P-B-M Grilled Chicken Sandwiches

Erin's P-B-M Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Everyone’s heard of a T-B-M, one of the greatest things America has co-opted and subsequently abbreviated  from foreign cuisine. But few have heard of the P-B-M: the Pineapple-Basil-Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich.

Don’t write it off too quickly; though it sounds weird, I promise that it is fantastic!

This recipe was added to my recipe book when I first made it for a group of friends on a spring break trip to Florida in college. I’m lucky enough to still be living with my college roommate, and in spite of all odds to still be friends with her to boot, so when her birthday rolled around this was her birthday dinner request.

Erin’s P-B-M Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Ingredients: (for two people)

– one chicken breast, halved (height-wise, so that each breast has the normal surface area, but half the thickness)
– two rounds of pineapple, cut about 1/2 inch thick, cored and quartered.
– 2 sprigs of fresh basil
– 1 lime, quartered
– 1 ball of fresh mozzarella
– salt and pepper, to taste
– olive oil
– 2 rolls or buns (I used pretzel rolls, my favorite!)

Instructions:

1) Brush the chicken breast halves with olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Grill (or saute) the chicken. When it is mostly cooked squeeze the juice from one quarter of the lime over each breast, then finish cooking.

2) Serve on bun, and squeeze juice from one more quarter of lime over the chicken if desired. Top with mozzarella, pineapple, and basil.

Lemon-Cranberry Quinoa Tabbouleh, and Erin Gets the Green(s).

Summer has finally come to Chicago, having shamelessly cut Spring in line. Chicago Spring is pretty weak-ass and didn’t even try to fight for her place in line, so I guess we’ll have to wait until next year to see her come around. Maybe she’ll work on her left-hook over this year.

With the summer has come all of the fresh fruits and vegetables, and it is glorious. My best friend’s parents have a garden plot, and this week were suddenly up to their ears in produce. When they asked if I wanted any I jumped on the offer, but I could not have expected what showed up at my door – an entire cooler full of greens. Gobs and gobs of greens. After unpacking the bounty, this is what I ended up with in my refrigerator:

– 3 lbs of kale
– 3 lbs of swiss chard
– 3 varieties of lettuce
– 1 bunch of cilantro
– 1 bunch of mint
– 1 bunch of parsley

In other words, I was now up to my ears in greens too. In order to not evict my roommates from their share of fridge space, I knew I needed to get that situation under control.

Step 1: Take out both the mint and the parsley in one fell swoop. In other words, make tabbouleh.

.          .          .

Lemon-Cranberry Quinoa Tabbouleh

Lemon-Cranberry Quinoa TabboulehIngredients:

– 3/4 cup quinoa
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 3 tbsp of lemon juice
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1/4 tsp cumin
– a pinch or two of cinnamon
– 1 bunch fresh parlsey
– 1 bunch fresh mint
– 1 cup dried cranberries

Instructions:

1) Cook quinoa as directed on package.

2) Meanwhile, rinse and chop parsley and mint, and toss together in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

3) Once the quinoa is cooked and allowed to cool, add olive oil, lemon, salt, and spices to the pot and toss with a fork.

4) Stir quinoa and cranberries into the herbs, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

.          .          .

Step 2: Blanch and freeze the kale. This is an awesome way to maximize fridge space, and to preserve produce for later use. Three pounds of kale cooks down to two small ziploc bags, individually packaged for  instant use when I want to make my favorite soup – Portuguese Kale, Ham, and Potato Soup.

Stay tuned for Step 3 – Swiss Chard with Lentils and Feta Cheese. Yum!

Pumpkin Pancakes

This weekend my roommates and I had some friends over to visit. The original plan was to go out for brunch, but when we looked out the window we all discovered that we were pretty happy staying inside in the warmth. We’re in the middle of a brief thaw in Chicago, but in my opinion a damp chill is just as bad as (if not worse than) a dry cold. (Add this to the list of reasons why I want to move to Colorado.)

