Tarragon Chicken Salad

Published April 9, 2014 by jenmatteson

“I’m not dead, yet!”

Monty Python, anyone?

Wondering where I’ve been?  If I’ve quit blogging?  Found another love besides cooking?  Dead?  Well, you’d be wrong.  Big news on the Pigzilla family front!  No…it’s not a tiny Pigzilla.  After being unemployed for almost 8 months, I have finally found a new position.  And I love it…so far anyway.  I don’t anticipate not liking it, but I’ve only been there for two weeks, so it’s hard to say.  That being said, I have not had a lot of time for my second love, this blog.  As you know, I’m in the midst of planning a baby shower for my girlfriend, as well as another dinner party for a small group.  In addition to feeding my husband and all the things that go along with being an adult, I’ve been basically vegging out after I get home and dinner is made.  I have to get back into the grove of writing…

I love chicken salad.  But this is one thing that I’m particularly picky about.  I don’t like fruit or nuts in my chicken salad, though I do enjoy a crunch, which is where the celery comes in.  Certainly, if you enjoy fruit or nuts in your chicken salad, feel free to add at your own discretion, but purely against my strong recommendation not to.

Tarragon Chicken Salad

This is another recipe I tried for the aforementioned baby shower – I’m sorry, you’ve heard so much about this in the last few weeks.  The pairing of tarragon and chicken salad were of my own genius, but I wanted to find a great basic recipe for the chicken salad itself.  This recipe comes from Note to Self, and claims to be the absolute best chicken salad, ever.  So I had to try it.  I just subbed the tarragon for the dill.  I really enjoyed it!  I think this salad goes well on a buttery croissant because of deep tarragon flavor, but it’s just as good on wheat, white, pita or even on a salad.  This is certainly not your ordinary chicken salad, and I love that!

Tarragon Chicken Salad

Tarragon Chicken Salad

Source: Adapted from Note to Self
Servings:

Ingredients:

3 cups chilled shredded chicken (I used two poached breasts)
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp. fresh tarragon, minced
salt and fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.  Add additional mayonnaise to desired consistency and adjust seasonings to taste.   Refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

Meatless Monday: Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa

Published March 31, 2014 by jenmatteson

It probably seems like we’ve been eating entirely vegetarian lately, but it just so happens, I’ve just had a lot of Meatless Monday’s in a row!  I’ve kept myself busy trying out some veggie sandwiches for my girlfriend’s baby shower, which I still have one more to share, and have just happened across some other unignorably delicious meatless recipes.

Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa

This quinoa salad does have butter, and while I think it would certainly taste good with oil in place of butter, I’m not sure you’d be able to achieve the depth and slight sweetness of brown butter with oil.  The sage and brown butter are absolutely amazing.  While this salad can be served chilled or room temperature, I think serving it warm brings out the best flavors!  I liked this so much, you could serve this as a lunch or a side to any meal.  We had dinner with Nate’s parents; Momma Marsha made mussels, so I brought this as a side.  It went perfectly!

 DSC02961

Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 shallot, finely diced
4 cups water
Kosher salt
2 tbsp. butter
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2  butternut squash, diced
2 tbsp. sage, chopped

Directions:

1. In a medium pot over high heat, bring the quinoa, shallot, water, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the quinoa has fully absorbed the water, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 400º. Toss the squash with one tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 25 to 35 minutes, or until slightly browned and tender, turning halfway through.

3. Meanwhile, place butter in medium sauté pan and melt over moderately high heat, swirling the pan continuously until the butter begins to foam and just begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the sage, swirling for another 30 seconds.

4. In a serving bowl, toss the quinoa with the butternut squash, and sage brown butter, and serve.

Meatless Monday: Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Published March 24, 2014 by jenmatteson

It’s fairly well-known that I am an extremely organized person, but I just wanted to share a quick peek at what my kitchen looks like when I have several projects going on at once.

My kitchen while working

To me, it all makes sense.  But if someone walked in and saw this, I’m sure they’d think I lost my mind.

Seemingly kitchen in disaray

If you can believe it, this is actually fairly organized and clean for me making more than two things at once.  I think I was making muffins, two types of bread, cookies and soup.

