Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jamaican-Spiced Chicken Thighs and Rum Sauced Yams



My husband and I honeymooned in the Caribbean. The island of St. Lucia. I can still see the open air restaurant where we ate breakfast and lunch every day...the sweet, warm breeze rustling through the tropical flowers, the sound of the waves rolling onto the sand, the birds swooping overhead, and the mouthwatering aroma of those Caribbean spices floating on the air. Ahhh. My happy place. When I came across this recipe for Jamaican-Spiced Chicken Thighs I thought, "Honeymoon food!" My husband and I agreed that this dinner captured the flavors of that restaurant from the resort perfectly. The chicken was perfectly spiced and delicious paired with sweet potatoes saturated in decadent buttery rum sauce. The dining experience was a little different. No tropical breezes or waves crashing on the sand. And noticeably absent was that feeling of complete, carefree relaxation. Instead, we gathered around the table in our little Midwestern kitchen. The sound of the waves was replaced by our 5 year old dramatically pushing her plate away and complaining, "Ewww. Disgusting! I'm not eating that. I took a bite. You left guts in it!" Followed by our toddler laughing and kicking the table while squishing great handfulls of sweet potato in her little fists. Well, at least she ate it.(I left two thighs plain to spare the kiddos the heat of the jalapeno and ground red pepper.) My how times have changed!

If you could use a little Jamaican escape (I could today!) then give this a try. It came together in about 30 minutes and the flavors were wonderful!


In a bowl, mix together sugar, red onion, jalapeno, cider vinegar, soy sauce, salt, allspice, thyme, red pepper, and black pepper.



Skin about 1-1/2 lbs. of chicken thighs and sprinkle with a little kosher salt.



Now toss those chicken thighs in the spice mixture until well coated.



Move the thighs to a heated skillet treated with cooking spray or a little oil. Cook on one side for 4 minutes, then flip and continue cooking another 6-10 minutes until juices run clear.



Before you start cooking the chicken, peel a couple of large sweet potatoes and puncture in several places with a fork. Microwave on high for 3 minutes, then turn them over and microwave for another 2-3 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes.



Slice potatoes diagonally into 3/4" thick slices.



Melt butter in a skillet or griddle pan and stir in brown sugar, ginger, and rum.



Arrange slices over sauce and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Then carefully flip and cook on the other side for another 5 minutes.



Sprinkle with a tablespoon or more of fresh, chopped cilantro.



To serve, arrange the potatoes on the outside of a serving dish, then pile the chicken in the center.



I will be making this one again! I could just eat those blackened drippings from the bottom of the skillet. That's how good this is!

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 small chicken thighs or 1 large)

Jamaican-Spiced Chicken Thighs slightly adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded jalapeƱo pepper
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Cooking spray

Preparation

1. Combine first 10 ingredients in a large bowl; add chicken, tossing to coat. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes. Turn chicken over; cook 6 minutes or until done.

Nutritional Information
Calories:187 (27% from fat)
Fat:5.7g (sat 1.4g,mono 1.7g,poly 1.4g)
Protein:27.5g
Carbohydrate:5g
Fiber:0.5g
Cholesterol:115mg
Iron:1.6mg
Sodium:503mg
Calcium:21mg


Rum Sauced Yams ingredients from TLC's Jamaican Grilled Sweet Potatoes

2 large (about 1-1/2 pounds) sweet potatoes or yams
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons softened butter, divided
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation:

1.Pierce potatoes in several places with fork. Place on paper towel in microwave. Microwave on HIGH 5 to 6 minutes or until crisp-tender, rotating 1/4 turn halfway through cooking. Let stand 10 minutes. Diagonally slice about 1/2 inch off ends of potatoes. Continue cutting potatoes diagonally into 3/4-inch-thick slices.

2. Melt butter in a skillet. Add brown sugar, ginger, and rum. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Arrange sweet potato slices over the sauce. cook for 5 minutes. Carefully flip. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Top with chopped cilantro.

