Monthly Archives

October 2011

Crunchy Pesto Chicken with Caramelized Onions

October 30, 2011

Last week I came home with a bunch of great ingredients after a photo shoot at work. Any time I come home with food from a shoot it’s inspiration for me to do a little cooking so food doesn’t go to waste. And since we almost always have meat at the shoot, I make sure to snag some to take home so I can make a special meal for Joe.

I didn’t really have a plan for the meal. Instead, I decided to just go with the flow and see what happened. Cooking without a plan or a deadline was so relaxing and so much fun, and I realized I don’t do it nearly as often as I should.

Joey was blown away with the results. He kept raving about how this was the best meal I’ve ever made, and that the recipe was worthy enough to be on a restaurant menu. It’s not as healthy as the recipes that I typically make, but for a fun, impressive dinner dish, this chicken totally comes through.

Crunchy Pesto Chicken with Caramelized Onions
*1 medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
*3 tablespoons unsalted butter
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
*2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut in half widthwise (to make four thin chicken breasts)
*1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
*1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese with Italian herbs
*1/2 cup olive oil
*1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
*Additional olive oil for frying
*1 cup shredded cheese (I used a mozzarella-cheddar mix)

*In a large skillet over medium heat, melted the butter. Add in the onions, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until onions are caramelized and soft. Remove from heat and set aside.
*Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 13×9-inch baking pan or line with aluminum foil. Set aside.
*With a small food processor, blend together the basil, feta cheese and 1/2 cup olive oil and process until mixture is nearly smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to a shallow bowl. Place panko in a second shallow bowl.
*Dip chicken breasts in the basil mixture to coat both sides, followed by the panko.
*In a large nonstick stillet, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Place chicken breasts, two at a time, in the hot oil, cooking for 2 minutes per side. Chicken does not need to be cooked through. Transfer seared chicken breasts to the prepared baking pan. Top with some of the caramelized onions, followed by some of the shredded cheese.
*Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until cheese is melted and chicken is cooked through and no pink remains.

Happy Cooking!


On Today’s Show…

October 28, 2011

Hey, everyone! Just checking in with a quick reminder that the first episode of The Rachael Ray Show’s “Hey, Can You Cook?! All-Stars” airs today. Depending on where you are across the country, the time it airs is different. To find out what time it is on in your area, you can do so HERE. Episodes will continue to air every Friday for the next four weeks, with a contestant (or two) going home every week.

Happy Friday!


Emily Dickinson’s Coconut Loaf Cake

October 27, 2011
I have a bit of a thing for old, passed-along recipes that have survived decades and generations. Something about the fact that they are old and cherished just sucks me in every time. So last week, when the recipe for Emily Dickinson’s Coconut Cake started floating around the internet, I couldn’t resist giving the recipe a try. 
Not surprisingly, I really enjoyed the cake because of the one-bowl nature of the whole thing. Very few ingredients were required, all of which I had on hand, and it had only a mild level of sweetness that appealed to me. Beware, the texture of this loaf cake is fairly dense and resembles a pound cake rather than a traditional cake. 
If you’re looking for a cake that will bowl you over with sweetness, this is not your cake. But if you are looking for a cake that is perfect for serving with a pat of butter at breakfast or as an afternoon snack with coffee, this would totally fit the bill. 
Emily Dickinson’s Coconut Loaf Cake
*1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
*2 cups flour
*1 cup sugar
*1/2 cup butter, softened
*1/2 cup milk
*2 large eggs
*1/2 teaspoon baking soda
*1 teaspoon cream of tartar 
*Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×5-inch baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the eggs, followed by the remaining ingredients. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
Happy Baking!


More Smart Travel Eats

October 26, 2011
{Completely unrelated picture of Nutmeg in her new winter coat. She was feeling bad she hasn’t been on the blog lately.}

Since I’ve been doing quite a bit of traveling over the past few months, I thought I would share with you a few more of my favorite healthy eats while on the road and in airports. Although I wish I was the type of person who planned ahead of time and brought a lot of healthy snacks and meals with me, I’m usually rushing out of the house at the last minute trying to get as much done as possible.

