Oven-Fried Chicken

Who doesn’t love the homey goodness of crispy fried chicken??  Besides the grease and mess, it’s healthier to try my oven-fried version as you look to add recipes to your winter lineup.  The combination of herbs and spices along with a little parmesan cheese give this recipe great flavor and texture while cutting down on the oil from a traditional fried chicken recipe.  Give this a try on your next chicken night and you’ll be fixing this family favorite regularly.

IMG_1539

OVEN-FRIED CHICKEN

Ingredients

  • 4 Lbs. Chicken Pieces or Boneless, Skinless Breasts
  • 1/2 Cup Milk (skim, 2% or buttermilk)
  • 1/2 Cup Plain Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 Cup Self-Rising Cornmeal
  • 1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Tsp. Dried Parsley
  • 1/2 Tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/4 Tsp. Ground Thyme
  • 1/4 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. Butter, Melted

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, cornmeal, parmesan and spices.  Mix with a fork to distribute evenly.
  • Pour milk into another shallow dish.
  • Dip chicken pieces into milk and then dredge in coating mixture.  Press gently to coat each chicken piece well.
  • Place chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet with enough space so pieces are not touching.
  • Continue process until all chicken is dipped and coated.
  • Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  • Remove baking sheet and drizzle chicken with melted butter.  Return to oven and bake for 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear.
  • Serve immediately.

You may need to adjust cooking time depending on the size of your chicken pieces and whether they’re boneless or not.  You may want to adjust the seasoning depending on how spicy you want it – a little more black pepper and two teaspoons of paprika would go a long way!  Have some holiday parties coming up?  Try making this recipe with wings or chicken legs for a great finger food.  Let me know what variations you come up with – I’m sure they’ll be great.  Dig in!

Advertisements

Sweet & Savory Party Nuts

The holiday season is fast approaching and that means plenty of entertaining.  It’s always good to keep some homemade snacks on hand for company or to take along as a hostess gift when visiting family and friends.  This recipe is a simple way to dress up mixed nuts for a salty, sweet and savory snack you can make over and over again.  A surprising hint of rosemary provides a contrasting flavor and slightly piney aroma that’s reminiscent of the holidays.

IMG_1480

SWEET & SAVORY PARTY NUTS

Ingredients

  • 4 Cups Salted Mixed Nuts
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 3 Tbs. Packed Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tsp. Fresh Rosemary, Finely Chopped
  • 1 Tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 Tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 Tsp. Fresh Grated Nutmeg
  • 1/4 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Egg White
  • 2 Tsp. Water

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
  • In a medium bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar, rosemary, onion powder, salt, ginger, nutmeg and pepper.  Mix well with a spoon.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together egg white and water until frothy.
  • Add nuts to the egg white mixture and toss well to evenly coat.
  • Pour nuts into spice mixture and mix well to evenly coat nuts with sugar and spices.
  • Spray a 12-inch cast iron pan with cooking spray and pour nut mixture into it.
  • Bake at 275 for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
  • Remove nuts from oven and pour out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Allow to cool fully.
  • Break up nuts and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

IMG_1482

These nuts were a huge hit at trivia night recently.  I know we’ll make them often over the next few months with all we have going on.  Don’t have a cast iron pan?  Shame on you!  But you can definitely make these on a heavy non-stick baking sheet.  Also think about varying the herbs and/or nuts to your liking.  I’ve seen similar receipts with just pecans or cashews.  The addition of a little citrus zest would also bring another great flavor element.  Give them a try and tell me what you think.  Dig in!

Wine Down – Fort Wayne, IN

On a recent business trip I found myself in America’s heartland of manufacturing, Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Of course I did some pre-trip research and found some great reviews for a upscale tapas bar in downtown near the convention center.  I was surprised and delighted to find Wine Down just a short walk from my hotel.  A wonderful selection of wine, craft cocktails and fine food were just ahead on a rainy evening.

Located next to the minor league baseball stadium, you’ll find this cozy dark spot with a wine cellar feel.  The surroundings are upscale, but not stuffy and provide a great atmosphere for a glass of wine and a small plate or a full dining experience.  We settled into a tall table in the bar area and were greeted by a friendly server.  She explained the vast array of wines and showed us the beautifully created cocktail menu.  From classics to inventive drinks made with liqueurs and aromatics, you can hardly pull yourself away without trying something.  The old fashioned served in a smoked glass was excellent!

