All of Us!

All of Us!
Finally! All together with enough time to spare (??) to capture a picture of all six of us in the same spot, same time. Now this is a precious photo! I tried to get one last year for our Christmas card and didn't succeed. So when I had the chance I threw out the lasso and rounded everyone up (at my niece's graduation party) to grab a couple snapshots. My oldest son, Casey, and his girlfriend Nika are on the left; and my youngest son, Brady, and his girlfriend Jenne on the right; that leaves Bob and I in the center. (Bob is the one who doesn't look very happy about having his picture taken!!)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sunday Dinner: Tipsy Chicken Breasts and Triple Cheese Bread

When I was growing up, Sunday dinner (lunch) was a big thing.  At home on my childhood farm, Sundays usually meant we may have visiting relatives from the city (Madison).  So we were always prepared, just in case, which meant a bigger than usual meal.  Sometimes, those old habits never die.

It is Sunday and I have to figure out what is on the menu for today.  After contemplating this early morning quagmire, I decided against beef and am going with chicken breasts.  Now to format my entire menu and decide what to do with the chicken breasts.   

At last year’s 1st Annual O’Connor Girls Luncheon, one of the breads we were treated to was a cheddar bread which came from Bake UR Own.  Since that time, I have been in search of a recipe similar to that or something I can make into my own to serve the same purpose.  This recipe popped up and now is the time to try it.  What I like to do with recipes which I find or maybe after tasting a particular food I adored, is to either take the recipe (or create a recipe) and create something similar and “make it my own” where I can twist and turn it a little, add this or that, more to my liking.  I have had a recipe for a couple weeks for Triple Cheese Bread which I wanted to try and thought this would be the most opportune time to jump in and see if it is what I am searching for.  
The ingredients are added to the bread machine
I pulled out the bread recipe and my bread maker and set off to get that started.  Since this isn’t exactly a one-hour prep-and-ready-to-eat type thing, it needs to be started early in order to be ready for lunch.  I have included the recipe below and shared some preparation pictures.  

The bread maker setting put to "Dough" and now we just let it do its job (for 1 hour and 20 minutes)!
We're out of the bread maker and onto a floured (glass) cutting board to start the hand-kneading process

When the bread maker had completed its initial mixing and kneading, I pulled the dough out and plopped it onto a floured cutting board.  The kneading by hand starts now. Time to roll up the sleeves!  Eight to ten minutes of hand-kneading may seem like a long time, but it is nothing compared to if we did it all by hand.  It is easy to wile away those small minutes once you get into a rhythm.

The dough is put in a bowl to rise some more
When I'm done kneading, into a greased bowl it goes and then gets covered with a warm, wet towel so it can raise some more.  Once doubled in size, I can take it out. 

Here we go to a parchment-lined baking sheet to raise some more before going into the oven

Setting the bowl of dough next to the stove/oven gives the rising process a little extra help.  As it is just about doubled in size, I am able to take it out of the bowl, deflate the mound, and cut it into quarters, then each quarter into thirds and fold them over into balls.  Placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet, it is then covered with a greased piece of wax paper and off to sit next to the stove/oven again to raise some more. 

Triple Cheese Bread (Rolls)
And here we have the final product! See the flecks of cheddar cheese!  It is ohhhhh, so good, but, I confess, not quite there for what I am searching for.  Oh, well, I guess, I'll have to keep searching and practicing!  (I enjoy practicing!)

Now, let's hop back to the rest of the Sunday's menu.  We are doing mashed potatoes, steamed veggies (broccoli, carrots and cauliflower which will be seasoned with some garlic powder and parsley) for a touch of color to our plate and Chicken Breasts in a Garlic White Wine Cream Sauce. 

The chicken breasts are fairly simple and (just for you) I have included that recipe below.  I've peeled the potatoes, put the veggies in the steamer basket/pot and both are placed on the stove to start their road to yumminess.  This also helps create a little more heat to give a little extra boost for the rolls in rising.  Let's now get started on those chicken breasts. 

Wine, Worcestershire Sauce and Butter -- a few of the chicken ingredients
I've placed four chicken breasts into a frying pan with a little extra virgin olive oil and seasoned them.  Once they have started to brown on both sides, I add in some butter and the diced onions and minced garlic. I have to confess (again!!!??!!) that I also added some Rotisserie Chicken seasoning to the chicken breasts.  (I can't help myself -- it is my new-found friend in the kitchen!)

Browning the chicken breasts and sauteing the garlic and onions
When they have browned slightly, I add the wine, let it reduce a little (or as I like to consider it, when I feel the chicky has enjoyed enough of its mid-morning cocktail hour), it is time to add the cream.  Because I want to keep this warm and yet cook them a little more, no more cook top; it is off to a 325 degrees oven but not before I top each off with some shredded Romano cheese.  (What!!! More cheese??!! Come on! I was born and raised on a dairy farm, and since my hubby and I still dairy farm -- did you expect anything less? haha!) 

Chicken Breasts Drunk with White Wine are Now Ready to Head to the Oven
As everything else comes together, I've tucked the rolls into a bread basket and finished the gravy.  I just have to take the chicken out of the oven, mash the potatoes, and pull the veggies out of the steamer.

Everything is all set to go . . .
The only thing left to do is plate it up and enjoy another Sunday dinner (lunch)!

Did you forget? I'm the butter gal; Bob gets the gravy.
I hope you get a chance to try these recipes and enjoy them as much as I did (and will some more in the very near future)!