We’ve been on an insane soup and salad kick lately, and this was our most recent.  Seeing as though it is still winter, feeling like deep in the winter, though spring is supposedly on the way, soup is the most comforting meals.  An entire bowl or a cup paired with a salad or sandwich is pretty much what we’ve been eating for the last few weeks.  Sad, I know, but it’s soooooo good (plus quick and easy)!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

The cauliflower has a slightly sweet taste from roasting, but the curry brings it all together and rounds out the flavor.  The original recipe calls for whole milk, but it was so creamy on its own, I didn’t even add any.  This is a unsuspectingly hearty soup at a very low price!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

1 head of cauliflower, halved, cored and cut into 1 1/2-inch florets
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 cup olive oil
kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper
1 small onion, finely diced
3 tbsp. butter
1 bay leaf
4 cups water

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  On a foil-lined baking sheet, toss cauliflower with cumin seeds, curry powder and  3 tablespoons of the oil.  Season generously with salt and pepper and roast for 25 minutes, turning occasionally, until cauliflower is just tender.

2. In a large saucepan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over moderate heat and sauté onions until softened, but not browned, about 5 minutes.  Add roasted cauliflower, butter bay leaf and water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer until liquid is reduced and the cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes.  Remove and discard bay leaf.

3. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth.  Using a blender would work here as well if you don’t have an immersion blender.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Published March 19, 2014 by jenmatteson

A few days ago, I got a wax and facial from my girlfriend who is an esthetician.  It was awesome.  Even better, we drank wine, before, during (mostly me during) and after.  She offered me some snacks after, one being a lemon poppy seed scone.  I’m not typically a pastry person – and it’s definitely not because I don’t like them, but because they are sooo sooo not very good for you.  I like to use up my calories in wine :P  Anyway, I did have one, and it made me really want to make them.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Clearly, you can see I didn’t make scones, rather muffins.  I thought this would be a slightly healthier option, with a little less butter.   I also substituted apple sauce and extra baking powder for eggs. But, you really can’t hide that full stick of butter in the batter.  Oh well, we must indulge every now and then.  I think I’ll try out the lemon poppy seed scones next time.  My pumpkin scones turned out so well, it’d be too hard not too.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

The lemon zest and juice keep these light and fluffy muffins tasting bright and fresh.  Nate has taken one to work most days for breakfast; I think they are perfect for on the go, snacks or breakfasts!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Source: Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
Servings: Makes 12 large muffins

Ingredients:

2/3 cup sugar
grated zest of one lemon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
juice of one lemon
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (sour cream will work here)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tbsp. poppy seeds

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray muffin tin with oil or place paper muffin cups in molds.

2. In a large bowl, rub sugar and lemon zest together with fingertips until fragrant and sugar is moist.  Whisk in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In another large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, Greek yogurt, eggs, vanilla and butter until well blended.

3. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and gently stir to blend, careful not to over-mix.  Fold in poppy seeds.  Divide batter evenly into muffin tins (I made smaller muffins, not in a mini muffin tin, so they were more reasonably portioned, so it ended up making 18 medium muffins instead of 12 large). *If you like them just a bit sweeter, sprinkle some coarse sugar over the top of the divided batter.

4. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack before removing from pan.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Try Some Irish Soda Bread

Published March 17, 2014 by jenmatteson

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to make a loaf of Irish soda bread.  I’ve made this once before, but I truly did not like the recipe.  At one of our drink tasting parties, my girlfriend made Irish soda bread (the theme was countries, and her country was Ireland), and I loved the recipe.  We had lunch just the other day and she mentioned she made it again, which reminded me that I wanted the recipe she made before (she didn’t like the one she just made), so I asked for the previous recipe.

Irish Soda Bread

She wasn’t sure it was the same as what she made before, but said she thought it was similar.  It turned out really well!  I loved the caraway seeds paired with the sweetness of the raisins and bit of sugar in the recipe.  I don’t have a springform pan, which is why I think my recipe took just a bit longer to bake than the recipe called for.  There was quite a bit of extra flour once the ingredients were all combined, so next time, I think I’ll add a little at a time until the consistency is perfect.  Served warm with a touch of butter is heaven!

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

Source: Unknown
Servings: Makes one loaf

Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp. caraway seeds
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 baking soda
2 eggs
2 cups sour cream or plain non-fat Greek yogurt
3/4 cup raisins

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, caraway seeds, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  In another bowl, whisk together eggs and sour cream.  Stir into dry ingredients until just moistened.  Fold in raisins.

