December 2012

One of my faaaavorite dishes growing up – cheesy chicken broccoli casserole. I think I requested it for my birthday dinner nearly every year. While I believe my taste buds have become a bit more ‘cultured’ over the years, this dish brings great feelings of nostalgia and I will love it forever. It is very fitting that I am posting this on the very day of my wonderful mother’s 60th birthday…as this is her recipe.
That being said, you will not find this dish anywhere in France. Interpret that how you wish.
Where you will find it, is Wisconsin.  Most recipes that include canned soup originated somewhere in Wisconsin.
  • 2-3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 cups broccoli
  • 1 can cheddar cheese soup
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • Pinch curry powder
  • Pinch ground mustard (my add)
  • Dash Worcestershire (my add)
  • S&P
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Bake the chicken breasts (about 30 minutes at 350, drizzled with olive oil and S&P), and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Lightly steam the broccoli – about 2 minutes in the microwave. Leave the oven heated to 350.
Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, except the shredded cheddar. Make sure you don’t overdo the curry powder – that’s a sure fire way to ruin this casserole.
Layer the broccoli on the bottom of a casserole dish, followed by the chicken. Pour the cheese sauce over to cover completely. Top with shredded cheddar, and bake uncovered for 45 min. Let sit for a few minutes, then serve over rice.
Merry Christmas everyone! I will be busy eating other people’s food over the holidays, so I will see you in the New Year!

Have you gotten on the Salted Caramel bandwagon yet? I sure hope so, because it’s leaving without you.  I can’t take credit for baking these cookies, my friend Annie did during our 4 hour baking marathon last weekend. I warned her that cutout cookies can be a bit of a pain, but she handled them with quite ease and the cookies seemed relatively easy to make. And they are really, really good. YOU STILL HAVE TIME TO MAKE ONE MORE CHRISTMAS COOKIE. Don’t quit now.


  • 3 sticks butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 1/2 cups flour

Caramel Glaze

  • 1 bag of unwrapped caramels
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Chocolate Drizzle

  • 1/2 bag semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Sea Salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the butter and sugar together, then slowly add the flour. We added a touch of water here to help the dough come together. Place the dough in between two large pieces of parchment paper (easier if you divide the dough in half and roll out two batches), and roll out to 1/4 inch thick. Using a circular cookie cutter (or an enchilada sauce can if that’s all you have), cut out circles and place them on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes, until just barely golden brown.

Once cooled, prepare the caramel. Microwave the caramels and milk in a bowl in 30 second increments, stirring until totally smooth and melted. Glaze the cookies. Melt the chocolate and butter in 30 second increments until smooth (don’t burn!), then drizzle over the top. Sprinkle generously with sea salt. Word of advice: do not stack these cookies on top of one another on your cookie stand.  They may never come apart, and you may never be able to share them with anyone because that’s precisely what you did. Layer them between pieces of wax paper.

Some people run marathons, some people bake them. I fall under the latter category, and this weekend was my PR (personal record).  My good friend Annie came over and we powered through an afternoon of baking, Christmas music, gossip, and wine.  It was so enjoyable we decided we would quit our jobs and do that full time.
We made Eggnog Cookies, Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies, Salted Caramel Shortbread Cookies, and Chocolate Peppermint Pudding Cookies:
I have never put pudding mix in a cookie before, and now I’m afraid I may never go back. I love pudding, and I love cookies, so the combination sort of blew my mind. I followed this recipe, but used white chocolate chips instead of chocolate chips. I used a chocolate peppermint candy in the Central Market bulk section, or I think Peppermint Bark would be really good too. These are so soft and chewy and scrumptious, and they taste just like Christmas.  Happy Baking!
Hi everyone, I’m Gretchen’s sister, Ingri, and today I am lucky enough to have been asked to guest blog.  Now originally, I was asked to blog about these:

As you can imagine, I was not too excited to have my blog debut marred by the rather unsightly presentation of my caramel apples, so I decided to make Apple Butter Chicken instead.  For the record, however, I would like to note two things: 1) Caramel apples are REALLY hard to make beautifully 2) They may look horrendous, but they were delicious.

So, now on to my real recipe.  I am not the kitchen connoisseur that Gretchen is, but I do truly love this recipe.  Not only is it easy to make, but it is healthy and very tasty.  Your main ingredients will consist of skinless chicken breasts; bread crumbs; almonds; aged white or orange cheddar cheese; and apple butter.   This time I got my apple butter at my local grocery store, but I can tell you that the best brand I have found is at Trader Joe’s.

First, what you want to do is pat dry your chicken breasts and lay them with the fattier side down on a cutting board.  You can take the time to flatten them out if you wish, but I find that I like them a little plump when they go into the oven.  Once you have them dry, put your choice of seasoning on the chicken-I use S&P (I learned that abbreviation from Gretchen) and a dash of Montreal Chicken spice for extra flavor.  Then use about 1 tbsp of your apple butter and smooth it over the chicken breasts, followed by thinly sliced pieces of aged cheddar cheese.

