Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Roasted Chicken

For my birthday last year, one of the things my husband got me was Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I am disappointed in myself to report that this is the first and only recipe I have tried from it in almost a year. In my defense, I thought about it several times but every time I considered it I decided I didn't want to spend 6 hrs in the kitchen cooking. Finally, I broke down. Unfortunately, I didn't follow the traditional wisdom to add one hour to your calculation of however long you think you will spend cooking whenever you make a Julia Child recipe, and we ended up eating dinner at about 9 pm. However....

This was the best roasted chicken I have ever eaten. I'm not exaggerating.

Roasted Chicken
Recipe by Julia Child, adapted slightly
Serves 4
Cook & Prep Time - The recipe said 1 hr, 10 minutes, but it took me at least 3 hrs from start to finish

1 (3-4 lb) chicken
1 onion, quartered, and one small onion, diced
1-2 ribs celery, chopped into thick pieces
1 carrot, chopped into thick pieces
salt & pepper
1 cup chicken stock

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Melt butter (about 1/2 stick)

Rinse the chicken and dry thoroughly. Rub butter on the inside cavity and season with salt & pepper. Tie up the legs with kitchen twine and then rub butter all over the chicken. Season very lightly with salt & pepper.

Place the chicken breast-side up on a roasting rack.

Put the onion, celery, and carrot scattered about in the roasting pan.

Roast the chicken for 15 minutes total at 425 degrees F. After 5 minutes, turn it onto the left side and basted with butter. After 5 minutes there, turn it onto the right side and baste with butter. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. Baste the chicken with melted butter. Leave the chicken on its right side and roast the chicken for 10 more minutes and then baste again.

About halfway through the estimated roasting time, salt the chicken and turn it on its other side. Baste.

About 15 min before the bird is done, salt again and turn the chicken breast-side up. Salt that side and baste.

Continue this process until the juices run clear, or about 1 hr and 10 minutes of total cooking time. Use the fat from the roasting pan or melt more butter when you run out of the original butter you melted.

To make the sauce, remove the chicken from the roast pan and put on the stove top. Remove all but 2 TBSP of fat from the pan. Stir in the diced onion and cook for about 1 minute. Add the stock and boil rapidly over high heat, scraping up the brown bits. Let reduce by about 1/2. Season with salt & pepper. Turn off the heat ad just before serving, swirl  in about 1-2 TBSP of butter.

Carve the chicken and pour a spoonful of sauce over each piece.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Roasted Garlic Mascarpone Mashed Potatoes

Sometimes, I just want mashed potatoes. Add in roasted garlic and mascarpone cheese and I'm all the more interested. I made these to accompany Julia Child's Roasted Chicken, and they were fantastic.

However, when I went to make them, I realized that I didn't have the hour to roast the garlic. Luckily, my America's Test Kitchen cookbook provided an alternative. I ended up putting the individual cloves, in their skins, in a dry skillet over low heat for about 15-20 minutes, turning them occasionally, and ended up with perfectly roasted garlic. It's a slightly different flavor than traditional roasted garlic, but just as good.

Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic and Mascarpone Cheese
Recipe by Bobby Flay

3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled & cut into large chunks
Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
6 cloves roasted garlic, pureed
1/2 stick butter
8 oz mascarpone cheese
freshly ground black pepper

Place the potatoes in a big pot and cover them with cold water. Add some salt. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, combine the milk, butter, and pureed garlic over low heat.

Drain the potatoes and give them a rough smash. Add the warm milk mixture gradually and smash as you go along.

Stir in the mascarpone cheese and season with salt & pepper, to taste.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

"Wine-Can" Provencal Roasted Chicken

I love beer can chicken. Love. It. Last winter, when it was too cold to grill, I tried making it in the oven with some success, but it just didn't taste the same and I ended up being disappointed.

Then, a lightbulb went off in my head. Why not try making it with wine instead of beer? The idea seemed much more oven-friendly and perfect for a cold Sunday evening. About 3 months later, I actually made it. (If you're a regular reader of my blog, you've probably noticed a pattern. I get an idea but then don't act on it for months. I'm trying to get better).

We both really liked this. The wine made the chicken nice and moist and the skin was nice and crispy and the meat had a ton of flavor. I'd definitely do this again. I didn't follow a recipe, so here's a description of what I did:

Wine-Can Provencal Roasted Chicken
Serves 4

Inside Rub
1 (3-4 lb) chicken
3 TBSP butter (or so), softened
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper
2-ish TSP herbes de Provence
1/4 dried Parsley
1/4 tsp dried basil

Outside Rub
2-ish TSP herbes de Provence
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper
1/2 tsp dried Parsley
2-3 TBSP olive oil

wedge onion
white wine
Minced garlic
fresh herbs (I used rosemary and oregano)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Rinse the chicken and thoroughly pat dry. Set aside for a few minutes.

Clean out a beer (or soda) can. Pour wine about 3/4 of the way. Add minced garlic and some fresh herbs to the can. Put in beer can holder for chicken.

Mix together all the butter rub ingredients. Find a few natural openings in the chicken skin and stick a clump under the skin and start to massage it in so that the skin is mostly covered in this rub. Do this on the breasts, legs, and thighs. Put any remaining butter mixture in the cavity.

Place the chicken on the beer can holder.

Mix together the oil rub ingredients and use a brush to rub this mixture all over the chicken.

Place a small onion wedge in the neck of the chicken to prevent any air from escaping.

Bake for about 1 to 1 1/2 hrs or until the chicken is done and juices run clear.

Remove from the beer can holder and let stand for 5-10 minutes before carving.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sloppy Lasagna

Growing up, my family's lasagna was always a jar of spaghetti sauce (usually Prego) mixed with ground beef and some mushrooms, layered with noodles, cottage cheese, and mozzarella cheese. Nothing fancy, but it did the trick. Then, I went to Italy and discovered that lasagna can have a white sauce, too. I was in heaven. It was like a whole new world opened for me.

