Design a site like this with WordPress.com
Get started

Dinner- check, Dishes- check, Tea on the couch- check check check

I have a very simple approach to my cooking.  Whether its for guests, or just for us…basic is best.  That’s not to say that I don’t bring out the big guns on Holidays or special occasions.  I just think that if things get to complicated, its not enjoyable… and if it’s not enjoyable, whats the point?  I don’t, however, have a weekly schedule of dinners.  What I do have, is a few standbys that I go back to time and time again, always with a little tweaking and improvisation.  One of these standbys is chicken cutlets.  Chicken is fundamental, but can be morphed into some incredible dishes.  I use thin sliced chicken cutlets for the majority of my chicken meals, because its quicker cooking, a more appropriate serving for the rugrats, and breaded cutlets can be used in a TON of stuff.  Here is my ranch and Parmesan chicken cutlet recipe.  You can add or subtract spices and flavorings as you see fit.  The outcome will always be delicious and easy. 

What you need:

  • 1 package chicken cutlets (you can buy them that way, or pound chicken breast)
  • 1 package powdered ranch dressing mix (1/3 cup if you buy it in bulk like I do)
  • 1 1/2 cup PLAIN breadcrumbs ( I always have plain and Italian style in my pantry)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese ( I buy a chunk and grate my own, it has soooo much more flavor and pre-grated!!)
  • 2 eggs
  • olive oil (or vegetable oil)
What you do:
Heat on medium, enough oil to thoroughly coat the bottom of your pan ( I always pan fry in cast iron, but that’s your choice)



In a shallow dish, I use pie plates, mix the ranch dressing mix, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.  In another dish, lightly beat the eggs. 

I make my own breadcrumbs.  Uses old bread and saves me $$$



Dip the cutlets in the egg, then lightly dredge in the bread crumb mixture, cover both sides completely ** if you use one hand only for the egg, and the other only for the dry ingredients, you’ll minimize the junk that can build up on your fingers** Then add only a few cutlets at a time to the pan.

Cook for about 3-4 minutes, than turn.  The second side should cook 3-4 minutes too.  Since you might have to cook these in batches, your second and subsequent batches may be a little more browned that your first, that’s because of the smudge left behind in the oil, so don’t fret!  The result is crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and has a ton of flavor.  They are perfect the next day for sandwiches, and are even good eaten cold!



A plate of goodness!



If I Could Take a Wife…

I have a serious lady crush on Nigella Lawson.  Not only is she effortlessly beautiful, she has a charismatic and breezy cooking style that makes me green with envy.  Her baked goods are thrown together and blitzed in the food processor, a technique that would make my middle school home economics teacher weep.  There is no real method with her cooking.  Its easy and simple, but still gorgeous and delicious. 
My kids are really elementary in their taste preferences.  It could be Kraft Dinner night every night, and I am sure there would be no squawking.  But I have been able to infuse some Indian, Greek, French and even Asian dinners into my repertoire and they have been more than satisfied.  And thanks to the simplistic nature of her recipes, I’m able to make and ENJOY dinner!

Cinnamon Rolls, Mall not included…

I have had a serious bread making obsession these days.  I have chosen a few basic breads, some savory breads and have had successes studded with the occasional failure.  All in all its been fun, and educational.  Its like chemistry mixed with home ec.  So, this afternoon I had the brilliant idea to make some cinnamon rolls.  Who doesn’t love a cinnamon roll? 
I thought it was going to be a tremendous undertaking, but really is an easy process.  It takes a while to make, only due to the few hours needed to let the dough rest between segments.  The end result is well worth the wait, as with most things in life.  They are tender and delicious, cream cheesy and the brown sugar has a warm satisfying sweetness.
Trust me, if I can pull this off, with 2 kids driving race cars around the kitchen and drooling over the smell, anyone can do it! 

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Rolls

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5-6 cups all purpose flour

Filling:

  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup soft butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

What you do:


I find its always easiest to gather and measure out your ingredients first.  Not that you need to be told this, but if your anything like me, I always think I have everything I need, but inevitably am missing one component or another .  Its always easier to find that out before you start rather than at the crucial moment!

Add the brown sugar ( I chose a mix of light and dark, only because that’s what I had on hand) and butter to a stand mixer or your mixing bowl.  Beat together until light and fluffy, should look like this:

Yours might be slightly lighter than mine, that’s because I added the dark brown sugar.

Add the eggs, one at a time, being sure the completely incorporate each egg before adding the next.  Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally during mixing.
Add the water and milk together in a small sauce pan and just warm thru.  Add it to your batter, along with the cinnamon, salt and yeast.  Mix again on low until everything is well blended.  Start adding your flour in.  Start with 2 cups, and mix well.  Add the flour in little by little until the dough is too tough to mix.  Pour out dough onto well floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes.  Add flour as needed, you want the dough to be soft, but not sticky.



If using a mixer, start on low speed, so you don’t wear the flour!



Dough should be soft and pliable, but not sticking to your hand.  Don’t add too much flour!  Go slow and incorporate flour completely!



Once dough is kneaded, put it in a deep bowl that has a little oil in the bottom.  Flip the dough a few times to completely cover with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and LEAVE IT ALONE for at least an hour, or until its doubled in size! 

Take this time to make the filling.  I omitted the raisins, as they are not popular with my rugrats.  You could use currants, golden raisins, chopped figs or dates, just about anything that tickles your fancy. 

Dump the dough balloon out on your counter and use your fingers to form into a 12 x 18 inch rectangle.  Brush the top with the melted butter, and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture.  Roll up like a jelly roll, making sure to pinch the seam.  Cut the roll into 12 pieces and lay them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave it alone for another hour, to double in size.  Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Dough after its risen

 



Rolled up.  Make sure to seal the seam by pinching it
I didnt use the ends of the roll, thats totally up to you.

Naked…
After an hour or so, unwrap the cinnamony goodness, and bake for 30 min.  I set my timer for 20 minutes, check them and then go from there.  All ovens are different, so just keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.  While they are baking, mix the butter, powdered sugar and cream cheese together.  When the rolls come out, smear them with the icing while they are still hot.  Then, jump out of the way, because your whole family and possibly some neighbors are going to be running into your kitchen to gobble them up!





Dressed to impress!