Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Marinated Chicken alla Griglia

This is an adaptation of another recipe that I found in the most unlikely of places: a People magazine that someone left at my house. So, of course, I had to read it. I mean, has it really been five years since Brad and Jennifer broke up?

Anyway, toward the end was a snippet about Robert de Niro opening a restaurant, and a version of this recipe was included. Looked simple enough, and the hubby loves roasted chicken.

And I have to say ... Best. Roasted chicken. I've ever eaten. Seriously.

Marinated Chicken alla Griglia
Serves 4

1/4 c. chopped garlic
1/2 c. white wine vinegar
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c. canola oil
2 Tbsp. dried oregano
2 Tbsp. dried rosemary
1 lemon, sliced
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. coarse-ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
4 bone-in chicken breasts, with skin

1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl, and pour over the chicken. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (Incidentally, it still works if you leave it in there for two nights.)

2. Remove chicken from marinade, but don't wipe off the seasonings. Place chicken breasts on a sheet pan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

I usually cover my pans with foil. I'm lazy and I don't like scrubbing dishes.

3. Broil chicken on high for 5 minutes, to crisp the skin. Then bake at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cajun Cornmeal Fried Chicken -- and awards!

I don't usually fry foods at home, but I was so hungry for a chicken sandwich lately, and we haven't made it out to eat in a while because everyone in the house has been sick with something. So I recently made these fried chicken sandwiches for supper (a version of a Food Network recipe), in the hopes that they would feed my craving. These chicken filets are nice and tender, and the cornmeal makes for a bit of a lighter breading.

The sandwiches were very good, although I have to admit, I didn't notice a huge difference between these sandwiches and the oven-fried chicken sandwiches that I make. So those are a good lower-fat alternative. (Just dump some Cajun seasoning into that breading mixture.)

Because I already had some oil heated, I decided to try my hand at some last-minute homemade onion rings to go with the sandwiches. I make good onion rings (first time's a charm!). Next time I'll pay attention to what I did, because those were darn good.

And also, some awards! The first is from Geri at Heart N Soul Cooking, which is one of my new favorite blogs to read. (I love blogs where I actually want to make the food that I read about.)

I'm supposed to share seven things about myself that I haven't shared yet. Which is tough, because I share. I share a lot. But here goes:
  1. I know all the words to almost every Queen or Guess Who song that was ever released.
  2. I had long hair in high school, until it got caught in the vacuum cleaner. I haven't been able to take the risk again.
  3. When I was in elementary school and junior high, I didn't like cereal for breakfast. Instead, I'd fix myself a huge plate of spaghetti, or maybe a couple of hot roast beef sandwiches with gravy. Just to get me through 'til lunch.
  4. The hubby and I have an entire large closet packed with comic books. And between the two of us, we've read them all.
  5. I'm terrified of dolls, the circus, and anyone wearing a mask. Oh, and Tim Burton movies.
  6. I have a lot of random health issues, such as narcolepsy and hypoglycemia, and I don't lways stay conscious when I should. Also, I'm legally deaf, which most people don't realize, so they usually just think I'm either rude or not paying attention. (Although sometimes that IS the case.)
  7. I love convenience store hot dogs. Doesn't matter how long they've been sitting there. They're perfect with a side of chips and some jerky.

I would like to pass this award on to the following bloggers (and I apologize if this award is a repeat to anyone, but it's tough to keep track):

The second award is from Sophie at Sophie's Foodiefiles, a longtime favorite of mine.

(And Sophie, you might need to help me out with the translation. The Internet is being unusually unhelpful with this matter.) I'd like to pass this on to the following bloggers, who seem to teach me a lot about new foods and how to use them:

Thanks again to both Geri and Sophie!

Cajun Cornmeal Fried Chicken
Serves 4

1 1/2 c. flour, divided
1 c. yellow cornmeal
2 Tbsp. Cajun spice mix
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 c. low-fat buttermilk
1/2-1 tsp. hot sauce
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/3 to 1/2 c. oil, for frying

1. Preheat the oven 350 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk 1/2 c. flour with the cornmeal, Cajun spice, and salt. Place in a shallow dish. Put the remaining 1 c. flour and buttermilk each in a shallow dish. Season the buttermilk with hot sauce, to taste.

3. Use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound out the chicken breasts to uniform thickness. (I actually just cut mine in half because it was nap time.) Pat the chicken breasts dry and season with salt.

4. Lightly coat each piece of chicken in flour and shake off any excess. Dip them in the buttermilk, and then dredge them in the cornmeal mixture. Shake off any excess coating.

5. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat with about 1/2" of oil. Add the chicken and cook, until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.

6. Place the chicken on a rack over a baking pan and bake until firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Season with salt to taste, and serve immediately.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ricotta Cheese Sugar Cookies

Anyone who knows me knows that I don't celebrate Valentine's Day. And yet, this afternoon found me in the kitchen, dutifully spreading pink glaze on cookies and dusting them with red sprinkles.

The hubby has strep throat, so he's had a pretty crappy weekend. Jack got hives a few days ago and has a cold, so his hasn't been a party, either. (And yet that smile, it's always there.) What cheers everyone up more than cookies?

So while the hubby was napping, the little man helped me in the kitchen. And by "helped," I mean, he threw his measuring spoons everywhere, including into the batter while the mixer was going. (One day I'll explain to him that you're supposed to dump the ingredients off the spoons.)

This is an adaptation of a recipe found in the most unlikely of places: the novel I was reading last week. It was Summer by the Sea by Susan Wiggs (I love escapist fiction). I think more authors should do this. I'm all about multitasking.

Ricotta Cheese Sugar Cookies
Makes 3-4 dozen

1 c. butter, softened
2 c. sugar
1 16-oz. container whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 eggs
3 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 c. flour

1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
A few drops almond extract (optional)
2-4 Tbsp. milk, half-and-half, or cream
Sprinkles or colored sugar, for decorating

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Using a mixer, combine butter and sugar until well blended. Mix in ricotta, eggs, and vanilla. Add baking soda and salt. Then mix in flour.

The dough will have the texture of mashed potatoes that have been sitting out too long. In fact, it looks like that, too. But it tastes very different, I assure you.

3. Drop teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake 12-14 minutes, until cookies are golden on the bottom but still very light on top. Remove from pans and place on cooling racks.

5. In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar and almond extract. (When you just need a few drops of almond extract, pour them into the bottle's cap, first -- that way you won't accidentally spill too much into the glaze.) Add milk, starting with 1 Tbsp., until glaze has desired consistency.
6. Drizzle glaze over cookies and top with sprinkles or colored sugar.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Donna's Caramelitas

Donna's our friend. We like her. Donna went to college with the hubby, and she and I have worked together for the better part of 12 years. And not at just one company. I've made a pastime of occupationally stalking her.

Among Donna's many talents -- she's incredibly cultured and intelligent, she makes lovely handmade jewelry, and she's a darn good speller, to name a few -- she makes excellent caramelitas. The hubby loves these so much that whenever his college pals gather for their annual reunion, he signs up Donna to bring caramelitas. And then tells her about it.

I've tried making several versions of these caramel-oatmeal bars, but none of them measure up to Donna's. And I've tried making Donna's caramelitas, but those don't measure up, either. Why? She doesn't actually give me the recipe she uses. I'll come to work and tell her about yet another failed attempt, and she'll say, "Oh, yeah, you have to double the crust recipe." Or "Well you don't entirely double the crust. Only partly." Yes, of course.

So on this lovely weekend, Donna came over to show me how she actually makes her caramelitas. Turns out that Donna also didn't remember exactly what measurements she uses, so this was an educational experience for both of us.

Luckily, we had help.

I was going to ask Donna to write a guest post, but she's not a very good writer. Especially when it comes to instructions. Ha! That was a joke. She's actually a top-notch writer. She makes her living taking incredibly complex technical information and turning it into something that even I can understand.

But this is really important.

Donna's Caramelitas
Makes 24 bars

1 14-oz. bag individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped
3 Tbsp. milk
1 1/2 c.* flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
2 c. quick-cooking oats
1 3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips

*All measurements are approximate. Donna doesn't really "measure" stuff.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Put caramels and milk in a double boiler (or a glass bowl over a boiling pot of water). Melt until smooth and creamy.

This takes forever. I asked Donna if we could do this in the microwave. She said no. But I'll probably try it sometime, anyway. I'm a rebel.

3. In the meantime, combine flour, baking soda, oats, brown sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork.

Neither the hubby nor Donna's boyfriend understand pastry blenders. Is that a guy thing? Enquiring minds want to know.

4. Press half (or a little more than half) of the mixture in the bottom of a 9x13 pan.

5. Bake for 10 minutes.

6. Sprinkle chocolate chips over crust.

7. Pour caramel over chocolate chips.

We had one stubborn caramel that refused to melt. You can see the culprit here.

8. Top with remaining crust.

9. Bake about 15-20 minutes, or until top crust is golden. Let set before serving.