Soft and Satisfying: Goat Cheese (Stuffed Chicken) & Downtempo

We LOVE goat cheese. It’s creamy, slightly tangy, and delicious. If I’m (Amanda) having a difficult time deciding between two menu items at a restaurant and one has goat cheese, that is the one I will most likely order.Goat Cheese and Downtempo - Ready to Enjoy!

Luckily, we aren’t the only ones who have these feelings and inclinations towards goat cheese and can satisfy our cravings quite often. Restaurants and other fooding locales seem to be embracing its popularity by offering multiple dishes that include this beloved soft and satisfying cheese. It’s versatility and meal-enhancing nature makes it pretty easy and tempting to add to a lot of different recipes.

Similarly…downtempo tracks are usually relatively “soft”, very satisfying, and can be easily incorporated into a multitude of environments. Whether you’re studying/working, hanging with your buds after a long day/night, practicing yoga, enjoying a meal etc., downtempo could be the perfect musical vibe. If you’re already a goat cheese and downtempo fan, we can pretty much guarantee a high level of satisfaction when you bite into this dish whilst chilling out to the playlist below.

The Grooves:

This handpicked playlist features a sampling of some of our favorite through-n-though downtempo artists, as well as some other electronic producers that sometimes dabble in downtempo. We also included some tracks from related genres (ambient, psytrance, etc.) too. What are some of your favorite downtempo or chill-out electronic tracks?


The Grub:

Goat Cheese & Downtempo - IngredientsIngredients:

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 1 half red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 2/3 cup fresh spinach (chopped)
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour

Directions:

  1. Lightly grease glass baking dish and preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Mix bell pepper, spinach, goat cheese, and garlic in small bowl.
  3. Cut away any large pieces of fat from chicken breasts and then create a pocket in each breast by carefully cutting into the side. You want to be able to fit as much filling as possible, but be sure to not cut through to other side.
  4. Fill pockets with the cheese and veggie mixture, closing up ends using cooking string or toothpicks.
  5. Whisk eggs in small bowl to make wash and spread out flour on a plate next to egg wash bowl
  6. Dip chicken breast in egg wash, then roll in flour, and place into baking dish. Continue with remaining breasts. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Be sure to remove the toothpicks/string before enjoying!

Goat Cheese & Downtempo - Filling     Goat Cheese & Downtempo - Stuffing the Pouch

 

 

 

Grooving & Grubbing Locally: North Union Farmers Market

The North Union Farmers Market runs several markets across the city and into the suburbs, but the one downtown in Playhouse Square has become an office favorite. My coworkers and I accepted an impromptu challenge to taste test every flavor of popcorn that Kernels by Chrissie has to offer. (A personal favorite is pictured below: Coconut Curry Caramel Corn.)

{Local Grub}

 {Local Grooves}

Typically, there’s a different featured band each week. A few weeks ago, Panic! Trinidad Steel Drum Band performed, another week was a preview of the show A Million Dollar Quartet, and most recently was Brazilian bossa nova artist Moises Borges.  I would be hard-pressed to find a better way to spend a lunch hour: strolling through cheeses, pies, popcorn and hot sauces while listening to great local music!

Here is a clip of Moises Borges playing:

Trout Grilling In America with Weird & Quirky Tunes

Trout Eating In America

We felt this Trout GRILLING in AMERICA recipe+playlist was a good post to follow a solid 4th of July weekend. However, this is not your typical grilling fare OR common cookout jams.

Hopefully those of you that are hip to Richard Brautigan caught our PUN right away and hopefully those of you who are not will put “Trout Fishing in America” at the top of your reading list. If you don’t have a reading list, it is strongly recommended that you start one because, like food and music, books are good for you.

This grilled trout recipe instantly reminded me (Amanda) of Richard Brautigan’s impressively unique and entertaining novella. I love it because it’s refreshingly weird, but still “accessible” and not TOO strange to handle or enjoy. It’s a collection of out-of-the-box anecdotes and abstract short stories about his life on the West Coast. Although it lacks a standard storyline, it gives you a sense of what life was like (for people “on the fringe”) during his childhood in the 40’s and young adult life in the 60’s, all while appeasing your brain with his quirkiness and witty, unconventional literary structure.

