Saturday, October 27, 2012

Lazy Ranch Cream Cheese Chicken Puff

So, I tried making these Chicken Puff Pastry Crowns not long ago. They were delicious. They were puffy. They were buttery. My family raved. My dad even liked them enough to say so. They were - a lot of work to make. So what do you do when something tastes oh so good, but you don't like all of the time it takes to make it? Make a lazy version. The recipe card below is the original, whole-bunch-of-work version.

Here's the easier way:

First things first: Make Perfect Chicken (Click the link for the recipe). The short version: Mix 1/2 t. each of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and paprika together. Rub all of the spice mix on both sides of 3-4 chicken breasts. Sear both sides in a dutch oven, and then cook 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Let rest 5-10 minutes before cutting. This method makes perfectly cooked chicken for me every time.

Step Two: Shred chicken. Here's the easy way to do it. Note: If you do not have a mixer with a paddle attachment, you can do what I used to do - shred it in the food processor. Sometimes that turns out to be more like ground chicken than shredded chicken, though.
Step Three: Here are those cute little sweet peppers. You can use bell pepper instead if you want. Remove the tops, ribs, and seeds...

...and chop finely.

Step Four: Add the sweet pepper, cream cheese, and ranch mix to the chicken...

...and mix well. 

If you shredded the chicken in a Kitchenaid mixer, just leave it in the mixer, and mix in the rest of the stuff with the mixer. If not, just mix it all by hand in a bowl.

I just needed a time-out to say...yum.

Step Five: Unroll one of the puff pastry sheets into the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Step Six: Spread the chicken mixture on top.

Step Seven: Top with the remaining puff pastry sheet. Crimp the edges to seal.

Step Eight: Beat an egg with a tablespoon of water to make an egg wash.

Step Nine: Brush on the egg wash. 

The egg wash will make the puff pastry all golden and shiny and delicious-looking.

Ok, then, you are supposed to let this chill in the fridge for an hour. For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while and know my impatience when it comes to getting to eat - please take a moment to laugh. Hahahahahaha. And might I add... ha. 

There are good reasons for chilling the puff pastry. The more you chill it, the puffier it will be. I don't really know why, but I know it has something to do with the cold butter releasing steam to make puffy layers or something. I will even say that I prefer this dish when it has been chilled an hour before baking it. 

However....when making this for this blog...I was really hungry....soo...I lasted about ten minutes before pulling it out of the fridge. 

Which brings me to Step Ten: Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.

When you pull it out, it will look like this...maybe even puffier if you chilled it as long as you are supposed to.

Look at all the puffy goodness.

And then look at all the cream cheesy chicken filling ooozing out  of that puff pastry

That again...would be much puffier if I had chilled the dough properly. It still tastes fantastic this way, though. :)


Perfect meal. I serve this with Roasted Sweet Potatoes. In fact, I serve a lot of things with roasted sweet potatoes.


Lazy Ranch Cream Cheese Chicken Puff
Click for the printable version
1-8 oz. pack cream cheese
1-1 oz. packet Ranch dressing mix
1.75-2 lb. Perfect Chicken
, cooked and shredded
3 baby sweet red peppers, chopped finely
1 - 17.25 oz. package frozen puff pastry sheets
1 egg yolk beaten
with 1 T. water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine chicken, cream cheese, peppers, and dressing mix. Set aside. Spray a 9x13 casserole dish with cooking spray. Unroll one of the puff pastry sheets into the bottom of the casserole dish. Spread the chicken mixture on top, and then top with the remaining puff pastry sheet. Crimp the edges to seal. Brush with egg wash. Chill for 1 hour. Bake about 25 minutes.
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Friday, October 19, 2012

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Look at those beauties. Those are roasted sweet potatoes, and they are the result of what may be the easiest recipe I ever post. You peel sweet potatoes, cut them in one inch chunks, toss them with olive oil and salt, bake them for 30-35 minutes at 425 degrees, and you're done. I  make these all the time because (1) they are easy to make, (2) everyone loves them, and (3) sweet potatoes are super foods. I need some super in my life.
Even though I just told you pretty much everything you need to know about this recipe, here's the card that I sort of follow:

