Saturday, September 13, 2014

Chicken in a Bundt Pan

Have you ever heard of beer can chicken?  It's when you balance a chicken on top of a can of beer (in other words, the can is up the cavity).  Sounds gross, I know.  But when you roast a chicken sitting up like that it gets crispy on all sides.  Really yummy!  Well, I always had a hard time getting the chicken to stay on the beer can.  It would wobble or fall over and be a big mess.  So, I decided to try something a little different.  I have a stoneware bundt pan (from Pampered Chef) and it makes the perfect vessel for roasting a chicken sitting up.  It keeps it nicely in place while in the oven.  Plus, it has room to add veggies!  Here's how you do it:


CHICKEN IN A BUNDT PAN

1 whole chicken (3-4 lbs)
Potatoes, carrots, celery
Canola oil
Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper

Place your oven rack in the lower part of your oven.  You need room for the chicken (remember it's sitting upright).  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut up a few potatoes and a few carrots (or use baby carrots) into medium sized chunks.  Lay them in the Bundt pan.



Stuff a couple celery stalks (including the leaves) into the cavity of the chicken.  This flavors it from the inside out.


Next, use some paper towels to dry the chicken.  This will help it roast in the oven instead of steaming.  It also helps the seasoning stick.


In a small bowl, combine some canola oil, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.  Whisk it together.


Brush this all over the chicken.


Sit the chicken on the tube of the bundt pan.


Tuck the wings up under themselves to keep them from burning.


Place the bundt pan onto a cookie sheet (makes it easier to handle) and place in the preheated oven.


Bake until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.  (1 1/2 hours or so).


Let rest a few minutes before carving.


Roasting a chicken this way is great because it gets crispy on all sides.  Plus the juices drip down all over the veggies underneath.  So delicious!  Plus, it's easy!  Anyone can do it.  So, pull that bundt pan out of the cabinet and give it new life.

Friday, September 12, 2014

BBQ Cheeseburger Panini

This is an easy, cheap, but delicious sandwich.  My Old School Italian husband loved it!  I really like it because you can customize it to your taste.  You can add veggies or bacon or extra cheese (or all three).  But, it's pretty good plain, too.  You don't even need a fancy panini press!  Here's how ya do it:

BBQ CHEESEBURGER PANINI

1 loaf French bread (or poboy rolls, etc)
Softened butter
1 lb ground beef
Salt and pepper
1/2 onion, diced
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
American cheese (any melty cheese will work)

Brown ground beef with diced onion and Worcestershire sauce.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Drain excess fat.


Stir in BBQ sauce and heat through.


Cut French bread into sandwich sized pieces then slice in half lengthwise.  Spread softened butter on outside of each piece of bread.  Heat a griddle over medium-high heat.  If you don't have a griddle, use a cast iron skillet.

Place bread, butter side down, on the hot griddle.  Add cheese.  Spoon meat mixture on (as much or as little as you like).  Add more cheese, then place the top piece of bread on, butter side up.


Smash the sandwiches down with a spatulta.  Then, place a cookie sheet on top of them and place a heavy skillet on top of the cookie sheet.  This is a makeshift panini press!


Let them toast up for a few minutes then remove skillet and cookie sheet and flip them over.


They should be golden and toasty.  Place the cookie sheet and skillet back on for a few more minutes.  Then they are done!  Easy and so good!




The bread is buttery and crispy.  The cheese is melty and warm.  The meat is savory.  This is one delicious sandwich!  This is a picture of a plain version (my husband and pickiest eater ever son are plain kind of guys).  But, feel free to add whatever you like.  I put fresh sliced tomatoes on mine (YUMMMM!).  Next time I think I'll add basil and mozzarella for a Caprese twist.   Bacon and avocado would be pretty fantastic, too.  Ooh, caramelized onions and peppers!  Or mushrooms!  As you can see, the possibilities are endless.  Who says you need an expensive panini press?  Make these cheap and cheerful paninis for your family and watch them disappear.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Yet Another Coffee Cake

I love having a few dessert recipes up my sleeve that are quick, easy and use ingredients that I always have on hand.  This coffee cake fits the bill.  It's sweet and simple.  The perfect thing to whip up when unexpected guests arrive or you get a craving for something sweet but don't feel like making a trip to the bakery.  It's similar to my sour cream coffee cake, but uses yogurt instead (because I was out of sour cream).  The yogurt makes it sweeter.  You can use either one in this recipe.  Also, I used nuts in the cinnamon mixture, but it will work without them.  Remember, this is all about using what you have.  No trips to the grocery store!

