During the summer months when the tomatoes are bountiful, I can and process my own red pasta sauce to use for a variety of dishes all year.  There is nothing like a homemade sauce that has the aroma of a tangy, warm summer tomato!  One of the easiest ways I love to use this sauce is to add a can of whole baby clams (drained) to the sauce and leave it simmering on the stove to serve over pasta for later.  You can also use any store-bought sauce for this as well and you have a nice little light and healthy change to your ordinary spaghetti.  Fusilli is a great pasta to use with this because the sauce clings to the inner curls and you get a nice big burst of flavor when you take a bite!

 

Drain and pour into sauce
Drain and pour into sauce

 

Simmer the clams on the stove and dinner is on the stove in minutes!
Simmer the clams on the stove and dinner is on the stove in minutes!

Now, my children would never touch a clam when they were growing up no matter how many times I tried to get them just to try it.  But I knew they would love this simple pasta dish so I told a little white lie…I called it “chicken spaghetti”.  They loved it!  I just had to always make sure they never saw me open the can and had to hide the evidence quickly.  Jarrod and Ashleigh are now in their early 20’s and are pretty open-minded when it comes to their food so a couple of years ago, I confessed.  They were pretty impressed with my trickery since they now love this dish and it brings a smile and a wink to everyone’s face now when I serve “chicken spaghetti”! 🙂

There is a new kid on the block when it comes to cooking shows!  The Kitchen on the Food Network Channel debuted in January and while I had originally thought it was just going to be a replica of ABC‘s The Chew, it has surprised me with some very good recipes!  Now, usually, when you think of chicken breasts, the idea of tender and juicy doesn’t always come to mind but this Pan Seared Chicken with Olives by Geoffrey Zakarain recently featured on the show, has a Mediterranean twist and it will be on your kitchen table again and again!  What is even better is that it is healthy and easy enough to cook on a week night!
Pan Seared Chicken with Olives
Pan Seared Chicken with Olives
The original recipe (which I really didn’t steer too far from) serves 8, so since it was just Jeff and I for dinner,  I only used 2 chicken breasts instead of the 4 listed.  This will give you 4 servings (or leftovers to have for lunch the next day) since once you pound out the chicken breasts, ypu cut each one in half and will be left with 4 pieces.   I did keep the remaining portions of the ingredients the same because I always like to have extra sauce just in case someone likes a little more.  This turned out to be a wise decision because the recipe as listed really only had enough sauce for the 2 chicken breasts that I used.
Directions:
Chicken:
Two 8-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for searing
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons minced shallots (about 1 small)
1 clove garlic, finely minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pan Sauce:
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 teaspoons finely sliced fresh basil, optional
1 small clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, if needed
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallots (about 1/2 small)
2 teaspoons of capers (this is my little addition and it added a nice, salty pop!)
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/2 cup chicken broth (store-bought or homemade)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil and chives, for garnish (I just used chives)
Winter Greens Salad:
1 cup wild arugula leaves
1 cup torn frisee leaves (I substituted Endive because the market was out of frisee)
1 cup thinly sliced radicchio (about 1/4 head)
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the chicken: Using a meat mallet, evenly pound the chicken breast halves between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to 1/4-inch thickness. Put the chicken into a heavy resealable bag or 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Add the oil, parsley, shallots and garlic; sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper and mix in the bag or toss in the baking dish until the chicken is coated in the marinade. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Marinade for the Chicken
Marinade for the Chicken
Chicken Marinating at room temperature
Chicken Marinating at room temperature
Using tongs, remove the chicken from the marinade, allowing the oil to drain. (It’s ok if some of the garlic and shallots still cling to the chicken.) Discard the marinade. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large (12- to 14-inch) skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the chicken breasts, 2 at a time, being sure to space them out in the skillet. (Avoid over-crowding, or you won’t get a good sear.) Sear until light golden on the first side, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and sear on the other side until the chicken is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes more.
Turning into a nice golden brown crust
Turning into a nice golden brown crust
Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Cook the remaining 2 chicken breasts, adding another tablespoon of oil if needed. Reserve the skillet for the sauce.
For the pan sauce: In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, basil, and capers,if using and the garlic; season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Set aside.
Tomato topping soaking up the flavors
Tomato topping soaking up the flavors
Pour out all but 2 tablespoons oil from the skillet. If the skillet is dry and more oil is needed, add about 2 tablespoons. Over medium heat, add the olives and shallots and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.
Olives and Shallots added to the pan
Olives and Shallots added to the pan
Add the vinegar and cook, scraping up any browned bits in the skillet. Whisk in the chicken broth and any pan juices the chicken released on the platter and bring to a simmer. Cook until the liquid has reduced by half.
Simmer sauce until it is reduced by half
Simmer sauce until it is reduced by half
Stir in the mustard, add the seasoned tomatoes and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 1 minute; season with salt and pepper if needed.
The sauce is coming together nicely
The sauce is coming together nicely
Spoon the sauce over the chicken on the platter, garnish with chopped herbs if using and serve immediately with the Winter Greens Salad on the side if desired.
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I served it with the Winter Greens Salad and a side of lentils
I served it with the Winter Greens Salad and a side of lentils
Winter Greens Salad: Put the arugula, frisee and radicchio into a salad bowl and toss to combine. Drizzle the vinegar over the greens and toss until coated; drizzle the oil over the top and toss again. Add the cheese, season with salt and pepper and toss until well combined. Serve immediately.

