Sunday, September 7, 2014

Skillet Oven-Fried Chicken

I have been using my iron skillet a lot more lately and I am in love!
I don't know why I have been so scared to use them.
Now I firmly believe every home should have at least one.
They aren't hard to take care of the the way that they cook just cannot be replicated by anything else.
I didn't know what to make the other night for dinner, and I haven't used my iron skillets in the oven yet, so I figured I'd give it a whirl and see how it went.
Well, it was amazing.

I seasoned some panko bread crumbs, coated some chicken drumsticks and let them fry up in the oven.
They did NOT disappoint!
The meat was full of flavor.
The outside was crispy.
They were still juicy.
They were absolutely wonderful and I could probably put this on a weekly menu and we wouldn't get tired of them
I suggest you try making them ASAP.
If you don't have an iron skillet, any oven-proof skillet would do, or just a baking dish. You just won't get that seared iron skillet flavor!

Skillet Oven-Fried Chicken

by Emily Chhouy

Prep Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 45 min

Ingredients (8-12 drumsticks)

  • 8-12 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Olive or canola oil


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Whisk the egg with 1 tablespoon of water in a shallow bowl.

Combine the panko crumbs and seasonings together in another shallow bowl.

Melt the butter in the iron skillet and keep over a low heat.

Drip each drumstick in the egg wash and then the panko mixture.

Press the crumbs firmly onto each piece of chicken.

Place in the skillet.

Repeat with each piece of chicken.

Drizzle each drumstick with the olive oil or canola oil lightly.

Place the skillet in the oven and let bake for 20 minutes.

Flip each piece of chicken oven and continue cooking for another 20-25 minutes, or until browned crisp and the juices run clear.

Drain slightly on paper towels before serving, if desired.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie

Yesterday was my hub's 31st birthday.
It was Labor Day and he had to work his usual 12-hour shift :( Total bummer!
So my daughter and I spent the day cleaning out her room, reading books and just snuggling up.
It was great!
We discussed what kind of cake to make for her dad, and he told us he wanted chocolate chip cookies.
So, what does one do with that?
Make a giant chocolate chip cookie, of course!

Since his birthday is close to the kick-off of the NFL season, we decided to make some Seattle Seahawks colored frosting to  spruce up the cookie a bit!
We made just vanilla buttercream and applied it only around the top outside edge and to write on (as you can obviously see) because I didn't want to cover up the taste of the cookie and turn it into a cake. 
The purpose was a giant cookie...and it was delicious!

Nothing is better than pairing a giant cookie with a beer :) 
Our daughter had to pose with the cake also!
She was upset that we didn't put 31 candles on it. I told her it would catch fire ;)
I baked the cookie in a 8" cake pan, and it was about an inch thick.
Don't over bake it because it will be hard and dry. So treat it like a cake while baking, and insert a toothpick in the center when the top is all puffed up to make sure that it doesn't come out doughy. 

I found this recipe at, but you could use any of your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes!

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Ingredients (8" cake)
    For the Giant Cookie
    • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 2 cups flour
    • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I use sea salt)
    • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
    For the Buttercream
    • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
    • 1/4 cup milk
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    For the Giant Cookie
    Cream together the butter and sugars.
    Add the egg and vanilla.
    Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt together and add slowly to the creamed butter mixture.
    Mix in the chocolate chips and continue mixing until just combined.
    Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    Prepare 8" baking pan with shortening and flour.
    Press the cookie dough evenly into the pan.
    As thick as you make it will be the ending result*
    Bake for 20 minutes, or until cookie is puffed up and no longer looks doughy - insert toothpick in center and make sure it comes out clean.
    Don't over bake.
    Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
    Then, remove from the pan and let cool completely on a cooling rack before frosting.
    For the Buttercream
    Cream the butter until fluffy.
    Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk slowly until it reaches your desired consistency.
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    Thursday, August 28, 2014

    German Chocolate Cake

    Either you love or hate German Chocolate Cake.
    For me, it is love.
    Coconut, pecans, chocolate frosting...nom nom nom!
    I happen to love the extra caramely/coconutty/pecan frosting a wee bit too the point that I eat the leftovers with a spoon.
    I. Am. So. Ashamed... (not really).

