Stuffed Chicken Leg Quarters

The versatility of chicken, as well as the ease and speed with which it can be cooked make it one of the most popular meats around.

Chicken leg quarters, also referred to as whole chicken legs, consist of both the thigh and drumstick. This cut is sold bone-in/skin-on and for most part, quite economical. Because they are dark meat and many people prefer white meat, chicken legs are often over looked by the consumer.

I like to purchase these with six fresh leg quarters to the package. Usually you will find a bit of extra fat on them which needs to be trimmed as well as the backbone rinsed out. Freezing them in a meal size portions makes it so handy when ready to use.

Roasting them in a real slow oven temperature with just a little oil, salt & pepper always produces tasty results. After they have baked for an hour you can always turn up the temperature for a few minutes to crisp the skin if you wish.

Today, I thought it would be nice to do something a bit more special. Stuffing them with a veggie-cheese mixture not only tastes great but they had a nice visual effect on our plates.

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Stuffed Chicken Leg Quarters
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, melt butter, add onion & peppers; saute until tender crisp. Add grated zucchini, continue to cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat & place in a bowl. Add breadcrumbs, egg, salt, pepper & cheese. Refrigerate until cold.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Using fingers, loosen skin on chicken legs. Spoon some filling into each chicken leg working the stuffing down the drumstick. Combine the 2 Tbsp melted butter, dry mustard & Dijon mustard together & brush over chicken. Place the chicken in a shallow baking dish & bake for about 45 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from oven & serve.

Chicken Parmigiana with Basil Sauce

From what I understand, the global dish called chicken parmigiana is a variation on the Italian entree known as eggplant parmigiana. Simply put, you deep fry eggplant, add cheese and tomato sauce and bake it. At some point in time, various regions in the world with large Italian immigrant populations, realized chicken would be an excellent alternative to the eggplant and chicken parmigiana evolved.

In America, the dish became popular around 1958. Often the name has been simplified to just ‘chicken parm‘. Usually composed of fried or breaded chicken fillets, smothered in mozzarella (or provolone), parmesan and tomato sauce all of which is then baked. Another version is using veal instead of chicken. Parmigiana is traditionally served over hot pasta as the main entree but it has also become a sandwich filling favored in subs, hoagies, etc.

In today’s recipe, I’m using parmesan cheese but omitting the mozzarella-tomato sauce. I wanted to accent the flavor with fresh basil in the sauce instead. We quite enjoyed it.

Print Recipe
Chicken Parmigiana with Basil Sauce
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
Chicken
  1. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, cheese & parsley. Chop bacon finely & fry until crisp; drain. Add bacon to breadcrumb mixture.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a saucepan, melt butter, add minced garlic, Worcestershire sauce & dry mustard. Mix well. Dip chicken fillets in butter mixture & place in a shallow ovenproof dish. Press crumb mixture on top of each fillet.
  3. Bake, uncovered for 20 - 25 minutes.
Basil Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, combine oil, vinegar, minced garlic, finely chopped basil leaves & cream; stir until heated through. Add egg yolk & stir until sauce thickens. Do not boil. Season with salt & pepper. Serve over chicken parmigiana.

Mashed Potato-Meat Cups with Cheese ‘Gravy’

There is no one way to create ‘meatloaf’ and it is precisely this capacity for re-invention that has allowed meatloaf to maintain a continued place on our dinner tables. The limitations for the iconic dish are none. The criteria is ground meat primarily and whether it is beef, pork, chicken, turkey or a blend of, doesn’t matter. The meat must be cut with a filler or the loaf becomes to dense. Bread crumbs, oatmeal, crackers, Japanese panko crumbs, rice, minced vegetables are all good choices. Egg and/or dairy of some kind is essential to bind and moisten. Seasoning is definitely a personal choice. The loaf shape is classic but the top can be glazed, sauced, as is, or baked with strips of bacon over it.

At one time, trying to find a casual restaurant that didn’t serve meatloaf would have been like an Italian one that didn’t serve pasta. Some believe meatloaf was born during the Depression of the 1930’s. To stretch the small amounts of meat people had, it was ground and mixed with stale bread crumbs. At times, these loaves actually contained more ‘loaf’ than meat.

