Guest Post: Baked Chicken with Apricot Glaze, Sage and Lemon Zest

One thing 2012 seemed to be was the year everyone we knew read the  Fifty Shades trilogy. Amy and her BFF Karen read it at the same time and chatted about it on the phone, in texts, and finally, over their 40th birthday girls' weekend in Vermont, even going so far as to add a vanilla ice cream cone charm on their bestie charm bracelet! In honor of 2012, we've asked Karen to do a guest post inspired by the books. Thanks, Karen! And to everyone, Happy New Year and thanks for reading!

Karen writes:

After spending my summer reading the popular Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy I laughed hysterically when I received for Christmas Fifty Shades of Chicken: A Parody in a Cookbook.  I have to say it has been the perfect gift for a foodie/Christian Grey groupie!  It is told through the eyes of Miss Hen who is being “cooked” by her chef Blades.  The recipes, and stories which accompany them, mirror the steamy books from the first meeting (to the first of many other things) all the way to the happy ending  presented in dishes such as “Plain Vanilla Chicken” and “Popped-Cherry Pullet” to “Roast Me All Night Long Chicken” and “Chicken with Hearts and Flowers.”  No cookbook would be complete without side dishes and this one wouldn’t be complete without “Taters, Baby”!!  So, I now find myself on a quest to cook all 50 chicken recipes (and maybe even some sides)! 

I have chosen to begin with “Baked chicken with apricot glaze, sage and lemon zest.”  As Miss Hen says in describing the dish, “I’m in warm pieces all over the plate.  My own juices mingle with the sticky sweet jam he’s spread all over me.  My skin feels melting and soft.  He ignores the fine silver flatware and picks up a thigh with both hands.  Wow.”  You can see why I chose to start there!
Here is the recipe (serving for 2) with a few minor changes made by me….
Mix 3 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil with 1 ¼ tsp sea salt and ¾ tsp pepper
Place 4 chicken thighs in a plastic storage bag and pour in the oil mixture
Massage the thighs with the mixture then place sprigs of sage on the chicken
Tighten the bag and place it in the refrigerator “until the chicken is begging you for it, about 6 hours or overnight”

Preheat the oven to 400
In a bowl, grate the zest from one lemon, squeeze the juice and add 1/3 of a cup of apricot spread, 1tsp Worcestershire sauce and 1 large clove of garlic minced
Remove the sage from the chicken and spread the sticky jam all over the chicken
Lay the thighs in a 9x13 baking dish “leaving plenty of breathing room between each succulent morsel”
Bake 45-55 minutes “until the skin is alluringly golden and the juices run clear when pricked” 
Enjoy a sweet and juicy dish!

Serve with:

Sage and Marcona Almonds with Rosemary Pesto Pasta

(not in cookbook – just something special for my Bestie!!!)

Pulse in food processor:
10 sage leaves
2 cloves of garlic
½ lemon zest
1tsp lemon juice
1/8 cup Marcona Almonds with Rosemary
2 tblsp Pecan Oil then add Extra Virgin Olive Oil until desired consistency

Toss with pasta


Christmas Present(s)

Last week, we offered up some of our favorite holiday cookie and candy recipes from Christmases past. Admittedly, several of these are annual traditions, without which our Christmas Eve table and foodie gift packages to the neighbors would not be complete (especially our Buckeyes, Rosemary-Almond Butter Toffee, and Rum Balls). Of course, we did try a couple of new things we want to share with you. Thus, we give you Christmas Present(s), with photos and links to the recipes we used, along with notes on how we adapted them. Enjoy!

Brownie Thins
We used this recipe from Epicurious, replacing the pistachios with walnuts
(and leaving a few plain for Amy's dad who doesn't like nuts). Crisp thin brownie wafers!

Geoffrey Zakarian's Vanilla Crescents
We are going on a cruise this summer and Geoffrey Zakarian has a restaurant on the cruise. We are so excited because he is one of our favorite Food Network Chefs. So of course we had to make these cookies. We used almond flour instead of hazelnut flour. Delicately crumbly, light and pretty.

Cookie Press Shortbreads
We used this recipe in our new electric cookie press and had fun decorating our little trees, poinsettias and wreaths. Sooo easy! 

Chocolate "Amaretti" Cookies
First we thought, why buy Italian cookies when you can make them? Then we realized we had no Amaretto. And no almonds. No big deal - we used 2/3 cup almond flour and Biscotti flavored liqueur instead and they came out fantastic. A great cookie for the adults!

Grapefruit Sparklers
Epicurious was our source for this recipe as well. However, a school fund-raiser left us with 10 lbs. of grapefruit, so we used grapefruit zest and grapefruit juice to give these a zingy twist. Of all the cookies listed here, these were our favorites!



