Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Panettone for the Holidays


It's the holiday season and nothing speaks to my Italian heritage like Panettone. This delicious fruit studded bread is originally from Milan and was traditionally prepared for Christmas and New Years. While Milan is the birthplace of this bread, it's now more popular in central and southern Italy. 

History lesson over.

From my previous posts you may have read that I'm a big fan of "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day." This book has irrevocably changed my relationship with baking bread by making it attainable, whether it's french baguettes or sourdough bread.



So as I baked my way through this book I discovered the Panettone recipe and my ancestors called out to me. So as I shopped for Thanksgiving I picked up a variety of dried fruits and lemon flavoring and decided to give it a try. It wasn't until the dough was rising that I realized you needed special Panettone molds (metal or paper) with high sides to give it its high sides.

Sigh...



While I did make a mental note to get these molds for next time, I decided to make the best out of a difficult situation.  As I searched frantically through my baking supplies I realized that I did have a souffle mold with "higher" sides that I decided to use to salvage the whole process. The remaining dough I put in a normal bread loaf pan. Either way the end result was delicious with the lemon flavoring through the brioche type bread and the dried fruits that added the right amount of sweetness.

It's a great idea for gifts for friends, hostess gifts for the holidays, family or just to eat with a cup of coffee in the morning.

For the Panettone Recipe from the book click here. Or just buy the book - you won't regret it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Baker Inspired Advent Calendar

Use mini brioche tins to create a baker inspired Advent calendar.


Advent calendars played a major role in my childhood. My mother would get a special chocolate Advent calendar and my sister and I would flip on who would get the even days or odd days. I would always want the even days because the 24th got the biggest chocolate...My sister who was younger than me didn't figure that out until a few years later. 

 

Since I've started blogging I've seen the most creative takes on Advent calendars. On craft blogs especially I've seen so many wonderful takes on the Advent calendar from bobbins to spools of thread there are about a million ways to interpret the Advent calendar. 

For about a couple of years I've been meaning to make the Advent calendar from The Purl Bee. It's a beautiful felt Advent calendar. As soon as I found it, I went out and bought all of the supplies. 

I still haven't started it...



I realized that this was a larger undertaking for a career girl who is cooking, baking, blogging and entertaining for the holidays. Then I realized, I haven't seen too many foodie takes on an Advent calendar so I set-off to develop my own easy to make calendar for the kitchen. It didn't take long until I found these adorable mini brioche tins at Bed, Bath and Beyond and I was instantly inspired.







Then I set-out to get the rest of my supplies. Hobby Lobby and Target were my next stops. Target was the surprise that had in their scrapbooking section, a packet of Advent calendar rub-on transfers that had all the numbers necessary for my calendar. (Get two packages in case you mess up like I did)

Supplies:
25 mini brioche tins
1 package 50 magnets
2 packets of Advent Calendar rub-ons
1 packet of Glittered Cardstock paper
1 can spray adhesive
Scrapbook circle punch (1 1/2 in) - scalloped edge



Directions:
  1. Rub on the numbers from 1 - 25 on the cardstock and use your 1 1/2 inch scrapbook hole punch to cut them all out. 
  2. Use the spray adhesive to glue the numbers inside the brioche mini tins
  3. Glue the Magnets to the back of the tins
  4. Arrange the numbers of your Advent calendar on your refrigerator
  5. Place notes of directions where the treats or presents are located under each number

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Foodbuzz 24x24: A Family Tree Thanksgiving

From lower left clockwise: Madison, Lynn, Carl, Katie, Toby, Phillip, Melissa and Helena

Thanksgiving is my Superbowl Sunday. 
It's the day I come to play and I come to win. (cue the song "You're the Best" by Joe Esposito from the Karate Kid soundtrack) It's also my holiday to entertain as I usually go away to see my family at Christmas. There are no second chances on Thanksgiving. Only mishaps you can laugh at later.
Thanksgiving seems to be one of the only holidays where the plan is to solely spend time with your family. Well, spend time with family and eat. You're not expecting presents or wondering what you're going to get - you're expectations quite simply are to break bread with your loved ones.  
When you plan an event at your house it's always a good idea to write down the original objective. Not really to remember the event, but to see where you end up after the first idea. This always happens to me. I'll plan a gathering at my house that is completely different than the first intent.

