Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fresh Basil Stuffed Chicken Breasts (in a Mushroom Sauce)

Finally got around to purchasing a fresh basil plant yesterday and after I was done potting it I decided that I must make something with my newly acquired herb.

the chopped up basil
As luck would have it chicken breasts were on sale at Publix's (something that almost never happens) so I thought I would make stuffed chicken breasts; a dish that looks fancy but is actually quite easy to put together. These chicken breasts were phenomenal - fresh basil absolutely rocks! I put a lot in because I like the flavor of basil but if you want you could put less in for a more subtle effect.

A note on cooking chicken: When making chicken breasts I never cook them as long as the government recommends (till they are 170) because if you do your chicken will be tough, dry, and nasty. Once the chicken looks done (i.e. no pinkness when cut into) and the juices coming from it are clear it is done and I have never gotten sick from eating it that way.


Fresh Basil, Cream Cheese, and Garlic Stuffed Chicken Breasts
3 Chicken Breasts
3 oz. Cream Cheese
Small hand full of Fresh Basil (about 3 tablespoons chopped)
2 teaspoons minced Garlic
1/4 cup fresh Spinach chopped
Salt and freshly ground Pepper to taste
In a small bowl mix together the cream cheese, basil, garlic, and spinach with a dash of salt and set aside.

Cream cheese filling
Cut a deep slit in the chicken breasts (big enough to stuff the cream cheese mixture into) but don't cut all the way down from one side to the other or all of the filling will ooze out.

Exhibit A: slit in chicken breast

Exhibit B: slit chicken breast

Chicken breast laying flat after being slit
Then fill the chicken breasts with the cream cheese mixture and place in a large buttered skillet over medium heat and brown on both sides. After both sides are browned turn heat down to medium-low and cook covered for about 20 minutes, flipping once.

Chicken cooking
Take lid off of skillet and continue cooking for about another 10-20 minutes (until chicken juices run clear or a meat thermometer registers around 155).

Note: If the chicken starts to dry out while cooking uncovers just replace the lid so that everything steams up again. Also, it is normal and in my experience unavoidable for some of the filling to leak out of the chicken; it's not really a problem and just ends up making a natural "sauce" for the chicken. Let the chicken rest (covered) for about 10 minutes before serving.

Done Chicken
While chicken is in its final stages of cooking you can prepare the sauce that goes over it:

Mushroom Onion Sauce
1 6 oz. container Sliced Portabella Mushrooms coarsely sliced
1/2 of an Onion diced
1 tablespoon Flour
Approximately 1 1/2 cups Chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground Pepper to taste
Olive Oil
In a large oiled skillet over medium heat saute mushrooms and onions for about 7 minutes or until onions are translucent and mushrooms are starting to brown.

Then turn heat down to medium-low and sprinkle flour, salt, and pepper over the pan and mix in with the mushrooms and onions. Slowly pour in the chicken broth until you had enough for a sauce (this is up to you - depends on how much sauce you want) and cook until thickened; about 3-4 minutes.

After broth is added

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Egg in Toast

Nom nom!
It really doesn't get much simpler than this breakfast. The name aptly describes it. You literally cut a hole in the bread (I use a shot glass) and crack an egg into it so that there is an egg in the toast. If you have ever seen V for Vendetta, one of my favorite movies, you will remember the scene when V is making Evey breakfast and he makes her egg in toast.

That is where I got the idea to make this meal. As I understand it it is a standard English breakfast dish and after making it the first time I can see why. There is something about having the toast cook in the frying pan in the butter with the egg that makes it taste so much better than normal toast. I added the shredded cheese and salsa to contribute that extra zip I love so much.

Anyway, aside from a bowl of cereal it doesn't get much simpler or tastier than this for a breakfast dish!


Egg in Toast

2 Eggs
2 pieces of Bread
Cheddar Cheese shredded
Fresh ground Pepper
Cut the center out of the bread with a large shot glass. Then place bread in a buttered and hot frying pan over medium heat. Crack an egg into the center of both pieces of bread and sprinkle with salt and pepper then cook on one side for a few minutes then flip over and cook on the other side until egg has set. While egg is setting sprinkle cheese on the top of the bread so that it melts. Once egg is done take the egg in toast out of the pan and top with salsa if you wish.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Simple Frittata

This frittata, really a glorified omelette, is based off of a recipe I found on The Sensitive Epicure and it is super tasty! It makes a nice and quick breakfast or light dinner. Also, it is a handy way to dispose of veggies that need to be used up. I put spinach in this one because I had half a bag sitting in my fridge and wanted to make sure it was used up before it went bad, but any number of veggies would go well in this frittata.

