Apron Strings http://www.apronstringsblog.com Cooking: it's in our D & A Tue, 22 Jul 2014 18:06:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 Lemon Tarragon Watermelon Salad http://www.apronstringsblog.com/lemon-tarragon-watermelon-salad/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=lemon-tarragon-watermelon-salad http://www.apronstringsblog.com/lemon-tarragon-watermelon-salad/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 18:06:09 +0000 http://www.apronstringsblog.com/?p=7756
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Watermelon Salad gets a new flavor profile with lemon and tarragon.

A fresh take on Watermelon Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Tarragon.

A fresh take on Watermelon Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Tarragon.

I love that classic watermelon and feta combo, and I make this salad often in the summer. So sweet/salty/tart – and few things are better in the summer than cold, crunchy ripe watermelon fresh in the summer.

So I decided to try out some new flavors with this salad. Lemon and Tarragon pair perfectly with this watermelon salad. You just whack up a little lemon vinaigrette – and Voila! – instant watermelon salad. I tried a new method of plating this salad as well – just lay a watermelon slice on a plate and then cut into cubes, leaving the round watermelon shape intact. Pretty and yummy for a light summer dinner.

Happy Summer all ~

– posted by Donna

LEMON TARRAGON WATERMELON SALAD

1 2-inch thick slice watermelon, chilled
2 ounces feta cheese, cut into cubes
1 bunch fresh tarragon
Juice and zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
Salt and pepper

Place slice of watermelon on a platter. Cut into cubes, while retaining the shape of the slice. Sprinkle feta cubes on top. Sprinkle some of tarragon leaves on top.

Blend in a blender a few tarragon leaves, the zest and juice of the lemon, the oil, mustard, honey and a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

Drizzle dressing on top. Serve immediately.

Other fabulous watermelon salads out there:

Watermelon Salad with Balsamic Reduction, Damn Delicious
Strawberry Watermelon Feta Salad, Foodie Crush
Watermelon, Feta, Basil and Quinoa Salad, How Sweet Eats
Watermelon Feta Guacamole, Two Peas and Their Pod
Watermelon Feta Salad, The Novice Chef
Watermelon, Avocado, Mint and Feta, Foolproof Living

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Japanese Crab and Cucumber Salad http://www.apronstringsblog.com/japanese-crab-and-cucumber-salad/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=japanese-crab-and-cucumber-salad http://www.apronstringsblog.com/japanese-crab-and-cucumber-salad/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 01:56:26 +0000 http://www.apronstringsblog.com/?p=7748
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Easy. Refreshing. Elegant. And stunningly delicious.
Light. Refreshing. Elegant.  Crab and Cucumber in a match made in heaven.

Light. Refreshing. Elegant. Crab and Cucumber in a match made in heaven.

This delightful crab and cucumber salad is simple and elegant and just stunningly delicious. I have made this salad three times this week alone – it’s that good. And, Okay, my garden is overflowing with cucumbers right now. So, yeah. Cucumbers on the menu every night. It is a very flexible salad – I have used the paper thin cucumbers as a base and then put different things on top – nectarine slices, feta cheese and green onions are two different combos I have tried. All yummy.

There are three ingredients plus a dressing so delicious I may have eaten half a bowl of it with a spoon. Not confirmed, just sayin’.

The key to the salad is the dressing – it is sweet, sour, tangy and smokey – full of umami and a perfect ying-yang dressing. The Japanese name for this salad is Sunomono – which literally means “Vinegared Thing.” I made a whole bottle of the dressing just to keep in the door of my fridge.

Also, the cucumbers have to be sliced paper thin so that they are soft and pliable. Use chilled cucumbers and crab (or shrimp!) and toss with the dressing at the last minute. Amazing. And Addicting.

JAPANESE CRAB AND CUCUMBER SALAD

1 chilled cucumber, sliced paper thin
4 ounces cooked and chilled fresh lump crabmeat (or shrimp)
14 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce (I used Tamari)
1 tablespoon sake (optional, but highly recommended)
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Place the cucumber slices in a bowl. Stir together the vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, sake, sesame oil. Toss the cucumber slices in the dressing and arrange on a plate.

Add crab or shrimp.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve.

Other fab cucumber salads by food bloggers:

I have had this strawberry cucumber salad by my blogging friend Carrian at Oh Sweet Basil – and it is unique and refreshing.
This Hungarian Cucumber Salad was served at our family reunion last week – can’t go wrong with any Kalyn’s Kitchen recipe!
I must try this Cucumber, Avocado and Feta Salad by Two Peas and their Pod.
Her’s another Japanese Cucumber Salad that looks fab at Appetite for China.

