Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Source: Kitchen Cafe

I saw this on My Happy Meals, who saw it on...well, go to Molly's site if you want to see the trail! I had been craving sweet and sour chicken for awhile so I was so glad it came up! The only downside to this recipe is the prep time. After you cut up the chicken pieces, you have to dip each individual one in the egg, and then the flour. It takes awhile! But it was very tasty and I highly recommend it!

Sweet and Sour Chicken

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

Cut boneless chicken breasts into chunks. Season with salt and pepper. Dip chicken in cornstarch and then in egg. Fry in a little oil until brown but not cooked through. Place in a single layer in a baking dish. Mix sauce ingredients (below) together and pour over chicken.

¾ cup sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
½ cup vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Bake for one hour at 325 degrees. Turn chicken every 15 minutes. If you like extra sauce, make another batch of sauce and bring it to a boil on the stovetop. Stir constantly and let cook over medium heat until thickened and reduced - about 6-8 minutes.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Chicken Picatta

Source: The New Best Recipe

I actually forgot about this book for awhile! I've been using my Cook's Illustrated online subscription a lot since Christmas, and I had also stored the book in a cupboard I don't go into much. This is an easy weeknight dinner that comes together quickly. I left out the capers since I don't like them, and I also forgot lemons, so I just added a little bit more lemon juice. It was very light and tasty!

Chicken Piccata
Serves 4

2 large lemons
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, fat trimmed and pounded thin
Salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small shallot, minced, or 1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves (I used 2 tsp dried)

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, set a large heatproof serving or dinner plate on the rack, and heat oven to 200 degrees.

2. Halve one lemon pole to pole. Trim the ends from one half and cut it crosswise into slices 1/8 to 1/4 inch think; set aside. Juice the remaining half and whole lemon to obtain 1/4 cup juice; reserve.

3. Sprink both sides of the cutlets generously with salt and pepper. Measure the flour into a shallow baking dish or pie plate. Coat cutlets with flour and shake off excess.

4. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Lay half of the cutlets in the skillet. Saute until lightly browned on first side, about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Turn and cook until second side is lightly browned, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes longer. Remove the pan from heat and transfer cutlets to the oven. Add the remaining oil and repeat process with remaining cutlets.

5. Add the shallot to the now-empty skillet and return the skillet to medium heat. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds (10 seconds for garlic). Add the broth and lemon slices, increase the heat to high, and scrap the pan bottom to loosen browned bits. Simmer until the liquid reduces to 1/3 cup, about 4 minutes. Add the reserved lemon juice and capers and simmer until the sauces reduces again to 1/3 cup, about one minute. Remove from heat and swirl in the butter until it melts and thickens the sauce. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Are you using Google Reader?

I have been using Google Reader awhile now and it is SO much easier to track the blogs I read. I used to find blogs I like and bookmark them. Well, then I'd go through all my bookmarks which would take FOREVER. Do you know how much clicking and scrolling that is? I'm lucky I don't have carpal tunnels, I tell ya.

If you haven't used Google Reader, you do have to have a gmail account. Once you're signed in, from the Google homepage, you click on More at the top of the page, and then select Reader. It's super easy to add the blogs you want to track--just click on Add Subscrition, type in the url, and it's added! The nice thing is each time you go on it shows what's new, instead of going to the links individually to figure it out.

The pictures below are tiny, but you can click on them to make them larger.

But what REALLY makes this perfect is the fact that you can add tags. Again, I used to find a recipe I loved and bookmark it. My bookmark list is 12 miles long at this point. It's overwhelming. Fortunately, you can just go to the bottom of the recipe, click on tags, and add your own, like "Chicken" or "Dinner" for instance. This way all the recipes you want to try are organized.

Can you tell I love Google Reader?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Garlic Sherry Sauce

If you've never tried to method of browning a skin-on chicken breast, then cooking it in the oven, I HIGHLY suggest it! I used that method with Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic and it always turns out sublime. Removing the chicken from the pan before making the sauce keeps the skin crispy. I told my husband after eating this my favorite food is now "crispy chicken skin." Gross and LOL!

