Ritzy Chicken with Homemade Ranch

How do you define comfort food? Is it a heaping bowl of buttery mashed potatoes? Or a big steamy pot of chicken noodle soup? If anyone were to ask me this question, I would mention something that’s probably on the kids menu at most restaurants. You’d most likely roll your eyes and write me off as someone who eats Happy Meals at least once a week. Why does “kiddie food” get such a bad rap? Chicken strips, mac and cheese, and PB&Js are delicious. There’s no reason why child-free adults like myself should be denied these simple pleasures. But fear not my friends, I have a solution. Today I present to you the most elegant chicken strips that you will ever try,and they even have a classy name to prove it. And if classy chicken wasn’t enough, I went ahead and made fancy homemade ranch to make you feel better about all of the dipping and slathering that’s about to happen.

These chicken strips are a cinch to make thanks to the tenderizing effects of buttermilk. The buttermilk also eliminates the need for any egg and flour dredging. Just remove the chicken from the buttermilk and roll in cracker crumbs.

ingredients 2

Ritzy Chicken

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken breasts, pounded thin
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 sleeves of RItz Reduced Sodium Crackers

1. Slice chicken breasts into strips and place in a large zip loc bag. Mix garlic powder, paprika, and buttermilk together. Pour buttermilk over chicken and reseal the bag. Marinate the chicken for an hour.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with nonstick aluminum foil. Working in batches, crush crackers in a food processor until they resemble crumbs. You don’t want the crumbs to be too fine. It’s okay if there are some large chunks.

3. When the chicken is finished marinating, roll it in the cracker crumbs. You want a thick cracker coating. After the chicken has been coated, place it on the foil-lined cookie sheet in a single layer and bake for 25 minutes.

4. The chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees and the cracker crust is crispy.

chx finished

While the chicken is baking, whip up this ranch dressing. It’s incredibly easy to prepare and it tastes about a million times better than the scary store bought stuff.

ranch ingredients

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 cup real mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chives
  • a dash of Tabasco
  • freshly ground pepper
  • kosher salt, to taste

1. Mince the garlic with a knife and then sprinkle about 1/4 teaspoon of salt onto the garlic.  With a fork, mash the garlic and salt into a thick paste.

2. In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients except for the buttermilk.  Stir.  Add buttermilk until you’ve reach the desired consistency.  Taste and season as necessary.  Chill for a couple hours before serving.  Thin with more buttermilk when it comes out of the fridge if you wish.

ranch mixing

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Plated.com Review and Coupon

Like many of you, I’ve been seeing advertisements for  the meal subscription service, Plated, all over Facebook lately. The ads lured me in with the promise of four free meals delivered to my home. I finally checked out the website and was thoroughly impressed with the meals offered. The recipes were creative and made with high-quality ingredients. Plated is ideal for people with dietary restrictions. You can customize your taste profile and exclude any unwanted ingredients. Many of the recipes included ingredients I’ve never cooked with before, such as, Haloumi, swordfish, and Ponzu sauce. I was intrigued by the opportunity to expand my culinary horizons so I decided to give it a go.

One of the best things about plated is that you don’t actually have to subscribe to receive the meals. The subscription is $30 for three months. Subscribing allows you to get the discounted rate of $12 per plate, a total savings of $3. All orders must contain a minimum of four plates. If you choose not to subscribe, each plate costs $15. In my honest opinion, I don’t understand the point of the membership. You don’t end up saving any money at all. So my best advice to you is to skip the membership but don’t skip out on Plated all together. With this link, https://www.plated.com/invites/e50314, you can get 50% off of your next order.

For my free meal, I chose Butter Basted Steak with Hassleback Potatoes. My box arrived quickly but I was still suspicious of what I would find when I opened it up. I was afraid that the steak would be rotten and the herbs witled. To my pleasant surprise, this wasn’t at all what I found. When I opened the box I found ice packs that were still icy and food that was cold to the touch. It looked like I had just picked it up from the grocery store.

steak ingredients 1

 

Hey Plated! Where did you get that adorable little lemon? I need 13 more for a centerpiece. Thanks in advance!

