A cooking and baking journal

Chicken Cutlets Make for a 'Smashing' Good Time

5/23/10: Chicken Cutlets with Herb Mayonnaise served between two slices of Ballymaloe Brown Bread

Meal details: I baked two loaves of an Irish brown bread called Ballymaloe and served it with chicken cutlets seasoned with salt and pepper. For a sandwich spread I combined fresh parsley, mayo, and lemon zest and juice.

Defining moments: First time baking bread in a loaf pan! I've baked bread before many a time but I've always done it the artisan way; see what I mean here. This would also be my first time pounding chicken breasts; see how I did it without a mallet by reading on.

Recipe sources: The chicken cutlet and spread recipes are from Sandra Lee. I specifically chose these because I am part of the Food Network Chef Cooking Challenge that is being hosted by the writer of the I Thank My Mother blog. The Ballymaloe Brown Bread recipe came from the Early Spring 2009 issue of The Baking Sheet, a newsletter printed by the people from King Arthur Flour. Here is the recipe written out for you:

Ballymaloe Brown Bread
Yield: One loaf using a 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan

  • 3 1/2 cups (14 ounces) King Arthur whole wheat flour, Traditional or White Whole Wheat
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) molasses
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) water

Combine all of the dough ingredients by hand, in a mixer, or in the pan of your bread machine set on the dough cycle. Mix and knead until a soft, smooth dough forms, or let the bread machine finish its cycle.

Cover and let rise for 1 hour. After the dough's first rise, gently deflate it and shape it into a loaf. Place the dough into an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan, and then cover with greased plastic wrap or a large inverted bowl. Let the dough rise for 30 to 45 minutes, until it domes 1 inch above the rim of the pan. Bake in a preheated 400 degrees F oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until it reaches 190 degrees F in the center when measured with an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before taking the bread out of the pan to finish cooling on a rack before slicing. Makes 14 to 16 slices.

What I learned: Being a person who doesn't like dealing with raw meat, especially when it is soft and slippery, I wasn't looking forward to pounding out my chicken to make cutlets. But I really wanted to try out this technique, and not having a suitable kitchen mallet wasn't going to stand in my way. I took out our Pyrex cutting board, a sheet of plastic wrap, and a rolling pin, and got to work. I cut each breast (which was boneless and skinless) into three or four narrow strips, laid the plastic wrap on top, and gingerly pounded each strip with the rolling pin. The job was really easy to do, the only thing I really didn't enjoy about the ordeal was the hot kitchen! lol! It has been over 80 these past few days, you see!

Now let's talk about my favorite part of the day: the bread. I used our Pyrex bread pans and sprayed them lightly with vegetable spray. You can see that my family loves Pyrex, can't you? I followed the recipe by letting the dough double in size, formed it into loaves, placed the loaves in the pans, and covered the pans with an inverted bowl. As soon as I saw that the loaves were 1 inch over the top of the pan, I made a slit on top of each loaf and placed it in the oven. I noticed that as soon as I made the slit, the loaves deflated slightly and when I took them out of the oven, they weren't very tall. I wonder if a) that is how high they should be or b), my slit was the culprit. I've never done bread in the pan before so I'm not sure! And oh by the way, I placed a roasting pan at the bottom of the oven and poured a cup of water in the hot pan when the bread went into the oven. I usually do this "steam" pan when baking bread, it is something I picked up from the book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

Any modifications? I followed the bread recipe exactly but I tweaked the sandwich filling a little bit. Because I didn't have fennel, red onion, or lettuce available, I left those ingredients out.

How did it taste? Superb! And a very good supper choice for such a hot day. The chicken was surprisingly moist and flavorful, (gee, a little salt and pepper can go a long way, can't it?), the spread complemented it very well, (that fresh chopped parsley was the star of the spread), and the bread was soft and tasty.

How about a 2nd time? Yes, and I am interested in giving this brown bread another go. Maybe next time I will have a loaf that will mimic the Empire State Building. Who knows? :D






I sometimes think I am an Army Cook. Now you can see why!






And here are a couple shots of dessert. It is an Applesauce Cake that Annemarie made the day before. She used the applesauce we canned last January and boy oh boy, it was delicious!


