Monday, August 13, 2012

This Week's Dinner Menu Planner {week 14}

this week:
  • Poached Chicken, Green Apple and Goats Feta Salad
  • Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup
  • Eggplant and Mozzarella Melt
  • Pancetta Cheeseburgers
  • Spicy Quinoa, Cucumber and Tomato Salad
  • Walking Tacos
  • Chorizo Mac and Cheese

Poached Chicken, Green Apple 
and Goats Feta Salad

For the actual salad
125g poached chicken, cooled and pulled
4 button mushrooms, sliced
1 celery rib, sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, peel on, diced (keep a few slices to garnish, if desired)
25g dried cranberries
30g goat feta cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
25g toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
About 2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves

For the vinaigrette
2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup unsweetened all natural apple juice
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp date paste
¼ tsp each salt and pepper
1 tbsp fresh lemon thyme, chopped
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1/8 tsp guar gum
What I used for my poached chicken
2 large chicken breasts, deboned and skin removed
2 cups water
1 small onion, peel on, quartered
1 celery rib, cut into 3-4 pieces (try and find one that has a lot of leaves on it)
1 carrot, cut into 3-4 pieces
3 cloves garlic, peel on, smashed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp dried thyme

First, you need some poached chicken...
Add all the ingredients except chicken to a shallow pan with fitting lid and bring to a boil.
Add chicken breasts, bring back to a boil then reduce heat, cover partly and simmer for 12-15 minutes. Flip breasts around and continue cooking for an extra 10-15 minutes, until chicken is cooked all the way through.
Use immediately or chill for later use. Oh, and please, do not toss the cooking liquid! Take a few seconds to drain it and you'll be rewarded with a yummy, super lean and extra tasty chicken stock.
Then, you can make that salad
Add all the ingredients of the dressing to your small food processor or blender and process until nice and smooth. Set aside.
Add chicken, mushrooms, celery, cranberries, cheese, mint and parsley to a medium mixing bowl. Pour vinaigrette overop and mix until well combined.
Arrange baby spinach leaves at the bottom of a serving plate. Top with reserved salad, sprinkle chopped pecans and garnish with sliced apples if desired.

Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
½ cup chicken broth
2 cups milk
1 can (15 ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 ounce) Rotel diced tomatoes and jalapenos
1 package (10 ounce) frozen corn
½ cup onion, chopped
½ cup bell pepper, diced
1 can (10 ounce) Enchilada sauce
2 whole chicken breasts
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in flour; keep stirring until smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat and add the chicken broth and ½ cup milk, a little at a time, stirring to keep smooth. Return to heat. Bring sauce to a gentle boil; cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens.

In a crockpot, combine drained beans, tomatoes, corn, onion, and bell pepper. Place 2 chicken breasts on top of the mixture.

In a large bowl, whisk together the enchilada sauce and chicken broth mixture . Gradually whisk in remaining milk until smooth. Pour sauce mixture over ingredients in cooker. Cover; cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours.

Remove chicken and cut or shred into bite-sized pieces. Add chicken back into the soup. Top with cheese and serve. The soup can also be topped with avocado, sour cream, or crushed tortilla chips.

Eggplant and Mozzarella Melt

Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Serves 4

2 large eggs
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
Olive oil, for baking sheet
1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound), sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1 loaf (8 ounces) soft Italian bread
2 cups store-bought tomato sauce
8 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. In a shallow bowl, lightly beat eggs with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread breadcrumbs in a pie plate or shallow bowl.

Oil a rimmed baking sheet. Dip eggplant rounds in egg, then dredge in breadcrumbs, turning to coat completely; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Bake (without turning) until golden and tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, split bread lengthwise, and place cut side up on another baking sheet; press gently in centers to create a well. Layer both halves with tomato sauce, eggplant, and cheese. Bake until cheese is browned in spots, 6 to 8 minutes.

Pancetta Cheeseburgers

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Serves 4

4 thin slices pancetta
1 1/4 pounds ground chuck
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Freshly ground pepper
4 ounces fontina cheese, thinly sliced
4 hamburger buns, toasted if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pancetta on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, flipping the slices halfway through, until crisp, about 15 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Meanwhile, using your hands, combine ground chuck, salt, chili powder, and paprika in a bowl, and season with pepper. Shape into 4 patties (about 4 inches in diameter).
Preheat grill to medium. (If you are using a charcoal grill, coals are ready when you can hold your hand 5 inches above grill for just 5 to 6 seconds.) Grill burgers 4 to 5 minutes. Flip burgers, and top with cheese. Grill 3 to 4 minutes more for medium-rare. Remove, and let rest 5 minutes. Top burgers with pancetta, and serve on buns.
Image and recipe source: Martha Stewart Living, June 2007