    I mean, look at that photo.
    There is so much delicious glory going on in it, don't you agree?
    The chocolate buttercream.
    The frosting I mentioned above....
    The German chocolate cake itself.
    Did I mention the chocolate buttercream and the coconut/pecan frosting?

    I have tried several German chocolate cake recipes and this one is my favorite. It hasn't let me down the numerous time I have made it.
    Most times people make a chocolate ganache to spread or drizzle over the cake, which you could do.
    But, I love buttercream frosting, so I always whip up a batch of chocolate frosting to encase the cake in with. 
    I don't put in between the layers, which you could do. I just put it on the top and sides, spread the coconut frosting over the top (and in between the layers) and then pipe a border around to hold it all in. 
    The cake is easy to make and it comes together simply.
    I like to cook the coconut/pecan frosting before making the cake, so by the time the cake is baked and cooled, the frosting is also cooled enough to use without having to wait around for it much longer.

    German Chocolate Cake

    by Emily Chhouy
    Prep Time: 30 min
    Cook Time: 35 min
    Ingredients (1 - 8 inch cake)
      For the Frosting
      • 1 cup sugar
      • 1 cup evaporated milk
      • 3 egg yolks
      • 1/4 cup butter
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla
      • 1 1/2 -2 cups sweetened, flaked coconut
      • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
      For the Cake
      • 1/2 cup boiling water
      • 4oz German baking chocolate; broken apart
      • 1 cup butter or margarine
      • 2 cups sugar
      • 4 eggs; separated
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla
      • 2 1/2 cups flour; sifted
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
      For the Buttercream
      • 1 cup butter, softened
      • 1/2 cup cocoa; sifted
      • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
      • 4-5 tablespoons milk
      For the Frosting
      In a saucepan, whisk the sugar and evaporated milk together.
      Add the yolks one at a time, whisking well after each addition.
      Add the butter to the mixture and whisk while cooking over a medium heat until it boils.
      Reduce the heat and let frosting thicken, whisking as needed.
      After the frosting coats the back of a wooden spoon, remove from the heat and add the coconut and pecans.
      Mix well, adding more coconut if wanted to make the frosting as thick as you'd like.
      Set aside to let cool to room temperature.
      For the Cake
      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
      Prepare 2 or 3 - 8" cake pans with shortening and flour.
      Add the chocolate pieces to the boiling water and stir until the chocolate is completely melted; set aside.
      In a mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
      Stir in the separated egg yolks (I crack my eggs over a glass mixing bowl, leaving the whites in the bowl and beat with a hand mixer later) one at a time.
      Beat well.
      Add in the vanilla extract and the chocolate slowly.
      Continue to beat until well combined.
      Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt into a separate bowl.
      Add the sifted flour alternatively to the creamed butter mixture with the buttermilk until all is added and the batter is thoroughly combined.
      Using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until they can hold stiff peaks.
      Fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate batter carefully.
      Pour the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans.
      Bake for 30-40 minutes, depending on how many cake pans you use.
      Remove from oven with a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and invert the cakes to cool on a wire rack.
      For the Buttercream
      Cream together the butter and sifted cocoa powder.
      Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at at time, alternating with a tablespoon of milk in between each addition.
      Keep adding sugar and milk until you reach your desired consistency.
      I like mine a little stiff, so I add more sugar - less milk.
      Cake Assembly
      When everything is cooled, I even out the cakes by slicing across the top of each one with a bread knife (a long, serrated knife will do).
      Then, I make a shallow crater in the top of each cake for the frosting to sit in without oozing out of the sides of the cake.
      Make the crater a bit deeper near the center, and barely cut in at the sides.
      This creates a little "bowl" for it to sit in and nobody even notices it when you are eating the cake.
      Add some of the coconut/pecan frosting to the top of the bottom cake layer and even out to the edges until it is smooth.
      Place the next cake layer on top, repeating again if you made three cake layers.
      Using a spatula, frost the top and sides of the cake with the chocolate buttercream frosting.
      Add a thick layer of the coconut/pecan frosting to the top of the cake, coming out almost to the edge.
      Pipe around the edges of the cake with the buttercream.
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      Let's Get Simple 'round Here!

