Saturday, July 6, 2013

Outback's Alice Springs Chicken - My Copycat Version

We don't dine out all that often but when we do, I try to test out something different from what we usually prepare at home.  One of my favorite dishes is found at Outback Steakhouse and is listed on the menu as Alice Springs Chicken.  It is a combination of chicken breast, bacon, mushrooms, and Monterey Jack Cheese.  Yum!

Here is the recipe as I adapted it from a blog called Lauren's Kitchen.

1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup honey
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 1/2 Tablespoons butter
Vegetable cooking spray
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 Tablespoons butter
3 thick slices of onion
8 slices of bacon
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
2 Teaspoons chopped, fresh parsley or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes

  • Combine the mustard, hone, butter, and lemon juice in a small bowl.  
  • Place the chicken in a large plastic zipper bag and add 1/3 of the mustard mixture to coat the chicken well.
  • Close the bag and marinate this a couple of hours or as long as overnight (like I did).
  • After the chicken has marinated, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Heat a frying pan and melt 1 1/2 Tablespoons butter.
  • Remove chicken from marinade (toss the marinade in the trash) and sear the chicken in the frying pan and butter for about 3 minutes per side.
  • Place chicken in a baking pan or glass dish that has been sprayed lightly with vegetable cooking spray and set aside.
  • Fry 8 slices of bacon till crisp and reserve about half the grease (2 Tablespoons).
  • Saute' the mushrooms and onions in the combination of 1 Tablespoons butter and reserved bacon grease.
  • Brush each seared chicken with 1/2 of the reserved mustard marinade, saving the last portion of marinade to use as a sauce for the finished dish.
  • Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and paprika.
  • Stack the top with two slices of bacon.
  • Spoon the sauteed mushrooms and onions onto the bacon.
  • Top with a sprinkle of the cheeses.
  • Bake the pan of prepared chicken breasts for 7-10 minutes or till cheese is thoroughly melted and starting to bubble.
  • Sprinkle with parsley and serve, using extra honey mustard marinade as a dipping sauce.
We enjoyed this on July 4th with The Pioneer Woman's Crash Hot Potatoes and a tossed salad.  Yum!

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

This is a recipe that is adapted from The Neelys who have a cooking show on The Food Network.  I think theirs was for a fish sandwich but we like it with a baked potato and salad just as well!

Nonstick Vegetable Cooking Spray
4 Tablespoons Butter, melted
3 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 heaping Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Dill (or 1 scant Tablespoon Dried Dill)
1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning
Salt and black Pepper to taste
4 Tilapia Fillets
2-3 Tablespoons Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Place a heavy-duty baking pan sprayed with vegetable spray in the oven to heat.
  • Mix together the butter, mustard, and dill in a pie plate or shallow bowl.
  • Combine bread crumbs, salt, cayenne and black peppers, and seasoning in another pie plate or shallow bowl.
  • Dredge the fish through the butter mixture and then through the crumb mixture.
  • Sprinkle with cheese.
  • Immediately place on the hot cooking pan in the oven and bake until cooked through and lightly golden (about 15 minutes).

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Lemon Zucchini Bread with Lemon Glaze

I found this recipe on Pinterest because I had a bushel of zucchini!  It originated from NancyCreative.  It is divinely delicious and could be a dessert!  Here it is:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or bread flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
Juice of 1 lemon (or 2 Tablespoons lemon juice)
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup grated zucchini (You don't need to peel the zucchini before grating it!)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease/flour a 9 x 5" loaf pan; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, blend flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  • In medium bowl, beat 2 eggs well.
  • Add canola oil and sugar and blend well.
  • Add the buttermilk, lemon juice, and lemon zest and blend well.
  • Fold in zucchini and stir until evenly distributed into mixture.
  • Add this wet mixture to the dry ingredients in the large bowl in three increments, blending after each addition - but don't over-mix!
  • Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes or till toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Smaller loaf pans may take 5-10 minutes more.
  • Cool in pan 10 minutes; then remove to a wire rack and cool completely.
Lemon Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
Juice of 1 lemon (or 2 Tablespoons lemon juice)

  • In a small bowl, mix powdered sugar and lemon juice till bell blended.
  • Spoon glaze over cooled loaf.
  • Let glaze set and serve!

