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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Caprese Chicken and Random Thursday Thoughts

First up, the chicken. This recipe is my take on my good friend Molli's recipe. What could possibly be bad about chicken, pesto, tomatoes and mozzarella? Nothing! And this is another extremely easy one. How easy? It doesn't even have measurements. Just eyeball it and use as much or as little of something as you like. This is one of those meals that my husband ate with lots of approving noises, lol. That means he's really enjoying what he's eating!

Did I make my own pesto? No, though I do in the summertime. For this chilly New England girl, Trader Joe's is my wintertime pesto savior. Thank you, TJ's! I used fresh tomatoes, also from TJ's--but if you can't find any decent ones, go ahead and try canned. Then it really becomes a pantry dinner! I usually keep shredded cheese in the freezer, too, so if you do that--along with a jar of good pesto, a can of diced tomatoes, and add a pack of boneless chicken, you can have this one on the table with little effort.

Here's the recipe, and like I said--there are no exact measurements. Use as much breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese as you need to coat your chicken. Same with tomatoes, pesto and cheese--use your own judgement.

Caprese Chicken

To print this recipe, click here!

boneless chicken breasts, filleted
kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper
garlic powder
onion powder
a couple of beaten eggs
grated parm (some to mix with breadcrumbs, some to sprinkle on chicken)
sliced tomatoes (or drained canned, diced tomatoes if that's what you've got)
shredded mozzarella

Heat oven to 375.
Fillet the chicken breasts if you haven't already. They cook faster, and stay juicier. Trust me on this.
Sprinkle them generously with the salt, pepper, onion and garlic powders.
In a plate, mix some grated parm in with the breadcrumbs.
Dip the chicken in beaten egg, then in breadcrumbs.
Heat an oven safe skillet over medium-med. high heat, then add some oil to the pan-about 2-3 tbsp.
When the oil is hot, add the chicken.
Brown 3-4 minutes per side, depending on thickness.
Remove pan from heat, and then slather the tops of each breast (the chicken ones, not yours, lol)
with some pesto--as much as you like.
Top each one with sliced tomato, then sprinkle each with parmesan cheese and shredded mozzarella.
Place the skillet in the oven and bake for about 3-4 minutes, then if you want some color on your cheese, turn the broiler on-broil for 2-3 minutes. Watch it carefully, though!

Look at the gorgeous Boule Bread from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day! I can't remember the last cookbook I've gotten so much use out of, seriously.

Random Thursday Thoughts:


It's so much fun! I didn't think I'd get into it at first, but you know what? It's addictive. And I've made some good friends using it, too! It's a great way to network and get to know people with the same interests as you. If you want to follow me, click here:

Hello to all my Tweeps!


The mailman.

Whatever happened to that old saying? "Neither wind, nor rain, nor sleet, nor snow..." Now, I know how hard letter carriers work. And yeah, they do have to be out in some really crappy weather. But what do you do when your letter (I know, not ALL letter carriers suck, so no hate mail, please!) We had a great mail carrier at our previous house, but the one we got when we moved? ugh. He's an old, crusty dude. Grumpy, too. We
STILL get mail from people that lived here three families ago! No matter how many times we tell him they don't live here and haven't for years. We get the neighbor's mail, they get ours, sometimes we get none at all, and then the next day, get two days worth. sigh. I think every single person on this street has called and filed complaints about him. So we have to put up with all of his issues, but God forbid there's 5" of snow at the street end (thanks to that last pass from the plow) of an otherwise clear front walk and porch. We get no mail that day, and a note the next day. "Not delivered because not shoveled." freaking grrrrr!

Glad I got that off my chest. Thanks for listening! :)

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Easy Teriyaki Chicken Wings

This recipe is one that my mom made forever. It's amazingly simple, and you can change it up if you like. A touch of sesame oil would be good, or you can use fresh garlic and ginger instead of powdered. Also, feel free to add some heat to these, if you like.

I was in a hurry Saturday when I mixed up the marinade, and didn't change anything, just made them as-is.

Every single time I make these, they all get eaten right away. Not just eaten, inhaled! I remember making a huge batch of these for my husband and his friends. It was like watching pigs at feeding time, lol. After being starved for a week.

