Chicken w/ Peaches & Ginger

Meat and fruit pairings are delicious, yet the idea of using both fruit and meat in the same dish is undoubtedly a little controversial.

One of the things I enjoy about cooking is combining flavors to create a wholesome dish. Sometimes, its interesting just to combine ingredients and flavors that don’t seem like they should go together.

Chicken is a good match for a wide variety of fruits with peaches being one of them. Whether fresh or frozen, nothing partners better with peaches than fresh ginger. To enhance the flavor just a bit more, I’m making a fluffy, golden couscous, speckled with green onion and fresh parsley. Subtle cumin and ginger spices add a heady fragrance and warm flavor. Nothing fancy, just a great taste!

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Chicken w/ Peaches & Ginger
Instructions
Chicken
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt & pepper & cook on one side until golden, about 4-6 minutes. Flip, cook for 1 minute then transfer chicken to a 9x13-inch baking pan.
  3. Place peaches, sugar, thyme & ginger over & around chicken. Add the chicken broth & bake for about 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. While chicken is baking prepare couscous.
Couscous
  1. Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add green onion, cumin, ginger & garlic clove. Cook & stir for about 3 minutes until green onion is softened.
  2. Add honey. Heat & stir for about 30 seconds until green onion is coated.
  3. Add broth. Bring to a boil. Add couscous & 2 teaspoons oil. Stir. Cover. Remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes without lifting lid. Fluff with fork. Stir in chopped parsley & season with salt & pepper to taste.
  4. Serve the chicken & peaches over couscous with any ginger sauce from baking pan.

Roasted Turkey Breast Roulade Baked in Squash

Whether you celebrate Christmas culturally, religiously or not at all, it seems a good time to evaluate your priorities to make sure you are truly doing what matters to you most. Christmas comes and goes each year during which the ‘Christmas Spirit’ is alive and well. Wouldn’t it be nice if that same spirit was applied to our daily lives all year long.

Today, December 25th, we celebrate my sister Rita’s birthday as well as Christmas Day. Our family’s Christmas eve birthday ‘parties’ hold many fond memories for me. After attending Christmas eve church service, upon returning home, we would be joined by family friends to have birthday cake and some homemade root beer. It was very important to my parents that a special birthday acknowledgement was made to Rita apart from the Christmas festivities.

Christmas is a nostalgic time of year for many of us — recalling simple family traditions. When it comes to holiday decorations, the thing I remember most were the ‘multitudes’ of Christmas cards that our family received in the mail. My mother would fasten string between doorways and windows to hang them all on each time we would receive another one. There was a limited amount of other Christmas decorations. We used the same ones year after year and that was what made them so special. They all had their own special place where they belonged, and once they were out, it truly felt like Christmas.

Probably, the most cherished item was a Christmas Manger set. This cardboard tabletop Nativity was published by Concordia Publishing House in early 1940’s from illustrations first produced by artist George Hinke. A base was provided with special tabs to hold the 17 lithographed figures upright; each tab being carefully labeled making it easy to assemble.

George Hinke was born in 1883 in Berlin, Germany where he studied as a painter. He immigrated to the United States in 1923.

I remember this Nativity scene vividly as the cardboard figures were so beautiful and accurately painted. It was sold in a cardboard box that contained assembly instructions. One of the trips Brion and I made to Italy was just after Christmas one year in early January. Thanks to the European mindset, the outdoor Christmas decor had not been tucked away for the season. The detail in some of the Nativity scenes was incredible. They brought back memories of that little ‘Christmas Manger’ set from many years ago.

For our Christmas dinner this year we are having something a little different from the traditional roast turkey. Turkey roulade lets you have all the traditional flavors of Christmas without having to go through the whole turkey cooking episode. Not only is it mouthwatering and tender, it’s easy to make, cooks quicker, a breeze to carve and looks super elegant. Now, there’s the matter of the stuffing. Equally essential to the holiday table, it’s a far more expressive medium than the turkey itself. You could say, it is the personality with countless options. 

Today’s recipe is a turkey breast that has been flattened and stuffed with herbs, cranberries and hazelnuts. The roulade is wrapped with bacon to keep it moist and tucked into a half of a spaghetti squash. The drippings from the bacon and turkey flavor the squash perfectly as it bakes giving a tasty, earthy, vegetable side dish. Brion and I preferred some cranberry sauce and a traditional gravy with this meal but if you want to kick it up a notch you could serve a thin apple cider gravy instead.

