Chicken Kimberlloni’s, I mean, Cannelloni

Let’s play confession time early this round.

Love me some Italian. Love me some anything Italian. People, food, lifestyle, the country, attitude…everything, love it. I feel like I was born in the wrong…everything. 1986 in Omaha, NE a little Kimberbean came along. Something must have gotten mixed up because I missed my calling, in 1951 in Italy. Clearly there is some discrepancy between the two. Ughh, whatever, guess I just have to deal. 

I have to say right off the bat I didn’t make my own noodles this go around. I love doing so when I have the time, but rolling out dough is really only possible on the weekends. The ol’ steady Barilla showed face for dinner, Manitcotti style. I always have a terrible time finding these in the stores. For whatever reason around here many places dont always carry Manicotti. If you can’t find it just substitute the Giant Shells, they work just as good.

Quick Tips: The hardest part about this recipe is probably cooking the pasta right, and actually assembling the whole thing. But…even if it doesn’t work very well and turns into a mess, throw it all in a pan and put it in the oven anyway. It’ll still taste great, promise! I did a taste test this round, half with spinach and half without to see if there was a significant difference….no surprise here….spinach is a must have!

(if you’re short time and want to cheat…don’t forget the rotisserrie chicken at the store and shred it at home!)

My Original Recipe: Chicken Kimberlloni’s

6 Manicotti

Handful of Spinach

Splash of lemon

2 Medium-Large Chicken Breast

2 oz cream cheese

1/2 cup parmesan

1 tsp parsley

1/4 tsp paprika and chili powder

1 tsp minced garlic

3 sprigs of green onion diced

1/2 jar of pasta sauce

s/p to taste

1. If you have your chicken thawed out I like to make quick little side swipes to shred the chicken into small pieces. (you could also do this in the food processor if you wanted to) Put chicken into bowl, season with 1 tsp of grape seed oil, s/p, paprika, garlic, chili powder and mix together. Put in fridge.

2. Bring water to a boil and toss in the manicotti and remove about 1-2 minutes before you normally would. You want to keep them a little firmer so that you can stuff the shells without them shredding. Remove from water and set aside and let them cool to the touch.

3. Put pan on med-high heat and cook chicken just until browned. This shouldn’t take very long b/c they’re so small. I usually leave it on for a minute, then cover it and turn the heat off. Makes them crisp on the outside and center stays tender and not over done. Easy peasy.

4. Saute spinach with s/p and lemon

5. Mix the cheese, spinach, chicken, 2 tbsp of the red sauce, and green onion until a nice smooth mixture. Feel free to throw some extra parsley here too…

6. Take your manicotti and carefully stuff it with a small spoon. If you want a fool proof way, put it in a small zip lock bag, cut the tip (big enough for the chicken and goop to get thru) and squeeze it in.

7. Place stuffed pasta in a square pan small enough where they are tight. 8×8 or so will work. Pour over the remaining sauce, I also threw another handful of shredded cheese on top.

8. Bake for 20 minutes or so, if you want the cheese browned turn it to broil briefly. Take out and top with parsley. 

Browned Butter Blueberry Muffins: Get A Plate

Yet another birthday, just an additional excuse for me to try out new recipes on the work crew. I haven’t recreated anything from Joy in awhile so I tapped into her blog. I love Joy’s recipes, but for some reason mine seem to turn out quite a bit different than hers do. I don’t have that problem with other re-blogger-creations… I feel like she’s leaving steps out in order to not let me recreate to my upmost. The little devil.

Let’s play a game called, “list everything you love about muffins”. OK!                                 They’re….easy, quick, healthy (if you so choose), cute, portable, good for breakfast or a snack, filling, and best of all…they’re easily adaptable to your personal style and palette. 

Confession Time: I’ve selected several recipes as of late that call for fresh or frozen fruit. News flash, these fruits (raspberries, blueberries, cherries, ect) are all really, really expensive. You know how most girls clothes shop on a regular basis?? Not I, all spare change goes to the grocery store. There’s always something new and different I want to try. This last week brought in several first time buys. Whole wheat flour, grape seed oil, and sunflower oil. The only one I’ve tried so far is the grape seed oil…and at just a tad more then a normal bottle of olive oil (if you can even find the stuff) it’s 100% worth it. Top two reasons to purchase this…1. has no flavor, unlike olive oil. 2. It’s multipurpose, you can use it to fry, bake, or just whatever!

I have yet to try the sunflower, but it’s supposed to be better for you, and recommended for frying. I’ve never seen the sunflower seed oil until today…so it was a great impulse buy that I can’t wait to try out.  (and the bottle was pretty…)

Back to me being cheap, here’s a tip, if all those favorite, commonly called for frozen or fresh fruits are a little out of your budget: replace whatever it calls for with bananas, or buy flavored yogurt. Bananas and yogurt are nothing but affordable and moisture adding to any recipe!

