Grandma’s Sprinkle Chicken

This may go down in history as my favorite recipe of all time. It’s a recipe for baked, crunchy chicken that, in my opinion, cannot be beat by any “deep fried anything” out there. When this chicken is served at a family event, you better have quick fingers, because it is literally gone as fast as it is served.

I don’t know where this recipe came from. Perhaps you’ll find it on the side of a box somewhere. To me, however, this recipe is as old as I am. My grandmother used to make it for us kids when we would go over to her house for Shabbat dinner.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Raw chicken, unbreaded. You can use any chicken. My mom likes to use tenders or wings. My grandmother used to make larger pieces (whole breasts, thighs, drumsticks). Just use whatever you’re comfortable using. For this demo, we used 12 winglets, but we had extra breading left over.
  • 3 tablespoons of mayo
  • 1/4 cup of seasoned Italian breadcumbs
  • 1 cup of cornflake crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • (optional) a very small sprinkle of oregano
  • (optional) a pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

photo 2

If you are using frozen chicken, make sure it is fully thawed. I prefer using fresh chicken.

photo 1

Add the mayonnaise into a large bowl. Then add the chicken. Make sure they are fully coated in the mayonnaise. (Note: If you are using larger pieces, you can coat them one at a time and take them out of the bowl).

photo 4

Put that to the side and grab a second bowl. Add all the dry ingredients to the new bowl.

photo 5

Now you should have your wet, coated chicken and your dry coating. Coat the chicken in the dry coating.

photo 1 (2)

photo 2 (2)

After you coat each piece, place on a rack inside a cookie sheet. This will ensure that the bottom gets nice and crispy.

photo 3 (2)

Put into the oven for 40 minutes or until the chicken is brown and crispy and cooked through. Remember, chicken can be dangerous if eaten raw or undercooked, so don’t be afraid to cut into one of the larger pieces to make sure it’s not pick inside.

And there you have it, crispy, crunchy sprinkle chicken that you and your family will grab up like it’s going out of style!

photo 4 (2)

Hearty granola muffins (my first and last granola recipe)

I respect people who eat healthy. I really do. We just don’t subscribe to the same existential philosophy.

After looking death in the eye one too many times, I have come to the conclusion that when it comes to food, sex, and travel, you can’t pull your punches. Life is too short not to take a bite out of that brownie that you crave every day on your way to work. It’s too short not to go bungee jumping or ostrich racing or to try the local food trucks in your area.

Right now, I’m overweight because of the medications I am on. Up until I was put on these medications, I always ate what I wanted and maintained a healthy weight using portion control. If you love butter, eat butter. Just don’t eat a stick of butter in one meal.

So, with that introduction, I’m going to say this. You’re not going to see a lot of healthy eating recipes on my blog. This blog isn’t here to teach you how to count calories. When I post recipes on this blog, I post them because they’re the kind of food that I would give to the people I love on a special occasion. It’s love food. 

That said, today I have a granola muffin recipe that is going to blow your mind. It is totally healthy, chock-full of protein, and tastes amazing. One muffin is filling enough to carry you from breakfast to lunch. It also not too sweet, for those of you out there who hate muffins that taste like cupcakes.

I was inspired by, what I think is the best granola, nay, best cereal in the entire world! It’s Trader Joe’s Organic Granny’s Apple Granola Cereal. You can get it in any Trader Joe’s. I’ve been eating this stuff since I first left college and got my own place and needed a cheap source of protein. It’s filled with nuts, dried apples, raisins, plus all the typical granola stuff. It’s sweet and tart and delicious. It looks like this:

I've tried many cereals and none compare

I’ve tried many cereals and none compare

I was munching on it today and I had the crazy idea that I needed to bake with it. Just the thought of having my favorite cereal baked into a little package that I could take on-the-go made me giddy.