Looking at the menu, it’s hard for me to pass up a great charcuterie plate.  Wine Down’s was a well-curated mix of salty meats, full-flavor cheeses, quince paste and the like.  This was a hearty plate, but a little variety with a blue cheese and/or pate would make it perfect.  We also sampled the three-cheese arancini, which were rich, gooey and perfect offset by the slightly spicy marinara.  The sautéed Brussels sprouts with apple, bacon and blue cheese were excellent, even if the sprouts got a little lost in the other ingredients.  Finally, we split a filet burger and papas fritas.  Cooked to perfection, it was juicy, decadent and the perfect bun-to-meat ratio – bravo!

Honestly, there wasn’t enough time to taste and imbibe in all that I wanted to.  It’s a beautiful place with a surprising and fresh mix of fine food and drinks for a business dinner, cocktail night or a special occasion.  I honestly look forward to coming back soon.  Check out the menu and read about the owners, The Skeels, at winedownfw.com.  Dig in!

Dilled Potato & Zucchini Cakes

Going to one of our local deli’s or to any of our abundance of festivals in Cincinnati, you come to expect a good potato cake.  The love child of hash browns and a pancake, it makes a great savory side dish that’s a little different.  We were blackening some halibut tonight and I wanted to try a rift on the traditional potato pancake with the addition of zucchini as well.  A little dill makes them even better.

IMG_1447

DILLED POTATO & ZUCCHINI CAKES

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Shredded Zucchini
  • 2 Medium Potatoes, Peeled & Shredded
  • 1/2 Cup Finely Diced Onion
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 1 Tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 Tsp. Garlic Salt
  • 2 Tsp. Parsley
  • 1 Tsp. Dill
  • 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper

Instructions

  • Place zucchini and potato in a strainer and squeeze out as much excess moisture as possible.  Place in a medium bowl.
  • Add diced onion, eggs and garlic salt, dill, parsley & black pepper.  Stir until evenly combined.
  • Sprinkle mixture with baking soda and flour.  Stir until just combined.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add two tablespoons vegetable oil.
  • Drop mixture into hot skillet by the spoonful.  Be sure to spread them out enough to make them as thin as possible.  Fry 2-3 minutes until golden brown, flipping once.
  • Continue frying cakes until you’ve used all of the mixture.
  • Serve immediately with sour cream to lightly top.

Crispy edges, savory flavor and a touch of cold sour cream will have your family asking you to make these often.  It’s not difficult to adjust the recipe with other ingredients if you want to change the flavors.  Try substituting shredded apple for the zucchini for a sweet touch – perfect to serve with breaded pork or smoked sausage.  Try some other combos and let me know what you come up with.  Dig in!

Turkey & Stuffing Roll-Ups

I remember years ago when my wife and I were dating, we were stuck at my apartment during a snowstorm.  With not a lot in the house to eat and only a convenience store across the street I improvised to make her turkey roll-ups for dinner.  Here we are today and it’s one of our favorite cool-weather meals to make.  Using some store-bought ingredients combined with homemade stuffing, these Thanksgiving bites feel like you’ve done your due diligence in actually cooking something!

IMG_1438.jpg

TURKEY & STUFFING ROLL-UPS

Ingredients

  • 1 Lbs. Thick-Cut Turkey Breast Lunchmeat
  • 10 Slices White Texas Toast
  • 2 Small Shallots, Diced
  • 2 Stalks Celery, Diced
  • 1/2 Stick Butter
  • 2 Eggs, Beaten
  • 1-2 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 Tbs. Parsley
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Poultry Seasoning
  • 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp. Pepper
  • 1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 1/2 Cup Milk

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a small saucepan, melt butter and add shallots and celery.  Cook 5-7 minutes until translucent and soft.  Remove from heat.
  • In a large bowl, tear bread into 1-inch cubes.  If you don’t have Texas toast, 15 slices of regular white bread will do.
  • Pour 1 cup of chicken stock over bread to moisten.
  • Add shallot & celery mixture and all the melted butter that’s in the pan as well.
  • Add eggs, parsley, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.  Combine with your hands to fully incorporate ingredients.  Do not over-mix to crush bread.
  • Stuffing mixture should be moist all the way through, but not mushy.  Add as much additional chicken stock as needed to reach desired consistency.
  • Place two slices of turkey breast on top of each other.  Add a half cup of stuffing to one end and then roll up the slice.  Place in a 9×9 baking dish lined with cooking spray.  Repeat this process until you have filled the pan with rolls and used all of the stuffing.  Depending on the size of your turkey slices, you may need a larger pan or to roll the last one lengthwise to fit properly.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together cream of chicken soup and milk until smooth.  Spread evenly over turkey rolls.
  • Cover baking dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Serve immediately.

