Knitting

I just wanted to show off a couple of my completed knitting projects.   They have their flaws, but I’m improving every day.  I’m currently working on a few dish cloths and they are going really well….no holes, dropped stitches, or other mistakes!

These are completed scarves:

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They are a little shorter than I would like, but they’ll work.  I can always make longer ones once I become a faster knitter.  I’d like to be able to whip out projects in a day or two, but these each took a couple of weeks – just knitting whenever I had free time.

Chicken Parmesan

This is one of the best meals I’ve made recently.  It was soooo good.  I can’t wait to make it again!  It will definitely be added to our regular rotation.  I strongly encourage you to make it soon!  I think toasting the bread crumbs made all the difference.  It allowed the breading to stay crispy while baking.  I did have one minor problem with some of the breading coming off the chicken after it was baked, but it was nothing to get too concerned about.

This is a Cook’s Illistrated recipe, as seen on Annie’s Eats.  I made a few changes that are noted below in italics.

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Chicken Parmesan

Serves 4
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs (1 cup)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper
3 egg whites (I used 2 whole eggs)
1 tbsp. water (omit)
vegetable cooking spray
2 large chicken breasts, cut in half (4 pieces) and butterflied (4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to desired thinness)
2 cups marinara sauce, warmed
about 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I omitted and just used parm)
1 tbsp. minced fresh basil (I omitted, but seasoned the marinara with extra dried basil)

Directions:

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position.  Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.  Combine the breadcrumbs and oil in a 12-inch skillet and toast over medium heat until golden, stirring often, about 10 minutes.  Spread the breadcrumbs in a shallow dish and allow to cool slightly; when cool, stir in the Parmesan.

In a second shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, 1 tablespoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper together.  In a third shallow dish whisk together the egg whites and water (or just 2 eggs).

Boil water and cook pasta.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray the foil with vegetable oil spray.  Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper.  Lightly dredge each chicken piece in the flour to coat completely, shaking off the excess.  Then dip into the egg whites and finally coat with the breadcrumb mixture.  Press on the breadcrumbs to make sure they adhere.  Place the chicken pieces on the prepared baking sheet.  

Bake until the chicken is no longer pink and feels firm when pressed with a finger, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the oven.  

I didn’t do this part:  Spoon 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce over the top of each piece of chicken and top with 2 tablespoons of the shredded mozzarella.  Return the chicken to the oven and continue to bake until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with the fresh basil and serve as desired, with extra Parmesan and marinara sauce. 

When the chicken came out of the oven,  I plated it over the pasta and spooned marinara over all.  Then top with grated parm.  Enjoy!

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Rum Slushies

With the beautiful warm weather that we experienced about a week ago, I was in the mood for a summery cocktail.  I turned to one of my favorite blogs and found the perfect  recipe.  It comes from Katie’s fabulous blog Good Things Catered.  These Rum Slushies are absolutely delicious!  You should make them today (even though there’s snow on the ground)!

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Rum Slushies (I halved her recipe)

Ingredients:
1 (12oz) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
2 cans (use 12oz empty lemonade can) full of water
1.75 L orange juice (I used approximately 2 quarts)
2 and 1/2 c. spiced rum
1/4 c. grenadine
Ginger ale
Maraschino cherries

Directions:
-Combine first five ingredients in large, freezer safe container and stir to combine.
-Place into freezer and freeze at least 24 hours (it will not freeze all the way due to the alcohol content.)
-When ready to serve, fill glass 3/4 way with slush, top with ginger ale and stir well.
-Garnish with cherry and serve.

Leftovers can be stored back in the freezer for future use.

French Onion Soup

This is another recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman!  What can I say, she inspires a lot of the food we eat!

I made this for lunch a couple of weeks ago when I had the day off work and we really enjoyed it!  I’ve made Alton Brown’s recipe in the past and it was a lot of work!  We also thought it was too salty.  This recipe is much easier and much better too!

