Grilled Caribbean Chicken with Couscous Salad

Grilled Caribbean Chicken with Couscous

As much as I don’t like to admit this, I find it easy to get in cooking ruts. While the things I bake never really lack in variety, I feel like all the dinners I make are Italian, Greek, or Mexican. It’s a goal of mine to experiment with other kinds of cooking, like Asian, Middle Eastern, Indian, etc. I’m not that picky and I like trying new flavor combinations, so I shouldn’t be letting cooking ruts happen!

I’m not sure how authentically Caribbean this meal was, but it certainly was delicious. The chicken is coated in a flavorful, spicy marinade that includes cinnamon, cumin, allspice, and chili powder. Don’t be scared of the cinnamon- the spices work really well together. Some of the marinade is set aside before it’s added to the chicken, which is stirred into the couscous salad. The couscous salad is made amazing with the addition of grilled red peppers and grilled pineapple. The pineapple was so good that I want to add it to every meal from now on!

This dinner came together fairly quickly (all the steps are very easy), and considering the fact that it uses the grill, it may just be an ideal summer meal.

Grilled Caribbean Chicken with Couscous Salad

Serves about 4

Recipe from The America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Salt and pepper

4 (6-8 ounces each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts (trim and pound them if needed)

1/2 of a pineapples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick half-moons

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and quartered

1 cup boiling water (measure the water after boiling- boiling one cup of water will result in too little liquid)

1 cup couscous

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Directions:

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup oil, garlic, cumin, chili powder, allspice, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Measure out two tablespoons of the marinade and set aside. Add the chicken to the remaining marinade; toss to coat.

Brush the pineapple and bell pepper with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and season with salt and pepper.

On a gas grill, turn all burners to high and allow to preheat for 15 minutes. Oil cooking grate. Place the chicken, pineapple, and bell pepper on the grill. Cook, turning as needed. The pineapple and bell pepper should be spottily charred and the chicken should be well browned and register 160 degrees (8-12 minutes). Transfer the chicken, pineapple, and bell pepper to a platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil.

Combine the boiling water and couscous in a large bowl, cover, and let sit until the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is tender (about 5 minutes). While the couscous is soaking, cut the pineapple and bell pepper into 1/2-inch pieces. Fluff the couscous with a fork and fold in the reserved marinade, pineapple, bell pepper, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the couscous alongside the chicken. Enjoy!

 

 

Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

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Leah and I were browsing in Williams-Sonoma recently (which we shamelessly acknowledge is our favorite store) and happened upon Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. It looked fabulous, and we’d heard great things about the book. We were out of cash at the moment since it was our last stop at the mall, but you better believe we ordered it as soon as we got home!

roastedstrawberryicecream

We had a recipe for strawberry ice cream on our blog, but we feel that this one is superior. The strawberries are briefly roasted to concentrate their flavor, pureed, and mixed into an egg yolk-free base. A bit of buttermilk is added as well for faint but pleasant tanginess. Almost every ice cream recipe in the book contains a small amount of cream cheese, and we think that this made the ice cream every bit as creamy, or possibly creamier, than ice creams with custard bases.

Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

Recipe from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home

Makes about 1 quart

Ingredients

For the roasted strawberries:
1 pint (16 ounces or 2 cups) strawberries, hulled and sliced ½-inch thick
⅓ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice

For the ice cream base:
1½ cups whole milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cream cheese, at room temperature
⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
1¼ cups heavy cream
⅔ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
¼ cup buttermilk

Directions

For the roasted strawberries:

 Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the strawberries with the sugar in an 8-inch square baking dish. Roast for 8 minutes, or until just barely softened. Let cool briefly, then puree with lemon juice using a food processor or blender/immersion blender. Strain the puree, if desired (we skipped this step, since our puree was smooth enough). Save ½ cup for the ice cream, and refrigerate the rest (we recommend stirring it into lemonade!).

For the ice cream base:

Mix 2 tablespoons of the whole milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl. Whisk the cream cheese and salt together in a medium bowl until completely smooth (this will be easier if your cream cheese is very soft). Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Combine the remaining whole milk, the cream, sugar and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan and bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return the pan to medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the reserved ½ cup of strawberry puree and the buttermilk and whisk to combine. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon resealable freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice if necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes. (We found this to be a very efficient method to chill the base, but we probably won’t do this every time as it is a waste of a plastic bag).

Churn the ice cream base in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Place in an airtight container and freeze for at least 4 hours before serving. Enjoy!

Flourless Chocolate Cookies

flourlesschocolatecookie

If you’re looking for a gluten-free cookie that doesn’t require expensive or difficult-to-find flour substitutions, you’ve come to the right place! These cookies are super fudgy, with chewy-crisp edges. The sea salt brings them over the top. The beauty about these cookies really is the pure chocolate flavor that comes through. They reminded us of brownies, but they contain no butter or flour!

