Friday, October 8, 2010

Come On-A My House

I've always loved food. I've loved to cook for as long as I can remember. To this day, I remember the first meal I cooked all by myself. Swiss steak. I got the recipe out of a magazine at the hospital. I was nine and determined to take over the cooking duties when my grandmother came home from the hospital. She was 79 and had just had a heart attack. So, I learned by trial and error. That first meal, though I barely had a clue what I was doing, turned out pretty good and started a life-long love of good food and cooking that has evolved into a love of fresh, organic and locally-grown food. 

Perhaps because I am more aware of cooking healthfully and eating well, and therefore talking about it more, I've had a couple of friends ask me to give them some meal ideas. I also offered to post some recipes for some Twitter contacts as well, so here are some of my favorite recipes and quick meal ideas. Enjoy!

Cheesy Chicken Fingers

1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese crackers, crushed
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
dash paprika or cayenne pepper (optional)
1 egg
1 1/2 pounds chicken tenderloins
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
2. Place crackers in zip-top bag and crush. Add breadcrumbs, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, cheese and shake to mix.
3. In large bowl,  beat egg. Add chicken and toss to coat.
4. Remove chicken from egg, allowing excess egg to drip off. Place chicken in bag with cracker and spice mixture; seal tightly and knead to coat.
5. Arrange chicken in single layer on baking sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown and crispy.

So, that's one that's popular with my boys, although, I have to admit my husband is not a huge fan. I like it a lot for a quick, easy dinner that the kids will eat without complaint or pressure from their parents. I usually serve it with steamed broccoli or carrots, and whole grain rotini (or curly noodles as my sons call them) with butter.

Another favorite is this lemon chicken recipe. It takes an hour to cook, but it's the kind of thing, you put together in about 10 min, then pop in the oven and let cook while you mop the floor, or run the kids to soccer or dare we dream, read a book:

Lemon Pepper Chicken with Lemon Noodles

1 Whole Chicken (3 to 4 lbs)
2 Lemons
5 cloves garlic (more if you really love garlic)
1 stem fresh rosemary
1 stem fresh thyme
3 Tablespoons olive oil
Kosher or sea salt (to taste, but be careful as you'll be adding salt to the herbs, salting the cavity, and salting the skin)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 425ยบ F.

Wash and prep chicken.
Remove the leaves of the rosemary and thyme and gently chop them. Mince 4 of the garlic cloves. Zest one lemon. Blend the garlic, lemon zest, and herbs together. Add 1 T spoon of oil, salt, and pepper to herbs and garlic.

Gently loosen skin on chicken with your fingers so that you can apply your herb mixture to the meat of the chicken. Next, cut lemons in half and squeeze juice of both lemons over the entire chicken. Place half a lemon in the cavity along with the remaining garlic clove, then add salt and pepper to cavity as well. If you have extra rosemary and thyme and want to stick a stalk of each in the cavity, go for it.

Next, use your fingers to smear the herb mixture all over the chicken underneath the skin. Be gentle, but make sure you get the rub all over for consistent flavor.

Bustle up your legs and wings and tie them with kitchen twine. (If you omit this step, it's not a big deal, but tying the legs and wings presses them up against the breast of the chicken which helps it retain more moisture. I often leave this step out, but can tell a difference in the juiciness of the bird.)

If the skin is bunched, spread it out as best you can, then drizzle remaining olive oil over the entire chicken.

Pour 1/4 cup water in roasting pan and place chicken in pan. Cover with lid and roast for 45 minutes. Remove cover and cook an additional 15 min. to allow skin to brown and chicken to finish cooking.

When chicken is done, remove and let stand 5 to 10 min. If you like you can add a little more water to the pan drippings and cook as a sort of gravy.

Lemon Noodles:

  • 1 lb.of your favorite noodles (rotini are popular here)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lemon, zested, and juiced, plus more juice if desired
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 stick salted butter, softened
Cook noodles to package directions. While pasta is cooking, mix all other ingredients except butter.  (Egg yolks should be beaten gently, but should not be frothy.) 

When pasta is done, add butter and gently toss to melt butter. (Stirring will make your pasta too chewy.) Take off heat, but while still hot, add the egg/lemon juice/cheese mixture and toss to coat pasta. 

Serve with lemon chicken.

This collard greens recipe would make a nice accompaniment. Only throw in a few shakes of crushed red pepper to really make it sing. 


I'll try to post more recipes as time allows.

Happy Eating!