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.

Here, Fishy, Fishy: Pumpkin Swordfish Chowder

Here, Fishy, Fishy: Pumpkin Swordfish Chowder

Here, fishy, fishy, I have a new recipe for you!  Try this recipe to repurpose leftover fish for a hearty and satisfying chowder, brimming with all of your favorite vegetables. Because I had pumpkin swordfish, I “peppered” the chowder with like-colored ingredients, but remember, it’s your fish chowder. Click to skip to the recipe

pumpin swordfish chowder

I had friends over for a fussy dinner the other night. 

I did my version of surf and turf by grilling both a butterflied leg of lamb and delicious pumpkin swordfish steaks. Don’t fret, recipes will follow!

I ended up with a bunch of leftovers. You know how I am. I cannot stand to waste food.

The wheels started runnin’ and I thought about leftover recipes for the swordfish.

Swordfish cakes came to mind as did my Bubba Gump’s list of other fish dishes like swordfish gumbo, swordfish fried-rice, swordfish salad, swordfish burgers, swordfish spread…well, you get the picture.

In the end, fish chowder won out and I created a recipe that worked out just fine.

Because I had pumpkin swordfish, I “peppered” the chowder with like-colored ingredients using sweet potatoes and carrots to flavor the broth. But remember, it’s your fish chowder. 

You can use whatever fish you have leftover and your favorite chowder veggies.

It’s really all about the fishy, creamy rich broth that makes this soooo good. Serve with a wedge of cheesy garlic bread and a green salad and invite those friends back to join in the FUN!

Pumpkin Swordfish Chowder

Serves: 6

Time:  30 minutes ’til it’s ready

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter

½ red onion, finely diced

6 ribs celery, finely diced

1 large carrot, finely diced

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes

1 medium white potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons flour

½ cup white wine

1 cup chicken stock

1 cup heavy cream

1 pound cooked swordfish steak, chopped into ½-inch pieces

Chopped, fresh parsley

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

Melt the butter in a deep soup pot. Add the onion, celery, and carrots. Stir and cook until the veggies begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the potatoes. Cook for 3 minutes more. Season the veggies with salt, pepper, and thyme. Sprinkle the flour over the top. Pour in the wine. Stir until the liquid thickens and begins to reduce, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in the chicken broth and cream. Stir in the swordfish. Reduce the heat to simmer the chowder over low heat. Continue to cook until the potatoes soften, and the broth is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. For thicker broth add more cream. For thinner broth, add more chicken stock.

Tip 1:

Pumpkin swordfish has a delicate, orange-colored flesh made possible because the fish eat a whole bunch of pink shrimp and krill. I created this soup after I over-prepared swordfish for a special dinner I had with friends. I grilled the fish and finished it with a bit of butter. The leftovers were just too delish to lose, thus the soup. I added carrots and sweet potato to go with the orangish color of the fish. But you can use this recipe as a guideline. Any fish will do and plain ole’ swordfish works just fine. Add more regular spuds if you don’t have sweet potatoes and flavor this rich chowder with any of your favorite spices. It’s all good!


     

“Best Cinnamon Rolls” for Living Your Best Life

“Best Cinnamon Rolls” for Living Your Best Life

While the world can be rough, there is always something to be grateful for, take comfort in and feel good about. 2020 is moving right along. The groundhog predicted an early spring, and colorful Mardi Gras parades are planned as we usher in a new season of Lent.

I tell you what this Catholic will not be giving up: cinnamon rolls! The last Jorj.com recipe this February, a leap year, is one of the oldest one’s in my repertoire. I actually make them so routinely, I didn’t have to dig far into my archives to share these cinnamon-ny, heavenly wonders with you.

Best Cinnamon rolls are from At Home in the Kitchen and seemed fitting as I explore a food trend of living in the moment. In Denmark and Norway, they call taking pleasure in the simple things, Hygge.

Pronounced “Hue-Gah”, it’s the Danish ritual of graciousness, of enjoying and appreciating life’s simplest pleasures, family and friends.