      Wow. August has kicked my butt.
      With my little one now in kindergarten (I waited until I was back in the car on her first day to break out into the ugly cry) our household routine has been turned upside down!

      Getting her off to school in the morning, picking her up in the afternoon, keeping track of her school work and her dance and gymnastics practices is making me triple-check our calendar every day.
      PLUS I had a big change in my daycare kiddos, so my routine has been all out of whack!
      But...that's OKAY! I can roll with it. Luckily, I am okay with change.
      Change is good.
      Healthy, even!
      With all the change going did make me realize that I have way too much going on within our home, however.
      Suddenly I am feeling...claustrophobic, would be a good term I guess!
      Yeah, we have a smaller house. Just about 1000 sq. feet for family of three. The house itself is comfortable. I don't mind it. It is spacious and we have the room to move freely.
      What is closing in on me is all the STUFF!
      "FREE" THINGS!
      Almost everything that is considered a thing, an extra, a part, broken, worn-out, "just-in-case", don't need, don't ever use, why do we have that? sort of item is getting on my last nerve!

      While reading out of my textbook for my Advanced Creative Writing class, I came across a quote from Billy Collins, "In America, we cannot seem to get enough of what we don't need."

      How true is that?!
      I'm sure we all splurge on something extra that we don't really need.
      For a lot of people it is coffee (Starbucks, anyone) or just eating out in general. Which luckily since I cook and bake a lot, we don't really have that problem.
      Our problem (as in my hubs and I) would be that we just like to have everything.
      I like to have kitchen things and books (lots of books). For him it would be fishing and hunting things.
      For our five-year-old daughter...well it's just having everything as seen on TV and in her friend's bedrooms and toy rooms.

      My daughter is the kicker...she truly only plays with about 5 or 6 toys, the rest her friends play with more than her.
      So we battle a lot about really needing new things for her. It is a struggle.

      What's the point of this post?
      Well, to get my mind set on sharing what is working for me.
      This is a journey I am embarking on.
      Yes, a journey.
      I am hoping a deep PURGE and cleaning of my house will be a life-changing experience for me.
      I already know we have way too much excess stuff.
      We keep things we don't need to keep.
      How do I go about parting with it?
      The things that belonged to my dad, who died when I was 15?
      The things from my childhood that I've kept all these years?
      Every drawing my dear daughter makes for me?
      How do we handle it?????

      I am not wanting to be a minimalist (wow, they are strong people).
      Yet, I do want to be minimal in the amount of things that I keep.
      I am going to use the term SIMPLIFY.
      I am going to simplify my life.
      It all starts with my surroundings. My house. My home. My safe haven. I need it to represent what I want to feel like.
      I feel like it is cluttered because I am that way inside. Does that seem strange?
      I guess I am about to find out!

