Monday, November 24, 2008

One Pan Dinner: Feta Spinach Chicken Roulade & Vegetable Drawer Medley

Feta & Spinach Chicken Roulade Dinner with Cornbread Stuffing and Vegetable Drawer Medley

A collection of cookbooks can be a precarious and wondrous thing to have. Precarious because you think, "I'll never get through all of these recipes! What was I thinking?" and wondrous because, "I'll never get through all these recipes! What was I thinking?!" One such cookbook I own is called Restaurant Favorites at Home. Inside this book are many restaurant dishes 'scaled down' in ingredients and preparation to be made in at least an intermediate cook's home. On many occasions I opened that book determined to finish just one of the unbelievably divine dishes inside, and each time I opened that cookbook I closed it feeling intimidated, feeling defeated, feeling as if I had no business cooking at all and will from hereon out surrerender to eating out forever. Past this past Saturday was different-I was hellbent on cooking something out of that book when I stumbled upon the Feta Spinach Chicken Roulade.

I have made several roulades so I was ready for this challenge and thought, "Bring in On fancy cookbook! I ain't scared of you no more!" Liberated and empowered I preheated the oven to 400 degrees, sauteed flat leaf spinach in extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and garlic, pounded and trimmed my boneless, skinless chicken breasts, covered those breasts with fat free feta cheese and the cooked spinach and rocked that roll! Don't be afraid to use toothpicks to secure your roll, or roulade, before putting it through the three phases of breading: 1) all purpose flour 2) beaten egg and canola oil 3)bread crumbs.
Once the rolls have been properly breaded, pan fry the rolls in extra virgin olive oil over low heat. Be sure to use tongs to evenly brown the rolls on all sides. Once your color is all even, whack those bad boys on a baking sheet and put them in the preheated oven to continue cooking for 12-15 minutes. Once they are done, take them out too cool so the toothpicks can be fished out and the rolls can be sliced.

But before we get to the cooling and cutting, let's look at the Vegetable Draw Medley. I'll give you one wild guess how I came up with the name. :) Taking the parsnips, celery, and yellow pepper I had just hanging out in the fridge I cut them to similar sizes. Once the chicken roulades are in the overn, put some fresh evtra virgin olive oil in the same pan and bring up to temperature over a medium-high heat. Put in some more garlic and lemon juice then the celery. Let the celery cook for a few minutes before adding the yellow pepper and parsnips.

Vegetable Drawer Medley

Salt and pepper to taste the whole pan and sautee the whole shabang together for about 8-10 minutes and your medley will be fresh, delicious
, and ready for eating! Put some cornbread stuffing on an over safe plate and put it in the preheated oven for 1o minutes to reheat. Cut your chicken, put all three items on a plate, and this one-pan-three-dish-dinner is a meal fit for a queen with little mess to clean up. TAKE THAT Restaurant Favorites at Home Cookbook!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Cornbread Cinderella Story

Cornbread Stuffing

Remember that spicy cornbread a few posts back? Well, one of my curses in the kitchen is making too much food for a couple. My first years of cooking was for a family of four and taking my amounts down a notch is simply not in my programming. For the spicy cornbread, of course, I made too much and had more than 3/4 of the loaf leftover.

That household of four I cooked for comprised of three kids and one single mom. Times were often very lean, so lean in fact that when we were very young our family's food was provided by our local church. We didn't own a car during that moment in time so after we rode our two bicycles to church services on Sundays then back home, we would dress down, get back on the bikes and head to the rectory for a few bags of staple items. The weekly donation was a ham, white rice, powered milk, peas, pancake mix, peanut butter, honey, and wheat bread. Food became so precious to us after our mother pulled us up and out that we never wasted a morsel of whatever was in the kitchen. Taking that history lesson into account, I now look at leftovers as an exciting way to try new recipes and flavors.

