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Creative cooking blog that shows how to prepare food for family and friends. ecipes and ideas that inspire you to enjoy cooking.

What's for Dinner? One-Pot Mediterranean Chicken

posted by Kim

Most of us love a one-pot-meal every now and then. Sometimes? It's a necessity! It's never been something that I love; often taking on one flavor and texture which isn't very appealing. I have come to find out, after experimenting with a few one-pot dishes recently, this is not always true, especially for the one I am sharing today. It is a great meal to throw together quickly when you have limited time and has several layers of flavor. From the savory moist chicken to the sweet cherry tomatoes and the slight bitterness of the olives to the crisp tanginess of the lemon juice, all of the flavors of Mediterranean Chicken complement each other beautifully.

Toss all the ingredients into a large dutch oven. Start by placing your pieces of chicken on the bottom. I used a combination of  2 bone in breast meat, 4 drumsticks, and 3 large boneless breasts, for those of us that do not like to eating off the bone and acting like a caveman. Place on top of your chicken, 1 lemon sliced in half, 1 jar of strained kalamata olives, 1 small jar of strained green olives, 1 heavy handful of cherry tomatoes, 2 large sweet onions cut into quarters, 6 cloves of smashed garlic, 4 Turkish bay leaves  and a couple big swirls of olive oil. Seasoned with kosher salt and ground black pepper.  I wanted this dish to be full of herbal flavor also, so I combined, 2 teaspoons of french thyme, 1 teaspoon of rosemary, 1 teaspoon of tarragon, 2 teaspoons of herbs de provence and 1 heavy handful of fresh chopped parsley. Mix together and sprinkle over the pot of ingredients. Add a few more swirls of olive oil and 4 ladles of chicken stock. Roast for 60 minutes at 400 degrees checking occasionally to see if more liquid is needed to the bottom of the pan.
Serve on top of your favorite pasta or rice, or for a carb-free option, sautéed spinach works great and looks beautiful as you can see below. Add a squeeze of lemon on top and enjoy!

Savory Grain Salad

posted by Kim & Carlinne

Harvest Blend from Trader Joe's is a great staple for many of our dinners. We have featured it in previous posts and learned that there are many ways to incorporate Harvest Blend

Shown below, is a how-to, in pictures, illustrating this wonderfully simple grain salad. Eat this as a great stand alone lunch or the star side to your main dish for dinner. First start with a beautiful bowl of Harvest Blend. Cook according to the package's instructions. 

Once the Harvest Blend is cooked and cooled for five minutes or so,  add a large swirl of olive oil, the juice of a 1 lime, a large handful a black beans, a handful of craisins, and a handful of roasted almonds. To give this salad the creamy texture we were looking for, we added in a small amount of goat cheese. The goat cheese helps bind the ingredients together and gives the salad a distinct flavor and texture. Season the mixture with a big pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper.  Mix gently. If needed, add more olive oil or lime to juice to adjust to your liking. 

The base of the grain salad is, of course, some greens. We chose mixed greens as they are light and airy and would compliment the Harvest Blend perfectly. Toss the greens with a little olive oil and lime juice. Season with a pinch of kosher salt. 

Serve the greens with the grain salad and enjoy this light lunch or simple side.

New Year, New Soup

posted by Kim

Happy New Year! How is everyone doing with their resolutions after one week into 2015? I am not one to make a whole list of resolutions, but I like to focus on a couple of new things for the new year. One way I am going to do this in 2015 is by stepping out of my comfort zone in the kitchen, by trying new flavors, new bases and techniques. Today's soup is exactly that. 

I start most of my soups with the same base. Sautéed garlic, onion, bay leaves and chicken stock. However, the soup I feature today could not be more different from that. Borscht is a soup made with beet root as the main ingredient. It is a Ukrainian soup that is popular in many Eastern and Central European cuisines. The broth is made from using 3 bunches of cleaned beets (greens and root included), but reserving 1 bunch of greens for later, 1 large sweet onion, 1 tomato cut in half and 3 dried bay leaves. Add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for one hour. While the broth is simmering,  sauté 1 pound of sliced lean beef chuck in a swirl of olive oil until the meat is browned on both sides. While the meat is browning shred a 1/2 green cabbage, 2 carrots and the bunch of beet greens that was set aside. Now it's time to roast an entire bulb of garlic; this adds so much flavor to the soup. 

