Apricot chicken, mashed cauliflower with cheese, and sweet potato with maple butter
I have made this recipe several times and it always turns out awesome. Really you won't believe how easy it is to make, and it has such a payoff with sweet flavor. Rachael Ray's recipe says to use chicken tenderloins (cut into pieces) but I use 4 chicken breast and it works out wonderfully. The cooking time is about the same. And Dean loves to take the leftovers for lunch. He even said it is almost better as a leftover because it is so moist and sweet from sitting overnight in the sauce. The chicken really soaks it up.
The mashed cauliflower is a nice change from always fixing mashed potatoes. Now don't get me wrong I am the #1 fan of mashed potatoes, but this cauliflower is wonderful. I have made this for some time now, but Rachael Ray makes it a little differently, so I have changed a few things in how I make it. (Thanks again Rachael!) And how can you go wrong with a sweet potato, brown sugar, butter, and maple syrup.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
2 pounds chicken tenderloins, cut in 1/2 across on an angle
Salt and pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons cider or white wine vinegar
12 dried pitted apricots, chopped (I use a about 16-20 b/c I love apricots)
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup apricot all fruit spread or apricot preserves
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Heat a large skillet with a lid over medium high heat. Add oil and chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Lightly brown the chicken a few minutes on each side, add onions. Cook 5 minutes. Add vinegar to the pan and let it evaporate. Add apricots and stock. When stock comes to a bubble, add preserves and stir to combine. Cover pan, reduce heat and simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Serve chicken with a sprinkle of chopped parsley.
Smashed Cauliflower (Rachael Ray's way)
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 cups chicken stock
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 cup shredded white extra-sharp Vermont Cheddar (recommended: Cabot brand)
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano
Coarse black pepper and salt
A generous grating of nutmeg
Place cauliflower in a medium shallow pot or pan. Add stock, cover and place pot over high heat. When liquid boils, reduce heat to simmer and cook covered 10 minutes. Remove cover, raise heat to medium high and allow the broth to reduce by half, 2 minutes.* Add 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces and the cheeses and smash the cauliflower with a masher to the same consistency as desired for mashed potatoes. Season the cauliflower with black pepper, a pinch of salt and nutmeg.
* After 10 minutes, I drain off some the chicken stock because I think it is too runny if the stock is left in. If you don't have Parm, don't worry...it is just as good with out it. I have used sharp cheddar in this recipe and it's very good also.
Sweet Potato with maple butter
Sweet potatoes, one per person
3-4 Tbl butter, softened
3-4 Tbl maple syrup
Wash sweet potatoes well. Place them in a microwave safe dish with a lid. For two medium sized sweet potatoes, cook for about 6:30 mins with the lid on. (Change time accordingly to the size and amount of potatoes you are cooking.) Remember the potatoes are steaming hot when they come out of the microwave, so be careful.
While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the maple butter. With a spoon mix the butter and maple syrup together. I put it back in the fridge so will harden some before serving it, but it not necessary.
To serve, cut potato down the center, but not all the was through. (You can push the ends toward the middle to make the opening a little bigger and help loosen the sweet potato from the skin.) Top potato with a maple butter and a sprinkle of brown sugar.