Monday, August 22, 2011

Jalapeno Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Olive and Corn Salsa (Giveaway)


Our family lives a life that's filled with as many local or regional products, foods, product, meats, that we can find. However, we're also realistic. We know there are foods and products we live that we just can't get here in New England. Life is too short to shun such yummy things. I also know that not every one of you is as lucky as I am to live in a spot that makes mostly local eating, easy. From time to time, I want to share some of the things we buy here in our household, found at your regular grocery store, that I consider to be a great product. Food shopping is about research. You can find quality products that are in line with your eating beliefs, just about anywhere.


Some of those products, I absolutely adore, are those from Lindsay Olives, specifically their line of "Naturals". These aren't your typical canned olives. They're firm and fresh, and can be eaten straight out of the can. I should know, the husband and I basically tackled an entire one between the two of us this past weekend. Why do I love them so much? Let's take a close look at the ingredient label, shall we?


Yup, that's right. All that's involved in the Lindsay Naturals line are olives, water, and sea salt. That's it. For the Naturals, the olives are picked off the trees when they're green. They're then cured and pitted. They go through a 7-day process. The black olive version gets oxygen introduced during that time, that's what changes their color to the black. However, since the Naturals are only packed in sea salt and water, the color isn't as dark as your normal black olive, they're more of a chocolate-y brown. The green olives don't get any oxygen, and all of the olives have the sea salt and water added after the 7-days, and are sent off to canning, and then off to you.

Olive and Corn Salsa

I like to know the history of the companies I'm dealing with, so I'm going to share it with you. Lindsay Olives is a division of Bell-Carter Foods, a company that's been around in one form or another since 1912. It's been family-owned that entire time, with an excellent commitment to quality. The back-story is simply amazing, I encourage you to check out this short little video to get more of a sense of the history of this family business.


I met some of the lovely reps from Lindsay Olives at Eat, Write, Retreat this past year. They were interested in working with bloggers on developing recipes and getting the word out about their product. It was there I fell in love with the Natural California Green Ripe Olives, and have been using them ever since. I decided to pair their olives, with peppers and herbs from my backyard garden, locally-raised chicken and locally-grown corn to develop a recipe for the Lindsay Olive folks. It's perfect for the end of summer, usually what's available near you right now.


Jalapeno Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Olive and Corn Salsa
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

For the marinade/chicken:
  • 1/4 cup tequila
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 boneless-skinless chicken breasts
For the filling: 
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • sprinkle of salt
For the salsa:
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears) (or canned or frozen work too)
  • 1 15 oz. can Lindsay Naturals California Green Ripe Olives, chopped
  • 1 15 oz. can Lindsay Naturals Black Ripe Olives, chopped
  • dash of cumin
  • sprinkle of salt
  • dash of smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
Instructions:

For the marinade/chicken:
Put the chicken breasts in a ziploc bag (or some kind of storage container).
In a bowl, combine all marinade ingredients, whisk until combined and pour over chicken.
Marinate overnight or for at least two hours.

For the filling:
Combine all filling ingredients (cream cheese, jalapeno peppers, green onions, and salt) and stir together until everything comes together.

For the salsa:
In a medium-sized bowl, stir together corn and chopped olives until both are evenly distributed. Add the the cumin, salt, and smoked paprika, and stir until everything is coated. Finally, pour in your rice wine vinegar, and stir to combine.

To assemble:

Once done marinating, take your chicken breasts and cut a slit in the thickest part of the breast (do not cut all the way through). Place two tablespoons of the filling in the opening. Close the chicken breast and tie shut with kitchen twine. Grill for 20 minutes over medium heat, flipping once, until the thickest part of the breast registers 170 degrees. Transfer to dinner plates and top with olive and corn salsa.

Lindsay Olives Giveaway:
The folks over at Lindsay would like to share some olive love with all of you! The winner of this giveaway will get a prize pack of Lindsay Naturals California Green Ripe Olives and their Recloseables line (so perfect to cook and snack with). You simply have to do the following:

1) Comment on this post letting me know your favorite use for olives. (required)

Additional possible entries:
2) "Like" Lindsay Olives on Facebook or follow them on Twitter (if you follow on Twitter, please RT the following: I'd like to win a prize pack of olives from @lindsayolives and @kimmybingham http://bit.ly/nlBHPt  )

3) Like "Lighter and Local" on Facebook or follow me @kimmybingham on Twitter and leave a comment here telling me you did so. (If you "like" and "follow" me, please leave two separate comments for two additional entries).