COFFEE CAKE

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 TBS baking powder
1/8 tsp salt (a pinch)

Cinnamon Mixture:

2 TBS brown sugar
1/2 TBS cinnamon
2 TBS chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 inch cake pan with cooking spray.  Cream the butter and sugar together with a mixer.  Add egg, yogurt and vanilla.  Mix well.  In a separate bowl, blend flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and gently stir until combined.



Set aside.  In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts.  Pour half of the batter into the prepared cake pan.  Sprinkle the cinnamon mixture on top, like this:


Add remaining batter on top of the cinnamon mixture.  Gently spread it out to completely cover.


Bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

My parents were visiting and started eating it before I could snap a pic!  They said it smelled too good to wait. (A compliment I will gladly take)



This cake goes great with a cup of coffee (hence the name) or a cup of tea.  It doesn't even need icing!  Give this one a try the next time you need a quick, easy dessert.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Roasted Teriyaki Salmon

In the quest to get my family to eat healthier (and by that I mean my Old School Italian Husband and Pickiest-Eater-Ever Son) I've had to search my mind and the internet for recipes that won't scare them away from the table.  It's been an adventure to say the least.  Over the years I've seen my son literally gag on carrots and my husband nickname one of my casseroles,  a "Gross-a-role".  Yeah.  That happened.

Usually, I just try to slip in one super-healthy dish to the meal.  But tonight I went all out.  Salmon, broccoli and quinoa all at once! (Cue evil laugh)

I'm not gonna lie, my son freaked out a little.  But my Old School Italian Husband ate it...and liked it.  Score one for his arteries!

Here's the salmon recipe:

ROASTED TERIYAKI SALMON

4 salmon portions (you can usually buy it already portioned)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 TBS brown sugar
2 TBS canola oil (plus more for the pan)
1 tsp seasoned salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 TBS freshly grated ginger root (or 1 tsp ground ginger)
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Brush a little oil on the foil so the fish won't stick.

Mix together the soy sauce, brown sugar, canola oil, seasoned salt, garlic powder and ginger.  Pour over the fish (in a zip bag or a container) and let sit 10 minutes.  You don't want to marinate it too long or the acid in the marinade will start to "cook" the fish.


Shake off the excess marinade (gently) and place the fish on the prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper (not too much salt, the marinade is salty).


Bake in a preheated oven (425 degrees) for about 6 minutes per 1/2 inch of thickness.  My pieces weren't very thick, but some are.  Mine took 10 minutes.  You can tell they are done by sticking a fork in and twisting gently.  If it flakes easily, it's done.  Don't over cook it!  Nothing worse than over done seafood.



I like to garnish it with a few green onions.  Roasted broccoli with tomatoes and quinoa seasoned with a little sesame oil and ginger (not pictured) round out this super healthy meal.

Even though my Pickiest-Eater-Ever Son didn't eat too much (every little bit helps) my Old School Italian Husband did.  I count that as a win.  By the way, I loved it.  In case you were wondering.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Crescent Roll Topped Chicken Pot Pie

This chicken pot pie recipe is comfort food at it's best.  It's got everything you want, creamy sauce, buttery, crispy crust, tender chicken and sweet veggies.  Plus it's really easy and way better for you than those processed frozen ones.  Here's how you do it:

CRESCENT ROLL TOPPED CHICKEN POT PIE

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small cubes (or 2 cups leftover diced chicken)
1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 TBS oil
2 TBS butter
3 TBS all-purpose flour
Salt/pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tube crescent rolls

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  You will need an oven-proof skillet (cast iron is perfect for this!)

Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Then, saute the chicken in 1 TBS oil over medium-high heat until cooked through.  (If you use leftover chicken, just warm it up in oil in the skillet). Add the thawed vegetables (an easy way to thaw them is to put them in a colander and run warm water over them.  Drain well!) to the skillet.  Add butter and stir to melt.  Sprinkle in the flour and stir.  Let cook for a few minutes, stirring.  Then add the chicken broth and milk.  Stir well and bring to a boil.  Then reduce heat and let simmer until thickened.  It just takes a few minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Turn off the heat.  Open the tube of crescent rolls and separate into triangles.  Lay the triangles on top of the chicken mixture with the points in the center.  Like this:



Continue placing the triangles until you form a crust, completely covering the filling.


Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.  Let it sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting.  It needs to cool a bit to firm up.



The triangles make nice guidelines for cutting, built in portioning!  This pot pie has a flaky, buttery crust and a creamy, delicious filling.  It's a great way to get some veggies into those picky eaters.  Plus, it's so easy you can make it any night of the week!  You definetely want to give this one a try.




Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Roasted Vegetable Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I love to roast vegetables!  Roasting brings out the natural sweetness in the veggies and gives them a whole new taste.  Plus it's easy!  I tend to make more than we can eat at suppertime (probably because my son "pretends" to eat his veggies tsk tsk tsk).  But, the left overs make a mean sandwich for lunch the next day.

First, this is how I roast the vegetables:

You can roast any vegetable you like.  Some of my favorites are broccoli, carrots, onions, zucchini, tomatoes and peppers.  All you do is cut the vegetables into similar size pieces (clean and dry them first), lay them on a cookie sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Using clean hands, toss them around to evenly distribute the oil, salt and pepper.  Put them into a hot oven (preheated to 400 degrees) for about 15-20 minutes or until soft and a little charred on the ends.  Easy peasy! (get it, peas-y.  Sorry, bad vegetable pun)



Anyway, if you are gonna roast vegetables, roast a lot.  That way you will have left overs.  You can throw them into pasta or rice or soup or make this grilled cheese sandwich.

ROASTED VEGETABLE GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH

2 slices good bread (I like to use 12 grain bread, but french bread is good too)
a little softened butter (to spread on the bread)
a good melting cheese (whole milk mozzarella, monterey jack, American)
leftover roasted vegetables, warmed up

Heat a skillet (I like cast iron, but a non-stick works, too) over medium-high heat.  Spread softened butter on one side of each slice of bread.  Place one slice of bread butter side down into hot skillet.  Lay cheese on top.




Then, spoon on some warm vegetables.



Lay more cheese on top of the veggies, then place the other slice of bread butter side up.





Let this toast up until the bottom is golden brown.  Be careful not to burn it!  Once toasted and golden, use a spatula to flip it over.




Press lightly with the spatula to help the cheese adhere.  The cheese is like the glue that holds the sandwich together (that's why I put it on both sides of the veggies).  Once the second side is toasted and golden, it's done!  Remove from the skillet to a cooling rack.  If you lay it on a plate and walk away, the bottom will get soggy.  Gross!  You want this nice and crispy.  Once it has cooled for just a few minutes, cut it in half, if desired.  I like to cut mine in half so I can see all the gooey goodness inside!





You can throw anything on this sandwich!  Add some pepperoni or salami for an antipasto sandwich.  Add deli ham or turkey.  Add some hummus or bean sprouts or avocado.  It's the perfect medium for left overs!  And quite possibly the perfect lunch.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Italian Stuffed Chicken

I cook chicken a lot, especially boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  I am always looking for new ways to prepare it.  This idea came to me while I was shopping.  I saw some sun dried tomatoes and Parmesan cheese next to each other in my buggy and inspiration struck!  Stuff chicken breasts with a mixture of Italian flavors.  I tried it and it worked.  These were delicious!  Plus, they look impressive.  You could definitely make them for a dinner party.  No one needs to know how easy they are to make.

ITALIAN STUFFED CHICKEN

6 small or 4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 TBS minced sun dried tomatoes
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 TBS chopped fresh parsley (never use dried parsley, yuck!)
2 TBS olive oil (plus more to drizzle on chicken)
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix together the sun dried tomatoes, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley and olive oil.  Salt and pepper to taste (easy on the salt, the cheese is very salty).  Set aside.



Cut a pocket in the side of each chicken breast:




Don't cut all the way through, just enough to form a pocket to stuff.

Spoon some stuffing into each pocket.



Use a toothpick to close the pocket.  This keeps the stuffing from coming out during baking.



Drizzle a little oil on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Place stuffed chicken into dish and brush a little olive oil onto each piece of chicken.



Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on each.



Bake for 30 minutes.




Be sure to remove the toothpicks before eating!



These are so flavorful!  They are literally stuffed with bold flavors.  But, they're really easy to make!  Give these a try.  Your friends and family will think you're a culinary wiz.  If only they knew...