Quick Chicken in Pastry

When pulling a prepared pie crust out of the freezer for a pie, I found it was broken in half. While I could have thawed it and pressed it back together, I decided to hold on to it for a quick dinner instead. After a day of working in the yard (who knew the trees had so many leaves in them!), I wanted something uncomplicated but delicious.

You can coat the chicken in most any pesto sauce you like – I had a small jar (6.5 ounce) of A.G. Ferrari sun-dried tomato pesto that I used but feel free to use a more traditional basil pesto or even artichoke pesto. What you are looking for is a good flavored sauce that will go well with chicken.

I parboiled a sliced potato while the oven was heating, then drained them and tossed them with olive oil and rosemary salt and put them around the baking sheet. After 20 minutes, flip them over. When sprinkling on the parmesan cheese, put some on the potatoes, too.

If you are told by your girlfriend that potatoes don’t count as a vegetable – slice a large zucchini into spears and toss with a little oil oil, salt and Italian seasoning. About ten minutes into the chicken’s cook time, place the zucchini skin side down around the pastry covered chicken on the baking sheet. After about 15 minutes of cooking, sprinkle with a little grated Parmesan cheese.

Quick Chicken in Pastry

2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 frozen pie crust, thawed (I used one of the Pillsbury Pie Crusts)
1 jar (about 1 cup) pesto sauce
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Pound the chicken to a uniform thickness. Make three shallow slices across the meat. Slather completely with the jarred sauce. Place the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet. Place any leftover sauce on top of the chicken.

Cut the prepared pie crust into strips. Cover the chicken, overlapping each slice. Tuck under the ends. Beat egg with the milk. Brush over the top and sides of the pastry.

Bake for 30 minutes or until chicken is done. At the 20 minute mark, sprinkle everything with a little parmesan cheese, if using.

Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes

We came back from our weekend away to a very brown and spotted banana that had been left on the counter when we headed out of town. It looked especially forlorn next to the new bananas we had picked up on the way home.

One banana isn’t enough for making bread or pudding but it is a perfect amount for making a small batch of pancakes. The recipe below is perfect for 2 or three people as it makes 8 pancakes. You can easily double the recipe if you have more diners (and more over ripe bananas). Freeze any leftovers and rewarm in a toaster oven.

The riper the banana, the sweeter the pancakes will be. We hardly needed any maple syrup as our banana was so ripe!

Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes

1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼  teaspoon salt
3/4 cups milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large ripe banana, mashed
½ cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate morsels

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and whisk together.

Place the milk in another bowl and add the egg, oil, vanilla extract and mashed banana. Whisk until well combined.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Whisk until just combined, then scrape down the sides to make sure all the flour is incorporated and whisk again. There will be some lumps, just no really large ones. Try to avoid overworking the batter.

Heat a griddle or skillet to medium hot and spread some butter on it. Using a 1/3 cup measure, pour a serving of batter over the buttered area of the griddle. Sprinkle a few chocolate chips over the pancake. Flip once the top bubbles start to pop and the edges look dry. Cook until the other side is golden brown. Repeat until all pancakes are made. Keep cooked pancakes warm in a 200 degree F oven while fixing the rest.

Serve with maple syrup.

Turkey and Cranberry Sauce Monte Carlo Sandwich

One of the cool ways to use up leftover turkey after Thanksgiving is to make sandwiches. There is the tried and true method of slapping sliced turkey onto mayo spread bread but we wanted something a little different. Had we had any gravy left over, I would have made a Kentucky Hot Brown but, we didn’t, so I went for making Monte Carlo sandwich. While the traditional version uses ham, I have to tell you that thinly sliced turkey, a little tangy cranberry sauce and melted cheese made a darn tasty substitute.

I was making four sandwiches, so just increase the amounts of the below ingredients if you have more folks eating (or the ones there have heartier appetites).

We made ours with cheddar and gouda – they were so gooda!

Turkey and Cranberry Sauce Monte Carlo Sandwich

Artisan bread, sliced
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
thinly sliced  cheese – sharp cheddar, gouda, muenster are all delicious choices
thinly sliced leftover turkey

2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk

2 tablespoons butter

Spread one slice of bread for each sandwich with cranberry sauce. Place the turkey to cover the cranberry layer. Take the cheese and cover the turkey. On the other piece of bread, spread more cranberry sauce, if desired.

In a shallow pie plate, add eggs and milk and whisk until combined. Soak each sandwich in the mixture, about 20 seconds per side. The bread will be saturated but not soggy.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium. Spread the butter in the places you’ll be placing the sandwiches. Gently set the sandwiches on the hot griddle and cook until the bottoms are golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Flip sandwiches and cook the other sides until golden.

