Domain Name Change

Notice: The old URL http://natalieshandbasket.blogspot.com now redirects to this domain.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

October 21: Chicken and Waffles




It’s Sunday dinner-time. It’s Sunday dinner-time…let’s give a rousing cheer, your recipe is here! (Obviously, I was singing that to the tune of the Howdy Doodie show introduction, and I hope you were, too.) 

So yeah. 

Today’s dinner is one I saw while browsing and it looked tasty and like something my family would like, and was something out of my norm, so I tried it. I’m not sure it strictly (or even loosely?) qualifies as “fall-inspired,” but I’m going to include it in my countdown for 3 reasons. A. I made it during this countdown period, B. I found the recipe for itin the October 2018 issue of the Food Network Magazine, and C. It was next to a recipe for a Sheet-Pan Apple Spice Pancake, so, by transitive properties and all of that, it’s a “fall” meal. 

Besides the way I cut my chicken (I cut them into thinner strips than the original recipe) and the fact that I used two fewer waffles than the original recipe called for (since Eggos are sold in packs of 10), I pretty much followed it as written. Still, what I include below is what I did. 

“It’s time to start the show, so kids let’s go!” 

Sheet-Pan Chicken and Waffles
Serves 4
Ingredients:

1 ½-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips (you could also use chicken cutlets and cut out a step) 
½ cup Daisy Light sour cream
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Zest of one lemon, divided
Kosher salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
5 cups cornflakes, crushed
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme, divided
4 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
10 frozen Eggo Buttermilk Waffles
Maple syrup, for serving

Directions:

1.     Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Set aside.

2.     In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, half the lemon zest, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

3.     In a large bowl, crush 5 cups of cornflakes. (I used my hands to crunch them up. If you don’t want to use your hands, you could put them in a ziplock bag and beat them with a rolling pin, or even give them a whirr in your food processor.) Add 1 Tablespoon thyme, a quarter teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Stir and set aside.
A great way to work out your frustrations. LOL
You show those flakes who's boss!
This is what they look like crushed
Up close
With thyme, salt, and pepper...
...and olive oil - now it's ready to use as crunchy breading
4.     Place the chicken slices into the sour cream mixture and toss to coat. (Again, I used my hand to make sure each piece was coated on each side. Wash your hands before the next step.)
Chicken cut into strips
Chicken in coating
5.     Work with 4 chicken slices at a time. Use a fork to put coated chicken slices into the cornflake mixture. Coat the chicken with the cornflakes (I used the fork to scoop cornflakes on the top until it was fully coated, pressing gently when necessary to adhere.) Remove cornflake-coated chicken strips from the bowl and place on the prepared pan. When all the strips are on the pan, spray all the chicken with cooking spray.
In the cornflakes
Breaded and on the pan
All ready for baking. As you can see, my chicken
slices weren't quite consistently sized. 
6.     Bake 15 minutes, or until lightly brown on top. (I rotated my pan halfway through.) 

7.     While chicken bakes, prepare the herb-butter mixture by combining softened butter, the other half of the lemon zest, and 1 Tablespoon thyme. Set aside until ready to use.
Herbs 
Add room-temperature butter
Stir to combine
8.     Arrange waffles on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 10-15 minutes or until toasted and hot. (Note: the original recipe calls for us to use the same pan the chicken is on, but my chicken took up my whole pan. So I used another pan. The original recipe also calls for arranging the waffles in two rows on the pan, overlapping them, flipping and rotating the waffles halfway through the 10-15 minute bake time. I followed their instruction, but there was still a soggy section at the end, so after I’d baked the waffles for about 12 minutes, I placed them flat on the pan for another 2-3 minutes so they were crunchy on both sides.) 

      LEAVE THE CHICKEN IN THE OVEN TO CONTINUE COOKING DURING THIS TIME, cooking until the thickest part of the chicken registers 165 degrees.
These are still frozen in this picture, but this is how the
directions suggested stacking them.
Even after fully baking, they didn't get particularly golden,
though they were crunchy and hot. 
Chicken cooked through- nice and golden and crunchy.
9.     Spread herb butter over the waffles to serve alongside (or under) the chicken. Serve with or without maple syrup (see my comments below).

When I was at the gym dropping off some apple walnut oatmeal cookies for the staffers, I asked their thoughts about this dinner. “What should I serve as a side for chicken and waffles?” One of them said, “Maple syrup!” hahaha. Touché! However, I feel like vegetables need to be included with dinner, so I served my chicken and waffles alongside a medley of green beans, carrots, and zucchini in a light rosemary sauce (it was Green Giant brand—I just heated it in the microwave) and everyone in my house agreed it paired nicely. 

We were more split when it came to the butter and syrup. 

The good news is everyone in my house enjoyed the meal; however, we all had varying preferences on how we ate it. For instance, neither of my daughters wanted the herb butter, so I didn’t put it on their waffles. My older daughter ate everything separately. That is, she had waffles with syrup and butter the way she would with breakfast, then she ate her chicken on the side with ketchup. My younger daughter did the same with her waffle, but dipped her chicken in BBQ sauce. My husband liked the herb butter a lot, but felt maple syrup overpowered it on the waffles. He preferred a BBQ sauce with the chicken and waffle together because he thought the BBQ complemented the butter without overshadowing it. Personally, I liked the maple syrup with the herb butter and the waffles together with the chicken, but I also liked dipping my extra chicken in the BBQ.


