I don’t know about you, but I’ve been dying to grill. It epitomizes all that is summer.
Now, I know you can grill all year round, but I tend to wimp out when it’s snowing and freezing outside. I haven’t turned on the grill since last fall. Oops.
We grill most nights of the week during the warm months. I love it. Not only does it make food taste fabulous, but the cleanup is minimal and the cooking time is usually short. It also makes cooking for a crowd easy! My plan is to get a little more ambitious with my grilling habits this summer. I’d like to experiment with grilling more fruit, veggies, and seafood. I’ve dabbled a little here and there, but I definitely have room to grow in those areas. I usually stick to hot dogs, burgers, steaks, chicken, and corn on the cob. All basics. All delicious.
These burgers are an awesome way to reintroduce your grill into your routine this spring/summer. Not only are the burger patties themselves PACKED with flavor (I flavor them the same way I do chicken meatballs for pasta), but the toppings make up one of my most favorite culinary combos on earth: caprese salad. With a little added bacon. So good. There is so much yumminess going on, you won’t need any extra condiments or fluff with these burgers. The chicken patties stay super moist and juicy and the fresh toppings give everything that light and summery touch. They are downright delicious.
We’ve had incredible weather these past couple weeks (except for an odd midweek cold spell), so I whipped up a batch of these recently. It just felt right. I was inspired!
Bring on the grillin’!
Chicken Caprese Burgers (makes 4-6 servings)
For the Burgers:
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
¾ cup grated pecorino romano cheese
¼ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon of milk
2 garlic cloves, grated (or finely minced)
½ an onion, grated (or finely chopped)
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1 lb ground chicken
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil, for browning
Burger buns, for serving
Slices of fresh mozzarella cheese (I do about two per burger)
Slices of tomato
4-6 pieces of bacon, crisped
Fresh basil leaves
Balsamic glaze (store bought or you can make your own)
1. In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, ketchup, milk, garlic, onion, parsley, and eggs until well blended. Season well with salt and pepper. Gently fold in the ground chicken and mix until well incorporated, but not over mixed (over mixing results in tough, dry burgers). Form mixture into 4 large or 6 medium patties.
2. Heat a large skillet (or grill!) over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and heat until shimmering (or oil the grates of the grill). Add the burger patties to the pan/grill and cook for 5 minutes per side, until golden and cooked through.
3. Transfer the warm burgers to buns and immediately top with bacon and fresh mozzarella. This will allow the cheese is soften just slightly. You also could add the cheese during the final minute of cooking for a more melty result, but I like to preserve the “fresh” taste of the cheese. Top with tomatoes, basil, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. Serve!
I have a treat for you today.
These scones are probably one of the best things to come out of my kitchen in a while. Or, at least, they are the thing I am most excited about as of late.
Before these, I was not big on scones. They often come out so dry and hockey-puck like. I also find that they generally aren’t sweet enough for me. I don’t have a HUGE sweet tooth, but I like my baked goods to have a sugary bite to them. Otherwise, I don’t think they are worth the calories. Basically, a scone has to be pretty great for me to be on board.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that my husband and I went to Washington DC for a weekend. While we were there, we brunched at Art Smith’s place (one of the best meals we had while there, by the way). Shortly after you sit down, they bring over a plate of warm apricot scones and soft whipped butter. I debated whether they were worth the caloric load given my general scone hesitancy, but my husband dove right in. His reaction to the scones pulled me in. They were soft, flaky, and sweet with a hint (I’m pretty sure) of ginger. The apricots were sweet and plump. The best part: there was a thick crust of sugar crystals on top of each scone. TEXTURE! They were phenomenal. We finished off the plate of four (FOUR!) scones in minutes. We then moved onto two incredible eggs benedict dishes complete with bacon and sweet tomato jam (OMG)…but that’s a story for another time….
Back to the scones…
The wheels in my head were already turning. I knew I had to try recreating them at home. So, I came up with the version below. Much to my delight (and shock), they came out even better than the restaurant version (sorry, Art). It must be that whole homemade thang. They were soft, flaky, and MOIST (no hockey pucks!) with the perfect hint of sweet, spicy ginger. I ate one hot out of the oven (ouch) and another later on smeared with softened butter. Both were delightful (and worth the tongue burn). My husband agreed. He ranked them as a “9.5 out of 10,” and he doesn’t give such accolades lightly! I took the leftovers into work (in an effort to cut myself off from them) on Monday, and people raved. Some even said it was the best scone they’d ever had!
*Pats self on back.*
I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, but the reaction I received from others confirmed my belief that these were spectacular scones.
So, do yourself a favor and make these soon. They are incredibly yummy and very “un-scone-y,” if you’re like me and afraid they won’t be your thing.
