Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bacon Wrapped Chicken with Jalapenos and Baked Vegetables

A few days ago I was a little rushed for time (I'm sure I'm the only one right?), and I wanted to do something that was tasty, relatively easy to prepare, and (for the most part) healthy. So I whipped together the Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breast, but didn't get any photos of it. So, last night I did it again, but this time took some photos to share on the blog site.

The first part of the meal was the Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breast with Diced Jalapeno Peppers and Low-fat Cheeses.

2 Large Chicken Breast, cut in half lengthwise
8 Strips of Bacon
1/4 cup Low-fat Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/4 cup Low-fat Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
2 Large Fresh Jalapeno Peppers

Since my wife isn't a pepper person, I only used one jalapeno, and left her's "Virgin". Also, I de-seeded the jalapeno before using it. If you like more heat, you can leave the seeds. Without the seeds, it's relatively mild, but you still get that yummy jalapeno flavor. Another note, I normally use the thin sliced bacon, but accidentally bought the Thick sliced last time I was at the store. The thinner bacon cooks faster, and crisps up better for this recipe.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.
Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise, and place them cut side down on a foil lined baking sheet. You can spray the foil with cooking spray first if you wish, but the bacon will stop your breasts from sticking.
Next, wrap two pieces of bacon around each breast, lengthwise, and tuck the ends under the breast.
Because I was using the Thick bacon instead of the regular bacon, I flipped the oven to Broil at 400 degrees for 5 minutes the get the bacon started crisping.
Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes, then flip each breast over, add the chopped peppers to the tops of each breast and return to oven for and additional 10 minutes.
While the chicken is in the oven, combine the two types of cheeses.
Remove the chicken again, and top each with the cheese mixture. Return to the oven for about 3 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Voila! The Chicken is ready to enjoy!


Next is the side dish, which I actually cooked at the same time as the chicken above, but placed it in the oven 20 minutes BEFORE I put in the chicken. This dish is just Oven Roasted Vegetables with Herbs.

4-5 Small Yukon Gold Potatoes
4-5 Large Carrots
1 Medium Onion
5 Cloves of Garlic
2 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tsp Dried Rosemary
3-4 Tbsp Olive Oil

The amounts of each vegetable can be adjusted to your personal taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Wash & dry the Potatoes & Carrots, and cut into 1"-2" pieces. Then throw them into a 9"x13" oven safe casserole dish.
Peel and cut Onion into 1"-2" pieces, and add to the casserole dish.
Peel Garlic cloves and toss into casserole dish.
Sprinkle Olive Oil over veggies and stir to coat.
Sprinkle Oregano and Rosemary over veggies and stir to mix.
Pop casserole dish into the oven for 45-60 minutes depending on how tender you want them.
Take them out and enjoy!

As with any recipe, feel free to experiment with the ingredients. If you aren't a fan of rosemary, but love the taste of sage, swap it out. Love potatoes, but not carrots? Reduce or remove the carrots from the ingredients, and use extra potatoes. To me, cooking is more than just following a recipe, that's why until recently, I rarely wrote any of my recipes down. I guess I cook with my heart, and not my brain. Good thing.

I hope this recipe sounds good to you, and that you make it, or make it your own. Be sure to come back soon, and check out my latest experiment, and tell your food lovin' friends to stop by too! I'm always glad to have the company.

Until next time, Happy Baking!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Three Yummy Recipes for Today's Menu Selection!

My wife and I had the pleasure of having our youngest Granddaughter spend last night and today with us. She's a pretty active 2 year old, and for this old man, I'm glad I had already planned to use the slow cooker for tonight's meal.  A big BRAVO to all the moms out there who do so much. Your's is truly an underrated job, taking care of your family!

On today's menu were three delicious food items. The main course was a Honey Parmesan Pork Roast, slow cooked for seven hours in the Crock Pot. The side dish was a decidedly Decadent Baked Macaroni & Cheese. And desert was an Orange, Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake done in the bread maker. So let's get the recipes rolling!

Honey Parmesan Pork Roast

1 Pork Roast (about 4lbs)
2 tsp Cavenders Greek Seasoning (I haven't tried any other brand, but I know this one ROCKS pork! And NO, I don't own stock in the company.)
2/3 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup Honey
3 Tbsp Teriyaki Sauce
2 Tbsp Dried Basil
2 Cloves Minced Garlic

The night before, coat the pork roast liberally with the Cavendars.
About seven & a half hours before you want to serve, spray your crock pot with a non stick spray to help with cleanup.
Put in the pork roast.
Mix remaining ingredients together in a bowl (This could also have been done the night before), and pour them gently on top of your roast.
Cover, set on LOW, and let it cook for seven hours.

