Taste and see …

Chicken and cherries April 30, 2010

Filed under: Dinner — F. Penner @ 8:43 PM
Tags: , ,

I decided to branch out a bit from my usual tastes this week, and make a recipe I saw in a Rachael Ray magazine – Chicken and dried cherries, served over couscous.  I’ve made couscous before and liked it, but it was the flavored kind (like olive oil and garlic or parmesan – yum!).  And the recipe calls for curry powder, which I’ve had, but haven’t used it in my cooking.  And the cherries… well, I like dried cherries.  I like them in my granola bars, in my cookies, etc.  They’re different.  So I thought that a non-sweet recipe with dried cherries would be interesting.  I was right – it was interesting – in a good way 🙂

Chicken and dried cherries

  • One 10-oz. box couscous
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 3/4 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into cubes
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 ribs celery, sliced, plus chopped leaves for garnish
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried cherries
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk

Prepare the couscous according to the package.  Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the flour, curry powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Add the chicken and toss to coat.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until browned and just cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add the remaining 1 tsp. olive oil to the skillet and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.  Add the cherries and 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil.  Stir in the evaporated milk and chicken along with any juices; season with salt.  Serve over the couscous and top with the celery leaves.

I realized as I was typing out the ingredients list that I used boneless skinless chicken breast instead of thigh… oops!  I really should read all the way through a recipe before making it…  I thought it tasted just fine, although I guess next time I’d probably try it with the thigh meat just to see what it’s supposed to taste like!


a few recipes – but no pictures… April 21, 2010

Filed under: Cakes,Crock pot,Desserts,Dinner,Soup — F. Penner @ 8:57 PM

Wow – it’s been a while.  I’ve actually cooked (and baked) a decent amount, just haven’t bothered telling y’all about it for whatever reason.  I know I got side-tracked with Easter (which was awesome, btw!!) and then just got lazy.  Oops.  So what have I been cooking over the last month?? Stuff… that usually involved veggies and cheese, among other things.  I actually went through all my cooking magazines that I’ve collected over the last several years and pulled out just the recipes that sounded good, and threw the rest out.  My living room looks, well, about the same, actually.  But instead of a large stack of magazines, I’ve got a much smaller stack of magazine pages.  I’m going to have to organize those at some point.  Anyway, I decided to share a couple of my favorite recipes from the last month, and presumably next week sometime I’ll be back to one recipe per post, or at least more frequent postings than once a month.

Recipe #1

“BLT” Pasta

from Kraft Food magazine (available here as well)

  • 3 cups (8 oz.) penne pasta, uncooked
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, cut up
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning

Cook the pasta as directed.

Meanwhile, cook cream cheese, milk and Parmesan cheese in a large skillet on medium-high heat for 3 min. or until cream cheese is melted and mixture is well blended, stirring frequently.  Add remaining ingredients; cook and stir 5 min. or until heated through.

Drain pasta; return to pan.  Add sauce; toss to coat.

I love this recipe – it’s got bacon, cheese and pasta – yummy! (and I use an extra slice or two of bacon – just FYI)  However, it’s not as yummy as leftover lunch the next day.  It tastes fine, it’s just not as good.  Maybe it’s just me.

Recipe #2

Jane’s potato soup

(From Cooking with Paula Deen)

  • 1 30 oz. bag frozen hash-brown potatoes
  • 3 14 oz. cans chicken broth
  • 1 10.75 oz. can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened

In a 6-quart crock pot, combine potatoes, broth, soup, onion, and pepper.  Cover, and cook on low for 5 hours.  Stir in cream cheese; cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until combined.  Garnish with green onions, if desired.

I was in a hurry when I made this – I got home later than I was planning and didn’t want to wait the 5 1/2 hours it would have taken to cook, so I cooked it on high for 2 1/2 hours or so instead.  It tasted just fine, but the onions were still a little crunchy… I think the faster cook time didn’t cook them all the way?  I’ve only used my crock pot a couple of times, so I just sort of assumed that putting the heat on high instead of low would just cook everything twice as fast.  Oh well…

And of course there has to be a dessert in here…

Recipe #3

Lemon Pound Cake

(from Cook’s Country)


  • 16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, plus extra for greasing pan
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting pan
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten


  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice


  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice

*3 lemons gives you more than enough zest and juice for the whole recipe

For the cake:

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour 9 by 5-inch loaf pan.  Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into bowl.  Stir sour cream and lemon juice together in a second bowl.

Using fingers, toss lemon zest and sugar together in large bowl until clumps are gone.  Add butter and beat with electric mixer at medium-high speed until smooth and light, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down sides of bowl.  Add beaten eggs in three additions, mixing until smooth and scraping down bowl after each addition (mixture will begin to look curdled).  With mixer on low, add one-third of flour mixture, followed by half of sour cream mixture, stopping as necessary to scrape down bowl.  Repeat, ending with flour mixture.  Scrape down bowl, then mix on low until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Use rubber spatula to give batter final stir.

Pour batter into pan and smooth top.  Gently tap pan on counter to release air bubbles.  Bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 55 to 70 minutes.

For the syrup:

While cake bakes, stir sugar and lemon juice together in saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves.  Simmer for 2 minutes, remove from heat, and set aside.

Cool cake in pan on cooling rack for 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack.  Brush top and sides of still-warm cake with syrup and cool completely, about 2 hours.

For the glaze:

Whisk confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in bowl until smooth.  Spread glaze over cake, allowing some to drip down sides.  Let glaze set for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Funny story about this pound cake… I initially made it on a Sunday afternoon, thinking that I would have enough time before Bible study to get through the syrup step.  However, I had taken a nap and didn’t realize that the cake took an hour just to bake until after I had already put it in the oven.  So I turned the temperature up, thinking I would just see what happened – I needed to leave by a certain time.  Now, I don’t think I have a 9×5 pan, I think I have the next size down, because when I poured the batter in, it came pretty close to the top of the pan.  But I didn’t know until after this experience that I don’t have a 9×5 – I thought I did – so I just put the pan in the oven with all the batter in it!  Not a good idea… it overflowed a bit.  I was going to put a cookie tray under it once I realized there was batter all over the bottom of my oven, but then I realized I had to leave in like, a half hour, and the batter on the floor of the oven was starting to burn, and yeah, it was just not good.  I ended up just pulling the pan out of the oven and throwing out my partially done cake – it was pretty messy!!  And my oven is still burning off the batter, I think, because every time I’ve used it since I can smell it burning.  mmm!! 😛  At any rate, I still really wanted to make this, so I gave it another shot another day when I actually had the time to bake it properly.  And I also made myself a little mini-loaf with the extra batter so I didn’t overflow again – it was wicked good!! 🙂