Chicken Milanese

I’ve been wanting to use marscapone for a long time – an Italian cheese similar to cream cheese, but more decadent and luxurious. In order to use mascarpone, I needed to find a recipe ridiculously delicious in order to justify eating it. After all, it is the definition of rich. Enter Chicken Milanese.

The recipe came from Giada De Laurentiis, whose prior recipes have come out less than stellar for me. While that element alone made me skeptical, the dish sounded so easy and so tasty…I couldn’t resist. I’m so glad I could not, and hopefully you can’t too. I substituted onions for fennel because I realized I am not a huge fan of fennel. The onions really complement the mascarpone and grape tomatoes and if you use the sweet variety like I did, it will further help make this dish both sweet and savory. Need an entertaining-worthy dish? I think you’ve found it.

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless and skinless chicken cutlets
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (can use plain or whole wheat)
  • 2/3 cup grated fresh parmesan
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • pinch garlic powder
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • coarse salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil (can also use 1 tablespoon fresh basil)
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

How To:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Create a dipping station to bread the chicken: take three shallow bowls or plates. Add the flour to one, the eggs to another and the bread crumbs to a third. Combine the Parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, and garlic powder with the bread crumbs. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Next, dredge the chicken first in the flour to coat lightly, then dip into the beaten eggs. Allow any excess egg to drip off before coating in the bread crumb mixture.  Press lightly to adhere if any crumbs are not sticking.

Place chicken cutlets on baking sheets and drizzle lightly with olive oil.  Bake for 15 minutes, flipping once after 8 minutes. Check to make sure chicken is opaque throughout.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cherry or grape tomatoes, salt, garlic and dried basil. If using fresh basil add at the end. Cook the mixture for 5 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender. Remove the pan from heat and add the mascarpone cheese. Stir until mixture is creamy and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place chicken on serving dishes and top with tomato mascarpone sauce. Enjoy immensely.


Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have one minor change for the song “My Favorite Things” – chocolate chip cookies would be in there, not crisp apple strudel. Although, I do love a good apple strudel, I usually only care for it in the fall. Chocolate chip cookies is even the same amount of syllables. It just works.

What sets these chocolate chip numbers apart is the sprinkling of fleur de sel. A little salt with my chocolate? Why yes please, and I am pretty sure you will agree. It adds that something you didn’t even know you were missing in your chocolate chip cookies. Note before you start to make these- the dough needs to refrigerate for 24 hours! I hate when recipes give an extended time frame late in the instructions, so I am telling you up front. You know what to expect, and they are worth the wait.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 sticks and 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons good vanilla extract
  • 11 ounces chocolate chips – can use milk chocolate or semi-sweet
  • Fleur de Sel

How To:

In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix well. Stir in the vanilla. With mixer on low, add dry ingredients but do not over mix. Add chocolate chips and mix lightly until they are well combined, again taking care to not over mix. When ingredients are incorporated, place a piece of cling on top of the bowl and flip over onto the counter. Huddle up the dough and cover tightly in the cling. Refrigerate for 24 hours – this creates fluffier cookies with better flavor, a super dreamy texture, and a richer taste.

Once you have your dough ready for baking, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheets with silpat or parchment paper. Form dough into roughly 2 tablespoon size balls (size of a ping pong ball), and place on baking sheet. Flatten slightly and sprinkle with Fleur de Sel. Bake for about 18 minutes, or until cookies are lightly golden.  Let sit for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack for 10 minutes. Best enjoyed warm!

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

Haven’t had enough buffalo sauce in the past few days (i.e. Superbowl mania)? Is there such a thing as enough buffalo sauce? I didn’t think so. I made buffalo chicken sliders because I’m not a fan of wings, and the bones, and the hard work involved. I like eating full bites and wasting no sauce. Let’s be honest, re-invention is fun and sometimes necessary. These sliders are no exception.
Putting the sliders on mini pretzel rolls is quite possibly what took these from a 10 to an 11.  Topped with thin dill pickle slices and a dollop of ranch sauce, and you have the most delicious bite; no bones about it. Really, no bones and they taste like buffalo wings. We also stepped up the ranch sauce by making it thicker than just a dressing. It stuck to the sliders and had a creaminess that goes so well with spice.
Play with the slider mix – you can add blue cheese or gorgonzola, take out the bread crumbs, or add some more spice. Make up your own toppings – coleslaw, blue cheese dressing, cheese…I think I need to make these again, now.
Ingredients:
  • 1 pound ground chicken breast (you can also use ground chicken thigh or a mix of both)
  • 1/2 onion, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • Lawry’s seasoning salt, salt and black pepper to taste
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup Frank’s redhot sauce or buffalo sauce, divided
  • pickles, preferably dill, sliced very thin and into 1 inch pieces
  • slider rolls – you can use dinner rolls or pretzel rolls (found at Whole Foods by Pretzilla)
  • cucumber slices, celery and carrot sticks for dipping in additional sauce

for the ranch sauce

  • low-fat or regular ranch dressing
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise

How To:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, grated onion, garlic, parsley, panko, worcestershire sauce, cayenne, paprika, and 1/4 cup Frank’s Redhot Sauce. Season with Lawry’s salt, salt and black pepper. Taking about lime size portions of meat, flatten into patties and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. You should have about 12-14 sliders. Drizzle with olive oil and bake until sliders are cooked through, about 12 minutes.