Joann G's Zucchini Bread

My friend Joann G gave us a loaf of this bread one year for Christmas.  It was delicious.  I begged for the recipe and here it is.  I hope my loaf is as tasty as hers!

3 eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup pecan pieces

  • Grease/flour two loaf pans.
  • Cream together eggs and sugar.
  • Add oil and vanilla.
  • Add zucchini.
  • Stir dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
  • Mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients.
  • Add chopped pecans.
  • Bake at 325 degrees for one hour.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fish And Chips

This recipe makes a delicious meal that is crispy on the outside and tender and flaky on the inside.  Delicious!

4 Potatoes, washed and set aside to dry
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Malt Vinegar
Salt, Black Pepper, and Cayenne Pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Mix together oil, vinegar, and spices.
  • Cut potatoes into wedges and place in a bowl.
  • Pour oil mixture over potatoes and toss to coat thoroughly.
  • Lay out flat on a foil-lined baking pan that has been spritzed with vegetable spray.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, turning half way through.
4 Tilapia fillets
4 Tablespoons Butter, melted
4 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 1/2 Tablespoons dried Dill flakes or 2 Tablespoons chopped, fresh Dill
1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
Salt, Black Pepper, and Cayenne Pepper to taste

  • Mix together butter, mustard, and dill and place in a shallow bowl or pie pan.
  • Mix together bread crumbs and spices and place in a shallow bowl or pie pan.
  • Dredge fish into butter mixture to coat well.  Then, dredge into bread crumbs to coat thoroughly.
  • Lay on a hot, foil-lined baking pan that has been spritzed with vegetable spray.
  • Bake for about 15-20 minutes, flipping half-way through.
Serve with a spicy ketchup and tartar sauce if you would like.  

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

My sister, Brenda, used to call Brussels Sprouts cabbage balls.  I have found over the years that not everybody is a lover of them but Mike and I both really like them prepared in lots of different ways.  The other day I bought some fresh ones in a package at the grocery store and found a recipe similar to this one.

1 pound fresh Brussels Sprouts
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 slices bacon
1/2 small onion
salt and pepper to taste

  • Warm oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut each of the Brussels Sprouts in half.
  • Dice the onion.
  • Place the Sprouts in a sauce pan and steam them for about ten minutes.
  • Toss the steamed Sprouts with the Olive Oil and spread out onto a foil-lined baking sheet.
  • Place in the oven and roast for about 15 minutes.
  • Stir and bake about 15 more minutes.
  • While the Sprouts are baking, fry the bacon in a skillet till crisp.
  • Remove from grease and toss diced onion pieces into about 2 Tablespoons of the grease.
  • Cook till tender.
  • Chop bacon and add Brussels Sprouts and chopped bacon to onions and stir till mixed.  
  • Season to taste and serve.
Note:  These are also delicious roasted in a grill pan on the grill!

Pioneer Meat Loaf

This is a shot of the meatloaf as soon as I put it in the oven.  
I forgot to photograph any steps or the finished product.  It looked just like Ree's and 
her photography skills are better than mine so look at her blog recipe pictures and pretend they are mine!

I have begun taping Ree Drummond's The Pioneer Woman shown on TV.

Is it still called taping or should I update my vocabulary and refer to it as recording since I am using a digital video recorder?  Is my vocabulary too old fashioned and marking me more as an old woman?

I recently used her recipe called My Favorite Meatloaf as my starting place for making dinner the other night.  I did have to stray just a wee little bit, however.  Here is how my version goes...

Meatloaf Ingredients:
1/2 cup milk
5 slices bread
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
black pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons dried parsley flakes
1 chopped green onion
2 tablespoons minced red bell pepper
2 whole eggs, beaten
6-8 slices bacon

Sauce Ingredients:
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Tabasco to taste

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Tear three slices of bread into pieces and pour milk over the bread.  Set aside for a few minutes.
  • Place the ground beef into a large mixing bowl.
  • Add Parmesan cheese, salt, black pepper, parsley, onion, and bell pepper to the beef.
  • Add milk-soaked bread and beaten eggs.
  • With clean hands, smoosh and mix the ingredients together until well combined.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil and lay two slices of bread end-to-end.  
  • Form meat mixture into a loaf and set it atop the two slices of bread.
  • Lay bacon slices over the top, tucking them underneath the meatloaf.
  • Mix up the sauce by adding ketchup, brown sugar, dry mustard, and hot sauce in a bowl together and stirring.
  • Pour 1/3 of the mixture over the top of the bacon and spread it around.
  • Bake for 45 minutes and pour another 1/3 of the sauce over the top.  
  • Bake for another 15 minutes.
  • Slice and serve with remaining sauce.
Note:  When I make this again, I will probably broil it for about 5-7 minutes to cook the bacon more thoroughly because we like a thicker bacon.  It probably would be okay without the bacon, too.

