Friday, December 12, 2008

Random Sauce Experimentation: Success with Spinach

So last night I knew we were having chicken, since I had sagely defrosted some in the morning... but beyond that I had no clue what I wanted to do with it ... and one more stir fry was NOT an option:)

Enter the Baked Cashew & Flax Crusted Chicken Breast with Roasted Vegetables .... mmmmm... all ingredients on hand and easy. But that sounds sort of dry doesn't it? I thought, I'll make a spinach salad and we'll lazily put some of the balsamic on the chicken, right. No. John decided he wanted 'a creamy spinach sauce'. What? It put me in mind of spinach & artichoke dip but as a sauce ... mmmm. That isn't where I went because there were no artichokes around my house ... but I did go to FoodNetwork as usual and see what I could find.

After much seeking where wilted spinach was everywhere but almost never in a sauce, I found one option. Baked Chicken With Green Spinach-Horseradish Sauce. Now their recipe, as often is the case, wasn't quite in keeping with my health standards ... in fact, I don't even own mayonaise, and I am happy that way. The result, some experimentation that yielded a pretty tasty sauce which John and I enjoyed on the chicken & the veggies. Check it out

Healthier Spinach & Horseradish Sauce
1/4 Cup wilted spinach, start with a cereal bowl size and mic it for a minute, done
1/4 Cup Plain Yogurt
2 Tbsps Light Sour Cream
1 Tbsp Hot Horseradish, or a few more of prepared less hot stuff (experimenting is key)
1 Small Clove Garlic or 1 liberal squeeze Gourmet Garden Garlic (that was all I had, o no)
1 liberal squeeze Gourmet Garden Parsley
1 tsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Put all that in your little Cuisinart or blender and blend it baby. I started with the first four ingredients and then added the rest to make it more flavorful and creamy. The end product is something I will probably make again. I could also see using this as the base for a creamy pasta salad if that is your thing:)))

For a simple summary of the rest of the meal:

Cashew & Thyme Crusted Baked Chicken
1/2 c chopped Cashews, I put mine in a coffee grinder
1-2 Tbsps Ground Flax
1 tsp Thyme
Salt & Pepper
1 Egg or prepared egg for dipping

Pound the chicken flat, dip it in the egg to coat and then coat with the herb/nut mixture. Bake at 350-375 for about 20 minutes. Check for doneness ... I like to broil em for just a minute at the end to get that golden edge.

Roasted Broccoli & Bell Peppers
2 cups Broccoli Crowns
1/4 Red Bell Pepper, chopped small
1/4 Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped small
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Mic the broccoli in a little water for about 2 minutes. Combine all ingredients on a tray and mix to coat. When the chicken has about 7 minutes left, turn the oven to broil and put the veggies on the top rack. After 5 minutes, remove the veg and put the chicken under the broiler.

Plate up, top with sauce and serve ... this is really sorta simple. In fact this time around the chicken breading was left over from some I had done before. If you find a mix you like, make a big batch and use it more frequently so you have tasty baked not fried chicken:)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Joining a CSA: Bountiful Unidentified Veggies (& fruits)

About two years ago I heard about this cool service where you could sign up for weekly deliveries of local produce ... about 5 months ago I decided to sign up ... 4 months of waiting list later (turns out these are totally popular) my name came up for the Johnson Gardens Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). I am still on another wait list to check out a second area farm ....

Needless to say, today was the second day that I got my bi-weekly installment ... the first was the week before Thanksgiving. So far I still haven't quite finished all of the veggies we got two weeks ago and now I have more. Although, I finished the bell peppers from then tonight and accompanied them with a green salad made up of brand new farm fresh arugula and leaf lettuce.

Tonight was fun because in addition to some usual suspects like bell peppers, lettuce, bok choy and kale...we also got some oranges and grapefruits ... and a German perrenial favorite: Kohlrabi! I am so writing a card to my Oma in the morning to tell her that I have Kohlrabi ... in fact, I may have to call her and get her recipe for this cooky root vegetable (pictured here).

Anyhow, I don't have a specific recipe to share today, I just wanted to tell you all how cool and also somewhat overwhelming it is to get a batch of totally random food every two weeks. The last batch contributed to: Beef Pot Roast with Kale; Veggie Stir Fry with Eggplant, Bok Choy and Bell Peppers; Winter Greens Salad of Leaf Lettuce, Mizuno Greens and Apples and a few random ingredients here and there.

It makes you feel a bit like Iron Chef at home...I think this week we'll possibly juice some of those oranges and figure out something cool to do with Kohlrabi ... look for a post soon!

And wherever you are ... check out your CSA ... very fun way to support local agriculture and add some color and creativity to your table:)))