Soups by Panera Bread

When Daily Buzz Food chose us to be Tastemakers for Panera Bread soups, we were quite excited. While we've been to our local Panera quite often, we haven't been in a long time and we were looking forward to see what new things they had to offer. Although we received a gift card in the mail to put toward our meal and to compensate us for our blog post, we want to note that all the opinions we state here are our own.

We love to make soup and make it often out of fresh, seasonal ingredients. Therefore, when we do try soups from the grocery store, we are usually disappointed. We stopped buying canned soup altogether, because of the high sodium content, lack of flavor, and general mushiness of the contents. That is one thing we have to give Panera. Their soups are definitely fresh, with great care obviously taken to ensure they are made with high quality ingredients. They are flavorful and delicious, hot and tasty. And with a variety of choices that change daily, there is one that will suit everyone's taste and dietary needs. Speaking of which, it's great that they label which ones are low-fat, all-natural, and/or vegetarian, and they post the calories in each portion right on the menu (see below).

It's that extremely busy time of year, so we decided to get our Panera to go. We each chose items from the "You Pick 2" menu - a pretty good deal that offers a cup of soup with either a sandwich or salad as well as a side of fruit, bread or chips. Amy went with the French Onion Soup and Asian Chicken Salad with a side of baguette; Chris had the Low-Fat all-Natural Chicken Noodle Soup and the Chipotle Chicken Panini, also with a side of bread (it's our opinion that one must have bread with soup!).

While the salad (amazing dressing) and panini (great smoky flavor) were delicious, the soups were the star of the show. It's hard to see in the picture below, but the chicken noodle soup was chock-full of fresh carrots, onions and celery that (thankfully) weren't mushy, tender all-white chicken breast, and perfectly cooked egg noodles in a nicely seasoned, not too salty, chicken broth. Our only complaint was that we didn't opt for a bigger portion!

The French onion soup had plenty of soft, sauteed onions, nicely caramelized in butter and seasonings in a dark beef broth that had lots of flavor but wasn't too strong. There were hints of tomato in the layers of flavor and a unique blend of Asiago and Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. As a nice touch, the homemade croutons were packaged in a little bag on the side so as not to get too soggy.

It is obvious to us that the soupmakers at Panera know what they are doing. And while our Panera location is pretty close to us, we have noticed that our local grocery store has recently started selling Panera soup in its freshly made foods area. Having been reminded (thanks to Panera and Daily Buzz Food) of how fresh, well-made, and deliciously satisfying they are, we'll be picking them up more often to enjoy on those days when making our own just isn't in the cards. To sum up, Panera soups are highly recommended by A Couple in the Kitchen - they are almost as good as homemade.
Panera Bread on Urbanspoon


The Posts of Christmases Past

You all know The Ghost of Christmas Past, the famous Dickens character from A Christmas Carol. Along those lines, here we offer you the (slightly less famous) Posts of Christmases Past - A Couple in the Kitchen's round-up of our favorite cookies and candies from past holiday seasons to inspire you while you finish up your baking and gifting. Happy holidays!

Favorite Holiday Cookies:

Favorite Holiday Candies:

And one that wasn't posted during Christmas but makes a great gift:


Sparkling Lemon and Blueberry Terrine

There is no reason not to enjoy a wonderful blueberry dessert in the winter time when there are frozen blueberries to be had. They really are "little blue dynamos." Since we couldn't help ourselves from eating all of our freshly picked blueberries last season, when we saw frozen berries on sale at our local market, we had to buy them. Once we had them in our hot little hands, we knew they were destined for greatness.

The lemon and the blueberry go so well together with their beautiful blend of sweet and tart, bright colors and delightful tanginess. When the holidays are drawing near, we are always looking for something special that will not only taste amazing, but will also look gorgeous on the seasonal tablescape.

Fancy. Sparkling. Different. Pretty. These are the adjectives that inspired us to create this dessert - a "terrine" made with frozen blueberries, Meyer lemon juice, and sparkling lemon seltzer. Refreshingly light as the finale to a filling holiday meal yet just so elegant, this dessert is sure to draw oohs and ahhs from holiday guests.

Sparkling Lemon and Blueberry Terrine


2 envelopes (1/2 ounce total) unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup Meyer (or regular) lemon juice, divided
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups lemon seltzer
4-5 cups frozen blueberries

Pour 1/4 cup of lemon juice into a medium bowl and sprinkle the gelatin in it. In a small saucepan, heat the remaining 1/4 cup lemon juice and sugar over low heat, just until sugar is dissolved. Stir lemon/sugar mixture into lemon/gelatin mixture, then slowly add the seltzer (it will foam/fizz up). Pour the blueberries into a loaf pan and pour the gelatin mixture over them so they are completely covered. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely set, preferably overnight. To serve, rest the bottom of the pan in a sink of hot water to loosen the terrine, then carefully turn it upside down over a serving platter and slice it. Serve with whipped cream if desired.