RUSTIC CREAMY PARMESAN CHICKEN

I ALWAYS make a recipe as written the first time. You have to see what they were aiming for after all.  The next time through I make changes to appeal to my family’s taste as well as my ease and anything I feel will make the recipe MORE flavorful and/or MORE healthy.

I originally found this one on facebook and it was delicious, but hubby hated the bones so I now make it with boneless breasts. He also is NOT fond of wilted spinach so I cut back on the spinach and increased the parsley.  I also increased the garlic – A LOT!

RUSTIC CREAMY PARMESAN CHICKEN
4 chicken thighs, bone-in & skin-on  skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Wondra flour

2 teaspoons fresh ground Pink Himalayan sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 tablespoon oil
3 6 cloves garlic, chopped minced
1 LARGE shallot, diced
½ Vidalia onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 2 cups fresh spinach
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2/3 1/2 cup grated powdered Parmesan
1/2 cup 2 tablespoons FLAT LEAF parsley, chopped

  • Generously season chicken with the salt and pepper.
  • Dredge in Flour until VERY well coated.
  • Heat oil in a skillet over medium-low heat.
  • Sear chicken well on both sides. Move the chicken around from time to time to ensure it cooks evenly.
  • Remove chicken from the pan and keep warm.
  • Add garlic, shallot and onion, stirring until onions are translucent.
  • Add the heavy cream, salt, and pepper, bringing to a boil.
  • Stir in the tomatoes and spinach until the spinach is wilted.
  • Add the Parmesan cheese and parsley, stirring until the sauce has thickened slightly.
  • Place the chicken back in the pan, spooning the sauce on top of the chicken.
  • Serve with pasta!

CROCK POT BUFFALO CHICKEN

My favorite slow cooker took a dive this past week so I ordered a new one and I love it!! My old one was great, it was a west bend with a non-stick surface and griddle base, but was a bit limiting when trying to make say a pot roast.  I did a bit of research and found this one:

It’s only 3.5 quart and has latches for carrying making it perfect for pot lucks AND is the perfect size for two!  It came with a little recipe book and since I woke up with a cold I did a little juggling on my menu and made this recipe.  Because I felt so bad I adjusted it to what I had on hand, which included “GASP” canned soup and I hate to admit it was YUMMY

I will make a few additions next time, and there WILL BE a next time, and I will adjust for “REAL” soup base as well as serve it over mashed potatoes instead of the noodles for our personal preference.

CROCK POT BUFFALO CHICKEN
1 can Cream of chicken soup or 1 batch real soup base
1/4 cup bleu cheese or ranch dressing (I used Ken’s Sweet Vidalia Onion)
1/4 cup Cayenne pepper sauce (I used Frank’s original hot pepper sauce)
1 stalk celery, sliced
+1 small onion, chopped
+1 carrot, chopped
4 ounces shredded Monterey Jack (I used half jack, half medium cheddar)
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 batch of your favorite mashed potatoes

  • Whisk together the soup, dressing and hot sauce.
  • Fold in carrots, celery, onions and half the cheese.
  • Spread into crock pot base and layer chicken pieces in a single layer.
  • Cover and cook on low 6 hours.
  • With 2 forks, shred the chicken into bite sized pieces.
  • Add remaining cheese and stir well.
  • Serve over prepared mashed potatoes.
  • Enjoy!

PIMIENTO CHEESE

As a kid I hated Pimiento Cheese.  What I didn’t realize is what my family put out with crackers was NOT real food LOL.  You know the jelly jar cheese spread you find at the grocery store.  Jack Allen’s Kitchen serves a small dab of their Pimiento Cheese with a cracker as a nibble before you order and it is fantastic!  I even bought a jar to bring home and it was the first recipe I tried from their cook book when it arrived. At home we tried it with all sorts of crackers before deciding a simple Ritz cracker was the best.
PIMIENTO CHEESE
8 ounces softened cream cheese
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1/2 pound Medium Cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
1 large Red Bell Pepper, washed, seeded, roasted and chopped fine
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Sherry Vinegar*
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • Mix together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, Vinegar and salt until smooth.
  • Blend in the grated Monterey Jack cheese and grated Cheddar cheese.
  • Fold in bell pepper until well distributed.
  • Chill well.
  • Serve with crackers.

*I didn’t have any so I used Golden Balsamic Vinegar

CILANTRO LIME CHICKEN

This started out as Chicken Francaise from Recipe 30.  Then I realized I had forgotten to purchase one ingredient (a lemon so I used a lime) and accidentally purchased something different (cilantro) from what the recipe actually called for which was parsley.  So I did what I always do, I substituted the most likely ingredients and voile’, we have a new recipe. I also don’t like olive oil so I substituted avocado oil. I used significantly more garlic also.  When the chicken was gone I poured the remaining sauce over the carrots and they were really good.

CILANTRO LIME CHICKEN
4 chicken steaks or 2 large breasts, halved
WONDRA flour for dredging
2 JUMBO eggs
1 handful of fresh cilantro, chopped fine
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 cup Moscato white wine
1 cup chicken stock
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Avocado oil
4 tablespoons butter
Juice of 1 large lime
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to warm.
  • Whisk together eggs, salt, pepper, half of the cilantro and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese. Pour into a shallow dish large enough to fit a chicken breast.
  • Season eggs with salt and pepper, give them a light beat.
  • In another shallow dish, add the flour and a little more salt and pepper.
  • Heat the Avocado oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium high heat. 
  • Dredge the chicken thoroughly in the flour followed by the egg wash, coating to cover well.
  • Cook on each side about 4-5 minutes (depending on thickness) until golden and cooked through.
  • Remove chicken to warm plate in oven and let rest.
  • Turn the heat up under the same pan and add your wine whisking well.
  • Add the crushed garlic.
  • Add the lime juice.
  • Add the chicken stock.
  • Add the remainder of chopped cilantro.
  • Add the remainder of butter and reduce the sauce for 2 minutes on full heat until it starts to thicken.
  • Return the chicken to the sauce and turn to coat in sauce.
  • Plate chicken immediately and top with sauce.

PAN SEARED CHICKEN with CHILE LIME GRAVY & THREE CHEESE BLOOMING POTATO

I’ve been binge watching Junk Food Flip and The Great British Baking Show lately at night trying to play catch up and clean out the DVR list.  I was so happy when Nadiya won The Great British Baking Show this year!  She was so cute and sweet and won so many of the technical challenges and star baker that it was only fitting.  I really liked Flora too, but in the end she just tried too hard to do too much when she should have been focusing more on the specific challenges.

It was an episode of Junk Food Flip that inspired this dish for us.  Bobby Deen was making a piece of fried chicken for a sandwich and to lessen the fat and carbohydrates he used a rice flour and then only the egg whites whisked with hot sauce. It looked and sounded so good that I just had to try something similar.

I was also seeing these blooming potatoes all over Facebook and wondered what they were all about so had to give it a try too – only seemed reasonable with an experimental meal. I used 1 really LARGE potato for the both of us and then split in half after the baking.

PAN SEARED CHICKEN with CHILE LIME GRAVY 
          & THREE CHEESE BLOOMING POTATO & SWEET and SOUR TOMATOES

4 chicken steaks (think cut breasts)
1/3 cup rice flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons Frank’s Chile Lime Hot Sauce
fresh ground Salt & Pepper, to taste
1-3 tablespoons butter**

  • Whisk together the flours in a shallow dish for dredging.
  • Whisk egg whites and Frank’s Chile Lime Hot Sauce in another shallow dish.
  • Heat pan with butter or oil over medium high.
  • Pat dry chicken breasts.
  • Generously salt and pepper each breast.
  • Dredge each breast in flour mixture, then egg mixture and then flour mixture again shaking off the excess.
  • Place chicken in heated pan searing the first side for about 5 minutes.
  • Turn chicken and sear other side until cooked through.

CHILE LIME GRAVY
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons rice flour
1 small can green chile sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons heavy cream

  • Melt butter over medium high heat.
  • Whisk in rice flour until smooth and golden.
  • Add chicken broth and green chile sauce alternately, whisking until well blended.
  • Bring to a SLOW boil, backing off to a simmer as soon as it begins to boil.
  • Add heavy cream whisking until well blended and smooth.

BLOOMING POTATO adapted from The Gunny Sack
1 potato per person
avocado oil
butter
salt and pepper
grated medium cheddar
grated Parmesan
grated smoke Gruyere

  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • Cut the top off of the potatoes.
  • Use a small, thin, flexible knife to cut rings around the inside of the potato.
  • Flip the potato over and make cuts all the way around the potato, leaving a small space at the top uncut. I also put my thumb on the top of the potato and made the cuts around it leaving a small strip of uncut skin. These cuts go all the way through to the center of the potato.
  • Carefully flip the potato back over and place in baking dish.
  • Brush the whole potato with avocado oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
  • Bake for 30 minutes of baking. 
  • Pour melted butter into potatoes and brush all around the top.
  • Sprinkle with more sea salt. Return to the oven for an additional 30 minutes. 
  • Add cheeses and return them to the oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes to melt and toast the cheese.

SWEET & SOUR TOMATOES
1 box cherry tomatoes, halved or cut into thirds if they are large
fresh ground salt & pepper, taste
1 tablespoon sugar
splash avocado oil
1 tablespoon STAR golden balsamic vinegar

  • Toss tomatoes with all the ingredients.
  • Chill.
  • Enjoy.

NOTE: **I use a copper non-stick pan and don’t need much oil at all so adjust for your cooking pan.

MEATBALLS MARINARA

I cut this recipe from one of my aunt’s old magazines because it sounded SOOOO good – just simple enough to NOT take ALL day, but flavorful enough to make everyone’s palette stand up and take notice.

The recipe calls for great big meatballs served over pasta which are often better in theory than in practice and while they were tasty I will make twice as many next time at half the size – just personal preference for hubby and I.

Most meatball recipes call for equal amounts of pork and beef, but theirs uses much more beef than pork – a mixture that held its shape well, but allowed for very moist meatballs. I made just a few changes to use what I had on hand and hubby said it was some of the best I ever made.

MEATBALLS & MARINARA serves 8 easily
recipe CHANGES in red

ONION PORTION
1/4 cup olive avocado oil
2 3 onions, chopped fine
1 shallot, chopped fine
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  • Cook onions and shallot until golden, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Add garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Transfer half of onion mixture to large bowl and set aside.

MARINARA PORTION
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup water
4 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil leaf
Salt
1 – 2 teaspoons sugar, as needed

  • Add tomato paste to remaining onion mixture in pot and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add wine and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in water and tomatoes, simmering over low heat until sauce is no longer watery, 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Stir in cheese and basil and adjust seasonings with salt and sugar.

MEATBALL PORTION
4 slices hearty white sandwich bread extra sour dough
3/4 cup milk
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 large eggs
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck (80 percent lean)

  • Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees.
  • Mash bread and milk in bowl with reserved onion mixture until smooth.
  • Add remaining ingredients, except ground beef, to bowl and mash to combine.
  • Add beef and knead with hands until well combined.
  • Form mixture into 2 1/2-inch meatballs (you should have about 16 meatballs), place on rimmed baking sheet, and bake until well browned, about 20 minutes.
  • Transfer meatballs to pot with sauce.
  • Simmer for 15 minutes. Serve over pasta. (Meatballs and marinara can be frozen for up to 1 month.)

