Tried but Not True: Melt in Your Mouth Chicken

So, the other night, we couldn't figure out what to make for dinner...and I was rummaging around Pinterest for something quick in the chicken department. I didn't find anything quick for that night, but found this recipe for "Melt in Your Mouth Chicken" that I put on the lunch menu for Sunday. (For once, I actually had EVERY single ingredient required.

I followed the directions to a T....a big, capital...T.....and yet, THIS is what came out of the oven: 

One of these things is most DEFINITELY NOT like the other. I don't know if it's because I lined the baking sheet with foil (because I didn't feel like scrubbing a pan) or if it's because I used grated parmesan cheese instead of shreds. I just do not why mine does not look like the picture above. 

It was an odd, odd thing, this recipe. Granted, I've never baked with Greek yogurt before, so maybe this is normal and what they used was NOT Greek yogurt? I can tell you that I opened the oven at about the 25-minute mark and they were SWIMMING in what I assume to have been yogurt liquid....runny, gross looking, yuck and so I drained the majority of THAT off. Maybe that's why they didn't brown properly? I baked it at the indicated temperature, for the indicated period of time. The only thing that got golden brown was the bottom of each boob, after I got done peeling them off of the aluminum foil. 

The flavor was different. Good, but different. My husband said it got better the more he ate, and that we had a winner with this one.  Allow me to show you my face at hearing this:  

No, this is NOT me.....but that most certainly had to be my expression at that particular moment. 
He's an artist. He draws pictures and stuff. Rock your world, he will. 

Anyway....back to that chicken. Yeah. Next time, I will be omitting the aluminum foil, and if it's still not browned by near the end of the cooking time, I think I'll stick it under the broiler for a minute or two to see if that does anything other than burn the stiff peaks. 

PS: This is NOT a non-messy kind of proposition. Sure, the yogurt spread mixes up all nice and neat in the bowl, but then you have to somehow get it to spread over the slippery chicken. Of course, NOW, after the fact, I realize that I should've patted them dry before applying the spread. I'm on the ball, yes I am! The spread is so thick that I didn't feel it would be feasible to put it in a pie pan or something and then try to dip the chicken in, so I just used the good ol' digits and slopped it on each side, then around the edges as best I could. 

I will let you know what happens the next time I try this!  

If YOU have any clue why it did not brown like the chicken pictured in the recipe picture, please do share!  


The Lighter Side of Chicken Cacciatore

On Lidia's Italy the other day, she was making her version of Chicken Cacciatore, and I was immediately reminded of this recipe from Michael Chiarello: Chiarello's Chicken Cacciatore. It may very well be the first recipe I ever made that ventured outside the lines of spaghetti and meat sauce or some version of Helper. The kids were small, so I know it was YEARS ago, back when I barely knew what olive oil was and had never cooked with fresh herbs before. (Yes, I am that old.) I loved Mr. Chiarello's PBS show, so much so that I signed up for his catalog and ordered these:

Yes, they're old. Worn. And mainly sitting up there on the shelf for decoration...along with a can of Arizona Sunshine that I found in my grandpa's house after he passed. I miss my grandparents. I hold on to the tiny things to help me remember the best times in life. ANYWAY!  Back to cacciatore.  This recipe made me see parsley as something more than a garnish. I have never stopped using Italian parsley since I first made this. It's amazing. Try it, if you never have...the fresh stuff!!! 

So, I went searching for the recipe and found it on another food blog (see link above). I was overjoyed!  However, having recently discovered that my digestive system is not what it once was, I am now trying to lighten everything up, that and I'm not all that fond of chicken thighs, so I revamped the recipe to fit my dietary and budgetary needs.  


The Joys of Spinach

This week, during one of the rare times when I catch part of an episode of Dr. Oz, I saw this recipe for a Spinach Walnut Citrus Salad. I like spinach. I like citrus. It's a go! Took all of 5-10 minutes to put it together. I highly recommend this, not only for the health benefits, but also for the lovely flavor! 

As for the vinaigrette, I am not one to waste, so I added the juice from the grapefruit. Or, rather, I was letting the juice fall into the bowl while I was sectioning the grapefruit and then decided "HEY, this would add even MORE ruby red grapefruit flavor!  All in all, it probably amounted to two tablespoons of juice. 

Being the ARTISTE that I am (HA), I dressed the spinach before adding the rest of the ingredients, because I like to create a somewhat photogenic plate, even if I'm not shooting it!  I added enough baby spinach to fill an entire dinner plate, since this WAS my dinner last night. To be honest, next time, I will combine spinach with romaine hearts. After about 1/2 the plate, the spinach was just, well, too much spinach, not enough crunch for me. 

Here she is, the finished and lovely salad. I did sub mandarin oranges for a fresh orange, just because I really need to use up items in my cupboard. It was just a fairly delightful combination of sweet and sour and a little kick with the cayenne in the vinaigrette. 


Simply NOT Organic-The Followup

Back on October 6th, in Simply NOT Organic, I shared with you some rather disturbing findings about a rather stubborn zucchini and some "fresh" rosemary that I bought back in July. In October, the zuke and the rosemary were still going strong, looking and feeling like I'd just bought them that week.

