Bruschetta Chicken

Fresh, flavorful, uncomplicated and healthy.  What’s not to love??

It’s always nice to find a new recipe that is different than anything else I make. To find one that we love which is also so easy to prepare is a huge bonus. The combination of fresh tomatoes, flavorful herbs and tangy balsamic vinegar over juicy chicken topped with a combination of Italian cheese is superb. Pair it with freshly baked ciabatta bread and an oaked Ox-Eye Vineyards Pinot Noir and it defies description.

Bruschetta Chicken

1 lb. thin-cut boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup EVOO
2 Tbls. balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 Tbls. Italian herb seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 pint diced cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil

Place chicken breasts in a large resealable plastic freezer bag. Combine the EVOO, balsamic vinegar, garlic, Italian herb seasoning, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk until combined. Pour HALF of the marinade over the chicken, reseal bag, and in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours. (Overnight is fine.)
Preheat your grill to medium high or about 350 degrees F. Combine remaining marinade with diced tomatoes; set aside. Transfer chicken from marinade onto grill surface and discard marinade. Grill chicken for 3-4 minutes per side or until cooked through. (It is also okay to fry them in a pan over medium heat.) Transfer the chicken to a serving plate and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Spoon bruschetta mixture over chicken and top with basil; serve immediately.

The Ciabatta Bread is mixed in a bread machine on the Dough Cycle and then baked in the oven. I honestly could make a meal out of just it dipped in a high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil seasoned with real grated Parmesan cheese and some fresh ground pepper. The dough is very sticky. Don’t give into the temptation to add more flour. Treat it gingerly to keep from bursting all the lovely air bubbles that form. It makes two loaves. If you don’t need both immediately, double bag one and stick it in the freezer. Thaw it at room temperature for several hours. It was pretty darn close to fresh baked.

 

Last Minute Dinner Rolls

Have you ever realized a half hour before dinner time that supper would be so much better with fresh baked bread? This recipe can be a lifesaver! Okay, so really only a meal saver, but you get the idea. I believe the original recipe came from a Taste of Home magazine about 15 years ago. It called for self-rising flour, which I never use. If you do, just omit the baking powder and salt. (By the by, if you haven’t tried the new, at least to me, baking powder without aluminum, you should. It tastes so much better than traditional baking powder. No metallic aftertaste!)

Even though the texture of these rolls aren’t as chewy as a traditional yeast roll, they are lighter and fluffier than a muffin. They are excellent with soups, stews or just with jam on them. I bet they’d be tasty with some herbs added to them as well.

Last evening, I made them buttermilk. It made the batter thicker than usual, so I thinned it down with water. Next time, I’d probably use 1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1/4 cup water. They sure were delicious!

Last Minute Dinner Rolls

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Combine all ingredients.
Fill 6 greased muffin tins half full.
Bake at 375°F for 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Ham and Bean Soup with Corn Bread

Soup is true comfort food. Finding one that is flavorful and yet super easy to make it even more comforting. One of the reasons I really like this recipe is because it is also so healthy. You mash some of the beans to make the thick broth rather than adding flour, corn starch or cream.

Healthy, easy and delicious?? Comforting indeed!

Ham and Bean Soup

3 (15 oz) cans great northern beans (rinsed & drained)
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups water
1 (15 oz) can carrots, undrained
8-12 oz cooked ham, cubed or diced
1⁄4 teaspoon white pepper

Rinse and drain beans. Mash approximately one can of beans in a slow cooker or large soup pot.
Place chopped onion in water and microwave until tender. (Or you can saute the onion in a bit of oil.) Add the water and cooked onions to the mashed beans and stir gently to combine. Add the remaining beans and rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Adding more water if necessary to cover all the ingredients. Heat on low 4-6 hours in a slow cooker or heat thoroughly on the stove.

We love cornbread, but a lot of recipes are either too dry or too high in fat for my liking. I played around with one of our favorite recipes to try and come up with a balance between the two. My family likes this version better than the full-fat one!

Low-Fat Cornbread

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup light butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups low-fat milk

Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix just until moistened. Batter will be lumpy.
Pour into a greased 8-inch square baking pan.
Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes or until light golden brown on top. Serve warm or cool.

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Amazing Wheat Beer Bread (ABM)

I love bread.

I adore bread.

I am totally infatuated with bread.

And this is one of my all-time favorites!

For the first 20 years or so of our marriage, I made bread by hand. My husband kept trying to convince me to get a bread machine, but I felt that hand-kneaded bread was so much better. After herniating a disc, I realized I either needed to “give in” or stop having fresh bread as much. I am a bread addict. There was no way I was giving it up. The contraption was purchased and recipes were tried. I must admit; they weren’t as bad as I thought they would be. Out of the plethora of loaves we sampled, a few recipes became permanent residents in my cookbook with this one earning the title of king.

It is amazing fresh.

It is fantastic toasted.

It is pure bliss toasted and slathered with real butter and honey.

Amazing Wheat Beer Bread (ABM)
Yield 1 1/2 lb loaf

12 oz. dark beer, room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
1 1⁄4 cups wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
2 1⁄4 teaspoons active dry yeast, 1 package (.25 oz)

Place all ingredients in machine in order given according to manufacturer’s instructions for 1.5 lb loaf and start machine.

If you wish to make traditionally baked loaves or rolls, select the dough cycle. At the end of the cycle, divide the dough and place in greased loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled. Bake at 350° for about 35-40 minutes or until done.
Or shape into rolls, cover and let rise until doubled and bake on a greased baking sheet at 375° for approximately 15 minutes.