Three Cheese Chicken Lasagna

September 10, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Posted in Pasta | 42 Comments
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Here’s what we like about this:

  • It’s a pasta and ooey-gooey cheese combination.
  • The sweet and fresh picked home-grown tomatoes turn this dish into a star.
  • With ground chicken breast and a cream sauce, you’ve got a great summer version of lasagna.
  • The ground garlic cheese croutons added a crunchy little au gratin topping goodness to the whole thing.
  • One teaspoon of cayenne pepper brightens the tomato sauce and brings this dish to an unexpected level of excitement.

What we didn’t like:

  • This is one of these dishes where will power and common sense becomes nonexistent.  Somewhere during your third helping, you realize you can’t stop eating it.

I only make this dish each summer when fresh tomatoes from my garden are rolling around on my kitchen counter.  That beautiful fresh tomato flavor truly shines when paired with the three mild cheeses and the ground chicken. Creamy in flavor, and served simply with a tossed salad it’s a wonderful meal. Let’s take a look.

Three Cheese Chicken Lasagna:

  • 1 package lasagna noodles
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 t. cayenne pepper
  • 3 pounds fresh garden tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 T. fresh basil
  • 2 C. ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 C. chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 C. milk
  • 1/4 C. chicken broth
  • Handful garlic cheese croutons, ground in a mini-chopper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add lasagna noodles, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook until almost tender, according to package directions. Drain.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Oil a lasagna baking dish.

In a frying pan heat oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned. Add the onion and red pepper and saute until softened, about two minutes. Stir in the garlic and cayenne pepper and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the chopped tomatoes and basil, stir well and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes, adding the milk and chicken broth to maintain a thick soupy consistency. The amount will depend on how juicy the tomatoes are. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

In a bowl combine ricotta, Parmesan and egg and mix well. Stir in the parsley.

Line the bottom of the baking dish with about 1/4 of the lasagna noodles. Spread with 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, sprinkle with 1/3 of the mozzarella, and then spoon on 1/4 of the sauce. Repeat the layering two more times, using up all the ricotta mixture and the mozzarella.  Top with the remaining noodles and finally the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with ground up croutons.

Cover and bake until heated through and the sauce is bubbling. About 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Uncover and cut into squares to serve.

Three Cheese Chicken Lasagna…It’s What’s For Dinner

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Braised Chicken with Lemon, Potatoes and Olives

September 3, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Posted in Chicken | 45 Comments
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We love braised chicken dishes at our house and with my cast iron skillet as my partner, I can’t go wrong. It perfectly and quickly places a crispy brown crust on the chicken skin.Then it’s high sides snuggle ingredients and sauces together to simmer the flavors into a delicious savory goodness.

Let’s take a look at some of the braised chicken dishes I’ve blogged about:

Chicken Marengo:  Flavored with raisins, carrots, tomatoes, black olives in a sweet tangy basil and rosemary sauce. Exciting.

Tarragon Chicken: Simply a tarragon tomato sauce.  Savory.

Sticky Lips Chicken: White wine, scallions in a veal demi glace. Omg.

And Chicken Galliano:  Mushrooms and goat cheese and simmered in a anise flavored liqueur.  Divine.

Thanks to Martha for our latest braised chicken dinner. The chicken soaks up and delivers soft lemony goodness. Accompanied with a bite of briny olives, smooth potato cubes, and topped with fresh sprigs of thyme, it’s a delicious one-skillet meal.

Martha Stewart’s Braised Chicken with Lemon, Potatoes and Olives:

  • 2 1/4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken stock
  • 12 ounces baby fingerling potatoes or halved small potatoes
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1/2 cup green olives, such as Cerignola, pitted if desired
  • 1 small lemon, washed well, cut into wedges
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Season chicken with salt. Heat a large, heavy ovenproof skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Swirl in oil. Cook chicken, skin side down, until browned, about 5 minutes. Flip chicken, and push to side of skillet. Add 1 cup stock and  1/2 teaspoon salt. Add potatoes to liquid. Bring to a boil. Add garlic, olives, lemon wedges, and thyme to liquid. Return to a boil.
  2. Transfer skillet to oven. Roast, stirring potatoes halfway through, until potatoes are tender and chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.
  3. Return skillet to stove. Mix cornstarch with remaining  1/4 cup stock, and stir into pan. Bring to a boil to thicken sauce. Serve immediately.

Braised Chicken with Lemon, Potatoes and Olives…It’s What’s For Dinner.

Spicy Gazpacho Shooters…Summer Tapas Dinner Menu…The End

August 28, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Posted in Soup | 30 Comments
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As you can see, the sun is mercifully setting on my back deck tapas dinner party.

I’ll conclude this series with the last offering of these Spicy Gazpacho Shooters. I’ve never made gazpacho or for that matter never ordered it in a restaurant. I just can’t wrap my arms around cold soups, I  like them hot, steamy and wafting with wonderful spices and aromas.

