Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lemon Pepper Chicken (x2)

Last week boneless, skinless chicken was on sale for $1.39/lb here. Naturally, I stocked up... Last time I bought a bunch of chicken, I bottled most of it for easy casseroles and soups. This time, I decided to freeze it into meal size portions.

But why just freeze plain ol' chicken when you can freeze an entire meal?

So last week I made two different versions of Lemon Pepper Chicken. The first was made for dinner that night for my family. The second I put together as our dinner cooked. By the time dinner was ready to eat, I had three additional meals to put into the freezer for lazy days down the road.

Lemon Pepper Chicken

2 1/2 - 3lb boneless, skinless chicken
2 lemons
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper (or to taste)

With olive oil, gently oil an 8x11-in dish with a paper towel. Arrange chicken to tightly fill the dish in a single layer. In a small bowl or a liquid measuring cup, mix juice from one lemon, garlic, onion, vinegar, rosemary, salt and pepper to make a paste. Rub seasoning all over the top of each breast of chicken. Pour any remaining liquid from the cup evenly atop the chicken. Thinly slice remaining lemon and est a slice on top of each piece of chicken. Cover dish tightly with foil and bake at 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes. Serve with seasoned wild rice or garlic herbed mashed potatoes.
*Leftover chicken is delicious diced cold and added to a green salad.

While the above recipe cooked, I had time to put together three additional meals for later. I chose to make all three the same since it's one of my favorite recipes. It lasts at least 3 months in the freezer so that gives me plenty of time to work through these!

Make-Ahead Lemon Pepper Chicken (for the oven or the Crock-Pot)

2 cups chopped onion
about 2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeds removed
1 cup pitted green olives (optional)
1 tablespoon olive brine from jar or red wine vinegar
2 tsp herbes de Provence
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp dried minced parsley (about 1/2 cup fresh)

Place onion in gallon-sized freezer bag. Arrange chicken over onion. Place lemon slice on each piece of chicken. Add olives, brine, herbes de Provence, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Slowly pour in chicken broth. Freeze.
To serve from the Crock Pot: Defrost & add to 4 1/2 qt. slow cooker. Cover; cook on LOW 5-6 hours or on HIGH 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until chicken is tender. Stir in parsley before serving.
**If I didn't think ahead to allow time for defrosting, I simply run hot water over the bag to loosen it from the meal. I then plop the entire frozen blob into my Crock Pot and add about 30 minutes to the cooking time. Still comes out great!
To serve from the Oven: Defrost completely & place contents of bag into a 2qt. casserole dish. Cover tightly and cook at 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Recently I found some heavy whipping cream on clearance for $.45 a pint. I bought all that they had. It's been so fun to find things to do with it. About half of it was turned into butter. Yes, butter. (All you have to do is pour the cream into a jar with a tight fitting lid, add about 1/4 tsp salt and shake and shake and shake until cream is solid. Woila! Butter!) The rest I experimented with. The following dip was served at our little family New Year's Eve party along with some home-made crusty bread. Yum!
Although Holiday parties are over, save this recipe for football parties. It would go great with some Superbowl!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained
1/3 cup cottage cheese
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 large clove minced garlic (about 1/2 tsp)
10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained*
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9x13-in baking dish (or 2 qt. casserole dish). In a blender or food processor, place artichoke hearts, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese and garlic. Pulse until chopped, but not ground. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix spinach, heavy cream, sour cream and mozzarella cheese. Stir in artichoke mixture. Spoon into prepared baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

*I actually used spinach from the garden! I had a bunch last Spring so froze a few bags for such occasions as this. Love it!

Crusty 12-hour Bread

Answer: Easy. Cheap. Delicious.
Question: What are three words that best describe Crusty 12-Hour Bread?

This recipe is a modified version of this bread. This has been a staple in my house for the past year since my friend Becca introduced it to me. (thanks!) The only thing difficult about this bread is planning ahead, so... plan ahead and enjoy!

Crusty 12-hour Bread

6 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
3 1/2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp vinegar (I've used white, apple cider, and rice all with good results)

1. Mix dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Really, make sure it is a LARGE bowl. The first time I made this recipe, I didn't use a big enough bowl and ended up cleaning bread dough off of my counter after dough had risen. Add water and mix until blended. The dough will be wet, sticky and rough looking. Cover bowl with saran wrap and let it sit 8-10 hours or until dough surface is dotted with bubbles. During the Summer when my house is warmer (about 78 degrees) this only takes about 8 hours. In the Winter it usually takes closer to 10 hours.

2. Spray two large loaf pans (three medium, four small) with cooking spray then dust with cornmeal. (Important! I've never been able to get this bread out of the pan without ripping it when I've skipped the cornmeal. Plus, it just makes it tastier.) Spoon half of dough into each loaf pan. Re-cover with saran wrap and let rise for about 2 hours or until dough has doubled in size.

3. Preheat oven to 400. Bake loaves for 30 minutes. For best results, remove loaves from pans to a cooling rack to cool completely before slicing.

This bread is DELICIOUS as garlic toast, dipped into oil and balsamic vinegar, as an egg sandwich, or with spinach and artichoke dip.