Cook the Book: Terry’s Jailhouse Chili

There’s a funny thing about True Blood: sometimes I actually care more about the characters in the background than the ones you’re supposed to be tuning in every week for.  Sookie’s latest dramas aren’t ever interesting unless they involve shirtless Eric and/or Alcide; Billith….not even going to go there.  But stick in a little bit of Terry action and I am there.  Terry is never not entertaining.  Even when he’s fighting his PTSD and going crazy over an Ifrit, I still always want to see his face.

(Though he will always hold a place in my heart as Zach.  Gilmores for lyfe.)

It probably has a lot to do with the fact that the rest of the show is so out there and the list of relatable main characters has gotten so short (um.  Sometimes Jessica and Jason, and that’s about it for me) but it’s the guys on the sidelines that make the show seem more down to earth.  Yeah, in the last two seasons Terry and Arlene have dealt with 1) the potential demonic possession of their child, 2) the actual haunting of their child by the tormented ghost of a murdered woman, and 3) that whole business with the Ifrit, but they’ve handled it all like people.  Arlene freaked out, Terry told her to calm down (and then freaked out later), and we all watched and thought that might actually be a reaction to the above situations that a normal person might have had.

And Terry, rest assured that out of all the characters on TB, you’re high on the list of people I would let handle my kids.  Good job, man.

Terry Bellefleur's Jailhouse Chili

Chili, Fritos, and a hairy-armed dude in the background. Sounds about right.

On today’s edition of Cook the Book: True Blood: Terry Bellefleur’s jailhouse chili.  Apparently he made this for the men in his unit overseas, and apparently it’s not the same without the Fritos.  I’ll be taking the intro’s word for it, since Terry’s not really around for me to ask.

Half of this book is pictures and I don't even mind.

Half of this book is pictures and I don’t even mind.

I promise you one of these days I’ll be cooking complicated things again.  One day real soon, honest.  But this is weeknight food, man.  And if Terry wants to help me make food real easy on a Wednesday, I’m going to let him.

Recipe didn't call for peppers.  I didn't listen.

Recipe didn’t call for peppers. I didn’t listen.

Chili is definitely on the perfect weeknight food list: just throw it in a pot and call it a day.

Chili is definitely on the perfect weeknight food list: just throw it in a pot and call it a day.

Salting of the chili was minimal, and with very, very good reason.  See, also, the serving suggestion of this chili:

Salt situation: covered.  Delicious situation: also covered.

Salt situation: covered. Delicious situation: also covered.

Terry’s Jailhouse Chili

Adapted from the True Blood Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 chopped bell peppers
  • 2 chilis, diced
  • 2 15oz cans kidney or cannelini beans
  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes, with their juices
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • cayenne pepper
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • corn chips

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the meat, crumbling with a wooden spoon until you can’t see any more pink.
  2. Add the onions, chilis, and peppers; cook until softened, about eight or ten minutes.
  3. Add the beans, tomatoes, and tomato paste; stir to combine. Season with chili (2 tablespoons for milder, 3 for hotter) and cayenne.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer, uncovered, for an hour and a half. Keep an eye on it and add more liquid if it appears too dry.
  5. Serve hot in bowls with shredded cheddar and crumbled corn chips.

 

Linked up at A Glimpse Inside, 36th Avenue, and the Mandatory Mooch!

May Blog Goals and a Wrap-Up

I’m sorry, but what is time?  I swear to you it was just the beginning of April, like, yesterday.

How.  Time never moved this fast when I was in college, this is making my head spin.

I don’t really have much to wrap up, being as April wound up being the least productive blog-month in the history of ever.  But what I can do is check in on my goals from last month, and make a few for this month.

Hopefully I’ll do better with those.  Gulp.

First, looking back on April’s Goals.