Anybody knows the best thing to do with old bread is make a new stuffing, and with Thanksgiving around the corner this recipe could come in handy for the holiday or after! Originally, I found an Apple Pecan cornbread stuffing from and it fit all my ingredient needs except I needed to make it my own. The recipe follows:
  • 9x7 loaf of cornbread - or what's left of it :)
  • 8 dry oz. of herb-seasoned stuffing
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 tblsp. chopped parsley
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped bartlett pear
  • 3/4 cup peeled and chopped carrots
  • 1/2 chopped large Spanish onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 3 beaten eggs
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees & butter a 3qt. or 9x13 casserole dish.
  • Chop all veggies, fruit, parsley, and pecans.
  • Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped onions and celery. Salt & pepper to taste.
  • Sautee 10 minutes and take off heat.
  • In a large bowl add crumbled cornbread, stuffing, parsley, salt, and fresh ginger. Use ground ginger if fresh ginger isn't in the cupboard.
  • Mix in onion, celery, and butter mixture then pears, carrots, pecans, beaten eggs, and apple juice. Combine via stirring until thoroughly mixed.
  • Transfer to greased casserole dish.
  • Bake for 35 minutes and serve.
Ciao! Mangia!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sack That Lunch, Save Some $$$

We all know that times, they are a tough, and those purse strings are the tightest that most of us have ever seen. There are lots of ways to cut corners and take control over your personal spending. My number one way to save, coupons and sales baby! While most people think taking a trip to a Walgreen's for their sale prices plus coupon savings on things like shampoo and paper towels, than to the local farmers' stand for cheap and fresh fruits and veggies, and lastly to the supermarket is an outrageous amount of travel-you'd be pleasantly surprised on how much less your weekly food bill will be.

My number two guide to saving $$ on food is to SACK THAT LUNCH! No one knows better than I the 1 hour oasis going out to lunch can bring from that 8 hour office day. However, spending an average of $10 a day will get you to $50 a week in no time plus the regular food bill. Instead of taking that luxurious lunch trip to your local sushi, salad, sandwich, or pizza joint take the time-off hit and bring your lunch because what I'm about to show you will blow your mind and seriously satisfy your wallet. I know the picture below is a bit small to read, but read the large print that says,

Sack Lunch "TOTAL COST - $2.64!!!!"
What you can't read I am about to illuminate you with. Here is a item-price breakdown based on what I bought in the supermarket and the local fruit stand. Let's start all the way to the reader's right-hand side. We have a Handful of Potato Chips from a large 1lb. bag at $2.99, so we averaged this portion at $0.30. Another great tip for taking your salty snacks to work is reuse that ziploc bag. There's enough waste in this world and this way, you're saving money as well as a tinsy bit of the environment.

Next to the chips is a Granny Smith Apple which cost me $.055 since at G&S Produce in Winter Park, FL. You can not go wrong at a local fruit stand. Take the time to find one near you and help support local growers. The can of diet ginger ale is the supermarket brand, but so friggin' what! I guarantee 95% of the time the taste difference won't even matter once you realize how much you are saving. At $2.50 for a 12-pack, this can of Publix Diet Ginger Ale comes in at $.021.

Following our can-can (I just can not resist a pun), is my favorite part of lunch-fat free yogurt. I recently came to fall in love with the velvety, yummy, 100 calorie snack that is yogurt thanks to my Petey Pie! He suggested it as a healthy snack, and I am head-over-heels for yogurt. My Publix Honey Almond Fat Free Yogurt is $0.45, a sweetheart deal of a snack! Our last sack lunch item is a simple half a sandwich. I like half sandwiches to watch calories because I'm not much bigger than small, but looking at how cheap every other lunch item is, if you want a regular size sandwich then dig in! I heart Martin's Potato Bread which costs. $2.49. Dividing that into 12 pieces of bread (an under-estimate) we get $0.21 per slice. Inside this particular halfy is Boar's Head Sharp Provolone at $5.00 for 1/2lb. and Boar's Head Sweet Slice Boneless Ham at $4.50 for 1/2lb. I under-estimated how many pieces come in a 1/2lb. of lunch meat and cheese at 12 pieces per 1/2 lb. At that equation, a piece of Boar's Head of Sharp Provolone cheese is $0.42 and a piece of Boar's Head Sweet Slice Boneless Ham is $0.38. That makes the entire half a sandwich at an over-estimate of $1.10!!!

Not only does spending$2.64 everyday as part of your normal food bill save you over an average of $50.00 per week, it's a healthier choice, and by using your FoodBuzz tote and reusing your ziploc baggie you're also doing the right environmental thing. I call that the perfect trifecta of conservation of food, money, and climate. Hopefully I've convinced you to SACK THAT LUNCH!

