Chicken Dinner Ideas, Three Ways!

Chicken Dinner Ideas, Three Ways!

Who says chicken has to be boring?

Chicken is a great go-to protein for home cooks, but the same ol’ routine can get a bit stale.

We’re all looking for new and easy recipes to add to our rotation, and I have not one but THREE for you to try!

Join me in the kitchen as I transform chicken into three fantastic recipes that you can easily recreate! 

Chicken Pepperoni

Chicken Francaise

Chicken Milanese

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Food Creation 101 With Cheese and Cracker Chicken Recipe

Food Creation 101 With Cheese and Cracker Chicken Recipe

My recipe inspirations borrow from my favorite shows, restaurants, and magazines…and also what makes me HUNGRY. And this is how my Cheese and Crackers Chicken was born! Click to skip to the recipe

pumpin swordfish chowder

People always ask me where I get my recipes. I tell the truth, that I love to copy food from magazines, restaurants, and tv shows. And I do.

But the real truth is that those inspirations are often, just that; an idea for a dish that makes me hungry.

For example, I’ll see a lovely magazine picture of a wine-rich beef stew, and my tummy grumbles. Or Molly Yeh will make a skillet of perfectly cheesy nachos, and I want to grab one through the tv screen.

Or I see a waiter go past my table with a dish and I’ll stop him to ask, “What’s that?”, knowing just the passing aroma and food presentation is enough to make me curious.

My food is based on inspiration but also on what makes me hungry.

It’s also based on what I have on hand. I might be hankerin’ for chicken, but if I’m lacking my favorite pieces (chicken thighs) then that plain old breast will do.

I can not stand to waste food, so those last bits of carrot or lonely sweet potato will find themselves on the dinner plate that night too.

So, when people ask me where I get my recipes, the answer is that I get hungry, I see a dish that might satisfy that hunger, and then I see what I have in the fridge that will make it happen.

This is how my recipe for Cheese and Cracker Chicken was born.

It started with my devotion to cheese and crackers. This is my go-to food when the tummy rumbles and that fasting headache emerges. Just a little bite of cheese takes the edge off. This works…for a while.

What happens next is that cheese begins to sneak its way into my dish. I love cheese on my scrambled eggs. Cheese in my salad. Cheese and crackers for my snack. Then inspiration hits.

Why not cheese and crackers in my chicken dinner?

I had the remnants of a box of everything seasoned Ritz crackers and the bottom half of a plastic container of grated Parm. Defrosted chicken breasts and some odds and ends veggies created a great meal.

I sliced the chicken breasts in half and generously coated each with cracker crumbs so that each bite contained that crackery goodness.

Then I made a simple white sauce laced with just enough Parmesan cheese to consider it cheese sauce.

Cheese and Crackers chicken was born with the perfect side dish of curry roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower. That ladies and gentlemen, is how I create my food.

Enjoy!

Cheese and Crackers Chicken

Serves: 4

Time:  30 minutes ’til it’s ready

Ingredients

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons Dijon style mustard

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

1 sleeve buttery round crackers

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated

Fresh thyme

Best Italian Cookie Recipe
Best Italian Cookie Recipe
Best Italian Cookie Recipe
Best Italian Cookie Recipe

Place the chicken breasts onto your work surface. Place your hand on top of one breast. Use your very sharp knife to cut each in half horizontally. Repeat create 4 pieces. Brush each piece on both sides with mustard and season with salt and pepper.

Smash the crackers into small pieces. Use a meat mallet, rolling pin or the bottom of a sauté pan to gently crush the crackers in the sleeve. Then you can simply pour the crumbs into a shallow dish. There will be about 2 cups of crumbs.

Dredge the chicken breasts in the cracker crumbs generously coating both sides of the chicken. Transfer the coated breast to a platter.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the butter is bubbling, place the chicken into the pan. (You can do this in batches if your pan will not accommodate all 4 breasts.) Cook until golden on one side, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook on the second side until golden making sure that the chicken is cooked through, about another 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a clean platter.

Sprinkle the flour over the juices remaining in the skillet. Reduce the heat to low. Whisk the flour in the pan to form a bubbly paste, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.

Serve the Parmesan cheese sauce over the cracker-crumbed chicken. Garnish with fresh thyme.

It Started With Gravy…

It Started With Gravy…

My gift to you this holiday season is a foolproof, make-ahead recipe for the best, most delicious gravy…ever.  Click to skip to the recipe

 

 

Right after Al Gore invented the Internet, a good friend reached out to me to help her with the launch of her website BlueSuitMom.com.