Step One: Peel four sweet potatoes.
Disclaimer - I'm sure you noticed, but these sweet potatoes are not exactly peeled yet. They are waiting their turn. They are gossiping next to the barber chair. 
Step Two: Cut the sweet potatoes into 1" chunks, and spread out onto a baking sheet. 
Step Three: Toss the potatoes with oil and salt (Use your hands...because it is the right thing to do. You should feel when the potatoes are coated in an olive oily salty coating.), and then spread them evenly in a single layer on the baking sheet. All of them should be in contact with the pan.
Step Four: Bake at 425 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes.
Here's the beauty of this recipe. Check out the bottoms of these sweet potatoes. No, they aren't burnt. They are caramelized. They are slightly crisp on one side with that delicious caramelized taste against a hint of salt... it's somewhere between down home and gourmet.
(Note: My camera flipped out at this moment. The lighting is a bit weird.) 
This is a picture of the roasted sweet potatoes next to another tasty recipe that I will be posting soon. I know that you can hardly wait!
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Click here for printable version
3-4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
2 T. olive oil
1 t. salt
Toss sweet potatoes, olive oil, and salt together on a baking sheet. Bake 30 - 35 minutes at 425 degrees.
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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Best Spiced Oatmeal Cookies Ever

Hello, Love. That's right. I have a pet name for these cookies. They are that good. These are not only spiced oatmeal cookies, but these are the Best Spiced Oatmeal Cookies Ever. Ever. They are buttery, homey, and full of an addictive soft spice combination that makes these cookies disappear almost instantaneously. Here is my recipe card, but it is wrong. It does not have enough oats or nuts in it if you make the recipe based on the card. I honestly usually mixed the dough based on the card and then did the old, Southern thing from there - I mixed the rest of the oats and nuts in on feel...on how the dough felt as I added them. Usually, I knew the dough felt right when the spoon could stand straight up in the dough. Fortunately for you, I have the exact measurements for the perfect dough at the bottom.   

Step One: Combine brown sugar and butter.
Note: If your butter is too soft, your cookies will be a little flatter. My cookies are usually less flat than those shown in these photos, but I let the butter sit out a little longer than I usually do. Don't worry, they still taste awesome, and they are eaten so quickly that no one will notice whether they are flat or puffy.

...Yep, this is what brown sugar and butter mixed together looks like alright.
I acutally mix this cookie dough in a blue bowl that I've been using since I was about three years old (notice the 80's blue?) instead of my Kitchenaid mixer. Why? Because I've been using this blue bowl for this recipe for a long, long time. It's just a habit, and I guess Kitchenaid needs a rest every once in a while. I rarely give it a rest. 

Step Two: Add eggs...

...and mix well.

Step Three: Add about half of the flour and all of the nutmeg and cinnamon.
Is this a lot of nutmeg and cinnamon? Yes, it is. Is that ok? Oh, it is SO much more than ok. It is the foundation for addiction.

Mix well.

Step Four: Add the rest of the flour... 

...and mix well.

Time out for a tutorial! There are two kinds of oats at the store. There are old-fashioned ones and there are quick cooking ones. Get the old-fashioned ones for these cookies. If you get the quick cooking ones, the cookies end up with a weird texture, and they dry out pretty quickly. Get the old-fashioned ones. I mean it! 

 Step Five: Add oats and pecans...

...and mix well.

Your spoon should be able to stand straight up in the dough. If not, add more oats.
Step Six: Drop dough by rounded teaspoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake 10 - 12 minutes at 375 degrees.

I'm not sure why I thought it was necessary to show another picture of the cookie dough balls, but I did. So here it is!

Here they are! Again, they usually aren't this flat. They are usually a little puffier. The only difference is the initial temperature of your butter. That information is not important unless you are OCD.


Are they beautiful or what?

These are pretty and absolutely delicious, but they have to be good for you, too. Think about it. Pecans for protein, oatmeal for fiber, and cinnamon metabolizes sugars.  

My mom and I crave these...all the time...every day. We devour them. In fact, although this batch made three dozen cookies, this little plateful is all that is left for pictures. Enjoy the love my friends!
Best Spiced Oatmeal Cookies Ever
Click here for printable version
2 c. White Lily Self-Rising flour
- the real stuff, softened
2 c. brown sugar
3 c. old-fashioned oats
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground nutmeg
2 eggs
1/2 c. chopped pecans
Stir together butter and brown sugar. Add eggs, and mix well. Mix in about half of the flour, the cinnamon, and the nutmeg, and after that is well incorporated, mix in the rest of the flour. Stir in the oats and pecans. Drop by rounded teaspoons about two inches apart onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 10 - 12 minutes.
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