We all need something to put the steam in our engine for the entire day, so I encourage everyone to try this to give you powerful protein-filled strength tomorrow morning.
The term “cordon bleu” refers to the highest rank of knights instituted by King Henri III of France in 1578. These knights wore a sash of blue to distinguish themselves and this simple breakfast will bolster you with all the fortitude of which those cordon bleu knights ever dreamed.
In just five minutes you can strengthen you day with these few ingredients:
- one egg, whisked
- 2 oz. diced grilled chicken breast
- 2 oz. diced cooked ham
- 1 oz. diced or shredded Swiss cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Garnish with fresh spinach
Get a small skillet and pour a whisper of olive oil in and get the heat going until little ripples can be seen in the oil. Add your meats. Get them good and warm. Add the egg and the cheese and scramble it all together until the eggs are set. Shut the flame and let the heat of the pan gently melt the Swiss cheese. Stir in a tiny pat of butter to finish and tumble it all onto your plate and season to taste.
This is one of those dishes with that great idiot-proof factor. No matter your cooking skills, this one can be done on the fly with nothing but the tastiest of results. If ham, or meat for that matter, isn’t your thing, play around. Use mushrooms and onions. Try beef or veal. You can’t go wrong. Don’t like cheese? Use roasted peppers and garlic. What ever you choose, you will have a blue ribbon winning breakfast and the energy of the highest appointed knight to fuel your morning.
If you are in a hurry and want a very good meal, one with lots of flavor and nutrition then I urge you to try a quickie like this. This is my go to dish when I work late and come home to my poor hungry family huddled on the couch looking up at me with their Precious Moments eyes pleading to be fed. Cape waving, back-lit by the setting in the doorway I, the super-hero-diva of this scene put my purse and the mail down and dash straight to work saving them from the brink of starvation. I gather my tools and a few ingredients and get straight work on my rescue mission:
- a pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed into evenly thick cutlets
- a bag of frozen broccoli
- a can of cream of celery soup.
- salt, pepper, onion powder and paprika
- olive oil
- a splash of milk
To prepare the chicken I tenderize it by pouring a generous amount of salt on both sides. In lieu of brining this salt sort of flash brines the chicken while I get all the other ingredients, and equipment ready. In about five minutes I have my skillet, tongs for turning the meat and a spoon for stirring ready. I get the broccoli out of the freezer, a can of soup from the cupboard, and n a skillet I drizzle a tablespoon or so of olive oil.
The chicken gets sprinkled with a fair amount of pepper, onion powder and paprika, I give it a turn and treat the other side the same. This sears a while on both sides then the broccoli is added, then the soup and a good splash of milk. A lid goes on top for about fifteen minutes so the broccoli cooks and the soup and milk get nice and bubbly. The chicken should be done now so I pull it up off the bottom and let the vegetables get mixed up in the sauce. The lid goes on for another five minutes or so then dinner is served.
I’m now just a mild mannered diva having dinner with my family. I’m so grateful for them and for all the convenience that fills our lives. We know nothing close to starvation. In only thirty minutes I have a nourishing hot meal on the table. It was very affordable too. And though they were a little bit hungry when I got home, now that we are all sharing a meal together, I see that they are grateful for me too. Life is good.
I come from pioneer stock so eating game doesn’t bother me but it was a big step to actually purchase a rabbit at the farmer’s market with my husband a few months ago. The poor thing was forgotten about for months in the freezer but last night without anyone seeing it I thawed it and butchered it in pieces that looked similar to a cut-up chicken. My husband, who is always a bit squeamish about eating foods that aren’t normally purchased at the supermarket, took a huge stride when I convinced him to buy that rabbit. He said that he had heard that it was a lot like chicken from some reliable sources and would be willing to try it some time. Well the time had come! Now to cook it without a negative reaction…
I didn’t want to make an issue of the rabbit in front of my daughter either, because being an eleven year old who often falls in love with anything cute, furry, and having adorable little whiskers, there might have been a reaction akin to the one when Bambi’s mother died…it wasn’t good and there was quite a bit of howling as I recall but she was four years old then. There is hope in this venture.
I then had to set up a bit of a ruse making a bigger deal out of the new method of cooking cabbage on the grill that I had seen someone do on Facebook. Jeff was, to my relief, really interested in this process so I asked him to start up the grill for me…you know…doing the man stuff of which he is always pleased to avail himself (God, I love him! (my prayer of praise)).
