Chicken Cordon Bleu

Once again rummaging through the fridge, looking for some sort of inspiration for dinner, I found a little ham and cheese that was left over from making sandwiches earlier in the week and I knew I had some chicken in the freezer. So I said to myself, Let’s have stuffed chicken for dinner tonight along with some brown rice and some vegetable. So here is how I made chicken cordon bleu that night.

  •  I took the chicken breasts out of the freezer and defrosted them under some running cold water.


  • Using some doubled over plastic wrap, I carefully pounded the chicken breast until it was really thin. Then dredged it in some seasoned bread crumbs and set them aside.



  • As you can see in the picture, the black forest ham is twice the size of the smoked Gouda cheese, but the cheese is twice as thick as the ham because I like it gooey.


  • Fold the ham over the cheese and place it on one side of the pounded chicken breast, then fold the chicken over the ham so the chicken kinda seals the open part of the ham. This will help keep the cheese inside the chicken breast while it cooks. If you want you can use tooth picks to help keep the chicken together.


  • Cook over a medium heat until golden brown about three to four minutes then carefully turn over to cook the other side for about the same amount of time.



If you want, place the chicken on a pan and place it in the oven to keep warm while you make the rest of them, that is, if you have a big family or cooking for a lot of people.



Baked Chicken

I knew that I would be out all day at the street fair Saturday with my wife and her family. They all were coming over for dinner after so I wanted to get some of this stuff done before hand. On Wednesday I went to the store and got six whole chickens, cut the spines out and seasoned them liberally on both sides with a mixture of salt, pepper, dried chili flakes, paprika, granulated garlic and onion powder as you can see here. I wrapped them up and put in the fridge overnight.


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The following day I took the chickens out of the fridge, let them come to room temperature and par baked them in a 350F oven for 50 minutes and until they registered 160F on a meat thermometer. I know that they would carry over to 165F degrees, the safe temperature for cooked chicken. I let them cool on the counter for about an hour. Then I consolidated them in one 2 inch baking dish, wrapped them and put them in the fridge for Saturday where I would finish cooking them on the grill.

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Oh boy they were great!

Homemade Spring Rolls

On the way home from having lunch with my wife, I noticed that there was a new oriental market that opened up by her office, so I swung by to check it out. It was a nice little place and the owners were very helpful. I had been on a quest for rice paper for a while checking the local supermarkets without finding any. This place had a few to choose from so spring rolls were on the menu for dinner. So let’s roll on in on how to make them.

As you can see I picked up some crab meat from the store, along with some bean sprouts and Thai basil. I julienned some carrots and sliced some romaine lettuce somewhat thin to go inside the rolls.


With everything all laid out nicely the tricky part starts now, softening the rice paper sheets. There are two ways of going about this task. One way is the long soak in cold water; the other is the quick soak in hot water. This part is totally up to you, but remember, there is only a limited amount of time to make and roll it. I prefer warmish water for a medium soak. This leaves the sheet somewhat firm yet flexible while you are working with it. Practice with a few using one ingredient, like the carrot sticks, until you are comfortable wrapping them up in a tight roll.

I find it easiest to roll them on a wood cutting board; they tend to stick to the counter top. Plus, you can leave the leading edge hanging off the board to make it easier to pick up and roll. Dip the rice paper in the bowl of water for however long you choose.

Place the wrapper in front of you. Imagine a clock on the face of the rice paper. Place the ingredients in a line as if you were filling the face of a clock between 4 & 5 o’clock across to between 7 & 8 o’clock. Now bring the 6 o’clock flap, which was hanging off the board, up and over the ingredients and roll tightly a little bit towards 12 o’clock.

Now take the sides and fold them towards the center, making a tight package encasing the ingredients. Continue rolling to 12 o’clock position. Right before you totally roll it, stop and rewet the top of the roll so the flap really sticks to the roll. Hopefully you will end up with something like the picture below.

rolled spring role

I got the first one done and I realized I had no dipping sauce!!! You could go out and get some sweet chili sauce in a bottle, but that’s not for me. I want spicy peanut dipping sauce!