When I get excited about anything, I must try it. It is just the way I am. So, I set out to find a simple way to integrate my favorite granola into a baking recipe. I decided to go with muffins and I settled on this recipe. What I like about the recipe is that the ratio of granola to everything else is very high. I wanted my granola to be the star. The first thing the recipe says is this:

“When you mix together the dry ingredients for these muffins you might think the recipe is a mistake. There is more granola than flour and it looks like the whole mixture might not hold together.

Trust me this is right.”

So I trusted the recipe and mixed all the dry ingredients together.

1 1/2 cups granola
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

What I got was a bowl full of granola that looked like it was dusted with flour:

Say wha?

Say wha?

Interesting.

Then I moved on and mixed the wet ingredients together in another bowl. The original recipe reads as follows:

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

I decided to change it up a bit. All I had in the refrigerator was skim milk and nonfat yogurt, so I knew I would need a little bit more oil. I softened 2 tablespoons of butter and added it. This is because the recipe calls for whole milk and whole fat yogurt so it probably needs some oil or fat.

photo 3

I mixed together the wet and dry ingredients until the consistency looked like wet oatmeal of some sort.

photo 4

Then, I spooned the batter out into a muffin pan with paper cups in it. You can actually use a muffin pan without the paper cups, just make sure you butter or grease the pan before you spoon in the batter. This recipe is not a high yield recipe. The original recipe only yielded 10 muffins. I was only able to get 8 muffins from my batter. Also, make sure you fill up the cups fairly high. Because there is so much granola weighing down the batter, the muffins won’t “puff” as much (don’t worry, they’ll still be nice and light, though).

photo (8)

Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-22 minutes until a tester comes out clean. They should look like this (just slightly golden on top):

photo 5

At any point in the baking, feel free to throw 1/2 cup of your favorite berries or fruit in. Just make sure they’re washed and well drained. Blueberries would work great. I didn’t do that for mine because my granola already has apple and raisin in it.

Ta da!

Ta da!

And there you have it! The perfect, not-too-sweet, fairly healthy, chock-full-of-protein breakfast muffin that should keep you until lunch…and if it doesn’t, you don’t have to feel guilty about having seconds!

Puffy Poffertjes

Stefan came back Saturday from his annual trip home to the Netherlands. He brought me a special surprise. A poffertjes pan!

photo 1 (3)

Poffertjes are a traditional dutch foodstuff. They’re a lot like American silver dollar pancakes. In the Netherlands, Poffertjes aren’t really eaten as a breakfast food. They’re served as brunch or lunch or as a dessert. Since maple syrup isn’t indigenous to Europe, poffertjes aren’t traditionally eaten with syrup either. They’re served with powdered sugar, butter, and sometimes lemon.

The poffertjes pan looks like this:

photo 2 (3)

It generally comes in two designs: cast iron and non-stick. Stefan got me the non-stick type, which I was really thankful for because it would have been a bitch to stick pieces of butter into each indentation before pouring the batter. Also, the cast iron is probably really heavy and unwieldy. Now, the poffertjes pan is not to be confused with an evelskiver pan which looks like this:

Aebelskivers are Scandinavian fried dough balls. The aebelskiver pan has much deeper indentations so you can actually fry the dough in each individual indent. An aebelskiver is quite delicious and it comes out almost spherical and tastes like a doughnut (here’s a recipe). However, if you want pancake-like poffertjes and you use an aebelskiver pan, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

As this traditional recipe for poffertjes shows, they’re not a classic pancake mix, either. The batter is made with yeast instead of baking powder and uses buckwheat flour instead of refined, all-purpose flour. However, being that I am a lazy American chefette, I decided that for my first foray into the world of poffertjes, I would use the traditional American Aunt Jemima pancake mix (thank goodness my Dutch fiance had all ready gone to work because if he had tasted this abomination of his cultural icon, his head may have exploded).

