Friday, July 27, 2012

Cranberry Lime Green Tea Granita

Oh my this is good, I mean really good!! Think the best shaved ice ever but with more flavor. This dessert came about when I was doing some true pantry busting. It was frickin hot out and I wanted something really refreshing for me and my boys! I scoured the fridge, freezer and pantry and came up with a bag of frozen cranberries that had been jammed in my freezer since Thanksgiving [I can almost confidently say that it was even from this past Thanksgiving], a half-used container of lime juice [good organic stuff not creepy juice from a faux plastic lime ], sugar and some green tea. I remembered when my good friend Anna made me hibiscus tea granita [strong hibiscus tea with and slowly frozen]. It got me thinking that granita is an awesome pantry buster- take whatever tea or juice you want, add in some fruit, if you want and however and whatever type of sweetener you want and you got yourself a good time.

Cranberry Lime Green Tea Granita
8 green tea bags [I used Celestial Seasons Blackberry Pomegranate Green Tea]
4 c boiling water
1 c. sugar
1 c. frozen, fresh cranberries
7 T lime juice
6 ice cubes

Steep the tea bags in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove tea bags.

Stir in sugar until sugar has dissolved.

Add frozen cranberries to liquid. Allow to defrost in liquid. *You can absolutely use fresh cranberries. I had leftover ones that I had frozen. I thought that by adding them to the liquid, I would help expedite the cooling down process.

Once cranberries have defrosted, add them and a few tablespoons of the liquid to a blender or food processor. Pulse until pureed, about 15 seconds.

Stir cranberry puree, lime juice and ice cubes into the liquid. You can sub about a 1/2 c. of water for the ice cubes, but I was trying to come up with more tricks for expediting the cooling down process.

Once the ice cubes have dissolved, pour your mixture into a shallow baking dish and place in your freezer.

Now all you have to do is wait, and “stir” occasionally with a fork to break up the ice into what looks like shaved ice.

My mixture didn’t begin developing ice until an hour and a half into the freezing process.

I stirred and broke up at that point and continued to do so about every 45 minutes after that. Below is a picture of the granita about 45 minutes before I called it done.

It took about 4 hours of freezing and occasional stirring to yield my granita.

Once frozen, you can move the mixture to a tupperware and keep in your will continue to freeze so I recommend eating pretty quickly after the 4 hours! The perfect summer dessert!

Too bad that my family hated it and could barely force it down!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lemon Herb Marinated Chicken for the Big Fam

While vacaying with the family, I wanted to make a big summer meal with lots of fresh, varied flavors. Meanwhile, my husband and brother had a hankering to make a large grill out of rocks. Enter grilled, lemon herb marinated chicken!

This chicken was the perfect protein to tie together a Mediterranean smorgasbord type of meal. We bought pitas and hit up the olive bar at the local grocery store. I made tzatziki and greek salad. Mamah [my grandma] made a good ole' fruit salad and my mom made a killer dill and feta cole slaw. For my cute, vegetarian sis in law [and also because I wanted to feast on grilled veggies] we grilled zucchini slices and then made aluminum foil packets full of mushrooms, onions and red bell peppers that we threw around the coals.

Mamah's grill was broken so the boys excitedly took the grate off of her grill and put it over some coals in between some big rocks in the yard.
A few hours before the boys crafted a grill, I began marinating my chicken. 

Lemon Herb Marinated Chicken [for a crowd of 20]
10 chicken breasts, sliced into tenderloins [about 4-5 slices per breast]
1 cup of olive oil
Juice of 4 lemons
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup each of chopped parsley, basil, dill and green onion

Mix together everything but the chicken in a large roasting pan [or divide between however you want to marinate your chicken-several ziploc bags, a couple mixing bowls...whatever fits in your fridge].

Add in the chicken, toss to coat the chicken. Cover and marinate for at least 2 hours.
After marinating, throw on the grill and cook until done. Approximately 5 minutes a side.