      Wednesday, August 27, 2014

      Asian Pickles {a cookbook review}

      I chose to review Asian Pickles by Karen Solomon so I would have some trusty kimchi recipes to give a whirl. What I found in this book was not only easy-to-follow pickling recipes, but ways to serve the pickles and little tidbits of information to make me understand why the recipe is good.
      Some of the recipes I don't think I would ever try, just because I don't have the acquired tastes required to enjoy them properly, but most of the book satisfies the fermented food craving my husband so frequently has. 
      Many of the recipes require few ingredients, the steps are easy to follow (even the weighing down process needed for some of the pickling), and none of it is intimidating like I was expecting them all to be!
      So far, I have some garlic pickling (who knew you could do that?) I am beyond ecstatic to give them a whirl in a few more months. Of course I chose to start with something that takes the longest to ferment! Everything can be done within hours or days. Another thing I was not expecting out these recipes!
      I love the variety of foods included, and how Soloman broke down the recipes by region. It always helps to know where the original hails from so you know what to make to serve them with. Or invent new ways to serve them!
      I have stocked up on ingredients and I am going to be making some kimchi soon! I am so excited about the pickled Asian Pears also. Karen Soloman made Asian pickling not so scary! I have watched my husband's family do it without much though to what they are doing, and now thanks to this wonderful guide, I can do the same! The long beans recipe was a surprise, but a happy one! That is also next on my to-pickle list!

      You may purchase this cookbook here!

      I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

      Friday, August 8, 2014

      The Homesick Texan's Family Table {cookbook review}

      Holy jalapeno!
      This cookbook, The Homesick Texan's FamilyTable by Lisa Fain is my new comfort food bible!
      I was so excited about this particular cookbook because almost all of her dishes are made in her trusty iron skillet.
      My grandfather had given me some iron skillets earlier this year before he passed away and I have learned the basics and wasn't sure if I could really cook everything in one. Lisa has shown me the iron skillet way of cooking and it is amazing!
      All of the photographs show the food in all of it's glory and I am slowly ticking my way through the recipes.
      The Dilly Green Beans are almost exactly like my recipe, so I felt confident that I was doing something right if this Texan makes her's the same way.
      The Steak Fingers with the Jalapeno Gravy...YUM! A new favorite at my house!
      Each recipe's story reminds me a lot of my family's favorite recipes and how they were handed through the generations. 
      I love that she cooks with a lot of spice (true Texan there), and that she explains each recipe very well.
      I haven't been left wondering what to do or how to do something. Each step has been broken down nicely.
      The cookbook is beautiful.
      The food is delicious (even all those sweet treats....ummm peach ice cream? Yes please!)
      There isn't enough good things to say about this.
      If you have a big meat eater in your house (I do) and enjoy comfort food (I do) then this belongs on your shelf!

      *I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Blogging for Books.

      You may purchase this awesome cookbook at Amazon by clicking here!

      Tuesday, August 5, 2014

      Chewy Toffee Cookies

      My name is Emily.
      And I officially a cookie-a-holic.
      On Sunday I was just endlessly busy.
      It was one of those days I needed extra hands, more hours in the day, you know those days, right?
      And as I was sitting down at 8pm to double check on my coursework I submitted for the day the hubs (while lying on the couch watching TV) asks me, "you gonna make some cookies or what?"

      I'm not going to lie. 
      For a quick moment...or a long moment...rage shot through my body. 
      I was tired. I just wanted to finish what I was doing and go. to. bed.
      But, I did promise the hubs some cookies over the weekend and I never got around to making them...
      So, I asked what kind he wanted.
      He didn't know.
      I asked our daughter.
      She wanted elaborate sandwich cookies (the peanut butter Nutella ones).
      I wanted something simple that I could mix, drop, and bake.

      I had been craving a good, chewy, toffee cookie for a while and decided to give it a whirl.
      I searched the internet quickly for a good recipe to try and couldn't come up with any that I wanted to try.
      So, I printed off my Chocolate Chip, Pecan & Toffee Chip cookie recipe and adapted it to make it just toffee, more chewy - less crunchy. 
      Total success.
      I only baked one sheet that night and refrigerated the rest of the dough to bake the next morning (totally worth the time in the fridge, so do it if you want - otherwise they are just as good right away).
      The hubs quickly announced that they are delicious.
      Today he was snacking on his baggie he stashed away and told me he would eat them all himself.
      He did. 
      And this is the cookie that made me realize that I totally become a cookie-a-holic. 
      Once I start snacking on one, I just can't stop. 
      I want to eat another.
      And that leads to yet one more...
      Until then, well - I'm ashamed of myself.
      But it tastes so good getting to that point.

