Monday, February 23, 2009

Grilled Chicken and Avocado Napoleon Pastry Sammies

I've never really been one to stress about my age. I suppose looking like a college freshman helps, or maybe it's because I don't truly realize how old I am! Today on the elliptical, I realized that I've been punching in my age a year younger for over a month now. Ooh, that hurts.

Grilled Chicken & Avocado Napoleons
Well, I may be getting old, but at least I have a cute husband who loves me. In another installment of Man Food Mondays, I was treated to this delicious Grilled Chicken & Avocado Napoleon sandwich which looks and tastes more like spa food than Man Food. Technically, its still considered Man Food because the recipe was created by a cute, sexy Italian lady with huge....uh, I mean nice smile.

chicken avocado napoleon
Thin strips of lightly spiced and grilled chicken are layered with avocado slices, a zesty mayo spread and diced tomatoes and then stuffed between layers of flaky puff pastry. These sandwiches are huge so trying to act like a {young} lady, I resorted to eating mine open faced. We also ended up making most of these with two layers of puff pastry, though the recipe below suggests 3. Proceed with your choice of height based upon the size of your mouth(s) :)

Here's a shot of one of our triple deckers, sans tomatoes for hubby:

Triple Decker Grilled Chicken & Avocado Napoleons

Grilled Chicken & Avocado Napoleons
slightly adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis

2 (9 by 10-inch) sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed and cut into 12 (3 by 5-inch) rectangles
4 (4-ounce) boneless and skinless chicken breast halves
Kosher salt
Olive oil, for drizzling
3 tablespoons reduced fat mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
dash of garlic salt
1/2 large avocado, thinly sliced into 8 pieces
2 cups baby spinach leaves
Place an oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place the pastry on the prepared baking sheets. Using the tines of a fork, prick the top of the pastry all over. Cover the pastry with parchment paper and place another baking sheet on top. Bake for 25 minutes until golden. Remove the top baking sheets and parchment paper. Set aside to cool.

Preheat a grill pan or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Season the chicken with salt and drizzle with olive oil. Grill until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes on each side. Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, cayenne pepper and a dash of garlic salt.

To assemble the Napoleons: Place 4 pieces pastry on a work surface. Slice each chicken breast diagonally into 6 (1/4-inch thick) slices. Place 3 chicken breast slices on each piece of pastry. Place 1/4 cup of spinach and 1 avocado slice on top. Spread 1 teaspoon of the mayonnaise mixture on the underside of another 4 pieces of pastry to create the middle layer of each Napoleon. Place on top. Repeat the layering. Each Napoleon should be completed with a piece of pastry as its top.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Shrimp and Spinach Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's and President's Day(s). We had a lot of quality relaxing time together as a result of some very uncharacteristic Southern California rain and our desire to veg in pj's all weekend. Of course, hubby planned a blissfully romantic Valentine's Day for us, beginning with a candlelit breakfast complete with favorite!

Shrimp Spinach Stuffed MushroomsI was lucky enough to have today off of work so we spent the rest of our long weekend eating a lot of Mexican food and drinking plenty of beer. If you've never been to San Diego, you must visit & try the finest local fare: fish tacos and/or shrimp burritos. I'm officially addicted.

Unfortunately, I have neither to show you today, but I can offer you these delicious Portobello (...or is it Portabella?) mushrooms stuffed with shrimp, and topped with creamy spinach and a crisp Parmesan breadcrumb topping. Sounds decadent, eh?

{yummy shrooms ready to pop in the oven...}
Spinach Portabellas Ready to Pop in the OvenI first spotted these tasty delights on one of my very favorite blogs, Noble Pig. I've made several variations since and like the portobello mushrooms best since they're a little larger and thus give you more bang for your buck (i.e. maximum amount of shrimps per mushroom). I also have a short attention span and can only stuff so many little shrooms, so these big guys cut down on my workload!

Stuffed Portabella MushroomsThese make for a perfect party appetizer or even a light meal if served with a side salad and a nice hunk of crusty bread. If you find yourself with more toppings than mushrooms to fill, we used the leftover shrimp & spinach topping to make an excellent panini sandwich with a little swiss cheese. I'm getting excited just thinking about it.

Shrimp Rockefeller Stuffed Mushrooms with Parmesan Crumbs
adapted from Noble Pig & Cuisine at Home

about 10 medium sized Portobello mushrooms
Shrimp topping:
1 T. Olive Oil
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled, deveined, cut into chunks
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste.
Spinach Filling:
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 T. mayonnaise
1 T. milk
1 small clove garlic, minced
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
3 T. Parmesan, grated
1 t. fresh lemon juice
1/2 t. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. scallions, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
breadcrumb topping:
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (I used a crusty sourdough roll and put in the food processor)
3 T. Olive oil
3 T. Parmesan, grated
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Prepare mushrooms by removing and discarding stems. Arrange caps on a baking sheet, stemmed side up, sprinkle insides with salt, and roast 10 minutes. The mushrooms produce quite a lot of juice, so drain if needed. Flip caps over and roast 5 minutes more. Remove mushrooms from oven; leave oven on.

