Breaded Chicken Cutlets

March 19, 2011

Fried chicken is one of my secret guilty pleasures… The crispy skin under the delicious breading with juicy meat all thrown in together with hot sauce, oh yea, I am in foodie heaven! Now that you know my secret obsession, I also need to let you in on a little secret that I am perfectly aware that I don’t eat it all that often. When Red and I were planning our wedding; we talked about having a low key fried chicken reception. But we backed away from that since we figured that not too many people would be too receptive of our “whacky” idea. We went with the traditional plated fish and beef dinners instead. This chicken recipe is a go-to recipe at our house; when we crave fried chickens, but want a quicker and less-messy version. It is also delicious eaten as a chicken sandwich, although I love them on their own without the buns. The key here is to make sure that you pound the chicken to even thickness so they cook thoroughly and can have that crispiness that we all want from fried chickens. Happy Eating!

Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

Ingredients
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (5 to 6 ounces each), tenderloin removed and reserved for another use, fat trimmed
1/2 cup kosher salt or 1/4 cup table salt
1/2 cup sugar
5-8 slices high quality white bread such as Pepperidge Farm, crusts removed and torn into rough 1-1/2 inches pieces (or, if you don’t have white bread available, use panko instead, this is what I did)
Ground black pepper
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon plus 3/4 cup vegetable oil
Lemon Wedges for serving

Directions
Use rubber mallet, meat pounder, or rolling pin to pound chicken breasts to even 1/2-inch thickness. Dissolve salt and sugar in 1-quart cold water in gallon-sized zipper lock plastic bag. Add cutlets and seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible; refrigerate 30 minutes. Line rimmed baking sheet with triple layer of paper towels.

Remove cutlets and lay in single layer on baking sheet; cover with another triple layer paper towels and press firmly to absorb moisture. Allow cutles to dry for 10 minutes. Process bread in food processor until evenly fine-textured, 20 to 30 seconds (you should have about 1-1/4 cups fresh bread crumbs). Transfer crumbs to pie plate. Carefully peel paper towels off cutlets, sprinkle cutlets with pepper and set aside.

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, set heat proof plate on rack, and heat oven to 200 degrees. Spread flour in second pie plate. Beat eggs with 1 tbsp oil in third pie plate.

Working one at a time, dredge cutlets thoroughly in flour, shaking off excess. Using tongs, dip both sides of cutlets in egg mixture, taking care to coat thoroughly, allowing excess to drip back into pie plate to ensure very thin coating. Dip both sides of cutlets in bread crumbs, pressing crumbs with fingers to form even, cohesive coat. Place breaded cutlets in single layer on wire rack set over baking sheet and allow coating to dry for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile heat 6 tablespoons of remaining oil in a heavy-bottomed 10-inch non stick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering, around 2 minutes. Lay two cutlets gently in skillet; cook until golden brown and crisp, 2-1/2 minutes  total.

Flip cutlets using tongs, reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook until meat feels firm when pressed gently and second side is deep golden brown and crisp, about 2-1/2 to 3 minutes longer. Line a plate with paper towels, set cutlets on top. If you’d like, use an oven-safe dish, and keep the chickens warm in the oven.

Discard oil, wipe skillet, and repeat the frying process with fresh new oil. Serve with lemon wedges if desired.

Yield: 4 servings

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Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

March 13, 2011

Red credits me for being able to come up with food ideas with the ingredients on hand. (Ehhmmm…, that’s probably because I’m either reading hard copy cookbooks or surfing through hundreds of food blogs on the internet). One weekend, I just saw a pack of mushrooms sitting in the refrigerator; and my mind was spinning trying to think of what to make with them without having to go out and get some more ingredients. I finally decided to make these sausage stuffed mushrooms because we try to make one night a week to be a movie and appetizer night. These little morsels were amazing; so delicious and the house smelled incredible when the filling was being prepared. I didn’t have “extra-large” mushrooms, so I only made half of the filling; but still ended up with tons of leftover filling.  I looked through several other recipes while making this; and a couple of them used a couple other type of cheeses that I didn’t have in hand. But I loved this version with cream cheese instead of mascarpone. I wouldn’t change a thing! Oh, and since I only had about 16 small to medium size mushrooms, I only baked them for about 30 minutes and they were perfect. Happy eating!