Blog Goals

  • Get back to a more regular posting schedule– 3 per week as an absolute bottom line. Nope.  Didn’t even happen.  Time wasn’t even a thing.
  • Make time to pre-write!  The past two weekends have made this seriously impossible but I need to make it more of a priority.  See above.
  • Mingle more!  I feel like a blog island; commenting on other peoples’ wonderful content should be more of a priority for me.  But again, time– so I just need to prioritize it.  I was barely even on my own blog, let alone anyone else’s.
  • Uh, maybe finish changing my layout, since I started…and never did anything else after that.  Whoops.  I changed my social media icons!  ..and that was about it.

The rest of my goals are a continued story of failure, I’m not even going to touch them.  Let’s just move on and think about how May is going to be about ten trillion times better.

May Blog Goals

  • Post things that I eat.  If I can’t manage a recipe, at least I should tell you when something comes out well.
  • Actually take pictures of things!  How many of April’s cooking conquests would have been posted as successes if I’d had the forethought to take pictures of them in the progress stages.
  • Finish a photochallenge!  I’ll be doing the Fat Mum Slim May photochallenge, and hopefully I’ll make it past day six this time.  I’ll be playing on Instagram if you’d like to follow along!
  • Finish the blog update!

May Food Goals

  • Actually, for real, make new things.  English muffins are on the docket.  Methinks my DIY cookbook will be of great help here.

May Life Goals

  • Eat more vegetables!  It’s spring, so I’m on a fruit kick, which means none of my snacks are vegetables anymore.  And this makes me sad.  
  • Find more time for meeee.  Back to her Roots has a really good series on self-accountability where she checks in on fitness and wellness goals, and one of the problems she had last month was taking care of her self.  I’m taking a leaf from her book with a list of things to do to self-care, because I have likewise been suffering in that area recently.  Grump.
  • Stop raging at Brendon for everything that he does.  Not his fault his parents didn’t teach him how to eat food like a human.  (How do you slurp an apple.  How.)

Wrapping it up with Top Posts of the last 30 days…

Number One: Chicken Cacciatore

Mine!  Mine mine mine!

You guys REALLY liked this shit. Which makes sense; it was REALLY good. Y’all have good taste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number Two: April Goals

The irony is not lost on me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number Three: Subscription Boxes, Food Edition

IMG_0669

Little baby post making it into the top! So proud. But that would probably be because I didn’t do much else, so. Shhp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s all for now, folks.  Cook the book resumes tomorrow with a recipe, and then a very very special Friday Five!  Happy Wednesday, and happier May!

Cook the Book: LaLa’s Gumbo

True story, it’s weirdly hard to find gifs of Lafayette.

Me neither, LaLa.

You have to be weirdly specific, apparently.  For instance, searching “Lafayette tip yo’ waitress gif” gets you this:

Mm. AIDS.

Okay, anyway.  My struggles finding gifs are not the point of this post.  This post is about food, right?  And not at all about how excited I am for the next season of True Blood.  Because that…well.  That’s just kind of a constant.

To kick off my season of Cooking the Books (see also: all the cookbooks I got for my birthday) I cracked the spine on True Blood: Eats, Drinks, and Bites from Bon Temps with Lafayette’s “Gumbo Ya Ya”.

Aka, I made gumbo.  Aw heck yeah.

Lafayette's Louisiana Gumbo

New favorite font? Yes.

I have this idea and granted it may be a very incorrect idea but in my head gumbo is like Louisiana’s answer to chicken soup.  And by “answer”, I really mean something more along the lines of someone in Louisiana once took all the things that are great about chicken soup and decided to make it sassy.  And then added shrimp.

(In my head, this was probably the fault of some long-lost Lafayette ancestor.  Doesn’t even matter that Lafayette is a fictional character.  Don’t crush my dreams.)

A good gumbo has a thick sauce with enough oil to coat your throat and more than enough spice to clear you out.  That sauce should be vegetable-laden, and the whole thing should be something you want to stick your face over for long enough to steam every ounce of bad juju out of you.

That’s what I think, anyway.  And I mean, what do I know?

But whatever.  My gumbo fit all of the above criteria.  It’s a little off from LaLa’s recipe (mostly because we couldn’t find a piece of chicken small enough to thaw in the time we had because we are sometimes airheads) but it was still mighty delicious.

