Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chicken Parmigiana

These past couple of days I spent at home in San Antonio with my family celebrating Thanksgiving. Yesterday, after eating excellent food prepared by my mom for a couple of days, I decided to cook for her. She deserved a break in my humble opinion. Thanksgiving is a stressful holiday. Plus, I haven't cooked much this past month with the extensive traveling for residency interviews. So I was missing the kitchen a little in a sense. I picked out this recipe from the Pioneer Woman's website. I know this is the second recipe that I have made by her this month, but it was all I could think of to make at the last minute. Plus, I had ready access to the recipe on my iPhone at the grocery store.

  • 4 whole (up To 6) Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Trimmed And Pounded Flat
  • ½ cups All-purpose Flour
  • Salt And Pepper (to Taste)
  • ½ cups Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Chopped
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • ¾ cups Wine (white Or Red Is Fine)
  • 3 cans (14.5 Oz.) Crushed Tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • ¼ cubes Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • 1 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 pound Thin Linguine

1. Mix flour, salt, and pepper together on a large plate.
Dredge flattened chicken breasts in flour mixture. Set aside.

2. At this time, you can start a pot of water for your pasta. Cook linguine until al dente.

3. Heat olive oil and butter together in a large skillet over medium heat. When butter is melted and oil/butter mixture is hot, fry chicken breasts until nice and golden brown on each side, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Remove chicken breasts from the skillet and keep warm.

4. Without cleaning skillet, add onions and garlic and gently stir for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape the bottom of the pan, getting all the flavorful bits off the bottom. Allow wine to cook down until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.
Pour in crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Add sugar and more salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cook for 30 minutes. Toward the end of cooking time, add chopped parsley and give sauce a final stir.

5. Carefully lay chicken breasts on top of the sauce and completely cover them in grated Parmesan. Place lid on skillet and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer until cheese is melted and chicken is thoroughly heated. Add more cheese to taste.

6. Place cooked noodles on a plate and cover with sauce. Place chicken breast on top and sprinkle with more parsley. Serve immediately.


I served this dish with salad and bread. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. My problems with this recipe start with the fact that the directions indicate to start the pasta in the second step. If I were to do this recipe over again, I would start the chicken and sauce earlier and then start the pasta while the sauce is cooking. Second, the chicken was good, but I feel like I could do better. The chicken needs to be breaded differently somehow to give it a crisper crust. I love the wine in the red sauce. It gives the sauce a nice little zing. I used left over cab. sav. from thanksgiving. The only change to the sauce was that I added basil...I thought it needed it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls

I read the Pioneer Woman's cooking blog on occasion. She is a trip if you haven't read her blog. Ever since I began reading her blog, I have wanted to try my hand at some of her recipes. She just makes them sound so good. So for my b-day Brunch, I decided to make her Cinnamon Roll recipe. They sound amazing, so why not?

1 quart whole milk
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
9 cups all-purpose flour
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1 scant teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups melted butter, plus more as needed
1/4 cup ground cinnamon for sprinkling
2 cups sugar, plus more as needed
Maple Icing
2 pounds powdered sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, melted
1/4 cup strongly brewed coffee
Dash of salt
1 tablespoon maple flavoring or maple extract

1. For the dough, heat the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat; do not allow the mixture to boil. Set aside and cool to lukewarm.
2. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute.
3. Add 8 cups of flour. Stir until just combined, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour.
4. Remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining 1 cup flour. Stir thoroughly to combine. Use the dough right away or place in a mixing bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl.
5. To assemble the rolls, remove half the dough from the pan. On a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle.
6. To make the filling, pour 1 cup of the melted butter over the surface of the dough. Use your fingers to spread the butter evenly.
7. Generously sprinkle half the ground cinnamon and 1 cup of sugar over the butter. Don't be afraid to drizzle on more butter or more sugar!
8. No, beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly toward you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight.
9. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together.
10. Transfer to a cutting board and with a sharp knife, make 1 1/2 inch slices. One log will produce 20 to 25 rolls.
11. Pour a couple of tablespoons of melted butter into the desired pie pans or baking dishes and swirl to coat.
12. Place the sliced rolls in the pans, being careful not to overcrowd.
13. Repeat the rolling/sugar/butter process with the other half of the dough and more pans. Preheat the oven to 375F. Cover the pans with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise on the countertop for at least 20 minutes before baking. Remove the towel and bake for 13 to 17 minutes, until golden brown. Don't allow rolls to become overly brown.
14. In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, butter, coffee, and salt.
15. Splash in the maple flavoring.
16. Whisk until very smooth. Taste and add in more maple, sugar, butter, or other ingredients as needed until the icing reaches the desired consistency. The icing should be thick but still pourable.
17. While the rolls are still warm, generously drizzle icing over the top.
18. As they sit, the rolls will absorb some of the icing's moisture and flavor.