Next, play with your grand-kids, or go about your busy day until the pork has been cooking for seven hours.

Then, CAREFULLY remove the pork roast from the crock pot to a serving platter. I say carefully because after cooking this long, the meat tends to try to fall apart. (You should see my Baby Back Ribs! Yum! But that's for another day.)
If there is a layer of grease on top of the drippings, you can skim that off. Then stir the drippings, and if needed, add a little cornstarch or flour to thicken it up a bit.
Let the roast sit on the serving platter about 30 minutes before slicing it up. (It will fall apart now.)
Spoon drippings over the roast, and it's ready to serve!

Next up...
Decadent Baked Macaroni & Cheese

4 oz Elbow Macaroni
4 Strips of Bacon
1/2 Medium Onion Chopped (optional) (although I can't understand why some people don't eat cooked onions.)
4 oz Shredded Cheddar Cheese
2 oz Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 Can Evaporated Milk
1 1/2 cup Half & Half
Salt & Pepper to taste (My wife is allergic to pepper, so I don't cook with it, and I don't need the salt in my diet, so I rarely use it in cooking.)
8 Club Crackers
4 oz Shredded Cheddar Cheese (for topping)

Cook macaroni about 75% of the package directions (It will continue cooking in the oven.), and drain.
While that's boiling, cook bacon until crispy, and set aside.
If you're using the onion, cook it in the bacon grease until it's clear, and set aside with the bacon.
Preheat oven to 400 deg F.
Combine the next 4 ingredients (and salt & pepper) in a sauce pan, and heat on medium low, stirring occasionally until fully blended. Add bacon & onion.
Pour macaroni into an 8x8 Oven Safe dish.
Pour cheese sauce over macaroni. Stir to coat. And place it in the oven.
Bake for 20 minutes.
While that's in the oven, crush the Club Crackers & combine with the remaining 4 ounces of Shredded Cheddar  Cheese.
Once the macaroni has been baking for 20 minutes, remove it from the oven and pour the cracker & cheese mixture evenly over the top, and return to the oven for about 5 minutes, or until topping is golden brown.

Did I say that this was a DIET DISH? OK, just making sure. I wouldn't want to lie to you and tell you that it was.

Now, on to desert...
Orange, Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake

To be honest with you, this didn't come out as Orangey (is that a word?) as I hoped for. So I'll tell you what I DID, but I'll also make some suggestions along the way.

2 Tbsp Butter (softened)
1/2 cup Honey
1 egg
3/4 cup Fresh Squeeze Orange Juice
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Yeast
1/4 cup Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

What I DIDN'T use, but should have, is some Orange Extract or a Tablespoon or two of Grated Orange Zest. That would have given it more orange flavor.

Add ingredients in the order listed (or as suggested by YOUR bread machine instructions), EXCEPT for the Chocolate Chips, into your bread machine.
Set your machine for a 1 1/2 lb regular loaf with LIGHT crust.
When your machine signals you to add fruit, nuts or other ingredients, ADD the Chocolate Chips.

That's it. It cooks in about 3 hours. Be sure to time this to be ready before the rest of your meal is done, so it will have ample time to cool off before you cut into it.

That's all for this addition, so until next time.... Happy Baking!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Great Sunday Supper

Well, although I DID make some bread today, it was the same Whole Wheat Bread that I made a few days ago, so I didn't take photos of it. But it came out just as wonderful as it did last time. I said then that it would be a staple around here, and I didn't lie. But what I DID do different, is make supper based on a couple of GREAT recipes I found on other people's blogs. I was a little rushed for time due to evening services at church, so I only have one photo. That being from the finished product on my plate just before I devoured it. :)  But I do have links to the other blogs where the recipes came from, and you can find a lot of photos, and the recipes there.

The main course was Crispy Cheddar Chicken from Jamie's blog site "Jamie Cooks It Up!". This is a wonderful recipe, and very easy to make. It didn't require as much cheese or Ritz as was called for, and I think next time I make it, I'll combine the cheese & Ritz before rolling the chicken in it. Everyone here loved it, and it was a real favorite of my granddaughter and my wife.

The second dish I made tonight was The Best Broccoli of Your Life recipe posted by Adam Roberts on the Amateur Gourmet web site. And like the site states, it's the best broccoli of your life! My daughter, who isn't a fan of any vegetables "loved it!". My three year old granddaughter even liked it! It was truly a delicious dish, not too difficult to prepare, and one I WILL be making again!

