Best of 2013

To ring in the New Year, I’m going to count down the top 10 recipes that you, the readers, enjoyed most. Go ahead and take time to check them out. You won’t be disappointed.  Ring in the New Year with a new recipe!

Here we go! The top 10 recipes are:

  1. Cauliflower Pizza
  2. Honey Roasted Chickpeas
  3. Pumpkin Pie
  4. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
  5. Pesto, Shrimp and Tomato Cauliflower Pizza
  6. Pumpkin Pie Spiced Popcorn with White Chocolate Drizzle
  7. Pumpkin Pecan Butter
  8. Rosemary Cornish Hens
  9. Oreo Truffles
  10. Gnocchi

Be sure to check out the above links to find you new year recipes.  My approach to making recipes even healthier will keep your New Year’s resolution in check.  Now, make a new resolution to check out these recipes and more to come. It looks like 2014 is going to be
pretty delicious.

Leave a message with your thoughts about my top ten. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Rosemary Cornish Hen

RosemaryCornishHens

Holiday meals are a great time to experiment on new recipes and enjoy family.  However, some families, like mine, are smaller than others.  Other families, additionally like mine, can have dietary restrictions: vegetarians, paleo, gluten intolerance or veganism.  Cornish hens are a great treat for meat eaters without having a mound of uneaten leftovers.  The hens come in packages of two with one hen per serving (about four+ ounces).  The rosemary Cornish hens divulged here add an extra holiday flavor.

A Cornish game hen–sometimes called a Cornish hen, poussin, Rock Cornish hen or simply Rock Cornish–is a hybrid chicken sold whole. Despite the name, it is not a game bird but a type of domestic chicken. Though the bird is called a “hen”, it can be either male or female. The Rock Cornish game hen or Rock Cornish hen is a cross between the Cornish Game and Plymouth chicken breeds. This breed develops a large breast over a short period of time compared to game hens. In addition to commanding a higher price, the game hens have a shorter growing span of 28 to 30 days as opposed to 42 or more for regular chicken.  Rock Cornish game hens weigh about 2.5 pounds after four to six weeks, at which time they’re slaughtered.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I made six Cornish hens; so, it took about two hours to bake fully.
  2. Stuff the butt with a garlic clove, shallot, spring of thyme and rosemary.
  3. Before rubbing butter on the hens, salt and pepper them.
  4. Continually baste the hens with butter every 20 minutes.
  5. Basting is a cooking technique that involves cooking meat with either its own juices or some type of preparation such as a sauce or marinade. The meat is left to cook then periodically coated with the juice.
  6. Elevate the Cornish hens when cooking.  If left to sit in the juices, the hens’ skin will become soggy, and they will take longer to cook.
  7. When the hens are cooked, pierce the breast or meatiest part.  It should run clear.  They should also be at a temperature range of 160-180 for ultimate juiciness.

I enjoy Cornish hens because they present just the right amount of meat without hours of time.  Unlike turkeys and large hams, they cook in roughly one to two hours.  The hens can still be stuffed with Mom’s stuffing recipe or other herbs to bring out various flavors.  Whether cooking for a late Thanksgiving or planning for Christmas, have this recipe on hand to cater to all of our small family meals.

Leave a comment with your favorite holiday meat recipes.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Jambalaya

We’re throwing a little healthy Louisiana your way this week with a Jambalaya from Jillian Michaels.  Jambalaya originated in the Caribbean Islands.  The Spanish culture mixed with the native foods created what is known as Jambalaya closely related to the saffron colored paella cousin found in Spanish cuisine.  Jambalaya is traditionally made in three parts, with meats and vegetables, and is completed by adding stock and rice.  The most common is Creole jambalaya (also called “red jambalaya”).  First, meat is added to the trinity of celery, peppers, and onions; the meat is usually chicken and sausage such as Andouille or smoked sausage.  Next, vegetables and tomatoes are added to cook, followed by seafood.  Rice and stock are added in equal proportions at the very end.  The mixture is brought to a boil and left to simmer for 20 to 60 minutes (with infrequent stirring) to develop flavor.  Some versions call for the jambalaya to be baked after cooking all the ingredients.

jambalaya

The recipe today is inspired by Jillian Michael’s recipe in her book, Making the Cut.  It calls for 1½ cup peppers (mixed colors), 7 oz turkey kielbasa, 1 chicken breast, onions, pepper, red chili flakes, ½ tsp ground thyme, 32 oz chicken stock, 17 oz canned diced tomatoes with juice, shrimp, 1½ cup long grain rice, hot sauce, 1 tbsp olive oil, and 1 cup water.

In a Dutch oven add olive oil, chicken, peppers, onion, and turkey kielbasa to cook for about 5 minutes.  Next, add your rice, stirring constantly for about 1 minute before adding seasonings and liquids.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Cover and let it sit for 15 minutes, stirring infrequently.  Spoon into a dish with a dash of hot sauce and enjoy!