Our plans centered around spending time with family that we haven't seen in a long time. On my husband's side there are three brothers: Carl (my father-in law), Jerry and Terry. These three brothers have been through a lot together and we wanted to plan a Thanksgiving to get the brothers all back together again. However, a death in the family and other obstacles prevented Jerry and Terry from attending. The upside was that Jerry's son Phillip and family were still able to attend. 
 Helena, Katie and Madison wait patiently for Carl to carve the turkey


The Pendergrass Gathering was still on...

So Phillip, Melissa and their three girls (Helena, Katie and Madison) and two dogs arrived Thursday morning. There was knitting, chasing dogs, Barbies and Battleship playing. The girls were a blast. We loved spending time with Phillip and Melissa - having another young couple to talk to and catch up with. My husbands parents, Carl and Lynn, also arrived and got to take part in the fun.

However, Thanksgiving is also about the food so let me take a quick break and tell you about this journey. It is my experience that when you work (this includes in and out of the home) it usually gets hectic around the time you are trying to make plans for Thanksgiving. So instead of being able to focus on turkeys, stuffing and table arrangements in your spare time, you also have to focus on work.  This was my plight. The corporation I work for always helps sponsor a local walk to benefit the Chattanooga Homeless coalition. Normally that wouldn't be a problem. 
The walk is Thanksgiving morning.

So instead of waking up early to put the bird in the oven, I wake up extremely early (4 a.m.) to go to the event and then arrive back home at 8:30 a.m. to start with Thanksgiving. This is a recipe for disaster, right? Not really. The week before I prep everything. I make the pie crusts a week early and then I make the pies the day or two before. I even chopped the carrots, celery, onion and garlic and put them in ziploc bags ready for when I assemble the dressing the night before.  The dressing, sweet potato casserole and everything else on the menu are assembled and put in their pans the night before. On Thanksgiving all I had to do was place pans in and out of the oven and the only two dishes that are made the day of are mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.

The finished product - our Thanksgiving spread.

Let's meet our cast of characters - The Menu.

Roast Turkey with Herb Butter
Italian Sausage Sourdough Dressing
Sweet Potato Casserole with Mascarpone & Romano Cheese
Bourbon Gravy
Pomegranate Glazed Ham
Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce
Classic Smashed Potatoes
Roasted Green Beans
Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pie
Pecan Pie

Toby my husband presenting the buttered bird.
The Turkey Preparation is something I found in Gourmet magazine right before my first Thanksgiving. It was an article with Alton Brown on how to cook a turkey without it getting dry. No stuffing, no basting and starting off with a high heat to seal in the juices and then dropping the temp down to finish it off. It has always provided the juiciest bird every year. In fact, I've passed it along to friends and my sister and everyone loves it. So basically I rinse and dry the turkey. Then I chop some herbs (rosemary, sage, and parsely), grate some lemon zest and put into about 2 sticks of softened butter. Then I cover the bird. with the butter. 
Then put roughly chopped orange slices and onions in the cavity (don't pack) and put in a 500 degree oven for 35 minutes. When finished drop it down to 325 degrees for a couple of hours. An aluminum foil helmet can be made and placed on top to prevent burning of the breast.
The finished bird.

Ham glazed in Honey and Pomegranate juice.
 Most of the time I don't have a ham along with turkey. Since there were more people I decided to add it in. The only issue: How do you cook everything when the turkey is still in the oven and you don't want everything to get cold waiting for the ham? I improvised and warmed the ham in the microwave... Before you throw stones at me, the ham only needed to be warmed in the oven. So I put a Pomegranate and Honey Glaze on it, placed it in a glass Pyrex dish and cooked it on one of my microwave presets. It worked and everything got to the table at the same time. 



Let's talk table setting.

In a previous post I discussed how I decided to make a Toile-burlap table runner for Thanksgiving. This was the basis for my decorations. I decided against flowers for the table and wanted to keep it natural (why yes, a metallic pumpkin is indeed natural and quite fun now that you mention it)  What I did add was a find in my local organic grocery store - Lady Apples. These cute miniature apples were the perfect decoration to just toss around the table for a harvest feel and went perfect with the burlap.




The best part was that everyone decided to start eating them and before you know it they were gone. The girls thought they were just about the cutest thing ever.






Miniature trees to hang thoughts on what you're thankful for
 
All good things must end with pie.
Apple, Pumpkin and Pecan Pie

All good Thanksgiving meals end with pie. I love everything about pie. I love making pie and I really love eating it. There are so many different ways to change up the Thanksgiving pies but in the end I decided on keeping it traditional.