Bottom Line:  This recipe was excellent and even though it is so easy, it would be a great dish for company because it looks so pretty on the plate.  The chicken was juicy and the flavors complimented it perfectly.  Even better, I had an amazing lunch the next day because I took the chicken and chopped it up. added some salad greens, the remaining sauce, a little oil and vinegar and I had an amazing salad!  Let me know how this recipe turns out for you and Keep Cooking On!!!

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 Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/geoffrey-zakarian/pan-seared-chicken-with-olives.html?oc=linkback

 

As you may know, last week I was very excited about trying a recent Cooking Light Magazine recipe of Spicy Shrimp Noodle Soup.  Even though, the ingredients  tasted “OK”, the flavors didn’t meld and I was disappointed after all that work in the kitchen.  Hence, my hubby’s need to find a similar recipe that included many of the same ingredients but would have that depth of seasoning we was looking for. Success!  Cooking Light redeemed themselves with Sweet and Spicy Shrimp with Rice Noodles from the August 2012 issue.

Sweet and Spicy Shrimp with Rice Noodles Cooking Light/Aug 2012
Sweet and Spicy Shrimp with Rice Noodles
Cooking Light/Aug 2012

Now this recipe lives up to its name “Spicy”, so if you follow the directions as I have listed, be prepared for a wonderful tingly sensation of heat 🙂  My kind of food!  However, if you want to have a little less heat, it would be suggested you reduce the amount of hot peppers in the recipe to meet your taste satisfaction.

Since this recipe was from a year and 1/2 ago, it did have some reviews that we took under consideration.  One being that there wasn’t enough sauce, so when we made it, we doubled the sauce and the recipe below will indicate that.  Also, we could not find Thai chile peppers, so we used 2 Serrano peppers since they are not as hot as the Thai chile peppers and it turned out to be a nice substitute.  We also seeded the peppers and removed the pulp.

The recipe reflects our changes to the original recipe….

