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Recipe: Sautéed Chicken with White Wine and Shallots

I made one of my kick-ass dinners tonight.  I won a Weight Watchers cookbook a while ago; I believe it was a book of recipes from 2007.  I no longer have the book, but this recipe is a staple in my house and I highly recommend that you add this to your rotation.  It’s not complicated and is very tasty!

Here’s the recipe:

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1 large shallot, sliced
1 large clove of garlic, minced or pressed*
1/4 cup white wine
1 tbsp butter
Olive oil, salt, pepper, dried thyme, parsley**

Season both sides of chicken with salt, pepper and dried thyme and let sit.

Heat oil in a sauté pan; add garlic, shallot and tomato.  Sauté for a few minutes until shallots are softened.

Add chicken and cook halfway.  (I buy the 10 lb bag of Perdue Perfect Portions chicken breasts from Costco.  They are approx. 5 oz each and are fairly flat.  Therefore, they only need to cook 2-3 minutes/side.  Thicker chicken breasts will need to cook longer.)

After cooking chicken halfway, turn chicken over, add wine, cover and cook chicken the rest of the way.

Remove chicken to platter and continue to cook sauce to thicken to your taste.  Add more salt and pepper to taste, if you like (I never need to), and add some parsley and the tbsp of butter.  Once butter has melted and incorporated, pour sauce over chicken and serve.

See?  I told you it was pretty easy, and the taste really is kick-ass.  I served this tonight with rice and green beans.

*FYI – I usually double the amount of garlic called for in all recipes.  I mean, come on1 clove of garlic?!

**I do not buy fresh parsley and I feel that dried parsley is a waste of time b/c it is flavorless.  I have never tasted the difference in a dish with parsley in it so I don’t bother with it.  If you feel differently, please add it.  Also, I am allergic to olive oil, so I substitute Wegman’s Basting Oil.

I passed this recipe onto a friend of mine and she and her husband loved it.  While eating it, the husband wondered aloud if it would be great with shrimp, too.  They tried it with shrimp and said it was fabulous.  I can’t wait to get some East Coast shrimp this Summer and try it myself.

Work, Cooking and a Gift Card Giveaway

After 4+ months as a WOHM, last Tuesday was my last day.  The nature of the customers I dealt with was unlike any I’d ever experienced before.  Rudeness, disrespect and interruptions plagued most of my interactions, no matter how friendly and respectful I was to them.  It took a toll on me physically and emotionally and affected me outside of work.  Plus, the hubs and I sat down and went over the budget and discovered that the cost for me to work was not worth it.  55-60% of my salary went to gas and tolls and another 30% went to daycare expenses for B.

I don’t think I can express just how happy and relieved I am to be back home!  I have been cooking non-stop and the hubs made me stop b/c we ran out of room in the refrigerators and freezers.  LOL  I’ve made spaghetti sauce, a new salsa recipe I found on Pinterest, a double batch of the perfect Italian meatballsMeatball-Stuffed Garlic RollsMy Made-Up Mexican Dump Recipe, pizza, ham, hash, green bean casserole with homemade mushroom sauce, brownies…I’m in Heaven, back in my kitchen!

Meat-ball Stuffed Garlic Rolls – YUM!
My Made-Up Mexican Dump Recipe.  I used a homemade salsa this time, a copycat recipe of Chili’s yummy salsa!

And I want y’all to share in my happiness.  So, I am giving away a $20 restaurant gift card good at Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52.  It was awarded to me by my employer for excellent customer service.  :o)  To enter my giveaway, leave a comment stating your favorite dish at your favorite restaurant (does not have to be one included in the gift card) under this post on my Facebook page or reply to this post on Twitter.  Entry posts must be made by 11:59pm ET on April 15, 2012.  Winner will be randomly selected and notified on April 16, 2012.  Good luck!