I made my favorite - apple, pumpkin and pecan pie. One time my friend Becky, who is a Research and Development manager at a large food company told me that the best recipes were the ones developed on the back of the packaging. So for the pumpkin and pecan pie - that is exactly what I used. However, my pie crust recipe that I will use for the rest of my life will be Martha Stewart's Pate Brisee recipe. If you use it you won't be sorry.

Apple Pie with a leaf crust. Just use a leaf cookie cutter and cut out the shapes and lay in a pattern on top.
My apple pie is another story. Apple pie is something that needs to be fine tuned. I found in my pie making past that I either didn't bake the pie hot enough to get the juices bubbling or the pie would be too juicy and runny. For me the one of the most important things in apple pie is the thickening agent. I use cornstarch. I mix it in with the brown sugar and spices and combine with the apple slices. When it bakes it thickens the juices and the pie is just perfect. 
Another thing I always do is use different cookie cutters to create a fun top crust. It's creative and easy and makes a beautiful final result.
We commemorated this Thanksgiving with a fun Family Tree collage of pictures that we took. 

In so many households, families have scattered to the winds. It's important to have holidays that celebrate getting back together and reconnecting and getting closer with our loved ones. In the best case scenario we don't wait for these holidays to happen - we make them happen on our own. We are so blessed to have had this opportunity to have a great time with family. 
Recipes:
Sweet Potato Casserole
 6 large sweet potatoes
6 oz of Mascarpone cheese
1 cup grated Romano cheese
4 oz of unsalted butter
1 tbsp Italian seasoning (rosemary, basil, parsley)
Roast the sweet potatoes at 400 degrees for a couple of hours (until soft and cooked through) Remove the skins and put the sweet potatoes in a mixing bowl. Add the cheeses, seasonings, butter and salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly and place in a greased glass baking dish (13x9) Sprinkle 1 tbsp of romano cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (heated throough and bubbling on the sides)

Apple Pie
1 bag of Granny Smith Apples peeled, cored and sliced
1 recipe pate brisee
1/2 tsp Allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 egg

In a 9 inch pie dish place the crust. In a bowl combine the apples, spices, cornstarch and brown sugar. Toss with your hands until its all incorporated and apples start to get syrupy. Place in the pie dish. Take the second half of the pie dough and roll out. Take a favorite cookie cutter and cut out shapes for the top of the pie crust. Fan out the cut-outs to create a great design.  Beat the egg with 1 tbsp water and brush on top of the pie. Sprinkle brown sugar on top. Bake a 375 degrees for 50 minutes. You should be able to see the fruit bubbling up through the crust and the top a nice golden brown.


Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce
2 pints fresh cranberries
6 oz Pom (or other pomegranate juice)
1 cup sugar

In a skillet on medium high put the juice and fresh cranberries in until they start to boil and the cranberries split apart. Add the sugar and stir. Cook until the mixture reduces down and get's thick like preserves. Put in a bowl. You're done!

Pomegranate Honey Glazed Ham
1 Spiral Pre Cooked Ham
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup Pom juice

Mix the juice and honey together in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and cook until the mixture reduced down and gets thick. Cover the ham with the glaze and place in a pyrex 13x9 dish. Cook in the oven according to instructions or place in the microwave on a meat preset time.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

16 Bean Soup


The first party I remember giving as an adult was in the winter of 2001 when I was living in Atlanta. My friend Stacy and I had gotten together and decided to give a winter Smores party for our friends. Everyone would go ice skating and then come back to soup and hot cocoa and treats. We also gave away little Smores ornaments as favors. It was a great plan.

But then I got sick. 

Instead of ice skating, I decided to stay back and get everything ready for the party. The main dish was a huge soup pot full of 16 bean soup. We've all seen this bag of assorted dried beans in the grocery aisle and probably passed it many times.  I'm here to tell you that this bag of beans is worth making for your next soup.  In fact when I made the soup everyone thought it was chili - little did they know it had no meat in it. When you make this soup make sure you throw away the soup flavoring packet that's included (yuck). We can do much better than that.




16 Bean Soup
1 16 oz package of 16 bean soup mix (throw away the flavor packet)
2 tbsp of chili powder
1 tbsp of cumin
1 onion chopped
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
3 pieces of bacon chopped
2 quarts Chicken broth


Pour the beans in a pot and fill with water until it covers the beans by an inch. Let them soak overnight.  Strain and rinse the beans. In a dutch oven or soup pot put 1 tbsp olive oil in the bottom and cook the bacon over medium high heat until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and add chopped onion and garlic. Saute until translucent and then add the beans back in with the chicken broth and spices. Bring to a boil and the add the tomato paste. Lower the heat to medium and  cook for 2-3 hours on medium heat until the beans soften and the soup thickens.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Toile Table Runner

There is no better "Made for You Mondays" project than coming up with a table runner for Thanksgiving.