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Curried Chicken Salad with Mango Chutney http://www.apronstringsblog.com/curried-chicken-salad-with-mango-chutney/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=curried-chicken-salad-with-mango-chutney http://www.apronstringsblog.com/curried-chicken-salad-with-mango-chutney/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 15:30:40 +0000 http://www.apronstringsblog.com/?p=7662
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Easy Curried Chicken Salad with a touch of mango chutney. Summertime simple.

Curried Chutney Chicken Salad

Curried Chicken Salad with Chutney and Craisins (I really didn’t plan for that much alliteration, I promise.)

You might have noticed I have a bit of a chicken salad fixation. I love the many variations on the theme, especially as a light warm weather meal. Great on top of greens, great on a sandwich, or all on its own. Creamy or not, savory or slightly sweet. In the latter category is one of my favorites: Curried chicken salad. Alas, so many of the ones I’ve tried go WAY overboard with the sweetness. A little is nice, but I don’t really want my chicken salad to taste like dessert. I discovered a creative solution to this that adds a tangy twist of its own recently – Zupan’s Market in Portland uses a bit of mango chutney as an ingredient, and that alone serves as the main touch of sweetness (the craisins add a tiny bit as well, but nothing else). Here’s my very simple version of their recipe:  CURRIED CHICKEN SALAD WITH MANGO CHUTNEY

2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small red onion, finely diced
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons mango chutney
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)

Toss together the chicken, celery, onion and cranberries. Stir remaining ingredients together in a smaller dish, then add to chicken mixture and stir to combine. BOOM.

Other unique takes on curried chicken salad:

Curried Chicken Salad with Endive from Simply Recipes
Curried Chicken Salad with Asparagus and Peanuts from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Curried Chicken Salad with Apples from The Lemon Bowl
Apricot Curry Chicken Salad from Week of Menus

– posted by Anne

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Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Skillet http://www.apronstringsblog.com/summer-zucchini-noodle-skillet/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=summer-zucchini-noodle-skillet http://www.apronstringsblog.com/summer-zucchini-noodle-skillet/#comments Sun, 06 Jul 2014 23:03:40 +0000 http://www.apronstringsblog.com/?p=7714
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Don’t you just love zucchini season?
Zucchini Noodles Skillet

Thinly shaved zucchini is the pasta for this fresh summer “pasta” skillet.

Imagine all the best flavors of summer tossed in one extra healthy skillet. And then SEE ABOVE.

Some folks complain about zucchini stashed on their front porches, but I am not one of them. I just love zucchini season. It just tastes like summer to me – I love it raw, cooked, any which way. I crave Michael Symon’s zucchini Crudo salad.  And Oven Fried Zucchini Crisps are a real treat at our house! C’mon – I have even made Zucchini S’mores! Only a serious zucchini fanatic would make those!

And so my obsession with zucchini starts early this year- with this skillet.

You just shave the zucchini into thin planks and then treat them like pasta noodles. A few minutes in the skillet is all it takes to soften them perfectly for your dish. Add a few other summer veggies and – let’s just call it Summer in a Skillet.

Happy Zucchini Season, all!

– posted by Donna

ZUCCHINI NOODLES SKILLET

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup white wine
2 medium zucchini
1 cup fresh corn kernels (frozen will do in a pinch)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
16 ounces cooked shrimp

Heat a very large skillet to medium high heat. Add oil and shallot and cook for a minute. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add white wine and cook until most of liquid has evaporated, another 2 minutes or so.

Peel zucchini in long planks with a vegetable peeler – about 1/8th inch thick slices. Add to skillet and toss. Cook for a few minutes and then add corn, tomatoes and shrimp and cook until all is heated through.

Serve immediately, with a sprinkle of Parmesan if desired.

Other fabulous zucchini noodle dishes:

Spiralized Zucchini Noodles, Inspiralized
Julienned Zucchini Spaghetti, Kalyn’s Kitchen
Zucchini Pasta in Lemon Cream Sauce, The Novice Chef
Zucchini Noodle Salads, The Vintage Mixer
Zucchini Noodles with Lemon and Parmesan, Always Order dessert

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Balsamic Chicken Salad with Asparagus, Peppers and Mushrooms http://www.apronstringsblog.com/balsamic-chicken-salad-with-asparagus-peppers-and-mushrooms/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=balsamic-chicken-salad-with-asparagus-peppers-and-mushrooms http://www.apronstringsblog.com/balsamic-chicken-salad-with-asparagus-peppers-and-mushrooms/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 15:00:53 +0000 http://www.apronstringsblog.com/?p=7705
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Light and easy balsamic chicken salad recipe – can be grilled or broiled!

