About Me

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I started cooking as a kid and have found it to be a passion for me throughout my life. I've worked in a cooking specialty store, ran a catering company and most importantly, fed my family and expressed my love for them through food.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Blue cheese, bacon and chive stuffed chicken

I love blue cheese in the way the children love candy.  Its unique flavor first presented itself to me in the form of the blue cheese  dressing at Valentino's.  But now, I dream in blue cheese. 

I truly believe that it makes almost anything better.

And in this recipe, it makes the chicken delicious.  This is a very easy recipe based upon a compound butter and bone in, skin on chicken breasts. 

Make the butter...to one stick of room temp butter, in a small bowl, add 4 strips of crisp bacon, chopped, about 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh chives and about 4 ounces of crumbled blue cheese.  Mix it well. Divide it into 4 portions.

Next rinse and pat dry 4 bone in, skin on chicken breasts.  You'll need to stick your fingers in between the flesh and the skin to create a sort of pocket.    Stuff 1/4 of the butter under the skin.  With your fingers, simply work the butter into a even layer.  Repeat on all breasts and place them in a roasting pan.  Bake for about 40 minutes in a 425 degree oven. 

What happens here is that the butter bastes the chicken as it bakes. The flavors permeate a bit and it is just darn good.

It is suggested that you can swap ingredients...instead of blue, use brie or sharp cheddar, etc.  Try a different herb, maybe a sun dried tomato, etc.  I think it would be fun to try out other options but I know in my heart that the lure of blue cheese is simply too strong.

Happy Cooking to all! 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Porkchops taste good.

I am proud that my 5 year old daughter understands that pork is pig and that bacon and sausage and pork chops are pork because frankly, pig tastes good.  There, I said it.

Here is a fast, easy, few-ingredient recipe for Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Take 2 thick or medium cut pork chops...season on both side well with salt and pepper and drop into a super hot skillet with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in it.  Brown well on both sides (about 3-4 minutes per side) and transfer to a baking dish with sides.  You're looking for a deep golden brown crust here.  Pop in the oven for about 20 minutes depending upon the thickness of the pork.

Lower the heat to medium and then into the "pork chop pan" saute 2 tablespoons of finely chopped shallots (can sub red onion in a pinch).  Saute for about 2-3 minutes.  Next...measure out 1/4 cup of brown sugar (light or dark, no matter but must be brown) and 1/3 cup of good balsamic vinegar.  Add both sugar and vinegar to shallots, stiring to combine.  NOTE...the acidity of the vinegar will burn yer nose if you are standing right over it when you dump it in...be warned.  Keep stiring to get the browned bits off the bottom of the pan and cooking over medium for about 2-3 minutes.  DONE with the glaze!  Now just take the beautiful pig chops out of the oven, and place into the glaze pan, along with any drippings they gave off.  Flip em over a few times to coat.  Serve with some rice and veg or maybe some risotto!  When you serve em, make certain to drizzle a little extra glaze over the top. 

Happy Pig Eatin'.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chicken Fried Chicken with Panko

I grew up with a traditional "whole chicken cut up and fried" kind of fried chicken.  But since we don't really eat dark meat, I find myself never making fried chicken.  Here's my alternative. 

Don't get me wrong...this is not quick and it is not low fat but it is insanely good
You'll need three low bowls for breading, a jelly roll pan with a cooling rack on top as well as a big skillet and a cutting board and sharp knife and a big zip lock bag (or plastic wrap).  For ingredients you'll need about 2 pounds of chicken breasts, 3 eggs, an entire box of panko, about 1 cup of flour, salt and pepper and plenty of veggie oil.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

First, dry off the chicken with a paper towel.   Lay out a couple of long lengths of waxed paper on the counter.  For fat breasts, I cut them horizontally into 2 or 3 slabs.  At a minimum, I do one cut across the breasts horizontally.  Next, put each piece in a zip lock bag, (large) but don't zip it.  With a mallot, pound each to be a bout 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick.  When done pounding, spread out onto the waxed paper and season with salt and pepper generously on both sides.

