Thursday, August 21, 2008

Expect compliments...Chicken Parmigiana Rolls

Damn baby, these look...professional!

And there ya go, Tall Dark and Handsome, the man of few words regarding my kitchen prowess besides, Good, Hungry and Ehhh, literally made my heart swoop with one sentence. And he was right, they DID look like something that an Italian restaurant would have on it's menu. Professional. Delicious. And they look like more effort than they actually required. What cook doesn't like that??

Disclaimer: I found this recipe on a blog hosted by a girl on I am BEGGING someone to recognize it and tell me whose it was so I can give them credit. (regrettably, I found it before I had a blog and I didn't realize that one day I would need to know who had created it). So please, Internet, help me solve this mystery.
UPDATE: Joelen, thank you so much for providing me with link to your blog with the original recipe. It was a great dish, thank you so much!

Chicken Parmigiana Rolls:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied
1 cup pasta sauce
4 basil leaves (I used more like 12. We like basil)
2 slices of mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup flour1 egg, scrambled
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon Italian seasonings
salt & pepper to taste

Open up the butterflied chicken breasts and cut in 2 equal pieces. With a meat pallet, pound each piece of chicken flat to form a paillard. On each piece of chicken, spread a tablespoon of pasta sauce. Top sauce with a 1/2 slice of mozzarella cheese, sprinkle of parmesan cheese and 1 basil leaf. Carefully take one side of the chicken and begin rolling it into a chicken roll. Secure chicken roll with a toothpick to stay intact. (I had to use about eighteen toothpicks, but whose counting?)

Dredge chicken roll in flour. Dip chicken roll in the scrambled egg. Combine the Italian season, salt, pepper and panko breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Coat the chicken roll with the seasoned breadcrumbs. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces. Place on a baking dish and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

And just so you don't worry about Gracie and Sadi, they had their treat while we had ours. But since they are always so jealous of their treats, they ate in the other room. Like I'd want that nasty thing.

Banana Bread, Ebony and Ivory

I have loved banana bread since I was a kid. My Grandma would make it for me...specifically for me. She would save a loaf for me, hiding it from the other banana bread eaters to make sure that her darling Granddaughter would have a slice. OK, I'm waxing poetic here, my Grandma loved me, but she didn't spoil me. If I wanted some banana bread, I better get in there and get it, because she wasn't gonna keep it back special or nothing...she had lots of special people to take care of, I was one of many.
When I saw that a baking group on the chat board I frequent decided to tackle a new type of banana bread I became excited. Banana bread. YUM. I love banana bread. I want to make my own banana bread. And then, the moment of truth came. I knew that you had to let bananas, well, ROT to make banana bread. But I've never touched rotten bananas before, let alone peeled and mashed rotten bananas. Gulp. But never fear. Just as I've conquered my fear of raw chicken, I also conquered my aversion to rotten bananas. Now I didn't bathe in them, or rub them all over my face. But I did handle them without gagging. It's a testiment to my love of the finished product. So I tackled Tuesday's with Dorie's black and white banana bread, and I lived to tell the story.
Black and White Banana Bread

(Source: Dorie Greenspan Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours page 232)
Makes about 8 servings.

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1½ ripe bananas, peeled
Squirt of fresh lemon juice
Grated zest of ½ a lemon
1 tablespoon dark rum
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup whole milk

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½ inch loaf pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked on top of the other.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. In a small bowl, mash the bananas with the lemon juice and zest, then stir in the rum. Melt the chocolate and 2 tablespoons of the butter together in a microwave oven or in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the remaining stick (8 tablespoons) of butter at medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes, until light and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. The batter will look curdled, and it will continue to look curdled as you add ingredients. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half the flour mixture, mixing only until it is just incorporated. With the mixer running, pour in the milk, and when it is blended, add the remaining dry ingredients. Scrape down the bowl and mix in the mashed bananas. The batter will look even lumpier.

Pour a little less than half the batter into the bowl with the melted chocolate and stir to blend. Drop alternating spoonfuls of both batters into the prepared pan, then, using a table knife, swirl the batters together, taking care not to overdo it.

Bake for 1 hour and 20 to 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. Check after 30 minutes and if the cake starts to brown too much, cover it loosely with a foil tent. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it rest for about 15 minutes before unmolding, then cool the cake to room temperature right side up on the rack.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred

This is a fun little game I saw on a couple cooking blogs and I thought it sounded like fun. I have a ton of blogs in my Google Reader, truly, it's the only way to keep up with the plethora of pinatas (ahem, good ideas) that the Internet cooks come up with. The original came from Very Good Taste, and is a list of the top one hundred things every omnivore should try at least once. Since I enjoy trying new things, and I think it's funny what some people will NOT eat, I decided to give it a whirl. Here ya go, Internet, a quick glimpse of my lifetime food sampling resume.

