Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pepperoni Chicken Involtini

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 8 ounces each
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
8 oz. sliced pepperoni
4 thin slices munster cheese
8 large basil leaves
8-16 baby spinach leaves

First, flatten the chicken breasts, smooth side down between two layers of plastic wrap. For very thick pieces of chicken, it helps to cut partially into the meat and fold it out.
 I use the flat side of a meat tenderizer to flatten the meat. You could also use the bottom of a heavy pan.
 Mix seasonings and sprinkle generously over each piece of meat.
 Load each piece of chicken with spinach, basil, 1 slice cheese and about 4 slices pepperoni
 Roll chicken lengthwise. Keep it as tight as you can!
 Tie each piece of chicken with 2 pieces of butcher's twine and brush the surface of each with olive oil. I didn't have any twine, so I simply used thread which worked just fine.
 Grill over direct medium heat for about 12 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked and the cheese has melted. I turned my chicken every 2-3 minutes to keep it from burning.
 This would be great served with some good quality tomato sauce but we skipped the sauce so my girls would actually eat their dinner~ which the did. They loved it!

P.S. We sliced the leftover chicken and put it on sandwich rolls for some delicious sandwiches the next day. Yum!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake

I made that strawberry syrup on Friday. Saturday the girls wanted pancakes for breakfast... and lunch... and dinner. I guess they liked it! Of course, with all these strawberries around here, I had to make some strawberry shortcake for dessert too!

Strawberry Shortcake
  • 2 quarts (I always double up on the berries, but 1 qt will work too) strawberries, sliced
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 dash ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups sweetened whipped cream
  • fresh mint


In a bowl, gently stir strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar; chill. Meanwhile, in another bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg; cut in butter until crumbly. Combine milk and egg yolks; mix well. Add to crumb mixture, stirring just until moistened. Divide and pat into two greased 9-in. round cake pans. In a small mixing bowl (or large measuring cup) beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; spread over dough.  

 Sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake at 325 degrees F for 25 minutes or until golden. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. (Layer will be thin.) Cool completely. 

Place one cake layer on a large serving plate; spread with half of the whipped cream. Spoon half of the strawberries over cream. Repeat layers. Garnish with mint if desired. 


Sweet Chili Poppers

Did you get some of these yummy sweet chilies in your Bountiful Basket on Saturday? I got mine plus a friend gave me hers as well (two weeks in a row) so by this last Saturday I had a whole bag full in my refrigerator. I chose to turn mine into some delicious appetizers for our Father's day feast.

Sweet Chili Poppers
2 cups soft bread crumbs (I used rye bread for extra flavor. Puree it in your blender, or Vita-mix for fine crumbs.)
1 cup finely chopped sweet apple
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp finely diced fresh cilantro
3 slices cooked and crumbled bacon
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
2 oz. Monterey or PepperJack cheese, sliced
about 20 sweet chili peppers

Combine bread crumbs, apple, onion, cilantro and bacon. Add egg and milk. Mix until all is incorporated and moist. 
Wash peppers and arrange them so they lay flat. On the opposite side of each pepper, cut a 'T' into the side of the pepper for the filling.

Stuff each pepper with stuffing (baby spoons work great for this!) and arrange in a single layer into a lightly greased casserole dish with a lid. Top each pepper with a piece of cheese (cut to fit). 
 Bake covered at 350 degrees F.  for 30 minutes. Serve warm or cold. They're delicious either way!

Strawberry Jam & Strawberry Syrup

Despairing over my strawberry patch full of still-green strawberries I finally bit the bullet last week and ordered a flat of strawberries from Bountiful Basket. Of course by the time Saturday rolled around, my stubborn berries began to turn red. (I guess all they needed was some competition!) No worries, of course. Between my girls and I, we can easily eat a pound of strawberries every day.. which is what we did. By the following Friday, between the purchased flat and my garden, I still had about a half a flat of berries left. Cue the telephone.. My sweet husband calls and tells me while going to a job site, he found some boy scouts selling strawberries for $5 a flat, should he get some? ... YES of course! 5 flats please! I was so excited! It's been a very long time since I've had enough berries to actually do anything with except eat. I love strawberry jam and sauces, but I'm normally never willing to sacrifice my fresh gems to the stove. Much as I like jam, I'd much rather eat a strawberry fresh and whole. MMmmmm But with my husband's purchase I needed to process at least some of the berries so they didn't go bad. 

We washed, hulled and froze about 2 1/2 flats for smoothies. The rest I turned into strawberry jam (and lots of it!) and strawberry syrup. Both are super easy and keep for about 2 years on the shelf when processed. (As if they'd last that long around here anyway!)

For Jam:
1. First, wash and hull 2lbs of strawberries 
 2. Now crush, mash or finely chop the berries. Of course I just pulsed them in my Vita-mix, making sure to still leave some chunks. 

3. Pour the berries into a large pot (5 qt. should do it)

 4. Stir in 1 box of regular pectin.
 5. Also add about 1/2 tsp butter to help reduce the foaming. Seriously, you'll be much happier if you don't skip this!
 6. Bring mixture to a boil. Have your 7 cups of pre-measured sugar ready to dump into the pot.
 7. Dump sugar in all at once and stir well. Bring mixture to a full boil once more and boil for one minute. Remove from heat.
 8. In the meantime, I've been keeping my clean jars in the oven at 200 degrees F so they'd be hot and ready when I need them.
 9. Pour hot jam directly into jars (use a funnel if necessary) and wipe the rims of the jars clean.
 10. Attach two-piece lids to each jar. Tighten gently; I usually tighten as much as I can then turn the ring back about a quarter turn. Also, before I started the jam, I poured boiling water over the lids in a bowl to help soften the rubber seal. Then I kept them in the bowl to keep them hot.
 11. Load the canning rack into a pot of hot, simmering water. It's best to start this pot at the same time you start the jam so you don't have to wait for it to heat up. 
For small batches of jam (or the last few jars of a big batch) I love using this small rack from Ball in one of my large stock-pots. It's so much nicer than my huge canner when I don't have a lot to do!
 12. Bring canner (or stock-pot) to a gentle boil and then process jars for 20 minutes. (Or 10 minutes at sea-level.) Remove from heat and then, using a jar lifter, move the jars to a draft-free area. Do not disturb for at least 12 hours.
 For Syrup:
Syrup is very similar in process with just a few changes to the ingredients.

Strawberry Syrup
4 lbs strawberries
1 cup Lemonade (not from concentrate)
you could also use 4 Tbsp lemon juice and 3/4 c. water
6 cups sugar
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp. almond extract

Wash and hull strawberries. Mash (or puree if you choose) berries into a large pot. A 5 qt. pot will work, but it will be close. If you have a bigger one, use it. Add lemonade. Bring to a boil. Add butter and sugar. Return to a full boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add almond extract. Pour into hot, clean jars and attach two-piece lids to each jar. Process 20 minutes in a water bath canner.