Posts Tagged ‘chicken’

Wedding DinnerSpring 2014

Wedding season has begun in 2014, and I was very honored to attend the special day of Michael O’Keefe and Kristen Jackson at Disney’s Shades of Green. It provided a fantastic location and plenty of great photo opportunities for the lovely couple.

However, my main focus was on what food items they planned to serve me.

Once I sat down I gazed at the menu on the table and I instantly became delighted…and hungry. Michael and Kristen clearly thought of me when they made their selections.

I said screw the salad and those green beans, bring me the meat! Well, maybe those words were not uttered, but I turned aside the leafy greens and shoved the beans around the plate because the objects I desired were:

-Petit filet of beef filled with boursin cheese and red wine sauce

-Seared breast of chicken with mustard sauce

-Mashed potatoes

I love the word seared. It should be used a lot more in the food world.

The beef and chicken hit the spot after an hour of hors d’oeuvres and perfect booze (I tipped enough where I did not have any money left in my wallet). Both proved to be juicy and flavorful, and I could have downed a couple more helpings. Yet dessert was waiting.

I definitely did not go for the lemon wedding cake, but dove in to the chocolate and vanilla marble cake with amaretto and hazelnut filling and butter cream frosting. Late-night cookies were a dynamic touch as well, but I should have learned to pair the desserts up with a better drink than just Sam Adams.

The only change I would make to the dinner portion of service was to have had each server manage one table by themselves and they would ask 10 trivia questions to entertain us while we ate. Oh, and have an adult ball pit.

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Cheese FondueVisited: May 13, 2013

We planned on going more than a year ago. I even typed “Colorado Fondue Company” in my notes on my phone to remember. After months of visiting other high-quality, as well as disappointing, food destinations, we finally made the crappy trek from Waterford to Casselberry to gorge ourselves in cheese and meat.

Doing a little research online just to make sure I knew what I was getting myself into (my only experience with fondue was a New Year’s Eve get-together which ultimately led me to leave early), I clicked around the Colorado Fondue Company website and noticed this fancy little deal:

         

4 Course Dinner for two only $46

(Every Sunday-Thursday)

That’s your choice of salad or soup,

Cheese Fondue Appetizer

Platter with Sirloin, Chicken & Shrimp along with fresh baked bread,

mixed vegetables, pasta, potatoes and perogies

Chocolate Fondue Dessert

Meat FondueI first wondered why were certain words capitalized and why others were not. Looking past the grammaticalness of the menu, I realized this was a damn lovely special, though.  It needed to happen.

Expecting the restaurant to be in a stand-alone structure, I noticed that it cozied itself into a virtually-abandoned shopping center. The décor on the outside, and then on the inside, made me desire for a log-cabin house. I loved it. For a Monday, the aura of the place resembled a bingo hall in that everyone was anxious for what was to come next. But in this situation, everyone walked out a winner (that might be the corniest line I have ever typed out, which makes me remember that I ran out of corn on the cob the other night and I am still disappointed).

The friendly waiter explained the situation to Jess and I, upon which I got to the important part in ordering my beer. A short time later and he rumbled out with big bowl of steaming cheese along with a tray of nacho chips, vegetables, fruits and bread pieces. The munching was on.

To at least say I had my fruits and vegetables for the day, I covered a piece of broccoli and apple in three layers of cheese and gulped them down.  I wanted more. And more I got.

Up next was the display of sirloin, chicken and shrimp, set next to a black rock. The waiter also provided us with a bowl full of who knows what that contained random food particles. We only used this to boil our perogies and potatoes. I thought it was kind of gross for some reason.

But the cooking stone (he was kind enough to explain it to us, but of course I do not remember how it worked except for the fact that it was really hot) delivered in every single way. The sirloin and chicken provided a ton of taste, and I loved having control over the cooking process. And I got to eat all of the sirloin since I dumped all the shrimp on her. I’ll stick with the moo-cows thank you.

