Sunday, April 26, 2009

Busy Mom Chicken Recipes from Christine and Pine Nut Parmesan Chicken from Me

A while back, one of our friends who is following the blog asked for easy, kid-friendly chicken recipes. Since then, I have realized that I just don't make chicken very often. I usually go the easy route and buy a rotisserie chicken at Wegman's.

But, I know lots of people have chicken breasts in the fridge/freezer and cook it on a weekly basis. So, I asked my younger sister for some her tried and true recipes. Thanks, Christine/Tina! ---- and I think it would be great if others would send in their chicken recipes too.

Barb --My busy mom chicken recipes are not culinary feats! But they are easy and the kids have always loved them.

1. CHICKEN EASY PARMESAN. Take Boneless chicken breasts dip in Ranch Dressing or Creamy Italian Dressing. Then dip in grated Parmesan(Or I use the 3 cheese mixture- but it does have to be the good kind). Sometimes I mix bread crumbs in with the Parmesan but not always.
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour depending on how long I really had to get the breasts defrosted! I like the cheese to get brown on the chicken. Sometimes I turn up the oven to 400 at the end or Broil for a minute.
Serve with Pasta.

2. PICANTE CHICKEN. Take boneless chicken breasts and put in a glass baking pan. Dump a jar of Salsa on top.(I very what kinds I buy and use). Bake at 350 for 30 minutes then add grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese(or something you like) on top. Bake another 20-30 minutes. Again, depending on how defrosted the breasts are.
Serve with rice.

Attached is the PECAN CRUSTED CHICKEN recipe.

Pecan Topped Honey Chicken

from one of Christine's cookbooks
4 boneless chicken breasts(about a pound)
3 T. Grey Poupon Honey Mustard
1 t. lemon or lime juice
1/4 t. ground cumin
1/2 c. pecans, chopped
1 T. plain dry bread crumbs
2 t. butter, melted
Rinse chicken, pat dry. Mix mustard, lemon or lime juice and cumin together. Brush over both side of chicken. Place in a shallow roasting pan.
Mix pecans, bread crumbs, and butter together and pat on top of chicken.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is done.

Hope this helps your friend.

Thanks again, Christine/Tina, for taking the time to send in your recipes.

Pine Nut Parmesan Chicken

I wanted to make Christine's Pecan Chicken recipe, but didn't have the ingredients, so here's what I did instead.

Toasted pine nuts in the toaster oven, while I tried to figure out how much coating to make for 6 chicken breasts. Chopped the nuts after they cooled. Toasting the pine nuts ahead of time is an important step --to bring out their oil and flavor.

Combined the chopped nuts with lots of fresh basil, Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs which we happened to have.

I always have buttermilk on hand, but yogurt or even milk would work for this step. Dipped the chicken in the buttermilk.Then coated each side with the pine nut Parmesan bread crumb mixture.

Lined them up on a cooling rack placed on a baking sheet. This tricks avoids soggy bottoms. I used to hate to clean the rack, until I found this Teflon-coated one which cleans easily in the dishwasher.

Baked them at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. I roasted the rest of the meal at the same time.

Here's how they came out. The buttermilk kept the chicken moist inside and the coating was nicely browned. I thought the bread crumbs were bland, so I'd probably go heavier on the cheese next time. Otherwise, this pine nut Parmesan chicken was pretty good, I must say.

And, I think it would have tasted better with a side of spaghetti with sauce and a salad with Italian dressing than what I served.

Monday, April 20, 2009

This Week's Guest Blogger is ...Emily!

Aunt Barbara,

So my mom tells me that you have been wanting me to send some recipes in. I'm not a very good cook, but there are few things people seem to eat. =)

Snickerdoodles. I made them recently as something for fiesta at work.


1 cup butter softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon

Preheat oven to 400F. Cream butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Blend in flour, cream of tartar, soda, and salt.

I make pretty big balls because I think little cookies are dumb. Then I just eat more of them!

So roll the ball in cinnamon and sugar. I use a lot of cinnamon because I like it. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Mine usually take 9 minutes.

I saw you already made a carrot cake, but mine is a little different so here it is. I made carrot cake around Halloween so I colored the icing orange and put brown sprinkles on top.

Carrot Cake.
Cake ingredients:
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup veg. oil
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup pecans

Heat oven to 350F. Grease 9x13 pan. Beat eggs, oil, white sugar, and vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in carrots and pecans. Bake for 40-50 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and then take out of the pan if you want.

