Monday, March 23, 2009

Crispy Onion Strings

Source: The Pioneer Woman

I used to HATE onions. I typically omitted them in all forms of cooking. Over the past few years, I've used them more and loved them more. I even used to hate onion rings, but I've grown to love those, too. As soon as I saw these on Pioneer Woman's website, I knew I had to make them. They were incredibly easy and DELICIOUS! If you like onion rings, I think you'll be surprised by how simple it is to make them. The hardest part is sitting there and waiting for the oil to heat up. Once the oil is heated up, leave it on high. I reduced it, thinking it would continue to rise, but it dips quite a bit once you add in the onions.

I made these yesterday and just reheated some in the microwave, and they reheat quite well, too! 

Crispy Onion Strings
1 large onion
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
Slightly less than 1 tablespoon salt
Ground black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 to 2 quarts canola oil.

1. Slice onion very thin and seperate rings. Place in a baking dish and pour buttermilk over the rings. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

2. Add oil to a stainless steel Dutch oven or stockpot.  Clip a candy thermometer to the side. Turn heat on high and heat oil to 375 degrees.

3. While oil is heating, combine dry ingredients. Using tongs, take some of the onions and coat in the flour mixture. Tap to shake off the access, and plunge into the hot oil.  Use tongs to separate and let fry until golden brown. Remove onions and place on a paper-towel lined plate.

4. Repeat until onions are done. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pioneer Woman's Penne a la Betsy

Source: The Pioneer Woman

I've seen this recipe floating around on a few blogs, and being the shrimp lover that I am, I had to put it in the rotation! This is divine! I've made similar cream-based sauces and this time I added a few pinches of cayenne to spice it up. It was incredibly good and filling!

I forgot to pick up fresh herbs at the store and used dried. It turned out fine, but I could tell they would have made a world of difference compared to the dried. I really need/want to get an Aerogarden!

Penne a la Betsy

1 pound shrimp
3/4 pound penne pasta
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chiffonaded
Salt and pepper

1. Set a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Add the penne pasta and cook until al dente.

2. Peel, devein and rinse shrimp under cool water. Heat 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil in a skillet. Add shrimp and cook for a couple of minutes, until just opaque. Remove to a plate and let cool for a few mintues.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons each butter and olive oil in skillet. Add garlic and onion and saute, stirring occasionally. Remove tails from shrimp and chop into bite-sized pieces and set aside. After the garlic and onion have cooked for awhile, add white wine to skillet. Let evaporate a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add in tomato sauce. Stir until well combined. Add heavy cream and stir. Turn heat down to low and let simmer while you chop herbs. Add parsley and basil to skillet and stir. Add shrimp back into skillet and add salt and pepper to taste. Add cooked penne pasta and heat a couple of minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup

Source: Cook's Illustrated

I woke up with a cold this Friday, so naturally this weekend all I wanted was chicken noodle soup! I've made a few homemade versions before, but nothing blew my socks off. This was super yummy! The use of ground chicken, then straining the stock, really makes for a tasty broth. This was perfectly flavored, so good!

It did take a long time to make, almost 2 hours! It was a very easy recipe, it just takes time between all the stages of letting the broth or soup simmer. I think the next time I give this a go I might use skin-on chicken thighs, just because I prefer darker meat.

Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound ground chicken
1 small onion , chopped medium (about 1 cup)
1 medium carrot , peeled and chopped medium (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium celery rib , chopped medium
1 quart water
2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons table salt
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves (about 12 ounces each), cut in half crosswise

3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1 small onion , halved and sliced thin (about 1 cup)
2 medium carrots , peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
1 medium celery rib , halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium russet potato (about 8 ounces), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
4 ounces egg noodles (about 1 cup)
4 - 6 Swiss chard leaves , ribs removed, torn into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups) (optional)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
Table salt and ground black pepper

1. For the stock: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add ground chicken, onion, carrot, and celery. Cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is no longer pink, 5 to 10 minutes (do not brown chicken).

2. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add water, broth, bay leaves, salt, and chicken breasts; cover and cook for 30 minutes. Remove lid, increase heat to high, and bring to boil. (If liquid is already boiling when lid is removed, remove chicken breasts immediately and continue with recipe.) Transfer chicken breasts to large plate and set aside. Continue to cook stock for 20 minutes, adjusting heat to maintain gentle boil. Strain stock through fine-mesh strainer into large pot or container, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Allow liquid to settle about 5 minutes and skim off fat, leaving a little for flavor.

3. For the soup: Return stock to Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. In small bowl, combine cornstarch and water until smooth slurry forms; stir into stock and bring to gentle boil. Add onion, carrots, celery, and potato and cook until potato pieces are almost tender, 10 to 15 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain gentle boil. Add egg noodles and continue to cook until all vegetables and noodles are tender, about 5 minutes longer.

4. Meanwhile, remove skin and bones from reserved cooked chicken and discard. Shred meat with fingers or 2 forks. Add shredded chicken, Swiss chard (if using), and parsley to soup and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; serve.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Chicken Enchiladas

Adapted from: All Recipes

Sometimes All Recipes bugs me. I love the fact that the recipes have ratings, but hate that sometimes people make SO many changes it's barely the original recipe anymore. In searching for a chicken enchilada recipe on their site, it seemed every high-rated version had tons of changes. So I threw caution to the wind and made this version, with the suggested alterations. Use this version if you want to make this recipe!

I LOVED this! The chicken filling was so delicious that I was eating it straight out of the pan while the enchiladas cooked in the oven! I think next time I will use corn tortillas. I'm starting to get a little turned off by the texture of flour tortillas. Queso cheese would also make a great topping.

Chicken Enchiladas

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 cans of chicken broth or stock
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 pint sour cream
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup salsa
8 (10 inch) flour tortillas
1 (12 ounce) jar taco sauce or enchilada sauce (I didn't use either)
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Bring chicken stock and garlic cloves to a boil. Add chicken to water, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until chicken is done. Set aside and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, shred chicken.

3. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions, and cook until translucent. Add sour cream, cheddar cheese, and seasonings. Mix until cheese has melted. Add in salsa and heat mixture through.

3. Divide the mixture amoung the tortillas and place in a baking dish, seam-side down. Top with remaining cheddar cheese. Bake for 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Antipasto Pasta Salad

Adapted from: All Recipes

You know you have a stellar recipe on your hands when men come up to you and say how good it is. I typically think of this salad as a summer salad, but it's great for any time of year. If I bring it to a large get-together, it is GONE, but my favorite thing to do is make the recipe for a smaller group, bring half, and then I get the rest for lunch or dinner the rest of the week! It is SO good!

The earlier you make it, the better. I like to make it the morning, but I've seen reviews where people have made it a day in advance, and then added in the balsamic vinagrette the morning of or a couple of hours in advance. I have to exert MAJOR willpower to keep from eating all the ingredients as I make it - especially the Asiago!

Antipasto Pasta Salad
Serves 12

1 pound of rotini pasta
1/4 pound Genoa salami, chopped
1/4 pound pepperoni, chopped
1/2 pound Asiago cheese, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 tomatoes, diced
1 (7 ounce) package dry Italian dressing mix
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder (or toss the noodles with garlic oil)
1 cup balsamic vinagrette dressing
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain, and cool under cold water.

2. In a large bowl, combine pasta, salami, pepperoni, Asiago cheese, peppers, and tomatoes. Mix well. Stir in the envelope of dressing mix, garlic powder, Parmesan, salt and pepper to taste, and stir. Cover, and refrigerate at least one hour.

3. Just before serving, pour balsamic vinagrette over the salad, and mix well.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Parmesan Chicken

Source: The New Best Recipe

A couple of lessons to be learned from this one. FIRST, if you are brining, note how many chicken pieces you are using. Being that I cook for two, I used 2 chicken breasts, and I thought the recommended brine made the breasts a little too salty.

