Saturday, February 28, 2015

Walnut and Rosemary Oven "Fried" Chicken

Keeping to your New Year's resolution to eat healthier?

Typically my resolution starts out with a bang and peters out somewhere between February and March.  Snacks and sweets start to sneak in there.  Being a professed ice cream-oholic it's soooo hard to put that stuff down.  

But I still try.  Each day is a new start and our motto is one day at a time!  This dish fits the bill with healthier eating.  Who doesn't love fried chicken?  I grew up on the stuff.  I mean we ate it all the time.  Mom's fried chicken was the best.  Crunchy and tender.  I can see it cooking in those cast iron skillets right now.  Mmmm memories.  Well this chicken is oven fried instead of deep fried which really cuts down on the fat.  That's such a good thing.

It gets it's crispy coating from panko crumbs, and to ensure they crisp in the oven you spray just a little cooking spray on them.  This will give you the crunch that's similar to pan fried chicken.  The addition of rosemary and walnuts just adds flavor to the dish and give it a little twist.  You can really taste the rosemary and it's makes the dish special so don't skip this part.

We both loved this dish!  Serve it with some mashed potatoes, vegetables, or a nice salad.  It's a healthier way to eat chicken.  So make some oven "fried" chicken tonight and save the real thing for a special occasion.

Walnut and Rosemary Oven "Fried" Chicken
serves 4

1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 Tbls Dijon mustard
4 chicken cutlets
1/3 c panko 

1/3 c finely chopped walnuts
2 Tbls grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper 

cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add panko to the skillet and cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until golden brown. 

Arrange a wire rack on a large baking sheet and coat with cooking spray.  Set aside.
In a breading dish or pie pan combine buttermilk and mustard.  Stir to combine.  To another breading dish add the panko, nuts, Parmesan cheese, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.  

Add chicken to the buttermilk mixture and turn to coat.  Add chicken to the panko mixture and dredge on both sides to coat. 

Arrange chicken on the rack and lightly coat with cooking spray. Bake at 425 degrees for 13 minutes or until chicken is done. Serve immediately.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Quick & Easy Mini Sticky Buns

Weekend breakfasts are my indulgence.  I look forward to lingering over a nice breakfast each weekend but sometimes that is just not possible.  Such as last weekend.  

We were up and ready to go celebrate the Chinese New Year down at the LA Zoo pretty early on Saturday.  (so much fun!!!)  With visions of the Lion Dance in my head we didn't have the time to lounge around and sip tea and crumpets!  So I decided that something quick, but sweet, was in order to get us on our way.

If you don't this little secret I'll let you in on it...Pillsbury Crescent Rolls are an amazing convenience item.  Yes they are!  You can do so much with this dough it's unbelievable.  You can make savory items like stuffed pockets, or braids and sweets such as these Quick & Easy Mini Sticky Buns.  I always keep a roll in the refrigerator for emergencies like this...(a I want cinnamon fix emergency!)

I'm in love with hot gooey cinnamon and brown both of those are on the list in this dish.  They provide the topping and make this quick bun over the top.  You need to be careful with these.  You may end up eating them all yourself.  Warning:  They are addicting!

These are easy to pull together.  The hardest part is waiting for the butter to soften.  So....use the microwave to soften it,  if you like.  They will be done that much quicker.  Soft, chewy, gooey mini sticky buns.  Got to love 'em.  Enjoy!


Quick & Easy Mini Sticky Buns

1 can Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter, divided
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in the bottom of a cake plate. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter trying to cover most of the surface area.  
Unroll crescent dough and press the seams together to create one sheet. Spread with remaining softened butter. Combine white sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the buttered dough. (Save a little to sprinkle on at the end - couple of Tablespoons.)  Roll the dough into a log starting from the longest side.  Cut into 15-16 slices.  Place in pan cut side down.  Sprinkle with extra cinnamon and sugar.  
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Allow to cool 5 minutes and invert pan on to a plate.  Serve immediately. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Banana Bundt Cake

Banana Bundt Cake is light and luscious!!!  Perfect for any celebration, or just because...Slice of Southern

I hope everyone had a fantastic Valentine's Day.

We decided to go and and have some fun this year, so I really didn't do any cooking. We wanted to go somewhere and walk around and window shop, get a bite to eat, and listen to some music.  Well, big mistake to head on down to The Grove in L.A. because everyone else had the same idea, it was jam-packed.

When I say jam-packed I mean it.  It took us about 15-20 minutes to find a parking spot in a 6 level structure.  All the cars were fighting over the spots, people were driving crazy (not like they don't in LA already!), but we finally got lucky and found one.  Then we headed down to the open air shopping/restaurant village.  The music was bumping and people were gathered around.  We tried to get through the crowd of sardines and somehow ended up in line for a restaurant.  LOL!  Kinda just got pushed into that.  When we realized what was going on, we just laughed, shrugged to the people in line with us, and quickly moved on.  