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 5 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoon sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste, we easily found this at Ingles!)
  • 2tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 12 ounces peeled and deveined medium shrimp
  • 4 ounces uncooked flat rice noodles (pad thai noodles)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped unsalted cashews
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 green Thai chile or 2 Serrano peppers, halved
  • 12 sweet mini peppers, halved
  • 3/4 cup matchstick-cut carrot
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup snow peas, trimmed
  • 3/4 cup fresh bean sprouts

Directions

Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add shrimp to vinegar mixture; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Shrimp marinated in the vinegar mixture
Shrimp marinated in the vinegar mixture

Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. Rinse with cold water; drain. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. We were looking for a blistered texture to our Serrano peppers so we did this next step a little differently than the original recipe.  Add the chile/serrano peppers to the pan and stir-fry for one minute, then press down with the spatula to get the skin of the pepper well-cooked. Add cashews, garlic, ginger, and chile to pan; stir-fry 1 minute or until garlic begins to brown. Remove cashew mixture from pan with a slotted spoon, and set aside.

pepper/cashew mixture
pepper/cashew mixture

Increase heat to high. Add sweet peppers, carrot, and salt to pan; stir-fry 2 minutes.

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Add shrimp mixture (do not drain); stir-fry 2 minutes. Stir in noodles and peas; cook 1 minute, tossing to coat. Return cashew mixture to pan. Add bean sprouts; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated, tossing frequently.  (Note:  it is very important you stick to the time directions once you put the shrimp in, or it will overcook.0

All ingredients are in and the dish is starting to come together!
All ingredients are in and the dish is starting to come together!

Plate and serve with some steamed dumplings and you have a delicious Thai meal at home!  Everyone will be impressed!

Dinner is served...Thai style!
Dinner is served…Thai style!

Bottom Line:  We LOVED this!  It was the perfect combination of shrimp, vegetable, noodles, and sauce.  The flavors were bold and fresh; a definite keeper!  I have a little left so today I’m going to take a small whole wheat tortilla and put these delightful leftovers in a wrap for lunch…YUMMY!

My husband is truly a master on the grill…Ask anyone and they will tell you Jeff Pitt’s steaks, ribs, burgers, or anything else are amazing when he grills.  That is why I was quite surprised last night when he wanted to make me a nice steak dinner using MY BLOG RECIPE!  Now that is a complement!

The recipe I am referring to is one I did for him on Valentine’s Day.  The only change he made to the recipe is not to use the compound butter but to add some nice boursin cheese to melt on the top.  A nice change, indeed!

Look at that charred sear and that yummy boursin cheese
Look at that charred sear and that yummy boursin cheese

Here is the link for the original recipe for those that may have missed it.  It is a must try!

https://reciperealities.net/2014/02/15/romance-on-a-plate-filet-mignon-with-compound-butter-and-mashed-potatoes-with-carmelized-shallots/

https://reciperealities.net/2014/02/15/romance-on-a-plate-filet-mignon-with-compound-butter-and-mashed-potatoes-with-carmelized-shallots/

Who doesn’t love Mexican food…all that gooey cheese and luscious sauce?!  Well, here is a healthy alternative to the standard calorie-laden enchilada dish.  It is packed with vegetables like onions, zucchini, squash, and carrots along with tender shredded chicken and oh, yes…CHEESE!

chicken enchiladas

The base of this recipe came from a book I read several years ago (Chef Ellen aka Ellen Postolowski) and it has evolved from there.  You can find the original recipe in her book “It’s Just Personal…A Personal Chef’s Essential Guide to Shopping, Cooking, and Eating Smarter”.  My version varies in how I cut and cook my vegetables (I also added squash) and I don’t use low-fat cheese as she suggested (it just doesn’t taste the same) but it still embraces the quality of the original recipe.

One of the main reasons I love this recipe is the vegetables it includes.  If you are someone that is trying to sneak in a vegetable or two for your children or if you are like my daughter, Ashleigh, whose boyfriend won’t eat vegetables…this recipe is for you!  They will never know!

This recipe makes 8 large Enchiladas or 16 small but it freezes so well, that I usually make it in two square casserole dishes and freeze one of them:  an easy dinner another day! (Note:  You may notice I have a lot of vegetables and chicken in my pictures.  I doubled the recipe so I could make some for my personal chef family, my children and in-laws..I do love giving food as an “I Love You” gesture.)