Once you have sufficiently ‘cheesed’ your chicken, fold the pieces onto each other and secure with toothpicks, like so:

Aren’t those the cutest little things you’ve ever seen?!  Next, put 1 tablespoon of olive oil, S&P and a little Montreal Chicken spice into the bottom of your cookware, and place the chicken inside.  I have found that using something just big enough to fit how much chicken you make gives you the best results.  Once they are snuggly arranged inside, put a little extra apple butter and cheese on top of each piece.  Now comes the very exciting part! Not really, but when I made this up I sort of felt like a genius at this point. Lightly coat the top of the chicken with some olive oil, then sprinkle a little bit of bread crumbs, montreal chicken spice, and crushed almonds to complete the dish.  Here is a picture for those of you who are wondering what the big deal is.

Cover the chicken and cook at a temperature of 350 degrees, for 35-45 minutes, depending on the power of your oven.  The internal temperature of a properly cooked chicken is supposed to be 160 degrees, so you can use a meat thermometer to check on your dish or eyeball it, depending on your preference.  The key to good chicken is to not over-cook it!  While that is slowly baking you can make a very tasty side dish of sweet potato rice.  That sounds very intricate and enticing, but really it is just sweet potato mixed in with rice.  I always like to make a rice with this chicken, because it compliments the lightness of the meal, but since I was going to be famous I thought I should step it up a bit.  While trying to decide how to really wow all of you I found a half-used sweet potato in my refrigerator and I thought, why not?  I diced up that last half of a sweet potato and sauteed it in a little olive oil on low temperature-doesn’t this look great?!

As that was simmering I made some brown rice and added it to the sweet potato.
Some of you may be saying, “Wow, that is a lot of rice.” Well, you are right, it was.  The key to this side dish is S&P and butter-big surprise.  Add the S&P to taste, but I will tell you that I went outside of my salt comfort zone on this one, and I didn’t regret it.  Let the rice simmer with the sweet potato for another 5 – 7 minutes or so, adding a little water if you need to, until you feel that it is to your liking.  Once you are done, pile it on a plate (being careful to arrange it aesthetically, of course), and then place your chicken on top.

I always add a vegetable, but on this occasion we went with a light salad, and I didn’t feel it was worthy of a picture (there is a lot of pressure with this blog business). You now have a perfectly balanced meal, enjoy!! PS-remember to take out the toothpicks!

Egg Drop Soup

So I realized that my favorite weeknight meal is not included in my blog anywhere. It’s perfect, in my mind – basic, fast, simple, plain yet flavorful enough, and you probably have all the ingredients in your fridge at any given time. There are many versions of egg drop soup – and this is mine.
This recipe serves 1, because it is perfect for a night alone while you are watching Friends re-runs and your husband is in New York for work.
  • 1 1/4 cup Chicken Broth
  • 2 tablespoons Corn Starch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons+++ soy sauce (not optional)
  • Pepper
  • Any other add-ins: spinach, sliced mushroom, green onions
Bring the chicken broth to a low boil. Whisk the corn starch with 1/2 cup water, then slowly stir into the boiling chicken broth. Reduce the heat a bit and allow to thicken (this shouldn’t take long).  Pepper the egg whites, then mix them into the broth in a slow, steady stream – stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and allow the eggs to cook, adding in any vegetables if you so choose. Sprinkle with thyme and pepper. Mix in the soy sauce or drizzle on top of the soup (my preferred method, I like it concentrated). You can tone down the soy sauce, or use half the bottle like I do. It tastes delicious, and is worth the puffy face you will have in the morning (I hope I am not the only one that reacts to excessive amounts of sodium this way??). You should know I eat this soup at least twice a week, paired with a grilled peanut butter sandwich.
Sorry! I’ve been absent the last several days. This week was not a good example of work/life balance – there was very little life and really a lot of work. But, it’s Saturday now and I get to reflect back on the truly delicious dinner we had last Sunday. My husband claimed it was his favorite thing yet (and he ate the leftovers Mon-Wed) – so I’m going to claim victory on this one.


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets (or breasts pounded 1/4 in thick)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon S&P
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup italian style bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • 1 lb mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 package linguine
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • dash Worcestershire
  • Fresh chives (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350. Heat several tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Mix the flour and S&P in a bowl, the bread crumbs and parm in another bowl, and a beaten egg in another. Dredge the chicken in flour, then egg (letting the excess drip off), then the bread crumbs. Brown the chicken in the olive oil over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes each side. Place each chicken in a large baking dish, and surround with mushrooms (if using). Drizzle the mushrooms with olive oil. Bake for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the pasta and make the sauce.  Melt the butter over medium heat, then add the wine. Let simmer for several minutes. Add the chicken broth (or I used 1/4 tsp chicken base), dijon, and worcestershire. Let simmer for a few more minutes. Reduce the heat to low, then slowly whisk in the sour cream and heavy cream. Bring to a low simmer to allow it to thicken a bit (sauce will still remain relatively thin).

Divide the pasta into 4 bowls, top with chicken and mushrooms, then pour over the desired amount of sauce. Garnish with chives.

Since there is only two of us (and I typically cook for 4-6), we had leftovers all ready for Monday night!