Cobb Salad

I love salads, but they rarely ever taste as good as they do in a restaurant when I make them at home.  However, my Cobb Salad is an exception.  Yes there is some effort to wash and chop and cook, but the end result is so worth it!  Especially when you line up the ingredients like I did in the picture, above.  I think my presentation is Food Network worthy.  ;o)  So here’s how I built it:

  • On the bottom is chopped romaine and iceberg lettuces, but you use whatever greens you prefer
  • I grilled some chicken breasts in Wegmans’ Basting Oil but I have also cut up ham and turkey lunchmeat from the deli into ribbons
  • Hard-boiled a couple of eggs and ran them through my mini-chopper, but you can just slice if you prefer
  • Diced a red onion
  • Cut up an avocado
  • Cut some grape tomatoes in half because, as good as they taste, the explosion that occurs when you bite into a whole one is not pretty
  • Crumbled up some Feta cheese
  • I ran out of room for the cooked and crumbled bacon in the salad bowl, so I served that on the side and we sprinkled it over our portions of salad on our plates.
It a one dish meal!  You can serve some bread on the side or not.  Enjoy!

Easiest. Best. Man Dinner. Ever.

The hubs is one of those people who can eat fresh tomatoes, but cooked tomatoes give him heartburn.  That makes it challenging to make dinners on a budget or make quick dinners for our family since he and I are now both working full-time but on opposite schedules.  Most budget meals involve a tomato base with various ingredients.  *sigh*  I love tomato products – tomato sauce, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, ketchup, pizza and I make my own spaghetti sauce.  None of which, agree with the hubs’ tummy.  So here is my easy-breezy, go-to meal for him that both me and B will eat.
Take a 16oz pkg of frozen meatballs and dump it in a crockpot (this fits perfectly in my 1.5 qt one.)
Pour a can of beef gravy over the meatballs.
Put the lid on, turn to high and set a timer for 1 hour.  That’s it.
Once done, I put them in a Tupperware container for the hubs to reheat tomorrow.   He’ll make rice or noodles to serve them over with a veg on the side and be in hog heaven.  I told you it was the easiest!

My KFC Dinner Attempt

I cracked open my restaurant secrets cookbook again tonight and fried chicken for the 1st time.  And not just any friend chicken; I wanted to duplicate KFC!  KFC fries their chicken in special pressure cookers.  My pressure cooker’s manual said that oil was a no-no and could cause a fire, so I had to figure out another way.  I talked over my options with the hubs – just fry the chicken in oil until it was done or fry it for half the time, just to get the color and crispiness on the outside, and move it to the pressure cooker for the remainder of the cooking time to obtain moist, juicy chicken through and through.  He said to go for the latter.  So, here’s what I did…
Put 1 cup flour, 2 tbsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper and 1/2 tsp Accent (pure MSG) in a bag and shake to combine.
The whole chicken I bought and cut up was over 6 lbs and the breasts were huge, so I just fried the legs, thighs and wings.  I sprinkled them with salt and pepper and put them in the fridge for 2 hours. Then let them sit on the counter for 30 minutes to come back to room temperature.

 

I whisked together 1 egg and 2 cups milk (way too much liquid, but you can’t really cut an egg in half) and coated each chicken piece in the mixture.

 

Then I put each chicken piece in the seasoned flour bag and shook to coat.

 

I heated canola oil in my dutch oven to 350 degrees and put the thighs in 1st, since they would take the longest.  I cooked the thighs for 7 minutes and the legs and wings for 5 minutes.

 

These are my thighs after they came out of the oil.

 

These are my thighs and legs.  The legs did not brown as much as the thighs. I’m accounting this to the cooling of the oil as more chicken was placed in it.

 

These are my wings after coming out of the oil.

I forgot to take a picture of the chicken in the pressure cooker before closing it up.  Since there has to be some form of liquid in a pressure cooker, and it cannot be oil, I put 1 cup of water in the bottom.  I put the meat/steaming rack in, set the chicken pieces on top of it and set the timer to 7 minutes on high.

This is what the chicken looked like after it came out of the pressure cooker.  It was tender and juicy and tasted just like KFC – plenty salty.  LOL!  However, it was not crisp; it was soggy.  The hubs has suggested that next time, I pressure cook 1st to get the moist, juicy meat, and then fry to crisp up the outside.  I want to try that.  I also want to try just frying it.

Brussel Sprouts Have a Bad Rap

Aren’t they beautiful??

