I was born and raised in Kansas and learned to cook alongside my mother. Now, along with my wonderful husband, I have taken the plunge into the city life in New York. These are my food adventures: in my own tiny kitchen, and in the many restaurants of the city.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

WC Platinum Chef Challenge #1

I admit that because of my love of eating I am a member of multiple internet groups that are solely devoted to food. One of these is the "What's Cooking" (WC) board on the Nest. These lovely ladies have decided to put together a cooking challenge. Here are the rules (from Cara's Cravings, the first host):

*Current host will choose 5 ingredients for the challenge
*Participants must create a meal using those ingredients
*The meal can consist of 1 or 2 dishes - so you can use all the ingredients in one recipe, or make two. Ex. main dish + side, appetizer + main dish, main dish + dessert, etc. But, if more than one dish is created, each dish must use at least two of the ingredients (and, any ingredient may be repeated and used in both dishes if desired).
*You can add whatever other ingredients you like
*The event will run for two weeks at a time*When you've decided upon and prepared your dishes, please post pictures and recipes in your blog, link to this post, and send me an email at platinumchefchallenge@gmail.com. (if you don't have a blog, please send pictures and recipes anyway!)

The five ingredients for the first Challenge are: basil, strawberries, tomatoes, zucchini, and nuts.

I have to admit, I went a little overboard. I made the two recipes for the competition, but was so excited about the idea that I made two more recipes that fit in as well. I cook often, but most of the time I use recipes as a base for my cooking and either follow them tightly or loosely, depending on my mood. This was probably one of the first times that I completely created a menu without the help of any real recipes. Luckily, this meal was a complete success! I was very happy with the results. My first two recipes for the contest are Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken and Peach Basil Ice Cream with a Strawberry Vodka Sauce. The two "extra recipes" are: Salad with Basil-Sesame Dressing and Strawberry-Basil Cocktails.

Note: I was not very good at noting down exactly how much I was using of anything in any of these recipes--please adjust to taste/preference/quantity as needed!
Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken Breasts
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
Handful of basil, chopped
1/3 cup olives (green), diced
2 Tbls. EVOO
1/2-3/4 C. Italian Dressing (I used Ken's Steakhouse Northern Italian)
Goat cheese to top
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Toss together tomatoes, zucchini, basil, olives, and olive oil in a small bowl.
Place the chicken breasts individually into a plastic bag/plastic wrap and use a rolling pin/heavy can/etc. to pound into 1/2 thick pieces. Remove from bag and fill one end of the chicken with 1/4 of the tomato mixture. Roll up and place into casserole dish, seam side down. Repeat with remaining 3 chicken breasts. Then cover the chicken with the Italian dressing, and top each breast with goat cheese (I cut a medallion of cheese to top each one with, but next time I will just crumble the cheese over so I get a more even spread). Place in the oven, uncovered, and cook until chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear (about 30 minutes).

Peach-Basil Ice Cream with Strawberry Vodka Sauce
2 cups vanilla bean ice cream
1 ripe peach, finely chopped
Large handful of basil leaves, finely chopped
About 10 strawberries, coarsely chopped
2 Tbls. brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 Tbls butter
1/3 cup vodka

For ice cream: Mix together ice cream, peaches, and basil and return to freezer until time to serve.

For sauce: Mix together strawberries and brown sugar and let sit for at least one hour to let juices form from the strawberries. When ready to prepare, heat butter in saucepan over medium-high heat and add walnuts. Once browned, add the strawberries and their juices and the vodka. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let cook until alcohol has been cooked out (about 4 minutes). Use sauce to top each ice cream serving.

Salad with Basil-Sesame Dressing

3 cups lettuce

1 small zucchini, cut into large pieces

1 tomato, chopped

Goat cheese crumbles

5 Tbls Olive Oil (not EV)

Large handful of Basil leaves, chopped

1/8 t. sesame oil

1/2 t. soy sauce

1/8 t. garlic powder

2 Tbls cider vinegar

Mix together basil and olive oil and let sit for at least an hour (to let the oil absorb some of the basil flavor). Then mix in sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic powder and cider vinegar.

Toss together lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, and goat cheese. Add basil-sesame dressing right before serving.

Strawberry-Basil Cocktails

2 cups vodka

5-7 strawberries, quartered

large handful basil leaves


Mix together vodka and strawberries. Tear basil slightly with your hands and add to the vodka. Let sit for at least 2-3 hours.

To serve mix one shot with sprite in a glass with ice. Garnish with one of the strawberries.


Julie said...

The Strawberry Basil cocktails are really creative!

Amber said...

Your ideas are really creative! They all look wonderful.

Leslie said...

Nicely done Sarah! Very thoughtful, yummy ideas!

xoxo R* ;-)

Kate said...

I absolutely love your ice cream idea! I swear I'm going to steal it. Peach ice cream is the ultimate summer cool down. And the strawberry basil drink is definitely next on my list of summer cocktails.

Trisha said...

Great challenge dishes! It looks so yummy!

By the way, TAG! You're it! ;) One of the WC/WFD Nesties started this little game ;) The details are in my blog: http://onetinypinkkitchen.blogspot.com/ if you'd like to join us!
Have fun :)

Julie said...

You've been tagged!