Sunday, February 12, 2012

When life hands you crushed pita chips

Last Sunday was Super Bowl Sunday.

Honestly, I can't get excited about a football game. Any football game. I don't even understand football. But, that's not the point. If your team isn't playing, it's all about the ads and the half-time entertainment, right?

Well, last Sunday was that kind of Super Bowl for us. We were just here for the food. And food we did! One of the things we shared with our friends was a Greek Spinach Dip. The good news is that the dip was wonderful. The bad news is that there were a few last-minute cancellations and no-shows, so we had a lot of dip left over, and the pita chips I had purchased were.................well, they were broken. Crushed. (Maybe that's why they were on the discount rack).

Yesterday I was determined to use up the leftover dip and the broken chips (waste not, want not). The dip is mostly Greek yogurt, spinach and feta cheese--sounds like the perfect stuffing for a boneless skinless chicken breast if you ask me. And the pita chips--I just crushed them a bit more in the food processor and made crumbs for coating those chicken breasts.


Greek Stuffed Chicken Breasts (for 2*)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 heaping tablespoons Greek Spinach Dip (see link above)
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup crushed pita chips
2 tsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a flat surface, with the longest side facing you. With a sharp knife carefully cut horizontally into the chicken breast creating a “pocket.” Cut deeply into but not completely through the breast, so it holds together.

Place the spinach dip into the pocket. (I used quite a bit of dip--in fact, I used so much the pocket was bulging open. That's not a problem).

Place the beaten egg in a shallow bowl and carefully dip the chicken breast into the egg, turning to coat both sides. Carefully roll the chicken breast in the pita crumb mixture, pressing gently to help the crumbs adhere to the chicken.

Heat a large oven-safe saute pan over medium heat. Add the oil to the pan, swirling to coat. Gently place the crumb-crusted chicken breasts into the pan. Cook about 3 minutes on each side or until the crumbs are beginning to brown.

Place the saute pan and chicken in preheated oven and bake about 10 minutes or until breasts are done.

* amounts can be doubled




Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Brownie Heaven


Believe it or not, this is what a cacao plant
looks like. The pods contain the cocoa
beans from which we derive chocolate.
I did a Google search on "chocolate" and got 66,700,000 hits. That's a lot of interest in a mere bean.

...I'm joking of course. Referring to chocolate as a mere bean is like calling Handel's Messiah a nice little song, or Water Lilies by Monet a pretty painting. I have had a love affair with chocolate for as long as I can remember (although some days that's not saying much). But even as a child I didn't care much for Hershey bars. My tastes leaned more toward the dark chocolate of Sno-Caps or nonpareil wafers.

On Super Bowl Sunday we had two dear friends from church over to watch the game. Mary is an unabashed carb lover just like me. We can rhapsodize at length about bread and pasta, but for both of us it's chocolate that really brings a sigh from our chest and a smile to our lips.

Yes, I made chocolate brownies but I must insert a word or two of warning. If you like light cakey brownies, this is not your recipe. If you prefer a sweet chocolate treat, this will not be to your liking. However, if you like the taste of really dark chocolate and a brownie the consistency of fudge--THIS is your recipe.

Dark Chocolate Salted Brownies
12 ounces (1 1/2 cubes) unsalted butter
2 ounces (2 squares) unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a 9-inch square pan with foil--the ends of the foil should extend over two sides of the pan to use as "handles" to help remove the brownies from the pan once they are baked and cooled. Lightly butter the foil, or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Add the cocoa powder and sugar and then whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly blended. Stir in the vanilla and flour.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the edges are set. The center will still be soft. While the brownies are still not, sprinkle the salt on the top and press gently so that it adheres to the top of the brownies. Let cool to room temperature, remove from the pan, and cut into squares.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Greek Spinach Dip

Photo: James Baigrie; Randy Mon
(Sunset Magazine)
























I've not much time to write today--it's Super Bowl Sunday. I don't know who's playing, but I don't want to miss any of the ads.


Here's an unusual (but tasty) dip I made for our visiting friends. It comes from the website www.myrecipes.com:


Greek Spinach Dip

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped shallots
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 12 ounces spinach leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup finely crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

1. Heat oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add shallots, onions, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add spinach and cook, stirring often, until wilted, about 2 minutes.

2. Using a slotted spoon, scoop spinach into a food processor; pulse until roughly puréed, about 5 pulses. Add remaining ingredients except pepper, pulse once just to combine, then season to taste with pepper.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Birthday Cake


Today is my birthday. I won't say how many years, but suffice it to say I was alive during the Eisenhower administration.

OK, so today is also National Carrot Cake Day. ......That would not have been my first choice for a birthday cake, but I do have a recipe for carrot cake that I would like to share with you.






Carb Diva Carrot Cake
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup applesauce
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 8-oz can crushed pineapple, drained


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9x13-inch cake pan.

Sift together the first 6 ingredients(flour through nutmeg) and set aside. Place the sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Mix together with a spoon. Add the dry mixture, and then stir in the carrots, coconut, walnuts and pineapple.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for about 45 minutes. Cool and frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting.