Friday, August 31, 2012

Cajun Chicken Beaucoup

You've heard of writer's block, right?  From time to time I get cooker's block.  Does this ever happen to you?  You don't know what to make for dinner, nothing appeals to you; you get desperate and look at all of the amazing pictures on Pinterest, but you're just not that ambitious tonight.  You don't feel like going out, so you open the freezer or the pantry and just stare and then like a big brick hitting you in the head BAM!!!!

Your world is right side up again and you've been reborn!  Seriously it was Wednesday and sometimes Wednesday just, you know, suck...because it isn't Friday. So a glass of wine later we had us some Beaucoups Chicken baby!

4 -6 chicken breast cutlets
1 cup crumbled goat cheese
2 green onions sliced
1/4 chopped pecans
4 - 6 slices of smokey bacon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup of chicken stock
1/2 cup half-n-half
2 tablespoons Creole mustard or your choice of brown grainy mustard
12-14 wooden toothpicks

My chicken cutlets or "chicken breast halves" needed to be a little thinner, so I placed them between two sheets of wax paper and whacked them with a small skillet to thin them out (and as it turned out, I was able to channel any aggressive behavior I may have or have not been repressing).  Liberally season the cutlets with salt and pepper.  Then evenly distribute the chopped pecans, crumbled goat cheese and sliced green onions among the cutlets. 

Roll the chicken cutlets from the small end, then wrap a piece of bacon around the chicken roll and secure it with as many toothpicks as you feel necessary.  I used two on each cutlet and three on one that was a little larger than the rest. Season the outside of the cutlets with salt and pepper.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat a skillet, cast iron if you have it, over medium heat.  Add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, brown the cutlets on each side, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.

Once the rolled cutlets are browned, place them on a foil-lined baking sheet, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Place the chicken in the oven and finish cooking 10 to 15 minutes.

Don't they look amazing?  Wait, we're not done yet!  While the chicken is finishing up in the oven, return the skillet to the stove and melt the butter.  Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour and cook,stirring continuously for 5 minutes, then whisk in the stock about 1/4 cup at a time.  Then whisk in the half-n-half and the Creole mustard.  Once thoroughly combined, season with salt to taste and reduce heat to low.

Ladle the mustard sauce over the cutlet and serve with your favorite sides.

Smile, savor and know your a little closer to Friday!  Enjoy!

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Crawfish and Shrimp Lasagna

Have you met anyone that doesn't like lasagna?  I haven't either.  Even my picky eater brats get excited when there's a big pan of lasagna in the oven.

Make up a lasagna filled with your favorite seafood and you have just become everyones best friend!

12 lasagna noodles
3 tablespoons of butter
1 medium size onion, finely chopped
3 teaspoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2-1/2 cups of half-n-half
1 cup grated Percorino Romano cheese
1-1/2 teaspoons Emeril's Essence
2 teaspoons Louisiana Hot Sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 lb. crawfish tails
1 lb. medium size (31/40) fresh shrimp, peeled and de-veined
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

Cook the lasagna noodles in a large pot of salted, boiling water for about 8 minutes.  Carefully remove the noodles to a baking sheet lined with wax paper and lightly drizzle each noodle with a little olive oil to prevent them from sticking to each other until you are ready for them.

Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F and place a rack in the middle of the oven.

Melt the butter in a high sided skillet or large pot over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted add in the onions and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes.  Add in the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Stir in the flour and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring continuously to keep the mixture from burning.  Gradually add in the half-n-half, making sure the flour and half-n-half are combined before adding more.  Once all of the half-n-half has been added and the sauce is slightly thickened, add in the Essence and the hot sauce, stir to blend, then add in the Pecorino Romano cheese, stirring to melt the cheese.  Check the seasonings and adjust if necessary.

Fold in the crawfish tails and cook for about 4 minutes and then add in the shrimp and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes or until the shrimp turn pink.  Remove the pan from the burner.

Ladle just enough of the sauce into the bottom of the baking dish to thinly coat the bottom of the dish.  In a separate bowl, reserve about 1-1/2 ladle of the sauce.