Our cousin cannot have gluten, so we’re hoping to bring these cookies when we go visit her family in a couple weeks. We have pretty much no experience in gluten-free baking, but we figured that we would give these a try to see if they were a success. They were, and they didn’t require any flour substitutions. We all felt that these would be good without the chocolate chips too, since the cookies are already pretty sweet, so it is up to you to include/reduce them. Either way, these will satisfy any chocolate craving!

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Flourless Chocolate Cookies

Recipe from Cooking Classy

Makes about 20 cookies

Ingredients

3 cups powdered sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large egg whites

1 large egg

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (we will reduce this next time)

Sea salt, for sprinkling over the tops

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together powdered sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the egg whites, egg and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets, spacing cookies about inches apart. Bake in preheated oven until cookies are puffed and crackled, about 14 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through during baking. Remove from oven and sprinkle tops lightly with sea salt. Let cool on baking sheet 5 – 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

cookiesandcreamicecream

Ice cream is a popular dessert option in our house, and probably anyone’s house, but our two youngest brothers don’t always eat the more “adventurous” flavors we try (such as pistachio, even though it’s technically a classic flavor!). They were, however, thrilled when we decided to make cookies and cream ice cream, and Henry even helped cut up the Oreos! Our main complaint with cookies and cream ice cream is that there are rarely enough Oreos, but that isn’t a problem in this particular recipe. The ice cream base itself is rich and smooth, pairing perfectly with the crunchy cookies. You can’t get much better ice cream than this. Yum!

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

Recipe from Annie’s Eats

Makes 1 quart

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
15-20 Oreo cookies, chopped (we quartered ours)

Directions

In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and cream. Warm over medium heat until bubbles form around the edges. In a medium bowl, place egg yolks and sugar and whisk together until smooth. Slowly pour the warmed milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture and whisk constantly.

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon (mixture should be about 175 degrees).
 
Pour the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl and whisk in the vanilla extract. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least several hours (we like to make ice cream bases in the evening and let them chill overnight. Then we’ll churn them the next morning and let the finished ice cream firm up until lunch/dinner).
 
Pour custard into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once the mixture has the texture of soft serve, remove half of it from the ice cream maker and scoop it into a container. Add half the chopped Oreo pieces and fold in with a rubber spatula. Add the remaining ice cream and Oreos and repeat. Freeze until fully hardened enough to scoop nicely. Serve. Enjoy!

Cherry Almond Dutch Baby

Cherry Almond Dutch Baby

You know how there are some things that you don’t cook with or eat that often? It’s not that you dislike them, it’s just that you and that ingredient never seem to cross paths. For us, that ingredient is cherries. They occasionally end up in our fridge, but they’re not really one of our go-to fruits, especially when baking. Pitting a bunch of cherries is a pain!

However, when we saw this Dutch baby recipe recently and noticed that we had some cherries on hand, we decided that we had to make it. It might just end our no-baking-with-cherries streak that we unintentionally started. The pairing of cherries and almonds is a great one. It isn’t overly sweet, but a dusting of powdered sugar is all that the giant pancake needs after coming out of the oven. It is breakfast perfection- you should try it over the weekend!

Cherry Almond Dutch Baby

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Sunset Magazine

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Pinch of salt

4 tablespoons butter

2 cups pitted sweet cherries

1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Powdered sugar

Directions:

Heat oven to 425°F. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, flour, milk, almond extract and salt until the batter is evenly combined (it’s okay if the batter is lumpy). Melt the butter in a 12-inch ovenproof frying pan. Add the cherries and cook until warmed, which will take about 2 minutes. Pour the batter into the frying pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and puffed.

Remove the Dutch baby from the oven and top with toasted almonds. Dust with powdered sugar and cut into slices. Enjoy!

Note: We didn’t have an ovenproof skillet, so we cooked the cherries and butter in a small saucepan and then poured the mixture into a pie plate. It worked just as well!

 

 

Pistacho-Crusted Asparagus with Feta

asparagus

After a power outage and some technical difficulties, I am finally getting a post up this week. Yay! Luckily, it’s a post about something delicious. I know, this is our second vegetable post in a row. I don’t know what’s come over us either!

Asparagus is one of our favorite vegetables, but it is so easy to make bland. If all you’ve ever had is steamed/boiled asparagus with salt and pepper, then this will be a great change. This asparagus is roasted with olive oil and pistachios, then topped with a vinaigrette, crumbled feta cheese, and parsley. It’s fantastically flavorful and the perfect summer side dish since it’s quick to prepare.

asparagus2

Pistachio-Crusted Asparagus with Feta

Serves 4-6

Recipe from Joy the Baker

Ingredients

2 pounds asparagus

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup shelled and roasted unsalted pistachios

1 scant teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

For the vinaigrette:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

Pinch of sea salt

Black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and adjust a rack so that it’s in the upper third of the oven.

