Archive for the 'Side Dishes' Category

Cooking Lesson 2: Chicken and Potatoes

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I love chicken. If I want to order a meal with meat, I almost always choose chicken. My favorite is chicken breast. Too bad most restaurants (and home cooks) overcook them. while looking through one of our cookbooks I found a recipe for Parmesan-Dijon Chicken. Chicken breasts are coated in dijon mustard then a Parmesan and breadcrumb mixture then baked. The recipe suggested Twice-Baked Potatoes as an accompaniment. Perfect. I love twice-baked potatoes and they seemed easy enough. Bake potatoes, remove inside, mix with cheese, put back into potato, and heat through.

The chicken turned out moist (benefit of cooking to temperature instead of time) though all of the breading sort of fell off. Next time I’ll use a more typical flour then egg then breadcrumbs approach. I’ll also add a bit more dijon as the taste didn’t really permeate the chicken. As for the potatoes, they were just about perfect. Using a food mill to mash the potato and heavy cream (in place of the suggested milk) created a fluffy filling. If you make these, be sure to be certain not to ruin the structural integrity of the potatoes as much as I did.

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Parmesan-Dijon Chicken
Adapted from Cooking Basics: Learning to Cook with Confidence

Ingredients:
1 split chicken breast
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
3/4 cup bread crumbs (make your own if you can)

Steps:

  1. Mix mustard and melted butter into shallow container. Place Parmesan and bread crumbs in another, similar container.
  2. Coat chicken in butter/mustard then Parmesan/bread crumbs.
  3. Place chicken in shallow baking dish and cook for 20-30 minutes at 375 F. If you’ve got an instant-read thermometer, use it to cook chicken to 160 F.

Twice-Baked Potatoes
Adapted from Cooking Basics: Learning to Cook with Confidence

Ingredients:
2 baking potatoes
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup grater cheddar (approx 2 oz by weight)
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Steps: 

  1. Poke holes in potatoes and cook for 1 hour at 375 F.
  2. Scoop meat from potato (leave enough so it doesn’t fall apart).
  3. Mash potato and mix with butter, cream, and cheese.
  4. Put mixture back into potatoes. Bake at 375 F for 20 minutes.

Cajun Corn

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Growing up, we usually had meals which featured a protein, a starch, and a vegetable. I usually liked the protein and starch well enough but, like most kids, I stayed away from the vegetables. At that point, I was what would could only kindly be described as a picky eater. The list of vegetables I’d eat was pretty limited. It didn’t help that about the only vegetable we ever seemed to eat was canned green beans.

I’ve gotten better about vegetables but I’m still significantly vegetable challenged. I like them enough but it’s rather frequent where I’m making dinner and can only muster enough effort for a protein and starch. To compound the problem, I don’t have that many different recipes for vegetables that I like. Vegetables must be cooked well for me to like them.

I don’t remember when I first started making this recipe. It was awhile ago. It’s pretty simple and doesn’t require a whole lot of effort. It’s easy to make along with something else. It also has strong flavors that go well with spicy foods.

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This time I tried something different: I used the Creole Seasoning recipe from the cookbook. In the past, I just used some Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning that I had purchased at some point in time. I suppose it might make me a bad person to use a premixed seasoning but it was easy and it was there.

I figured using a homemade spice blend would clearly be superior to the premixed variety. But I was wrong, sort of. The two different spice blends yield very different results. The Zatarain’s is spicier and saltier. The homemade spice blend has a smoky flavor and has the savory flavor of the herbs. I prefer the homemade spice blend but Angela liked the Zatarain’s. It’s still up in the air which I’ll use in the future. Most likely, I’ll use each at different times depending on what we’re eating it with.

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Cajun Corn
Adapted from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: An American Roadhouse

4 tbsp butter
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 cups frozen corn, defrosted
5 tsp Creole Seasoning
salt
2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley

  1. Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. When the butter has stopped foaming, add the garlic and sauté until golden, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the corn to the sauce pan and mix well.
  3. Add the Creole Seasoning and season with salt to taste. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes to allow the corn to heat through.
  4. Remove the sauce pan from the heat and stir in the parsley.
  5. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.


Creole Seasoning
Adapted from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: An American Roadhouse

1/2 cup paprika
1/2 cup powdered garlic
1/4 cup powdered onion
3 tbsp ground black pepper
2 tsp ground white pepper
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup dried oregano
1/4 cup dried thyme
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp sugar

  1. Mix together all ingredients and place in a sealable container.

Makes 2 1/2 cups.