Homemade Chick Fil A


Before the current big hullabaloo over this restaurant, J and I decided to figure out how to recreate our favorite chicken sandwich at home. Mostly because the nearest restaurant to us is more than an hour and a half away. This recipe is so close! With a bag of Oreda waffle fries, it’s almost like you’re there.

Ingredients:
2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup Dill Pickle Juice (we bought the hamburger slices and just used the juice)
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 Egg
1/4 cup Milk
1/2 cup Flour
1 tablespoon Powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon Celery salt
1/4 teaspoon Dried basil

Directions:
Wrap the chicken loosely between plastic wrap and pound gently with the flat side of a meat tenderizer until about 1/2 inch thick all around. Cut into four pieces, as even as possible. Marinate in the pickle juice and Tabasco Sauce for 30 minutes. Beat the egg with the milk in a bowl. Combine the flour, sugar, and spices in a zip lock bag. Dip the chicken pieces each into the egg on both sides, then place in the bag and shake. Heat the oil in a skillet (1/2 inch deep) to about 345-350, or use a deep fryer (that’s what we did). Remove the chicken from the flour mixture and tap off the excess. Place in the oil. Fry each cutlet for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden and cooked through. If using a fryer, it takes about 5 minutes total. Be sure to check the first couple to make sure they are cooked all the way through. Blot on paper and serve on toasted buns with pickle slices.

My Opinion:
So good. It’s very, very close to the original. It just needed to be a touch sweeter, so next time we’ll use a bit more powdered sugar and a touch less pickle juice.

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Panera Bread Baked Egg Soufflés

I love Panera breakfast. But I never seem to make it to the local Panera in time for the Baked Egg Soufflés. Either they’re sold out or it’s past breakfast time. This caused me to have to find a way to make them myself at home. I found Todd Wilbur’s copycat recipe for Spinach Artichoke Baked Soufflé and knew I had to be close.

Ingredients:
4 eggs, 1 reserved
2 tablespoons milk (we used skim)
1/4 cup shredded cheese (we used cheddar and Monterrey Jack)
1/4 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste (optional)
2 thick slices deli ham, diced
1 8-ounce tube Pillsbury Crescent butter flake dough (the flake is the most important. The regular crescent does not work!)
1 tablespoon melted butter

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375F or the package directions. Mix 3 eggs and milk in a large plastic or glass mixing jug until well combined. Egg yolks should be completely broken and mixed in. Add shredded cheese, salt and mix again until thoroughly distributed throughout the egg mixture. Microwave the egg mixture in 30 second increments on high, stirring after each increment until you have a sort of solid, slightly runny scrambled egg mixture. FOr us it took three rounds of 30 seconds. Once cooked, add diced ham, salt and black pepper, stirring through the egg mixture so evenly mixed throughout. Set aside. Sprinkle a clean surface (like a cutting board) with flour, and unroll the crescent dough. Do not separate the pairs of triangles. Instead, pinch with your fingers along the seam so that 2 triangles become 1 square of dough. You will only use 4 out of the 8 triangles included in the tube of dough. Set aside leftover dough, do not discard or pinch together. Flour the square of dough on both sides, and a rolling pin. Roll out the dough, turning dough once clockwise after each roll. Always roll in the same direction, directly out from yourself, until you have a square. Melt about a tablespoon of butter in the microwave. Brush melted butter inside two 4″ ramekins, and then carefully line each with the 6×6 square of dough, leaving excess hanging over the edge of the ramekin. Fill each ramekin and dough with equal amounts of egg mixture. Sprinkle with more cheese, if desired. Fold dough over the egg mixture so it is no longer hanging over the sides of the ramekin. Break and whisk the remaining egg, then brush over dough in each ramekin. This will give the dough a golden color and shine as it bakes. Place ramekins on the center of a baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes. While the soufflés are baking, roll the remaining crescent dough to package directions. After 15 minutes, remove tray from oven and place the spare rolled crescents onto the baking tray around the ramekins. Return to oven and bake for 10-12 minutes more, until the souffles are golden brown and bubbly, and egg appears to be solidly cooked. The remaining crescents may need a few extra minutes, so remove the ramekins from the tray and return the tray to the oven, if necessary. Allow the soufflés to cool for approximately 5 minutes. You may eat the soufflés directly in the ramekins, or remove them and serve on a plate. They should remove easily since the ramekin was brushed with butter.