Note 2:  I WILL be making it again because Mike informed me it was the best meatloaf I had ever made and I am finally starting to cook foods the way he likes them!

Beef and Bean Chimichangas

This is a recipe I adapted using leftovers from one by The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.  I had set up a buffet to build-your-own nachos for Father's Day.  We enjoyed the Loaded Nacho recipe found HERE as a rerun the next day but I wanted something a little different after that and there was still a lot of beef and bean filling left.  So, I adapted this Baked Chimichanga recipe and it turned out to be yummy!

Leftover beef and bean mixture (See further info in the Loaded Nacho recipe link above.)
8 ounces cream cheese
Tortillas (I used Tomato-Basil flavored ones but any will work fine.)
Grated Cheese (I used a Mexican Blend.)
vegetable spray
Pico De Gallo (See further info in the Loaded Nacho recipe link above.)
cheese sauce (I bought one but you could also easily make one.)
sour cream (optional unless you are married to my husband)

  • Gently warm the beef and bean mixture in a skillet.

  • Add cream cheese and stir as it melts into the beef and bean mixture.

  • Take one flour tortilla and add a dollop or two of the beef/bean/cream cheese mixture.

  • Top with a spoon full of kernel corn.

  • Sprinkle with a little bit of grated cheeses.  

  • Gently fold the tortilla in at the top and bottom a little bit and gently fold the sides over the dollop of filling and roll it into a bundle.  (I didn't forget to take a picture of this step but I didn't have enough hands and Toby didn't feel confident serving as photographer!)
  • Lay the tortilla bundles (chimichanga) seam-side-down onto a foil lined baking sheet that has been sprayed lightly with vegetable spray.
  • Lightly spray the tops of the chimichangas with vegetable spray.  (See how they glisten with the light spritz of oil?)
  • Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • Flip chimichangas and bake an additional 5-10 minutes till the tortilla is crisp and golden.
Serve with rice, Pico De Gallo, cheese sauce, and, if you are my husband, sour cream.

Note:  I froze a couple of these and then sent it to work with Mike a day or two later and he says it tasted just as delicious.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Baked Chimichangas

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
8 oz. Pepperjack cheese, shredded
1/2 pkg. taco seasoning
1 lb. cooked meat (shredded chicken or loose, browned ground beef is what I have used)
6-8 flour tortillas
vegetable spray
shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese
green onions
sour cream or guacamole

  • Stir together cream cheese, Pepperjack cheese, and seasoning.
  • Fold in meat.
  • Divide among flour tortillas.
  • tuck in sides of tortillas and roll up each one.
  • Cover a cookie sheet with foil and spray generously with vegetable cooking spray.
  • Lay, seam side down, onto the foil-lined baking sheet.
  • Spray tops of tortillas with vegetable cooking spray.
  • Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
  • Turn chimichangas over and bake an additional 15 minutes.
  • Serve topped with cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, green onions, sour cream, and salsa.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Country White Bread

1 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees)
1 1/2 Tablespoons butter
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Here are the directions EXACTLY as they come from the book that accompanies the bread machine:
  • Measure and add liquid ingredients to the bread pan.
  • Measure and add dry ingredients (except yeast) to the bread pan.
  • Use your finger to form a well (hole) in the flour where you will pour the yeast.  Yeast must NEVER come into contact with a liquid when you are adding ingredients.  Measure the yeast and carefully pour it into the well.
  • Snap the baking pan into the bread maker and close the lid.
  • Press "Select" button to choose the Basic setting
  • Press the "Crust Color" button to choose light medium or dark crust.
  • Press the "Start/Stop" button.
Here is how I actually made the bread:
  • Looked up the recipe for Country White Bread in the book that goes with the Oster bread machine your daughter gave you because you want to try to do this right the first time.

  • Scrap that idea because you also want to use the Kefir your sister gave you to make the bread sort of be like a sour dough bread.
Isn't that little snowman jar topper cute?

