Category Archives: Fall

Chicken-Swiss sandwich with sun-dried tomato pesto mayo

Hearty sandwiches on good crusty bread have always been one of my weaknesses (and Paul’s too). Really, we could live on interesting cheeses, fresh raw or grilled vegetables and mixed greens (and sometimes, free-range, sustainably raised, fresh meats) all piled onto crusty artesian bread slathered in a recent mayonnaise-based sauce. Unfortunately, a sandwich of this complexity can be one of the more expensive meals if you get the good bread from the bakery, and the fancy cheese and the high-quality meat from the deli. But we treated ourselves last night. And here OS what we created: chicken breast with Swiss cheese, mixed greens and a sun-dried tomato pesto mayonnaise.

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Recipe for sun-dried tomato pesto:

8 oz sun-dried tomatoes (dehydrated/dried, not packed in oil or water)
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
2-3 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all items in a food processor or blender and blend until desired coarseness. Add additional olive oil if necessary to alter consistency. Use as is on pasta or sandwiches, or blend at a 1:1 ratio with mayonnaise for a creamier sandwich spread.

To make chicken-Swiss sandwich:

Sautéed chicken breast in olive oil, salting and peppering to taste. Toast desired bread (we used a La Brea French loaf from the bakery at our Kroger). Spread pesto mayo on both sides of bread, add thinly sliced swiss cheese to one slice of bread, and place cooked chicken breast on top of cheese (to melt cheese). Pile with mixed greens and top with second slice of bread. Enjoy while still warm!

Post Script (for those interested in the process by which the recipes on this blog originate):
This is probably the most collaborative Paul and I have ever gotten in creating a meal for a single night. The process went something like this.

Paul: How about some sort of turkey melt sandwich?
Jess: What about something with sun-dried tomatoes?
Paul: Chicken would probably go better with sun-dried tomatoes.
Jess: And we need a type of cheese. What about Swiss? And then we could pile some mixed greens on top.
Paul: So, use like a bakery, French bread or baguette?
Jess: Probably a loaf that we can slice would work better.

…And then we went to the grocery stores.

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Following a Recipe: Roasted Chicken, Apples and Leeks

Paul and I had never bought leeks before. In fact, until I got to the checkout line at the coop, and saw on the little screen what she rung up, I wasn’t actually sure I’d even picked out the right thing in the produce section. Needless to say, I had.

Roasted Chicken, Apples and Leeks

Ingredients:
2 small apples (we used Fuji and they provided a fantastic balance of sweet and sour in the dish)
2 leeks
olive oil
salt and pepper
rosemary (we used dried because we could find fresh, but fresh would be ideal)
4-6 chicken drumsticks, thighs or wings (about 1 to 1-1/2 lbs chicken)

Directions:

Preheat over to 400 degrees. Quarter apples and cut out seeds. Slice leeks in half length wise, and then into 2-inch long segments. (I used the entire leek, dark green leaves and all, but some people prefer to use only the light green and white portions.) Toss leeks and apples with olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary in roasting pan or casserole dish. If using dark green leek leaves, make sure these are well-coated with olive oil, otherwise they can easily dry out. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and place skin side up in roasting pan amidst apples and leeks. Place pan on center rack in oven, and roast until chicken is cooked through, about 40-45 minutes. Remove and let set for another few minutes, to allow juices to soak back into the chicken. Enjoy as a complete meal, or serve, as I did, with these garlic, onion, and fontina mashed potatoes. (My tip: take a bite of the green leek leaves with a bite of apple. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and salty, chewy and creamy.)

(See the original recipe here.)

Beer Chops (with Mashed Potatoes and Applesauce)

This evening, after a beautiful fall afternoon in the field, I decided I wanted to create an equally beautiful fall meal for Paul and I. We’ve been really busy lately, and so most of our meals have been quick and easy, like chili and corn muffins, or hamburger casserole. But tonight, I wanted to have something nice ready for Paul when he came home from work.

I started by boiling some potatoes for one of Paul’s favorite foods: mashed potatoes. (Although I did realize after I started that given Thanksgiving is next week, perhaps I should have held off on the mashed potatoes, so we don’t OD before Turkey Day. Oh well.) Then, I began thinking about a vegetable side. Well, we didn’t actually have any vegetables, except lettuce, which would make a pretty boring salad all on its own. So instead of a vegetable, I decided to go with a fruit. I’d been wanting to try the idea of baked applesauce for a while, so I took out some fresh farm market apples, and quartered them into an oven-safe bowl. I added some pineapple juice for acidity and to help them keep their color (because I couldn’t find our lemon juice), a dash of nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon, and a scoop of brown sugar, and covered the bowl and put the apples in to bake at 400 degrees.

Now, to think about the meat. I had up to this point been thinking chicken, but applesauce, mashed potatoes – what goes better with applesauce and mashed potatoes than pork chops? And we still had frozen pork chops in our freezer from when we bought them on sale a few weeks ago. So pork it was. After I got them out to thaw, I began looking online for inspiration. I read recipe after recipe, and nothing seemed particularly fetching until I came across a recipe courtesy of some brewing company. Brewing company, I thought. Beer could be good to marinate pork chops. So I concocted a pork chop marinated based on a bottle of Upland Brewery’s Black Lager, cinnamon, chili powder, and Montreal steak seasoning (see below for the full recipe). Don’t ask me how I thought of that combination of spices. I just smell and guess and hope it goes over well. (And most of the time, I think I get lucky).

Let me emphasize: these pork chops are awesome! I don’t really like pork, but these are good. The lager seeps into the meat, and combined with the cinnamon, black pepper and chili powder, yields pork with a killer sweetness and a little kick. Dad, if you’re reading this, you would love these pork chops.