When the broth is done simmering, strain through a colander into another pot. Discard everything, but the beets. Dice them and toss in olive oil, season with kosher salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for 30 mins. While the beets are roasting heat a stock pot with a swirl of olive oil and the cloves of roasted garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the shredded beet greens, carrots and green cabbage and toss until slightly softened. Swirl in 1 TBSP of red wine vinegar, 1 tsp of dill and 2 tsp of oregano. While this simmers, add 1-2 cups of beef stock to the beet broth and let rest.

Now that your kitchen smells amazing lets merry all of the ingredients together to make an outstanding soup. Add everything into the broth and simmer on low for 15 mins.  Before serving squeeze a slice of lemon on top and a dollop of Crème fraîche or sour cream to finish it off.

This soup definetly took a little longer to make with the various steps involved. However, until you actually try this soup you will not understand how these flavors and textures lead to such a tasteful soup. Try to make this a new soup for your new year. It's a keeper for 2015!

Have a Party with Beer and Cheese!

posted by Kim & Carlinne

Do you ever have a party to go to or want to have a group of friends over spontaneously? Sometimes we feel we don't have the time, but a cheese plate and a six pack is easy for everyone to manage. Especially if you duplicate what we feature below.

Today we feature a few seasonal beers. We decided to explore a few new beers rather than rely on our standard choices. We were rewarded by adding new favorites to our list. We enjoyed Thirsty Dog Brewing Company's Pumpkin Ale, Deschutes Brewery's Inversion IPA, and Stone Brewing Company's Coffee Milk Stout. We tasted each beer with each cheese and easily detected different flavors in both the beer and cheese depending on the pairing. The exceptional cheeses featured below are a smoked pepper jack, a creamy cheddar, Merlot Bellavitao, and a soft brie. Surprisingly the Inversion was the most food friendly, Neither of us is very fond of IPA, but this really knocked our socks off. We loved it with every cheese. We especially liked the Pumpkin Ale with the smoked pepper jack because the heat and smoky flavor of the cheese complimented the spices in the ale. The Merlot Bellavitano is a crowd pleasing cheese and really went well with each beer. The brie and coffee milk stout paired together really underscored their creaminess.  

To round out the cheese plate we added raspberries, a French baguette and slices of an Asian pear. If you are not a beer drinker, consider trying one of the beers we feature, they're really delicious! If you are rolling  your eyes and KNOW you are not an any-kind-of-beer drinker, then take a look at some of our favorite wines from this post. A few cheeses and several bottles of beer can turn any get together into a fun celebration.

Happy New Year!

'Tis the Season

posted by Kim & Carlinne

Great Lakes Christmas Ale is back and probably in many of your refrigerators right now. We know that we aren't the only ones who wait not-so-patiently for Christmas Ale season. Today we would like to share with you a few ways we have used Christmas Ale besides drinking if from a chilled glass.

Our most recent creation is a favorite of both of our families! We took the stout brownies we featured a few month ago and used a Christmas Ale instead. The spicy notes from the beer and the bittersweet chocolate kept everyone coming back for more. The beauty of the brownie is that it is perfect for taking to a party or serving at home to your friends and family. It's portable, and you can serve bite sizes pieces or giant portions that make a statement. How can you go wrong with chocolate?

Christmas Ale was the main star in these recipes, too.  

Christmas Ale ice cream 

Merry Christmas to you and your families!

It's Cookie Christmas Time!

posted by Kim & Carlinne

It's no secret that Cookie Christmas is one of our favorite traditions. This year we added two new cookies to our usual menu of cookies:  Vanilla Bean and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars.

The favorites that we bake every year are, CW2C Monster Cookie and the Chocolate Sugar Cookie pictured below and the popular Snickerdoodles featured in our opening picture.

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These delicious cookies could not be made without the use of the wonderful kitchen equipment that Carlinne's parents generously let us use every December!

If  you are baking this season let us know what your favorites are. We'd love to hear about your favorite Christmas tradition in the kitchen.

Friday Cocktail: Christmas Velvet

posted by Kim & Carlinne

It's been awhile since we have shared a Friday cocktail; we both introduced this Christmas Velvet cocktail at our Thanksgiving celebrations. How can you go wrong when it starts with Great Lakes Christmas Ale? This cocktail has a beautiful golden color and is an excellent choice for a cocktail before dinner. Fill a flute half-way with Great Lakes Christmas Ale. Use a dry sparkling white wine that's similar to champagne to fill the rest of the glass. The spicy notes of the Christmas Ale and the crisp, dry taste of the sparkling wine make for an absolutely delicious cocktail. The two together are a perfect combination. 

If you are looking for a special cocktail to share with your family and friends this holiday season, serve a Christmas Velvet. We speak from experience, this cocktail is a great way to start any holiday celebration!

CHEERS!

