Sunday, September 27, 2009

Paco's Pepper Snacks

I had the best class schedule ever my senior year of high school: English, Economics/Civics, Teacher's Assistant, Swim Team, Foods, and something else. My favorite class was of course foods. I even TA'ed for the class 2nd semester...yeah, I TA'ed 2 periods that semester. I loved high school!

My friends always joked and asked if I was taking Foods 5.

I don't know if I really learned much in my Foods class, but I do remember loving to eat everything we made. This recipe is one we made in that class; its since become a Thanksgiving staple in my house. It is expected that I will make these appetizers, as well as brie and roasted garlic, or it just isn't Thanksgiving. I baked some for my in-laws last Thanksgiving, and now they are fans as well.

My dad recently came over to watch football with my husband, so I figured I'd whip up a batch for them to munch on. In less than 15 minutes, cheesy goodness is ready to eat!

Note: I have no idea how my teacher got the name for these snacks, but I've just gone with it.

Paco's Pepper Snacks
My high school foods teacher
Printable Recipe

1 eight ounce package cream cheese
1 can diced ortega chilis
2 tubes Pilsbury crescent roll dough
1/2 cup-1 cup shredded cheese (I used the pre-shredded bag of Mexican blend)
1-2 teaspoons tabasco, optional (I omit this)

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix together all of the ingredients, except the crescent roll dough. Make sure it is well combined, without any lumps of cream cheese.

Open the crescent roll tubes and unroll the dough. Pull apart into 4 rectangles, but do not seperate into triangles. Squeeze together the seams of the triangles, forming a solid rectangle.

Spoon the filling onto each rectangle, spreading into an even layer all the way to the edges.

Roll the rectangles up, gently sealing the seam.

Using a serrated knife, gently cut each roll into 3/4" thick rounds. Lay each round flat on a greased cookie sheet.

Cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the dough is golden. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before moving to a platter.

Makes about 4 dozen bite-sized appetizers.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Apple Cider and Salami on a Stick

My birthday is coming up in just a few days (September 29th, if you're interested!), so my husband and I decided on a early celebration this weekend, apple picking. We drove about 30-40 miles east, into the mountains of Yucaipa to the apple town of Oak Glen.

We followed the windy road through the mountains until we reached Riley's Farms. This place is known for their Colonial-era reenactments and their 5 pound apple pies.

We left shortly after I taught the last swimming lesson of the season (which did not go very well), and by the time we got there I was starving. We lined up for some over-priced, disappointing BBQ, and ate by the entertainment of an old-timey country band. We then moseyed into the General Store and tried on all the hats, before walking up the hill towards the apple orchards.

I'm trying to pull a serious, "Abe Lincoln" look here.

The Husband as a Confederate.

Then I joined the Confederacy...
This was not The Husband's idea...

5 minutes later we arrived, paid our$9 ($7 for a bag, plus $2 admission...lame), waited while the guy tried to figure out the change we were owed from a $20, and then headed into the orchard. Tons of rotten apples lay at the base of each tree, but the trees themselves were pretty much bare, save for some half-eaten, bug-burrowed apples at the top. We picked less than 10 apples, decided there was no way in hell we were paying $9 for ten crappy apples, so we "accidentally" dropped the apples on the floor and headed back for a refund. The cashier gladly gave us a full refund, explaining that they were trying to tell the manager that the trees were picked out, but the manager wouldn't listen.

We walked back towards the general store, goofed off in the raspberry bushes, and then we....I mean, I....decided it would be fun to make a gallon of apple cider. Back into the General Store, we paid our $15 (for a GALLON. extortion, much?) and then joined another line outside to fill a bushel with pre-picked apples. I threw them into the grinder, while Omar had the tough task of turning the crank, crushing the apples into a waiting basket. Once we smashed up over 100 apples, the basket full of apple chunks was then smashed down, squeezing the juice into a bucket. The deliciousness was then strained into a funnel and into a plastic gallon milk jug. I also may have drank a big mouthful straight from the metal bucket...