To wrap up the experience, and the fact we already loaded our tummies with enough steamy goodness, we took our chocolate fondue dessert home and demolished every bit of it.

While the total cost of the dinner was pricey, if you stick with this special and not get the dessert as well as alcoholic beverages, the check that will arrive will only run $36. I certainly recommend this trip a couple times of year, maybe more.

Chicken and FriesMarch 12, 2013

Spring Training always served as a fantasy world for me growing up. A trip to Florida as a youngster was the equivalent of me being able to afford anything nice these days. It was only in my dreams. So when my parents informed me in junior high school that us Michiganders were making the trek to St. Pete Beach, I hit the floor.

I ended up making two journeys to the Sunshine State while living in Michigan, and during those two trips, we blanketed ourselves in Spring Training. I loved every minute.

Now I find myself calling this weird, confusing area my home. It is unfortunately very difficult to find time to get to a game though, so when I do, I make sure to hit the concession stand. On my latest excursion to the ESPN Wide World of Sports to check out the Cardinals face the Braves, all I wanted was my favorite ballpark food: nachos with cheese.

For the price of $4.75, I made my order and in return received a bag of Tostitos with a cup of cheese. I was deflated. My hopes featured a solid container with a heap of chips and steaming-hot cheese, yet this did not happen. I still ventured back to my outfield berm location (which cost $15 to sit on a blanket on wet grass due to the rain) to attempt to enjoy the food selection. I made the most of it for sure, because at least with the chips coming in a bag, they did not run the risk of being stale.

What also helped was the terrific adult beverage special. For $8 fans got a draft beer in a souvenir cup, and refills were only $4. So if you drank four beverages, that would be just $5 per beer, and for a baseball game, that was so money.

Since the nachos did not constitute an actual meal, especially since Jessica ate her fair share, I decided to acquire some chicken nuggets and fries due to the fact they looked scrumptious when our friends Hannah and Andrea devoured them. The price was a little extreme and we did not receive an ample supply of fries, but the nuggets satisfied the tummies. The primary thing that was not satisfying was that the Cardinals got manhandled in the later innings.

A recommendation when interested in purchasing nachos, or any dish, at a sporting event would be to survey the crowds. Check out some of the fans to see what they ordered as well. A burger or nachos may sound tempting, but if your eyes tell you otherwise, it may be time to head to another concession stand.

Pepperoni StromboliFebruary 2013

I am all in favor of making an entire meal from scratch including bread dough. However, I continue to go back to Publix to purchase a bag of refrigerated dough from the bakery for just less than $3. And this time, it was BOGO. Jackpot!

Now what? Just like trying to decide if I want to wear a sweater or polo to work, making a final decision served as a tough chore. In the mood for a mouth-watering pizza but looking for something different, I arrived at the answer and it was in the form of a stromboli.

And this meal can be as memorable and simple as you like. From steak to chicken to cheese, you can simply fill it up with whatever fancies your mouth. On this occasion, Jessica went with pizza sauce and cheese, while I stuffed my side with double pepperoni and cheese.

Either way, throw in as much ingredients as you have on hand, or as little. I usually do not like to go out and purchase anything except for the dough; using whatever rests in my kitchen to feed my need. A cheesy chicken stromboli with a pizza or marinara dipping sauce takes the cake, though.

And it really only takes about 10 minutes of prep time. Once the dough is laid out (do not make it too thin, yet not too thick since it will expand in the oven), give it some friends in the form of your favorite food items, possibly sprinkle in some oregano, then roll it up. Set it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes and brush on a little garlic butter when finished. That’s it!