When Paul arrived home, I had pork chops and baked applesauce in the oven, mashed potatoes with garlic and onion on the stove, Vince Guaraldi Christmas music on the stereo, and a beer in my hand. What a lovely fall Friday evening!

Here are approximate recipes for tonight’s dinner.

“Beer Chops” (Black Lager Marinated Pork Chops)

Marinade:
12 oz. Black Lager beer
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions:
Mix ingredients for marinade and pour over 2-3 pork chops. Allow to sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Remove pork chops from marinade and place in baking dish. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven, cover in tin foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Remove tin foil and enjoy!

Oven-Baked Applesauce

Ingredients:
3-5 apples, peel on, cut into quarters
2 tablespoons pineapple juice, lemon juice, or other acidic juice
nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice to taste
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter

Directions:
Place quartered apples into oven-safe bowl or baking dish that has a top. Pour juice over apples and mix well to coat. Sprinkle spices and sugar over apples. Cut butter into pieces and place over apples. Cover and place in 400-degree oven to bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and mix with a wisk to blend apples and spices. Serve hot or room temperature. Goes great with pork chops!

Garlic, Onion and Fontina Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:
3-4 medium to large sized Russet potatoes (or your favorite potato)
3/4 cup finely grated fontina cheese
1/2 finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 tablespoons butter
olive oil
milk, cream or soy milk
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Cut potatoes into chunks and place in cold water in a sauce pan. Bring potatoes and water to a gentle boil over medium heat and allow to cook until potatoes are easily speared with a fork and fully cooked. Drain potatoes and return to pot on low heat to allow remain water to boil off. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil, salt and pepper until onions are translucent. Add butter, milk (to desired consistency), and grated cheese to potatoes and mash together while still over heat. Add onions and garlic, and salt and pepper and mix well. Serve and enjoy!

A-to-Z Bread

The thing about baking is it’s pretty temperamental. The reason we rely on recipes, or the box of Betty Crocker cake mix, is that bakers have experimented for years to find the exact ratio flour, water, eggs, and more that yields the perfect baked good, of the perfect crumb (the baking word for texture) and flavor.

So, experimenting with recipes for baked goods, and realizing you can get away with it, is a particularly gratifying experience in the kitchen. I made a particularly good invention the other day, and I’m calling it A-to-Z Bread (or cake, whichever appeals to you more).

After Paul’s adventure with pumpkins with the kids at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club, we had lots of leftover shredded pumpkin in the fridge. And even after Paul made pumpkin bread for us at home, we still had leftover shredded pumpkin. And we had dying zucchinis in the fridge from the farmers’ market a while ago. Oh, what to do with such an abundance of leftover, sad-looking fall vegetables.

I have a favorite recipe in one of my bread books for Orange-flavored Zucchini Bread. I’ve made it a couple of times, substituting whatever combination of gourd-like vegetables are abundant at the farmers’ market for the shredded zucchini in the recipe: yellow squash, yellow zucchini, green zucchini, . This seemed like a good way to get rid of the floppy zucchini and pumpkin in our fridge. And because I was in the mood for apples, I added a diced apple to round out my collection of fall produce.

After grating all the zucchini, adding the diced apple and the remainder of the diced pumpkin, I had 4 1/2 cups of vegetables. The original recipe called for 1 1/2 cups of grated zucchini per loaf. Paul and I are two people. Anyone want some apple-orange-pumpkin-zucchini bread? I’m not sure how well it mails. However, it was delicious. Especially served as cake with a vanilla-orange frosting.

Sound good? See the recipe below. But by all means, no need to stick to it! 😉
A-to-Z Cake with Orange-Vanilla Icing
A-to-Z Bread

Ingredients (for 1 loaf):
1 1/2 – 2 cups grated or finely diced zucchini, pumpkin, apple (or other fall produce) in any combination you desire (I used approximately 1/2 cup pumpkin, 2/3 cup zucchini, and 1/3 cup apple)
1 small orange (peel and juice – dice half the peel, save the juice for the frosting later)
1 1/2 cups flour (white or wheat)
1 (rounded) cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, allspice, or cinnamon (or a dash of each)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (or 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger)
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup plain (or orange-flavored) yogurt (I decided to add this for and extra moist bread, and because we had a large tub of plain yogurt in our fridge)

Directions:
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices (keep out fresh ginger if you decided to use it). In a larger bowl, mix eggs, yogurt, and oil together. Add in zucchini, pumpkin, apples or whatever vegetables you used. Add fresh ginger (if used), and chopped orange peel (chopped, not grated, because it adds a nice crunch that way). Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, 1/3 at a time. Scrape the batter into a buttered 9-inch bread pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack or serving plate. If desired, frost with icing (recipe follows).

Vanilla-Orange Icing
A-to-Z Cake, still in the glass bread pan (for easier storage)

Ingredients (icing for one loaf):
1+ cup powdered sugar
1+ teaspoon milk, half-and-half, cream, soy milk, whatever
1+ teaspoon juice of an orange (from orange used for bread)
1 capful vanilla

Directions:
Mix together 1/2 cup of powdered sugar with milk, juice and vanilla. Stir with a fork or whisk, adding more of the powdered sugar or milk/juice until the icing is the desired consistency. Remove loaf from pan and place on a serving plate. Depending on the consistency of your icing, you can either spread it over the top of the bread with a knife or spatula, or pour the icing over the top of the bread, allowing it to drip down the sides. Serve when bread is still slightly warm from the oven, or chill and serve cold. Wonderful!