RaeDi at Hummingbird Hollow

Thoughts on Food, Words from the Heart, 'The Little Winged Ones'….

Tag: Fresh Ground Pepper

Grilled Chicken Breasts and Tomato Mix Bruschetta

We had a nice break in weather yesterday afternoon and T decided he would grill chicken breasts.  It has been weeks since our last barbecue.   I put the chicken breasts to marinate before he changed his mind.  First I crushed some garlic and in a zip lock bag I put some olive oil, the crushed garlic, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a mix of herbs: oregano, sage, and a little parsley.  A couple of shakes of smoked paprika and mixed it up and added the chicken breasts.

I decided it was time we could use some of our cherry tomatoes that I had frozen last summer.  I have been saving what was left of them for exclusive uses… celebrating that spring is springing and that we had some sun and would be having a grilled meal seemed special enough.  I would use a third of them and hideaway the rest for a couple of other exceptional meals for their use.

T cut up the veggies for the bruschetta: red and yellow cherry tomatoes, red onion, green and black onions.  While he was busy chopping I cut the French Bread down the middle and put some butter on to melt adding a small clove of well minced garlic and some fresh dried parsley to the butter.  Once the butter had melted and had simmered just a bit I spread it on half of the bread.  T was through with the veggies about the same time.  We misted the veggies with just a little olive oil and sprinkled some seasoning on them (basically the same mix as I had just put in the marinade for the chicken.) 

While I was broiling the bread and veggies… I decided to throw together a quick apple salad… T was getting the grill ready.  I waited until the chicken on the grill was about finished to add the broiled veggies to the bread and topped it off with some shredded Apple Smoked Gruyère Cheese.  About the time he was coming in with the grilled chicken breasts, that smelled like heaven I put the bruschetta under the broiler to melt the cheese some, just to add a little color.

The meal took no time at all to come together and it was delicious.  All the blends from grilled chicken, the seasonings and the wonderful little tomatoes, crusty bread were a wonderful blend of flavors and textures that we both enjoyed immensely.  The leftovers would be really good tomorrow….

Taken last summer by one of my deck gardens

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Florida Pink Shrimp Salad

We eat a lot of salads for our main course dinners.  I love to make richer dinners and deserts as you all know… but to make up for the caloric highs, fat and such we revert to lots of wholesome salads.   It makes up for the guilty pleasures in life.  Cannot have too much of a good thing all the time.  We also eat a lot of homemade cabbage soup and such for lunch.

Tonight we had a lighter dinner with our Florida Pink Shrimp Salad.  I make my own croutons… they have very little olive oil misted on the bread cubes I have cut from my bread with adding seasoning of garlic powder, onion powder, a little dry sage or oregano (depending on the meal I am mixing with,) parsley, smoked paprika, freshly ground black pepper and a little sea salt.  I put them in the oven and bake to a golden brown… I bag them and then have the extras for many others uses.

The shrimp I marinated for about an hour in olive oil with crushed garlic, pepper flakes, parsley, some fresh ground black pepper and a little sea salt.  I stir fried them in a little olive oil.  Then I placed them on a paper towel to drain some of the oil off before adding them to the salad.

The salad can be any lettuce you like or a mix of lettuce and add anything you like, in ours I added some avocados, red onions, cherry tomatoes and julienne carrots  (basically what I had on hand…) adding the croutons and shrimp.  The dressing can be your choice.

T had been working on the wood pile this afternoon so I made up a small 6” skillet of baked rolls for him to have with his salad.  When I make bread I always take some and make dinner roll size dough and place on baking sheet several inches apart and place in freezer.  When frozen I put into a freezer bag… when I need to have rolls for dinner I take out what I need (they will rise as they thaw) doing this we always have fresh dough dinner rolls ready anytime we should want.   

The Pink Florida Shrimp salad makes for a nice light dinner and fills you up with a very appealing as well as appetizing meal.  It was delicious….   

Spinach, Cherry Tomato, Feta Bruschetta with Blackberry Balsamic Syrup

 

One of the things I dearly love to start a dinner party with is Bruschetta, it always brings with it conversation.  Happy conversation with lots of explicatory expressions and too the added wonderful ooh’s and aah’s!  It makes me feel so good!   The variables are as many as you could possibly think up and then add some more.  It is one of those things that goes well with wine and most any kind of drink before dinner.  It is also good as part of a dinner, I love it with a salad or soup… it is as endless of what you can serve this with as the variables of how to make Bruschetta.  I also have been known to eat just Bruschetta when I do not have an appetite, almost always it is just what I needed.

Lemon-Garlic-Herb Dressing   

     Ingredients:

  • 1 clove garlic finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon mix of chopped basil, oregano, thyme (this can be one or a mix of all three or even other herbs… your choice I prefer to use fresh, but you can use dried, just remember it does not take as much they are more intense in flavor!)
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice (I go very light on the lemon mix because of using the blackberry balsamic vinegar later, just a hint)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Flake Sea Salt to taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

I put all the ingredients in a pint size jar with a tight-fitted lid and shake thoroughly.  I usually have some in the refrigerator or make this the morning I need.

