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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Cleaned Up" Honey Orange Basil Chicken and Balsamic Citrus Dressing (Vita-Mix)

Last night I was inspired to try and use some of the oodles of basil I have in my garden. I had the idea of pairing basil and the juice of fresh oranges, but after that... my inspiration hit a dead end. I then had the idea to use the "ingredients" function on and found a recipe that suited my fancy. After reading that it required marinating I decided I would put it off for tonight's dinner. You just can't shortcut a marinade.

I know, I know- displaying a nice photo of the finished recipe is blog convention and I do enjoy seeing them myself as I'm a 'a picture is worth a 1,000 words' type gal. One hindrance to my placing a photo is my beloved camera being away for repair. The other? I have five kids and a slight disability that is especially pronounced in the summer. I often forget to look at the clock. After's still light outside it can't possibly be dinner time yet! Either that or I have failed to plan so it's not uncommon for dinner to be delayed due to one or both of these factors. By the time dinner is ready to be served I'm often being pressed by a number of ravenous children and they can be unrelenting. A photo op is simply not going to happen. At least, not often

OK- so to the recipes. :)

You can find the Honey Orange Basil Chicken on allrecipes. The photo does not adequately display the yumminess of this dish!

As is often the case with recipes I will adapt as I go. My goals are two-fold. 1- to "clean up" the recipe, if needed and to increase anything I think may require it in order to make the flavor more robust.

How I adapted this recipe:

To make it a "Clean Eating" recipe I simply changed out the vegetable oil for olive oil. Easy!

With flavor in mind I doubled the OJ and the orange zest. I juiced my own oranges from which I also got the zest called for in the recipe. If you use store bought OJ you will likely get a stronger orange flavor. I pulled some frozen parsley out of the freezer and I used freshly ribboned basil. I cannot tell you how much basil I used as I did it by eye, however I know I at least tripled the recipe amount. I used 8 5-oz chicken bre*sts. (Amended for internet filters.)

The chicken was delicious!! A key test- everyone in the family ate it. :) My husband did say that he preferred the chicken that had cooked with more of the basil and zest pieces on it. I agree. I think next time I make it I will strain the juice out and sprinkle the chicken with the basil and zest as it's grilling. I will probably also add in at least a TBSP of pre-minced garlic. If one only uses 1/4 cup of the OJ as the recipe is written I'd recommend starting at 1 tsp. I find garlic to always be helpful. :)

I served this with brown rice that was cooked with half chicken broth (home made), half water as well as a few larger zest pieces tossed into the rice cooker.

We also had salad with a new dressing which I really love, Balsamic Citrus Dressing. I had printed this off of the Vita-Mix site some time ago. I'm sorry I waited so long to make it! The oranges really do an excellent job of mellowing the tartness of the balsamic vinegar.

Substitutions I made according to what I had on hand and to clean it up: I used 2 pretty large oranges, a sliver of white onion (perhaps a tsp chopped?), honey for the sweetener, and one small whole lime, peeled. I halved the salt and used freshly ground black pepper.

Because I was in a hurry I did not fully read the directions and I blended it all at the same time instead of adding the oil after blending the rest. It worked out just fine. :)

If you adore citrus, as I do, these recipes will not disappoint! They make for very pleasing light summer fare. I'm already planning my lunch for tomorrow- a salad with chopped leftover chicken and dressing. :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ginger Pork- from All Recipes :)

This is dinner tonight and it's wonderful! I have yet to meet a recipe with sherry in it that I do not like and 10yr old port is excellent in this one.

It tastes much better than the photo on the site would suggest. I can't take my own photo as my camera is away for servicing.

I did not have green onion so I subbed some white onion in when I browned the pork (in freshly ground hard red wheat flour). I used Chicken broth for the broth and water measurements. I'm sure I doubled if not tripled the ginger (grated from frozen) as one cannot have too much ginger. :) I omitted the sugar to make it a "clean eating" recipe. In the last few minutes of simmering I added thinly sliced carrot.

I served it over brown rice that was made in a rice cooker with a clove of garlic and a few rings of white onion thrown in.

Definitely a keeper!