So, I suddenly had to whip something up for brunch. The problem was, I had pretty much nothing in the fridge. I still haven’t gone shopping since the last time I posted a recipe that I whipped up with limited groceries. (This seems to be a pretty typical problem for me.)

I’ve been on a bit of a pumpkin kick lately, so somehow the idea of making pancakes popped into my head. and the nice thing about pancakes: they have minimal requirements in the fresh-food department. So after a bit of googling, I went with a recipe from My Baking Addiction, with a few tweaks based on my family pancake recipe. (Click the photo for the original recipe.)

PumpkinPancakesFischer2Ingredients

1 cup milk
1 cup plain yogurt
1 1/3 cups pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans

Instructions

1. In a large bowl, whisk together egg, milk, yogurt, pumpkin, oil, and vanilla.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. Stir dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just combined. Fold in pecans.

3. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or nonstick frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/3 cup for each pancake. Cook until surface of pancakes have some bubbles and a few have burst, about 1 to 2 minutes. Using a thin spatula, carefully flip each pancake and cook until browned on the underside, about 2 minutes more. Transfer cooked pancakes to a baking sheet and keep warm in oven. Continue with more oil and remaining batter.

4. Serve with toppings as desired.

Enjoy!

Pumpkin and Chorizo Soup

This recipe happened completely by mistake.

MexPumpSoup2ZZ77We were having a couple of friends over for dinner, and my roommate was going to cook. Then, at 4:00pm, I got a text that she was hung up at work – and I was on KP.

The problem was, I had no idea what her plans were, and I had just been out of town so I had no groceries of my own. So, naturally, I threw a soup together with pretty much whatever we had in the fridge. And it was actually pretty good!

Ingredients

–  1 pkg hot chorizo
–  2 onions, finely chopped
–  3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
–  2 bay leaves
–  2 tsp cumin
–  1 tsp coriander
–  cayenne, to taste (optional, up to 1/8 tsp)
–  2 cups celery, chopped
–  2 cups carrots, sliced
–  8 cups broth (chicken, beef, vegetable)
–  1/2 head of cabbage, chopped
–  4-5 cups pumpkin puree, homemade or canned
–  ½ cup heavy cream (opt)
–  Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat a large heavy-bottom dutch oven or stock pot. Squeeze chorizo out of plastic tubing, and fry. (No extra oil is needed.)
  2. Once meat is mostly done, add onions, garlic, and spices, and sauté with the meat until onions begin to turn golden.
  3. Add the celery and carrots, and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until carrots begin to soften.
  4. Add broth and cabbage, and bring to a boil. Once it boils, turn heat down to a simmer, and stir in the pumpkin puree. Allow to simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the cream while simmering, stir gently for a minute or two, until evenly mixed. Remove from heat, add salt to taste, and serve.

Cilantro-Lime Lentil Salad

This recipe was an instant favorite when I first made it. It is (again) based off a recipe from The Kinfolk Table Cookbook (I did get it for Christmas!), Citrus Lentil Salad.

kinfolksalad_2714409b

Though I’m sure the original recipe is awesome, to be honest I doubt that I’m ever going to try it. Because I LOVED my version. (And other people evidently did too – the bowl was wiped clean at the a church potluck, and I got a lot of compliments!)

My recipe is the same as the original in essence, and really only has 3 differences:
– I used limes instead of lemons or oranges (because that’s what I had in the fridge!)
– I used shallots instead of scallions (ditto the above.)
– I added cilantro (because (a) I LOVE CILANTRO and (b) cilantro and lime ALWAYS taste good together.)

And though I’m clearly hugely plugging for my version, here is the even better reality of this recipe: It is SUPER tweakable. Go ahead, make it your own! If I ever get over this version, my next plan is to try it with orange juice/zest, fresh parsley, and dried cranberries.

