Monday, April 25, 2011

Chicken Juicy Lucy

I have a confession. It's considered a somewhat shameful one for a Minnesotan. When I tell people, I usually get looked at like I have 3 heads. Well, here it is. I don't like Juicy Lucys. For those of you who aren't from Minnesota and don't know what those are, it's a cheeseburger that is stuffed with cheese instead of melted on the top. They're sort of a Minnesota institution. I love the concept, but I have tried many, and the execution is always poor. What should be a delicious, juicy, molten-hot cheese filled burger usually ends up being a dried out, over-cooked molten-hot cheese filled burger. I've even asked if they could please not cook the crap out of my burger, but I always get the same result. So I've given up ordering them in restaurants.

Now, lest I get a bunch of angry comments from people saying I've blasphemed their favorite places, let me make one thing clear. I love the 5-8 Club. I think they have, hands down, the best burgers in the twin cities area. Matt's Bar is great and I also enjoy the Blue Door Pub (I'm purposely leaving The Nook off this list. I understand it's a St. Paul institution. I do not understand why). I just do not like Juicy Lucys.

I remained convinced that a Juicy Lucy doesn't have to be dry. So I tried making one at home with ground chicken. I'm happy to report that my Juicy Lucy remained juicy and delicious. I'm anxious to try making one with ground beef now.

Chicken Juicy Lucy
Serves 2
Prep Time - 10 minutes
Cook Time - 10ish minutes

1/2 lb ground chicken
10-12 slices pepperoni, chopped into little pieces
salt & pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP finely chopped onion
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs
shredded cheese
toasted buns
garlic mayonnaise

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add a couple of TBSP of olive oil to the pan.

Mix together the ground chicken, pepperoni, salt & pepper, garlic, onion, Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs. If it's really wet, add more bread crumbs. Divide into two equal parts. Take off about 1/3 of each one and put to the side. Form the large part into a patty and make it a little thinner in the middle than the edges. Put a mound of shredded cheese (probably 1-2 TBSP) on top of the patty and then take the small part (the 1/3 you took off) and put that on top and completely enclose the cheese. Basically, at this point, it should look like a regular burger patty.

Add the patties to the pan and let cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Serve on toasted buns with your favorite condiments. We used garlic mayonnaise, which was really delicious.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mac & Cheese with Chicken Meatballs

I believe I've mentioned on this blog that I sort of love ground chicken. Especially chicken burgers. They're so versatile and flavorful. So, when I was looking for a non-lasagna way to use up a tub of ricotta cheese and came across this recipe for chicken meatballs, with a mac & cheese, I was in.

This was a fun recipe to make. The meatballs are juicy and practically bursting with flavor and the cheese sauce is a lovely compliment. It's also a really quick recipe - you realistically can get the entire thing done in 30 minutes, which I really appreciate.

Mac & Cheese with Chicken Meatballs
Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray
Serves 4
Prep Time - 10 minutes
Cook Time - 20 minutes

1 lb penne pasta (or similar size)
1/2 lb ground chicken
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/3 cup bread crumbs (more if needed)
1 1/2 TBSP olive oil
3 TBSP butter
2 TBSP flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup 2% milk
salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. 

Mix together the ground chicken, rosemary, garlic, ricotta, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs. If the mixture seems to wet, add more bread crumbs. Form into small meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter.  Place on a baking dish and coat with olive oil. Roast for about 15 minutes, or until the juices run clear.

While the meatballs are roasting, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook noodles to al dente. Drain and set aside. 

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour (I also added 1 TBSP minced garlic). Whisk together and let cook for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken stock and milk and whisk together. Let cook to thicken for 5-10 minutes. Season with salt & pepper, to taste. Add the remaining 1 cup Parmesan cheese and whisk together until the cheese is melted. 

Toss with the pasta and serve with meatballs on top.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Apple Skillet Pie

I don't know if I'm the only one who does this, but whenever I buy those pre-made roll-out pie crusts, I end up using only one of the two in the package and never know what to do with the other one. The single crust usually ends up sitting in my fridge for months before I decide there isn't anything I will ever use it for and throw it out. Yes, I know I could avoid this debacle just by making the crust from scratch, but let's face it - as delicious as it is, who has time for that?

