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Monday, August 31, 2009

What a great birthday weekend!

Well, the Dallas Cowboys didn't win their pre-season game Saturday night (not that pre-season games mean much anyway), but the whole experience of going to the new Cowboys Stadium and watching the game live was amazing.

On Sunday my son and his girlfriend spent the day with us, so hubby woke me up, like, before 10:00, ewww! We cooked (well, actually hubby cooked) some lovely homemade french toast for "brunch" for the young folks.

We made a really nice early dinner. I made a very, very loose take on chicken saltimbocca.

The recipe follows and it was darned good; however, after talking with TLOML (The Love Of My Life), next time I'll pound out the chicken even thinner, marinate it the same way, but then add a little cheese and bacon or prosciutto and maybe a sage leaf or two (more authentic saltimbocca), then roll it up and wrap with bacon or prosciutto. It'll be move flavorful and more juicy. Hey, that's part of cooking, right, figuring out how to do it better next time?

Kinda Sorta Grilled Chicken Saltimbocca

2 boneless, double (unsplit) boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded with a meat mallet until thin and even and cut into manageable pieces that a strip of bacon can be wrapped around (each double breast should yield 4 pieces)
8 strips of bacon

Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup of olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I use Kosher)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning

Prepare the marinade. Coat the chicken pieces in the marinade and marinate for 1-2 hours, turning every once in a while so all the flavors get evenly distributed.

Remove chicken from marinade and wrap a strip of bacon around each piece of chicken, making sure the bacon overlaps just a little.

You can grill these on the barbecue grill, being very careful when turning to keep the bacon intact, or you can pan fry indoors in a little olive oil. They cook quickly since they're very thin. If in doubt, though, use a thermometer to check for an internal temperature of 180 degrees to ensure doneness.

Homemade Chicken Strips

I also made some homemade chicken strips. I used some pounded-thin boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into approximately 1/2 inch strips, sprinkled with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I dipped them first in plain flour, then dipped them in a mixture of 1 egg wisked with a little water, then pressed them into panko bread crumbs. Be sure to coat the strips really well with the panko crumbs for maximum crunchiness. Pan fry in a mixture of olive oil or vegetable oil and a little butter (for flavor) for a couple minutes on each side. They should be pan-fried at a medium-high temperature, hot enough that they sizzle but not so hot that they scorch as soon as you put them in your skillet. When done, they should be nicely crunchy and golden brown. I didn't add any other seasoning to this batch because son's girlfriend is a sorta finicky eater; however, some poultry seasoning or even cayenne powder would be a very tasty addition.

Side Dishes

We also served baked potatoes cooked on the grill. We used Yukon gold potatoes (or actually the local generic brand of Yukon golds). We have one of these cool meat tenderizers which is really handy for tenderizing meat that you're going to marinate. Anyway, you can use that baby to pierce the potatoes all over. Then rub the potatoes with olive oil and salt, wrap in aluminum foil, cut a tiny slit in the foil to let steam pressure escape, and cook in your grill until you can easily insert a fork or knife through the potato.

In addition we served my son's and my favorite Caesar salad, the recipe for Classic Caesar Salad on, and it was wonderful as always. Here's the link for the recipe:

I have to be honest here and admit that I've never actually made the homemade croutons for the recipe, although the instructions sound easy enough. I just haven't tried it yet. I've always bought store-bought croutons that those who wish to add the evil carb-infested things can sprinkle on their salads :)

Experiment for yourself and enjoy cooking!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Going to the Dallas Cowboys pre-season game tomorrow!

So in the "other things that make life splendid" category, my potential brother-in-law, boyfriend of my baby sister-in-law, has Dallas Cowboys season tickets. He gave his tickets for the August 29th pre-season game to my father-in-law, who planned to go with my husband. As luck would have it, my father-in-law remembered that my birthday is the day after the game and is letting me use his ticket!!! Thanks Buddy and go Cowboys!!! Can't wait for the game and can't wait to see their new stadium. Sometimes I'm so lucky I just can't believe it!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wild or Mild Cream of Mushroom Soup

6 T butter, divided use

2 T extra virgin olive oil
4 T flour
3/4 C diced shallots
4 cloves minced garlic
10 C sliced mushrooms of your choice *
1 1/2 t herbes de Provence
1 t Kosher salt
1/2 t fresh coarsely ground black pepper
1 C dry sherry
4 C chicken broth**
2 C milk
1 T dark soy sauce

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large cast iron skillet over medium to medium high heat. Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add shallots and saute until opaque. Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic and saute until softened. Add the herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper. Add the mushrooms, a little at a time if necessary, and saute until mushrooms are cooked through. Add the sherry to the skillet and cook at a high simmer until the liquid disappears. This will take a while.

In a nice, roomy Dutch oven melt the additional 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the 4 tablespoons of flour and whisk constantly while cooking for several minutes so that the butter and flour combine and the flour "cooks" and doesn't have a "raw" taste. Slowly add the chicken broth, wisking as you add it. Then slowly add the milk, wisking as you add it. Continue wisking until the mixture begins to thicken.

Now add the mushroom mixture from your skillet to the cream mixture in the Dutch oven and allow it to simmer for a while so that the flavors meld.

* Use whatever mushroom combination you like. This soup will be wonderful with plain old white button mushrooms, or any combination of mushrooms, or even rehydrated dried mushrooms. Make it your own depending on your taste.

** If you make your own chicken stock, you should definitely use it for this recipe. However, if you're human like the rest of us, be creative. You can use boxed or canned chicken stock or the appropriate amount of chicken bouillon and water.

Festive Red Sangria

3 cups red wine
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup kirschwasser or triple sec
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1 peach, peeled and sliced
1 nectarine, peeled and sliced
1 apple, peeled and sliced
1 orange, sliced

Optional: dry sparkling wine, Champagne, Cava, or Prosecco
Optional: pomegranate seeds

Mix all ingredients, serve over ice, and enjoy. Pomegranate seeds make a nice addition to this sangria also. If you want to step it up a bit, pour your sangria over ice, leaving a little headroom, and top it off with a little dry sparkling wine.