Friday, October 15, 2010

Apple Cider Chicken

I've talked about how easy it is to make things up on the fly if you know what tastes good together, and this is an example of an "off the cuff" meal.

I'd planned to have chicken parm with spaghetti, but I just wasn't feeling like cooking that. We have a bit of stress in our lives at the moment, and it's very easy to fall down the, "I just don't feel like cooking, let's get fast food instead" slope. That isn't good for anyone.

I love the "chicken marsala" I make, but I didn't have any marsala wine or mushrooms. What I did have were some shallots, and some apple cider that needed to be used up. I threw some potatoes on to boil, and set to work on the chicken. This served 2 and Quinn.

Apple Cider Chicken


2 boneless chicken breasts
A bit of flour
Salt and pepper
4 shallots, sliced
About 2 cups apple cider
About 1 cup chicken stock
Sprig of rosemary
1 tblsp cold butter

Put frying pan on to heat to about medium. Rinse, pat dry and pound chicken breasts to about 1/2" thick.

Put about 2 tblsp of oil into the pan and toss in sliced shallots to soften. Meanwhile, season a few tablespoons of flour with salt and pepper and lightly dredge chicken breasts and place in pan. Cook a few minutes until done on one side, and flip.

Once chicken is cooked through, add cider and chicken stock and boost heat to high.

At this point, after tasting the sauce, I thought it might need a little something more. Apples and rosemary go well together, so I went out and grabbed a sprig of rosemary and tossed it in to infuse the sauce with its flavour.


After about 5 minutes of boiling, I removed the sprig, and put the chicken breasts on a plate, allowing the sauce to reduce further. Make sure to taste and adjust for seasons. After about 3 minutes, remove from heat and put 1 tblsp butter in pan, swirling until butter is melted (this will make the sauce richer).

I served this with riced potatoes and corn kernels.

This was a great experiment. I will DEFINITELY make this one again! This would be great with pork too!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's Fall! What to Do With the Herbs?

My basil, thyme and rosemary grew awesomely this summer, but what to do now that it's getting cold?

The thyme is actually pretty hardy, so I will leave that out all winter and cut it back once it warms up again. The rosemary may or may not survive the winter, and I know the basil won' I started freezing what was out there.

I do have a few stalks of dried basil, but it's just not the same...those dry, shrivelled, brown leaves in my food? No thanks.

I stripped a bunch of basil leaves, chopped them in the food processor coarsely, and popped about a tablespoon in each compartment of an ice cube tray. I filled them up half way with water (until the leaves were just barely covered) and put them in the freezer.


Once those were set, I put a little more water on top to completely cover, and finished the freezing process. Otherwise, the leaves float to the top and a bunch of them will be exposed and discolour. See what I did there?

I popped the cubes into a couple of freezer bags, labelled, of course (because, no matter how well you think you're going to remember, you won't), and when I need a tablespoon of fresh basil, I throw a cube into the pot and I'm good to go!


Thanksgiving Dinner

Sorry it's been so long since I've updated. I have a little bit of time, and a lot of catching up to do! Here's the first of them.

It's the Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend...well, officially, the holiday is Monday but most people I know do dinner on the Sunday and spend Monday recovering.

Don has been away a lot in the past couple of weeks, so I wanted to have a bit of a celebratory dinner to welcome him back, on Friday.

I made turkey breast, stuffing, and brussels sprouts...and for dessert, a pumpkin pie.

The turkey and stuff are adapted from Rachel Ray's Thanksgiving in 60.


Turkey Breast

I prefer to have a boneless turkey breast (because it is so much easier to cut). If you can't find a boneless turkey breast, see if the butcher will debone it for you, or just take it home and do it's not that hard, and if you don't know what you're doing, check the internet. I'm sure there are plenty of sites that can help you out. Also, this is the one time I won't put foil on the bottom of the roasting pan because you'll need the bits at the bottom to make a gravy.

1 small onion, chopped
1 lemon (for zesting)
12 fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon salt
Olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
2 boneless turkey breast halves (skin on)
Freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups apple cider
1/2 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450. Oil roasting pan and put aside.

Using a food processer, chop onion and lemon zest (avoid the pith, but I'm sure I don't need to tell you that) until fine. Add sage, parsley, olive oil and a pinch of salt and pulse until a course paste.

Melt butter in a small saucepan on the stove. The original recipe also recommends adding 2 fresh bay leaves to this butter and letting the oil infuse, which is very tasty...but I could find neither fresh bay at the market nor my dried ones at home, so I left them out this time. Once melted, pull off heat.

Place turkey breasts on a work surface and carefully run fingers between flesh and skin to create a pocket. Don't yank it completely're going to stuff the paste you made in the food processor under the skin so you don't want it to fall out. Once you've loosened the skin, get to stuffing (using half on each breast, obviously).

Pop the turkey breasts into the roasting pan, giving them a little room to breathe, and brush the turkey skin with half the butter you melted. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place in the oven. Close the door and decrease the temp to 400 degrees.

Wash your hands. Not that I need to tell you that. You just handled poultry.

After 20 minutes, baste the turkey breasts with the remaining butter and pop back into the oven for about 25 minutes until cooked through. The thermometer should read 170 (but I prefer 180 wasn't quite done, but the skin was starting to get dark so I covered the pan with foil so the meat could cook through - our oven is a jerk).

Once cooked, remove the turkey breast and let it rest for 10 minutes. This gives you time to make the gravy. At this point, timing wise, you should put the stuffing in the oven to brown (see below).

Put the roasting pan on the oven and turn the element on to heat the pan. Sprinkle flour over the pan and cook while stirring for a few minutes. Add the chicken stock and whisk until smooth, then slowly add the apple cider, continuing to whisk to avoid lumps. Continue heating gravy, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Taste, and season with salt and pepper.

Slice turkey breast and serve with gravy.

Apple Stuffing

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
4 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 Royal Gala apples (or whatever you have on hand), peeled, cored, and chopped
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves chopped
8 cups cubed stuffing mix (I used the Paxo, which is more crumby than cubed and that worked fine, but I love the cubey stuff better, for texture)
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup apple cider

Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat...I used my cast iron, because I popped it in the oven to crisp the top. If you don't have a large skillet you can put in the oven, just use a frying pan for the first bit, and finish it off in a baking pan or casserole. The original recipe made muffins. I was too lazy to get out my muffin tin.

Add olive oil and butter to heated skillet. Add chopped onion and celery and cook until softened. Add apples, salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning, and cook another few minutes. Add parsley and stuffing cubes, and toss together to combine. Moisten stuffing with chicken stock and apple cider (you might need to adjust the measures so it's soft but not soggy)

Pop the lot into the oven while the turkey is resting (and you're making gravy) until the top is crispy and browned.

Serve with gravy on top.

Pumpkin Pie


I followed the directions on the can of pumpkin puree, adjusting it to be not as sweet, and cooked it. I mixed together the topping I use for my apple crisp (oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a little salt, mixed with melted butter) and sprinkled it on top.

While we ate our dinner, I popped the pie in the oven to toast the topping and warm the pie.