This giveaway is open until August 31st at midnight. The following day I will pick a random number and the corresponding post will win the prize pack.

Disclaimer: Lindsay Olives compensated me for the recipe development and this post, and provided the olives I used in this recipe. I'd also like to note, I only partner with companies and brands I believe in, and want to share with you, the readers.



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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Spicy and Sweet Pickling Cucumber Salad


This should have been a Charcutepalooza post. In fact, that post should have been yesterday. My brain is fuzzy, my body tired, I'm completely off my clock.

Literally.

If you follow this blog at all, you may know I work in television news. In fact, you also may know that, in general, I work nights. The start of my work day is three o'clock in the afternoon; I end at eleven-thirty at night.

Not this week, not until after Labor Day again.

I'm filling in on our station's morning news. Five and a half hours, starting at four-thirty in the morning. That means I'm getting to work around 3-4 a.m. and going to bed while you are all sitting down for dinner. My body clock is a mess. It doesn't really know when to sleep, eat, or even speak. I'm confident it will find its way before the end of these three weeks, and by then, I'll be back to working nights. I miss my husband. We are two ships passing in the night right now. It makes me sad.

It's a pretty bizarre shift. So, what does this have to do with this blog?

I meant to make a beautiful seafood mousseline for this month's Charcutepalooza challenge. I couldn't muster the energy. However, to be honest. All month, I struggled with it. Neither making headcheese (I've tried, I hated, no thank you) or the mousseline sounded appetizing. I struggled with buying the ingredients for something that might go to waste. In the end, it was my sleepy brain that did me in. It just wasn't happening.

I resolve to rejoin my Charcutepalooza friends next month. Until then, I give you pickles.


Sweet-End-of-Summer-Pickles. Sadly, the recipe isn't mine to share with all of you. That belongs to my lovely canning mentor, Robin, over at Doves and Figs. No, what I want to share with you today is leftovers.

Aren't I sweet? You get leftovers.


These are good leftovers, though. I was lucky enough to hit up my local farm, Tendercrop Farm in Newbury, Ma., the other weekend at just the right time. They were *giving away* 10 pickling cucumbers for free to every customer. This is perfect. My little cucumber vine didn't give me enough to really do a good batch of pickles, so this was my chance at pickling glory.

Here's the deal though, I didn't want to do big quarts of pickles, so I hauled out my pint jars. They're perfect, except for one thing. The pickle spears are too long. No problem, right, I chop off the tops. Next issue, I have a ton of small pieces of pickling cucumbers. I also have a few random spears that just didn't fit in the jars. I chop those up too. I'm sure you're thinking, oh well, she can just pickle the chopped pieces, right? Next problem, no brine leftover. Sigh.


I don't like to waste things, so I invented this salad. You can always eat pickling cucumbers like a normal salad cucumber, but it's better drenched in vinegar. This is a perfect way to use up whatever you have leftover so there's no waste. It makes a perfect little side dish!


Spicy and Sweet Pickling Cucumber Salad
(printable recipe)
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups roughly chopped pickling cucumbers
  • 1/4 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
Instructions:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, toss until everything is well-coated in the vinegar.
  2. Cover and place in the refrigerator for two hours or overnight.
  3. Serve and enjoy!

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Oreo Peanut Butter Pie - A Pie for Mikey


There are no words. It's a phrase I've seen or uttered far too often as of late. First, in my close circle of friends when it came to a tragic accident that took the life of the toddler of one of my dearest friends. I walked around in a fog for weeks with a loss I can't understand. Now, again, in the past week, I've seen it spread throughout the food blogging community. We were talking of indescribable loss. The sudden loss of the husband of fellow blogger, Jennifer Perillo.


Her husband, Mikey, passing away last weekend of a sudden heart attack while out bike riding with one of their two daughters. I don't know how she did, but she put together word after beautifully written word, about her dear husband in a post named, "For Mikey". She also made his favorite pie, Creamy Peanut Butter. Food is love, and in this case, it connects time and space, for the love of one dearest husband loss.

The food blogging community, as always, came together. Today, bloggers across the world making this pie, some variation, or their own #apieformikey . It's our way of supporting a friend, that some of us know so well, some have never met.


I was lucky enough to spend a little bit of time with Jennie at Eat, Write, Retreat. I got to share a quick breakfast with her and my dear friend Ethan Adeland (who by the way, gave his pie to a woman's shelter, and wrote a wonderful post for his friend). She spoke of her husband, her girls, her love for sharing local and from-scratch food. It's a passion we share. Just days ago, we tweeted back and forth about a cherry-infused grappa, and our love for the spirit. I'm not going to pretend to know Jennie like so many of you do. I know her enough to know she's a kindred spirit, full of love and light.

