Thursday, March 31, 2011

Grilled Marinated Steak with Parmesan Asparagus

I receive the weekly newsletter from Beef It's What's for Dinner. Usually I don't find anything that really stands out to me but this time, while doing my menu planning, I thought this recipe for Grilled marinated steak and asparagus would hit the spot. Plus, I knew that asparagus has been in season at the Farmer's market.

The recipe calls for Top Round Steak which of course I couldn't find at the store so I got 2 half-pound steaks that had something about round in the title, were "for braising" according to the sticker and were about 3/4 inches thick.

The marinade was easy to whip up as I cleaned up the dishes from last night's epic fail chicken parmesan. I ended up using balsamic vinegar instead of red wine vinegar and I marinaded the meat overnight and all the way until dinner. The flavors were nice and not too overpowering and really spiced up the steaks.

The grilled parmesan asparagus was fantastic. We had the same asparagus steamed the night before without seasoning and it was totally bland. How refreshing to have it taste much better and different with just a dash of olive oil and cheese. I didn't serve this dish with orzo as it calls for but instead some sliced oranges. A perfect spring meal for this 90 degree day!

Recipe and photo here!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chicken Parmesan - Mind the Broiler

Chicken parmesan is not and never will be my signature dish. I've made it twice and both times failed. Tonight the result was edible but...

So the broiler is a dangerous tool. If you set it on HI for 8 minutes but don't watch it because you're still making the rest of the dinner so that everything is ready together you're in trouble. The broiler can strike its firey arms at any moment.

I thought it was going to work this time...

The chicken was not actually that bad despite the crispy charred crust. But it wasn't chicken was just chicken with pasta and sauce and a little breading on the bottom. It had little to no flavor but luckily the sauce was delicious and there was plenty of extra. There was no cheese to speak of--this is probably the healthiest "chicken parmesan" ever due to the lack of cheese and breading.

But until the broiler mistake, the recipe was actually turning out well. The panko, parmesan and spices stuck to the chicken. The crust browned golden in the hot pan with a little bit of olive oil. The recipe was perfect and then...the cheese caught on fire during the broiling process. Sure I'll try it again...but sadly not soon.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Product - DiGiorno Pizza & Cookies

I'm really interested in new product news--particularly food products, but anything will do. I love to hear what marketers come up with next to make more money. So I had already heard of DiGiorno's new idea to partner up with Nestle and offer a frozen box with pizza & cookies and I went to the frozen pizza aisle particularly to look for the product.

Don't you think pizza & cookies is a brilliant idea? Perfect for any sleepover. They also offer pizza & breadsticks combo and a pizza & wyngz combo (apparently they don't qualify as wings).

I had a most embarrassing experience buying this product. I was walking through the grocery store filling my cart and considering whether or not I should get the pizza/cookie combo. Suddenly I looked up and recognized someone in the store, we said our hellos--it was Alex, an employee at our favorite pizza parlor. Since that is the only Pizza Parlor we now frequent, a lot of the employees know us--but Alex especially. I was immediately embarrassed that I was thinking of getting a frozen pizza but I tried to act cool. Then I went over and got the pizza.

I saw Alex again as I was getting into line...I purposely chose a different line so she wouldn't know I was buying the frozen pizza. I was behind her in another line--I was safe. And then it was my turn and they scanned the pizza and then the bagger announced to the checker at the next stand (the manager, the one working with Alex), "Pizza & Cookies? In the same box?! This is great!" I know our pizza employee heard, I know she knew it was me and I expect to hear about it next time we go in.

But back to the Pizza. The pizza took 20 minutes to cook, it was actually pretty good. The crust was bready which is how I like it, the sauce was flavorful, the textures were great, honestly this was the best frozen pizza I've ever had. The cookies are just the same as the Nestle dough you get in the refrigerated section and those cookies always turn out well.

I highly recommend this *healthy* and innovative new product for your next sleepover.

(but don't tell your local pizza parlor)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Poached Chicken

Everyone is always saying that poached chicken is the quickest and easiest way to make up a bunch of chicken to use in recipes later in the week. I've never really tried it. I buy chicken pieces and then find that I can't think of anything creative to make with them. Since Joey isn't a huge fan of chicken this is even more complicated.

But last week, I had some of that leftover roasted chicken on sandwiches with mustard for lunch and it was fantastic. The chicken was so much more filling than sandwich meat and overall a much better value. So this week, I defrosted some chicken thighs from the freezer deciding whether to make braised chicken or poached chicken. I ultimately decided to go with poached and then we wouldn't have it for dinner--I would just have it for lunch. And now I agree with "everyone" in saying that poaching chicken is quick, easy and cheap and yields pretty flavorful chicken if you know how to do it right.

Poached Chicken
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or thighs, thighs take slightly longer to cook)
2 tsp dried mixed herbs, I used herbs de Provence which is my favorite mix
1 bay leaf
2 cans broth, I used vegetable because I have a surplus of it

1. In a heavy bottomed pan place chicken in one layer on the bottom. Add herbs and bay leaf and cover with broth (chicken should be just covered so depending on your pot size you may get away with less broth).

2. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to very low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken is firm to touch and no longer pink inside. Let cool in the broth and then slice or shred for use in your favorite chicken recipes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Crisp-Skinned Chicken with Rosemary Potatoes

Last weekend my parents came over to do a little work around the house and I promised to provide dinner. At first I was thinking of grilling, but the weather has been unusually cold here (yes 40's and 50's is cold, don't even mention it) and going outside to do any grilling seemed just silly. I just made a roast beef for Christmas and although it was well received I didn't want to make the same thing twice. Lasagna was too hands on--I might be needed to help out with the work around the house. Finally I decided on roast chicken. I recalled an article in one of my recent magazines about how to make roast chicken several ways. I browsed through my magazines and found just the ticket-- Crisp Skinned Chicken with Rosemary Potatoes. In order to make it a full meal, I also roasted carrots along side the chicken.

I basically followed Martha's recipe except that I added a cut lemon to the cavity of the chicken to help add a little flavor other than rosemary. The result was a succulent, moist and flavorful chicken with a very crispy skin on the top of the bird (that's the important part right?). Also the potatoes weren't as crispy as I expected. This could be because I used a 10x12 ceramic lasagna pan instead of a roasting pan because that is what I have. I could have I think used a regular sheet pan with edges and that may have worked better. The only problem with roasting carrots is timing it with the doneness of the chicken. For me, the chicken took slightly longer than Martha guessed and the carrots finished cooking early...but it all worked out in the end.