Hunter’s Chicken Lasagna

Hunter’s chicken is a dish consisting of a chicken fillet wrapped in bacon, smothered in barbecue sauce then topped with cheddar cheese. This particular ‘style’ of chicken was originally adapted from a classic British pub food favorite.

Before I could give it a try, I saw a video of someone making lasagna by tucking these same ingredients into small folded ‘pockets’ of pasta instead of layering everything in a large pan. It seems there is always something unique about having your own individual serving as opposed to a chunk of the whole.

Lasagna is simple to eat but intricate in its appeal. Satisfying on three accounts …. pasta, gooey cheese and a savory sauce. In many ways, lasagna is the result of the interaction of cultures across generations …. an organized combination of different ideas and flavors.

No matter how you slice it, making lasagna is a big production. These lasagna pockets take a bit of work to make, but they are totally worth it!

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Hunter's Chicken Lasagna
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Instructions
Chicken
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Season chicken breasts with salt & pepper. In a small roasting pan, melt butter & brown chicken slightly on both sides. Add water, & herbs & roast until cooked thru. Shred the cooked chicken breasts with two forks.
  2. Cook bacon in microwave until done but not crisp; coarsely chop. In a bowl, combine bacon, BBQ sauce, crushed tomatoes, sliced green onion & shredded chicken; mix well.
Pasta & Sauce
  1. Boil lasagna noodles, shred cheeses & prepare the béchamel sauce.
  2. In a a saucepan, melt butter, stir in flour & cook until bubbly. Slowly add milk, stirring until sauce is smooth. Add shredded mozzarella cheese & salt.
Assembly & Baking
  1. Spread a dollop of béchamel sauce in the middle of a cooked lasagna noodle. Place another noodle on top of the first noodle so that it is perpendicular & spread béchamel sauce in the middle of the second noodle.
  2. Spoon a portion of the BBQ chicken mixture on top of the béchamel sauce in the center of the noodle & sprinkle some shredded mozzarella & cheddar cheese on top.
  3. Fold the ends of the two noodles over the filling to create a lasagna 'pocket'. Repeat the process with the rest of the lasagna noodles until you have 4 lasagna pockets.
  4. Place 2 lasagna pockets next to each other in a 9 x 5-inch casserole dish, cover with béchamel sauce, sprinkle with shredded cheddar & mozzarella cheese over the top. Place the other 2 lasagna pockets on top of the shredded cheeses, followed by another layer of béchamel sauce & more shredded cheese,
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

Persimmon & Almond Brioche Buns

I never fail to get drawn in by the sight of fresh persimmons at the grocery store. Not only do they have a wonderful flavor but you can use them in so many ways.

Their strangely tropical characteristics pair nicely with many spices, such as cinnamon and cardamom. With a little imagination, cakes, cookies, pies and even some ‘persimmon brioche’ can be made from the persimmon fruit.

In reading about this fruit, I came upon some interesting weather folklore. I’m unsure if its true or not, but it said you can predict winter weather with a persimmon seed.

The first thing was to find a locally grown persimmon, which of course, is not possible for us in our location. You wait to pick and cut into the persimmon after it gets a bit soft … almost mushy. Then you open the fruit and cut open the seed.

Look at the shape of the kernel inside:

  • If the kernel is spoon-shaped, expect plenty of snow to shovel.
  • If it is fork-shaped, plan on a mild winter with powdery, light snow.
  • If the kernel is knife-shaped, expect fridgid winds that will ‘cut’ like a blade.

Interesting!!

