Recipe: Roasted BBQ Chardonnay Chicken

This recipe was inspired by Ree Drummond of Pioneer Woman when I was looking for a new twist on making BBQ chicken for one of our last meals in our apartment.  I wanted to make something that would fill the apartment with “yummy smells” and give us a meal that could be eaten for a few days in chicken salad or sandwiches.  While I really liked the original recipe, I found it difficult to replicate, possibly because I was using an electric oven instead of a gas range.  I also was trying to use up ingredients from my fridge before the move to our new home, so I definitely did some substituting along the way to create something truly finger-linking.  Here’s my take… I hope you enjoy!

I started with a package of 10 chicken thighs.  I preheated the oven to 400 degrees and used a large, high-edged baking pan, drizzled with the last of my olive oil.  I placed the thighs, skin-side down, in the pan and liberally topped them with garlic salt and pepper before placing the pan in the oven to roast for 25 minutes.  NOTE: I removed the skin from half the thighs to see if there was a marked difference in taste…  in the end,  I didn’t miss the BBQ’d skin in the least.OvenRoastedBBQChardChicken

While the chicken roasted, I made a sauce of 3/4 bottle of BBQ sauce (use what you like), 1/2 jar apple jelly (use whatever preserves you like best – I would have preferred grape or blackberry, but apple jelly was in my fridge, waiting to be finished), a thumb’s length of crushed garlic (the stuff from the tube is fine, unless you want to mince your own… then use 2 cloves or so),  1/2 cup of Chardonnay (I would suggest using your favorite non-oak chardonnay here), and 1/4 cup ketchup.  I heated the sauce on the stovetop and kept it warm throughout the cooking process so I could easily brush the meat with the thickened sauce.

Once the thighs have roasted for 25 minutes, I brushed them with sauce and flipped them over before liberally brushing sauce on the top.   Thus began a series of three “roast for 10 minutes- baste with sauce- pop back in the oven” segments.  Since I didn’t really see the crispy BBQ-look I wanted, I then popped the oven temp to 425 degrees and roasted for another 10-15 minutes.  I liked that the original recipe didn’t call for any flipping of the chicken thighs, but I did have a lot of extra “juice” that I removed after the second or third “10 minutes in the oven” segment.  You can see by the photos that the sauce does get really dark and caramelized as it continues to roast and I do believe that this would have cooked a little quicker in a gas range, but I ended up with the result I wanted and we thoroughly enjoyed every bite!

I”ll post the recipe for the accompanying Twice-baked Potatoes with chardonnay as soon as I can…. these are fast becoming a staple in our house, so I really need to share this recipe as well.  If you like baked potatoes, crossed with mashed potatoes, crossed with potato skins, you’ll love this easy side-dish.

Until then…. enjoy cooking for your family!

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Recipe and a Bonus: Double Duty Red Pasta

Have you ever wondered what pasta looks like if you cook it entirely in red wine?  I was curious and, since I worked at a winery, had access to some good red wine that was left over from a festival.  This was my opportunity to cook some corkscrew pasta in red wine, so I ran with it!

I decided to make a very basic recipe using chicken breasts and corkscrew pasta.  I diced the breasts into thick 1″ cubes and sauteed them in a small amount of butter and a touch of olive oil until they were nicely browned and thoroughly cooked.  This recipe was going to be my first go-round, so I wanted everything to be very simple and “clean”, so I wasn’t playing with lots of extra flavors… I really wanted the taste of the wine to shine.

In a stockpot, I poured a bottle of red wine and a box of corkscrew pasta together and let the pasta cook in the wine until it was done to al dente’.  Since the pasta had cooked in the wine, there was a nice amount of starch in the cooking liquid, so I ladled some in with the chicken to create a bit of a sauce and added a pat of butter to gloss the sauce.  The only addition to the sauce after this was some salt and pepper to taste… it was delicious!  I served it with some lightly steamed broccoli for color, but the dinner was grand. Deep purple in color from the wine, everything looked and tasted just as I’d hoped.  Score one for the cook!DoubleDutyRedPasta

The bonus came when I realized that cooking an entire box of pasta made too much for two people to eat in one sitting.  A day or two later, my cousins came by unexpectedly and I needed to throw a quick, late night dinner together for them.  Since they weren’t looking for a three course meal, I decided to make a quick pasta salad to tide them over for the night.  I had rolls that I could slice up and serve as garlic toasts on the side, so I set about creating a new Leftover Recipe from the red pasta.

