baked

Chicken Cordon Bleu en Croute

Fancy title, right?  I agree (to my own question), but it’s really so easy that my mother could do it and I’m not even saying that meanly. 😉  *unlike me, she loathes the kitchen.

I have another affinity to this recipe, not just because of it’s taste, but largely in part that it was my first “1st Place” winning recipe in a magazine contest a few years back!  Yep, I received my first $check$ from this and I often wonder who else in the world has since made it in their kitchen.

Ok, on to the backstory of the famous Chicken Cordon Bleu for those not ‘in the know’…

“A cordon bleu or schnitzel cordon bleu is a dish of meat wrapped around cheese, then breaded and pan-fried or deep-fried. Veal or pork cordon bleu is made of veal or pork pounded thin and wrapped around a slice of ham and a slice of cheese, breaded, and then pan fried or baked. For chicken cordon bleu chicken breast is used instead of veal. Ham cordon bleu is ham stuffed with mushrooms and cheese.”

Now that we’re all on the same page, you will see how I fancied my version up with baking it in the puff pastry and adding a light pan sauce to it.  No messy frying involved.  Plus with it’s gussied up appearance, this make a for a great in-home date night meal or you can easily double or triple the recipe for a dinner party.

*If shallots aren’t readily available (note: they’re usually by the garlic in your produce section), you may use about a tablespoon of diced red onion + a minced garlic clove.

**The puff pastry will be located in your freezer section’s dessert aisle.  My go to is from Pepperidge Farm, fyi.

The Starting Lineup

Chicken

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 sheet puff pastry dough
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 4 thin slices ham, Black Forest ham from deli section preferred 
  • Egg wash (1 large egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water)

Pan Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter (1/4 stick)
  • small shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Chicken: Cut each breast horizontally through the center to create a total of four pieces. Place pieces between two sheets of plastic wrap, pound gently to an even thickness, then season with salt and pepper.
3. Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place two chicken breast pieces in pan at a time and cook 2–3 minutes on each side to brown. Repeat with remaining chicken, then set aside to cool (no need to fully cook the chicken). Keep the skillet handy for further use; do not clean.
4. Cut the sheet of puff pastry dough into four squares. On a floured surface using a floured rolling pin, roll each square until doubled in size. Layer a slice of Swiss cheese, a slice of ham and piece of seared chicken on the dough diagonally and fold the dough ends over the stack to form a pocket. Turn seam side down and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining pieces of cheese, ham, chicken and pastry dough. Place two croutes on each baking sheet.
5. Brush tops with the egg wash. Place both baking sheets in oven and bake 25–30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool about 5 minutes.
6. Sauce: About 15 minutes before the chicken is done, start the sauce. On medium-high, heat butter in the same pan used to sear the chicken. Add the minced shallot. When shallot starts to soften and brown, add the flour, stirring constantly to make a golden roux. Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, then add the broth. Stir continuously until reduced by about half.
7. Spoon sauce onto plates and set two chicken croutes on each plate.  I like to serve our with a side of steamed or roasted asparagus.  Enjoy!

ChickenCordonBleu

 

Biscuit & Gravy Sausage Dippers

Life gets busy, it gets hectic, it gets messy….literally at times.  So one morning, while cleaning the house up in a hurry for unexpected company, my boys were just about begging me for biscuits and gravy.  I had zero time for that nonsense, but the “mom-guilt” was setting in.  Scanning my fridge and pantry I found a few staples that I could conjure up into their breakfast favorite; my fingers were crossed at least.

Whelp, all I can say in conclusion is that THIS is the way I may always make them “biscuits and gravy” from here on out.  It was quick, virtually no cleanup, and no mess with having young boys try and cut their biscuits with a fork, dropping crumbs on the ground, gravy dribbles across the table…sausage grease on the stove, flour on the counter…nope!  Just baked and rolled sausage crescent in hand with a gravy dipping sauce.  Oh the obviousness that’s been in my house this entire time…

*For a “crustier” baked dough, simply brush a bit of egg wash (1 egg+ 1 Tbsp water) overtop the prepared sausage crescents prior to baking.