I was starting to feel a bit guilty at this point being a deceptive diva, but by keeping him focused on the cabbage steaks I was able to covertly prepare the pieces of rabbit by soaking them in a bit of cream and rolling them in flour seasoned with salt, pepper and a little garlic powder. I seared them on all sides in a large skillet with the bottom covered in extra virgin olive oil. At this point Jeff came into the kitchen with a smile at the aroma of good food cooking. I smiled back as I poured a little cream over the meat in the pan, then about a cup of water and a bit more salt, knowing with a certain weight that he was completely unaware of what was going on.
I covered the pan, put it on a simmer, and let it go for about 25 minutes just bubbling away. We then went out to the grill to check on the cabbage which was coming along nicely. Some of the edges that loosened were getting a bit charred but for the most part the centers were getting nicely caramelized by the butter and seasonings that were spread on them prior to grilling. We couldn’t help tasting the pieces that unfurled and they were wonderful! I will do this again over the summer for sure. We removed the cabbage when it was beginning to get soft. It took about twenty minutes or so browning on a medium setting of flame and being gently turned a couple of times.
So back to the kitchen I had corn on the cob boiling away next to the rabbit. I turned off all the heat and uncovered the rabbit. It was simmering in a beautiful gravy that had thickened because of the flour that I rolled the meat in earlier. The moment of truth was near. I plated up a leg portion for both Jeff and Julia and I took the forelegs which resembled wings, my usual choice when eating “chicken”.
After saying grace we began eating. The cabbage was delicious and Jeff and Julia began eating their rabbit without even knowing that it wasn’t really chicken. It was so hard to hide my guilty smirk. I couldn’t do it anymore! I asked how they liked the “chicken” and they both said, “Mmm, really good!”
At that point the game was up (no pun intended). I told them the truth and they responded well. They examined the meat with some curiosity and nods of approval. Now my guilt was released and to my delight they kept on eating. The rabbit really was delicious and we went on enjoying it without further ado.
Jeff really does have a discerning taste and I’m surprised he didn’t catch on. He admitted that there was something different but he just figured it was how I cooked it. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fool him with deer meat and I don’t even want to fool him at all but I admit, after this I’m tempted to try…he he.
What do I do with all these leftovers? This is a question I ask myself about three times a week. In summertime I usually answer that question by making a salad. Now that it is September and the weather has broken…that is to say it was 54° in St. Louis this morning, I feel like baking again.
I have a leftover half of a roasted chicken, some left over portions of veggies, and a pie crust in the ‘fridge I made a couple of days ago that I never used because it was too hot. Today, this meal was inspired by all these variables serendipitously becoming available… especially the cooler weather.
The crust is an easy home made one that takes no time to whip up and the filling to this “chicken pan pie” is a mixture of sauteed vegetables including:
- One red onion peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
- 2 ribs of celery in tiny dice
- 2 medium carrots peeled and thinly sliced with the peeler
- a small head of broccoli well chopped
- 1/3 cup frozen green beans cut in half inch pieces
- 1/3 cup frozen peas
I decided to put the crust into a well seasoned 9″ cast iron skillet. It has a good depth for all these vegetables as well as several other advantages. I made enough dough for a top and bottom crust.
In a large non-stick skillet I cooked all these chopped veggies in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the veggies began to brown up nicely, I put them off to the side in a bowl. I then sprinkled about 1/4 cup all purpose flour over the chicken pieces and tossed it around in another bowl. With the chicken well coated in flour, I dumped it into my skillet with a knob of butter and stirred it around to get the chicken warmed. In the bowl the chicken was in I made a slurry of an additional 1/2 cup flour, 1/cup water, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. I poured that in the skillet, stirring until all the sauce thickened then added the veggies back in and continued stirring until everything was well mixed.
Everything was added to the pie crust I prepared earlier in the pan. I quickly rolled out the top crust, placed it over the chicken and veggies, crimped the edges together, made deep slits to vent steam while baking, and put it into a preheated 400° oven for 35 minutes or so. When the crust was golden brown on the edges I knew the pie would be done nicely.
I chose a cast iron skillet to bake for several reasons: Cooking in cast iron actually adds iron to your diet, it has a handle for easy removal from the oven, and being a very dark color helps the crust become very crispy on the bottom. That is a big plus when you are baking a pie with a highly liquid filling. I take every opportunity to use my cast iron ware because the more it is used, the more non-stick it becomes. A well seasoned skillet makes for an easy clean-up. After a while cast iron can almost be wiped clean. I found this one at a rummage sale and the seasoning work was already done. I love that it was only a dollar. The food I cook in it comes out tasting like a million bucks!
