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Raleigh Weekday Chicken Fingers

I make a pretty decent breaded chicken, but when I saw this recipe in my new In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite cookbook, I was intrigued.  The combination of spices made me wonder 1) if it would make the fingers too sweet and 2) if it would compare to the much requested (by the pelirojo) recipe I currently make.

The original recipe calls for fresh basil (or cilantro, or parsely) and fresh garlic, but I didn’t have fresh basil on hand (I used it all in the basil cream sauce pasta).  I was also feeling too lazy to mince garlic, so dried basil and garlic was added instead.  Thankfully, this was not one of those cases where you wonder, “would it have been much better with the fresh alternative?”

The results were impressive!!  I will never make my sorry excuse for chicken fingers again.  This was infinitely more delicious, more moist, better seasoned, and just as easy as my other recipe.  I had wondered if I needed to make some sort of dipping sauce, but I’m really glad that I didn’t because these fingers were flavorful enough to stand on their own.

When I think of chicken fingers, I always think it’s appropriate to make mac-n-cheese (Annie’s brand is the stuff I really love) and a veggie side.  I served the fingers on a bed of spinach and a side of mac-n-cheese, but the flavor combination wasn’t right.  I think this would be phenomenal with basmati rice and some roasted vegetables.

Can I just say how excited I am that I’ve been on a roll?  This is another “KEEPER” recipe!

Hurray for successful adventures in the kitchen!!

Balsamic Chicken

Dear Vegetarian Viewers: Be warned… there are some graphic chicken photos within this post!

When it comes to chicken, a boneless chicken breast is my cut of choice.  It’s easy to cook and requires minimal prep work.  You know what doesn’t require minimal prep work?  Chicken drums.  That’s why I’ve never made them!!  Also… call me lazy if you will… but I don’t like eating them either.  You know why?  Because it takes too much work.  I don’t eat chicken drums with my hands, and it’s too much work for too little of a reward.

It now occurs to me that I have never shared this sentiment with my husband.  I suppose I thought that since I had never made them, it would be obvious that I didn’t enjoy them.  What is it that they say about “assuming?”  Oh yeah… they say that not explicitly telling your husband about your preference leads to him picking up a HUGE pack of drums because they’re on sale.

*sigh

Now came the issue of what to do with these things…  Enter trusty Food Network with a potential recipe!  I didn’t have rosemary sprigs or fresh flat leaf parsley on hand, so I figured I would substitute with dry spices.  (Right… like I know what I’m doing substituting stuff… *rolls eyes.)

Now comes the gross part:  Prepping the drums.

I only knew to do this because I had some vague recollection of watching my mom go through this process.  I also seem to remember her making this look easy.  She’d swiftly grab, pull, rip, and trim.  My process was not so swift.  This was the longest part of the prep (sans the marinating time)!  Blah.  It was enough to make me want to stop and not cook.  Just in case you don’t know, here is what it looks like before, and what it’s supposed to look like after:

After you’re done reminding yourself that you are handling a carcass (appetizing, no?), throw the drums in a ziplock bag.  Add the marinade to the plastic bag.

TIP:  This is one of those things you learn ONCE.  Only once…  When marinating something like this in a plastic bag, please do yourself a favor and place it in a pyrex before you stick it in the fridge.  Coming back to a leaked plastic bag in your fridge S.U.C.K.S.!

The recipe says to let the drums marinate for two hours.  I prepped the chicken in the morning and left it all day.  Come super time, I preheated the oven and arranged the drums on a baking sheet.  During the 35 minutes they were cooking in the oven, I heated the marinade, made some Near East rice pilaf, and reheated some squash and chickpeas.

Dinner was served.

Before I tell you what I thought, please remember I’m biased against chicken drums.  It might be good to know that Ian really enjoyed the chicken.

As for me?  I wasn’t super impressed.  The chicken was moist and well marinated, but I couldn’t help but think that it could be better.  If I try this recipe again, I’m going to change two things to see if it improves the dish:

1)  I’m going to use chicken breasts!

2)  I’m going to try it with fresh herbs.

Egg Muffins

Who doesn’t love brunch?  I love eating brunch, but the brunch section of my cookbook (i.e. the binder where I stick the recipes I like) is… well… nonexistent.  I make a decent garbage omelet (more like a garbage scramble) every once in a while, but that is really the extent of my cooking for brunch.  My parents are coming to visit us next weekend followed by my in-laws the weekend after that.  Neither set of parents has visited us in the new apartment, so I need to make sure things are set up around here before they arrive.  And yes, this does mean I need to finish organizing the stuff that remains in boxes in our office (I promise, Ian, I will have it done by then!).

In preparation for their visit, I would really like to have some meals planned so that we don’t have to eat out for each meal during their stay.  After looking around for a simple, no fuss breakfast recipe, I found this one posted by Cathy Larkins.  The possibilities are endless and it’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser (or so I hope!).  I tested it out this morning and my guinea pig loved the result.

The batter can be spooned in to either a 12 muffin pan (for smaller muffins) or in to a 6 muffin pan with large cups (for larger muffins).  I tried the latter and they came out fluffy and filling.  A single egg muffin with a side of strawberries was sufficient for me.  Since there were leftovers, I have put them in the fridge to microwave later.  I’ll let you know how they come out!

What You Will Need:
1 frying pan
1 mixing bowl
1 muffin pan

Ingredients:
½ lb sausage (pork or turkey)
12 eggs
½ c. chopped onions
½ c. chopped mushrooms
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. garlic powder
½ c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the muffin pan.
  2. Brown the sausage.  Make sure to get sausage in to tiny pieces.  Drain well.
  3. In the mixing bowl, beat the eggs.  Then add the onion, mushrooms, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  4. Stir in sausage and cheese.
  5. Pour the mix in to each cup until it is 1/3 full.
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

There are numerous variations you can do with this recipe.  You can add green peppers, omit the sausage (for a vegetarian muffin) or even do bacon bits instead of sausage.  This time around, after I spooned the mix in to the muffin pan, I sprinkled the tops with Parmesan cheese before putting it in to the oven.  This is definitely a keeper!

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