What You’ll Need For a Pizza Stromboli

Bread dough

Flour

Pizza sauce

Pepperoni

Mozzarella cheese

Oregano

Butter

Garlic Powder

Stromboli PrecookedThe Steps

1)      Set oven to 400 degrees

2)      Use non-stick spray or light butter on a rectangular pan

3)      Add some flour to the bread dough and flatten it out in a  rectangular pan – it doesn’t have to fit the entire width, but stretch it to fit a good majority of the length of the pan

4)      Since the bread will expand in the oven, it will be alright if the dough is a little thin

5)      Length-wise, leave an edge free of ingredients so it will be easy to roll up

6)      Load up the dough with pepperoni – 30 should go in a single layer from one end to the other – and add as much as you like

7)      Time for the mozzarella and any other cheese you would like

8)      Add a dash of oregano

9)      Starting with the side that has ingredients, carefully roll it up with two hands

10)   Cut slits in the dough and add a little mozzarella and oregano on top (can also be done toward the end of the baking process)

11)   Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown

12)   While baking, melt some butter with garlic powder and pepper in the microwave

13)   When the Stromboli is cooked, the bread may look dry, so brush the top and sides with the garlic butter

14)   Cut into slices and serve with a side of pizza dipping sauce

 

BBQ Chicken Devoured Jan. 28, 2013

These days, discovering lovely little dishes from the internet is as simple as crushing a fun-sized Milky Way in one memorable bite. Yet the art of perfecting a personalized recipe drives me. If I actually had a decent kitchen with the ability to afford plenty of ingredients, most of my nights would produce completely awful entrées. So long as 5% of those meals registered on the not-so-gross scale, though, I’d be a happy boy.

Somehow, perfecting my chicken sandwich did not take a drastically long time. On just the second attempt, the recipe was finalized.

As I have illustrated before, it starts with the bread. Inspired by experience at my first real job, I stayed away from just buying buns and fashioned bread dough into a round baking pan before sprinkling mozzarella and oregano on top. While that was taking place, my chicken was soaking up all the flavors of barbeque sauce, red pepper, oregano and garlic in the refrigerator.

Buffalo ChickenWhen both ventured out of the oven, the aromas in the kitchen have the ability to knock one on their bum. I promptly turned the bread over, placed the chicken on top and united it with bacon, mozzarella and a little more of the red pepper BBQ sauce. After letting that get happy in the oven for a couple minutes, I folded one side of the bread on top of the chicken.

Every single time I have constructed this beauty I find myself wanting even more when finished. There are numerous taste buds bursting with each bite.

And the best part is there are several substitutions to make to change the sandwich up to fit one’s needs and desires. Marinating it in buffalo or Alfredo sauce or grilling the chicken and adding condiments, for instance, is definitely doable.

What You’ll Need for Two Sandwiches

Bread Dough (Bag of bread dough by the bakery from Publix is perfect and provides enough for two sandwiches)

3 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

Bacon

Barbeque Sauce (Preferably Sweet Baby Ray’s Hickory & Brown Sugar)

Shredded Mozzarella

Red Pepper Flakes

Garlic Powder

Oregano

Salt

Pepper

Chicken SandwichThe Steps

1)      Use fresh chicken for best results, and clean the chicken on the cutting board.

2)      In a pan or bowl, pour in half a bottle of BBQ sauce and add oregano, garlic powder (since it’s easier) and however much red pepper you’d like, along with a pinch of salt and pepper.

3)      Add the chicken and poke holes in it so the sauce really gets in there while it marinates for about 20-30 minutes.

4)      While that is taking place, maneuver the bread dough into an 8-inch round baking dish. Lightly put mozzarella and oregano on top.

5)      Cook the chicken in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. I like to put aluminum foil on top.

6)      You can cook the bread as well with the chicken but keep an eye on it. I start on the top rack for about 15 minutes and move it to the bottom rack until the cheese on top is golden brown.

7)      Pull both out of the oven. Flip the bread over and place 1.5 chicken breasts on one half of the sandwich. Add bacon, mozzarella and extra of the BBQ sauce mix on top and let it melt in the oven.

8)      After five minutes in the oven, fold the empty half over and cut it down the middle to make a sandwich.

9)      Wreck it.

Original Bacon Double Cheeseburger from A&W Restaurant – Standish, Mich.