I checked them again on November 1st. Behold, we have SPOILAGE! FINALLY!

The rosemary is starting to decay, with some leaves turning black and a bit of mold developing on the base of the stem. Only took a little over three months. THREE. MONTHS! How organic is that really? 

The zuke, bought at a local farm, was still fairly solid, but was starting to look just a tad withered. No bad spots on the outside though and no mold on the stem or blossom ends. 

I knew I wasn't going to eat it, so I chopped it up. This is what I found. Actually, the picture makes it look more browned than what it really was. I did not try to do a taste test, because...EWWW. So, I'm going to presume that had I wanted to, I probably could've still used it back at the beginning of October. However, since it frightened me, I just left it on the counter.

So, yeah. That's what they call "organic" now in the herb world. And I don't think it matters much whether a veggeble is grown locally or far away. What matters is the seed. Clearly, a touch of genetic modification occurred at some point to produce a very long-lasting fruit. 

I'm still kind of conflicted, because I like fresh vegetables and frankly, it's quite obvious that it doesn't matter where you get them, you just do not know what kind of seeds were used to produce the PROduce. All we can do is buy local, ask questions, keep calm and hope for the best, right?  


Easy Holiday Appetizers: Cranberry Roast Beef Roll Ups

The other Deb and I were discussing the joys of surviving on a diet consisting solely of appetizers. Why do we love them so? Is it because they are neat, tidy, compact and portable? Is it the ability to eat without having to cook an entire 3-course dinner? We don't know, but we know we love appetizers.

With the holidays (think THANKSGIVING) right around that corner, you need quick, easy apps that you can make in mere minutes, like this recipe for cranberry roast beef roll ups. This combines the best of cheesey, sweet and savory goodness in a portable little pinwheel. I don't have pictures yet, because I haven't made it in a few years, but believe you me, pictures can't do the divine flavor any sort of justice. For now, we'll have to suffice with a few shots of separate ingredients.

What You Need:

Flour tortillas
1/2 red onion, chopped (fine for smoother texture or rough for more crunch, you pick)
Cream cheese (Fat free is fine, as is whipped, which is delightful)
Deli Roast beef, sliced thin, but not chipped
Cranberry relish


The amounts vary, depending on how many rollups you wish to make. For one tortilla, you'll need at least 2 tbs onions, 2-3 tbs relish and 3-4 tbs cream cheese, along with 2-3 slices of roast beef.  I know this is a very shoddy way to tell you, but when I made them before, here at home, it was just random and just for me. So, to guesstimate, I will surmise:

1/2 lb cranberry relish (from deli or prepackaged)
1/2 to 3/4 lb roast beef
1-2 containers of cream cheese (depending on how cheesy you like it)
1 small red onion
1 pack of large tortillas (usually 8-10 in a bag)

What You Do:

Let the tortillas sit out for about 20 minutes. Cold tortillas don't roll as easily.
Same with cream cheese, if using regular, non-whipped varieties. It spreads much easier at room temperature.
Chop up that onion while you're waiting
Assemble tortillas:

  • Spread a thin (or thick if you want more) layer of cream cheese across the tortilla. Doesn't have to be perfect, just has to be cheesy.
  • Place 2-3 slices of roast beef across the surface of the torilla
  • Spoon cranberry relish over the roast beef, spreading it out to a thin layer 
  • Sprinkle roughly 2 tbs of onion over the the surface
  • Start rolling. Don't try to make it too compact, just roll
Place rolled tortillas, with the end flap facing bottom, on a tray, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour. 

Once rollups are chilled, use a sharp, serrated knife to slice each one into 6-10 pieces. Cut off the awkward tortilla-y ends and dispose, via your mouth. 
You can secure each rollup with a decorative toothpick if you're feeling particularly festive, or place a layer of curly kale on the serving platter OR just use a really colorful platter. 
Keep these babies chilled until serving. 

It might take all of 30 minutes to put these together, if making the entire bag of tortillas. Quick, easy, and almost too good to save just for holidays!  


If you like what you see, please subscribe so you can keep up with all my cockamamie cooking ideas! 
While you're at it, visit me and my dear friend, the other Deb, over at Simply Deb. You'll find a ton of ideas and information on health, fitness, food, gardening and money management. 

Furtherform, please visit these other fine purveyors of decadent foods and recipes. 

Credits for the lovely pictures:

Eckrich Deli Roast Beef Get some, it really is excellent!
Luby's Cranberry Relish I am so making this. You should too!
Cream Cheese Whipped Cream Ok, so this is NOT all cream cheese, but the picture is lovely and it sounds delightful, especially with cut, fresh fruit!
Red Onion Onions rule the world.
Homemade Flour Tortillas If you want to be adventurous, make your own tortillas. These.