There really wasn’t much to it. I just waited until the pan got hot, gently spooned the pancake mix into the indents on the pan, and used a small espresso spoon to flip each one individually once the edges were cooked:

photo 4 (2)

photo 5 (2)

Once they were on the plate, I buttered them and added powdered sugar to taste (which for my tastes was A LOT):

photo 1 (4)

photo 2 (4)

My parents and I enjoyed a delicious Dutch delight!

Oh, and if you’re interested in making your own poffertjes, you can actually try making them on a skillet. However, I would recommend getting your own pan. You can buy them from Amazon.

Slammin’ Stuffing Roll-Ups

I figured it’s high time I learned how to cook. I mean, I already bake, my mother was a professional cook for a good portion of her adult life, I already spend way too much of my time watching competitive cooking shows on the Food Network, and seeing as I am disabled and don’t have a job right now, I have a lot of time on my hands to learn this valuable life skill. So, when my mother came home from work and wanted to cook a fairly complicated dinner, I decided that I would look over her shoulder, take pictures, and pester her with way too many questions. I would like to think that I helped, but I think I slowed her up more than anything else.

So my mom had a nice packet of fresh, refrigerated chicken breasts (boneless) and a box of Stove Top Stuffing. My mom decided to make this meal, which she had first made when a friend had a famous writer coming over to her house and couldn’t afford to hire a caterer. I would have named this dish something witty having to do with writing, but seeing as how I got unbridled usage of a meat tenderizer during the making of this meal, I couldn’t name it anything else but “slammin'”!

photo 1

So there are really 3 components to this dish that all end up coming together and going into the oven in the end.

  • The stuffing: you can really choose to make this from scratch (or from any recipe, really), but my mother likes Stove Top because it’s so easy, it’s tasty and delicious, and, did I mention that it’s easy?
  • The chicken: You’re going to need boneless chicken breasts that are fresh or fully thawed. The chicken gets pounded, salted, dredged, pinned together, browned, and baked. Can you keep up with the steps? I’ll try to make it easy as possible.
  • The sauce: a delightful and easy to make sauce. A welcome relief from the intricate chicken dance

Ingredients:

  • 3 Large boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Stuffing. Stove Top or otherwise. If you use Stove Top, you’ll need: 1 packet of Stove Top Stuffing, 1-1/2 cups water and 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil (in addition to what you use for the stuffing)
  • 1 teaspoon of Emeril Essence (or your preferred spice mix)
  • Cayenne Pepper to taste (optional)
  • 1-1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup white wine

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ok, your next step is to make the stuffing. Since we decided to go for Stove Top and the directions are really very self-explanatory.

photo 2

Then, take each chicken breast and butcher them into single pieces slightly smaller than the size of your palm. Note: Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw chicken.

photo 4

Place a piece of saran wrap under the chicken and another piece over the chicken. Then proceed to use the flat side of the meat tenderizer to pound the chicken until it is roughly twice the size or a quarter of an inch thick. Try not to mash or break it.

photo 1 (2)

They call me the tenderizer!

photo 2 (2)

What’s wrong there, baby, you’re looking a little flat.

As you finish flattening each piece of chicken, lightly sprinkle them with salt and put them aside. If you stack them on top of each other, make sure you separate them with saran wrap so they don’t stick to each other.

photo 3 (2)

When you are done pounding the chicken breasts, it’s time to stuff them. Have your stuffing handy as well as some wooden toothpicks. Note: these toothpicks stay in the breasts until they are done cooking. Make sure to remove them. It is probably a good idea to alert your guests that there might be toothpicks as well, just to be safe.

Spread flour over your work area so the meat doesn’t stick to your surface. Then, take a piece of chicken breast, spoon some stuffing into the middle, roll-up the chicken breast, and secure it closed with a toothpick.

photo 4 (2)

photo 5

photo 1 (3)

photo 2 (3)

The next thing my mom does is dredge the roll-ups (roll them in a flour mixture) and brown them in oil before baking them. Theoretically, you could just bake them at this point, but dredging and browning them gives them a nice firm, light crust. If you skip these steps, they’re going to have the consistency of boiled chicken and, under the heavy sauce that this recipe calls for, they’re just going to taste soggy.