Since I had saved the red pasta in a plastic bag, I just had to add a few ingredients that I had on hand: frozen fresh corn off the cob, frozen peas, finely diced onions, one can of Veg-all, and some italian salad dressing that I had in the fridge.  I ran the frozen veggies under hot water in a colander so they would thaw and then dried them off before adding them to the pasta.  The canned veggies included carrots and potatoes, so that added just enough extra colors to the salad to make it look great.  I also had one extra cooked chicken breast that I diced fairly fine and added it into the pasta salad as well.  It was a great leftover meal that would have been terrific for a picnic or as a complete meal with a burger or steak.

Never discount what you’ve got in your fridge… remember that the most expensive ingredient is one that you throw away, so try and find a use, no matter how obscure, for anything you bring home.  Food can be a challenge but it can also be a lot of fun!  Enjoy creating your own bonus meals…

Recipe: Red Chicken and Pasta

I made a really delicious dinner last night that I want to share with you.  It was very simple, as most of my meals are in our current apartment situation, but the result was great.  Feel free to add a salad or green vegetable if you so desire… and bread or a dinner roll is always a great way to stretch your dinner.

I started by marinating two chicken breasts in a mixture of a lightly sweet red wine (Boordy’s Chambourcin Merlot blend could work here), a touch of olive oil, some garlic salt, honey, and herbs de provence.  I put everything into a plastic, resealable bag and left it in the fridge for the day.  NOTE:  I always place a plastic bag into a bowl if I’m leaving it in the fridge for the day so there’s no risk of mess to the fridge if anything happens.

I also reconstituted a half cup of dehydrated sun-dried tomatoes and sliced them to add to the pasta for flavor and color.  This was easily done by pouring some hot water over the dehydrated tomatoes and then allowing them time to plump up before slicing them.  Doing this early in the day (or even the night before) makes things so much simpler when you start cooking.

When I started cooking, I decided to toast some whole wheat pasta in garlic butter to add some flavor to the side portion of this meal. Rather than leaving the whole wheat pasta (spaghetti) whole, I chose to break it up into 2″ pieces so the garlic butter would have a better chance of toasting all the pasta.  Once this was done, I added a handful of bowtie pasta and the sliced sun-dried tomatoes to the mixture and allowed the pasta to pick up some of the flavor before adding a few ladles of chicken stock and some red wine to cook the pasta thoroughly. RedChicken&Pasta

I then began cooking the chicken.  I heated a touch of olive oil in a large skillet and sauteed the chicken breasts on both sides until they were nicely browned but not cooked through.  I added the leftover marinade from the plastic bag and stirred up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  At this point, I could have simply left the chicken on the stovetop to cook (with the lid on), but I’m not entirely comfortable with the electric stovetop that I’m currently using so I chose to alter the recipe in mid-stream.

I pushed the chicken off to the sides of the pan and added the pasta/liquid into the pan.  I then put the lid on the pan and popped it into a 350 degree oven to braise everything in the liquid until we were ready for dinner.  Just before serving, I added a Tablespoon of soft cheese to round out the flavors of the pastas, sun-dried tomatoes, *and* the chicken.  NOTE:  Some of the bowtie pasta didn’t get all the way into the liquid and ended up a little crunchy, which is NOT something my husband enjoys. Make sure to keep stirring the pasta throughout the cooking process to make sure that all the pasta is cooked thoroughly before serving.

I really liked this meal – the difference in pasta shapes was fun to me and the chicken was flavorful and yummy.  I’m not always sure how a meal is going to turn out when I start without any sort of structure, but this one was fun.  Next time, I think I will adjust the flavors a bit and make sure that all the pasta is thoroughly cooked before serving… otherwise, this was a good one to repeat.  The basics are all there… now to play with it…

Enjoy!

Recipe: Easy Wine’d Beef

Since the weather was so chilly last week, I was searching out a way to make something for dinner that would warm us up.  Stir-fry would have been tasty, but since I don’t have a good non-stick pan at my disposal yet (still in the apartment), I opted to make a faster version of a traditional Beef Bourguignon.  EasyWine'dBeef

I started with a piece of beef that was on sale at the local grocery store.  I’m not exactly sure what cut of beef I purchased… I just know that there was some great marbling of fat (for yummy flavor) and it was boneless.  I popped it in the freezer for a bit to make it easier to cube, then tossed the cubes of beef with some flour seasoned with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.