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Persimmon & Almond Brioche Buns
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Instructions
Brioche Dough
  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add milk & heat until lukewarm, but not hot. Stir in yeast. Allow yeast mixture to proof for about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar & salt; add both eggs & combine. Add the yeast/milk/butter mixture. Continue to mix until the dough forms a ball & there is no dough sticking to the sides of the bowl.
  3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface & knead well until dough is smooth (about 10 minutes). Form dough into a ball. Grease mixing bowl with butter. Place dough in the bowl, cover & allow to rise until its roughly doubled in size (about 1 hour).
Persimmons
  1. Peel, halve & slice persimmons into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place in a shallow dish with sugar & cardamom; toss gently to evenly coat slices. Set aside.
Cream Cheese Filling
  1. In a bowl, whisk together softened cream cheese with milk. Gradually add in the powdered sugar, beating until mixture is smooth. Add lemon juice & set aside.
Brioche Dough
  1. Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured surface & punch down. Divide it into 12 equal parts. Roll the dough balls into discs 4-5-inches in diameter & about 1/4-inch thick. Place the discs onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with a buttered piece of plastic wrap. & allow the dough to rise again in a draft-free place for about 25 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. When dough has risen, using your fingers, press the center of each disc down, leaving about a 1/2-inch rim. If necessary, you can dip your fingers in egg wash to keep the dough from sticking during this process.
Assembly & Baking
  1. Spread about a teaspoon of the cream cheese filling in a thin layer in the depression of each disc. Press some persimmon slices in the center over the cream cheese. Brush the outer edges of the discs with egg wash mixture. Place buns in the oven & bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven & transfer to a wire rack, keeping them on the parchment paper.
  2. Combine the apricot jam & warm water. Microwave to thin the jam to a liquid consistency. Brush buns LIGHTLY with glaze & garnish with almond slices & pearl sugar.

Creamy Bacon Fish Pie w/ Potato Topping

This English classic originated in small fishing villages as a way of using up the surplus catch. After poaching, baking then adding cream sauce and potatoes, the quality and the cut of fish used really doesn’t matter.

Like its cousin, the shepherd’s pie, fish pie is a comforting, homey affair of savory stew, topped with cheese laden mashed potatoes.

Traditional fish pie makes use of white fish such as cod, haddock and halibut. However, salmon and prawns can also be used. Vegetables such as mushrooms and leeks will help to make the pie even tastier.

I found, adding bacon to the filling made it a really flavorful meal. You know that expression ….. ‘bacon makes things better’!

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Creamy Bacon Fish Pie w/ Potato Topping
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a casserole dish or individual ramekins; set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, sauté bacon until partially cooked then add leeks & mushrooms. Sauté, while stirring until leeks & mushrooms are cooked. Remove from saucepan & set aside. Wipe out saucepan with paper towel. Melt butter; add flour & cook until mixture bubbles & thickens. Gradually stir in chicken broth, milk & grated Parmesan cheese. Stir over heat until mixture boils & thickens. Season to taste; add fish & steamed broccoli along with bacon mixture. Gently stir until combined & heated thru.
  3. Spoon into casserole dish or divide between ramekins. Top with cooked, mashed potato & sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake uncovered, about 25 minutes or until browned lightly.

Caramel Pear Pudding Cake

The fall season seems to orchestrate a return to the kitchen, to lure us who enjoy to cook, back to the stove. With the cooler days and nights, heating up the oven to cook or bake becomes conceivable once more.

Like many baked desserts, the self-saucing pudding is a combination of mystery and chemistry. In the baking process, the flour/baking powder, rises to the top and the heavier sauce falls to the bottom.

Not quite a pudding and not exactly a cake, self saucing pudding has a souffle-like quality. It’s origins are unclear, but there is evidence that the concept of pouring hot water (or sauce) over the cake before baking to partially steam it as it bakes may be an Australian innovation.

It really doesn’t matter where the concept came from. What matters is that it works brilliantly to create a dessert with lightness and richness all in one pan. A simple dollop of whip cream on the top and there you have it … home baked goodness!

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Caramel Pear Pudding Cake
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Caramel Sauce
Pudding
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Caramel Sauce
Pudding
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Instructions
Caramel Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water & butter; bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover & set aside.
Pudding
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter 4 oven-proof custard dishes ( 1 1/4 cup capacity) & place on a baking sheet. Place half of a pear in each dish.
  2. In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, butter, spices, milk & vanilla; mix well. Spread the mixture evenly over pear halves in dishes. Sprinkle batter with pecans. Carefully pour HOT caramel sauce over pudding batter in custard cups.
  3. Bake for about 25 minutes or until puddings are firm. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.

Parmesan Baked Scallops over Egg Noodles

Whether broiled, fried, baked or pan-seared, fresh, wild-caught scallops are an excellent stand-alone dish or will compliment a salad or pasta with their sweet flavor and delicate texture.