And the best of it is, though this is a meatless salad it is still a good source of protein! This baby is just as valid a main dish as it is a side. So, here goes:

Cilantro-Lime Lentil Salad

Ingredients

1 cup green lentils, picked over
2 shallots, thinly diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine or apple cider vinegar
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lime (about 3T)
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 bunch cilantro

Instructions

  1. Rinse the lentils under cold running water in a fine-mesh sieve until the water runs clear. Place the lentils in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by 3 inches. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
  2. While the lentils are cooking: zest and then juice the lime, and put both in a large mixing bowl. Chop the shallots and put them in the bowl as well, and then add the olive oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir it together – the oil will help stop the shallots from releasing the gases that make your eyes sting.
  3. When they are done, drain the lentils and rinse in cold water, and drain again well. Nobody likes a soggy salad.
  4. Place lentils in the large bowl and toss with the rest of the ingredients.
  5. Allow salad to rest refrigerated for at least 20 minutes to let the flavors combine. Right before serving, chop the cilantro and mix into the salad. Serve.

Moroccan Butternut Squash Salad

The_Kinfolk_Table_Cookbook_1-693x496

This is a recipe based on one from Kinfolk Magazine (who, incidentally, just published their own cookbook…which INSTANTLY made my Christmas list.) The original recipe is Moroccan Wild Rice and Butternut Squash Salad. I wanted to make this from a side dish to a main dish, hence the major change: I used quinoa instead of rice.  (Also, quinoa is a much faster-cooking grain, and I was cooking on a deadline.)

I am also very much in favor of adding any produce you have lying around (within reason), so I added potatoes and bell peppers to the recipe. If you try the original recipe, let me know what you think!

.          .          .

   1 1/2 cups white quinoa
   2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed (1/2″-3/4″ cubes)
   1 lb russet potatoes, cubed (1/2″-3/4″ cubes)
   1 lb sweet onions, sliced thin and halved
   1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
   1/2 green or yellow bell pepper, julienned
   1 cup craisins
   2 cups parsley leaves, chopped
   5 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional to coat the squash/potato cubes
   Juice of 1 lemon
   Juice of 1 lime
   1 3/4 teaspoons salt (total)
   1 3/4 teaspoons cumin (total)
   1 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon (total)
   1 3/4 teaspoons turmeric (total)
   Pinch cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Rinse quinoa and put in pot with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low for 10 minutes,  then remove from heat. Allow to sit covered for a bit – any excess water will be absorbed. Fluff and put into a large serving bowl.

P1050157

In a large bowl, toss cubed squash and potatoes with enough olive oil to coat, and 3/4 teaspoon each of salt, cumin, cinnamon and turmeric. Run through with your hands to make sure cubes are coated well and evenly. Line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper and spread the cubes in a single layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the edges  begin to brown and crisp, but not burn. Once done, remove from oven and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to brown. Remove from the pan, straining out excess oil, and add to the serving bowl.  In the remaining oil, fry the bell peppers and then add to the serving bowl.

salad

In a small bowl, prepare the dressing: 3 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon and lime juices, and a heaping teaspoon each of salt, cumin, cinnamon, and turmeric, and a pinch of cayenne pepper as desired. Add to serving bowl and stir well, so that dressing is absorbed by the quinoa evenly. Add the squash and potato cubes, parsley, and craisins and toss salad well. Serve at current temperature or refrigerated.

.          .          .

* Some ideas for variety:

– The original recipe called for raisins instead of craisins. Craisins are what I had in the pantry, but raisins would be delicious too.
– Nuts. Any nuts. The original recipe called for toasted almonds, but I personally find that the flavor of cashews blends the best with curry spices. (About 1/2-3/4 cups would do the trick.)

Butternut Squash Lasagna

            Another fall treat.

.          .          .

4 cups butternut squash puree
1 tsp minced garlic
15 oz ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus garnish as desired
1 1/2 tsp rosemary, ground
1 1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
heaping 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 lb Italian sausage
8 lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Pan-fry the sausage.

