Thursday, January 6, 2011

Continuing My Love of Capers

And no I don't mean going on crazy escapades - I'm talking about those little green balls of explosive flavor (completely the opposite of peas, which are little green balls of mushy poison). You may remember my first tryst with these little lovelies in the gremolicious gremolata.  This is a very classic preparation of a picatta (or apparently piccata?) although I did not have fresh lemons on hand, which is why I decided to go with this dish instead of venture out to the grocery store in the rain/sleet/snow storm that we were having.

(I actually got this recipe out of a free issue of Cuisine at Home I received, but this looks to be the same recipe almost verbatim.)

Obviously I need to work on my chicken breading and browning skills because this did not come out like any of the pictures...(note to self, cramming four chicken cutlets into a wok does not work very well).  However it was still very tasty.  I served it with plain jasmine white rice and honey glazed carrots (yay for quick but tasty microwave sides) which actually turned out to be a nice combination of flavors.  I found myself mopping up the leftover sauce from the chicken with the carrots and mixing every bite of rice with a little chicken.  Yum.

Quick & Dirty

  • Used regular chicken broth instead of low sodium (although it seems like a lot of things are calling for this, maybe it's worth trying to see the difference?)
  • Used bottled lemon juice and didn't finish the sauce with fresh lemon slices
  • Didn't garnish with fresh parsley
  • The sauce was to die for.  When I added the final butter to thicken it up I knew it was going to transport me straight to Italy.
  • Given how sophisticated the flavors were, it was actually a pretty quick and easy dish to put together
  • I was surprised at how good the Green Giant honey glazed carrots were (it's nice to have a good cheat like that once in a while)
  • My failure on the browning of the chicken.  All the Food Network chefs were yelling in my head "Make sure the oil is hot!  Don't crowd the pan!"  Sorry I let you guys down :(
  • I would've been able to get much prettier pictures if I had fresh lemon slices and parsley.  Oh well, there will definitely be a next time :)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Best. Muffins. Ever.

One of my favorite parts about fall is that it's time again to make pumpkin flavored everything. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin bars, maybe next this year pumpkin soup?  Aarti even made pumpkin oatmeal this week, which sounds crazy delicious.  I can't believe I only made these muffins because I had half a can of pumpkin filling and half a bar of cream cheese leftover from other ventures! I also can't believe these innocent looking things set off my smoke detectors (and the bacon the night before did not!)

I made a dozen of these in my normal sized muffin cups but I think next time I might try upgrading at least a few to the mammoth jumbo size muffins.  The normal sized ones were gone after only a few bites and I was left wanting more, more, more!  I think they are close to the top of my list of new favorite desserts.

Quick & Dirty

  • Cut the recipe in half (9 servings) because that's how much pumpkin and cream cheese I had on hand, but I ended up getting 12 normal sized muffins out of it
  • Added some pumpkin pie spice in addition to the cinnamon in the muffin batter
  • Almost doubled the amount of brown sugar in the cream cheese filling as suggested in reviews
  • Didn't add the pecans to the topping, usually not a huge nut fan in desserts
  • I think just making the pumpkin muffin by itself would be pretty tasty
  • The addition of the cream cheese and streusel topping make these divine and decadent (this is definitely something worth spending the calories on)
  • If you like pumpkin bread/cake/bars and you like cheesecake you will be in heaven with these
  • They are a little bit of work, and trying to add the cream cheese to the middle of the muffin batter was kind of a pain.  Next time I'm going to see if there's a better/different way to do this that still yields the same yummy results.
  • As I mentioned, my smoke detectors starting going off after they were in the oven for almost exactly 20 minutes for some reason...I think they could've used a couple minutes longer but I was scared and pulled them out and shut off the oven.
  • These were a big hit at work, I was sad that I didn't have a ton to give out to everyone!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Baaaaaacon....and other nummy stuff

Bacon, bacon, everybody loves bacon! be perfectly honest...up until I made this dish I wasn't a huge fan.  I didn't exactly hate it, but I wasn't head over heels in love with it either.  I just never understood what all the fuss was about.  Maybe that's because most of my bacon eating experiences over the years consisted of fresh out of the microwave pieces of greasy or dried up bacon slices.  But this combination of pasta, cheese, chicken, eggs and you guessed it - bacon - has changed me into a true believer.  And I know, that all sounds super healthy, but it can't be that bad if it's from Cooking Light...right?  Even if I eat a heaping plateful of it...? :)

Oh there's the healthy twist - asparagus!  Which was actually a very yummy addition.  Plain asparagus is an okay side dish but not one that I get real excited about, but the cheese and bacon flavors with it in this dish really jazzed it up to the next level. I'm glad I was so lazy and tired earlier in the week that I picked up a rotisserie chicken and got to make this with the leftovers.  There was nothing leftover tasting about it.

Quick & Dirty

  • Used two real eggs instead of an egg substitute
  • Used a white cooking wine instead of vermouth
  • Cooked the onion and then everything else in the same pan as the bacon (after removing the bacon) to soak up all that great bacon juice - probably not recommended by CL but I think it's what made the dish so delish
  • The combination of asparagus, chicken, cheese, and bacon all in one bite was fantastic
  • This is one of the first dishes where I must say the pieces of parsley really helped lighten and freshen things up
  • Made Jimmbo's Garlic Knots from AR to serve alongside which complemented the dish beautifully
  • Made a little too much pasta...the asparagus to chicken to pasta ratio could've been better
  • I think I added the egg mixture a little too quickly to the hot pan because I did end up with a little bit of a scrambled egg affect instead of a creamy sauce
  • Very sadly I had to throw almost half of it down the garbage disposal because I didn't finish it all before leaving for a week for Christmas and was scared of it when I got back.  For some reason I didn't think it would freeze well, but next time I will try this since I can't think of anything worse happening than having to toss it out again.