The great part about gumbo (other than the “eating it” part, which I think is pretty inarguably the best) is that all the hard work happens right off the bat.  Yeah, you have to make a roux, and yeah, you have to babysit the shit out of that sucker to make sure it gets dark enough but doesn’t burn.  But after that, gumbo is smoooth sailing.

Making a roux will make you feel a little disgusting at first with the amount of oil you're unabashedly pouring into the pan.  Embrace it.  It gets better.

Making a roux will make you feel a little disgusting at first with the amount of oil you’re unabashedly pouring into the pan. Embrace it. It gets better.

(Roux: pronounced like “rue”.  The basis of many great things, used in French and by default Cajun cooking.  Made from cooking together fat and flour.  Varies in color depending on what you’re making; for a béchamel, you’re going to want a very light roux, but for a gumbo you want that sucker browned.)

Casper, the friendly roux

Pale chocolate milk..

Liquid gold chocolate

Liquid gold chocolate

Once you’ve got your roux situation under control, it’s all easy.  You’ve already got enough oil to cook any/all veg your little heart could desire, so go ahead and dump all that in.

Stir to coat.

Stir to coat.

Except the okra.  The okra has to wait.

Sad okra is sad.

Sad okra is sad.

(Also; yes, I cheated and used frozen okra.  I say again, don’t judge me.)

There’s a few more things that go in here– chicken broth, spices, some sausage, and, if you’re using it, the chicken itself; with about ten minutes to go, add the okra and shrimp if you’re using either of them.

Okay, so LaLa didn't say to use either.  But a, okra, and b, there wasn't really a good deal of protein otherwise unless we DID put the shrimp.

Okay, so LaLa didn’t say to use either. But a, okra, and b, there wasn’t really a good deal of protein otherwise unless we DID put the shrimp.

Again, planning ahead helps so you don’t wind up using still mostly-frozen shrimp and having to pull the tails off while you try and eat it.  Live and learn.

Mmmm-mm.  Tastes like summer.

Mmmm-mm. Tastes like summer.

Lafayette’s (modified) Gumbo

Generously adapted from the True Blood Cookbook.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed
  • 3/4 pound andouille or hot sausage, cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cayenne
  • 1 pound shrimp, veined
  • 1 pound okra

Cooking Directions

    1. In a large Dutch oven, combine the vegetable oil and flour over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the roux is dark brown– this will take about 30 minutes.
    2. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery, and cook until the vegetables have softened (about 10-12 minutes).
    3. Add the broth and stir to combine. Add the bay leaves, cayenne, and thyme; bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and let cook for about ten minutes.
    4. Add the sausage and let cook for 10 minutes more. Pull the bay leaves out and adjust the seasonings as you wish; add in the shrimp and the okra and let cook 10 more minutes.
    5. Serve over white rice.

Subscription Boxes: Food Edition

I’m replacing Friday Five this week with Friday ALL OF THE THINGS!  I should probably pick a day to do this in the future, but whatever.  That’s tomorrow’s problem.

A few months back I discovered the magic that is subscription boxes: monthly packages of goodness and fun delivered right do your door.  They’re great because of two key reasons:

1. Mail. I have never met someone that could say honestly “man, I hate getting things in the mail”, bills excluded.
2. Surprises.  Because it’s one thing to get something in the mail that you specifically ordered and knew exactly what it was– it might be exciting, but it’s not as exciting as a box of SURPRISE.

Okay so having established that subscription boxes are great.  Moving on.  I started out with beauty subscriptions, thinking (oh so stupidly) that they were the only kind; I was an Ipsy subscriber and an occasional Cravebox-getter (back before they changed their entire format, egads).  And they were both pretty cool.  But after a while I realized I wasn’t really using much out of the Ipsy bags on a regular basis (aside from the actual bags, which I use always because they’re such a perfect size) and the aforementioned Cravebox re-formatting happened.