My husband, on the other hand, prefers his lasagna to be white-sauce-less. This has become an incredibly minor point of contention.

I watched Rachael Ray make this one day and decided I had to try it. You should too. It's pretty quick to put together despite the miles-long ingredient list and was really rich and comforting. I made quite a few changes to the original recipe, but and I think I would keep every single one of them.

Sloppy Lasagna
Recipe from Rachael Ray, adapted
Serves about 8
Prep Time - about 20 minutes
Cook Time - about 30 minutes

1 lb lasagna noodles (not the no-boil kind)
salt & pepper
1 TBSP olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 small carrot, grated
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
pinch of cinnamon
1 TBSP tomato paste
1 cup chicken stock
1 jar marinara sauce
a few fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
4 TBSP butter
4 TBSP flour
2 cups 2% milk
pinch nutmeg
1 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 to 1 1/2 cups cottage cheese (or ricotta)
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

Break the lasagna noodles up into irregular-sized pieces. Cook to just shy of al dente. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the meat and brown. Once the meat is almost browned, add the onion, carrot, garlic, and bay leaves. Season with salt & pepper, to taste. Once the meat is browned, drain the meat, if necessary. Return the meat to the pan and add the cinnamon and tomato paste. Cook for about 1 minute before adding the stock. Continue cooking for about another minute before adding the marinara sauce. Reduce heat and add the basil.

While the sauce simmers, melt butter over medium heat in a medium pot. Whisk in the flour. Cook for about a minute and then whisk in the milk and nutmeg. Season with salt & pepper, to taste. Cook for a few minutes, to thicken, and then stir in half of the cheese. Turn off the heat.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Add about 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese to the cottage cheese and stir together.

Add the pasta to the meat sauce and mix together (stop adding pasta when you have reached your desired level of sauce-y-ness). Put about 1/2 or 1/3 of this mixture into the bottom of a lasagna pan. Add 1/2 or 1/3 of the cottage cheese to the top. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and pour 1/2 or 1/3 of the white sauce over all. Continue layering as such until you are out of all ingredients. Top with the rest of the Parmesan cheese and Mozzarella cheese.

Put in the oven and bake uncovered for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn the broiler on and keep it under the broiler for about 2-3 minutes until the cheese starts to bubble.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Chicken Bolognese

There isn't much to say about this recipe. It was really tasty and quick to make for a week-night dinner. I'm not convinced it's actually a bolognese, but I don't want to doubt Wolfgang Puck. My understanding is that a bolognese is a rich, thick meat sauce (usually made with a combination of beef, veal, and pork) with a bit of cream and usually a tiny hint of cinnamon. Have I been wrong all these years? Or am I right and Wolfgang is taking liberties with his recipe titles? You should make it and then decide for yourself.

Chicken Bolognese 
Recipe by Wolfgang Puck, adapted
Serves 4
Cook Time - 20 min
Prep Time - 40 min

2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 lb ground chicken
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 TBSP fresh thyme leaves
pinch red pepper flakes
salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup tomato juice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 lb penne pasta

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the ground chicken and cook until browned, stirring occasionally; about 8 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme, and red pepper flakes, and cook about 5-8 minutes, or until veggies are soft.

Deglae the pan with the wine and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the wine is almost completely evaporated.

Add the tomato sauce and tomato juice and simmer about 20 minutes, until the sauce has a thick consistency. Season with salt & pepper, to taste.

While the sauce is cooking , cook the penne to al dente. Drain and set aside. If necessary, add a few TBSP of the starchy cooking water to the sauce (I didn't do this). Add the pasta to the sauce. Top the pasta with the Parmesan cheese and toss until well combined. Garnish with parsley leaves and additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fried Chicken

What's not to love about fried chicken? I maintain there is nothing. I'm pretty much always willing to try a new recipe, and considering I had a bunch of buttermilk to use up one day, this Alton Brown recipe fit the bill perfectly. Most of my fall-back recipes don't marinade in buttermilk, so I was curious what the difference would be. 

This was a great chicken recipe, though a bit salty. I would probably cut down the salt if I make it again in the future. I couldn't tell much difference in the flavor of this chicken meat compared to other recipes I've made where the chicken was not soaked in buttermilk, but I'm sure in a side-by-side comparison it would've been more clear. I'm not sure this will be my go-to recipe for the future, but it's certainly something I'll consider the next time I make fried chicken.

Fried Chicken
Recipe by Alton Brown, adapted
Serves 3-4
Prep Time - 20 minutes (plus 12-24 hrs inactive)
Cook Time - 15 min

1 chicken, cut up into 8 pieces
2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 TBSP kosher salt
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 TBSP paprika
flour, for dredging
peanut oil, for frying (Alton uses shortening)

Put chicken into a large plastic bowl and cover with buttermilk. Cover and refrigerate for 12-24 hrs (the longer you let it sit in the buttermilk, the more tender the chicken will be).

Heat the oil to 325 degrees (we used our deep fryer, but if you're using a pan, let the oil come up to about 1/8 - 1/4 of an inch up the side of the pan). Do not let the oil go over 325 degrees.

Drain the chicken in a colander.

Combine the salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Season the chicken with this mixture. Dredge in the flour and then put in the oil. Cook the chicken for about 10 minutes per side. We used chicken legs only, so I think our total cook time was about 15 minutes.

Remove from the oil and drain on a cooling rack before serving.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Chili

I'm finally able to admit to myself that I generally like Rachael Ray's recipes. Her personality I could do without most of the time, but I will occasionally watch her show and usually find she has some great tips and is really encouraging for people to use their creativity when cooking rather than strictly follow the recipe. 

This Buffalo Chicken Chili is a recipe I've had printed out for a long time but always passed on for one reason or another. I love buffalo wings, but had a hard time imagining how it would translate into a chili. On top of that, it was so hot this summer that eating a spicy chili wasn't high on my list. Then one day a couple of weeks ago, when it started to get cooler, I had the right combination of ingredients in my fridge and pantry that I decided it was time. 

