Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chicken Parmesan Sandwich

Inspired by Heidi's Brooklyn Deli.

During the last four years, it seems like some of our favorite things we've found in Vegas are places to eat.  One place we absolutely love is Heidi's Brooklyn Deli, which has become somewhat of a lunchtime tradition among the UNLV dental students.  The food (including the bread) is made fresh daily, and everything we've tried so far has been delicious.  Some of our favorite sandwiches are the chicken salad, the reuben, the Cajun turkey with avocado, and the chicken parmesan.  So good!  I love getting their chocolate chip cookies and macaroni salad, too (which is amazing because I'm not a macaroni salad person).  Whenever we make chicken parmesan, we use the leftovers in our imitation of the sandwich at Heidi's.
Marbled rye bread, sliced
Chicken parmesan, thickly sliced (at least 1/2 breast per sandwich)
Marinara sauce
Fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded

Spread a generous amount of marinara sauce on one piece of bread.  Layer chicken slices over marinara.  Cover with mozzarella cheese.  Toast chicken-covered piece of bread and empty piece (or broil in the oven if don't have a toaster oven) until bread is toasty and cheese is melted.  Put sandwich together, slice (if desired), and dig in!

Note:
- We like to use this recipe for chicken parmesan, which we got from a friend of ours.

Chicken Parmesan

Adapted from Rachel Merkley.

4-6 chicken breasts, flattened to 1/2" thickness
1-1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (I use whole wheat)
1-1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese (finely grated crumb kind)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. marjoram
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 eggs
1/2-3/4 cup flour
Marinara sauce
Fresh mozzarella cheese
Canola oil

Place flour in a shallow dish.  Beat eggs in another shallow dish with a couple tablespoons of water.  Combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, marjoram, basil, salt, and pepper in another bowl.

Add enough oil to a large, deep pan to be about 1/4-1/2" deep.  Heat over medium to medium-high.

Dip flattened chicken breasts in flour, then eggs (allow to drip excess), and then coat in bread crumb mixture.  Carefully place coated chicken in hot oil just long enough to brown the outside (a minute or two).  Chicken will not be cooked through!

Place chicken in a large oven-safe casserole dish coated with cooking spray.  Top generously with marinara sauce and a good amount of fresh mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 375F for about 25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Note:
-These leftovers are great in chicken parmesan sandwiches!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Okay, so it's been literally months since I posted anything on here.  I swear I've been trying new recipes, but life has just gotten busy!  I'm hoping to dig the recipes we've liked out of the mess of cookbooks, magazines, and papers that have taken over my shelf so I can share them with you.  We'll see how that goes, right?

My kids and I made these again yesterday, though, and I managed to take a picture, so I'm taking the opportunity to squeeze a post in between Nerf guns and a climbing toddler.

From Alton Brown's Good Eats 3: The Later Years, page 52.
1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115F)
1 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 (2 1/4 tsp.) envelope active dry yeast
22 oz. (~4 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 oz. unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 Tbs. water
Pretzel salt

Combine warm water, sugar, kosher salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Set aside for 5 minutes, or until the mixture foams.

Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, 4 to 5 minutes.

Put the dough in a large, oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Set aside in a warm place for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Heat the oven to 450F.  Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with oil.  Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in a 12-inch straight-sided sauté pan or a roasting pan (something wide and shallow is best).

Meanwhile, turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces.  Roll out each piece of dough into a 24" rope.  Make a U-shape with the rope, and, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel.  Place on a half-shet pan.  Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

One by one, place the pretzels in the boiling water for 30 seconds.  Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula.  Return them to the sheet pans, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture, and sprinkle with pretzels salt.

Bake until dark golden brown in color, 12 to 14 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Notes:
- Add the flour about 1/2 cup at a time, and slow down once you reach the 3 1/2 or 4 cup mark.  Add enough flour after that point so that the dough isn't sticking to the side of the bowl, up to 4 1/2 cups total.
- I use my 5 quart sauté pan to boil the pretzels.
- I add an extra twist when I'm shaping my pretzels because I think it holds them together better (Alton Brown's just cross over each other in an X shape in the middle).
- If I don't have pretzel salt, I use sea salt or kosher salt.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pizza Dough & Sauce

From Todd Wilbur's A Treasury of Top Secret Recipes, pages 281-282 and 438-439.

This is a combination of the California Pizza Kitchen crust and the Pizza Hut sauce, and it's delicious!  Make sure you start the night before so the dough has enough time to rise.
Our cheese got a little overcooked, but it was still yummy!
Prep: 20 minutes + rising/resting (4-5 hours and overnight) / Cook: 10-12 minutes
Yield: one 10" pizza


CPK Crust:
1/3 cup + 1 Tbs. warm water (105-115F)
3/4 tsp. yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup bread flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil

Start the day before you plan to serve the pizza.  In a small bowl or measuring cup, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water.  Let it sit for 5 minutes until the surface of the mixture turns foamy.

Sift together the flour and salt in a medium bowl.  Make a depression in the flour and pour in the olive oil and yeast mixture.  Use a fork to stir the liquid, gradually drawing in more flour as you stir, until all the ingredients are combined.  When you can no longer stir with a fork, use your hands to form dough into a ball.  Knead the dough with the heels of your hands on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes, or until the texture of the dough is smooth.

