Monthly Archives: January 2008

Five-Spice Chicken Salad in Wonton Shells

Chicken wontons
Originally uploaded by jenianddean.

I can’t thank my father-in-law, Denny, enough for turning me on to this recipe. Over the last three years I have made this appetizer ten or so times. People love the light and refreshing taste of the orange and cilantro. And who can beat an appetizer with such a cute presentation.

A couple of tips — you can find wonton wrappers in the produce section of most grocery stores. The Chinese Five-Spice is a little harder to find. Here in Columbia, SC I can find it at the Fresh Market. The recipe refers you to an Asian Market.

Here are a couple of picture to show how to make the wonton cups.

Five-Spice Chicken Salad in Wonton Shells
Food and Wine – December 1995

48 wonton wrappers, thawed if frozen
Butter-flavored cooking spray
2 teaspoons five-spice powder (Available at Asian markets)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 large whole skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 medium navel orange
1 large shallot, minced
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Trim the wonton wrappers to form 2-inch squares. Coat a nonstick mini-muffin tin with cooking spray and press a wonton square into each cup. Lightly coat the squares with cooking spray and bake for about 7 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool in the pan. Repeat the process with the remaining wrappers and more cooking spray.

2. In a small bowl, combine the five-spice powder and salt and sprinkle on both sides of the chicken breast. Transfer the chicken to a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for about 18 minutes, or until cooked through. Let the chicken cool and cut into 1/4 -inch dice.

3. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from half the orange, leaving behind the bitter white pith. Cut the zest into very thin 1-inch-long strips. Measure 1 packed teaspoon of julienned zest and discard the rest. Using a sharp knife, peel the rest of the orange, removing all the white pith. Working over a bowl, cut in between the membranes to release the sections. Cut the sections into 1/4 -inch dice. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the accumulated orange juice.

4. In a medium bowl, combine the diced orange with the shallot, reserved orange juice, rice wine vinegar, honey and olive oil. Gently stir in the chicken, half of the orange zest and half of the cilantro.;

5. Spoon 2 teaspoons of the chicken salad into each wonton shell. Garnish with the remaining orange zest and cilantro and serve.

Wonton wrappers are available in the produce department or freezer section of most supermarkets.

MAKE AHEAD The wonton shells can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. The chicken salad can stand at room temperature for 2 hours.



Filed under Appetizers, Chicken, Cilantro, Food & Wine, Oranges, Rice

Pineapple Salsa

Pineapple Salsa
Originally uploaded by jenianddean.

Originally I made this salsa with a shrimp sate recipe. I have also paired it with grilled salmon. And this is the second time I have made it as a stand alone “dip.” The pineapple-cilantro combination is incredibly refreshing with just enough heat from the jalapeno pepper.

Normally I use fresh pineapple for this recipe, but I decided at the last minute to add it to the menu Saturday night, so I used canned tidbit pineapple. I always double the recipe because it goes fast.


Pineapple Salsa
(adapted from a Cooking Light recipe)

3/4 C finely chopped pineapple
1/4 C finely chopped red onion
1 Tablespoon minced seeded jalapeno pepper
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon honey

To prepare salsa, combine cider vinegar and honey in a medium bowl. Stir pineapple, red onion, jalapeno, and cilantro into the vinegar-honey mixture. Chill for 1 hour.


Filed under Appetizers, Cilantro, Condiment, Cooking Light, Jalapeno pepper, Pineapple, Red Onions, Spinach, Vinegar

Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms
Originally uploaded by jenianddean.

Dean and I hosted a going-away this weekend for our friend Rachel. Rachel is one of the few people who was working at Dean’s office when he first started working there four years ago. I can’t thank Rachel enough for helping to keep Dean sane during some of the crazy times at the office. Dean and I are going to miss her like crazy, but her move is a good move. She is moving back to Florida to be close to her family and we wish her the best!

Now to the mushrooms — I normally make artichoke-stuffed mushroom, but I wanted to try and make some different appetizers for the party. I found this recipe on Epicurious. These mushrooms were so simple and full of flavor. Everyone loved them! When they were gone, people were asking if I have more to bake. One of the best features to this recipe is you can make these mushrooms ahead of time. The morning of the party, I made the filling, stuffed the mushrooms, covered them with foil, and put them in the refrigerator. About 30 minutes before people were to arrive, I put them in the oven, and they were hot and ready to go when the guests arrived.

The only change I made to the recipe was I added 1 garlic clove to the sausage while it was cooking instead of the garlic powder. The next time I make these, and I will be making these again, I might add chopped shallot along with the garlic. The recipe says it makes 24, but I ended up with about 36 mushrooms.

Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms
Bon Appétit | November 2002

3 Italian hot sausages, casings removed
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1 large egg yolk

Olive oil
24 large (about 2-inch-diameter) mushrooms, stemmed
1/3 cup dry white wine

Sauté sausage and oregano in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until sausage is cooked through and brown, breaking into small pieces with back of fork, about 7 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage mixture to large bowl and cool. Mix in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder, then cream cheese. Season filling with salt and pepper; mix in egg yolk.

Brush 15x10x2-inch glass baking dish with olive oil to coat. Brush cavity of each mushroom cap with white wine; fill with scant 1 tablespoon filling and sprinkle with some of remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Arrange mushrooms, filling side up, in prepared dish. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake uncovered until mushrooms are tender and filling is brown on top, about 25 minutes. Makes 24

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Filed under Appetizers, Bon Appetit, Epicurious, Garlic, Hot Italian Sausage, Mushrooms, Parmesan

Spinach, Orange and Almond Salad

Spinach, Orange and Almond Salad
Originally uploaded by jenianddean.

Dean and I both love spinach salads. I make about 15 different ones. I came across this recipe a year or so ago, I have made it several times since then. The combination of the creamy goat cheese, fresh oranges, crunchy sweet almonds, fresh spinach, and the dash of cayenne pepper in the vinaigrette makes my taste buds pop!

The only semi-complicated part to this salad is making the candied almonds. The directions are very straight forward, so please make them if you make this salad. They are fantastic.

Spinach, Orange, and Almond Salad
Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse, Emeril’s Potluck, William Morrow and Company Publishers, 2004

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup sliced almonds
4 oranges
1/4 cup Champagne or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning salad
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
10 ounces baby spinach (6 cups), washed and dried
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onions
Freshly ground black pepper

Lightly grease a 10-inch square of aluminum foil with butter or vegetable oil and set aside.

Combine 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, swirling occasionally, until the sugar turns a golden amber color, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the almonds and stir to coat. Continue cooking until the almonds are fragrant and golden brown, about 1 minute. Transfer to the prepared aluminum foil, using a spoon to spread into a thin layer, and set aside to cool completely.

With a thin, sharp knife, cut the peel and bitter white pith from the oranges, 1 at a time. Working over a bowl to catch the juices, cut in between the membranes to release the segments. Reserve the segments in a separate bowl. Combine 1/4 cup orange juice, the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, the Champagne vinegar, olive oil, orange zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the cayenne in a mixing bowl and whisk to blend. Transfer the dressing to a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid until you are ready to serve.

Put the spinach in a large serving bowl, then top with the orange segments, celery, and red onions. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, break the caramelized almonds into bite-size pieces and scatter over the top of the salad. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Toss to coat evenly and serve immediately.


Filed under Almonds, Celery, Champagne vinegar, Emeril, Goat cheese, Oranges, Salad, Spinach, Spinach

Cauliflower Soup with Truffle Oil

Cauliflower Soup with Truffle Oil
Originally uploaded by jenianddean.

Since it’s getting cold again, I thought I would put a wonderful soup recipe up on the blog. It is another transfer over from Serendipitous Reflections (October 18, 2005)

When I was out in Iowa visiting my friends Tracey and Clay, Clay and I talked about a ton of recipes. So one night he fixed this cauliflower soup. I loved it. I’m a huge fan of cauliflower. When I got home I decided I needed to make it for Dean, so last week I did. It was awesome!

I did use the truffle oil on top – but here are a couple of tips about truffle oil. Truffle oil is for flavoring, it’s not for cooking like olive oil. It is sort of expense (1.2 ozs = $13.00) but you only use a little, and I mean little bit of it. It is very pungent and “a little dab will do ya.” In the picture above I actually used a little too much, so be very careful when flavoring with it.

The recipe came for one of Clay’s favorite websites –


The truffle oil is not essential, but it’s a nice indulgent touch. Since the oil’s flavor dissipates with heat, add the oil to this first-course soup just before serving.

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 pound cauliflower florets (about 5 cups)
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans low-salt chicken broth
1 teaspoon white truffle oil* or extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives

*White truffle oil is available at Italian markets, many specialty foods stores and some supermarkets.

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Add cauliflower and sauté 2 minutes. Add broth. Cover and simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 25 minutes.

Working in batches, transfer soup to blender and purée until smooth. Return soup to pot. (Soup can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Cover and refrigerate.) Bring soup to simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle truffle oil over. Garnish with chives.

Serves 6 as a first-course.
Bon Appétit
February 1999

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Filed under Bon Appetit, Cauliflower, Chives, Epicurious, Soup, Truffle Oil

Mini Cheeseburger Salad with Yellow Mustard Vinaigrette

cheeseburger salad
Originally uploaded by jenianddean.