2. Spoon into a 9-inch springform pan (I didn’t have one, so I just formed the dough into a mound on the center of a foil-lined greased baking sheet).  Bake for 40-45 minutes (If not using a springform pan, it make take closer to an hour), until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan.  Cut into wedges and serve warm.

Meatless Monday: Balsamic Roasted Veggie Wrap

Published February 24, 2014 by jenmatteson

I am getting really tired of this winter.  All these veggie sandwiches makes me excited to start planting my garden and having fresh produce at my fingertips daily!  But alas, it’s still awful cold out :(  To try to get into the spring state of mind, I wanted to try another veggie option for my friend’s baby shower, and this time, it’s a roasted wrap!  This takes a bit longer than the hummus supreme sandwich, as you have to first salt the eggplant and let the excess water drain, then wait for the vegetables to roast :(  But don’t worry, the wait is worth it.

Balsamic Roasted Vegetable Wrap

The veggies are soft and sweet and the arugula adds a little crunch and extra freshness.  I would make a large batch of the roasted veggies so you can have this wrap every day for lunch, ready to go.  Cold or warm, it’s delicious.  You could use lavish, pita or tortilla wrap, like I did.

Balsamic Roasted Vegetable Wrap

Roasted Vegetable Wrap

Source: Inspired by Vegan Soul Power
Servings: Makes about 4 wraps

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant (or 2 small), peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
kosher salt
2 zucchini, cut into 1/2″ dice
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 pint button mushrooms, rough chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (I used blood orange balsamic, but use what you like/have)
fresh cracked pepper
16-20 basil leaves
1 cup arugula
4 tortilla wraps

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Place diced eggplant in colander and sprinkle generously with salt.  Toss to coat evenly.  Set over bowl or sink and let sit for 10-15 minutes.  Excess water will begin to drain from eggplant.

2. To a large bowl, add eggplant, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms.  Drizzle with olive oil and half the vinegar.  Add salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly.  Transfer vegetables to prepared baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes.  Halfway through, flip vegetables.  With 5 minutes remaining, drizzle additional vinegar over vegetables.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.

3. Divide basil and arugula among tortilla wraps, and top with roasted vegetables.  Wrap as desired and enjoy!

Meatless Monday: Supreme Hummus Sandwich

Published February 17, 2014 by jenmatteson

Do you ever get sick of your same old boring lunch?  Maybe not.  But maybe you want to try something new, possibly a little healthier or fresher than that café in your building that serves pre-wrapped sandwiches.  Do you even know when those sandwiches were made?

Supreme Hummus Sandwich

I wanted to try out a few vegan sandwich recipes to serve at my girlfriend’s baby shower in a few months.  Yes, I’m already planning!  One of the best things about this sandwich is that there is absolutely no cooking.  Use store-bought hummus if you like to make this even quicker  (I made a classic creamy hummus, though a roasted red pepper hummus would be fantastic!).  I also used a store-bought 8-grain bread, but this would be even better with a thick cut gourmet bread.  Don’t forget to lightly salt your veggies before assembling your sandwich; you wouldn’t believe how much of a difference it makes.

Supreme Hummus Sandwich

The original recipe calls for pomegranate molasses, but my grocer didn’t carry it, and I didn’t want to make a special trip to find it.  I just went with regular molasses, and I thought this sandwich was absolute heaven!  Even Nate liked it, so don’t be afraid to feed it to your meat loving kids or hubbies!  The thinly cut crisp veggies paired with the smooth savory hummus is awesome.  The drizzle of molasses really brings it all together and knocks it out of the park.  I know it sounds a little weird, but trust me – it adds SO MUCH with just a tiny drizzle.

Supreme Hummus Sandwich

Supreme Hummus Sandwich

Source: Inspired by Vegan Soul Power
Servings: Makes 1 sandwich

Ingredients:

2 slices hearty wheat or grain bread
4 tbsp. hummus
4 thin slices cucumber
4 thin slices tomato
thin sliced red onion
1/4 tsp molasses

Directions:

1. Lightly toast bread (this is optional, but I like a little crisp and warmth in my bread).  Spread each slice with hummus.  Layer one slice of bread with arugula, cucumber, tomato and red onion.  Drizzle lightly with molasses and top with second prepared slice of bread.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 325 other followers

%d bloggers like this: