Chicken breasts with lemon-butter sauce

Chicken breasts with lemon-butter sauce

letter butter chicken

There’s this specialty espresso shot at Starbucks that I really want to try, but haven’t felt bold enough to order it.

It’s sometimes called an Undertow, but I think the general Internet consensus is to not call “secret” Starbucks drinks by their made-up names and just order the drink the way you want. It’s a layered drink with vanilla syrup, milk and espresso. You take it all at once and taste the hot, bitter espresso first, then the creamy, cool milk, followed by the sweet syrup.

Sometimes you just want flavor to hit you in the face.

This dish has no vanilla syrup or creamy milk or bitter espresso, but it does hit you in the face.

Sometimes you just want to take a bite of chicken and taste every single ingredient you put into it in a perfect harmony of, well, POW.

There’s not so many ingredients here — some lemon, some lemon pepper, some butter and some breaded chicken. But it’s enough.

(Today is the last day to take the readers’ survey so if you haven’t yet, would you please? I have had 39 responses, and wouldn’t it be nice to get to a nice round 50?)

I started by pounding my chicken thin (doing this is really essential, and it really makes pan-frying a breeze). Then I breaded the chicken with a little flour, mixed with some salt and lemon pepper. [Read more...]

Slow cooker creamy salsa chicken

Slow cooker creamy salsa chicken

creamy salsa chicken

This slow cooker creamy salsa chicken is so easy that I seriously questioned whether it was worth posting.  But we all like easy dishes, I think. Especially delicious, easy dishes. Especially delicious, easy, largely hands-off dishes.

One of the things I love about cooking in the slow cooker is that the meat largely comes out perfectly tender. I can’t say the same for when I bake or pan-fry chicken.

To make this dish, [Read more...]

Back to basics: potatoes–types, baked, mashed, roasted

Back to basics: potatoes–types, baked, mashed, roasted

potatoes back to basics

Just a few of the many, many varieties of potatoes.

There are more than 4,000 types of potatoes in this world. Don’t worry, I’m not going to list them all. No matter what kind of type you use, you really only need to know one thing about your potato. Is it waxy, starchy or somewhere in between?

The potato you use depends largely on what you’re making. Here are the basics: [Read more...]

Pennsylvania Dutch schnitz pie

Pennsylvania Dutch schnitz pie

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This looks like an ordinary apple pie, but this pie has a secret: it’s made with schnitz.

What is schnitz?

(It would be easier to tell you my secrets if you would fill out the readers’ survey.)

Schnitz is (are?) dried apples, and the word comes from the German “schnitzen,” which means, to carve.

During apple season, the Pennsylvania Dutch sliced and dried harvested apples to preserve them. Then they used those apples to create savory dishes, such as schnitz un knepp, and sweet dishes such as this schnitz pie. (Sidebar: I made schnitz un knepp last weekend, and it was not my favorite thing ever.)

This was the second dessert I made for wine night and let me tell you dried apples have an expected concentration of flavor. My friend Renatta said the pie sort of tasted like a Christmas candle because it has major apple/orange/cinnamon flavor going on. Not inedible, but a little overpowering. Over the next few days, the flavor really mellowed out, so this is definitely a make-days-before kind of pie, which, let’s be real, are the best kind.

I started by reconstituting dried apples. That is a fancy word for [Read more...]

A coffee cake for a (belated) National Coffee Cake Day

A coffee cake for a (belated) National Coffee Cake Day

Hey guys! I’m really excited to share a post written by my super creative, funny, fun cousin, Elisha. She recently celebrated National Coffee Cake Day, with none other than a coffee cake! The coffee cake is light and fluffy with delightful swirls of cinnamon-sugar and nuts!

(Also, have you filled out the readers’ survey, yet?!)

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Happy Belated National Coffee Cake Day!

Several years ago when my way cooler, younger cousin accepted my friend request on Facebook, I thought that I was cool by association.  Then recently she asked if I wanted to guest post on her blog!  Clearly, my coolness factor has gone up no matter what my teenage kids think.  However, what on earth would I blog about?  Then inspiration hit me at work on Friday.

I am the first person you see when you enter the office.  On my desk is a digital frame.  Each day I create slides to welcome clients to the office.  What started out as a joke between my CEO and I has become an office expectation:  I list the holidays that are celebrated each day.  More specifically, I focus on the lesser known holidays.  For example, April 7 was among other things: National No Housework Day (which I made a very dedicated effort to observe), National Beer Day and National Coffee Cake Day.