Here's what to do if you want to do it yourself:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating. (I can't figure out how to 'cross out' in Blogger, so mine will contain the comment NO WAY.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare (does carpaccio count?)
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese - NO WAY
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper - NO WAY, tongue blisters hold no appeal for me.
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam Chowder in Soudough Bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted Cream Tea
38. Vodka Jelly/Jell-O - ah college...
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects - I could see trying this if they were gnats covered in chocolate.
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more
46. Fugu - seriously, why?
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. kaolin - wikipedia says this is clay. I don't know why anyone would eat it. Does it aid digestion?
64. Currywurst
65. Durian - NO WAY. I have a friend whose actually seen (and smelled) a durian before. The woman carrying it got kicked of the Singaporian bus.
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake - speaking of, the fair's right around the corner...
68. Haggis - NO WAY
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost or brunost
75. Roadkill - NO WAY...this one's gotta be a joke
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang Souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom Yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. 3 Michelin Star Tasting Menu - birthday gift ideas for me, dear husband.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse - NO WAY. I reject this on moral grounds.
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake (I've had rattlesnake, fresh from the prairie)

After going through this list, I realized I'm not as cultured as I thought I was. Thank you, Wikipedia, for defining at least 20 items on this list.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Summer = Watermelon = YUM

This summer has been weird for me. I've been really busy at work, and overtime in the summer sucks. Sorry, I imagine there is a more polite way to say it, but it's true. And believe me, Internet, if I wasn't working as much, I would probably be cooking more, and you'd have more posts to read. Ah well, no use complaining...can't let the Man get ya down! One of the things that made my summer just a little less weird was provided by my friend West 95. I call her that because I live on East 95 and she lives right across the street from me. West 95 called me one evening and said she had some homegrown watermelon to share from her husband's hometown of Atwood, OK. I've never been there, but I can tell you this, they are some supreme watermelon growers down there in Atwood. Watch as West 95's dog Zane models with the melon.

I'm not sure why Zane has such a sad look on his face, I'm afraid maybe he was feeling exploited since he knew that none of that yummy melon was going to land in his dish. That's alright though, more for me. It was a super yummy melon and a fun treat to make my summer feel more summery! Thanks West 95!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Crispy Yogurt Chicken

Pioneer Woman, by sharing this recipe on your blog, you forever have changed my life. I have been shouting this recipe from the rooftops since I prepared it for our dinner last Tuesday night. Each and every one of you, my blog readers (ok, I know there's probably only one of you, hi mom!), need to immediately go to your kitchen and prepare this meal for yourself. Don't worry about a side dish, heck you might not even need silverware. It is so good you just might chow down straight out of the oven.


2 cups yogurt

2 or 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

Fresh parsley, chopped fine

Juice of half a lemon

Chicken pieces, whatever ya got, I used tenders

Bread crumbs



Lightly butter a large baking dish, set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Start by mixing the yogurt, garlic, parsley and lemon juice in a large bowl. Rinse your chicken and season with a little salt and pepper. Now the fun starts, toss the chicken, one piece at a time, into the yogurt mixture and turn to coat. Take out and toss the yogurty chicken into the bread crumbs, evenly coating, and place in the baking dish. Place a small pat of butter on each piece of chicken. I considered skipping this step but I'm glad I didn't. It made the bread crumbs particularly yummy. Put the dish in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for an hour. Let it sit a minute before you serve it to let everything set. Be prepared for a stampede because when it's baking, the garlic literally wafts through your house, calling every hungry tummy in a block radius to check out what's for dinner.

See the looks of pure adoration you will receive when you prepare this meal?? Tell me it's not worth it when you see love like this.

Paula Deen's Corn Casserole

I'm always on a quest for easy to make side dishes, so when I stumbled across this recipe for corn casserole on Ezra Pound Cake's blog I knew I had found a winner. Of course it's loaded with butter, it's a Paula Deen recipe! Geez! And it ROCKS!

From Paula Deen, “Paula’s Home Cooking,” Food Network

1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix (I used Jiffy)
1 cup sour cream (I used fat free)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used 2% shredded cheddar)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, stir together the two cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, and melted butter. Pour into a greased 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and top with cheddar. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Let stand for at least 5 minutes to allow it to set and then serve warm.