In the meantime, I heated some olive oil in a large stock pot and then sauteed a diced onion, a little green pepper, and a few handfuls of celery until they were softened and fragrant.  I love the way the smells in a kitchen can permeate the entire apartment and make the place smell “homey”, don’t you?

Once everything had a nice browned glaze to it, I moved them over and added the flour/seasoned beef to the pot.  I added a little more fat (some olive oil and a little margarine) to start the browning process for the beef.  This took some time, but it was well worth it.  NOTE: You’re not trying to cook the beef the whole way through, you’re just browning it in preparation for the slow cooking it will do in the liquid you’ll add next.

Once the beef is nicely browned, you are now going to add liquid.  I like to add a half bottle of a delicious red wine (like James River Cellars Merlot, Meritage, Rad Red, or even Hanover Red).  I also add about a cup of water and a beef bouillon cube to add some depth of beef flavor to the meal.  Your seasonings can be added now – I like to use a bay leaf or two, some herbs de provence, some worchestershire sauce, and a glop of ketchup.  Mix everything together, pop a lid on the top, and put the entire pot into a preheated 300 degree oven for an hour or two.  Stir it occasionally, to make sure that you’re getting the right blend of thickness and flavors… feel free to add more liquid if it’s getting too dry and don’t forget to remove the bay leaf before serving.

When you get close to dinner time, choose and cook a vegetable and a pasta of your choice.  As you can see by the photo, I used spaghetti noodles and broccoli.  Since my pantry is limited at the moment, I have an abundance of spaghetti, so I just broke the noodles in half and cooked them in salted water.  I then put a small bag of broccoli into the microwave and cooked it until it was bright green and cooked through.  I love serving this meal with wide egg noodles, but those didn’t make the cut when I was choosing what to bring to the apartment… feel free to use whatever pasta (or even a baked potato) you and your family like best.

I hope my recipes give you some ideas of meals you can make for your family, even if you don’t have a lot of “extras” at your disposal.  Play with what you’ve got on hand, pick up one or two essentials, and you can make a delicious dinner at home instead of spending extra money on dining out every night.  I have a hard time going to a restaurant and ordering something that I know I am able to make at home.  While I believe that going out should be a special experience, I do believe that staying in and making dinner for your family can bring about some pretty wonderful satisfaction as well.  It’s all in how you frame the experience.

Wishing you fun as you re-frame your own cooking experiences with your family!

 

 

Recipe: Wine’d Up Meatloaf

Since I’m trying to make healthy recipes that also count as comfort foods and tasty dinners, this recipe ended up as a triple winner.  My husband actually went back for seconds and I had another serving for breakfast… that, for me, makes this dinner even better.  Aren’t we always looking for a new and unique meatloaf recipe?  This one definitely earned a gold star in my book.WinedUpMeatloaf

I started with a package of ground turkey.  NOTE: I like using ground turkey instead of ground beef in most of my recipes because I think it takes flavors better and more thoroughly than beef… but you should feel free to use whatever sort of ground meat you like best.  I placed the thawed meat in a bowl and added a palmful of parmesan cheese, a half an onion (diced), 1/3 an apple (diced), two cloves of garlic (diced fine), a big squirt of horseradish mustard, some red wine (I love using James River Cellars’ Rad Red or Boordy’s Petite Cabernet for this sort of dish), and seasonings (I used herbs de provence and salt/pepper).  I also needed some breadcrumbs, and I didn’t have any on hand, so I diced four pieces of toast and added that to the mixture as well.  Once everything was in my bowl, I gently blended it all together with my hands… best tools ever!

I like to change up how I form meatloaf patties from time to time, but I decided that I’d go “old school” and just bake this recipe in a traditional loaf pan.  Since I didn’t have ketchup in the fridge (I’m going to have to get some at the store the next time I go), I spooned a bit of spaghetti sauce over the top of my meatloaf and then sprinkled it with a bit of sugar to replicate the taste of ketchup.  Once baked (in a 375 degree oven for an hour), I found this dish to be thoroughly cooked, yet still moist enough to be flavorful.  I loved it.

Meatloaf is a fun recipe to use when you’re feeling creative.  I don’t always use horseradish mustard… I rarely use apple… it’s just a great way to play with different ingredients to make a delicious meal.  Try it sometime and let me know what you think… It’s fun!

Recipe: Chicken Veggie Gris

Ok, I’ll admit that this is a strange name for a recipe, but at least it gives you an idea of what you’re getting… right?