So my time as a box subscriber ended– until, that is, I discovered something great last month.

Apparently, subscription boxes aren’t just for things that make you pretty anymore.

April marks my first trial month with two food subscription boxes: Goodies Co. and Love With Food, which gives you stomach-food and heart-food all in one by donating a meal to a hungry kiddo for every box purchased.  (I know, right?)

Anyway.  Now that I actually have both boxes in hand, I thought I’d post my thoughts on both.

(Don’t mind the photos of open packages.  I was hungry.)

Love With Food

LWF 4/13

Got this one first, on the 17th.  Paid the monthly price of $12 ($10 for the box plus $2 for shipping) and by “paid” I mean “used a coupon code to get the first box free”.

So, yeah, I didn’t actually do that “helping the hungry” thing, but I’m still subscribed for next month.  I am helping!  Just not yet.  The contents fall into the “good” category– things that are all-natural, vegan, gluten-free, GMO-free, blah de blah.  (Generally, shit I do not otherwise give a single fuck about.)  But I’m not holding that against LWF; as I’ve said before, I don’t have so much a beef with things being gluten free/vegan/whatever, it’s really just when they try to make me feel bad about not eating solely gluten free/vegan/whatever food.

I like meat, hi.  And that’s okay.

Mini-rant over; on to the box!

Cocomels Coconut Milk Caramels by JJ’s Sweets

LWF 4/13: Cocomels

I’m not a huge caramel fan so this was kind of an ‘ehhh’ for me.  But that’s because I’m not huge into caramel more than it’s because they weren’t any good. They were good, as far as soft candies that aren’t a flavor I like are concerned.  Nice and chewy, very smooth; good amount of wrapper-cling, which is always a good sign when you’re eating something you want to get caught in every single one of your teeth.

Lemony Lover Olives by Oloves

LWF 4/13: Oloves

I like olives!  I also like lemons.  I haven’t had a chance to bust these bad boys open yet (I’m waiting for a salad, I think) but if you do that math, you can guess that these will be pretty well-received.

Salty Pepper Sunflower Seed Snacks by Somersault Snacks

LWF 4/13: Somersaults

I. AM. IN. LOVE. Um, I kind of want to eat these forever.  And when I went to look at their website and found you can get a snack pack of 2 oz. bags of all the flavors, delivered monthly– clever move, boys.  They’re like a perfect texture, and they taste kind of nutty and wonderful.  They’re apparently packed with fiber and protein, which are two things I really like.  Plus they’re like the size of your thumbnail, and I am a lover of small things.  See also:

Gluten-Free Itty Bitty Butter Popped Sorghum by Mini Pops

LWF 4/13: MiniPops

Literally popcorn’s baby cousin.  The baby cousin that everyone talks about for being so great, when really they’re not much different from grown-up-popcorn.  But they’re small.  And they’re cute.  And look how precious.

That basically describes my experience with these suckers.  They’re good, though.  Maybe not mindblowing enough to make me buy them normally, but still enjoyable.

Organic Fennel Pollen by Pollen Ranch

LWF 4/13: Fennel Pollen

I don’t even know what this is and to be perfectly honest, I haven’t had a chance to use it yet.  I’m probably going to spice some pork with it and we’ll see how that goes.  Smells real good, though.

Smoky Chili & Lime Roasted Chickpea Snacks by The Good Bean

LWF 4/13: Good Bean

Hi, chickpeas, have I mentioned that you’re one of my favorites?  Because you’re one of my favorites.  When you’re dry roasted and mingling with chili powder and lime, I like you even more.

These guys were tasty, but putting them in a bag is really just a convenience thing; I’m one of those ‘I WILL MAKE EVERYTHING’ people, and the only reason I haven’t roasted my own chickpeas up until now was out of sheer laziness.  I’ll make sure we get like a trillion cans this week so I can do everything with them, just to make up for it.

Creamy Buffalo Ranch Dip by Buff Lo Dip

LWF 4/13: Buff Lo Dip

I’m planning on mixing this into my next batch of pimento cheese to see if I like it any better.  We’ll see.