“Healthy” Chicken Enchiladas

(Calorie count: 1 large =310, 1 small = 230)

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp of Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup shaved zucchini, then roughly chopped (Use a vegetable peeler)
  • 1 cup shaved squash, then roughly chopped
  • 2-3 cups of shredded cooked chicken (You could even use turkey!)
  • 1 package of taco seasoning mix (I prefer low sodium)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 10 oz can of Rotel
  • 2-3 tbsp of hot sauce (I prefer Crystal Hot Sauce…not a lot of heat but quite a bit of flavor)
  • 8 large or 16 small whole wheat tortillas
  • 2 cups of Mexican Blend Cheese (Use more if you want)
  • 15 oz can prepared enchilada sauce
  • Cilantro, chopped (optional, use a garnish)
  • salt, pepper, and onion powder to taste

Directions:

For the shredded chicken, you can easily use a rotisserie chicken but I prefer to make my own.  I take a couple of chicken breasts and cover them with chicken broth.  Bring them to a boil; cover; simmer on low for one hour.  Cool; shred; season well with salt, pepper, and onion powder.  (Note:  Do not forget the seasoning part or you will have bland chicken).

Shredded Chicken
Shredded Chicken

Preheat the oven to 35o degrees.  In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil.  Add onions and saute on low for about 15-2o minutes or until tender.  Add carrots and garlic and saute an additional 10-15 minutes.

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Add Zucchini and Squash and saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Zucchini and Squash Ribbons
Zucchini and Squash Ribbons
Zucchini and Squash Ribbons, Chopped
Zucchini and Squash Ribbons, Chopped

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Next, add the chicken, Rotel, and cumin. Stir it all together and keep on low for 10-15 minutes to absorb the flavors.

Chicken Mixture, Sauteing
Chicken Mixture, Sauteing

Spray the bottom of an ovenproof dish with cooking spray.  Pour just enough enchilada sauce in the dish to lightly coat the bottom (about 1/4 cup).  If using large tortillas, place 2 tbsp of filling in the middle of the tortilla (only use 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp for the small tortillas). Top the mixture with some shredded cheese and roll up the tortilla.

Fill Tortilla
Fill Tortilla
Roll up tortillas
Roll up tortillas

Place the enchilada fold side down in the prepared dish.  Pour the remainder of the enchilada sauce over the top of the enchiladas and top with the remaining cheese.

Use remaining enchilada sauce and cheese to cover enchiladas
Use remaining enchilada sauce and cheese to cover enchiladas

Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes; uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until heated through.

Healthy Chicken Enchiladas
Healthy Chicken Enchiladas

If desired, top with guacamole and sour cream but this will drive up the calorie count (hubby doesn’t care about that..ha, ha).

Jeff's version on top/my healthier version on bottom :-)
Jeff’s version on top/my healthier version on bottom 🙂

(Note:  If making ahead, prepare as directed but don’t bake.  Keep in the refrigerator for up to two days.  Bring to room temperature before baking.  Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes; uncover and bake an additional 10 or until heated through.)

Bottom Line:  For very few calories per enchilada, this is amazingLy delicious!  Full of yummy veggies and savory chicken, it will be a go-to family favorite for you just like it is for us!  Enjoy and let me know how it turns out in your kitchen!

Spicy Shrimp Noodle Soup….some of the tastiest ingredients in one bowl and even better, it was from Cooking Light Magazine  which always has some of my favorite recipes.  As many of you know, Cooking Light is a part of a group of magazines featured on a website called myrecipes.com.  I get daily recipe emails from this site and this one from the January 2013 issue caught my eye.  I knew this one would be a good one!

Unfortunately, this recipe is truly one of the reasons that I started doing this blog…thinking you are going to have an amazing dinner, you shop, you plan, you prep, you cook and it  just turns out:  so, so.  For the home cook that looks forward to that family dinner in the evening, it can be a frustrating experience.  This was one of those occasions so read on…..