Making these cinnamon rolls became quite the adventure. Maybe not in a good way. I have been interviewing a lot this month and this past week I was in New Mexico. Before I left for New Mexico, I bought all of the ingredients, or so I thought, for this recipe. I got back from interviewing late Saturday night and the brunch was on the next morning. So I started to make the cinnamon rolls. When I opened up the flour for the dough portion of the recipe, I discovered my flour had those little pill bugs in it. Gross, right? So I threw out the flour and went to the HEB to buy more. I bought more flour...returned home....only to discover that I had no butter after I had rolled out the dough. I always have butter. Infuriated now, I returned to HEB for butter. Tonight, just wasn't my night. What can I say? I returned home to finish rolling out the cinnamon rolls near midnight. I discovered that the first batch I rolled that I did not roll tight enough. So if you make this recipe, do be scared to roll the dough tight! You live, you learn. Cutting the rolls was also a chore with them deciding to unroll themselves. Anyways, I stored the rolls in the refrigerator overnight to be made in the AM right before the brunch.

The next morning making the rolls went smoothly. No problems. Whew! I give these rolls 4 out of 5 stars. They were sinful and good! I was concerned for my arteries. Next time I make them, I will make sure I have all of the proper ingredients for one. Then I will also use floss to cut the rolls. I have heard that this is easier than using a knife. Lastly, I would use maybe a little less of the delish maple icing. The icing covered some of the taste of the cinnamon in the rolls. Overall though, the rolls were a success despite my lack of organization. Thanks Pioneer Woman!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Apple Crumb Pie

This past weekend we had a Halloween party at a friend's house. The plan was to bob for apples. This never happened. So I was sent home with a bag full of Granny Smith apples. I promised to bake something for the Coop with the apples. My mom bought me this new pie pan in September and I have been dying to use it. Apple + Pie Pan = Martha Stewart's Apple Crumb Pie. Life doesn't get much better than apple crumb pie too... let me tell you!

Apple Crumb Pie
(pg. 237 of Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)

Almond Crumb Crust (recipe follows)
3 1/2 pounds assorted apples (such as Macoun, Cortland, Jonagold, Empire or Rome), peeled, cored and cut into 1/4 inch-thick slices
~about 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1) Preheat the oven to 35oF. Evenly and firmly press a little more than half of the crumbs (about 2 1/2 cups) into the bottom, up the sides, and onto the rim of a 9-inch glass pie plate. Press firmly into the edges. Freeze pie shell until firm, about 15 minutes.
2) In a large bowl, toss together apples, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Pour mixture into the chilled pie shell, mounding apples slightly in the center. Dot with butter. Sprinkle the remaining crumbs in clumps over the apples to cover completely.
3) Bake, rotating halfway through, until the crust turns golden and the juices begin to bubble, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack completely. The pie can be kept at room temperature, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.

Almond Crumb Crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons blanched almonds, finely ground
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces

1) In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, almonds, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few larger clumps remaining. Using your fingers, squeeze the mixture together to create pea-size to 3/4-inch pieces. If not using right away, cover and chill until ready to proceed.

This pie was AWESOME. I give it 5 out of 5 stars. It was super easy to make. The crust did not require a wooden rolling pin. Instead, you could just press down the crust with your fingers. In turn, this saved a lot of time. The inside of the pie at first was a little watery, but this was because I was so excited to eat the pie that I did not let it cool. After letting the pie cool, the sugars coalesced and the pie's contents solidified. (No more water here!) The pie was super delish and you should make it too. If not for my seal of approval, but simply because it was the easiest apple pie ever and Martha does not mess around when it comes to baking.