Whether you love meatloaf or hate it, the fact that it is still around after all these years is incredible. Today’s entree puts another spin on this old classic. This a recipe that was published in a  Better Homes & Gardens  magazine in the 70’s. Interesting!


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Mashed Potato-Meat Cups with Cheese 'Gravy'

Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, German

Servings


Ingredients
Meat Cups

Mashed Potatoes

Cheese Sauce

Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, German

Servings


Ingredients
Meat Cups

Mashed Potatoes

Cheese Sauce


Instructions
Meat Cups
  1. In a skillet, heat oil & saute onions & garlic until translucent. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, Parmesan, parsley, cooled onions & garlic, egg, breadcrumbs & milk. Combine well.

  2. On 4 squares of waxed paper, shape into 4 patties with a 5-inch diameter. Shape each over an inverted custard cup; discard paper. Chill about an hour.

Mashed Potatoes
  1. Peel & cook potatoes. In a large bowl, combine cooked potatoes, butter, seasonings, Parmesan & a splash of milk. Mash & add more milk gradually until potatoes are desired texture.

Cheese Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, melt butter; whisk in flour, salt & pepper until smooth. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil; cook & stir while adding cheddar cheese. Cook, stirring constantly until thickened. Cook frozen peas.

Baking & Serving
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Place inverted meat cups on a shallow baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes or until meat is cooked. Lift baked meat cups from custard cups & turn upright; fill with mashed potatoes. Place on serving plates, spoon cheese sauce over filled meat cups & top with green peas.

Savoring Greece

January is kind of a different month — all the holiday hoopla is done for another year, in our part of the country its fairly cold, bringing on the winter ‘blaas’. I have numerous friends that say they find themselves feeling a bit ‘down’ at this time. That being said, It seemed the perfect time to be a ‘mental traveler”. I’d like to share an experience Brion & I had which was totally amazing.

Your day begins in central Greece. A misty fog blankets the Kalambaka Valley as the tour takes you to your morning destination.

Here, in the shadow of the Pindus Mountains and just beyond the town of Kalambaka, massive gray colored pinnacles rise out of the valley towards the sky. Over thousands of years, this landscape has been sculpted by wind and water into a strange and breathtaking sight. Perched miraculously on the tops of these pinnacles are monasteries. The area is called  METEORA   and literally means ‘columns in the sky’.

The sandstone peaks were first inhabited by Byzantine hermits in the 11th century, who clamored up the rocks to be alone with God. Though it is unknown how the first hermits reached the tops of these vertical rock faces, it is likely that pegs were hammered into tiny gaps in the rocks. Around 1382 the first monastery was built. By the 1500’s, 24 monasteries were built on these sheer cliffs, but by the 19th century most had fallen to ruin.

Because there were no steps, the main access to the monasteries was by means of a net that was hitched over a hook and hoisted up by rope and a hand cranked windlass to winch towers over hanging the chasm. Monks descended in nets or on a retractable rope ladders up to 40 meters long to the fertile valley below to grow grapes, corn and potatoes.

The natural rock buildings blend so evenly with the scenery, they are hard to spot at first. Only the red tile roofs give them away. Centuries of weather have caused natural streaking of the rock which acts as a camouflage. In the 1920’s, roads, pathways and stairs were built to make today’s remaining six monasteries more accessible as they are now largely dependent on tourist donations.

Inside the walls of these monasteries, life goes on as it has for more than 900 years. Wine is still made in giant oak vats where the monks climb in with bare feet to crush grapes. Most of the carpentry and masonry tools are hand made in the same style as their ancestors. Terracotta pots/bowls are fired by hand pumped bellows on a furnace. Traditional icons are painted using hand ground pigments bonded with egg yolk to make tempera paint that was common in the middle ages.

Among the existing monasteries is a convent called Saint Stephen’s that was built in 1798. The occupying nuns are courteous and friendly, but no visitor gets past them with bare shoulders or knees. Novices holding piles of blue aprons and capes meet the visitors at the gate. Anyone not meeting the exacting dress code must don the local sackcloth or be turned away.

To experience this rare geographical phenomenon is something you will not forget easily. If you have the opportunity be sure to take it. In the meantime I hope you have enjoyed this mental journey I have taken you on.