Spicy Shrimp Noodle Soup courtesy of Cooking Light/Jan 2013
Spicy Shrimp Noodle Soup courtesy of Cooking Light/Jan 2013

Ingredients

  • 3 cups unsalted beef stock (such as Swanson)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste) or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Siriracha sauce (my addition to kick up the heat)
  • 2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
  • 1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
  • 1 ounce dried shiitake mushroom caps, chopped
  • 2 cups fresh mushrooms (my addition because hubby is a mushroom lover)
  • 1 (1-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined $
  • 4 ounces uncooked flat rice noodles
  • 1/2 cup fresh bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup diagonally cut green onions
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 12 small fresh basil leaves
  • 4 lime wedges

Combine first 12 ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer until reduced to 3 1/2 cups (about 12 minutes).   (Note:  This is where I made a change in how the recipe was prepared.  Since I was making the broth about an hour before dinner, I turned the heat off after I reached the 12 minute simmer.  I added the sprouts to give them a little steam and so the flavor of the broth had time to disperse into the vegetables.  I am so glad I did this because otherwise the soup would have been even more bland than it was)

Broth turned off on the stove with mushrooms and sprouts added to absorb flavor
Broth turned off on the stove with mushrooms and sprouts added to absorb flavor

Add shrimp; cook 4 minutes or until done. Remove cinnamon, anise, and ginger; discard. Cook rice noodles according to package directions; drain. (Note:  I actually cooked my noodles when I heated my broth back up) Place 1/2 cup noodles in each of 4 bowls. (Note: Instead of dividing the noodles into the bowls, I just added them directly to the pot and mixing well with other ingredients.) 

Broth  with rice noodles added
Broth with rice noodles added

Ladle soup into serving bowls and sprinkle evenly with bean sprouts (remember, I added those earlier), green onions, cilantro, and basil. Serve with lime wedges.

Spicy Shrimp Noodle Soup served with Vegetable Dumplings
Spicy Shrimp Noodle Soup served with Vegetable Dumplings

Bottom Line:  What was touted as “filled with bold and exotic flavors”, fell…FLAT!  While the shrimp , vegetables, and noodles were cooked perfectly, the broth had no depth and and was very bland.  Adding the siriracha did add some extra heat, but it couldn’t help fix the missing component:  flavor.  Sure, we ate every bite but if you consider the shrimp (which can be expensive) and the star anise (which can be difficult to find), this recipe would leave the home cook feeling disappointed 😦

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/spicy-shrimp-noodle-soup-50400000125706/

Corned Beef an Irish Tradition on St. Patricks’s day? NOT!!

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As it turns out, Bacon is the the tradition for the Irish chaps and they generally only serve Corned Beef in Ireland to please the tourists. In fact, many Irish didn’t even have corned beef until they came to America!

As much as I do love a good corned beef, it won’t be on my menu tomorrow 🙂

Enjoy this cute poem I found about the food of the Irish and have a delicious St. Patrick’a day meal tomorrow…traditional or not!

Good Grief…Not Beef!

I just want to put something straight
About what should be on your plate,
If it’s corned beef you’re makin’
You’re sadly mistaken,
That isn’t what Irishmen ate.

If you ever go over the pond
You’ll find it’s of bacon they’re fond,
All crispy and fried,
With some cabbage beside,
And a big scoop of praties beyond.

Your average Pat was a peasant
Who could not afford beef or pheasant.
On the end of his fork
Was a bit of salt pork,
As a change from potatoes ’twas pleasant.

This custom the Yanks have invented,
Is an error they’ve never repented,
But bacon’s the stuff
That all Irishmen scoff,
With fried cabbage it is supplemented.

So please get it right this St. Paddy’s.
Don’t feed this old beef to your daddies.
It may be much flasher,
But a simple old rasher,
Is what you should eat with your tatties.

