Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday's Best Oven Fried Chicken

Lest you thought we existed on only desserts and snacks, here's a great tried & true chicken recipe for you. This chicken really isn't fried; it's baked in the oven. However, it does have that fried chicken taste. Once you get the hang of this recipe, it's fairly easy to make. The original recipe makes enough to feed a small army, so I cut the recipe in half. Feel free to use the original amounts, half it, or double it to suit your needs.

Sunday's Best Oven-Fried Chicken
3-1/2 to 4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 C all purpose flour
1 t celery seeds
2 t onion powder
1 t paprika
2 T lemon pepper
1 T salt
1 T fresh chopped thyme
2 lg. eggs, room temperature
3/4 C buttermilk (I use plain skim milk w/ 1 T vinegar added)
One 16 oz. package seasoned bread stuffing mix, crushed (I put it in a large ziplock and whacked it with the rolling pin or the bottom of a heavy glass, but I think bread crumbs would work well, too)
1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Adjust the baking rack to the center of the oven and preheat to 400ºF.

1. Rinse the chickens thoroughly under COLD water and pat dry with paper towels.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, celery seeds, onion powder, paprika, lemon pepper, salt and thyme. Set aside.
3. Whisk the eggs and buttermilk together thoroughly. Pour into a shallow bowl.
4. Pour the crushed stuffing mix into a separate shallow bowl or large paper plate.
5. Pour the melted butter onto a baking sheet.
6. Dredge the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour mixture, then in the buttermilk mixture; thoroughly coat in the crushed stuffing mix.
7. Transfer chicken to the baking sheet and gently roll the pieces in the melted butter until lightly coated. (I use a 9" X 13" casserole dish)
8. Bake for 25-35 mins OR when the juices flow clear after a knife is inserted into the thickest part of the breast.
9. When the chicken is fully cooked, transfer the pieces to a platter lined with paper towels. Serve. Allow to cool to room temp before storing in fridge.

I use the Pepperidge Farm stuffing that comes in the large bag. This time I got sage and it tasted too much like turkey stuffing, so I might go with something different next time or try seasoned bread crumbs.

These taste great the next day, too!

If you use chicken tenders or smaller chicken breasts, cut your cooking time and check for doneness.

Don't skip the butter! This really does make the coating nice and crispy. Plus, who doesn't like the added taste the butter gives the finished product?!?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chunky Monkey Muffins

This is another one of those recipes you can use if you have ripe bananas sitting on your counter. They don't taste like banana muffins, though. They are very easy to throw together and VERY good!

Chunky Monkey Muffins (Makes 12)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup mashed bananas (approx. 2 or 3 bananas)
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Grease bottom of muffin pans or use paper muffin liners. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter and sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Add mashed bananas, sour cream, eggs and vanilla. Blend well. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Fold in chips and chopped nuts. Fill muffin cups full. Bake 20 - 25 minutes.

**I ended up with 18 muffins, but I didn't over-fill my muffin cups. I also used regular sized muffin tins and not the jumbo sized muffin tins.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dinner Plans

In an effort to use the food in the pantry and in the fridge, I've made a dinner menu for the next week or so. In the past when I've ventured to make a menu, I never stuck to it and changed it when I wanted to. This time, I've written it down for all the world to see and am kind of looking forward to sticking with it! I just do dinner because I work and don't get up and cook breakfast and because lunch usually consists of leftovers from the night before. Also, I usually only cook every other day since it's just me and DH. Otherwise, we'd be overrun with food!

Week One: 1/11-1/17
Sunday~Sunday's Best Oven Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, cranberry fluff, cottage cheese

Monday~leftovers since I work the late shift

Tuesday 1/13~DH's making Egg in the Holes for breakfast!! Dinner will once again be leftovers from Sunday since I'm working the late shift.

Wednesday~Chalupas and salsa/chips

Thursday~DH's night to cook! (woohoo!)

Friday~Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwiches (from the PW Cooks site) and oven fries

Week Two-11/18-11/24
Sunday~Hamburgers, cottage fries, pork 'n beans

Monday~Spaghetti, Garlic Bread, salad

Wednesday~Chicken Veggie Stir Fry & rice

Thursday~DH's Night to cook!

Friday~Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken, veggies

Saturday/Sunday~Chicken soup

We'll see how it all goes down, but maybe by posting it on here I'll stick to it!


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hawaiian Banana Nut Bread

Sometimes, I end up with bananas that look like this on my kitchen counter. Not very often, but occasionally.

I know that for some of you, these bananas may be just the right speed for your tastes, but for me, they're well past their prime for eating. Not wanting them to go to waste, and having time last weekend to actually do something with them other than toss them into the freezer, I made banana bread.

This bread is always so moist and delicious! The recipe makes 2 loaves, so I usually keep one at home and take the other one to work.

Hawaiian Banana Nut Bread

Makes 2 9"x5" loaves

3 cups flour
¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon (can try 1 t)
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (or macadamia nuts)
1/2 C grated coconut (optional)
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups mashed ripe bananas (approx. 5-6 medium)
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
3 teaspoons vanilla (can try 2 t)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 9"x5" loaf pans.

Combine first 5 ingredients and stir in nuts. Combine wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry and combine until just moistened. Divide batter between the 2 loaf pans.

Bake at 350° for 1 hour 10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Note: Good with grated carrots substituted for the pineapple.



Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Momma's Cornbread

This is my momma's recipe and is perfect every time! Make sure you set your eggs and milk out to get room temp, about an hour before beginning. Here's what you need to know about cornbread.

Use this kind of cornmeal to promote the economy in San Antonio. That's why my mom used this brand exclusively, since we lived in San Antonio. If I try to buy a different brand, I hear my mother speaking to me from beyond the grave!!

