Monday, July 28, 2008

Hickory Chicken

This is one of our easy family favorites. It is adapted from a restaurant Beth and I used to frequent (no longer in business). It makes a great meal to bring to someone who needs it. I think we need it tonight (with Amanda Scott and her kids visiting). I am heading home from work right now to make it.

4 chicken breasts
your favorite barbeque sauce (we are partial to Kraft Hickory Smoke)
1-2 cups grated mild cheddar cheese (to your liking)
4 slices of smoked baked ham from your deli
1 red tomato cubed
1/4 cup green onion tops sliced

Cook chicken breasts in your favorite way (I use my electic panini griddle but you can grill or pan fry it). Place grilled or cooked breasts in a casserole dish. Baste chicken breasts liberally with barbeque sauce. Sprinkle each breast with a layer of grated cheese. Next, put one slice of ham on each breast. Baste ham with more barbeque. Top each ham covred breast with the remaining cheese. Bake only until cheese is melted in a 375 degree oven -- 5 minutes tops. Plate the chicken and top with tomato and green onion. Serve with baked potatoes and steamed brocolli for a great combo.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Little Grandmother's Rolls

This recipe is from the kitchen of Dorothy Blalock who we called Little Grandmother (she is deceased now and was my father's mother). She was very famous for her yeast rolls. My Aunt Edna taught me how to make these. This makes about 12 dozen rolls -- they freeze well. The recipe can also easily be cut in half. Also, the dough can be frozen in roll-sized pieces and can be proofed later.

Step 1:
1 ½ Quarts Milk (6 cups) (heated to a temperature to 120 degrees -- microwave works well)
Note: be sure to use a thermometer – liquid too hot will kill the yeast
1 Cup Crisco Shortening (Melted to liquid state - below 120 degrees, not hot - can be done with 1 -2 min in microwave)
1 Cup of Sugar
2 ½ Tablespoons of salt

Mix the above in a large bowl till sugar and salt are well dissolved

Step 2:
In another bowl, add to 2 Cups hot water (110 degrees) 2 Tablespoons of sugar and 4 packets of yeast (or 4 tablespoons yeast if using bagged yeast from Sam’s - my recommendation). Wisk together and let stand until it foams to double in size.

After yeast mixture doubles, add it to the liquid mixture in the first step

Step 3:
Add one five pound bag of all-purpose flour one-fourth at a time to the liquid mixture, stirring with a large spoon. Then, add cupfuls of flour and mix with your hands until mixture is soft but not sticky. It will take about ½ of another bag of all-purpose flour (2 ½ lbs.), depending on the moisture in the air, etc.

Step 4:
Separate dough into four parts and knead by hand until the dough has a silky consistency – hang in there is your are doing it by hand – may take 5 minutes per part. If you have a large stand mixer, need with the dough hook for about 5 minutes each of the four parts. You may need to add some flour if the dough get sticky – but do not over flour or the dough will get too dry.

Combine all the dough back together (kneading into one large ball after all four parts have been kneaded). Place the dough ball back into large bowl that has been greased with shortening.

1st Rise: Let rise double ( about 45 minutes to an hour in a warm place) \
note: Cover with wax or kitchen parchment paper during rising stages

2nd Rise: Punch down dough after the first rise and let it rise double again (another 45 minutes to an hour)

Step 5:
After second rise, form dough into biscuit sized disks and place on cookie sheets - four across and 5 down. Can also do clover-leafs in muffin tins or crescents by rolling a circle and cutting in pie shaped wedges and then rolling them up.

After forming, let rise again until double (about 45 minutes). Bake at 375 degrees until golden. Be sure to rotate pans in the oven so that bottoms and tops will brown evenly.

This really is easier than it sounds – especially with a mixer.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Crispy Bread Dough for Rosemary Bread, Pizza, Bread Sticks

This rustic bread recipe is my go-to dough for many purposes. It makes an excellent rosemary/sea salt loaf (close to Macaroni Grill's). It is also great for pizza dough. I also use it to make bread sticks. The recipe comes from New Orleans' famous Commander's Palace restaurant.

