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Here we are- recipes 7 & 8!  This makes up for my miss/fail in May and April, right?  No pictures in this write up either, as both the blogs I got these recipes from have way better photos then I could have taken, and I was too busy cooking up a storm to pick up my camera!  These recipes served as a great Birthday Dinner with family and friends on a Saturday night.  Sure I spent a good portion in the kitchen with the Tikka Masala, but sitting down at the table to hear their sounds of enjoyment made it worth it.

First the easy one- Cheese Straws.  I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and knew I had to make it while I was home with time on my hands and people who were happy to eat what I was making.

Wow this recipe was easy.  Grate some cheese, cut up some butter, throw it in a food processor and you’re in action.  The hardest part was cutting up the straws.  I used a knife at first, but wasn’t pleased with the results- so I pulled out my Mom’s pastry cutter, or maybe it was a ravioli cutter, and the process was much much easier.  As she explains these will/can break- don’t let it discourage you- people like mini ones too because then it doesn’t feel like what they’re eating is so bad.  They took a little longer in the oven than stated in the recipe- so be ready for that.  I doubled the recipe and a good thing too, because as a Jew you don’t have enough unless there are leftovers- and there were a few left.  Phew.

These were a huge hit.  Like, seriously huge.  People couldn’t believe that I had made them, and that I was cooking dinner too.  But they are that easy!  Finish reading this post and go make some.

On to the main course.  This recipe is easy, really it is, but it does take some prep.  Again, I doubled (kind of) the recipe (I didn’t double the rice, that’s a lot of rice Pastor Ryan!)  First, here’s the link on Pioneer Woman’s site.

The chicken was a piece of cake- coat it in yogurt and stick it under a broiler- beautiful.  I had never used his method of the cooling rack on a pan- but it worked brilliantly.  I wasn’t afraid of the chicken being undercooked since I’d be tossing it in a hot sauce later, so don’t be a wuss and overcook it- dry chicken is no good!  It will sit for a few minutes anyway, and cook during that time.

Now the hard part.  Get your cutting board and knife ready.  I chopped the onion, I garlic pressed the garlic (leaving the skin on, who knew, this has changed my cooking life), I chopped some cilantro, I chopped some hot pepper, I chopped some ginger and I waited to put it all together.  I used two pans since I didn’t have one big enough to accomodate double this saucy recipe- that made things a little harder since I was guessing on splitting the ingredients between the two (they weren’t evenly split).  Luckily my Mom had some old Indian spices, including Tumeric for the rice, so I didn’t have to search NH for any, or make my own.  Because of their age, I wasn’t as exact in the measurements.

Overall- this is a lot of prep, to stir and let sit a deliciously smelling sauce.  Seriously, your whole house will smell great and people will ooh and ahh over it.

And then it was done, and it was darker than Pastor Ryan’s, so I was a little worried.  People loved it, I mean LOVED it.  They kept going on and on about it.  I didn’t love it.  I think over spicing this to make up for the age of the spice mixture meant a lot more cumin than I like (I don’t like any).  I kind of thought people were just being nice with their praise- but they seem to love Cumin, thank God.  I will make this again, it was delicious besides the Cumin and the rice was great too (and easy even if you don’t have a rice cooker).  I will use less of the spices next time.  I was kind of disappointed that my color was so much darker, but it also meant this didn’t taste overly creamy or oily like some Tikka Masala from a restaurant can.

So, give it a whirl if you’re feeling adventurous.  It is a crowd pleaser, and pretty easy to make for a large dinner party.

After my success with roasted red peppers earlier in the week, I was excited to have them again.  My Mom mentioned having made this recipe over the weekend and how delicious it was, so she sent it over.

YUM.  It is a lovely, easy, great tasting meal that is healthy too!  Basically, Peppers, Onions, Chicken and Tomatoes.  Can’t go wrong, right?

Matt roasted the red peppers and did a great job.

The real secret is letting this sit and stew for a while so the vegetables get nice and stewed and the chicken stays moist while soaking up all the flavors.

Here’s the recipe:

Delizie di Pollo con Peporoni (Chicken Morsels with Peppers)

Serves 4

4 large yellow bell peppers

1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts cut in to bite-sized pieces

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/3 cup olive oil

1 onion chopped (optional)

2 tablespoons finely minced garlic

2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into strips, juices reserved.

Roast the peppers- there are a lot of ways to do this.  So far I’ve just been putting them on a pan in the oven for 20-30 minutes cut up.  I want to try whole next.

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.  Warm the olive oil in a large saute pan over high heat.  Add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onion, if using (I used it it really helps make the dish I think), the garlic, the bell peppers and the tomato strips and their juices.  Simmer until the chicken in tender, 20-25 minutes.

The tomatoes I had weren’t great, so I can’t wait to try this again with really ripe and fresh tomatoes.

Kate brought some Trader Joe’s polenta to go with it, we sliced it and threw it in the oven for a few minutes- it was perfect!

This will definitely be a recipe I’ll make again.

Morsels

I was exctied to try this recipe because it meant roasting my own red peppers.  When the cousin I was making dinner for told me it was something he loved to do, I knew it was the right recipe for the evening.

The peppers themselves were so easy!  You slice them open and cut out the seeds and ribs and then lay them flat skin side up on a pan.  Drizzle on some olive oil and put them in the oven on 350 for about 35-40 minutes.  When you take them throw them in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap for 20 minutes.  The skins will slide off and you have roasted red peppers!

The salsa was a little fussy with lots of ingridents.  I chopped and organized the ingredients as the peppers roasted.

I was a little hesitant about the golden raisins, the orange and the cinnamon spice mixture I’d be rubbing the chicken with as I don’t like sweet tastes in my entrees or salad dressings.

However- it was delicious.  I forgot to salt the chicken and the salsa, and I didn’t even notice- which is saying a lot for a saltaholic.  The olives really helped add the zestiness the dish needed to steer clear of sweet.

I used our griddle pan to grill the chicken, it worked perfectly and I will definitely be using it again. My biggest pet peeve with it so far was cleaning it, and this time I had a huge sink of hot soapy water to help.

I paired it with a box of garlic couscous and arugula salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

For this dinner we pulled out our “table” and I set it.  I put a TV table next to it with the items so we could easily serve ourselves.  It was great to have a set table and to sit at it with guests and enjoy a delicious meal.

I’ve been really enjoying having citrus infused water with our meals, it is lovely to use the pitcher we got and since most recipes I’ve been making call for citrus I just buy an extra and throw the slices in the water.  Refreshing!

This one is worth typing in and I’ll definitely be making it again.

3/4 Cup coarsley chopped roasted red bell peppers

1/4 cup chopped pitted green olives (I pitted these myself, a little annoying but worth it for the freshness- just press the side of your knife onto the olive and it will split and you peel)

1/4 cup golden raisins

3 tbspn chopped red onion

3 tbspn chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

juice of 1 orange

Kosher salt (I didn’t use this)

2 boneless chicken breast halves

2 tbspns olive oil

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine the bell peppers, olives, golden raisins, red onion, cilantro, orange zest, and orange juice in a small bowl.  Season with kosher salt to taste (Again, I didn’t use the salt, you’ll think the salsa is too wet, but it isn’t and it will get wetter!)

Prepare your grill (or gridle as I used)

They have you tenderize the chicken, I should have tenderized it more, give it some good whacks.

Heat the olive oil in small heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add the cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add half of the spice mixture to the bell pepper mixture.  Brush the remaining spice mixture on the chicken and season with kosher salt to taste (again, didn’t use it, don’t think you need it).

Grill the chicken.  Spoon the salsa over the chicken and serve.

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