The Advent Season Begins

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Our Advent Wreath will grace our dinner table each evening as we embark on the new liturgical year as Catholics. The traditions and rituals of Advent bring comfort and peace to those who believe.

Continue reading “The Advent Season Begins”

Seasoned Chicken Breast with Stove Top Stuffing and No Green In Sight

For those of you who have been following my little adventure into the world of blogging (thank you), then you may already know that my baby brother passed away four years ago this month. His was a complicated passing, dying of cancer. It was a peaceful death, for that we can be grateful. His cancer could not be treated and his death was only a matter of time. The disease was discovered when Brother Dear was awaiting a heart transplant. He had already been fitted with a heart pump. Without the pump, he would die. With the pump, cancer treatment was not possible. He was a good man. We don’t dwell on his passing but rather remember him fondly and celebrate his life in simple ways.

JimboThere were two things Brother Dear loved (besides McDonald’s, pizzas and popcorn) and that good chicken served with stove top stuffing. He hated most vegetables of any kind – especially anything green such as asparagus, broccoli or green beans. Sometimes I got him to eat his vegetables simply by hiding them in his food. Finely chopped carrots in spaghetti sauce was one such trick.

Each December, in honor of my darling Brother I whip up a simple baked chicken dinner and serve it along side his favorite Stove-Top Stuffing. It is one of those rare time when there is no green in sight. We give thanks for the time the Good Lord gave us as a family, and raise our forks of stuffing to Heaven, knowing that he is smiling down.

These breasts are baked with a simple seasoning, and no breading. They are cooked at a higher temperature for a shorter amount of time. The result is a breast that is packed with flavor, and unbelievably moist. I chose to use Mrs. Dash Seasoning mix. You could use just about any dried seasoning combination such as onion powder, garlic powder or lemon pepper. Be sure to let chicken rest for about 10 minutes after removing from oven for their natural juices to settle.

Seasoned Chicken Bake
4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
4 Tablespoons Mrs. Dash Seasoning
2 Tablespoons Sweet Paprika
Olive Oil Spray

Heat oven to 450 degrees.

Rinse and pat dry chicken breasts. Set aside.

On a flat plate, sprinkle 1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash Seasoning with ½ tablespoon paprika. Spread out thinly on the plate.

Lightly spray chicken breasts on both sides with olive oil. Working with one breast at a time, press breast onto the plate of seasoning to lightly coat. Turn breast over, press other side. Place breast onto a shallow, rimmed baking sheet.

Repeat with 1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash Seasoning and ½ tablespoon paprika for each breast, spreading seasoning on the plate.

Place chicken into the hot oven and bake for 10 minutes. Turn breast over; continue to bake another 10 minutes.

Remove from oven, cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes. While breasts are resting, the Stove-Top Stuffing.

Uncover chicken, place on individual plates, slice and serve with Stove-Top on the side.

Easy Stove-Top Chicken Stuffing
3 Ribs Celery, Chopped
1 Small Onion chopped
3/4 Cup Butter
2 Teaspoon Poultry Seasoning
3 Cups Chicken Stock (broth is okay)
2 Box Chicken Flavored Stove-Top Stuffing

Melt 1/2 cup butter in a sauce pan over low heat until just beginning to foam.

While butter melts, chop celery and onion. Set aside until ready to use.

Saute vegetables in butter over medium heat until just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Season with poultry seasoning.

Add Chicken Stock to the pan, bring to a rolling boil. Add remaining 1/4 cup butter. Once butter has melted, stir to blend.

Empty Stove-Top Stuffing into the pot. Lower heat and allow stuffing to absorb the liquid.

Remove from heat, fluff with a fork. To serve, place stuffing into a decorative serving bowl.

Baked Garlic Caramelized Brown Sugar Chicken

Lately we’ve been eating a lot of chicken – thanks to Costco and a big freezer in the garage. It’s getting to be time for another big run. With that in mind, I’ve been meander through my collection of recipes and set about the task of planning ahead. February’s meal planning is nearly complete! I cannot help but to chuckle – you know what they say “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. Oh but one can only hope . . .

This chicken is delicious! It’s sweet, with a subtle kiss of garlic. The meat is very moist and the pan drippings are so packed with flavor – wow is an understatement. It is unlike any chicken I have tasted before. Best of all, there is not a whole lot of prep work involved for a dish that is delightful.

Baked Garlic Caramelized Brown Sugar Chicken
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons brown sugar
3 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and lightly grease a casserole dish. Set aside until ready to use.

Cut chicken width-wise to create 4 smaller breasts.Season chicken with a little salt and pepper. Place chicken breasts in a prepared baking dish.