That's where this recipe comes in. It has all the great things about apple pie, but takes a fraction of the time to make. I made it in my cast iron skillet, just because I like making things in cast iron, but I'm sure a pie plate would be good, too. It also makes a really tasty breakfast, for those of you who like getting a nice unhealthy start to your day.

Apple Skillet Pie
Serves 8-10
Prep Time - 20 minutes
Cook Time - one hour

1 stick butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 TBSP sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
6 big apples
1 roll-out refrigerated pie crust
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1-2 TBSP milk
sugar, for dusting

Melt butter over medium-low heat in a cast iron skillet. Once butter is melted, add the sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon and stir to combine.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

While the butter is melting, start peeling, coring, and cutting the apples into slices. I used 6 really big apples but could've used one or two more because my skillet is really big. Add them to the pan and stir to coat. Cook for about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from heat and put the pie crust on the top. Cut a few slits in the crust to allow the steam to escape.

Brush the top of the crust with the egg/milk wash and sprinkle with some sugar (this is optional, but it looks pretty).

Put in the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the crust is nice and golden brown. Depending on how full your skillet is, you may want to put a cookie sheet under the skillet to catch anything that may seep out of the pan.

Let cool for about an hour before cutting and eating. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chicken Spanakopita Burgers

I love chicken burgers. They're such a nice alternative to a regular beef burger - light, juicy, full of flavor. I'm pretty sure my husband thinks I'm a little obsessed. These burgers came on my radar when I had a bunch of leftover feta and tzaziki sauce from the Chicken Souvlaki I made earlier in the week.

Before we get to the recipe, we should be clear on something - this burger tastes nothing like spanakopita, which is a Greek spinach pie. I don't think it's meant to, though. Sure, the general flavor profile is there, but what you get is a really flavorful burger.

Chicken Spanakopita Burgers
Recipe from Rachael Ray
Serves 2
Prep Time - 10 minutes
Cook Time - 10 minutes

1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 oz frozen spinach, defrosted
1/2 tsp dried oregano (be generous)
2 oz feta cheese crumbles
1/2 lb ground chicken
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
toasted buns
sliced tomatoes
sliced onions
tzaziki sauce

Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions get soft and translucent. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

Put the defrosted spinach into kitchen towel and wring out to remove the excess water. Add it to the bowl with the cooled onions and garlic and 1/2 tsp oregano.

Add in the ground chicken, feta crumbles, salt, & pepper. Mix to combine and form into two patties.

Melt 1 TBSP butter and 1 TBSP olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet. Once the pan is hot, add the patties and cook for about 5 minutes per side.

When cooked through, put them on toasted buns and garnish as desired.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Shredded Beef Patty Melts

Grilled sandwiches are my absolute favorite. I blame credit my husband for this. He makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches on the planet. Really - they're amazing. I don't know what he does, but I can't replicate it no matter how hard I try. He somehow manages to achieve the perfect balance of melty cheese and crispy, not too greasy, bread. When I try, I usually end up with nice melted cheese, but my bread gets to be a soggy mess. It's rather pathetic.

I came up with the idea for this sandwich when I realized I had a bunch of leftover shredded beef in my freezer. I didn't want to do the same old thing with the beef, which is usually making it into a French dip style sandwich. Instead, I decided to try making it into a patty melt, of sorts. I was really impressed with the results. It was reminiscent of the French dip sandwiches I usually make, but the grilled bread gave it a little something extra. I'm looking forward to making these again the next time I have leftover beef.

Shredded Beef Patty Melts
Makes 2 sandwiches
Cook & Prep Time - about 20 minutes

4 slices sourdough bread
6 slices Muenster cheese
shredded beef  (I recommend this recipe)
caramelized onions

Caramelize one sliced onion in about 1 TBSP olive oil over medium-low heat. Season with just a little bit of salt to help draw out the moisture from the onions. Stir occasionally.

While the onions are caramelizing, heat up the beef in a medium pot to warm it through.  

Once the onions are caramelized, heat a large pan to medium heat. 

Build the sandwich in this order: Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place 1 1/2 slices of cheese on top of the bottom slice (non-buttered side) for each sandwich (or however much cheese you need to cover the slice). Put a layer of the shredded beef on top of the cheese and put the onions on top of the beef. Top with another 1 1/2 slices of cheese and put the top slice of bread on each sandwich. Transfer to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes on each side, or until the cheese melts and the bread is golden brown.