While the sliders are baking, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the rest of the Frank’s redhot sauce (1/2 cup) and stir until combined. For the ranch sauce, combine the ranch dressing, sour cream and mayonnaise in a small bowl. Set aside. Place cooked sliders in the skillet and flip to get them completely covered. Let simmer for 5 minutes.

Split rolls and place sliders on bottom half of each. Top with 2 pickle slices and smooth 1 teaspoon of ranch sauce on top buns. Assemble sliders and serve with cucumber slices, carrot sticks and celery, and additional ranch sauce for dipping.

Homemade Samoa Cookies

I listened to a little Joy Division and made Samoa cookies last night, a la Girl Scouts. It allowed me to reminisce of the days when I was just a girl trying to sell as many boxes of cookies as I could. It also reminded me of the movie Troop Beverly Hills, and what a classic that is. I know my friends Brooke and Lindsay will agree.

Samoa cookies are by far my favorite, but that isn’t to say I would shun a good Thin Mint or Tagalong. I was saddened when I was about to buy some ice cream (low-fat!) with Samoas mixed in, and saw partially hydrogenated fat on the ingredients list. I know food can be made without it, which led me to wonder why couldn’t I make Samoas myself? Which has brought us to this; a fabulous homemade Samoa cookie with all-natural ingredients.

This seriously should have earned an awesome Girl Scout patch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk

for the topping

  • 2 cups shredded coconut (I used unsweetened but sweetened will also work)
  • 12 ounces chewy caramels (you can also make your own caramel, which I’ve detailed below)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 8 to 12 ounces chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate)

How To:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly add to butter and sugar mixture at a low speed. Add vanilla and gradually incorporate milk, adding only as much as needed to make the dough come together. If it looks grainy, just use your hands to pull it together. If it still won’t come together, add a tablespoon of milk at a time. The dough should not be extremely sticky. Once your dough has formed a ball, its ready to roll out.

On a floured surface (and with a floured rolling pin), roll out dough in batches to 1/4 inch.  Use a round (suggested – 1 1/2-inch) cookie cutter to cut out cookies. Place rounds on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silpat. I used a toothpick to hand draw inner circles, but you could use a smaller cookie cutter if you have one, or a wide straw. The cookies don’t expand so don’t worry that the hole is going to disappear.

Bake cookies for about 12 minutes; the bottoms will be lightly browned and the tops still pale, but set. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack. Cool completely.

For the topping, preheat oven to 300. Spread the shredded coconut evenly on a baking sheet with sides. Toast for 20 minutes in the oven, stirring every 5 minutes until coconut is golden. Cool on the baking sheet.

Unwrap the caramels and place in a medium saucepan with milk and salt (or follow how-to-make caramel instructions below). Heat over medium-low until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and stir in coconut. Using a dinner knife or a small offset spatula, spread coconut topping on cooled cookies, using about 2 teaspoons per cookie. You can reheat the caramel if it becomes difficult to work with by microwaving it for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

The topping will set quickly so you can get to work on the chocolate right away. Place chocolate in a small bowl and heat in the microwave for 1 minute. Take out and stir. Heat again for 30 second intervals until chocolate is completely melted. Most bits will melt just by mixing.

Dip the bottom of each cookie into the chocolate and smooth over with the back of a spoon, also getting off any excess chocolate (yep, just said excess chocolate- I know some of you are cringing). Place on a clean piece of parchment paper. Once finished, place in refrigerator or freezer to finish setting (about 10 minutes).

Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt more chocolate if necessary) into a ziplock bag set in a small glass. This will help you so you can use both hands to get the chocolate into the bag. Snip a bottom corner of the bag and drizzle cookies with chocolate. Allow to set for another several minutes in the refrigerator or freezer, and enjoy! These cookies are also great frozen.

To make your own caramel (which I highly recommend! It’s like a science project):

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water

How To:

Place cream, butter, and fleur de sel or kosher salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil (everything should be melted together), then remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, swirl sugar, corn syrup, and water together without stirring. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Let boil without stirring until the mixture is a light golden caramel. Take care as mixture will burn very fast after it has reached the golden point, so remove from heat promptly.

Carefully stir in cream mixture- it will bubble up and continue to do so for several minutes, especially with stirring which you can now do.  Place back on heat and let simmer (low to medium-low heat) with a close eye, stirring frequently until caramel registers 255 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 15-20 minutes. Let the caramel cool slightly, then pour into a heat-safe bowl and add coconut. Continue with steps above to top cookies.