While we grilled chicken, we also grilled zucchini slices that we sprinkled with salt, pepper and oregano.

The boys lined the charcoal with the tin foil packs filled with veggies. This is an awesome cooking technique....I have had foil packs filled with chicken and a little barbecue sauce, I have also had mussels with herbs and a little white wine. The meat stays super tender and still gets a little smoky! Roll out a long rectangle of foil. Place your veggies or meat on one side. Fold the other half over the meat or veg then fold up the remaining three sides to seal everything.

When all was said and done, we had an unbelievable family meal, made even cooler when the buffet line was in Mamah's retro kitchen! My fave way to eat all the Mediterranean goodness was to stuff the veg, chicken, tzatziki and greek salad into the pita and eat it all souvlaki sandwich style!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cooking for the Big Family with Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

Poor Sauce on the Wall! You have been so neglected whilst I have frolicked around the country, living it up with the family. We just got back from a week and a half in Pittsburgh. My extended family met up at my grandmother's big farm home outside of Pittsburgh. We drove in from Boston, New York and Nashville and flew in from Seattle and Denver. We took turns tickling Emmett, explored Pittsburgh, sweated our brains out in the humidity and ate a lot of amazing food. 

I volunteered to cook most of the big family dinners under the guise of "needing material for the blog" but mostly because I love feeding loved ones and I love spending time in the kitchen with my aunt, mom and sister when they come in to help!

After the rest of us had been there a couple days, my aunt, her family and my sister drove from the Northeast to join the party. I thought that it would be great to welcome them, after a day of driving, to the family fun with a Fiesta Night.

We had latin-inspired, refreshing summer drinks and a chip n' dip happy hour waiting for them. We bought a few containers of pico de gallo, made queso [yes, good ole Velveeta melted with salsa] and Mom made her to die for mango nectarine salsa.

I wanted time to be with my family and didn't want to be in the kitchen all day cooking for 15 so I turned to my go-to slow cooker salsa chicken for the main course. 

This chicken is awesome because it is flavorful and can so easily become the basis for a healthy, easy latin meal. 

We chose to make a burrito bar. We bought tortillas, grabbed the leftover salsa from happy hour, chopped tomatoes, lettuce and onions, shredded some cheese and put out some sour cream. We supplemented with some pan-roasted fresh corn [my roasted corn with cumin and feta from a few posts ago, minus the feta and with the addition of a little lime juice at the end].

Mom made homemade refried black beans [chop and saute a little onion and garlic, add in cumin, salt, pepper and a little chili powder, then add in a few cans of black beans and mash together].
 Mom mashing her refried beans with a potato masher.

 The beginnings of our burrito bar in Mamah's retro kitchen.

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken
*I have made this chicken before simply by covering chicken breasts in some store bought salsa, throwing then in a slow cooker on low for 6 hours and calling it a day. I amped this one up a bit for the fam.

2-3 pounds of chicken breasts
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 T ground cumin
1 tall jar of salsa [I chose to make a more verde style of chicken this time so I used Pace salsa verde to top]
1/2 t black pepper
3 roma tomatoes roughly chopped
2 anaheim peppers, broiled until charred then chopped

*This is a great pantry can add in anything latin-flavored that you need to use up. Chuck in some cilantro or green onion before serving. Add in a spare can of canned tomatoes. Throw in some beans in the last couple hours of slow cookery. Chop up any veggies that you want to use up....zucchini, carrots, additional onions and peppers.

Place chicken in a slow cooker, cover with all remaining ingredients. Cook on low for at least 6 hours. Before serving, pull chicken breasts from crock pot and shred with 2 forks. Return shredded chicken to the crockpot and stir to mix into the juices and vegetables. At this point, you can leave the entire chicken mixture on warm until ready to serve.

*This is also a great way to stretch chicken, and your budget. I probably used 8 chicken breasts and fed 15 people with leftovers for the next couple of days. My fave re-use of the chicken was when we stuffed quesadillas with it! Mmmmm!