  • Strain the Kefir grains from the Kefir your sister gave you. 
I don't think you are supposed to use a metal strainer but that is all I have and the Kefir seems to be holding up well in spite of my inadequacy.

  • The Kefir grains feels like a little rubbery, pellet-like thingy.
Sitting on top of my stubby little finger is one of the Kefir grains.  (I cannot be satisfied to simply mash the curd stuff through the strainer with the spatula, I have to reach into it and feel around and grab the grains out with my fingers.)

  • Put all the Kefir grains in a pint jar and fill it till it is about 2/3 full with milk.  Return the cute little topper and rubber band to the top of the jar and set it aside on the counter.

  • Stir the remaining liquid (looks sort of like mushy curds and whey) till it is a buttermilky looking sort of stuff.
  • Pour one cup of the strained liquid from your Kefir into the bread pan.
  • Add 1 1/2 Tablespoon softened (room temperature) butter.
  • Add one beaten egg that has been allowed to come to room temperature.
I just dumped all this in around the little stirring arm there in the middle.  I so, so wanted to stir it all together, but I decided this first time I would sort-of follow the instructions...

  • Dump in 4 cups bread flour.
  • Carefully measure 1 Tablespoon sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons (because you looked at your hand-dandy conversion chart on the fridge when you realized you didn't have a half Tablespoon measuring spoon and learned that 3 teaspoons equal a Tablespoon and did the math) sugar and dump it atop the flour.
  • Carefully measure and add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
  • Use your finger (I washed my hands good after I finished handling the Kefir...and before I handled it, too!  I really did!) to make a well in the flour.
  • Carefully measure and add 2 teaspoons active dry yeast.  Then, realize that there is only a smidge left in the packet you opened and dump that in, too.
  • Get so involved in carefully measuring (because you hardly ever do that) and forget to take photos.
  • Snap the baking pan into the bread maker and close the lid.
  • Press the Select button and choose the Basic setting.
  • Press the Crust Color button and choose light crust.
  • Press the Start/Stop button and watch through the little window on top as everything begins to stir around.
  • Get a cup of coffee and begin to straighten up the kitchen where you have spilled flour, Kefir, etc.
  • Hear a horrible noise that sounds like the bread machine is getting ready to launch the bread pan into outer space and rush over to see what is wrong. 
  • Realize that the bread pan must be pushed down pretty forcefully to be 'snapped into place' and push it down into place so it will stop being jostled all over the bread machine.
  • Finish up the kitchen clean-up, put a load of clothes in the washer, make the bed, etc. for about a half hour before you wonder what is going on with the bread and stroll in to check it out.
  • Look into the bread pan and think, "My goodness that looks awfully dry..." 
  • Look in the book to see what should be happening and notice the chart that says the dough is kneaded for the second time and decide to add some more milk...and some more...and give it a stir with your rubber spatula...and add some more milk till the dough looks...well, like a dough ball.  (Sure wish I had taken photos!)
  • Leave the machine alone for a while.  (After all, the whole process takes three hours!)
  • Get a pot holder and remove the bread pan immediately when the machine beeps at the end of the three hours.
  • Dump the loaf of bread out onto a plate.
  • Use a table knife to remove the mixing/kneading paddle from the loaf of bread.

  • Curse and drop the paddle onto the counter because you should have realized that something metal or ceramic or whatever it is made of is going to but ultra hot and burn your hand!
  • Briefly let the directions of the book which say let the bread rest for fifteen minutes flitter across your brain.

  • Slice a piece off and taste the bread!
Note:  The bread is quite dense and has a sourdough sort of flavor.  I like the color of the sides of the crust, but the top is not quite as brown as I would like.  It is done and tastes OK.  It just isn't as aesthetically pleasing as I'd like.  Next time I will not use quite as much flour and add a wee bit more milk (even more than I splashed in during the kneading step).  All-in-all it was a fun experience and I'm looking forward to trying out more with this handy-dandy machine!

P.S.  Does anybody know why sometimes Blogger won't let me change the size of my photos?  I am frustrated with this and have tried several times to enlarge the photos in this post!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie

This is truly a comfort food recipe.  It is delicious and easy, too. 