When you have a square dining room table, table runners become a more important necessity for linens. I've convinced myself that eventually square dining room tables will be popular and I'm on the cutting edge. You can rarely find square dining room linens. 

Along with the conundrum of square tablecloths, during this fall season I've discovered a love for incorporating burlap into my table runners. I did it for a nesting themed bridal shower I hosted at my house and decided to try it again for Thanksgiving. So off I went to Hobby Lobby to find another fabric that might offset the unfinished look of the burlap. I found it in a beautiful toile design that not only matched but also kept a neutral pallete that might let me use this table runner on a regular basis...

Score...

What you'll need:
Burlap fabric that is 24" w 108" L (my table is 54")
Corresponding fabric  - 18" w x 82" L
Spool of chocolate brown or ivory thread

I didn't hem the burlap as I wanted it to look rustic. So I ironed a 1/2 " seam on the toile and laid it over  the burlap (you should have around three inches from the finished edge of the toile and the end of the burlap) With your sewing machine sewing the toile to the burlap.


For now my Holiday linen problems are solved...until Christmas...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Banana French Toast Casserole


The best situation on a Saturday morning is to wake-up and know exactly what you are planning to make for breakfast. Maybe you've already made a casserole that needs to only go in the oven or you at least have a plan.
Today was not one of those Saturdays.



I walked in the kitchen to see three bananas on the counter that were bought last Sunday and by this morning they were definitely giving me the stink eye. Sitting right next to the bananas was a loaf of beautiful whole wheat harvest loaf with grains, nuts (walnuts and sunflowers) and even some wheat berries. 

That can be the makings of a great breakfast casserole.
So I chopped about 5 cups of large cubes of the bread and put it in a square casserole dish with the bananas and a custard mixture. The texture from the bread worked really well with the sweetness of the bananas. It was a perfect breakfast.


Banana French Toast Casserole
5 cups dense wheat bread (better if it includes nuts like walnuts and sunflower seeds)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
5 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
3 ripe bananas sliced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8x8 glass casserole dish with butter. Add the 5 cups of cubed bread and sliced bananas. Make sure the the bananas are incorporated into the spaces in between the bread and are throughout the casserole. Layer at least one sliced banana on top. In a mixing bowl add the heavy cream, milk, eggs and sugar and whisk together. Pour over the bread and bananas. Put in the oven for about 40 minutes or cooked through and golden brown.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Stuffed French Toast Recipe on a Cold Winter's Morning

I'm always happy when I have leftover French bread on a Saturday morning.
When I worked at a Four Diamond Bed and Breakfast Inn, I remember getting in on cold mornings, pouring myself a cup of coffee and walking into the kitchen to see what the chef had prepared for breakfast. The beautiful breakfasts were beautifully plated and delicious.  It was this ritual that gave me a love for weekend breakfasts. 



In my humble opinion, French Toast has got to be the easiest thing to make for breakfast. So that gives you even more reason to dress it up and there is nothing better on a cold morning than sauteed apples with cinnamon and sugar on top and a cinnamon cream cheese filling. 

If only there was time during the week to have such a breakfast... 



 Stuffed French Toast with Sauteed Apples
8 oz cream cheese softened
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
4 tsp cinnamon
5 medium granny smith apples sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter
5 eggs
1 loaf of French bread

In a mixer combine the cream cheese, confectioners sugar and 2 tsp of cinnamon. Melt the butter in a skillet and add the apples, brown sugar and 2 tsp of cinnamon. Saute until the apples soften.

Whisk the 5 eggs in a mixing bowl.  Spread the cream cheese mixture in between two slices of french bread and then dip in the egg mixture. Fry in a skillet until golden brown on each side.  Plate the French Toast and top with the apples.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Pumpkin Coconut Pie

Usually the two weeks before Thanksgiving are what I call "Thanksgiving Tryouts."
This is the time period where I look at all my Bon Appetit, Saveur and Food & Wine magazines to get inspiration. Then I scour the web for different ideas. Once the research period is over it's time I make the first cut and then go about trying out the recipes to see if any of them will be a good addition to Thanksgiving. 