Balsamic Grilled Chicken Salad with Asparagus, Pepper and Mushrooms

I love a good chicken salad, especially any I can find that aren’t heavy with  mayonnaise-laden dressings. (Not that I have anything against good mayonnaise in the right place, either, but it really can weigh a dish down.) Back in the pre-Lily era, when I was working in West Hartford, CT, I used to frequent the Wild Oats prepared foods on an all-too-regular basis; his was before Whole Foods came to town, if you can imagine such a time. Seems positively Jurassic now.

Anyway, my favorite dish of theirs was a grilled chicken salad with a balsamic dressing. Perfect light fare, ideal for South Beach phase one, paleo, or low-carb in general – and perfect for any cookout if you opt for the grilled version.  This is my approximation of the Wild Oats Balsamic Chicken Salad. If asparagus is still appearing in your grocery stores or, better yet, at your farmers’ markets, try showcasing it in this easy salad! For the asparagus: everyone knows that trick where you bend the stalk to where it naturally snaps, and discard the tough, woody end, right? Well, I dimly recall learning another trick from Chopped host Ted Allen, way back before he became a Food Network star or a  judge on  Top Chef.

There was an episode of Queer Eye (I’m full of flashbacks today) wherein he explained that rather than snap each and every stalk of asparagus individually, you took one from the bunch as a representative sample (since they’re harvested together), snapped THAT one, and use it as a measure of where to cut all the rest of them. So much quicker, right? Take this technique for a test drive with this salad.

Note: If you have a grill,  grilling all of the components below & then tossing together in dressing is definitely the preferred method.

BALSAMIC GRILLED CHICKEN SALAD with ASPARAGUS, MUSHROOMS & PEPPERS

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, divided
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt, divided
2 pounds chicken (breast or thigh meat), trimmed and cut into strips
1 large bundle asparagus
2 bell peppers, sliced
10 ounces crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Whisk together 1/4 cup of the balsamic, the garlic, one tablespoon of the olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Pour over prepared chicken in a tupperware container and refrigerate for at least 2 or 3 hours – overnight would be even better. Give it the occasional shimmy & shake to make sure the marinade is coating all surfaces of the chicken.

When you’re ready to proceed, preheat the oven to 425. Drain off and reserve the marinade, and spread the chicken out on a large baking sheet. Once chicken’s going, prep the veggies. Do the aforementioned Ted Allen Test Snap ™ on the asparagus. From there, cut the edible stalks into 2 inch pieces.

Toss asparagus together with the mushrooms and peppers and another 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the remaining teaspoon of salt, and as much black pepper as you like. Spread these out on a second baking sheet and add them to the oven after the chicken has been cooking for about 15 minutes. For both chicken and veggies, check them every 5 minutes or so and give the pan a shake and stir.

While the chicken and veggies cook, heat the reserved marinade in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil for just a few minutes, then lower heat and let simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes. You’re just liquefying the fats that had been chilled and maybe reducing it a touch. Let cool.

When the chicken’s been cooking for 2o minutes, check for done-ness; it may need a few more minutes. Check vegetables at the same juncture – you want some browning, but definitely don’t let them get charred into oblivion.

Once everything’s optimally cooked through, allow all components to cool. Whisk the remaining tablespoon of balsamic and olive oil into the marinade and toss chicken and veggies together in a mixing bowl. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary. I prefer the salad chilled, but it may well be force of habit – you might like it warm if you’re so inclined. So serve immediately or chill until ready to eat!

Other lovely light chicken salads in the foodosphere:

Chinese Chicken Salad from Rasamalaysia
Chicken Salad with Tarragon from Simply Recipes
Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad from smitten kitchen
Shredded Chicken Salad with Green Olives, Celery and Green Onion from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Creamy Avocado Chicken Salad from Cheeky Kitchen

– posted by Anne

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Summer Cantalope Slush – Three Healthy Ingredients http://www.apronstringsblog.com/summer-cantalope-slush/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=summer-cantalope-slush http://www.apronstringsblog.com/summer-cantalope-slush/#comments Sun, 29 Jun 2014 17:56:12 +0000 http://www.apronstringsblog.com/?p=7694
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Three ingredients buzzed into a frozen melon summer slush. 
Cantalope Slushie

Summer sunshine in a glass: Cantalope Slushie

A minor miracle happens when you throw frozen cubes of melon into a blender. That, plus a little lime juice and zest turns into a delicious, smooth, creamy frozen delight.