Where, I live hygge is just something I’ve done my entire life: Appreciating a warm blanket and good book to read on a gloomy day, wild flowers that grabbed my attention on a long walk home, and wound up in a vase in my kitchen, cozy meals shared with my hubby, children and grandchildren….

These are hygge moments; these are my moments, and my loved one’s moments when we’re all together, or enjoying our solitude apart.

Certainly, the world presents its challenges, but great food, friends, art and music are always around to lift our spirits.

BUT BACK TO THESE CINNAMON ROLLS! While they take a little bit of time, I assure you they are WORTH IT! I did some checking, and saw that you can order a loved one a hygge box of candles, scents, chocolates and warm socks, but I think you’d be doing that friend a bigger favor buying them a stand mixer with a trusty dough hook.

They will never tire of baking and breaking bread. One of life’s simplest pleasures is of fresh baking bread, after all….and these melted cinnamon and brown sugar treats, just begging to be glazed, ratchet up the hygge factor a million degrees!

Enjoy them with a hot cuppa and my latest pick for Super Supper Book Club!

Best Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 12 to 14 rolls

45 minute cuisine, plus rising and baking time

For the rolls

1 cup whole milk

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces

3 large eggs

1/3 cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon salt

4 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 ½ teaspoons yeast

For the filling

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), chilled, cut into small pieces

For brushing over rolls

1 tablespoon half and half

For the glaze

1 ¼ cups confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon light corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 to 2 tablespoons half and half

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the milk, sugar, softened butter, salt and egg. Add 2 cups of flour and mix (in a stand mixer or by hand) until smooth.

Add the yeast. Mix in remaining flour until dough is easy to handle. Knead dough on lightly floured surface for up to 10 minutes. Place in bowl coated with vegetable oil spray, cover and let double in size for 40 minutes to 1 hour.

Roll out the dough to a 10 X 14 inch rectangle.

Place the brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the chilled butter pieces and pulse briefly until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Spread the filling over the dough. Roll up jelly roll style, starting at the narrow end. Pinch the open ends underneath the roll.

Slice the roll into 1-inch pieces. Arrange the slices, cut side up, into a 13 X 9 X 2 inch baking dish, coated in vegetable oil spray.  Cover the dish with plastic wrap and allow to rise for at least 30 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator.

Brush the rolls with half and half. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. If the rolls brown too quickly, cover with aluminum foil. Brush the rolls again with half and half after they are removed from the oven.

Make a glaze for the rolls by combining the confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and half and half in a small bowl. Drizzle the glaze over the top and serve warm.

 

My Valentine’s Day Tradition

My Valentine’s Day Tradition

Chicken! Yes, my sweetheart tradition is all about a roasted chicken. Not an every Friday night Ina for Jeffrey chicken, but a once a year, Valentines Day roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings: roasted carrots, potatoes and onions and a lovely gravy/sauce to drizzle over everything.Tulips in a pitcher for the centerpiece, and a heart-shaped chocolate cake for dessert. Perfection!

In Sunday Best Dishes, I have a recipe for a chocolate walnut torte that is fudgy and nutty – just perfect for a post-Sunday dinner or Valentine’s Day fare.

You can serve it warm or at room temperature, which allows, if you prefer, to prepare it in the morning, knowing that dessert is all taken care of.
Message me if you want this recipe sent via email, ‘cause today’s post is all about melt in your mouth herb roasted chicken!
I first made this dish for hubby on a particularly cool Valentines Day many moons ago. Something about being three months past Thanksgiving was just about enough time for the fowl craving to emerge. In the very many moons since then, I’ve manipulated that chicken in sooo many ways. I roasted it upside down, leisurely cooked it in slow cooker, rotated it on a spit, split it in half and cooked it under a brick, stuffed it and then unstuffed it … I did it all!

This Valentine’s day evening, I can expect hubby to come home for dinner. He always brings me a most sappy, most meaningful card, and usually a bouquet of roses. I will push my (not quite as sappy) card across the table to him and smile. He will be happy and that makes me happy!