It was and continues to be a website filled with content to help busy working moms balance childrearing with their demanding jobs.

She appointed me Director of Lifestyle content and gave me a list of food-related questions that she gleaned from her marketing surveys.

The number one asked question was, “how do I make gravy without lumps.” I found this question fascinating.

Of all the food questions you could have, this was the most disconcerting? Gravy is gravy. Sauce is sauce. It just comes together, right?

Well, apparently not. I did my research and answered the question with several tips on how to make lumpless gravy.

I answered this and other questions and my food-writing career was born.

It’s been almost twenty years since the birth of BlueSuitMom and the publishing of my first book, At Home in the Kitchen.

I featured a recipe in that book for roasted turkey with a really good gravy.

Jump to 2020, when we are all spending way too much time in our kitchens and I think I finally get why that gravy question was so important to so many cooks.

It’s not about lumps. It’s about accenting your meal with love.

It’s about texture, depth, richness, velvetiness, pourability. It’s about the icing on the cake, the cherry on your sundae, the crème de la crème.

Gravy is the crowning achievement lavished on a meal well-done.

This might be stretching it a bit. But you get the point.

Every fine dish prepared by a dedicated cook has a splash of sauce or a puddle of gravy somewhere on the plate.

A warm, silky gravy takes a humdrum chicken breast to a level of refinement. A wine-laced sauce takes your supermarket beef steak from commonplace to company-worthy. Each and every Southern knows that a sauce made from butter, milk, and a crumb or two of sausage elevates the every-day biscuit to the star of Sunday brunch.

When you get right down to it, it’s all about the gravy.

My gift to you this holiday season is a foolproof, make-ahead recipe for the best, most delicious gravy…ever.

And what’s even better is that you can use this recipe as a guideline for creating any sauce that you like.

Simply by switching the ingredients from poultry to beef and swapping the veggies and seasonings, you can create a lovely sauce to go with your standing rib roast on Christmas Day. And I guarantee you no lumps!

Enjoy this and a few of my other favorite holiday recipes included in upcoming posts. Stay healthy and safe and I’ll see you in 2021.

 

Make Ahead Gravy

This full proof make-ahead gravy recipe not only saves you time but is also the most flavorful gravy you’ve ever made!!

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 heads garlic, halved

2 medium onions peeled and cut into chunks

4 large carrots, trimmed and cut into chunks

6 celery stalks, cut into pieces

4 large turkey wings, about 3 pounds 

2 (or more) tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons course black pepper

1 teaspoon ground sage

Serves A Crowd

Time: 30-minute prep cuisine with some roasting and simmering

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Preheat the oven to 450°. Drizzle the olive oil onto a baking sheet with lip. Place the vegetables and turkey wings into the baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350° and roast until the turkey wings are golden brown, about another hour. During that time, check to make sure that the veggies are not sticking to the baking sheet. You can add water to loosen everything. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool slightly. Scrape everything into a large pot or Dutch oven. Place the pot on the stove. Add 1 cup dry white wine and simmer over medium heat until most of the liquid disappears, about 5 minutes. Cover the vegetables and turkey wings with water, about 1 quart. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer the stock until it is reduced by half, about 1 hour. 

Pour the stock through a wire mesh colander and into a medium-size bowl. Use the back of a spoon to push the veggie and turkey pieces into the bottom of the colander to push through all the juices. Place the bowl with the stock into the fridge to chill for up to one hour or for several days. (You can sift through and gather enough turkey meat for a couple of yummy hot turkey sandwiches!)

To make gravy from stock, remove the bowl from the fridge. Use a large spoon to skim off and discard the thin layer of fat from the top. Transfer the stock into a saucepan and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat. Whisk together 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water. As the stock slowly boils, stir in the cornstarch slurry. The gravy will begin to thicken. You can add as much thickener as you like to get your desired gravy consistency.

Reduce the heat to low and let the gravy simmer slowly. Season the gravy with sage, salt, and pepper, stirring in just a bit at a time and tasting while you stir.

Tip:

Here’s another great tip. You can use this same method for beef stock that turns into a lovey gravy or sauce. Simply exchange beef bones for the turkey wings! I use beef short rib bones. I choose the skinny ones from the package and reserve them until I collect enough to make a really good beef stock. I use red wine instead of white and adjust the seasonings from sage to thyme and rosemary. It’s pretty darn delicious!

