Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Creamy Lemon Chicken "Piccata"

So as some of you know I have been following a new eating program, hoping to shed a few pounds. Yes that is right, I am proud to share that with you all :) .  Anyways , part of the program, besides eating every 2-3 hours is a 3 week "makeover" where you have to learn to eat that often and make sure that what you are eating isn't made completely of fat and makes up a well balanced meal. Tonight I challenged myself to stray away from their recipe cards and to make something that represents ME. It's actually VERY similar to my Creamy Chicken Marsala recipe, but instead this is lemony and creamy.

Also, since this recipe is so low fat I used a non stick pan which worked out nicely, and I still got golden brown chicken.

4 chicken breasts, pounded thin or butterflied
1/3 cup flour
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
1 container sliced mushrooms
2 tbsp capers
2 garlic cloves minced
1 lemon, juiced (can even use zest too yum)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp either cream cheese or mascarpone or even a splash of fat free half n half (I use low fat cream cheese)
1 tsp smart balance

1. Heat your pan and fat of choice over medium heat.
2. Pound out the chicken, salt and pepper both sides and dredge in the flour.
3. Add each piece to the pan and allow them to cook for about 3-4 minutes until a golden crust has formed. Then flip to the other side, same thing 3-4 minutes.
4. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside. Add the mushrooms, garlic and artichokes, saute. You can add a little oil or broth to saute.
5. Add the liquids, and place the chicken into the pan, juice and all!
6. Let simmer for a bit and then add the cream cheese and dijon mustard, mix thoroughly until you have a creamy sauce and chicken is cooked completely.

Serve with pasta!

*I had to thicken my sauce with arrowroot (or cornstarch) but if you follow my creamy chicken marsala recipe you can make your roux with equal parts fat and flour, and that can be your sauce thickener. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pork Tenderloin Three Ways!

Left: Maple, Back: Herbed, Right: Mango
My family and I wanted to try something different for a holiday dinner. Usually we would have some kind of roast (turkey, ham, pork, beef) but roasts tend to be a little dry, so I suggested we try roast pork tenderloin. You can buy a pork tenderloin at any grocery store, and they are pretty inexpensive, unlike its beef counterpart. Plus, these tender pieces of meat shouldn't be dry and tough like other meats can get.

In my photo each tenderloin is about 1 to 1 and half pounds, I am not sure if the come any larger than that and that should feed about two people, maybe even three. Once you have your loin at home, the next important step is to figure out what on earth you want it to taste like! You can be plain and sprinkle with just salt and pepper, but we wanted to try a few variations, since we had three tenderloins. We ended up with mango chutney, maple and herbed. Yum!
Herbed, Maple and Mango

For the mango chutney (or you can use ANY fruit flavored jam you you have), I mixed about 1/4 cup of chutney with a table spoon of dijon mustard and 2 tsp of oil. Easy right? Smear it on the tenderloin and voila! Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Next, the maple! 1/4 Maple syrup, 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard, 2 tsp oil and maybe 1/2 tsp dried sage. Smear again and sprinkle with salt and pepper. I'd let this one sit for a while if you have the time to let the maple penetrate the loin. This also would be awesome grilled!

The last one we did was a simple dry rub of herbs. I used 1 tsp dried rosemary, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp dried sage, salt, pepper, a little oregano or thyme and voila!

It was one of the easiest holiday meals we've made and the loins were delicious. We served them with roasted carrots, onions and potatoes, acorn squash and fresh baked dinner rolls.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Best Dinner Rolls You will EVER Have

This past Thanksgiving I decided no more factory made crap, *I* was going to attempt to make the dinner rolls! After scouring the internet for days, I actually came across a really good and easy recipe for the best dinner rolls I think I have ever eaten. Surprisingly, it is a King Arthur Flour recipe that I found, a little hesitant because the brand is pretty commercial, I tried it and will never look back, plus their blog is really fun to read.

Keep in mind when cooking for holidays you don't want to do ALL of your cooking on that morning, actually, you shouldn't even want to do some of your cooking on that morning. I did a little experiment with these rolls by making them they day before, but I was afraid that maybe they might not taste as fresh the next day. Boy was I wrong. I par-baked these the day before, they were still snow white, but then popped them into the oven on Thanksgiving Day and 10 minutes later, perfectly golden dinner rolls.

Well, the most recent holiday was New Years Day so I decided to make these rolls again. We had pork tenderloin roasted with carrots and onions, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, acorn squash and of course my ever so fluffy dinner rolls!

This recipe makes 24, which is a lot, but they last for a couple of days I found out, however, since they are so yummy, you may not have to worry about that. I've broken this out into steps, hopefully making it a bit easier to follow and understand. You will need anywhere up to 6-7 cups of flour, even though I don't mention specifics below just yet. Just follow each step, and read ahead before you begin.
Watch how quickly the yeast activates!


Step 1:
Proofed Yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups warm milk
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
2 1/2 tbsp instant yeast (yes, table spoons!)

Mix these together and allow to sit for a couple of minutes until it becomes foamy, its now very alive!

Step 2:

Mix in 5 cups of white flour, slowly so that you don't get flour everywhere if using a stand mixer (with paddle attachment). The dough will look very sticky and not well formed, this is ok! Add 1/2 cup more flour until the dough starts to come together, switch to the dough hook and let your mixer knead for about 5 minutes. Very quickly, and lightly, push on the dough, it should spring back, this means it is done. I actually ended up kneading a bit by hand because I like the way the dough feels and I like being able to feel when its about ready.
Sticky dough, add more flour to form the ball

Step 3:
Place your dough ball on the counter and place your bowl over the dough. It will rise for only about 15 minutes. At this point you can preheat the oven to 350F if baking today. I am going to par bake my rolls and finish them tomorrow just before dinner.

This dough is very soft but not sticky
Step 4:
Test the dough. You will want to now poke your finger pretty far into the dough, and the indent should stay. Yay, next step!

Step 5:
Form the dough into a rectangle, I'd say about half inch thick and then slice into 4 strips. Cut each strip into 6 pieces....6x4 = 24 rolls!

Step 6:
Form each 1/6 piece of dough into a smooth round and place on a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper. You can put them a little close, but not too much. They will need to now rise for another 15 minutes. It is ok if they are touching, when they bake, you pull them apart and they look just like dinner rolls! You could even freeze the dough too at this point.

Step 7:
After the rolls have had their second 15 minute rising, bake them at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until just slightly golden. Since I par bake, I will go for about 10-15 minutes until they have just set and no longer doughy and then bake for another 10 minutes just before serving. 

Note: Can I just tell you how wonderful the house smelled as these were baking? I wish I could put a scratch n sniff dinner roll on this page somewhere!