Mix ricotta, parmesan, garlic, rosemary, pepper, and cinnamon.

Coat 8×8″ baking dish with cooking spray, and spread a bit of the puree on the bottom. Mix the sausage into the rest of the puree. Use 2 noodles to make a pasta layer on the bottom of the pan, and spread 1/2 of puree-sausage mixture evenly across it. Add another layer of noodles, and spread 1/2 of ricotta mixture on top. Repeat layers, and top with more grated parmesan, as desired.

P1040917_2

Bake for 45 minutes.

Enjoy!

P1040924

For more recipes, click here!

Two Potato Soups

I love fall. I love everything about it: the crisp feel of the air, the colors on the leaves and the people, the golden sunrises that get softer as the sun moves farther away, the joy of hot beverages, and perhaps most of all… the food. Apples, kale, squashes; cinnamon and nutmeg in everything; soups, roasts, and the return of the oven.

To celebrate the arrival of fall, here are two delicious and unique potato soup recipes. Both are fairly easy, and use the same basic method, so once you’ve made one, you will know how to make the other.

A note about both these recipes: every potato soup recipe I have seen calls for a food processor, to puree the potato soup-base. I always ignore these instructions because I like some texture to my soup, but not everyone likes it that way. (Alright, confession…the ulterior motive is that I have a passion for minimizing dish-washing. Do I want to was out a food processor if I don’t have to? Hell no.) Instead of processing, I grab my potato masher and smash away at those potatoes until the soup reaches the consistency I want. And really, smash to your heart’s content – I promise you, it’s very cathartic. But if you prefer a smoother, more uniform consistency, and don’t have any feelings to vent, feel free to break out that food processor.

.           .           .

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup)

P1040930

   1 lb fresh kale
   6 medium russet potatoes, cubed
   2 cups celery, chopped
   3 medium shallots, finely chopped
   2 cloves of garlic, minced
   1 smoked ham steak, cubed (optional)
   2 bay leaves
   1 1/2 tsp black pepper
   6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
   1 tbsp olive oil

In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add shallots and garlic, and fry over medium heat until translucent. Add potatoes, ham, and celery, and cover w/ broth. Add bay leaves and pepper, and simmer on low heat for 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, put a pot of water on to boil, and wash kale and tear off stems into bite-size pieces. (Remember, the kale will shrink when it’s cooked, so the pieces don’t need to be that small.) Blanch the kale in the boiling water for a few minutes, until dark green and limp, then drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.

When the potatoes are tender, smash with a potato masher until soup reaches your desired consistency. If the soup is too thick, add more broth or water as desired. Add the kale and simmer on low for another 15-20 minutes. Add salt to taste, and serve.

.           .           .

Pumpkin Potato Soup

   1 medium onion, finely chopped
   1 clove of garlic, minced
   2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
   1 lb white potatoes, cubed
   6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
   1 cup cream (optional*)
   2 cups pumpkin puree (home-made or canned)**

   1 tsp ground nutmeg
   1 tsp crushed black pepper
   1 tbsp olive oil
   1 smoked sausage, sliced (optional)

* Dairy-free version: The cup of cream is completely optional in this recipe – the pumpkin puree gives the soup a creamy texture all on it’s own.  For lactose intolerance or milk allergies, or for a lighter version of the soup, cut out the cream or replace with your favorite milk substitute.

**And with that extra pumpkin puree that I know you have, make this delicious pumpkin nut bread!

In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add onion and garlic, and fry over medium heat until translucent. Add potatoes and cover w/ broth. Add sage and pepper, and simmer on low heat for 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, brown the sausage in a frying pan. When the potatoes are tender, turn off heat  and smash with a potato masher until soup reaches your desired consistency. Add the pumpkin puree, cream, pepper and nutmeg, and sausage, and simmer on low for another 10-15 minutes. If the soup is too thick, add more broth or water as desired. Add salt to taste, and serve.