**You can also add cheese and/or scrambled eggs, cooked bacon, jalapenos etc. to this prior to rolling up and baking.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 package crescent roll dough
  • 8 sausage links (precooked/ready-to-eat)
  • Cream gravy (homemade or packet, ‘Pioneer’ brand makes a pretty good one)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.

Lay out the perforated triangles of crescent roll dough onto your baking sheet and place a sausage link, horizontally, at the widest end of the triangle.  Roll the sausage and dough up towards the point, making sure there’s about 1-2″ in between each one.

Place in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the dough puffs up and turns a beautiful golden brown.

Serve with a cup of warm peppered, cream gravy to dip into and some fresh fruit!  Enjoy!

BiscuitandGravySausageDippers

Caprese Stuffed Portobello’s (w/ semi-homemade Parmesan Risotto)

In the mood for Italian food but tired of the same ol’ pasta dish? going for the “Meatless Monday”? or maybe even the gluten-free route?  Well, as always, I have a goodie that fits all of those bills!

Honestly, my reasoning for this creative dish was that my oldest son and I are mushroom fanatics and my dear husband was out of town with work (dang trains!).  The “my husband” part is important to this because he does NOT eat meals without meat.  Salads are for the meat he eats, aka cows. 😉 but I digress…

I relished at the opportunity of a meatless meal and obviously that is where the Portobello fit in!  Rich and meaty in it’s own right that pairs so well with Italian flavors!  Now for the non-heavy, gluten-laden feeling, I went with rice…and in Italian fashion, I tweaked it to a cheat-sheet risotto!

I tell ya, this will be a staple in my home from here on out!  On Mondays.  On day’s my carnivore husband is away. 😉

The Starting Lineup

Caprese Stuffed Portobello’s

  • 4 large Portobello mushrooms, “gills” scraped out of center)
  • 2 ripe Roma tomatoes, sliced 1/2″ thick and quartered
  • Fresh mozzarella (sliced, torn or small individual ball’s i.e. BelGioiosa or Galbani, etc)
  • Fresh basil, torn
  • 2+ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Balsamic reduction (i.e. FINI brand), garnish drizzle
  • Parmesan cheese, garnish

Semi-Homemade Parmesan Risotto

  • 1 box risotto (parmesan flavor if possible, i.e. Lundberg Creamy Parmesan Risotto), substitute low-sodium chicken broth/stock in place of water required
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish

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Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, line baking sheet with foil or parchment.

“Risotto”

Prepare similar to your package directions:  Toast the Arborio rice with the 1 TBSP olive oil in a large skillet or sauce pan over medium heat for 2 minutes.  Add 2 1/2 cups chicken broth and seasoning packet to rice, stir, bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, leaving uncovered for 20 minutes, until rice is tender, stirring occasionally.  Once thickened, add in the butter and parmesan cheese; fold in the parsley.  *If too thick, stir in 1/4 cup more chicken broth at a time. 

Meanwhile….

“Caprese Stuffed Portobello’s”

Place your cleaned out Portobello onto your baking sheet, hollow side up.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.  Layer on the fresh mozzarella cheese, followed by the sliced tomatoes, a bit of the fresh basil and a hefty pinch of salt and pepper.  Drizzle a bit more olive oil overtop.  Place in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until cheese appears melty and gooey and tomatoes slightly roasted; juices appearing.

To serve:  Spoon the creamy risotto in a bowl making a slight well.  Place the roasted Caprese Stuffed Portobello overtop that well you made and sprinkle with a bit more fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic reduction.  Enjoy!

CapreseStuffedPortobello

 

Stuffed Tomatoes Puttanesca

A lot of influences helped bring this recipe idea to mind.  One, being my love for Pasta Puttanesca, a common order from me at many Italian restaurants.  Secondly, I love having people over and serving unique appetizers aka hors d’oeuvres if I’m being fancy, and thought this will make a great contender for my counter….and lastly, my hilarious, old soul of a little 6-year-old son who legitimately enjoys anchovies on his pizza.  Yes, if he’s not a chef, food critic or stylist when he grows up, I will be shocked.  Future foodie right there!

