Apple Scones on Halloween

When I grow up, I want to live in a town small enough that I can bake my own Halloween goodies for trick or treaters, and not be looked at like a monster trying to poison our darling youths with anthrax-infused candy apples. Don't get me wrong, I love candy as much as the next American, but I love baking even more, and having an excuse to dole out said baked goods. Plus, it's just so much more festive, creative, and interesting to give out a homemade confection. But alas, trust in this world is all but obsolete. Even I have been trained to fall into this trap of cynicism. I remember just after 9/11, going trick or treating to this one house where a woman opened the door with an apron on, offering us (if memory serves me correctly, which it has been known to not do) candy apples or regular candy. My entire group gossiped about how she was so clearly cooking up some poison to inject our candy with. What darling children we were, right? Poor woman - all she did was offer us a nice, homemade treat, and even at 11 or 12 years old, all we could say of her was that she was obviously trying to kill us. Happy Halloween!

Basically, all of that is to say, I am skeptical that my dream of having a white picket fence and a dog and cat and kids and hubby, opening the door on Halloween Night in my own finest apron, letting the smell of cinnamon and apples waft out to the trick-or-treaters, and offering them my best sugary concoction I can muster that year...well, I'm skeptical that this will ever happen. This year, to try to come as close as possible to this lofty dream, I have retreated to my parent's small mountain home for the weekend - and, yes, I baked my little heart out. It's really for a bake sale for my college's student dietetic association, so I guess that's pretty close to handing it out to trick or treaters. Just minus the cute costumes, and plus a little price tag on each scone and muffin we dole out.

I have yet to make the apple muffins (that's on the menu for tonight), but the apple scones are baked, cooled, and individually wrapped. Unfortunately, this means I have no pictures of them (no camera). I will do my best tonight to get a little photo shoot going and edit this post, but if you really want to know how wonderful they look, head on over here to see the ones that the original blogger took.

I really hesitate to call these scones at all. They lack the firmness that a scone should have, and the dough was really more of a batter than anything else. Essentially, they turn to be delectable little apple cake slices, with just a little bit more body. The recipe claims the dough will be wet, so I don't think that I necessarily did anything wrong (except, perhaps, use more than half all purpose flour, which absorbs less liquid than whole wheat, and bake them in a higher altitude than usual). If you find that your dough/batter is as liquidy as I did, you might be better off making these drop scones; but if you find that I have just made a teensy blunder and yours are the picture of perfection, go right ahead and make them as the recipe states. Either way, you'll wind up with a baked good that tastes delicious and a house that smells like fall. Not too shabby, eh?

Apple Scone Cakes, courtesy of Acquired Taste
Yield: 16, apparently, but I doubled it and got 24...and probably shouldn't have even stretched it that much.
The Ingredients
2C flour, half whole wheat (mine was more of a 3:1 ratio because...well, it was just more convenient at the time)
¼C sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt (omitted, salted butter)
½C butter, cold and cut into pieces
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 apples, peeled and cut into small pieces (I used about 7 smaller ones when I doubled it)
1 egg
½C milk (I used 1%)
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. brown sugar

The Method
1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, and 3/4 of the cinnamon in a large bowl - though I wouldn't complain much in eating one of these with all of the cinnamon added here, and even more added later on...
2. Add in the butter with your hands, using a pinching motion to create a sandy-textured mixture. This should take around 5 minutes.
3. Add the apple pieces and be sure to incorporate fully.
4. Meanwhile, beat together the egg, milk, and lemon juice. I used a fork and my poor wrist because we lack the finer luxuries of a fancy mixer or even a whisk, but I think it did the trick just fine. Not that I would choose to do it again if I had another tool handy.
5. Pour the liquids into the apple mixture gradually, taking time between additions to mix thoroughly. This is where the recipe assures you that the dough should be very wet. Check.
6. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead 4-5 times. Ha! A video clip of me trying to need this batter would be one of the most ludicrous scenes you've seen in a long time, I can assure you. If you would call your "dough" a "batter," please do us all a favor, and skip this step, as I so foolishly did not.
7. Transfer the dough to a well-oiled (but not excessive) baking sheet or pizza pan - or, again, if you have a batter, just put it straight from the bowl to here. Using your hands or the back of a spoon/spatula, pat the dough into a 1/2" tall round, and cut into 8-16 slices. I found that 8 produced very appropriate scones, but I suppose that 16 would work, too.
8. Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon over the top, as I so carelessly forgot to do and instead rushed halfway through the baking process, and bake for 15-20 minutes (or until the tops are a nice, golden brown). I found that 20 minutes was even a little bit too short, so I took them out, separated them from the circle they made, and baked them even more. And probably could've baked them longer still. Like I said, using the "drop scone" method would have made my life much easier yesterday.

