Chicken Bryan

Can you guys believe that Valentine’s Day is this week?  We usually don’t do anything big. We open up our Valentine’s box with goodies for everyone inside, I make a heart-shaped meatloaf, and then we’ll enjoy a special dessert that I’ve made. It’s small, but it’s our tradition, and we all love and look forward to it. Valentine’s Day is so overpriced and crowded, the folks who can go out can have it – I’d much rather be at home with the people that I love the most.

So, if you’re on board with that – but want to make something fancier than say…a heart-shaped meatloaf for instance, take a look at this Chicken Bryan copycat recipe from Carrabba’s. I’ve never actually been to the restaurant, which I should remedy that situation, because I think there’s one in Ocean City…but I hear this dish is one of their signatures, and for good reason – because it’s absolutely delicious!

A grilled chicken breast, topped with sliced goat cheese and a delicious sauce comprised of sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil, lemon, white wine, and butter. What’s not to love in that equation? It was quick, easy, and all of us really loved it. I was thinking the little ones might not be that into it, but again they proved me wrong – gobbling it right up. If you don’t want to grill the chicken outside, you could certainly do it on a grill pan inside, or even just roast it in the oven. I served with a fun pasta shape that I tossed with my super-easy quick marinara sauce, which I added a bit of heavy cream to. I also had about 1/3 of the goat cheese log left, so I crumbled that into the tomato sauce as well. Let me just say that the pasta was so delicious, it could have easily been a meal on it’s own. And probably will in the near future!

Add a salad and a glass of wine onto the meal, and it’s easily something that anyone could make at home for their Valentine – and not have to shell out and arm and a leg, nor fight through the throngs of the masses for…

Which leaves you more time to enjoy each other’s company, which is really what it’s all about, right? I’ll have some more ideas for Valentine’s Day coming up this week, so be sure to check back!

Crispy Chicken Sandwich

We rarely eat fast food, once in a Blue Moon. But, I have to admit that I have a soft-spot for a good crispy chicken sandwich. Juicy flavorful chicken covered in a crunchy coating…it’s tough to beat. So, when my latest issue of Cook’s Country came in the mail last week and I saw their homemade version while flipping through the pages – it immediately went on the menu for the week.

I made them on Tuesday night and just couldn’t wait to share the recipe with you guys. It was absolutely amazing. The breading on the chicken was absolutely spot on, and such an easy technique – I’ll definitely be using it for more than these sandwiches in the future. A simple mixture of flour and various spices is combined with just a bit of water to form a crumbly coating. Then, that mixture is pressed onto the chicken breasts and fried – leading to a breading that is thick and crunchy. I just know it would be wonderful on chicken tenders, fried chicken, and even a fish filet.

The other star of the sandwich was the dill pickle mayonnaise. A quick “special sauce” composted of mayo, mustard, chopped pickles, and a splash of pickle brine – I found myself eating the leftovers with a spoon after dinner was finished. It was so good! I topped them with a but of shredded iceburg lettuce for a cool crunch, but I’d imagine a slice of tomato would be pretty delicious on there as well…that is, when you can get your hands on a good tomato again!

While I pretty much despise deep frying, this is one that I know I’ll come back to again – just because we all really loved it. I served with some french fries (hey, I already had the oil out and heated up) and it made for a great crave-worthy dinner that I didn’t have to feel so bad about feeding my family, because I knew precisely what went into it. Homemade is always better, folks!

Source: barely adapted from Cook’s Country, February/March 2014

Roasted Greek Lemon Chicken & Potatoes
Andrew, our oldest, just marched off to his first day of kindergarten today. Tears were shed by me, but he couldn’t have been more happy or excited to be going back to school. It’s just hard for me to swallow the pill that he’s not mine to take care of all day anymore. I’m not sure who’s going to miss him more – myself, or his little brother William.

Back to school also means busier evenings with after school activities, homework, and sports all going on simultaneously. So, a one dish dinner – in which everything is thrown together and roasted, is always a great trick to have up your sleeve for a weeknight meal. Ina’s original recipe calls for all bone-in chicken breasts, but my little ones love their chicken drumsticks, so I just use a whole cut-up chicken instead. The white wine and lemon juice, combined with the drippings from the chicken create and awesome pan sauce. And the potatoes and Brussels sprouts just soak up all that delicious flavor while they cook.

And if there does happen to be any leftover chicken, it makes the most awesome chicken salad sandwiches to go into a lunchbox the next day. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

We’ve been on a little bit of a seafood binge lately. Between all the crab related dishes, and that bag of clams – I feel like we haven’t had a chance to have any landlubber favorites. So, when I came across this dish on Pinterest last week, I knew I couldn’t wait a whole week to make it – and rearranged my menu plans a bit to accommodate having this for dinner one evening.

I have so many take-out favorites that I make here at home, but sweet & sour chicken was one that’d I’d not gotten around to trying out in my own kitchen. Which is surprising, because it’s one of our favorites to order. But so often it’s disappointing. The dreaded tub of orange sauce and some frozen breaded chicken pieces – and I just paid $8 for this? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

The chicken pieces are lightly breaded in cornstarch (which is great for maintaining crispiness) and quickly fried. They are then layered with red and green peppers and fresh pineapple on a baking sheet, and doused with an awesome sweet and sour sauce that’s made from ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. The whole thing goes into the oven for a bit to finish up cooking and merry all those delicious flavors together. Served over a bed of rice, with a green vegetable – like snow peas or steamed broccoli, it’s a delicious dinner that you can feel good about serving to your family. And chances are, it also kicks the pants off of any sweet & sour chicken you’ve had in the past!