Wish Upon A Dish: May 2016

May 21, 2016

Corn & Black Bean Stuffed Chicken "Finger" Roulades ♥ Small Plates For Sunny Days - #Recipe ReDux Challenge May 2016

Back from our vacation well rested, well fed and inspired by creative chefs all throughout the southeastern coast of North Carolina, I am ready to get my food groove on.

These small bytes are a combination of two appetizers we ordered in the cutest 'lil local Wilmington, NC watering hole.

While I know mostly everyone is totally familiar with all the ways to stuff vegetables, meats or wraps with corn & black beans, I like that these finger foods are made from thin strips of pounded chicken breasts that have been coated with finely crushed corn tortilla chips, rolled to form a cup that were then stuffed with a teaspoon of a chili-spiced corn & bean salsa and topped with just enough lite cheese to hold it all together.

Small Plates For Sunny Days
theme suggested by Robin @robinsbite.com
Small bites are perfect for trying many different tastes. Take tapas style eating outside for al fresco dining or a simple picnic or maybe for small bites at a bridal or baby shower or a graduation party. They gals at The Recipe ReDux challenged us to show them our healthy take on small plates and finger foods.

I used chicken breasts instead of tenders because I know that pounding them to be equally thin would tear at the tender meat and chicken breasts sliced into long thin strips could take the beating. I get 10-11 (1-inch thick) strips cut longways from one average chicken breast. I could have made more but I did not want to waste a good breast if the recipe did not work so the measurements for this recipe are for one breast. Easy to double for 20 or triple for 30, etc.

I assembled mine to the point of heating right before serving. If you have the room in your fridge, I would place them into the mini muffin tins and cover with foil to store until ready to bake-off.

Up to this point it was going smoothly but there were a few boo-boos. This is why we should test a few times before posting.

When I sized the strips of raw chicken I did take into consideration that shrinkage would occur but a few strips didn't quite make the grade. Since this babies were to be filled, the chicken strips need to complete a solid circle and overlap at the ends.

Since I only had 11, I decided that the filling would have to act as glue so they do not fall apart from plate to mouth.

I bought this neat silicon mat that is covered with pyramids so that the food can 'sit up' off the bottom and fry-bake with no oil. My first try and it was love at first sight.
I already am planning on eggplant for Parmesan, every meat for Milanese and sweet potato fries.....yummy!!

Took only 5 minutes to bake at 450 degrees. Seem like not enough time?
They need to be pliable so that when placing them into a muffin tin they will not break.
Don't worry, they will continue to cook once the filling is dropped in with a dusting of cheese
The will get a nice crunch on them and be sturdy enough to use your fingers.

OK, here's my review.
These were tasty but I did have to make a lime crema. Not as good as I envisioned, to me they were a tad on the dry side (The Nudge disagreed but that coming from a man who loves everything well done).
I think the black beans were the culprits. Next time I make these (and there will be a next time), I will halve the amount of beans and double the corn & peppers. I also think quinoa or rice would lighten up the mix. The taste was spot on and not overly taco.

The Nudge took the last 4 along with his lunch, to work, and if he doesn't care for something he would not do that.

Let's get cooking........

You will need:
Plastic wrap or a zip bag cut down the sides to open flat
One packet of taco or fajita seasonings, choose your favorite.
A can of shoe peg corn (they are smaller and crunchier)
Black beans, rinsed and drained.
Sun dried tomatoes in oil.
A poblano pepper or jalapeno.
Parmesan or Cotijo cheese.
Large chicken breast.
Corn tortillas, soft or baked.
One egg white.
Ancho powder or good quality chili powder.
Release agent of choice (I use Pam)

Makes 10-11 bites

* 1 (1.25 oz) packet Mexican seasoning, or 1.25oz jarred spices
* 1/4 cup minced poblano or jalapeno pepper, seeds removed
* 1/4 cup shoe peg corn
* 1/4 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
* 1 large chicken breast, sliced into 1/2" long slices (about 10-11 slices)
* 2 large sun dried tomatoes, minced
* 1 tablespoon Parmesan or Cotijo cheese, ground
* 1 egg white
* 5 oz fresh corn tortillas or baked tortilla chips, pulverized (1 1/2 cups)
* Vegetable oil
* Ancho or chili powder to taste
* Tequila, optional
* 1 tablespoon shallot or chives, chopped fine
* Neutral flavored release agent (aka Pam)

Wash & clean and slice lengthwise into 1/2" strips.
Place each strip between plastic wrap and pound until they are paper thin without tearing
Mix 1 tablespoon Mexican seasonings with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and add the chicken to marinade until ready to bread.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and place a cookie sheet in oven to preheat.
Process tortillas and pour into a container large enough to bread the chicken strips. Add 1 tablespoon seasonings to the crumbs and stir.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and add to the egg white.
Place 2-3 strips in the crumbs and press to coat on both sides.
Reserve any egg whites not used.