Poor Brussel Sprouts.  Poor, poor Brussel Sprouts.  Why do so many people hate you?  Most of those drinking the haterade haven’t even tried you and, sadly, never will.  *tsk, tsk*  They’re missing out, my friend.  We haven’t be friends long, but I intend to make up for that by spreading the word about you.  It’s OK; you’re safe here.  Nothing but love in our house…

I had Brussel Sprouts for the 1st time last year.  The Wegmas near us has a cooking station in the produce dept. and every weekend the same wonderful chef is there cooking and serving up a vegetable or fruit.  And not your mainstream produce: no green beans, potatoes or apples.  Always the less utilized: patty-pan squash, exotic mushrooms and brussel sprouts.  When I saw the brussel sprouts I was so excited.  I’d always wanted to try them and they looked so delicious.  How can you go wrong with a roasted vegetable?  I took a cup and fork and sniffed.  They don’t smell bad.  I hesitantly put a sprout quarter in my mouth.  OK, not instant ick.  I moved it off my tongue and started to chew.  It’s not slimy!  OMG, this tastes awesome!  I was so excited, that I poured the rest of the cup in my mouth and grabbed another one to share with my mens.  My face was all lit up like it was Christmas morning of my 5th year.  “You guys have got to try these!  There’s awesome!”

The hubs scrunched his face up as if he’d caught a whiff of a rotten diaper.  “No thanks,” he said.  “I was forced enough to eat those nasty things as a child and I’ll never eat them again.”  Nice.  Thanks for setting such a good example for our son.  God bless B, I think he tried them only b/c he didn’t want to disappoint me since I was so excited.  Fortunately, he loved them, too.  I grabbed a pound and put them in the cart.  “Just so we’re clear, I’m not eating them,” said the hubs.  “More for us,” said B.

I’ve made brussel sprouts at least a couple of times a month since then and each time I would offer some to the hubs.  “No,thank you,” he would reply.  However, for some reason, he decided to pop one in his mouth behind my back during the holidays and he got quite a shock – these were not his mother’s brussel sprouts.  And he loved them.  When we were kids, brussel sprouts were sold in the freezer aisle and, like most veggies back then, they were boiled.  That’s why they were slimy, smelly and, served without anything on them, tasted bad.

But not Wegmans brussel sprouts.  Oh, no.  I got the secret and I’m sharing it with all y’all because not only do I care about you, but also I want to rid brussel sprouts of their bad rap.  So, here’s the secret to the beautiful vegetable pictured, above:

  1. Pick off a couple of the outer leaves
  2. Wash and dry them
  3. Cut a thin slice off the bottom of the stems
  4. Half each sprout
  5. Toss in Wegmans Basting Oil
  6. Pour out onto a baking sheet in a single layer
  7. Sprinkle with kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  8. Roast at 350 for 30 minutes, turning once.
Now, I am allergic to olive oil so I cook with Wegmans Basting Oil.  You can substitute it with olive oil and any other spices or herbs you like.  I like that the basting oil is all flavored up for me.
I usually cook 1-2 pounds at a time and we’ve never had leftovers.  They’re like sweet potato fries; you snack on them the rest of the night and they’re gone!  However, this morning I roasted the above batch and pan-fried some pork chops for dinner.  I took some to work with me in my favorite Tupperware. During my dinner break, I popped my container in one of the cafeteria’s microwaves and dashed into the little on-site convenience store for a Pepsi before they closed.  As I took my dinner out of the microwave and walked over to a table I thought, “Oh, my. Someone’s dinner smells bad!”  As I shook my head at the “poor soul” with the stinky dinner, I removed the lid from my microwaved container and it hit me.  was the poor soul.  LOL!  It was the 1st time I’d ever reheated brussel sprouts and I learned a good lesson.  Good thing I wasn’t in the small break room.  I would have been stoned!  The smell was not really that bad.  Once the lid was off, it dissipated quickly and they still tasted great soggy.
So, please give brussel sprouts a try.  You’ll be surprised!  If you want, you can come over and I’ll even cook them for you.

Meatball-Stuffed Garlic Rolls

I recently joined Pinterest.  Wow!  That site, when it is up and firing on all cylinders, is fabulous!  Honestly, I just joined to see if I could get some more traffic to my blog, but I will get way more out of Pinterest than others will get out of my blog.  Well, while on Pinterest, I found this recipe for Meatball Bubble Biscuits on the blog Kathie Cooks.  Kathie’s picture looked so good, the hubs requested that I make it for dinner.