Sometimes once I finish going through other people's ideas, I'm inspired to come up with a few ideas of my own. Enter the Coconut Pumpkin Pie. I'm not a fan of Pumpkin Pie traditionally so I'm always looking for ways to make it that will allow me to love it more. The first year I tried Barefoot Contessa's Pumpkin Banana Tart. Then I tried a Pumpkin Pie with a Pecan Pie topping. This year I decided to combine Pumpkin Pie with Coconut. 

 Basically I went about creating this pie by substituting a few ingredients with the essence of coconut. The first substitution was evaporated milk with unsweetened coconut milk. Instead of vanilla i used coconut flavoring and then I added coconut flakes for a little bit of texture. Since it was a try-out I went all the way and cut out large rounds (with a biscuit cutter) of dough and placed them in a large muffin tin and then spooned the filling in them. I think I would still rather have a "slice" of pie instead of a tartlet but its totally up to you.

The result was a cross between a Coconut Custard Pie and Pumpkin Pie. It's probably my favorite use of Pumpkin Pie to date.

Coconut Pumpkin Pie
2 eggs
1 15 oz can pumpkin
1 15 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp coconut flavoring
1 cup coconut flakes
Pate Brisee (for the crust)

Make the pie crust and chill in refrigerator. In a mixing bowl combine pumpkin, coconut milk, eggs and brown sugar together until smooth. Then add the coconut and stir until incorporated. Roll out your pie crust and place in your 9 inch pie plate. Cook at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Breakfast Strata Recipe

With the holidays coming up I thought it would be important to discuss the importance of breakfast casseroles. When you have guests staying with you the last meal you want to stress out over is breakfast but cereal isn't really appropriate. You can make a casserole out of any favorite breakfast dish:  french toast, fritatas, and even pancakes. After a hard week at work, I love the idea of breakfast casseroles because I can put them together while I'm making dinner on Friday and then just pop them in the oven on Saturday morning while I enjoy my coffee.

A Strata is a savory brunch/breakfast casserole that is layered with bread and other fillings. Like with bread puddings, it's always good to use any stale bread you have on hand. I can always count on using stale hamburger buns for my casseroles. We don't eat hamburgers every day and when we do, we end up having a bag of hamburger buns left that eventually go stale.


So this morning I decided to make one with what I had on hand in my refrigerator: red peppers, Italian sausage and grated gouda cheese. It's a great meal and once you prepare it you only have to pop it in the oven while you have conversation over coffee. It's better than being chained to the stove (depending on your house guests).



Italian Sausage & Red Pepper Strata
5 cups cubed bread
6 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1 red pepper diced
8 ounces sweet Italian sausage 
2-3 tbsp of grated gouda or parmesean
Salt and pepper to taste
8x8 glass baking dish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Take the sausage out of the casing and cook in a frying pan. Grease the baking dish with a light coating of olive oil. Layer in the cubed bread, then the diced red pepper, and Italian sausage. Whisk the eggs and milk together and then pour over the rest into the baking dish. Grate the gouda on top. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through and slightly golden brown on edges.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chocolate Mascarpone Pie


Graham cracker pie shells are a lifesaver.

I always get a couple when I go to the grocery and use them when I'm in a last minute jam and need a dessert. The other night we had friends coming over and I hadn't even thought about dessert. I was focused on finishing the actual dinner. With 10 minutes left until they were due to arrive my husband asked the dreaded question, "What about dessert?"  So I threw open the refrigerator door to see a leftover tub of mascarpone and heavy cream. 

Perfect.

Then I went to the cupboard and rooted around on my baking shelf.  Next I found semi-sweet chocolate chips. I melted the chips and let them cool and then combined them with the mascarpone and folded in whipped cream....with a few minutes to spare. 

So make sure you have a couple of graham cracker pie crusts in your cupboard for a quick and easy dessert.

Chocolate Mascarpone Pie

12 ounces semi-sweet chips
6 oz mascarpone cheese
1 pint heavy cream
1 graham cracker pie crust

Melt the chocolate chips over a double boiler. Let cool and add to mascarpone cheese. Mix until smooth. Whip the heavy cream in a mixer on high until you get stiff peaks. Fold into the chocolate mascarpone mixture and then put into your pie shell.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Chicken Scarpariello


Recently I went on a business trip to Las Vegas for a conference. A four hour flight with no wi-fi gives you the opportunity to catch up on a number of things: reading, an embroidery project and all the downloaded video podcasts that I hadn't seen since the beginning of the year. 
That's a lot of podcasts.