Lofty Leftovers: Chicken Ravioli, Two Ways

Lofty Leftovers: Chicken Ravioli, Two Ways

One of the things you figure out when you like to cook is that you usually make more than you need…and when you learn how to make leftover food recipes, the more meals, the merrier! Get my recipes for a hearty soup and a clever take on chicken ravioli, two ways. Click to skip to the recipe

 

 

One of the things you figure out when you like to cook is that you usually cook more than you need. This is a by-product of not getting it totally right the first time or making sure you don’t run out of food! 

On the one hand, say your making soup and upon first taste, you discover that you were a little heavy-handed with the salt. No problem, you just add more liquid or starch and the taste is repaired to delish status!

You now have not only yummy soup, but enough for an extra meal down the road. Win! Win!

On the second hand, you’ve invited pals to dinner who notoriously travel in packs and bring along more pals at the last minute. Therefore, you cook two chickens instead of one.

Both of these happened to me during the past week.

The results were some great leftovers that I morphed into two really yummy dishes. The first was what started out as my butternut squash soup and ended up as a cheesy, thick butternut and potato soup.

It’s hardly a recipe, but here’s the lowdown.

Cook onion and butternut squash chunks in oil in a deep pot over medium-high heat until the veggies are soft.

At this point, I remove the pot from the heat and a splash of sherry or dry white wine. I return the pot to the heat and add chicken or vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper. Cool the soup to room temperature and use a blender to pulse the veggies to make a smooth soup.

But then, I returned the soup to the pot to reheat and found that it was a tad too thin and a bit too salty. So, I added a couple of spoonfuls of leftover mashed potatoes as I warmed the soup over medium-high heat. I tasted the soup and it wasn’t too bad.

So, I add more potatoes.

Then hubby came in and asked if I was making cheese soup. The butternut squash had given the soup a cheesy golden glow.

So, I nodded in the affirmative and added some grated cheddar cheese. I kept adding potatoes and cheese until the soup was rich, and velvety and hearty and really, really good.

I cooled it again, pulsed it again, reheated and poured it into bowls. Hot pepper sauce and parsley were the perfect garnish. Voila!

The second dish takes advantage of leftover chicken and wonton wrappers in place of pasta to make a yummy chicken ravioli that tastes as good as it looks. 

Leftovers are not an afterthought, they’re the new way to cook smart and cook well!

Enjoy!!

Chicken Ravioli: Two Ways

Tomato Pie

Ingredients

Make these on a day when you have leftover chicken. You can store extra ravioli in a single layer in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer. To serve, bring them to room temperature before you drop them into boiling water.

For ravioli:

2 cups cooked chicken

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish

2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated, about ½ cup

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

1 package Wonton wrappers, about 36

For brown butter sauce:

½ cup butter, 1 stick

4 to 6 sage leaves

For red sauce:

1 cup prepared marinara sauce

2 to 3 tablespoons half and half

Toasted pine nuts for garnish

Grated parmesan cheese for garnish

Servings: 4 or more

Time: 30-minute cuisine

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Place the chicken into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to mince the chicken. Place the ricotta cheese, basil leaves and Parmesan cheese into the bowl and pulse to combine. Season with salt and pepper and pulse a final time.

Spread four wonton wrappers onto your works surface. Place a spoon full of the chicken filling into the center of each square. Place a small basil leaf on top of the filling. Wet the border of the wonton square with water. Place another wonton wrapper on top. Gently press with your fingers to seal the ravioli. Use the tines of a fork to firmly seal the edges. Repeat with the remaining wonton wrappers and filling.

For the brown butter sauce, warm the butter over low heat until it begins to froth and turn golden, about 5 minutes. Toss in the sage leaves and continue cooking for two minutes more.

For the red sauce, heat marinara sauce over low heat. Stir in the cream.

Fill a deep pot with water and bring to a boil. Season the water with a generous amount of salt. Lower the ravioli into the pot, one at a time. Do this in batches so that you don’t overcrowd the pot and damage the ravioli. The ravioli will cook in just minutes. Use a slotted spoon to lift the ravioli from the pot. Transfer to the brown butter or red sauce. You pick! Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and pine nuts.