We then headed back down the road, toward the main part of town, and hit up a huge sweets shop for an apple cider slushie and ice cream. Apparently my husband is still 5; he ordered bubble gum ice cream. After walking around and eating, while also taking to some weirdo selling homemade skull caps (and I must add, he was scaring all of his customers away), we decided it was time for more snacks. I just wanted a soda, and thought Omar would be getting his favorite treat-a caramel apple. So needless to say, I was surprised when he opted for the salami slice on a stick....he doesn't even like salami! But apparently meat on a stick is a novelty worth buying.

Hours after setting out to pick some apples, we made our way back down the mountain with a gallon of freshly pressed cider, salami on a stick, and two glass-bottled "vintage" Cokes, yet not a single apple. There goes my plan to make myself a caramel apple birthday cake tomorrow.

P.S. I promise to blog some actual recipes soon. I haven't made anything blog worthy, or that isn't already on my blog, in awhile. :(

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Real Deal of Reality

Remember my post about the chocolate banana cupcakes and the LA County Fair? Well, what I didn't tell you is that after the contest I was approached by someone involved with casting a new reality cooking show on Lifetime and invited to audition in Los Angeles on Sunday, September 20.

I excitedly filled out the questionairre that was emailed to me later the same day, and then excitedly spoke with one of the producers on the phone later that week. I was nervous, but also looking forward to seeing how I stacked up against other home (non-professional) cooks in the search for the "Greatest American Recipe". The producers said story was key; they were not only looking for the greatest recipe, but a great story behind it. Knowing that, I went with Sumi Salad, a recipe passed down from my mom. Also knowing that the target audience was "middle America" and the celebrity judge/host was to be Tyler Florence, who has a penchant for simple, yet flavorful food, I figured I had a pretty decent chance with this recipe.

My goal was really just to make it past the interviews with the judges in round one, so I could actually cook in round 2. I wasn't looking at winning the whole shebang or fantasizing about having my own TV show. As I explained to my principal when I told her about this opportunity, I don't want to leave my teaching career, but I do want to see how well I can do against other cooks. I was also looking forward to the adventure of auditioning for a cooking show!

Well, let me tell you, this was no adventure. Disaster is a much better way to describe my day.

My friend Jenn and I showed up in LA early Sunday morning, laden down with a cooler filled with my raw ingredients and 20 pounds of ice, as well as a huge plastic bag with pots, knives, a cutting board, bowls, etc. We lugged all my items to the end of a very long line of excited hopefuls, and slowly inched our way forward over the next 2 hours. PA's ran up and down the length of the line, firing everyone up for the big event. Roars of cheering filled the air as camera crews walked the line, filming the excitment, people showing their homemade posters and shouting that they had the best American recipe.

Once we finally reached the head of the line, I checked in and was assigned a (pre-determined) group number and was then promptly sent.....back to the end of the line. By this point, the line was now stretched down the block and around the building. We heaved all of my cooking supplies down the street, and joined in the clump of people who had already checked in. We were told to wait around for them to call our group numbers, at which point we would be lined up to go inside the hotel and present to the judges.

While we sat around in the shade of LA's tall downtown buildings, munching on bagels and Laughing Cow cheese that I'd brought with us, Tyler Florence himself made an appearance. He filmed the intro to the show not once, not twice, not three time, but four times. Apparently it is really difficult to talk and walk?? We took a few pics of him, but weren't close enough to hear what he was saying.

An hour or so later, my group (7) was called to line up together, and an overly-caffeniated PA walked us back to the side of the building where the original line was and told us to stand there and wait. And wait we did. Hours passed. I gave Jenn my ATM card and sent her across the street to buy some sodas so I wouldn't fall asleep right there on the sidewalk. The PAs were no where to be found, no longer walking the line and pumping everyone up. Occasionaly a security guard would walk by and make sure we didn't take up the entire sidewalk, as we were right by a bus stop and a mall, so people did need walking room. But eventually even the security gaurds disappeared.

After several hours sitting on the sidewalk without moving forward, I ran into the mall to go to the bathroom and was surprised when I returned and my group was nearly at the front of the line! "Almost there!" I thought. Yeah, almost inside the hotel, but not almost to the judges.

A few minutes later, we checked in for the second time, turned in all our legal paperwork and a copy of my recipe, and then were directed into the hotel, down 3 sets of escalators, past others in line for the judges, and into a dreary holding room. We sat, excited to finally be inside and thinking that it would only be a few minutes until we were face to face with the judges.