We both liked this. I think I liked it more than my husband did. He said he had a hard time deciding what he thought of it because it wasn't really like anything he'd had before. I did change up the original recipe quite a bit, but I think I all were changes I'd keep if I make this again.

Buffalo Chicken Chili
Recipe by Rachael Ray, adapted
Serves 4-6
Prep Time - 15 min 
Cook Time - 30 min

1 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP butter
1 lb shredded rotisserie chicken
1 carrot, shredded
1 onion, chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP paprika
1 bay leaf
salt & pepper, to taste
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup hot sauce
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
cheese, for garnish
tortilla chips, for garnish

Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and butter. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, paprika, bay leaf, and some salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 min, stirring frequently. Add the shredded chicken and stir. Cook for a couple of minutes, just to get the chicken warm.

Add the chicken stock and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the hot sauce, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and stir. Simmer for a minimum of 15 min (but 30 is better).

Serve and garnish with cheese (Rachael recommends Blue cheese, but we don't like it so we used some shredded cheddar) and tortilla chips. Use extra chips for dipping.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Italian Beef Stew

Beef stew is something I never liked growing up. I'm not completely sure why. I loved gravy, so it should have been a perfect fit. I think it's a combination of not having it very much and not really liking beef in an not-ground form.

It took me going to Ireland and trying Guinness stew at a little pub tucked away in the Wicklow Mountains to discover what a wonder stew could be. After having moderate success recreating Guinness stew over the years since, I've broadened out to stews that don't involve stout. My most recent was an Italian version - that used white wine and tomatoes. My husband is somewhat of a stew purist, and he was skeptical (to be polite) after reading the recipe but in the end, we both agreed. This was a great recipe for a change, but we prefer our "regular" recipe. I think he may have had a higher opinion of it if I had put more carrots in the stew, though.

Italian Beef Stew
Recipe from Italian Foodies blog
Serves 4ish
Prep Time - 20 min
Cook Time - 2 1/2 hrs

1 1/2 lb stewing meat, cut into small cubes
3 TBSP canola oil
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, cut into chunks
1-2 ribs celery, sliced
5 TBSP dry white wine
1 can diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 big sprig of thyme
salt & pepper, to taste
2 TBSP flour
2 cups beef broth

Heat oil in a big pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook for about 5-7 min, or until soft. Add bay leaves.

Add carrots, celery, and thyme and cook for about 10 min, stirring occasionally.

Add meat and flour and cook until browned.

Add wine and cook until it is almost all evaporated. Add tomatoes and beef broth (start with 1 cup of broth and then add more if it's looking a bit dry. Season with salt & pepper (I think I ended up using about 1/2 tsp of both). Cover and cook over low heat for about 2 hrs. 

Serve with thick bread for dipping.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Apple Cake

Perhaps I should've called this post "Apple Butter Cake." Or "Death by Butter." At any rate, I'll clear the air before you read any further. This cake uses almost 3 sticks of butter. Yes, you read that right. As much as I love her recipes, I've got a hunch that Pioneer Woman has a phobia of cooking without butter. 

I made this cake one night when I had a bunch of apples I needed to use up. I'd heard many raves about this cake, so I was really excited to finally try it. Unfortunately, I was just a tiny bit disappointed. I thought that the cake was a bit dry and too dense. So, why I am I posting it, you ask? Well, two reasons. First, I seemed to be alone in that opinion. Because of the aforementioned 3 sticks of butter, we pawned off about half the cake on nearby relatives. They all went crazy over the cake. Second, the apple portion of this cake is basically to die for. I still have dreams about it on occasion. I want to eat a big bowl of apples sauteed in butter with brown sugar and cinnamon. Or eat it over ice cream.  Or perhaps just eat it out of the skillet.

Apple Cake in an Iron Skillet
Recipe from Pioneer Woman, adapted

4-5 whole tart apples, peeled & cored, and cut into 8-10 slices
1 3/4 stick butter
3/4 cup sugar

1 stick butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped into tiny pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a 10-inch skillet, melt 1 3/4 sticks butter over low heat. Add 3/4 cup sugar to the pan and stir. Place sliced apples in the pan. Don't pack them too tightly, but try not to leave many gaps.

Cook over low or medium low heat while you make the cake batter, or about 15 min.

Beat 1 stick of butter with 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla and eggs. Add sour cream and mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add to the cake batter and mix until just combined. Stir in the chopped apple.

Remove the skillet from the heat. Spoon the batter over the top and spread it around gently so that the batter is evenly distributed. Bake for about 20-25 min, or until the cake is golden brown and bubbly.

Allow cake to sit and cool for 5-10 min, and then flip over onto a serving platter. Cut a big slice and serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Spaghetti Pomodoro

The first time I went to Italy, I was 18 years old. While not particularly well-traveled, I knew that the food in Italy wouldn't taste anything like the spaghetti or lasagna my parents made or the stuff they served at Olive Garden (the closest thing to "authentic" my readily available when I grew up). I didn't know how simple and delicious it would actually be. I also had no idea that pasta is generally a first course. 

On our first night in Italy, we were served a big plate of pasta and it was so delicious that when the waiters came around asking if anyone wanted any more, we all happily took some. Imagine how surprised (and stuffed!) we were when they took our plates away and brought us each a couple of pieces of roasted chicken and potatoes. We learned our lesson the next night, and while we definitely still over-indulged in every dish of pasta the waiters put in front of us, we knew to save room for the equally delicious second plate that was about to come our way.

I've been trying for a while to make a good spaghetti pomodoro, plain and simple, like what you can find in pretty much every restaurant and cafe across Italy. I tried several recipes with no luck. I think I was over-thinking it. So, one day, I decided to just throw things that made sense into a pot and see what came out. I think I hit it with this one. I'm not saying this is going to be better than your Italian grandmother's, but I'll be flattered if you think it is. 