HOORAY! I've Been Tagged, Now YOU"RE It!

I was tagged this morning by Jo @ The Adventures of Kitchen Girl

The golden rules of tagging:
# Link to the person who tagged you
# Post the rules on the blog posted
# Write six random things about yourself
# Tag six people at the end of your post
# Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog
# Let the tagger know when your entry is published

1.) I haven't grown an iota since the fourth grade where I topped out at a whopping 5'1".

2.) While I work in gaming, I have an affliction towards being a video gamer probably due to the many, many game controllers and cartridges being thrown at me in the head region by either one of my two older brothers signaling me to 'get away.'

3.) I have 2 tattoos on my back-don't tell anybody else!

4.) I'm not smart enough to finish a cross-word puzzle but I will un-jumble the hell outta the word jumbles.

5.) I <3 <3 <3 graphic novels, but not the traditional superhero genre. I like newer, edgier, alternative types of drama, hero, comedy, and fantasy.

6.) I never met a sweet confection I didn't love.

Now I put the following people under the same pressure to write about themselves - TAG YOU ARE IT: by Ron Martone has great, big flavor recipes. I am going to make his white chocolate bread pudding this Thanksgiving!

Cook Appeal aka Chef E is a wonderful and fully-knowledged, traveled chef, consultant and all around food aficionado. It is so amazing that a food professional takes the time to converse with those of us who putter around in the kitchen after their office job.

Proud Italian Cook is a very, very popular blog that showcases the very best in what makes Italian food the world's most favorite cuisine: fresh ingredients, homemade methods, and keeping the cooking all in the family. Mangia!

Dalla Mia Cucina is a blog full of beautiful recipes and photos. Another Italian food-based blog, I find all of her dishes make me envious that I don't get to eat in her kitchen table every single day.

Life by Chocolate is too tempting to leave out! Remember what I said about sweets and me? Well LbC has so many inspiring dishes and sells his own chocolate. How can you not love it?

NC Foodie captures the southern charm that I have grown to adore after living in FL for nearly 10 years after growing up in the Philadelphia area. Her professor skills show in her highly verbose, detailed posts about the great food she makes.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mystery Pepper = Spicy Cornbread Surprise

A few weeks back Mr. T. (Pete's Dad) gave me some excess hot peppers from his bulk buy. Problem was, he and I didn't know what kind of peppers they actually were yet he warned me, "These are hot!" While I was very intrigued by my new found ingredient, I was nervous to use too much, make a dish too spicy, and ruin dinner for me and Pete. So the peppers sat. And sat. And sat. Until I saw most of the peppers were past their prime and I had to act fast to try at least on of these hot mamas. Going back to my tried-and-true method of checking out the pantry, I saw I had a pouch of cornbread mix and remembered how much I LOVE Spicy Cornbread, and so that's what was made. Since I am ignorant to the type of pepper I used, the following image is the closest I could find to what our peppers looked like, and remember, I only used 1 half of an orange one:
Once Pete taste-tested the orange pepper to let me know it packed some heat, I was ready and started the following recipe.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • 1 Pouch Cornbread Mix
  • 2 tblsps. butter
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3/4 shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 orange hot pepper, de-seeded and chopped up itty-bitty
  • 1/2 can of corn
  • Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until well-mixed and transfer to a greased pan size recommended by the cornbread mix. Put in the oven and bake 14-16 minutes until a golden brown color shows. Once it's out of the oven, take it out of the pan immediately and let sit and cool before serving.
Spicy Cornbread

Is that ALL?!?! Not quite. First, this spicy cornbread was a side to a smoked applewood bacon turkey breast for JennieO and a carrot, parsnip, nutmeg mash I whipped up right quick. However, once this bread sits for a few days, its about to become spicy cornbread stuffing because not-a-one-thing goes to waste in Rachel 'Tha Pizza Cutta's' kitchen!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Sun's Goin' Down, I Got Cakes on the Griddle!

Breakfast for dinner??! What kind of topsy-turvy idea is that? Is my sarcasm coming through? I sure hope so. In our home, I am one half of a couple whom works days and the other half works nights. Still, it is important to me for us to be able to share meals together when we can. So last night at the break of dawn I served up some apple chicken sausage with homemade pumpkin pancakes and applesauce. Thank God I'm a Country Girl! Not really, but I do respect John Denver. How did this breakfast for dinner at the break of dawn come to be you ask?