I don't know what it is--maybe people get sick of the really popular buffalo wings after a while? Please don't send me buffalo-wing-lover hate mail, hehe. I make those, too. See those here and here. We love wings! All kinds of wings. But when my husband knows I'm making these? He's a happy guy.

They're not saucy and drippy after cooking--a little sticky, but not too bad. So they make good finger food. And they'd be perfect for your upcoming Super Bowl parties, too! But make a lot!

I marinate them as long as possible. I've even marinated them in the fridge for as long as 3 days. But if you do that, be sure they haven't already been sitting in your fridge for a day or two. Better safe than wiping out your entire house of guests with food poisoning. Be smart about that, and your friends will thank you instead of charging your house with gardening/angry mob tools. You can even freeze these in the marinade, then thaw when you need them.

Seriously complicated recipe, coming up!

Teriyaki Chicken Wings

To print this recipe, click here!

3 lbs chicken wings
3/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup oil
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 Mix all ingredients.
2 Add wings and marinate at least 8 hours.
3 Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
4 Remove to a cooling rack after cooking.

That's it. Easy, right?

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cherry Vanilla Yogurt Poundcake: revisiting an older post

I'm sure that some of you remember my obsession from this past spring and summer. Some of you may not, but guess what? It's still an ongoing obsession. I can't help it! The combination of raspberry and lime is irresistible to me! It's always popping up to rear it's tasty head and I go off on these tangents every once in a while. As a winner of one of the Royal Foodie Jousts, I got to pick the three ingredients for the next one, and guess what they were? Click here to see, lol. But let's just say it was like having my own minions creating recipes to feed my obsession. How cool is that??

This pound cake is from a recipe I found years ago on a yogurt container. Easy, not too bad for you, and so good! And like any pound cake, it gets better every day. This one I just made lasted three days. The first piece was delicious. the last piece, even better.

It's a not-bad-for-you pound cake because it doesn't use the traditional one pound of butter. Just 1/2 cup! Because you add moisture with the yogurt, you don't need all that butter. And it's still moist and tender.

I used the same recipe from this previous post, but used vanilla yogurt, frozen cherries (about 1 1/2 cups after chopping) that I quartered because they were large, 1 tsp almond extract, and no zest. But truth be told, I *almost* made it cherry lime with some lime zest. I'm glad I left it out, because cherry vanilla was a winning combination.

To print this recipe, click here!

The combinations are endless when you look at the variety of yogurt flavors available, so experiment and see what you can come up with!

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Blog Pimp, Not Going Postal

I absolutely have to tell you about this new blog, written by one of the most wonderful women I've ever met. Not only is she hilarious with a very sharp wit, she's got one of the biggest hearts I've ever come across. Here is the first line from her About page:

If I were a t-shirt, it would say “I Use Inappropriate Humor as a Coping Mechanism.”

That's a perfect description, hehe. And look at this tidbit of info:

"I have been kicked off a cooking website for being a smart alec. No really. You can’t even say my name over there. It’s like I’m Voldemort with a whisk. However, in the process I made some of my best friends ever."

LOL! I was kicked off of that same site, at the same time. Yep. Troublemaker that I am. I know, right? How do you get kicked off a cooking site? I remember reading about a group of women kicked off a candle making site. I asked one of my friends how in the hell one manages to do that. Her reply? "Hello! We got kicked off a cooking site!" Me: "Oh, right, lol!" I'm not quite at Voldemort status, though. My name can still be uttered there without fear of you being made to disappear, as well, hehe. And she's right. The group of women I met there are truly the best friends I've ever made. We've even (almost) all taken trips and vacations together. I love you guys--you know who you are!

So please go check out Not Going Postal, and say hi. You can tell her I sent you, if you like.

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Frozen Herb and Book Giveaway Winners

Today is prize giveaway day! Woohoo! So there are three prizes to go be awarded--2 packages of frozen herbs, and one copy of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Let's get right to it!

The Random Number Generator did it's thing and we have the winners:

First up, # 58, the winner of the book:

Ann said... 58

I've heard wonderful things about the book, Pick me...please !! And thank you !!!

IMPORTANT- Ann, I don't have an email address for you--please contact me ASAP, or I'll have to choose another winner. Don't want to have to do that!

