Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Chicken Cordon Bleu Florentine Casserole

This casserole is sooooooo good!  It is loaded with ham and chicken and it is rich and creamy and cheesy with a great crunch from the Panko bread crumbs.  Not to mention, it is full of healthy spinach! Like I said - so good!  I sent the recipe home with one of my co-workers and she tried it this past weekend and her family loved it too! 

It might seem like a lot of ingredients, but it comes together pretty quick and since it is a casserole, you can just throw everything in the casserole dish, bake and enjoy!  I know you will love this one and I think it will be a frequent menu item!
Chicken Cordon Bleu Florentine Casserole
2 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 c. fresh spinach, chopped
3/4 c. thinly sliced deli ham, chopped
1 Lb. chicken, cooked and shredded
3 Tbl. butter
3-4 Tbl. flour
2 1/2 c. milk
salt and pepper
Italian seasoning, to taste
1 1/2 c. shredded Italian cheese blend
1/4 c. crumbled Gorgonzola, or to taste
1/2 Lb. radiatori pasta, cooked
3/4 c. panko bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. Johnny's Garlic Spread or garlic powder
salt and pepper
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat 2 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds.  Add the spinach and saute a few minutes or until it's wilted.  Add the chopped ham and shredded chicken and toss to coat with spinach and garlic.  Cook about one minute and then remove from skillet and set aside.  To the same, now empty, skillet add 3 Tbl. butter and cook until melted.  Whisk in the flour until a thick paste forms.  Slowly whisk in the milk and cook until thickened.  Season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Then, stir in the Italian cheese and Gorgonzola and stir until cheese is melted.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Stir in the spinach mixture and cooked pasta.  Stir until everything is coated with sauce and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish.  Combine bread crumbs, dried parsley, Johnny's Garlic Spread, salt, pepper and grated Parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle over the top of casserole.  Spray top lightly with either cooking spray or butter spray.  Bake, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until top is golden brown.  Serves 4-6.  

Jenn's Notes: You can use seasoned bread crumbs instead of using the Panko and other seasonings, but I love the crunch the Panko adds.  This was a hit and we had it on the dinner table from start to finish in less than an hour.  

slightly adapted from: Blogging For Fishes submitted by Girls In Aprons 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Soft and Chewy French Bread with Garlic Spread

I think I might have just found the PERFECT french bread recipe?  It tastes just like, if not better, than my FAVORITE store-bought french bread - crust and all!

You know that hypnotizing smell when you walk into the grocery store and you smell FRESH french bread?  Oh my GOSH, it gets me every-single-time!  That is why they put a tray right by the front door and right by the cash register, because you can probably resist once, but twice - oh no!  Well, that is what my house smelled like, while I was baking this bread.

I usually make this recipe for fabulous french bread, because it is pretty easy and it tastes yummy, but I always thought the texture was slightly different than what I was used to with store-bought french bread.  This new version is EXACTLY what I have been looking for.  
This new recipe is just right.  The inside is so soft and has texture that french bread should have and it's not dry at all.  The crust has just the right amount of chewiness to it.  I made this bread, planning to eat it with some spaghetti and then I was going to use the leftovers for sandwiches later in the week, but we did not have any leftovers.  

The only downfall is that it does take a little bit of time and since you can pick up a loaf of store-bought french bread for super cheap, you might think it wouldn't be worth the time and effort to make a homemade version, but my own personal opinion is HOMEMADE IS ALWAYS BETTER!  I will still be using store-bought when time is limited, but if it's a day where I have some extra time, I will, without a doubt, make this homemade recipe.  Oh and the garlic spread was yummy too, but I am content with just a little butter spray and salt and pepper.  Have you ever tried a slice of french bread with just butter and a sprinkling of salt and pepper?  You should try it - it gives it just a little kick and it is so good.  
Soft and Chewy French Bread 
1 1/2 Tbl. instant yeast
1/2 c. warm water
1 1/2 Tbl. sugar
2 c. water
1 1/2 Tbl. oil
2 1/4 tsp. salt
6 c. all-purpose flour