Nutritional Information: Serving Size: 4-5 slices
Sodium 56 mg
Protein 2 g
Carbohydrate 38 g
Saturated Fat 1 g
Total Fat 4 g
Calories from Fat 18 %
Calories 195

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Monstrous Meatball Subs

These subs were a perfect dinner this Halloween week. One, because these hearty sandwiches really hit the spot after an afternoon of raking leaves in the crisp autumn air and two, because, well...they just look scary. Check it out:



You're gonna need a napkin (or a roll of paper towel) for these! This was the first meatball sub to ever touch my lips. Never made one. Never ordered one off of the menu. I wasn't even tempted. It just didn't sound that good to me. However, back in June, I read a post by Katy at Food for a Hungry Soul. Boy, did her meatball subs on fresh baked French bread catch my attention. They looked SO good! Then, when I made my big batch o' meatballs last month, Coleen from Coleen's Recipes commented, "Congratulations on making your own meatballs! Now nothing can hold you back....meatball subs, meatball sliders, sweet & sour meatballs...so much to try." After using my meatballs atop pasta in Tomato Basil Cream sauce and in Easy Swedish Meatballs and I still had exactly one dozen meatballs left in the freezer. I knew exactly what I wanted to try. Meatball subs. Thank you for the suggestion, Coleen! Although now I'm thinking, "how cute must those meatball sliders be?" Next time...


To begin, I put the thawed meatballs in a skillet with half of a sliced sweet onion and half of a sliced yellow pepper. Cook and stir until the veggies are tender and the onion turns a golden brown color.



Remove the onion and pepper to a bowl and keep warm.



Now pour half a jar of spaghetti sauce over the meatballs. Heat until the sauce reaches a boil, then reduce the heat and cover. Simmer the meatballs while you finish the rest of the steps for the sub, load your dishwasher, change out the laundry, locate the show and tell item for your daughter's class tomorrow, and slice some apples for the neighborhood kids that are jumping in the leaf piles in your backyard...whatever. About 20 minutes.



To prepare the bread, cut 5 bakery hoagie rolls in half. Melt 3/4 a stick of butter in the microwave and stir in 3 cloves of garlic, minced and crushed. Brush the butter/garlic mixture over the bread.



Put em' under the broiler until toasted.



Now you're ready to build your subs. Lay down some onions and peppers on the bottom slice of each hoagie roll. I only put onions and peppers on three of our subs. The kiddos don't appreciate the grilled veggies. If you're covering all of the subs with onions and peppers you might want to slice more.



Now place three meatballs and a healthy serving of sauce over the onions and peppers.



Generously sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.



Top each with a slice of provolone cheese. I tore mine in half to cover more of the sandwich.



Set the tops of the rolls aside and place the subs back under the broiler until the cheese melts.



Now put a lid on it. Chow down! Mmmmmm.



Here's a cross section. It looks a lil' less messy.



Meatball Subs

Serves: 5

15 meatballs
1/2 sweet onion, sliced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1/2 jar spaghetti sauce
5 bakery hoagie rolls, halved
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3 cloves garlic, minced and crushed
parmesan cheese, grated
5 slices provolone cheese

In a skillet, heat meatballs, onions, and peppers until the onions and peppers are tender and the onions are golden brown. Remove vegetables and keep warm. Add 1/2 jar of spaghetti sauce to meatballs. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer 20 minutes. Melt butter. Stir in garlic. Brush onto hoagie rolls and broil until golden brown. Spread a layer of onions and peppers on each bun. Place 3 meatballs over the onions and peppers. Cover in sauce. Generously sprinkle with parmesan. Top with a slice of provolone. Return to broiler until cheese is melted. Put remaining bun on top and serve.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Meal Plan and Grocery List 10/26- 11/1

I'm baa-ack! With a big to-do list and lots of catching up to do after 10 days away from home. First on the list: the meal plan and grocery list. I'm like Old Mother Hubbard...my cupboard is bare. Next on the list, trying to find grass under the foot of leaves that have fallen on our lawn in my absence. I can't believe that this week brings in the 1st of November! Here in NE Ohio, it's hard to tell when the first snow will fall. I've gotta get those leaves up before our first snowman looks like the abominable leaf creature!

