Orange Thyme Grilled Chicken

On Sunday, the day I made this meal, we were faced with how surreal life is.  It was a gorgeous day and we were tackling the hops (seriously never plant those!).  We were struck by how busy the fire and police departments were.  While we were planting some veg in the back we realised the current set of sirens didn’t go past our house.

Out of curiosity we wandered out front to see 5 cop cars, 2 ambulances, and various other vehicles.  Something was definitely up.  A few minutes later an ambulance went tearing up the road.  The initial report was someone shot himself by accident and he was belligerent which caused the cops to be called to hospital.  Unfortunately the real story was worse.  The man died and the guy who shot him is in jail for felony manslaughter.

It’s a bit shocking in our small town.  What made it all surreal for me was as they were putting up the crime tape I noticed how life continues on.  The next door neighbour to the crime scene was mowing the lawn, people were walking their dog and we’re were putting about in the garden.  I know it’s how life works but I found it jarring.

After all the work in the garden we wanted a light dinner.  I had seen a few recipes involving orange juice and mustard, orange juice and thyme or orange juice and garlic.  I thought I could come up with a recipe involving all of it.  Lots of flavour and still keeping it light.

In a bowl add equal parts orange juice and olive oil.  Finely chop a few cloves of garlic and add it to the bowl with a handful of fresh thyme.  Add a dash of lemon juice and a good heaping spoonful of stoneground mustard.

Orange Thyme Grilled Chicken 1 2018

Season with sea salt and pepper.  Add the chicken breast to marinate for a couple of hours.

Orange Thyme Grilled Chicken 2 2018

When it’s time for dinner fire up the grill.

Orange Thyme Grilled Chicken 3 2018

I did up a fresh salad with avocado, tomato, cucumber and carrot.  I do love salad season!

Orange Thyme Grilled Chicken 4 2018

Here’s hoping the upcoming weekend is a lot quieter for all.

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Brussel Sprout Sliders

A quick post today as we’re getting ready to hit the road for university tours.  It seems so surreal that our daughter is old enough to be thinking about university but it’s here!  She’s ready for the next chapter and excited about it.  I look forward to see where her journey takes her.

This past weekend I made a dinner for my husband as a thank you for holding down the fort during tax season.  It’s a lot of extra work for him for which I am grateful he takes on.

One thing he loves is Brussel sprouts so that definitely had to be on the menu. Just for him mind as I can’t stand the stuff!  I came across an idea on Pinterest for vegetarian Brussel sprout sliders with tofu, I think plus there were asian flavours.  I thought it would be a fun idea with streaky bacon and french flavours.

Brussel sprouts sliders 1 2018

In a small bowl add two parts olive oil to one part champagne vinegar.  Finely chop 2 small cloves of garlic and add a healthy dollop of brown mustard.  Season with sea salt and pepper.

Brussel sprouts sliders 2 2018

Mix well and coat the sprouts.  Reserve the remaining mixture.

Brussel sprouts sliders 3 2018

Roast in the oven at 350F/175C.  Cut 3 rashers of streaky bacon into squares.  Cook them up in a skillet, slowly rendering them.

Brussel sprouts sliders 4 2018

When the bacon has been cooked remove from the skillet and set aside.  Drain the bacon fat until you have a couple of tablespoons left in the pan.  Add to the skillet thinly sliced onion.  I was only making 4 sliders so I did a half a cup.  Cook slowly to soften and caramelise.

Brussel sprouts sliders 5 2018

When they are halfway cooked add the remaining mustard mixture to the onions.  Continue to caramelise.

Brussel sprouts sliders 6 2018

Once all the ingredients have been cooked assemble into sliders.

Brussel sprouts sliders 7 2018

My husband really enjoyed these so I’ll be making these again.  Just a small way to show my gratitude.

 

Bacon Wrapped Steak Salad and They Really Should Teach Body Mechanics in PE

I was able to touch my toes today.  So what you say?  Well, I can’t remember the last time I’ve been able to do that!  I had to bend my knees a little but I got there.  Part of what helped was reading an article from NPR about the proper way to bend to pick up things.  Seems so basic but it really changed things for me.

I was speaking with my massage therapist today and casually mentioned I was discussing with my husband how they should teach body mechanics in Physical Education.  Perhaps if they did less of us wouldn’t find us feeling old as we hit our 30’s and 40’s.  She completely agreed as she definitely sees all sorts of body issues.  Just add it to the long list of things that kids should learn before heading out into the world!

Bacon Steak Salad 1 2018

Only five more shifts of tax season, not that I’m counting!  But the last few weeks mean I need to come up with simple dishes to cook on the days I’m home in the evening because my brain is fried!  I came across a dish with steak wrapped in streaky bacon with the usual Worcestershire sauce, which is tasty but I wanted to mix it up a bit with a fresh salad and Italian flavours.

