Oven Baked Onion Rings


Joey and I are always looking for something that is naughty but at the same time figure-friendly. (Yes, our "naughty" factor pretty much applies just to food.) The other day Ellie Krieger had an episode entitled, "Day at the Diner" where she presented many of our favorite diner foods made in a healthier manner. While these are not as figure-friendly as carrot sticks, they do satisfy that craving for onion rings. The fact that they are oven baked makes you feel all the better about them. I want to say these are super easy to make, but I am having a bit of a challenge with the crumbs clumping together after dipping a few rings in them. I think the key is to grind up the chips very finely, but am not sure yet.

These are a great alternative to deep frying and work really well with burgers, hot dogs, or grilled cheese like we did. (All healthy alternatives, of course!) Check this out and if you master the dipping process please tell me your secret!!!!

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 4 cups baked potato chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (or milder spice of your choice - see notes)
  • 1 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, peeled
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450° F
  2. Spray a baking sheet slightly with oil and set aside.
  3. Place potato chips in the bowl of a food processor and process into crumbs, about 20 seconds.
  4. Transfer to a shallow bowl, add cayenne (or spice of your choice), and set aside.
  5. In another bowl, combine buttermilk, 2 tablespoons of flour, saltand pepper and set aside.
  6. Slice onions into 1/2-inch circles and separate into rings, keeping only large, whole rings. (Save the rest of onions for other uses. I chopped mine up for the hot dogs.) You should come out with about 12 to 14 rings.
  7. Place the remaining flour in a sealable plastic bag, then add onions, and shake to coat.
  8. Dip onions 1 at a time into the buttermilk mixture, then dip into potato chip crumbs and place on baking sheet.
  9. Spray cooking oil evenly over rings and bake for 20 minutes, or until coating is crisp.
  10. Season with salt, to taste, and serve immediately.
Notes

I have made these twice and liked them both times. I will say though, the first time I followed the recipe and used cayenne and it was WAY spicy. If you have kids or don't like spicy it's a huge no-no. The second time I used smoked paprika and really liked it. I think with this recipe you might want to try it first with a very mild spice or none at all then experiment with spices you like. I kind of want to try Italian spices and serve them with a pasta sauce.

Oven Fried Chicken and Butterscotch Baby Carrots


Goodness, I am so, so behind on my blog and have so many recipes to post, but today's recipe just pushed all the other ones aside and I had to post it.

We are always looking for quick, simple, delicious and figure-friendly recipes. While many recipes claim to be all those things, more often than not they are off the mark in one area or another. I think the hardest combination is figure-friendly and delicious. Those two just don't seem to go together very often. How surprised was I to find the whole kit and kaboodle in a Paula Dean recipe?! Don't get me wrong, I love Paula Dean. She is one of the most charming and delightful chefs on the Food Network. We watch her all the time, not for her recipes, just for her. Something about the twinkle in her eye when she adds another stick of butter, the way she gets away with the naughtiest things, just the way she does what she does with no apologies. However, when we are trying to lose weight it's pretty hard to justify Deep Fried Mac and Cheese Bacon Bites. Even when Paula is making it she knows it's naughty. (Watch the video.)

Anyway, we were watching her the other day and to our surprise she made a figure-friendly recipe. Maybe it was because he son was on, or maybe she just forgot the butter, but this dinner combination is all the things we were looking for - quick, simple, delicious and figure-friendly. When I made this I thought of all my mom friends that need to whip up dinner along with all their other tasks. Honeys, this is your recipe! It was super easy and so yummy that it made it to out top ten list. It also reheats well, which is always a bonus.

Oven Fried Chicken


Ingredients

  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons freshly minced thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4 -inch thickness
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil.
  3. Place a cooling rack over pan and spray rack with nonstick cooking spray.
  4. In a shallow dish, combine bread crumbs, cheese, 2 tablespoons olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. In a separate shallow dish, combine mustard, water, salt and pepper, to taste, and remaining olive oil.
  6. Coat each chicken breast with mustard mixture; dredge each in bread crumb mixture.
  7. Place on prepared rack in pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until chicken is golden brown.
  8. Serve immediately.
Butterscotch and Black Pepper Baby Carrots
Recipe courtesy The Deen Brothers (Y'all, pg. 37)

Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound baby carrots, halved lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. In a medium skillet, heat the butter, sugar, and salt over medium-high heat, stirring until smooth.
  2. Add the carrots and toss to coat.
  3. Cover and reduce the heat to medium.
  4. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the carrots are tender and glazed.
  5. Top with black pepper.
  6. Serve hot or warm.
Notes

There are a few things I want to share about this:

First off, after I pounded each chicken breast I cut them in half making eight servings rather than four. This was plenty for us.