Monday October 26th

Beer Cheese Chowder in a bread bowl

Tuesday October 27th

Meatball Subs

Wednesday October 28th

Jamaican Spiced Chicken Thighs
with Sweet Potatoes

Thursday October 29th

Easy Shepherd's Pie

Friday October 30th

Pizza

Saturday October 31st

Happy Halloween!

Seafood Bisque with Crusty French Bread

Sunday November 1st

Leftovers


Grocery List

Produce

carrots
celery
sweet red pepper
green onions
2 onions
yellow or green pepper
garlic
potatoes (for mashing or instant)
red onion
1 jalapeno
2 large sweet potatoes
cilantro

Meat

1 lb. ground beef
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs (1-1/2 lbs)
1 lb. shrimp

Dairy

milk
16 oz. shredded cheddar
6 oz. American cheese (singles)
8 oz. Provolone cheese
grated Parmesan
butter
4 oz. cream cheese

Canned Goods

1 beer
1 jar spaghetti sauce
8 oz. beef gravy
cider vinegar
soy sauce
dark rum
ketchup
evaporated milk
dry white wine

Dry Goods

flour
bouillon
pepper
sourdough rounds (4)
hoagie rolls
sugar
allspice
thyme
red pepper
brown sugar
bay leaf
seasoned salt
ginger

Freezer

1 lb. meatballs
mixed vegetables

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Peach Crisp

Hello everyone! I'm still away from my kitchen, still in Indiana... but I have progressed two hours South to spend the remainder of my time in the Hoosier state with my husband's family. I have one more recipe saved up in my "out of the office" files to share with you while I spend my weekend pumpkin picking and tailgating the Purdue game (Hey, we finally won one! Big thanks to The Ohio State University for letting their guard down. Go Boilers!) On Sunday, it'll be back to business as usual here with the meal plan. In the meantime...

I made this basic (and delicious) peach crisp a couple of weekends ago.



Do you ever just crave baked goods? On that chilly Saturday night, I needed to bake. After searching my pantry, I knew just what I wanted. The jar of peaches staring back from the second shelf called out, "Peach crisp...peach crisp." What, your canned goods don't talk to you? Huh. Too bad. It's helpful to have such counsel in your kitchen.




I drained the peaches and sliced them into the bottom of a baking dish. This was one of those round Corningware dishes, I think that it was a 2 quart. I'd run into my kitchen to check...but I'm not at home. A 9X9 would work fine here too. Because these peaches were preserved in a light syrup, I didn't need to sweeten them. If you're using fresh, you might want to stir in some sugar.



Next I mixed together some quick oats, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon and cut in 1/2 stick of butter.



Sprinkle the topping over the peaches.



Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, until the topping is golden brown.



Now here's the kicker: Serve it warm, topped with Creme Brulee ice cream. Oh my goodness! I swear that music swelled in my kitchen (it was the Halleluiah Chorus) when I took the first bite of this combination.



Peach Crisp

1/2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. butter
1 quart sized jar of peaches, drained and sliced or 5-7 fresh peaches, peeled and sliced

In mixing bowl combine oats, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Drain peaches, then slice and put into a baking dish. Sprinkle oat mixture on top and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve warm with creme brulee ice cream ; )

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Coconut Jasmine Rice



I am still away from my kitchen, visiting my family and not cooking much beyond spaghetti and tacos for the 5 kiddos that have been turning up at my parent's table each night. Five kids, as in: my girls, my nephews, and my only niece. My sisters are both teachers and need to turn in grades and hold parent-teacher conferences this week so I'm trying to help out by watching and feeding the babies (well sort of babies...ages: 5, 4, 2, 21 months, and 16 months). The furthest thing from my mind should be Thai food and the unique coconut jasmine rice that is served alongside my favorite curries at our local Thai restaurant. I'm pretty sure that I'd have to drive a bit from my current location to even find Thai food. Yet, that's what I'm thinking about. Hey, my cravings know not a geographical restriction. So tonight, I bring you this delicious coconut rice that tastes just like the restaurant version. This recipe came to me in my Facebook inbox from my friend Amber, all the way in sunny California, and was simply titled, "Yummy Rice". Thank you, Amber!