Season shrimp with Old Bay seasoning, salt & pepper to taste. Saute shrimp in 1 T. olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat just until pink, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

For spinach filling, in a large bowl combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, milk, garlic, spinach, 3 T, Parmesan, lemon juice, Worcestershire, scallions and salt and pepper to taste.

Toss crumbs with 3 T. oil, 3 T. Parmesan, salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl.

Stuff mushrooms, placing a few shrimp pieces in each cap. Top with a generous dollop of spinach cream cheese mixture, sprinkle with crumbs, and spray tops lightly with cooking spray. Bake until heated through and topping is golden, about 8-9 minutes. Serve immediately

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lemon Angel Food Cupcakes

If you couldn't tell, I absolutely love, adore, & worship desserts. Ask me to pick a favorite and I'd first salivate thinking of all the delicious treats I've come to know and love. Tiramisu? Bourbon Bread Pudding? Mint Chocolate Chip ice Cream....Oh my. The choices. The calories.

Lemon Angel Food Cupcakes
Believe it or not, I'd have to say that I'd pick angel food as one of my top 3 favorites (I just can't pick a favorite, ok?). A treat that even Gym Barbie could love, angel food is essentially made from cake flour, egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar. Read my lips: I am yummy but fat free!

I've always wanted to make my {one of top 3} favorite dessert, but buying a huge tube pan that I'll use for nothing more than one dessert seems like a whole lot of commitment to me. You also need to let the whole angel food cake cool upside down for an hour. Not one for patience or large kitchen pans, homemade angel food cake hasn't really been an option until I came across this tasty recipe from Baking Bites.

Lemon Angel FoodWith a hint of lemon, these cupcakes are light, fluffy and sweet. I absolutely loved them. Hubby loved them too, but finally admitted to me that he felt a little *cheated* because they were so light! Back to chocolate and calories, I guess :)

Lemon Angel Food Cupcakes with Icing

Lemon Angel Food Cupcakes
Courtesy of Baking Bites
3/4 cup superfine sugar, divided
1/2 cup sifted cake flour
5 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest of one lemon

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
2. In a small bowl, sift together cake flour and 1/4 cup superfine sugar.
3. In a large bowl, beat room-temperature egg whites until foamy, then add in cream of tartar and salt. Gradually add in the remaining 1/2 cup of superfine sugar while the mixer is on high speed, beating the egg whites to soft peaks.
4. Fold in flour mixture, adding it in two or three additions.
5. Divide evenly into prepared muffin tins. The tins should be quite full.
6. Bake for 16-18 minutes, until golden brown. The tops will spring back when lightly touched.
7. Cool on a wire rack (no need to flip them upside down, as is usually done with full-sized angle food cakes).

Lemon Icing Drizzle
Confectioner's Sugar
fresh lemon juice

Combine confectioners sugar with lemon juice until the icing is a drizzable (is that a word?!) consistency. Drizzle on top of cooled cupcakes.
Makes 12 cupcakes.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Rustic Penne with Sausage, Artichokes and Sun Dried Tomatoes

For those of you who applauded my food journal efforts, thank you. It was a valiant effort, but my inner beast took a hold of me and forced me to eat faster than I could write. It happens. Maybe I'll put it on 2010's list of resolutions.

Sun Dried Tomato Sausage Penne
I may eat a lot, but I can at least attempt to cook & eat healthy. This penne pasta recipe was inspired by a dish I saw in Giada's Family Dinners. I made quite a few tweaks, including adding additional veggies, using whole wheat pasta and subbing turkey sausage for the meat. In order to add a little creaminess without adding a lot of fat, I added a few dollops of part-skim ricotta cheese to thicken up the sauce. After buying a tub of ricotta on sale, I've found that it works wonders and have happily been throwing it in to just about every dish I make, whether it belongs or not!

Bowl of Penne with Artichokes, Spinach & Sun Dried TomatoesThe pasta is a hearty, easy to throw together meal that filled us up. We happily had the dish for leftovers the next night. Instead of microwaving, which tends to dry out pasta in my opinion, I threw the leftover pasta into a wok with some olive oil, broccoli, a few more scoops of ricotta cheese and finally green peas. We liked this version the best so I've included it in the recipe below.
whole Wheat Penne with Artichokes
Rustic Penne with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Artichokes & Sausage (and too many other goodies for a recipe title...)
Inspired by Giada's Family Dinners

3/4 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced with 2 tbsp of oil reserved
1 large link (1/2 lb) of sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 large link (1/2 lb) of hot Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
2 8 oz packages of artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped & thawed
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup frozen green peas
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
12 oz whole wheat penne
1/2 cup freshly grated good-quality Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup loosley packed baby spinach
cooked broccoli florets (optional)

1. Heat 2 tbsp of sun dried tomato oil in a large skillet. Add the sausage and break up into pieces. Cook until brown, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a bowl.

2. Add artichokes & garlic to the same skillet and cook until garlic is tender, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, wine, and sun dried tomatoes. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer until the sauce reduces slightly, about 8 minutes. Add peas & red pepper flakes.

3. While sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain the pasta, do not rinse.

4. Add pasta, sausage, 1/2 cup of cheese, parsley, spinach, and broccoli (if using) to the mixture. Toss until combined. Add two scoops of Ricotta cheese and continue to toss until cheese is melted and incorporated in sauce. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.