All in all, I can't complain about them. They may not have turned out as a typical scone should, and scone conoisseurs all over would flock to criticize this product. But to any person who just likes apples and cinnamon baked together, this is sure to please. It's light, definitely not dry, and very enjoyable. Hopefully the people at the bake sale tomorrow think so, too!

Happy Halloween!

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Kahlua Ice Cream: it takes coffee ice cream to a whole new level

Now, we've established that I'm no drinker. With that being said, L introduced me to possibly the most heavenly combination on Earth: Kahlua and milk, aka a light weight's white russian. He had me taste it on his birthday, and while this should typically have a little vodka in it for any serious drinker (and by serious, I just mean someone other than me), we didn't have any on hand and I certainly don't mind a weaker drink. It was also during this time that I was brainstorming what my first ice cream recipe would be in my shiny new ice cream maker. And then it came to me: I would make Kahlua ice cream! It was one of those lightbulb moments that left me giddy to get back to my kitchen. But, as a good girlfriend should, I waited patiently for L's next visit before I sat down to give it a shot.

This ice cream has a flavor that will knock your socks off! The kahlua comes through beautifully, and throwing in some chocolate chips was an excellent last minute decision. Next time, I will do a chocolate swirl, as I'm not a big fan of the texture of frozen chocolate chips.

Texture. That was my one complaint. You see, for all of you people out there who haven't been thinking what I'm about to tell you since I first put the words "kahlua" and "ice cream" together, alcohol doesn't freeze. And although Kahlua has a pitiful proof (I believe it's around 6% alcohol), that 6% stayed true to its chemical properties. The ice cream was just not very creamy. It had a little icy bite to it, and melted out of cohesion fairly quickly after removing it from the freezer. I need to try the base that I used on its own to determine how much the alcohol is to blame, because I know that you can make this successfully. Somehow, some way, you can turn Kahlua + milk into the world's most earth shattering ice cream flavor (indisputably, by the way).

Because this first ice cream attempt was an arguable flop (L and I still managed to finish it off fairly quickly, and quite happily, it's just that the texture was a little heavy on the ice, and light on the cream), I considered not blogging about it. However, I'm still so enamored by the idea of this concoction, that I cannot keep my failure to myself. I'm hoping that someone out there will read this and say, "I know what went wrong!" or, "move aside, little girl, and let me show you what a real alcohol-ice-cream-maker can do!" and then I will be blown away, eternally grateful, and in possession of a functional recipe without my having to further experiment - which would take the better part of the remainder of my academic career to accomplish, at this rate.

So, here you go, a vanilla ice cream recipe spiked with some good 'ole Kahlua.
Kahlua Ice Cream, adapted from Baking Bites
Yield: 1.5 quarts
The Ingredients
1 can (14oz.) sweetened, condensed milk
1/2 C sour cream
2 C half-n-half
1 C milk
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/4 C kahlua liqueur
The Method
1. Whisk together the condensed milk and sour cream in a large bowl until smooth.
2. Mix in the half-n-half, milk, extract, and kahlua, continuing to whisk until well blended.
3. Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions.
4. Transfer the mixture when it's finished to a freezer-safe container, and chill for at least another 2 hours to firm up more. I like to freeze mine overnight for the best consistency, but it's certainly edible earlier on - and if you eat it straight from the machine, it's just a soft serve ice cream instead of a scoopable kind.

If all else fails, and someone comes along and shatters my dreams with the news that this combination cannot be done without diminishing the alcohol and, therefore, the robust flavor it gives...after I cry momentarily from disappointment, I will gather myself up again, make a chocolate-and-vanilla swirl ice cream, and simply douse it myself with kahlua before eating. You know, like how some people use hot fudge or caramel.