Let me share a little background before launching into this recipe with you.

We recently relocated to a new state, in a new town, in a furnished corporate apartment.  Have you ever had to do this?  It’s sort of like cooking in “your own” kitchen, but it’s not.  The pots and pans are different… the utensils are unique (even though I *did* bring my own)… and even the cooking vessel (an electric stove instead of my beloved gas range) is different.  Challenges to be sure, but I was determined to make our transition to this new place as smooth as possible… which meant cooking dinner each night.  

Yesterday, our first weekday in our new apartment, brought on my first challenge.  I had to purchase *enough* food and seasonings without purchasing *too much* because, remember, this is only our temporary home.  I already have the necessary pots, pans, seasonings, etc to make the meals that I want to make… but they’re currently sitting in a Jessup, MD storage unit.  So, in the meantime, I’ll be doing my best to create delicious meals without purchasing too many items that will end up being duplicates if I don’t use them up before we move from our current residence.  I hope you find my journey to be interesting and maybe even a little helpful!

Dinner on Monday was a challenge.  I went to the local Walmart to pick up some things, but this particular store was rather sparse in selection, especially since it carried no fresh produce or proteins.  This is where I bought the kitty litter, toilet paper, skim milk, orange juice, spaghetti sauce, canned chicken, a loaf of bread, foil, and a large bag of individually packaged chips. While I could have stopped at the Fresh Market store a block from our apartment, I was on a particular mission to find something that would help me get groceries (and cat litter) from my car to our new home, so I was traveling around town with this goal in mind.  I eventually found a collapsible cart that will be perfect for my needs and darted into the closest grocery store to stock up on some fresh items.

Since this was my first venture out for supplies, I was trying to mentally flip through a number of meal options that could create the most amount of duplicate ingredients.  I ended up choosing two packages of ground turkey, two packages of chicken breasts (with three in each, which could yield three meals for the two of us), some broccoli slaw, a bag of onions, romaine (for my lunch salads),  a bag of onions, a small box of frozen meatballs, cooking spray, and spices (garlic salt, herbs de provence, dry mustard, italian seasonings, pepper, and Hungarian Paprika).  Using these basics, I decided to go with something very simple for dinner… and my Chicken Veggie Gris was born.ChickenVeggieGris

I started by seasoning two chicken breasts with garlic salt and herbs de provence.  Using the apartment’s skillet, I turned the electric burner to “8” and allowed the pan to heat.  Clearly, this is not the way to do things with an electric oven because when I added some margarine and a thinly sliced onion to the pan, there was entirely too much smoke in the apartment. I quickly turned down the heat and turned *on* the vent fan to keep from setting off the fire alarm so things calmed down a little.  NOTE: there was never any real danger, but it really did freak me out a bit. 

Once the onion had time to saute in the margarine to soften, I opened a bottle of white wine (I used a Pinot Gris, but only because I couldn’t find a bottle of James River Cellars Reserve Chardonnay fast enough) and added that to the onions to allow them to soak up some of the yummy wine flavor.  I then moved the onions away from the center of the pan, placed the chicken breasts in the center to brown, and seasoned the underside of the breasts with the same seasonings as mentioned above.

Dinner was looking a little bleak at this point so, after I flipped the breasts over to cook through, I added some broccoli slaw to the pan for color and veggie-goodness.  Seasonings were now the priority… dinner couldn’t be bland, especially for my first attempt.  I opted to add a few dashes of soy sauce, some balsamic vinegar, and about a half cup of the wine to create a sauce that would make things come together.  I then cooked everything until all the flavors combined, about 10-15 minutes.  The chicken was poaching nicely and, while I would have preferred to have the veggies with a little more crunch and color, the softened broccoli slaw suited my husband’s tastes and still looked pretty on the plate.  To finish off the meal, I cooked a packet of brown and wild rice and used that as our starch for dinner.  It wasn’t exactly the meal I’d planned, but it was tasty and home-cooked… the best way to finish out a stressful “first day”.

I’ll continue to add recipes, both from before and during our move, so I hope you’ll check back to see how things are progressing.  I have some recipes that I never had the chance to share, so I’ll let you know when those are posted.  My attempt tonight is going to be something along the lines of a lasagna, without lasagna noodles…. will that even work?

Follow me on this journey… I promise to share both the highs (yummy recipes) and lows (how in the world am I going to learn to cook without a gas stove?) of the coming weeks.