Sea scallops are widely known for their iconic, beautiful shape …. a fan-like shell with fluted grooves. Different varieties are found in oceans all over the world and come in many sizes. For commercial purposes they are labeled similar to shrimp. A number is used to designate how many scallops of a given size it would take to constitute a pound. The label 20/30 means it would take 20/30 scallops to make up a pound and labels like U10 means it would take less than (‘under’) 10 to make a pound.

Scallops are bivalve mollusks (meaning having 2 shells- usually united by a hinge) that have a reddish-pink, upper shell and white or cream colored, lower shell.

Brion & I love seafood so this meal definitely works for us.

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Parmesan Baked Scallops over Egg Noodles
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Instructions
Gouda Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, melt butter; whisk in flour & cook, stirring until frothy. Add milk, whisking until sauce comes to a boil & starts to thicken. Add cheese & spices & continue to cook a few more minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; set aside.
Parmesan Scallops
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. In a 9-inch square baking dish, melt butter & toss scallops in it. In a bowl, combine next 5 ingredients & sprinkle over scallops. Gently stir to spread them out in one layer. Bake about 15-20 minutes.
Egg Noodles
  1. In a pot of salted, boiling water cook egg noodles until al dente. Drain. Reheat sauce & combine with pasta. Divide between two serving plates & top each with baked scallops.

Banana Cheesecake Bites

Seriously!! I find it hard to believe we have reached September 1st already. Not that I don’t love the fall colors coming up but …..

What’s not to love about the traditional baked cheesecakes but the no-bake variety does have its own merits. Not only do you skip the long baking time, but you also get a smooth, creamy texture. Just a few ingredients and a little mixer time and you’re done. Chill and serve!

Cheesecake is always a crowd-pleaser, its even been called the perfect dessert by some. This recipe adds a nice bit of spice which stems from its gingersnap cookie crust and the creaminess definitely comes from the pudding/cream cheese filling combo.

Brion & I thought these ‘bites’ tasted the best when the cheesecakes came directly from the freezer then top them with the fresh bananas, caramel & whipped cream. Of course, that means they are available at any given time!!

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Banana Cheesecake Bites
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Gingersnap Crust
Caramel Sauce
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Gingersnap Crust
Caramel Sauce
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Instructions
Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a bowl, combine gingersnap crumbs & pecans. Drizzle in melted butter & mix well. Press crumb mixture into 24 cheesecake mini cup pans. Bake for 7 minutes or until light brown, cool completely. You can skip the baking step if you wish.
Filling
  1. In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy & no lumps remain. Add sugar & beat until combined. Add heavy cream & vanilla & beat until medium-stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together pudding mix & milk. Let pudding stand for 3 minutes in the fridge until thickened. Fold into cheesecake mixture until combined.
  3. Fill each of the 24 cups & smooth the tops. At this point you can either refrigerate until very firm (at least 6 hours) or freeze. Once they are firm, remove from pans to serving plates & add banana slices, caramel drizzle, whipped topping & a cherry. Or freeze, remove from pans & store in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to garnish & serve.
Caramel Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, bring brown sugar, butter & milk to a gentle boil & cook until thickened, 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat; add rum extract.
Recipe Notes
  • The newspaper ad at the bottom of the blog was from the fifties when this idea for a pudding cheesecake was created.

Nectarine Custard Tart

A nectarine is a variant of a peach …. one genetic step away and fuzz-less. White nectarines were the only kind available up until 1942, when a white one was crossed with a peach resulting in a yellow/red nectarine.

Just like peaches, both have similar sugar levels. However, white nectarines taste sweeter because they have less acid than the yellow varieties. Probably the most reliable way to pick a good-tasting nectarine is by its strong, sweet aroma. Traditional peach pies and cobblers can easily be interchanged with nectarines. Their firmer flesh softens when cooked but still holds its shape and leaving the skin on not only saves time but improves the flavor.

When nectarines are in season, I hate to miss out on the chance to incorporate them into whatever I can. To avoid getting into any long detailed procedures today, I’m going with this custard tart. It meets all requirements …. pre-fab pastry, egg-less custard and some of those wonderful nectarines, not to mention the bonus of how pretty it looks.