Spray the cookie sheet with the release agent and line the breaded chicken strips in rows, without touching each other.
Spray the tops again and bake for 5 minutes.
Remove to cool.

In a fry pan coated with vegetable oil, saute the peppers for 2 minutes. Add the tequila, corn, tomatoes, chives/shallots, black beans, the reserved chicken marinade and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove to a bowl and cool. Add reserved egg whites, 1 tablespoon cheese, the last of the the seasonings and stir to combine.

In a mini muffin tin, place 1 chicken strip in each cup, wrapping so both ends overlap. Continue until all the strips are done.
Using a teaspoon fill each chicken strip with stuffing, gently pressing. You should use up almost all of it. Sprinkle each bite with grated cheese and bake for 5-6 minutes more.

Remember, everything is already cooked, we need to just heat through to cook the egg white and melt the cheese.


May 16, 2016

Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Mushroom Broth

The only downfall I see about taking a vacation is that one eventually must return home.
Do you dread the travel day home like we do?
Doesn't matter if it's a return trip by plane, boat or highway, the minute my butt lands in New Jersey I experience what will stay with me till I unlock my door and count my kitties.

Since I work from home, I do not experience the "first day back dread" that The Nudge does but with frequently posted emails and random "I forgot you were still away" calls from my father (despite the fact that I drew a huge black arrow through all 13 days with the 14th announcing in RED "Sue Home") usually prepares one for any impending doom that might befall a person with that first cup of java in the break room.
I always reserve the first full day back for getting caught up with details such as food shopping, drug ordering, 10 loads of laundry, contemplating the foot high grass that must get mowed (but when & HOW?) and the small gifts I will find that my pet sitter did not or forgot to warn me about. Oh those little kitties, how they love to leave surprises.

All in all is was an easy short ease back to the daily grind and I started my lists.

First thing was food shopping. Planned for the next day, we still had to eat. With nothing fresh in the refrigerator and no time to defrost, I decided it had to be a pantry meal.

I still had 4 sweet potatoes that had not grown any roots and found a recipe on the NYTimes food App for sweet potato gnocchi in a mushroom broth and just like that dinner was checked off my list. One down, seven to go.

Easiest way to make gnocchi fuss free is to either roll them into little balls or cut them into pillows.
As you can see I thought this shape would work well on a spoon and I had a whole batch made in 30 minutes. Yes, that even includes microwaving the potato for 7 minutes.

After simmering them in the mushroom broth, I removed them from the liquid and put them in a holding position until I reheated the soup for dinner.

I don't actually think gnocchi will expand if left in liquid as other pastas will, but I did not want to take any chances. These babies were really tasty.

It just so happened that I had, and this is no kidding, 10 bags of various dried mushrooms. I knew I had a few but that many?
Me picking a recipe calling for 3 ounces of dried mushrooms makes sense now considering most bags contain about 1 ounce.
I have been wanting to use them but just never found a reason.
They keep forever so not a priority.

I made a small addition to the original soup because I found two small containers of corn and cooked spinach I forgot I had stashed in my freezer before we left.

I made a small batch of drop biscuits and went about the rest of my day.
While not a soup that most people would make, we enjoyed the combination and I now have an empty glass container sporting a brand new label.

Let's get cooking.....

Before we start I would like to go over the nutritionals.
I am not perfectly sure this dish adheres to any specific diet but at least I can tell you how healthy it is

Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Wild Mushroom Broth
4 servings
adapted from the NYTimes Cooking App

* 3 ounces dried mushrooms (I used morels)
* 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
* 1/2 cup AP flour + more for kneading
* 2 tablespoons minced sage
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
* 1/4 cup Parmesan, optional

I added 1/2 cup cooked spinach & 1/2 cup corn

Combine mushrooms with 6 cups water. Simmer until reduced to 4 cups, about 30 minutes.
Strain through a paper towel lined sieve. Finely chop mushrooms. Set both broth and mushrooms aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet. Bake about 40 minutes, or you could microwave them on high for 7 minutes or until tender. Scoop out the flesh and mash. Combine sweet-potato puree, flour, sage, salt & pepper. Let cool to the touch. Knead the dough, adding more flour as needed, until smooth. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Cut into 1"sized pieces and roll into small balls. Place on a flour surface and continue rolling until all the dough is gone.

Pour the mushroom broth in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Working in batches, drop the gnocchi into the broth. Cook until they rise to the surface, about 5 minutes. Add the corn and spinach or any additions you would like to the broth.
Divide gnocchi and additional vegetables among 4 bowls and ladle the broth over the gnocchi.
Sprinkle with cheese, optional.