Bacon Steak Salad 2 2018

At least an hour ahead of cooking marinate the steak.  In a bowl add two parts olive oil and one part balsamic vinegar.  Finely chop 3-5 cloves of garlic, depending on size, and finely chop a small handful of fresh oregano and thyme.  Add a bit of sea salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Cube the steak.  I used steak tips as the co-op has a great local source, so good! Add the steak to the marinade.

Bacon Steak Salad 4 2018

When it’s time to cook, wrap each cube in half a rasher of streaky bacon and place on a skewer.

Bacon Steak Salad 5 2018

If you remembered to get propane for the grill, use the grill but as I hadn’t done that I used the griddle on the cooktop.  Get it to medium high.  You don’t want it too hot because you don’t want to burn the bacon before the steak get’s cooked.

Bacon Steak Salad 6 2018

Use the marinade to baste the bacon and turn frequently so, again, the bacon doesn’t burn.  While this is cooking put together a fresh salad with mozzarella cheese and fresh made balsamic vinaigrette.  Use 2 parts olive oil and 1 part balsamic vinegar.

Bacon Steak Salad 7 2018

I’m definitely ready for salad season.  Love the lightness and all the flavours.

Spicy Filet with an Apricot Orange Glaze

Is it just me or does the coverage of the Olympics stateside seem to be more adverts than sport? I love the Olympics and love to see the human interest stories, people succeeding and when they fall my heart goes out to them. It used to be a lot of all this. Now it is more important for us to see giant Big Macs and sugary drinks. The last things that should be associated with athletics.

Aside from the weird spectacle of the North Korean cheerleaders who outnumber their athletes by a couple hundred it’s been fun to see how everyone is doing. We do wonder of the sanity of the skeleton racers. Who thought, hey let’s go head first down an ice run?

But it has amused me while I’ve been sick this past week. I’m finally catching up with everything. One of the downfalls of getting my life organised and scheduled is it looks bad when it goes south. Such is life! I was glad to be back on my feet in time for Valentines Day. I wanted to make a nice meal for my husband.

I found this recipe on Carlsbad Cravings for a Cajun Steak with an Apricot Orange Glaze. I adjusted it for smaller portions and what I had on hand.

It’s an easy recipe with a few steps. In a small bowl mix together a 1/2 tablespoon each of paprika, brown sugar, onion powder, and chili powder. Add a teaspoon each of dried oregano, cayenne pepper, sea salt then add 1/2 a teaspoon of dried basil and pepper.

Take 2 teaspoons of this mix and put aside in a small saucepan. Use the rest to make the marinade. To the spice mix a 1/4 cup/2 oz of soy sauce and olive oil. Then add a tablespoon each of Worcestershire sauce, orange juice and brown sugar. Coarsely chop 2 cloves of garlic. Mix well and add two filet mignon to the marinade. Set aside for about an hour.

In the small saucepan add about a 1/2 cup of apricot preserves, a 1/3 cup of orange juice, a tablespoon of soy sauce, and a dollop each of brown mustard and brown sugar.

Mix well and bring to a simmer. While the rest of the meal is cooking reduce this by half. Melt a few dabs of butter and brown both sides of the filet. Finish off in the oven at 350F/175C until desired doneness.

I roasted potatoes and sautéed green beans to accompany the steak. Drizzle the sauce over the dish right before serving,

A nice easy delicious meal to enjoy for a romantic dinner.

I did have more than two green beans, contrary to what my husband says I do eat veg! 😄

Pan Seared Chicken with Risotto Milanese

Like every generation before us has said, we live in crazy times. Social media magnifies people’s behaviour, good and bad, and also allows movements to take off like wildfire. The #metoo movement has been such a long overdue and important conversation.

You would have to live under a rock to not hear the conversation. Which makes me wonder about some on social media. I’m in the process of setting up an Etsy shop to sell greeting cards with my photos so I have been doing loads of research and trying to get everything set up so I can hit the ground running. I’m being way more proactive in promoting my brand across the platforms. While I love to connect with people what I’m not looking for is to be hit on. I don’t understand it. Twitter is not Tinder people! Obviously on the scale of what a lot of us women go through it’s mild but I don’t understand that someone thinks this is ok.

Thankfully most treat this connections as above board but it’s just so weird when it happens. Even if I was single I would never dream by starting off by talking about a connection’s physical appearance. Just creepy!

Ah well, good thing I’m not obligated to respond. I’ll just keep cooking!

For this dish I thought I should actually look through my cookery books. They are not just pretty books! I really liked the risotto Milanese from a Williams Sonoma book. A great accompaniment to pan seared chicken. Here is my version.

To start the prep bring 5 cups/40 oz of chicken stock to a simmer. In a small bowl add about a teaspoon of loose saffron threads with a 1/4 cup/2 oz of hot water. Set aside to soak.