The Grooves:

With Brautigan in mind, we chose “weird” artists and quirky songs with somewhat unconventional sound/structure. We also included a couple tracks/musicians that reference Brautigan’s slightly out-there, yet wonderful work. Overall, it turned out to be a considerably diverse and “just weird enough” (for us at least…) playlist:

The Grub:

The recipe cred’ for this healthy grilling alternative goes out to Amanda’s mom. Since trout naturally has a fabulous texture and flavor, the seasonings are light and the prep is pretty simple. It can be served along with a variety of options, but we enjoyed ours with a side of steamed Brussels sprouts and fresh bread topped with bruschetta.

Trout Grilling In America

Ingredients:

  • 4 whole trout (gutted)
  • 3 lemons (2 for marinade, 1 to cut into wedges)
  • 3 tsp. fresh chopped dill
  • 2 tbs. veggie oil (for the griddle)
  • 4 tbs. melted butter

Directions:

  1. Rinse off trout in cool water and pat dry.
  2. Mix juice of 2 lemons and 2 tsp dill in small bowl and then rub inside and outside of trout with mixture.
  3. Set aside to marinate for 30-45 minutes.
  4. Brush cast iron griddle (flat portion of grill) with veggie oil and light grill.Trout Deboning In America
  5. Cook for 5 minutes on one side and then 5-10 more minutes on other side. (Similar to other fish, when meat starts to flake away, it’s done)
  6. You can serve as is or complete the following steps for your guests
  7. Cut off head, peal off skin and lift off first filet gently (using a butter knife helps – see picture to the right).
  8. You should be able to see spine and peel off all in one piece. Here is a helpful video that shows how to do so and easy it is.
  9. Place filets on plate with choice of sides and lemon wedges. Lightly sprinkle or rub filets with mixture of remaining dill and melted butter. You can also add salt and pepper if you think it’s needed.

So go home and prepare for Trout Eating in America. And dig the weird, quirky jams while you’re at it.

Cornish Hens with 1950s Pop

Copy of cornish hen slicedPrior to cooking this recipe, our knowledge on Cornish game hens was pretty limited. (Adrienne’s was limited to this Seinfeld episode.) These birds seemed disproportionately intimidating for such a small size. Whether it was the intimidation factor, or simply the convenience of having two – soon to be three – Giant Eagles by our house, we avoided cooking a chicken on our own for some time. So it was really shocking how easy this recipe is. This is just to say: If you’re nervous about this recipe, don’t be. Seriously. It’s pretty simple.

Rock Cornish game hens came about in the 1950s by crossbreeding Cornish chickens and White Plymouth Rock chickens. The company Tyson started selling the product, increasing its popularity to a national level. Also rising in national popularity roughly around the same time: Julia Child*. The beginning of this video has her introducing the types of chickens used for various cooking methods, and the Rock Cornish game hen falls under the “broiler” category.

*Side-note: PBS released remixes of their famous hosts, including a Julia Child remix. It’s fantastic.

The Grooves:

Because Rock Cornish game hens started to become popular in the 1950s, we created a playlist of 1950s pop music. Throw back to the movie Stand By Me, a flick with a great soundtrack riddled with 1950s pop songs. Feel free to combine that movie and this recipe to make a gourmet tv dinner, a tradition that also came about in the 1950s.

Also on this playlist: Buddy Holly and the Crickets, a group adored by a little band called The Beatles. The insect name is a little nod to Buddy Holly.

The Grub:

This being our first foray into the world of game hens, we decided to cook just one bird. If you’re doubling this recipe for two birds, the only thing you should keep in mind is cooking time. (More birds = more time.) Like most brine, marinade or other meat preparation methods, you can experiment with the herb mixture proportions in this recipe. So, if you’re getting into some horror movies and want to ward off the vampires, amp up the garlic. Or if you want a little more spice in your life, use a heavy hand on the cayenne pepper. It won’t change the cooking time at all.