Yeah right. We sat for another couple of hours, rumors flying about them not even accepting anymore recipes for round 2 (we were still waiting for Round ONE!), a murmur of excitement everytime a PA walked into the room. At 3:30pm, an hour after round 1 was scheduled to be over, I sent my friend Jen back upstairs with my ATM card and told her to buy us some food. The bagels were long gone; the cheese soggy from sitting in the cooler all day. She triumphantly returned with a bag of Carls Jr burgers and fries! We ate like it was manna from heaven.

And then waited. And waited. And waited. We started photographing our feet, our Carls Jr. trash, close ups of our eyes, random people around the room. One guy asked if anyone would drive his daughter home, so he could leave. (He was joking, calm down).

Finally a PA arrived and whisked group 6 up to the judges. "It's almost our turn!" we squealed excitedly.

Yeah right.

We continued to wait. An angry looking PA came and passed out our paperwork, then returned a little while later (still looking beyond pissed off) and recollected it. I was afraid she would hurt me if I asked any questions.

5pm: A PA calls for group 7. Group 7? That's me! Come on, its finally our turn! I grabbed the cooler, running after the PA. Jenn grabbed the bag of cooking utensils, running after me, both us leaving our soda cups on the floor (suck it Lifetime!).

"Family and friends on the left. Contestants on the right." We're lined up, ready to present, waiting for our (30 second) moment in front of the judges. Nerves set in, drying my mouth as I wait my turn. Wait, where are you taking the cameras? And the props? And Tyler Florence who is supposed to be judging this thing??

Before it was even my turn, I knew I had no chance. They'd upped the time limit for our pitches to two minutes, but it didn't matter. The rumors were true. They weren't even really judging us anymore; it was all a farce to keep everyone happy. But they were turning every single person down. Several people argued with the judges, trying to earn a spot, but even if they truly had America's Greatest Recipe, it wouldn't have mattered. The decision was made and the contestants who'd been lucky enough to score a spot in one of the first groups, were already in the kitchen, cooking their dishes. The rest of us just got to pretend like we were getting a shot.

I stepped up to an exhausted judge who looked like he just wanted to leave. I earnestly pitched myself and my recipe, highlighting the speed, ease and healthy-ness of the recipe. He looked at me, before I'd even talked for a minute, and said, "Sorry, but this is just too simple. I appreciate you coming out, but your recipe is too simple."

I graciously thanked him, grabbed my recipe, and rolled my cooler out of the room. Jenn and I stuck around a bit and talked to other contestants to hear their stories. They were all the same. One guy even told us that his judge was heaping tons of praise on his recipe, mentioning how great it sounded, but after a quick look at the producers, quickly changed her tune. "But, it's not the GREATEST American Recipe," he recounted her saying.

We left, annoyed at how the whole event was run, and a bit wiser as to the casting process of reality TV. The producers emailed everyone, apologizing for the poor handling of the event, but forgot to blind CC everyone on the list. This has resulted in my inbox being flooded by people hitting "Reply All" and angrily recounted their version of that day. They all sound like mine, only much much angrier.

I emailed one of the producers on Tuesday, and actually received an email back within 30 minutes. She kindly answered all of my questions and comments, erasing at least a little bit of the sour taste left in my mouth. I've been offered a front of the line spot for the next casting call, but I don't know if I will take them up on that offer. The memory of that endless (and pointless) Sunday is still too clear in my mind.

Here is the email I sent, with the producer's responses in bold:

I know you are getting tons of angry emails as a result of the poor handling of Sunday's "audition" for this new show; I am getting tons of them too, as people apparently don't know how to hit just "Reply".

I would, however, appreciate a response to this email.

Here is my concern: Once the crew knew they would no longer be accepting contestants and their recipes at the audition, why didn't anyone inform the rest of us standing in line? I would have been upset that you guys did not give us a fair chance, but at least I would not have wasted me ENTIRE Sunday standing around. To continue with fake interviews, while moving out the cameras and props, was just disrespectful to those of us who did not get to present to the judges until after 5pm.

