Baked Chicken Piccata

So I’ve finally mastered the art of being able to bake a piece of chicken without turning it into the equivalent of an old leather shoe. Most of my issues with baking chicken stemmed from three main problems.

                      1. I used to follow a recipe baking time blindly without taking into consideration the potential differences of my oven.

                      2. Because I was following the baking time exactly I’d never check the chicken a few minutes early to make sure I wasn’t over cooking it.

                      3. I was/am intensely paranoid about eating undercooked chicken.

To fix these, I’ve first learned that not all ovens are created equal. Perhaps my oven has a temperature calibration issue, but it will cook things much quicker than a recipe will indicate. I usually have to shave around 5-7 minutes off a recipe to make sure I’m not over baking. Next, I’ve learned that you must check the item a few minutes before the recipe end time. This has helped me numerous times from ruining a perfectly good meal. Last, I’ve learned that as long as I am cooking the chicken to the appropriate temperature and is no longer pink, I’m not going to get sick. I think my husband definitely appreciate these strides I’ve made in the kitchen.

I’ve made my Chicken Piccata before, but I wanted to come up with a baked version of my own since sometimes I absolutely dread the process of dredging and breading chicken. The wine, lemon, and garlic mixture that the chicken bakes in makes this extra savory and is good to drizzle over the pasta.

-3/4 cup white wine
-2 lemons, zest and juice
-2 tablespoons Italian breadcrumbs
-1/2 tablespoon EVOO
-1 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
-2 chicken breasts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Zest one of the lemons. Butterfly the chicken breasts and place in baking dish and squeeze lemon juice over top. Spoon breadcrumbs on chicken, then drizzle the EVOO over top. Sprinkle with lemon zest and the 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder. Pour wine into baking dish, and squeeze 1/2 of the other lemon into the wine and the other 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder. Top chicken with the Parmesan cheese.

3. Bake chicken 20 minutes, or until no longer pink. Place under broiler 5 minutes to melt cheese. Serve with a lemon wedge.

A Seasoned Greeting Original

Grilled Cheese Rolls

I love when I stumble upon a new or creative way to eat a dish. I saw these adorable grilled cheese rolls and loved the new spin on the American classic: the grilled cheese! This was the perfect quick and easy dinner for me since with my husband gone I’m not cooking meals every single night. I made 4 and have two for dinner and took the other 2 for lunch the next day. By the way, have I ever mentioned how much I love ketchup? If I ever go camping/hiking I must have ketchup as part of my emergency survival pack. I think I could eat just about anything as long as there is a side of ketchup to dip it in.

I’m looking forward to my first visit up to Myrtle Beach to see my husband this weekend! He has off on Sunday, but works Saturday so I’ll most likely be spending most of the day at the hotel pool, no complaints here! I’ll have to scour through some restaurant options to find a good place to go for dinner.

Ingredients-Yields 4
-4 slices sandwich bread
-4 slices sharp Cheddar cheese (or any cheese of your choice)
-1/2 tablespoon butter
-1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1. Over medium heat, heat the butter in a frying pan.

2. Cut all the ends of the slices of bread. With a rolling pin, roll the slices until flattened and pliable. Place one slice of cheese on each slice of bread and roll up, pressing down to secure the roll.

3. Place in frying pan seam-side down. Cook 5-6 minutes, rolling occasionally, until top and bottom have crisped and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Add more butter if needed to crisp the bread.

Source: Care’s Kitchen

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Since the hubby is now up in Myrtle Beach for his 11 weeks of training, I wanted to send him up with something he could eat quickly for breakfast on his way to work. He loves chocolate chip granola bars, so when I came across a recipe for a homemade version I knew I had to try it for him! I read through the comments on this recipe, and after taking some advice from others I’ve increased the amount of honey to try and keep them from being very crumbly. I still found that when you cut them they’ll break apart quite easily, so I got only a few actual intact “bars” from the pan. The rest broke up a little, which wasn’t a big deal since it is just myself and my husband eating them. What I love about these is how fresh they taste compared to Quaker Chewy bars (the granola bar of my husband’s choice). Just 4 simple ingredients for a quick and easy breakfast.

-4 cups rolled oats
-3/4 cup honey
-3/4 cup peanut butter, melted
-1 bag semi-sweet chocolate morsels

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×13 baking dish.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats and chocolate chips. Add in honey and melted peanut butter. Mixing into a dough (I placed my hand into a zip-loc bag to mold into a dough). Place dough into baking dish, and press and spread out to cover entire dish. Bake 15-20 minutes, do not over bake.

Source: Savoring the Thyme

S’more Brownies

I was in the mood to do a little baking and luckily I have a ton of recipes that I’ve favorited on Foodgawker. As much as I love Foodgawker, nothing aggravates me more than when the photo isn’t linked to an actual recipe. That was the case with the photo for a s’mores brownies I found on there. When I went to the site, it was just a blog post talking about the brownie, no actual recipe. Gee, just what I wanted…a post talking about a delicious decadent brownie but not giving me the specifics of how to actually make it. I went to All Recipes to find a simple graham cracker crust recipe, and then used the Baked Brownie recipe for the actual brownie. After that, I topped with mini-marshmallows and broiled about 3 minutes. I will warn you though, these get incredibly sticky to cut after they are baked. I recommend eating with a fork.