In another bowl combine 2 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter add 4 tablespoons of soy sauce & water and however much ground cayenne power and black pepper you can stand. We like it hot! If the sauce is still too thick, keep adding water to thin it out to your liking. Adjust the heat to your liking also.


Make the rest of the rolls and keep them in the refrigerator covered until you are ready to eat them.

That night we had the Spring Rolls along with the spicy peanut dipping sauce and a chilled bottle of Sake that was recommended by the owners of the shop. A very nice end to a great day.

springroll cut

Enjoy ~

Eggplant Parmesan

My wife brought home an eggplant from the farmer’s market a few days ago and asked I make a meal without meat this week. I was in the mood for pasta anyway so here is what I did.

While making dinner the night before, I took the eggplant sliced it about ¼ of an inch thick, sprinkled some table salt on both sides and laid the circles on a wire rack over a sheet pan, covered it and placed it in the fridge overnight. The reason for doing this is to “sweat” the bitter juices out of the eggplant. I feel this really helps the flavor of the eggplant come through better and be less bitter.

The next day I took the eggplant out of the fridge, quickly rinsed the salt off the circles, dipped them in flour, then egg wash and then in seasoned bread crumbs.

I fried them in a large non stick pan with a little olive oil over medium heat. Set those aside on a wire rack to cool.

Now let’s build the stack. Start with some of your tomato sauce on the bottom of a pan that can go in the oven. That’s so it doesn’t stick to the pan. Then place an eggplant disk on top of the sauce. Top that, in my case with some left over pesto sauce and some tomato sauce and on top of that, some mozzarella cheese. Repeat 3 or 4 more times. Make sure not to put the cheese on the top layer just yet.

Set the oven to 325F. Place the eggplant stack in the oven for about 20-25 minutes to cook while you are boiling the pasta to go with the meal. After the stack is thoroughly heated, pull it out and top with some more of the mozzarella cheese and leave it in the oven until the cheese is nice and melted.

Pour yourself a nice glass of Italian red wine, sit down and eat your Italian feast.

Eggplant Parm



Arroz con Pollo

In English, chicken & rice, another good cold weather meal that makes the house smell so good and is relatively easy to make. So here we go.

I started with bone in chicken thighs that I generously salted and peppered and cooked skin side down first in a heavy pot until golden brown and then took them out and set them aside on a plate for a few minutes.

salt pepper chicken browned

While the chicken was cooking, I cut up 2 medium onions, 1 of each green and yellow peppers into medium-sized pieces. Once the chicken was out of the pot, leave the fat that has collected in the bottom. Add to it the onions and peppers plus two tablespoons of each tomato paste and chopped garlic and cook for about two minutes. At this time I added 2 cups of brown rice instead of the usual white.

cut up veges

cooking veges

added rice to veges

Now for the secret ingredient, I had some saffron in the cabinet so I threw in a very health pinch of it. You don’t have to but it just gives the dish an indescribable flavor coupled with the brown rice.

Now that everything is coated and stirred around with the oil from the bottom of the pot add your 5 cups of chicken broth and bring the pot to a boil. After it boils reduce the heat to a simmer and add the chicken back to the pot and put the lid on. Now the hard part, you have to wait about 40 minutes or so until the rice cooks. For the brown rice it takes almost an hour. Taste the rice to make sure it is done. Also you will see the chicken resting on a bed of rice in the pot. By then the chicken is cooked all the way through.

chicken in pot


Here are few shots of the juicy chicken on top of a bed of rice with all the soft and flavorful vegetables mixed in. Go pour yourself another glass of wine and dig into the goodness.

arroz con pollo 1

arroz con pollo 2


Smoked Pork

Take a 7 pound pork shoulder or also known as Boston butt, score the top fat in a checkerboard fashion and rub some of your favorite rub, or the one below, all over the meat.  Wrap up very well with plastic wrap and place in your refrigerator for 24 hours. This will allow the rub to penetrate deeply into the meat to give it good flavor when it comes time to cook it.