I bought split, bone-in chicken breasts for this recipe. My husband actually dislikes eating chicken off the bone, and it was a compliment that his was picked clean! If you like a less-sweet tasting sauce, I'd recommend white wine instead of the sherry, which would also be excellent.

I'd highly recommend getting a spatter cover. This spattered a lot between the stovetop and the oven.

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Garlic Sherry Sauce

Source: Cook's Illustrated

1 cup kosher salt (or 1/2 cup table salt)
2 whole bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts about 1 1/2 pounds each
Ground black pepper
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Garlic Sherry Sauce
7 medium cloves garlic , peeled and cut crosswise into very thin slices (about 3 tablespoons)
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry sherry
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 3 pieces
Table salt and ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Dissolve salt in 2 quarts cold tap water in large container or bowl; submerge chicken in brine and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 30 minutes. Rinse chicken pieces under running water and pat dry with paper towels. Season chicken with pepper.
2. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees.
3. Heat oil in heavy-bottomed 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke; swirl skillet to coat with oil. Brown chicken skin-side down until deep golden, about 5 minutes; turn chicken pieces and brown until golden on second side, about 3 minutes longer.
4. Turn chicken skin-side down and place skillet in oven. Roast until juices run clear when chicken is cut with paring knife, or thickest part of breast registers 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer chicken to platter, and let rest while making sauce. (If not making sauce, let chicken rest 5 minutes before serving.)

5. Using potholder to protect hands from hot skillet handle, pour off most of fat from skillet; add garlic, then set skillet over medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is light brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add chicken broth, sherry, and thyme; increase heat to high and simmer rapidly, scraping skillet bottom with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, until slightly thickened and reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Pour accumulated chicken juices into skillet, reduce heat to medium, and whisk in butter 1 piece at a time; season to taste with salt and pepper and add lemon juice. Spoon sauce around chicken breasts and serve immediately.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Happy birthday baby; or, Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Sheet Cake

Okay, so I felt a little irresponsible making this. Almost 4 sticks of butter are in this artery-clogging recipe. But hey, birthdays only come once a year, right? And my wonderful husband LOVES chocolate, so I thought I'd pick the "ultimate" recipe.

I'd give the end effort a B+. The chocolate flavor was YUMMY, but I thought the cake ended up a little dry. I'm not sure if that was my fault or the recipe's. One blog suggested that the chocolate/hot water mixture can evaporate if let sit; however, this mix goes right in the flour, so I may have undermeasured the water. I'm not super-careful in that department, anyway.

Dryness aside, the chocolate flavor was to-die-for! I also liked the fact it was a sheet cake. I've never made one before and eating thin pieces make me feel a little less guilty.

Ha ha, my husband just looked at my blog and said, "WHAT?!?!? You didn't tell me this had 4 sticks of butter!!!" Whoops :)

Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Sheet Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of butter
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
1 3/4 sticks of butter
4 tablespoons cocoa
6 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound minus 1/2 cup powdered sugar

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir and set aside.

3. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add 1 cup of boiling water and allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.

4. Combine buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir mixture. Add to butter/chocolate mixture. Stir by hand or with your mixer until smooth. Pour into sheet cake or jelly roll pan and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

5. While cake is baking, make the icing. Chop pecans finely and set aside.

6. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add cocoa, stir to combine, and turn off heat. Add milk, vanilla, powdered sugar, and stir by hand or with mixer until smooth. Add pecans, stir together, and pour over warm cake. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Source: All Recipes

I bought a slow cooker right around Christmas with every intention of using it, a lot. But having never had one before, I can't really say I could think of a lot of recipes I wanted to try, and nothing I saw online really excited me. My husband mentioned he wanted something stew-like this weekend, and I thought, "Stew! Yes! That gets made in a crockpot!" Thusly, I have broken in the crockpot.