-1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers crumbs
-1/4 cup sugar
-1/3 cup butter, melted.

1. Combine crumbs and sugar. Add butter and stir to combine. Spread into a 9×13 dish and bake 8 minutes. (I wrapped my hand in a zip-loc bag and pressed firmly to mold into dish)

-1¼ cups all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon salt
-2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
-11 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
-1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
-1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
-1½ cups granulated sugar
-½ cup packed light brown sugar
-5 eggs, at room temperature
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-1 bag mini marshmallows

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together.

3. Over a double boiler, put the chocolate, butter and instant espresso powder. Stir occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Remove pot from the burner, but keep the bowl over the water while you add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pot.

4. Add 3 eggs to the mixture and whisk to combine. Add the remaining eggs and whisk. Add the vanilla. Do not over beat the batter! Add the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. With a rubber spatula fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible. Again, don’t over mix!

5. Pour the batter over graham cracker crust. Bake in the center of the oven for 25-30 minutes, do not over bake.

6. Top brownies with mini marshmallows, broil 3 minutes but do not take your eyes off them, they’ll brownie very quickly.

Source: Graham Cracker Crust: All Recipes
Source: Jacob’s Kitchen
Source: Brownie: Brown Eyed Baker

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Back in February my husband got to take me along to a food show he had to go to for work. It was pretty much a large cocktail party with about 10 different food stations with every type of food you can imagine. One of my favorite dishes that was displayed there was a buffalo chicken mac n’ cheese. This definitely got me thinking that I needed to make this for myself. Since I’ve already made my Buffalo Chicken Dip and my Baked Mac n’ Cheese, I just modified the dip and combined the two. I absolutely loved this! The heat from the dip works perfectly with the creaminess of the cheese. Considering Buffalo Chicken Dip is commonly referred to as “crack dip”, I dub this recipe “Crack Mac”.

Anyway, how is it possible that next week is the last full week of July? Where is the summer going? I feel like it was just last week that we finished Commencement at work and we were breathing a sigh of relief that the whole summer was ahead of us to relax. I cringe when I think that it’s probably only another week before the “Back to School” ads start running and the aisle of Wal-Mart are completely taken over with bins of school supplies. I have to admit though, I’m welcoming the Fall season this year. Last year I feel like I didn’t accomplish any of the Fall baking I wanted to do, so I can’t wait until it’s acceptable again to start burning my Pumpkin Spice Yankee Candle scents!

-1 cooked chicken breast, shredded
-3oz softened cream cheese
-1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
-2 tablespoons sour cream
-1/4 cup hot sauce (or more depending on how spicy you like it)
-3 cups uncooked macaroni pasta
-1/2 cup evaporated milk
-1/3 cup milk
-2 eggs
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper.
-1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
-3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
-2 tablespoons butter
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. With cooking spray, generously coat a 9×9 baking dish. Cook the macaroni in a large pot. Once cooked, strain and return to pot with the 2 tablespoons butter, coat noodles in the butter.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the shredded cooked chicken, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, sour cream and hot sauce. In another mixing bowl, whisk together the evaporated milk, regular milk, and eggs. Add the salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Add both the chicken and the milk mixture to the pot of cooked macaroni. Stir to evenly coat with both mixtures.
3. Pour macaroni mixture into a 9×9 baking dish. Sprinkle a light layer of cheese on the top. Bake 35-40 minutes until golden brown on top. Broil 5-6 minutes to make top cheese layer crispy and golden. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

A Seasoned Greeting Original

Lemon Pasta with Toasted Almonds

A few nights ago I was in the mood for something “lemony” for dinner, but that didn’t include chicken. When my husband works at night, I use that to make the meals for myself that I know he wouldn’t want to eat. I also use it as my nights off from having to deal with cooking meat. I went onto Foodgawker and typed in “lemon” into the search field, and then narrowed it down to only pasta dishes. I came across a delicious sounding recipe that used a very interesting ingredient. Curious as to how to make this creamy lemon pasta with a fraction of the calories? Well, the sauce is actually based with plain fat-free yogurt! That’s right, stay with me here. The sauce has no yogurt taste at all, it just gives it that creamy base without having to use butter or cream. It’s absolutely amazing. The only modifications I made to the recipe were adding in spinach and toasted almonds, since I wanted this to be a little more than just pasta, and using regular fat-free yogurt, not Greek yogurt. This is a ‘keeper’, and something I’ll be sure to make again soon.

-Angel hair pasta
-2 tablespoons butter
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-1 large lemon, juiced and zested
-2 6oz containers of plain fat-free yogurt
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
-1 box frozen spinach, cooked to package directions
-1/3 cup almond slivers, toasted
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta, then drain and return to pot.

2. Melt butter in a skillet over low heat. Add garlic cloves, then lemon juice. Turn heat off, then add yogurt and stir to combine. Add lemon zest and salt.  Pour mixture over pasta and stir. Add spinach and toasted almonds, stir until everything is well incorporated. Pour into 9×9 baking dish.

