Thursday, August 11, 2011

Olive Garden Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Okay, so I love the Olive Garden and sadly there isn't one anywhere near me.  I actually have to drive about 4 hours just to get the delicious unlimited breadsticks and delicious pasta.  I have tried for years to find a recipe that would hail in comparison to their Parmesean Crusted Chicken, and luckily I was able to find a quick recipe on a website that had similar-to-restaurant recipes.  I found this gem and doctored it a bit to my tastes.

Do you have any Olive Garden recipes?!
Makes 4 servings.

1 C. Plain Bread Crumbs
2 Tbsp. Flour
1/4 C. Kraft Parmesan Cheese
1 C. Milk
6 (1/2″) Thick Pieces of Chicken Breast Strips
Vegetable Oil ( frying )
2 C. dry Bowtie Pasta
2 Tbsp. Butter
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 tsp. Crushed Garlic
1/2 C. White Table Wine (Chablis)
1/4 C. Water
2 Tbsp. Flour
3/4 C. Half and Half
1/4 C. Sour Cream
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Basil Leaves
3/4 C. Mild Asiago Cheese ( finely grated)

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Wash and drain chicken strips. Mix breadcrumbs, flour, and Parmesan cheese together. Place milk in dish for dipping. Dip chicken in breadcrumb mixture and then in milk and then back in breadcrumbs. Place in fry pan that the oil has bee heated and fry at medium to medium low temperature until golden. Remove and drain chicken. In a saucepan on medium heat, melt butter, add olive oil. Whisk in flour until mixture is blended. Quickly add garlic, water, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt stir well. Add wine and blend. Immediately add half and half and sour cream stir. When mixture is smooth add grated cheese stir until melted. Finally sprinkle fresh basil in the sauce and stir lightly and remove from heat.

*Tip: I make my own mixture of breadcrumbs for this, and other recipes.  I use an almost stale bagette and break it up into small sizes and toss it into the Magic Bullet.  Along with the breadcrumbs, I throw some grated parm, garlic powder, a sprinkle of paprika, and a sprinkle of parsley.

4 Broccoli Florets (lightly steamed)
2 White Mushrooms (quartered lightly steamed)
1/4 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper

Ta Da!
Place 2 cups pasta in individual a pasta dish. Spoon about 1/2 – 3/4 cup sauce over pasta, add broccoli and mushrooms. Place Parmesan Chicken on pasta and sprinkle red crushed pepper and add grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Granola Bars

I have made this bars several times, each time varying what I put in it.  I also like to free pour the maple syrup and brown sugar.  You can make these bars to your specific tastes, and include or exclude anything you don't like.

•1/2 cup (125 mL) butter
•1/2 cup (125 mL) maple syrup
•1/4 cup (50 mL) packed brown sugar
•2 1/2 cups (625 mL) rolled oats (not quick, instant or one-minute)
•1/3 cup (75 mL) wheat germ or bran
•2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
•1 tsp (5 mL) finely grated orange rind
•1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
•1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
•1/3 cup (75 mL) dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, cherries, or finely chopped apricots, figs and/or pitted dates)

1.Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C). Line a 9-inch (2.5-L) square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch (2.5-cm) overhang on two sides so you can easily lift the baked bars out of the pan.

2.In a large saucepan, heat butter, maple syrup and sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Boil for 1 minute; remove saucepan from heat. Stir in oats, wheat germ, vanilla, orange rind, cinnamon and salt until well combined. Stir in dried fruit until well combined.

3.Spread mixture evenly in pan, pressing down firmly using base of a measuring cup. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until a deep golden colour. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Once cooled, use parchment to lift to a cutting board; cut into bars with a large serrated knife. (Save any crumbs; they’re delicious sprinkled over yogurt or fruit.) Bars can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Makes about 20 bars, and takes approximately 40 minutes from start to finish.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Meal Planning: The Planner

I was able to find a template for meal planning (yay!) and have been digging around for recipes.  I have decided to start my plan on Sunday, August 14, so I'll have the remainder of this week to plan.  Hopefully on Saturday and Sunday I can start to prepare some things for the week.  If anyone would like a copy of the meal planner, send me an email and I'll forward it along to you.