Another favorite from Serendipitous Reflections (May 5, 2005)

This salad is quickly becoming our favorite. It is so yummy and easy. I use a cast iron grill skillet to grill the mini burgers. I have always put salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce in my hamburgers, but the onions keep the burgers moist and add so much flavor. We have used white cheddar, American, swiss, co-jack, and pepper jack cheese; they are all wonderful. But the key to this salad is the dressing. Man, oh man it is good. I’m not even a mustard lover, but this dressing has changed my mind. It’s tangy, but not over powering, and it makes you feel like you are eating a big ol’ cheeseburger.

Dean likes this salad so much, I always make extra for his lunch the next day. All the people at his work are so jealous when he pulls this out at lunch. It hits the spot!

Rachael Ray comes through again!

Mini Cheeseburger Salad with Yellow Mustard Vinaigrette
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin or ground turkey
1/4 cup finely chopped onion, eyeball it
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons steak seasoning blend or coarse salt and ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
3/4 pound brick sharp Cheddar (recommended: Cabot brand or Cracker Barrel brand* )
3 large hearts romaine lettuce
1 cup sliced pickles, drained – choose from sweet, half-sour or dill varieties
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes

3 tablespoons yellow mustard (recommended: French’s brand)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
2 tablespoons drained salad pimentos or, 1/4 small red bell pepper, finely chopped

* There are many flavors of sharp Cheddar out in today’s markets to choose from, so go plain or go wild! Among the choices out there in sharp cheddars: 5-peppercorn, smoked, dill, garlic and herb, roasted garlic, horseradish, chipotle, habanero, jalapeno – on and on!

Preheat a grill pan or a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat or, preheat outdoor grill. Combine the meat with onion, Worcestershire and steak seasoning or salt and pepper. Form 2-inch meatballs, then flatten them into patties. Drizzle formed mini patties with extra-virgin olive oil to keep them from sticking to cooking surface.

Slice the brick of cheese into 1/4-inch pieces. Place patties into a preheated pan or grill pan or arrange on outdoor grill. Cook the mini burgers for 3 minutes on each side then add cheese to melt over patties. On outdoor grill, close the lid to melt cheese. In a skillet or on a grill pan, tent the mini cheeseburgers loosely with foil to melt cheese.

Coarsely chop romaine and combine with sliced pickles and halved cherry or grape tomatoes.
Whisk together the mustard and cider vinegar. Stream in the extra-virgin olive oil. Add the chopped chives and pimentos, stir to combine

Arrange mini cheeseburgers on salad and drizzle prepared yellow mustard over the completed dish


Filed under Cheese, Chives, Dressing, Grilling, Hamburger, Rachael Ray, Salad, Tomatoes, Veggies

Balsamic-glazed chicken sandwiches with red onions and goat cheese

Balsamic glazed chicken sandwiches with red onions and goat cheese
Originally uploaded by jenianddean.

I decided to bring over some of my favorite recipes from Serendipitous Reflections. So here’s the first.

I made these chicken sandwiches on Saturday night and they were wonderful. Honestly they were some of the simplest sandwiches to make and so full of flavor, and in the grand scheme of things relatively healthy. (calories 424, fat 11.6g – 4.2g sat and 4.4g mono, protein 30.1g, carbs 43.9g–the bun) I’ve had this recipe for a year, and this is the first time I’ve made it. It was in Cooking Light magazine November 2004.

My changes:
Instead of cooking the onions after the chicken was cooked, I used another pan and cooked them at the same time so everything was hot when the sandwiches were served. The other change I made was to add the sliced chicken back into the skillet and pour the balsamic mixture over the chicken so all the chicken was coated with the mixture. Then I put the sandwiches together.

Balsamic Glazed Chicken Sandwiches with Red Onions and Goat Cheese

3/4 C balsamic vinegar
1/2 C dry red wine
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
2 (6 oz) chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
cooking spray (Pam)
1 Tbl olive oil
1 1/2 C thinly vertically sliced red onion
1 (3 oz) package goat cheese
4 hoagie or Kaiser rolls
1 C trimmed arugula or baby spinach

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 12 minutes). Remove from heat; cool slightly.

While vinegar mixture cooks, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook for 6-8 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan and thinly slice. Cover and keep warm.

Add oil to pan, reduce temperature to medium low. Add onion; cook 5 minutes or until onion is soft and beginning to brown, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

Spread about 1 1/2 TBL goat cheese evenly over the bottom half of the roll; divide sliced chicken and onion evenly over rolls. Drizzle each serving with about 1 TBL balsamic mixture, and top with 1/4 C arugula or baby spinach. Serve immediately.


Filed under Balsamic, Chicken, Cooking Light, Entrees, Goat cheese, Red Onions