Here’s the entire recipe: freeze 4 cups of cantalope cubes – about 2 hours minimum. Put the cubes in a blender with 1 cup of water and the juice and zest of one lime. Taste as you go – depending on your cantalope, you may need a little sweetener.

That’s it. Really. Summer sunshine in a glass!

– posted by Donna

Other slushie creativeness:

Pink Watermelon Lemonade Slushies, Half Baked Harvest
Watermelon Slushies, Tickling Palates
Lemon Mint Slush, A couple Cooks
Mint Ginger Slushie, The SoHo

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Cherry Bomb Tarts http://www.apronstringsblog.com/cherry-bomb-tarts/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cherry-bomb-tarts http://www.apronstringsblog.com/cherry-bomb-tarts/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 15:35:16 +0000 http://www.apronstringsblog.com/?p=7700
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Little Cherry Tarts to light up your picnic – so easy with phyllo!
Cherry Bomb Tarts

Like edible firecrackers, these little cherry tarts will light up your fourth of July!

A sweet treat based on a firecracker to light up your Fourth of July picnic. Whodda thunk it?

I saw these Smoked Cherry Bombs in this month’s Cooking Light magazine – but I skipped the smoking step – which just seemed too complicated. I also doubled the filling amounts, because c’mon – almond paste whipped with cream cheese! They are fun to serve on a platter – and this recipe achieves the perfect balance of flavor and texture – creamy and crispy all in one bite.

Next to Christmas, the Fourth of July is my favorite holiday of the year. I love the picnics, parades, fireworks – I love it all. And so, I am always on the hunt for recipes that are patriotic. Two from the past - Red White and Blueberry Cookie Tarts,   and American Flag Fruit Skewers.

Have fun on the Fourth!

– posted by Donna

CHERRY BOMB TARTS

12 dye-free Maraschino cherries, with stems
4 ounces almond paste
3 tablespoons sugar
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
12 sheets thawed phyllo
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine almond paste, 2 tablespoons of sugar, beat with a mixer. Beat in cream cheese, vanilla and salt.

Place one sheet phyllo on a flat surface and brush with a little butter. Sprinkle with a little sugar. Repeat three times, for a otal of four layers. Cut phyllo layers into 3 1/2 inch squares. Place a tablespoon of cream cheese mixture on center of each square. Place a cherry on top of cream cheese mixture.

Gather up corners of phyllo squares and pinch them together, forming a square packet, with cherry and stem exposed.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, until golden brown.

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4 Ingredient Pina Colada Macaroons http://www.apronstringsblog.com/pina-colada-macaroons/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=pina-colada-macaroons http://www.apronstringsblog.com/pina-colada-macaroons/#comments Mon, 23 Jun 2014 14:00:06 +0000 http://www.apronstringsblog.com/?p=7680
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A four-ingredient, easy, healthy dessert!

4 Ingredient Pina Colada Macaroons

4 Ingredient Pina Colada Macaroons

I see a lot of friends adjusting to new summer schedules with their kids – and along with that comes the neverending quest for healthy sweet treats. Plenty of frozen goodies to come, but if you don’t mind firing up the oven for 15 minutes, this 4 ingredient twist on a regular macaroon makes for a great little snack cookie.

3 dried pineapple rings (about 1/2 cup)great little treat.
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut (unsweetened)

Preheat oven to 325. Cut pineapple rings into 3 pieces, then pulse in  a food processor until very finely chopped (will clump together a bit). Beat egg whites with a whisk until frothy, then whisk in the honey. Stir in coconut and pineapple and mix until well distributed.

Using a cookie dough scoop, pack mixture firmly into balls and place on parchment or silpat-lined cookie sheet. (Mixture will be crumbly when raw; just shape with fingers as needed.) Bake for 14-16 minutes, until starting to become golden brown. Let cool completely before eating.

. — posted by Anne

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Zucchini Petals Frittata Recipe http://www.apronstringsblog.com/zucchini-petals-frittata-recipe/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=zucchini-petals-frittata-recipe http://www.apronstringsblog.com/zucchini-petals-frittata-recipe/#comments Fri, 20 Jun 2014 21:01:27 +0000 http://www.apronstringsblog.com/?p=7683
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Don’t you just love zucchini season?
Zucchini Frittata Recipe

Pretty zucchini petals top a luscious frittata

I am one of those strange people who loves zucchini season – for more than just zucchini bread. I love it in so many things – and I look forward each year to when it is abundant and cheap!