Here’s my take on Browned Buttered Blueberry Muffins:

These were definitely good with a side of delicious…but I would definitely add in a few ‘make sure you do’s’ for this go around.

1. Because these have a crumble top, I would use the parchment paper liners next time. They’re taller and will catch any falling crumble. OR just eat over a plate so you can take a bite…then lick the plate. No one will care, I promise.

2. Make sure you watch your butter as you brown it. AKA…brown it, don’t burn it!

3. I tried the crumble top two ways, once as called for, and the other way at the bottom I used melted butter instead of the diced. Both taste pretty much the same, they just look different.

Browned Butter Fresh Blueberry Muffins (YIELD 16)

adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup milk

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

Chobani Blueberry Greek Yogurt

2 Bananas

For the Topping

3 Tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Put a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line muffin pan with liners.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Keep an eye on the butter.  Melt and cook down the butter until little brown bits appear in the pan.  The crackling will subside and butter will begin to brown fairly quickly after that.  Keep a close eye.  Remove from heat.

Whisk milk, egg, yolk and vanilla until combined.  Add the brown butter and stir to combine.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl  Add milk and butter mixture all at one and stir gently to combine.  Stir in the yogurt and diced bananas.

Divide the batter among muffin cups and spread evenly.

To make the topping combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until crumbly.  Sprinkle evenly over the batter in the cups.

Bake until golden and crisp and a wooden pick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 15 minutes.  Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes then remove from the pan. They’re best warm! I also sprinkle cinnamon on top after baking for extra color.

Crap Stuffed in Chicken….Carefully: Chicken Roulade

Stuff a bunch of crap in chicken, cook it right, and you have-chicken roulade. Fancy pancy restaurants charges way to much for poking a hole in chicken and putting all kinds of delicious junk in it. Hey….if I could charge 20 bucks a plate and people would gladly hand it over….I guess I would too.

I have to admit…this is my signature recipe. I’ve stuck with for about three years and it has yet to fail me. You know how chefs judge other chefs? Signature recipes, and not sucking. Just kidding. The other one was actually just having consistent (tasting) food- but I suppose it could be not sucking too.

Three years ago, a friend and owner/head chef for a hoity toity restaurant in Dallas, TX was in town and asked what the best dish I could make was. I replied with this one of course… she told me to make it as often as possible until it was perfect and the same every time. I’ve been asked a few times since if I have a signature dish and I’ve been able to reply. (yes) Glad I was given good advice from the start about having something to claim, and voila I a great answer without blinking.

Be good at one thing, and be able to make it consistently…then claim it.  You can give yourself a high-five once in a while, right?. Not hugs…we gave those out for the last post.

You should probably try this one out…It’s actually really easy, and quick, surprisingly enough.

Take your thawed out thick sliced chicken and carefully cut a hole in the side moving the knife around to create a pocket, while making your insertion point as small as possible. (This was a learned technique. Sounds easy, but via many trials over the years the smaller the hole you make the better. Also, the thicker the chicken, the easier it is to do this.) Keep the hole small that way you don’t have chicken yum leakage all over your pan. That’s right…yum leakage.

I usually cook down spinach, asparagus, or broccoli, then add garlic, green onion, and softened cream cheese (or ricotta) in the food processor. If you can do it with a  spoon, awesome…otherwise a quick and easy way to stuff the chicken is to put the cream cheese mixture in a sandwich bag, then cut the tip off like a piping bag and then pipe your cream mixture into the chicken! See, it’s not that hard!

Season the chicken as desired on both sides then flash cook it on medium high heat for about 30+ second on each side until gold brown. Make sure it’s not too high, you don’t want your oil to smoke (I’ve been using Grape Seed Oil…no added flavor and much better for you!), just enough to make a crispy outside. Then pop it in the oven for about 25 minutes at 350 (depending on thickness of the chicken). I usually have extra of the cream cheese mixture left over so for the last-minute or so I turn the oven to broil, and then spread the remaining over the top for added awesomeness.

I usually pair this with linguine with lemon/oil or creamy risotto, here was the latter of course. HEY, before blindly just taking the chicken out of the pan and tossing the rest…don’t for the get the drippings to drizzle around the sides… it’s amazing, and really flavors up the dish!

Go do this…Even if you don’t hang out in the kitchen much and you can pull this off…I  promise. You might get a little messy the first time thru, but I will put 10 bucks that you’ll get a room full of high fives. OR serve it with shrimp, too…crowd pleaser!!! 

Hug a Scot: Eat Blueberry Cinnamon Scones!