In small sauté pan, sauté garlic with the oil until tender and fragrant, no more that a minute.

Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar. Sprinkle brown sugar-garlic mixture over breasts. Press down to hold sugar in place.

Bake uncovered for 15-30 minutes, depending upon size of breast. After 15 minutes, keep a sharp eye on breasts to avoid burning or over-cooking. If necessary, cover with foil and reduce temperature to about 425 to degrees.

Breasts are done when internal temperature is 165 degrees, the juices run clear and the meat is moist and tender.

Baked Chicken Breasts with Mushroom Rice & Broccoli in a Cheese Sauce

Way back in 1977, I held my first ever dinner party.  Okay, so it wasn’t a huge party – there were only three of us dining that evening.  Sue, my best friend at the time, her then boyfriend Allen and me.  Still, I felt so “adult”, entertaining friends in my tiny walk-up apartment.  I will never forget that night for many reasons.  Although Sue and I met in Elementary School, we didn’t really forge our deep friendship until years later, when we were in our early twenties.  (And boy, have I dated myself or what!)

Continue reading “Baked Chicken Breasts with Mushroom Rice & Broccoli in a Cheese Sauce”

Dijon-Lemon Chicken Vegetable Foil Packs

My husband thinks I’m crazy.  We’ve been married for over thirty years, and in that time I have given him ample reason to think I’m just a little nuts. Recently we made plans for our summer vacation. We’ve decided to return to an old favorite stomping ground – Yellowstone. A few years back, we discovered Rand Creek Ranch, an awesome place to call our home-away-from-home when visiting Yellowstone. We love this place for a lot of reasons. It’s centrally located between Yellowstone’s east gate and Cody, making easy day-trips to either place possible. The cabins, although be it rustic, are super cozy. Imagine all the joys of camping while having your own shower and a comfy bed at night. The ranch is a family owned and operated business and as such is a family-oriented destination. On the property, there’s a catch and release trout pond with fishing gear, horseback riding, and a nice picnic area complete with tables and a big gas grill for your use. Best of all, the owners build a camp fire each night. Everyone gathers around the fire, toasts marshmallows and shares their day’s adventures. Although there is no restaurant on the premises, every morning you will find a breakfast of fresh-baked goodies, fruit and juice waiting on your porch. While the cabins don’t have a real “kitchen”, there is a microwave, coffee-maker and refrigerator. We like to stock the fridge with hamburgers, hot dogs and sandwich fixings. In the mornings, before heading off to the park, we can pack a picnic lunch to take with us. In the evenings, we can grill up a simple supper of burgers or dogs.

This year, I thought I’d expand our grilling suppers to include foil-wrapped meals. In pursuit of different dinner-ideas, I  began to collect foil-pack recipes. Some are strictly for the grill, others are for the oven, while others still can be either. When I told Hubby of my brilliant idea, his response was “Are you crazy?”

This first foil packet is designed for the oven. While it’s not going to make the cut for our vacation suppers, it’s still a keeper. It’s easy to prepare, with very little clean-up. And my guys loved it.

Dijon-Lemon Chicken and Vegetables in Foil
1 lb baby red potatoes, halved or quartered
2 cups baby carrots
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon Miracle Whip
1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
Zest of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 lemon, thinly sliced (Use the same lemon that was zested if you like)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut four sheets of foil large enough to securely wrap the potatoes, carrots and chicken breasts. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, Miracle Whip, mustard, thyme, rosemary and lemon zest; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

In a large zip-lock bag, place potatoes. Drizzle potatoes with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste; then gently toss to combine. Place bag (open) in the microwave and par-cook potatoes for about 8-10 minutes.

Using a large serving spoon, divide potatoes into 4 equal portions and place in the center of each foil in a single layer. Scatter a handful of carrots around potatoes.

Cut each breast in half, creating four smaller breasts. Spoon some of the mustard mixture on top of each breast. Using your fingers, work the mustard mixture onto both sides of the chicken, turning chicken as needed. Top each foil pack of vegetables with one breast. Place a slice of lemon on top of the breast.
Bring foil up over the chicken, then fold down the top to firmly seal. Fold the sides of the foil over the chicken, covering completely and sealing the packets closed.

Place foil packets in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place into oven and bake until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. (After 25 minutes, check for doneness. If necessary, bake longer, until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender, checking every 5 minutes).

To serve, place packets on individual plates and let your diners unwrap their supper. A nice salad would round out the meal beautifully.

**********

For those interested, here’s a link to the ranch:

http://www.randcreekranch.com/cabins_yellowstone_codywy.php