We have done a lot this weekend – yardwork, electrical/lighting work, errands, visiting family – that by the time we got home at 2pm today, I really did not feel like going back out to the store for the ingredients I did not have for the Meatball Bubble Biscuits.  But, no matter how tired he is, if I want something the hubs will go out for me.  So off I went.  And man was I rewarded when I got home!  He emptied and reloaded the dishwasher and scrubbed the stovetop for me.  Last night while I was in the kitchen and the hubs and B were in the family room, I glared at that dirty stovetop.  I am so tired of cleaning it all the time only to get dirty again the next time I cook.  So I grumbled at it, “I wish, just once, someone else would clean you.”  Although he did not let on last night, the hubs had heard me and set to scrubbing that thing as soon as I headed out to the store.  I love that man!

As usual, I did not follow the recipe to a “T”, but made my own adjustments.  Kathie’s recipe calls for pre-packaged, frozen meatballs and sliced cheese sticks.  I made my own meatballs using The Perfect Italian Meatballs recipe from Chow Ciao with Fabio.  This was the 2nd time I made Fabio’s meatballs and I will never make meatballs any other way, again.  Although, I also tweeked his recipe.

The Perfect Italian Meatballs recipe calls for raw shallots.  I only like raw onions added to 2 things: red onion on a salad and red onion on a good Italian hoagie.  I don’t even want onions on my pizza unless they have been caramelized first!  Other than that, I generally saute all members of the onion family before adding them to food.  So, I sauteed the shallots and garlic before adding them to the meatball recipe.

After wrapping my meatballs in the dough (no cheese sticks in my rolls b/c I have ricotta and parmesan inside my meatballs) and placing them in my 8″x8″ square pan, I brushed the tops with melted butter (something Kathie does not do in her recipe) before sprinkling on Italian seasoning and garlic powder.

The kitchen smelled good and these babies were scarffed up quickly.  All 3 of us loved them.  I made a big batch of meatballs and froze the rest, so I am sure I will be making these again.  I think they’d be great for a crowd!

Milwaukee Pork Stew

I love this recipe.  It’s so flavorful, filling and has a hint of sweetness.  I made it once for the hubs, long before B was born, and he did not like it.  (I cut this recipe out of a Betty Crocker recipe book that I bought at the checkout stand in the ’90s.)  The hubs was not a soup man back then.  The past couple of years I have made more soups and stews and he is liking them during the Fall and Winter.  So if I had made this for dinner for all of us, he may have finally liked it.  But I didn’t give him the chance.  I didn’t want to set myself up for one of those dinners that I think is great only to hear complaints from both members of my peanut gallery and then have them request something else.  So I made them Baked Potato and Sausage Soup and kept the Milwaukee Pork Stew to myself.  (Although, if you look at the pictures of both dinners, the pork looks more like a “soup” and the potato and sausage looks more like a “stew”.)  I halved the recipe, which is at the bottom of this post.

I cut a big, sweet onion into rings and then quartered them.

 

Cubed 2, thick-cut pork chops b/c that is what I had on hand, but you can use a pork roast, as the recipe calls for.  I mixed the flour with some salt and pepper and tossed the pork pieces in  the flour mixture to coat.

 

Browned the pork pieces on all sides in a medium-high heat dutch oven.

 

Then I added my onions, a diced shallot I wanted to use up and garlic.

 

Stirred occasionally and cooked until the onions softened. I had to give you a shot with the crusty bits on the bottom of the pan – my favorite part of cooking!  That’s where all the flavor is!

 

I added the broth (beef b/c I had no chicken), beer, bay leaf, brown sugar and red wine vinegar.  I had no parsley so it was left out.  I had no caraway seed so I substituted celery salt.  Brought the pot to a boil, scraped up all the crunchies from the bottom of the pan, reduced the heat and cooked for 1 hr 15 minutes.

