Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pecan-Crusted Chicken with a Sweet Corn Reduction Sauce

I'm back!  Did you  miss me?  So M's after school activities have ended for the year which means that she gets home REALLY early every day.  Wow, it's amazing how much difference just a couple of hours a day make.  I honestly haven't had the cooking/creating bug lately and so therefore don't have much to share this week.  I did make a delicious meal last week though that I'm just now getting around to posting.

I used Rachael Ray's pecan-crusted chicken recipe as the basis to make this yummy dish and I found a sweet corn reduction sauce recipe here.

First, let's talk about preparation.  It's amazing how easy it is to follow a recipe when you have all of your ingredients chopped up, measured out and ready to go before you start cooking.  I'm going to try to get better at doing this.

Before we get started with the sauce, get your oven preheating to 400 degrees.  Okay, now let's make the sweet corn reduction sauce.  We're going to add our frozen sweet corn and diced onions to a pan with some heated olive oil.  Saute for a about a minute.

Now, add your sliced jalepenos and heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.  Don't worry, it doesn't make a spicy sauce.  Your kids will still eat it.  Side note, I omitted the bell pepper simply because I didn't have one.

Here's the shot of the reduced liquid.   Next time I'll let it reduce down a bit further since I found the sauce a little too soupy.  Add your honey, salt, pepper and lemon juice now.

Once you're done reducing, set your sauce aside while you get your chicken going.  We're going to start by putting our pecan pieces (which by the way, I forgot to toast and I just bought a bag of pecan pieces and skipped the food processor step), bread crumbs, salt, pepper and basil in a shallow baking dish.

Coat your chicken with honey mustard and then give them a generous coating of the pecan mixture...yum!  I thought I would spare you the picture of the raw chicken breasts with mustard rubbed on them.  For some reason it grosses me out to see pics of raw chicken.  Weird, I know.

That's it my friends!  Just place your chicken on a sheet of parchment, to make clean up easy, drizzle with some olive oil and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes.  Remember, always use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.

Now, back to the sauce.  While your chicken is baking, heat your sauce back up and then pour your reduction into a blender and blend until all of the solids are liquified.  Or, if you were a better a planner, you could have been making your sauce while the chicken was cooking.  See?  Aren't you glad I'm trying all of these recipes out for you so you know what not to do?  Feel free to leave a comment thanking me if you'd like.  Whew, I crack myself up.

Where were we?  Oh yeah, blended sauce.  Here's what mine looked like.  Hopefully yours will be a bit thicker so that your significant other doesn't ask if it's soup.

Simple recipe, right?  I guess I got a little too excited, because I forgot to take any pictures between now and serving the dish.  I think you can all figure it out though.  I served the meal with mashed potatoes.  Here's a tip.  Instead of using butter, I used the new Philadelphia cooking creme in Italian Cheese and Herb.  Wow.  Best mashed potatoes that I've ever made (I swear I'm not getting compensated by them in any way, shape or form).


Sweet Corn Reduction Sauce

1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup diced onion
1 1/4 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced jalapeño pepper
2 tablespoons minced red bell pepper
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

In a medium pan, sauté corn, garlic, and onion in oil over medium heat 1 minute. Add jalapeño and bell pepper. Cook 30 seconds. Add stock. Reduce liquid by half. Season with honey, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Transfer to blender and puree.

Pecan-Crusted Chicken

1 cup pecans. toasted
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried basil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
1/4 cup honey mustard

Preheat the oven to 400°. Using a food processor, grind the pecans into fine crumbs. Transfer to a wide, shallow bowl and stir in the bread crumbs and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Rub each chicken breast with honey mustard, then coat with the pecan mixture. Place on a nonstick baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bake until the juices run clear, 15 to 20 minutes.

Oh, I have to share these pics of M trying out the dish, which she loved by the way.

First one, "Yum!"  Just so you know, it's well into the 80s here.  I have no idea why she is wearing a knit hat...with her ballet recital outfit.

Second, "I'm not liking it anymore."  :-(

Finally, "I'm just kidding!  This rocks!"  What a goof ball.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Leftover Easter Candy

I believe that I've mentioned before that I'm cheap...really cheap.  I mean, who doesn't love getting a deal?  Enter my love of couponing.  Don't get me wrong, you're never going to see me on TLC's Extreme Couponing.  You'll definitely see me in the store, mostly Target, a couple of times a week though getting some extreme deals.

Let's examine this week's goodies.  Thanks to Easter clearance, the candy is super cheap this week.