                                         HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RITA!                                                                              ENJOY YOUR DAY AS WE CELEBRATE YOU WITH LOVE

        SEASON’S GREETINGS TO EVERYONE FOLLOWING MY BLOG


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Roasted Turkey Breast Roulade Baked in Squash

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Ingredients
Turkey, Stuffing & Squash

Servings


Ingredients
Turkey, Stuffing & Squash

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Instructions
Stuffing
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat 2 T. butter. Saute onion, garlic & sage leaves, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes. Add bread crumbs, toasted hazelnuts, cranberries, chicken broth, Italian seasoning, salt & pepper; cook for another minute or so. Remove from heat & cool completely.

Turkey Breasts
  1. Using a sharp knife, 'butterfly' turkey breasts. Cover with plastic wrap, flatten them slightly with a meat tenderizer. Divide stuffing between the two breasts & spread it out evenly. Roll breasts up, place cut side down onto work surface. Wrap each roulade with 6 slices of bacon, tucking the ends under the turkey rolls.

Squash
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Slice the spaghetti squash in half & scoop out the seeds. Place both haves on a large roasting pan & drizzle with olive oil. Roast 30 minutes. Remove squash from oven & place the bacon wrapped roulades into the cavity of the squash. Return turkey/squash roulade to oven, lower oven temperature to 350 F. & roast until the internal temperature of the turkey roulade is 155 F., ABOUT 1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven & allow to stand about 10 minutes. Slice & place on serving platter.

Apple Cider Gravy
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine turkey stock, apple cider & sage leaves; bring to a boil. Gently boil, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes until sauce is reduced & thickened slightly. Remove sage leaves & discard. Drop in butter cubes; whisk to incorporate, add pepper & remove from heat. Serve hot over turkey roulade.

Fig & Pear Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Pairing pork with figs and pears may seem a little odd but believe me it tastes great. Pears are one of those fruits that are extremely versatile. Their subtle sweetness and juiciness makes them perfect for recipes from entrees to desserts. Figs could be considered the perfect fruit — low on calories, full of fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Figs have always appealed to me since the first time I tasted a ‘Fig Newton’ cookie.  Now that seems like eons ago! Figs also bring me back to a place that holds some wonderful memories for Brion & I. In 2014 we visited the eastern side of the Algarve region in Portugal. This coastline is a spectacular site, very similar to the Big Sur coastline of California, USA. 

Portugal has an excellent climate for cultivating figs. In the Mediterranean region as well as the Algarve, you can see fig trees almost everywhere. From August until about the end of September, there are plenty of fresh figs ripening on the trees. The only thing, is they have a short harvest time and will go bad quickly once picked. After the season ends you can buy dried figs. Fig jam is a product of fresh figs whereas dried are used for cooking, baking and even in fig liquor.

Portugal possesses great charm in its medieval villages, walled towns and glorious monuments while at the same time embracing progress and modernity with a style all of its own. It was such a memorable experience that will not be forgotten for sure.

There’s very little fuss to preparing today’s recipe and the meat turns out extremely tender.

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Fig & Pear Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
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Instructions
  1. In a bowl, combine first 8 ingredients; set aside.
  2. Make a lengthwise cut 3/4 of the way through the tenderloin; open and flatten to 1/4-inch thickness. Brush meat with Fig Balsamic dressing & sprinkle with salt & pepper. Spread pear mixture over tenderloin. Roll up from long side; tuck in ends. Secure with toothpicks.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 F. Place tenderloin on a large piece of foil on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Nestle remaining filling around tenderloin, pulling up foil to make sides to keep it close to meat. Brush with Fig Balsamic dressing. Bake, uncovered for 40-45 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into pork reads 160-170 F. Remove from oven & brush with apricot preserves. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with the additional roasted filling.

Oriental Style Barbecued Ribs

Barbecuing is synonymous to grilling. The original definition of ‘barbecue’ was to slow-cook meat over an indirect heat source such as in a pit heated with charcoal or wood. This method was to tenderize tough cuts of meat. Although some may beg to differ, its not a sacrilege to roast ribs in the oven. Any time of the year almost anywhere you live, you can enjoy a finger-licking barbecue feast.