I'm going to submit this to this week's Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by Ruth of the great blog Once Upon a Feast. I haven't participated in a while and am looking forward to getting back into it!


Spaghetti Pomodoro
Serves 4
Cook & Prep Time - 15-20 min

Olive oil
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup chicken or veggie stock
salt & pepper
6 basil leaves, chiffonade
dash red pepper flakes
1 lb spaghetti noodles
1 TBSP butter

Cook pasta to al dente. Drain & set aside.

Heat about 1 TBSP olive oil over medium heat. Add the garli and sautee for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the red wine vinegar and cook for about 2 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Add the tomato sauce and stock and stir to combine. Season with salt & pepper, to taste (you shouldn't need much). Add the basil and red pepper flakes and stir. Cook for about 5-10 minutes.

Add the hot pasta to the pot. Top the pasta with about 1 TBSP of butter and toss to combine. Top with freshly grated Parmesan, if desired.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


This year, I was clued in to a sandwich at the MN state fair called the Gizmo. It's basically a sloppy joe type sandwich with Italian sausage and ground beef, topped with melted cheese. Local chef and Travel Channel TV host Andrew Zimmern claims it's the best thing at the fair. While I really enjoyed it, I'm not completely sure I agree. I'm really more of a roasted corn and pronto pup type of girl. But, I liked it enough to try to re-create an even better version at home.

Surprisingly, I found several recipes online, which I tweaked to my tastes, and ended up with one very delicious sandwich.

Gizmo Sandwich

From the MN State Fair
Serves 4
Prep Time - 10 minutes
Cook Time - 15-20 min

1 TBSP or so Olive Oil
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb Italian sausage (I used turkey sausage)
1 small onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
2-3 cloves garlic
2-ish cups marinara sauce
hoagie buns
Italian cheese (I used mozzarella)

Brown the ground beef and Italian sausage over medium heat in a big saute pan. Season with salt & pepper, to taste. When the meat is about 1/2 done, make a little well in the middle and add the onion, garlic, and green pepper. Cook until the meat is no longer pink and the veggies are soft. This should be about 10 minutes or so.

Drain any excess fat and bring back to the pan and add the marinara sauce. I'd do about 2 cups, but feel free to add more or less depending on how saucy you want it.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. If yours has a high and a low setting, set it to low.

Split your hoagie buns in half, but not all the way through, so that the buns stand up on their sides. Fill with the meat/sauce filling and top with cheese.

Put under the broiler for about 3 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chicken in Tomato Cream Sauce

My tomatoes this year are doing pretty well. I planted a bunch of seeds from a variety pack, so I really had no idea what I'd be getting when I planted them. It's so much fun to see them grow and ripen. One of my plants is a little yellow cherry tomato plant. For my first harvest from that plant, I decided to make some sort of sauce. A while back, I saved a recipe from Savory Spicy Sweet for Chicken Pomodoro and used that for inspiration to come up with this chicken in a creamy tomato sauce. It's delicious and I'm sure it'll be a hit at your house.

Chicken in Tomato Cream Sauce

Serves 2-4
Prep Time - 15-20 min
Cook Time - 15 min

4 chicken cutlets, butterflied and pounded thin (I used 2, but there was enough sauce for 4)
flour, seasoned with salt & pepper
2 TBSP canola oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup + 1 cup chicken broth, divided
2 TBSP lemon juice
2 cups tomatoes, chopped (I used a combination of fresh and canned)
1/4 cup plain yogurt (I'm sure any dairy liquid would work)
A few leaves of basil, chopped or torn

Heat oil in a big pan over medium heat. Dredge the cutlets in flour seasned with salt & pepper. Saute the cutlets a few minutes per side, until cooked through.

Remove from the pan and cover with foil.

Add onions and garlic to the pan and saute for a few minutes, or until the onions begin to get translucent. Add 1/4 cup chicken broth to de-glaze the pan and cook until the chicken broth has almost evaporated. Add the rest of the broth, lemon juice, and tomatoes. Add the cutlets back to the pan and cook for one minute per side.

Put the cutlets on plates and finish the sauce with the yogurt and basil. Stir till combined and cook just a minute or two. Top the chicken with the sauce to serve.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Murray's Steak Sandwiches (a la Target Field)

At Target Field, they have a really great sandwich - The Murray's Steak Sandwich. It's steak with melted provolone cheese and caramelized onions on ciabatta bread. Granted, the steak is always a little more done than I would like, but still, it's delicious.

So, the last time we were at a Twins game, I decided I had to try making the sandwiches at home. And they were amazing. I could've eaten them even without the steak and been perfectly happy.

Murray's Steak Sandwich
Serves 2

2 steaks (6 oz or so)
2 ciabatta rolls (big enough to fit the steak)
provolone cheese
caramelized onions (about 1 1/2 medium onions worth for 2 people)
salt & pepper

Start caramelizing the onions about 45 minutes to one hour before you actually want to eat. Do this by melting about 1 TBSP butter in a big pan with about 1 1/2 tsp olive oil. Let that melt over low heat while you slice your onions. Put them in the pan and sprinkle with just a little bit of sugar (like 1/4 tsp). Stir just a little and let cook for about 10 minutes. After about 10 minutes, sprinkle with just a little salt. Stir. Continue this process for about 45-60 minutes total, stirring about every 10 minutes until the onions get a nice brown color.

After you put salt on the onions, season the steaks with salt & pepper on each side. About 25 minutes before you want to be eating, start heating up a pan on medium high heat. Add about 1 TBSP butter and about 1 TBSP olive oil. Let it heat up for about 5 minutes. Add the steaks and cook 1 minute and then reduce the heat to medium and cook another 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare. Increase the cooking time by about a minute or two per side if you want it more medium.

Let rest for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler (mine has a high and a low setting - if yours does too, put it on low) about 5 minutes before the steaks are done. While the steak is cooking, put cut your ciabatta rolls in half and put cheese on each side of the rolls.