1 1/3 cup warm water (110 - 120 degrees)
1 tbs. (or packet) yeast
1 tbs. olive oil
3 - 3 1/3 cups bread flour (all purpose can be used)
1 tbs. salt

Combine water, yeast, and oil in mixer bowl. Be sure to dissolve yeast well. Let it stand for about five minutes to proof -- it should look foamy. Add salt. Add flour one-half cup at a time with mixer with dough hook. Depending on the day, the flour will vary. Knead as necessary. The dough should become firm but elastic. It should have a silky look. You can easily knead this by hand also.

Let rise for about 1 hour until double in size. Shape as needed.

For rosemary bread, chop a tablespoon or two of fresh rosemary and knead into the dough. Form into two loaves on a cookie sheet and let rise to double. Paint with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt if you like. Bake at 425 degrees until brown and hollow sounding when tapped.

For bread twists, roll into a rectangle, cut into strips, dip in melted butter, and twist. Spinkle with garlic salt. Let rise on cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees until brown.

For thin pizza, divide into three balls. Press onto pizza rounds. Add your favorite toppings and cook at 450 degrees.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ronnie's Oven-Baked Chicken Cordon Bleu

This really barely qualifies as a recipe but it is more an easy method of making this dish. My family loves this for dinner. I made this today for Betty Jane and Blair as she recovers from knee-replacement surgery. Hope you try this one. It is easy.

6 chicken breasts beaten thin like a cutlet (use a mallet or base of a heavy pan)
6 slices swiss cheese
6 slices of ham
2 eggs beaten with a tablespoon of water
1 cup (or more) of italian seasoned bread crumbs
6 toothpicks

Prepare your stations for breading. Lay out a chicken breast and place one slice of ham and one slice of cheese. Begin at largest end and roll the breast, ham and cheese. Secure with a toothpick. Dip each rolled breast in egg and then bread crumbs. Place the six breasts in a greased casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake for 30 - 35 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove foil and cook the last 5-10 minutes to get a crispy crust on chicken. Serve with baked potatoes and a vegetable for an excellent meal. Be sure to warn your guests of the toothpick or remove before serving.

Mini Muffalettas

These were introduced at BethFest 2000 (Beth's annual birthday bash). We took the ingredients in muffalettas and put them on small rolls and heated them in the oven. This is a party favorite. Who doesn't like a hot sandwich?

1 lb. black forest ham sliced deli thin
1 lb. genoa salami sliced thin
1 lb. provolone cheese sliced
olive salad mix
1 dozen pistolettes or other french-type roll

Cut rolls leaving one side attached. Put bread open-faced on a cookie sheet. Brush bread with olive oil from the olive salad mix. Put on a slice of ham, salami, and provolone cheese. Top with olive salad mix (or leave off if you like-- I usually do half with and half without for the uninitiated). Bake at 425 degrees until crispy and cheese is melted. Close sandwiches and put on a platter to serve.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Betty Jane's Raisin Bars

This is a Pack family favorite and now one of my favorites, too. Very simple to make and better than you can imagine. The Blair Pack kids say that they came home from school many days with the smell of boiling raisins. They could hardly wait for the warm finished product. If you don't really like raisins (like me) you will still like these for some reason. I can't explain it.

Put one cup of raisins covered with water to the one cup mark in a pot and bring to boil. Turn off burner and let them cool. This re-hydrates the raisins.

Put raisin water mixture in a mixing bowl.

Add 1/2 cup oil
2 cups sugar
1 egg

Mix wet ingredients

Sift in dry ingredients as follows:

1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp. cloves

Mix until wet and dry ingredients are combined. You can also add nuts to this (1/2 cups) but the Packs prefer it without nuts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes in a 9X 12 glass pan. It will be cake-like but moist like brownies.

While hot, cover with a glaze of powdered sugar and water -- mix to about the consistency of a thin gravy. Pour over warm raisin bars.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Muffaletta Pasta Bake

This is a dish I adapted from the famous sandwich from New Orleans. I simply replaced Muffalatta bread with pasta.

1 lb. penne pasta

1 lb. grated mozarella cheese

1 lb. smoked ham (black forest is best) cut thick

1/2 lb. genoa salami cut thick

1/2 - 1 cup (depending on your preference) olive salad mix ( to order)

toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions. Cool. Mix in cheese, ham and salami cut in inch squares, olive salad mix, and half of cheese. Put in a casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese and sesame seeds. Bake until cheese is melted and center is hot.