Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Special Chicken Piccata DInner



Chicken Piccata is a classic Italian recipe that is both elegant and very simple at the same time.
The tangy sauce over the chicken is just the right balance of flavors to tantalize your taste buds without overwhelming your belly as there is nothing heavy about this delicious dish.

It takes under 30 minutes to prepare, but has such impressive results, that it is worthy of serving for special occasions or a very romantic dinner for just the two of you.

It is one of Big Al's favorite, and he's more of a beef guy, so I take it as a great compliment.

This particular recipe is from GIADA De LAURENTIS from the Food Network.

YOU WILL NEED:

2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped


Directions:


Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.

Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley and a lemon slice.



Delicious served with steamed broccoli, tomato bruschetta and a Ceasar salad.





Have you made this dish before? What were the reactions to those you served it to?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Guess who's coming to dinner? And he's bringing MEATLOAF! And Some FREEBIES!


*UPDATE!!!!!

We have 2 winners- MARY at My NEW 30 and Helen at PAPRIKA IS GOOD BUT NOT IN COFFEE!
CONGRATULATIONS LADIES!

~~~~
Last week, I was approached by the people at COUNTRY BOB'S and asked if I would be willing to try some of their all-purpose sauce and review the recipe on this blog site.

In exchange, they would be willing to let me offer my readers 2 chances to win a couple of bottles to try for themselves!

SO, I'm leaving you one of the recipes they sent me to review, along with my review of their product.

All YOU must do to enter the contest is LEAVE A COMMENT in my comment section telling me why you would like to try this sauce!



Country Bob's Meatloaf



You will need:

1 1/2 lbs lean hamburger
1/4 cup chopped onions
12 crushed saltine crackers
2 eggs, beaten
1 T Country Bob's Seasoning Salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 cup Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup flour

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together, place in baking dish, shape in loaf, pour a little more Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce on top and bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

*Let me start by saying, that I was thrilled when I read the list of ingredients on the back of the bottle of COUNTRY BOB'S All Purpose Sauce to find that they were truly ALL NATURAL! Not one word on there that I didn't recognize and couldn't pronounce.

When I checked the flavor before adding it to the food, (Finger test) I found the flavor to be sweet and tangy- just the way I like my sauce.

The recipe turned out moist and delicious, and just as I suspected, the delicious sauce lent it's sweet/tangy flavor to the meatloaf to creat a more tantalizing flavor!


You gotta' try this sauce!

If you want to try it for free, leave me a comment for your chance!


*CONTEST IS OPEN UNTIL Midnight (CT) ON Thursday, April 30.
I will announce the winner on Friday, May 1st!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lazy weekend recipe- Sausage Gravy and Biscuits





Lazy weekend Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

YOU WILL NEED:

2 T. bacon grease
1 pound bulk sausage
1/2 C. flour
4 C. whole milk, brought to a simmer
salt, to taste
fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions:
In a medium saucepan, heat milk over very low heat, stirring occasionally. Make sure to keep an eye on the milk, don’t let it boil.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet (preferably cast iron), heat the bacon grease over medium high heat until melted, then add sausage. Crumble and cook the sausage until well-browned .
Sprinkle flour over the sausage and cook, stirring, for a minute or two.

Add warm milk all at once and cook, stirring, until thickened and bubbly.
Turn heat all the way down, and season well with salt and pepper, stirring and tasting frequently until the flavor is to your liking. Turn off the heat. Gravy will continue to thicken as it cools.

Serve over warm biscuits. Add some fresh fruit and some OJ and you're off to start your weekend! Enjoy yours.

Friday, April 24, 2009

FAST AND FURIOUS FRIDAY



A new weekly feature here on Fridays will be my FAST AND FURIOUS menus.

I'll feature a complete meal that can be ready to serve in 30 minutes or less.
Breakfast, lunch or supper menus will be included.

These will be meals that have few ingredients with LOTS of shortcuts for the busy cook, a cook who is just starting out in the kitchen or those who find themselves with a short amount of time to feed some hungry people.