Wash the asparagus and cut off an inch from the ends.  Dry the asparagus. Place the asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle with olive oil.  Toss to coat.

Place the pistachios in a food processor and grind until finely chopped.  Transfer them to a small bowl and stir in salt. Spoon about half of the pistachios over the asparagus.  Flip the asparagus and cover the other side in the rest of the pistachios. Place in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until tender.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

Whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a small bowl and drizzle over the asparagus. Top with crumbled feta and parsley and serve warm. Enjoy!

 

 

Broccoli Slaw

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Gosh, I guess it’s time for a blog post, right? Our blog has been sorely neglected- last week we were at college orientation and then on vacation in New Hampshire. Needless to say, there hasn’t been too much cooking going on in our kitchen, but we’re trying to get back to it.

The food at orientation, while tasty and better than a lot of cafeteria food, wasn’t exactly healthy, nor was the food we ate on vacation. Vegetable-heavy foods like this broccoli slaw sound pretty good right now! We decided to make this slaw on a whim as a side for burgers and it way outshone them. Who would’ve thought that a bowl of 2 heads of broccoli could taste fabulous? I am a believer now, but trust me- in the past, broccoli has been far from my favorite vegetable. This slaw could change that.

Crunchy raw broccoli is tossed with a buttermilk dressing, diced red onions, toasted sliced almonds, and dried cranberries. The combination is fantastic, and I could probably eat half of the batch for lunch sometime. It really is that good, and you’ll never want to go back to regular coleslaw ever again.

broccolislaw2

Broccoli Slaw

Recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Serves about 6-8 (although it’s so addictive that it may serve less)

Ingredients:

2 heads of broccoli (340 to 455 grams apiece)

1/2 cup (45 grams) thinly sliced toasted almonds

1/3 cup (40 grams) dried cranberries, chopped

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup (105 grams) mayonnaise

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 of a small red onion, finely chopped

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Trim the broccoli (remove the large, hard stem) and cut it into large chunks. Slice each chunk into thin slices. Any large stem pieces can be cut into thin slices and then stacked and cut in the other direction to form thin sticks. The florets should be cut into thin slices.

Whisk the buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl until smooth. Stir in the onion. Let the dressing rest for about 10 minutes to mellow the flavor of the onion.

Toss together the broccoli, almonds, and cranberries in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over this mixture. Add black pepper to taste (feel free to be generous with it!). Stir until the dressing evenly coats the broccoli. Enjoy!

 

Strawberry Lemonade Cookies

strawberrylemonadecookies1

We’ve made a lovely strawberry frosting before, and while it is amazing and just right for frosting on a cake, it’s difficult to get a lot of strawberry flavor into the frosting without compromising the texture and thinning it out (unless you want to use some sort of artificially-flavored strawberry something, which we generally don’t want to do). The solution is, of course, to use freeze-dried berries! Whoever thought of this is brilliant. You grind the berries to a powder in the food processor, and simply beat the powder into the frosting. It’s really that easy, and the result is a fresh-tasting strawberry frosting that is perfectly fluffy. Top a soft lemony cookie with the frosting, and you have a delicious and extremely simple dessert that is perfect for everyday and elegant occasions alike. Simple is best for us right now, because we’ve been very busy with work, babysitting, and preparations for college!

P.S. An unmentioned family member lost my beloved 50 mm f/1.8 lens at graduation, and I haven’t been able to track it down yet/order a new one, so I’ve been stuck with the kit lens and lower quality photos. Hopefully I can replace the lens soon!

strawberrylemonadecookies2

Strawberry Lemonade Cookies

Recipe from The Baker Chick

Makes about 24 cookies

Ingredients

For the cookies:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (12 tablespoons), at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg, plus one egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon extract

Zest of one lemon

For the frosting:

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup freeze-dried strawberries, ground into a powder

2-3 cups powdered sugar

Splash of milk or cream
Directions

For the cookies:

Preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl of a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and yolk and mix until smoothly combined.

Add the extracts and zest and mix until combined.Gradually add the dry ingredients and beat on low until just combined. Roll dough into balls and flatten slightly. Place dough a few inches apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes or until just set on the edges. Chill dough in between baking each batch. Allow cookies to cool before frosting.

For the frosting:

Cream the butter with the strawberry powder and 2 cups of powdered sugar until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add a splash of milk and the rest of the powdered sugar gradually until frosting is smooth and spreadable. Spread frosting onto cooled cookies. Enjoy!