So because of that last reason, I had a couple containers of anchovies handy and the rest of the ingredients are pantry staples for me…so given all that, the Stuffed Tomato Puttanesca was born!  Thanks Brooks. 🙂

Also, you can make this with out stuffing the tomato/oven-step and serve in a dish drizzled with a bit more olive oil alongside crackers, bread and veggies for a great tapenade!  Heck, even spread it on your bread for an amped up turkey sandwich!  Endless options folks!  Ps.  These are great paired with a juicy steak and glass of red….

The Starting Lineup

  • 12 small cocktail style tomatoes, 2-3 inches and ripe
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 25+ pitted Kalamata olives, rough chop
  • 1 Tbsp capers
  • 8-10 anchovy filets (canned or jarred in olive oil)
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs or panko
  • 1/4 cup Romano cheese, grated
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 Tbsp tomato juice
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment, foil or silpat sheet.

Using a serrated knife (I always use serrated when dealing with tomatoes, trust me), slice off the tops of each tomato (keep) and carefully scoop out the inside of each tomato with a spoon into a bowl.  Once finished, pour and press the tomato flesh through a fine mesh sieve to get the fresh tomato juice.

In a food processor, place in the tops of your tomatoes (stem cut off), Kalamata olives, anchovies and garlic.  Process until well chopped.

Combine the olive paste with the bread crumbs/panko, capers, parsley, thyme, olive oil, the tomato juice, pepper and Romano cheese.

Place the cut and hollowed tomatoes onto your lined baking sheet and use a spoon to stuff each tomato with your tapenade filling.  Once they’re all full, sprinkle the tops with the shaved parmesan cheese slices.  Place into your preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese has browned and tomato is slightly wilted and heated through.

Sprinkle a bit of fresh thyme or parsley overtop and serve as an appetizer or side dish, enjoy!

PuttanescaTomatoes

Crustless Loaded Quiche

This brunch time classic was inspired by one of my husbands favorite memories…His childhood babysitter, from infancy until he was about 9 years old, was a sweet lady named Sharon who often made him what she referred to as “Bacon Pie”.  When it was described to me, I envisioned a sort of quiche/frittata combo, but every time I made the classic versions of both (with bacon of course), he said it just “wasn’t Sharon’s”.  Stumped.

More years passed with more stories about the lady I never met and her famous bacon pie, till one day it was brought up around another family member who also recalled this family favorite.  BISQUICK!  Yep, she said nonchalantly “ohhhh, yeah, Sharon used the back-of-the-box Bisquick quiche recipe”…I was shocked.  All these years of quiches and frittatas and no’s and maybe’s and it was a simple as that?!

That being said, as I read the famed recipe to my dear husband, we both agreed that the original sounded quite bland and we also both agreed that this was likely why his toddler age palate loved it.  So he gave me the go-ahead to add a bit more flavor and texture to the recipe and see how it goes.

Well, I have to say, I FINALLY heard “mmmm…it’s just like Sharon’s.”

Mission Accomplished.

*What’s great about this recipe is you can basically add any, or none at all, breakfast meats, leftover vegetables, etc. to the mix and create your own favorite “quiche”!

*Serve for brunch with mimosas or even as a light lunch or dinner alongside a salad.  Also, holds up well for great leftovers.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 package bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
  • 4oz cooked ham or Canadian bacon (about 4 slices), chopped
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/3 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup swiss cheese, shredded
  • 1 (4oz) container feta cheese
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup Bisquick
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Chives or scallions for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly coat a 10″ pie dish with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, add and toss to combine the cooked bacon, ham, fresh vegetables and cup of Swiss cheese.  Season with a hefty pinch of salt and pepper.   Add to the prepared pie dish.

In that same large bowl you had the veggies in, now beat the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Next, whisk in the milk and Bisquick until smooth.  Pour over the bacon and veggie mix in your pie dish.  Sprinkle the feta cheese evenly over the top and place your quiche into the preheated oven, uncovered, for 40-50 minutes or a toothpick comes out clean from the center of your quiche.  *For easy transfer, I place my pie dish on a baking sheet before I even pour in the egg mix to get in/out of the oven, as it will be full.

Allow to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes to set up, slice and serve.  Enjoy!

Quiche

Ranch Hand Potatoes

Ok, this is quite possibly my favorite side dish to bring to any potluck, tailgate party, picnic or just a side for a dinner at home when my husband smokes a brisket…yummmm.  This WILL feed a crowd and your crowd will leave nothing behind!