My opinion:
So close! While time-consuming, I will probably make these every once in a while and again on special occasions. However, be warned, you aren’t saving any calories by making this at home.

The best Macaroni and Cheese Ever


I love a good blue box dinner every once in a while. To be truthful, I compare every other macaroni and cheese dish against that standard. I blame nostalgia over anything else. Lately, J has taken over more of the cooking responsibilities in our house. Since he likes to try new dishes and tweak old ones, I’ve been spoiled. When he made this macaroni and cheese dish this weekend, I told him we could never go back to the blue box. Ever.

Ingredients:
4 to 5 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter (plus 2 tablespoons to mix with cooked pasta)
4 large garlic cloves, minced garlic (the original recipe called for 2 cloves, but since we like garlic, we used more)
1 teaspoon onion powder (in the future, we’ll use regular diced onions)
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (while the original recipe said this was optional at 1/4 teaspoon, but we like cayenne)
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups half-and-half cream (reserve a little or keep milk on hand to assist with the mixing)
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese (we used a mixture of sharp and mild)
1 (16 ounce) package Velveeta cheese (cut into small cubes)
salt & freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
bread crumbs (we used our own, recipe to come!)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a medium casserole dish (we used butter).  Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente (do not overcook the pasta) drain but do not rinse. Place the pasta a bowl and mix with 2 tablespoons butter to prevent sticking; set aside.
Melt 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add in minced garlic, onion powder, mustard powder and cayenne pepper; stir with a wooden spoon for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add in flour and stir for about 1 minute (this should look like a paste). Slowly add cream (or milk if that’s what you’re using) and cook, stirring constantly over medium until bubbly and thickened. (This is when you will need to watch the heat, you may need to turn it down.) Reduce heat and add in both cheeses; mix until melted and smooth. (If you’re like us and the oil separates here and the mixture turns into a big glob. We added a bit more milk to loosen it.) Add in the cooked pasta and toss to combine. (Do this slowly! A little bit at a time. Otherwise, it will be a giant mess!) Transfer to baking dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake 350 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes.

My opinion:
As I said above, I’ll never go back to the trusty blue box. I couldn’t stop eating this. Amazing.

Easiest Chicken Pot Pie Ever

J’s grandmother is known for her chicken pot pie. He’s spent years trying to recreate the recipe. He finally got one that is just about right with this one from Big Oven.

Ingredients:
1 2/3 cup frozen mixed vegetables (we used the ones with pearl onions, carrots. celery and potatoes)
2 chicken breasts; cooked and diced
1 10.75-oz can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup Original Bisquick mix
1/2 cup milk (we used skim)

Directions:
Heat oven to 400 F. Mix vegetables, chicken and soup in ungreased glass pie plate. Stir together remaining ingredients (Bisquick and milk) with fork until blended. Pour over chicken mixture. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 6 servings

My Opinion:
This was the easiest recipe and came out perfectly crisp on top. For a quick meal on a cold winter’s night, this is perfect!

Most delicious pound cake ever


My very dear sister C, made this amazing pound cake for us to enjoy as dessert last night. It was delectable! Not too sweet and not too heavy, it is the perfect summer dessert. The recipe is from a cookbook my mother has from when we lived in Alabama. The original recipe s Mady Jackson’s.

Ingredients:
1 pound butter (room temperature)
3 cups sugar
4 cups flour
6 eggs (room temperature)
3/4 cup milk (we used skim)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1.5 teaspoons salt

Directions: Pre-heat oven to 325. Mix together butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. Add flour, alternating with milk. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and salt. Put in a well-greased and floured tube pan or spring form.  (Be careful with the spring form, sometimes the outsides get too crispy and the inside doesn’t cook enough.) Cook 1.5 hours, or until done in the center. For better cooking, bake for 40 minutes and then rotate and bake for another 40 minutes.

My opinion:
This pound cake is amazing on it’s own. It’s even more wonderful with fresh fruit, like mashed strawberries or peaches. If I could eat only one dessert for the rest of the summer, this might be it. Yum!