7/4/11

Surf and Turf Taco Night

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Happy Fourth of July everyone!  This happens to be my favorite holiday.  I know a lot of people pick Christmas as their favorite... and you might expect me to choose Thanksgiving since I love to cook... but my favorite is Independence Day.  Why?  Because it's summertime and you celebrate this holiday not with standing in long lines to buy gifts for everyone you know, but with outdoor cookouts, baseball games, fireworks, and ice cold beer.  Please tell me what you can think of that's better than that, because I got nothin. 

You also get a long weekend and Mark and I decided to spend yesterday shopping for ingredients and making a delicious dinner on the grill, washing it all down of course with icy cold beers.

A couple weeks ago I was asked to try a product from Tortilla Land - their uncooked flour tortillas.  Well, as soon as I heard the word "tortillas", I knew I wanted to try them.  If you know me at all, you know my most favorite kind of food is Mexican/Southwestern/TexMex... so I immediately accepted. 

Mark and I decided to create two kinds of tacos - fish tacos and steak tacos.  I would create the fish tacos and he would create the steak tacos.  And because Mark is the master of the grill in our house, he would grilled up everything on the grill and I would do the prep work.  Both tacos were made using the Tortilla Lane flour tortillas and I have to say, cooking your own tortillas the minute before you're ready to eat them is the only way to go.  If you can get your hands on these uncooked tortillas, make sure you do, because it's the freshest flour tortillas you'll ever taste.

See how we made these tacos after the jump. 

7/1/11

FOODIE Quickie: Grilled Chicken Breast with Speck, Crimini, and Asparagus

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Need something quick, delicious, and healthy to make for a weeknight dinner? Sometimes I try and come up with things I can make for dinner that will use up a bunch of different vegetables before they go bad. I also sometimes try to make something that isn't too complicated (I know, can you believe it? Yes, even me.) Well this is an example of something I would suggest making on that type of night.

You know how you'll see a bunch of different "stuffed" chicken recipes where you have to pound out the chicken breast, top it with some kind of filling, then stretch and contort the chicken into some kind of origami creation to try and envelop the filling? Well on a Wednesday night when I have about 45 free to make dinner, I say F that.

This recipe takes that idea and makes it easy, plus since you're just piling the stuffing on top of the chicken breast... that's right, you can have more. :-)
This is less about the recipe, and more about the technique. You can top this chicken with whatever you need to use up. Pile it high with whatever you like and you'll love it every time.

First, pound out your chicken. To do this, lay your chicken breast down on a plastic or silicon cutting board (these are best for raw meat because you can clean them good with soap and water), then cover the chicken breast with plastic wrap. The plastic wrap prevents chicken juice from spattering all over while you're pounding it out. Take a meat mallet and use the flat side to pound out the chicken breast to about 1/2 inch thickness. Remove the plastic wrap and throw away. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, & garlic powder to taste.

Before cooking your chicken, you'll want to get your toppings prepared. For the mushrooms, clean and slice the mushrooms, then sauté them in about a tablespoon of each: butter and olive oil. Season them with salt, pepper, & fresh thyme. When the mushrooms are done the way you like them, remove them from the pan and set them aside.

For the asparagus, clean them and snap off the woody ends. Dress the asparagus stalks in olive oil and season with salt, pepper & garlic powder. Add them to a hot grill or just use the pan you used for the mushrooms. Cook for just a few minutes so that they're bright green, but still firm and have a bite to them.

Get the other toppings out that you don't have to cook so they're ready when you need them: slices of speck or prosciutto (2 per chicken breast), fresh sage leaves (also 2 per chicken breast), and shred up the cheese of your choice (I used Gouda).

Now you're ready to cook the chicken.

Heat about a tablespoon or so of olive oil in the pan you used for everything else over medium heat. Add the chicken breast to the pan and let it cook without messing with it for a few minutes. Flip it over when the first side is golden brown. Cook the other side until golden brown, too, then turn the heat off from under the pan.

Top your chicken breast with all of your toppings, making the cheese last because it kind of fuses everything together. Cover the pan for a few minutes to melt the cheese. This will I've you a chance to put a quick side salad together. My salad in the picture above is just green leaf lettuce topped with sliced hearts of palm and capers.

To serve, just place the chicken breast on the plate and the salad right there beside it. Easy peasy.

I hope this recipe makes it into your weekly dinner rotation and sparks some creativity in your mind the next time you have to clean out the fridge.

Have a fun and safe Fourth of July weekend everyone!



Grilled Chicken Breast with Speck, Crimini, and Asparagus

chicken, mushrooms, asparagus

See Grilled Chicken Breast with Speck, Crimini, and Asparagus on Key Ingredient.