Evidently I have problems following directions, I made mine in an 8x8 casserole dish and it turned out wonderful, but I did have to bake it an extra 5-7 minutes. After dinner, Sous Chef Gracie helped with the dishes. Don't you appreciate a little help in the kitchen?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cheeseburger Bierocks with Bacon

Of course, I'm using the term 'bierock' loosely, you will find no cabbage in this recipe. It is simply just a wonderful bread-y pocket of goodness, containing items with which I would normally like to top a hamburger patty. I started with my Aunt Deb's easy bread recipe. I was fearful. I've baked before, and it wasn't pretty. That calamitous experience created a loaf of bread was closer in consistency to chunks of granite than a soft, flavorful transport for butter. After a reassuring telephone call to my aunt, I decided to jump right into my kitchen and attempt to create an idea that had been spinning in my mind for a few days...a cheeseburger style bierock.

For the bread dough:

1 package yeast (fast rising or regular)
1 cup warm water
1 egg
1 T. oil
1 T. sugar
3 cups flour
Salt (as I type this, I realize I forgot this ingredient. Don't be like me. Use salt)

Combine warm water and yeast until dissolved. Add egg, oil, sugar and stir. Start by adding two cups flour. Mix well. Add additional flour until it's a nice dough consistency. (Don't ask me to define 'nice' dough consistency, I have no answer. I guess it just 'looks right') Put in an oiled bowl, cover with a cloth and allow to double in size, about half an hour. (I took my aunt's advice and allowed my oven to heat to about 200 degrees, then shut it off. I placed my dough in there to rise which worked well.)

For the filling:

1 pound hamburger, browned and seasoned, drained
1/2 onion, chopped and sauted
1 8oz. bag cheddar cheese
5 slices bacon, browned and crumbled

Mix all ingredients. Easy, huh?!


When dough has finished rising, lightly flour your workspace and rolling pin. Pull off a little chunk of dough and roll into a nice round shape. Put about a cup of the filling on the dough circle (mine were more of ellipses) and seal the edges to make a little pocket. Tip: don't allow any filling to touch the edges of the dough, it's darn near impossible to seal them shut if you do. Place the pockets sealed side down on a greased cookie sheet. You can brush on an egg wash if you'd like. Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes, until the bread is nice and browned.

This recipe made about seven bierocks. These four were the prettiest. My other three were not so pretty. This is gonna take practice. I served these little jewels with some ketchup and mustard. Next time, I might put a little mayo on there too.

I was really expecting this recipe to take a lot of toil. It didn't, it was really pretty easy. I dirtied lots of dishes in the process, but that's okay. Two dishwasher loads instead of one, no big deal.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cabinet Sauce

Working late, nothing defrosted, a famished husband...sound familiar? Thankfully I had a few things with which to throw together a good weeknight meal, which I've christened Cabinet Sauce. Tonight, Cabinet Sauce consisted of shallots, garlic, red pepper flakes, capers, black olives, a can of diced tomatoes, chicken stock, and white wine (added in that order). I seasoned it with some salt, pepper and Italian seasonings. All this goodness, after saute-tion and reduction, was served over penne noodles with Parmesan cheese, some leftover fresh parsley and pine nuts. The Old Man usually reacts to Cabinet Sauce with's not always a home run combination. But tonight it turned out pretty good! Who knows, the planets were probably aligned in my favor. I don't care, I'm thankful that we didn't have to dump the whole thing and resort to Lucky Charms. It's happened before.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The BECO'wich

Every once in awhile, you stumble upon something truly great. Inspiration is the product of need, and today there was a need in my house. This need was created the night before, during an evening of good timin' and laugh havin'. This need was a hangover. And, in my opinion, this hangover just inspired a potentially award winning creation. The BECO'wich. Bread





Onion, diced

Hot Sauce


Start by frying up some bacon. Remove and place on a paper towel. Drain all but a little of the grease from the pan and saute the onion. When soft, also place on a paper towel (see a pattern here?).

Fry an egg in the bacon/onion grease. My husband prefers his yolks broken so there aren't any runny yellow surprises, and I aim to please. Season your egg a little while it's cooking.

While the egg is frying, heat up another skillet (I love my cast iron grill pan) and put on two pieces of buttered bread. Put some cheese on one slice, along with the bacon so it can start to get melty. When the egg is finished, pat the grease off with a paper towel and put on the other piece of bread, then top with the onions.

Now for the active ingredient: hot sauce.

When it's all melty and gooey, put some mayo on it, smash it together, and serve it to your poor, hurting husband. He will love you forever for it.

Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager

Ahhh, what's better than a refreshing brew on a hot summer's night? Could it be a bottle of OPB (other people's beer) of a type you've never heard of or tasted before? I think so! Some friends from southern Mississippi dropped by last night for a visit. Because they are great people, they came stocked with a new beer drink for us to try...Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager from a brewery in Abita Springs, Louisiana, which is 'down in their neck of the woods'. I immediately went crazy over it. Hold on, I think there is one in an ice chest in the garage I can enjoy while I write...oh yeah, here we go...OK, I know what you're thinking, this is probably one of those 'sweet' beers. I hate sweet beer. And sweetness this beer does not have. It does have strawberry flavor, light and crisp. Not strawberry flavor like the lipgloss we used in the second grade that made your lips tingle. No, this strawberry is subtle and light. So, ladies and gentlemen, I proclaim this beer a non-girlie drink, a beer to be enjoyed by country peoples and metros alike. Pop a top and enjoy!

Texas Style Chicken Stew

Oh. My. Gosh. This was a hit! We had some friends show up just as I was serving dinner. Even having just eaten out at a restaurant, they each had a bowl because they couldn't resist the spicy yummy aroma. I added more spice than it called for and I'm glad I did.

This recipe, originally from Saveur magazine, was adapted for the book “175 Essential Slow Cooker Classics” by Judith Finlayson.

(please ignore the ugly shadow my camera left on the plate.
The lighting in my kitchen is horrendous, this is the best shot I got.)

Serves 6

4 slices bacon

2 onions, chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crumbled

½ teaspoon black pepper


1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, including juice

1 cup chicken stock

3 pounds skinless, bone-in chicken thighs (about 12 thighs)

2 (14-ounce) cans creamstyle corn

1 tablespoon chili powder, dissolved in 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (I didn't have any chili powder, so I used 1/2 tablespoon of cayenne. It was spicy but not too much!)

1 teaspoon paprika

Pinch of cayenne pepper, optional

In a skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove and drain thoroughly on paper towel and crumble. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from pan.

Reduce heat to medium. Add onions to pan and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, pepper and salt, to taste, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice and stock, and bring to a boil.

Arrange chicken over bottom of slow cooker and cover with vegetable mixture. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours, until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a fork. Add corn, chili powder mixture, paprika, cayenne and reserved bacon. Stir well. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes, until corn is heated through.

Roasted Ricotta Roma Tomatoes

I saw this recipe on The Pioneer Woman's website and I KNEW I had to make it for my husband and our friend from West 95. West 95 and I prepared it together which was half the fun! May I suggest using smaller-sized tomatoes. The big ones didn't really get melty until the tomato shell had already started to break down. The smaller ones definitely had the best overall texture between tomato and filling.

Roma tomatoes

Ricotta Cheese (a spoonful for each tomato half)

Fresh Basil

Fresh Parsley

Bread Crumbs

Kosher salt, pepper, olive oil

Oven set to 400°.

Cut Roma tomatoes in half lengthwise and remove the soft stuff to make a shell.
Sprinkle the inside of each tomato with some salt and then transfer them, face down, to a clean towel. This helps dry the tomatoes out a little.
Mince parsley, basil and garlic, add to the ricotta, seasoning with salt and pepper and mix well. (remember that ricotta is unsalted, so be sure to taste while adding salt and pepper so you don't underseason)
Stuff the maters .
Dip the Ricotta-filled tomatoes face down into the cracker crumbs for a nice coating and place on a cookie sheet
Drizzle some olive oil on each tomato so the crumbs brown nicely. Add a little more salt and pepper since the bread crumbs aren't seasoned.
Bake 25-30 minutes for melty yumminess.

Olive-Onion Cheese Bread

I started with a recipe from a magazine, but made a lot of changes to include things my husband and I like best. I served it with a big plate of spaghetti and the cheesy topping was a good accompaniment to the acid in the sauce.

8 oz. shredded mozzarella
1/4 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. mayonnaise
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1 8 oz. can mushrooms, drained and chopped
1 4.25 oz. can chopped black olives
1 1lb loaf unsliced French bread
Preheat oven to 350
Cut bread in half lengthwise and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Combine the other ingredients, spread on bread halves. Bake at 350 for 12-20 until cheese is melted.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The sous chefs

They're tuckered out now after all the cooking we've done this weekend, but Sadi and Gracie are the greatest helpers in my kitchen. Never must I worry about picking up errant morsels that have fallen on the floor. One of them will instantly be there to ensure the cleanliness of my workspace. Gracie's special talent is assisting with the dirty dishes by 'pre-rinsing' them after I've loaded the dishwasher. Sadi prefers to supervise the project from the center of the kitchen floor. She said cooking isn't challenging unless you must do so while also stepping over a contantly position-shifting labradore retriever.