Monday, June 29, 2009

Oven Baked Fried Chicken

I make a mean fried chicken but was really in the mood to try out an oven baked version for a healthy alternative. I saw a recipe recently that really got my attention but then I couldn't find it. After researching a few & combining elements from my regular fried chicken I came up with this one. It was for Sunday dinner & was a HUGE hit. You must give this a try. It was crispy on the outside & moist on the inside, you couldn't tell it was oven baked. This will definitely be made again & again.

For regular but out of this world fried chicken, check out this Southern Cross Fried Chicken I make. It's from a horse farm/guest ranch we visited in Georgia. I bought their cookbook since their food was amazing. This is where I got the idea to put the 2 special ingredients listed below.**

8 skinless chicken thighs
8 skinless chicken legs
3-4 cups buttermilk
3 tblsp hot sauce
1 tblsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 tsp Paprika
3 tsp Garlic powder

2 cups Kelloggs Corn Flake Crumbs
Dash of garlic powder
Salt & Pepper
1 pkg Instant Tomato Cup of Soup (WalMart) **
or a few sprinkles of Chicken Tomato Bouillon powder like I used
1 pkg of Good Seasons Italian Salad Dressing Mix ** (optional)

Place chicken in a large 9 x 13 dish. Combine buttermilk, hot sauce & seasonings. Pour over chicken in dish or Ziploc bags & marinate for 8 hours or overnight. The longer the better.

Pre-heat oven to 400. Combine corn flake crumbs, seasonings & packets. Shake excess liquid from each piece of chicken & dredge in crumb mixture. Place on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Repeat with all chicken pieces. Spray the tops of chicken lightly with either butter or oil flavored cooking spray (some people drizzle melted butter).

You will need 2 baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn over carefully so that the breading doesn’t come off. You may want to use a spatula & your hands to gently turn. Bake for 15 minutes more. Turn your oven to broil & move your chicken so it's 6 inches from the heat. Broil for 1-2 minutes until you get a crispy coating. Turn chicken over & broil other side for 1-2 minutes or until desired crispiness.

{Food for Thought}

I always start off with about 2 cups of breading in a pie plate but usually have to refresh all the ingredients if I have a large batch. Just always taste your breading because that's what your chicken will taste like. Use what you like, it doesn't have to be exact measurements.

The secrets to an awesome fried chicken is a long buttermilk bath as well as the secret ingredients. For this baked version, the extra secret is your broiler. People have complained their baked chicken is soggy but they need to rely on their broiler more. But you MUST keep a close eye on it & never walk away. I always broil food in 1-2 minute increments & use my timer as well so I don't get easily distracted & forget.

** I don't ever go to WalMart so I wasn't able to get my hands on the Instant Tomato soup packet from the original recipe from the horse farm, so I ended up buying the chicken tomato bouillon powder at my local grocer & have been using it ever since. I do recommend you getting your hands on the Instant packet if you do frequent WalMart. I also didn't use the Good Seasons Italian Season packet on this baked chicken but definitely plan to next time so I wanted to keep it in the ingredient list.
And because I like to be honest, both hubs & I agreed that while this chicken was wonderful even a few hours later, it wasn't the same the next day after being in the fridge overnight. It seemed to be more crumby when we ate it cold so I would recommend warming it up in the nuke & then placing it under your broiler for a minute or 2 on each side.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Fruit Dip & More Vacay Recap

Forgive me today for posting an extremely simple recipe & without a picture to boot. I've been in a fog since coming back from vacation; just lazy, not cooking much or getting back into my groove of working out & challenging myself to tackle as much as I can at once. I think I'll turn things around this weekend.

Anyway, I made this as a little healthy treat while we were in Hilton Head, something to snack on in the midst of all the other indulgences. I remained somewhat healthy on vacation by pulling Tristan in this kiddy cart to the Piggly Wiggly on a couple of mornings & around the resort & to the harborside, as well as doing laps in the pool in between each beer I had.

Fruit Dip

1 cup of non-fat vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup of applesauce
Dash of nutmeg
A few sprinkles of cinnamon

Mix all ingredients & serve with fruit, especially apples & strawberries.

And a couple more of my favs from the vacation:

{I love this shot of the torch lit at Charley's Crab on the intracoastal. Thank you for the recommendation Leigh Anne! Or was it a demand?!}

{We were beat our first night. This chair was my favorite spot in the house we rented}

{I hope one day my son likes the beach better than he does now. Still makes for a handsome beach goer}

Have a great weekend everyone! I'll be back next week with some goodies.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Baked French Toast Filled with Fruit

Hello all! I hope you've been having a good life. Vacation was spectacular. So relaxing, the biggest decisions were whether to go to the pool or beach & which wonderful waterfront establishment to have dinner at.