Second, # 116, the winner of Herb Package #1:

Ms. Nearlywed said... 116

What a fantastic idea for herbs!!! I just love it. The bread book looks really good too, I've been really into making breads lately so you have me intrigued...I may have to go out and get this book.


And third, # 66, the winner of Herb Package #2:

Ari (Baking and Books) said... 66

Artisan Bread is an incredible book indeed, I get much use out of my copy! Whoever wins it is very lucky. :)

Congrats to all of the winners! This was a really fun giveaway for me. I totally stand behind herbs, as I have with everything I've had a giveaway for. If you find that your local stores don't carry the herbs, tell them they must--they are truly wonderful! And the book? It's fantastic, and I'm not just saying that. I've been using it for the past couple of months and have not had a failure yet. On the contrary, we've been enjoying fresh bread more than ever. And I haven't sweated over bread baking, either--it's just so easy.

Stay tuned for more giveaways in the coming months. I love my readers and giving back something when I can makes me truly happy. Love you guys!

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Chicken St. Rémy, and one of life's great mysteries...

Happy Sunday, everyone! Today I'm sharing a recipe I've been fooling around with, and I think I've finally gotten it right.

Herbes de Provence is featured in this dish--and it's one of my favorite herb blends to use. If you've never tried it, you should! The name of the dish was chosen by my friend, Jane. St. Rémy is a town located in Provence, and from what I've seen online, it's a gorgeous place! Someday, right?

So this recipe came to be from a pack of boneless chicken, and a trip through my pantry. We've got canned tomatoes, Herbes de Provence, some shallots and garlic, and the ever important red wine. mmmm. And it's really easy, too!

Chicken St. Rémy

To print this recipe, click here!

2 boneless chicken breasts, filleted (about 1 1/2 lbs total)
dried Herbes de Provence, for sprinkling over the chicken
2 good sized shallots, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4-1/2 cup red wine, for deglazing pan
1 cup chicken broth
14 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 tsp dried Herbes de Provence
1/2 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper, to taste

Sprinkle both sides of filleted chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and Herbes de Provence. How much? Not too much, but don't be stingy, either.
Heat a pan over medium high heat, and add a couple tablespoons of olive oil.
Saute each piece of chicken for 2-4 minutes per side, depending on thickness. You're not cooking them fully now, just getting some nice color on them.
Remove to a plate.
Add shallots and garlic to the pan, deglaze with the wine, and saute for about 5 minutes.
Add broth, tomatoes, the 1/2 tsp Herbes de Provence and basil.
Bring to a boil, add the chicken and any accumulated juices back to the pan.
Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is done.
Serve chicken with tomatoes and sauce.

The potatoes in the photos are amazingly simple, and totally addictive. Take your favorite potatoes, scrubbed clean. Partially bake them in the microwave--but be sure to poke them with a fork so they don't explode first! Give them a few minutes in there, then cut them into roughly equal size. Heat some oil in a pan, add your potatoes and whatever seasonings you like-salt and pepper, in this case a little Herbes de Provence. Really, whatever you like. Get them nice and brown and crunchy and that's it. So easy!

And now for the mystery. Disappearing flatware. Does this happen to you guys? I don't know how in the heck it happens! Sometimes it's forks, other times it's spoons or knives. At this moment, it happens to be forks. WTF (what the fork)? We had a lot, now I need to go out and buy some. And also 1/4 cup measuring cups. I have 3 sets of measuring cups, and each one is missing the 1/4 cup. huh???

It's like socks in the dryer. I just don't get it. And...I don't like it. ;)

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Experience the Cheesy Goodness that is Mac and Cheese.

Is there anyone out there that doesn't like Macaroni and Cheese? Anyone? Bueller? I didn't think so. It's right up there at the top of my list of good old comfort food.

I used to love the Blue Box when I was a kid, and occasionally my kids have it, too--and ok, I'll confess to having a bite or two. Childhood memories and all that, you know? But they do love the homemade stuff, as well! In fact, my five year old asks me to make it. The first time I made the good homemade stuff, he told me he'd eat it every day if I made it for him. How's that for a compliment? Or maybe he said he'd plead with me every day not to make it for him...nah--I'm sure I heard him right. Right?