The rub for this meat: 1 cup of each white and brown sugar; 3/4 cup of paprika; 1/2 cup of each chili powder, salt, pepper, granulated garlic, 1/4 cup of ground cumin, granulated onion. Mix together and store in an air tight container.

seasoned pork

Set the smoker up for 225F and as a rule of thumb, it ends up being 2 hours per pound for this temp. If you need it done faster turn up smoker to 275F for about 1.5 hours per pound.

I also recommend having a digital meat thermometer with probe and cable, place it in the meat before starting to smoke it so you can track the internal temperature of the meat.

I started mine morning at 6 am with a mixture of apple wood and cherry wood chips that I soaked overnight. Went about my day cleaned the pool, went out shopping, needed potatoes to make potato salad to go with dinner, had lunch, hung out with my lovely wife, cut the grass, tended to the garden and then cooled off in the pool later that afternoon with a beer.

About 7:30 pm the meat thermometer started to ring. I set it to 195F. I open the door and what a beautiful sight and smells came racing out of the smoker! To make sure that it was truly cooked and soft I use the famous Stick a fork in it Method. Stab the meat with a fork and spin it around, if it spins freely then you really done because all meat has different thickness and densities. If the fork didn’t spin freely, it would go back in maybe for another half an hour or so until it would.

cooking pork

Now take the meat inside and cover it with aluminum foil for 1/2 hour to let the meat rest and the juices to absorb back into the meat.

cooked pork

After it rests take the bone out and with two forks shred the meat apart, but be careful it will be very hot!

pork pulled

Toast up some buns on the grill, get the potato salad out of the fridge along with your favorite BBQ sauce sit back and enjoy what you have smelt all day along with a beautiful sun set by the pool.

finished pulled pork plate


Rolled Stuffed Burgers

The inspiration for this meal came from two things: One, the Super Bowl and Two, the Atlantic Bakery Co.’s Onion Sub Rolls. You will see them later in the background of one of the pictures. We are lucky enough to have a great bakery right down the road from us that sells wholesale to the public!

As you can see in the first picture, I have covered the counter and the rolling-pin with plastic wrap and placed two 8 oz burgers on it.

burger patties

The second picture not only shows the rolls I mentioned earlier, but one of the burgers rolled out a little longer than the buns. You want them to be about ½ inch in thickness when you are done.

rolled meat

In the third picture you can see the burger seasoned with salt & pepper and strips of pepper jack cheese cut into strips and laid across the bottom of the flattened burger.

burger w/ cheese

Now here comes the tricky part, using the plastic wrap as a third hand and starting from the cheese side, you want to roll up the burger into sausage like looking thing as seen in this picture.

rolled burger

Now in the fifth picture you will want to heat a large non stick pan to medium with some butter in it to toast the buns in preparation for the meat tubes of cheesy goodness that will shortly follow.  After taking the rolls out put the burgers in the pan and let them cook a few minutes on one side. Then carefully roll the beef over on its other side and let cook there for a few minutes. Keep rolling and cooking for about 8 minutes or so. Once you see the cheese start melting out one of the ends you would be close to a medium burger.

searing burger tube

Put the burger tube on your toasted bun and dress it the way you like.  Personally I just like ketchup on my cheese burgers.

burger w/ ketchup on bun

In the last picture you can see the bun, the meat-cooked medium and the cheese in the middle oozing out of the center. Serve them with some garden veggie straws that come from Costco or potato chips.

finished burger tube

Hope you like my new way of making burgers.  Enjoy ~

Italian Chicken Breast with Cheese Tortellini and Tomatoes

Once again my wife and I bought too many little cherry tomatoes and I was really tired of eating them on salad so this is how I finished them up in dinner a couple nights ago.

First off cook the tortellini according to the package minus one minute, drain in a colander, and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.  Set them aside, we will heat them up after cooking the chicken.

For the chicken, season with salt & pepper and sprinkle some Italian seasoning over the breasts. Just a quick note these were very large chicken breasts. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of good quality olive oil, then put the chicken breasts in and cook for about five minutes then flip over for another four or five, until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads 165 degrees. Take them out and set aside on a plate to rest for a minute while you make the sauce for the tortellini.