Now, in keeping with the food part of the blog, I made a savory  GREEK SPANAKOPITA PASTA  meal. Easy, quick and tasty.

Print Recipe
Savory Greek Spanakopita Pasta
Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine Greek
Servings
Ingredients
Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine Greek
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
Pasta
  1. Cook pasta in salted boiling water 8-10 minutes, until al dente. Drain & set aside.
Cheese Sauce
  1. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk until hot but not boiling. Combine flour & butter in another saucepan. Whisk until the mixture has gently bubbled for 2 minutes, being careful not to brown the flour.
  2. Begin to add the hot milk to the flour mixture a little at a time while whisking vigorously. Continue to add the milk until it is fully incorporated. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring constantly, until it thickens, 6-8 minutes ( it will resemble heavy cream). Crumble the feta cheese & add to hot sauce, whisking until smooth. Add dill & pepper; stir. Remove from heat & let cool.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F. Squeeze water from frozen, thawed spinach. Toss the pasta, cheese sauce, spinach, ricotta & garlic in a large bowl until well combined. Taste to see if any more salt & pepper is needed.
  4. Place in a casserole dish & top with Parmesan Cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until cheese browns a little.
Recipe Notes
  • If you prefer to make this a day ahead of baking, cover well & refrigerate.
  • If you do not care for feta cheese you can substitute 285 grams of either Gorgonzola or mozzarella in place of the 140 grams of feta.

French Crepes in Paris, France

Today, July 25th, we celebrate my sister Loretta’s birthday.

                  ‘To have a sister like you is like finding a treasure in ones life’.                                                          ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LORETTA’, you deserve all the best!’

In the fall of 2001, Brion & I, joined by Loretta, made our first trip to Europe. Before that our holidays had pretty much been in the USA. This was a whole new learning curve that has forever changed the meaning of travel for us. Our destination was France, starting out in Paris, then renting a car and driving to the west coast then on down through southern France.

The hotel we were staying at in Paris looked out over a ‘pedestrian only’ street. When we arrived it was evening and the street was dark and pretty much deserted. The next morning we heard a lot of hustle-bustle in the street below. When we looked out, the sight was just incredible! The street was lined with shops which were now open for business. It was the most beautiful sight to look down on with all its colors and activity. During the next few days we enjoyed everything Paris  to the fullest.

Down from our hotel we came upon a little street vendor selling crepes of all things. The taste was amazing! Fifteen years later, they have joined our ‘taste of a memory’ food list, knowing that so much of it was time & place.

Crepes are such a great meal. Simple to make with so many options whether it is a savory or sweet version. One of our favorite savory choices is a Seafood Crepe,  which I feature in my ebook, ‘LIVING LARGE ON A LEAN FOOD BUDGET’. For a sweet treat, you might enjoy to try these Strawberry-Citrus Crepes.