Easy Holiday Appetizers: Decadent Peppery, Limey, Green Onion Sauce

Seriously. Sorry about the title, I don't have an official name for this sauce. You might wonder how these four items:

Could, would or ever should be joined in one recipe. (Those are limes, not peas!) Hold on to your hats, I'm about to describe an absolutely AMAZING sauce that you can use to make sandwiches, wraps or little finger sandwiches, perfect for any holiday gathering or Sunday afternoon football snacking!  

I know, it sounds a bit odd to combine lime and green onions and then put it on roast beef. I never believed it myself until I tried it. I snagged this recipe from a product sampler at a local Meijer store many years ago. I think I also gained a lifetime supply of sample packets of this: 

Trust me, it's one of the bestest black peppers around! So, let's get down to the nitties and gritties, shall we? 

The Sauce. 


1 cup mayo (fat free would probably be the best alternative but live on the edge and use full-strength for the best flavor) 
4-5 tablespoons lime juice (1/2 a lime, juiced or lime juice from a bottle, you pick) 
1 large or 2 med bunches green onions, washed and sliced thin, using all but the tattered ends and roots)

What You Do: 

Add all the aforementioned ingredients to a bowl
Chill (for at least an hour, but overnight is an exquisite amount of time to let it all comingle!) 

Where You Put It: 

Deli roast beef, sliced thin or even chipped, if you want to frustrate your local deli clerk! Go for the best brands....trust me, cheap roast beef is full of water and just kind of gross. 
Italian Bread, sliced thin. 
Wraps (like Flat Outs, or even tortillas) 

Putting It Together: 

If you're making finger sandwiches, I highly recommend having the Italian bread sliced in store, so you don't have to mess with it. Most commercial bakery slicers run thin, so it makes the perfect size for this recipe. Since Italian loaves tend to be a bit short, I'd recommend making two tea sandwiches per two slices of bread. 

Cut two slices of bread in half before assembling. 
Slather on a layer of the onion sauce, covering the surface of the bread bits for best flavor. 
Hold a piece of roast beef up from one end, so it's dangling in the air, touch it to the bread and let it kind of cascade into a lovely, frilly little pile o' beef. Or, just smack it on there. 
Top it off with the another 1/2 piece of bread. VOILA. 
You can use decorative toothpicks to hold them together or just let them hang out. 

If you're not going to eat them right away, cover the platter with plastic wrap and keep them chilled to prevent them from getting icky and stale!  

Onion pinwheels: 

Flatouts offer more bread-like chew than a tortilla, but the choice is yours. I wouldn't recommend flavored tortillas because it will definitely distract from the amazing flavor of the sauce. However, if you're adventurous, go for it!  

Spread a healthy amount of sauce over the entire surface of the wrap
Cover the surface of the wrap with slices of roast beef
Sprinkle a little kosher salt over the beef (a very little)
Roll it up and then slice into 1-inch pieces. 
Eat those awkwardly shaped end pieces now. 
You can hold these together with decorative picks or just tuck them neatly together on a platter. 
Same as before, wrap and chill if not eating immediately. 

This IS a COLD recipe. I do NOT recommend heating the sauce at all, since it's mayo and it will just become oily and disappear. I've tried it at room temperature, but I really do prefer cold. 

I must apologize as I do not know for certain the serving amounts for the above recipe. For guesstimation purposes, I would have to say that you can cover at least four Flatout wraps, six large tortillas or 16 tea sandwiches. That is a total GUESS however. Just depends on how much sauce you want to add. It's easily doubled or tripled and it stores well in the fridge for at least 3 days. 

And a final note: I have never tried this with anything but roast beef. I don't know how it will pair with poultry or even seafood, but it might be kind of funky with some flaked crabmeat!  Please share if you try it with other meats. Let me know how it goes!  


On Making Changes

Hi there. Everyone else usually revamps, revises and cleans house in the Spring. Not me. I wait til Autumn is in full, chilly swing. So, today, I am rolling out my newly redecorated space and adding some new stuff.

Exciting, right?

Once in a while, life likes to remind you to keep looking for the good. And, often, it will also give you gentle reminders that good is already right there. You just have to look for it. So, in keeping with those gentle reminders, I have found the good in working at home, for myself. See, while I love food (a little too much) and I adore cooking, I also love to write. In fact, that's my full-time career/job.  I don't write books just yet, but that is on the bucket list. For now, I am a freelance contributor on several blogs and I write pieces for assorted clients throughout the Internets!  Exciting, too, I know!!!  

My writing journeys have led me to a myriad of amazing, intelligent beings from across the globe. One such person is my friend Deborah Aldridge, another freelance wordsmith with an amazing wit and a keen sense of all things health- and garden-related. After much discussion, we have decided to combine forces in a group of blogs that focus on all things health, garden, food and budget related. You can find this phenomenal combination of wit, talent and skill by visiting Simply Deb.  And if you lose this post, neverfear!  There's a handy tab at the top of this blog and also a feed in the sidebar, so you can see just what's going on!  

I hope that you'll continue to visit me here at Cooking Squared and also wander on over there, as well, for the best in common-sense, useful ideas, advice and know-how. Go ahead. Do it. Find the good in your day!  

Thanks, faithful, loyal friends and strangers. Your visits are a blessing!  <3