John Frieda Hair Color - $11.99 ($5.00 Target coupon) ($5.00 manufacturer coupon) = $1.99
Ziploc Baggies - $1.79 ($2.00 coupon when you buy 2 bags of M&M's) = $0.21
2 Bags of M&M's - $1.44
Toddler Shorts - $4.50 (20% off Target mobile coupon) = $3.60
2 Bags of Hershey Bliss - $1.74 ($1.50 manufacturer coupon) = $0.24
2 Bags Lifesavers Jelly Beans - $1.24 ($1.00 manufacturer coupon) = $0.24
1 Bag Dove Chocolate - $0.87 ($1.00 manufacturer coupon) = $0.13
2 Packs of 5 Gum - $1.24 ($1.00 manufacturer coupon) = $0.24
2 Packs of Stride Gum - $0.96 ($1.00 manufacturer coupon) = $0.03
Aquafresh Toothbrush - $1.99 ( $1.00 Target coupon) ($1.00 manufacturer coupon) = $0.01

Total Spent = $7.37 ($5.00 Target Gift Card earned last week) = $2.37!

Okay, so now what to do with all of this candy?  Let's see, I scoured my trusty blogs and of course, they didn't let me down.  I found some really fun things to do with leftover candy.

Jelly Beans
These jelly bean bracelets from Quirky Momma are so cute.  I know that M and her friends will have a blast making them.  Definitely something we'll do once school is out.

I had forgotten that jelly beans make excellent fillers for cookie and cake pop displays!  These sugar cookie pops from Oh How Posh are so cute sitting in their bed of jelly beans!

There are tons of things you can do with leftover Easter chocolate.

1. For starters, chop it up and use it in place of chocolate chips in cookie recipes.  Honestly, I like chunks better than chips anyway.

2. You can also melt it in a saucepan with a little bit of cream to make a yummy chocolate sauce for ice cream sundaes.

3. Chocolate chunk pancakes.  A favorite in our house.

4. Give them away to your friends.  I have a feeling they're just about OD'd on chocolate right now so maybe wait a bit and surprise your neighbor that gave up M&M's for Lent with a bag of M&M's?  (Hey neighbor, you know who you are!)

Or, you could just open up all the bags and consume them all by yourself.  Probably not the best idea if you don't want to be mistaken for one of the performers at Sea World this summer!

Sunday, May 1, 2011


In honor of the weekend, let's grill some burgers!  The weather in Houston this week has been amazing!  Cool temps, low humidity and breezy.  Everything spring weather should be but usually isn't here!  Edited to add that by the time I posted this we're back to hot and super humid.  Bummer.

First, let's just get this out of the way.  Ladies, you can use the grill.  There.  I said it.  It's a well known fact in our house that I am the one that does 99% of the grilling.  I don't understand why so many women are intimidated by a gas grill.  It's really simple ladies.  Turn it on, let it heat up, give it a good scraping to make sure it's clean and you're ready to go!  A huge dishes to clean up!  Grilling is definitely my preferred method of cooking when the weather is nice.

Okay, on to the burgers.  These are really simple.  No crazy recipe here, just my normal way of doing burgers.  First I start out by making an herb butter.  To start, get a stick of unsalted butter and lay it on a piece of plastic wrap.  Next, fold in some chopped garlic and fresh herbs of your choice.  I used basil here since it's what I have growing right now.

Once you have your garlic and herbs incorporated, form the butter into a log shape, wrap it up and pop it into the freezer for a few minutes to harden.

Now, take your ground beef and shape into patties.  Make an indention in each patty and put a slice of the hardened butter into each indention.  Cover up the butter by molding the meat around it.  Basically you'll have a pat of butter on the inside of your patty.  This makes your burger super delicious!

After you're done embedding the butter, sprinkle each patty with cracked pepper and sea salt.  Now we're ready to grill.  Place your patties on a grill that's been preheated on high.  I take a little olive oil and oil my grates before placing the patties so that they won't stick. Cook for about 7 minutes per side, or until a meat thermometer registers well done.  I know, many people scoff at the idea of well done hamburgers but I'm not willing to chance getting sick.  So I suggest cooking your burgers people!  Also, a couple of minutes before the burgers are ready, use some of your herb butter for the buns and throw them on the grill.  Delish!

See!  Wasn't that easy?  Now make your plate of garnishes.  I like to use little heirloom tomatoes, provolone, avocado, grilled onions, bacon or prosciutto.  Don't be afraid to stray from the normal toppings.

I served this particular meal with a little Caprese salad made with the leftover tomatoes.  My husband says he's definitely a fan of my blogging if it means more meals like this!

Okay ladies, if you haven't already, get out there and try your grill!  Also, let me hear from you if you're the designated grill master in your house!