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Monday, January 31, 2011

Panko Chicken Fingers with Russett Fries

Well here is one my kids go CRAZY for!  My 9 year old is the pickiest eater ever!  It's super easy and fresh, it also is free of all the chemicals and other garbage the big companies put in their chicken tenders/nuggets. 

"Breadcrumb Ranch Chicken" (that's what my boys call this)
1-1 1/4  pounds Fresh Chicken Breasts (washed and sliced into 4 strips)
1 1/2 cup Plain Panko Bread Crumbs (brands I like; Trader Joe's, Kroger Private Selection, Kikkoman)
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper (6-8 grinds)
1/2 cup Ranch Dressing (I like Bolthouse Farms Yogurt Ranch or Marie's Yogurt Ranch Dressing-available in produce department)
2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  I use a convection oven.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with pan spray if not using parchment (don't use foil! the aluminum leeches into your food!)

Wash and drain chicken, slice into 4 or 5 strips.   In a large mixing bowl combine panko, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  In separate bowl combine chicken with ranch dressing.  Coat all pieces evenly with ranch.  With dry hand, place chicken strips in panko, 1 piece at a time and coat evenly with panko (you leave one hand dry and one wet).  Place on baking sheet, do not crowd chicken on pan-leave room between pieces.  Use remaining breadcrumbs on top of chicken pieces, press down to coat.  Drizzle chicken with extra virgin olive oil. 

Bake in convection oven for 18-22 minutes, conventional oven for 25-30 minutes.  Chicken should have some golden brown spots on them and be cooked to 170 degrees internally. 

Serve with ranch, BBQ sauce, honey mustard!  I like to squeeze fresh lemon juice on strips.

Russett Fries
3 Russett Potatoes (about 2-2 1/4 pounds)
2 tsp Kosher Salt
5-6 grinds Fresh Black Pepper
3 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Scrub potatoes in cold water with a vegetable brush.  You can remove skins or leave on.  Slice potatoes in 1/2.  Slice into even strips, about 1/2" wide.  Place sliced potatoes into large bowl,  toss with olive oil.  Add salt and pepper and toss potatoes again.  Line sheet pan with parchment paper or spray pan with pan spray if not using parchment, lay potatoes flat on sheet pan.  Do not crowd potatoes on pan, leave space between potatoes.  bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, flip potatoes over and continue to bake for 12-18 minutes.  Fries should be golden brown & tender. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Grandma Mary's Chicken Soup (aka Tuscan Chicken Soup at D'Amico & Sons)

In honor of my Grandma Mary who passed away yesterday I would like to share this recipe.  I have been eating this soup as long as I can remember.  My Grandmother's version did not have heavy cream in it or zucchini and yellow squash, but when I started making it at D'Amico & Sons in 1997 I added these elements (you can go either way).  My Grandma would sometimes use cooked white rice in place of the acini de pepe pasta.  If you don't feel like cooking chicken, you  can also pull the meat off of a rotisserie chicken and use it in the soup.  It may seem lengthy in ingredients, but it is quick and fantastic.  All my ingredients are organic.  At one point at D'Amico & Sons I was making 80 gallons every day and I couldn't keep up with it!  It has been on the D'Amico menu since 1997, if you live in Minnesota and eat at D'Amico & Sons, you know this soup!  Thank you Grandma.

Grandma Mary's Chicken Soup (Tuscan Chicken Soup)
1-1 1/4  pounds chicken breasts (washed in cold water)
1 medium Yellow Onion (medium dice)
4 ea Carrots (peeled, washed, and medium dice)
4 Stalks Celery (washed and medium diced)
1 ea Zucchini (washed and medium diced)
1 ea Yellow Squash (washed and medium diced)
3 cloves Fresh Garlic (chopped finely)
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tsp Dried Basil
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream (optional)
2 TBSP + 1 tsp (to coat raw chicken with before cooking) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
28 0z can Crushed Tomatoes (Muir Glen Organic or i like Pomi strained tomatoes in aseptic box-26 oz container, cans have BPA in the lining)
5 Cups Chicken Stock
Kosher Salt-to taste
Fresh Ground Black Pepper -to taste
2 Cups Cooked Acini de pepe pasta (cooked according to package directions) Available at Kroger, Cub Foods, Wegman's

Preheat oven to 375.  Wash and drain chicken breasts, toss in 1 tsp olive oil.   Season with 1/4 tsp kosher salt and  3 grinds of fresh black pepper.  Lay flat on baking sheet (if using parchment paper, no need to spray pan-if no parchment spray pan) and cook for 15-20 minutes, until internal temperature of thickest piece is 170 degrees.  Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes. 