As proof that I love zucchini, I have made it in many, many creative forms: I have made zucchini rolled into a one pot meal, turned into savory s’mores, baked in ramekins with eggs, made into salsa verde, and stirred into zucchini crudo salad.

My latest zucchini fest involves a skillet and eggs: a frittata. Instead of just dicing it and stirring it into the egg mixture, I decided to try a more attractive way of using the zucchini – it turned out so pretty – sort of an edible breakfast centerpiece. The zucchini slices look just like flower petals arranged artistically.

You need an 8 to 10 inch non-stick skillet for this recipe – I used an 8 inch, and the frittata puffed up to the top and was the perfect thickness.

This is an easy, quick dinner with just a few ingredients – yet pretty enough to impress friends and neighbors. A summer staple at our house, for sure!

– posted by Donna

ZUCCHINI PETALS FRITTATA

Serves 4 to 6; 20 minutes total time

1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil)
2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk

Heat an 8 or 10 inch skillet to medium heat. Add butter and swirl until butter coats skillet. Then place zucchini siices in skillet, overlapping them slightly, to cover entire bottom of skillet. Cook uncovered, until zucchini is translucent on top and lightly browned on bottom. Sprinkle cheese on top of zucchini slices.

Mix eggs, salt and milk. and pour in skillet. Place skillet at top of oven and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until set in center and slightly browned.

Remove from oven and let sit a about 3 minutes. Carefully run a rubber spatula around edges of frittata, to loosen it from pan. INvert on a large platter. (Do not fear 0- if any of the zucchini slices come loose, just put them back in place on top of frittata and no one will be the wiser!)

Sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Serve warm.

Other fun takes on frittatas:

Veggie Filled Frittata, Weelicious
Caramelized Cauliflower Frittata, Amateur Gourmet
Mini Frittatas, Cookin Canuck
Slow Cooker Frittata, Kalyn’s Kitchen
Campfire Frittata, The Year in Food

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Homemade Chicken Apple Sausage http://www.apronstringsblog.com/homemade-chicken-apple-sausage-lettuce-wraps/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=homemade-chicken-apple-sausage-lettuce-wraps http://www.apronstringsblog.com/homemade-chicken-apple-sausage-lettuce-wraps/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 17:48:34 +0000 http://www.apronstringsblog.com/?p=7609
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Homemade sausage lettuce wraps for breakfast. 
Home made chicken sausage

Chicken Sausage Lettuce Wraps

When I thought about the term “homemade sausage,” I thought of meat grinders, casings and spending hours and hours in the kitchen. Turns out, none of this is true. Sausage is fun and easy to make. Turns out, you can make sausage with a food processor in minutes.

When my favorite grocery store was out of my usual favorite – their own store-made chicken sausage – I decided to try my very first foray into making sausage at home. Just chill your meat really well (part frozen is best!) and cut it into chunks. Then, you just pulse everything in your processor until the meat is in tiny bits. It is a revelation, I tell you!

I added both fennel and sage, because those are two classic “sausage” tastes, in my kitchen at least. You could pretty much use any of your favorite spices or herbs.

And, chicken needs just a little fat added to the mix, so I used pancetta, which is mostly fat. If you choose beef or pork , you could probably skip the added fat. Whatever ingredients you use, this sausage has so much less fat and artificial ingredients than most store bought sausages.

Since this is so much easier than I thought it would be, I plan to make sausages again and again, trying out different meats and veggies and spices. I highly HIGHLY recommend this to you as a fun kitchen adventure!

– posted by Donna

HOMEMADE CHICKEN SAUSAGE

2 Granny Smith apples
1 1/2 pounds chicken breast meat, partially frozen, cut into 2 inch chunks
1/4 pound pancetta, diced
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sage leaves
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Peel and grate the apples and then place in a thin kitchen towel. Squeeze gently over a sink until no more liquid comes out.

Place apples and all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until chicken is in very small bits, and mixture comes together in a clump in the food processor, about 12 pulses.

Form into patties and cook over medium high heat in a skillet until both sides of patties are golden brown.

Other home made sausages I must try:

Homemade Italian Sausage, CopyKat Recipes
Homemade Cheddar Italian Sausage, All Day I Dream About Food
Homemade Merguez Sausage, Always Order Dessert
Homemade Breakfast Sausage, Nutmeg Nanny
Homemade Chicken and Pancetta Sausage, Lucullian Delights
Homemade Chicken Apple Sausage, The Nourishing Gourmet

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