The third dish I made was roasted rosemary potatoes. This didn't come from anyone else's recipe, except that a similar recipe has been around for years. This came from me not being satisfied with the results I've had trying to do this in the oven ONLY. So here's what I did:

I started with four medium to small russet potatoes, washed and peeled them, then cut them up into "french fry" size strips. I then piled these onto a microwave safe plate, and covered them with a plastic splatter guard. I microwaved them for 8 minutes on HIGH to pre-cook them before I finished them in the oven. I let them cool down, and put them into a bowl, where I added about 2 Tbl. of evoo, and about 2 tsp. dried rosemary. Mix to coat well, and spread out onto a foil lined baking sheet. Pre-cooking them in the microwave allowed me to cook them at the same time as I cooked the Crispy Cheddar Chicken above. I also cooked the Broccoli the same temperature as the chicken, but removed them after about 25 minutes.

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Until next time, Happy Baking!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Basic Bread Making Info

I didn't make any new bread today, but did some reading, and felt it would be good for me, and hopefully for any other beginning bakers if I added this info to my blog. The following info comes from "Healthy Bread Recipes & Menu Planner" © 1998 Salton/Maxim Housewares, Inc.


The only ingredients needed to make bread are: flour, water and yeast - the rest is
personality. Learn a little about what each of the other ingredients add and you will be
prepared to create your own delicious recipes.


Bread Flour: Bread Flour can be used when the recipe calls for bread or all
purpose flour. It has more gluten than all purpose flour and is a better choice
when mixing white flour with whole grain flours. Bread flour often has ascorbic
acid (vitamin C) added as a dough conditioner. This creates a larger holed
grain sought by many bakers.

All Purpose Flour: This is fine whenever the recipe calls for all white flour. It
will make a smaller grained bread than bread flour. All purpose flour and bread
flour are wheat flours with the bran and germ removed and B vitamins added.

Gluten: Gluten is a mixture of proteins responsible for the elastic (glue)
quality of dough. As yeast grows, it releases bubbles of carbon dioxide that
become trapped by the stretchy gluten. Wheat has a high gluten content while
other grains have little or none. Use it in recipes that call for whole grain
flours to prevent the top of the loaf from collapsing. Buy gluten in any health
food store.

Whole Wheat: Whole wheat flour adds a nutty flavor. It also increases the
nutritional and fiber content of a recipe. It has less gluten than white flour, and
used alone, will create a dense loaf. Many of our recipes use a mixture of whole
wheat and bread flour to create a light textured, nutritious bread.

Other Whole Grains: Rye, buckwheat, spelt, oats and other whole grains add
wonderful flavors and nutrients to bread but do not have gluten needed to rise
very high. Mix 3 to 4 parts of wheat flour for each part non-wheat (or add a
few Tbls. of gluten) to make sure your dough will rise.

Eggs: Eggs add color, richness, protein and structure to bread. They also serve as a
liquid. A large egg adds about 3 Tbl. ofliquid, and an extra large egg, 1/4 cup (4 Tbl.)
When adding or eliminating eggs, adjust the other liquids in your recipe. All the recipes
given here were made with large sized eggs.

Butter and Oil: Fats add richness to bread and keep it fresher longer, which is why
breads without any butter or oil are great fresh, but get stale very fast. They also add
calories - about 100 calories per loaf for every tablespoon of added fat.

Milk: Adding milk creates a tender textured, mellower flavored bread. Yogurt,
buttermilk, and sour cream make moist doughs, and add a slight tangy flavor. Milk also
increases the protein content of bread. Fresh milk is fine when making recipes to start
immediately. When setting the timer ahead several hours, use dry milk to
prevent spoiling.

Yeast: All the recipes here use dry active yeast the small packages contain 1 Tbl.
1/4 oz.). If you bake often, however, it is convenient to buy yeast loose in jars and
measure out only the amount you need. Check expiration date before buying or using
and keep yeast refrigerated or in the freezer.

Salt: Salt adds flavor to bread and tempers the rising process. If you are watching your
salt intake, reduce the amount of added salt or leave it out completely. Dough, however,
rises more quickly without salt, so add a bit less yeast as you reduce the salt.

Sweeteners: Yeast does not need a sweetener to rise - flour serves as its food
but it speeds up the process. Sweeteners, of course, add flavor, and keep bread moist
longer. Sugar adds pure sweetness, while brown sugar, honey, maple syrup and molasses
also add distinctive flavors. Molasses, the strongest flavored sweetener, is sometimes
used to darken recipes.