Print Recipe
French Crepes
Crepe batters can be stored in the fridge for a day ---- cooked crepes in the freezer.
Servings
Ingredients
Basic Crepe Batter
Parmesan Herb Crepe; add to ingredients of Basic Crepe batter
Chocolate Dessert Crepe; add toingredients of Basic Crepe batter
Basic Dessert Crepe; decrease milk in Basic Crepe to 1 1/3 cups & add the following
Gouda Sauce for Seafood Crepes
Strawberry-Citrus Filling
Servings
Ingredients
Basic Crepe Batter
Parmesan Herb Crepe; add to ingredients of Basic Crepe batter
Chocolate Dessert Crepe; add toingredients of Basic Crepe batter
Basic Dessert Crepe; decrease milk in Basic Crepe to 1 1/3 cups & add the following
Gouda Sauce for Seafood Crepes
Strawberry-Citrus Filling
Instructions
Crepes
  1. Place all ingredients in blender; whirl for 1 minute at high speed. Scrape down sides, whirl for another 15 seconds. Pour into a bowl & cover; refrigerate 1 hour. Heat a non-stick griddle to 350 F. Measure about 3 Tbsp of batter per crepe onto griddle. With back of spoon form batter into an 8-inch circle. Cook until golden on each side then lay on a wire rack to cool.
Gouda Crepe Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, melt margarine; sprinkle with flour & seasonings. Mix well; add milk & broth, stirring until sauce becomes thickened. Add cheese & blend.
Seafood Filling
  1. In a large skillet, saute zucchini, onion & garlic in oil for several minutes. Add mushrooms, green pepper & water chestnuts; cook 1 more minute. Combine ginger, soy sauce & water in a cup; add to vegetable mixture along with seafood. Gently stir fry ONLY until seafood is cooked. Reserve 1/2 cup Gouda sauce & add the rest to mixture.
  2. Divide filling between crepes; roll crepes & place on serving plates. Spoon remaining sauce over each of the filled crepes. Place each meal in microwave (covered) for 15 - 20 seconds on high. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds if desired. Serve immediately.
Strawberry-Citrus Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, combine water, cornstarch, lemon juice, orange juice & sugar; blend well. Over medium heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly until mixture thickens & becomes clear. Remove from heat & set aside to cool. Slice strawberries either by hand or using an egg slicer. In a small dish, combine yogurt & honey.
  2. In a large bowl, gently fold about 1 1/2 cups citrus glaze together with sliced strawberries (I used about 3 large strawberries per crepe). Lay 12 crepes on work surface & place equal amounts of strawberry/glaze mixture on one half of each crepe. Fold over opposite side then fold in half again. Place 3 crepes on each of four serving plates. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired. Serve Honey/Yogurt on the side as well as any extra citrus sauce you have left from filling.
Recipe Notes
  • I have been making crepes for a long time but have never bothered to buy a 'crepe' pan to cook them in. A non-stick griddle has always worked great for me.  Using a 1/4 measuring cup, first to pour a circle of batter on the griddle then with the bottom of it, keep enlarging the crepe to the size you want.
  • Being able to make all your crepe ingredients the day before then putting it all together on the day served is such a bonus.

Chicken Wing Drummettes

Chicken wings — versatile, affordable and one of North America’s most  undisputed favorite ‘finger foods’. Even if they are classed as an appetizer, there is no problem fitting them in as the main course of a meal. The thing I like about them is how many different flavors you can give them. Gone are the days when everything had to be deep fried to taste good. Whether you prefer to barbecue them outdoors or bake in the oven, ‘wings’ taste great!

It seems like the grocery store meat counters have endless amounts of chicken wings in stock at this time. Of course, like most things nowadays, you have your choice — full wings, wing drumettes, wing tips and split wings. Good grief, we are so spoiled for choice! Then we go to cook them and there is more choice.

When I needed to make some of these tasty little morsels for company ‘finger food’ gatherings three of my favorites were ‘Parmesan’, ‘Rosemary’ and ‘Savory’ wings. I hope you enjoy them as well.

Print Recipe
Chicken Wing Drummettes
Make everyone happy -- make some of all three kinds!
Servings
per recipe
Ingredients
Parmesan Wings
Rosemary wings
Servings
per recipe
Ingredients
Parmesan Wings
Rosemary wings
Instructions
Parmesan wings
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 11 x 17 x 1-inch baking pan with foil. Place a 10 x 18-inch wire (cooling) rack on top. Combine parmesan cheese, parsley & spices in a large resealable plastic bag. Dip each chicken drumette in melted butter. Place a few in the bag at a time. Toss to coat evenly. Arrange drumettes in a single layer on wire rack. Bake uncovered for 45-55 minutes or until cooked.
Rosemary wings
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 11 x 17 x 1-inch pan with foil; spray foil with baking spray. In a resealable plastic bag, combine oil & spices. Add chicken; toss to coat evenly. Place drumettes on prepared pan. Bake for about 45 minutes or until cooked.
Savory wings
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 11 x 17 x 1-inch baking pan with foil. Place a 10 x 18-inch wire (cooling) rack on top. Combine bread crumbs & seasoning mix in a large resealable plastic bag. Dip each chicken drumette in melted butter. Place a few in the bag at a time. Toss to coat evenly. Arrange drumettes in a single layer on wire rack. Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes or until cooked.
Recipe Notes
  • Whenever I have made wings, I prepared them to baking point early on in the day and popped them in the oven just prior to serving time.