©Frances Shilliday 2004

A recipe community in the making!

As Recipe Realities nears 1500 followers since it’s inception 6 weeks ago, I wanted to one again thank everyone for their support.

What started out as a tiny light bulb in my imagination of taking current recipes in magazines and television, testing them to see if they are quality enough for the home cook, then blogging about the results, has taken off! So many people have taken an interest and I hope that not only will this site to continue the quest to save time and money for all you chefs out there, but will evolve into even more opportunities in our cooking community!

Please continue to message me those recipes you want me to test for you and never worry about not having a disappointing dinner after slaving away in the kitchen! Only culinary delights from here on!

Every now and then you need a simple recipe…One that is not only delicious, but easy enough to make on a weeknight and even better, kid friendly!  As some of you know, I am not only a part-time personal chef for a local family but also a part-time nanny to their two adorable toddlers, Amelia (3 1/2) and Walker (2).

Needless to say, finding something that the whole family loves can be a challenge but last fall, I saw Ree Drummond, commonly known on the Food Network as the “Pioneer Woman”, create some savory chicken sandwiches on her Saturday morning show.  It included three ingredients all children love:  chicken, bacon, and cheese!  It was a must try and even better it was a HIT!

3214830317_87293c84fe_o (2)

Now, the original recipe is just called “Ranch Chicken” but on her show she made it into sandwiches and they steamed in foil in a cooler while she delivered them to her husband and the ranch hands for lunch.  I did the same same process but on low heat in the oven.  (Note:  I halved the recipe to make 4 servings…it typically serves 8)

Ingredients

1/2 cup Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup Honey
1/2 whole (juice Of) Lemon
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Salt
Crushed Red Pepper (optional To Taste)
6 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (I had chicken cutlets in the freezer so I used them instead)
1 pound Thick Cut Bacon (I just used regular)
Bacon Grease (the secret ingredient!!)
Sharp Cheddar Cheese, to taste

Hamburger Style Buns (if making the sandwich version of the recipe)

*My addition:  Ranch Dressing (enough to spread on the buns)
Canola Oil

Directions

To begin, make the marinade. In a large bowl mix together ½ cup Dijon or country/grainy mustard with ½ cup honey, juice of ½ lemon, ½ teaspoon paprika, and ½ teaspoon salt and whisk until smooth. Sprinkle in some crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne if you like things a little spicy. Set aside.

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Next, rinse the chicken breasts, place between two sheets of waxed paper and pound to around ½ to ¾ inch thick with a mallet. (I got to skip this part since I was using chicken cutlets but definitely do this if you are using chicken breasts.)  Next, add the chicken to the bowl with the marinade, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 hours. (I just popped it into a gallon size storage back; why mess up an extra dish?)

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While the chicken marinates, fry up some bacon. When finished cooking, reserve ¼ cup of the bacon grease and clean out the skillet. (Ree used a cast iron skillet on her show but I used my Le Crueset cast iron griddle.)

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When the chicken is done marinating, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the chicken from the fridge and pour off excess marinade. Heat half of the reserved bacon grease with an equal quantity of Canola Oil in the clean skillet over medium-high heat. When the grease is nice and hot add two or three pieces of chicken to it. Cook until brownish/blackish, about 1 to 1 ½ minutes per side.

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Remove chicken to a large baking sheet. If cooking many pieces of chicken, repeat skillet process and remove finished chicken to baking sheet. Place chicken in preheated oven and cook for about 10 minutes.

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Remove from oven.  Lay a few pieces of bacon over each chicken breast. Sprinkle shredded sharp cheddar cheese over the top of the chicken as generously as you like. Return pan to oven for an additional five minutes until cheese is melted and bacon is sizzling.

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Spread Ranch dressing on both sides of buns, place chicken on top, and wrap in foil.  Steam in a 175 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes and enjoy!