TROPICAL PORK KEBABS

I’m continuing yet again with my experimentation streak and another recipe torn from the pages of a magazine.  At least this time I know It was from Cooking Light September 2011. I made a few changes to accommodate my family’s likes and my pantry and am VERY pleased with the final recipe.

Since it’s just the 2 of us I also make two recipes at a time when I need to use the grill – it’s just plain easier! LOL the hard part is making sure that I use the right sauce on the right meat.

TROPICAL PORK KEBABS
1 1/4 cup SMUCKERS apricot PINEAPPLE preserves*
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 1 inch pieces
Fresh ground salt and pepper, to taste
PAM

  • Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  • Place preserves in a 2 cup measure cup and heat on high in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir and heat for another 30 seconds.
  • Stir in soy sauce, lemon juice and garlic.
  • Place 2/3 cup of the mixture in a large Ziploc bag.
  • Add pork to bag and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Remove pork from bag, discarding the marinade.
  • Thread pork pieces evenly onto skewers.**
  • Generously salt and pepper skewers.
  • Coat grill rack with PAM.
  • Arrange skewers on hot grill.
  • Baste with a third of remaining sauce.
  • Grill 3-4 minutes.
  • Turn pork over and baste again with another 1/3 of sauce.
  • Grill another 3-4 minutes.
  • Baste with remaining sauce.

*I prefer apricot pineapple, but the original recipe called for apricot only preserves.
** I use Fire wires. They are flexible cable skewers. These are AMAZING!!!!! If you don’t have a set, you NEED a set!

GRILLED PEPSI CHICKEN

I’m continuing my experimentation streak with a recipe torn from the pages of an unknown magazine that was originally titled Grilled Chicken with Cola Sauce.  I made a few changes to accommodate my family’s likes and my pantry and am VERY pleased with the final recipe.

Since it’s just the 2 of us I also make two recipes at a time when I need to use the grill – it’s just plain easier! LOL the hard part is making sure that I use the right sauce on the right meat.

 GRILLED PEPSI CHICKEN
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 large shallot, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 ounces (3/4 cup) Pepsi
1/3 cup Hunt’s Jalapeno ketchup
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
PAM

  • Preheat grill to medium high.
  • In a sauce pan over medium high heat swirl oil to coat. Heat oil for a minute or two.
  • Add shallots and saute for 2 minutes.
  • Add garlic sauteing for a minute more until fragrant, stirring constantly.
  • Add Pepsi, Hunt’s Jalapeno ketchup, apple cider vinegar Worcestershire sauce and chili powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes or until sauce has reduced to 3/4 cup. Set aside 1/3 cup in reserve, keep warm.
  • In a small bowl combine sugar, paprika, salt and cumin until well blended.
  • Rub chicken completely with sugar rub.
  • Spray grill rack with PAM.
  • Arrange chicken on the grill and baste with sauce.
  • Grill 5 minutes, baste again and cook another 5 minutes.
  • Serve with reserved sauce.

SMOTHERED PORK CHOPS

I originally found this recipe in COOK’S ILLUSTRATED  and changed it very little.  I served it with rice here for a change, but really prefer it served with mashed potatoes or buttered noodles since it makes such a nice gravy.

SMOTHERED PORK CHOPS
3 slices bacon, diced
2 tablespoons Avocado oil
2 tablespoons Wondra flour
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
4 bone-in thick pork chops
2 sweet onions, halved and sliced thin
2 tablespoons water
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh minced thyme
1 tablespoon minced parsley 
salt and pepper to taste