Combine the yeast, 1/2 cup warm water and sugar; let it proof for ten minutes.  Then, add 2 cups water, oil, salt and 3 cups of flour.  Mix until flour is incorporated, then gradually add remaining 3 cups of flour.  Using the dough hook on a stand mixer, knead about five minutes, then turn out onto generously floured surface.  Every ten minutes, for the next hour, knead two or three times.  This is what gives the crust that french bread chewiness.  It is not crucial that kneading takes place at exact 10 minute intervals, just make sure to come back at least four times in the next hour to knead the dough a few times, then form back into a ball (keep dough covered with a piece of saran wrap between kneads, so it doesn't dry out)

Divide dough into 2 portions for regular-sized loaves or 4 portions for small loaves.  Spread each portion out into a rough rectangle and roll up, jelly-roll style.  Take the two ends of each loaf and tuck under slightly.  Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Spray a sharp knife with cooking spray and cut 3 diagonal lines into the tops of each loaf, about 1-inch deep.  Brush loaves with a beaten egg, making sure to get every single spot.  Whatever doesn't get covered with egg wash won't brown.  Raise until doubled or 30 minutes.  Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through.         

*Some bread recipes tell you to keep adding flour until the sides of your bowl come clean - DON'T do that for this recipe.  This bread is incredibly tender, which means the dough is going to be softer and stickier.  Much of the dough will be hanging onto the dough hook and some will still be stuck to the bottom and sides of the bowl.  You can tell you've added enough flour and you've kneaded the dough long enough when you can pinch off a small bit and easily roll it into a little ball in the palm of your hand.  It will still be a little sticky to the touch, but not so sticky you can't roll it into a ball. 

Boursin Cheese Spread (aka Garlic Herb Spread)
1/2 c. butter, softened
8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/8 tsp. each dill, marjoram, thyme and pepper 
   OR 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning

Stir all ingredients together to combine.  Serve on warm french bread.    

Jenn's Notes:  No notes today.  I just did what the recipe said and it turned out perfect.  The instructions might look long, but this bread is really easy and I think anyone could make it!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Favorite Homemade Spaghetti Sauce and it Freezes Well Too

This is my favorite homemade spaghetti sauce and it is so EASY to make.  
The best part is that you can make a big batch and freeze some for later.  It tastes the exact same after being frozen.  I will usually make a big batch on Sunday and divide it between old sour cream/yogurt containers and place them in the freezer to have on hand whenever I need it.  All you have to do is thaw it and warm it.  Since it already has the meat in it, you can have dinner ready in no time.  

I like to use Italian sausage, because I absolutely love the depth of flavor it adds and it tastes like it belongs in spaghetti sauce, but you could always use ground beef, ground pork or ground turkey.

I serve this sauce over everything from spaghetti to ravioli to baked ziti to lasagna!
Easy Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
1 Lb. Italian sausage links, casings removed 
    (or whatever meat you prefer)
1 c. onion, chopped
1/2 c. green bell pepper, chopped 
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbl. dried oregano
1/2 Tbl. dried parsley
1/2 Tbl. seasoned salt
1/2 Tbl. dried basil
1 Tbl. garlic powder
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
2 (14.5 oz.) cans diced tomatoes

Brown sausage in large pot, breaking into pieces as it cooks.  Add the chopped onion and green pepper and saute until tender.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Add remaining ingredients and stir well.  Simmer, covered for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Uncover, the last hour.  The longer it simmers the better it will taste.  If you don't like it chunky you can always puree it with an immersion blender.  This makes enough for three meals for two people.  This can easily be doubled and frozen for later use.  Serve however desired.    

Jenn's Notes: I know it might sound like an excessive amount of spices, but it ends up tasting perfect, trust me. If you use sausage, make sure to use the big italian sausage links and not breakfast sausage.  I freeze this in old sour cream/yogurt containers.  If it gets a little ice on top, just scrape it off before warming.   