Ingredients:Copy of cornish hen ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbs. chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbs. diced preserved lemons
  • 1/8 tsp. cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tbs. salt
  • 1 Cornish game hen, thawed
  • 2 tbs. butter, melted
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Combine first six ingredients in bowl and mix with fingertips.
  3. Pull the skin away from the meat of the hen. Spread the herb mixture under the skin of hen. (Doing this in the sink is strongly, strongly suggested.)
  4. Move the hen from sink to a baking dish. Brush the melted butter onto the skin and season with coarse salt and pepper.
  5. Roast hen until golden brown, adding broth after about 10 minutes. Baste the hen twice throughout cooking. Cook time is about 30 minutes, or until a thermometer registers 170°F  – 175°F.

cornish hen stuffing         Copy of cornish hen stuffed

Copy of cornish hen ready to cook         Copy of cornish hen done

Grooving & Grubbing Locally: N’awlins Edition

As we said when we started this series, we will be including some posts that feature the local food and music from other cities when our travels take us out of CLE. Well, this is the first OOT edition:

Last weekend, one of mThe French Quartery best friends from high school got married in the Biggg Easy. I decided to go down a couple of days early with a close friend from college to get a bigger and broader taste of the city.

Unfortunately, we were on a pretty tight budget AND schedule so I wasn’t able to experience some of the key restaurants, jazz joints, and other notable spots. However, it was an AMAZING weekend and an absolutely beautiful wedding. My belly and ears were pleased with all the love they got and my friend found something incredibly special that – as corny as this may sound – genuinely fills my heart with joy and gratitude. <3

{Local Grub}

The food was GLORIOUS. It happened to be Oyster Fest that weekend and checking it out was one of the best decisions we made. The Crawfish Beignet (pictured below from Katie’s Restaurant) was filled with flavor and had the perfect combination of textures. Despite it being pretty rainy and muddy, enjoying a delicious bowl of seafood gumbo right by the Mississippi River was an experience I will never forget.

I could go on and on and on about all the food I had, but I will try to not get too carried away and wrap this up. Here is a list of my favorites (in addition to the Oyster Fest finds):

  • French Market Oysters on the Half Shell: We got them twice. The dude (green bandanna below) shucking them had this smile-inducing, life-loving positive energy that I wish all of you could witness.
  • French Market Muffuletta: I already love them and this one definitely lived up to my NOLA-Muffuletta expectations.
  • Alligator (NOLA) Po-Boy Bourbon Street: I forgot to take a picture, but it was delicious – take my word for it.
  • THE WEDDING FOOD: The rehearsal din was at The Bourbon House and the Reception (Southern Oaks Plantation) featured rounds on rounds on rounds of exceptional little bites, ‘wiches, and Hors d’oeuvres. I was in foodie paradise, to say the least.
  • Beignets at Cafe Du Monde: Obviously, this was a must and for very good reason.

It was tough to limit what pictures to include as well, but here they are:

{Local Grooves}

Even though I REALLY wanted to check out Preservation Hall and Tipitina’s AND it would have been very cool to dig some genuine zydeco, I still got to hear some solid grooves. While simply walking around the French Quarter, we were treated to a handful of talented street musicians, stopped into a few bars with live jazz bands, and enjoyed the overflowing tunes of cafe patio bands as we slowly passed by. The cafes by the French Market always had two bands going – one more bluesy and one more jazzy. Although the majority of Bourbon Street bumped mainstream country/pop/rap and it’s not typically my thing, I did enjoy it thoroughly when we were out on the town. I wish I  could have gotten more footage, but here are some pictures and short video clips of two very unique (and not what I expected for NOLA) street musicians.

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If you haven’t visited this friendly and vibrant city yet, do it if you get the chance! If you have, what’s your favorite food and/or music spot?

SW Chorizo Egg Skillet with SW Folk & Americana

Chorizo is one of our favorite sausages to cook with because it is not only delicious, but is also pretty versatile. You can make a variety of Latin American/Spanish dishes with it, spice up your brunch/breakfast, and more. This dish goes the brunch route (although, you can eat it whenever – perhaps for a late night snack…), has LOADS of southwestern flavor, and actually has some health benefits too!

