Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Almond Crusted Chicken with Strawberry Glaze

One of my favorite spring or early summer dinners is Almond Crusted Chicken with Strawberry Glaze.  You can use homemade or store bought strawberry preserves, and as always, this meal freezes well!


Almond Crusted Chicken with Strawberry Glaze
Ingredients for Glaze:
1/3 Cup Strawberry Jam or Preserves
1/3 Cup Chicken Broth
1/4 cup Sliced Green Onions
1 teaspoon Fresh Rosemary, chopped (or 1/4 teaspoon Dry Rosemary)
1 Tablespoon White Balsamic Vinegar                                                                                  
Ingredients for Chicken:
3/4 Cup Ground Almonds (use raw, unsalted almonds, and use a blender or food processor to grind them)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper 
1 and 1/2 lbs. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (cutlets or tenders work best)
1 or 2 Tablespoons Canola Oil or Vegetable Oil
1.  In a small bowl, mix together the glaze ingredients and set aside.  (If you are making this dish to freeze, mix the ingredients in a small freezer bag, then set aside).
2.  In a medium size bowl, mix together the ground almonds, salt, and black pepper.  Lightly coat each piece of chicken with the ground almond mixture.  (If you are making this dish to freeze, place the chicken in a single layer in an airtight container).
3.  In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the chicken to the skillet (you may need to cook the chicken in two batches).  Cook each side for approximately four minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  Boneless, skinless chicken should reach at least 165 degrees F.
4.  Remove the chicken from the skillet and wipe out the skillet with a paper towel.  Empty the strawberry glaze into the skillet and cook over medium heat for about five minutes, or until the glaze starts to bubble and slightly thicken.
5.  Serve the sauce over the chicken.  This dish is great over a bed of baby spinach!  Enjoy.
If you made this dish to freeze, thaw in the refrigerator before cooking, and start at step 3 above.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Farm Stand Asparagus

I have been hitting my two favorite farm stands and enjoying the fresh local asparagus and green onions.  Yumm!  It made me think of two tips I forgot to mention with the Crab Quiche recipe.

If you are looking for a use for some of your fresh asparagus, you can modify the Crab and Swiss Quiche recipe and make an Asparagus and Bacon Quiche instead.  Substitute 1 cup of chopped asparagus (lightly steamed) for the crab, and substitute black pepper for the cayenne pepper.  You can keep the green onions, or you can substitute 1/4 cup diced yellow onions.  Keep the rest of the ingredients and instructions the same.  Enjoy!

My other savory secret to share is that green onions (scallions) actually freeze very well!  If you have more than you need at the moment, go ahead and rinse and drain them.  Slice them thinly.  Lightly pat them dry with a paper towel if they still seem too moist.  Freeze them in small freezer bags.  You can pull them out of the freezer as needed, for use in soups and sauces.

Next up on Savory Secrets...  early June is strawberry season in Bucks County, PA!  Check back for my recipe for Almond Crusted Chicken with Strawberry Glaze.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Spring Brunch Recipes

Thank you all for checking in with me and wishing me well in my new venture. I am starting to settle into my new routine. This past week I had a chance to make a couple of my favorite spring recipes: Crab and Swiss Quiche and Grand Marnier Baked French Toast. Both of these recipes are perfect for a spring brunch. Enjoy!

All photos copyrighted by Savory Secrets

Crab and Swiss Quiche

2 cups Half and Half
5 Large Eggs (or 1 cup liquid eggs)
3 Tablespoons Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup thinly sliced Green Onions
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup shredded Swiss Cheese (or cut into small cubes)
1/3 lb. of jumbo lump Crab Meat (cooked)*
10-inch deep-dish Pie Shell (homemade or store bought; you can use a regular size pie shell, you will probabl just have extra batter)

*The key to this quiche is the quality of the crab you use. Use the best quality canned jumbo lump crab meat you can buy (you could use lump, but I don't use a lesser grade than lump). A one pound can is enough to make three quiches. You can make one quiche for now and two to freeze for later. They freeze wonderfully if you freeze the batter mixture in a large ziplock bag. Thaw in the fridge, pour into a pre-made pie shell, then bake.

1. Add the following ingredients to a large mixing bowl, and whisk: half and half, eggs, flour, baking powder, cayenne pepper, and salt.

2. Next, gently fold in the following ingredients: green onions, cheddar cheese, swiss cheese, and crab meat.

3. Pour the mixture into the pie shell. Tip: If you have any extra mixture, you can pour it into muffin pans to make mini crustless quiches. Just make sure to fill the extra muffin holes with water so they cook evenly, and check them for doneness after 30 minutes or so in the oven. These are really cute!

4. Set the quiche on top of a baking sheet in case it overflows in the oven. Bake in the oven (preheated to 350 degrees F), uncovered, for approximately 45 minutes, or until set. If the pie crust starts browning too quickly, cover the edges with foil. Let the quiche sit for 10 minutes before cutting.

All photos copyrighted by Savory Secrets

Grand Marnier Baked French Toast

1 French Baguette or 4 Large Croissants
1/2 cup Butter, melted
1 cup pure Maple Syrup
6 large Eggs (or approximately 1 and 1/4 cup liquid eggs)
3 cups Half and Half
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier
1 teaspoon Orange Zest
1 teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract
sprinkle of Cinnamon

1. Pour melted butter and syrup into a 9 x 13 baking pan; spread evenly to cover the bottom of the pan.

2. Slice the french bread into approximately 14 slices (if using croissants, slice each croissant horizontally into two thin slices). Arrange the bread or coissants in a single layer in the pan, on top of the butter/syrup mixture (if using croissants, it is okay to layer the slices as needed to fit the pan).

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the following: eggs, half and half, salt, Grand Marnier, orange zest, and vanilla extract. Whisk. Pour mixture over the bread, pressing the slices down to make sure each piece is completely covered by the mixture.

4. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

5. Cover the french toast and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. OR, freeze for up to 6 months to bake at a later date. Thaw in the refrigerator before baking.

6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover the french toast. Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until cooked through. If you used croissants they will puff up. If they are browning too quickly, cover the french toast with foil and continue baking.

7. Let set for about 10 minutes before serving. Optional: sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving and/or serve with additional maple syrup.

Note: This french toast comes out more like a custard or bread pudding. We love it, but if you prefer a slightly dryer or crisper version, you can either pour off some of the liquid before baking, or cut the amount of eggs and half and half used by approximately one third.

My favorite combination is the Grand Marnier version listed above using croissants, but these variation are delicious as well:
Hazelnut Flavored Baked French Toast: 1) Substitute Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) for the Grand Marnier, 2) Omit the orange zest, 3) Sprinkle with nutmeg instead of cinnamon.
Traditional Flavored French Toast: 1) Omit all liqueur, 2) Increase vanilla extract to 1 Tablespoon, 3) Omit orange zest.