Form the dough back into a ball, coat it lightly with oil, and place in a clean bowl covered with plastic wrap.  Keep the bowl in a warm place for about 2 hours to allow dough to double in size.  Punch down the dough and put it back into the covered bowl and into your refrigerator overnight.

Take the dough from the refrigerator 1 to 2 hours before you plan to build the pizza so that the dough can warm up to room temperature.

Form the dough into a ball and roll out on a floured surface until very think and 10" in diameter.  Put your pizza crust on a baking sheet or pizza pan, spread with sauce and toppings of your choice, and bake at 500F for 10-12 minutes or until the crust is light brown.

PH Sauce:
1 can tomato sauce (15 oz)
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
Dash onion powder
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Heat the sauce until it starts to bubble, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30-60 minutes until it reaches the desired thickness.  When sauce has cooled, store it in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container.

Notes:
- I kneaded my dough on a lightly floured Silpat-type silicone baking mat, and it was awesome!  The dough is somewhat sticky at first and stuck to my hands, but by the end of the 10 minutes, it was a smooth ball, and neither my hands nor the mat had any stray dough on them.
- The second time we made this pizza, we cooked it at 485 or 490 to keep the cheese from scorching, but the crust didn't get quite as crispy.  Just play around with it to find what you like.
- I have used the pizza sauce without allowing it to cool down, so don't worry if that's what you have to do, too!
- The sauce makes enough for a few pizzas, depending on how much sauce you like.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Granola-Yogurt Pancakes

From Lou Seibert Pappas's Pancakes & Waffles, page 20.

I know, I know . . . another pancake recipe.  I just am in a pancake phase right now.  These pancakes claimed to have a crunch from the granola, but mine did not.  Perhaps it was the type of granola I used.  (Or it may have been how long my three-year old was mixing the batter while I fed his little brother some breakfast--multitasking fail.)  Even so, I loved them!  They were deliciously chewy and filling.  I topped mine with granola, fresh fruit, and (you guessed it) Buttermilk Syrup.
1 1/2 cups granola
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar (optional)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups plain yogurt
2 large eggs
1/4 cup canola or nut oil

In a bowl, combine the granola, flours, sugar (if using), baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.  In another bowl, beat or whisk together the yogurt, eggs, and oil.  Add the yogurt mixture to the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.

Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat and grease lightly.  For each pancake, spoon or pour about 1/4 cup batter onto the hot griddle.  Cook until bubbles appear on the surface and the edges look dry, about 2 minutes.  Turn over and cook until golden brown, about 1 minute more.

Notes:
- I accidentally left out the brown sugar and was happy I did because I think my pancakes would have turned out too sweet otherwise.  Use your own judgment and add as much or as little of the brown sugar as you want, depending on the sweetness of your granola.
- I used French Vanilla Almond granola to make these, but the possibilities are as plentiful as the types of granola you can find (I can't wait to try this recipe with the Gingersnap, Cherry Vanilla, and Pumpkin varieties of granola in the bulk bins at our Smith's!)
- This batter was somewhat thick, so I tried to spread it out a little after pouring it into the skillet.  I wasn't keeping close track of the time, but I think it took longer than the recipe says.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Four-Grain Fitness Pancakes

From Lou Seibert Pappas's Pancakes & Waffles, page 18.

I was really excited to try these pancakes, and they did not disappoint!  They were hearty with a hint of spice from the cardamom.  The texture was great, and so was the flavor.  Pappas recommends topping them with plain yogurt and fresh fruit, but I just couldn't resist that delicious Buttermilk Syrup from my sister's blog.  At least I used the fruit, though.
Yield: About fourteen 4" pancakes.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup rye or oat flour
1/2 cup barley or buckwheat flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
2 Tbs. honey or maple syrup

Notes:
- For the life of me, I couldn't find rye flour, so I used oat flour.  (You can make oat flour by processing oats in a food processor.)  After all, Pappas suggests, "Vary these healthful pancakes with the grains at hand."  She also recommends tossing in toasted sesame seeds or toasted chopped nuts.
- Look for buckwheat flour in the bulk bin section of your grocery store.
- Look for the wheat germ in the cereal aisle.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Chicken Apple Sausage Couscous

Adapted slightly from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.
Serves 4-6.

1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 yellow onions, diced
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
12 oz. precooked chicken apple sausages, chopped
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth, divided, + additional if cooking couscous in broth instead of water
1/3 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
1 cup uncooked couscous

Cook couscous according to packaged directions.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, toast pine nuts over medium-low to medium heat, tossing frequently, until golden.  Remove nuts to a small bowl.

In the same skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering.  Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes, or until they begin to turn translucent.  Add the sausage and brown lightly, about 2-3 minutes.  Add 1/3 cup broth and the pepper, thyme, cumin, coriander, and curry powder; stir to combine.  Simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated or been absorbed; the mixture will still be somewhat wet.

Add the cranberries and remaining broth (2/3 cup).  Simmer for 2-3 minutes until cranberries are heated through and a bit softened.  Stir in the cooked couscous; simmer for another 2-3 minutes until the liquid is mostly absorbed but the couscous is not dry.

Top with pine nuts.
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