I learned something as a young bride.  I had no idea about herbs… fresh or died.  I was finally enlightened… if you did not know about how much seasoning  to add…  then to your mix add just a pinch and taste, you will know if you want more or not and add a pinch more and taste just remember you can never take away a herb once it is added.  I did a lot of pinching and tasting those first few years!

For the spinach, tomato, red onion topping:

       Ingredients:

  • About 2 cups of assorted cherry tomatoes – I used red and yellow that I had on hand, halved (I quarter if large)
  • ½ small red onion sliced in ½ inch length about half that width
  • Fresh Basil or Oregano, Thyme (your choice, or even something else)
  • One loaf of Ciabatta Bread (I like to cut about 3-4 inch squares and then cut diagonally
  • One garlic clove peeled and halved
  • 3 Cups of steamed (de-stemmed) spinach
  • Feta Cheese
  • Black Berry Balsamic Vinegar

 

Black Berry Balsamic Vinegar

     Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar

Put vinegars in sauce pot and bring to boil, reduce to simmer and reduce by half.  It should have a nice thickened-syrup consistency, will lightly cover a spoon.  Let cool and pour into a cruet or small pitcher.  You could also use one of the plastic dispensing bottles (it makes it easier-less messy to drizzle the blackberry balsamic Syrup on the Bruschetta.)

Combine the halved-quartered tomatoes, red onion, and drizzle with the Lemon-Garlic Herb Dressing, set aside and let set at room temperature. You can make this in the morning, just refrigerate.  Preheat oven to 400˚when you are ready to bake-roast the tomatoes and red onions.

Steam the spinach.  Get the Ciabatta Bread sliced and take the halved garlic and rub on the top of each slice of bread.  Place the tomato mix on jelly roll pan, I sprinkle a little of the herb mix and just a pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper on the tomato mix (does not take much you have already added to the tomatoes with the herb dressing.)  Place in oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the skinned are starting to get browned and blistered, take out of oven.

Dip the jelly roll pan until the tomato-juices mixed with the Lemon-Garlic Herb Dressing has went to the one end of the pan.  I set the tomato end of the pan at an angle on a folded pot holder so the juices kind of stay at the other end of pan.  I then take a pastry brush and brush each piece of the garlic-ciabatta bread with the tomato juices.  Place bread under broiler until the bread is nicely toasted.  Lay jelly roll pan with tomato mix flat so the juices blend again.

Put a layer of steamed spinach on the toasted ciabatta bread.  Top with some of the roasted tomatoes and onions.  Scatter some of the feta cheese on top, and then drizzle each with blackberry balsamic syrup.

Roasting the tomatoes concentrates their flavor and intensifies the taste with the lemon-garlic herb dressing adding to that blend the flavor of the feta cheese and the topper of all this is the blackberry balsamic vinegar, what a wonderful mix, united it is a fusion of nothing but pure ecstasy… definitely over the top!  It makes such a wonderful pairing of the whole and makes it so easy to savor every bite… it wakens up your taste buds from first bite.  This is something that I love to serve knowing full well that the instant my guests start eating I can see on their faces what they think of this Bruschetta….

Fresh Fruit Salad with Lemon Thyme Dressing

 

I love a revitalizing fruit salad.  It is a wonderful light add to any good meal.  I used some cubed watermelon and cantaloupe, a few sliced strawberries, some pitted Bing cherries and added a few of the frozen white and red grapes from the freezer.

This is very easy and really quick to put together.  I make the dressing in a pint size jar with good lid that can shake to mix and then store in for several days in the refrigerator.

The yogurt  (homemade Greek Style) know-hows I got at my friend, Chicaandaluza.  What a wonderful person you should take the time to go over and look over her recipes and too do not forget to take in her “City Slicka to Spanish Chica” category.  It is worth the time to sit and read her stories, very entertaining.  She had a gift of humor and of words.

            Ingredients:

  • About a cup of Cubed Watermelon (I save the drained the watermelon juice that accumulates in the bottom of the bowl… I use it in the dressing)
  • About a cup of Cubed Cantaloupe
  • About a cup of sliced Strawberries
  • About a cup of Pitted Bing Cherries
  • A full cup of Frozen White and Red Grape Mix
  • 1 Cup Yogurt (I used homemade, you do not have too any plain yogurt will do)
  •  Couple of Tablespoons of Watermelon Juice
  • ½ teaspoon Apple Cider
  • About a teaspoon of Crushed Lemon Thyme or to taste (crushed it a bit releases more flavor)
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste

 

The amount of fruit you use should be for how many you will be serving.

Put all the fruit in one large bowl, save the watermelon juice for the dressing.  You can use any blend of fruit you want it does not have to be this mix.  This dressing goes well with all fruits.  Slightly blend the fruit, an even mix; I use my hands to do this.   Keep the fruit in the refrigerator at all times except when you are mixing, it needs to be kept and served cold.

Mix the dressing using the yogurt, watermelon juice, apple cider, crushed Lemon Thyme; I put the ingredients in the pint size canning jar and shake it good.  You can use a whisk if that is your choice.