...So much for my reputation as a non-drinker.

And now, of course, I would like nothing more than a nice bowl of ice cream on this abnormally warm October evening, in my abnormally stuffy third floor apartment, as I wait for my favorite tv show to come on. Since my freezer is shockingly devoid of any frozen desserts, someone out there on the vast internet will have to have a bowl in my honor. And, if you're really bold (and the ice cream flavor in your freezer isn't something like cotton candy or tropical fruit sorbet), you could top with a nice shot of kahlua. For me. And, as always, I promise that you won't regret it.

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Make Your Own Roasted Red Peppers

I don't know about you, but I love roasted red peppers. Really, I love roasted any vegetable. Never mind what cooking anything in a 400+ degree oven for 20 minutes minimum does to all of those good little nutritious parts of the vegetable (certainly it's more innocuous than some good old fashioned frying). Roasting just brings out the flavor of a vegetable more than, I think, any other cooking method.

The only problem is that those jarred roasted red peppers? Those are all well and good - if you've never had a homemade roasted red pepper. Once you try the real thing, those jars of "peppers" are little more than salty, soggy pepper remnants. Real roasted peppers are soft but not soggy, and the flavor comes from more than the brine they're soaked in. Plus, they're as cheap as the cheapest bell pepper you can get your hands on.

I got "directions" for roasting my first peppers from a blog called Closet Cooking. I've only ever made one thing from the blog before (which mysteriously has not made its way on here yet), but I've bookmarked enough recipes to make something new each day all year. He makes the most interesting, exotic, decadent foods out of probably any of the bloggers I follow. He also makes all of his own...well, everything - sauces, spreads, dips, sun dried tomatoes, roasted peppers. Seriously, he's a kitchen diy master, and so it only seemed right to go to his post on roasted peppers for my first attempt. Of course, I ran into some...issues...and so I kind of just wound up winging it. But I'd imagine that anyone with a normal kitchen and a fairly normal head on their shoulders would find much success with this set of instructions.

Roasting Red (or any color) Peppers, courtesy of Closet Cooking
The Method
1. Halve all of the peppers you'd like to roast, and remove the stem, seeds, and membranes.
2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees, on broil.
3. Place the peppers on a baking sheet, cut side down. I did this without greasing or lining the sheet, and I still have faint pepper outlines on my very nice, new sheets. So I would suggest doing something, or using a baking sheet you just don't care about. It's only an issue if you're slightly, shall we say, anal hyphen compulsive, as I am, and like things to look pretty to the utmost degree.
4. Broil the peppers for 7-10 minutes, or until the skins have blackened.
5. Transfer the peppers to a large, zip-lock bag and seal it, allowing the peppers to cool for around 20 minutes, in order to handle them more easily.
6. Remove the skins once they're cool enough to work with; apparently, a pinching motion works well.

My first problem was that, at the time, I didn't have a baking sheet small enough to fit in my broiler (I don't have a "broiler" setting on my lovely oven, just a little compartment below the oven centimeters from the even lovelier floor), so I roast-roasted them, in the oven, on 450 degrees. Which, at the time, was probably more like 475 because I don't think I had yet realized that my oven is 25 degrees higher than what you set it on. This meant that it took much longer than 7-10 minutes, but the good news is that I can officially say to you that you can do this without a broiler. Just be patient with it, and check in on the peppers for the status of their skin blistering.

Also, I don't know if your oven does this, but mine "pops." As in, the entire tray you're using to bake on just....jumps. It knocks my little thermometer off onto the floor of the oven, my tray is suddenly all askew, and it without fail gives me a near heart attack every time I hear it.

My second problem was once they were all done, I picked them up with tongs, had my little zip-lock baggie in my left hand, and placed them in. And then I looked down and realized that my pepper was back on the baking sheet where I picked it up from. Confused, I lifted up my left arm, only to realize that yes, I had brushed the bag against the sheet, and had burned my bag in half. I had melted plastic baggie on my stove top, on the baking sheet...everywhere except in full bag form. So, I nixed the whole "place in bag and rest" thing, and just used my tongs to pull off the skin without cooling.

It still worked.