Amaranth: This petite golden grain is moving quickly from the "unusual" grain
category to one of mainstream acceptance. A mainstay in the diet of the Aztecs,
amaranth was considered a strength-giving food, probably due to its high protein
profile. Both the grain and its flour offer a distinct flavor when added to your favorite
bread recipes.

Barley: This grain has a hearty, earthy flavor and produces a dense loaf of bread due to
its low gluten content. Barley is a good substitute for white flour in recipes, but should
be cut with a lighter flour when several cups are being used at a time.

Buckwheat: Technically not a grain, buckwheat is really the fruit of a plant related to
rhubarb. Its flour (ground buckwheat seed) and groats are both useful for unique bread
baking. The flavor has been described as a combination of rosemary and green tea.

Corn: The only grain eaten fresh as a vegetable, corn (also known as maize) is available
in a wide variety of colors. Judge the freshness of cornmeal and flour from its sweet
and delicate flavor. Blue cornmeal, a beautiful hue when dry, becomes a purplish color
when cooked.

Kamut: This "ancient" wheat grain is available as a whole grain, rolled grain, flour and
cereal. People who are wheat sensitive have reported a tolerance to kamut products,
though this is still being investigated.

Millet: Commonly used to feed birds, millet lends a delightful crunch when added in
whole grain form to bread recipes. People who are allergic to other grains have had luck
with millet. It is considered to be the most digestible grain around.

Oat: Rolled oats and oat flour are welcome additions to almost any bread recipe.
Their delicately light texture and flavor embody the pleasures of home-baked goodness.
Grind your own oat flour by chopping oat flakes in the blender until they reach the
desired consistency.

Quinoa: This recently rediscovered grain is found in whole form, in flour and in
prepared products like pasta. When added to bread recipes, it imparts an earthy flavor
matched by no other grain, and it packs a protein punch.

Rye: This cold-weather grain is famous for its use in savory pumpernickel and
caraway seed-rich rye breads. Rye has very little gluten and rises with the assistance
of wheat flours.

Spelt: Another of the "ancient" super grains, spelt has been reintroduced with
resounding success. Use it in bread recipes in place of wheat for a slightly nutty flavor.

Wheat: Wheat and whole wheat flour are the basis for most bread recipes.
The gluten content of wheat provides the strength and resiliency necessary for
a high and sturdy loaf.


Additional info on bread making, lots of recipes, and a great chart on the amounts of all the basic ingredients needed in making bread in a bread machine can be found on THIS site.

That will wrap up today's blog posting. Until next time, Happy Baking! And be sure to tell all your friends about my blog!


Friday, February 17, 2012

The Delicious Lesson

Ok, I'm not going to call today's bread making experience a failure, I'm calling it a delicious lesson. Delicious in that the flavor was amazing! The lesson...? Use the right amount of yeast (in this case), and other ingredients when creating and using a recipe. That being said, here's what I did today:

My Own Cheesy Garlic Herb Bread

This failure....I mean LESSON, was a recipe I created from my head, after looking at another "Cheesy Bread" recipe. I knew what I wanted, a real garlicky bread that I could make to go with my spaghetti. I wanted to incorporate a lot of Italian herbs, and my wife wanted the cheese. So this is the recipe I came up with.


1-1/4 cup warm water
1 Tbl. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 cup fresh chopped garlic (about one fist)
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1-1/2 Tbl. sugar
3/4 tsp. sea salt (course)
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 Tbl. dried chopped onion
2-1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 tsp. active dry yeast

Cooking Directions:

I added the dried herbs, salt and onion to the warm water and evoo in the bread maker pan. I then added the chopped garlic and cheese. On top of that I added the flour, followed by the yeast.
The bread machine was set for a 1-1/2 lb. regular bread with light crust. And the machine was started. It said that I would be enjoying my wonderful garlic bread in a little over 3 hours. So I went on about my business. In a short time, I was smelling the aroma of the fragrant herbs, garlic, and fresh bread wafting through the air. It was bliss! It was about 2 hours into the process, and I peered into the bread maker through the small viewing window. It was . . . What was it? It looked like it hadn't risen at all! O.M.G. I didn't use enough yeast! The last two breads I made I put 2 tsp. in each! Why did I only put in 1/4 tsp.? Oh well, too late to add it now. Hopefully it will still TASTE alright!

But it sure doesn't LOOK alright!

My Impression of the Finished Bread:

Lesson noted, and hopefully learned. It DID have a wonderful flavor. Actually kind of overpowered my spaghetti sauce! :) Since it didn't rise like it should have, it was slightly under-cooked in the center. But NEXT time it will be perfect! Or at least different!

