Friday, July 29, 2011

Chicken Piccata

Oh, Chicken Piccata, I have feared you & your intimidating process for years.  My thoughts were that you had too many ingredients, which means a fairly pricey dish & I lacked the skills of a trained chef to be able to pull you off.  Haha, I can laugh at those thoughts now because I defunct-ed all of them after finally attempting to make you.  I omitted (mushrooms & artichoke bottoms) a few of the ingredients to make it a more reasonably priced dish, which also simplified the process into a skillet meal, so that you too can enjoy making this amazing dish for your family tonight.  My hubby has been nagging...yes, men nag too ;) to make this for years so you can imagine the look on his face when he walked through the door, after a long day a work to find this dish waiting for him to devour.  The sauce is what makes this dish what it is, a creamy, lemon-y, garlic explosion of flavor that leaves you licking your plate for every last drop.  You have to make this for your family & come back & share with me your experience watching them devour it.  Also, this makes a great dish for your next dinner party, so easy & will leave them thinking you slaved for hours ;) 

1/3 cup flour
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
salt, pepper & garlic powder to taste
2 chicken breasts, butterflied
2 tablespoon butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, grated (about 3/4 tsp)
1 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

In a shallow dish, combine flour, cheese, salt, pepper & garlic powder.  Pat dry your chicken with a paper towel, so the coating with adhere.  Coat each piece entirely in flour mixture.  In cask iron skillet, over medium high heat, melt together 1 tablespoon of butter & 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add chicken and cook on each side for 3-5 minutes until they begin to brown.  Remove them & place on a plate, cover with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, in very hot water clean your cast iron skillet to remove any charred bits and return to stove (optional).  I rinsed mine only because some bits of parmesan had charred slightly, in the bottom & I wanted to avoid transferring that charred flavor into the sauce.    
In a cast iron skillet, melt remaining tablespoon butter, over medium heat.  Add garlic & cook for about 1 minute.  Add stock, lemon juice and cream, simmer to reduce til it's about half as much liquid.  Add capers & then chicken back to the skillet. Place in preheated oven at 250F (yes, you read that right) uncovered for about 25-30 minutes.  Garnish with fresh parsley. 

Makes 4 servings

Big southern hugs, 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream with Salted Caramel Sauce

Good Morning, ya'll!  Being without a keyboard for 10 days has taught me a little more about patience ;) but I was sure happy to see my hubby walk through the door last night with a new one!!   We have prepared tons of great food that I can't wait to share with you, so we have lots of catching up to do.  Let's start off with our Christmas in July Potluck this past weekend.  It brought together our amazing friends & family alike to share a delicious meal of all things Christmas related.  The house was decorated up, stockings hung by the chimney & everything.  Our menu consisted of baked ham with cinnamon honey glaze, Maria's dressing, Heather's sweet potato casserole with a pecan topping, Teresa's coconut ambrosia salad, my grandmother's garlic cheese grits & for dessert pumpkin pie ice cream with salted caramel sauce served on meringue shells.  All the food was fantastic!!!  

I wanted to take the traditional pumpkin pie & make it into something that could be served in the summertime.  All the ingredients for this are available year round, with the exception of the pumpkin, which was leftover from fall, canned of course. But you could even use sweet potatoes, as an alternative.  Needless to say, we feel in love with this ice cream.  I made it several days before the party & had such a hard time not taking the quart & sitting it in my lap & eating all of it, while watching a movie.  Somehow I was able to restrain myself, I didn't know I had it in me.      

2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups half & half
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup pumpkin puree (sweet potatoes)
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine cream, half and half, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice & salt. Stir occasionally, until sugar is dissolved & mixture is almost boiling.  Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree and egg yolks. Once cream is hot, slowly ladle it into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to temper the eggs. Once the hot cream is completely incorporated, transfer mixture back to the saucepan. Continue to cook over medium heat, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Finally, stir in vanilla and remove from heat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
Pour refrigerated mixture into your ice cream maker and prepare according to ice cream maker directions.  Mine only took about 20-30 mins & then I placed it back in the freezer to firm up for several hours before serving.  *See how to make caramel sauce below*

Makes 1 1/2 quarts.