Here's what you need: jasmine rice, chicken broth, coconut milk (I used light), lemongrass and ginger (from a tube), and cilantro (I used fresh, but you could also use the kind from a tube, found in the produce section of your grocery store and eliminate chopping all together!)



If you've got a rice cooker, throw it all in together, stir it well, and cook until done. If don't have a rice cooker, bring the broth, coconut milk, ginger, lemongrass, and cilantro to a boil. Then add the rice and cover and cook according to the directions on the rice package.



I think that this cooked to perfection in about 15 minutes. For the record, the flavors in this rice were lost on my dear husband. He took a bite and asked, with a puzzled look, "What is that, orange?" You see, he's never been to my favorite Thai restaurant. He's never tasted the rice or the curry or the coconut soup. Remember when I wrote about how he orders Buffalo Chicken Pizza when I'm out of town? Well, I get Thai takeout when he's away. I guess our guilty take out pleasures soften the disadvantages of being apart. Absence makes the stomach grow rounder? Hmmm. My kids and I loved the rice. Probably because they've developed a taste for it. All of those take out dinners when daddy is away...



Coconut Jasmine Rice aka "Yummy Rice"

2 cups jasmine rice
1.5 cups chicken broth
1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp lemon grass paste
1 tsp cilantro blend paste or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tblsp ginger "mashed" or from the tube

Place all ingredients in a rice cooker and stir before cooking OR bring everything except for rice to a boil, then add rice. Cover and cook according to package directions.

Oh, you know what I just realized?! The Basil Chicken in Coconut-Curry Sauce that I made all the way back in February would be excellent over this rice. Give it a try and let me know what you think. : )

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Chocolate Swirled Banana Bread

We're having a lovely visit in my native rural Indiana. Yesterday I took my daughters apple picking.







And today, we went to Plow Day on my grandparent's farm. What is Plow Day, you might ask? Well as far as I can tell, (after attending this one) it's where members of my grandpa's antique tractor club bring their tractors and plows to a field and then people come from miles around to admire the tractors and watch them plow. There's also a big, yummy meal at lunch time and everyone fills up and warms up and heads back out for more plowing. It might not sound like it, but it was pretty fun. The kids had a blast watching the tractors, pretending to drive, and racing pedal tractors after lunch, and cruising around on the golf carts.







With all of our fun fall activities, I haven't had much time to be in the kitchen or write about what's cookin'. I definitely wanted to pass along this banana bread recipe while you wait for me to return to my own kitchen. I found this recipe on one of the blogs that I follow, Elizabeth's Edible ,and decided to put the very ripe bananas, sitting lazily on my countertop, to work.




The resulting loaf of bread was delicious! You can find the recipe HERE on Elizabeth's blog. I did alter the recipe slightly...I only had full fat sour cream and I accidentally used 1/2 cup instead of 1/3 ( I grabbed the wrong measuring cup and didn't realize it until the bread was in the oven). Maybe that explains why this was so moist? If you're in the mood for chocolate and bananas, give this one a try!

Friday, October 16, 2009

And the winner of my giveaway is...

Kelly from No Empty Chairs! Congratulations, Kelly! I wrote down each and every entry in numbered order as they came in, including extra entries for following and tweeting, facebooking, or blogging. Then I used the computer to select a random integer, in this case #9. I know that I promised to post the winner on Friday and I have done it with just 6 minutes left in this Friday. I am visiting my parents and have not been near a computer today until just now. Sorry to keep you all waiting. Thank you to everyone who entered. I really enjoyed reading all of your comments about your favorite Krista's Kitchen posts and the encouragement and compliments on the first anniversary of my blog! I love hearing what you all think! Thanks to everyone for reading and have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Have You Been Boo'd?