Once you take your steaks out to rest, put the rolls under the broiler for a couple of minutes to melt the cheese. Mine took about 3 minutes.

Once the rolls come out of the oven, put caramelized onions on the bottom of each roll and put the steak on top of the onions. Top with the top half of the ciabatta and enjoy.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Chicken Cordon Bleu Burgers

A while ago, I made Chicken Parmesan burgers and they were fantastic. So, when I saw this recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu burgers, I had high hopes. They did not disappoint. In fact, I think I may have liked them better.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Burgers
Recipe by Rachael Ray, adapted
Serves 4
Prep Time - 10 minutes
Cook Time - 15 minutes

2 tsp olive oil
4 slices deli ham or Canadian bacon
1.25 lb ground chicken breast
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp grill seasoning (or salt & pepper)
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 slices deli cheese (I used Muenster)
4 Kaiser rolls, toasted
garlic mayonnaise

Preheat a large skillet to medium high heat and place the oil in the pan.

Combine the chicken, paprika, poultry seasoning, grill seasoning, shallot, and garlic. Form the meat into 4 patties.

Put the patties into the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until cooked through.

Top the patties with the ham and the cheese.

Put under the broiler for about 2-3 minutes or until the cheese gets bubbly.

Put the mayo on the buns and then top the burger with any other desired condiments.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Peach Pie

I'm not the biggest fan of fruit pies. Unless it is an apple or rhubarb pie with a crumbly top, you can forget about it. Yes, this means that I do not like cherry or blueberry pie. I do not like any fruit pie that has a lattice or a regular pie crust on the top. I know that might take a while to process.

I do, however, love my grandmother's fresh peach pie. And it's not surprising - it's not baked, it has a graham cracker crust, and is served cold. Plus, the main ingredient is peaches, which I love.

One of my favorite things about this pie is that it requires absolutely no cooking. Sure, I feel a little Sandra Lee-ish when I make it, but I really don't care. If you want to make your own graham cracker crust and your own whipped cream to make this a bit more home-made, I'm sure it would be absolutely delicious. I'm sure I'll get around to trying it that way one day, too.

Grandma's Peach Pie
Cook & Prep Time - less than 10 minutes

4-6 peaches or nectarines (depending on size)
1 tub cool whip
1 jar marshmallow fluff
1 pre-made graham cracker crust

In a medium bowl, stir the marshmallow fluff and cool whip until well combined.

Cut up the peaches, and remove the skins, and place the slices into the bowl with the cool whip mixture. Stir until the peaches are coated.

Pour the peaches into the graham cracker crust and let refrigerate for at least an hour.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Chicken & Chips

When I was in law school, I did a summer study abroad program in London. I think I survived almost entirely on chicken & chips and sandwiches from Pret-a-Manger. Basically, chicken & chips is the English version of chicken tenders and fries, but with a subtly-flavored, airy, crunchy breading. The secret to a great breading is to use beer as your liquid. If you don't, your breading will take on an entirely different texture. If you've never had chicken & chips before, I urge you to try this recipe straight away. And if you have had them, this recipe is sure to cure any craving you're having.

Chicken & Chips
Recipe by Ann Burrell, adapted
Serves 2-4
Prep Time - 20 min
Cook Time - 20 min

3 quarts peanut or vegetable oil, for frying
4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch wide sticks
1-2 lbs chicken tenders, or chicken breasts cut into wide strips
2 cups flour
2 tsp Old Bay seafood seasoning
1 tsp baking soda
Kosher salt
1 bottle cold beer

Heat the oil to 325 degrees F in a large deep, pot over medium heat. Regulate the temperature with a candy thermometer. (We used our deep fryer for this so there was no need for the thermometer). Keep the potato sticks in a bowl of water to prevent browning before frying. Remove to paper towels and dry well before placing in oil. (Drying is critical to help get the perfect texture). Fry the potatoes until they are cooked through and tender but have no color, about 4 to 5 minutes. Be sure the fries have plenty of room and gently swish them around as they are cooking, so do this in batches, if necessary. Remove them from the oil and put them immediately on a paper towel lined baking sheet to absorb any excess grease.

Raise the temperature of your oil to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, seafood seasoning, baking soda and pinch of salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and gently stir in the cold beer. Mix until just combined.

Dip the chicken tenders in the batter mixture and coat generously. When adding the chicken to the oil, dip about 1/3 to 1/2 of the tender into the oil and swoosh it around for a second to allow the batter to start puffing and then gently slide it into the oil all the way.

Fry the chicken until they are golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes turning the chicken over during the cooking time. Again, do this in batches if necessary to prevent over-crowding.

When the chicken is done, remove from the oil and put immediately on paper towels to blot the excess oil.

Working in batches, fry the fries a second time at 375 degrees F, until they are golden brown and crispy, a couple minutes. Remove them from the oil, immediately put them on paper towels and toss with kosher salt. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and serve with the fries.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Croque Monsieur

When I was in France about 10 years ago, I was first introduced to the Croque Monsieur and couldn't get enough. It's a simple enough sandwich - basically a grilled ham & cheese. I've had several different ones throughout the years at French restaurants in my area, and while good, nothing really compared to the sandwiches I had in France. So, when I found this Ina Garten recipe, I had a hunch it would be good. And Ina didn't let me down. It was everything I remembered the sandwich being.

Croque Monsieur
Recipe from Ina Garten, adapted
Serves 2
Prep Time - 5-10 min
Cook Time - 25 min

2 TBSP butter
3 TBSP flour
2 cups hot milk (not skim)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
pinch nutmeg
6 oz grated Gruyere cheese (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
4 slices white bread (thicker is generally better)
mustard (we used regular but Dijon is traditional
4-6 slices deli ham

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter over low heat and add the flour and stir till combined. Stir constantly for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the mixture and whisk constantly until the sauce begins to thicken.