Who doesn’t love a little taste of Thanksgiving now and then?  With less than 30 minutes prep time, this is an easy dish that tastes like you spent hours making it.  It’s easy to adjust the recipe to your time and skill level too!  Use a prepared stuffing mix if you prefer and want to save time.  Do you make killer gravy?  Make your own instead of the chicken soup for another dash of homemade flare.  Making a larger portion?  Double the pan size, but make half the rolls with stuffing and half with mashed potatoes.  Dig in!

Creamed Chipped Beef

Fall is definitely here today and few things feel more like fall than comfort food and breakfast for dinner.  As a kid, I couldn’t get on board with the fresh-from-the-freezer version of chipped beef my mom used to microwave.  Sorry mom!  Once I married into a country-cooking family and continued to hone my skills, I learned how to make the real version!  When you see how easy this is, you’ll wonder why you ever had anything other than homemade.

IMG_1434.jpg

CREAMED CHIPPED BEEF

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbs. Butter
  • 4 Tbs. Flour
  • 2 Cups Whole Milk (Skim will work, but why not??)
  • 4.5 Ounce Jar Dried Beef
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cut dried beef into 1/2-inch squares and set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
  • Add flour and stir until a smooth paste.  Continue to cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
  • Removed from heat and slowly whisk in milk.
  • Return to low heat and stir constantly until desired thickness, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in dried beef.  Add black pepper to taste.
  • Serve immediately over well-buttered white toast.

Whether this reminds you of grandma’s cooking or your time in the service, I hope you love making and eating it!  Schools of thought on the toast:  definitely white, regular is good, but Texas toast is even better, don’t forget the butter.  And this is also a great to serve on a buffet or for a brunch.  Elevate it with the addition of crustless toast points and/or a sprinkle of fresh parsley and chives.  Dig in!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Football season is in full swing and we’re constantly making snacks for a Saturday or Sunday game while we cheer on our favorite teams.  And while I love trying new things, it’s sometimes the old standby that makes for the perfect appetizer to watch a winner.  This recipe for Buffalo Chicken Dip is hot and spicy and perfect to feed a crowd.  While I’ve had many variations, this is the one I like most.

FullSizeRender 10

BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP

Ingredients

  • 2 8-Ounce Bricks Cream Cheese
  • 1 16-Ounce Bottle Buffalo Wing Sauce
  • 2 12-Ounce Cans White Meat Chicken or 1 1/2 Lbs. Pulled Rotisserie Chicken
  • 1 16-Ounce Bottle Ranch Dressing
  • 1 Tbs. Garlic Powder
  • 2 Cups Cheddar Jack Cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a 13×9 baking dish, spread cream cheese into an even layer.
  • Pour a thin layer of buffalo sauce over the cream cheese to completely cover.  Use your favorite brand here.  You will only need half to three-fourths of the bottle to cover.  Add more or use a hot version for spicier dip.
  • Cover buffalo sauce with a single layer of chicken.  Canned works fine here, but a store-bought rotisserie chicken is even better for more flavor and a mixture of white and dark meat.
  • Pour the entire bottle of ranch dressing over chicken in an even layer.
  • Sprinkle ranch dressing with garlic powder.
  • Top with cheese and bake for 30-40 minutes uncovered until cheese is melted and it’s bubbling on the sides.
  • Serve immediately with tortilla chips, Fritos and/or celery sticks for dipping.

IMG_1377

Yes, that’s all there is to it.  And it’s easy to change it up with different flavors of buffalo dip or blue cheese dressing instead of ranch.  Tailgating, on the sofa or by the pool, you’ll make this again and again for the big game – or even the not-so-important game.  It’s just that good.  Dig in!

Spicy Pasole

Not every Tuesday has to be tacos!  When we still have a taste for something “south of the border” and it’s turning to fall, spicy pasole hits the spot.  A flavorful broth spiced with chiles chock-full of tender pork and creamy hominy, this is a hearty fall/winter dish that you’ll make a new Tuesday tradition.