Here are a few of my favorite stops and what I typically order:

1. Smoothie King
I wish every airport I traveled to had a Smoothie King. I grew up making frequent stops at this place with my dad and know I can always find something healthy and packed with protein.

Favorite Pick: The Vanilla Shredder (20 oz) is my go-to drink and has 283 calories, 36 grams of protein, and just 12 grams of sugar. I pair mine with either a banana or a granola bar for a bit more substance if I’m using it as a meal replacement.

2. Starbucks
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Starbucks comes through for me every single time. They recently rolled out a new line of salads in addition to their sandwiches, which can be a lifesaver when you need a dose of leafy greens.

Favorite Pick: In the morning, I always go with the oatmeal with fruits and nuts and pair it with a small soy latte. Side note: at hotels, I ask for extra packets of peanut butter to stash in my purse. It makes a great addition to oatmeal and adds a few grams of protein.

Runner Up: The Protein Bistro Box at Starbucks is my runner-up for when I’m craving something savory. It comes with a few wedges of cheddar cheese, a hard-boiled egg, whole grain pita, peanut butter and apples, all for just 380 calories.

3. Cosi 
You have no idea how desperately I wish we had a Cosi in Iowa! So whenever I’m in a city that has one, I never fail to stop by. Their soups, sandwiches and flat bread are all delicious and they offer plenty of veg-friendly options.

Favorite Pick: Their soups rotate every day, but my faves are the Three Bean Chili or the Moroccan Lentil Soup. It comes with an order of whole grain flatbread and I typically order a side of hummus for healthy dipping.

4. Panda Express
Things got really desperate a while back when Joey and I were on our way home from visiting my family in Idaho in September. Stuck in an airport terminal in Denver that had very few options, I was faced with either eating a protein bar from a new stand or Panda Express. Since Joey was eating Panda Express and I was really craving something warm (and some veggies) I went with it, too. I was pleasantly surprised at the options.

Favorite Pick: I went with a double order of steamed veggies (70 calories) and paired it with steamed rice (380 calories) and two veggie spring rolls (160 calories for two). Not exactly health food, but it hit the spot and was definitely more satisfying than a granola bar or trail mix.

What are you favorite places to eat while on the road? 


Honeyed Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn

October 23, 2011
Joey and I spent a fabulous and fun-filled weekend in Minneapolis getting to meet our new nephew for the first time (!!) and watching Joey’s brother play football. Since Joey’s mom, Lisa, always makes amazing treats to bring to football games, I decided that it would be fun to make something to take along for the road trip up to the game. Something about popcorn and snacks during the fall just makes road trips that much more exciting. 
I’ve made a version of this caramel corn many times in the past but it wasn’t until fall baking and pumpkin craziness hit that I thought to make a pumpkin spice version. And although I was a little nervous about swapping out the corn syrup for honey and adding in a hefty dose of pumpkin pie spice, I’m glad I did. 
I may have overdosed on the caramel corn on the car ride home, which led to Joey having to take the bag away from me and put it on his side of the car, but it was just too good to resist. 
Honeyed Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn 
*1 (3 oz.) bag light butter popcorn, popped with unpopped kernels removed
*1/2 cup unsalted butter
*1/2 cup granulated sugar
*1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
*1/2 cup honey or corn syrup
*1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*1/2 teaspoon baking soda
*1/2 cup roasted peanuts
*Preheat the oven to 250°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly grease. 
*In a large saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, brown sugar, honey or corn syrup, pumpkin spice and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. One mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat and stir in the baking soda. Continue to stir until no longer foamy and mixture returns to a deep caramel color, about 1 minute. 
*Spread popcorn and peanuts onto baking sheet. Drizzle the caramel over the popcorn and stir until popcorn is evenly coated with the caramel. Spread into an even layer. 
*Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Transfer mixture to a clean piece of aluminum foil to cool. Break up any large pieces. 
*Store in a zip top bag or storage container for up to a week.
Happy Baking!
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