It’s..creamy, slightly blue cheese flavored buffalo dip product thing.  I shrug.

Goodies Company

Can we talk about that box lining for a minute?

Can we talk about that box lining for a minute?

Came in on Wednesday, and my mom has been wondering what it is every hour since.  (Hyperbole, mama.)  Don’t even care that its run by Walmart.  I did a little bit of Googling and apparently there are some people out there saying ‘well they’re just proving Love With Food is awesome and PS, it’s awesomeer’– yes, sure, whatever.  I’m not one for internet wars.  The box is $7, and while it doesn’t seem to put on as many airs about it as Love With Food does (sorry) the products are still largely of the artisan/gluten-free/vegan/all natural variety.

Green Giant – Sweet Potato Multigrain Chips

GC 4/13: Sweet Potato

A solid chip.  More sweet potato-ey flavor than sea salt-y flavor, which I think I liked because hey, I like sweet potatoes.  Texture is halfway between a chip and a corn chip.  I’d eat them if they were in front of me, and I’d probably pick them over a normal potato chip in the store, but I’ve kind of backed off from chips lately so it’s all a little moot.

Frontier Snacks – Pecan Cherry Cinnamon Bites

GC 4/13: Frontier Snacks

My test bite was mostly a piece of pecan, which may have influenced what I thought JUST a hair.  (Because pecans, oh my god pecans.)  But they are pretty tasty.  Cherry flavor was light in the aforementioned test bite (it was a crumb, I’ll be honest; I didn’t want to eat the whole thing JUST to get the post out) and the cinnamon was a nice background compliment.

Help me, I sound like a wine taster.

Celsius – Sparkling Cola

GC 4/13: Celsius

Hadn’t tried this at press time.  Their site says it’s super great before a workout– helps you burn more calories, or something?  Whatever.  I’m trying it today before I hit the gym, largely because I think having something with substance in my stomach rather than my usual large dose of water might do me good.

True Bar – Apricot Almond Bar

GC 4/13: True Bar

The chai flavor hits you before the almond and the apricot have a chance to, and once they catch up it’s not too bad– but for those first few seconds it’s really an overpowering experience.  Good texture for a granola bar, very dried-fruit with nuts stuck in (yes, that is what I like in a granola bar these days do not judge me).

Angie’s Popcorn – Sweet & Salty Kettlecorn

GC 4/13: Angie's Kettlecorn

Kettlecorn.  -shrug-  No better or worse than any other kettlecorn in the world.  There was a piece stuck in the back of my throat for the better part of a half hour, though, which was slightly pesky.

Zone Perfect – Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bar

GC 4/13: Zone

Um, this tasted like a chocolate chip Pop Tart.  A chocolate chip Pop Tart with fewer calories and actual nutritional value.  That is the highest compliment someone can give anything, ever.

PLUS: Naked Wines $50 Voucher

GC 4/13: Naked Wines

YES. Hello, wine that is maybe better than the wine I buy normally.  I was less excited when I got onto the website and found out you had to buy six bottles to place an order, so we’ll see what I actually wind up with (cheapskate, party of one), but this was still pretty cool.

Also, Things I Learned: blogging while the largely-useless-kid in the office is sitting behind you staring agape out the window…really hard.

The Roundup

Would I buy some of these?  Sure.  The Somersaults and the Frontier Snacks would definitely make it into my shopping cart without too much trouble, and I’d be willing to try the True Bar in a flavor that wasn’t so..chai.  The Zone bar would make it if I were planning on not being able to eat real food for a while (how perfect would that have been when I was still in school and finals were still a thing?) and a few of the others might find themselves in my future if they were on sale, maybe.

Overwhelming success?  No.  But tasty experience?  Definitely.  I’m excited to see what next month brings, and then we’ll see where I want to go from there!

Interested in subscribing?  Let me know and I’ll get you a referral code; that way we both get points (for both services!) that can be redeemed for more goodies later.  

(Also, anyone who wants to go in on six bottles of wine…you know where to find me.)