In addition to it being an office expectation, my family has enjoyed my observance of these lesser-known holidays, as well.  There was the night I made waffles for International Waffle Day, and the time I made a boatload of oatmeal cookies for National Oatmeal Cookie Day and forgot to take them with me to work.  (Don’t get me started on meals based on movie themes… I really hope that when my kids are old and have families of their own and get a good laugh when they remember these moments.)

Did you make Coffee Cake on Monday?  I made Coffee Cake really late Saturday night because I started my observance of National No Housework Day a day early and I knew there was no chance I was making a Coffee Cake after work on Monday.

According to Answers,  “Food historians generally agree the concept of coffee cake [eating sweet cakes with coffee] most likely originated in Northern/Central Europe sometime in the 17th century. Why this place and time? These countries were already known for their traditional for sweet yeast breads. When coffee was introduced to Europe these cakes were a natural accompaniment. German, Dutch, and Scandinavian immigrants brought their coffee cake recipes with them to America.”

For my version, I adapted Taste of Home’s recipe.

I would like to say that I followed the recipe exactly.  And if I said that, I would be lying.  For example, somewhere in my house is a 10-inch tube pan.  When we moved in (a year ago) I must have protected this pan and put in somewhere to keep it super safe during the 4.5-mile move.  So super safe, in fact, that I have no idea where it is.  I used a Bundt cake pan.  It worked.  Also there was a little issue with the sour cream.  And as much as I would like to share that I switched out the sour cream for nonfat Greek yogurt to make it healthier, I would again be lying.  I didn’t make it to Target to pick up sour cream until about 9 p.m., and they were completely out, and I didn’t want to make another stop on my way home.  (Maybe I shouldn’t grocery shop at Target…) Lastly I swapped the walnuts for pecans, for no other reason than I don’t like walnuts.

I started my creaming the butter and sugar together until the batter was light and fluffy.

1 coffee cake

Then I added the eggs, one at a time, beating after each time and added the vanilla. [Read more...]

Slow-cooker coffee-braised brisket

Slow-cooker coffee-braised brisket

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We are friends, right? We hang out. We break bread. We talk about food. This essentially the foundation of all my friendships. I feel like because we’re friends, good friends even, that I can tell you a secret and you won’t judge me.

Sundays are my lazy day. I  don’t leave the house on Sundays. I stay in my pajamas all day. And what’s worse, is that I always make a slow-cooker dinner on Sunday. So not only do I not leave the house, but I try to find the easiest dinners to make. I am sitting here, at 8 p.m. on a Sunday, unshowered, in a sweatshirt and yoga pants, watching some half-interesting documentary on Netflix, after having ate (having eaten?) this brisket that practically cooked itself, and I don’t even feel bad about it.

Coffee is so versatile. It adds earthy richness. It is so flavorful, but when mixed with savory meats it’s not overpowering. I’m a big fan of coffee in things. This has coffee grounds and brewed coffee and onions and cumin and paprika. All of those flavors that cut through the fat of beef and bring out its flavor.

STEP ONE. Create a spice rub. I love spice rubs. It feels so … real. Real cooking like kneading bread or sifting flour. I know, I’m totally weird. It’s Pajama Day. Weirdness abounds on Pajama Day.

I combined garlic powder salt, pepper, paprika, cumin and brown sugar.  [Read more...]

Back to basics: hard-boiled eggs (for Easter!) and an avocado and egg salad sandwich

Back to basics: hard-boiled eggs (for Easter!) and an avocado and egg salad sandwich

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Easter is almost here and that means it’s time for egg dying! We probs won’t be dying eggs for Easter (perhaps for Spring Brunch decorations), but I make hard-boiled eggs to eat. There are two methods for making hard-boiled eggs: the stove and the oven.

(But, first, I want to hear from you! Would you please take my readers’ survey!?)

The stove takes less time, but is more hands-on than oven, and I think the shells are easier to peel. But you can make more eggs at a time in the oven.

I made them both ways to show you how.

Both methods involve ice water to dunk the cooked eggs in at the end to stop the cooking process/make them easier to peel. I don’t have ice in our freezer, but I do take a bunch of stuff out and put in a stainless steel bowl to make very cold water. I leave it in the freezer while the eggs are cooking. [Read more...]

Apple betty

Apple betty

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I was telling my mom about this apple dessert — layers of whole-wheat bread cubes, apples, brown sugar and butter — when she asked, “So, who was Betty?”

“I don’t know, but she was a genius,” I said.