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French Onion Soup (adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

serves 4

Ingredients

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
5 small/medium yellow onions, halved root to tip and sliced thin
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups beef broth
2 cloves minced garlic
Worcestershire Sauce
Several thick slices french bread or baguette (about 1/2 a loaf)
5 to 7 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (Swiss, Asiago, Mozzarella, or Romano works, too)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Melt butter in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat.  Add onions and cook, covered, for 20 minutes.
Place soup pot into the oven with the lid slightly ajar to ensure the onions will brown.
Allow onions to cook in the oven for 45 minutes, stirring at least once during the cooking process so onions won’t stick and burn.
Remove pot from oven and place over medium heat on stove top. Stir pan, add a several drops of Worcestershire sauce and scrape all the brown, flavorful bits.
Turn off heat and pour in wine. Turn heat back to medium.
Cook wine for five minutes, allowing it to reduce.
Add broth, and minced garlic and reduce heat to low.
Simmer for about 30 minutes.
Butter one side of the bread slices and broil over low heat, allowing bread to brown and become crispy.

When soup is ready, ladle into bowl or ramekin. Place a slice or two of crispy bread on top, then sprinkle generously with grated cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve immediately.

Restaurant Review: Two25

Last week I received an awesome invitation to dine at Two25 with a few other local bloggers.  I am so happy I accepted!  The meal was fantastic and more importantly the prices were really reasonable.  I would recommend it to anyone in the area and I’ll definitely go back with the hubs as soon as we get a chance.  Be prepared for difficult parking though, their lot is pretty small and it was full at 6:00 when we arrived.  We ended up paying to park in a nearby deck.  But that is nothing out of the ordinary for downtown Peoria.   

I don’t know what I was thinking, but I forgot to take pictures of my plates.  I meant to, but I guess I was just too hungry.  My camera was right there in my purse too.  Bummer. 

On to the food:

I started off with a small pear salad which the menu says is mixed greens, sliced pear, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, blue cheese, and a strawberry vinaigrette.  Delicious!!  The sweet candied walnuts were my favorite part, but the whole ensemble was  a perfect balance of sweet and tart.

For my main course I had the chicken piccata which is chicken breasts over pasta with a lemon butter caper sauce.  It had a deliciously light and fresh flavor.  It came with two chicken breasts and a mound of pasta, so I feel as though it could be shared.  I brought one piece of chicken and some pasta home with me for lunch the next day.  It was really fantastic but I was expecting more breading on the chicken for some reason.  It tasted perfectly fine without much breading but I am used to seeing it with more.  Oh well, it probably was a little bit healthier that way. 🙂

Lastly for dessert, I had creme brulee.  It was amazing and even though I was full, it left me wanting more.  I seriously could have eaten at least 3 servings!  I was scraping the dish with my spoon to try to get every last bit.  I’ve been dreaming about it since too.  I’m putting a torch on my wish list so I can attempt it at home! 

Besides their diverse menu, they also offer a full bar and wonderful wine list making it an ideal spot to chill after work.  Overall, the atmosphere couldn’t have been more perfect.  It has an upscale vibe with dim lighting, but the exposed brick and paper tablecloths keep things fun and casual.  Really, parking is the only negative point I can come up with!

I’m looking forward to my next visit! 

Check out their website  www.two25peoria.com to read more about their event planning, wine flights, and view the complete menu.

GIVEAWAY!

Hey!  There is an apron giveaway over on The Reluctant Entertainers blog.

Click here to enter!

Good luck!

Chicken Squares

This was a very quick and easy meal that I fixed for lunch the other day.  They are very filling and really hit the spot.  🙂

Be sure to evenly distribute all of the filling onto the squares so that they bake evenly and you don’t have filling left over.   As I was making these I had the idea to make them into appetizers using one triangle of dough and less filling, creating 16 smaller pockets.  I’ll have to try that soon!

 

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Chicken Squares from Vintage Victuals

2 tubes of 6 Pillsbury crescent rolls – I used reduced fat
1 10-ounce can of chicken breast meat, drained
8 ounces of cream cheese – I used the 1/3 less fat kind
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Dash of salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Apply cooking spray to a large baking sheet or line with parchment paper and set aside. 

Roll out the crescent dough and divide into rectangles, pinching the seam of the 2 triangles together to form oblong rectangles of dough.

In a medium bowl, combine chicken, cream cheese, onion, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper, creaming the ingredients together.

Spoon a dollop of the chicken mixture onto one side of each crescent rectangle. Fold one end of the rectangle over the filling to form a square. Pinch the dough together around the edges to seal, and place the squares on prepared sheet.

Bake the chicken squares for 20-25 minutes or until the crescent rolls are golden brown. Serve immediately.

Yields 8 squares.

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