Yogurt and Aleppo Pepper Marinated Grilled Chicken

I’ve jumped on the Aleppo pepper bandwagon with both feet. It is a less hot and almost fruity pepper that has a slow build of heat. It makes a great marinade for chicken (and, I’ve heard, for vegetables). I like that I get flavor without burning myself.

It was a rainy afternoon but that didn’t stop me from getting out and grilling. The chicken was tender and juicy and the mild spiciness of the marinade/sauce made our mouths happy. Heck, Michelle wants me to make more sauce for her to use on chicken tenders.

If you don’t have Aleppo pepper (and you really, really should get some), substitute crushed red pepper flakes and sweet paprika. Combine 4 teaspoons of each in the bowl with 4 tablespoons warm water as the first step.

Yogurt and Aleppo Pepper Marinated Grilled Chicken

3 tablespoons Aleppo pepper
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus zest from 1 lemon
1/3 cup honey
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

4 bone in chicken breasts (or leg quarters)

In a large bowl combine 3 tablespoons Aleppo pepper with 2 tablespoons warm water. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes for the water to be absorbed.

After the pepper has soaked, place remaining ingredients except the chicken in the bowl and whisk to combine. Reserve 1/2 cup of the marinade in a small container and refrigerate. Add the chicken to the large bowl (or pour the contents in a zip top bag) and thoroughly coat. Cover the bowl or seal the bag and refrigerate overnight.

Set the grill for indirect cooking.

Remove the chicken from the marinade, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Arrange the chicken skin side up on the cool side of the grill with the thickest part nearest the coals. Grill for 30-45 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the largest piece registers 160° -165 degrees F.

Drizzle the chicken with the reserved marinade and serve.

I served the chicken with couscous.

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Pretzel Rolls

We had some beer brats that we were going to cook for dinner and needed something to go with them. I decided to made pretzel rolls as pretzels go great with German sausage. I used an eight loaf mini loaf pan to form the shapes although you can shape them with your hands as well.

They tasted great with lovely, soft interiors to hold plenty of mustard and the brats.

Pretzel Rolls

1 1/4 warm water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
1-1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

3 quarts water
1/4 cup baking soda
1 tablespoon coarse salt

Add first 6 ingredients to bread machine in order given. Select dough cycle. When dough cycle completes, remove dough from pan to a floured surface.

Divide dough into 8 portions and make into ovals. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat conventional oven to 400 degrees F.

Meanwhile, prepare water bath by bringing the 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add baking soda – it will foam up but when it subsides, drop rolls into the boiling water. Cook 30 seconds, then flip and boil for another 30 seconds.

Remove rolls to a wire rack to drain and then move to a well-greased cookie sheet or mini loaf pans. Use a sharp knife to slice a line into the top of each roll about 1/2 inch deep. Sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake 20-25 minutes, rotating pan midway through. Rolls will be golden brown on top and will sound hollow when done.

Remove rolls to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

Peach Pops

Michelle’s parents have some very fruitful peach trees and after she had sliced and frozen 20 quart bags and 24 pint bags and dehydrated another 6 pint bags of peaches, there were still plenty left. She gave two 5 gallon buckets worth to a cousin and I decided to use some of the very ripe ones to make a frozen treat.

These pops taste like peaches and cream but are made with milk and Greek yogurt. This recipe can be made with 2 cups frozen peaches, just thaw them out to chop some and dice the others.

Adjust the agave nectar up or down depending on the tartness of the peaches and how sweet you like your pops.

Peach Pops

1 cup of peaches, roughly chopped
½ cup peaches, diced
6 tablespoons milk
2/3 cups Greek yogurt
 – I used plain but vanilla is good, too
2 tablespoons agave nectar

In a blender, puree the 1 cup of chopped peaches. Add milk, yogurt and agave nectar and blend until smooth.
 Stir in diced peaches. Fill your pops molds.

Freeze at least 4 hours.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I wanted some cookies but I couldn’t decided between oatmeal cookies and chocolate chip. So, I made the best of both worlds with these chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

Chop the pecans pretty fine, so you get nuts in every bite.

Don’t be like me and grab the 1/3 cup measure when measuring the oatmeal – I thought I had put my hand on the 1/4 cup so I ended up with 2/3rds cups more oats than planned. The cookies were still delicious, they just were more oatie than planned (and Michelle seems to like them better that way). On second thought, maybe be like me.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 – 10 ounce package bittersweet chocolate morsels
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup finely chopped toasted pecans

Pre-heat oven to 350° degrees F

Place flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Whisk to combine.

In a large mixing bowl beat together the brown sugar, granulated sugar and butter until light and creamy. Beat in eggs, milk and vanilla extract.

Slowly beat in the flour. Then add oats, bittersweet morsels and nuts and mix well.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 13 minutes for chewy cookies and 15 minutes for crispy cookies.

Allow cookies to cool 1 minute on the baking sheet before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

 

Cheesy Chicken Calzone

I had been watching soccer all day Sunday (and don’t get me started on FIFA scheduling men’s final games on the day of the Women’s World Cup Final – here’s an article on why it is insulting. Here is another.) so I needed something I could eat in front of the TV. I decided a  calzone (basically a pocket pizza) was the way to go.