Also, if you find yourself in a similar melted baggage situation, just let the plastic cool and then it will peel right off of whatever unfortunate baking supply victim you subjected it to. No need to cry over spilled plastic. The peppers are still dee-lish at the end, just make sure you didn't get melted plastic on those. You might not be able to salvage that victim, and I don't know how much your guests, family members, friends, or your own digestive system would appreciate your take on the recipe.

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Chickpea & Roasted Pepper Bulgur Salad

I don't know about you, but vegetarian entrees fascinate me. You could put a plate of wildly exotic chicken in front of me and then a plate with a plain 'ole, homemade veggie burger in front of me, and I'm likely to choose the burger. And that's not because I'm a burger girl - I'm not. I just love the variation that comes with vegetarian meals. There's so much you can do just with beans alone, much less different vegetables and tofu (also sometimes known as unchartered territory for me, as of yet). I know in my brain that meat introduces more versatility to a diet (assuming you don't simultaneously rule out the good veggie options), but when push comes to shove, I am just always more excited by a dish like this one here, Chickpea & Roasted Pepper Bulgur Salad. A mouthful, but it sounds good, right?

Of course right.

This recipe for chickpeas and bulgurs and roasted peppers came from none other than the Smitten Kitchen, and it just may be the first non-dessert I've tried from her (I'm not going back into my 50+ entries to check this), and it was a big success. And by that I mean, I only made it for myself, so its recorded of pleasing its eaters is currently 1 for 1. Regardless, it's an extremely delicious option for a light dinner or lunch. I didn't switch much up, except the recipe calls for red peppers and yellow tomatoes, but yellow tomatoes hide from me at the supermarket, so I chose to do yellow peppers and red tomatoes. Then there was the dried parsley instead of fresh because, well, we've gone over that one before. I also may or may not have used a red onion - I tend to only buy white ones because I mostly cook my onions, and I never know how red ones are supposed to taste not mostly raw. I can't remember. This is why I now take notes on my meals - I do it for you guys. All for you, and only minimally to shield my pride from the embarrassment of never remembering anything about the food I eat by the time I get around to blogging about it. I really do need to catch up to speed here.

So anyway, I know that it's slightly past the season of lighter meals, and probably everyone on earth is posting about soups and stews and casseroles. But you can't eat heavy dishes all the time, right? And every so often you're still just in the mood for a smaller meal, right? So you see, I'm not being completely seasonally inappropriate. Except I'm sure tomatoes are out of season by now, so maybe I am. But regardless of season or appropriateness, this bulgur salad tastes good. It's a little citrusy and super light, yet you walk away satiated. There are varying textures going on, from slightly firm chickpeas to crunchy lettuce and soft bulgur and roasted peppers. Also, it looks pretty with all of the different colors playing off each other, and with crockpot season on our tails, it's not often these days we get to say that a meal both tastes and photographs well.

Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas and (Red) Peppers, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen
Yield: 4 as a main course (I cut it in half for 2 meals)
The Ingredients
1 1/2 C fine-grain bulgur
3 C boiling water
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (I use the bottle, come on now)
1 tsp honey
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt (omitted)
1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
6 oz drained jarred roasted red peppers, diced, about 1 C (I roasted my own - wait until you hear that story!)
1/2 C quartered yellow cherry tomatoes
1 small red onion, finely chopped (to reduce its bite, you can soak it and then squeeze it out with the bulgur for some or all of the absorption time)
1/4 C minced fresh parsley leaves (or an indiscriminate amount of dried, about 2 Tbsp. should do the trick)
1 medium head Bibb lettuce, leaves separated (or any salad greens - I probably used a spring or romaine mix) 4 pita breads, warmed and cut into wedges

The Method
1. Prepare the bulgur by placing it in a large bowl and adding the boiling water to it. Set aside, stirring only occasionally, until the bulgur has softened (15-20 min). For some reason, I'm always nervous to prepare grains this way (okay, I know the reason - it's because the back of the package doesn't tell me that I can, not that that's stopped me haphazardly preparing any other food group), so I just cooked it based on the instructions on the package.
2. No matter how you manage to cook the bulgur, once you get there, drain it well and return it to the bowl.
3. While the bulgur cooks, whisk the lemon juice, honey, cumin, cayenne, and salt (if using) together in a small bowl. Continue whisking as you slowly add the oil until the dressing is smooth, or an otherwise desired consistency.
4. Add the chickpeas, roasted peppers, tomatoes, red onion, and parsley to the bowl of bulgur and mix it up to incorporate it. I also heated mine on the stove top (in the same pot used to prepare the bulgur) for a little bit, because I prefer these kinds of things to be warm. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
5. Assemble plates by lining them with lettuce, top with bulgur, and arrange the pita around it.