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Nectarine Custard Pie
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut six 1-inch wide strips of dough from the sheet of puff pastry (best to cut one from the top, one from the bottom & four from the side). Place a large (9 x 2-inch) pie plate on the uncut area of dough, trace a circle around it with a knife. Place the round piece of dough in the pie plate. Place in refrigerator until ready to assemble & bake.
  2. In a saucepan, whisk together milk, sugar, cornstarch, salt & vanilla. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the mixture is hot, lower the heat to medium-low to prevent the bottom from burning. Continue cooking until mixture thickens. Remove from heat & cool. When cooled, spread the pudding over puff pastry using a spoon to smooth it out.
  3. Halve nectarines, remove the pits & cut in even slices. Place the nectarine slices in the pudding cream, starting at outer edge, slightly overlapping, & working your way in.
  4. Take the 6 strips of dough from beginning & lay them in between the nectarine ring layers until the design is complete. Take the last dough strip, roll it up & place it directly in the center of the pie dish.
  5. Brush the puff pastry with egg wash. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden. If you wish, brush apricot preserve over tart while it is still warm.

Zucchini Omelette Roll w/ Chicken & Cheese

The best quality of an omelet is its versatility. Not all omelet recipes are made in a pan & rolled, you can bake and fill them, much the same as you would a cake roll.

Every country has its own combination of ingredients and flavors. Your probably familiar with many of these omelet creations such as Western, Coastal, BBQ, Veggie, Greek, Arizona, Mediterranean, Creole, Lorraine & Spanish.

This recipe makes an easy alternative to the traditional omelet. The eggs bake in the oven so you don’t have to keep a constant eye on them like an omelet made in a pan. A perfect choice for a hardy main dish entree.

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Zucchini Omelette Roll w/ Chicken & Cheese
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Cut zucchini into thin slices & lightly salt. If zucchini is quite 'wet', dry on paper towel.
  3. Line a baking sheet pan with parchment paper, grease it lightly with olive oil or cooking spray. Arrange zucchini slices in rows.
  4. In a bowl & using a hand mixer, whisk eggs, salt & pepper, baking powder & 2 Tbsp milk. Pour egg mixture over zucchini slices & bake for 10 minutes.
  5. In a saucepan, melt butter & add red onion & garlic; cook until JUST tender. Add chicken & cook for about 5-8 minutes. Stir in the flour; cook briefly, add chicken broth & cream; bring to a simmer. Add sour cream & salt & pepper to taste; mix well.
  6. Adjust oven to 325 F. Remove the omelet from baking sheet, leaving parchment paper on it. Sprinkle cheese over the zucchini omelet then spread with creamed chicken to within 1/2-inch from edges. Roll up zucchini omelet, removing the parchment paper & bake for 15 minutes.

Fresh Strawberries w/ Hot Fudge Sauce

Although, this is a fruit we can buy all year-round, strawberries are synonymous with summer. In the 1960’s, the chocolate fondue was invented by Konrad Egli of the Swiss Chalet Restaurant in the USA. He came up with the idea as a way to encourage customers to buy dessert. This idea has since faded into the background of the dessert scene but doesn’t mean its not fair game for an update.

For anyone who is a chocoholic, there are just so many sweet things up can dip into chocolate sauce from fruit to chunks of cake or cookies.

Individual desserts add such a elegant, personal touch. These little ceramic, ‘amuse busch’ dishes are normally used for a small delicacy that is served to let you experience a taste of what is coming in the main course. In this case, its a little something to have after dinner.

If you are interested in getting a few of these ‘spoons’, I found them at a T&T Supermarket for about $1.85 each. So cute, inexpensive & a must have for a special occasion.

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Fresh Strawberries w/ Hot Fudge Sauce
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Instructions
  1. Place the chocolate in a medium-sized heatproof bowl & set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugar & butter; place over medium heat & bring JUST to a simmer, stirring often.
  3. Remove from heat & pour immediately over chocolate. Let stand until the chocolate has melted, then stir gently until smooth.
  4. Whisk in vanilla & the liqueur (if using). Place some of the hot fudge sauce in each of the ceramic amuse busch dishes & top with a fresh strawberry.