Adapted from Ina Garten, through Food Network

Ingredients
16 extra-large white mushrooms
5 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
2 1/2 tablespoons wine or medium sherry (Did not use them)
3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage removed from the casings
6 scallions, white and green parts, minced
2 garlic cloves minced
2/3 cup panko crumbs
5 ounces mascarpone cheese, preferably from Italy (I used cream cheese)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop them finely. Set aside. Place themushroom caps in a shallow bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and Marsala. Set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, crumbling it with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook the sausage for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until it’s completely browned. Add the chopped mushroom stems and cook for 3 more minutes. Stir in the scallions and garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the panko crumbs, stirring to combine evenly with all the other ingredients. Finally, swirl in the mascarpone and continue cooking until the mascarpone has melted and made the sausage mixture creamy. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, parsley, and season with salt and pepper, to taste, Cool slightly.

Fill each mushroom generously with the sausage mixture. Arrange the mushrooms in a baking dish large enough to hold all the mushrooms in a snug single layer. Bake until the stuffing for 50 minutes, until the stuffing is browned and crusty.


Five Spice Pork Wraps {Slow Cooker}

March 10, 2011

I saw this recipe in my most recent Williams Sonoma catalog, and knew that I had to make them! However, with an active 8-month old to tend to, I wanted to turn this into a crock-pot dish that I can prep ahead of time, and let it cook for a nice 10-12 hrs stretch. I prefer to use bone-in pork shoulder, because I think that’s where a lot of the flavors are from; so that’s what I did instead. I modified this recipe to allow for the slow cooker version, and I was really happy with the result.

The tender, juicy, slightly spicy and warm pulled pork were delicious on top of cold crispy butter lettuces and bean sprouts. And don’t forget to save those little onion bits from the bottom of the crock pot, they added excellent boost of flavor to the pork. The only thing I would caution you on is that this dish was MESSY to eat! Make sure you have extra napkins around because you will need it. You can turn this into a low-carb dish by skipping the rice (I skipped the rice because I simply forgot to cook it). And it was still delicious! They are a great party dish, because you don’t spend a lot of time cooking this, and it serves a large crowd. Happy cooking!

Adapted from Williams Sonoma

Ingredients

4 tsp. Chinese five spice
1 Tbs. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
6 lb. bone-in pork shoulder
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, diced
1 1/2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 Tbs. minced garlic
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup hoisin sauce, plus more for serving
2 Tbs. Sriracha chili sauce, plus more for serving
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
Butter lettuce leaves, steamed white rice, bean sprouts, thinly sliced green onions and cilantro leaves for serving

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the Chinese five spice, salt and pepper. Rub the mixture evenly on the pork.

Combine the rest of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Pour into the bottom of a crock pot.
Let it cook on low for 10-12 hrs or high for 5-6 hrs.

When the crock pot is done cooking, using tongs and a fork, pull the pork apart into large chunks. Serve with lettuce leaves, steamed rice, bean sprouts, green onions, cilantro, hoisin sauce and chili sauce.

Yield: 14


Roasted Vegetable Enchilada with Creamy Tomatillo Sauce and Melted Cheese

March 1, 2011

I recently wandered to my local library and saw Rick Bayless’ Fiesta at Rick’s at their new arrival section. I love being able to “test-drive” a cookbook prior to purchasing; and have had great luck that way. Mexican meal is something that I don’t normally cook at home; I think it’s just because I just didn’t really grow up eating it and am not familiar with the type of spices or ingredients used. I watched Rick Bayless compete at last season’s Top Chef and became fan with some of the meals that he cooked during the show; however I was a little bit hesitant with the complexity of the recipes. I was really surprised when I found myself bookmarking several of his recipes, and this was one of them!