The entire dough recipe will make 4 good sized calzones. I divided the dough in half so I could have one calzone to eat, one for dinner later in the week and made pretzels with the rest.

I started on Saturday with an easy pizza dough in my new-to-me bread maker:

Basic Pizza Dough


3/4 cup tepid water
1/4 cup whole milk
3 cups bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon olive oil

Place all the ingredients in order in the bread machine on the dough setting. When the machine is done with its cycle, divide dough in half and place one part in a well oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Put it in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Use the other half, after an hour’s rest, for pizza or pretzels or wrap it well and put in the freezer for another meal.

I had a chicken breast thawed that I decided to use instead of more traditional sausage and pepperoni. After a quick browning of the chicken, I made a basic marinara sauce in the same skillet. I let the meat and sauce simmer together and then added to it cottage cheese (I was out of ricotta), mozzarella and Parmesan to make it very cheesy. All together, it resulted in a delicious meal that will stick to your ribs.

I used tomato sauce instead of tomatoes as I wanted to reduce the liquid in the dish.

Cheesy Chicken Calzone


1/2 recipe of pizza dough
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 chicken breast, boneless, skinless
1 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1/4 Parmesan cheese, grated
2 large eggs, divided

Remove the dough from the fridge and allow to rest and relax in a warm place for an hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Sauté the onion until translucent. Stir in the garlic. Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces. Lightly salt chicken. Add chicken to skillet and cook, stirring often, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.

Stir in tomato sauce. Add basil, oregano, remaining salt and pepper, and bring to boil over medium-high. Add in red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Use a fork to pull apart any large pieces of chicken. Stir to coat with sauce.

In a bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan and 1 egg. Mix in the cooled chicken mixture and stir to combine.

Divide dough into two pieces. Roll each piece out into about an 8 inch circle. Don’t make them too thin or it could blowout during baking. Set the rounds on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Place about a cup of filling on each round.

Lightly beat the remaining egg with a teaspoon of water. Brush the egg wash on the border of the dough, fold over in half and press the edges together with a fork. Brush the top with egg wash and score the tops with a knife to allow steam to escape.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before eating.

Baked calzones can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw frozen calzones in the refrigerator before reheating in a microwave. If you want the crust crispy again, get it mostly warm in the microwave and finish warming it up in a toaster oven.

Blue Oak BBQ

I, and most of the city, seem to agree that barbecue is the perfect food for July 4th. After I did my reading for the Star-Spangled 4th of July Marathon Reading of the Mueller Report, my friends Charlotte and Thomas took me out to Blue Oak BBQ in MidCity.

The place was packed!

I ordered a sandwich – the chopped brisket with a side of roasted garlic mac and cheese. There was a spicy rub on the brisket that was very tasty but a little spicy. The heat was cut by the coleslaw that was served on the sandwich. I wasn’t particularly a fan of the mac and cheese but that’s mainly because I didn’t think it wasn’t cheesy enough.

Charlotte got her pulled pork plate with baked beans and garlic mac and cheese. She tried all the sauces (Jerk, Carolina, House) and like the house bbq sauce best.

Thomas got his pulled pork with the spicy green onion sausage. His sides were the potato salad and baked beans. He was definitely a member of the clean plate club.

Blue Oak BBQ has a full bar but I stuck with soda.

There was a long line that extended out the door but it didn’t take more than ten minutes to reach the front and order. We waited just a short time for a table (the tables outside are cooled with misting fans but the theater was not air conditioned, so I wanted to stay inside). There were a ton of people who had ordered ahead and just came in and grabbed brown paper sacks of meaty goodness.

The staff was fast to bus tables and bring out the food – all of which is smoked in their on-site pit. I always judge a bbq joint by the smell of smoke and meats and this one place is wonderfully perfumed for carnivores.

For the size of the crowd and the lines, everything ran smoothly and everyone had a smile on their face.

I would definitely return to give the rest of their menu a try.

900 N Carrollton, New Orleans
504-822-BLUE (2583)
www.blueoakbbq.com 

 

Peach Bars

Michelle has been talking about picking peaches, so I went through my freezer and found a pint bag from last year that I needed to use up. We slice them and put on a little sugar and put them up for a taste of summer anytime.

I decided to make cookie bars with them. These sandwich the peaches between two layers of sweet crust. I used sliced peaches but I recommend you put chopped in the recipe as the slices were a little big for the bites I cut the bars into.

If using frozen peaches, let them come to room temperature and drain off excess juice (I just drank it!).

Peach Bars

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cups sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick cold butter, cut into 24 pieces
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups peaches, chopped
Juice and zest of one lemon
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Preheat oven to 375° F. Lightly butter an 8X8 baking pan.

In a food processor, pulse together flour, 3/4 cups sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Once mixed, cut in butter until crumbly. In a small bowl, whisk egg and vanilla until blended; add to flour mixture, pulsing until crumbly.

Press 2 cups of the crumb mixture onto bottom of a greased pan. Reserve the rest for the topping.

Toss peaches with lemon juice and zest. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and remaining 1/4  cup of sugar. Add sugar mix to peaches and toss to coat. Spread over crust and sprinkle with reserved topping. Press down lightly.

Bake until lightly browned and filling is bubbly, 40-45 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars.