hoisin-grilled chicken with soba noodles

If my kid had to choose one thing to use as a dipping sauce…because, well, meat can’t be eaten in our house unless dipped in something, she’d choose barbecue.  Her sauce of choice is Sweet Baby Ray’s Sweet & Tangy.  She’ll put it on everything, but particularly her least favorite meat of all time: chicken.

Isn’t chicken supposed to be every kid’s favorite meat?  I mean, it’s generally tender, virtually devoid of any offensive flavor (or, flavor of any sort unless dredged in Sweet Baby Ray’s)?  Well, not my kid, I guess, resulting in this recipe being a sort of double whammy – she detests chicken and the sauce is NOT Sweet Baby Ray’s.  The sauce is better, in my opinion, but I don’t have the culinary sensitivities of an eight year old.

I love hoisin sauce.  I love Asian-inspired dishes.  I won’t go so far as to say I love chicken because handling raw chicken is enough to make me contemplate full-time vegetarianism.  But once it’s cooked, I’m OK with it.  Fortunately or unfortunately, chicken is flavorless unless you do something good to it.  In this case, the sauce.  The hoisin adds sweetness and the chili-garlic the heat.  I love the savory warmth of dark sesame oil, too.  But the really interesting flavor comes from the Chinese 5-spice blend.

You can make your own at home; it’s a combination of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds, and Szechuan peppercorns, but 5-spice blend is readily available in the spice aisle at your local grocery store.  The spice adds a deeper warmth to an already savory combination of flavors.  Overall, this Asian-inspired barbecue sauce was quite good.  Don’t worry, Sweet Baby Ray’s.  A certain eight year old will  make sure my pantry remains well stocked with your products.  Nice change of pace, though.  Enjoy!

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Hoisin-Grilled Chicken w/Soba Noodles (recipe adapted from Cooking Light, July 2013)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 3 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 ounces uncooked soba noodles (or pasta of your choice)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved diagonally
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 2 tsp lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste), or 1 tsp chili-garlic sauce
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced

Directions:

  1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken; toss to coat. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken; cook 10 minutes or until done, turning after 5 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Thinly slice across the grain,
  2. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add noodles; cook 2 minutes. Add peas; cook 1 minute or until noodles are tender. Drain. Combine rice vinegar and next 3 ingredients in a bowl. Add noodle mixture; toss to coat. Arrange about 1 cup noodle mixture in each of 4 shallow bowls. Top each serving with about 3 1/2 ounces chicken. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and onions.

hoison_grilledchicken©zouptonuts***Cook’s Note:  Per the picture, I was convinced I had Soba noodles in my pantry when I didn’t.  Substituting any pasta will serve you well, however.

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tomato feta and basil galette

Isn’t summer all about homegrown tomatoes and garden-fresh herbs?  I mean, I’d be hard pressed to ever grow tired of tomatoes chopped into salads or drizzled with balsamic over Buffalo mozzarella, but I’m not opposed to using the season’s bounty in new and unique ways.

I pulled this recipe from the June issue of Cooking Light; enticed by the variety of savory flavors, the textures, the colors, and the opportunity to use a few garden-fresh ingredients.  The cornmeal dough is easy-peasy to whip up, rolled out nicely, and created a beautiful crust.   Despite the fact I baked it on a really hot and muggy day, the galette was refreshing even warm from the oven.  The only thing I’d suggest is cutting down on the 1/4 tsp of salt the recipe has added to the tomatoes prior to baking.  I generally don’t salt tomatoes before I eat them and I found the finished product a little on the salty side for my taste.  Other than that, it’s an elegant but rustic addition to a meal, or served as an appetizer with a glass of wine before dinner.  Enjoy!

Tomato, Feta and Basil Galette

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 pint jewel box tomatoes or multicolored pear tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup small basil leaves

Directions:

1. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Combine flour, cornmeal, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor; process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. With processor on, slowly add ice water through food chute, and process just until combined (do not form a ball). Gently press the mixture into a 4-inch circle on heavy-duty plastic wrap. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 425°.

3. Unwrap dough, and roll dough into a 13-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Arrange tomatoes, cut sides up, on top of dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Fold edges of dough over tomatoes to partially cover. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake an additional 5 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes, and sprinkle with basil. Cut into 8 wedges and serve.

savory cheddar and onion biscuits

It’s a sad day when I’m standing in the dairy aisle contemplating Pillsbury biscuits of any variety.  First, I don’t make biscuits very often.  But when I do, I want them to be, well…more delicious than a generic Pillsbury blob of dough.  With all due respect to the cutie-patootie Pillsbury Dough Boy, of course.

Second, they’re generic and sort of lacking in maturity (not to mention the out-of-control fat content).  I mean, what serious dinner hostess flops out a bread basket full of Grands Biscuits to her Easter dinner guests?  Sure, the kids love  them, but there comes a time when even a biscuit has to grow up!

If you’re looking for a grown-up biscuit, this is it.  These were easy to throw together with mostly stock pantry items; the exception being the buttermilk, which I don’t always have on hand.  The cheddar and green onions were a perfect pairing – neither being overpowering – but adding just the right amount of savory goodness to the finished product.  They were absolutely delicious and I’ll definitely keep this recipe on hand to make again.  Enjoy!

Savory Cheddar and Onion Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1 cup fat-free buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450°.
  2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.
  3.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  4. Add cheese and onions; toss well. Add buttermilk and sour cream; stir just until moist.
  5. Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes or until edges are brown. Remove biscuits from pan; cool on wire racks.