The smokiness of root vegetables roasted at high heat were so wonderful combined with the bright and creamy tomatillo sauce. This dish was so delicious that I ended up making it twice two weeks in a row. I used carrots and butternut squash because that’s what I had in hand, and loved the sweetness from the two vegetables against the other earthy flavors. What I also love about this dish was that I only assemble what Red and I would have at one meal; and leave the rest of the ingredients in the refrigerator for the next day. That way the vegetables or the corn tortilla don’t turn mushy. I have since then tried several other of his recipes-so be in the lookout for future posts of Rick’s delicious dishes. Happy eating!

Adapted from Fiesta at Rick’s

Ingredients
1 lb (6-8) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 medium white onion, sliced about 1/4-inch thick
3 garlic cloves, peeled
Fresh hot green chiles to taste (2-3 serranos, 1 or 2 jalapenos), stemmed
1-1/2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for roasting the vegetables and brushing or spraying the tortillas
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth, plus a little extra if needed
1/2 cup Mexican crema (that’s what I used), creme fraiche, or heavy (whipping) cream
8 cups of cubed vegetables (1/2-inch cubes), such as chayote, carrots, white/red onions, small turnips, kohlrabi, mushrooms and peeled butternut squash
Salt
12 corn tortillas
2/3 cup shredded Mexican melting cheese, or Monterey Jack, brick or mild cheddar
A few sliced rounds of white onion, separated into rings, for garnish
Fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish

Directions
Sauce (The sauce can be made ahead, and then refrigerated until you’re ready to assemble the dish)

Roast the tomatillos, sliced onions, garlic and chiles on a rimmed baking sheet about 3-4 inches below the hot broiler. The tomatillos need to be soft and blotchy black on one side, about 4-5 minutes. Turn everything over and then roast the other side. After these are finished, turn oven down to 400 degrees.

Transfer all of the vegetables roasted into a blender or food processor, and blend into a smooth puree consistency. Heat 1-1/2 tbs of oil in a medium to large pot over medium high heat, and add all of the puree at once. Stir constantly for several minutes until darker and thicker, make sure you scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking. Add broth and crema, and reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover and simmer for approximately 30 minutes.

Vegetable Filling

Spread all of the cubed vegetables into a single-layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Mix with your hands to make sure they are evenly coated. Stir regularly until carrots are crunchy, approximately 25-30 minutes.

Finishing

Once the sauce has thickened beyond the consistency of a cream soup, stir in a little bit more of the broth or water. Taste and season with salt (approximately 1 tsp). Lightly brush or spray both sides of corn tortillas with oil. Slide into a plastic bag and microwave on high for 1 minute to warm and soften (for easier rolling).

Smear a few tablespoons of the sauce over the bottom of 13×9-inch baking dish. Working quickly, fill each tortilla with about 1 cup of roasted vegetables. Line the rolled tortillas up on a baking dish, with seams side down. Douse with remaining sauce; sprinkle with cheese.

Bake until enchiladas are heated through (the cheese will begin to melt and brown), about 10 minutes. Garnish, and serve quickly. Best served right out of the oven.

Yield: 4-6 servings


Cauliflower Gratin

February 26, 2011

Have you ever gotten so caught up with cooking and baking both new and old recipes that sometimes you forget to blog about it? I am pretty sure that my fellow blogger readers can relate to this. It happens to me frequently! Probably more frequently than it should. I would try new recipes and find great ones–and make them a few more times before I get to even blog about it and share with the rest of the world!  The good thing about that is that I get to try it several times before my readers know, so if it flops the second or third time around, I’d probably skip blogging about it all together. But if it continues to impress me, then you will know that the recipe is true and tried.

This dish was one of them. I wanted to add a new vegetable dish for our holiday dinner; and wasn’t sure what to make. And then I had my Barefoot in Paris cookbook laying on the floor, so I flipped through it, and saw this dish. It’s really simple to make, and can be prepared ahead of time, which is a huge bonus for entertaining and great time saver during the holidays. You can prepare everything except the topping, and refrigerate them just until you are ready to bake them. As you heat up the oven, prep the topping and sprinkle them just before putting it into the oven. It is a very rich dish so if you’re looking for something “light”, this isn’t it. However, it is flexible, so you can substitute a couple of the cheeses listed below with other types as well although it may not be as authentic as what the recipe intended.

