10 February, 2014  |   2 Comments

80’s Stuffed Chicken Recipe

Sun dried tomato and feta stuffed chicken breasts

One of the perks of being a dissatisfied child of the 1980’s was the development of a rich fantasy life.

My fantasy life included dreaming of my life as a Baby Boom Keaton, a thirtysomething striver.

The oldest 10 year old in the universe, I dreamed of a career in advertising, of arguments with my handsome, of my bearded husband and dinner parties where everyone told the truth.
(P.S. Go me!)

Thirtysomething cast photo. I never saw the show but I was obsessed with the lifestyle.

Some of the most exciting parts of all that dreaming included the introduction of sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese as mainstream ingredients. Add them to bagels! Add them to your mixed green salads! They’re exotic! They’re for yuppies!

As always, eager to jump on culinary trends, this was one of the first dishes I made on my own.

80’s Stuffed Chicken Recipe

Ingredients
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

Stuffing
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
3 cups bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup of sun dried tomatoes, chopped small
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese

Directions
Pound the chicken breasts to a uniform 1/2 inch thickness. Salt and pepper them on the inside with 1/2 the pepper and 1/2 the salt (1/2 tsp, 1/2 tsp). Fold in half and put on a cookie sheet, set in the fridge while you make the stuffing.

In a large saute pan, melt the butter and the olive oil over medium high heat until they start to bubble, add the chopped onion and stir through – keep stirring for about 3 minutes, or until the onions start to become translucent.

Add bread crumbs, stir through.
Add the garlic, stir through.
Add the sun dried tomatoes, stir through.
Add the salt, oregano and red pepper flakes and stir those through too.

When the bread crumbs are a nice toasty brown color (about 5 minutes), turn off the heat and let mixture cool for about 15 minutes. Then stir through the shredded Parmesan cheese and the crumbled Feta cheese.

Take the chicken breasts out of the fridge. Unfold each breast, put about 3/4 cup of the stuffing mixture into the middle, and then fold the rest of the breast over the top of the stuffing. Put back in the fridge.

Wash out the pan you made the stuffing in (any extra stuffing is yours, by the way)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Over medium-high heat, melt the other 3 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon oil in the large, clean sauté pan.

Remove as many chicken breasts from the baking sheet that fit comfortably in the saute pan and put them in the sauté pan.

Closeup view of 80's Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Brown the stuffed chicken on each side, being careful not to spill too much stuffing out of the folded breast. It’s a little bit of a messy process, but it’s worth it.

Clean off the baking sheet and cover it with foil.

When the chicken breasts are browned, put them on the baking sheet in the oven for 20 minutes.

After I put the chicken breasts in the oven, I heat up water to cook the angel hair pasta I serve alongside. (And now I have The Angel Song in my head. Thanks Great White.)

We served 80s Stuffed Chicken Breasts with this Girard Sauvignon Blanc. But I bet a light red would have also done the trick.
2012 Girard Sauvignon Blanc

My handsome bearded husband put on the Diana Krall Pandora Station, because there’s something about lady jazz that screams sophisticated eighties dinner party.

Truly, a testimony to knowing what you want out of life.

Pinot, no, you can’t have any.
Pinot wants to get some food. Nope. Nuh uh.

Happy 80’s Stuffed Chicken Day!
80's Stuffed Chicken Recipe

28 January, 2014  |   7 Comments

Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

We also call this Mama's Mac and Cheese

I first made this macaroni and cheese recipe from the Gourmet magazine cookbook for bocce.

It was eaten in minutes.

Emboldened by its success, I made it for the first winery job potluck.

I’d put myself under some stress for that potluck. I mean, they have a work chef! I wanted to avoid embarrassing myself in front of all the culinary experts.

My nerves had been for naught. I had no idea the speed at which this cheesy, noodley casserole would be consumed. Coworkers congratulated me for the whole rest of the week, cheering my brilliant addition to the potluck table.

And now you can p0wn your next potluck table too.

Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Ingredients
16 ounces pasta shells (I like shells, some like the elbows)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
4 cups shredded cheese (I like sharp cheddar mixed with medium cheddar)
3/4 cup cream
1 cup reserved pasta water

Topping
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup shredded cheese

Directions
Boil water for the pasta.
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Shred the 5 cups of cheese,  set one cup of shredded cheese aside. Make bread crumbs.

In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour. Stir with a whisk. It will make a strange lumpy wad of a thing. This is the base for the roux. Keep stirring for 3 minutes.

In a thin stream, add the whole milk and the red pepper flakes, whisking all the while until the mix makes a thinnish sauce. Stir in the mustard, cheese and cream. Turn off the heat.

If the water’s boiling, cook the pasta. Save 1 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta.

Add the pasta to the cheese sauce — stir through. Add 1/4 cup of pasta water and stir through — the whole thing should be a little loose. Add more water if the mixture seems too firm.

In a small bowl, put bread crumbs, melted butter, and stir through final cup of cheese.

Add the cheesy pasta to the baking dish. Sprinkle the buttery, cheesy breadcrumbs atop the macaroni and cheese.

Throw the whole dish into the oven and bake for 30 minutes, turning the dish once to ensure even baking.

This macaroni and cheese is the first thing to go at potlucks.

I like to make double and freeze it for James to toss in the oven when I’m working late in the oven. The kids go nuts for it and he gets super-supper bragging rights.

Now go grab YOUR super supper bragging rights!