Until next time, Happy Baking! And be sure to tell all your friends about my blog!
Jerry (the guy unafraid to post his failures err... Lessons learned, online!)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Second day of bread making

Today I'm trying a "Light Whole Wheat Bread" recipe found in the 1998 Salton/Maxim Housewares, Inc. Booklet. The "original" recipe was written as follows:

Light Whole Wheat Bread

Add all ingredients to Bread Pan in the order given.

Makes a 1-1/2 lb. Loaf Makes a 2 lb. Loaf

1-1/4 cup warm water 1-1/2 cup warm water

1 Tbl. Vegetable oil 1 Tbl. Vegetable oil

2 Tbl. Honey 3 Tbl. Honey

1/2 tsp. Salt 1/2 tsp. Salt

1-1/2 cup whole wheat flour 2-1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup bread flour 1-1/4 cup bread flour

1/4 cup gluten 1/3 cup gluten

1-1/2 tsp. Active dry yeast 2 tsp. Active dry yeast

(Missing from this photo is the yeast)

Cooking Directions:

I used the recipe for the 2 lb loaf, exchanging the Tablespoon of Vegetable oil for a Tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Mostly because my oil choices on hand were evoo, peanut, sunflower and sesame. I put everything into the bread maker in the order it's listed above. Look at the directions for your bread maker, as they may suggest adding ingredients in a different order than mine does. I used the bread maker's Whole Wheat setting for a 2 lb loaf, and used the "Light" crust setting per mom's suggestion.

My Impression of the finished bread:

This came out great! It rose higher than I expected, you can almost cut one slice in half and make two slices out of it. The texture was about the same as a good quality store bought whole wheat loaf, but way cheaper. This one will be one I make on a regular basis to replace what we would usually buy at the grocery store.

I really like the “Everything” Bagels, and want to either find or create a bread recipe that has the same flavor combination. My wife is wanting some type of Cheesy Bread. Guess those will be coming up soon. If you know of a good recipe for these or any other breads you think I might want to try, please let me know.

As you can see from the photo of the ingredients, I like shopping at HEB. As far as I know, they are only located in Texas. Too bad for the rest of the world. They have great selection and prices. The one I shop at has a bulk food section where you can by as much or as little of all sorts of items, including the gluten I used in this recipe, and the rolled oats I used in yesterday's recipe.

Until next time, Happy Baking! And be sure to tell all your friends about my blog!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My First Attempt at Making Bread in the Bread Machine

My mother was recently downsizing her belongings, and gave me her Kenmore Bread Machine. Today, I'm posting about my first try at using the bread machine.

I had a couple of bananas which were turning a little too brown for my wife to eat, so I put them in the freezer to use in making smoothies. But, since I now had a bread machine, I decided to try making some Banana Bread. As you'll see, I'm not really one to "follow the recipe" when cooking. I almost always add, remove or change something. I like to experiment and make each recipe a little more personal.

My apologies for not taking a photo of all the ingredients I used to make this first bread, and also for not taking photos of the finished product until my wife & I had already eaten several slices. Being a photographer, you'd think I would have been more on top of that. Hopefully I'll get a better memory in the future.

I made a modified version of the Banana Bread Recipe from:

I used:


1 1/2 cup bread flour
1 1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 md ripe bananas (previously frozen)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup warm water
1 egg
1/4 cup apple sauce (I always use apple sauce instead of oil when making cakes, so I thought I'd try the same thing on the bread)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup rolled oats (My wife is not a big fan of nuts in her bread, so I thought the oats might add a little nuttiness without the actual nuts. In hind-site, I should have added them later in the process so they held together better.)

1 package yeast

Cooking Directions:

I put all wet ingredients in the cooking pan except the water.

Then added all dry ingredients with the yeast being added last.

Then added the warm water on top of the yeast.

I let this stand for 5 minutes before turning on the bread maker.

I used the standard setting for fruit and nut breads with the crust brownness set to medium.

Total precessing/cooking time was 3hrs 35mins.

My Impression of the resulting bread:

The bread came out spongy, but a bit dry to my taste. The crust also seemed a bit too crusty to me. It also didn't have a very strong banana flavor.

I talked to my mom about this, and she said she always set her crust brownness to light, because to her, even the medium setting always made it too firm. So, I'll be taking mom's advice, and use the "light" crust setting from now on.

And perhaps, using another banana would give it more banana flavor, but then again, I'm not sure what that would do to the consistency of the finished loaf.

Happy Baking, and I'd love to have some feedback, at least to know if anyone is reading my blog. Until tomorrow,