With all that said, I thought these little cold soup shooters would make a fresh and summery addition to the menu. And when I carried them out on my tomato red platter in my cute little crackly-glass shot glasses, I felt so clever and smug and could have cared less what the soup tasted like.

I Googled Gazpacho and the returns were all similar variations that included fresh vegetables, and always cucumber, tomato and bell peppers. I knew I wanted to kick mine up a bit and added jalapeno and a few shakes of Tabasco.

  • Spicy Gazpacho Shooters
  • 2 1/2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • hand full of crusty croutons
  • 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times to blend.  Chill until ready to serve.

Spicy Gazpacho Shooters…It’s What’s for a Summer Tapas Dinner.

Shrimp Cocktail Sauce Recipe…Summer Tapas Dinner Menu, con’t

August 27, 2011 at 11:00 am | Posted in Appetizers | 24 Comments
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“We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Area Rug”

With all of our rain this year, the high country sports a beautiful carpet of wildflowers and vegetation. The caption is for Nancy…and for those of you who weren’t there when she said it, it’s one of those “had to be there” moments.  She confused two famous movie quotes that included badges and area rugs and …well.. as I said…you needed to be there.

Nothing like a big ol’ platter of shrimp cocktail on the back deck on a Summer evening. I love this serving presentation, an idea I got from Vickie over at Part Three. Not that Vickie invented the shrimp cocktail appetizer, but she did give me this idea of serving the shrimp over peppery arugula that’s been tossed with olive oil and lemon juice.

The crisp arugula seems perfect on the palate as a chaser for that bite of shrimp that’s been dipped in the flavor explosion of a great cocktail sauce. I’m partial to my recipe. For us, it’s the perfect combination. Sweet with catsup, tangy with a bite of horseradish and a little Snap-E-Tom Juice thrown in for some heat it had everyone asking for the recipe.

My Shrimp Cocktail Recipe:

1/2 C. Catsup
1 1/2 T. horseradish — prepared
1 T. Lemon juice
1/2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1/4 C. Snap-E-Tom Juice
1/4 t. Worcestershire sauce
Pepper

For the shrimp: In a pot of water, add several stalks of fresh parsley. Cut a lemon in half, squeeze the juice into the water and then add the lemons. Toss in one bay leaf and a small stalk of celery with leaves. Salt the water and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn up heat until boiling, add shrimp and boil until pink. That’s 1 – 3 minutes depending on size of shrimp.  With a slotted spoon, remove shrimp to a plate, cover and chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Peel and devein. Serve with cocktail sauce.

I have no idea what kind of flower this is. Some sort of lily? I’m hoping one of my gardening expert readers, and you know who you are, can point me in the right direction. These were scattered along Lake Irene, Milner Pass, Continental Divide, probably about 12,000 ft. altitude. Aren’t they divine?

Shrimp Cocktail…It’s What’s for a Summer Meal on the Back Deck.

Chicken Cutlets with Jalapeno Orange Sauce and Black Beans

August 18, 2011 at 7:38 am | Posted in Chicken | 23 Comments
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I’m sure you know the routine; one week getting ready for vacation, one week of vacation, one week catching up from vacation equals no time to blog, or for that matter not much time for cooking. I’ll most certainly be back in the kitchen this weekend, but for now it’s a quick fix dinner.

This latin chicken dish is so easy, so full of flavor and a pleasure to place on the table. A great weeknight meal that you can easily be digging into in around 30 minutes. The original recipe called for turkey cutlets and Habanero. We opted for quick-fix chicken cutlets from the meat case and a I woosed out and  bought, deveined and deseeded a jalapeno. I tried, honestly I really tried…but everytime I look at one of those small little criminal orange Habanero, I become very afraid and reach for the more trustable jalapeno.

This recipe comes from one of my new favorite sites, Fine Cooking. It’s a great resource for quick and flavorful meals. Let’s take a look:

Chicken Cutlets with Jalapeno Orange Sauce and Black Beans

5 to 6 Tbs. olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 plus 1/8 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
1/2 tsp. seeded and minced jalapeno chile
Salt and fresh ground pepper
1 small sweet onion, chopped
One 15-1/2-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
4 chicken breast cutlets (about 1-1/4 lb.)

In a 10-inch skillet, heat 2 Tbs. of the oil and the garlic over medium heat until the garlic is golden, about 3 minutes. Stir in 1/8 tsp. of the cumin. Add the orange juice, lime juice, and jalapeno. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper; set the mojo sauce aside. (The sauce can be served warm or at room temperature.)

Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and ¼ tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the beans and the remaining ½ tsp. cumin and cook until the beans are heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the beans to a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.

Wash and dry the skillet. Season the chicken cutlets on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbs. of the oil in the skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add as many cutlets as will comfortably fit in a single layer and cook until browned on both sides and just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining cutlets, adding the remaining 1 Tbs. oil if needed.

Divide the cutlets and black beans among individual plates. Spoon the mojo sauce over and serve.