Aside from all of the chopping and prep work that goes into this, it's a very feasible meal to do for a weeknight, or the night before to bring in for lunch the next day. It kept well overnight in the fridge, and I don't think I have any complaints.

Now as for those homemade roasted red peppers, that story deserves a whole post of its own...

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Happy Chickens Make Happy...Roast Chickens? (& also Happy Stock)

Chicken, I know! Put the sign of the cross in front of your computer screen and shield your eyes. I promised you I would take a break from all of this darn chicken, and after just one entry I have come back to you, bearing one of the most basic, plainest, boring-est ways to cook a chicken ever (or so you would think). But you see, it's because I had no choice. I'm not coming back to you shamefacedly. I'm coming back to you beaming from ear to ear.

Yesterday, I conquered the chicken.

You see, I'm one of those ignorance-is-bliss type of people when it comes to my meat. It's not like if I were to confront where my food comes from I would vow off meat - I know where it comes from, and I try my best to choose humane companies to buy from. It's really just that holding a hole, beheaded, naked chicken in my hands...kind of creeps me out. I blame it on Ren & Stimpy when I was a kid. There was this episode with a possessed chicken, like a dead and feathered one to eat, not a real one. Things like that can scar a kid.

But I did it. I held that chicken in my hands and I washed it, and peeked inside of it. The gracious folks at Nature's Promise didn't include the yummy pack of giblets that I was all but dreading handling, so it was a few snips of unwanted fat, a little shove of an union up its rear, and into the crock pot it went. Yes, I said crock pot. This is also what I'm so excited about - chicken in a crockpot! It's so easy! It's so genius! You cannot possibly fail at this, and when you're done, you get the best tasting stock ever. Period.

So, yes, I come to you with another chicken recipe, but I do not apologize. You will, in time, come to forgive me. Or maybe you won't, because the fact that I cooked an entire chicken for little ole me means that my freezer is chalk full of leftovers waiting to be used in future dishes. Alas, there may be a lot of chicken in our futures, but I will add something else to mix things up occasionally.

Back to this chicken.

Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot (aka the Easiest Roast Chicken You Will Ever Make), courtesy of (and only slightly modified from) The Happy Housewife
Yield: 1 whole chicken + lots of stock
The Ingredients - The Roast Chicken
1 Chicken (mine weighed 3.7lb)
Nonstick Substance to coat crock pot (I used olive oil because that's all I have)
Your Favorite Spices (I stuck 1/4 onion + 1Tbsp. minced garlic up its rear and then sprinkled the top of it with about 2-3tsp (close to 1Tbsp) rosemary and a few more pinches of garlic)

The Ingredients - The Stock
Chicken Bones
Liquid from roasting chicken
Teensy bit of an acid (most people use vinegar, but I didn't have any so I added a squirt of lemon juice)
The onion from the chicken's rear