Each meal comes with easy-to-follow instructions with beautiful full-color photos. Even inexperienced cooks would be able to follow this recipe. The Plated team has done an excellent job at creating foolproof recipes that look and taste much more sophisticated.

cooked steak 1

It’s unfortunate that this meal is no longer available for purchase because it’s ridiculous, and I mean that in the best way possible. I was actually speechless when I took my first bite of the steak. It was so incredibly flavorful and indulgent. I think the four pats of butter that it was cooked in has something to do with that. The potatoes were also crazy good. I loved how crispy yet velvety they were. What I was really impressed with were the mushrooms. I would have never thought that combining earthy mushrooms with bright lemons would work. But boy was I wrong. The flavors complement each other in a bright and unexpected way. This is one of those recipes that makes you wish that you had created it yourself. The flavors are so earthy and clean, which is how I would describe my cooking style. You can be sure that I filed away that handy dandy instruction printout into my best recipes ever binder.

Have you tried Plated yet? If so, which recipes did you choose? Let me know in the comments! ❤

finished steak 2

 

 

Perfect Roast Chicken with Potato Gratin and Sautéed Green Beans

Today’s post is going to be a little different. Instead of showcasing one recipe, I’m going lay out an entire menu of upscale comfort food. This menu was inspired by one of my all time favorite movies, Midnight in Paris, starring Owen Wilson and directed by Woody Allen. What I love most about this movie is that it’s a total escape from reality. You’re completely transported into my favorite historical period, 1920s Paris. I’m a huge American Literature nerd and I’m obsessed with all things Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Seeing them reincarnated in this movie with my favorite actor, Owen Wilson, is a dream come true for me. If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it. If you ever took an American Literature class in high school you’ll be able to follow along with all of the famous authors featured in the film. But even if you don’t know much about these literary heroes, you’ll still be highly entertained. The main component of this recipe is Ina Garten’s famous lemon roasted chicken.  If you’ve never roasted a chicken before, this is a very simple and delicious starter recipe. It’s amazing how much more work you have to do in order to make a chicken breast edible versus the minimal prep required to roast a whole chicken. The real star of this dish is the gravy. You could slather that stuff on a dirty gym shoe and I would eat the whole thing. chicken ingredients Lemon Roasted Chicken Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Serves 2-4, depending on the size of the chicken.

  • 1 (4 to 5 pound) roasting chicken
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 whole head garlic, cut in 1/2 crosswise
  • Good olive oil
  • 2 Spanish onions, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour



    1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove and discard the chicken giblets. Pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Cut the lemons in quarters, place 2 quarters in the chicken along with the garlic and reserve the rest of the lemons. Brush the outside of the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the chicken in a small (11 by 14-inch) roasting pan. (If the pan is too large, the onions will burn.) Place the reserved lemons and the sliced onions in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Pour the mixture around the chicken in the pan.

    2. Roast the chicken for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and a thigh. Remove the chicken to a platter, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce, leaving the lemons and onions in the pan.

    3. Place the pan on top of the stove and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the wine and stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits. Add the stock and sprinkle on the flour, stirring constantly for a minute, until the sauce thickens. Add any juices that collect under the chicken. Carve the chicken onto a platter and serve with the lemons, onions, and warm sauce.

    roasted chicken   The first side dish is a luscious potato gratin. If you’re thinking that this will be anything like those nasty boxed version of scalloped potatoes, think again. The potatoes are sliced into 1/4 inch thin disks and then layered with cream, cheese, and chives. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how light this dish is. I thought it would be much richer but it’s actually not. The key to making this dish a success is using waxy yukon gold potatoes. They hold their shape and don’t disintegrate during cooking. potatoes ingredients Potato Gratin Serves 4
  •  4 tablespoons of butter, cubed
  • 4-5 large yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1/4 cup of chives, diced
  • 1 tablespoon of dijon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of fresh nutmeg
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 cup of your favorite melting cheese, grated. I used gouda, although gruyere is traditional.
  • kosher salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter the bottom and sides of a shallow baking dish. Simmer the cream, chives, dijon, bay leaf, and nutmeg in a small saucepan for at least 10 minutes.