Salted Almond Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter
1 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp salt

In a mediuim sauce pan, over medium heat, add sugar & stir constantly still it reaches a caramel color (about 7-10 mins).  Careful not to splatter any of it on you, it get super hot.  Add cream slowly, it bubbles up when it hits the hot sugar but it's fun to watch.  Let it settle down then add more, until it's all incorporated.  Add butter & continue whisking til melted.  Add extract & salt.  Serve over ice cream.  

Big southern hugs, 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lunch with Whitney Miller Masterchef

The Booksellers of LaurelwoodL'Ecole Culinaire of Memphis, co-hosted this spectacular event & the very talented culinary students prepared all the fantastic food.  Special thanks, to Cassie (hope I spelled your name right, if not please forgive me) who took fantastic care of us.  Please let us know where you end up ex-terning & we would love to come visit you!!  

What an amazing opportunity to taste some of the down home southern cuisine, by Whitney Miller, American's 1st MasterChef.  Whitney got the chance to travel to Los Angelos, CA where she competed in a month long culinary challenge, serving food to several famous judges, like Gordan Ramsey.  And not only did she survive that experience, she has gone on to write a cookbook, Modern Hospitality: Simple Recipes with Southern Charm.  It's essentially, classic southern dishes with a modern flair.  

As we sat down to await our lunch, Whitney walked around the room greeting folks, like any sweet southern host would do.  She is what us southerns would call, just a sweet as pie.  She chatted with everyone, signed cookbooks & just made everyone feel right home.  She walked up to our table & stuck out her hand but it just seemed like she was too precious not to give that BIG southern hug to.  So, it's official, she's been BIG southern hugged!!!  The room was buzzing while everyone awaited the debut of Whitney's glorious menu, which consisted of:

White Pizza with Fried Sage
One bite of this & our entire table was flagging the wait staff for more & we got them to serve us 3 plates of this, lol ;) 

 Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Brussels Sprouts
This recipe will make you LOVE them, try it & tell me I am wrong...officially hooked!!!

Rosemary Foccacia Bread 
with L'Ecole's Kalamata Olive Butter
This spongy Foccacia, will have you searching no more for the PERFECT bread to serve to your family tonight!!!

Inside-Out Chicken Pot Pie
It may not be Fall yet, but this pot pie will have you thinking it is, no matter what time of year you serve it.

Not Your Grandma's Lemon Meringue Pie
My fork, gently sunk into the Panna Cotta (fancy for Italian Custard), then into the crunchy meringue shell, a simple southern summer treat.  

Everyone & everything was spectacular!!!  And there isn't a single dish that Whitney shared with us that I would think twice about anyone being able to re-create in their own home.  Her dishes are full of flavor & just modern enough to still make you think about your grandmother & how she would be proud to consider all these recipes as classic southern cuisine.  

And southern gal would be complete without her family & her faith.  I really enjoyed meeting Whitney's parents, it was easy to see where Whitney gets her sweet southern charm & adorable smile, let me introduce to you...John & Mary Miller.  Whitney & I both share a love for our Lord & Savior.  And just below her signature she left me a very special gift that I want to pass onto you, it's 1 Timothy 4:12.     
Thank you, Whitney for sharing your gift from God with us.

Big southern hugs,

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Blintz Brownies & Blue Ribbon WINNER

*****WINNER***** Blue Ribbon Recipe!
Hi Angie, We wanted to drop you a line to let you know that your Blintz Brownie Bites were a huge hit in the Just A Pinch Kitchen! The Crew has happily pinned a big Blue Ribbon on your recipe. We look forward to trying more of your dishes.
-Just A Pinch Kitchen Crew


Good Morning, ya'll & welcome to the PARTY!!!  
Ever wondered what the filling of a cheese blintz would taste like with a chewy chocolate-y brownie?  Well here ya go!!  Recently, while dining at my grandparents retirement home, we were served the BEST cheese blintzes we have ever put in our mouth, so I headed into the kitchen to try to recreate them.  I admit, I did not nail it on my first try, so I went for it again & this time, it was perfect.  And so I thought, what 2 flavor combos have I been trying to put together for years?  Well, cheese & chocolate of course!!!  So this dish was born.