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cookbook Winner Announced

Simple Shortcut Recipes Cookbook
The winner is . . . .
Comment #79
Cindy B.


Please contact me within 72 hours to claim your prize -!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered my giveaway!  I love reading everyone's comments.  You guys are full of great shortcuts in the kitchen!  
Like - lining your pans with foil or parchment paper to make clean-up a cinch
Making extra food/dinner and chopping extra veggies and freezing them for later

Here are a few that I can't wait to try myself: 
Freeze leftover tomato paste and canned chipotle chiles.  Whenever I cook with those, I always use such a small amount and I am stuck with 3/4 a can and nothing to do with it.  Freezing the extras is a perfect idea. 

I also can't wait to try freezing cookie dough balls.  I love the idea of having a last minute treat ready in no time.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Pat's Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole

Simple Shortcut Recipes Cookbook
Here is one more recipe that I tried as part of my review of Gooseberry Patch's Simple Shortcut Recipes Cookbook!
This casserole was so good and so easy.  I had no idea you could buy a box of quick-cooking wild rice.  What was I thinking all of those times using the regular wild rice that takes forever to cook?  I have already tried a few other chicken and wild rice casseroles (Paula Deen's Chicken and Wild Rice and Cheesy Chicken and Wild Rice), but I like this Pat's version best.

  I chose to make this the same night I was serving it and I had it ready in no time, but you could prepare this a day ahead of time and bake it just before serving.  I used one large Costco chicken breast (seasoned with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning) that I had baked earlier and I sauteed the celery and onion while the rice cooked.  Then, I mixed everything together and that was it!

This casserole made me feel like it was a cozy Fall afternoon, because it honestly reminded me of the flavor of turkey and stuffing at Thanksgiving.  Very comforting.  I really think your whole family will enjoy this one.

**Update (10/20/12) - I have made this multiple times and we love it!  It has become a family favorite recipe**    
Pat's Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole
recipe submitted by: Pat Beach
(Printable Recipe)

2 (6 oz.) pkgs. quick cooking flavored long-grain and wild rice
3 1/2 c. chicken broth (or however much the box says)
1/4 c. butter divided
3-4 celery stalks, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
3-4 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
2 (10.75 oz.) cans cream of chicken soup
8 oz. container sour cream
optional: crushed potato chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare rice according to package directions, using broth instead of water and 2 Tablespoons butter.  In a skillet over medium heat, saute celery and onion in remaining 2 Tablespoons butter until crisp-tender.  In a large bowl, combine cooked rice with chicken, celery mixture, soup and sour cream.  Transfer to a greased 9''x13'' baking pan.  Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  Top with crushed potato chips, if desired.  Serves 8. 

Jenn's Notes: I cut the recipe in half and I used a box of Uncle Ben's Fast Cook Long Grain and Wild Rice with 23 Herbs and Seasonings.  So, that right there already had a lot of flavor.  I used one very large Costco chicken breast for 1/2 a batch seasoned with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Shortcut Banana Bread or Cake

Simple Shortcut Recipes Cookbook
This is another delicious recipe that is part of my review of Gooseberry Patch's Simple Shortcut Recipes
I made this recipe with an open-mind.  A bread recipe made with a cake mix?  We will see.

Yep, definitely tasted like a cake and NOT a bread, but it was a delicious cake!

It is extremely light and fluffy, that it is almost impossible to hold a piece and eat it, like you normally would with bread.  I thought it tasted great plain, but I think it would be good with a dollop of whipped cream or maybe even a thin layer of cinnamon cream cheese frosting.      