2. Place the peeled and sliced potatoes on the bottom of the baking dish in a single layer. Then, sprinkle salt and pepper very liberally over the potatoes. This is where the bulk of your flavor will come from.. Pour a third of the cream mixture over this layer. Repeat this same process again with the second layer. If you have enough potatoes to do a third layer then go ahead and do so. Once the final layer is complete, pour in the remaining cream and top with cheese and butter.

3. Bake the gratin for an hour, or until the potatoes are soft and the top is golden. Once the gratin is finished baking, remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

serving potatoes Even though cheesy potatoes and lemony chicken are a perfect meal, we should probably act like adults and eat something green. These green beans are terribly simple and come together in a snap on the stove. I used a pe-sliced gourmet mushroom blend from the grocery store to save time. It also ended up being more cost-effective than buying all of the mushrooms individually. green bean ingredients Sauteed Green Beans with Wild Mushrooms

Serves 4

  •  1 1/2 lbs of fresh green beans with the ends removed
  • 2 cups of your favorite wild mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 tablespoons of butter salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of your favorite veggie seasoning, I used my trusty Lake Shore Drive seasoning

1. Melt butter in a sauce pan and saute shallots and mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Once the shallots and mushrooms are nearly cooked through, add the green beans and seasoning. Cover the pan with a lid and let steam for about 10 minutes, or until the green beans are fork tender. Once the green beans are cooked to your liking, taste test them and adjust the seasoning accordingly. everything Don’t be intimidated by this big meal! It’s fun to prepare and you’ll feel so accomplished when it’s finished. Make it for someone you love on a Sunday afternoon and you’ll blow them away. I recommend serving this meal with a glass of oaky and buttery chardonnay. J.Lohr makes an amazing 2010 Chardonnay that is incredible with this meal.

Pretty Pepper Pasta

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I had the single-greatest food experience of our lives at Eataly in Chicago. If you’ve never been, you need to drop everything you’re doing right now and go. And yes, I’m being completely serious. It’s essentially the Disney World of Italian food. The Chicago Eataly is in an old ESPN zone and is larger than the one in New York City. Which is great for Midwesterners because our appetites demand 63,000 square feet of wall to wall food. The Chicago branch is also co-owned by two of my culinary heroes, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich. If you’re expecting it to look like an oversized Olive Garden, then you will be pleasantly surprised. I couldn’t believe how modern everything looked. I didn’t feel embarrassed of my Italian heritage like I do when I go to Buca Di Beppo.

eataly chicago.jpg

But enough about the looks! Let’s get to the good stuff. Eataly is an entirely immersive food experience. You can enjoy an exquisite charcuterie and cheese platter and then buy the exact same meats and cheeses from the deli. This is ideal for me because I’m the kind of person who loves recreating restaurant dishes at home. With that being said, there’s no way anyone could do their regular grocery shopping there. But if you’re looking for a unique treat, there’s no better place. I was amazed by the impeccable quality of all of the meat and produce. It was difficult for Max and I to leave without buying up the entire place!

food eataly.jpg

I did manage to pick up this beautiful pasta made by Afeltra, a brand that I’ve never heard of before. There were so many unique pasta shapes, I wanted to buy them all! I knew that this particular shape would be the perfect vessel for my roasted red pepper pasta sauce. This is the perfect dish to enjoy on Good Friday, the final day of Lent. It’s a fun twist on traditional pasta sauce that doesn’t use a single tomato. I also added mozzarella pearls to give the pasta a creamy and meaty texture. A tangy goat cheese would also be delicious.

ingredients 2

 

Pretty Pepper Pasta

Serves 4

  • 4 Red Bell Peppers
  • 2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
  • 1/4 c Heavy Cream
  • 1 lb of your Favorite Pasta
  • 1/4 t sugar
  • Salt and Pepper, to Taste
  • 1/2 c Basil
  • Mozzarella Pearls Sprinkled with Salt

1. Preheat broiler on high. Place red peppers on a foil lined cookie sheet. Rub liberally with olive oil. Place peppers under broiler, and cook until charred on all sides. This took me about 20 minutes. While the peppers are roasting, sauté the garlic over low heat in a pan big enough for the sauce. You’ll also want to start boiling your water.

