Porter Braised Chicken with Hoisin Beer BBQ Sauce

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ahhh...the end of the NFL season is in sight. With the Superbowl quickly approaching this weekend, it got me thinking about cooking for a crowd. Many of us fair-weather NFL fans, or non-existant NFL fans for that matter, like to participate in the festivities that come along with Superbowl Sunday.

I'm talking about the parties here folks! You have all probably heard plans of someone who is having a gathering to watch the big game - weather it's the actual game, the halftime show, the socializing, the crazy expensive advertisements, or the food that brings you together, there is no denying that Superbowl Sunday has become a significant part of what it means to be an American today.

Ok, that might be a stretch of a statement. Nevertheless, Superbowl Sunday is kind of a big deal, even more so if you are at all interested in sports, and still mourning the end of the college football season. I may or may not have several family members and close friends who would fit into this category...

Step One: Gather the ingredients. You will need 2 jars of hoisin if using the jar pictured above. Hoisin is sometimes available in larger jars in which case you would only require one. Also keep in mind that you will need almost 4 bottles of porter. Better just to buy the complete 6 pack than individual bottles.

NOTE: If you can't find porter beer, you can try any other type of darker beer with lots of flavor. Leinenkugels makes an excellent vanilla porter that works great for this recipe, but any porter will work.

Step Two: Sprinkle chicken with salt, and lightly brown in a Dutch oven or pot with some warm olive oil. After browned, add beer and broth and simmer for 20 minutes, or until cooked through.

Step Three: Mix together all of the Hoisin Beer BBQ Sauce ingredients in a large saucepan or skillet while the chicken is cooking. Simmer BBQ sauce until thickened and reduced.

 Step Four: After the chicken is finished cooking, remove from the Dutch oven or pot, and allow to cool. Shred cooled chicken, and add to the hoisin beer BBQ sauce saucepan or skillet.

Step Five: Toss the shredded chicken to coat with hoisin beer BBQ sauce. If you let the chicken cool completely before shredding, you will need to allow time to reheat after adding it to the BBQ sauce.

For a quick and easy recipe for a crowd that is sure to impress, this recipe for Porter Braised Chicken with Hoisin Beer Sauce may be just the trick. Not only is it super simple to make, it doesn't require a bunch of unfamiliar ingredients, and it's done in just about an hour. You could even mix it up the day before and reheat in a crockpot for gameday! I highly recommend accompanying it with a hearty helping of Curried Celery Root and Apple Salad with Golden Raisins (check back for this recipe Friday).

Recipe adapted from The Beeroness

PORTER BRAISED CHICKEN WITH HOISIN BEER BBQ SAUCE | Yield: 10-12 servings | Total Time: 1 hour


Porter Braised Chicken:
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp salt
3 C porter beer (2 bottles)
1 C chicken broth
2 pkgs whole wheat buns

Hoisin Beer BBQ Sauce:
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 C hoisin sauce
2 tsp chili powder
3/8 C (1/4 C + 1/8 C) low-sodium soy sauce
2 C porter beer (1.5 bottles)


Heat 4 Tbsp olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Rinse and pat dry chicken with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt on all sides. Place in the pot and cook each side until lightly browned.* Cover with 3 C porter beer and 1 C chicken broth. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until chicken is completely cooked.

*NOTE: Cooking time per side will vary depending on the size of your chicken and pot - mine took approximately 6 minutes per side. The chicken just needs to be lightly browned, it will continue cooking once submerged in beer and broth.

While chicken is cooking, in a separate large saucepan or skillet* over medium-high heat, warm 4 Tbsp olive oil. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add 2 C porter beer, hoisin sauce, chili powder and soy sauce. Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until thickened and reduced. Remove from heat.

*NOTE: To eliminate more dishes than needed, choose a saucepan or skillet large enough to transfer the chicken to for serving purposes.

When chicken is cooked, remove from the pot, and allow to cool. Using two forks, shred chicken, and add to hoisin BBQ saucepan. Toss well to coat.

Serve immediately, or transfer and keep warm in a slowcooker until ready to serve.

This recipe could easily be cut in half if you aren't planning to feed a crowd. It also freezes well if you decide to keep some for another day.

What treats will you be making for Superbowl Sunday?

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Monday, January 28, 2013

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a fabulous weekend! Mine turned into an unexpected extended weekend when the midwest was slammed with some serious freezing rain and ice issues late Saturday night. Winter...ugh.