The producer went outside as soon as he knew. He decided to let the rest of the contestants be seen by the judges, so we could keep the good recipes and invite them to our next filming.

It was obvious once I stepped into the judging room that no matter what recipe I presented, and no matter how great my story was, the answer would be no. It was written all over the judges' faces. In fact, my judge barely glanced at my recipe before telling me no.

I was handed a list of people who had potential recipes to call back for our next filming. I'm so sorry you got that impression.

I can accept being told no for a fair reason, such as my recipe not being up to par, but being denied simply because the event was overbooked, and the producers decided to stop casting people after group 3, is simply a raw deal.

We intended on seeing everyone, but unfortunately, it did not pan out that way.

I, also, take issue with the premise of a show looking for America's best recipe and home cook, sending out casting notices to local talent agencies. Maybe this is how all "reality" shows are really cast, but is disheartening to discover that not only was I not given a fair shot at judging, but you were really just looking for actors and actresses.

Yes I used casting and talent sites as a means to publicize the casting... . This is LA and many people are actors/other things... Everyone who came submitted a recipe and a story including the people from the agency's...they were not there as actors.

Lastly, the entire event was just run incredibly poorly. If grouping was done in advance, why didn't you guys include our group numbers in the confirmation emails? Then once everyone arrived on Sunday, there would be no need to stand in line for over 2 hours just to get a group number and return to standing in line. Confirm with group number prior to the event, then have signs directing each group to their staging area as soon as the arrive. Seems pretty obvious in my opinion.

We did the groupings the night before after we heard back on cooking times from people. I'm sure yo can understand that some people didn't get back to us until late the night before. EVERYONE was put into a google spread sheet and we sorted them based on time. Again, this was the pilot episode and a huge learning experience. We were also very restricted with space and personnel. We needed to separate people based on cooking time. Moving forward, we are hoping this becomes a 2 day event. I would love for you to come back and have front of the line privileges at our next LA casting if you still want to participate.

Thanks Janet!

Thank you,

Monday, September 14, 2009

Copycat Recipe: Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza

I recieved a free copy of a new cookbook over the summer, America's Most Wanted Recipes by Ron Douglas, with the condition that I make a recipe and compare it to the restaurant original and blog it today.

I love free stuff, so I was really excited to get this cookbook and participate in the blogging event. While there are a large variety of restaurants represented, it was the recipes themselves that I found disappointing. I feel like the author did not include enough "signature" recipes, but rather went with less popular options. This is not the case for every restaurant included (he does include Panda Kitchen's orang chicken), but I was, for example, looking forward to a copycat recipe of Outback's baby back ribs. Not included.

Oh well. The cookbook was free, and there are still a ton of great-sounding recipes to try.

I was originally going to make the aforementioned orange chicken, but since i just cleaned my kitchen from top to bottom, I didn't really feel like deep frying. I needed something cheap, especially since I not only had to make the copycat, but also buy the original for a comparison.

Ultimately, I decided on Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza. This is what I always order when I go there, they're across the street from my condo, a MExican Pizza is under $3 on their menu, and buying the needed ingredients wouldn't break my (already broken) bank account.

The recipe calls for the tortillas to be deep fryed, but as I already mentioned, that was not happening in my sparkling kitchen. I just crisped them over an open flame on my stove instead.

The Taco Bell Original The Copycat

Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza

source: America's Most Wanted Recipes
Printable Recipe


8 oz ground beef
3 tablespoons taco seasoning
2 tablespoons water
vegetable oil for frying
Eight 6" flour tortillas
1 cup refried beans (I used low-fat refried black beans, as I already had several cans in the pantry)
2/3 cup enchilada sauce
1/4 cup chopped tomato
1 cup shredded Cheddar-jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup sliced black olives (I omitted these)

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.

Mix the beef, taco seasoning and water together. Brown in a skillet, over medium high heat, for about 5 minutes (or until cooked throughout). Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat as it cooks. Set aside. (I drained the grease off first and then set aside.)

Preheat 1 inch of oil to 375 degrees in a large skillet. Fry each tortilla for 30 to 45 seconds per side, or until golden brown. Be sure to pop any bubbles that form during frying so that the tortilla lies flat. Drain the tortillas on paper towels. (I skipped this entire step and just crisped them over the stove. If you do as I did, don't expect a crunchy final result.)