I would like to start this post with a few things. Yes..I’m back, went on a little hiatus, and work has been ‘kicking my butt busy’ along with pounding some pavement again (finally) lately. Even more so though, I want to tell all of you to hug anyone that is Scottish. Seriously. Hug them, and thank them for scones, the walk away. Scones are a Scottish quick bread with commonly wheat, oatmeal or baking powder and served with tea (or in my case…coffee with breakfast). They’re called scones because they normally start out as a large circle but then are sliced into triangles are squares. These quadrants are called scones. You won’t find too many of these flowing around in recipe books. Recipes for these are traditionally passed around on paper between family and friends of those best tested. (you’re welcome for the history lesson)

So ONCE AGAIN, Annie’s got me. She’s only ever let me down once in a recipe. Besides that… I bow to her kitchen skills any day of the week, and this one is no different. This recipe is at the current NUMBER ONE spot on my favorites list. I’d never attempted scones before, so let me just state that I’ve been missing out for about 26 years… royally. I guess I always thought they would be more complicated. Who knows maybe a more classic recipe is…but it is supposed to be a ‘quick bread’ so it shouldn’t be that crazy hard, right? 

I made these late night last week, and they smelled like breakfast, but are definitely (i tested) one of those flip flop foods that can pass for dessert, or breakfast. Seriously. Make. These… Seriously. There are an endless variety of these you can make (like you would muffins) – so if you’re not a cinnamon roll fan (you should be ashamed and punish yourself) you can definitely opt for a different twist. 

Let’s be honest: I think my favorite part of this recipe besides the amazing way these turned out…was the fact that it’s made with yogurt. I love cooking with yogurt. It makes everything just deliciously moist and packed with an extra kick of flavor if you get the flavored kind and not the plain. Recipes always call for plain yogurt, but I say nay. I want pizzazz.

I haven’t been a huge fan of greek yogurt in the past for several reasons, so I was at first a little standoffish to ingredient list here. The consistency and/or flavor is often too thick or bitter for me. BUT- they wanted greek yogurt specifically….so I ventured out and decided to just try a different brand than I had previously… Chopani Blueberry. Go buy it. All of it. Just load up. No joke…. go clear out the shelves at your store. Spurge on the $1 per yogurt here. You get more quantity than regular yogurt and it this particular brand has almost no fat and no sugar. It’s better for you, and you’re mouth will love it and you from now on will spend a dollar instead of fifty cents. Yes. That good. 

Since we’re being honest… I have to confess that I actually started eating the yogurt….and then came out short of the appropriate quantity for this recipe. Recommendation: buy one yogurt for you, and one for your scones. Oops. I also may, or may not have licked the yogurt bowl. Don’t tell.

I had so much fun doing these, and I’m pretty sure my favorite ballers at work had fun eating them. I kept a secret stash for little munchkins and they were asking for them every morning all week. This one is a definite keeper!

Here’s the recipe with my changes, but here’s Annie’s if you want it.

Blueberry Cinnamon Scones:  Yield 12

INGREDIENTS

For the dough: 
8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen whole
½ cup milk
½ cup low-fat greek yogurt Blueberry
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
½ cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
Milk or cream, for brushing
3 tbsp. sugar
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon2/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted

To finish:

2 tbsp. melted butter
Coarse sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

For the glaze: After you glaze, dust with your cinnamon and sugar shaker that  I KNOW you keep in the cabinet for cinnamon toast.
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. milk

  • Adjust an oven rack to middle position and preheat to 425˚ F.  Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.  Grate the frozen butter on the holes of a large box grater.  (I like to use my food processor for this – fast and easy.)
  • Whisk together the milk and yogurt in a medium bowl; refrigerate until needed.  Combine the flours, ½ cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.  Whisk to combine.  Add the grated butter to the flour mixture and toss with fingers until thoroughly coated
  • Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and fold with a spatula just until combined.  Transfer the dough to a generously floured work surface.  Dust the top of the dough with flour, and knead with well floured hands, 6-8 times, just until the dry ingredients have been mostly incorporated.
  • Roll the dough into a 14-inch square.  Fold the dough into thirds like a business letter (a dough scraper really helps with these steps).  Fold the short ends of the dough into the center in thirds, to form an approximate 6-inch square.  Transfer the dough to a plate lightly dusted with flour and chill in the freezer for 5 minutes.
  • Return the dough to the floured work surface and roll into an approximately 10-inch square.  Lightly brush the surface of the dough with milk or cream.  Whisk together the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, and sprinkle the mixture evenly over the dough.  Layer with the toasted pecans and cinnamon chips.  Roll the dough up into a tight log.  Lay the log seam side down on a cutting board.  Use a sharp knife to slice into 10-12 round discs.  Place the shaped scones on the prepared baking sheet.  Lightly brush the top of each scone with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse sugar.  (If freezing ahead of time, flash freeze on the baking sheet for 20 minutes, then wrap individually and store in a freezer bag until needed.)
  • Bake until the tops and bottoms are golden brown, 12 minutes (about 20-22 if baking from the freezer).  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool at least 10 minutes.  In a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and milk.  Whisk together until smooth, adding additional milk or sugar to reach your preferred consistency.  Drizzle the glaze over the scones.  Serve warm.