I made this recipe last Tuesday, told my friend about it on Wednesday, she made it that night and raved about it the next morning saying her husband said it was a 10 and her mom LOVED it too and she has already made it twice (she used a sugar-free yellow cake mix, 1 1/2 cups of mashed banana, less buttermilk and added some nutmeg)!  Three other people requested the recipe.  It is making the rounds.  
Shortcut Banana Bread (or Cake)
adapted from: Simple Shortcut Recipes
submitted by Jennifer Crisp
(Printable Recipe)

18 1/2 oz. pkg. yellow cake mix
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
1 c. banana, mashed
3/4 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. oil
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. cinnamon

Combine dry cake mix and remaining ingredients in a large bowl.  Using an electric mixer, beat on low speed for one minute.  Increase to medium; beat an additional 2 minutes.  Divide between 2 greased and floured 9''x5'' loaf pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Makes 2 smaller loaves.

Jenn's Notes: Since this cake is so soft, I don't know how well it would turn out of a pan (like a bundt or round pan).  I sprayed my bread pan with cooking spray and forgot to flour it and it was pretty hard to get out of the pan in one piece.   

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Kelley's Fiesta Dip

Simple Shortcut Recipes Cookbook
This is another delicious recipe that is part of my review of Gooseberry Patch's Simple Shortcut Recipes
I made a half a batch of this dip, since there would only be two of us eating it.  I served it on some nachos on Thursday, ate it as a snack on Friday night and for lunch on Saturday.  It was delicious plain and on nachos.  I also think it would be good in a quesadilla or in a chicken enchilada.  Between the two of us, we finished it off in no time.  I guess you could say it was a hit with us!

It is super easy to throw together and it makes a lot, so it's the perfect dip to serve at a party.  The best part is you can make it a few days ahead of time, so no stressing last minute.  The recipe says to chill for at least 24 hours before serving, but I did eat some immediately after it was made and it tasted amazing.  The only difference I noticed after 24 hours of chilling was that it had thickened.  You can serve it cold or you could keep it in a small crockpot and serve it warm.  It was good cold, but I preferred it warm.  

Kelley's Fiesta Dip
adapted from: Simple Shortcut Recipes 
submitted by Kelley Nicholson
(Printable Recipe)

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
16 oz. container sour cream
11 oz. can sweet yellow and white corn, drained
15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
10 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained
1 1/2 Tbl. salsa seasoning mix (I used taco seasoning)
2 c. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
tortilla chips

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients.  Cover; chill at least 24 hours before serving.  Serve with tortilla chips.  Serves 10-12.

Jenn's Notes: I used fat-free cream cheese, but full-fat sour cream.  I'm not sure what salsa seasoning is, so I just used taco seasoning.  This dip tasted amazing!  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Simple Shortcut Recipes Cookbook Review and Giveaway Plus Strawberry-Coconut Pound Cake

*This giveaway is now closed - thanks to everyone who entered.  Click Here to see the winner*
Simple Shortcut Recipes Cookbook
Gooseberry Patch's Simple Shortcut Recipes
(Giveaway information is at the very bottom of this post)

This cookbook is awesome.  I knew it was going to be a keeper, before I even had a copy, just from browsing through the sneak peak pages that you can see on Amazon.  I have so many things flagged to try and each time I flip through the book, I find something else that sounds good(like the rabbit scones that I found just now - a carrot cake scone with a cream cheese glaze - yum).  I have already made four of the recipes with two more planned this week.  Each recipe in this book contains at least one ingredient that is a "shortcut" ingredient, such as crescent rolls, cake mixes, canned/frozen vegetables and store-bought roasted chicken.

Not only does this book have 225 simplified recipes, but it is full of fun tips on the bottom of each page and I love the pages of "Common Ingredient Substitutions" and "Common Herb and Spice Substitutions" in the back of the book, like what to use in place of half-and-half, whipping cream and cream cheese and how to make your own cake flour or self-rising flour.  I am always searching the web for both ingredient and spice substitutions.  Now, I can just pull out this book and have a whole list right in front of me.
   This Strawberry-Coconut Pound Cake was delicious and my house smelled amazing while it was baking, plus you gotta love that bright pink color!  It is dense and moist, yet it feels light while you are eating it.  I served it with some coconut flavored whipped cream and fresh blueberries.  