Cover the bottom of the pan with 4 lasagna noodles.  Ladle about 1/3 of the seafood mixture over the noodles then sprinkle a little of the Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses over the seafood. Repeat the process and after the second layer, place the last 4 noddles on top and evenly spread the reserved sauce over the noodles.

Sprinkle the remaining cheeses on top of the sauce and cover the pan with foil.

Bake in the pre-heated 375 degree F oven for 15 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly.

Remove the lasagna from the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

C'est, c'est bon!

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Bacon JAM!!!! Reason #1,036 Why Pork Fat Rules!

Okay, if you're phony you'll will damn me to hell...but for real we ALL know pork fat rules and the best of both worlds or all worlds in your universe include bacon in just about any facet you can logically include it.

Well now it's a jam...worthy of your Sunday biscuits, your best corn bread or your fancy French baguette.

Bacon jam is so easy to make and well worth the time.  In Cajunland it's known as Cajun Caviar...seriously it is something to behold.

Cut up 1 pound of bacon into 1-inch pieces.  If you have a cast iron skillet, by all mean break it out baby.  If not use a heavy bottomed skillet and brown the bacon.  

Brown the bacon just until it begins to turn golden brown on the edges and then move it to a paper towel lined plate to drain and reserve.

Remove all but about 1-1/2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the skillet.  Return the skillet to the a burner heated to medium-high heat and add 1 medium size onion, roughly chopped and cook the onion for about 4 minutes until soft. Then add  2 tablespoons of minced garlic and cook 1 minute.

Then add in the cooked bacon, 3/4 cup coffee, 1/4 cup bourbon (optional), 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup packed brown sugar and 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar.  Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer and cook for 1-1/2 hours, stirring every couple of minutes.

Believe me, you don't want to walk too far away, the brown sugar, onions and garlic, you REALLY need to babysit.

When the 1-1/2 hours is up you will have one big sticky mess that smells like heaven on earth children!
Scrape this delicious mess into your food processor and pulse until you have a chunky "jam-like" mixture.

See this little jar, this it's; that's all you get off one pound of bacon.  Is it worth it?  Oh yeah, no question.  But run, run fast and hide it...this is why it's caviar.  Believe me if you do want to share, it will be with very special people.

Behold, this is why biscuits were created!

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Chicken Scarpariello

This recipe comes to us via Sam's blog, My Carolina Kitchen.  Her brother-in-law, Stuart, who I had the pleasure of meeting at our blogging get together in June, made this dish for Same and her husband some time back.  You can bet I was sure to tell Sam and Stuart I had tried this dish and how completely thrilled I was with the results as was the rest of my family.

Although I haven't visited Italy yet,  the deep flavors of this wonderful meal sure made me feel like I was enjoying a meal in a rustic Italian village.

There was no reason for me to even try to change a thing about this recipe, so I am sharing it true to the Sam shared with her readers.

12 chicken thighs bone in, skin on (2 per person)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
1/2 lb. sweet (may be called mild) Italian sausage, preferably without fennel seeds), cut into 1-inch pieces
10 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
4 pickled cherry peppers, cut in half and stemmed
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock or reduced sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Wash the chicken and pat dry with paper towels.  Generously season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet.  Once the oil is heated, add as many pieces of chicken (skin side down) to the skillet as you can comfortably fit without them touching, be careful not to crowd the skillet.  You will more than likely have to do this in batches and possibly add a little more oil as needed in order not to burn the brown bits that you will need later!

Brown the chicken on all sides, about 8 to10 minutes.  As room becomes available in the skillet, add the sausage pieces to the to brown.  Place the browned chicken and sausage on a platter lined with paper towels to drain briefly, then move them to a roasting pan large enough to accommodate them in a single layer.

Add the garlic to the skillet and cook until golden brown, being very careful not to burn.  Scatter the cherry peppers in the skillet and season with salt and pepper.  Stir for about 1 minute the add the vinegar and bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits.  Continue cooking until the vinegar is reduced by half.  Add in the white wine, bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, about 3 minutes.

Now pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Pour the sauce over the chicken in the roasting pan, stir to coat the chicken.  Place the chicken in the oven to roast, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick and sticky, like molasses, about 10 minutes.  If the sauce is still too thin, place the roasting pan on the stove top over medium-high heat stirring until the sauce is reduced which should take about a minute or two.  