1 box brownie mix, prepared according to package directions
1/2 cup cottage cheese (small curd), room temperature & strained
1/2 cup (4oz) cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

In a small bowl, mix together the cottage cheese, cream cheese, honey, lemon zest, vanilla extract & season with salt.  Set aside.  Meanwhile, prepare your brownies according to the package directions.  Spray an 8x8 baking dish & preheat oven , according to what your brownies mix calls for.  Pour brownie batter into baking dish, then top with blintz mixture.  Take a spatula and gently swirl in the blintz mixture into the brownie mix.  Place in oven and bake according to box directions, however I had to add an addition 10 mins of cooking time to mine.  (instead of 45 mins, mine baked for 55 mins).  So, you may need to increase your baking time, as well.

Makes about 12 small brownies

Monday, July 11, 2011

Baked Ziti with Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo

Morning, ya'll & Happy Monday!!  A comforting, cheesy pasta dish, always gets our week started off right & I am sure it does the same for you.  So, I am bringing you this creamy deliciousness with tons of bubbly cheese.  We loved this dish!!  And with a mouth full of pasta, after only 1 bite, my hubby proclaimed, "this is a really great, I mean REALLY great!!"  And this puts a nice twist, on the regular tomato sauce that usually goes in a dish like this.  Not to mention, how easy it is to whip up, so it's perfect for a quick weeknight meal.  

1 (7oz) jar Roasted Red Peppers
                                                               1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T olive oil
1 (10z) tub Alfredo sauce
8 oz Penne pasta
1/2 cup Cottage Cheese, small curd (4% milkfat)
1/2lb sausage (optional)
1/2 cup Italian cheese blend
1/2 cup parmesan 

Preheat oven to 400F.  Prepare your roasted red pepper sauce by adding peppers, Worcestershire & olive oil in a small blender/processor & pulse til it comes together.  It should still be slightly chunky; set aside. Meanwhile, boil your noodles, according to package directions.  Be sure & salt your water.  I usually do, 2 tsp per 2 1/2 qt of water.  Drain & return to pot.  Stir in cottage cheese, 1/4 cup roasted pepper sauce & Alfredo.  Optional: add in your meat.  Place pasta mixture into an 8x8 baking dish.  Top with both cheeses & place in oven for 20 mins or until cheese is melted & bubbly.  

Makes about 4 (1/2 cup) servings

Big southern hugs, 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Mom's Baked Beans

Hi ya'll, today I am bringing you my mom's famous baked beans.  She has been making these for as long as I can remember.  And they are the ONLY baked beans I will eat.  They have a sweet smokey flavor, that fantastic creamy consistency & just a hint of onion in the background.  And that beautiful color says, I am filled with ketchup & brown sugar...YUM!!  These are by far, the best beans you will EVER put in your mouth, not to mention they are sooo easy to make.  Living in the south, we are surrounded by bbq joints.  And everyone seems to have their own take on this classic side dish, however, our family has yet to find anyone who even comes close to making them the way my mom does.  So I am thrilled to have finally talked her into pulling these out of the vault, so I could share them with you!!!    

1 (15 oz) can pork & beans
1 small onion, diced
3 strips of bacon, sliced
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar

In a skillet, over med high heat, add onion & bacon.  Cook til onions are soft & translucent.  Add can of beans, ketchup & brown sugar.  Simmer for about 15 mins.  Serve & enjoy!! 

Big southern hugs, 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Picnic & Finger Foods Party

Welcome to our Picnic & Finger Foods Party!!!
Today we are featuring all of your amazing picnic & finger foods dishes.  
These are just some of the classic southern comfort foods 
that we all go to, whenever needed.  

Ham & Swiss Poppy Seed Sandwiches

Hi ya'll!!  My Aunt Nancy has been making this recipe, since I was a little girl and it's one of the classics that dates back to the 1960's.  It's simple, delicious & can be whipped up for a crowd in no time.  We love it!!  I often make up the entire batch & we eat on it all week long.  Best served along side your favorite jam.    