Frosting Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pecans

Combine everything except pecans and beat until smooth. Stir in pecans.

Pasta - Emily's Way

I also have a really simple pasta I make a lot, but don't really have a name for, nor do I know if anybody else would like it because I only make it for myself, so I would suggest you try it first...

So I usually use shell pasta and cook it and then add whatever fresh ingredients I have. Some past ingredients have been cherry tomatoes, arugula, fresh basil, or spinach.

I always have tomatoes and usually add something green whatever I happen to have, but the key is to add the ingredients right after the pasta cooks so they are only half cooked.

Then I add goat cheese and let it melt. Then I add salt and pepper until it tastes good. It's probably the easiest thing ever and probably not Feast-worthy but I like ;) I'll take a picture the next time I make it.

By the way I made the bacon wrapped chicken one night for Tom and I and we both liked it a lot.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Tomato White Bean Soup

Yes, another soup -- I am always making them --until the weather gets warm --- in fact my first idea for a blog was to create a new soup each week --and call the blog Soup of the Week --- but I am glad that I went with Feast Everyday.

For lunch, before we took off for the drive to see my Mom, I used up our leftovers to create this soup. The bacon base and the sweet paprika give it deeper flavor than a traditional tomato soup. The white beans are for body.

Chop bacon and cook it on high heat to create brown bits in the pan, without burning it.

We had only one shallot left, no onions. It would have been nice to add a whole onion at this point.

Two big carrots, peeled and chopped, go in next. Keep cooking down the mixture, letting it brown.

Add lots of sweet Hungarian paprika -probably 2 Tablespoons and some savory and/or thyme.
After the mixture gets very brown and rich, use a little bit of water to deglaze the pan -- stir in all of the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Take your time and do this thoroughly to get every little bit of flavor into the soup.

Next, I added the leftover white beans from our lamb dinner on Easter, and the baked beans from when the grandkids came over during the week. We also had a half of a large can of tomato puree leftover, so I put that in and another can and a half of water to cover. Let it cook for about half an hour on a low simmer until the flavors come together. Remove from the heat and blend it until smooth.

Our chives are finally up. So, their onion-y-ness was a nice touch.

No - those are not chopsticks ---We had it with crispy Italian breadsticks ---Tom says it was very good and that he liked it a lot. He is a tomato soup fan, so I am glad this one passed muster.>

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Scalloped Potatoes from Colleen

Hi Barb,

Our friend, Alexis, came for Easter dinner and brought her potatoes and they are delicious, so I thought I would forward. I believe the difference is in the leeks and the Yukon golds. We had them with a Honey Baked Ham, grilled vegetables (peppers, asparagus, scallions and zucchini), pumpkin bread, salad, some of LMR's pear jam, and chocolate mousse. Oh My! --- Colleen

Scalloped Potatoes
(From Colleen's Friend - Easter 2009)

8 servings

--prep 30 minutes (really more like 45)
--cook 30 minutes
--bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes (this is flexible)


3 lbs Yukon gold potatoes peeled and 1/4 inch slice
2 tsp salt


1/4 C butter (or half with olive oil)
1 clove garlic grated
1-2 leeks trimmed and chopped (about 2 c chopped)
1/4 C flour
3 C chicken broth (with 1-2 TBS Better Than Bullion for flavor) or replace some chicken broth with sherry to taste
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper (or black)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
8 oz. grated cheddar (or whatever cheese 4 cheese Mexican is nice too)

How To:

-Boil sliced potatoes for 6-8 minutes until they just barely bend rinse with cold water...this is the part the separates the men from the boys.
-Make the sauce -- in a saucepan melt butter saute leeks and garlic in butter/oil until soft
-Stir in flour to make a stiff paste
-Whisk in chicken broth until smooth
-Add pepper and cayenne
-Stir until it thickens
-Add 1/2 the cheese
-Spray a pan with oil
-Put potatoes in one layer
-Pour some sauce
-Sprinkle some cheese
-Repeat until the pan is full and the potatoes and sauce are gone

At this point if you want to you can cover and put in the fridge overnight. Or you can bake immediately at 375 degrees. (If you're taking the dish cold from the fridge, put it in the oven while it heats.)