I just love that colour. In the large skillet that the risotto will be cooked in, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Season the chicken thighs with sea salt and pepper. Begin browning the chicken.

Finish cooking the chicken in the oven at 375F/190C. Add a 1/2 cup of chopped pancetta and a finely chopped shallot. Sauté until the shallots begin to soften.

Slice a few mushrooms and stir in. Add 1 1/2 cups of arborio rice to the skillet cooking for a couple of minutes. Then add a half cup/4oz of a dry white wine.

Gradually add the stock a bit at a time with the rice on medium heat. Halfway through the cooking add the saffron along with sea salt and pepper to taste.

Near the end of cooking before the liquid is absorbed, toss in 2 tablespoons of butter and about 3/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Once the liquid is absorbed serve with chicken and garnish with parsley.

For those that live in the cold climes, trying to get decent photos without natural light can be like trying find a yeti. But this time I tried candlelight. Why I didn’t think of this before. I have no idea.

Steak and Mushroom Pie

It’s time to get in the festive mood! It’s the fun month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Though I’m already over the cheesy modern Christmas music. Just not the same as the standards. My husband and I had a quiet Thanksgiving as our kids were in South Carolina. My aunt very kindly invited us to her place for Thanksgiving dinner. We had a lovely meal and a lovely time. She is an awesome aunt and she’s very good to us.

Even though the weather can’t decide to be warm or cold this season there has been been opportunity for comfort food. And you can’t go wrong with steak and mushroom pie.

In a small bowl, add about 3 oz of flour and season with sea salt and pepper. Mix well. Take a half pound/8oz of stewing steak and cut it into small cubes. Toss in the flour until well coated.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan and start browning the steak.

Coarsely chop a shallot and a couple of cloves of garlic. Add to the pan.

Cut up enough mushrooms to make half a cup/3-4oz. Sauté in the pan then add about 2 1/2 cups/20oz of vegetable bouillon. Bring to a simmer. For seasoning and flavour I added a half cup of dry sherry and a small handful of fresh oregano, chopped. Slow cook on low for a few hours until the steak is tender and falling apart. To thicken the broth, add either a couple of teaspoons of flour or corn starch(flour) to a couple of tablespoons of water to make a slurry. Add this to the saucepan and bring up to a boil to cook the flour and thicken the broth. Adjust the seasoning as needed as sometimes the flour can dull the flavours.

Split the stew between ramekins. I made enough for two. Melt a tablespoon of butter and brush individual layers of phyllo dough to top the ramekins. Broil/grill til the top is nice and golden.

Perfect with a nice deep red wine on a chilly night!

Parsnip and Roasted Mushroom Soup

I have to hand it to our son, he had his wisdom teeth removed yesterday and he did really well. Me?  Didn’t sleep the night before.  It’s so much easier when stuff is done to you rather than your kids.  Now he gets to hear his parents telling him to eat his ice cream.  Think he’ll be ok.  😊

Woke up being very happy for fuzzy socks with freezing temperatures and gusting winds.  Definitely soup season!  On one of our date nights, my husband ordered an amazing mushroom soup and it sparked an idea for a mushroom and parsnip soup.  Their soup just had mushrooms in it with Gorgonzola cheese.  Well I shouldn’t say just as it was delicious.  But I went off on a tangent.  


As luck would have it, the co-op had a great selection of mushrooms.  Including a Japanese mushroom called maitake.  Slice up the mushrooms and toss them in olive oil.


Roast them at 350F/175C until they are nicely browned.  In the meantime, peel and dice 1 to 2 parsnips depending on the size.  Finely chop a couple of garlic cloves.  Sauté the parsnips and garlic with olive oil in a saucepan.


Add a amall handful of fresh thyme, sauté for another minute or so.  Add about three cups of chicken stock and half a cup of dry sherry.  Bring to a medium simmer.  Once the mushrooms are roasted, add them to the soup.


Season with sea salt and pepper.  Cook until the parsnips are soft and the broth has reduced about a quarter.  Remove from the heat and purée until reasonably smooth.


Top with a dollop of sour cream and a bit of chive.  This could easily be made vegan with a veg broth.  The parsnip makes it very creamy so I didn’t have to add any cream.  

Getting My Husband to Like Aubergine 

We all have a veg we’re not a fan of but the rest of the family likes.  I hate Brussel sprouts, our son isn’t a fan of asparagus and mushroom, and our daughter finds celery particularly weird.  Aubergine is what my husband would be happy to avoid.  I have made the Moroccan Lamb Stew that he likes but as we like to grow the veg I need to come up with more recipes to use up the harvest.


When we were in Little Italy our daughter ordered a starter that layered aubergine, tomato, prosciutto, and basil.  She loved it so this was the inspiration for dinner.  I wanted to use the strong flavours of sun dried tomatoes and garlic for this dish.  I wanted it to pop!  I also used chicken thighs as it is a less expensive cut of meat to use.  