I can't wait to share with you some of the other great recipes I have tried out of this cookbook. Make sure to come back throughout the week to check them out!
Strawberry-Coconut Pound Cake
adapted from: Gooseberry Patch's Simple Shortcut Recipes
recipe submitted by: Janice Woods
(Printable Recipe)

1 (18.25 oz.) pkg. strawberry cake mix
1 (3.5 oz) pkg. instant coconut pudding mix
1 (3 oz.) pkg. strawberry gelatin mix
4 eggs, beaten
1 c. water
1/3 c. oil

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Pour batter into a greased and floured bundt pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake's center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 20 minutes; invert onto cake plate.  Serve plain, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or with a dollop of whipped topping and some fresh fruit on the side.  Serves 12.

Finally, onto the Giveaway
Would you like a chance to win a free copy of this amazing cookbook?

How to Enter:
(Sorry - Giveaway is open to U.S. Residents Only)

  • Mandatory Entry:  Leave me a comment letting me know what your favorite shortcut in the kitchen is!  

For additional entries:
(Leave me a separate comment for each one)

Giveaway will end Tuesday, May 22nd and I will announce the winner the next night!
**Winner must contact me within 72 hours or a new winner will be selected**

Gooseberry Patch provided me with a copy of this cookbook, but the opinions expressed here are my own.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

S'mores Cheesecake Bars

Did you know that May 6th was "International No Diet Day"?  That is my kind of holiday!  A day to eat whatever you want and not have to feel guilty about it (at least until the next day when your pants are too tight)! 

I wanted to make a dessert.  I was trying to decide what the most decadent dessert was?  In my opinion, it is cake and frosting.  I searched through my millions of cake recipes I have in my "to make" stack, but nothing was standing out at that moment?

Then, I was thinking maybe I would make some homemade ice cream or a homemade pie, but still nothing was hitting the spot. . . until someone at work mentioned a cheesecake!  

A cheesecake, huh?  That is not a bad idea.  I have only made one real cheesecake in the past few years.  I consider  cheesecake the kind of dessert you save for a special occasion and "International No Diet Day" was that special occasion.  Maybe you could have "Mother's Day" be your special occasion this Sunday?  Or even Father's Day?
These cheesecake bars were so easy to throw together.  You don't have to worry about cooking them in a water bath or worry that the top is going to crack, because it will be covered with marshmallows.  I loved that you can pick up a square and eat it.  No forks needed.  The graham cracker crust was delicious.  The filling is thick and creamy with a slight tang from the sour cream and has just a light chocolate flavor.  The mallows and chocolate drizzle turn these into the dessert we all love - a S'more!     
S'mores Cheesecake Bars

For the crust:
1 c. graham cracker crumbs (one package)
1 Tbl. sugar
4 Tbl. unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used milk)
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
3 Tbl. sour cream
1/2 c. marshmallow cream
2 tsp. cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs

For the topping:
1 1/2 - 2 c. mini marshmallows
melted milk chocolate chips, for drizzling on top

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line an 8x8" baking pan with foil; spray lightly with cooking spray.  Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a small bowl.  Stir together with a fork until well combined.  Press the mixture in an even layer into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.  Bake 10 minutes; transfer to a wire rack while you prepare the filling.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325˚ F.

To make the filling, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Heat until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.  In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream and marshmallow cream.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and well combined, 1-2 minutes.  Blend in the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and eggs until incorporated.  Stir in the melted chocolate until well blended.  Pour the filling over the graham cracker crust and smooth the top with a spatula.  Bake about 30 minutes, or until the center is just set (does not jiggle when shaken gently.)  Remove from the oven.
Evenly top the cheesecake layer with the mini marshmallows.  Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes, just long enough so the marshmallows begin to melt into each other.  Transfer to a wire cooling rack.  Using a kitchen torch, lightly brown the tops of the marshmallows.  (Alternatively, this can be done underneath the broiler with a very watchful eye.)  Once the cheesecake has cooled to room temperature, drizzle with melted milk chocolate if desired.  Transfer to the refrigerator and chill 2-3 hours before slicing and serving (I refrigerated overnight). 

adapted from: Annie's Eats originally from: Visions of Sugar Plum

Jenn's Notes: I am a huge milk chocolate fan, so I used some milk chocolate candy bars for both the filling and the drizzle on top.  I personally did not think these were too sweet with the milk chocolate, but I like sweet things.  I thought these bars were super easy to make and they tasted great for several days!    