Banana Bundt Cake is light and luscious!!!  Perfect for any celebration, or just because...Slice of Southern

We ended up at a wonderful Greek restaurant, which really inspired me to start cooking more Greek style dishes.  I ordered a shot of Ouzo to toast and they brought me the biggest shot (which was half a glass really!) and we toasted the night!  I'll tell you I was feeling really good by the time I finished that drink and the crowds didn't seem that bad after that!  

So we danced a little, shopped a little and ate a lot...then headed home for a wonderful dessert of Banana Bundt Cake, that I had whipped up earlier in the day.  As I always have ripe bananas hanging around this was a great way to use them.  Who doesn't love a good pound cake?  Perfect for spring, and a great choice for your Easter dinner, or Mardi Gras celebration.

Banana Bundt Cake is light and luscious!!!  Perfect for any celebration, or just because...Slice of Southern

I know you are going to love it.

Banana Bundt Cake
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
2 overripe medium bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup + 2 Tbls Splenda Sugar Blend
3/4 cup brown sugar
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup buttermilk (make your own by adding 1 teaspoon lemon juice to milk and let it sit for 5 minutes)
Topping:  powdered sugar - optional

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 12-cup fluted bundt pan.

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in mashed bananas and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

Add the flour mixture (with the mixer on low) in two parts alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. Beat just until it comes together. Do not overmix!

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45-55 minutes.

Once done, cool cake 10 minutes in the pan. Turn out cake onto cake platter and allow to cool completely.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Nutella Swirl Banana Bread

Last Thursday was National Nutella Day!

Don't you just love this stuff?  I mean peanut butter is the best and I grew up with it.  But, when I discovered Nutella (chocolate and hazelnut) many years ago from a friend who brought me a jar from an ethnic grocery store I thought it was 'the bomb'!

Since Nutella Day snuck up on me and I didn't plan ahead (it happens) I made this late at night and didn't get it posted for you in time.  But, who says that you can't celebrate today?  or any other day for that matter?  I say "Go for it!". 

I always seem to have some overripe bananas hanging around so I decided to make a banana bread with a Nutella swirl.  Bananas and chocolate go together really really well.  My Banana Chocolate Chip Bread is always a hit, so let's mix it up a little bit.  Now that Nutella is in every grocery store I always have a jar hanging around as well, so putting them together just had to happen.

The result was a luscious, decadent, quick bread that's perfect for breakfast, dessert, or a midday snack.  It won't last long in your house, as it didn't in mine!  I might have contributed to that though.  It's kinda addicting.

Enjoy a little decadence in your life!

Nutella Swirl Banana Bread

makes: 1 loaf


2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1¼ cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup Nutella

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt.
In a medium bowl, mix together banana, butter, sugar, vanilla, and milk until well blended.  Add eggs and stir until combined.  Add wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until combined. Divide 1/2 of of the batter into another bowl; stir in Nutella until combined.

Add Nutella batter alternately with plain batter into the prepared loaf pan. Swirl batters together with a knife.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes. Cool in pan for at least 15 minutes and then remove loaf from pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce (Healthier Version)

Sometimes comfort food just calls me.

A lot of time that food is laden with high calories and carbs.  So what to do when you made a resolution to eat healthy or lose weight and you are only 1 month in and already wanting to throw it out the window?

Try this wonderful creamy pasta sauce.  It's a healthier version since it doesn't use any cream!  Using evaporated milk with a little added cornstarch gives it the texture and richness of cream, without all the fat.  Love that!

This sauce is so easy to throw together that you can easily make it during the week to feed the whole family. To help control the carbs, use a high fiber spaghetti such as Barilla Plus, which tastes great.  Trust me, everyone will love it, and no one will miss the calories.


Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce (Healthier Version)

serves 4

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes 
Pinch of chili flakes
1 tsp Italian herbs
Kosher Salt
1 cup low fat evaporated milk
1/4 tsp cornstarch
1 pound Thin Spaghetti or other pasta(I used Barilla Plus)

grated Parmesan

To a large skillet over medium heat add the olive oil and diced onion.  Cook about 7 minutes until transparent.  Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds.  Add the crushed tomatoes, chili flakes, Italian herbs, and salt (to taste) stirring to combine.  Bring the pasta sauce to a low boil and cook about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile cook pasta according to package directions, to al dente.  Drain and set aside.  Turn the heat to low under the skillet.  In a measuring cup add evaporated milk and whisk in the cornstarch.  Add to the sauce and stir to combine.  Add cooked pasta to the skillet and toss to coat.  

Divide pasta among four plates and top with grated Parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately.


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