September 2013

Stuffed Chicken

I think my husband is trying to take over my blog. Really, I
do. The problem is that he comes up with these great cooking ideas and approaches them
with such enthusiasm, that I have to comply.  Plus, I’ve been an uncreative blogger
lately and if it were up to me I would make  things like this every night for dinner.
Technically, I suggested we make stuffed chicken last
weekend for dinner. But then John trumped me by coming up with 8 different ways
to stuff them.  I cut it down to three,
for feasibility and general practicality purposes. We don’t have kids yet, but
I can already tell which parent I am going to be.
We stuffed the chicken three ways. It was so easy and
actually healthy enough we could eat the leftovers during the week.  Start by preparing each boneless skinless chicken breast
by either pounding them to ~1/2 inch thin or cutting in half crosswise (our Central Market has
enormous chickens so we halved ours).
Then we pounded them a little thinner, topped them with each of the
three stuffing variations (a few spoonfuls), secured with two toothpicks, brushed with olive oil and
S&P, then baked at 350 for about 20-25 minutes.  The opportunities are endless, but this is what we tried:
Broccoli & Cheese
Broccoli, cooked
Sharp Cheddar, cubed
Mushroom and Wine
Melt one tablespoon of butter in a large skillet. Add 1 package of sliced mushrooms and plenty of salt. Add 1 cup of good red wine, then bring to a low
simmer and reduce until just the mushrooms and a touch of wine is left.
Apple & Onion
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil, then add in a ¾ cup finely
diced onion. Cook for several minutes, then add in your favorite apples, chopped into small pieces.  Cube a slice of bread (we actually used an english muffin) and stir into the mixture. Pour in ½ cup apple juice and cook until reduced.
My fave was the broccoli and cheese, John’s was the apple and onion. They were all good though, and really quite cute.

Grilled Potato Skins

When I think of potato skins, I think of eating them for the first time at Hard Rock Cafe in Orlando while on vacation with my family. It was a magical time, really. First trip to Florida, first trip to Disney World, first time on a plane, first time at a chain restaurant (true story. I’m from a small town), first time seeing small lizards in a natural environment, and first time eating potato skins. The memory is so vivid in my mind and it was such an exciting time for my family, that I think I’ll love potato skins forever.
I might also love potato skins because they involve potatoes, cheese, bacon, and sour cream. But it’s hard to tell.
Anyway, we made grilled potato skins last weekend to go with our hot beef sandwiches (I served watermelon too).  And woah! Grilling adds such a flavorful and crispy element I can’t imagine making them any other way.
  • 3-4 baking potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Bacon, cooked
  • Chives
  • Sour cream
The key to good grilled potatoes is microwaving them for a few minutes first, to make sure the insides get done.  Preheat the grill to medium-high (or low if you live in Texas and it’s impossible to keep your grill below 450).  Pierce the potatoes with a knife, brush with olive oil and salt, then microwave for a few minutes (I had three large potatoes, and microwaved for 4 minutes).
Then, place them on the grill until cooked through – about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the potato.  Flip halfway through. When they’re done, cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Let them cool, then scoop out the insides (leaving about 1/4 inch potato).
Turn on the broiler. Brush both sides of the potato with canola oil (this will make it crispier than olive oil).  Sprinkle with S&P.  Broil the skins until crispy, a couple of minutes on each side.   Top with cheese and bacon, then broil a couple minutes more.  Sprinkle with chives and serve with sour cream. I promise these will make you happy. Disney World happy.

Hot Beef Sandwiches

What is there not to love about hot beef? Nothing. Nothing, I tell you. And now that football season is upon us, recipes like this one will carry you through.  I actually don’t feel very strongly about football, but I do about the food that is associated with it. So, for the first Bears game this past weekend (my husband is the biggest fan out there), I made my mom’s hot beef recipe. She’s been making it for years and it is always a crowd favorite.  IT IS SO GOOD. Mom, you’re a hot beef genius.
Also, we like to cook for 75 on the weekends and this does the trick. We did have two guests though, so each person could eat 1.25 lbs of hot beef.
My husband wanted to get involved in the process, and he felt the buns for the sandwiches were a critical piece.  He went to the store, and this is what he came up with:
Nice job.  He claimed for blogging purposes we needed to try everything out there.  To me it looked more like we might need second jobs to support his bun habits. But, it turns out, not all buns are created equal in the hot beef world. You need something firm on the outside yet soft on the inside, like a hoagie or Italian roll.  I did like where he was going with the pretzel roll, but we decided this was not the appropriate avenue. I see a hot ham melt in our future.
Recipe (serves A LOT)
  • 4-5 lb sirloin tip roast
  • 3 cans beef consomme
  • 1 package Italian dressing seasoning mix (Good Season or Hidden Valley are good)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • Olive oil/butter
  • Italian or Hoagie rolls
  • Provolone (optional)
Over high heat, melt 2 tablespoons each of olive oil and butter in a large dutch oven. Pat the roast dry, then season with S&P.  Brown the meat on all sides, then reduce the heat to medium-low.  Pour in the beef consomme, Worcestershire, and Italian seasoning (half in the broth and half over the meat).  Spoon some of the broth over the meat. Cover, and cook for 3.5 to 4 hours over medium-low (should be a very low simmer).  When the meat is fork-tender, shred with a fork and stir around with the sauce (add a cup of water if you need more liquid – you shouldn’t though).  Lightly butter the buns and place them under the broiler for a few minutes.  Make the sandwiches with plenty of meat and sauce, and a slice of provolone.  Eat it like you mean it.

We’re broccoli people. Frozen, fresh, steamed, sauteed, in a salad – we love it. I happen to love broccoli casseroles, but wanted to try to make a healthier version to enjoy with our healthy orange balsamic salmon.  Turns out, you don’t need all the excess fat and cheese found in most broccoli casseroles – this was perfectly delicious and relatively low in calories, I think.


  • 5-6 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 1/2 cup fat free milk
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • Shredded parmesan
  • 1 cup bread crumbs plus 1 tablespoon light butter (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400.  Steam the broccoli and cauliflower until almost done but still a bit crisp. Drain.  Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray. Add the broccoli and cauliflower, and season with plenty of S&P.  In a saucepan, whisk together the milk and corn starch.  Heat it over medium heat until thickened, then stir in the cheddar cheese. Pour over the broccoli/cauliflower and mix.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup or so).  Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt the butter and mix with the bread crumbs.  Remove the foil from the casserole, add the bread crumbs, then broil for a couple of minutes to brown the topping.