You're ready to bread the chicken..pull out three low bowls.  In the first bowl, put in about 3/4 cup of flour.  In the second, beat 3 eggs with 2 tablespoons of milk.  And finally, fill the last bowl with Panko crumbs.  These are Japanese, crispy and wonderful...but can not be swapped for regular dry breadcrumbs. 

I usually keep one hand dry and one wet...so with my right hand I drop the chicken in the flour to coat all sides and then drop into the egg.  With the left hand I flip the chicken over to coat with egg then move to the Panko.  With my right (dry) hand I coat well with the Panko.  Then transfer to the waxed paper.

The waxed paper is important as you will end up with what looks like a HUGE amount of chicken and need a place prepared to "set" it.

Now you're ready to fry....in a large skillet, brown the chicken in small batches till golden on both sides over medium high heat.

THIS IS IMPORTANT...once you fry it, transfer the chicken to a cooling rack sitting on a jelly roll plan.  You're browning it just to get it brown, not to cook it through...you'll do that in the oven.

Once all of the chicken is cooked and on the rack, pop into the oven for about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, in your chicken pan, add about 3 shallots (or red onion in a pinch) finely chopped.  Saute for about 1 minute on medium.  Next, add about 3-4 tablespoons of flour to the drippings and shallots.  Cook the flour for about 2-3...ideally it gets a little brown.  Next, add about 2-3 cups of milk.  Cook on medium till it thickens.  Use more milk if needed to get it to a correct consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

I always make mashed spuds.  Always.  Because nothing is better than "milk" gravy, fried chicken and mashed potatoes.

Again, this makes A LOT...so be prepare to heat up leftover chicken back on the rack on the jelly roll pan in the oven, and enjoy some great chicken sandwiches!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bacon Deviled Eggs...Super Bowl Fare by my husband Craig

My husband Craig is cooking up a Super Bowl Storm!  And when I saw these amazing Bacon  Deviled Eggs, it reminded me that you truly eat first with your eyes. Thus, just wanted to share this food picture.

And mostly, I love sharing this photo because Craig is such an awesome cook and we both embrace this love of cooking and sharing food and mostly just believing in good eating.

Happy Super Bowl!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Let them eat cake...that looks like spaghetti and meatballs!!!

Cake!  I'm talking the fun kind that has more to do with what it looks like than tastes like.  The kind that kids love.  Here are my latest!

This beauty is a spaghetti and meatball cake...it's all cake, so no worries that I flipped out and topped a perfectly good cake with actually meatballs. This is a food network magazine special so check it out!

Another beauty...simply a yellow cake mix, one cake donut some icing and food coloring and some almond bark.  Again, Food Network magazine!!

Roasted Potato Soup - A deeper shade of flavor

Apologies to my mother to start...I grew up with the most embarrassing idea of  potato soup.  It as like plain milk with semi-hard potatoes floating sparsely in the sad, flavorless broth.  Though it didn't look very good, it also didn't taste good either. 

THIS however is not my mother's Potato soup....and the difference is that you roast the spuds and onions, intensifying the flavors and frankly, making this so easy.  You don't even peel the spuds.  Genius!

Take about 4-6 medium sized potatoes along with 1 large videlia onion.  Cut the potatoes in 1 inch chunks...same with the onions.  Toss them onto a jelly roll pan....drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil on em, and sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper.  With clean hands, you put our right hand in, and you toss it all about.  Pop into the oven for about 30-40 minutes.

In your soup pot, dump the hot potatoes and onions in...add about 5 cups of chicken broth. Using a blender (I use a stick blender and just put it right down into the soup pot), puree till as smooth or chunky as you choose.  IF you use a regular blender and you can take the round thing off the top...do it...replace the lid and put a kitchen towel over the hole)  Return to the pot and add in enough additional broth to get it to the thickness you want.  I usually add about 1/2 cup of half and half or milk.  Then adjust seasoning (salt and pepper, chopped parsley, dill, etc..  This is so simple and satisfying and you'll notice that the flavor is deepened by the roasting. 

You may want to top with some caramelized onions or fresh green onions or cheddar cheese. 

Now...if you want to get creative, use the same principle with other winter veggies...carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, etc.  Play with your food, I say!

Roasting makes a huge difference here. 