      Chewy Toffee Cookies

      by Emily Chhouy
      Prep Time: 10 min
      Cook Time: 8 min
      Ingredients (36 cookies)
      • 1/2 cup butter, softened
      • 1/2 cup shortening
      • 3/4 cup brown sugar
      • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
      • 2 eggs
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla
      • 2 1/2 cups flour
      • 2 teaspoons baking soda
      • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
      • 1 teaspoon salt
      • 1 1/4 cups toffee chips
      Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
      Cream together the butter, shortening, and sugars.
      Add the vanilla extract and the eggs, blending well until fluffy.
      Combine together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt in a separate mixing bowl.
      Slowly add it to the creamed butter mixture.
      Pour in the toffee chips slowly and let continue to mix at a low speed, or by hand, until the dough holds it shape.
      Drop dough by rounded teaspoonful, or using a cookie scoop onto ungreased baking sheets, at least 1 1/2 inches apart.
      Press the tops down lightly to flatten the dough a little.
      Bake for 8 minutes, or until puffed in the center of each cookie and edges are lightly browned.
      Remove from the oven and let cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet.
      The cookies will deflate, then remove cookies from the sheet to cooling racks to let continue cooling completely.
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      Friday, August 1, 2014

      Creamy Cajun Pasta

      Meals that can be tossed together in less than half an hour are pretty much my favorite.
      This is a recipe I bookmarked from and I just haven't ever gotten around to making it. I have heard of Chicken Lazone before, but I haven't had it myself. It reminds me a lot of a popular pasta that the Pioneer Woman has on her blog that is a regular pasta dish at our house. 
      The hubs always claimed that he doesn't like pasta. 
      After a lot of experimenting, I have learned that he doesn't like spaghetti or pastas with runny marinara sauce all over the noodles. 
      So, now that I make these other pasta dishes make my hubby's tummy happy and it makes me happy because I get my noodle fix!

      Anyways, back to the recipe. 
      I made the chicken as directed once and the sauce is what reminded me of the Pioneer Woman's recipe and I knew I needed to make more of the sauce and serve it over a bed of noodles. 
      And to make it about a billion times better I threw in andouille sausage instead of all chicken.
      I also like everything with a bit of a kick to it, so I added some pre-made Cajun seasoning and it was really good. But, cayenne pepper works just as well. Which I learned this last time I made it.
      Total deliciousness overload!
      If you want more of the creamy sauce, simply add more of the heavy cream and let it thicken. Adjust the spices to account for more of the sauce, and you are ready to go.
      This made 4-6 servings, depending on how large your servings are :)

      Creamy Cajun Pasta


      Prep Time: 10 min

      Cook Time: 20 min

      Ingredients (4-6)

      • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts - cut into 1 inch pieces
      • 1 pound andouille sausage - cut into 1 inch pieces
      • 2 teapoons garlic powder
      • 1 teaspoon salt
      • 2 teaspoons chili powder
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
      • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or cajun spice
      • 1/4 cup butter, divided
      • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
      • 16 oz uncooked pasta


      Cook pasta according to package directions.

      Place the cut chicken and sausage in a mixing bowl.

      Sprinkle all the spices over the meat.

      Toss the mixture to coat all the pieces.

      In a hot iron skillet or regular skillet, add half of the butter and let it melt.

      Add the chicken and sausage and let cook until browned on one side, then flip the pieces over to brown the other side.

      Add the heavy whipping cream, reduce heat to a simmer and let thicken.

      Add the remaining butter and stir well until melted.

      When the sauce is as thick as you'd like it, serve it over drained pasta.

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