I posted early this week, so I will link yesterday's menu for Bow Tie Pasta with Vodka Sauce and Chicken here.

Click here for a bonus meal Chicken Alfredo with Red Pepper, from my archives.

*I would love for you to share your FAST AND FURIOUS Meals with me as well, and next week, I will add the "MISTER LINKY FEATURE" so everyone can hop on board and we can all see the creativity from other cooks when they're in a hurry.

If you have a quick meal to share this week, feel free to link to the meal in my comment section.


Looking forward to hearing from all of you FAST AND FURIOUS FRIDAY cooks!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Key Lime Squares and a Florida Dream



In June, I will be traveling to Florida, and I wrote a post about my needing to lose some weight really quickly, hopefully without dieting or exercising!

I'm needing some help here. You can click to read more about my dilemma at my other site, Matter of Fact.

But all the thoughts of Florida, and me stressing over a swimsuit, just got me thinking about a lovely dessert I found from MARTHA STEWART LIVING that screams FLORIDA!

It also screams "I'm gonna' be fat and flabby in my swimsuit!"

But, I have a little bit of time, so I thought I would make these now, and enjoy them while I dream of being skinny and fit and young on the beaches of Florida.

Dream with me....

You will need:


1 cup finely ground graham cracker crumbs
2 1/2 T. finely ground graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
5 T. unsalted butter, melted
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
2/3 cup fresh Key lime juice , (about 23 Key limes)
1 cup sweetened condensed milk, (14 oz.)
2 Key limes, thinly sliced into half-moons

Crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a small bowl. Press evenly onto bottom of an 8-inch square glass baking dish. Bake until dry and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. (Do not turn off oven.)

FILLING:
Put egg yolks and lime zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on high speed until very thick, about 5 min. Reduce speed to medium. Add condensed milk in a slow, steady stream, mixing constantly. Raise speed to high; mix until thick, about 3 min. Reduce speed to low. Add lime juice; mix until just combined.

Spread filling evenly over crust using a spatula. Bake, rotating dish halfway through, until filling is just set, about 10 min. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or overnight).

Cut into 2-by-2-inch bars. Garnish bars with whipped cream and a slice of lime.

Enjoy!

Now, leave me your favorite beach inspired recipe.

Feel free to link to it in my comment section, or email it to me and I will feature it in an upcoming post!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Cookbook Collection/Addiction/Fascination and a recipe for POLENTE




This is a photo of my cookbook collection. A collection that has already been scaled down.

I collect cookbooks. I love them.

Sometimes I will grab 3 or 4 cookbooks, lie down on the sofa and read recipes. And highlight the interesting ones that I need to try. I may make little notes of ingredients I would add or take away.

I can get transported when my nose is in a good cookbook. It is so relaxing.

My favorites?

Well ,I have many favorites, for many reasons.

I love to purchase church cookbooks (those ladies know their stuff!) and community cookbooks, because those usually are tried and true favorites and I am rarely disappointed when I make anything within them.

I also purchase a cookbook when Big AL and I visit other towns, states or communities on our little pleasure trips. It becomes a souvenir I can actually USE!

This is my very favorite because of sentimental reasons.



It belonged to my grandmother, Amelia.

THE best Italian cook.

It was her cookbook, from 1926. She used it throughout her life, and it is well worn. It has become a cherished keepsake in my home.


Upon closer inspection, you'll see her handwriting and some scribbling by one of her sons when he was a small child. Possibly my Dad's "artwork."




The sign of a good recipe in a well used cookbook is a food blot on the page!


Grandma was known for her excellent cooking skills. Everything was made from scratch.

My favorite recipes of hers when I was growing up were :

POLENTA, served with stew beef, marinara sauce and grated Parmesan
Gnocci (potato dumplings)
Italian Rice , served with boiled chicken
Pizelle Cookies ( A Christmas tradition)
Yeast rolls
Nut Bread
Apple strudel

Oh, how I miss her cooking.

Her cookbook brings me closer to her.

She would be so proud to know I was making one of her recipes, and even happier if she knew I was sharing it with all of you.

SO, in her memory,I give you my Grandma Amelia's POLENTE



Ingredients

1 T. salt
1/2 stick butter