Serve with more cranberry sauce on the side.

Soufflé Potatoes

This potato casserole went really well with Thanksgiving dinner in place of mashed potatoes. It is also a little more diabetic friendly because of the cottage cheese and eggs.

My mom is a fan of mixing a packet of Lipton Onion Soup and Dip Mix in a container of sour cream to eat as a dip with potato chips. She had just made some when I had the idea of using a 1/2 cup  in this recipe instead of just plain sour cream and it added a subtle onion flavor to the final dish. Yum! I may need to use more of this in other recipes that call for sour cream and would be enhanced with onion flavor.

Soufflé Potatoes

3 cups mashed potatoes (about 6 potatoes)
1 cup cottage cheese
½ cup sour cream
3 egg yolks, well beaten
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
3 egg whites, stiffly beaten
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a two quart casserole dish.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together mashed potatoes, cottage cheese, sour cream, egg yolks, melted butter, garlic, salt and pepper. Use an electric mixer to beat the mixture until light and fluffy. Fold in the egg whites.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Dot with the butter.

Bake in the 350 degree F oven for 1 hour or until the casserole is puffed and top is golden.

Meatloaf Stuffed Mushrooms

I found a pack of mushrooms on sale – they were larger than usual and had pretty deep caps so I knew they’d be good for stuffing. I’d also had a craving for meatloaf and decided to put it all together. I started with my basic meatloaf recipe, then stuffed the mushrooms and molded the remaining filling into a loaf.

If you’re making this for a party, use more than a single pack of mushrooms. You’ll get a smaller meatloaf but the stuffed mushrooms are worth the sacrifice.

I was out of diced tomatoes but I had a blister pack of cherry tomatoes and, after a spin in a food processor, they were perfect in the dish.

You can add the cheese after 30 minutes for a prettier presentation but I like it when it is a little crunchy, so I put it on before sliding the baking tray in the oven.

Meatloaf Stuffed Mushrooms

3/4 cup milk
2-3 slices stale bread (at least 1 1/2 cups worth when torn)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 lbs ground beef
8 ounces cheddar or pepper jack cheese, grated
1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, chopped in a food processor
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

8 ounces large stuffing mushrooms

Make a panade by soaking the torn pieces of bread in the milk for ten minutes.

Combine panade with all the rest of the ingredients (reserving a small handful of cheese to top the mushrooms) together in a large bowl. Mix with your hands.

Clean mushrooms and remove stem. Coat with olive oil and place on rimmed baking sheet large enough for the mushrooms and the rest of the meat loaf. Fill each mushroom with 1-2 tablespoons of meatloaf filling. Sprinkle additional cheese on top.

Form a loaf from the remaining filling and bake at 350 degrees F for 60 minutes (or until the loaf reaches an internal temp of 160 degrees). The mushrooms should be done at an hour but the meatloaf may take 75 to 90 minutes.

Remove from the oven and serve.

Mushrooms with Lemon and Garlic

I love sautéed mushrooms and this recipe simmers them in a dark rich sauce that goes really well with the roasted chicken I served with them (the recipe for the chicken can be found HERE).

Reduce the lemon juice, if you don’t want them too tangy but all my guests loved them as is. Aleppo style pepper has less heat than red pepper but adds a lovely flavor to the dish.

Mushrooms with Lemon and Garlic

4 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound button or other mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup sherry
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Aleppo style pepper or red pepper flakes
Salt and black pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms have given up their liquid and are beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the lemon juice, sherry, Worcestershire sauce and pepper to the pan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid is nearly evaporated. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if necessary.

 

Lemon Margaritas and Nachos

It was Tuesday yesterday and I was out of taco shells. We had to settle for nachos instead. Que lastima!

To make the nachos, I took a pie plate and made a multi layer recipe by layering tortilla chips, then ground beef that had been browned with cumin, chili powder and chipotle powder, some canned black beans I warmed in a saucepan and lots of Monterey jack pepper cheese. I then made another layers and slid it in the oven until the cheese melted.  It went on the table with some salsa and we dug in.

I basically do a layer for each person eating on it – with two us, I did two layers and it only takes 5 minutes in a 400 degree F oven but, when doing more layers, add in more time but watch it to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Served with a lemon margarita because sometimes life gives you lemons.

Lemon Margarita

¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup tequila
3-4 tablespoons agave nectar

Zest a lemon before squeezing into a shaker. Squeeze more lemons to get ¼ cup juice. Add in the tequila and 3 tablespoons agave nectar. Shake well with ice. Taste and add more agave nectar, if necessary.

Mix the zest with coarse salt. Rub one of the squeezed lemon rinds onto the rim of two cocktail glassed and coat the rims in the lemon salt. Pour in the margarita and enjoy!