Keeping it Simple Again – Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts

I find I do not make a lot boneless chicken breast dinners anymore. Actually, I shouldn’t say that; I don’t actually buy a lot of boneless chicken breasts anymore. The problem is that the boneless breasts often cost a lot more money then bone-in chicken breasts and you can just as easily cut the meat off the bone and make your own boneless breasts to cook and then you still have the option of keeping the skin on to get crispy flavor and you can use the bones, roast them with some salt and pepper and use them to make some tasty chicken stock for another use. I was able to get a family pack of bone-in chicken breasts for about $6.00 the other day and it gave me 5 large chicken breasts that I took off the bone and did just that with and we got many meals out of that six dollars. I went back and bought another package and made some of the chicken breasts using this simple pan roasting recipe from America’s Test Kitchen that was quick and easy and made a great little sauce to flavor the chicken along the way.

Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts

4 (10-12-ounce) bone-in split chicken breasts, trimmed and brined if desired

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 shallot, minced

3/4 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup dry vermouth

4 large fresh sage leaves, each leaf torn in half

3 tablespoons butter, cut into 3 pieces and chilled

Using kitchen shears, trim off the rib section from the chicken breasts. If you are brining the chicken, dissolve 1 cup of kosher salt in 2 quarts of cold tap water in a large container or bowl; submerge the chicken in the brine and refrigerate it until it is fully seasoned, about 30 minutes. Rinse the chicken pieces under running water and pat them dry with paper towels. Season the chicken with pepper.

Adjust an oven rack to lowest position and heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until it is beginning to smoke; swirl the skillet to coat it with oil. Brown the chicken skin-side down until it is deep golden, about 5 minutes; turn the chicken pieces and brown them until they are golden on the second side, about 3 minutes longer. Turn the chicken skin-side down and place the skillet in the oven. Roast the chicken until the juices run clear when the chicken is cut with a paring knife, or the thickest part of the breast registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter, and let it rest while making the sauce. (If you are not making the sauce, let the chicken rest 5 minutes before serving.)

Using a pot-holder to protect your hands from the hot skillet handle, pour off most of the fat from the skillet; add the shallot, then set the skillet over medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallot is softened, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, vermouth, and sage leaves; increase the heat to high and simmer the mixture rapidly, scraping the skillet bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits, until the sauce is slightly thickened and reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Pour the accumulated chicken juices into the skillet, reduce the heat to medium, and whisk in the butter 1 piece at a time; season to taste with salt and pepper and discard the sage leaves. Spoon the sauce around the chicken breasts and serve immediately.

That’s all there is to it. You can have tender, moist chicken with a nice crispy skin and make a great little sauce all in under 30 minutes. The brining does add some extra seasoning and helps to make the chicken moist but it is not a must for this recipe at all. We all really liked the simple sauce which had nice flavor from the sage and vermouth and if you didn’t want the bones in this one you could remove all the bones when you are cutting out the rib section. It was an easy, flavorful dish perfect for a weeknight dinner.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!


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Posted by on April 16, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Poultry, Sauce


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Spice Up your Weeknight – Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Carrots

Pork tenderloin is a great choice for a weeknight meal when you want something that seems a little more elegant and fancy and can still be done in under 45 minutes or even thirty minutes. I usually but tenderloin when it is on sale and since they come in a package of two tenderloins I freeze one and make one for dinner so I can always pull one out to have for a meal. There are lots of great things you can do with the tenderloin – roasting, grilling, pan roasting, cutting it into medallions, cutting it up for a stir fry – but I really liked this option of adding some nice spices to the tenderloin and roasting it with some carrots for a nice meal. This recipe comes from Bon Appetit and is for a spice-rubbed pork tenderloin with roasted carrots.

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Carrots

For the Carrots:

2 pounds carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter, diced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 small jalapeño (preferably red), seeded, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

For the Pork Tenderloin

2 1- to 1-1/4-pound pork tenderloins
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

For the carrots: Arrange the carrots on a large rimmed baking sheet. Whisk 2 tablespoons of water and all of the remaining ingredients in a small bowl; pour the mixture over the carrots and toss to coat. Cover the carrots tightly with heavy-duty foil.