Remove from heat and add the salt, pepper, 1/2 cup of Gruyere, and the Parmesan. Whisk until combined and set aside.

Toast the bread by placing it on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Turn over each slice and bake for another 2 minutes.

Lightly brush two of the slices with mustard. Add about 2 slices of ham to each (maybe 3 if your bread is thick. Put a couple tablespoons of the cheese sauce on top of the ham and sprinkle with the grated Gruyere (about 1/4 of the total remaining on each). Top with another piece of toasted bread.

Slather the tops of the bread with the cheese sauce and then put the remaining Gruyere at the top (NOTE - You will have cheese sauce left over. I used my leftovers to make a really delicious mac & cheese). Bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and bake for another 3 minutes. Serve hot.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pronto Pups

If you are a Minnesotan, or you know a Minnesotan, or if you've ever been to the Minnesota State Fair, chances are you know what a pronto pup is. And you probably have very strong feelings about them. Basically, a pronto pup is like a corn dog, but with one major difference. It uses a wheat batter instead of a cornmeal batter. This makes it better.

A couple of years ago my husband wrote a nice, long description about the differences between a corn dog and a pronto pup on his blog, which he has apparently decided to no longer update. He wrote: "For those who don’t know (i.e. non-Minnesotans), the pronto-pup is basically a corndog but the hotdog is dipped into a wheat-based batter rather than a corn-based batter. It is far and away better than the corndog, although many a riot has been started at the fairgrounds over just this issue. Naturally corn-dog people are wrong, but they just don’t listen to reason. It’s a similar argument as to which stand has the best mini-donuts. Some people say Tiny Tim, and the right people say Tom Thumb."

We decided to try to re-create them one day and I think we came really close. Of course, this won't alleviate the need to start out the day with a pronto pup every time we go to the state fair. I know it's not feasible for most of my readers to ever get to the Minnesota State Fair (a.k.a. "The Great Minnesota Get-Together") but if you ever find yourself in Minnesota sometime during the 12 days before Labor Day, try to make it out to the Fairgrounds on Snelling Ave. in St. Paul.

Pronto Pups

3/4 cup plus 2 TBSP flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
3 TBSP sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup, plus 3 TBSP milk
canola oil, for frying
hot dogs
wooden skewers

Soak your skewers in water for about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, salt, and baking powder. In another bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Stir the milk mixture into the dry ingredients slowly. When finished, it should be about the consistency of pancake batter. Maybe a little thicker.

Heat the oil to 375 degrees F.

Pour the batter into a cake pan or something else shallow.

Put the hot dogs on the skewers and coat with the batter and fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Marinara Sauce

At the grocery store, I came across a bottle of roasted red pepper Italian dressing and thought it looked interesting. Unfortunately, it's a bit too strong to eat on lettuce, so I was left to figure out what I could make with it. A pasta sauce came to mind. It was delicious, if I do say so myself. The red pepper flavor came through clearly and complimented the marinara sauce beautifully.

Roasted Red Pepper Marinara Sauce
Serves 4
Cook & Prep Time - about 15 minutes

1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper
1 jar marinara sauce
1/4 cup roasted red pepper Italian dressing
3ish oz cream cheese
1 lb pasta (I used farfalle)

Cook the onions and garlic in the oil for a few minutes over medium heat, until the onions begin to soften and get translucent.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta to al dente. Drain & set aside.

Add the marinara sauce and red pepper dressing. Stir to combine. Add the cream cheese and let it melt for a few minutes. Once the cream cheese is soft, stir to combine until the cream cheese is mixed through.

Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to combine. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Applesauce Bread

I love making quick breads. They're such easy things to whip up and they make a great breakfast or snack in the morning. My husband's mom makes applesauce muffins every once in a while, and they're always great, so when I came across this recipe for applesauce bread, I knew I had to make it straight away. I loved it. However, I felt like it was missing a little something so next time I make it, I'm going to add a bit of nutmeg or allspice to give it an extra kick. I halved the recipe to make only one loaf, but next time I will definitely make the full amount.

Applesauce Bread
Recipe from allrecipes, adapted
Makes 1 loaf

1 1/2 cups flour (I did 1/2 cup whole wheat and 1 cup all-purpose)
1 egg plus one egg white
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup applesauce
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg or allspice
1 generous tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350.

Dump all ingredients into a bowl and mix together until well combined.

Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for about 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cuban Sandwiches

I have to confess. I'm in love with a sandwich. Specifically, the Cuban sandwich. I don't know how I survived my nearly 30 years without them. If you've never tried one, you must. This was honestly one of the best things I've eaten in a while, and certainly the best sandwich I've had in a long time.

The Cuban sandwich is traditionally a pressed sandwich made with roasted, shredded pork, ham, cheese, mustard, and pickles. I tried a bit of my sandwich with pickles and some without and I very much preferred it without. But, I generally dislike pickles on sandwiches, so it was pretty much expected. However, I also generally dislike mustard, but I really liked mustard on this sandwich, so if you're like me, don't immediately write off the mustard.

Cubano Sandwich
Recipe by Tyler Florence, adapted
Makes 4 sandwiches
Prep Time - 10 min
Inactive Cook Time - 6 hrs
Active Cook Time - 10-15 min

1 lb boneless pork roast (I used country ribs)
salt & pepper
dried oregano
2 TBSP olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 medium onion, sliced
1 cup orange juice
1 lime, juiced
1 cup chicken broth
2 bay leaves
4 Cuban rolls (baguettes would be good too)
Yellow mustard
12 slices Muenster cheese
8-12 slices deli ham
salt & pepper
pickle chips
canola oil

Spray the ceramic of your crock pot with cooking spray. Slice the onion and place at the bottom of your ceramic. Smash the garlic, peel off the skin, and add those, too.