Let The Sunshine In: Fiery Buffalo Chicken Recipe

Let The Sunshine In: Fiery Buffalo Chicken Recipe

When my kids were little, we had a Friday night tradition of going to our local TGI Friday’s restaurant and order our favorite appetizers: Wings and loaded potato skins. This version of that meal makes me sunshiney happy. I hope it does for you, too! Click to skip to the recipe

 

I’m a morning person. 

Mostly, I’m a morning person because my dog refuses to sleep in…. at all! As soon as the sun breaks through the cracks in the window shades, we’re up. Not “stretchy-downward-dog” up; We’re “running-around-in-circles”, “grabbing-for-the-coffee-pot” UP.

The weather and the mood around here have been a little bleak lately. But, just this morning, I am inspired by just a few seconds of watching a glorious sunrise.

The clouds turn pink and then crimson and then the fiery ball climbs up and over the faraway mountains and makes itself known to me, just me.

Watching this miracle of nature is just enough to raise my mood and open the door to the prospects that today brings. What a joy.

In just a few minutes, with the caffeine beginning to take root and the sun rising, I can plan my day with a smile on my face. Soon, I know that this miracle will be shared with others and that they, too, can begin to build on this glorious sunshine.

Today I share it with you, my friends, family, and blog friends.

My wish is that your day begins with sunshine, maintains the good feelings that this sunrise gives you, and ends with the promise of another glorious miracle after a night of restful sleep.

Meanwhile, here’s a recipe for a sunshine-inspired, fiery Buffalo chicken recipe. Enjoy!

Fiery Buffalo Chicken

Serves:

Time:

4

40-Minute Cuisine

Ingredients

When my kids were little, we had a Friday night tradition of going to our local TGI Friday’s restaurant an order our favorite happy: Wings and loaded potato skins. This version of that meal makes me sunshiney happy. I hope it does for you, too!

For chicken:

1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

4 chicken thighs

4 tablespoons butter

For Buffalo sauce:

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced

¼ cup hot pepper sauce

¼ cup white wine vinegar

½ cup olive oil

Crumbled blue cheese

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Preheat the oven to 425°. Place the flour, chili powder, onion powder, garlic salt, salt, and pepper into a resealable plastic bag. Place one or two chicken thighs into the seasoned flour in the bag and shake, shake, shake until the chicken is coated.

Place the thighs into a baking pan that has been coated with cooking oil spray. Repeat until all the chicken is in the pan. Top each chicken piece with a pat of butter.

Bake until the top of the chicken begins to turn golden, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Whisk together the green onions, diced jalapeno pepper, hot sauce, and vinegar in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Remove the chicken from the oven and reduce the temperature to 350°.

Pour the sauce over the chicken. Place the pan back into the oven and bake until the chicken is cooked through, about another 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and crumble blue cheese over the top. 

Overboard Tip:

I served Buffalo chicken with potato skins and jalapeno corn. The corn is easy. Simply remove corn kernels from the cobb and sauté in a bit of olive oil with red onion and finely diced jalapeno pepper. Season with chili powder, salt, and pepper. For the potato skins, scoop out some of the flesh from a baked potato and cut the skins into wedges.

Place a pat of butter into each piece and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with diced bacon, ham, pepperoni, or prosciutto. Your choice!

Spread some grated cheddar cheese over top and bake until the cheese melts. Garnish the skins with sour cream and hot pepper sauce.

My Best Cinco de Mayo Recipes 🌮

My Best Cinco de Mayo Recipes 🌮

Cinco de Mayo may come but once a year, but Taco Tuesday is forever! Discover new twists on old favorites from my recipe archive.

Steak Tacos/Carnitas

 

 

Mexican-American dishes are a welcome addition to your kitchen’s menu any day of the year.  Savor these Cinco de Mayo specials today and as new Taco Tuesday favorites!

Easy Mexican Street Corn, Skillet Style

No fresh corn? No problem. The recipe produces results that are super savory with the right amount of tang, even with frozen or canned kernels!

Steak Tacos With Tomatillo-Ancho Chili Sauce and Avocado Cream

Chili seasoned meat drizzled with spicy red and creamy green sauce, garnished with fresh herbs make this street food taco an elevated Cinco de Mayo treat

Steak Tacos/Carnitas

Pico De Gallo The Green Goddess Way

This green goddess chunky pico de gallo sauce is absolute perfection on a pork-filled burrito, or in a bowl of rice and beans – or simply weighing down a tortilla chip.

Grilled Guacamole

Serve on nachos, as a condiment on fish or chicken, or…how about frying a tortilla in oil for just a couple of secs. 

Guacamole Dip