"Orange" You Glad It's Pig? -- Pork Chops Meet Orange Marmalade

5/16/10: Pork Chops with Orange Soy Glaze and Udon Noodles alongside Hoosier Peanut Bars

Meal details: For the main course I seared 1 inch pork loin chops and braised them in a sauce that had orange marmalade, soy sauce, sesame seed oil, and chicken stock. And for dessert I made a really intriguing bar that has a cookie-like bottom layer, a chocolate middle, and a meringue and peanut topping. Sounds yummy, doesn't it?

Defining moments: First time using soy sauce for me! Yeah, it looks like I don't usually cook Asian.

Recipe sources: The pork chop recipe comes from Robin Miller, the host of Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller that airs on Food Network. I specifically chose it because I am part of the Food Network Chef Cooking Challenge that is being hosted by the writer of the I Thank My Mother blog.

The Hoosier Peanut Bar recipe came from the August 2009 issue of Baker's Sheet, a newsletter written by King Arthur's Flour. Here is the recipe for those who are interested:

Hoosier Peanut Bars

Ingredients for Base:
  • 2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/4 ounces) firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) cold water

Ingredients for Topping:

  • 2 cups (12 ounces) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 large egg whites (from above)
  • 1 cup (7 1/2 ounces) firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) chopped lightly salted peanuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch pan, and line it with a sheet of parchment paper that goes down one long side and up the other, with some extra on each side. Fold the paper so it doesn't droop down into the pan.

For the base: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Separate the eggs, putting the whites into another clean mixing bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and mix until combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl; beat in the vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients alternately with the water until the dough is mixed; it will be stiff.

Press the dough into the prepared pan with wet fingers or using a mini pastry roller over a piece of plastic wrap.

For the topping: Spread the chocolate chips over the dough in the pan, pressing them in lightly. Whip the reserved egg whites until they become foamy. Gradually add the brown sugar and beat until the mixture is stiff. Spread over the chocolate chips. Sprinkle the chopped peanuts evenly over the top.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is light golden brown and the edges just pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool for 15 minutes. Cut into bars or squares while still warm. Once the bars are cool, you can pull them straight up and out of the pan using the parchment paper on the sides. Yield: 24 bars.

What I learned: The pork chop recipe was really easy to execute and I can't think of any new knowledge gained by doing this recipe. I do have some notes for the peanut bar recipe. When I was beating the egg whites to form the topping, I was uncertain on what was considered "stiff" as was said in the recipe. I know that you can easily over beat egg whites so I was biting my nails as I carefully watched my KitchenAid. I decided to stop the machine when the whites and added sugar started to look white and glossy. I then started beating it by hand to carry it to the final stage, which was, I am guessing, when it resembled marshmallow fluff. I soon found out that I was right in my assumption because the finished bars looked just like the recipe's photo.

Any modifications? I followed the bar recipe exactly but I substituted egg noodles for the udon noodles called for in the pork chop recipe.

How did it taste? The family loved both dishes! The pork chops were flavorful, tender, and paired very well with the egg noodles. My Papa said they needed more marmalade, though, so I will remember to use the whole jar next time. The peanut bars were very delicious and I love the surprise meringue topping. They look like they would be hard and crunchy but they turned out to be soft and chewy. . . Two textures I love when it comes to desserts. :)

How about a 2nd time? Absolutely.

Note: It seems to me that I almost always give a positive answer to the last question. Now that's encouraging!





My goodness! Look at all that peanut goodness!


That Dick Van Dyke Show episode comes to mind right about now. :D



Is it just me, or is my sister's photos getting better each week?

Dinner Made Possible -- Robert Irvine this Week

5/9/10: Chicken Fricassee with Tomato Basil Pilaf

Meal details: The main course consisted of roasted chicken drumsticks that were baked with a tomato, white wine, cream, and seasoned sauce. And the chicken was served on top of rice that was combined with the remaining sauce.

Defining moments: First time I have done fricassee; I have heard about this dish but never knew the traditional ingredients. Fricassee, as it turns out, is a French term used to describe any sort of dish that has poultry stewed in some sort of gravy thickened with butter or cream. In my case, the sauce was tomato based and it was thickened with the latter.

