Monday, October 30, 2017

Chicken Parmigiana


Tender pieces of chicken, topped with homemade tomato sauce and grated cheese, and then oven baked until the cheese is golden and melted. The tomato sauce and crumbed, uncooked chicken can be prepared in advance but it is best to cook the chicken and assemble the dish just before it goes into the oven.

Tomato Sauce
Makes about 1 1/3 cups.

1 tablespoon oil
1/2 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 can crushed/diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar, firmly packed
Salt and pepper


Crumbed Chicken
Approximately 1 lb skinless chicken breast fillets or tenderloins
2 eggs
1 tablespoon milk
1/3 cup plain flour
about 1 1/3 cups packaged breadcrumbs
about 1/2 cup oil, for frying


Cheese Topping
1 1/3 cups, firmly packed grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup, lightly packed grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a heavy-based medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until onion has softened but not browned. Add tomatoes, basil and brown sugar, increase heat and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for about 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce has reached the desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside for 10 minutes, and then puree sauce in a blender or food processor.

If using chicken breasts, cut them in half horizontally. Cover chicken with a freezer bag and lightly pound with the flat side of meat mallet to flatten. © 


Whisk eggs and milk together in a bowl. Coat one piece of chicken in flour and shake to remove excess. Then dip the chicken into the egg and milk mixture ensuring that all of the flour is moistened.


Then coat the chicken in breadcrumbs, pressing firmly to ensure crumbs adhere. Repeat with remaining pieces of chicken.

To fry chicken, heat some of the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat. We cook the chicken in two batches using 1/4 cup of oil for each batch (the number of batches will be determined by the size of your frying pan and you'll need to divide the oil evenly between each batch). Fry the chicken in a single layer, without overcrowding the pan, until golden brown and cooked through.

Wipe the pan out with paper towels between each batch of chicken to remove any crumbs. This prevents the overcooked loose crumbs adhering to the next batch of chicken.

Drain cooked chicken on paper towels.

Place cooked chicken in a large baking dish and spread with sauce. Sprinkle with combined cheeses.


Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden.  Optional. sprinkle the chicken parmigiana with chopped parsley before serving.


Pulled Pork in the Crock Pot





(1) 6-7 pound pork shoulder roast or Boston Butt from Harter House
Dry Rub
3-4 drops Liquid Smoke (optional)


My favorite Dry Rub
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Add all ingredients to a small bowl and stir until combined.

Rinse roast with cold water then pat dry with paper towels.  Using your hands, rub roast with Dry Rub until evenly coated.

Cover rubbed roast with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight if possible.  It’s not a deal-breaker if you can’t but it’s SO much better if it can soak up the flavors of the rub overnight.

Remove the plastic and place the roast, fat-side down, in a large crock pot.  Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.  Do not add water.

Add Liquid Smoke to the broth that has been created from cooking the roast (not directly onto the roast).  Reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 4 more hours.

Remove broth from crock pot to use for gravy or freeze for later use.  Turn crock pot off and let roast rest, covered, for 30-45 minutes.

Remove roast from crock pot.  The meat will “pull” away easily.  Toss or serve with BBQ sauce if desired.

Enjoy!


Monday, October 16, 2017

Homemade Baked and Buttery Soft Pretzels

Do you love Auntie Anne's Pretzels? 


I have not tried this recipe yet, but I'm excited to try this!
Doesn't it look delicious?   ~Shelly




Braided and baked soft pretzels.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of all purpose flour plus a little more for dusting 
  • 1/4 cup of sugar 
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1.25 cups of warm water
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar 
  • 4 teaspoons of active, dry, baker’s yeast 
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of melted butter or vegetable oil for the dough
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter for brushing after baking
  • 4 cups of hot water
  • 1/2 cup of baking soda
  • Pretzel, kosher, or coarse sea salt for salting the pretzels

