Lemon
2 Tbsp Thyme
2 Tbsp Oregano
1/2 cup Olive oil
1 Medium Onion, chopped into chunks
Salt
Pepper
Water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the chicken pieces in a bowl with half the olive oil and half the lemon juice. Sprinkle half of the thyme, oregano and some salt and pepper onto it and mix it around in the bowl with your hands, making sure it's all coated. Place the chicken mixture into a 9 x 16 casserole dish. Now repeat the process with the potatoes and the remaining ingredients, including the onion. Place the rest of the mixture in the casserole pan and bake for about an hour or until the chicken pieces are at least 170 degrees Fahrenheit and the potatoes break apart easily with a fork.