This is my first time creating pilaf, too. Every now and then, I heard this word used on Food Network and never knew what it was, either! Through my research I gather that pilaf is a dish in which a grain (such as rice) is first browned in oil and then cooked in a seasoned broth.

OK, I think that's it for the culinary dictionary. . . Let's move onto where I found these recipes.

Recipe sources: Both the chicken fricassee and pilaf recipes come from Robert Irvine, the host of Dinner Impossible. I specifically chose it because I am part of the Food Network Chef Cooking Challenge that is being hosted by the writer of the I Thank My Mother blog.

What I learned: I learned by doing this recipe that sixteen drumsticks fit perfectly into the large steamer tray--this is very important info people! :D Other than that, I don't think I learned any new techniques or ingredients this week. However, I shouldn't forget that I learned two new terms. . . Fricassee and pilaf.

Any modifications? Yes.

1. Instead of chicken breasts, I used drumsticks. Why? They're cheaper here.
2. I didn't clarify the butter.
3. I used dry basil instead of fresh.
4. I used evaporated milk instead of cream. Why? Didn't have cream on hand.
5. Used granulated garlic instead of fresh. Why? Didn't have any fresh.

How it tasted? It turned out perfectly; everybody enjoyed it. The sauce was creamy and really flavored the rice.

How about a 2nd time? Yes.




And here are a couple shots of the Cranberry Almond Bars my step mom made the day before. Recipe came from Baker's Sheet, a newsletter King Arthur's Flour sends out.



Everything But the Kitchen Sink -- Creamy Chicken Pot Pie

5/2/10: Creamy Chicken Pot Pie

Meal details: I made a casserole that had traditional pot pie flavors, such as carrots, broccoli, potatoes, and chicken. And the casserole was topped with a biscuit layer, something like a cobbler.

Defining moments: First time using potatoes, carrots, broccoli, peas, and parsnips in one dish. Wow! What a line up of ingredients, huh?

Recipe sources: I was having an incredibly hard time choosing what to make this week. I wanted to select a Robert Irvine recipe (in order to continue with the FNCCC), but nothing jumped out at me and I was running out of time. So Annemarie gave me her recipe binder to browse through. Her binder is not your typical recipe book, it is huge and has the thickness of an encyclopedia set. :D Within five minutes, I found the recipe I wanted. It was a pot pie recipe from Sam's Club and here it is for those who are interested. . .

Creamy Chicken Pot Pie
Prep. 10 min. Total 40 min. Makes 8 servings Cost per serving = $0.90

What you need

1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, cubed
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 lb. cooked Tyson boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed (about 3 cups)
16 oz. frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose baking mix

Make it

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Cook cream cheese and broth in large saucepan on low heat until cream cheese is completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring frequently with whisk. Stir in chicken, vegetables and garlic salt.
Spoon into 9-inch pie plate. Beat egg and milk in medium bowl with whisk until well blended; stir in baking mix just until moistened. Spoon over chicken mixture. Place pie plate on baking sheet.
Bake 25 to 30 min. or until golden brown.

What I learned: One thing stands out clear to me and it's this: I need to parboil (precook) all vegetables. I parboiled all my vegetables except for the carrots and they didn't cook all the way through when in the oven; they were still firm in areas. I should either precook the carrots or really dice them.

Any modifications? Yes. Instead of using a pie plate, I used our 6 quart casserole dish and a smaller dish for three times the recipe. It is a whole lot easier than trying to maneuver three pie plates in the oven!
And instead of purchasing a bag of frozen vegetables from the store, I used veggies from the previous farming season. They're considered free now, so why not? The parsnips and carrots were kept in a makeshift root cellar (a long box of sand) and I was very happy to see that they were nice and crisp!

How it tasted? When I first chose this recipe I thought, "It looks simple, we have all the ingredients. . . So why not?" Yeah, I wasn't overly enthused about it to tell you the truth! So you can understand why I was amazed by all the good feedback I got from the family. Everyone didn't just like it, they loved it. :D

How about a 2nd time? Definitely!

Creamy Chicken Pot Pie

Creamy Chicken Pot Pie

Creamy Chicken Pot Pie

Creamy Chicken Pot Pie