This dessert is super easy to make and is absolutely delicious. I made this for Wine Night, and I’d say it was successful.

I’ll get more into the construct of course, but the whole dessert is topped with butter, and as it bakes I liked imagining the butter melting and dripping through the layers brown sugar and apples before finally being absorbed by the savory bread, and it’s just a lovely image, I think.

I started with some slices of whole-wheat bread, that I chopped into cubes as if you were making stuffing or croutons. It’s important not to use the manufactured bread crumbs that come in that cylindrical container. You want your bread cubes to have some structure. I left the crusts on. I think that’s where the flavor lives. [Read more...]

Chicken, broccoli and quinoa casserole

Chicken, broccoli and quinoa casserole

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I’ve been working out with a personal trainer for a number of weeks at this “sports complex” that is basically an old building that has a track with some sports courts in the middle. The trainer has a little room off of the track that has dumbbells, those elastic band things and punching bags. It was sufficient until I broke my foot and was restricted to bikes only. My little sports complex did not have stationary bikes. Or any exercise machines really. So we joined a real gym. It’s been a transition. I feel anxious when I go to the gym. I understand this is normal, that people feel anxious at gyms all the time, but it has taken the steam out of my workouts a little.

I think I’m anxious for lots of reason — it’s new, it’s unfamiliar, I don’t know anyone there, I’m not sure how to use all of the machines, people there know each other but don’t know me. Anyway, the solution here is just to keep going. Show up. Get comfortable. Meet people. It’s not that hard, but it’s really hard. And, although I’m sure you guys are sick of me saying this, but it’s the same thing in your very own kitchen. I wasn’t that comfortable making soups or stews until I forced myself to have soup week, and make one every day. And the first few soups were a little bit disastrous, but you just have to keep trying.

Anyway there’s little room away from the big main room at the gym. And inside of the little room there are, like, three treadmills, three bikes, a stair-stepper, a rower and some dumbbells. This is where I’ve been working out. It’s less intimidating to me than the big main, two-story room. Eventually I’d like to be in the main room. Hell, eventually I’d like to be in the main room, lifting barbels and stuff. But for now, it’s like a little baby step into the main room.

The dish of this post is one of those “more involved casseroles.” That means that you don’t just dump all the ingredients in the dish and bake it and let it go. There are steps during the baking, but it’s not too hard. It’s like the little room at the gym. You’re leaping from the “sports complexes” of slow cooker meals and casseroles into something a little harder, a little more involved.

This casserole is hardy. but wonderfully healthy. It tastes like comfort food, without the guilt. It’s good for cold nights as we transition into spring. Without the chicken, I think it would also make a good side.

I started by mixing up my sauce over medium heat on the stove. The sauce included soy sauce, cream of chicken soup and chicken broth. The soy sauce is more for density and richness, not for flavor. Just trust me. After I brought it to a boil while whisking, I removed it from the stove. [Read more...]

Slow cooker ranch pesto chicken and pasta

Slow cooker ranch pesto chicken and pasta

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You guys already know that I love pesto. I LOVE pesto. It’s like the best sauce ever. I also love Ranch dressing. Sometimes we order take out from a local restaurant, and when I ask for Ranch, they know it’s me calling, which sounds sort of pathetic now that I type that out. So this recipe inspired by Picky Palate’s combines two things I love, and then I took that and ran with it and thew some pasta and broccoli in there as well, and it was f-ing incredible.

To start, I combined pesto, chicken broth and Ranch dressing powder in a slow cooker with six chicken thighs. I let this cook for seven hours, removed it from the slow cooker and chopped it into bite-sized pieces. Then I boiled the pasta and broccoli (together in the same water for efficiency!), drained that, and threw that in the slow cooker, along with some Parmesan, to get it all mixed up in the sauce. Easy peasy, and so good!

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Slow cooker ranch pesto chicken and pasta

Total Time: 8 hours

Slow cooker ranch pesto chicken and pasta

6 boneless chicken thighs
6 ounces pesto
1 package Ranch seasoning mix (3 tablespoons)
1/2 cup chicken broth
16 ounces rotini (or other pasta)
10 ounces frozen broccoli florets
4 ounces Parmesan

Combine chicken, pesto, Ranch and chicken broth in a slow cooker, and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours. In the last hour, remove chicken from slow cooker and cut into bite-sized pieces. Return to slow cooker and boil pasta and broccoli until done (about 10 minutes). Drain and add to slow cooker, along with Parmesan, stirring to distribute evenly.

Notes

Adapted from Picky Palate.

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