Thursday, July 31, 2014

Chili Basil Chicken

When I signed up for this challenge, I was very intrigued by the Spices & Seasons cookbook! I’ve always been a very sense-oriented person and knew this book would suit me well. The aroma that came from this dish was outstanding. The taste equally outstanding.

Chili Basil Chicken
by Debbie
Adapted from Spices & Seasons: Simple, Sustainable Indian Flavors by Rinku Bhattacharya

Prep Time: 10 minutes, plus 30 minutes to marinate. Cook time: 25 minutes. Serves 4 to 6

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken, cut into 1 1/2” pieces ( I left mine as a whole breast)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 large lime, halved and seeded
3 Tablespoons oil (I used a Persian Lime olive oil by my local oil and vinegar specialty store)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium red onion, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
3 Tablespoons very finely chopped fresh ginger
10 green chiles, slit lengthwise (I only used 4 because they were quite large)
1/2 cup finely chopped basil leaves, plus 8 to 10 leaves for garnish
3 or 4 dried red chilies (I used 1 Tablespoon of crushed red pepper)

Rub the chicken with the salt and turmeric. Squeeze the lime juice over it and set aside to marinate for about 30 minutes.

Heat the oil in a skillet or wok. Add the cumin seeds and when they sizzle, add the onion and ginger and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the onions wilt and soften.

Add the seasoned chicken and cook for 12 minutes, stirring frequently, until the chicken is turning fairly brown. (Since I left the chicken breast whole, I cooked it for 8-9 minutes on each side.)

Stir in the green chilies and basil leaves and cook until the leaves are wilted. Lightly crush the red chilies and stir in and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. (I sprinkled the crushed red pepper at this point.)

Sprinkle with the whole basil leaves and serve.

Lentil and Quinoa Pilaf

I really liked this dish because it was healthy, yet filling, and delicious! I am usually not a big fan of lentils, but this dish really has great flavor. I served it as a side with Chicken Tikka Masala and Sandra's Naan.

Lentil and Quinoa Pilaf
by Rachael
Adapted from Spices & Seasons: Simple, Sustainable Indian Flavors by Rinku Bhattacharya

1/3 cup olive oil
4 medium red onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
2 cloves garlic
4 cups vegetable broth or water
1 cup brown lentils
1 cup quinoa
1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts (optional)
1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seeds
2 (2-inch) cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Plenty of freshly ground black pepper
6 slices bacon, crumbled

For the garnish:
1 lime, cut in half
2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil, then add in the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add in sugar and cook, stirring often, until nicely browned. Set aside 1/3 of the onions for use later in the recipe.

Add the ginger, garlic, broth or water, lentils, quinoa, pine nuts or walnuts, cumin, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and salt to the remaining mixture.

Cover, and cook on low for about 40 minutes.

The pilaf is ready when the water is fully absorbed and grains are tender. When ready to serve, stir in the black pepper, bacon pieces, lime juice and cilantro. Top with the caramelized onions and enjoy!

Chipotle Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

I recently received a copy of The New Southwest Cookbook by Meagan Micozzi, as part of the new feature in 37 Cooks. Check out the new tab on our blog, Cookbook Reviews, to read about all the books and recipes being reviewed.

Meagan is from the East Coast and moved to Arizona, where she was "smitten" with the flavors of the new Southwest. She describes the new Southwest as a fusion of flavors, "a blend of classic desert ingredients and new, fresh additives." One example was "Native American breads and stews bring a whole new meaning to tacos and tortas." In this cookbook, Meagan takes it one step further by combining favorite East Coast comfort foods with the flavors of the new Southwest.

Meagan makes no assumption that everyone who picks up the book knows about the new Southwest. She gives detailed descriptions about the spices, herbs, chiles, produce, dairy, baking ingredients and pantry staples that are needed. She even recommends essential equipment to make your journey into the new Southwest easier.

Meagan started a blog, Scarletta Bakes, as a diary of her culinary adventures in her Arizona kitchen. This cookbook evolved from that passion. You will find it unique, full of flavorful recipes to enjoy. The recipe I have chosen to share is the Chipotle Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes. They were delicious and SPICY. Enjoy!

Chipotle Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
by Linda
Adapted from The New Southwest Cookbook: Classic Flavors with a Modern Twist by Meagan Micozzi, page 129

1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
4 large sweet potatoes
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground chipotle chile*
1 teaspoon ground ancho chile
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
4 walnut halves and a handful of chopped cilantro for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Spread walnuts on baking sheet and toast in oven for about 5 minutes, until light golden brown.

Wash sweet potatoes and pierce the tops several times with a fork. Pat dry.

Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in oven for approximately one hour or until tender.