There’s no doubt, chicken is quite an economical way to serve and enjoy good flavor, concentrated protein and essential iron while giving your wallet a little relief. There are so many ways to cook chicken as well. I’ve probably blogged about over three dozen recipes myself. This is one of my favorite ways because it always turns out so elegant and tasty without letting anyone know I’m a huge cheapskate.
Chicken thighs are the new chicken wing. It used to be that the wings were the cheapest cut of chicken because there was no real meat on them. Then the Buffalo wing was born and wing prices went up. I feel guilty for touting the economical benefit of the thigh because it’s one of those same stories where only we cooks know that the thigh is about the tastiest meat on the bird and when it costs five bucks for four pounds of it, most of it meat unlike the wing, we know what a good deal we’re getting…well, you will when you try this dish.
Four thighs was half the package and that is what I cooked for the family this evening. A bit of prep work was in order so here are the steps in the process of making creamy spinach stuffed baked chicken:
- Four thighs with bone removed
- one can spinach well drained
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- a dash each of black pepper, salt, garlic powder
- 1/2 cup finely diced onion.
- spices for the outer skin (I used a Cajun seasoning)
Preheat the oven to 375°. Mix the spinach, mayo, cheese, and the dash of each seasoning, stir in onion and set aside. Turn the chicken thighs skin side down on a cutting board and look for a vein of fat that runs parallel to the bone. With a very sharp knife cut directly along that vein and the bone will be exposed. cut around and even under that bone and remove it, slicing out each end careful not to remove too much meat but all of the joint and its connective matter.
With the bone out, cut a slit in the bigger half and unfold that portion (like a brochure) making a uniformly flat piece of chicken. Spread an even amount of spinach mixture (about 1/3 cup) over the chicken meat and roll it up. Place the roll seam side down in a 9″x 9″ casserole dish. Use a larger casserole for more thighs. The spinach mixture should be enough filling for six or seven thighs. Now bake them for about 50 minutes to one hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 180°.
Remove to a plate and allow these to rest for about ten minutes and serve with a little salad or some rice. Remember there are already two vegetables inside the chicken so they will also be good all by themselves.
The chicken we had the other day was enough for six people, so today we used the leftovers to make chicken tacos. It’s really easy when the meat is already cooked and removed from the bone. I start by chopping up some onions and peppers, and browning them up in a skillet with a little olive oil. The green pepper is a piece of poblano that has a mild heat and the orange one is a mini sweet pepper. I toss the chicken cut up into small pieces into the skillet and add some nice tacoey spices…chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper…the first two spices in round teaspoons and the rest in 1/8 th teaspoons. When this is heated through, and it doesn’t take long, I put little scoops of it into flour tortillas with cheese, shredded lettuce, and diced tomatoes. Voila! Dinner in five minutees!
If you’ve got a couple hours some evening to wait for a good old fashioned supper to land on your plate try this easy roasted chicken dinner. One pan is all you need to make it, and if you line it with foil ( I used a previously used and washed foil cake pan), you won’t have anything to clean afterward either. I did splurge though at the last minute and whipped up some potatoes and gravy because, well, I could.
There is no recipe, just a method and you can add the seasonings you like and the vegetables you like too. I used leeks, carrots, and celery to surround the chicken and with a few preps of the bird dinner was soon roasting away while we watched some TV. After this crazy busy weekend, a good easy supper (and easy blog post) is what we needed.
Rinse and pat the chicken dry (Nice birdie!)Place a few knobs of butter up under the skin of the breasts and legs. You could also add herbs you like. I was just being lazy.It looks like this when finishedNow, because I’m feeling extra super lazy, I truss the legs together with a tooth pick instead of hunting down some string and tying them togetherJust before it goes into a 350° oven I spray everything with olive oil spray and season with salt and pepper and bake for almost two hoursI was aiming for a temp of about 185° but this will do. It took about one hour and fifty minutes. Time for the plate!That looks nice! Now our chicken must rest 15 minutes. Since I got an hour and fifty minutes rest, I can find it in me to scrape together some gravy with the drippings.I throw a handful of flour (about two round tablespoons), stir it until smooth, then add salt and pepper, a dash of garlic powder and a pinch of sage powder, then I add about two to two and a half cups water and get it all to a good bubbly boil to thicken itThat rest I took, well I’m tired and lazy again, so I whip up the potatoes from a box of instant ones in the microwave. There are worse things……but this gorgeous juicy chicken is not one of them!Come Lord Jesus, be our guest. Let this food by you be blessed.