For this dish I used a little more than half a pound/10 oz of chicken.  Cut the chicken into small cubes and finely chop 3-5 cloves of garlic. Slice a large handful of sun dried tomatoes while heating up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet.  Toss in the three ingredients and sauté on medium low to pull the flavours of the garlic and sun dried tomatoes into the oil.  


Once the chicken is halfway cooked add the aubergine.  We grew small Italian finger aubergine which get to about 5in/12.5cm long.  For this dish I used four of the veg, sliced.


Cook for a few minutes then add a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.  Because we ran out of our chicken stock (gasp!) I used veg bouillon instead.  It worked really well with the strong flavours.  Use about a cup/8oz of the bouillon and simmer to reduce slightly.  For once we did really well growing basil this year.  Let’s face it, gardening can be a bit of a crapshoot.  But I tossed in a handful of the fresh basil.  Once the dish is nearly finished cooking add a handful of chopped prosciutto.  You don’t want this ingredient cooking too long as it can get tough and overpowering.


While all this was going on I oven roasted potatoes that I sliced about a 1/4 in/.625cm thick, drizzled with olive oil and sea salt.  Lay out the potatoes and top with the aubergine dish.  Grate fontina cheese over the dish and garnish with fresh basil.


Our daughter said it wasn’t exactly like the dish she had, which was fine as I wasn’t reproducing it, but that she loved it.  My husband’s response? “Congratulations on making aubergine edible!”  😄.  I do love cooking for my family.

Scallops in the Shell

Does anyone have the cure for jet lag?  As we get older it seems to keep a hold on us longer and longer.  It didn’t help we came back to dreary rain.  Good for the garden, not so good at getting us going!  I do hope it means our garden will do better than it did last year.  Last year was a very dusty growing season.

Being back in the UK was wonderful, we had incredible weather and did loads of walking.  We had to walk off all the lovely meals my mother-in-law cooked up!  Of course we like giving her a break from cooking, she runs a B & B so she welcomes the break!  Last year we did a curry night as my father-in-law is a big fan but my MIL isn’t so this time round we did a tapas night.  Which I love doing!  So off we went to the shops to get ingredients.

Aside from the usual dishes that are easy to throw together I found some scallops on the shell, which is near impossible to get stateside, never mind getting scallops with the coral still attached.  So I couldn’t pass this up.

Scallop in the shell 1 2017

Heat up the broiler/griller to medium.  Season the scallops with sea salt and pepper, thyme, olive oil, and rosé wine.  I had some of the wine from our France trip and while it turns out it’s not a favourite of mine I knew it would work well with this dish.

Scallop in the shell 2 2017

Broil/grill until the scallops are cooked.  Be careful not to overcook the scallops, you still want it tender.  This will only take a couple of minutes.

Scallop in the shell 3 2017

Serve on the shell.  This is a fun and quick dish to make, I just wish I could get this round here! It was a great night with good food, good company, and good wine.

Rosemary Lemon Chicken Kebabs

Tomorrow is a big day with the vote in the UK.  It’s surreal because, like for a lot of people, this vote can directly effect how we transition in a few years to move back.  But I can’t vote as subjects of the crown can’t vote if they don’t live in the UK.  So I just have to wait and see.  It will be nice to see the propaganda from both sides to die down.  Talk about muddying the waters!

In the meantime I’ll just keep cooking along.

We didn’t just have a Dalek cake for the small family gathering.  To avoid a sugar high I cooked healthy food as well.  I kept it very simple with grilled veg and chicken kebabs.  I grilled up mushrooms, peppers, onions, scallions, and aubergine.

The inspiration for the chicken came from a restaurant chain, Bertucci’s, where they have a spicy chicken wing with lemon and rosemary.  No idea what the recipe is but I figured I could get close to the recipe.

Rosemary lemon chicken 1 2016

I popped into my local store (my garden) for fresh thyme and rosemary.  I do wish there was an easy way to prep thyme, so annoying, but what can you do?  Finely chop a small handful of each.  In a bowl add a ratio of 2:1 of olive oil and lemon juice, the herbs, 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped, sea salt and pepper to taste.  Then add cayenne pepper to the level of spiciness you want.  I kept it on the mild side as my aunt isn’t a huge fan of spicy food.

Rosemary lemon chicken 2 2016

Mix well and add chicken to marinate.

Rosemary lemon chicken 3 2016

When you are ready to grill add the chicken to the skewers and cook until the chicken is cooked through.  Turn a few times so the chicken is cooked evenly.

Rosemary lemon chicken 4 2016

It was a lovely relaxing lunch with family with plenty of room left over for cake!  And any left over chicken and grilled veg is perfect for a salad later on.  Which is handy after a bike ride and you aren’t up to cooking!