Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Barbecue Baked Lentils with Chicken Apple Sausage

Since learning that we will be moving in a few short months, Lee and I have started forming our grocery lists with an eye on clearing out the cupboards.

Some time ago, we bought lentils (I think they were for Smoked Cheddar and Lentil Burgers) and I noticed this week that we still had a couple cups leftover. It's finally starting to warm up here in Chicago and we're not in the mood for soup these days, so I started hunting around for a unique way to use these little beans. Lo and behold, Cooking Light listed a recipe for Barbecue Baked Lentils.

We served the lentils with chicken apple sausage and some Dijon mustard and a side salad--a nice spring welcome at our table.

I made the lentils according to the recipe, but I wouldn't do it again. The method (pre-simmering for 20 minutes, baking with a sauce that includes some of the cooking liquid) is a keeper, but I found the sauce to be one-dimensional and altogether too sweet. Next time, I'd create my own sauce or use one of the fabulous-sounding recipes from Epicurious.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Chicken Frittata

Lee and I love a frittata. We'll eat one for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. So today, when we found in our fridge a bit of leftover chicken (from the Chicken with 20 Cloves of Garlic), a half-empty bag of frozen potatoes O'Brien, a red bell pepper, some Chihuahua cheese and five eggs, there was only one thing to do for brunch.

I used to be an omelette fan, and I like them. But more and more often, I find myself drawn to the foolproof frittata, which is basically a baked omelette. Just saute vegetables, mix in the pre-cooked meats and a few beaten eggs, top with cheese, and move the skillet directly from the stovetop to a 350-degree oven. Thirty minutes later, you have breakfast for eight!

Frittatas are often quite fluffy, but you'll notice that this one is pretty flat. As I mentioned, we had only five eggs. I could have used a smaller skillet, but decided instead to make a flatter frittata that would yield more servings with fewer eggs. With our wedding just around the corner, we're trying to eat light.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Chicken with 20 Cloves of Garlic

Lee and I are always on the lookout for a meal that we can transform into different dishes throughout the week. Tonight, we made one of the tastiest, easiest dishes I can remember--Chicken with 20 Cloves of Garlic, adapted from a recipe we saw on the Cooking Light web site.

Start by combining a bit of butter with a bit of olive oil (perhaps a teaspoon of each) into a large covered saute pan. Take a whole cut-up chicken and brown it in the pan; you may need to do this in two batches. The chicken needn't be cooked through at this point; you just need three or four minutes per side.

Once the chicken is browned, set it aside for a moment and saute 20 whole cloves of garlic until they're just starting to tan. Then arrange the chicken evenly over the garlic cloves. Add in 1/2 cup of white wine and 3/4 cup of chicken broth, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes. When the chicken is cooked through, remove it (along with the garlic cloves) and reduce the sauce for five or ten minutes.

This simple meal is perfect with a little bread (the garlic will spread like butter) and a salad or green vegetable. Though Lee and I were dining as a pair, it would be a perfectly appropriate entree to serve to a small dinner party, provided you were looking for something a little rustic.

One note--the braise this chicken gets does no favors to the skin, leaving it pale and flubbery. The skin adds a ton of flavor during the cooking process, but I'd recommend skinning the chicken before serving. With the moisture and flavor imparted by the wine and stock, I assure you, you won't miss the skin a bit.

The next day, we made lovely little chicken salad sandwich bites with the leftovers.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Kosher for Passover

In our house, that means a lot of salads. You'll also note that it does not equal keeping kosher any other way.

We had a really fun Seder (sadly, no pics) a week ago, to which our friend Rachel brought homemade matzo. Infused with rosemary, it was so delicious we ate it all weekend. The recipe, I'm told, came from The Bread Bible. If the matzo is any indication, this looks to be a book worth picking up.