1 pkg small (18 to 24) Parker House rolls 
6 T salted butter
1 tsp onion powder
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 T poppy seeds
1 tsp dry ground mustard
3/4 lb ham (used Boarshead low sodium)
1/3 lb Baby Swiss
1/3 Cup of your favorite jam
1 T hot water

Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter in microwave safe dish & add Worcestershire sauce, onion powder & poppy seeds. Cut rolls in half & set aside. Pour half butter mixture in the bottom of a large pan. Place bottom layer of roll in pan. Layer with Ham, then the cheese & then add the tops & brush the tops with the remaining butter mixture. Bake for 20 mins. Mix your favorite jam with water to thin out. Serve & ENJOY!!!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Super Simple Cheese Danish

Happy 4th of July, everyone!!!  I realize this recipe is not red, white or blue but it's out of this world delicious, so I wanted to share it with you on this very special day.  This recipe was inspired by Brandie, over at the The Country Cook.  Ya'll have to go check her out, she is AMAZING!!!  When I told Burk (my hubby) that I was making these, he looked at me like a little kid & got big grin on his face, so the deal was sealed.  Also, we are still celebrating his birthday, from over the weekend, so I thought this would be something really comforting & sweet for both of us to enjoy munching on.   They have that perfect buttery crust & cream cheese lemon-y center..YUM!!  And just a touch of almond flavoring for the glaze, that brings it all together & finishes them off.  These are perfect for a brunch, a quick grab & go breakfast, or even as a mid afternoon snack.     

Cream Cheese Filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 T Agave syrup (3 T sugar)
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon almond extract 
a pinch of salt

Sweet Almond Glaze: (please feel free to double this, if you prefer more)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 tsp half & half (or milk)

Preheat & bake according to package directions, 
(I had to alter what the package said & I did 350 for about 20 mins)
Cream together, cream cheese, agave syrup (sugar), yolk, lemon, extract and salt. Place your crescents on a cookie sheet.  Then make an indentation in the center (I used my thumb).  Add about 1 T of the cream cheese filling.  Place in the preheated over & bake according to package directions but be prepared to monitor them, in case cooking times need to be altered, like I had to do.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the ingredients for your glaze.  Remove from oven, drizzle on glaze while still warm.  

Big southern hugs, 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Homemade Chicken Tenders

Hi ya'll!!  Today, is my hubby's birthday, Happy Birthday, Burk, I love you more everyday!!!  And as a special treat I wanted to make him something that we haven't had in years because we gave up eating fried foods.  So, I came up with this fantastic recipe that won't leave you feeling that giving up fried stuff means you can't enjoy things like chicken tenders, anymore.  What's really great about this dish is it only took me about 1 hr & 30 mins, from prep to plate (that includes cooking time).  What more can you ask for?  It's kid & hubby friendly, it's easy & it's sooo much better for you than those deep fried versions.  And on Tues, here in Memphis our local market carries, Chicken Breast for 2.99 a lb, jackpot!!!      

1 lb chicken breast, cut into strips (or just use pre cut tenders)
1/2 cup AP flour
1 1/2 cup panko (Kikkoman in a box)
2 T dried parsley
2 eggs, whisked
1 T half & half (or milk)
1 tsp salt (could have use more)
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tsp garlic powder 
1/2 tsp paprika

Place breasts in a bag & pound out with a rolling pin (or mallet), until they are about 1/2 in thick.  Cut them into about 5 or 6 even strips per breast, then you can cut any that are too long in half.  In a small bowl or pie pan, add flour.  In a 2nd pan whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper, garlic powder & paprika.  In the 3rd pan, combine panko & parsley. 

   Step 1 - dredge in flour & shake off excess
Step 2 - coat in egg mixture
Step 3 - coat in panko mixture
Place on a cookie sheet & repeat with remaining strips

Once they are all arranged & ready to be baked, spray with cooking spray (this helps with browning).  Place in a preheated oven, 350F for about 30 mins  (flip then halfway thru).  
Broil on HI for 1 min, (if needed) to brown.  Once you bring them out of the oven, we agreed that it needed a touch more salt & pepper. 

Makes about 16 tenders

Big southern hugs, 
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