Here are the recipes for the chicken and the rolls:

Chicken in Garlic White Wine Cream Sauce

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup onions, chopped
3 minced garlic cloves
5 -6 fresh mushrooms, sliced (I didn't have any mushrooms on hand so didn't use them)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup white wine
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 pint cream ( heavy or light)
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon parsley

*Lightly brown both sides of chicken in olive oil.
*Add onion, garlic, mushrooms, and butter and saute about 4-5 minutes until onions start to become translucent.
*Add wine and Worcestershire sauce and cook an additional 2 minutes.
*Lower heat and add cream, salt, pepper, basil, and parsley.
*Too high of heat will cause the cream to curdle.
*Simmer on low 20-25 minutes until done.

Triple Cheese Bread

3/4 cup water
2 tsps. Yeast
3 cups flour
2 T. sugar
1-1/2 tsps. salt
2 T. butter, soft
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup cottage cheese (or if no cottage cheese on hand, use sour cream)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup of the lukewarm water. Add the remaining ingredients and mix and knead by hand, in your mixer, or in your bread machine on the dough cycle to make a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured board and knead for 8-10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled. About 45 minutes.

Deflate the dough, form it into a 9" log and place it in a greased 9x5 loaf pan. Cover loosely with greased plastic and let rise until the bread domes an inch above the rim of the pan.

If making dinner rolls, divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and shape into rolls. Place the rolls on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with greased plastic and let rise until almost doubled, about 30 minutes or so.

Bake the risen dough in a preheated 350 F oven for 20-25 minutes for rolls; 30-35 minutes for a loaf.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Tonight It Is Chicken Alfredo

[First off, I have to apologize, that I am breaking my own rule as far as posting something new before I finish my NY trip.  Obviously, I haven't finished the last of my posts regarding that, but here goes a new one off that subject.  I have a few sitting and waiting for me to post and I need to get on with them and finish up the The Big Apple trip when I can.  Hope you enjoy! The New Day Everyday Woman Has Returned to Her Roots!]

What’s fun about coming home at night after a grueling day at the office and one of the first dilemmas you face is, what’s for supper? When you are the supper-maker, it falls on your shoulders to figure it out. A lot of the time when I am stumped, I will unfortunately ask my husband what he wants. I usually, I’m sorry, I always get the same answer – I don’t care. But he does. He will moan, make faces – much like a 6-year-old when told he has to eat his spinach before he can have some ice cream -- and then say "again?" Okay, well at least I made the first step in asking him. He will tell you he would eat pizza every night, but truly admittedly he won’t – unless it is Rocky Rococo’s.  Consequently, I’m left to the task of answering the age-old question.

Be that as it may, even though I am arm-loaded with a vast library full of cookbooks (I’m not kidding here either – I have more than 120 hardcover recipe books, plus many, many soft cover cookbooks, AND my own collection of large binders, sorted by food type, which contains probably 1,000+ recipes), I still have problems trying to get creative on any given night. I have tried the route of planning, cooking on the weekend and then pulling it out to serve like I had cooked all day long ala June Cleaver; but the pretty picture just isn’t that pretty in reality. My hubby is picky, although he will say he isn’t, and to be perfectly honest, sometimes I’m not in the mood for whatever is planned for that evening. So, instead I capitulate to my yearnings to decipher what it should be tonight. 

The other night, after some contemplation and not much time, it was Chicken Alfredo. Sometimes I will have some leftover chicken to use for this recipe, but it just so happened after a recent trip to the store, I had picked up a package of deli-roasted Oscar Mayer chicken breast pieces. This is one of the easiest ingredients to use for Chicken Alfredo. The rest is up to you on how you want serve it. Egg noodles seem to be a big staple in my house. My husband tends to like them better than fettuccine noodles, angel hair, etc.

I will confess to you now, unless I am forced to measure out pasta, when it comes to my recipes, they are usually measured by handfuls, or jar full. My pasta when bought is then opened and placed into containers for storage. And that is how I tend to know how much to put into any given recipe.

In this case, I put on a large pot of water, salted (hmmmm....good tablespoon), brought to a boil and then dumped in about 4 good handfuls of noodles. As that was cooking, I placed a small frying pan on the stove, turned to medium heat, added about a tablespoon of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and then placed the whole package of deli chicken pieces in to warm. Any larger pieces, I cut down to size. Next eventually turning the heat to medium low. After the noodles were cooked, I placed them in a colander to drain (do not rinse!). Using the same pot, I placed the butter and cream cheese to melt over medium low heat; then began adding the cream/milk and other ingredients. Once okay to taste, I placed the noodles in to coat and then added the chicken; placed in a serving bowl and then sprinkled with paprika.

One side note to this recipe – I sometimes use real garlic, taking cloves and mincing them and then sauteing in EVOO. In this case with lack of time, I use the garlic powder which is a big, big staple in my kitchen for fast recipes.

Total time spent for this meal – 30 minutes. Not bad for timing and until the end, I wasn’t slaving over the stove making this either. Below is my alfredo sauce recipe. Enjoy!

Alfredo Sauce
½ cup butter, melted
1 pkg (8 oz.) Cream cheese, room temp. (or put in a microwave for 1 minute)
2 cups half-and-half (or I used skim milk to reduce the fat)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese 2 T. garlic powder (or 2 garlic cloves, minced, sauteed)
½ tsp. Black pepper
1 tsp. Perfect Pinch Rotisserie Chicken seasoning
salt to taste