All this to say: there’s plenty of ways to enjoy this meal! It’s easy to adapt to suit your tastes, and a fun way to change things up from a normal dinner fare. 

So, c’mon kids, say howdy doo to this chicken and waffles for your next meal!


**I have no affiliation or relationship with any of the brands mentioned or linked in this post. All opinions and experiences expressed herein are my own.**

Saturday, October 20, 2018

October 20: Make-Ahead Pear French Toast Muffins


Weekends. We love ‘em. They give us an opportunity to sleep in a little later. To not hold so firmly to a schedule. To lounge around in comfy clothes watching favorite classic movies. To putter in the garden or ride bikes with the kids. And, hopefully, to linger over breakfast or brunch with a warm cup of your favorite drink. (May I recommend this one?) 

Enter today’s recipe. 

I chose it because it’s a make-ahead meal. Which means you do the heavy lifting the night before and just pop it in the oven the next morning. Then, in the time it takes for a pot of coffee to finish brewing (and maybe a pan of bacon to finish sizzling), your pear French toast muffins will be ready to serve! 

You need to try these.

Presto presto, do your very besto, don’t hang back like a shy little kid! You’ll be so glad that you did what you did, if you do it with a bing bang bong!

Make-Ahead Pear French Toast Muffins
Adapted from Kraft’s Food & Family Magazine, Fall 2018 issue)
Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients:

7 oz container Philadelphia Brown Sugar & Cinnamon cream cheese
3 eggs
¼ cup maple syrup
1 cup milk
6 cups French bread cubes (cut into ½ inch cubes)
1 red-skinned pear, chopped
1 Tablespoon powdered sugar


Directions:

1. Spray 12-count muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.

2. In mixer, beat cream cheese, eggs, and maple syrup until blended. Add milk in 1/3 cup increments, beating well after each addition.




3. In a large bowl, toss bread cubes and pears. Add ½ cup of the wet mixture and toss to coat. 


4. Spoon damp bread mixture into muffin pan, filling each well to the top. 



5. Pour remaining liquid over each well. (I had enough to add a little over 2 Tablespoons of liquid to each muffin.) Don't be alarmed if you see little bits of cream cheese rise to the top. 

Aforementioned cream cheese curds 
6. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

7. The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake muffins 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes; sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve warm.
Post overnight refrigeration
Post baking
Up close, golden brown, and puffed to perfection! 
It's rainin' sugar, hallelujah!
(*Note that the original recipe calls for 6 slices of cooked, crumbled bacon to be added to the pear and bread cube mixture in step 3. I left that out in favor of serving bacon as its own side.)

These were a fun treat warm from the oven with a side of maple syrup for dipping. I also enjoyed the leftovers cold from the refrigerator, when the pear flavor was pronounced in the best way possible. 


So what are you waiting for? Savor your weekend a little extra with this tasty make-ahead breakfast option. (And maybe watch Houseboat because that can't hurt either.)

Be like Christobal Columbo – Take a chance, take a chance…



**I have no affiliation or relationship with any of the brands mentioned or linked in this post. All opinions and experiences expressed herein are my own.**

Friday, October 19, 2018

October 19: Sausage Pumpkin Pasta Bake


It's been over a week since I've shared a pumpkin recipe, so that means we're due. This one is a savory application (and, bonus, it uses an entire can of pumpkin puree so you don’t have to worry about any Mary Poppins pumpkin issues arising). Dessert lovers never fear - I have a delish pumpkin cookie upcoming.

I saw the recipe over on the Vodka and Biscuits blog, and because my family loves pasta and sausage, I knew it would be a hit even before I made it. (Spoiler alert: I was right!) 

I made a few changes based on family preferences so my recipe below reflects my changes.  

Sausage Pumpkin Pasta Bake

Ingredients:

1 pound mafalda pasta, cooked to al dente
1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
4 sage leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (original recipe called for nutmeg but I hate nutmeg alone so I always sub pumpkin pie spice when recipes call for nutmeg)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used chardonnay)
1 cup chicken stock
15 oz can pumpkin puree
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350. 

2. Brown the sausage in a skillet (I used my La Creuset for this because it can go from stovetop to oven with no issues) over medium high heat until cooked through. 
I use Shady Brook Farm Turkey Sausage Links
(I remove the casings to make them easier to break down)



Transfer to a bowl and reserve.

3. In the same skillet, add onion, garlic, and bay leaf. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. 


Add the sage, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt / pepper to taste. Cook one minute.

4. Add the wine and cook on medium high until reduced by half. 




Add the chicken broth and stir in the pumpkin puree. Mix until everything is incorporated. The pumpkin will thicken the sauce.



The pumpkin thickens everything up

5. Stir in the sausage and pasta, mixing until combined. 





6. Top with Parmesan cheese and bake for 25 minutes until cheese melts and the pasta is heated through.



I enjoyed this because it was easy to make and easy to customize and, best of all, my kids ate it without asking for a side of Caesar dressing. That's a win in my book. As is no leftover pumpkin in a can. Double score. 

**I have no affiliation or relationship with any of the brands mentioned or linked in this post. All opinions and experiences expressed herein are my own.**