Soup for Supper: Roasted Tomato

posted by Kim & Carlinne

As much as I love soup and tomatoes, I am not a fan of traditional tomato soup. So when Molly asked for tomato soup, I had to think of a way to change it up. This meant it was time to consult with the other chick and come up with something delicious. We agreed that roasting the tomatoes and onions would add a layer of flavor that would make this soup special. Carlinne also suggested taking a look at Clinton Kelly's Creamy Tomato Soup, a simple recipe I decided to work from to make my own soup.

Start by taking 2 cans of San Marzano tomatoes, 1 large sweet onion, sliced4 cloves of peeled garlic and mix together with a big swirl of olive oil. Season with a big pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Roast for 45 minutes at 400 degrees. Once the mixture is roasted, remove from oven and cool. In a large stock pot add the reserve juices from the San Marzano tomatoes, 2 cups of chicken stock, 1 teaspoon of dried basil, 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano and the roasted mixture that is now cooled. Simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add 1/4 cup of half and half and a couple shakes of crushed red pepper flakes. Using an immersion blender, purée until smooth.

This roasted tomato soup is perfect for an after school snack or with that grilled cheese sandwhich for a quick and comforting weeknight dinner.

Thanksgiving Ideas: From Sides to Sweets

posted by Kim 

Need some last minute ideas for tomorrow? Well here are a few. Above is a vegetable that is often seen in some form or fashion on most thanksgiving tables: brussels sprouts. Most of us grew up not liking brussels sprouts, but times have sure changed.  Now there are so many ways to prepare that green veggie so many of us plugged our nose to eat. How about a tangy shredded brussels sprout salad. The preperation is quick and the end result will compliment your turkey perfectly. Thinly slice 12 large brussels sprouts, 5 mushrooms and peel using a vegetable peeler 1 carrot. In a sautée pan swirl a little olive oil and toss in the brussels sprouts and cook for 3 minutes over medium high heat. The brussels sprouts will remain crunchy and will turn to a vibrant green color. Season with kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Top with the mushrooms, carrots, a handful of crasins and this wonderful zesty orange dressing. In a blender take 1 large orange, juiced and zested, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons agave, 1 clove of garlic, peeled, a pinch of kosher salt and a couple grinds of black pepper. Blend together until smooth. While the blender is still going slowly pour in 1/4 cup olive oil until combined. Toss with salad and serve. 

Carrots seem to be a staple this time of year. Try heightening their flavor by tossing them in this simple citrus glaze.  Take 8 large carrots peeled and cut into matchsticks. Blanch them in boiling salted water for 5 minutes and drain. In a sautée pan add a big swirl of olive oil over medium heat. Add I head of roasted garlic and make a paste. Add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and wisk together. Squeeze the juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon into the mixture wisking until smooth. Season with kosher salt and a couple grinds of black pepper. Toss in carrots and serve.

To complete your thanksgiving dinner, here is a perfect sweet treat. Simply make a vanilla wafer cookie if you have extra time to spare or use store bought nilla wafers. Use frosting (as the glue) and add a hershey kiss to one side and a miniature white chocolate chip to the other side. Trim the cookie around the hershey kiss and you have perfect little acorns to share with your family and friends. 

Thanksgiving is a time when we are thankful for many things. On the top on our list is family, friendship and food! Being able to create and share such wonderful food with our family and friends gives us both a great feeling of accomplishment. Cook with 2 Chicks hope that all of you enjoy this time of thanks and cherish your thanksgiving day spent with your loved ones. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Fall Fennel Salad

posted by Kim

Fennel is an ingredient that I do not often cook with. The flavor of black liquorice is not a big hit with my family. However, I enjoy fennel and tonights salad was about me!  Honey crisp apples have been especially sweet this week. I knew that the black licorice flavor, the peppery taste of arugula and a sweet tangy honey crisp apple would be a great combinaiton.    

The four ingredients to this fall salad are arugula, fennel, honey crisp apple and dill. Dill is part of the celery family so I thought it would pair nicely with the other ingredients mentioned above.  Thinly slice 1 fennel bulb, 1 honey crisp apple and place onto of a bed of arugula. Sprinkle 1 tsp of dried dill and set aside while the dressing is being made.

Toss the salad with this zesty dressing by whisking together 4 TBSP of olive oil, 1/2 lemon squeezed, a few shakes of red pepper flakes and 1tsp of agave.  Taste the dressing and if it is a little to tangy add some water.  Drizzle the dressing over the salad and let the flavors merry.  If a crisp flavorful salad is something you are looking for than look no further. The Fall Fennel Salad is exactly what your taste buds are craving.