Among many shenanigans to be discussed later,  the weekend began with the best scent of all...fresh baked cookies. Yum! Usually, I don't make too many sweets to have around the house unless I know we will have the opportunity to share with others. Lets be honest, no one needs to eat an entire batch of cookies to themselves...even if we want to. As we were going out of town to spend the weekend with friends and family, I wanted something easily transportable, and good for a mid-day snack. Cookies were the obvious choice, and a sweet little snack to enjoy during the cold winter weekend hit just the right spot.

Step One: Gather the ingredients.

Step Two: Mix all ingredients together in a stand mixer. Refrigerate dough 30 minutes or up to 3 days.

Step Three: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and bake on a parchment lined or greased cookie sheet for 11 minutes, or until light golden brown. 


Recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction

CRANBERRY WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES | Yield: 30 cookies | Time: 30 minutes


3/4 C unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 C brown sugar
1/4 C sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C white chocolate chips
3/4 C dried cranberries


In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until fluffy consistency. Mix in the egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides as needed for an even mix. On low speed, mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Stir in white chocolate chips and dried cranberries. Cover, and chill dough for 30 minutes or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or grease a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Drop balls of dough (1.5 Tbsp each) onto cookie sheet OR use a standard size cookie scoop to form cookies. Bake 10-11 minutes, until barely golden brown around edges. Watch closely, the cookies should be gooey in the middle. Remove and let cool for 2-3 minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to cooling rack.

NOTE: These cookies do not have to be chilled prior to baking. If you choose not to chill, adjust the cooking time to approximately 9 minutes.

Winter Games 2013

Winter Games Shenanigans...

T & I testing out our new winter hats at the 2013 Okoboji Winter Games.

Uh oh...chainsaws and ice...this doesn't look good.





I'm so proud of my family.

How was your weekend?

Kale Pesto Pasta with Toasted Pine Nuts

Monday, January 21, 2013

It's another glorious(ly freezing) meatless Monday, and today I bring you a warm pasta dish to help ward off the chill of this negative degrees late January day. If you haven't picked up on it yet, it would be an enormous stretch to tell you that I enjoy this time of year.

Many of us turn to comfort food when the temps begin to dip below freezing, and while I myself enjoy the occasional calorie-filled cheesy casserole, January typically means New Year's Resolution time. Lucky for you, today's recipe is not only delicious, it is also healthy. I should note that T thinks this is one of the best dishes I've made for him. Love myself some bonus points!

Step One: Rinse kale, tear into pieces, and blanch in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove to an ice bath to stop the kale from cooking further. Remove from ice bath, and place on paper towels to soak up any water.

Step Two: Toast pine nuts while kale blanches, and then add kale, parmesan, garlic, pine nuts, salt, and olive oil to a food processor. Pulse until you achieve a rough pesto-like consistency with some texture remaining.

Step Three: Cook pasta, and reserve 1 C pasta water. Remove pasta to a large serving bowl, add pesto and reserved water, and toss to combine. Serve with grated parmesan and toasted pine nuts.

Recipe from Farmhouse Table

KALE PESTO PASTA WITH TOASTED PINE NUTS | Yield: 6 servings | Total Time: 25 minutes


1 bunch fresh kale, washed and leaves torn*
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1/4 C pine nuts, lightly toasted, divided
salt & pepper
1 package extra-wide egg noodles, or paparadelle, cooked al dente*

NOTE: *I used curly kale for this recipe, but any type of kale will work as a substitute. I used extra-wide Amish egg noodles, but any kind of pasta will work.


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Plunge kale leaves in water to blanch (approx. 30 seconds), then immediately drain and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain in colander, then lay on paper towels to extract as much water as possible.

After blanching, place kale pieces in the bowl of a food processor with garlic, parmesan, and all but 2 Tbsp of toasted pine nuts. Add a generous pinch of salt, and pulse briefly to combine and chop. Drizzle in the olive oil, and continue to pulse until you achieve a pesto-like consistency with some texture remaining. You want a rough chop, not a smooth puree. Adjust olive oil for desired consistency - not all kale bunch sizes are created equal!

Meanwhile, cook the pasta to al dente, drain and reserve 1 cup of cooking water. Place pasta in a large serving bowl, and add pesto and cooking water. Toss until noodles are coated with pesto. Serve immediately, and garnish with additional pine nuts and grated parmesan.

Do you have a favorite recipe for homemade pesto?

Cabbage and Rice Stoup

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Winter vegetables are fun. Yep, I said it. Most of us don't give them any credit, and we don't use them on a regular basis. I've determined we are missing out. I'm here to change that. Enter green savoy cabbage.