Assemble each pizza on a cookie sheet. First, spread 1/4 cup of the refried beans on 4 tortillas. Then, spread 1/4 cup of meat on top of the beans. Top with a second tortilla. Spread the top tortillas with 2 tablespoons of the enchilada sauce, then top with tomato, cheese, and green onions.

Bake in the oven for about 3-5 minutes, just until the cheese is melted.

The Verdict
These are good, but definitely not the same as Taco Bell. I know not frying the tortilla and using refried black beans plays a big roll in that, but the copycat recipe's meat is more highly seasoned (thumbs up) and it looks like the Taco Bell original also spreads some chunky salsa on top of the enchilada sauce. There was more than just diced tomatos and enchilada sauce on the real deal. Also, spread some Taco Bell hot sauce on top of your homemade version, and it comes pretty darn close to a "run for the border". :)
My husband and I enjoyed eating these, and he even said it would be a cute project to make with our future kids (awwww!). I agree, but if I am ever craving a Mexican Pizza, I will just go across the street to Taco Bell and order one. They're less than $3 and it will take less than 5 minutes. These took me about 30 minutes to make, which is the opposite of "fast food".

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes and the County Fair

Every year for as long as I can remember, my mom has entered various cooking and sewing contests at the Los Angeles County Fair. And every year for as long as I can remember, she has won numerous awards. Of course, this year was no different. Her quilts won numerous ribbons and she took first place in the cheesecake competition with her apricot cheesecake.

I also used to enter various county fair contests as a kid, and won awards for my fudge, a pair of shorts, and some other creations. I have a bag full of old, bug-chewed ribbons, rotting in my garage, along with all my old swimming ribbons, to prove this. But after about middle school, I lost interest and stopped entering contests.

This year I decided to stage a comeback and enter the cupcake baking contest, competing against my (award-winning) mother. A war of words was staged on Facebook (yes, my mom is my Facebook friend), and for weeks we tried to figure out what the other was making, though neither of us were willing to give up our secrets. Saturday, September 12th we both showed up at the fair, ready to take the other down.

We plated and turned in our cupcakes, and then with an hour to kill before judging began, we set off to eat some lunch. My kind mother knows I am beyond broke (being a teacher, I don't receive a pay check again until October. Please don't lecture me on saving...we did, but then we decided to buy a new kitchen table. Don't lecture me on spending within my means either. I know all about that, thank you), so she bought me a tasty Pink's chili cheese dog with mustard and a Diet Coke. It was too hot and I was too hungry to remember to take a picture. But if you've seen one chili cheese dog, you've seen 'em all. However, this was mom's first taste of Pink's, which is an LA institution (I used to work down the street from the original LA location and have eaten there...once). I did nearly throttle her when we walked from food stand to food stand while she tried to decide what she wanted to eat; me, I was starving, and would have eaten cardboard at that point. But since she was paying, I politely followed along and tried to help her decided. I must agree though, that the prices are exorbiant these days!

We then wandered around, looking at the gardens before heading back to watch the cupcake judging. My mom talked and talked while we covertly watched them judge her cupcakes, all the while shushing me so she could read the judges' lips (ummm, that was you talking, mom, not me). Then they began judging mine; I could tell the judges weren't in love. So I did what any rational person would do; walked away in tears, sobbing that I am a loser. Yeah, I am a bit overdramatic at times. Shoot me.

Finally the judging was over and it was time to announce the winners.
3rd place: not us
2nd place: not us
1st place: Pina Colada Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting...and not us

Neither my mom nor I won. I will be selfish....I would have been very upset if my mom won 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, and I won nothing. But I am a brat. We did ask the nicer of the 6 judges (there was one seemingly snotty judge that I wanted nothing to do with) for a critique.

Mom's apricot cupcakes: "The filling is too tart."

My chocolate banana cupcakes: "They have too much liquid and are slightly underbaked. Make sure your cupcakes have a nice domed top on them."