Plate the fruit and drizzle some of the dressing over and then grind fresh Black Pepper over the top.  I had some toasted coconut already and sprinkled just a little over the top.  Wish I had had some pineapple to add to the mix!  You could put nuts and such too!

This is a very flavorful and full of color ending to a savory baked salmon dinner….

It tastes as good as it looks!  What colors!

Basic Roasted Brick Chicken with Attitude (Sass)

She is Smoking!

This chicken from the beginning had bad attitude and no tail.  Try as I might to tuck her wings under, she would not let me.  Her body language told me, “Don’t go there girl!”

I knew I had to show this ‘chick(en)’ who the boss was… that would be me.  I gave her a good bath and cut out her spine, she was gutless and spineless and still… nothing weak~willed about this chick(en), she would not budge.  I massaged her with a little garlic olive oil thinking that would calm her down and loosen her up some, nope!  Still the wings, just would not relax enough for me to tuck them under.

I told her it was the high fashion, still ‘no go!’

She had sass and was talking back (her body language) to me… “Oh… no you don’t!”

In the end she won.  She could leave her wings free; her body language was now saying, “What’s for dinner?”

I was ‘dressing her’ and she thought she was going to be ‘the guest’  at dinner, well in a way she was going to be the main focus… focal point so to speak of the dinner, I am not telling her that she would be the main… course.  She’ll find out soon enough!

The brick chicken is my all time favorite way to roast chicken; Thomas Keller’s Basic Roasting Chicken (recipe and one for Lemon Tart that is delicious) comes in a close second.  The chicken is roasted to perfection on the outside and the meat is so moist and is full of so much flavor.   I too like roasted chicken night because it is so simple, as simple as you want it to be.

I too am a fan of roasted potatoes especially the Yukon Gold Potatoes.  The simple green bean will be the other side.  It would be an easy, uncomplicated weekday dinner, not too much work and very little mess to clean up.  The left over’s are always welcome and I know what I will be doing with them, a wonderful all in one salad tomorrow evening.

Once I had the back bone cut out and had her well washed in cold tap water and patted down dry I laid the chicken flat with chicken breasts facing up I then pushed down on breast bone so the chicken was flat to the surface.   I then rubbed it with garlic oil that I made a few hours earlier. I crushed several cloves of garlic and put in about ¼ cup of olive oil and let the mix marinate for several hours.  Once I had the chicken rubbed all over with the oil I put fresh ground black pepper and some flakey sea salt (to your taste) on all sides of the bird.  While the oven is heating to 425˚ I just let her sit on the counter.

This chicken is simple to make, I could have rubbed it down with sage, or put sage leaves under the skin, used thyme or rosemary, but tonight I wanted a basic simple unadorned roasted chicken with a slight garlic flavor with fresh ground pepper and sea salt.    A simple roasted chicken that would be minimal work in a short amount of time and quick cleanup, and that she was.

I baked her at 425˚ for about 15-20 minutes then turn the heat down to 385˚ for about 30 minutes, when her juices were clear I knew she was done, but to make sure I took her temp with the meat thermometer.  All chicken should be cooked to a safe minimum internal temp of 165˚, use a meat thermometer to check for chicken temp and do cook the chicken until it reaches the 165˚.

Another thing, please wash your hands good anytime you touch raw meat before you handle anything. That means wash hands before picking up the pepper grinder, or putting your hands on the timer to set the temp, or putting fingers in the salt bowl.  Wash not only your hands but anything that has come in contact with the raw meat.  I have seen people, many souls over time that do not think to wash their hands before touching, what seems to me, everything in the kitchen… with raw meat juices on their hands. It is a big no no and can make people really sick and they could even die from some of the bacteria that come with un-cooked meats.  I treat all meats equally, it does not matter the species or whether it is ground up or not, I feel it is better to be safe than sorry.

The potatoes were easy a quick rub with a ‘little’ garlic oil I made earlier, and then sprinkled with fresh ground pepper, sea salt and some parsley.  I baked the potatoes too at 425˚ for about 10-15 minutes then I stirred and turned the heat down to 385˚ and cooked until tender.  I kept an eye on them and stirred them one more time.  Be sure to check your potatoes often so they do not burn.  They always come out golden brown on the outside and moist and flakey on the inside, so worth the little extra effort in stirring them a couple of times.

The green beans were easy a quick steam (around twenty minutes) and then drizzle with a little melted butter or olive oil on them and that it is, anyone that wants anything more can add it themselves.

A very simple full of flavor dinner… the cleanup was just minutes long.  This little chick(en) was very delicious and moist.  I note that she still look like she was sassing me when I got her out of the oven.

Boy was she good….

Speaking of good, I made some deviled eggs (they were eaten before I could get the pictures, next time) and they were out of this world, I had never thought to put horseradish in them it was just the right flavor.  They were part of the dinner but they ended up being the before dinner treat!  So glad that they were a hit!  I got the recipe from Rufus: Devilishly Simple Deviled Eggs ~ do take some time to go by and take a look; he has some wonderful recipes and is such a nice chap, let him know I sent you….

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