In the end, it’s that roasted chicken, served at home, for hubby that is my sweetest Valentine tradition. What’s yours?

Roasted Chicken with Herb Butter

Serves 4

60 minute cuisine

½ cup butter, room temperature (1 stick)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

1 (2 ½ to 3 pound) chicken

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 whole orange, cut into sections

½ cup sherry

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Mix the softened butter with the herbs.

Use your hands to cover the chicken with the herb butter.  (Use your fingers to gently loosen the skin and place some of the butter between the skin and the meat.)  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Place the orange sections into the cavities of the chicken.

Place the chicken on an upright roaster (or on a rack) in a baking pan.  Pour the sherry over the chicken.

Place the chicken into the oven.  After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees.

Bake until the skin is crisp, and the juices run clear, about 20 minutes per pound.

 

What Really Matters Most!

What Really Matters Most!

I hope your holidays were as special as mine. For me, family time is a time of renewal … a rebirth of what is important. I love this stage of my life. I no longer have the responsibilities of parenting, yet I can still take pride in the family that we created.

It’s great to watch the boys careen down the street on bikes and scooters while my friends and neighbors desperately try to dodge them.

It’s wonderful to greet my Sam in the early morning and watch him mindlessly shovel cereal into his mouth before I pour my first cup of coffee.

Who knew a princess could be so jolted by the pea under her mattress that she developed a huge tangle in her flowing hair that had to be surgically removed? It definitely was the bedding… not the princess!

It’s only been a few days since the unwrapping and we’ve already returned three gifts and requested additional parts of others. And where did those receipts go?

The food was over-the top. My fridge is filled with leftovers, lasagna, steaks, sauerkraut and pork… we did it up! The wine flowed….. why wouldn’t it! The activities were active…. swimming, beaching, pickle ball, cycling, day trips and only limited screen time. None of us made it to the ball drop, and that was fine!

Yet, I am renewed. Renewed by the fact that this group of daredevils and princesses chose to spend time with us, their grandparents and parents. We created some memories, some new traditions and made a plan for our summer get together. It doesn’t get better than that – looking forward to continuing our family adventures.

Here are some pictures from our family to yours.

Wishing you a happy, healthy New Year! A little late maybe, but better late than never.

 

Homemade Cookies Make Great Last Minute Gifts!

Homemade Cookies Make Great Last Minute Gifts!

My gift to you this Christmas is a box of sugar cookies that come together faster than you can say happy holidays. But you don’t have to use mine. Perhaps you have an old holiday cookie recipe passed down from your grandmother to your mother – or you just found it in this year’s magazine.

Maybe you grabbed a tin of cookie dough at the grocery store last week. None of this matters. What matters is that these cookies are made special by making them with those you love. I sure had a blast decorating ginger and sugar cookies with my grandkids this season, and making sure we had enough on hand for Santa.

Our cookies give new meaning to “tree trimming”, and sparkle with Fancy Sprinkles.

So, this season, grab someone special, get out the cookie cutters, and share a couple laughs while you make some cookies!

 

Christmas Sugar Cookie Recipe

15 minute cuisine

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

 

 

For the dough

3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg, beaten

1 tablespoon whole milk

For the baked cookies

Red, green and gold sprinkles and icing

Confectioner’s sugar for work surface

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

Place the butter and sugar in a separate mixing bowl and beat by hand. You can use a mixer but it’s more fun to hand-mix!

Add the beaten egg and milk into the butter and sugar mixture until just combined, gradually adding the dry ingredients and beating until mixture resembles cookie dough.

Divide the dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Sprinkle work surface with confectioners’ sugar. Remove cookie dough from refrigerator, and sprinkle rolling pin with more of the confectioner’s sugar.

Roll out the dough to just under an inch thickness, moving it around on your work surface so it doesn’t stick.

Cut the dough into Christmas tree shapes, and place into the oven for 9 to 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool before you decorate them with the icing and sprinkles.