June 10, 2012

Smothered Chicken from Wheeler’s Restaurant – Standish, Mich.

June 15, 2012

Just when you think you are driving to the middle of nowhere, a small town pops up and serves up some exquisite food. This always occurs when I head up through the rustic countryside of Northern Michigan, and especially the uneventful town of Standish situated by the Saginaw Bay. I am not quite sure if there is anything that makes Standish famous, with the exception that it was one of the final towns considered to house inmates from Guantanamo Bay. It really does have a unique flair.

During my annual trip this summer, a must on the small list of things to do was frequent the A&W Restaurant. I have been coming to this unique establishment since the 1980s, and each year I discover it never changes. The drive-thru resembles that of a Sonic, while inside, each table has a phone connected to the kitchen and you place your order through that fascinating device.

A first-time visitor needs to acquire the Original Bacon Double Cheeseburger with a tall A&W root beer. It honestly does not differ from any standard bacon cheeseburger, but being in a car for a few hours easily makes the mouth water for virtually anything. And this burger will go down easy with help from simple French fries and a tasty root beer.

After camping for a week, I returned to Standish a few days later and this time tried a new adventure, also known as Wheeler’s Restaurant. An enjoyable staple in the local community for years, Wheeler’s provides a hometown feel and a home-cooked meal. Parking in the back and the entrance in the front, it contains a small bar on the left and a few tables arranged randomly with a salad and soup bar in the middle. The distinctive items were old photos of Wheeler’s and Standish spread out on the walls, along with a weird fireplace-looking thing in the back. And most of the menu items were pretty cheap.

Hungry as hell, I surprisingly took advantage of the free soup and gobbled up some chicken noodle and potato soup. The first indulgence tasted as though the chicken was chopped up that morning – very warm and cuddly. For the main dish, I requested a plate of smothered chicken and a side of fries. When it arrived, I found myself sitting with two chicken breasts covered with bacon and melted cheese. Although the chicken was not the juiciest in the world, my stomach ached with joy when it experienced the unhealthy mix of flavors. For the price, ambiance and service, I loved it.

Wheeler’s proved a point during that trip. And that point is how the best food experiences almost always take place where you least expect them.

June 9, 2012

Trying to determine what to make while home in Michigan, my sister and I settled on what she called “Lazy Chicken Cordon Bleu.” I really wanted to cook, but demanded food immediately. So I liked that term a lot.

Throwing chicken in the oven is an easy task, yet I wanted to add a little something to the poultry so I settled on a normal jar of Italian seasoning, covering both sides. While I waited for it to cook in the oven, I gulped down a beverage and retreated to the basement refrigerator for another. We then found a random bag of potato rounds in the freezer and tossed those in the oven as well.

I am unsure of what my favorite frozen potatoes may be, as I certainly do not mind French fries, tater tots and potato rounds. A nice ole selection of waffle fries do the trick every time, yet I adore the five-pound bag of tater tots for less than $5 at the local Super Target. Dip those babies in barbecue sauce and I got myself a cheap thrill.

Back to the task at hand, my sister plopped some ham and cheese onto the stove and placed the cover on top, letting it melt together nicely. When it blended and the chicken was cooked, we placed the ham and cheese on top and quickly obliterated the meal. For so little prep work, the chicken served as a tasty dish and the ham added a slight crunch (although not severe). However, I always will prefer cooking the ham and cheese inside the chicken.

What You’ll Need

As Many Chicken Breasts Required

Deli Ham

Swiss Cheese

Italian Seasoning

The Steps

1)      Spray pan with cooking spray and set oven to 350.

2)      Sprinkle Italian seasoning on chicken, both on top and on the bottom.

3)      Bake chicken for about 30 minutes.

4)      On the stove, spray a pan with cooking spray.

5)      Chop deli ham and place cheese on top. Place in the pan and cover for a couple of minutes, letting the cheese melt into the ham.

6)      When both are done, simply place the ham/cheese on top of the chicken.