One of the recipes that caught my eye on Cooks Illustrated's podcast was an Italian recipe that I hadn't seen before - Chicken Scarpariello. It was a delicious mix of chicken, sausage and peppers with a simple sauce. After I got home and tried to get back to normal from the bustle of the conference, I was looking through the October issue of Food & Wine magazine and I saw another recipe for Chicken Scarpariello. 

I can take a hint. 

The recipe is a great "Sunday Dinner" type of meal. We had friends over for the new recipe and had some crusty Italian bread to go along with it. It was a great homecoming meal.

Chicken Scarpariello (Food & Wine Oct. 2010 Issue)

Ingredients

  1. 8 small skinless, boneless chicken thighs (2 pounds)
  2. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  3. All-purpose flour, for dusting
  4. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  5. 8 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise and lightly smashed
  6. 4 large rosemary sprigs, broken into 2-inch pieces
  7. 2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  8. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  9. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  10. 1 red pepper chopped
  11. 1 yellow pepper chopped

Directions

  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dust with flour. In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the chicken and cook over high heat, turning once, until browned and crusty on both sides, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for 3 minutes, until the garlic is lightly browned. Transfer the chicken to a platter, leaving the rosemary and garlic in the skillet.
  2. Add the stock to the skillet and cook over high heat, scraping up any browned bits, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and butter and swirl until emulsified. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Add the peppers and cook, turning the chicken until coated in the sauce, about 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken and sauce to the platter and serve.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

How to Make Chicken Tenders with Honey Bunches of Oats


I don't know what prompted me to do it. 
Maybe it was the box of Honey Bunches of Oats on the counter when I got home or the fact that I had a hard day at work. The reason could be that even though I always have the best intentions, I still don't eat breakfast like I should. (unless you consider a bowl of coffee breakfast) Maybe it was a subliminal idea that stemmed from last nights' episode of Top Chef Just Desserts in which one of the contestants used Captain Crunch as a component of petit fours for tea. Whatever the reason, when I got home from work and contemplated what to make for dinner, I thought it would be a great idea to coat chicken strips with Honey Bunches of Oats. 

I doubt this idea is a new one. I've seen everyone from chefs to bloggers coat chicken with corn flakes but the idea of a sweet cereal just seemed like a good idea.  So I took the cereal and crushed it and then coated the chicken with beaten eggs and then the cereal and fried it. The crust was more crunchy than breadcrumbs and sweet. A guilty pleasure for dinner that I'll definitely make again if my husband doesn't start hiding his box of cereal.
Chicken Tenders Coated in Honey Bunches of Oats
2 cups of Honey Bunches of Oats Crushed
2 large eggs beaten
1 lb of Chicken Breast cut into strips
Salt and pepper to taste

Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl. Take the cereal and put in a separate bowl. Take the chicken and dredge in the egg then the cereal. Put 2-3 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan. On medium high heat fry the strips until golden brown on each side and cooked through.  Serve with a salad on the side so you don't feel as bad.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cornmeal and Brown Sugar Crusted Bacon

The best scenario for me on the weekend is to wake up to fresh coffee and a preassembled breakfast casserole that only has to be placed into a preheated oven. I've said earlier that even my bacon goes in the oven.  This method is a revelation to those of us who find frying bacon on the stove a messy option.  

The other day as I flipped through my new Southern Living Magazine I found my eyes got wide as I stopped mid flip to see the most unique bacon recipe I've come across in written form. It's a new way to prepare bacon that is dredged in a mixture of brown sugar, cornmeal and ground pepper and then baked in the oven.

Let's just say I tried it the next day (thank goodness it was Friday).

The result was a crisp and sweet piece of thick cut bacon that I will definitely keep in my weekend breakfast rotation. It's also a great recipe for brunch since it calls for 16 pieces of bacon. Most of you bacon diehards will feel it's not enough.

Cornmeal and Brown Sugar Crusted Bacon (Southern Living November 2010)
1/4 cup plain yellow cornmeal
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
16 thick bacon slices

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine first 3 ingredients in a shallow dish. Dredge bacon slices in cornmeal mixture shaking off excess. Place half of bacon in a single layer on a lightly greased wire rack in a jelly roll pan. Repeat procedure with remaining bacon, placing on another lightly greased wire rack in a second jelly-roll pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes or until browned and crisp. Let stand 5 minutes.
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