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

You can vary this recipe by replacing 1/2 the chicken broth with milk... you can also add curry to the sauce... and whatever to add flavor... think of it as a blank canvas...


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fajitas & Brown Rice by Tom

Barbara wanted to make me fajitas as a treat, but I was left with the job of actually making them. So I used my imagination and what resulted was a pretty good concoction of flavors. Here is what I did:

I started with strip steaks and packaged fajita mix from the grocery store. Not sure of the brand, but probably Old El Paso, which is available in our area. Any fajita mix will work. The day before I started the marinade of the strip steaks.
o Two half pound strip steaks as is out of the package. I used Angus beef.
o One package of Old El Paso fajita mix – or equivalent
o Tequila – probably ¾ of a cup
o Lime juice – probably ¼ cup
o Chopped garlic – about three cloves worth
o Some ground red pepper
o Some pepper
o Some salt – not too much at this point
o Some cayenne pepper – just a dash
o A one gallon zip lock bag

o Mix all of the ingredients in the bag and marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Turn once the next morning.
o Two hours before cooking. Cut the strip steak into ½ inch strips and put back into the marinade. Leave out to bring to room temperature before cooking.

Now for the veggies:
o I used three peppers (red, yellow & orange) and two onions (sweet Mayan) and one jalapeƱo pepper
-Slice all the peppers into julienne strips
-Thickly slice the onions and then cut in half; break up the onions so that they are in individual pieces

o Time to cook. About an hour before starting the fajita mixture, I started cooking the rice. For this I used brown rice that takes about 45 minutes to cook. I followed the ingredients on the package plus my own special touch. To the water I added chopped garlic (about one tablespoon), cumin seed (1/2 teaspoon or so), cumin powder (probably about ¼ teaspoon), some salt, some ancho chili powder (¼ teaspoon). Cook until done.
o Near the end of the rice cooking, I started cooking the peppers and the onions. Cook until softened in a large frying pan. Then I added the strip steaks without the liquid marinade. Don’t discard because you are going to dump it in in a few minutes. Cook the meat for maybe 5 minutes. The marinade has already pretty much “cooked” the meat, so you are really just warming it up.
o Dump in the marinade and cook it down. It should virtually be gone when the dish is ready to serve.
o I used wheat flour tortillas and warmed them in the microwave with a wet paper towel over them to keep them moist.
o For fixings, Barbara made guacamole; we used Mexican shredded packaged cheese, and some fresh cilantro chopped slightly. o On to a platter for serving and eating.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Kahlua Cake, sent in by Jane, and My Messy Version of It

A friend in Jane's book group served a Kahlua cake and it was a hit, so she sent in the recipe. It's an enhanced yellow cake mix cake --- these types of cakes seem so popular ---a friend of ours makes her famous "green" cake and guests are disappointed if she doesn't bring it to pot luck events.

However, I don't have a cake mix on hand, nor do I have a car to go buy one since we are now sharing one, so I decided to try to create this cake, or a variation of it, using my pantry ingredients. (This is my definition of playing in the kitchen.) Worst case I could give it to the birds.

Here's the original recipe:

Kahlua Cake
A pass-along recipe from Jane's book group 2009

1 package yellow cake mix
1 package chocolate instant pudding mix
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup Kahlua
1/3 cup Vodka
½ cup sugar
¾ cup water
¼ cup Kahlua
½ cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350.

Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs and oil in a bowl and beat until smooth.
Add 1/3 cup Kahlua, vodka, sugar and water and mix well; batter will be thin.

Spoon into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Set out to cool for just several minutes.

For the glaze, mix ¼ cup Kahlua and confectioners sugar until smooth. Spoon over warm cake. Let stand until cool.

Serves 16

Here's what I did:

Checked what I had on hand: Had everything but the chocolate pudding. Luckily, I had a box of butterscotch pudding instead. So, this cake is meant to be. Yeah!

The first step was to guess what's in a yellow cake mix. I assumed cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Sugar, for sure. No idea on the proportions. But 2 cups is a good place to start. So, I started noodling what I would do, while I softened some butter, which I want to use instead of oil. Decided to check out the cake flour box to see how they suggest to make cakes. Not much help since my pan is a bundt pan. The box is about the size of a cake box, so I looked to see how much flour was inside relative to a cake mix --- looks like my original 2 cups guess should be more like 3 cups, if my memory serves me well--- we'll see.