The next step is to dredge the roll-ups. Mix together the dredge mixture in a shallow bowl.

Dredge Mixture:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Emeril Essence or your preferred spice mixture

Gently roll each of the roll-ups in the dredge mixture so the outside is covered with the mixture.

photo 3 (3)

Next, lightly brown the outside of the roll-ups. In a large, shallow pan, pour just enough vegetable oil for it to just barely cover the bottom. Make sure you are not frying the roll-ups (ie. they are not swimming in hot oil). Wait for the oil to get hot and gently put your roll-ups into the pan, spacing them at least 1″ apart.

photo 5 (2)

Before

photo 1 (4)

After

Don’t worry about cooking the chicken all the way through, you’re going to finish off the chicken in the oven. What you want here is a nice golden color. Once you see gold, take the chicken out of the pan, wipe off the excess oil on a paper towel, and place the roll-up in a baking dish. Do this for all your roll ups. Add any extra stuffing to the baking dish if you would like. You can also add raw spinach or green beans to the baking dish at this time.

photo 4 (4)

Before you put the chicken in the oven, it’s time to make the sauce. The sauce has 4 ingredients.

Chicken White-Wine Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 can Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 1 can Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1-1/4 cup milk (you can use skim milk if you want)
  • 1/4 cup white drinking wine

photo 4 (3)

My mother never uses cooking wine. She thinks it’s a waste of money. When my mom uses wine in her cooking, she’ll use a lower-end drinking wine. It has always worked for her.

Add both soups and the milk to a sauce pan. Wisk and put over a medium flame until it begins to simmer. Lower the heat and add the wine. Leave on the lower heat for a minute or two longer. Make sure the sauce is a consistent, creamy texture before taking it off the flame.

photo 3 (4)

Gently pour the sauce over the chicken in your baking dish.

photo 5 (3)

Cook for 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until the chicken is fully cooked. Here’s what it looks like when it comes out of the oven:

photo 1 (5)

It makes a very pretty plate, especially if you serve it with some of the extra stuffing and something green on the side.

photo 2 (5)

So that’s my first cooked-and-blogged dinner. Bon Appetit!

Polar vortex got you down? Make a 3 minute brownie in a mug!

North America is in the deep freeze this week. Even places like Georgia and North Carolina are seeing temperatures below 10 degrees farenheit. Here in New Jersey it was no exception.

I went outside to throw a frisbee for Daphne this morning and my face chapped after 10 minutes. I didn’t think that 6 degrees was that cold, but we have a -16 degree windchill. So, being that most of North America is closed due to cold, I decided to hunker down and stay inside.

cold 1

Daphne was not impressed.

Daphne meme walk

I wanted to get something done, and I was craving some creative baking, but I didn’t have much in the house and I didn’t have the energy to make a mess and clean it up. That’s when I found a great recipe on this blog for a 3 minute brownie in a mug! Better yet, I didn’t even need to preheat my oven, worry about mixers, or even crack an egg. I had to try this one.

You only need 6 ingredients…and you don’t need much of each:

  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup of sugar*
  • 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of oil**
  • 3 tablespoons of water

*I found that 1/4 cup of sugar isn’t quite enough to satisfy my sweet tooth, but it is good for someone who likes their chocolate dark and slightly bitter or if you’re going to add ice cream. Otherwise, use 1/3 of a cup.