There are a few variations of similar recipes, but personally, they tend to be quite bland and have zero texture.  This doctored up version has many depths of flavors, yet is still mild enough for any palate with the bacon, chiles and that good, ol’ fashioned ranch flavor!  Plus it’s sooooo easy!  Basically, it’s a “dump & stir” side, bake and walk away!

The Starting Lineup

  • 6-7 russet potatoes
  • 1 package bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, chopped
  • 1-2 (4-oz) can of green chiles
  • 1 (10.5-oz) cream of chicken
  • 1 (10.5-oz) cream of poblano soup (*You can use two cans a cream of chicken to substitute)
  • 1 (16-oz) container of sour cream
  • 1 (1-oz) packet of Hidden Valley Original Ranch Seasoning
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (*I use Kraft Sharp Cheddar)
  • Green onions (scallions), sliced for garnish after baking

Let’s start with the simple “prep work”:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cook up your bacon, drain/pat dry the grease, chop up.
  3. Clean the russet potatoes, cut in half and boil in salted water till just fork tender.  You do not want to over boil, as you’re not making mashed potatoes and want a bit of texture.  *I prefer to leave the skins on for visual appearance and, again, texture.  Drain into a colander and once cool enough to touch, cut into rough bite size pieces, similar to a potato salad.

For potlucks, I prefer to use a deep dish (disposable if possible) 11×9 foil pan.  By all means, you can use your handy 9×13 too.  Layer your par-cooked potatoes into your serving dish in an even layer.

In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the cooked bacon, poblano peppers, green chiles, cream of chicken/poblano soups, sour cream, ranch seasoning and shredded cheese.

Pour over the potatoes and toss to coat.

Transfer, uncovered, to your preheated oven and bake for 50-60 minutes.  Top with the scallions and enjoy!!

RanchhandPotatoes

 

 

Cheesy Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Potatoes

If you’ve ever been to my casa for a get-together you know I love to make this spinach artichoke dip (bubbling hot in a cast-iron skillet with torn fresh baguette and tortilla chips…insert drooling), because I know that you love to eat it!

So while one night with just my family of 4 at home and the “diet-angel” on my shoulder telling me to NOT make just a skillet of this with spoons for our dinner, I figured I would stuff a fluffy potato with my party go-to!  Also worth noting, my husband must eat meat with every meal, so I shredded some blackened chicken in the mix and yessss mam!!

*If extra occurs, please keep!  Warm and serve with veggies, bread or tortilla chips…or that trusty spoon! 😉

The Starting Lineup

  • 4-6 Large russet potato’s
  • Olive or canola oil
  • Kosher/rock Salt
  • 4 Tbsp butter, (1/2 stick) unsalted
  • 14oz can artichoke hearts, drained, rough chop
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves (can use 10oz frozen, just thaw and drain)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 2 cup parmesan, shredded
  • 16oz light sour cream
  • 4oz can diced jalapenos, chopped
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (topping, optional)
  • Chicken, cooked and shredded/chopped (optional)

SAPotato.jpeg

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and poke holes in your rinsed and patted dry potatoes with a fork.  Rub the olive oil and salt all over the outside of the potato.  Place directly on the top rack of your hot oven.  *Place a baking sheet on the bottom rack to catch any drippings.  Bake for 45 minutes or until tender; depends on size of potato.   You’ll have crispy, salted potato skin and a fluffy interior.

Cook your chicken now as well (grill, blacken, bake, simmer and shred, etc) if desired.

Spinach Artichoke Filling:

In a skillet over medium heat, melt together 8oz cream cheese, 16 oz sour cream, 1/2 stick butter, 2 cups parmesan cheese, and minced garlic, stirring frequently until melted and an even consistency.

Stir in coarsely chopped artichoke hearts, drained jalapenos and fresh or drained spinach (remember to remove excess water).  Finally, stir in the cooked chicken (if using).

Serve:

Cut a slit in the top of your potato and I prefer to scoop out a bit of the flesh.  Fill with a large ladle full of Spinach Artichoke filling and if desired, top with some shredded mozzarella and place on the baking sheet in a 375 degree oven until cheese is melted.  Enjoy!

SAPotato4

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