Saturday, August 28, 2010

Apple Pecan Salad and Coconut Chicken Strips

Okay. It was DELISH.

For the pecans:
Spiced Candied Pecans
2 1/2 cups raw pecans
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. honey
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F (just in case). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, stir the pecans with the egg white until pecans are coated, then add vanilla and honey. Stir well.
In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, cinnamon, allspice and salt. Pour over the nuts and stir until evenly coated.
Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
Slide parchment paper (with nuts still on it) off of the baking sheet and onto a wire rack (or the counter) to cool.
Break nuts up into a bowl to serve or store at room temperature in an airtight container.

For the chicken:

Cut chicken breasts into small thin strips (mine were too large so I had to cook them for longer in the oven after frying them -- which was fine and actually crisped them up all the more). In a large bowl combine one can coconut milk and about 1/2 cup of buttermilk and 1 egg. Place chicken in this mixture, making sure all chicken is covered. Let stand (in fridge if you like) for about 20-30 minutes.

In another bowl mix together the dry ingredients. I really had to play with it to keep it the right combination of ingredients. The more chicken I dredged in it the more chunky it became making it harder for the good stuff to stick to the chicken. I used approximately equal parts flour, panko bread crumbs and shredded coconut as well as a few tsps. of (Lawry's would be good) seasoning salt. (Follow your instinct on all of this.) If it's not sticking well after a while, add a little extra everything until it's dry enough to stick again. (We had LOTS of chicken so if you are cooking less you might not have this problem as much.)

Dredge the chicken in the coconut mixture and place in about 1 1/2 inches of hot oil. Cook for a few minutes on each side (until dark golden-brown.) Remove to a paper towel lined plate. If the chicken is not fully cooked, place it on a baking sheet and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

For the salad:

1 head of red leaf lettuce
1 head of butter lettuce
1 pkg. crumbled feta
1 cup of dried cranberries
3 small apples (or 2 large), peeled and sliced thin
the candied pecans (you'll want a lot... trust me)
3 green onions sliced (I didn't use these but it begged for it.

And your favorite balsamic vinaigrette dressing (homemade if possible because everything is better homemade!!)

There you go! :^)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mom's Spaghetti and Meatballs

AKA The Best Spaghetti and Meatballs I've EVER tasted. Seriously.

Italian Meatballs

Basic recipe for Meatballs, Sunset Italian Cook Book; p. 24
Modifications by Joan Olsson
I’m giving the quantities used in their recipe. For sixteen of us I multiplied quantities by 1 1/2.

5 slices day-old sweet French bread, crusts removed. Note: I used my favorite buttermilk bread from Costco.
2 pounds ground lean beef
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large onion, finely chopped (food processor) (Note: as in the Joy of Cooking recipe, I always saute the chopped onions in a little butter and olive oil until translucent.)
1/2 cup chopped (Italian) fresh parsley
1 teaspoon each (chopped) oregano leaves and (Kosher) salt (I used at least 2 Tablespoons of chopped fresh oregano.)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons dried basil flakes (I love basil and always use more.)
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 eggs, slightly beaten
3 Tablespoons olive oil or salad oil (Please use olive oil!)

Whirl bread in food processor - you should have 2 cups lightly packed crumbs.) In a large bowl mix together crumbs, ground beef, the 1 cup Parmesan cheese, the sauteed chopped onion, chopped parsley, chopped oregano leaves, basil, garlic, the slightly beaten eggs until well blended. Mixing is best done with your hands. form mixture into 1 1/2 inch meatballs. I use an ice cream scoop to help form portions. I put all the meatballs on a baking sheet until ready to begin cooking them.

Heat olive oil in a wide frying pan over medium/high heat. Add meatballs, several at a time, and brown on all sides, shaking pan frequently so balls keep their round shape and brown on all sides. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drop into prepared sauce. When all are added, bring sauce to a low boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Serve over spaghetti, cooked al dente, sprinkled with extra Parmesan cheese.

Spaghetti Sauce

This recipe makes a large quantity of sauce adequate for serving at least sixteen people. Amounts can be adjusted. Make this sauce before beginning to prepare meatballs.

3 stalks celery, washed and cut into chunks
About 2 cups baby carrots or 2 to 3 regular carrots, peeled and cut up
1 large green pepper, cut into chunks
1 large or 2 medium onions
3 - 5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 - 2 Tablespoons chicken soup base
olive oil
1/2 - 3/4 cup dry white or red wine
2 Tablespoons dried basil flakes
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 bay leaves
2 cans ( 1 lb 12 oz each) tomato puree: I used 2 quarts of our home canned tomato puree
2 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 14 oz. can tomato sauce

Put celery and carrots through food processor. Saute in olive oil and butter in non-stick frying pan for about 5 minutes or until beginning to soften. Meanwhile, process onion and green pepper and add, with garlic, to other vegetables. Saute until onions are translucent. Add chicken soup base and wine and small amount of water if necessary. Simmer for several minutes - smells yummy! Put all in large dutch oven. Add tomato puree, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chopped parsley, oregano, basil, pepper, bay leaves, and salt to taste (May not need any added salt, depending on amount of chicken soup base used.) Simmer for at least 30 to 45 minutes or until beginning to thicken. Serve over cooked spaghetti. Sprinkle with grated or shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese.