Monday, March 30, 2009

Chicken Pillows with Cheese Sauce

Everyone I know probably already has this recipe but here it is anyway! Whether you call them pillows or diapers they're fast, easy and yummy.

I've made this so many times now I usually just wing it, but here are the measurments for serving 6 or 8 depending on if you use the bigger crescent rolls of six or the smaller with eight.

Chicken Pillows with Cheese Sauce
makes 6 or 8

2 or 3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1/3 or whole package cream cheese
1/3 or 1/4 cup margerine
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped green onions
crescent rolls or even better, Pillsbury's new crescent dough cut into rectangles
ritz crackers, crumbled or bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten

In a med. bowl mixfirst five ingredients. With each crescent spread out with fingers to make larger, but not too thin (this is why the larger ones work a little better) and add a large spoonful of mix in the middle. Bring all edges of crescent dough to the top and seal them by pinching together.
Coat each "pillow" in egg and then in crackers.
Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes, until gold brown.

Cheese Sauce

1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream
1 sm. can evaporated milk
2 cups shredded cheese

Combine all ingredients in sauce pan and stir on med-high until cheese is melted and well incorporated. Serve over chicken pillows and mashed potatoes.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Chicken Cordon Bleu

This dish always sounds so gourmet and yet it is actually quite easy to prepare.  Sometimes I overcook the chicken, but tonight this turned out superb! I've done this before by pounding the chicken and then rolling it, but this way was a lot easier and quicker and I can never get all the toothpicks out when I do the rolling way so that problem was solved nicely. Also, once they're stuffed they get pretty big so Jon and I split one tonight and still have some left for dinner tomorrow- I love meals that do double duty.

*Post Edit:  After trying a few more methods of this recipe here is now what I have found to be the best.  And, having had success intwo methods of cooking them I will give each option and leave it up to you to bake or fry.  The frying method, makes it taste just a little richer perhaps.  But, I also get great results baking too.  Really it just depends on my mood.  Two sauce options as well.

Chicken Cordon Bleu
Leah Matthews
makes 4

8 thin slices deli ham (about 8 ounces)
2 cups shredded swiss cheese
4 thick boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds total) I find that fresh, rather than frozen work a little better
Salt and pepper
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/3 cup panko crumbs (optional, but I really like adding them because it gives the breading a little more crunch and volume)

Mix the bread crumbs and panko crumbs together in a bowl or a shallow baking dish (a pie plate works great!).

 Top each ham slice with about 1/4 cup shredded cheese. If your ham slices are too small, shingle two ham slices on top of each other to create a larger slice and roll the cheese up in that. Roll tightly and set aside.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. 
Take a chicken breast and with a  large, sharp knife; I use my chef's knife.  Starting in the thickest part of the breast, cut through making a pocke,t carefully edging the knife deeper through and widening the sides without cutting through the sides or bottom.  I am terrible at explaining this!  Essentially you are making a pocket in the chicken to stuff the yummy things into.  The bigger the pocket (w/out cutting through) the better so that you will have the stuffing in each bite when it is baked.  I don't seal the end, but you can use tooth picks to do this if you want. Then stuff each pocket with 2 ham/cheese rolls. You can add another roll if there is room- that’s just more yummy stuff in our chicken.  Pull the top flap of chicken over the rolls and press to seal (you can use a toothpick to gently secure the pocket edge, if you like).  Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Refrigerate the stuffed chicken, covered, for at least 20 minutes.  But, should you feel lazy or disinclined to do this, your chicken will still turn out alright; it just helps keep everything together a little better.

In another shallow dish or pie plate, beat the eggs and mustard. Place the flour in a third shallow dish. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Working with one stuffed chicken breast at a time, coat the chicken lightly with flour and then dip in the egg mixture, covering both sides. Dredge the chicken in the bread crumbs, pressing lightly to help the crumbs stick to the chicken. (The breaded chicken can be refrigerated covered for up to 1 day.) 

Method 1 Baking:  Preheat oven to 450. Transfer the chicken to a lightly greased rimmed baking sheet. Bake on the lowest rack of the oven until the bottom of the chicken is browned, about 10 minutes. Move the chicken to a middle rack in the oven, reduce the temperature to 400 (you don't have to leave the chicken out of the oven while the temperature adjusts, just put it back in the oven and then reduce the temperature), and bake until golden brown and the chicken is cooked through (160 degrees on an thermometer), about 2o-25 minutes. Check the chicken after 20 minutes or sooner depending on your oven.  Of course you want your chicken completely cooked but the moister the chicken is, the better this will taste!  Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Method 2 Frying:  Heat a large frying pan on med-high and add olive oil, about 3 Tbs.  When oil is hot turn down to med heat and add chicken breasts.  (I was only able to fit 3 in my pan.)  Cook until bottom is brown and crusty and then turn over until the same of the other side and chicken is cooked through.  (slice a little piece open to check.)

*As a side note: If you want to make this dish even more flavorful, try finding a seasoned polenta mix to use in place of the breadcrumbs.  We've found a polenta and red pepper mix that tastes wonderful used this way.

Cream Sauce

2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
3-4 Tbs flour
salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste

In a medium sauce pan combine broth and cream.  Whisk in flour and heat on med, stirring often until thickened.  Add more flour if necessary.  When sauce is desired thickness, add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over chicken when serving.

Mock Hollandaise Sauce

1 can reduced fat cream of chicken soup
1 TSP lemon juice
1/2 cup sour cream

Mix all together and heat over med until warm and smooth.  

Creamed Peas

My Grandma Ellsworth and my mom have always made these.  It's so simple and tastes wonderful; I've always loved this way of preparing peas and since I had some left over evaporated milk from the meatball meal we had the other night this was a great way to use it up.  Speaking of which, that's really a great and economical way to plan meals.  I had decided to make cordon bleu because I had some leftover swiss from a previous meal a few weeks ago and the remainng cream from the mousse I had made Jon.  

Creamed Peas
Ellsworth Family

1 can peas
evaporated milk
salt and pepper to taste

In a small sauce pan add drained peas and just enough milk to coat the peas but not cover them since you don't really want it to be soupy.  Heat to a boil and then turn down to low to simmer.  Stir occasionly lightly mashing the peas ( I don't mean like mashed potatoes mash, just pressing on them slightly to thicken the consistency a little.)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Grandma Ellsworth's Meatballs

These are so tasty that I don't like to serve them the traditional way with pasta, rather I make them the main entree and serve with an optional dipping sauce of ketchup and worcestershire. Tonight we had green and yellow squash and rice pilaf as sides.

Grandma Ellsworth's Meatballs

1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground sausage
1 egg
1/2 can evaporated milk
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped fine
1 cup breadcrumbs or oatmeal (I usually use oatmeal)
salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Mix all ingredients together; go ahead get your hands dirty!  Form into golf ball size balls and fry first batch in a little butter or margarine on med-high heat in a large frying pan until browned and a little crispy on bottom and them turn them over until they are the same on the other side, about 5 minutes per side.  The grease and remaining butter will be enough for the rest.  Makes about 30 meatballs.