 

1/3 cup flour 
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 lbs pork boneless sirloin or shoulder, cubed 
2 tbsp vegetable oil 
4 large onions, sliced into rings and quartered 
1 garlic clove, minced 
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 
1 tsp caraway seed 
1 bay leaf 
14.5 oz can chicken broth 
12 oz bottle of beer 
1 tbsp packed brown sugar 
2 tbsp red wine vinegar 
Mix flour, salt and pepper. Coat cubed pork with flour mixture. Heat oil in dutch oven over med-high heat. Cook pork in oil until lightly browned. Stir in onions and garlic. Cook 5 minutes, stiring occasionally. Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat, cover and cook over med-low heat 1 to 1.25 hours, stirring occasionally, until pork is tender. Remove bay leaf. 8 servings.
 
Don’t forget to serve with The Bread!

Baked Potato and Sausage Soup

I made this for the hubs and B’s dinner on Halloween.  I was in the mood for Milwaukee Pork Stew and made that for myself.  This recipe is easy and quick and simple changes can make it gluten-free or dairy-free if you want.

2 baking potatoes, baked and cooled 
8oz smoked sausage, sliced and quartered
1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 a small onion, diced 
2 tbsp flour 
3 cups milk or chicken stock
3/4 cup frozen corn, rinse to thaw
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese 
Fresh ground pepper, salt and onion powder, to taste
Add butter to dutch oven and heat medium-high.  Cook sausage and onion in dutch oven until sausage browns and onions are soft. While they are cooking, cut cooled baked potatoes in half, scoop out flesh and mash with a fork. Save skins for an appetizer another night or just dice up potatoes with skins for this soup; I have done both. Once onions are cooked, sprinkle with flour, stir to coat for a few minutes to cook out the “floury” taste. Gradually add milk or stock, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Continue to stir until mixture thickens, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan (the best part!). Add potatoes, corn and cheese to mixture and stir until cheese melts and everything is heated through. Add pepper, salt, onion powder and/or whatever other spice to suit your taste.  Serve with The Bread.
  • You can use fresh sausage that is GF and or DF in lieu of the smoked.
  • You can skip the flour or use a GF alternative
  • Use your favorite cooking oil in lieu of butter
  • The cheese can be left out and it will taste just as good
  • When I am planning this dish ahead of time, I’ll bake the potatoes in the oven with another night’s dinner to save energy.  If I am making this last minute, I throw the potatoes in the microwave for 8 minutes.
  • I made this the other night with milk b/c I was out of chicken stock, but I usually make it with chicken stock.

Recipe – Stuffed Chicken Breast with Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Earlier this month, I made a recipe called No Peeking Peking Chicken with the leg quarters (the chicken legs and thighs) of a whole chicken.  I froze the rest of that whole chicken, the breast quarters (breasts and wings) and thawed them for tonight’s dinner.  I cut off the wings and deboned the breast to stuff and roast it.  It was sooooooo good to eat, the house smelled so good while it cooked and it looked good on the plate (see pic above) – a trifecta!

Here are the two Breast quarters (a breast and a wing, each).

 

I cut out, using a boning knife, the spine of the chicken.

 

Then I cut off the chicken’s wings.

 

Using the tip of my boning knife, I cut the breast meat off of the ribs and breast bones.

 

The top left – breast and rib bones of the chicken.  Bottom left – I pulled out the chicken tenderloins.  Right – the boneless chicken breast halves.

 

I covered the boneless chicken breast with plastic wrap and pounded it flat and thin with the flat end of my meal mallet.

 

I made some stuffing and put it in the middle of the chicken breast. This is a lot of stuffing so that the chicken just covers it. I like it that way so that all of the chicken meat surface gets browned.  You could, however, put half as much stuffing inside and roll the breast up tighter for smaller rolls of chicken.

 

I placed the stuffed chicken breast in a foiled pan, rubbed it with Wegman’s Basting Oil and fresh ground pepper and placed cleaned and trimmed Brussel sprouts tossed in Wegman’s Basting Oil around it.  After 30 minutes in 325 degrees of a convection oven the chicken was only at 120 degrees.  The Brussel sprouts were done, so I pulled them out.  I upped the oven temp to 375 degrees and cooked the chicken for another 20 minutes.

 

The chicken is resting for 5 minutes to redistribute the juices and the Brussel sprouts look fabulous!

 

Plated up – stuffed, boneless chicken breast with roasted Brussel sprouts and canned chicken gravy.
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