Tuesday Things: Basically, I Suck.

Look who took an impromptu blog break!

Last week was a crazy one, and what (as usual) had to suffer?  The blog (sorry!)  A lot happened.  Have some highlights:

1. I had a birthday.  It was pretty cool.  There was cake:

It was made of Oreos, ice cream, and godliness.

It was made of Oreos, ice cream, and godliness.  And I’m pretty sure that’s a wine glass of beer to its right.

I am now twenty-two, and not an ounce wiser.  Here’s hoping for next year!

2. People I Like Bought Me Cookbooks.  Apparently 22 is the cookbook birthday.

(It maybe helps if you asked them to get you all of those cookbooks.)

Because I totally don’t like gloating about them:

LOOK

LOOK

AT

AT

MY

MY

COOKBOOKS

COOKBOOKS

I think I’m going to have to start doing bake-the-books, just so I use them all and don’t feel bad about it.

I think all y’all can get on board with that one.

3. I worked a lot.  That part kind of sucked and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to hear about it, so I’ll just sum up: we’ve been busy for no damn reason and it’s made me generally a tired crab when I get off.  Probably the biggest contributor in the ‘Bee isn’t posting’ plague that I’m hoping is finally over.

In the also-ran category: lots of crafting (curtains, two skirts, light mending, and drafting for a new apron that has pockets that actually function as pockets rather than very cute but entirely useless half-circles of gingham), light car-breakage (mostly a false alarm! Frank is pretty fine) and some day-to-day boring.

Now I just have to really, really work on the not-being-so-terrible-at-time thing.  I do have something really fun planned for this week’s FF, and I’m itching to dive into the DIY cookbook for this weekend’s How To that might just make everyone die a little happier.

Maybe.

Friday Five: April 12th

HAPPY FRIDAY!

HAPPY FRIDAY!

Remember when I did the five food trends I didn’t get and promised I’d get to five that I think are pretty great?

Guess what we’re doing today.

1. “Beer as an Ingredient”

DRINK MORE BEER

I’m sorry, was this not already a thing that everyone acknowledged should happen, always?  Beer is like one of the best things to cook with, ever.  End-of.  Braises, stews and slow-cooks, they all benefit from the addition of beer.  Chicken is best when beer roasted, and most meats don’t suffer.  Hell, if even cake is made better by the addition of beer, that is a sign.

Rule of thumb: if a recipe says to add wine, add the same amount of beer and drink whatever’s left over.  You’ll be a happy camper.

2. Bourbon

I promise you I’m not an alcoholic.  But on the coattails of the overwhelming Southern-food-love that’s been sweeping since the end of last year, I was real excited to find bourbon making food trend lists!  I’m mostly a beer girl, but if I have to pick a liquor I’m picking whiskey and if I’m picking my whiskey, I’m picking bourbon.

I love it by itself, but cooking with bourbon is a good second-best.  It lends itself to all of the above things that beer does, and then goes the extra mile and makes so many sweet things great, too.

And, you know.  The drinking.  That’s pretty good too.

3. BREAKFAST ❤

It is a truth universally acknowledged that breakfast is the best meal, ever.  That’s why brunch was invented, because people couldn’t get enough of how awesome breakfast was and they wanted an excuse to eat it more than once in the same day (citation needed).  Breakfast is God’s gift to consumables.  You can eat all of my favorite things at breakfast, and the ones that you can’t eat at breakfast?  Whatever.  I can live without them.

(Besides: name one.)

I’m eight different kinds of excited that breakfast is getting its day in the sun.

And yes, there are eight different kinds of excited.

4. Artisan Bread

As much as I hate slapping the word ‘artisan’ on anything and calling it a day, I actually really do like artisan breads– because artisan breads are really just fancy breads with nice flavors and generally better grains.  So if succumbing to the vile ‘artisan’ trend in this instance means being able to have delicious bread all day every day (even when I don’t have the time to make it myself), then I think that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

Sigh.