The Method
1. Clean out your chicken. Remove any giblets or fat desired. My mom informed me of two little fat pockets by the tail that can be easily snipped off. I didn't really do anything aside from that.
2. Place anything inside of the chicken that you desire. Note that this should be edible and be able to withstand 7 hours of cooking time.
3. Place the chicken in the greased up crock pot, and add any other seasonings you so choose. Because I removed the skin in the end, I would have been better off stuffing my herbs under the skin, but c'est la vie. I also should have added fresh ground black pepper - I don't know why I didn't think of that.
4. Turn your crock pot on low and go have fun for 7 hours. Return to a house that smells like Boston Market, as The Happy Housewife so perfectly put it.
5. When the chicken is done, transfer it (somehow) to a cutting board to rest and cool for handling. I don't know about anyone else, but my chicken just about fell to pieces when I looked at it, much less tried to transfer it. See, my plan was to leave the thighs and whatnot in tact, and only shred some of the chicken. All of that chicken got shredded, because that's how it came out of the crockpot. In pieces.
6. When it's cool enough to handle, remove it from the bone and dump the bones back into the crockpot for awesome stock.
7. Add anything else you want to the stock liquid - I put the onion back in, and added the acid to help draw the calcium out of the bones. There were also some chicken bits left in there (meat, not gross stuff, mind you) that I figured would either disintegrate from the cooking or strain out with the bones at the end. This was not an entirely accurate assumption, but more on that later.
8. Cook on low overnight. I was paranoid about what this lax time frame meant, and set my alarm early this morning in case overnight meant something different from between the time I finished dinner and the time I woke up, and all was well. I woke up to an incredibly rich stock that was full of flavor and made my kitchen smell like chicken noodle soup.
9. Strain out all of the bones and miscellaneous debris, and let it come to room temperature. I still have some chicken bits in there. My strainer's holes were not appropriately sized and I was not appropriately patient. I decided it was far from the end of the world, by anyone's standards.
10. Refrigerate for a little bit to allow the fat to rise up to the top.
11. Skim the fat off, portion out into storage containers, and freeze for up to 6 months!

And voila, 1 roasted chicken and a whole ton of stock, just in time for soup making season! I'll be using some of mine this upcoming week for my first soup ever (yes, it has chicken in it). But really, aside from taking a near day to complete, all of it's inactive. Once you clean the bird, you're essentially home free. And talk about tender! I have never had a chicken, I don't think, that does not require a knife to eat. Mind you, I used one anyway, but L would have been ecstatic to learn that something other than brisket can be eaten this way (this is not a dig at him, I promise). This chicken is nothing short of succulent. Perhaps not the most flavor packed meal, which is probably more my fault that anything else because I took the skin off, which had all of the herbs, but man! This is down home cooking. This is what home-cooked meals are all about.

And to pay tribute to my childhood, my meat-and-insert-your-favorite-starch-here, I absolutely inserted-my-favorite(ish)-starch-there and paired the roasted chicken with some roasted sweet potato and onions. I'll include that "recipe" too, just because I don't have a separate picture of it and it's really too simple of a recipe to warrant its own post. Sorry, sweet potato. I also microwaved some frozen broccoli, but if you have fresh broccoli (or cauliflower, or any other veggie), go right ahead and roast that with the potatoes and onion. The texture will be much, much better that way.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Onions (and Broccoli, too!)
Yield: 1 pretty large serving
The Ingredients
1 medium sized sweet potato
Some onion slivers/chunks (maybe 1/8 normal sized onion, but really, whatever you prefer)
Oil to coat (I used olive oil because this is all I keep on hand, but it has a low smoke point and you're roasting these guys on 400 degrees. Another oil would be better)
Seasonings of choice (I used garlic powder, black pepper, and more rosemary to tie it in with the chicken)

The Method
1. Grease a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Chunk the sweet potato and onion.
3. Coat with oil and seasonings, and bake in oven for approximately 20 minutes. Halfway through you might want to shake them around a bit.

It was such a great complement to the chicken. I love the flavor of sweet potatoes, and roasted vegetables are always wonderful.

And so, there you have it! My Chicken-and-starch (and veggie to keep me happy) meal that, no matter how much I poke fun at my family for, never lets me down.

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The Carb-Haters Stuffed Pepper that Even Carb Lovers Will Enjoy

I promised you a recipe that did not include chicken, and I have not failed you. No, this time, I am bringing you a recipe that includes turkey instead. I have to say, I've been cosying up to lean, ground turkey breast lately - ever since vowing off non-grass fed beef. As long as you're careful about reading the packaging, ground turkey is an excellent source of lean protein and brings a refreshing, light flavor to the table. Now, in a blind taste test, you would be hard pressed to find someone who couldn't tell the difference between turkey and beef - even if burger or meatloaf form. That isn't the point. The point is variety and, if you're like me and have trouble finding meat from happy cows, still having something other than chicken to eat.