Any recipe suggestions?  What quick and easy things do you make for the work week?  I find trying to come up with things to make for lunch, other than sandwiches, is one of the hardest things ever.  I am so picky so it makes it that much harder for me.  By the time I get home from work, I am starving because I threw my sandwich out/didn't bother to make one.  I eat whatever is lying around (chips, crackers, etc), or I go through a drive-thru. 

I need help!! Suggestions welcome.

Whole Wheat Crackers


3 1/4 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c flaxseed
1/2 c wheat germ
1/2 tsp salt
1 c water
1/3 c olive oil
salt or other spice to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix first 6 ingredients together (I like to use my kitchen aid mixer). Do not overmix. Divide dough into 4 sections. Take each section and roll it as thin as you can get and to roughly the size of a cookie sheet - when you think it's thin enough, roll it some more to get it even thinner. Try to get it roughly as thick as Wheat Thins would be. It's helpful to roll the dough on parchment paper and then place the dough and paper together onto a cookie sheet to bake. Prick dough randomly with a fork. Using a knife, lightly score the dough into squares or rectangles. Sprinkle with salt or your preferred spice and bake for 15-20 minutes or until they're browned and crispy. When they're cooled break them apart along the scored lines and enjoy!

Other spices I like to use:
Paprika, Garlic, Thyme, Savory.  Also, it's fun to use parm (not fresh), or the Kraft Cheddar (think Kraft Dinner cheese).

*Tip: Tap the crackers with a fork to make sure they're crispy. If they're not, bake them for another few minutes and check again.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Meal Planning

I work 50+ hours a week, so coming home at the end of a busy day at work and after battling the ridiculous traffic, cooking is the last thing I really want to do.  I'd like to develop a weekly meal plan and try to stick with it.  I'm also extremely frugal and would like to do a budget friendly meal plan. 

Does anyone meal plan? Do you have any great tips or tricks to meal planning? Any links you would like to share?  There are lots of great ideas out there, I'm just having a hard time finding anything!

Any recipes you would like to share? 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tomato Sauce

You can, without a doubt, use pureed or crushed tomatoes as I did in this recipe. Reduce the cook time to 35 minutes and don’t worry about crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot.

28 oz canned whole peeled tomatoes
5 tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved
Salt to taste

Put the tomatoes, onion and butter in a heavy saucepan (it fit just right in a 3-quart) over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free of the tomatoes. Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat, discard the onion, add salt to taste.  I actually chopped up some of the onions and left them in the sauce.

Serve with spaghetti, with or without grated Parmesan cheese.

Stuffed Potatoes

Makes 12 servings

6 medium potatoes
1 big red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 chicken breast, cut in 1/2 inch pieces (I left this out this time)
1 tbsp butter or olive oil
1 tsp fresh lovage, chopped  (I used dill this time)
80-100g grated cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 230°C (450°F). Scrub potatoes, pierce them with a fork and put them in the oven rack for 30-40 minutes until soft.

2.  Meanwhile prepare the filling. In a large frying pan heat oil or butter over medium high heat. Saute the onion with garlic for about 5 minutes until soft. Add red pepper and chicken small pieces and cook until meat has lost it's raw color. Stir in fresh lovage, salt and pepper an remove from heat.

3.  When the potatoes are cool enough to handle cut potatoes in half lengthwise, scoop the interior out of each leaving about 1/4 inch shell of potato flesh and skin. Add the scooped-out potato flesh to filling mixture, and stir.

4.  Turn the oven to 250°C (480°F). Grease a baking sheet with oil. Fill the potato shells with the filling mixture and place them on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with cheese on top. Bake for 20 minutes until potatoes turn golden brown.