Last night as I was rounding up the girls for bedtime, our doorbell rang. When you're not expecting anyone at your door, a ring after dark can be somewhat disconcerting. Right? Well not when you're five. Our daughter ran right to the door and flung it open. This prompted a whole speech (by me) about why blindly and fearlessly opening the door when you don't know who is on the other side is NOT a good idea. I tried not to employ too many scare tactics, considering we were on the verge of bedtime and our daughter has a very active imagination...but it was a teachable moment. While I was running "safety school", my husband peeked his head out the door and retrieved this:



A bag stuffed with goodies, sitting on our doorstep. We'd been Boo'd. I am no stranger to "The Boo". When I was teaching back in Indiana, I found similar treat bags on my desk every year with a little Halloween poem encouraging me to enjoy the treats and "pay it forward" to someone else by covertly dispensing treats of my own. It's like having Casper as a secret admirer. When we lived in Georgia, I found that our neighborhood also had it's share of generous little goblins when we were Boo'd there.

Here is the note that we found attached to our treat bag:



It says: It's that time of year when the nights get cool, that you'll get a visit from your favorite ghoul. He'll ring your bell and drop a treat, and leave you there with something sweet. And no one knows from where he came, beware if you don't play his game! His wrath is fierce and temper short, revenge on others is his sport. Now it's your turn to be the one, to pass a treat and have some fun. Wait til dark when the shadows are growing, then grab your bag, it's time to get going. Pick a neighbor, ring a bell. Run away without a yell. Phantom will know if you've been seen...he'll be watching you on Halloween.

I've seen different versions of this poem over the years. This one is a little more ominous, but still fun!


On the back, this note is printed:



This way, the treats get spread around the neighborhood instead of the same families getting Boo'd over and over. I'm going to go ahead and admit that I was tempted to not tape this in my window and then see how many bags of treats arrived on our doorstep. So bad, I know! I'm like the Halloween Grinch. I promise, I taped the sign in our front window right away.

It probably goes without saying that my daughter was totally psyched and scheming who we would "Boo" tonight. I haven't purchased my Halloween candy yet, but luckily, today we were making pumpkin cut out cookies for her Pre-K snack representing the letter "P". I pulled out some more of our Halloween cookie cutters and we had fun decorating!



I only had one little tub of frosting in the house, so I had to stretch it. Most of the frosting was colored orange for the pumpkin cookies, I colored a little black for outlining, and a little green for the pumpkin stems and vines. I left some white "just in case" we ran out. Good thing. I used this white frosting for the extra cookies and then covered the wannabe black cats with chocolate sprinkles. I thought that it gave them texture, like hair standing on end.



Then there were (vampire) bats and...



ghosts and skeletons. I got this skeleton idea from Tried and True Cooking with Heidi, who made chocolate skeleton cookies using her gingerbread man cookie cutter.




I wanted to individually wrap each cookie in plastic wrap and put them in a cute little gift bag. However, I ran out of plastic wrap while wrapping the Pre-K cookies and it was getting too late to run out to the store. I needed a plan "B". I decided to use one of those pumpkin trick or treat buckets instead. Looking at this picture now...those innocent trick or treat buckets are creepy...even in pink. Or maybe it's just time for me to call it a night?



I lined the bucket with tissue paper, carefully laid in the cookies, and topped with a circle of wax paper.



After dinner, I loaded up my 5 year old, one of her friends that I happened to be watching, and my toddler into the van and drove around the corner. We completely could have walked...we boo'd the house directly behind us. However, I had disastrous visions of us running through the dark after we rang the doorbell...me jiggling the toddler on my hip...someone tripping...a possible trip to the emergency room. No thank you. Probably best to just drive around the corner. I coached the girls: "Put down the treat. Ring the doorbell. RUN!" I let the two 5 year olds out of the van and I turned off the headlights and inched forward behind them. I could see my neighbors in the window. Would we get away with it? The girls set down the treat and rang the bell and ran shrieking toward the mini van, dived in the side door, and I pulled away (lights still out, automatic door closing). What a thrill! The girls had a blast and I flashed back to tee-peeing trees in my high school days. If my neighbors recognized us, I bet they think that we're crazy! I hope that they opened the door and found the treat.

It was completely fun! If you haven't been Boo'd consider starting this tradition in your neighborhood or office. Who doesn't need a treat?!

Have YOU been Boo'd?

Before I sign off tonight, just a quick reminder: tomorrow is the last day to enter my giveaway. Check it out here! The winner will be announced on Friday.
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