When devastating loss comes to pass, we often share in gifts of food, because it's one way of trying to fill the massive void a loved one leaves behind. Today, I share my version of Jennie's pie for Mikey with you. I share because I think she's a beautiful person, I think her daughters are amazing, I share because I can't imagine the loss she's feeling. I share because my husband loves this pie as much as Mikey did (and I'm sure still does), and I can't imagine losing him, his smile, his love for life.


Oreo Peanut Butter Pie
(printable recipe)
Serves: 10-12
A recipe (with a couple of changes) from the lovely Jennifer Perillo

Ingredients:
  • 8 ounces Oreo Cookies
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts (I omitted)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 -14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • more crumbled oreos for garnishing
Instructions:
  1. Pulverize the Oreos in a food processor until they're fine crumbs.
  2. Combine melted butter and cookie crumbs in a small bowl. Stir with a fork to mix well.
  3. Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a buttered springform pan.
  4. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave. Pour over the bottom of cookie crust. Sprinkle the peanuts over the top, if you're using it. Put the pan in the fridge while you make the filling.
  5. In the bowl of standing mixer (or a regular bowl if using a hand mixer), pour in the heavy cream and beat until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a small bowl and put in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the filling.
  6. Rinse out your standing mixer bowl (or take out another) and place your cream cheese and peanut butter in it, and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. 
  7. Reduce mixer speed to low, and gradually beat in confectioner's sugar.
  8. Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Increase the speed to medium and beat all the ingredients are combined and the filing is smooth.
  9. Finally, take your whipped cream, and fold in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (it will lighten the mixture, making it easier to fold the rest of the whipped cream in). 
  10. Fold in the remaining whipped cream.
  11. Pour the mixture into your springform pan. 
  12. Sprinkled the crushed Oreos for garnish on top.
  13. Refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.


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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bourbon Cherries


Are you sick of cherries, yet? I hope not, there's at least one or two more recipes in my arsenal at the moment.  I want you to remember this moment, when you're so done with cherries and have moved on the blueberries and raspberries in the heart of summer. I want you to remember it, so when it's January, and you'd love to be eating those babies fresh from the trees, you'll forget about ever being sick of them. Luckily, you can continue to enjoy them through the winter, maybe in a spicy, warming, drink, perhaps?


I knew I wanted at least two quarts of bourbon cherries for the winter. They're potent, they warm you up, they're fantastic in a Manhattan. The husband and I, we're in our thirties. We own a home, and it seems once we bought that home, our days of carousing came to an end. I'm sure many of you can relate. One moment, every weekend there's a bash, a bar to go to, a restaurant to try out, and then, there's the couch, a blankie, a perfectly mixed Manhattan, and in our case, a few well-placed pugs on our laps. I don't want us to sound lame, because we still try out restaurants, still see our friends constantly, but the "going out" portion isn't what it used to be, and that's OK.


It's OK because there are few things in life I love better than making something comforting, cracking open a bottle of red, and watching the snow fly outside our 1935 Craftsman bungalow. It's precisely those evenings where I feel alright with the world. The husband and I, we watch movies, we chat, we cook together, we talk to the pugs (yes, we're nuts). I'm a huge advocate for the idea that it is the small things in life that make the biggest impact.

So while your A/C is pumping out cool relief, while you're spending your days at the beach, while the cherry trees still have a few little red pops of joy available for picking, take a few moments to preserve those pieces of summer for those perfect little moments in the dead of winter. Enjoy.


Bourbon Cherries
(printable recipe)

Yield: 6 - 1/2 pint jars or 3 pint jars
Source: Adapted and reduced from WineBookGirl who adapted from The Art of the Bar: Cocktails Inspired by the Classics. 

Ingredients:
  • 3 pounds pitted cherries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups bourbon
Instructions:
  1. Sterilize and warm your jars and lids.
  2. Heat water, cinnamon sticks, sugar, and lemon juice over high heat until at a boil.
  3. Simmer 5-10 minutes to let the spices infuse.
  4. Allow mixture to cool just slightly, and add bourbon.
  5. When the mixture is cooling, pack cherries into warm jars.
  6. Ladle bourbon mixture over your cherries, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.
  7. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. 
  8. Allow to sit for at least two weeks before consuming.
Pickling cucumbers ready for pickling!