An added benefit- every child happily ate the meat. :) Now the rice was another story, though I quite liked mine with the sauce on it. When I buy a pork loin I cube a portion of it and bag. The relatively quick defrost has saved me on a number of occasions. Tonight was not one of them...I was a tad late. Photoshop was decidedly more fun than cooking. :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

They say "misery loves company" and they just might be right. :)

How about being my company? :)

I realized that I've not posted for some time. Life kind of unraveled in the past few months and then we were away from home for 28 days. We drove to California ("home") from Louisiana (where we currently reside) for several reasons- to see family, attend our 20th high school reunion, and apparently to get a nice shiny new transmission in our van.

Yeah, between you and me, I could have skipped that last part, especially with 5 kids in tow.

But even though were were stranded in Barstow, CA for 5 nights it turned out OK. We were able to go to some places we would otherwise not have known about nor visited had we blown through there as was our original intent. I believe 'blowing through' Barstow is pretty high on the list of most who pass through. :)

We visited "Calico" a once booming mining town that is still into mining only they don't mine silver anymore, they mine the pockets of tourists for dollars. No matter, is was still a lot of fun and was great for spending a day that would otherwise have been spent at the hotel. Did I mention 5 kids? Yeah- NO way was I going to stay at the hotel. For five days. Nope- wasn't happening. There would be no telling how my families' demographics would have been altered had we stayed holed up in our one room for that long...

After we visited Calico we the drove through Rainbow Basin. It was a fantastic place to drive through! One would never have known of it's existence if it weren't for the handy AAA Tour Book. It was just a couple short miles from Calico and we were very glad we had the rented Tahoe with it's 4-wheel drive instead of our fully loaded minivan.

The great thing about both of the above links? They have pictures so I don't have to feel compelled to post any. :) My pics currently reside on my dh's laptop which I have limited access to. I will say that the pics on Wiki do not do either place justice.

Now back to being miserable.... :) I have been stuck inside and mostly at my computer, as it requires limited arm motion, for several days now. I am highly allergic to SOMEthing in my yard and had the brilliant idea (NOT) after a several mile bike ride last week to hedge all the growing things in our front and back yards that required it. I was in a tank top and shorts. I figured I was already sweaty so I may as well take care of things (note 28 days away from home). That was a foolhardy decision, lemme tell ya. I did wash up with my Jewelweed soap as I have been doing every time I come in from the yard since I discovered it. I guess after about 2 hours hedging with no protection for my skin from allergens, it was too little and far too late. Within 24 hours I was uncomfortable, by 48 hours out I was down right miserable. The underside of my arms, even the bend in my elbow have been in horrid shape with first itchy raised oozing sores, then an incredibly itchy raised red rash with slight oozing everywhere in the affected areas which basically is bounded by my arm pits and my wrists. The love has been shared (thankfully in smaller areas) by my torso and upper thighs. Recall the shorts? Even the underside of my chin did not escape. In short I've been a wreck. I have been living on Advil for days. I thought of snapping a few pics to show, but lucky for you, my camera is away for sensor cleaning. :)

So I've been utilizing the Jewelweed soap which helps to dry out the lesions and it does a great job of quelling the painful and very intense itching. I have been using Jewelweed salve as well and while it all helps a lot, the level of relief has not been as much as I would have liked. I have been thinking I'm allergic to Poison Ivy, Oak, or even Sumac, but I do not recall seeing any of either. I'm allergic to something- that is certain. My husband thinks it may be the three tall bushes in the front yard that I had to get very up-close and personal with in order to trim them and cut the tops. He just might be right. All I know is I have now officially resigned from hedging.

I've not slept all night for a number of nights now as I'd wake up itching and in pain. I'd have to get up and wash with the soap in order to go back to sleep. Last night I had an idea. Why not take my son's Rx which helps him with the itching and swelling of bug bites? So I did. I slept for 12 hours which was awesome! By this morning my pain and swelling had decreased by half. I know, I know, it's not wise to take an Rx that is not yours. But, I was desperate. In truth, I was originally looking for Benadryl when I happened upon my son's Rx. Sue me.

The good news is I think I have turned a corner. I seem to be doing well today with Advil and coconut oil infused with a few drops of cypress essential oil (good for swelling) slathered upon my skin. I still have the rash and some slight oozing, but I also have dry spots that look as though they are trying to heal. Wish me luck! :)

A few benefits have been a now clean desk, and I have caught up on all the blog I follow in Reader since I've been pretty much useless in any other capacity. :)