FullSizeRender 7

SPICY PASOLE

Ingredients

  • 3 Lbs. Pork Shoulder or Boneless Country Ribs
  • 1 Medium Onion, Chopped
  • 1 Large Tomato
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 3 Chiles in Adobo Sauce, Chopped
  • 2 Tbs. Adobo Sauce
  • 2 – 29 Ounce Cans White Hominy, Drained
  • 1 Quart Chicken Stock
  • 3 Cups Water
  • 2 Tbs. Canola Oil
  • 2 Tsp. Mexican Oregano
  • 2 Tsp. Chili Powder
  • 1 Tsp. Paprika
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Diced Avocado, Sliced Radish & Shredded Cabbage (for garnish)

Instructions

  • Cut pork shoulder into 1 1/2-inch cubes.  Season liberally with salt and pepper.
  • In a ceramic-coated iron pot, brown half the pork in 1 Tbs. canola oil.  Remove from pot and brown the other half of the pork in an additional Tbs. canola oil.  Remove from pot.  You do not need to cook it through as it will braise later.
  • Add diced onion and minced garlic to pot and cook over medium heat until translucent.
  • Dice and seed tomato.  Place in pot with onions and sauté for 4-5 minutes.  Add chopped chiles and adobo sauce.  Stir to combine.
  • Add chicken stock to onion mixture and stir to deglaze pot.
  • Add water, oregano, chili powder and paprika.  Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
  • Add pork back in as well as both cans of hominy.
  • Simmer over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve immediately and garnish with avocado, radish and cabbage.

You can spice this version up with additional chiles, hot sauce or sliced jalapeños.  The combination of spicy, rich stew is complimented by the cool cabbage, bite of radish and creamy avocado.  Taste for yourself, you’ll make the Tuesday change too.  Dig in!

Salazar – Cincinnati, OH

Do you ever walk or drive by somewhere often and always say “we really should go there”?  Salazar New American Restaurant has been THAT place for over a year now for me.  Fortunately, I finally made it to Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood specifically to have dinner there.  And I am happy to share that they did NOT fall short of the rave reviews and high expectations.

FullSizeRender 3

A farmhouse-like setting in a historical building in downtown Cincinnati, there is a comfortable feeling when you walk through the door.  It’s cozy, and I mean small, but not loud or overcrowded.  As we looked at the menu, our server approached us with specials and recommendations.  What I love is that she told the story behind the restaurant, the local vendors they procure their food from and why they do what they do.  I love when you get an experience vs. an in-and-out meal.  She made a recommendation of a delicious wine and we made some selections from the farm-to-table menu.

FullSizeRender 2

We began with simple warm marinated olives and manchego cheese, which were a perfect compliment to our wine.  Next, the duck leg rillette with pickled onion and jalapeño jam on Blue Oven toast.  The richness of the duck was expertly balanced by the acidic condiments.  Finally, the starter du jour was Blue Oven toast spread with spring pea puree and topped with cured meats, pickled vegetables and edible flowers.  It was almost too pretty to eat!

FullSizeRender 4

I had the roasted sea bass with spring peas, potato puree and hazelnut butter.  My artistic plate was rich, tasted of summer and somehow tasted like everything was separate and perfectly combined at the same time.  My fellow guests all had the steak special which was a hearty portion of local beef.  We finished dinner and could barely utter the words fast enough that we wanted dessert.  The warm chocolate cake with coffee cremeux was a decadent treat!  And how could you not love the berry fry pie with chocolate ganache and lemon buttermilk ice cream?  Every day, I want to eat it every day…

Chef Jose Salazar makes this experience one that you’ll want to relive over and over again.  Local ingredients, beautifully prepared and served by passionate experts.  This is everything I had hoped it would be.  Find out more and make a reservations at salazarcincinnati.com.  Dig in!

Fudgey Sandwich Cookies

The last hurrah of summer picnics was yesterday at my in-law’s house.  And while it’s sad to have one last pool weekend of the year, we had a perfect day for family, fun and feasting!  Nothing says party and picnic like these devil’s food sandwich cookies.  Milk’s bff, they’re rich, decadent and unbelievably easy to make.

FullSizeRender 14

FUDGEY SANDWICH COOKIES

Ingredients

  • 1 Box Devil’s Food Cake Mix
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2/3 Cups Shortening
  • 1 Can Chocolate Fudge Frosting

Instructions

  • Cream shortening and eggs with an electric mixer until combined.
  • Add half the package of cake mix and beat until fluffy.
    • Note:  I’ve tried several mixes to get the best result and Kroger brand devil’s food cake mix is by far the best.  However, any brand will give you a good results as long as it’s devil’s food.
  • Add the remaining cake mix and beat just until combined.
  • Using a cookie scoop, drop 1″ balls onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 9-12 minutes.  BE CAREFUL!  These cookies can burn really easily so watch them closely.
  • Remove from oven and let cool completely on wire racks.
  • Spread bottom of one cookie with 1/2″ of fudge frosting and top with another cookie.
  • Store in an airtight container until serving.

This recipe will make a dozen sandwich cookies, so we typically double it every time we make it.  And while you could definitely make your own frosting and/or switch up flavors, this is a tried-and-true winner.  Try them for your next tailgate or birthday party.  Dig in!