3.Cover and bake for 10 minutes. Remove cover and bake for another 8-10 minutes, making sure not to dry out pasta. Remove from oven and add extra lemon juice, and shredded cheese.

Fried Green Tomatoes

While I’m usually boasting about the amazing food specialities of NJ/NY, there are so many Southern staples that I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on before I moved to Charleston such as frogmore stew, real BBQ, hush puppies, collard greens, and of course…the fried green tomato. One of the many gorgeous plantations in Charleston is called Boone Hall Plantation. Well, Boone Hall is actually in Mt. Pleasant, but close enough. They have their signature recipe for a fried green tomato that includes Parmesan cheese right into the breading. I prefer my fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese, although another popular way is to serve them with a dill sour cream sauce.

-2 large green tomatoes, sliced thin
-1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
-1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
-1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-Flour and egg for dredging
-2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying
-Pimento cheese
1. Heat vegetable oil in frying pan over medium-high heat.
2. Coat tomato slices in flour, then egg wash, then bread crumbs. Place in frying pan, sprinkle with garlic powder and Parmesan cheese. Cook 3 minutes. Turn slices, sprinkle with garlic powder and Parmesan cheese and cook an additional 3 minutes. Serve with pimento cheese.
Source: Boone Hall

BBQ Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I’m usually not overly carb-conscious, but sometimes I’d rather skip the bready bun or wrap and save some calories. It’s not like I’m suffering through the no-bun, I actually really like using a crisp piece of Iceberg lettuce as the wrap for the sandwich. I had an idea to make a BBQ chicken type lettuce wrap. I have used this BBQ sauce recipe before, and wanted to create what I really like in a BBQ sandwich. I sauteed sliced sweet onions, toasted some walnuts, then topped it all off with sharp Cheddar cheese and rolled it all up in the Iceberg lettuce leaf. This was a light yet filling dinner, and made for a great lunch the next day! Just reheat the chicken mixture in the microwave and spoon over the lettuce leaves.

-1 teaspoon paprika
-1/2 teaspoon onion powder

-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/4 teaspoon black pepper
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/3 cup BBQ sauce

-1/2 sweet white onion, sliced
-1 tablespoon EVOO
-1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
-1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
-butterflied chicken breasts
-Iceberg lettuce leaves
1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the BBQ sauce, paprika, onion & garlic powders, and salt & pepper. Pour over butterflied chicken in a baking dish, reserving about 2 tablespoons of the BBQ sauce. Bake chicken 20-25 minutes, or until fully cooked and no longer pink. When cooked, shred chicken.
3. In a frying pan over medium heat, heat the EVOO and add the sliced onions. Saute 20 minutes.
4. To assemble, lay a large lettuce leaf on a plate. Spoon in shredded chicken then top with toasted walnuts, onions, and shredded cheese. Add extra BBQ sauce from the reserve if desired.
BBQ Sauce Source: How Sweet Eats

Lemon Crab and Scallion Dip

I had an amazing weekend home in NJ! My husband and I flew home for his cousin’s wedding, and were able to fit in quite a few things while we were home. We started the trip off right by flying into Atlantic City and going to he new casino, Revel. We had a blast and both of us left in the positive, and after finally getting back to the hotel room at 6:30am we were officially exhausted from the trip.

The next morning we were able to hang out with my older brother in Hoboken and grab lunch at an Italian deli called Fiore’s. They really know how to make a good Italian sandwich there. I had turkey breast, roasted red peppers, and fresh mozz on a hard role and it was huge…and still only cost about $7. I can spend $7 at a local sandwich shop here and not get something even half of the quality. We then even got more of our fill at the rehearsal dinner at Mamma Vittoria’s in Nutley, NJ.

The wedding was incredible! The bride did such a good job planning it and it was non-stop eating. The cocktail hour alone was enough to fill you for the whole evening. It was so good to be able to spend more time with my husband’s extended family. We don’t get to see them too often so we really enjoyed getting to celebrate with them. We ended the trip with a pool party at my grandparent’s house. We only were able to stay for a few hours because we had to catch our flight, but it was still good to see my grandparents, mom, and little brother.

Now, I promise there’s a recipe coming here.

This is another recipe courtesy of York Harbor Inn in York, Maine. This is the cozy and quaint inn that my family has vacationed at for years. I didn’t change much with this, only increasing the lemon since I really like lemon (I think we’ve covered this topic before). As with most of my dips, I like to broil a thin layer of cheese on top for a little texture. This dip was also supposed to be a cold dip, but I preferred to bake mine and serve warm.

-6oz crab meat (or more if you want)
-1 block cream cheese
-1 cup diced scallions
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon pepper
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
-1-2 teaspoons lemon zest
-1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. In a bowl, combine the crab, cream cheese, scallions, salt & pepper, garlic powder, and lemon juice. Pour into a baking dish. Top with the lemon zest and Parmesan cheese. Bake 15 minutes, then place under broiler 5-6 minutes.

Source: York Harbor Inn