I really like stuffed peppers: little, personal boats of anything your heart desires. I like this stuffed pepper recipe even more, because it doesn't use rice or another grain as the number one ingredient. I'm definitely not carb-conscious, but it's nice to have a meal without tons and tons of starch every once in a while. That being said, the meat can be cut down in this recipe and replaced by your very favorite grain. It is easy to make, easy to scale down and, I would imagine, scale up, easy to chill and reheat for a quick lunch the next day.

Stuffed Bell Peppers, courtesy of Sweet and Savory Tooth
Yield: 2-4 servings; I used 1 pepper and got 2 meals out of it, but as this isn't a very heavy dish, a full pepper per person is not a surprising suggestion
The Ingredients
4 medium to large green peppers
1.25 pounds ground turkey breast
1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
1-2 tsp garlic salt (I just used garlic)
2 tsp onion powder
3/4 of a jar Italian pasta sauce (I used a couple tablespoons of frozen homemade)
2/3C frozen corn, thawed
1C frozen broccoli, thawed
salt and pepper, to taste (omitted)

The Method
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. While it's heating, prepare the peppers: either cut the tops off if using a full pepper per person, or cut longitudinally (or, if you still reference angles the way you did in 1st grade like I do, the hot-dog way) if planning to serve half a pepper per person. Once the pepper is cut to your liking, de-seed and de-membrane, and reserve the tops of the peppers to make the end product look prettier.
2. Wrap the peppers in aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes, then set aside.
3. Spray a skillet with cooking spray or a splash of olive oil (1-2 tsp should do the trick - no more than 1 tbsp.), and place over medium heat. Cook the turkey until almost browned, then add the chopped pepper, garlic and onion powders. Continue to cook for another 5-7 minutes.
4. Lower the heat and the sauce, broccoli, corn, and salt and pepper, if using. Continue to cook over low heat until combined, no more than about 5 minutes.
5. Portion out the turkey mixture evenly into all of the peppers, and bake (still in the foil) for another 20-25 minutes. When they're done, remove the foil, place the tops on if you kept them, and serve.

All of these backlogged recipes have taught me one very important lesson: I really need to document my thoughts on the recipe. I've stopped printing out the recipes, opting instead to carry my laptop into the kitchen for what I need. It's nice to not have sheets of paper lying everywhere, but when I don't run right over to my laptop after I taste a recipe to tell you all about it, there's no hope of a detailed account. I'll try to remember to take some notes even without the printed out recipe to write on - I feel as though my entries have become a little bit too formulaic.

I've also been told that I need to start creating my own recipes. I have some little recipes here and there, but it is true that I'm still fairly dependent on the creativity of others. I have my ideas, including some that I'm itching to try now that the season has changed, but I chicken out half the time and just alter someone else's recipe instead of experimenting. I'll work on that, too. If nothing else, the experiments will provide for some entertaining posts!

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Would a chicken by any other name still taste...good? (Israeli Spice Chicken)

Okay, so maybe I'm no Shakespeare, but I have been piling up the chicken recipes around here, haven't I? I went from overwhelming you with desserts to overwhelming you with chicken in all sorts of guises, and of course, today will be no different. If you're wondering whether or not I sometimes get bored of all of this poultry in my kitchen, the answer would be yes and no. I like to think that I dress it up enough and give it different spices to wear so that each meal is still distinct, but whenever I sit down and think about it, as I'm apt to do as I blog, I do feel like I'm in a little bit of a rut. But I promise, this is the last chicken rotation for a little while. I'll bet you can't wait to see what my next stock of recipes has in store, huh?

With that introduction, please don't discount this chicken recipe. I batch cooked this early on in the semester and froze it in both full piece and shredded forms, and have been loving it in many different dishes all month long. It's called an Israeli Spice Chicken, but really, this is a tame spice rub. It looks vibrant and intense, and it makes the whole house smell like falafel (so says my roommate), but it isn't some overwhelming flavor that anyone with more sensitive taste buds will have a problem with. It has a bold flavor - this is no delicate and dainty chicken - and it's a little smoky, which is a nice change of pace.