Even though my mom swore by Clabber Girl baking powder, I use Rumford. It has no aluminum in the mixture and doesn't leave an aftertaste. Believe me, you'll want to spend the few extra pennies on the Rumford brand. It really makes your baked goods taste better. Besides that, it comes in a pretty red can!

Stephanie's Mom's Cornbread
Sift together:
1 C flour
3 t baking powder
1 t salt
2 T sugar

Add: 1 C cornmeal

2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 C milk
1/4 C vegetable oil

Add liquid to dry ingredients, mixing only until all flour is dampened. Pour into well-greased 8"x8"x2" pan. Bake for 30 mins. Do NOT over bake.


This is the most important thing you need to know so that your cornbread has a nice, crispy crust on the sides & bottom and so that it won't stick to the pan. When you turn your oven on to preheat, pour about a tablespoon (or so...I usually end up with "or so") in your 8" x 8" square pan. Then, POP THAT BABY IN THE OVEN WHILE YOUR OVEN IS HEATING. Your pan should look something like this, minus the scratches and well-used look.

I usually pour my milk into a 2-cup measuring cup, then I add the eggs and oil and mix it all together. Don't use olive oil! It really tastes gross. Don't ask me how I know.

Here's what your mix should look like when dampened. It's okay if a bit, like in this pic, isn't totally wet.

If you want to swirl the mix around to get those little pieces wet, that's fine. Also, as you're mixing, make sure you tilt your bowl and rake your fork across the bottom of the bowl to get the dry stuff that's stuck down there on the bottom.

When ready to pour your mix into the pan, remove the hot pan from the oven and very, very gently, swirl the liquid oil around. Don't get too excited and burn yourself, though.

When you pour your batter into the pan, the oil will be displaced along the sides and into the corners of the pan. During baking, this is what creates the crispy crust. You may even hear a little sizzle. Good!

Seriously, do NOT over bake the bread. If your oven cooks hot, start checking it at about 25 mins. You'll be able to smell it baking, and it will smell heavenly! You want it nicely browned, not too pale and definitely not too brown.

When your cornbread is finished, it nicely makes 9 pieces of bread if you make 3 cuts each direction. If you have a family of 4, that's 2 pieces each, then you fight over the last piece. The center piece is the most coveted, be warned. Again, don't ask me how I know this.

Here's a side and bottom view of the finished product.

And a pic of the inside.

Served with the taco soup from my previous post.

Taco Soup

The weather turned cold on Sunday and I had some hamburger meat to use up, so I made taco soup. And in my house, you can't have taco soup without cornbread, so I whipped some of that up as well.

Taco Soup
1 lb. ground beef, browned
1/4 medium onion, diced
salt & pepper

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cans pinto beans, drained & rinsed
1 can whole kernel corn (you could use frozen)
1 can diced tomatoes

Optional toppings:
cheese, grated
sour cream
cilantro sprigs

1. Brown the ground beef. I dice about 1/4 of an onion and throw it in with the beef as well as adding salt & pepper. Drain any grease.
2. Add the other ingredients. If you don't have all the seasonings, you can substitute taco seasoning. I find taco seasoning too salty for my tastes so I use the seasonings so I can control the salt content as well as the hotness level.

3. Add enough water to cover, and stir.
4. Cover with lid, turn heat to medium, and bring to a boil.
5. Once boiling, tilt lid so it's covering most of the soup but the steam can escape (this keeps it boiling), reduce heat to half and continue to boil, stirring occasionally.

If you're making cornbread to go with your soup, remove the lid from the soup and turn it to simmer when you put your cornbread in the oven.

When ready to serve, top with cheese and/or your choice of toppings. I used cheddar cheese and a sprig of cilantro. That cilantro really gave the soup a nice flavor!! Slurp!

Cornbread recipe coming in the next post!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Lemon Pound Cake

My husband LOVES lemon cake. If he had a choice between lemon and chocolate, he'd take lemon. Don't know what's wrong with that boy, but I love him anyway! For the past several years, I've been on the hunt for a light, lemony cake for him. I think I've finally found the perfect cake.

1 (16-oz.) box Betty Crocker or Pillsbury lemon or yellow cake mix
1 (3-oz.) box instant lemon pudding
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp. lemon extract (optional) –or- juice of 1 lemon
1 lemon, zest of or 1 tsp. lemon zest spice
1/2 cup oil

1 cup powdered sugar
1 T. milk
1 T. butter, melted
1 tsp. lemon extract or juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix all ingredients and bake for 35-40 minutes in a greased and floured bundt or tube pan. Prepare glaze and pour over hot cake.

Here are some notes:

>Zest-the rind of the fruit and only the rind.

>I used fresh lemons since I actually had some on hand. If you don't have one of those fancy schmancy zester grater things, you can use your regular cheese grater, but use one of the sides with the teeny tiny holes. If you have a toothbrush or a pasty brush, you'll need that to get the zest out of said teeny tiny holes. It really makes a big mess, but it'll do in a pinch. You can also peel the rind (not the white icky tasting pith or membrane) then finely chop it with a knife. Next time, I think I'm going to thoroughly clean and sanitize one of the files my husband uses out in the garage and use that. (That's what a zester sorta looks like!)

>Let the cake sit for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a plate. If you need help learning how to turn out a cake, please let me know and I'll take step-by-step pics for you. :) During this time, prepare your glaze.

>Prior to glazing, I poked some holes in the top of the cake so that the cake could absorb some of the glaze.

>The glaze recipe makes a TON of glaze. Too much really, for this cake. I'd cut the recipe in half unless you want to eat what you don't pour on the cake.

>If you use sugar to coat your pan instead of flour, you'll get a nicely crunchy outside to your cake.