3/4 box yellow cornmeal
2 qt. warm water

Mix cornmeal with water and salt. Stir until smooth. Set over Med. heat, stirring constantly until it comes to a boil. Simmer about 25 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes: add butter before removing from heat.

Serving suggestion:

Cook stew beef chunks in chicken broth till done, then add beef to your favorite Marinara sauce and pour over top of Polente. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan.

So, tell me. What is your favorite cookbook and why?

Feel free to share a favorite recipe in my comment section, or email it to me at: asmurphy@clearwave.com if you would like it featured in a post.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Steak Night at Martin's Restaurant



Friday night Big Al and I ventured out on the Harley to a nearby restaurant, Martin's restaurant and Catering.

Martin's has been around for years, and is a family style restaurant complete with a friendly, home style atmosphere.
It is located on East Main in Benton, Illinois.

For those of you that aren't familiar with Benton, it is a small town in SO. Illinois that just so happens to be the hometown of actor JOHN MALKOVICH.

Martin's is open for breakfast and lunch daily, but on Friday Nights, the hours are extended as they serve delicious home style meals of Fried Chicken and Fried fish.

We came for their signature steak.

We were served a large, juicy steak, that had been marinading in a Delicious blend of flavors and cooked to perfection (medium well) just like I like it. NO sauce was needed!


It was accompanied by a baked potato and a house salad and a dinner roll for.....get this....
only $12.99!!!


We were served a special little cheese spread with buttery crackers while we were waiting on our steaks (no extra charge) and it was very simple but delicious.

We also enjoyed some mighty fine Raspberry tea!

Had we not eaten so much of the cheese and crackers before our meal, we would have ordered a slice of chocolate pie, or coconut, but we.were.stuffed.

We thought about taking a couple of slices home for a midnight snack, but...we were on a Harley...pie doesn't travel well on a bike.

We'll go back though, as this special is served every Friday night 4:00 - 7:00 pm.

Martin's is also known for their catering service. Catering wedding receptions, reunions, parties, church socials, you name it.

If you're anywhere near So. Illinois, this is definitely worth the trip. If you choose to stop by, tell 'em Sherri sent ya'!And have a slice a pie on me!


My compliments to the chef!


Bob Martin, Chef and Owner with one satisfied customer!



*I know what you're all thinking...why would I post a picture of myself that looks that bad?

It was a tough decision. For the record, I WAS SICK, on drugs (prescription) and had Harley hair. But Bob looks good so I decided to throw my normal vanity aside and feature the photo anyway. As soon as we came home, I went to bed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Doggie Hospice Stew



Okay, I know this seems strange.

But my friend Candy posted about her dog that will be leaving the world soon. The dog was refusing to eat, which would speed up the dying process, so she found a recipe for this stew that would help keep her pooch fed and full and possibly borrow a bit more time.

You can read more about this story here.

So here's the recipe, should you ever need it. (Hopefully you won't.)


* It was written by a dog.
at Doggy space.com

8-10 cups of water
8 tsp of chicken base
6 stalks celery, chopped
6 carrots, chopped
2 potatoes, chopped
1/2 lb green beans, cut in 1 inch pieces
leftover chicken or turkey, about 2-3 cups
dash of thyme
handful of parsley
8 oz of egg noodles.

Then she cooked and cooked and cooked it til the veggies were real soft, and added 1/2 c flour mixed with 1/3 c water to thicken it.

She takes about a cup or so, adds my kibble to my dish, and puts a little warm water in it and lets it sit for a few minutes so the kibble gets soft. And I eat like a pig! Literally, she washes the wall and floor when I'm done. But I don't have much control over my mouth anymore.

I never thought mom would give me human food, but this is good and healthy for me. Sometimes she throws in brown rice if she has some left over from her supper.

*yes, it can be consumed by humans as well.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

And We Have a WINNER!!!!



The winner of my SPRING FLING GIVEAWAY is....

KATHY!!!!!



Her name was entered into the drawing 17 times, by participating in all of the contest options.

Congratulations Kathy!

Your shipment will be sent as soon as you email me with your mailing address!

Happy Easter!

Here's to some good cookin'!
*I'm expecting you make at least ONE of the recipes and share it with us here.