Grilled Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas

Celine and I don’t normally grill that much. While we both prefer burgers and chicken grilled, it can be a pain to stand over a hot grill trying to cook everything evenly. Also, I hate being enveloped in smoke after there is an inevitable flare-up. But, dare I say that my grilling skills are improving?

We made these chicken fajitas a couple of weeks ago, and they turned out perfectly! The marinade is awesome- it has jalapenos, cilantro, and lime juice, so you know it will be good. Before marinating the chicken, you set aside some of the marinade to toss the chicken slices and vegetables in after they’re grilled. I love this step because it brightens up the flavor of the fajitas- the bold flavor of marinades sometimes is cooked off a bit by the time the food is done, so this is a genius way to retain the great flavor of the marinade.

So, whatever you do, please make these fajitas! They’re the best I’ve ever eaten, and I guarantee that you will love them too!

Grilled Chicken Fajitas

Serves about 4-5

Recipe from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook

Ingredients:

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

6 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1½ tsp. brown sugar

1 jalapeño, seeded and diced

1½ tbsp. minced fresh cilantro

1 tsp. salt

¾ tsp. pepper

1½ lbs. chicken breast (about 2-3), butterflied. Or, use 1 1/2 lbs. of chicken tenders.

1 large red onion, sliced into ½-inch thick slices (do not separate the rings)

2 large bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and quartered

8-12 (6-inch) flour tortillas, warmed

Directions:

In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, 4 tablespoons of the vegetable oil, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, jalapeño, cilantro, salt and pepper.  Remove 1/4 cup of the marinade and set aside. Place the chicken into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Pour in the marinade, seal the bag, and shake it to evenly coat the chicken with marinade. Place the chicken in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, brush both sides of the onion rounds and peppers with the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

Turn on your grill; high on one side, and medium-low on the other. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on the hotter side of the grill (you can get rid of the leftover marinade). Put the peppers and onion rounds on the cooler side of the grill. Cook the chicken for about 3-4 minutes on one side, or until well browned. Flip the chicken and continue to grill until it is 160˚ F when an instant read thermometer is inserted into the center.

Grill the vegetables for about 8-12 minutes, or until they are charred in places and somewhat tender. Turn at least once halfway through.

Remove the chicken and vegetables from the grill and transfer to a cutting board. Separate the onion rings and place into a large bowl. Slice the bell peppers into 1/4-inch-thick strips and add to the bowl with the onions. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the reserved (unused) marinade. Slice the chicken into 1/4-inch slices and toss with the other 2 tablespoons of reserved marinade in another bowl. Serve the chicken and vegetables inside the warmed tortillas and enjoy!

 

Raspberry Lemonade Bars

raspberrylemonadebars

During the summer, I don’t tend to crave rich, warm chocolatey desserts as much as I do during the winter. It’s not that I would say no a chocolate chip cookie (who would?), it’s just that I prefer to have something a little more refreshing. Homemade ice cream, fruit cobblers, and anything involving lemon are some of my favorites.

I have always been a lover of lemon bars, so when I saw this raspberry version, I knew I had to try it. It did not disappoint. I love raspberry lemonade, and these bars definitely reminded me of it. There is still the zesty lemon flavor, but also a fruity sweetness from the raspberries. If I had one complaint about these bars, it would be the color. That’s partially my fault though- I was a little short on raspberries so my bars were not as deep of a pink as the source’s were (however, the flavor still came through really well). Though they may not be beautiful, I can guarantee that I will be making these bars again throughout the summer. In fact, I have a craving for one right now as I am writing this. I better go remedy that and make some more!

Raspberry Lemonade Bars

Serves a lot, at least 24

Recipe from Annie’s Eats, originally from Sophistimom

Ingredients:

For the crust:

2¼ sticks (18 tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened

½ cup sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp. salt

For the raspberry lemon layer:

3 cups sugar

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

3 tbsp. lemon zest

¼ tsp. salt

3 cups frozen raspberries, thawed (feel free to use fresh raspberries if you have them)

6 large egg whites

2 large eggs

1 1/3 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

For the crust:

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the flour and salt and mix until just incorporated.  Press the dough into an even layer over the bottom of the pan. Bake for about 25 minutes or until light golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Keep the oven at 350˚ F.

For the filling:

Meanwhile, combine the sugar, flour, lemon zest and salt in a large bowl and whisk to blend.  Place the raspberries in a fine mesh sieve and press through, mashing with a spatula, to extract as much juice and pulp as possible, straining out the seeds. If you are using fresh berries, use a food processor or immersion blender to process them and then strain. Add the egg whites and eggs to the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk well to blend. Stir in the raspberry puree and lemon juice until smooth.

Pour the mixture over the crust and bake until the center is just set and not longer jiggles when gently shaken, about 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. Use the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan. Place on a cutting board and slice into bars.  Dust the tops with powdered sugar. Enjoy!