2 cups chopped chicken
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can peas and carrots
2 cans mixed vegetables

Topping Ingredients:

1 cup self-rising flour
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup milk
  • Gather all your ingredients because if you don't do that first, you might find yourself in the middle of preparing and realize, "Oh gosh, I'm out of..." and that is just so frustrating.
  • Spray a casserole dish with non-stick vegetable spray.  I'm using my Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker but just because it is a good size for this and the crust comes out a nice thickness.  You can use any 9" x 13" baking dish.
  • Drain the liquid into a bowl, pour in your vegetables into the casserole dish, and give them a little stir to mix them together.
  • Since I was using canned chicken chunks, I drained the juices out into the liquid bowl and dumped the chicken into another.  (I have used left-over chicken and that meant I had to add a half-cup or so of chicken broth.)
  • With a fork, break the large chunks up till it is almost like shredded chicken and blend this into the veggies.
  • Blend together the liquids from the veggies and the chicken with the can of soup because that makes the liquid ingredients a nice consistency and so much easier to stir in than that gloppy, clumpy blob of cream soup.

  • Pour the blended liquid mixture over the chicken and veggies and stir it up till it looks like a calico quilt.
Now it is time to make the topping - better known as that rich, buttery crust!

  • Melt a stick of butter.

  • Add a cup of milk and stir.
  • Add a cup of sifted flour.  I know that pile of flour looks like it wasn't sifted but it was... OK. OK.  I did just dump it into the bowl but it still will turn out just fine... trust me.  Stir all that together to make a creamy batter.
  • Pour that batter on top of your casserole, place it into a 350 degree oven, and bake for sixty to ninety minutes or until the topping turns a golden brown.
  • Let set for a few minutes or you will burn your mouth when you dig in!

  • Doesn't that just look like a golden picture of bubbling wonderfulness?  I hate this isn't one of those scratch-and-sniff blogs because that dish is smelling like a warm cuddle on a cold, shivery day!

  • Scoop some out onto a purty Blue Willow plate and set that on a red gingham placemat and it will be a feast before it even hits yore belly - before it even touches yore tongue.  Whew!  That is some kind of wonderfulness!

This is one of those one-dish meals that is so buttery and delicious that it is hard to just eat a little bit on a cold day.  I have substituted ground beef or ham for the chicken and had that as the base for the pot pie and they were equally delicious. I've also substituted the cream of chicken soup with cream of celery or mushroom with success.

Beef Stew

Left-over roast beef - I had enough to almost fill a quart container or about two pounds.
1 small onion
2 Tablespoons butter
2 cups beef stock
1 can or bottle of beer
2 Tablespoons tomato sauce
2 teaspoons Paula Deen's House Seasoning
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup water (more, if needed)
3 large carrots
3 small potatoes

  • Prepare roast beef.  I had a left-over roast that Mike had smoked and we froze 'the remains' as he calls left-overs after a couple of meals.  So, I simply thawed it and diced it up into bite sized pieces with my kitchen shears.
  • Melt butter in the bottom of a 4-quart pot.
  • Dice the onion into large pieces and cook and stir it in the butter over medium heat till it is a bit brown around the edges.
  • Add beer, tomato sauce, seasoning,Worcestershire sauce, and beef stirring to scrape all the crusty bits in the bottom of the pan and bring to a slow boil over medium to medium-high heat. 
  • Scrub carrots and potatoes and dice into bite-sized pieces.
  • Add carrots and potatoes to boiling mixture and cook about a half-hour more.  (Add more water if stew begins to dry or thicken too much.)
  • Serve with cornbread or a crusty French bread.
This recipe was inspired by The Pioneer Woman's Beef Stew with Beer and Paprika.  It was easy to prepare and delicious. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Chocolate Wet Cake

2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 stick butter
1/2 cup shortening
4 Tablespoons cocoa
1 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs

  • Mix together the sugar and flour and set aside.
  • Combine, butter, shortening, cocoa, and water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. 
  • Pour boiling mixture over flour/sugar mixture and stir.
  • Add buttermilk, vanilla, cinnamon, and eggs and mix together well.
  • The batter will be thin and may splatter.
  • Pour into a 9"x13" pan that has been sprayed with vegetable spray.
  • Bake in 400 degree oven for about twenty-five minutes.
  • Frost and serve.
This is a very moist cake and is simple and delicious!  A college friend made it for me for my 21st birthday cake and my family has enjoyed it over the years.