Happy Eating!  Let me know how it goes!!!  Love to hear what you all make!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Something to crow about - the easiest and best Roasted Chicken

I did not grow up eating roasted chicken and always thought of it as "fancy".  That's silly.  It's amazing...and roasting a pair is no harder than cooking up a single...Besides, you end up with a lot of chicken meat for enchiladas, or chicken casserole or chicken salad...etc.

When you're dealing with this simple of a recipe, the quality of the ingredients really matters...I go for the Smart Chicken whole roaster.  Go big, man.  Meatier is gooder!

Wash the chicken inside and out.   Dry it with paper towels and then salt and pepper the chicken well.  Take a whole lemon, cut the ends off and cut the middle into quarters.  Cut one head of garlic horizontally like a sandwich and shove lemon and garlic in the cavity along with a good handful of fresh parsley...no need to cut up the green.  Stuff it in there.  Ideally it's all tied up with the legs in tight, however, if the thought of tying that bad boy up scares you enough not to cook this up, don't sweat it. 

Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil over the outside of the chicken (I rub it with my hands a bit).

Cut one large onion in thick slices (maybe about 1/2 inch thick)  - separate the rings and spread them out in a roasting pan or 9 x 13.  You can also put some cut up potatoes and carrots with those.  Set Mr. chicken on top of the veggies and roast at 450 for about 1 hours 15 minutes.  The veggies act like a rack and they soak up all of that chickeny goodness.  Once cooked, set the chicken aside, and cover with foil.  Discard the onions, and put the other veggies aside and keep warm.  Put the roasting pan on top of the stove with 2 burners on med high.  sprinkle the drippings with about 1/3 cup of flour...whisk and brown for about 2-3 minutes then add enough chicken broth to make a gravy...simmer it for a minute or two to see how thick it will get...it will be darker that expected but so good.

Serve it sliced or in section (a leg thigh, etc.)  with the veggies on the side and that amazing gravy. 

This is simple but amazing.  Happy Eating

A Hankering for Hash

As your classic "good girl", I wrote the title of today's blog and then realized, others may not think of a tasty use for leftovers when they talk about hash!!!  But I do! 

I made a classic roast beast in the slowcooker yesterday with quarter potatoes and chunks of carrots.  Then for a wintry lunch today, I transformed humble leftovers to heavenly hash. 

What is hash?  Here is what it is NOT...it is not the nasty stuff in a can that Hormel calls corned beef cash, I mean hash.  Simply put, hash is usually a way to use up roasted meat and potatoes by caramelizing them in a skillet.  I soft cook a few eggs on top and it turns into this crusty, savory gutbuster of a meal. 

To a large skillet set on HIGH heat for 2 minutes, add a splash of veggie oil, about 1/4 to 1/2 of a chopped onion and saute till tender.  Add 1 garlic clove chopped fine and saute till it starts smelling up the joint.  hmmm.  Throw in your leftover meat, potatoes and carrots chopped medium.  Flip this around till coated with the onions and garlic, add some salt and pepper and set the heat on Medium.  Spread out the mixture in the pan.  Here's the part that doesn't seem to make sense...Add about 2 tablespoons of heavy cream...pour it over the mixture.  Cover the pan and let it bubble in there till you hear it sizzle..it will have absorbed the cream and started to get crusty.  With a pancake turner, flip yer hash in sections. 

One last step....as the backside is getting crusty (that sounds like a country song!), make four small wells or dents in the hash (I use the back of a large soup spoon to press down the mixture) and crack a large egg into each dent and sprinkle the eggs with salt and pepper.  Cover the pan with the heat on medium low for about 4 minutes...check em and cook them to the point you like....runny is so tasty with toast.  A little longer and it is like a soft cooked egg.  This makes about 4 servings.  That's it. 

The eggs are optional..if you have a lot of leftovers to work with, you could do more dents and eggs.  This is a guideline...the fun really comes when you see where it takes you!

SOOOOO good and practical...any meat and taters works....think about adding stuff to the saute of onions and garlic....artichoke hearts?  Sun dried tomatoes?  Capers?  Olives?  Or maybe a good salsa or pesto on the side. 

Happy Eating