Apricot-Ginger Scones (makes 8 large scones)
2 cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
8 tablespoons very cold butter, cut into small cubes
½ cup chopped dried apricots
2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger
½ cup sour cream
Turbinado (raw) sugar, for sprinkling on top
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the cubed butter and cut into the dough using a pastry cutter or a fork (the dough should be very crumbly). Add the chopped apricots and candied ginger.
3. Whisk the egg and sour cream together in a small bowl and then fold into the dry mixture. Mix until just incorporated.
4. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and then gently form a rectangle or circle about 1-inch thick. Slice into desired shape (squares, triangles, etc) and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
6. Brush each scone lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Bake until puffed and golden, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly and then serve with whipped butter or jam.
Hi Monday. Back so soon? You shouldn’t have. Really.
I’m extra sad it’s Monday because I had the most amazing weekend. We went out to dinner twice this weekend. TWICE! So fun. We also went to see the Phantom of the Opera. Yes. And um, can I just say…IT WAS AMAZING!!! I was on the fence for sure (opera isn’t something I listen to on the reg), but I am so glad we went. Such a wonderful show. So much talent. Such a good story. There’s many reasons why it remains one of the most popular shows of all time. I get it now.
Our first delicious meal out was at a popular Philly restaurant, The Farm and Fisherman. Beautiful, seasonal dishes with flavors that really popped. It was great, too, because I didn’t leave feeling super-duper stuffed. It was the perfect amount of food, which made staying awake for the show easier (not that I could have fallen asleep anyway…it was just so good). It was the perfect way to kick start our weekend.
Then, on Saturday night, we went to Modo Mio (another Philly gem) with one of our favorite couples. Lots of incredible food, wine (on their end…don’t worry, I stuck with water), laughter, and good convo. The best kind of night.
Then, to top things off, yesterday was one of the best spring days we’ve had yet. My husband and I worked outside in the yard, soaking up the sun and warmth, while the dogs chased squirrels and sunbathed. I planted some herbs (the only thing I can manage to keep alive. Black thumbs over here) and potted some flowers for our patio (black thumbs and fingers crossed they survive). Then, we topped off the night with some delicious grilled burgers (recipe coming soon), more wine (again, none for me. Sad face), and our favorite Sunday night shows.
It was just one of those perfect weekends. It felt like a deep breath of fresh air. So relaxing and rejuvenating. Just what we needed.
And then today came. Boo.
BUT to ease us into the week, I made a delicious chicken dish. Yeah, I know, chicken can be so boring sometimes. I love it but am always trying to come up with ways to keep it fun and interesting. Especially when it comes to boneless, skinless chicken breasts. The most boring chicken of all. But it’s the healthiest! So I do my best to figure out ways to keep it moist and flavorful.
I find that stuffing chicken breasts is usually a good way to go. Also, simmering them in some sort of liquid as they cook through works wonders. So, I took both those methods and applied them to this dish. The stuffed chicken rolls stay moist and tender throughout the cooking process. The filling melts slightly and adds a spicy, creamy bite (like that of a jalapeño popper – hence the name for this dish). I finish them off with a smoky, light sauce and then go to town. Serve this with a light salad and you have dinner! Quick and easy. Healthy and flavorful. All the good stuff.
This chicken dish is anything but boring. It kinda makes me want to break out into song…an opera song… but I’ll spare you that.
To put it more simply, it makes this Monday a little less painful. A little.
Jalapeño Popper Chicken with Bacon & Smoky Pan Sauce (makes 4-6 servings)
For the Chicken:
6 chicken breasts, pounded thin
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 oz softened cream cheese
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
4 slices bacon, cooked and finely chopped
½ cup scallions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the Pan Sauce:
1 shallot, finely minced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
½ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon cumin
Pinch of sugar
½ cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 teaspoon cornstarch
¼ cup chopped scallions
For the Chicken:
Take each chicken breast and place between two pieces of wax paper. Using a small skillet or meat tenderizer, flatten the meat. Season with salt and pepper.
To make the filling, mix the softened cream cheese, mozzarella, jalapeño, crispy bacon, and scallions. Place a dollop of the mixture on the end of each chicken breast. Roll the chicken to enclose the cream cheese mixture. Secure with toothpicks.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high and add the oil. When it shimmers, add the chicken rolls. Sear on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside (the chicken will not be cooked through at this point).
For the Sauce:
To the same pan, add the shallot and garlic and cook for 1 minute until soft. Deglaze the pan with the wine. When the wine has mostly cooked off, whisk in the mustard, the smoked paprika, cumin, and a pinch of sugar. Place the chicken rolls into the sauce, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan again.
Whisk the cornstarch and chicken stock together in a small bowl and then slowly whisk it into the pan. Simmer for a couple minutes or until the sauce is thickened.
Place the chicken on plates and spoon some of the sauce on top. Garnish with more scallions, if desired.