It seems anyone who ever cooked ribs, has laid claim to their’s being the most succulent, fall-off-the-bone  ribs ever.  

Thirty years ago, if you can imagine, I acquired a little recipe for a ‘steamed’ version of Oriental-style barbecued ribs. It takes a bit of preparation and time but I always ended up with some real tasty & tender ribs. It is one of those ‘oven roasted, make anytime of the year’, ideas.

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Oriental Style Barbecued Ribs
I am pretty sure you will feel like you 'nailed it' after making these.
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Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Remove 'silverskin' lining from ribs; cut into 1-rib servings. Arrange in a single layer in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. In a medium bowl, combine remaining marinade ingredients. Pour over ribs. Cover with foil or plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Drain; reserve marinade. Arrange marinated ribs in a single layer on a broiler rack on the broiler pan. Place broiler pan in a cold oven. Pour boiling water in bottom part of broiler pan until 3/4 full; cover with foil. Turn oven to 300 F. Bake 1 1/2 hours.
  2. Remove foil; increase heat to 350 F. Brush partially baked ribs with marinade. Bake about 20 minutes. Turn & brush with marinade at least once during final baking. If your ribs are extra meaty you may want to bake them a bit longer.

Portobello Mushroom Burgers

For as long as I can remember, I personally have had a love affair with the ‘Big Sur’ coastline in California, USA. The spectacular beauty of this rugged 145 km (90 mile) coastline, with the natural drama playing out between land and sea is breathtaking.

Over the years many of our vacations have either been in this area or it has made a fabulous ending to a long flight coming back from Europe, before returning home to Canada.

One of the special memories I have from this vicinity was the quaint little European-style village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, located about 190 km (120 miles) from San Francisco.

Some 30 years ago, actor Clint Eastwood, was elected mayor of Carmel for a two-year term. During that time he opened a restaurant/bar there called the ‘Hogs Breath Inn’. You had to enter it through a long , cobblestone alley corridor. The outdoor patio was nestled between the restaurant and the bar. A massive wall mural and numerous stone fireplaces all added tremendously to the wonderful ambiance. It was here that I first tasted a Portobello Mushroom Burger. 

Every time Brion and I have returned to Carmel, we have made a point of eating lunch at the Hogs Breath Inn, just so I could taste that burger again. The Portobello mushroom seemed to have been marinated and then grilled on a barbecue. On top of it were some battered onion rings, lettuce and tomato. All of this came in a grilled Ciabatta bun with pickles and a side dish of your choice.

Of course, never having been someone who could just leave it at that, I had to see if I could push this idea just a bit further. Along came some more recipes for the ‘Stuffed Burger Series’. If you like these ingredients, I think you will really enjoy them.

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Portobello Mushroom Burgers
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Instructions
Seafood-Avocado Filling
  1. Remove brown gills from the undersides of mushrooms using a spoon; discard gills. Remove stems, reserve for another use if desired. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add leek & garlic, & saute until tender. Remove from heat; cool.
  2. Gently combine mashed avocado with next 7 ingredients in a medium bowl; stir into cooled leek mixture.
  3. Dip round side of mushroom caps into Italian dressing; drain slightly. Arrange rounded sides down in a foil baking dish. Sprinkle parmesan cheese evenly into mushroom caps; then top evenly with seafood/avocado mixture, pressing filling to compact slightly. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover & refrigerate if making in advance.)
  4. Preheat oven or barbecue to 350 F. Combine Asiago & mozzarella cheese; sprinkle mushrooms with cheese mixture. Place foil baking dish with mushrooms in oven or on barbecue. Bake until tender & filling begins to brown, about 35 minutes. If necessary, cover loosely with aluminum foil so tops don't burn. Serve on slightly grilled Ciabatta buns. Serves 6
Spinach-Cheese Filling
  1. Remove brown gills & stems from mushrooms. Dip round side of mushroom caps in Italian dressing; arrange, rounded side down, in a foil baking pan. Preheat oven or barbecue grill to 400 F.
  2. Place spinach in a microwave safe bowl, sprinkle with a few drops of water & microwave on high for one minute. Chop cooked spinach; mix with cheddar & cottage cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper. Spread spinach mixture onto prepared mushroom caps.
  3. Bake in oven or on barbecue until mushrooms are tender, about 12 minutes. Nice served on slightly grilled wholewheat buns. Serves 4