 

23 January, 2014  |   5 Comments

Frodo Risotto Recipe for a Hobbit Dinner

We love Frodo Baggins.We made a hobbit dinner the other night.
James and I love Frodo. Bilbo too. We are Hobbits at heart.

Secure in our snuggly Shire home, we welcome any old man with fireworks to entertain the children.
The barefoot, mildly wild children.

And they all eat Frodo Risotto.

This is Frodo Risotto. It's a baked risotto.

We served Frodo Risotto with local Shire greens.
And some roast game (chicken).

Adapted from a Donna Hay recipe, this risotto bakes in the oven while you catch up with cousin Frieda Baggins about what’s causing the rabbit shortage.

Ingredients
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and diced about 1/2″ (Probably about 2 cups diced squash)
3 cups arborio rice
7 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup white wine (For cooking, I like Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons butter, chopped
1 small onion, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup Parmesan cheese
Additional Salt and Pepper to taste

Optional:
Oil for frying the sage
10 sage leaves

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350°.

Cate Blanchette, Lady Galadriel of Lothlorien, will try to scarysexy you into giving her your ring but don’t you let her.

Elvin Butternut Squash.

To avoid all risk, you probably should skin her and chop half of her into tiny bits.

Peeled Elvin (Elvish?) Butternut Squash.

You can mince Samwise Gamgee into tiny bits while you’re at it too.

Nooooooo Frodoooooo

Mix the first seven ingredients in a 9″ x 12″ baking dish.
Combine, being careful not to slosh.

Something lives beneath the surface of that salty lake.\

Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and put in oven for 1 hour.

30 minutes into the baking time, take off the foil and stir it. You will be disappointed by the lack of progress. But hold tight, little hobbit, your dinner is right on plan.

This is when I would fry up the sage.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat, frizzle the sage in there until crispy, only a minute or two. Remove and drain on paper towels

After an hour, remove the baking dish from the oven.
Stir through the two tablespoons of butter and Parmesan cheese.
Stir through 7 leaves worth of crumbled fried sage.

Garnish with the remaining 3 leaves.

Serve.
And watch out for fireworks.

Welcome all old men carrying fireworks

7 November, 2013  |   3 Comments

Crocked Shrimp Dip

This recipe, from Ann Hodgeman’s Beat That cookbook, wins raves and recipe requests from all over the land.

The cucumber slices and water crackers didn’t make anyone’s fingers greasy, and the shrimp dip topping was light, whippy and exactly the most non-offensivest of fishy that you want in a dip. We make this dip in two parts, The first, the shrimping. The second, the blending and the third, the melding. The melding is my favorite part, because I have to do nothing.

Dottie's going in for the crocked shrimp dip.

This recipe only serves to reinforce my belief that a food processor makes nearly any food better. I think it has something to do with hoisting it out of its storage space and back and forth again.

First Day Ingredients
2 cups water
1 cup dry white wine (I use Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc)
2 lemons, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 1/2 poun raw medium shrimp, unpeeled

Second Day Ingredients
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
3 anchovy fillets, rinsed
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 small scallions, minced (including a good 3 inches of green)
Salt and ground pepper to taste

Water crackers and cucumber slices for serving

First Day Directions
Mix the water, wine, lemon slices, chopped garlic cloves, peppercorns and mustard seeds (basically, everything except the shrimp) in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring the mix to a boil and let it boil for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low — and add the shrimp (still in their shells). Simmer for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the shrimp cool in the liquid for about 20 minutes. Put the whole mixture in the fridge overnight.

Second Day Directions
Drain and peel the shrimp. Take out that food processor, and add the cream cheese, anchovies, butter, lemon juice and Dijon mustard. Process the mix utnil smooth. Drop in the peeled shrimp and pulse to chop it finely, you want some shrimpy texture in that dip.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, stir in the scallions and season with salt and pepper. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and chill it overnight.

Third Day Directions
Let the shrimp sit for an hour at room temperature before serving it with water crackers and those thinly sliced cucumbers.

5 November, 2013  |   Comment

Peanut Butter Cookie Day!

Peanut Butter Cookie Closeup

One of the reasons I’ve been writing on the internet all this time is that I like having a recipe repository of all the stuff we eat for my kids. When they’re all grown, they’ll be able to have the exact recipe I used for their favorites. (And know what to avoid.)

Please give this child a cookie.

I shared my Brokey Peanut Butter Cookie recipe a few years ago. The recipe (and relative brokeyness) still stands.

It is exciting, to think that my kids can access that culinary history. My mom could sometimes make the same thing twice. But outside of the comforting sameness of lasagna-flavored Hamburger Helper, the flavors of my childhood reside only in my brain.

Sometimes I have deep thoughts, and sometimes I make peanut butter cookies.
It’s peanut butter cookie time.

We eat these a log.

Helen Jane’s Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe 

Ingredients
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter (that’s one stick), soft
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cookie sheet

Directions
Mix peanut butter and butter in large mixing bowl until smooth.
Then add all the other ingredients. Blend until smooth.
Put the cookie dough bowl into the refrigerator for 15 – 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°.

When properly chilled, spoon batter onto cookie sheet with a Silpat or a piece of parchment paper on it.

Flatten cookies with the criss cross fork print which we all take to mean “peanut butter cookie.”
Bake for 10 minutes.

And don’t tell Dottie you’re going to take her peanut butter cookie away.

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