I bought a Rival 6-Quart Crock Pot, and I was really happy I did. This recipe required 30 minutes on high, and 6 hours on low. We were running out the door right as I put it in, and I was able to program it to make the switch from high to low after 30 minutes. Pretty sweet!

This recipe require a little bit more work that a normal crockpot recipe. I think. You have to brown the meat first, then cook the onions, and then deglaze the pan. It's a little extra effort, but the end taste is worth it. The only changes I made below were you should at least double the carrots and red wine. A few of the reviewers suggested using beef broth and au jus mix instead of water and dry onion mix, which I think would make it even more tasty. I also skipped the last step of adding in the water and flour to thicken the mixture. I found in the last hour, the liquid was really evaporating, so I added about half a cup of beef broth. I also used sirloin and it was SO tender! This will definitely be a regular in our house.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 7 hours
Serves: 12

3 pounds cubed beef stew meat
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup baby carrots (I doubled this)
4 large potatoes, cubed
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups boiling water (or beef broth)
1 (1 ounce) package dry onion soup mix (or au jus/roast seasoning mix)
3 tablespoons butter
3 onions, sliced
1/4 cup red wine (I doubled this)
1/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1. Place meat in a large plastic bag. Combine 1/4 cup flour with 1/2 teaspoon salt; pour into the bag with the meat, and shake to coat.

2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add stew meat, and cook until evenly browned on the outside. Transfer to a slow cooker along with the carrots, potatoes, parsley, and pepper. In a small bowl, stir together 2 cups of boiling water and dry soup mix; pour into the slow cooker.

3. In the same skillet, melt butter and saute onions until softened; remove to the slow cooker. Pour red wine into the skillet, and stir to loosen browned bits of food on the bottom. Remove from heat, and pour into the slow cooker.

4. Cover, and cook on High for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to Low, and cook for 6 hours, or until meat is fork tender. In a small bowl or cup, mix together 2 tablespoons flour with 1/4 cup warm water. Stir into stew, and cook uncovered for 15 minutes, or until thickened.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Source: Food Network--The Chewy by Alton Brown

Oddly enough, I have really grown out of having much of a sweet tooth. I do keep a cache of Hershey's chocolate bars with almonds around in case the urge strikes me, but I really prefer salty foods, as you can probably tell by the lack of sweets on here!

However, I saw these on Lovestoeat's and the cookie comparison on The Way the Cookie Crumbles' blog, and they just looked so good! I am a sucker for chewy cookies. When I make cookies, I try to bake them until they're just done so they don't fall apart as I eat them. The fact that these were made with bread flour was pretty intriguing. They were DELICIOUS! One note: I actually used a regular-sized ice cream scoop, and as a result, they were HUGE and took longer to cook. Just eyeball them so they're not too huge. They don't spread a lot like regular cookies.

Extra dough will keep for up to 2 weeks tightly sealed in the fridge or for up to 6 months in the freezer.

The Chewy

2 sticks unsalted butter
2¼ cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup sugar
1¼ cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Ice cream scooper (#20 disher, to be exact)
Parchment paper
Baking sheets

1.Heat oven to 375F.

2. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

3. Pour the melted butter in the mixer’s work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4. Chill the dough ( I did for at least an hour), then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Lemonade Award

You could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw Ashley at Senora Espanola had nominated me for an award! Thanks so much! I have really grown to love cooking since I started this blog. I still don't think I'm a natural in the kitchen, but I have a lot of fun and have learned a lot reading everyone else's blogs. And it's always nice to know I'm not the only one reading it :)

I think a lot of us have the same favorites, so I scanned my blogroll to find some new blogs to nominate and follow!

Apple a Day
Angie at Adventures in Home Cooking
Jaime at Sweet Surrender
Melissa at Made by Melissa
My Baking Heart