Equipment

  • Small bowl
  • Large mixing bowl
  • 1 or 2 baking sheets
  • Aluminum foil
  • Large pot
  • Slotted spoon
  • Rubber spatula
  • Cup, tablespoon, and teaspoon measurements
  • Pastry / basting brush
  • Large flat surface
  • Knife

Directions

  1. Combine the 3 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1/4 cup of sugar in a large mixing bowl. Mix the dry ingredients well using a fork. man-fuel-food-blog-homemade-soft-pretzels-recipe-dry-ingredients
  2. In a small bowl, mix the 1.25 cups of warm water with a teaspoon of sugar and the 4 teaspoons of yeast. Mix well until dissolved and let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes until it gets a little frothy. It may even smell a little bit like beer, which is good because yeast is one of the ingredients that gives beer a lot of its distinctive flavor and aroma. man-fuel-food-blog-homemade-soft-pretzels-recipe-yeast
  3. After 10 minutes, melt a tablespoon of butter in the microwave (or use vegetable oil) and add it to the flour mixture along with the yeast liquid. man-fuel-food-blog-homemade-soft-pretzels-recipe-flour-and-yeast
  4. Mix the ingredients well starting with a rubber spatula. When the dough starts to form into a uniform paste, you can use your hands to knead the dough for 6 to 8 minutes until all of the ingredients are well incorporated and you can shape the dough into a ball. Don’t overdo it with the kneading though. The idea is just to get everything well mixed. man-fuel-food-blog-soft-pretzels-recipe-dough-ball
  5. Next, use a teaspoon of vegetable oil to grease the outside of the entire dough ball to keep it from sticking to the bowl as it rises.
  6. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a towel and let it rise for 1 hour at room temperature (don’t refrigerate!). man-fuel-food-blog-soft-pretzels-recipe-covered-dough
  7. After an hour, the dough will have risen noticeably and be very soft to the touch. You’ll also start to smell that wonderful yeast and dough combination that is a precursor to baked breads. man-fuel-food-blog-homemade-pretzels-recipe-risen-dough
  8. At this point, start to pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees F.
  9. Dust a flat, clean surface like a counter-top with some flour and carefully get the dough ball out of the bowl and onto the counter. Dust the top of the dough with a little more flour to help keep it from sticking. man-fuel-food-blog-homemade-soft-pretzels-recipe-risen-dough
  10. Dust your hands with flour and cut the dough in half. Start stretching and forming half the dough into an elongated rectangle that you can then cut into 6 equal pieces. When you have a nice stretched rectangle, cut the dough into six pieces and repeat this process for the other half of the dough. You should end up with 12, evenly sized pieces of dough. man-fuel-food-blog-homemade-soft-pretzels-recipe-dividing-dough
  11. Now it’s time to create some fun shapes! Roll out a piece of dough into a long, thin cord. The length is really up to you depending on what kind of shapes you want to make. The typical bowed pretzel shape is always fun and you’ll need a decently long cord for that. I found that the usual pretzel shape is great, but I also really liked just rolling out a cord of dough and tying it in a single knot (like the first knot in a square or granny knot for anyone that knows their knots). I don’t recommend the long twisty style you might see in my pictures. Those looked fun, but didn’t give the best results. man-fuel-food-blog-soft-pretzels-recipe-braiding-pretzels
  12. Repeat this process for all of the pieces of dough. Mix and match the shapes as you like! man-fuel-food-blog-soft-pretzels-recipe-braided-pretzels
  13. When done with the braiding, get 4 cups of hot water and 1/2 a cup of baking soda ready to use. If your hot tap water isn’t clean or isn’t hot enough just heat some cold water and let it cool slightly so that it is hot, but not boiling. Some light steam is ok. Then add in the baking soda and mix until well dissolved. This step is especially important because this alkaline mixture of baking soda and water is what will help to give the pretzels that deep brown color on the outside as well as that nice outer texture that is so characteristic of soft pretzels. It works because the alkaline mixture speeds up the browning process as the pretzels cook.  man-fuel-food-blog-soft-pretzels-recipe-baking-soda-and-water
  14. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (2 baking sheets if your pretzels won’t all fit on one sheet). Keep in mind that the pretzels will expand a bit as they bake. Also make sure to grease the foil very well using butter or vegetable oil. This will help to keep the pretzels from sticking when they bake.
  15. Using a slotted spatula or large slotted spoon, carefully scoop up a pretzel and place it into the hot baking soda mixture. Let it sit for 15 seconds or so as you splash some of the water over the top using the spatula or spoon. Then take it out of the water, let it drain a bit, and place it on the baking sheet. Repeat this process for all of the pretzels. man-fuel-food-blog-soft-pretzels-recipe-blanched-dough-in-baking-soda
  16. Sprinkle the pretzels with pretzel salt, kosher salt, or coarse sea salt. Don’t go overboard with the salt, but just make sure to lightly cover the tops.
  17. Slide the baking sheet(s) into the oven and make the pretzels for 10 minutes or until they are a nice deep brown. Not all areas of the pretzel will get that deep brown, so just pull them out as soon as the outermost edges are that classic pretzel color. man-fuel-food-blog-soft-pretzels-recipe
  18. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave to brush butter onto the pretzels. man-fuel-food-blog-soft-pretzels-recipe-melted-butter
  19. Brush each pretzel with a nice amount of butter to coat the entire top. Then throw them in the oven for another 1 to 2 minutes. You’ll end up with some rich, buttery, glistening pretzels. man-fuel-food-blog-buttereing-homemade-soft-pretzels-recipe
  20. Serve them immediately or, better yet, let them cool. I discovered that the pretzel flavor actually depends as these pretzels cool. They taste great piping hot, but they taste even more like traditional pretzels when they cool down. man-fuel-food-blog-homemade-soft-pretzels-recipe
  21. Eat them with your favorite mustard for a savory treat or eat them like a dessert dipped in a sweet vanilla glaze! These pretzels work as a salty or sweet treat. They’re also just wonderful plain or buttered.
  22. If you have leftover pretzels, place them in a sealed plastic zipper bag and refrigerate. Use them the next morning to make pretzel breakfast sandwiches! man-fuel-food-blog-homemade-pretzels-recipe-pretzel-bun-breakfast-sandwich