I use a tried and true recipe, given to me by one of my best friends, Jen. It makes a cheesy, totally creamy mac and cheese. You know how some homemade ones can be grainy and well, kind of curdled and dry? This one is nothing but creamy. The secret? Food snobs, you may want to avert your eyes now...

Velveeta. Yes. I'm serious. I tried a few other recipes for mac and cheese. They tasted fine, but were dry, and I just couldn't get the famous "creamy" type that I was looking for. But with Jen's recipe, it's super creamy and just so damn good.

This one's being entered in a Mac and Cheese Off that was put together by Danny from the Gourmet Gastronomer. So have a look at his site, and check out all of the cheesy goodness.

Voting will open to the general public on Tuesday, January 6th at 5:00pm and close on Friday January 9th at 5:00pm. So if any of you guys feel inclined to head on over there and vote, that would be awesome. Also, if you want to join in, you can contact Danny anytime before voting opens.

I made some changes this time around. Yesterday, we packed the kids up in the truck, and headed to Vermont. We went to the Vermont Country Store. We love going there--they have so much in the store--cool retro stuff, great foods, and amazing Vermont Cheddar. LOVE their cheddar. It's creamy and melts in your mouth. So we grabbed a big old hunk of that, along with a bunch of other things, went out to dinner, and called it a day. You should have a look around their site--I guarantee you'll see stuff you haven't seen since you were a kid, or stuff you remember your parents and grandparents using. We make a trip up there at least three times a year and come home with bags of stuff.

Vermont Country Store, at twilight.

So anyway, I used half Vermont Cheddar and yes, half Velveeta. I can't get away from it's creamy goodness in this dish. The result? The Velveeta gave it the ultimate creaminess, and the cheddar gave it that extra kick of flavor. It's delicious! And a nice sprinkling of panko bread crumbs over the top give it some nice crusty crunchy goodness.

I'm eating some right now, hot from the oven, and wishing I could share it with all of you! But I can give you the next best thing--the recipe:

Vermont Mac and Cheese

To print this recipe, click here!

16 ounces elbow macaroni (cooked)
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup flour
3 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 lb cheese, Velveeta cut into cubes
1/2 lb Vermont Cheddar
panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a pan, melt the butter along with the salt, pepper and flour and stir until smooth.
Remove from heat add milk and wine, then return to heat and bring to a boil.
Boil 1 minute while whisking.
Remove from the heat and add both cheeses, and stir until melted.
Pour over elbows, mix well, and pour into very lightly greased baking dish.
Sprinkle with panko and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

So...maybe it's not gourmet with the Velveeta and all, but it's good. Really good. And in the big picture, isn't that what counts? And I could have added a bunch of additional things, but then my kids may not have eaten it. And my husband and I don't really need to eat a whole pan of this by ourselves, hehe.

Don't forget to check out Danny's site and vote for your favorite mac and cheese!

I've been tagged by Karen at Mignardise for Six Random Things about me.

Six Random Things About Elle

1) I think I love football more than my husband does, and he's the one that got me into it. I yell at the coaches
when a play goes wrong, or at the refs when they make a bad call. AND at the players when they celebrate in
the end zone--I'm looking at YOU, Wes Welker. A snow angel? Seriously? Did you not think you'd get a penalty?
A fine, even! Stupidest rule ever, but still!

2) I love to dip french fries into a chocolate shake--just did last night at dinner, in fact!
It's like food for the gods. Seriously.

3) I don't like goat cheese. There, I said it! Am I the only one that hates the taste, the aftertaste,
and how you can still taste it 8 hours later? Yuck! Sorry to be uncool, but it's just gross.

4) I love to sketch and paint with watercolors. I used to be really good at it, but am terribly out of practice.

5) I'm addicted to Twitter. Follow me there:

6) I'm also addicted to my new Blackberry, aka Crackberry. I can even Twitter from it,
so it feeds addiction #5, as well! hahaha!!

I'm not going to tag six people, but I am going to leave this open so anyone can do it and keep it going. Once you do, tag six more people if you like, and be sure to let them know they've been tagged!

Macaroni and Cheese on Foodista

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