In a large pot while chicken is cooking add 2 TBSP olive oil and saute onions, celery, and carrots over medium high heat for 8-10 minutes.  Add zucchini, yellow squash, and garlic.  Saute until tender about 4-6 minutes.

Add chicken stock, tomatoes, basil, oregano.  Pull chicken breasts apart by hand into bite size pieces, add to soup.  Simmer soup for 20-30 minutes, vegetables should be tender.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add heavy cream if using and allow to simmer for 6-8 minutes. 

Note on seasoning; depending on what type of chicken stock you use and the amount of salt it contains, you will need to adjust the flavor to your liking. 

Note on cutting vegetables; you don't have to perfectly cut vegetables, this isn't culinary school!  Just try to keep all the veggies about the same size dice.  It's just soup!

Serving: place soup in bowl with desired amount of acini de pepe or white rice.  Top with grated Parmiggiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano Cheese! 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mediterranean Meal

Greek style Chicken and Roasted Veggies
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (diced into large pieces)
2 Bell peppers (diced into 1/2 inch pieces)
1 large onion (diced into 1/2 inch pieces)
1 # baby potatoes (red, yellow, fingerling)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 TBSP garlic powder
1 1/2 TBSP smoked paprika
1 TBSP dried oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp cumin
2tsp kosher salt

In a large bowl toss chicken and veggies in olive oil.  Add seasonings and toss again.  Cook chicken on 1 sheet pan and veggies on another (chicken will cook quicker than veggies).  Do not crowd veggies or chicken on pan, lay flat on pan.  If needed use 2 pans for veggies.  Roast in 375 degree oven for 10-15 minutes for chicken, and 25-30 minutes for veggies (depending on your oven!)  All of my cooking is done in a convection oven, if  you are using a conventional oven you need to adjust cooking time.  Check veggies after 15 minutes and move around on pan with spatula.  When all ingredients are cooked combine in a bowl with juice from 1 lemon.

Serve with hummus, harissa, pita bread, tabouli, cucumber feta salad (see recipes below)

Harissa (Tunisian Hot Sauce)
1 TBSP Fennel Seeds
1TBSp Coriander Seeds
4 cloves garlic
12 oz jar roasted red peppers (drained & rinsed)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 TBSP agave syrup or sugar
2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp kosher salt

Toast fennel & coriander seeds in pan over medium heat, until they start to become fragrant (about 30-45 seconds).  Place in food processor.  Add garlic (unpeeled) to pan with 1 TBSP of olive oil.  Toast in pan until golden, about 2-3 minutes.  Remove from pan and let sit until you can handle.  Peel skins off of garlic.  Chop in food processor with seeds.  Add roasted peppers and puree.  Add sugar, salt, red pepper flakes.  Drizzle in olive oil.  Store in glass jar in fridge.


1 can chick peas (reserve 1/2 cup of liquid)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3-5 cloves garlic
2tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup tahini
5 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

In food processor chop garlic, add drained chick peas.  Scrape down sides of bowl.  Add tahini, cumin cayenne, salt, 1/2 cup liquid from chick peas, puree ingredients.  Scrape down sides of bowl.  Drizzle in olive oil and lemon juice.  Store in glass jar in fridge.  You can add roasted red peppers, feta cheese, artichokes, olives-whatever you like to recipe.

Tomato Cucumber Salad
1 English Cucumber (washed, sliced in half lengthwise and then into 4 strips, dice into 1/4" pieces)
1 pint grape tomatoes (washed/dried)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1/4 cup Fresh Italian Parlsey (washed, dried(salad spinner works best), chopped)
1/4 cup red onion (small dice)
1/2 cup crumbled or diced feta cheese
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
3TBSP Extra Virgin Olive oil
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in large bowl and gently fold together.  Serve immediately.