For the pork tenderloin: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Roast the carrot mixture covered until the carrots are just tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, arrange the pork tenderloins on another rimmed baking sheet. Stir the oregano, cumin, chile powder, smoked paprika, and 1 teaspoon of coarse salt in a small bowl; rub the mixture all over the tenderloins. Heat the olive oil in a heavy, large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork to the skillet and cook until the pork is browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Return the pork to the rimmed baking sheet.

Remove the foil from the carrots. Nestle the pork among the carrots on the baking sheet, arranging the carrots in a single layer around the pork. Roast uncovered until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the pork registers 145°F, stirring the carrots occasionally if they are beginning to caramelize, about 18 minutes. Let the pork rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Transfer the pork to a work surface. Cut the pork crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange the carrots on the platter. Top the carrots with pork slices, drizzling any pan juices over the pork.
It is a very simple dish that gets great flavor from all of the spices used on the pork. You get a little bit of heat from the chile powder used on the carrots and pork and little bit of sweet from the sweetness of the carrots and the honey in the glaze. The original recipe calls for the use of whole baby carrots, which would work really well here, but I didn’t have any on hand and just went with carrots instead. Also, I only made one pork tenderloin instead of two so I did cut back on the recipe a bit for just one so it was not overloaded with spice. In either case, it is a great meal that can be ready and on the table in under and hour.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Pork, Vegetables


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22 Classic Cocktails You Need to Know How to Make – Bon Appétit

22 Classic Cocktails You Need to Know How to Make – Bon Appétit.

To go along with your Sunday meal this week or just for your own knowledge to drink or make for friends, here are 22 classic cocktail recipes from Bon Appetit so that you can have access to making that Moscow Mule the next time someone wants one. Check it out!

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Posted by on April 14, 2014 in Beverages, Cooking Websites


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24 Recipes for Lamb, from Chops to Roasts to Kebabs – Bon Appétit

24 Recipes for Lamb, from Chops to Roasts to Kebabs – Bon Appétit.

With Easter this coming Sunday and springtime upon us, now is great time to make some lamb, a classic Spring and Easter meal (and it happens to be on sale this week too around here). Bon Appetit has put together 24 lamb recipes to cover everything you might be interested in when it comes to making lamb to give you some great ideas. Check it out!

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Posted by on April 14, 2014 in Cookbooks, Cooking Websites, Holidays, Lamb


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Sunday Breakfast with Alton & Bobby – Southern Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

I’ve had a craving for biscuits and gravy lately and yesterday stopped over at Adam’s Farms and got some of their homemade bulk breakfast sausage so I could make some this morning for our Sunday breakfast. Sunday breakfast is usually the only day during the week where Sean, Michelle and I get to eat breakfast together, so we try to make it something different and special each week. I was looking for something quick and easy to use for the sausage gravy and for the biscuits, but I wanted homemade biscuits, not the stuff you get out of the refrigerated can. I turned to Food Network and found a good biscuit recipe from Alton Brown for southern biscuits to go alongside of the sausage gravy recipe I got from Bobby Flay. Both are really easy to make so you can get a different taste for breakfast in no time at all.

Alton Brown’s Southern Biscuits

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shortening
1 cup buttermilk, chilled

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, rub the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients until the mixture looks like crumbs.Try to do this quickly so that the fat does not completely melt. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface, dust the top of the dough with flour and gently fold the dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out the biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place the biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch. Reform the scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting. 

Bake until the biscuits are tall and light gold on top, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Bobby Flay’s Sausage Gravy and Biscuits

1 1/2 pounds bulk breakfast sausage or mixture of hot and mild bulk sausage
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 gallon milk
Biscuits, store-bought or homemade (see Alton Brown’s Southern Biscuit recipe above)

In a large pot, add the sausage and cook until it is browned and cooked through. Drain the grease and add the flour to the sausage. Cook the sausage in the flour over medium-high heat until the sausage is well-coated with the flour. Add the milk and stir until the gravy has the  desired thickness and add salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with the biscuits.