You can easily make this into a meatless dish by leaving out the sausage and adding in some other vegetable or some tofu.

Simple Frittata

9 Eggs beaten
1 1/2 cup Jalapeno or Habanero Cheese shredded
1/4 cup Milk
3 cups fresh Spinach coarsely chopped
5 Jalapenos chopped
1 Onion minced
1 tablespoon minced Garlic
2 Tomatoes sliced
3 Colombian Sausage links
In a large cast iron frying pan saute the onions, garlic, and jalapenos in a bit of oil on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add in the sausage, chopping it up as it cooks.

chopping up the sausage
Once sausage is cooked through add in the spinach and saute for about a minute then add in the eggs, milk, cheese, salt, and pepper and mix together thoroughly.

everything all mixed in
Cook on medium low for about 7-9 minutes then top with tomato slices and put in the oven to broil for about 5 minutes, until the top gets puffy and lightly browned (also eggs should be completely cooked). Let set for a few minutes then serve.

Moroccan Chicken Pie (B'stilla)

This is the best food you will ever eat. I have never made or tasted anything better than this chicken pie. I first had a version of B'stilla at a Moroccan restaurant in Chicago and was obsessed with finding a recipe for it, and one day while stumbling recipe blogs I happened upon Turntable Kitchen's adaptation of a Bon Appetit recipe for B'stilla (also known as Moroccan Chicken Pie). I made it and the result was heavenly. The filling is chicken that has been stewed in a variety of spices, including cinnamon, with golden raisins and onions - the result is a wonderfully rich and complete flavor that is to die for.

Then this tasty filling is sandwiched between several layers of phyllo that have been buttered and sprinkled with a cinnamon/almond/sugar mixture. The blend of savory and sweet is like nothing I have ever tasted. I could, without any trouble, eat an entire pie plate of this in one sitting. And in fact when I made it for my boyfriend and a colleague he had invited over we polished off the whole pan in one sitting.

This recipe is, without a doubt, time consuming; mostly due to the phyllo sheets, which are notoriously difficult to handle. They dry out easily and also tear easily because they are so thin and delicate. Make sure to handle with care and cover the stack of phyllo sheets with a slightly dampened paper towel when you are working with it. One way to cut down on the time factor is to make the filling in advance the day before or you could even freeze the filling for a few weeks.

However, it is well worth the effort to make this recipe and the special someone(s) you make it for will be in your debt for a long time. :)


Moroccan Chicken Pie (From Turntable Kitchen)

1 onion diced
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 tablespoon Flour
2 cups Chicken Broth
3-4 Chicken Breasts chopped into large pieces
1/3 cup Golden Raisins
1 tablespoon Parsley
Olive Oil

Phyllo Layers
1/2 cup Almonds finely crushed
3 tablespoons Powdered Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
10 sheets defrosted Phyllo (get the thin greek stuff not puff pastry)
1/2 cup Butter melted
Saute onions in oil in a large skillet over medium heat until transparent then add in the spices and stir. Sprinkle in the flour and stir in well, then add in the chicken broth. Gently place the chicken pieces into the broth as well as the raisins and reduce heat to medium low - cook for about 20-30 minutes or until chicken is done and shreds easily (broth should also be cooked down).

partway through cooking
Once chicken has cooked down add in the parsley and remove skillet from heat. Once the filling has cooled down shred the chicken with your fingers and mix it all together. Set aside.

filling after chicken has been shredded
In a small dish mix together the almonds, powdered sugar, salt, and cinnamon.

Unroll the phyllo sheets and grab about 10 of them (take more than 10 because they tear easily so you will have to throw out a few) and lay them out on the counter in a stack. Take a 9 inch pie plate and put over the phyllo and cut around the phyllo with a knife or scissors to make the sheets the correct size (they can be a little larger than the pie plate).

Phyllo after it has been cut to size
Once that is done cover the cut sheets of phyllo with a damp cloth so that they don't dry out too much and become hard to handle.

Place one phyllo sheet into the pie plate and brush gently with melted butter then sprinkle on a little of the almond mixture. Repeat this 4 times to get the five layers of phyllo.

Pour the filling over the layers. Put a sheet of phyllo on top of the filling; brush with butter and sprinkle with the almond mixture. do this three more times and then put the final sheet of phyllo down without any butter or almond mixture.

phyllo with butter brushed on top
Cut an X into the center and bake at 375 for 40 minutes (make sure the top phyllo sheet is browned and crispy) then remove from oven. Cool for about 10 minutes then serve.