Once the sauce is thickened, toss in the parsley and serve.

Okay, so I added a little shaved Asiago cheese, because that's just how I roll.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Golden Skillet Chicken with Vegetables

I happened to catch Jaime Deen's new show on the Food Network a couple of weeks ago.  I was extremely curious about his combination of fennel seeds and rosemary on chicken.  Well, curiosity got the best of me and I did this from memory since I was too lazy to walk to the next room to print out the recipe.

This was a fantastic week night in the oven; the only thing more I could asked for is elves to clean up the kitchen and dining room.

Reheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butterfly a whole chicken (fryer).  One the inside of the chicken make a snip on the breast bone, then hope the chicken, skin side facing you, holding the outer edges of the breast/wing, bend the chicken toward you until you hear the breast bone crack, now the chicken will lay flat. I find butterflying the chicken easiest with with poultry shears, but if you're an ace with a sharp knife, go for it!  

Season the underside of the chicken with salt and pepper then season the skin side with salt, pepper, 2 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds (I crushed mine in a mortar with a pedestal), 1 teaspoon dried rosemary. 

Peel two carrots, cut in half and then in to pieces about one-inch long.  Use about 4 to 6, scrubbed, #1  golden or fingerling potatoes, cut in half, 2 shallots, peeled and cut in half.  Place the veggies in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Toss the veggies to make sure they are evenly coated with the oil and seasonings, set aside.

Pre-heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Once the skillet is hot, place the chicken in skin side down and sear for about 5 to 6 minutes.  Turn over and cook for an additional five minutes and add the veggies to the skillet around the outside perimeter of the chicken.

Place the skillet in the oven and cook for 1 hour or until a meat thermometer registers 170 degrees and the juices run clear.    Remove the chicken and veggies from the oven to a platter.  Loosely tent with foil and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes.  Return the skillet to the stove over medium heat and pour in 1 cup of white wine and de-glaze the skillet for 1 minutes, scraping up the browned bits.  then stir in 1 cup of chicken broth and reduce by half.  Stir in 1 tablespoon of butter.

Carve the chicken into serving pieces, serve with a generous portion of veggies and don't forget to ladle on that delicious pan gravy.  Garnish with a little chopped fresh parsley and you have yourself one heck of a meal!

Now that's a plate full of love! 

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Three Cheese Hasselback Potatoes

Baked potatoes are fantastic but sometimes, I dunno, I crave something potato-y with a little more bling to it. Well I have the ticket right here, it's adapted from a Robert Irvine recipe and it's way too easy for you not to try!

3- 4 medium size baking potatoes
1 lemon juiced
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup grated Fontina cheese
1/3 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Fill a large bowl a little more than halfway with cold tap water and stir in the lemon juice.  Place the peeled potatoes in the lemon-water.  This prevent the potatoes from oxidizing in the oven and turn a beautiful golden brown while baking.  While the potatoes are "tubbing" (allow them to stay in the water for about 5 minutes), blend together the melted butter, parsley, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

Remove the potatoes from the water and pat them dry with a paper towel.  Slice the potatoes about 1/4-inch apart and about 3/4's of the way through the potato to create s series of uniform slices but still joined together at the bottom.

Now the fun part!  Dunk the potatoes in the butter mixture, making sure the slits are soaking up the butter too!  Place the potatoes on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove the potatoes from the oven and drizzle the remaining butter over them. Now generously sprinkle the grated cheeses on top of the potatoes and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Just a heads up here, you're kitchen is going to smell amazing and you will get impatient, but these are so worth the wait!

Once the cheese is melted, remove the potatoes from the oven and serve.

Tell me how much these were worth the wait.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Blueberry Cobbler with Biscuit Crumbles

Antioxidants a buzz word that has become part of our daily vocabulary.  It's not a bad word, just a buzz word.  Whatever, I love blueberries whether they can be described using the buzz word of the day or not.

Biscuits...not a buzz word, not a bad word either.  Probably not that popular...well I take that back because up here in the Appalachians, biscuits are a staple, a necessity I tell you!