2. Once the peppers are sufficiently charred, place in a sealed zip-lock bag. After they cool, remove the peppers from the bag. Place on a cutting board and remove the blackened skins. They should slip off very easily. Then scrape out all of the seeds from the inside. I like to rinse the peppers under water to make sure there are absolutely no seeds. After the peppers are cleaned, puree them in a blender or food processor until smooth.

3. If you haven’t already done so, drop your pasta in boiling water. Pour the pureed peppers in the pan with garlic. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Stir in heavy cream and the remaining olive oil. Add sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Slice half of the fresh basil into ribbons and add to sauce.

4. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and stir until it’s coated evenly. Divide the pasta into bowls. Stud the pasta with the mozzarella pearls. Garnish with the remaining basil. Serve immediately and enjoy!

charred peppers

This is what your peppers should like after they’re roasted.

steamy pasta

finished

American Hustle Themed Oscar Party

I’ve always said that if I didn’t pursue a career in hospitality, then I would work in the entertainment industry. I absolutely love TV and movies, almost as much as I love food. I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that I’m completely obsessed with The Academy Awards. I follow the oscar race the same way that most people follow football. Oscar night is the equivalent of The Superbowl to me.

This year’s Best Picture race is one of the best I’ve seen in years. I’ve seen every single nominated film and they are all so good. This post is inspired by the pivotal dinner scene in American Hustle when Carmine talks about the “Chicken picatta from heaven”.

 When I worked for a catering company, the chicken picatta was one of our top sellers. This is the same recipe we used and it really is “chicken picatta from heaven”. Don’t be intimidated by the fancy name and impressive looks, this recipe is terribly easy and comes together surprisingly quick. You’ll have it hot and ready by the time the red carpet pre-show is over.

ingredients

Chicken Picatta from Heaven with Old-School Garlic Bread

Serves 4

Old-School Garlic Bread

Ingredients

1 Small Loaf of Fresh French Bread

1/4 c Fresh Parsley

1 c Freshly Grated Parmesan

1 tsp Garlic, Minced

2 Tbs Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper, to taste

1. Pre-heat oven to 350. Slice bread in half lengthwise. Mix the olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper. Pour over each half evenly. Sprinkle parmesan and parsley over each half.

2. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted.

garlic bread

Chicken Picatta

Ingredients

6 Chicken Breasts, Pounded Thin

*Look for thinly sliced chicken breasts or ask your butcher to prepare them for                   you.

4 Tbs Vegetable Oil

2 Tbs Olive Oil

4 Tbs Flour

1/2 c Dry White Wine

2 tsp Garlic, Minced

1 c Low-Sodium Chicken Broth

2 Lemons, 1 Juiced, 1 Sliced

2 Tbs Capers, Drained

2 Tbs Unsalted Butter

1 lb Linguini

Fresh Parsley, for Garnish

1. Boil water for pasta. Season cutlets with salt and pepper, then dust with flour. Add vegetable oil to pan.

2. Saute cutlet 2-3 minutes on each side. Transfer cutlets to a clean plate.

3. Deglaze pan by adding white wine and scraping up any browned bits and fat, then add minced garlic. Cook until garlic is slightly brown and liquid is nearly gone, about 2 minutes. Drop pasta in boiling water if you haven’t already.

4. Add broth, half of the lemon juice, and capers. Return cutlets to pan and cook on each side for 1 minute. Transfer cutlets to plate.

5. Drain pasta, then return to pot. Toss with olive oil and the remaining lemon juice. Transfer to serving platter and top with chicken cutlets.

6. Finish sauce with butter and lemon slices. Once butter melts, pour sauce over cutlets and pasta.

7. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and parmesan, then serve.

plated

Which film do you think should win the top prize Sunday night? Are you rooting for the debauchery-filled Wolf of Wall Street like me? Or were you moved by Chiwetel Ejiofor’s harrowing performance in 12 Years A Slave? Tell me in the comments below!