Israeli Spice Chicken, courtesy of Rachael Ray &
Yield: 4 servings (though I got, I think, 6 out of it)
The Ingredients - The Spice Rub
1 1/2 Tbsp. sweet paprika
1 1/2 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground coriander*
1/2 - 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt (omitted, come on now!)
The Ingredients - Everything Else
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied or halved
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

The Method
1. Combine all of the ingredients for the spice rub, mixing well to incorporate. Place into a sealable jar and store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months. I didn't want to have much left over, and I can't remember if I cut back or not, but I didn't have too much extra regardless.
2. Place the chicken in a shallow dish and just barely coat it with the oil. Rub the chicken liberally on both sides with 4 Tbsp. of the spice rub (the recipe only calls to make about 4 or 4 1/2 Tbsp, anyway), and let it sit for at least 10 minutes.
3. Grill the chicken for 6-7 minutes per side, or saute on the stovetop for roughly 8 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the chicken.

*Note: I don't keep coriander around, mostly because recipes that I make call for it so infrequently that, cooking the way that I do, I can't justify buying it. So, I substituted some parsley, knowing full well that it's not an ideal switch. If you try this with coriander, you'll have to let me know how it tastes.

I enjoyed one serving of chicken with some bulgur and tomato slices. The bland, clean flavor of the bulgur complemented the chicken well, and the tomato offered a sweet, fresh angle to the dish. It was very simple, but good, and is subdued enough to work in many chicken dishes you can think up. Add it to a warmed tortilla or pita, stick it in a casserole, serve it on top of a salad - you name it!

So, there you have it - my final chicken recipe. For now. You can bet there will be more, and maybe even in the fairly near future, but for now, I think we all need a break.

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Honey-Lime Chicken Pitas

This is it: my last archived summer recipe. As I sit here, feeling the chill of the stormy, fall air mix with my stubbornness to keep the heat off and my electric bill down just a little bit longer (watch, my dad will have a fit over that comment - I'm such a miser), I feel a little sad saying goodbye to summer so officially. However, I couldn't hold off for too much longer. If I did, I'd be giving you flat breads in November when all you probably want to cook up is soup, and who would read my blog, then? So, here it is - the honey-lime chicken pitas that rounded off my summer vacation all those months ago.

This was by far my most successful on-vacation recipe, and I can guarantee that you'll love it, too (assuming you're not a vegetarian or dislike lime, of course). As always, it's easy enough to win my approval and tasty enough to make me look forward to making it again. The marinade gives it just enough flavor to pop amidst the lettuce, tomato, and whatever-your-heart-desires toppings, without overpowering the dish. It's also pretty darn healthy, which is nice to be able to say after all of my dessert posts as of late. They do teach me something over here in my Nutrition program, have no fear.

Honey-Lime Chicken Pitas, courtesy of the Gluten Free Goddess
Yield: 4 (I cut it in half for 2 people)
The Ingredients
4 chicken breasts (approx. 1lb of meat, tops)
4 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped (I used some mysterious amount of pre-minced)
1/4 C freshly squeezed lime juice (or, you know, freshly squeezed from a bottle)
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. agave (I used honey, hence the name)
pinch of cumin, to taste
optional: cilantro (omitted)
toppings: 4 tomatoes, chopped
2 C shredded romaine lettuce (I didn't shred mine, plus I used spinach)

1 C shredded sharp Cheddar or Jack cheese
8-10 fresh and soft white corn tortillas (I used whole wheat pitas)
3-4 fresh limes cut into wedges (omitted)

The Method
1. Wash and dry the chicken, and set aside.
2. Combine the garlic, lime juice, oil, sweetener of your choice, cumin, and fresh ground pepper in a small bowl. Pour the marinade over the chicken, taking care to coat both sides. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour, but, preferably, overnight.
3. Heat a grill or pan, and add the chicken (discarding the extra marinade). Cook over medium-high heat, roughly 8-10 minutes per side, depending on the thickness.
4. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the toppings.
5. Once the chicken is finished, slice it or shred it, and serve alongside the toppings for everyone to assemble their own taco/pita.

I should also mention that it was very messy, but this could be the result of sub-par pitas that I chose to cram with fillings. Don't say I didn't warn you, though.

It's a nice, fun, and simple dish, and a little bit more interesting than your average taco - I think, anyway. It was a hit with L and with myself, and you can bet that as soon as I can justify leaving my stacks and stacks of new recipes to go back to some oldies but goodies, this will be one of the first ones I pick.

Regardless of what season it is.

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