Heat the oil and chili flakes in a skillet over medium heat. Season the pork with salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano. Sear the meat for just a couple minutes per side. Place in the ceramic of your crock pot. Add the orange juice, chicken broth, lime juice, and bay leaves. Cook on low for about 6 hrs, or until the meat is tender enough to shred.

To prepare the sandwiches, cut the rolls in half. Put mustard on the bottom of the roll and put about 1 1/2 slices of cheese on top. Add a layer of pickle chips. Next add the pork. Season the pork with salt & pepper and drizzle a little bit of the cooking liquid over the top. Then 2-3 slices of ham, and then another 1 1/2 slices of cheese.

To cook, heat a large grill pan or cast iron skillet. Lightly coat with oil and place the sandwich(es) in the pan. Firmly press down with something heavy. Keep pressing and cook for about 5-7 minutes per side.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Roasted Chicken

I went to Frontera Grill in Chicago in May and I'm only half joking when I say that it kinda changed my life. I've been making lots of recipes from his cookbook "Mexico: One Plate at a Time" and while this Chicken Adobado wasn't my favorite, it was definitely the prettiest. That's not to say it's not good. It's really delicious and extremely tender. But, it's roasted chicken, which, in my opinion, really can only be so good. Of course, I still think you should make it. Just don't expect it to forever change the way you look at roasted chicken.

Since I got this recipe from an actual cookbook, I'm not going to re-print it here. Sorry. But you really should buy the cookbook anyway.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Grandma's Zucchini Bread

Zucchini bread was one of my favorites when I was a kid, and nobody made it quite like my grandma. Well, truth be told, when I was a kid there were a lot of things nobody could make quite like my grandma could. This is my take on her recipe. I've tried to make it just a little healthier so you don't feel quite so bad about eating it.

Zucchini Bread
Grandma Ann's recipe, adapted
Makes 2 loaves

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
1/3 cup water
4 eggs
2 1/2 - 3 cups grated zucchini
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix together the flours, salt, sugar, soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, beat together the canola oil, water, eggs, and lemon juice. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until combined. Add zucchini and applesauce and stir until combined.

Pour into pre-greased loaf pans and bake for 1 hr, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

*If you want, you can eliminate some of the oil by swapping out an equal amount of oil for apple sauce. So, for example, if you only add 1/2 cup of oil, add 1/2 cup more of the applesauce, for a total of 3/4 cup.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Tandoori Chicken

Don't you hate it when you need a small amount of something for a recipe, but end up having to buy a huge quantity of it because the store doesn't sell any other quantity? I recently found myself with a big tub of plain yogurt and had no idea what to do with it, aside from the half cup I needed for a stroganoff recipe. So, after I made the stroganoff, the yogurt sat in my fridge. Then, when I was looking through my recipes, I found a recipe for tandoori chicken that looked great. And it was. Even my husband, who previously thought he didn't like Indian food liked it.

Tandoori Chicken
Recipe adapted from several at Allrecipes
Serves 4
Prep Time - 10 minutes (plus marinading time)
Cook Time - 20 minutes

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP freshly grated ginger
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp ground cloves
8 chicken pieces, bone-in

In a medium bowl, mix together the yogurt, lemon, onion, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, garam masala, cayenne, cumin, coriander, and cloves.

Rinse and pat dry the chicken. Cut a few small slits, lengthwise, into the chicken pieces and place them in a ziplock bag. Place the yogurt over the chicken and refrigerate for 6-24 hrs (generally longer is better).

About 30 minutes before you're going to cook the chicken, take it out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter.

Preheat your grill and lightly oil the grate. Take the chicken out of the bag and shake off any excess marinade. Cook the chicken until cooked through, turning a couple times, about 20-30 minutes.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Chicken Parmesan

I'm always up for trying a new Chicken Parmesan recipe, so when I came across this one, I fought against my natural instinct to dismiss it because of the crazy name Guy Fieri gave it, and actually looked at the recipe to give it a try. I'm glad I did. It probably won't become my go-to recipe (mostly because it was really time consuming), but there are definitely elements I'll combine into my standard recipe. I loved the breading on the chicken, and I thought that brining the chicken made the meat a lot more juicy than normal. I also loved the crispiness the chicken got when putting it under the broiler for a couple of minutes.

Chicken Parmesan
Recipe from Guy Fieri
Serves 4
Prep Time - 60 minutes (30 minutes are inactive)
Cook Time - about an hour

4 boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 quart water
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups dried bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
1/4 lb grated Parmigiano cheese
oil, for frying
tomato sauce (make your own or use a jar - the homemade that went with this recipe wasn't worth it)
Spaghetti noodles, cooked to al dente.

Pound the chicken breasts to about 1/2-inch. Combine the salt, sugar, and water in a large ziploc bag; shake until dissolved. Add the chicken breasts and soak at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Place the flour in a medium bowl. Mix the eggs and milk in medium bowl and whisk thoroughly. In a separate bowl combine the bread crumbs, oregano, basil, parsley, sea salt, and pepper.

Remove the chicken from the brine, pat cry, and lightly dredge the chicken in the flour. Shake off the excess flour. Dredge the chicken in the egg and milk mixture. Dredge the chicken into the bread crumb mixture, and lightly pat down in the bread crumbs to adhere. Let the breaded chicken sit for 5 minutes before frying.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta to al dente. Drain and set aside.

Preheat the broiler.

In a medium pan on medium-high heat, add enough olive oil to come 1/3 up the side of the chicken. Cook the chicken until golden brown on both sides. Remove from the pan when cooked and place on a sheet tray.

Top the chicken with Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Place under the broiler for a couple minutes, or until the cheese bubbles.

Serve chicken over pasta and ladle marinara sauce on the top. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Fetuccini Bolognese

Considering it was about 90 degrees outside yesterday, I know this seems like a weird recipe to post. But, I actually made it about 2 months ago and keep forgetting to post it. So don't question my cooking/weather sanity just yet.