Second, I thought this was delicious, but my goodness was it a long recipe. Between the brining, drying, coating, setting the breaded cutlets out to dry, it seemed like it took a long time and a lot of effort to make these! Not to discourage anyone, but know what you're getting into :) It's not a weeknight dinner. But if you want to spend a little extra time making chicken Parmesan, it's worth it.

I also noticed as I was typing out the recipe it said to use a nonstick pan, which I did not. There aren't many recipes that call for a nonstick pan in The New Best Recipe. I couldn't find the reason WHY to use a nonstick, but I guess I will try that in the future.

Chicken Parmesan

Smooth Tomato Sauce
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Salt and ground black pepper

Chicken and Pasta
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup table salt
Ground black pepper
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 tablespoon plus 3/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
8 ounces spaghetti or linguine
2 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. For the sauce: Heat the garlic and oil together in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat until the garlic starts to sizzle. Stir in the tomatoes, basil, oregano, sugar, a pinch of salt, and 2 grinds of pepper, and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer until the sauce thickens and the flavors meld, 10 to 12 minutes. Taste the sauce, adjusting the salt if necessary. Cover and keep warm.

2. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Adjust an oven rack to the top position and heat broiler.

3. Meahwhile, if not already, pound the chicken cutlets until 1/2 inch thick. Dissolve the salt 1 quart water in a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Add cutlets and seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Refrigerate until the cutlets are fully seasoned, about 30 minutes. Line a baking sheet with a triple layer of paper towels.

4. Remove the cutlets and lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Cover with another triple layer of paper towels and press firmly to absorb the moisture. Allow to dry for 10 minutes. Carefully peel off the paper towels. Sprinkle with pepper to taste and set aside.

5. Place the bread crumbs in a pie plate. Spread the flour in a second shallow dish. Beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a third shallow dish. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet.

6. Working with one at a time, dredge the cutlets thoroughly in the flour, shaking off the excess. Using tongs, dip both sides in the egg mixture, taking care to coat thoroughly and allowing the excess to drip back into the dish to ensure a very thin coating. Dip both sides of the cutlets in bread crumbs, pressing the crumbs with your fingers to ensure an even, cohensive coat. Place the breaded cutlets in a single layer on the wire rack and allowing the coating to dry for about 5 minutes.

7. Add the salt and noodles to the boiling water and stir to separate. Heat 6 tablespoons of olive oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering, but not smoking, about 2 minutes. Lay 2 cutlets gently in the skillet and cook until deep golden brown and crisp on the first side, about 2 /12 minutes. Using tongs, turn the cutlets, reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook until meat feels firm when pressed gently and the second side is deep golden brown and crisp, about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.  Repeat until all cutlets are cooked.

8. Preheat your oven broiler. Transfer cutlets to clean wire rack over a baking sheet. Top each with 3 tablepoons of mozzarella and 1 tablespoon Parmesan. Place the baking sheet under the broiler and broil until the cheeses melt and are spotty brown, about 3 minutes.

9. Drain the spaghetti. Transfer cutlet to a plate and with a portion of spaghetti. Top cutlet and spaghetti with marinara. Top with additional Parmesan if desired. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Baked Shrimp Scampi

Source: Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics

I used to not like shrimp. My only exposure to it was shrimp cocktail when I was younger, and I found the texture kind of weird and I didn't love cocktail sauce. Now, shrimp is one of my favorite foods! Baked, fried, you name it, I'm eating it!

Like Annie, where I originally saw this recipe, I love the fact that I already had everything on hand. I didn't have fresh parsley or rosemary, so I just used dried this time. It turned out divine! The only change I would make for the future is not to pour the ENTIRE olive oil mixture over the shrimp. It seemed like a little bit too much liquid.

Baked Shrimp Scampi


1 lb. large shrimp in the shell
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. dry white wine
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tsp. minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
2 tbsp. minced shallots
1 1/2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1/3 cup panko
Lemon wedges, for serving


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture.

In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of black pepper until combined.

Starting from the center of an oval or round baking dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer in the dish. Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Place under the broiler for 1 additional minute to brown the top. Serve with lemon wedges.