Turn the pan up to medium high and add one shallot sliced thinly to the oil left in the pan, cook it  until it becomes soft then add one tablespoon of chopped garlic, cook for a minute. Add ½ cup of extra dry vermouth to deglaze the pan. Toss in the tomatoes and the tortellini and stir around for a minute then turn heat off and add two tablespoons of butter. Let the butter melt and stir the sauce coat the tortellini. Make sure to check for seasoning. Serve right away next to the chicken breast. A salad and a glass of white wine goes nicely with dinner. Enjoy ~

baked chicken with tortellini

Chicken Pot Pie

There was a “cold front“ that came through Florida last week and as a tribute to my wife’s New England upbringing I thought I would make my version of chicken pot pie. So I started poking around the fridge and here is what I came up with.

1 large onion, 3 medium carrots, 3 celery sticks all chopped into medium pieces and set aside.

cut veges

Cut 4-6 red potatoes into small pieces, boiled them for about ten minutes then tossed them into some ice-cold water to stop the cooking because we are going to cook them again with everything else.


Start with four 6 oz chicken breasts and cut them into uniform chunks like in the picture.

whole chicken breast

chopped chicken brast

Dust them in some seasoned flour and sear them off in the pot you will be making the stew in then remove and set aside on a plate.

floured chicken

seared chicken

Now take the vegetables you already cut and sauté them with some garlic, when soft add the potatoes and the chicken cook for a few minutes. Add a quart of chicken stock or broth and a cup of heavy cream.

Reduce the heat to simmer and let cook for about an hour uncovered, stir occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. It will thicken as it cooks and makes the house smell really good.

Before serving, taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking.

chicken pot pie in a bowl

As a side note, by using the potatoes instead of puff pastry you are saving some calories so you can have another bowl or two.


Turkey Burger and Broccoli Slaw

My in-laws were coming over to help finish up the bathroom remodeling and I wanted to make something for dinner that was different from anything I have ever made for them. (This has become a personal challenge.) So off to the kitchen I went to see what I could do.

So we had some ground turkey meat in the fridge. Lately, my wife has been eating more poultry because she doesn’t want too much beef. So tonight was going to be turkey burgers. Now what to do about a side dish. I found some broccoli stems left over from a chicken and pasta dish I had made earlier in the week. There was also carrots and red onions. Looks like we were making a vegetable slaw.


  • Burgers
    • 2 lbs ground turkey
    • 2 Tbsp garlic, minced
    • 3 Tbsp Italian seasoning
    • 2 Tbsp salt
    • 1.5 Tbsp fresh cracked pepper
    • Onion buns
    • 4 slices smoked Gouda
    • Lettuce
    • 4 large slices of roasted red peppers (same recipe as my earlier post on March 30, 2013)
  • Slaw
    • 1/2 lb Broccoli stems, thinly sliced
    • 3 medium Carrots, grated
    • 1/2 medium Red onions, finely diced
    • 3/4 cup Mayo
    • 1 tsp Lemon juice

I took the ground turkey and mixed it the garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Be careful not to over-mix as this can dry out the turkey.

I then portioned the burgers into 8 oz patties, making sure to form them into disks. I pushed in the center so that when it cooks it would prevent the meat from turning too much into a ball. I wrapped them with plastic wrap and placed them in the fridge.

Now to prep the slaw. In a bowl I mixed together the mayo, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix in the broccoli, carrots, and red onions. Cover and place in the fridge.

When it was close to eating time, I pulled out all the ingredients and prepped my workstation.

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Ingredients prepped next to the grill. It was night, so it was dark out.

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Grilling the turkey burgers and roasted red peppers.

  • Grill the burgers, about 8 minutes per side. Make sure the internal temperature reaches 165F.
  • Place on the roasted red pepper and smoked Gouda.
  • Place the roasted red peppers on the grill to put a slight char on them.
  • Place lettuce on the onions buns and top with the burger, roasted red pepper and smoked Gouda.
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Make the burger. No condiments necessary.

Served with the broccoli slaw, this burger was a big hit.

import pics from phone 050813 041 Try something different for the summer!