Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Here's hoping you all had a fabulous Easter spent with family and friends, I know I did! I can't think of too many things that put a smile on my face faster than seeing a baby dressed up in bunny ears!!
For the occasion my mother, sister, and I got together yesterday to crank out some delicious sugar cookies and also to try some cheesecake pops that have been on my "to do" list for some time.
My mom had already baked her favorite sugar cookies, so all we had to do is whip up some modified royal icing to finish the decorating. We did several shapes, but the bunnies pictured above were at the top of my favorite list. They were inspired by one of my go-to blogs, Annies Eats.
Then, we were off to dip some cheesecake! I copped out and bought some Sara Lee, but I think it was a great stand in for a busy weekend. I simply used a mini cookie cutter on the frozen cheesecake to create the shape and then placed a lollipop stick in each bite. These were returned to the freezer to firm up and then we dipped in melted chocolate and rolled in Easter themed sprinkles. Such a simple dessert that really presents well. I know we will revisit these often!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Roasted Chicken with Balsamic Vinaigrette

In my search for new ways to spruce up the good ol' chicken breast, I often turn to my favorite blogs, but sometimes head straight for the Food Network website. Although I haven't tried many of Giada's recipes, I thought her Roasted Chicken with Balsamic Vinaigrette seemed like the start of a good combination.
It's not that I don't like Giada, but I seem to be picky about who I choose to spend 30 minutes with when it comes to cooking programs. Maybe it's the way Giada changes her intonation when she pronounces words like mozzarella and pancetta, or perhaps the fact she doesn't seem to have a single turtleneck in her wardrobe. Despite these glitches, I have been recently impressed by some of her bold flavors and I plan on hitting her up again in the future.
*Though the recipe doesn't call for browning the chicken prior to finishing it in the oven, that is exactly what I did. Doing this seems to seal in the juices and if you use your cast iron pan, it is a one pot meal.

Roasted Chicken with Balsamic Vinaigrette

adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
2 T. dijon mustard
2T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 bone-in chicken breasts
1/4 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. red wine
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. butter
lemon zest

Whisk the vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper in small bowl to blend. Combine the vinaigrette and chicken pieces in a large resealable plastic bag; seal the bag and toss to coat. Refrigerate, turning the chicken pieces occasionally, for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove chicken from the bag and brown in an oven safe pan. Transfer to oven and roast until the chicken is just cooked through, about 1 hour. If your chicken browns too quickly, cover it with foil for the remaining cooking time. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Place the baking dish on a burner over medium-low heat. Whisk the chicken broth, wine, balsamic vinegar, and butter into the pan drippings, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the baking sheet with a wooden spoon and mixing them into the broth and pan drippings. Reduce sauce and drizzle over the chicken. Sprinkle the lemon zest and parsley over the chicken, and serve.