**The original recipe called for olive oil, but I find that vegetable oil is best in baked goods (unless you’re making something that is olive oil flavored). Olive oil has a distinctive flavor that can be odd and distracting unless you are deliberately using it in your flavor pallet.

photo 1 (2)

Add all dry ingredients to the mug (you will be able to reuse this mug):

photo 2 (2)

Quickly mix the dry ingredients. Then add oil and water and mix until you get a consistent batter:

photo 3 (2)

Put in microwave and cook on high for only 1 minute and 40 seconds!

photo 4

Be careful because it will be hot when you take it out of the microwave. Let it sit and cool for 5 to 7 minutes.

photo 5

After it’s cool, enjoy a nice, warm, gooey brownie out of a mug! Add ice cream or whipped cream to taste!

photo (11)

Keep warm everyone!

EDIT:

My friend Melinda tried this recipe with a pinch of cinnamon and a bit of vanilla extract and said it came out great!

One problem we both ran into, though, was that if you use 1/3 cup of sugar instead of 1/4 cup, the sugar doesn’t melt entirely and you end up with a bit of sugar “crunch” in your brownie. You may want to try keeping the sugar content closer to 1/4 of a cup and using sweetened cocoa instead if you want to avoid the dreaded “crunch”. Also, the larger the mug that you use, the more surface area you’ll have to bake the brownie and more of the sugar will melt. Try using an extra large mug if you want to use more sugar.

Surf and Turf New Years

My family has had a tradition for a few years now that I have lovingly named “Surf and Turf New Years”. Every year on New Years Eve, my mother and her 3 sisters converge on our house, their cooking utensils in hand, and put together a multi-course meal, complete with lobster and caveman-sized steak.

Surf and Turf New Years started when my brother, cousins and I were in high school. My mother and her sisters used these delicacies to lure us into spending time with the family before we dashed off to our respective New Years Eve parties. I have to say, it worked like a charm. Here’s a picture of me back in high school playing with live lobsters before they went into the pot:

The lure of underage drinking in a suburban basement full of teenagers had nothing on this

The lure of underage drinking in a suburban basement full of teenagers had nothing on this

This years smorgasbord was no exception. It was an impressive way to set off the new year. I should start by saying that it was my mother’s hope to finally ditch the tradition since all the kids in the family have flown the nest (except for me, the boomerang child), but her sisters talked her into the whole fiasco for at least one more year. So, my Aunt brought over the live lobsters, which were promptly steamed:

PITA, eat your heart out!

PETA, eat your heart out!

Another aunt brought over 15 pounds of NY strip steaks which were promptly rubbed with Emeril’s Essence, pan seared, and finished in the oven:

Arteries don't fail me now!

Arteries don’t fail me now!

And as the relatives marched in, the sides came with them. Course #1: NY strip with fries from Five Guys, caramelized onions, and my mom’s amazing, addictive mushroom-red wine sauce:

photo 5

Everyone loves my mom’s sauce. It goes great on beef or pasta. Here’s the recipe for those of you who were wondering:

My Mom’s Amazing Addictive Red Wine Mushroom Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 cup mushroom
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup of any good red drinking wine
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup flour

Slice any type of mushroom and put in a pan with 2 tablespoons of butter. Cook until they soften and brown. Add wine and let it simmer for about 3 minutes. Add beef broth and salt and let simmer on a low flame for 5 minutes. In a separate small pan melt 3 tablespoons of butter and add flour and mix. This is called a roux. Cook the roux for 2 minutes on a low flame, constantly stirring. Add the roux to the simmering sauce and stir until it thickens. And you’re done!

Course #2: The lobster:

Here's looking at you, kid.

Here’s looking at you, kid.

My family doesn’t mess around with lobster. I was raised Jewish but my parents obviously don’t keep a kosher home. My grandparents, however, were strictly kosher. Because they were deprived of shellfish for their entire childhoods, my mother and her sisters all developed a deep love affair with any and all shellfish. In my house, the live lobsters come home, they’re dropped into the boiling, unsalted, filtered water and my mother almost intuitively knows when they’re ready. They always come out tender and delicious and there’s always plenty of melted butter to go around.

Needless to say, it was a great way to start 2014.

photo 2