Beggar’s Purse Crepes w/ Gorgonzola Sauce

Today July 25th, is my dear sister Loretta’s birthday. Having an older sister is a very unique experience that not everyone can truly know about. We are all products of our environment, and even if we are completely unaware of it, having that ‘big sis, little sis’ dynamic as you grew up, was a huge influence.

I remember how much I enjoyed being with Loretta and doing things together. She always seemed to have the answer to the ‘question’ and was just so much fun to be with.

Since Loretta was the ‘older’ one, she was expected to be more responsible and set an example, leaving me more lee-way to be a bit of a ‘dreamer’ at times. I have always valued Loretta’s advice and honest opinions. I am truly grateful to have her in our lives.

Although Loretta can’t be with us today, I think she would enjoy these little seafood crepes.

Crepes, whether they are rolled or stacked, sweet or savory make such a special meal. I remember some years ago, Brion & I had the pleasure of Loretta’s company on a trip to France. One of the first foods we enjoyed in France was crepes. They definitely made a lasting memory for the three of us.

Today, I wanted to do something a bit different. Sometimes, the name of a dish is simply inspired by its appearance. Such is the case of the crepes called ‘Beggar’s Purse’. The traditional dish consists of mini crepes topped with a good serving of high quality caviar and a dollop of sour cream. The edges of the crepe are pulled up into pleats and tied with a bow of chives. The resulting little bag looked like a purse.

Since then, the dish has been cloned thousands of times and the name beggar’s purse has become a somewhat generic term applied to dishes with various toppings tied in a similar way to resemble a purse. In addition to crepes, phyllo pastry, wonton wrappers or tortillas are used.

In North America, the beggar’s purse, reportedly derived from the French ‘aumoniere‘ pastry, has gilded origins. The dish became popular in the 1980’s. Aumoniere is a type of pastry but it also a medieval term for a small purse or pouch generally used in the 13th & 14th centuries. These purses were often embroidered.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LORETTA!

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Seafood Crepes w/ Gorgonzola Sauce
Instructions
Crepe Batter (yields 12-8" crepes)
  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine flour & salt. Add eggs, melted (cool) butter & milk; whisk to incorporate then add the water. Continue whisking until smooth then fold in chopped chives. Batter should coat the back of a spoon like heavy cream, but if it is too thick, add a bit more water or milk. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours (or up to 2 days).
Scallop Filling
  1. In a saucepan, saute mushrooms until moisture evaporates. In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce & cornstarch; add prepared scallops, ginger, garlic, green onion, cilantro & water chestnuts, mix together. Stir mixture into sauteed mushrooms & cook only until scallops are translucent. Set aside to cool until ready to use.
Gorgonzola Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add garlic & rosemary (if using); cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle in the flour & stir to make a paste. Whisk in milk & 1/2 & 1/2 cream. Stir & cook for 3-4 minutes or until thick. Add crumbled Gorgonzola, stir until smooth & season with pepper if desired.
Blanche Whole Chives
  1. Blanche chives in a small saucepan of boiling water 10 seconds. Drain & plunge into an 'ice bath'. Pat dry on paper towels.
Cooking Crepes
  1. Heat the clarified butter (oil or cooking spray) in a crepe pan or skillet. Remove crepe batter from fridge & before you use any , give it a quick tap on the counter. Place 1/4 cup of the batter into the pan & swirl to even it out & form a circle. When the edges start to pull away & the crepe looks cooked in the middle, give the crepe a quick flip & cook for just 10-20 seconds on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter.
Assembly
  1. Divide scallop filling between the 12 crepes, placing a portion of mixture in the center of each crepe. Gather the sides up to enclose the filling, secure with a toothpick & tie closed with a chive. Remove the toothpick.
  2. On serving plates, ladle some Gorgonzola sauce. Place 3 'beggar's purses' (per serving plate) on top the sauce. At this point, you may want to give each plate 30 seconds of heat in the microwave.
Recipe Notes
  • These little 'purses' can be served as appetizers or a main dish of 3-4 per serving.