Friday, September 19, 2014

September 20, 2014

Hannah is out playing with the High School Pep band at the football game tonight - indications of what is coming not too far down the road.  Where have the years gone?  I was especially struck this week one evening at dinner watching her interact with her youngest brother.  9 years between the two of them and they are still amazingly close!  I don't know what he'll do when she heads off to college...but I digress; I better switch the subject before I send myself into a severe depression!

What a Sunday dinner we had!  Owen had a flag football game and we didn't get home until pretty late in the afternoon.  The dinner, chicken with caramelized pearl onions and almonds, was on the meal plan for last week but just never happened so I made it for Sunday.  All I can say...YUM!  It was beautiful, it was delicious, it was a keeper!  (You should seriously try this one!)  It was a beautiful meal that definitely qualifies as company-worthy, but it was also quick to put together.  What a winning combination!

This week I've also posted a recipe that I picked up this summer from my mom.  She loves turkey burgers and she told me her secret to making them - onion soup mix, bread crumbs, no eggs.  They are so easy to make, and they freeze wonderfully well.  It is nice to have these on hand in the freezer for when the family wants to grill out but I just don't feel like a traditional hamburger.

 My sister C shared a great (and easy - notice a pattern this week?) dinner that her family had raved about.  I made it a few days after she shared it with me and my family had the same reaction.  Chicken Parmesan Casserole was fabulous and paired well with spinach salad.  No pasta or rice needed and everyone was still satisfied.  Though next time we have it and if we have any leftover pizza dough in the fridge perhaps I will throw together a flat bread to pair with diner.

And finally, a new-ish banana muffin.  My kids are crazy for muffins, quick breads and the like.  A while back my sister M gave me a fabulous banana muffin recipe which I have made numerous times and posted here.  I went to make them this week and as I pulled out all my ingredients I found, ugh, my sour cream was no longer good.  Of course, I had already started on the muffins and adding the sour cream is the last step!  I quickly substituted vanilla yogurt and an additional bit of baking soda and wham - they were fantastic!  I added a topping that I had seen for a pumpkin quick bread and that just put them over the top.  We always have vanilla yogurt on hand so this may be our new favorite way to make banana muffins!

It's been a successful week around here - 4 keepers.  Let's see what next week brings!

Happy Cooking!

New Recipes
Chicken with Caramelized Pearl Onions and Almonds
Turkey Burgers
Chicken Parmesan Casserole
Vanilla Yogurt Banana Muffins

Chicken with Caramelized Pearl Onions and Almonds

*2-4 bone in chicken breasts, halved
* salt and pepper
* 1 tbsp vegetable oil
* 1 bag of frozen pearl onions (10-16 oz), thawed
* 2 tbsp unsalted butter
* 1 tbsp brown sugar
* 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
* 1/2 cup chopped almonds
* 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Pat the chicken dry with paper towels then season with salt and pepper.  Cook the chicken, skin side down, for 5 minutes or until well-browned. Flip the chicken, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for 15 more minutes or until the meat is cooked through.  Transfer the chicken to a platter and keep warm.
2. While the chicken is cooking, place the thawed onions in a medium bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave until tender, 4 to 5 minutes; drain well.
3. Melt the butter in the now empty skillet over medium high heat.  Add the onions, brown sugar and vinegar and cook until the onions are caramelized, about 5 minutes.  Add the almonds to the skillet and cook and stir for another 1-2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and nest the chicken back into the onion mixture.  Sprinkle the chicken with chives and serve.

Wow! We loved this!!!!  It took less than 30 minutes and we all agreed it was a restaurant quality meal.  It looked beautiful and tasted delicious.  I had never used or tasted pearl onions before this dinner though they are typically one of the side dishes at Thanksgiving!  I was a bit skeptical but figured we like onions so I might as well give the recipe a try.  I am so glad I did!  45 minutes before I needed the onions I had taken them out of the freezer and poured them into the bowl I was going to microwave them in and let them thaw on the counter.  I microwaved my onions for 4 minutes and that worked.  My grocery store only had onions in a 10 oz bag. The original recipe calls for a 16 oz bag but this worked out just fine.  Also, I cut the chicken up even further prior to nesting it back in the skillet which made it easier for the kids to handle and cut themselves.  We will definitely make this meal again!!!

Turkey Burgers

* 1.5-2 lbs ground turkey
* 1 envelope onion soup mix (I used Lipton)
* bread crumbs (just enough to bind the meat)

1. Mix the turkey and onion soup mix together.  Slowly add the breadcrumbs until the mixture will hold together.
2. Form patties and grill right away, or place them on wax paper lined cookie sheet to quick freeze.  After freezing, put the burgers in a zipper freezer bag for longer term storage.

These were so moist and delicious!  Sometimes I've encountered some very dry or tough turkey burgers but these are fantastic.  Using breadcrumbs instead of egg for binder definitely helps combat dryness.  You can use Panko breadcrumbs or traditional, whichever you have on hand.  Last time I made these I then froze them for future use.  I took one out to defrost and cooked it and it was still amazing.  So nice to be able to take one (or a few) out at a time!

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

* 4 cups precooked and shredded chicken
* 1 jar of marinara sauce (24 oz)
* 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
* 1 cup mozzarella cheese
* 1 cup breadcrumbs, Panko or homemade
* 1-2 tbsp olive oil
* 1 1/2 dry tsp Italian seasoning, plus fresh minced basil if desired

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. Grease an 8 x 8 or 11 x 7 casserole dish with cooking spray.
3. Mix the chicken and marinara sauce together and place in the dish.  Top with the cheese to cover the chicken.
4. In a small bowl mix the breadcrumbs, oil and herbs together.  Add salt and pepper if desired.  Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top of the chicken.
5. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the crumbs are golden and the casserole is bubbling on the sides.

I needed to cook this on the longer side, but it depends on how much you really put in your casserole, how hot your oven runs, if you took it right from the fridge to put it in the oven, etc.  This is definitely a meal you could make in the morning and cook in the evening when you get home.  To make it super easy, shred a rotisserie chicken and use part of the chicken meat from that for this recipe.  We loved this and will definitely be making it again.  So often you think of chicken Parmesan and pairing it with pasta but we didn't miss the pasta!  We served it with spinach salad and were all satisfied.

Vanilla Yogurt Banana Muffins

* 4 ripe bananas
* 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
* 1/2 cup canola oil
* 1 large egg
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 cup whole-wheat flour
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
* 1 tbsp vanilla extract
Ingredients for topping
* 5 tbsp packed light brown sugar
* 1 tbsp AP flour
* 1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
* 1 tsp cinnamon
* 1/8 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan, regular or mini, with paper liners.
2. Peel four bananas, and place them in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until mashed, about 1 minute. Add brown sugar, oil, and egg; beat until smooth. Reduce speed to low. Add flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; beat until smooth. Add vanilla yogurt and vanilla; beat until combined.
3. Fill muffin liners three-quarters full. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes for regular muffins and 18 for mini, rotating pan halfway through. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Store, covered, at room temperature.
Don't be worried if you get a small hole in the top of your muffin, or if you get a crack.  This might happen because your topping had a bit of butter that wasn't fully incorporated and melted right into the muffin. I must say - my kids sought these ones out because then inside the muffin had a little bit of extra sweetness and yumminess in the center.  They might look a little different, but they taste fabulous.