Saturday, August 8, 2009

Oven-Roasted Rhubarb BBQ Chicken

This dish has turned out to be one of my favorite Sunday-clean-out-the-refrigerator inventions to date. Hot or cold it is great!

Last Sunday, I had to use up a tray of chicken legs, so I dug around and found a container of rhubarb sauce that I had made earlier in the summer. It became the base for one of the best, most unusual BBQ sauces!

I started with about cup and half of the rhubarb sauce --- I will post that recipe at the end -- it is super easy ---and added ingredients to make it into a BBQ sauce: Dijon mustard, ginger, then

lots of Worcestershire sauce, a dash of Liquid Smoke, and fresh rosemary and sage. The rhubarb sauce was already sweet and had hot pepper flakes in it, so I did not have to add any heat or brown sugar/honey while I would usually do to a BBQ sauce. But it was still missing the smokiness that make a great BBQ sauce in my opinion.

So, I added Chili 9000 which is a Penzey's spice mix that is 100% chili and a wonderful mix that I find hard to describe --- it is wonderful and usual --- not hot at all, just layers and layers of chillies. It worked with the tanginess of the rhubarb perfectly.

To prepare the chicken. Clean it, pat it dry. Generously salt and pepper it.

Coat each piece generously and lay them out on a heavy duty baking pan with plenty around around each piece so it will brown well.

Bake at 350 degrees -- be sure to preheat the oven -- until the meat is cooked -- these legs took about 50 minutes. I roasted leftover veggies at the same time.

Slice or chop your veggies to the same thickness and size so that they cook evenly. In this case, I sliced up a sweet potato and onion, then oiled them with olive oil, and added salt, pepper and fresh thyme.

They were done a little earlier than the chicken -- start checking at about 30 minutes -- I flipped them half way through to brown them on both sides. These were done at about 40 minutes. They were yummy, too.

For the rhubarb sauce:
. A friend had lots of rhubarb to harvest. I picked 1.5 pounds of rhubarb.

Remove the leaves, which are poisonous, and chop the rest into 1 to 2 inch lengths. It's very celery like at this point. Put it in a large saucepan, add 3/4 c sugar and the juice of a whole orange. Tom helped me. Then, I added a pinch of salt, because that's what I do when I make cranberry sauce and it helps, and then I added some a splash of vanilla, two glugs of honey, and some hot pepper flakes.

Cook it until it looks like this. Then I pureed it with a hand blender to get rid of the stringiness. Yes, it is tart, but not too tart. It's sort of like adult applesauce. I think rhubarb is an acquired taste.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Guest Blogger: Zucchini Bread by Mary C.

Thanks for being our guest blogger again, Mary!

I don’t know about you, but I can’t look at a beautiful zucchini without thinking of zucchini bread. A few weeks ago, I woke up one morning and decided to make some.

I have a very small vegetable garden in the back yard, but this was before the zukes were burgeoning. Now it is a different story. So I selected several, small zucchini from the local supermarket because the small ones are more tasty.

The wonderful thing about zucchini bread is that because it has a vegetable in it, one can rationalize that it is healthy.

And it is, but there still is a fair amount of sugar called for. In this recipe, I used Splenda sweetener in place of sugar, and the taste came out great!

I used the same amount of Splenda as I would have used sugar, and there are no calories in Splenda. So hurray!

I’ve noticed in our Wegman’s supermarket that there now is a Splenda product called “Sugar Blend” which is a combo of Splenda sweetener and sugar. So you would use one half a cup in place of sugar.

There also is a brown sugar Splenda and another product called ” Truvia”, which is supposed to be a natural product, coming from the stevia plant. We bakers have lots of choices. Sweet!

On to the recipe…..this recipe makes two zucchini loaves or 24 muffins. I chose to make one loaf and 12 muffins.

· 3 eggs
· 1 cup olive oil
· 1 ¾ cups Splenda sweetener
· 2 cups grated zucchini
· 2 tsp. vanilla extract
· 3 cups all purpose flour
· 3 tsp. cinnamon
· 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
· 1 tsp. baking soda
· ½ tsp. baking powder
· 1 tsp. salt
· ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
· 1 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or craisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one 8x4 inch loaf pan and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Or if just making bread, grease and flour two loaf pans….if just making muffins, line 24 cups with liners.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla.

To grate the zucchini, I used a Microplane which makes the zucchini come out very moist.

Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt, as well as nuts and/or dried fruit, if using. Stir this into the egg mixture. Divide the batter between the loaf pan and the muffin cups.

Bake loaf for 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Muffins will bake far more quickly, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

I made the muffins because I thought that they were more kid-friendly. But I will say, that the zucchini loaf was consumed by the kids and my husband pretty quickly, too.

Even Muffin the cat wanted to get into the act. The blue bulb in the photo is a decorative piece of glass.

Looking at all of the beautiful zucchini today, lined up in the supermarket bin, made me want to make some more bread tomorrow for breakfast. It certainly is a good time for baking or cooking or grilling zucchini.
----Mary C.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Easy Peach Blueberry Cobbler

My younger sister, Christine, and my niece, Chelsea, came to see us last weekend for their annual summer visit to the lake. They look forward to blueberry picking and the abundant fruit we have this time of year, Chelsea is a fruit lover. The first day they arrive. we hit the farmstands --and the vintage jewelry shop.

Christine brought this recipe with her to try. The three of us made it together. That's Chelsea's blue fingernail polish you see in the photos.

Not sure this is a true cobbler --but whatever it is, it is a hit! And so easy.

Easy Peach Blueberry Cobbler

1/4 c/ butter
1 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 c. milk
2 c. fresh or frozen sliced peeled peaches
2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 c. sugar
freshly ground nutmeg (this was our addition to the recipe)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in 2.5 quart baking dish. (Chelsea melted the butter in the microwave on very low and then poured it into the baking dish.) Set aside.

In medium bowl, combine flour, 3/4 c. sugar and baking powder;

add milk;

and stir until blended.

Spoon batter over butter in baking dish; do not stir.

Combine peahces, blueberries and 1/2 c. sugar;

spoon over batter. Do not stir.

Sprinkle the top with freshly grated nutmeg.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes until dough is lightly brown.

Serve warm, with ice cream, if desired.

Serves 6 generously.

FYI - you can cut the recipe in half and bake it for the same amount of time. Earlier this week, I made it in a 9 inch pie plate to deliver to a friend who had surgery. And today, I made it again for Tom in a tart dish.