Lighter and Local: The Height of Summer

We are here, the height of the summer in New England. Green tomatoes are filling and weighting down every vine and branch, cucumbers are falling off their plants, and corn by the truckload can be found at every market. I chose to head to one my local farms today instead of my weekly farmers' market. Tendercrop Farm in Newbury, MA. is fantastic. Not only can I pick up all the locally-grown produce I need, they also raise their own cows, chickens, and turkeys. They also bake bread there, and make spreads, and pickle their own vegetables. It's an amazing place. 

For $25 at Tendercrop Farm this week I took home:
  • 1.5 pounds specially marinated chicken breast
  • 1.25 pounds of grass-fed ground beef
  • 5 peaches
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • several bunches of spinach
  • 1/2 dozen ears of corn
  • 1 bunch young onions
  • and the awesome get, they were giving away up to 10 pickling cucumbers for free! So, of course, I took home 10 to make pickles! 

What I'm planning to make this week:
  • The ground beef became "taco night" for Sunday night
  • The spinach will go into salads all week for dinners at work
  • The chicken breast will head on the grill to be served with the corn, and some macaroni salad
  • The blueberries will combine with yogurt and granola for breakfasts. 

What I'm preserving this week:
  • My 10 small pickling cucumbers yielded about 5 pints of pickle to "put up".
  • I had some leftover (not enough brine for them) cucumbers that we chopped up, tossed with dill and chives from our garden, red pepper flakes, and doused with rice wine vinegar, tossed and covered and put in the fridge. They'll be slightly pickled and it makes a nice side item for the week. 
  • We'll never eat 6 ears of corn, 3 of them will be stripped, and the kernels frozen for later use. 



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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Boston Brunchers August: Odyssey Brunch Cruise

Boston Harbor

This is the one in which I have become a bad blogger. I was lucky enough to win a spot (and get to bring the husband) on a brunch cruise on the Odyssey through Boston Harbor this Sunday with the Boston Brunchers group. Lucky enough to win, really horrible on taking you through this experience, photograph-wise.

First fail, not taking a photo of the ship. Major fail here. The Odyssey is impressive, in that large, sleek, yacht-like way. You can check out a ton of photos on their website. She's a beautiful ship, she's also well climate-controlled. We were brought down to the lowest deck, which still has stunning views, for our brunch buffet. The A/C was pumping, which is always good to know depending on who you're bringing along.

The Odyssey is a beautiful experience. The views of Boston Harbor are ones I've never gotten to experience before, even living here nearly all of my life. While our seating was on the lower deck, the upper decks were open to us to enjoy the sun and some cocktails. It truly was a beautiful day out on the water and the Odyssey folks really give you a lovely little tour of the area.

Beginning with some bubbly

The experience on board the Odyssey gets an A+, the food, while good, could use a little bit of work. We started off with a nice, complimentary, glass of bubbly. Always a nice way to start. The brunch cruise is buffet-style, breakfast on one side, lunch on the other.

The husband's plate, full of bacon, of course.


The selection is fantastic, truly something for everyone. The breakfast side was your standard fare, eggs, bacon, sausages, french toast, waffles, various pastries and breads. It was good, but nothing really blew me away.

Here's blogger fail #2, I didn't get a photograph of either of our second plates, full of the lunch fare. I have to say that the Odyssey's lunch entrees, far outshone the breakfast offerings. Lovely seasonal vegetables, a maple-chipolte chicken, a creamy pasta, but it was the roasted sirloin that shone.  Hand-carved, served with horseradish sauce or au jus, the sirloin really was the highlight.

Red Velvet Cake and Rice Krispies Treats for dessert

The dessert buffet was fun. Various cakes and treats lining one table on one end, with a chocolate fountain with various dipping options on the other. Dessert was solid and it was fun. However, it was after the meal that the fun aboard the Odyssey really begins.

This is a sight-seeing tour around Boston Harbor. It's a beautiful way to spend a summer morning. The food is decent, but it's the sights that are really the highlights here. The husband and I made our way to the top decks where you could sit, mingle, even order a cocktail (cash bar) from the little bar up above. If you have guests in town, this is a beautiful way to check out the waters off Boston. Heck, I've lived here all my life and have never done a Boston Harbor tour like this.

It's truly a worthwhile endeavor if you've never done something like this. The views are absolutely stunning. The Odyssey also does sunset and dinner cruises and I would love to see the city all lit up from the water. I just might have to put that on our list for next time.


*Disclaimer: Brunch aboard the Odyssey was provided to me free of charge as I won a spot (and my husband's) with Boston Brunchers. I was not required to write about the experience. All opinions are my own.
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