Combine the two and it's nirvana!  Let's see what happens.

1-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons plus 1 cup of granulated white sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sour cream
1-1/2 lbs. fresh blueberries, washed and de-stemmed
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Spray an 8x 8 x 2 baking dish with non stick cooking spray.

Whisk the 1-1/2 cups of flour, 3 tablespoons of sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Using your fingers, add the butter and incorporate until you have achieved small, pea size lumps.  Carefully fold in the sour cream and then knead in the bowl until you have a biscuit-like dough.  Be careful not to over mix.

Combine the remaining cup of sugar and remaining 3 tablespoons of flour, blueberries, lemon juice and lemon zest in a large bowl.   Pour the berry mixture into the prepared baking pan.

Crumble the biscuit topping with your fingers and sprinkle over the berry mixture.

Place baking dish in preheated and bake for 45 - 50 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least one hour.

So if you're like me and haven't quite learned how to can yet, make a juicy, rich cobbler baby!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dead Camera Batteries and Tijuana Kitchen Rice

I saw Guy Fieri make this and it was a huge hit on our dinner table.  My only complaint, dead camera battery.  This was the only picture I got.

Anything that starts off looking this gorgeous, you have to figure it is going to be amazing!

So while my camera battery is taking it's time charging, let's get this rice going!

3 tablespoons Canola oil
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red onion rough chopped
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 cups white rice
1/2 cup white wine ( I used Pinot Grigio)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika (Spanish paprika, if you have it)
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup tomato sauce
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 green onions thinly sliced
1/2 cup crumbles Queso Fresco

Place the Canola oil in a large skillet with a tight fitting cover and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the jalapenos, onion and tomatoes and saute until the onions are translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the rice and stir to coat with the veggies and oil and saute for about 3 minutes.  Deglaze the skillet with the white wine, about 1 minutes then add the oregano, cumin, paprika and black pepper.  Stir to thoroughly combine, then add the chicken broth , water and tomato sauce, bring to a boil and allow to boil for 1 minute.  Lower heat to simmer, cover and do not lift the lid for 25 minutes.

After 25 minutes, remove the cover, fluff the rice, season with salt and garnish with the green onions and Queso Fresco.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Alice Springs Chicken

My baby girl is a hostess at a national chain Australian-style steakhouse.  She often asks us to stay and grab a bite to eat with her at quitting time  I can pretty much predict she will order their Alice Springs Chicken with a side of green beans.  Okay, truth be told, I have become a fan also.

Kaitlin was able to get a little "guidance" from her co-workers and the rest was pretty basic.

4 - 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon Lawry's season salt
1/2 tablespoon lemon pepper
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cuop Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 - 6 strips smokey bacon
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
3 tablespoons Honey Mustard salad dressing (I use Ken's)
1 cup extra-shapr cheddar cheese, shredded

Season the chicken with the season salt, and lemon pepper.  Make a marinade by whisking together the barbecue sauce, honey, mustard, lemon juice and crushed red pepper flakes.

Place the chicken in a re-sealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over the chicken.  Seal the bag and work the marinade with your hands to make sure each piece of chicken is covered with the marinade.  Marinate in the fridge for 2 to 4 hours, turning the bag about every hour.

Fry up the bacon until crisp and set aside.  Reserve 2 tablespoons of fat from the bacon.  Return the frying pan you used for the bacon to the stove and saute the the mushrooms in the bacon fat until golden brown.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the mushrooms from the skillet and drain them on a platter lined with paper towels.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.  Heat the grill to medium-high or if using the oven, preheat it to 400 degrees F.

Grill the chicken over direct heat 5 to 7 minutes per side, until thoroughly cooked.

Once the chicken is cooked, place it on a foil lined baking sheet prepared with non-stick cooking spray.

Spoon a generous dollop of honey mustard salad dressing on each piece of chicken.

Place a slice of cooked bacon on each piece of chicken then add a spoonful of the sauteed mushrooms.

Garnish each piece with the shredded cheddar cheese.

Place the baking sheet under the broiler until the cheese is melted.

So you have chicken, bacon, shrooms and cheese, that's a well balanced meal!

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