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cornmeal Buttermilk Biscuits

Back in the day, my Grandma Parker loved to copy down recipes from T.V.

I don't know if T.V. was different back then, but I am wondering how in the world did she write down all those ingredients so fast?

I tried it the other day and thank goodness for my DVR.  I had to click pause and rewind so many times and there weren't even that many ingredients to write down! 

Luckily I got them all right, because these Corn Biscuits turned out SO GOOD!

They are crisp on the outside and moist on the inside.  The cornmeal is soaked in buttermilk for 10 minutes, so your biscuits don't end up too grainy.  The texture is perfect and the flavor is just right, not to sweet.  They taste like cornbread, but in biscuit form and when drizzled with honey, you might find yourself eating one too many.   
Cornmeal Buttermilk Biscuits 
1 c. cornmeal
1 1/4 c. buttermilk
2 Tbl. honey
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 Tbl. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbl.) unsalted butter, cut into chunks

Whisk together the cornmeal, buttermilk and honey.  Let rest for 10 minutes to soften the cornmeal.  Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a food processor.  Add the cold cubed butter and pulse until it resembles coarse sand.  If you don't have a food processor you can either use a pastry cutter or your hands to cut in the butter.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and fold together using a rubber scraper until no streaks of flour remain.  Lightly flour board.  Knead dough a few times and pat out into a 9'' circle, 3/4'' thick.  Cut out biscuits using a 2 1/2'' cutter.  Transfer biscuits to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes, until they just start to rise.  Lower temperature to 400 degrees and bake for 8-12 minutes or until golden and risen.  Yield: 12 biscuits.

Jenn's Notes: I added extra buttermilk, because the dough seemed a little dry and I ended up with a fairly sticky dough.  I don't know if that is why my biscuits ended up so moist, but that is how I will make them from now on, because I loved them. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Quick Chicken Fricassee

This recipe is similar to my favorite pork chop recipe (I will post someday) that I make all of the time, so I knew I would like it and I did like it.  The chicken was sooooo juicy!  

But hey, I learned something new!  Leave it to Cook's Country to teach me something new.

The sauce that I use for my pork chops always seems to be just a little separated, like it never fully mixes together properly, but I never cared, because it still tastes delicious! 

As I was watching Cook's Country, they explained that in order to combine the sauce properly, we need an emulsifier (an egg yolk) to help keep the fat (sour cream) and water blended together.  It worked perfectly and resulted in a very creamy sauce.  I cannot wait to try out that little trick with my pork chops recipe.
Quick Chicken Fricassee
2 Lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1 Tbl. unsalted butter
1 Tbl. olive oil
1 Lb. mushrooms, washed and sliced or chopped
1 onion, chopped fine
1/4 c. dry white wine (I used chicken broth)
1 Tbl. all-purpose flour
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 c. sour cream
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. minced fresh tarragon or parsley

Pat dry chicken with paper towels and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Heat butter and oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until butter is melted.  Place chicken in skillet and cook until browned, about 4 minutes.  Using tongs, flip chicken and cook until browned on second side, about 4 minutes longer.  Transfer chicken to a large plate.  Add mushrooms, onions and wine to now-empty skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are browned, 8-10 minutes.  Add flour and garlic; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.  Add broth and bring mixture to boil, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan. Add chicken and accumulated juices to skillet.

Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until breasts register 160 degrees, 5-10 minutes.  Transfer chicken to clean platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil.  Whisk sour cream and egg yolk together in medium bowl.  Whisking constantly, slowly stir 1/2 cup hot sauce into sour cream mixture to temper.  Stirring constantly, slowly pour sour cream mixture into simmering sauce.  Stir in nutmeg, lemon juice and tarragon or parsley; return to simmer.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

Jenn's Notes: I used one large Costco chicken breast and it was enough for 2 people.  I still made the full sauce recipe, because I am a huge sauce person (as you can tell by my picture).  The chicken was so moist and flavorful.  I used broth instead of wine and parsley instead of tarragon.  

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bourbon Chicken Over Rice - Without the Bourbon

I was getting ready to make this recipe again and realized I never got it posted the first time.  It was very easy to make, so I was glad it was liked by all. After trying this amazing Honey Sesame Chicken, I was inspired to try making similar dishes and so far I have really enjoyed each of them.  Sometimes you just have to step outside your comfort zone and try dishes you normally wouldn't try.  Like I said with the Honey Sesame Chicken, the ingredients sounded so strange together that I would have never tried it, if it wasn't for all the awesome food blogs that said it was amazing.  Now, I have some great new dishes to add to my dinner rotation.
Bourbon Chicken Over Rice
5 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 Tbl. olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 c. apple juice
1/3 c. brown sugar
2 Tbl. ketchup
1 Tbl. apple cider vinegar or 
     3 Tbl. chicken broth
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. soy sauce
pinch red pepper flakes
1 Tbl. cornstarch

Heat oil in a large skillet.  Add the cubed chicken and cook.  Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients.  When the chicken is done, add the sauce.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered with the lid at an angle.  Simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If sauce gets too thick, add a little chicken broth.  Serve over rice.  

Or - you can place your chicken breasts in a casserole dish and pour the sauce over the top.  Cover with foil and bake until chicken is done.  Remove from heat and take out chicken breasts.  Pour the sauce into a small saucepan and heat for a few minutes until thickened.  Meanwhile, shred or cube the chicken.  Toss with sauce and serve over rice.

Jenn's Notes: I cooked mine in the oven.  I think it would work great in the crock pot too!  I added a pinch of chili powder instead of using red pepper flakes.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mini Cinnamon Rolls made with Crescent Rolls Topped with Maple Icing

Who doesn't love a quick and easy recipe?
How about a quick and easy recipe for a cinnamon roll?

These babies start out with a can of crescent roll dough that you roll out, brush with melted butter and top with cinnamon and sugar. Then, you roll em up, cut em and bake! Top with a glaze and voila, you are done! When I made these, I was not in the mood to take my time and try to make them pretty, but I was impressed they still came out looking pretty good!

Pop one in your mouth!
Okay, pop another one!

Now, these will never replace my favorite big, fat, doughy cinnamon rolls, but they were a great little snack to have any day of the week.  The buttery crescent roll flavor did stand out a little to me (I'm not saying that is a bad thing - I love butter), but if you are not a fan of store-bought crescent rolls, then you might not like these. 

This is the perfect thing to make with that can of crescent roll dough that you bought while it was on sale and never got around to using it!  Or wait . . . was that just me? 

Mini Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Icing
adapted from: Very Culinary! originally from: Iowa Girl Eats

1 (8 oz.) tube crescent rolls
2 Tbl. butter, melted
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 Tbl. brown sugar
1 tsp. maple syrup
1 Tbl. milk
1/2 c. powdered sugar

Carefully unroll the tube of crescent roll dough.  Pinch the seams together.  Flip over and repeat.  Take a rolling pin and roll out the dough until it is about 1/4'' thick.  Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar.  Cut the dough in half, so you have two squares.  Roll up each half as tightly as possible.  Cut into 16 pieces (I just made 12, so that I only had to bake one batch).  Place into the cups of a lightly sprayed mini muffin tin.  Bake at 350 degrees for around 12 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine the maple syrup, milk and powdered sugar.  When rolls are done, drizzle with icing.  Enjoy!

Jenn's Notes: I made the recipe as is, except I think I might have added a small amount of vanilla to the icing, but that is totally optional! 

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