  • Fry bacon over medium heat, stirring frequntly for 8-10 minutes until browned. Remove with slotted spoon to a paper towel and allow to drain.
  • Reduce heat and add oil to make 2 tablespoons total in pan.
  • Whisk in flour and cook until golden like the color of peanut butter.
  • Slowly add broth and increase heat, whisking continuously until you reach a slow boil. Cover and set aside.
  • Pat pork chops dry.
  • Season both sides with salt and pepper.
  • In a large skillet bring 1 tablespoon of the avocado oil to high heat. Add pork chops and brown 2-3 minutes each side. Transfer chops to a plate.
  • Add remaining oil to skillet and bring to heat.
  • Add onions and water to skillet browning until just beginning to caramelize.  Be sure to scrape up any browned bits from the skillet.
  • Add thyme and garlic cooking until fragrant.
  • Add pork chops back into pan and pour sauce from other pan over top.
  • Simmer 20-30 minutes until pork is tender and cooked through.
  • Remove chops to a warming platter.
  • Stir in parsley and season sauce with salt and pepper.  Continue cooking until it reaches a gravy like consistency.
  • Spoon over pork chops and top with reserved bacon.

PARMESAN PEPPERONI CHICKEN

I found this recipe in Woman’s World, but immediately thought I needed to change it to be a bit less heavy and with no bones.  The original recipe called for bone in, skin on chicken breasts.  We just don’t do skin on chicken unless it is that occasional Cajun fried chicken breast or chicken fried chicken steak.  I hate bone in chicken unless it’s at a picnic and fried or BBQed. Even with my changes this was a real treat!

PARMESAN PEPPERONI CHICKEN aka PIZZA CHICKEN
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
8-12 pieces pepperoni
2-4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 small red onion, sliced thin into rings
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice from 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Spray baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Lay chicken breast in a single layer.
  • Sprinkle with lemon juice.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Top with pepperoni slices.
  • Top with garlic and onion slices.
  • Top with Mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through and Mozzarella is beginning to brown.
  • Top with Parmesan cheese and serve.

SLOW COOKER BALSAMIC CHICKEN

SLOW COOKER BALSAMIC CHICKEN

1 tablespoon. avocado oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound baby carrots
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1 onion, sliced
1 pound green beans
Fresh chopped parsley for garnish

  • Pour olive oil and garlic in the bottom of a 6-qt slow cooker. Line the bottom with baby carrots, then place the chicken thighs over the carrots.
  • Season the chicken thighs with salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil and vinegar. Top with sliced onion.
  • Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Add green beans during the last 30 minutes of cooking time.
  • Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve immediately.

ROYAL CHOCOLATE CAKE

    This recipe is the perfect moist chocolate cake that is great with a simple fruit topping or a simple cream cheese frosting or better yet a decadent chocolate frosting – your choice.

    CAKE
    6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
    3 cups all purpose flour
    1 tablespoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
    1 1/2 teaspoon PURE Vanilla Extract
    1 1/2 cups cold water

    • Preheat oven to 350°.
      Grease and flour two 8-inch or one 13×9 cake pans.
    • Sift cocoa, flour, baking soda, salt and sugar into a medium bowl, mix well. 
    • Combine mayonnaise, vanilla and water in an electric mixer at low speed until smooth. 
    • Slowly sift in dry mixture until just incorporated (do not over beat). 
    • Pour batter into cake pans and bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. 
    • Cool on wire racks and frost with your favorite chocolate frosting.

    CHOCOLATE ICING
    1 cup butter. softened
    1 cup cocoa
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    5-6 cups confectioners’ sugar
    6 or more tablespoons milk

    • In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and cocoa with whisk attachment until smooth. 
    • Add vanilla. 
    • Add confectioners’ sugar alternately with milk until icing reaches a spreadable consistency. 

     NOTES:

    • You may not need all 6 cups of sugar 
    • You may need more than 6 tablespoons of milk

    CREAM CHEESE CHOCOLATE ICING
    8-ounces cream cheese, room temperature

    1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
    2 tablespoons cocoa
    3 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
    1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
      • In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese and butter until creamy.
      • With the mixer on low, slowly add sugar and cocoa, scraping down the sides of the bowls as necessary.
      • Add vanilla and increase mixer speed to medium. Blend until frosting is fluffy, about 1 minute.