Usually, the only time cabbage comes into mind knowingly, is in the form of the traditional St. Paddy's Day corned beef and cabbage, or unknowingly in the form of sauerkraut for a grilled brat in the summer. Lucky for you, I've discovered that cabbage is also a great addition to a winter soup, and is incredibly easy to use.

Before you balk at this idea and grumble about how you don't like the flavor of cabbage, KNOW THIS. When slivered into strips, and added to this hearty stoup, the flavor of the cabbage takes on the flavors of everything else in the recipe. AKA you won't even know it's there. The best way I can think to describe the flavor of this stoup, is to say it tastes similar to spaghettios - think a cross between chicken noodle and tomato. If you've got kiddos at home and are trying to find a healthy alternative and a way to get them to eat some veggies, I'd recommend giving this a try. Both T & I thoroughly enjoyed it. Serve with a side of buttermilk biscuits or crusty bread.

Recipe adapted from Food Network Rachel Ray

CABBAGE AND RICE STOUP | Yield: 6-8 servings | Total Time: 40 minutes


4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 C white rice
1 quart + 2 C chicken stock, divided
2 C water
1 1/2 lbs ground meatloaf mix*
1/2 tsp allspice
1 1/2 tsp coriander
2 tsp paprika
3 bay leaves
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/2-3/4 head Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes
1 C tomato sauce
1/2 C flat-leaf parsley, chopped
3 Tbsp dill, chopped (substitute 1 1/2 tsp dried if you can't find fresh)

NOTE: *Meatloaf mix is available in the meat counter at most grocery stores. If you are unable to find it pre-mixed, just get 3/4 lb of both ground beef and ground pork, and mix together at home. The ground pork is an important addition to this recipe, and greatly enhances the flavors.


Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a medium-sized sauce pot over medium high heat. Add rice, and toss to coat. Add 2 C of chicken stock, bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 16-18 minutes or until rice is tender.

Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil in a deep soup pot over medium high heat. Add the meat and brown 3-4 minutes. Season the meat with allspice, coriander, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Add bay leaves, onions, garlic and carrots. Cook veggies 4-5 minutes to begin to soften them, then add cabbage and allow to wilt down. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, remaining stock and 2 C water. Cover the pot, and raise heat to high bringing the soup to a simmer for about 10 minutes.

Once the rice is cooked, add to the soup and continue simmering for 2-3 minutes. Stir in parsley and dill, adjust salt and pepper to your liking, and serve.

NOTE: The rice will continue to expand after it has been added to the soup. If you prefer a more of a  broth based soup, don't add all of the rice. You may also prefer to add additional chicken stock or water to reach the consistency you'd like.

Do you have any good cabbage recipes?

Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic and Cranberries

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

This fall, in our CSA, we received a couple lovely stalks of brussels sprouts. After seeing them growing on our farm tour earlier this year, T & I had been pretty excited for them to show up in our weekly box of vegetables. When the day arrived, we ogled over the sprouts and the possibilities they held. Brussels sprouts are thought to be named after Brussels, Belgium, where they have long been popular. They are part of the cabbage family, and I would describe the flavor profile as a cross between cabbage and broccoli.

Fast forward one month later...The Brussels sprouts were still living in our fridge, pushed into a long-forgotten back corner. While the idea of them was appealing, neither of us spent a great deal of time planning a meal around them, and thus they passed their recommended storage life, and had to be thrown out.

Don't worry though! This is not the end of the Brussels Sprout Saga. T was soooo disappointed that we didn't get to use our Brussels sprouts, that I had a niggling feeling of guilt for avoiding them. When dinner time came around, I found a recipe I liked the looks of and decided to pick up some fresh sprouts at the store. We were not disappointed. The balsamic reduction and dried cranberries took these sprouts from 'we aren't sure about this' to 'let's have this again sometime'. Enjoy!

Step One: Gather the ingredients.

Step Two: Clean and trim the sprouts. Cut in half for smaller pieces, or leave whole for larger.

Step Three: Line a baking sheet with foil, and toss Brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

Step Four: While the sprouts are roasting, make the balsamic reduction. When they are finished roasting, transfer to a serving dish and toss with balsamic reduction and dried cranberries. 
Serve immediately.

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman

BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH BALSAMIC AND CRANBERRIES | Yield: 6 servings | Total Time: 40 minutes


1 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts
1/4 C olive oil
Salt & pepper
1/2 C balsamic vinegar
1/4 C sugar
1/2 C dried cranberries


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Trim and clean Brussels sprouts, then cut them in half (or leave them whole). Arrange on a foil-lined baking sheet and toss with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, or until brown.