One of the pains of holiday cooking and baking is shortages at the supermarket. Once its the end of October, everybody wants pumpkin puree. The end of November, just try to find a turkey. You get the point-well, when I went to the store for my pumpkin bread and cupcakes, there were no 15oz cans left; only the bahama mama 30oz. I thought it was better than nothing and took the big girl home. After my delish little cakes and bread were down in the history books, I then had the opportunity to do something fun and new with the leftover pumpkin puree. In addition to craving a new dish, I have been craving chicken and apple sausage. I started to run through good combos with the sausage and then I had the epiphany, "Aha! Pumpkin pancakes!" Naturally I am not the first with this idea so I scoured the wondrous land of the Internet and found several great recipes. Once again, I found a recipe that matches most of the ingredients in my cupboard and adapted it to fit my needs.

Plump Pumpkin Pancakes
The breakdown:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup crushed walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 15oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
Combine the wet ingredients in one bowl and the dry in another. Combine both for a smooth batter. Add the walnuts to the total mixture. Take a 1/4 measuring cup for each pancake and put it on a hot griddle at 300 degrees greased with cooking spray. Watch the browning creep up the sides, flip the cake, and let equal cooking time on the other side. Serve with butter and syrup and happy eating!

A few weeks back I tried to make baked apples and something went horribly wrong. I don't think I cooked them long enough and used almond extract which did not jive with the golden delicious apples. Anywho, I had 2 apples lingering that needed attention before they went bad and I went for a classic....

Homemade Applesauce

This was really simple. I had 2 different kind of apples and I found that I liked the combo.
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple & 1 Golden Delicious Apple
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/8 cup white sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
Put all ingredients into a pot and cook over medium heat for 12-14 minutes until apples are soft. Transfer the entire contents into a blender. Puree on high 5-10 seconds and serve hot. All in all, our early morning breakfast-dinner was hearty, healthy, balanced, and damn good if I do say so myself!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Breast in a Biscuit Cozied up by 2 Sides

Before I explain my uberly clever title, I first want to share a picture of Pirate Bobby devouring his found treasure of my sparkling pumpkin cupcake on Halloween night. I just LOVE pictures of people eating my food!!
Ok, gloating aside last week I made three new dishes as a hearty autumn dinner for me and my man Pete. On a typical night when we aren't eating leftovers or out, I scan our food inventory to find the main ingredients for a balanced dinner. I like to have a protein, a starch, and a vegetable or fruit depending on the season. Once I collect the main ingredients, I search through my cookbooks and online recipes to find new, exciting dishes I haven't yet tried to create. In the preceding meal I started with frozen chicken breasts, basmati rice, and carrots.

Once again, I turned to the almighty for, as Tenacious D says, inspirado. Both the chicken and the carrots originated from First, I located Pineapple Chicken Bites because for flavor, I had fresh ginger, honey and pineapple in the cupboard. I did have to go to the store and pick up some crescent rolls, but that was all good as I needed the pumpkin for the previous post and some herbs for the rice dish which we'll get to a bit later. The recipes calls for bites of chicken to be wrapped in individual crescent rools, but bites are a lot of work for dinner. So the I took 2 crescent rolls and made a rectangle on a greased baking sheet, slathered them up with the honey-ginger-pineapple mixture, folded it around a chicken breast cooked up previous in a pan, and voila! I gave you.....

Breast in a Biscuit Cozied up with Honey Ginger Carrots and Pineapples and Herb Basmati Rice
Next time, I most definitely will use some more spices: salt, pepper and and maybe paprika or cinnamon. Since we started the chicken with honey and ginger, I looked up Honey Ginger Carrots, added some pineapple chunks, and we had our first sexy side to cozy up to our breast-in-a-biscuit. Also next time, the carrot dish needs spices for a more full flavor profile. Lastly for this trio of taste there is the herb basmati rice found on Again, I followed this recipe almost to a T. However I doubled the garlic, left out the cheese to cut back on calories, and used fresh cilantro instead of basil. The end result was fresh and delicious. A light little ditty to balance out the fluffy breast-in-a biscuit and the sweet vegetable side. All in all, we gorged ourselves on this Fall delight and wiped each other's faces clean of the breast-in-a-biscuit morsels.