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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dinner for two, Dinner by two

Well dinner was wonderful.  It was a two kind of day.  Hubby and I working together to make dinner, just like we did breakfast.  Only difference was ... he was outside, I was in.  I have been trying to find a way to incorporate the fresh herbs from my garden into my cooking.  I use tons of dried but only a few fresh did I stick to.  Basil, as part Italian I cook a lot of Italian so this is a given.  But the garden has thyme, sage, mint, and pineapple sage.  I bought this one because it smelled like pineapple and wanted to try it.  I never know what to cook it with.  So they all found a place in my kitchen today.

So for the chicken I made a herbed butter that I slid under the skin of the chicken to not only amp up the flavor of the meat but to keep the breast meat moist while it cooks.  

So the herbed butter recipe was:

4 Tablespoons Butter, softened
A Tablespoon of minced herbs of pineapple sage, apple mint, thyme, and parsley.  
Stir herbs into softened butter, wrap it up in plastic wrap, and return to fridge until ready to use.

I wanted to create a glaze and have been feeling the need to use fruit and herbs.  So I start looking around and thought, I really don't need a recipe just and idea and I'm sure I can figure it out.

The result is a fruit and herb glaze that was tart and earthy.  Just the compliment to the herbed butter.

To make the fruit herb glaze recipe
1 Cup on a combination of raspberry, strawberry, and blackberry.  (I used frozen fruit here and just let it defrost and create a juice. If you use fresh, you will need to macerate the fruit.)
1/2 of a medium plum, chopped
1 Tablespoon of minced herbs of pineapple sage, thyme, apple mint, and basil
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
Put frozen berries in a bowl to defrost, add 1/4 cup of water, and toss in the plums.
Once berries have defrosted, mash them up a little.
Add fruit and herbs to small saucepan and cook on medium for about 5 minutes.  This will soften the fruit further. 
Let the mixture cool a little then puree.
Strain through a cheesecloth to eliminate any seeds or skins.  Put back into the saucepan and add 2 Tablespoons brown sugar.  And heat until sugar is dissolved.
(Note:  If the mixture is not thick you can add cornstarch/water mixture until it is your desired thickness.)
Set aside to baste your chicken.

For the chicken I placed 2 tablespoons of the herbed butter under the skin and seasoned the chicken skin with paprika, fresh ground black pepper, and celery seeds.  Then out it went with hubby to the grill.  Once the chicken internal temperature reaches 145 degrees, the glaze is applied and chicken is cooked till it's internal temperature reaches 165.  Then let it rest.

If I can add veggies to anything I will.  So I made a side salad, that's pretty simple but wanted something else too.  Made rice pilaf from scratch.  It's actually pretty simple and you probably have it in your home without even knowing it.  

To make rice pilaf recipe:

8 Button mushrooms sliced
1/2 of a medium yellow onion, diced
1 small yellow squash
1 small or 1/2 of a medium carrot, small diced
2 Tablespoons Butter
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Cup Orzo Pasta (If you don't have orzo past you can use spaghetti broken into small pieces.)
1 Cup Long or Medium Grain Rice
2 1/2 Cup Chicken Stock or Water

In a medium saucepan, melt butter.
Add onion, mushrooms, yellow squash, carrots and salt.  Sautee until onions are translucent.  
Add orzo or pasta to saucepan and sautee until pasta is brown or toasted.
Add rice and chicken stock or water. 
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and cover.
Continue to cook until rice is done.  This depends on the rice that you use.

Add a glass of sparkling wine and dinner is served.  Don't be afraid to experiment with your herbs.  Hubby always asks, "how do you know it's going to taste good?"  My answer is always well I don't but at least I know what won't work and won't do it again. *laughs*  The key is to always remember you can always add more, it's harder to take things away.  So add a little at a time, and remember to taste.  You don't have to eat a whole meal to taste it.  Always taste it before you add more salt.  A lot of foods already contain salt, so taste often.
Remember the best ingredient is you ... So Enjoy!