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Dice the peppers and onion finely so that they cook through with the time limit.
  2. Use a variety of colored peppers to add brightness to the dish.  Each pepper has a different taste, so mix it up.
  3. Dice the chicken breasts to allow even cooking.  Slice the turkey kielbasa into coin sized bites.
  4. You can use long grain rice, brown rice, or minute rice just make sure to use the amount listed or reduce the liquid amount.
  5. I left the shrimp out and cooked them separately so that the dish could be stored longer in the refrigerator or freezer.
  6. Adding the hot sauce individually allows for each person to individualize the meal and spice profiles.
  7. Let the ingredients sit for the full 15 minutes.  The process allows for the rice to absorb the liquid, flavors to develop, and the liquid to reduce down.
  8. You can add celery to the dish for an added crunch without adding tons of calories.

The dish is flavorful, healthy, and a great way to enjoy jambalaya on a cold, winter day.  Who knew that Louisiana cooking could be made healthier?!  Try out the recipe and make your personalized touches.  Bring some southern cooking into your home in this healthy dish.

Leave a comment with your flavor ideas.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes to try.  Check back again next Wednesday for more recipes from The Cooking Bug.

Cheesy Chicken Stuffed Eggplant

cheeseychickeneggplant

Olive Garden and Italians alike have made eggplant popular by formulating fried eggplant in layers of cheese and marinara sauce.  The classic vegetarian style dish is used because many times eggplant can be bland and flavorless.  HALT! Kick that idea to the curb because these cheesy chicken stuffed eggplants are anything but.  They combine flavor and health in a whole new way.

I believe that the combination of juicy chicken, delicate cheeses, and roasted garlic help give this dish the blast of flavor that eggplant needs.  Ranging in about 300 calories per serving (1 eggplant boat), the dish is filling and flavorful.

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  1. The garlic is important, don’t mince it because it will be removed later on.  Cut cloves of garlic to stuff inside the eggplant while it roasts.
  2. I precooked the chicken with a season salt mixture and shredded it to cool while the eggplant was cooking.
  3. Use a squirt bottle to mist your eggplant with olive oil to cut calories and fat.  You don’t want to make it soggy and overpower it with olive oil.  You can also brush it lightly instead of using a squirt bottle.
  4. After the eggplant as roasted, remove the garlic.  You don’t want to chomp down on a huge clove of garlic or you’ll definitely keep the vampires and everyone else away.
  5. We used Gruyere cheese over cheddar.  Cheddar I believe will be too cheeseychickeneggplant2overpowering and my family doesn’t really care for cheddar.
  6. We shredded 2 oz of cheese to spread it more evenly rather than using slices.  This process helps in allowing the cheese to melt quicker as well.
  7. If you’re like me and not a huge fan of tomatoes, roast them before hand quickly in a sauté pan to remove some of the juices and give them a crunchier texture.
  8. Green onions are good vegetables for you, so go ahead and pile them on.  In this dish they add a freshness that basil does for many others.

A fair warning to note is that the scrumptious meal here might send you into a food coma.  Keep in mind that eggplant is a starch vegetable.  While good for you it should be eaten in moderation.  One boat will be filling enough for anyone and keep you focused on the rest of the day.  The combination of cheese, chicken, and other ingredients bring a taste of Italy home to a healthier you.

Be sure to leave a comment below with your thoughts.  Follow my Pinterest and check back again next Wednesday for more tips from The Cooking Bug.

Honey-Lime Grilled Chicken

Are you tired of the same old chicken?  Eating it day in and day out can be gruesome.  There are only some many ways to make it, right? WRONG!  This honey-lime grilled chicken gives a new meaning to chicken.  So long to those bland flavors, and hello to the new, healthy chicken.

Chicken is a great source of protein that I eat often.  I’ve gotten bored of the same methods of oven-roasted chicken.  There are only so many sauces to cover it up.  The marinade here gives the chicken a quite different flavor profile that masks the chicken well.  Keep in mind that since it is marinated that it will need time to sit in the refrigerator before cooking to enhance all
the flavors.

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind.

  1. You can use fresh limes and juice them, but you would be going through quite a bit of limes.  We used the bottled lime juice about one bottle should do.
  2.  The thyme and rosemary can be added in by the stems so that they can easily be picked out.  You wouldn’t want to chop on one of them because they are hard
    and strong.
  3. You can chop the amount of oil in half for a healthier amount and just spray top of the grill with cooking oil.
  4. Make sure they have a nice charcoal on them to add crispiness to the chicken.

Dig in and enjoy another chicken with extreme flavor.  This recipe won’t leave you hanging on the same bland chicken.  It has an interesting flavor that makes it unusual but delicious.  Pair it with some grilled sweet corn and roasted carrots for a delicious and healthy dish that will satisfy your rumbling tummy.

Leave a comment below and follow my Pinterest for other chicken recipes.  Check back next Wednesday for another flavor profile from The Cooking Bug.