IMG_5227

Deciding on what grooves to pair with this dish was admittedly kind of difficult. We definitely wanted to incorporate the Southwest aspect into the tunes and felt that the Folk/Americana vibe from that region would be a great match. Well, finding Southwestern Folk and Americana artists for our playlist was a lot tougher than we expected. However, we were able to gather a sampling of artists from or closely related to those genres that either stylistically represent OR sing about the lovely American Southwest.

The Grooves:

This playlist includes a wide variety of sub-genres that all fall within the broader Americana/Folk/related family and features musicians/bands from as early as 1929, in addition to up-and-coming artists. One of the newer groups we would like to showcase is Run Boy Run. The instrumentals are extremely impressive and the vocals are exceptional. Hailing from Arizona, they are one of the best new(ish) folk/bluegrass acts we have come across. I strongly urge you to check them out, even if you’re not a HUGE grass-junkie or folk-fan.

The Grub:

While chorizo probably isn’t the healthiest food from a grease content perspective, this meal actually has a considerable amount of nutritional goodness. Almost all of the ingredients are fresh and natural. Even the beans and spices – being the only non-fresh ingredients – are still healthy and can all be found in organic varieties.

Everything for this recipe is very easy to find, especially now that it’s farmers’ market season. We grabbed the chorizo at the Fresh stand at the Tremont Farmers’ Market and picked up the eggs there as well. Had it been later in the season, we could have purchased close to everything we needed there.

Ingredients:

  •  1/2 lb. chorizo (loose or with casings removed)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup diced tomato
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook chorizo on med-high in large skillet while breaking it up for 6-8 minutes. Depending on fat content in sausage, you may need to add a bit of oil.
  2. In another pan, add splash of oil and cook onions, beans, and spices. Cook while occasionally stirring for about 5 mins on medium and then add to large skillet with chorizo.
  3. Whisk eggs well in separate bowl, pour and mix into skillet. Remove from heat once eggs are cooked.
  4. Transfer to individual or serving plate (you could also place over platter of tortilla chips). Garnish with chopped cilantro, tomatoes, and lime slices. You could enjoy as is, eat it with tortilla chips on the side, or even use it as taco filling. We also had some Mexican-style pickled jalapeños, onions, and carrots, along with some sour cream, on the side.

IMG_5218      IMG_5221
IMG_5223

The American Southwest has such a unique and fabulous subculture that is not only apparent in it’s fabulous food and music. Through our research, we came across some very impressive art, home decor, poetry, and other great cultural representations.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to experience it all (food, music, and the rest) out in the actual Southwest at some point in the future.

Grooving & Grubbing Locally: Cleveland’s Hessler Street Fair

This past Saturday I spent the evening at Hessler Street Fair with some friends and I still cannot get over the fact that it took me so long to check it out! Despite it being a little on the chilly side, it was a wonderful night filled with beautiful art, genuine people, and GREAT local grooves and grub. It was an experience that truly filled me with loads of CLE pride and love. Therefore, I thought it was very appropriate to highlight what I ate, heard, and saw for our third installment of “Grooving & Grubbing Locally.”

{Local Grub}

My friend and I went halfsies on the stuffed squash and rueben burger (both are pictured below and both were DELICIOUS). The stuffed squash (filled with rice, beans, and locally-grown veggies) was from Hooper Farm in Tremont. The rueben burger was from the Ohio Farm Direct grass-fed cheese stand. We also had some great samples from various stands along the way and warmed up later with some hot tea, coffee, and a cookie from the Root stand as well.

In addition to the foodie and music pics, I included a handful of shots from the other vendors/exhibits and general fair vicinity. Check it out:

{Local Grooves}

We caught the very end of the Hessler All-Stars set which sounded good and bluesy. We saw the majority of  The JiMiller Band set which was nothing short of wonderful. They played some fantastic Grateful Dead covers and a handful of other rock/blues/jam songs. Almost everyone in the crowd seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the tunes for their entire set.

Here are a few video clips I took while digging the jams (along with my perfectly roasted&brewed Root coffee):

I think the following quote/lyric sums up this post the best – I doubt I was the only one in the crowd who thought how “Shakedown Street” is very fitting for Cleveland when The JiMiller Band started playing it:

“Don’t tell me this town ain’t got no heart, you just gotta poke around”