Monday, October 9, 2017

Easy Crab Ragoon with Sweet and Sour Sauce


Crab Rangoon is an appetizer found in many Chinese restaurants in the United States. A classic American creation, crab rangoon is basically cream cheese wontons with tiny bits of crab meat, deep-fried to golden perfection.
This sounds much better than Chinese takeout.
Give it a try!


Ingredients:
1 brick (8 oz) Kraft Philadelphia Regular Cream Cheese, at room temperature
2 oz crab meat or 2 sticks imitation crab meat (finely diced)
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
20 wonton wrappers - at Harter House in the produce section
Oil, for deep frying

Directions:

Mix all the cream cheese, crab meat, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Stir to blend well. Place about 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese filling in the middle of a wonton wrapper. Dab some water on the outer edges of the wonton wrapper and fold the two ends of the wrapper together. Fold the other two ends to make a tiny parcel pictured below.  Pinch to seal tight and make sure that there is no leakage.


Heat up a pot of oil for deep-frying and fry the crab rangoon until golden brown. Dish out with a strainer or slotted spoon, draining the excess oil by laying the crab rangoon on a dish lined with paper towels. Let the crab rangoon cools down a bit before serving them with sweet and sour sauce.

Use real crab meat if possible.Don’t serve the crab rangoon immediately after deep-frying as the filling will be too hot!
To make the sweet and sour sauce, please refer to my 


SWEET & SOUR SAUCE
1 cup sugar
Mix with 2 T. cornstarch
½ Cup Cider Vinegar
½ Cup pineapple juice
½ Cup Ketchup
1 tsp Soy Sauce
2 T Water
1 cup pineapple chunks (or tidbits)

Combine and heat on the stove top till it reaches the desired thickness.