Once potatoes have cooled, make a small slit on the top of potato and carefully scoop the flesh out into a bowl.

Add the butter, brown sugar and spices to bowl. Gently stir to completely mix in with the potato.

Fold in the walnuts.

Carefully refill the four potato skins with the potato mixture.

Top each potato with a walnut half.

Return to oven for 10-15 minutes until tops are golden brown.

After you remove from oven, lightly brush the outside skins with olive oil.

Sprinkle with the cilantro.

Serve immediately.

Tip: The original recipe called for 1 Tablespoon of ground chipotle chile. I cut the amount back to 2 teaspoons. I would suggest adding 1 teaspoon. Once everything has been incorporated, taste. If you want it spicier, add an additional 1-2 teaspoons. My husband and I felt the 2 teaspoons made it very spicy!

Fried Avocado Quesadillas with Sweetest Pico de Gallo

Frying avocado? Crisping up the delicious, rich green-fleshed fruit with oil might seem like gilding the lily, a cooking act similar to wrapping bacon around rich shrimp or deep-frying cheese. Such were my thoughts when perusing the new cookbook, The New Southwest: Classic Flavors with a Modern Twist by Meagan Micozzi of Scarletta Bakes, which includes this lovely recipe for Fried Avocado Quesadillas.

Since both fried cheese and bacon-wrapped shrimp are downright delicious, frying avocado like hash to create the filling of a meatless quesadilla seemed like a straight-forward slamdunk of decadence. And yep. Oh, yes. Indeed. These were rich, cheesy, tasty decadence.

While the recipe makes two quesadillas, those will be thick and filling beasts. Feel free to make three quesadillas with the filling and pico if you'd like to stretch the meal.

Fried Avocado Quesadillas with Sweetest Pico de Gallo
Yield: 2 very large quesadillas, 8 wedges

For the sweetest pico de gallo:
1 cup quartered seedless green grapes
1 cup quartered grape tomatoes
1/2 cup diced sweet onion
1 large jalapeno, minced (seeded or not, your choice)
2 stems parsley, minced
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

For the quesadillas:
6 large avocados, peeled and pitted
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2/3 cup plain, dry breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground white pepper
Canola oil
4 (9 or 10-inch) flour tortillas (or 6, see note above)
2 cups shredded Chihuahua cheese (or mild Cheddar)

To make the salsa: 
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Set aside.

To prepare the filling: 
Place the avocados in a large bowl and mash into chunks. (Over-mashing the avocados makes the frying more difficult. Think about it like frying a hash, which always has a chunky consistency.)
Stir in the lime juice, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper until evenly distributed. Heat 1 Tablespoon of canola oil over medium heat in a 10-inch, heavy-bottomed skillet, preferably cast iron. Once the oil is hot, add about half of the avocado mixture and spread loosely over the bottom. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the underside of the avocado is crisp and golden. Flip the avocado and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove fried avocado to a paper towel-lined plate or baking sheet. Repeat with the second half of the mixture.

To assemble and cook: 
Remove the skillet from heat and line with a tortilla. Top with even layers of half the avocado mixture, half of the salsa and half the cheese. Top with a second tortilla. Using a sharp knife, carefully slice the quesadilla through into quarters. (This great technique really helps with flipping.) Return the skillet to the stove and cook over medium heat, pressing on the top of the quesadilla a bit as it cooks. Fry until the edges of the tortilla are crisp and golden, about 3-4 minutes. Flip each quarter and cook for approximately 4 more minutes. Remove cooked the wedges and repeat with remaining ingredients.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Snap, Crackle, Pop, and Chocolate!

This recipe is a true “pantry raid.” If you bake regularly, it’s likely you have many ingredients in your baker’s pantry that can be used in this recipe. Depending upon the last-minute guests you’re expecting, use semi-sweet for adults or milk chocolate for kids. Nearly any morsels or bits you have on hand can be stirred into these treats – be creative and raid the pantry!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Chipotle Garlic Cheddar Mini Beer Loaves

Chipotle Garlic Cheddar Mini Beer Loaves
by Lesia

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups self-rising flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
12-ounce can of beer
4 Tablespoons plus 2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Using a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté garlic until just fragrant. Set aside. 

Using the Good Cook mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, chili powder, beer, and 4 Tablespoons of melted butter until smooth. Using the Good Cook Silicone Spatula, stir in garlic and cheese until combined well. 

Spray the Good Cook 4 Cup Loaf Pan with non-stick cooking spray and evenly distribute batter into pan. Bake for 20 minutes, insert knife in the middle of the thickest loaf. If knife comes out clean, the bread is done. Brush tops of loaves with remaining 2 Tablespoons of melted butter. Return to oven for 5 minutes.