5. Veg Trends: Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts

MORE OF THESE IN MY MOUTH, PLEASE.  I have an unhealthy love of both of these vegetables, no matter how much that love may have been overshadowed in the past month by my newfound ardor for celery.  I’m one of those weird people who liked brussels sprouts when they were a kid, so I’ve pretty much always been pro-sprout.  And cauliflower?  Who in their right mind could not love cauliflower?

And that concludes my Friday Five, known for the day as “Bee gushes about things she likes that she is glad other people appreciate”.  Now it’s your turn: what food trends are you into this year– and which could you leave behind?

Weeknight Dinner: Parmesan Chicken and Mad Sprouts, Y’all

Mama and I were working on the shopping list for this week and she jotted tonight’s dinner down as “chicken Parmesan .  I had to make her cross it out; don’t want anyone getting the wrong idea about what it is we’re having for dinner.

(I can’t explain how much my sister/papabear love chicken parm.  Every time someone suggests it they both ask what it actually entails to clarify, too, which– it just doesn’t compute to me.  But they’re both huge fans.)

Nope.  Parm chicken =/= chicken parm.

See?

See?

I guess the concept’s pretty much the same, though.  They’re like..dish cousins.  Like Who, What, When, Where, Why, and their cousin How.

(That was totally a thing when I was in first grade.  Thanks for the memories and the excellent fun playing with words, Mrs Shyer.)

The recipe itself is actually pretty straightforward; I’m sharing more for the breading tips, which are numerous per usual.

Y’all should know how I feel about breading by now.  If you missed it, I’ll catch you up: breading is one of my favorite things.

There is no such thing as loving mise en place too much, honest

There is no such thing as loving mise en place too much, honest

Just a quick rundown of everything you see here, and then we’ll get started: chicken (probably a given), flour, panko (or the breadcrumbs of your choice), Parmesan cheese and/or whatever it is you’d like to mix in with the breading.

Also eggs.  Eggs are pretty important.

1. Prep your Breading

This is easy.  Dump out about 2 cups of breadcrumbs into a bowl and wait for me to blow your mind with the next instruction:

mix it with your flavoring.

Crazy.

Crazy.

I’m using Parmesan cheese and some various green spices (oregano and parsley, plus a little salt and pepper).  Shake the bowl around a little bit; it’s a proven fact that shaking a bowl is the most effective AND the most fun way to mix dry ingredients.  Whisking be damned.

2. Make an Assembly Line

My mom asked if I really needed to use this many pie plates.  ALWAYS, mama.

My mom asked if I really needed to use this many pie plates. ALWAYS, mama.

And be fussy about how you do it; I can’t sell that point enough.  I used to look at this whole setup and think “yeah, that makes sense, but who wants to put that much effort into their breading?”

The answer is you.  You do.

And you do want to use pie plates; the high sides keep things from sloshing over, and the wide surface area lets you make sure everything gets covered.

3. Bread

Just to head y’all off with another tip: you do want to use tongs for every step after flour.  Otherwise your hands will be a disgusting mess and you will hate everything and/or get lots of egg in your breading and vice versa.

First, drop your chicken in the flour and flip to coat.

Parm Chicken - floured

This gives the chicken a protective crust to keep the moisture in, and also gives the egg and breading something to stick to that isn’t slippery bird goo.

Next, into the egg.

Parm Chicken - egged

..so that the breading will have something to stick to that isn’t dry floury bird.

And finally, into the breading.

..because it’s delicious.  Did you need an explanation?

Parm Chicken - broiled

And from there you just cook as planned.  These puppies got baked and finished with a broil for crust color, but do what you like.  It probably wouldn’t hold up to a deep fry so well, but a pan fry would hold it nicely.  And like my frying steps, it’s easily adapted to other meat products and/or foodstuffs.  Eggplant is the one that comes to mind, but I’m sure you could use it on a whole host of things.

This special weekday edition of how-to brought to you by the fact that dinner was otherwise too basic to post a recipe!  I’ll make up for it over the weekend, I promise.