Combine balsamic vinegar and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes. You want a glaze consistency.

Remove sprouts to serving dish, and drizzle with balsamic reduction and sprinkle with dried cranberries. Toss and serve immediately.

NOTE: This recipe can easily be doubled if you are serving more people.

On another positive side note, Brussels sprouts have been linked with major anticancer properties, and also contain a chemical that helps to repair DNA in cells and block the growth of cancer. I have to say, that's a pretty solid reason to start eating more sprouts!

Vanilla Rum Soaked French Toast

Monday, January 14, 2013

Top of the morning to you! I hope everyone had a great weekend. Among other things - including a fabulous date night out at The Freight House - one of the highlights of our weekend was breakfast. Not just any breakfast mind you, but a vanilla rum soaked French toast kind of breakfast. Yum!

I had some leftover basket bread to use up, and what better way to use day-old bread than to make it into something even more delicious?

Step One: Gather the ingredients. I used leftover basket bread for this recipe, but you can easily use thick slices of French bread or Texas toast.

Step Two: Add the eggs, vanilla, spices, and rum in a medium sized bowl, and whisk to combine.

Step Three: Soak the bread slices in the egg mixture. Make sure to thoroughly coat both sides. Tip: Soak multiple slices at once by pouring the egg mixture into a rectangle shaped dish prior to soaking the bread. Make sure to soak both sides.

Step Four: Lightly oil or butter a skillet or griddle and heat to medium-high. Once pre-heated, add the French toast slices and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until lightly golden in color.

Recipe adapted from Pastry Affair

VANILLA RUM SOAKED FRENCH TOAST | Yield: 4 servings | Total Time: 15 minutes


1/2 to 3/4 C skim milk
3 large eggs
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp rum
pinch of salt
6-8 slices of bread, slightly stale and thickly sliced

Maple syrup, butter, powdered sugar for serving.


In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, rum and salt.

Soak bread slices in egg mixture for at least 4-5 minutes.

Lightly oil or butter a large skillet or griddle on medium-high heat. Place the soaked bread on the skillet or griddle, and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until light golden brown.

Serve hot with maple syrup, butter, or powdered sugar. Fresh fruit and a strong cup of coffee or fresh-squeezed orange juice would also compliment this breakfast treat beautifully. Enjoy!

Basket Bread

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The other night, I really wanted some fresh bread to go with dinner, and wasn't willing to settle for the same old story of unfortunate failure at creating the perfect loaf of ciabatta with big beautiful air pockets. In my quest for the next best thing, I stumbled across this lovely loaf namely called Basket Bread. As in...it fits perfectly in a bread basket.

Original I know, but it works, and is easy to pronounce unlike some of it's counterparts in my big fancy bread cookbook AND it can be brought from scratch to completion in a little under 3 hours. Fantastico!

Twisting the dough and dusting with flour prior to baking makes this loaf look like an artisan bread maker created it. They all think they're soooo fancy with their artisan style bread. Hate to break it to you, but like Gasteau from Ratatouille would say - Anyone can cook!

Waaa Laa. Doesn't this look delicious?!

Basket bread is incredibly simple to make, and has a fun twisted shape that makes it more unique than some of the other standard bread loaves out there. As a bonus, when I cut into it, this bread even had some of those elusive air pockets I have so much trouble with.

Recipe adapted from Global Dish

BASKET BREAD | Yield: 1 loaf | Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes


2 1/2 C unbleached all-purpose flour (plus more, for dusting)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar or honey
1 C warm water
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil


Whisk flour, salt, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir in water and oil, and mix until combined. Using the dough hook attachment, knead the dough on medium speed for 5-7 minutes. The dough should be tacky, not sticky. Adjust flour or water as needed to reach this consistency. Shape into a ball and transfer to a large oiled bowl. Toss to coat dough on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap to trap the heat, and place in a warm, draft-free spot for one hour, or until doubled in size.

Punch down the dough and transfer to a clean surface. Shape into a log the length of a baking sheet, and roll (making a long breadstick shape) so the dough is about 1/2 inch thick. Grab each end and twist in opposite directions a few times; pinch the ends and tuck under. Transfer the dough to a sheet of parchment paper dusted with flour; and dust the top of the dough with more flour. Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap, and let rise for another hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and position the rack in the top-third of the oven. Transfer parchment paper and bread to baking stone, and bake 30 minutes, or until the crust is a deep golden color and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack 15-20 minutes before serving.

 NOTE: If you plan to use a baking stone, you will need to preheat it with your oven so it doesn't crack.

What are your favorite bread recipes?

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