I did make breakfast a couple of times for everyone, including this beautiful & delicious French Toast. So unique because it's filled with fruit & cream cheese, you will love it!!!!! We all did. Perfect for breakfast for 8 people at least.

1 loaf French bread
8 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1 ½ cups blueberries & raspberries
10 eggs
1 ½ cups half & half
1/3 cup maple syrup
½ cup melted butter

Cut the bread into cubes. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, Place half the bread cubes in the dish. Cut the cream cheese into small pieces & scatter across the bread. Sprinkle the fruit over the cream cheese.

{shown - 1 layer of bread cubes with cream cheese & fruit}

Cover the fruit with the remaining bread cubes. Combine the eggs, half & half, syrup & melted butter in a bowl & mix well. Pour over the bread cubes.

{shown - top layer of bread cubes, before pouring egg mixture over}

{beautifully done, golden brown on top}

Chill, covered for 8-10 hours. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Preheat oven to 350 & bake uncovered for 40-50 minutes. Serve with extra syrup.

{My Thoughts}

The original recipe calls for just 1 cup of fruit either or. I like both berries so I used both & increased by ½ cup. It turned out so well I wouldn’t change a thing. Also, don't be alarmed that the egg mixture doesn't come up to the top. This is what causes the top bread layer to bake perfectly with just a tiny crunch like regular french toast. There is no soggy here. However, I do recommend pushing the top bread cubes down with a fork just once so they get moist.

You’ll also want to serve this with extra syrup just like regular French toast.

{Click Here to Print Recipe}

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Brown Bagging It Today!

If you don't care where I'm going or where I've been then scroll to the bottom for an awesome homemade cocktail sauce!

Come Saturday, I am going to be chilling out  here!

For how long? Well, for 21 ziploc bags worth of dog food = 63 cups of food = 7 days

'Cuz this little guy is going to his own pet resort while Tucker the Lhasa Apso goes to my parents.

Now, on to show you some overdue 20 year high school reunion pictures in NY a couple of weeks ago. I haven't posted pics of myself in quite some time so it was about time as well. 

One of my favorite people from high school ~ Frankie (that's me on the left)

Good friends, especially the one next to me. We were BFF's in 8th grade.

Great times were had by all!!! Not bad when everyone tells you so adamantly that "OH MY GOSH, YOU TOTALLY LOOK THE SAME."

Now on to the saucy stuff:


2 tblsp ketchup
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp horseradish
3-4 drops tabasco
1/4 tsp worcestershire

Mix it all up & serve with shrimp! 

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Caramelized Onion Squares with Olives

Hello all! I had to take a blogging break after coming back from my 20th reunion in NY so I hope you find this to be worth the wait. I just wasn't in the mood to do much at all last week. The reunion was wonderful & it truly was great to see everyone, including my close friends who were not in my year. Pictures to come.

I made these tasty bites this weekend for my best friend visiting as well as my parents. You can use it as a blank canvas if you don't care for olives, let's say. Otherwise, it was easy to make & very tasty.

Well, I will post 1-2x more this week before we head to Hilton Head for our family vacation. Hope all is well with everyone. And go see UP if you haven't yet. Best animated movie I have seen in a very long time!!!!

1 tblsp olive oil
1 tblsp butter
1 large onion, cut in half & thinly sliced
2 tblsp fresh thyme leaves or 2 tsp dried
1 8oz can Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1 ½ cups (6oz) shredded Gruyere cheese
2 tblsp coarsely chopped kalamata olives
2 tblsp coarsely chopped roasted red bell peppers

In a 12 in skillet heat oil & butter over medium heat until melted. Add onion & thyme. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is golden brown. Remove from heat.

Heat oven to 350. Roll dough into 12 x 10 in rectangle. Cut dough in half lengthwise. On ungreased cookie sheet place dough about 2 inches apart. Bake about 10-12 minutes until lightly golden brown. Cool about 2 minutes.

Top each baked crust with cheese, onions, olives & peppers. Bake 4-6 minutes or until cheese is melted. Using a pizza cutter cut each into 12 squares.

{My Thoughts}

I cut the dough width wise since it seemed easier. Use your judgment. I also think this would have been better with some garlic. How bad would that be?! And I cooked the onions longer in order to get them nice & brown & sweet. If you don't want to spend the money on Gruyere you could use it's sister Swiss. I am just a big fan of Gruyere so I don't mind paying for it.

{Click Here to Print Recipe}

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