I knew they had too much liquid, but as I made these, oh, 2 hours before the contest, I did not have time to fix. Also, my bananas weren't ripe enough, so the banana flavor was off. I did make a test batch a few weeks ago, which my co-workers inhaled, and I know were 10 times better, but it all comes down to game day. The judges also told me chocolate banana is too common a flavor; they want something unique that really stands out. Next year I will be making boozy cupcakes...

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes
Printable Recipe

Adapated from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes (Jumbo Chocolate Cupcakes)
Makes about 24 cupcakes

3 roasted bananas** (maybe reduce to 2 bananas to cut some liquid)
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons banana extract
**Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook the bananas, skins on, on a cookie sheet for 15 minutes, until the skin in blackened and the bananas are soft. Make sure you use VERY ripe bananas.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place liners in cupcake tins and spray with nonstick spray.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In an electric mixer on medium high, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until each egg is incorporated. Scrap down the sides of the bowl as needed.

With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream. Mix just until incorporated after each. Add the roasted bananas and banana extract and mix just until incorporated. Batter will be slightly lumpy.

Divide batter evenly among prepared cupcake tins and bake for 25 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, fill a pastry bag, fitted with a large round or star tip, with the pastry cream (recipe below). Push the tip into the center of the cupcake and squeeze to fill.

Fill another pastry bag, fitted with a small star tip, with the chocolate banana frosting (recipe below) and pipe frosting onto each cupcake.

Pastry Cream
Source: Brown Eyed Baker
Makes about 3 cups

2 cups half-and-half
½ cup sugar
Pinch salt
5 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons (½ stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Pour the half and half, 6 tablespoons sugar, and the salt into a large saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, to dissolve the sugar.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl. Add in the remaining sugar and whisk until combined, about 15 seconds. Whisk in the cornstarch until combined and the mixture is pale yellow and thick.

Once the half and half reaches a full simmer, whisk a tablespoon of the mixture into the eggs. Whisk continuously to temper the eggs. Slowly add in the rest of the half and half, whisking continuously.

Return the mixture to the saucepan and whisk over medium heat. Return the mixture to a simmer and continue to whisk until thick and glossy. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla until thoroughly combined.

Place a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream and refrigerate over night.

Chocolate Banana Frosting
Adapted from Hershey's
Makes about 2 cups

½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon banana extract

Melt the butter and stir in the cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Stir in the banana extract.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Breaded Italian Chicken

Now that I am back to work, I need to find recipes that are quick and easy, but still healthy and flavorful. That can be a big order to fill, but as I was driving home from work the other night, I remembered the herbs de provence chicken I made back when I first started this blog.

I wanted to make it again, but using different flavors. I decided to go with Italian since I always have tons of basil and oregano on hand. I used the same coating process as the herbs de provence chicken, but just changed up the seasonings.

While it came out moist and tasty, my husband and I both agreed it was a little "flat". We felt it was missing some depth of flavor; after some brainstorming together, we decided that sprinkling some fresh grated parm or crumbled bleu cheese on top would give it that extra flavor jolt we were looking for. (Update: After talking to my mom, I most likely used too much flour. The correct amount of flour is in the recipe below...I did not measure when making this myself.)

I served this with some lightly sauteed spinach. I think a true sign of adulthood is cooking a veggie that you hate, tasting it and still hating it, but forcing yourself to eat it anyway. Yeah, that was us and the sauteed spinach. I guess we only like it is smothered in cheese, or raw in salads (well, only me on the raw).

Breaded Italian Chicken
Printable Recipe

  • 4 small chicken thighs (boneless, skinless). Breasts work great too.
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayanne pepper

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray.

Line up three bowls for coating the chicken. In the first bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper, basil and oregano. I just mixed the ingredients together with a fork.

In the second bowl, beat the eggs. Make sure you use a bowl big enough to put the chicken breast in!

In the third bowl, mix the panko crumbs with the cayanne pepper.

First, dip one chicken breast in the flour mixture. Turn to coat both sides. Then dip it in the egg, again coating both sides. Lastly, dip and coat both sides of the chicken in the panko and herb mix. Lay that chicken breast in your baking dish and repeat the process with the second chicken breast.

Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes. Turn the chicken over about halfway in order to crisp up both sides of the chicken. (Note: If you are using chicken breasts, cook for about 40 minutes.)


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