I'm still on the hunt for the perfect bolognese. This recipe came close, but it's not quite there. Even though I let it simmer for the full two hours, the taste of red wine was still a little strong. If I make it again, I think I'll reduce the amount of wine and maybe add some Italian sausage in with the ground meat.

Fetuccini Bolognese
Recipe from Pastor Ryan, via Pioneer Woman (adapted)
Serves 6
Prep Time - 30 minutes
Cook Time - 2 hrs

1/4 cups Olive Oil
3/4 cup grated carrots
1 medium-large onion, diced
2/3 lb ground beef
1/3 lb ground pork
1 TBSP dried Oregano
2 TBSP dried basil
3 oz tomato paste
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry red wine (Chianti was great)
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
3 cans tomato sauce or tomato puree
1 can diced tomatoes, with juices
1/2 cup milk
salt & pepper, to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb fetuccini noodles

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or skillet over medium heat. Add grated carrots and onions and cook for a few minutes. Make a well in the center of the mixture, and then add in the ground beef and ground pork. Cook for a few minutes until brown, gradually stirring it into the carrot mixture.

Add the oregano and basil. Use fresh if you have it. If you don’t, it’s fine (if you do, double the amount used). When the meat is browned and combined with other ingredients, make another well. Add tomato paste and let it heat. Add garlic and stir to combine.

Make a well in the center of the mixture and add red wine. Stir together. Add Worcestershire and stir. Add canned tomatoes. Finally, pour in milk, stir, and let simmer for 30 minutes to 2 hours. If you can wait the 2 hrs, really try to give it the full 2 hrs because the flavors will really develop by cooking it for so long.

Serve with pasta and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Barbeque Sauce

I know that ketchup is one of the main ingredients in barbeque sauce. So, it shouldn't have surprised me when I looked at the ingredients to my favorite barbeque sauce and saw that the first ingredient on the list was high fructose corn syrup. I was prepared for it to be high on the list, but first absolutely floored me.

A while ago, I started buying organic ketchups because we decided we like the taste of ketchup made with sugar better than ketchup made with high fructose corn syrup. Unfortunately, I went a little crazy at the store and made our fridge look like we were on a ketchup bender - we ended up with about 3 bottles of the stuff in the fridge. So, I decided to make barbeque sauce. I was a little hesitant at first, after one terribly failed attempt, but I gave it another try and I am so glad I did. This sauce had nice heat to it, and we have now tried it with both chicken and pork and it's fantastic with both. I'm glad I made a double batch.

Spicy Barbeque Sauce
Recipe from Epicurious, adapted

2 TBSP oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped celery (I think I used 2 ribs, total in my double batch)
1 TBSP minced garlic
1 TBSP paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 cup ketchup (try to use organic)
1/2 cup beer
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce

Heat oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add onion and celery and cook until tender, probably about 5 minutes. Add garlic and spices and stir. Cook for about a minute. Add the ketchup, beer, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce.

Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chicken in Milk

I'm a big fan of Jamie Oliver. I was a fan of the show "Food Revolution" and am an even bigger fan of his recipes. I've had my eye on this particular recipe for a while. I had the day off yesterday and decided to make it. Then, later, I realized that I had absolutely none of the ingredients for it except the salt & pepper. So, off to the grocery store I went.

I think you need to make this chicken. Like right now. It's tender, juicy, and has amazing flavor. The meat practically falls off the bone. This picture below doesn't do it justice, but I think it does a decent job showing the beautiful color you get on the chicken from browning the chicken before the braise. Try not to let the bad picture sway you away from the recipe.

Chicken in Milk
Recipe by Jamie Oliver, ever so slightly adapted
Serves 4
Prep Time - 5 minutes
Cook Time - 1 hr, 45 min

1 3-lb chicken
salt & pepper
1 stick butter
1/2 cinnamon stick
handful fresh sage leaves
zest of 2 lemons (I used one)
2 cups milk (I used 2%)
6 cloves garlic, skin left on
4-5 sprigs thyme (i added)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Use a dutch oven or small roasting pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt & pepper and brown on all sides. Set the chicken aside and pour the butter from the pan into a bowl (The original recipe says to throw it out but I saved it for basting).

Put the chicken back into the pot and add the rest of the ingredients. Bake for 1 1/2 hrs. (I covered it with foil for the first hour and then took the foil off and baked it uncovered for the last half hour).

Baste with the cooking juices a few times (I basted 4 times total, rotating basting with the juices and the leftover melted butter).

Carve the chicken and serve with the sauce from the pan, if desired. We didn't do this because we thought the chicken was too wonderful on its own.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wendy's Spicy Chicken Sandwich

I really love Wendy's Spicy Chicken Sandwiches. In fact, I'm not sure I know a single person that doesn't love them. I do not, however, like the seemingly ever-increasing price tag that comes with them. I'd been toying with the idea of making them at home for a while, but I was a little afraid I'd end up disappointed. However, one day I brought up the idea of making them to my husband, and he was game. So, we tried them.

They were excellent. I wouldn't say they taste exactly like Wendy's, but they're really close. And, since you make them, you have the added bonus of knowing exactly what you put in them.

Spicy Chicken Sandwiches
Recipe adapted from various websites
Serves 4
Cook & Prep Time - 15 minutes

1/3 cup Frank's hot sauce
2/3 cup water
1 cup flour
2 1/2 tsp salt (I thought this was a bit much so I would probably do 1 1/2 tsp instead)
4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp garlic powder
4 boneless chicken breasts
oil, for frying

4 buns
Tomato slices

Preheat oil to 350 degrees F.

Mix together water & hot sauce in one bowl or shallow dish. Mix together the flour, cayenne, pepper, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder in another bowl or shallow dish.

Pound the chicken just a little bit and dredgein the flour mixture, then dip in the hot sauce mixture, and then back into the flour.

Drop into the hot oil and cook for 6-8 minutes, or until the chicken reaches 160 degrees F.

Serve on buns and garnish with the tomato, lettuce, and mayonnaise.