Spicy Quinoa, Cucumber and Tomato Salad

1 cup quinoa
3 cups water
Salt to taste
2 cups diced cucumber
1 small red onion, finely minced (optional)
2 cups finely diced tomatoes
1 to 2 jalapeño or serrano peppers (to taste), seeded if desired and finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus several sprigs for garnish
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 avocado, sliced, for garnish

1. Place the quinoa in a bowl, and cover with cold water. Let sit for five minutes. Drain through a strainer, and rinse until the water runs clear. Bring the 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add salt (1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon) and the quinoa. Bring back to a boil, and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer 15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and translucent; each grain should have a little thread. Drain off the water in the pan through a strainer, and return the quinoa to the pan. Cover the pan with a clean dishtowel, replace the lid and allow to sit for 10 minutes. If making for the freezer, uncover and allow to cool, then place in plastic bags. Flatten the bags and seal.

2. Meanwhile, place the finely diced cucumber in a colander, and sprinkle with salt. Toss and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Rinse the cucumber with cold water, and drain on paper towels. If using the onion, place in a bowl and cover with cold water. Let sit for five minutes, then drain, rinse with cold water and drain on paper towels.

3. Combine the tomatoes, chiles, cilantro, vinegar, lime juice and olive oil in a bowl. Add the cucumber and onion, season to taste with salt, and add the quinoa and cilantro. Toss together, and taste and adjust seasonings. Serve garnished with sliced avocado and cilantro sprigs.
Image source: Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times. Recipe source: Martha Rose Shulman

Walking Tacos

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
6-8 little sweet peppers or 1 green and 1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 lb lean ground beef
Pinch of kosher salt and black pepper
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 Cup Herdez Salsa or your favorite salsa
1 small can tomato paste
1 Cup warm water
3 cans of beans, drained (I used black, pinto and red kidney)
1 can black olives sliced
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon hot sauce, Tabasco
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
Pinch of Kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper and Lawry’s Garlic Salt with Parsley (to taste)
1/2 Cup fresh chopped cilantro
Bags of Fritos
Shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream
Jalapenos, or green onions

1. Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Saute onion and peppers for 5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add ground beef, salt and pepper. Cook until browned. Drain if needed. I usually don’t need to for the lean beef. Pour in tomatoes, salsa, tomato paste then stir to combine. Add 1 Cup warm water to thin out slightly then add in beans, olives, chili powder, cumin, hot sauce, lime juice, salt, pepper and garlic salt. I start with just a pinch of salt then keep tasting until it’s to my liking. Add chopped cilantro and reduce heat to low to simmer until ready to serve.

2. Open bags of fritos. Spoon in chili, cheese, sour cream and jalapenos. Stick a fork in it and eat!!

Chorizo Mac and Cheese

Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 50 minutes
Serves 4

2 cups elbow macaroni
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon corn starch
4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (about 1 cup)
4 ounces shredded pepper jack cheese (about 1 cup)
6 ounces Mexican chorizo
1/2 cup minced red onion
2 Tbsp flour
2 teaspoons lime juice
2 Tbsp breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp butter

1 Mix the corn starch with the 2 cheeses in a bowl and set aside. The corn starch will help prevent the cheese sauce from getting too stringy.

2 Put the milk into a small saucepan and heat until steamy. Keep warm while you are preparing the recipe, do not let boil.

3 Put 2 quarts of water, salted with 1 Tbsp salt, into a large pot and heat to a boil. Once the water is at a full boil, add the macaroni to the pot. Return to a boil, and cook, uncovered, for about 2 minutes less than the macaroni package specifies, so that it is al dente, cooked, but still firm to the bite.

4 While the water is heating and the macaroni cooking, prepare the chorizo cheese sauce. Remove chorizo from its casing and put into a medium thick-bottomed saucepan on medium high heat. When the chorizo begins to sizzle, reduce the heat to medium. Cook the chorizo, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add the minced red onion and cook the mixture until the onions soften, about 3-4 minutes.

5 When the macaroni is cooked, but still a bit firm, drain it and set aside. Preheat oven to 375°.

6 Add the flour to the pot with the chorizo and mix well. Everything will clump up. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pot, for 2 minutes. Add the hot milk a tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly. When all the milk has been added, heat the mixture to a gentle simmer and cook for 2 minutes.

7 Mix the grated cheese into the chorizo milk sauce. Mix in the cooked macaroni into the chorizo cheese sauce. Stir in the lime juice. Pour the macaroni and cheese into a small casserole dish. Make sure the top is level. Dust the top with the breadcrumbs, then dot with the butter. Bake until the breadcrumbs are golden, about 20 to 25 minutes.

If you want, serve with chopped avocados, crema fresca, and chopped fresh cilantro.