Then I went to the Internet. The only thing I learned there is to use only baking powder, skip the baking soda. Lots of recipes using cake mixes! Very creative ideas. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dig out the bundt pan from the back of the closet and clean it. Grease it thoroughly, including all of the ridges and difficult spots.

Cream together butter and sugar, until light and fluffy.

Add vanilla extract, then add one egg at a time, fully incorporating each time.

Realized that my consistency wasn't right, so I doubled my sugar from 3/4 c. to 1.5 in total. Much better. In a separate bowl, I added 2 cups of cake flour, then filled the third cup with the box of butterscotch pudding mix and more cake flour. Guessed at 1 T. baking powder, and 1 t. salt.
Whisk them together. Since I didn't have chocolate pudding mix, I was going to add chocolate chips, but discovered we had a bag of butterscotch chips. Since this cake is for Tom and David, and they love butterscotch, I went the butterscotch route.

Combine with the flour mixture.

Measure 1/3 Kahlua, 1/3 Vodka, and the rest in buttermilk to make a total of 1 cup. (This turned out to be too little liquid.)

Mix into the wet ingredients, half of the dry ingredients, then all of the liquids, then the 2nd half of the dry ingredients.

My batter was too thick, so I added 1/3 cup more of buttermilk.

Pour into a prepared bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Cool for 15 minutes.

Invert on a serving plate. Oops! Here's when I ran into a big problem. The cake wasn't coming out of the pan easily.
Guess what? Butterscotch chips sink to the bottom of the pan. Did you know that? I didn't. So, I had to salvage the cake and scrap out the chips to make a glaze.

I melted "the mess" in a small bowl in the microwave just until it began to soften -- watching so that it did not burn -- then I stirred in a tablespoon or two of light cream until it was the thickness of a sticky glaze.I tasted the gooey glaze on the part of the cake that fell off before I committed to drizzling it all over the cake. The cake is very good. Very moist and tender. I think it would have been better as a chocolate Kahlua cake. The butterscotch chips are cloying to me. I don't really like them, even in cookies. But, we'll see what Tom and David think.
Kahlua Butterscotch Cake with Butterscotch Drizzle
Barbara's variation of Jane's book club recipe, 2009
2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
1.5 cups of white sugar
1/2 t. vanilla extract
4 eggs
2 cups cake flour plus part of a third to complete 3 cups, including
1 butterscotch pudding mix box
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 bag butterscotch chips
1/3 cup Kahlua
1/3 cup Vodka
1/3 cup buttermilk plus another 1/3 cup for a total of 2/3 cup
for the glaze 1 bag of butterscotch chips and 1 to 2 tablespoons light cream

Tom and David's evaluation: Said it made the house smell great ---they loved it -- they ate seconds! David took home two big pieces. They thought the whole thing was good, even the glaze. But none of us are sure about the alcohol doing anything special for the flavor. I still would have preferred Jane's original chocolate version.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Petite Pea Soup with Toasted Pine Nuts

For lunch yesterday, I wanted something warm and filling ---because it was rainy and cold here -- but also something Spring-like --- so I settled on making a pea soup from a bag of frozen petite peas. Start to finish this soup only takes 20 minutes. Easy, peasy.

Slice a large onion thinly.

Chop up the tenderest part of a stalk of celery. The whitest, smallest stalks and their leaves.

Saute them together until the onions begin to wilt.

I added just a pinch of sugar and a pinch of salt at this stage.

Petite peas are much sweeter than regular peas. I usually have a bag in the freezer.

I knew I needed to add a spice for interest, so I smelled my spices until I found one that seemed to fit the celery, pea and onion aroma coming from the pot. To my surprise, it was Zatar, the new spice I bought at Penzeys. So, now I am going to have research what it is---

Add a 1 1b. container of chicken stock ---or enough broth to just cover the peas---bring it quickly to a boil, cover it, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.

Cool slightly, then blend with a hand mixer or in a regular blender until smooth. Stir in 1/2 -2/3 cup of light cream or low-fat evaporated milk. Meanwhile, toast some pine nuts. Ladle the soup into a bowl and place 1 T. toasted pine nuts in each bowl. The nuts add interest, texture and some protein.

What is Zatar?
It's Middle Eastern in origin. Penzeys' version is hand-mixed from: sumac, thyme leaves, white sesame seeds and salt.