I added bacon bits in mine for the second time I made them, and it was a hit. I preferred mine piping hot from the oven, and slightly warm so I could still enjoy the goey cheese melting :)!  Happy cooking!

Adapted from Barefoot in Paris

Ingredients
1 (3-pound) head cauliflower, cut into large florets
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 cup freshly grated Gruyere, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cook the cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it comes to a boil. Boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Off the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, the pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup of the Gruyere, and the Parmesan.

Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of an 8 by 11 by 2-inch baking dish. Place the drained cauliflower on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Combine the bread crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup of Gruyere and sprinkle on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the gratin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Yield: 4-6 servings


Pan-Fried Onion Dip

February 6, 2011

I was flipping through my stacks of cookbooks the other night and saw this recipe for onion dip. It sounded so tasty that I had to make it that night. Fortunately, I had all of the ingredients in the house 🙂 I wasn’t sure how much this recipe was going to make (it says 2 cups, but normally Ina’s recipes make A TON of batches).Therefore I made a half of the recipe! Yes… you heard me, I decided to just half the recipe. But then after trying it, what was I thinking? Red and I loved this dip recipe so much that I made a full batch the next night! It was that amazing!!!!

The onions were slowly caramelized in the pan, and made them very sweet and tender. This was one step that I would definitely not short-cut (it took close to half an hour total) because it was totally worth it!! The second time I made it, I also chopped the onions strings shorter than what the recipe called for to make it easier to eat. I also didn’t wait until the onions were completely cooled to room temperature before mixing them; and they mixed just fine with the sour cream and cream cheese (make sure the cream cheese is room temperature though!). This dip recipe is fabulous–if you need a new dip recipe to love!!

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Ingredients
2 large yellow onions
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup good mayonnaise

Directions
Cut the onions in half and then slice them into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds. (You will have about 3 cups of onions.) Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.

Place the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well. Taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature.

Yield: 2 cups


Fried Mashed Potato Balls

January 10, 2011

Holidays at our house always means tons of food and leftover mashed potatoes! I have a rotating mix-in for the mashed potatoes, depending on who’s making it, but they’re usually choke full of butter, garlic, and sour cream. This recipe was just something that I came up with on my own while trying to rejuvenate our leftover mashed potato. It is great addition for breakfast, brunch, and of course dinner–and even better for just an afternoon pick me up snack. Sometimes I add different things like leftover bacon bits or ham, or cheese… but they’re also great just with a handful of chopped green onions. I have always made them with panko instead of regular bread crumbs, which I think really helps the mixture stay together and not fall apart during frying. They’re so addictive and versatile that sometimes I throw in extra potatoes when making mashed potatoes to ensure that I have leftover for these….Happy eating!!

EDIT: A great sauce to accompany these wonderful little snacks is Garlic Mayonaisse that I used  with my Sweet Potato Fries w/ Basil Salt.

Ingredients
3 cups stiff mashed potatoes (preferably cold)
2 medium-size eggs
1/4 cup of sliced green onions
1-1/2 cups of panko
Oil for frying

Directions
Heat about 1-1/2 inch of flavorless oil to about 375 degree in a shallow frying pan (you want something with a pretty good surface area since the balls need to be fried in smaller batches to ensure that they’re not crowded).

Beat the two eggs lightly in a medium-sized bowl. Mix in the mashed potatoes and green onions. Using a 1-1/2 inch ice-cream scoop, make potato balls. Roll them onto a plate of panko.

Fry the potato balls a few at a time, and let each side turn into golden brown color, about 2-3 minutes total. Don’t attempt to flip them until the crust is developed and browned. Then flip to the other side, and let brown. Serve warm.

Yield: 28 potato balls