Chicken Cutlets with Jalapeno Orange Sauce and Black Beans…It’s What’s for Dinner.

Wedding on Top of a Mountain and Breakfast Enchiladas

July 16, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Posted in Breakfast, Chicken, Mexican/Southwest | 29 Comments
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Ever tried drinking and dancing for hours at 11,500 feet? It’s a tough job. Even raising a glass of champagne to toast the bride and groom can cause a slight shortness of breath. 🙂 Nonetheless, seems like we managed. A couple of weeks ago Brian, son of friends Tom and Kathy got married to Melanie on top of a mountain at a ski lodge above Keystone Resort. It was hands down the most beautiful wedding I’ve ever attended.

Continue Reading Wedding on Top of a Mountain and Breakfast Enchiladas…

Tri-tip Steaks with Anchovy Caper Butter

July 9, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Posted in Beef, Bread | 40 Comments
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Every time I look at this photo, it reminds me of a billboard we saw somewhere in the middle of Kansas along I-70 advertising steak at a restaurant called Montana Mike’s. It’s simply a ridiculously huge closeup shot of steak that fills the entire billboard. We LOL’d and thought it looked like Kansas’s had invented the Red Cliffs of Dover rather than offering up a good steak. Of course when you’re in the middle of Kansas on I-70 you’re easily amused.

What’s all the fuss about anchovies? 

Continue Reading Tri-tip Steaks with Anchovy Caper Butter…

No Recipe Required: Pasta with Short Ribs and Capers

May 20, 2011 at 6:29 am | Posted in Beef, No recipe required | 24 Comments
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  • Slow cook short ribs in your favorite jarred marinara sauce until fall off the bone tender.
  • Remove ribs from sauce, remove meat from bone and shred. Skim fat from sauce.
  • Toss sauce, shredded beef, halved cherry tomatoes and capers with cooked bucatini pasta.
  • Top with coarse grated Parmesan cheese.

Pasta with Short Ribs and Capers…It’s What’s for Dinner.

One Year Ago: Chicken Marengo

No Recipe Required: Apple and Brie Sandwiches

May 3, 2011 at 8:10 am | Posted in No recipe required, Quick and Easy, Sandwiches | 40 Comments
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  • Lay two slices of rustic Italian bread on a sheet pan. 
  • Broil one side until toasted.
  • Remove from oven and spread untoasted side with Dijon mustard.
  • Top with arugula, thin sliced gala apples and two slices of thin sliced Brie cheese
  • Pop it back under the broiler until cheese is melted.

Adapted from Fine Cooking

Apple and Brie Sandwiches…It’s What’s for a Quick Dinner.

One Year Ago: Tarragon Burgers and Citrus Salad

Balsamic Reduction Sauce, or Balsamic Glaze Recipe

April 30, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Posted in Chicken, Condiment | 33 Comments
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A few years ago at a highly acclaimed Denver restaurant, I ordered a dish of crab cakes that were served drizzled with a wonderful balsamic glaze. One bite and I was inquiring the waitress for a recipe or method to make the glaze. She exclaimed it to be incredibly easy “Just bla..bla..bla.. then bla..bla.. and then just bla and voila and you’ve re-created an exact replica of this glaze that is sitting in front of you“.

The very next day I went to work in my kitchen to recreate the process. Well, the “bla..bla..bla..then just bla” instructions led me nowhere near the result from the restaurant. 

Recently I blogged about our monthly Wine Time event. Our friend Kathy brought some bottled balsamic glaze to drizzle over some bread and blue cheese. I mentioned in my post how delicious it was, and that it was purchased in Omaha, and I was hoping to find some in Denver. Well, lo and behold, Michele to the rescue! Michele over at  Cooking With Michele, quickly fired over her own recipe for Balsamic Glaze. I was thrilled to say the least.  Michele is a Denver food blogger, a trained and talented chef, a cooking instructor and a sommelier. With credentials like that, I knew her recipe would be spot on. And with her side note of…

“This one’s easy, I promise! The more you let it reduce, the thicker it will be. And while it might not seem too thick when it’s hot, it thickens more when it cools. I keep mine in a squeeze bottle in the fridge to have on hand – good on chicken, fish, pork, beef, parmesan cheese, strawberries, ice cream, cheese and more!”

I couldn’t get to the kitchen fast enough to give it a try. While the sauce was simmering, I skewered some chunks of chicken breast, seasoned with salt and pepper, grilled them and simply arranged them alongside a mixture of baby greens. I drizzled on Michele’s wonderfully aromatic and thick dark glaze over the greens and the chicken and had a simple but incredibly rich flavored meal. 

I can’t thank you enough Michele. I now have my own little squeeze bottle of this black gold in my refrigerator, of which I feel incredibly smug. 

For the recipe, head on over to her site for her Asparagus with Balsamic Glaze recipe.

Balsamic Glaze…It’s What’s for Making Dinner Special.

One Year Ago: Chicken Marengo

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