I did change up the sausage gravy recipe a little and did not use the 1/2 gallon of milk. I only use about 3/4 of a cup along with a 1/4 cup of heavy cream because we like a gravy that is much thicker for the sausage, and it turned out perfect. The real star here though is the biscuits. These are really easy to make, smell great and taste awesome. You could use these for all kinds of breakfast sandwiches that you like if you didn’t want the sausage gravy, like bacon, eggs, ham or anything else. They are also a great dinner biscuit and I plan to use the rest to go along with dinner tonight. You could even just have one warm with some butter to go with your tea or coffee in the morning and you would be all set.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on April 13, 2014 in Biscuits, Breads, Breakfast, Cooking, Gravy, Pork


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Holla for Some Challah!

Sean has been asking me to try to make challah bread for a long time and I have avoided doing it because I couldn’t find a recipe where everything seemed easy enough to follow that I would not have a problem with it. The recipe itself is not that difficult; I was always a little intimidated by the whole braiding aspect of the bread. Finally, Michelle said to me “It’s just like braiding a girl’s hair,” something I haven’t even tried since I was younger and my younger sisters needed someone to help them with hair when no one else was around. Anyway, I decided to give it a try and got this recipe from Williams-Sonoma to try it out. There are only a few ingredients involved in the bread and it is the perfect time of year to give this one a try with Easter and Passover right around the corner.

Challah Bread

2 packages (5 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105° to 115°F)
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs, plus 1 egg, beaten, for glaze
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon poppy seeds or sesame seeds (optional)


To make the dough by hand, in a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let it stand until it is foamy, about 5 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the sugar, 3 eggs, 4 1/2 cups of the flour, the salt and the butter until the dough comes together in a sticky mass. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, working in the remaining flour as necessary to keep the dough from being too sticky, until the dough is smooth and elastic, 5 to 7 minutes. Do not be tempted to add too much flour. The dough should stay soft and will become less sticky with kneading.

To make the dough with a stand mixer, in the 5-quart bowl of a mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let it stand until it is foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar, 3 eggs, 4 1/2 cups of the flour, the salt and butter. Place the bowl on the mixer, attach the dough hook and knead on low-speed, working in the remaining flour as necessary to keep the dough from being too sticky, until the dough is smooth and elastic, 5 to 7 minutes. Do not be tempted to add too much flour. The dough should stay soft and will become less sticky with kneading. Remove the dough from the bowl.

Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, about 2 hours.

Line a sheet pan or rimless baking sheet with parchment paper. Punch down the dough. Using a pastry scraper, scrape the dough out onto a clean work surface. To make a 4-strand braid, cut the dough into 4 equal pieces with a sharp knife or a bench scraper. Using your palms, and starting in the center and working outward, elongate 1 piece by rolling it gently against the work surface with even pressure until you have formed a rope as long as the prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining 3 pieces.

Line up the 4 strands in front of you horizontally. Cross the strand farthest from you across the other 3 strands so that it is nearest you. Cross the strand that is now next to it across the other 2 strands away from you. Position the outside strands so that they are away from the center ones, and position the center 2 strands perfectly horizontal. Bring the strand nearest you down between the 2 horizontal strands. Bring the strand farthest from you up and across to the opposite side. Again, bring the strand farthest from you down between the 2 straight strands. Bring the strand nearest you up and across to the opposite side. Starting from the strand nearest you, repeat the braiding until you reach the ends of the ropes. Pinch them together at the top and at the bottom, and tuck the strands under at the ends.

Alternatively, to make one large 3-strand braid, cut the dough into 3 equal pieces with a sharp knife or a bench scraper. Follow the directions for rolling out the ropes for the 4-strand braid. Line the 3 strands up straight so that they are in front of you vertically. Cross the right strand over the middle strand, then cross the left strand over the middle strand. Keep going back and forth, crossing left over right, then right over left, until you reach the ends of the ropes. Pinch them together at the top and at the bottom, and tuck the strands under at the ends.

Place the braided loaf on the prepared pan, cover it with a dry kitchen towel, and let it rise again in a warm, draft-free spot until the loaf doubles in size and is spongy to the touch, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.

Brush the braid gently with the beaten egg and sprinkle it with the seeds, if using. Bake the braid until it is nicely browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, about 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the bread to a wire rack and let cool completely.

It really is very easy to make, I think I just got a little confused by the braiding instructions and ended up doing it as Michelle suggested. I went with the 3-braid variation of this recipe and I can say that it makes a giant loaf of bread, which made Sean very happy because he loves it for sandwiches and we are already planning to use it to make French toast this weekend as well. It has the wonderful sweetness and cake-like quality you expect in challah bread. I’ll be making this one again for sure now that I know I can handle it.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

Posted by on April 10, 2014 in Breads, Cooking


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Let’s Roast Another Chicken! Cast-Iron Skillet Roasted Chicken

I know, I roast a lot of chicken, but you can get a lot of mileage out of one 4-pound chicken for a family of three. We get at least one dinner, sometimes two out of the chicken, sandwiches for lunch once or twice and then I take the bones and make chicken stock so we can get even more out of it. All in all, one 4 pound chicken that might cost five or six dollars is good for 6 or 7 meals, so we certainly get out money’s worth from it. This recipe, which I got from The Daily Meal, is even better for a couple of reasons. It is a one pot meal that does potatoes and Brussels sprouts with the chicken and it is in a cast-iron skillet, which is one of my favorites to cook with since they are so versatile and hold the heat so well. The original recipe for this use 2 small game hens, but I opted to go with 1 larger chicken instead.

Cast-Iron Skillet Roasted Chicken

1 3-4 pound chicken, rinsed and patted dry

1/2 pound fingerling potatoes, scrubbed

1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

3 strips bacon, chopped

3 cloves garlic, sliced thin

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons herbes de Provence

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with the cast-iron skillet in the oven while it is pre-heating.

Place the chicken on a large plate and coat the skin with 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt Place the chicken in the refrigerator, uncovered, and leave it there for 1 hour. Prior to cooking, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and thoroughly rinse the chicken with water and pat the chicken dry. Cut the skin between the legs of the chicken and gently disjoint the legs so that they lie flat on wither side of the body of the chicken.

Rub the olive oil all over the chicken to coat it and then sprinkle on the herbes de Provence and sprinkle some of the herbs inside the chicken as well. Sprinkle the top of the chicken with pepper. Take the 1/2 a lemon and place it inside the cavity of the chicken.

Pierce the fingerling potatoes with a fork, toss them into a medium bowl with about 1/2 an inch of water and cook the potatoes for 2 minutes on high in the microwave.

Remove the cast-iron skillet from the oven and drop the bacon pieces onto 1/2 of the pan. Place the chicken, breast side up, on the other half of the skillet. Make sure to place the legs and thighs flat against the bottom of the pan. Put the skillet back into the oven and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and add the fingerling potatoes, the garlic slices and the Brussels sprouts over the half of the pan with the bacon slices. Toss the potatoes and Brussels sprouts with the bacon pieces to coat them in some of the fat. Return the skillet to oven and continue roasting for about 20 to 25 minutes longer, or until the juices from the legs and thighs run clear when pierced with a fork. Remove the chicken and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving. Place the vegetables around the chicken on a platter and serve.

Salting the chicken for an hour ahead of time in the refrigerator helps to dry out the skin to make it nice and crunchy. This recipe roasts the chicken at a really high temperature so it does not take as long to cook as it normally might and everything gets nice and crispy, including the potatoes and Brussels sprouts. This recipe turned out quite well and of course it is great when you can make everything all in one pot to make things even easier for you for serving and clean-up. It’s a good way to get a nice roasted chicken on the table during a busy weeknight.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. As always, I am always trying new things out (today I am trying my hand at making homemade challah bread), so there is always lots to share. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!



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Posted by on April 9, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, One Pot Meals, Poultry


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