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Bottom Line:  This is a really great, no frills recipe which could be perfect done as sliders and packed into a cooler for fall tailgate parties.  The kids love it and it is very enjoyable for the adults as well.  One variation I did another time I made this dish was to use a tangy red sauce (such as Tom’s marinade) instead of the marinade and that was quite delicious as well.  We have also used pepper jack cheese as well; it all seem to work…but how can you go wrong with bacon?!

My husband, Jeff, loves to cook almost as much as me and he loves to try new recipes.  It is quite humorous to watch him search for hours and plan his menu but I love it and do not take it for granted for one minute!  On Sunday, his search was for a fish that he could grill easily but it would also need to have a nice sauce.  Cooking Light Magazine came to his rescue!

Grilled Char with Yukon Gold Potatoes and Tomato-onion Relish by Cooking Light Magazine
Grilled Char with Yukon Gold Potatoes and Tomato-onion Relish by Cooking Light Magazine

Now for those of you not familiar with “Char” it is usually called “Artic Char” and is related to the Salmon family.  This posed somewhat of a problem for Jeff because I simply do not like salmon but he assured me the Char would have a milder taste so I took him at his word.  (Note:  I love Salmon Croquettes and Smoked Salmon just not grilled salmon…make no sense!)

Another problem that I saw with the recipe was the raw onions…I do not like them.  I love them any other way but raw, but again, he assured me everything would be just fine 🙂  Also, neither one of us like mint in our dishes unless it is in a beverage but we decided we were going to leave that in the recipe just as it was.  As it turned out, that was a smart move!

Ingredients

  • 1 small red onion, vertically sliced (Jeff sliced these extremely thin to suit my personal tastes)
  • 4 (6-ounce) center-cut arctic char or salmon fillets (We only used 2 fillets)
  • 1 pound small Yukon gold or red potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 pint heirloom cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar (often called sherry wine vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Cooking spray

Directions

Place onion in a small bowl; add water to cover. Let stand for 30 minutes. (Jeff left the onions in for an hour because of my feelings about raw onions) Drain. Set aside.
Arrange fish fillets in a single layer on a large plate lined with paper towels. Let stand, uncovered, in refrigerator for 1 hour (to allow surface to dry).
Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
Place potatoes in a large saucepan. Cover with water to 2 inches above potatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes or until tender.

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Drain; cool slightly. Cut potatoes in half. Combine potatoes, thyme, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, tossing to coat. Thread potatoes onto 4 (6-inch) skewers with cut sides facing out.

Combine onion, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, tomatoes, mint, capers, vinegar, and mustard in a bowl; toss gently. Set aside.

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Sprinkle remaining 3/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper evenly over fish. Place fish and potatoes, cut sides down, on grill rack coated with cooking spray.  (Jeff coated the grill rack with cooking spray but just put them both on a cutting board since they weren’t going on the grill at the same time.)image

Cover and grill potatoes 6 minutes without turning. image

Grill fish 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. image

Serve fish with potatoes; top with tomato-onion relish. We added a southern twist and make Beer-Braised Greens as a side dish.imageBottom Line:  While it was an excellent recipe and Jeff loved it, it still tasted like salmon to me so it wasn’t my favorite.  That being said, the Tomato-Red Onion Relish was outstanding and would be fantastic over any other type of fish or even chicken for that matter.  (I still would have preferred my onions to have been steamed a little but the sauce was so good, I was able to get past that.)  And those potatoes…..Oh, my!  They were quite possibly the best potatoes I have ever had and I will definitely be making them again with other dishes!

If you love Salmon, then you will love this recipe…if you don’t, just switch out the fish and everyone can be happy!  This is a recipe worth trying!

Check out the original recipe at http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/grilled-char-with-yukon-golds-50400000113009/

Sustainable Choice: Arctic char is a sound choice; you can also use wild Alaskan salmon in its place.

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