My chicken wasn't as browned as I would have liked, but I read a post that said they put it under the broiler for a couple of minutes and I will try that next time.

The best thing, we did NOT miss the carbs in this meal. It is very satisfying.

My Cup Runneth Over


The other night I took a spill. No, I didn't spill the milk or my cake mix. I had a fall. I tripped on my carpet in the bedroom and hit my head pretty hard on the chest near my bed. To make this all worse, I had been feeling flu-like so I had taken an ambian so that I could sleep and be rarin' to go the next day.

Well, this turned out to be a pretty big fall and I hit my head pretty badly and had to go the the emergency room. All is good and this isn't what I am writing about. What I am writing about is what happened the next day. I was ANGRY! Not about the fall, but about everything.

I don't know when it exactly happened but at some point along the way I turned into one of those half-full people. I used to hate those people, but there I was a Half-Fuller. Why wasn't Joey there when I fell? What would have happened if I hadn't gotten up from the fall? Why don't I own my own home? Why did my mom go? Why am I always home alone? Why can't I take great pictures for my blog? Why was my life half over and I hadn't done all the things I always thought I would? My goodness, the list goes on and on. Let me tell you Pity-Me-Patty hadn't just paid a visit, she was throwing a party and I was right there partying along with her.

I got up today and thought, what was the big deal? Okay, I kind of know. I have an unusual fear of falling in the shower and no one noticing. Then I thought about it more. Yes, I did fall. Yes, it was pretty ugly. But you know what? When it happened I called my friend, Marc, and he showed up to my house in like a minute. No joke, he must be magic because he was there, took me to the hospital and stayed the there with me. What a blessing and that is sure not a "half-full." The next day Karolyn listened to me whine on the phone all the day. She was right there just like she always is. Another not "half-full." And, Joey, as always is was right there for me and showing me so much love it's crazy. None of these are "half-fulls." Sure, would I like Karolyn to live right down the street; for my mom to still pick up the phone; for Joey to be here 24 hours a day? You bet I would. Realistic? NO. Whiny? YES!

So, here's what I came up with. My cup isn't half empty. My cup runneth over. When I think about it I have so so so many things that I am thankful for. I just forget to be thankful for them. And while my cup does runneth over, it's messy. Just like life. It's a good mess, though.

Once again, I have told Pity-Me-Patty to take a hike. I am sure she will be back, but maybe next time I can just serve her some chips and dip and she will be on her way.


I have one more little thing to post here. I expect a whole lot from Joey and he sure does give me a whole lot. I am certainly a handful. Since he is my little "Island Boy" I wanted to share this video with him and everyone.



Italian Pot Roast


A lot of people think a slow cooker is only good for an easy last minute meal you throw in the pot before you go to work. Sometimes that can be true. There are many crock pot meals that are just that. Cut things up and throw them in and they are tasty. But your slow cooker can also work its magic on meals that take a bit more work. In fact, it's those meals that make my slower cooker one of my favorite appliances and one I just couldn't do without.

When I am in a "fancy" slow cooker mood I always turn to The Gourmet Slow Cooker by Lynn Alley. Every recipe I have made from this book is mouth-watering delicious. They also take a lot of work. Really a lot, but worth every minute of it.

This Italian Pot Roast is one of those recipes. I will say that the prep time was probably about 45 minutes to an hour. It was worth it. This is one of the most delicious meals I have made in my slow cooker. If you have time and want to make something really special, I totally recommend this. Since it was so time intensive I actually got it going the night before, cooked it overnight then turned it back on about two hours before dinner. With this dish, the longer it cooks the better it tastes.

Ingredients

  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 1/2 pounds beef pot roast, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, slicked
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup hearty dry red wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • Salt
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Combine the cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and peppercorns in a mortar or coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder.
  2. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the meat and cook, turning, for 10 to 15 minutes, until browned on all sides. Using tongs, transfer to the slow cooker.
  3. Add the onion to the saute pan and saute, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  4. Add the garlic, celery, and carrots and saute for 3 - 4 minutes, until lightly browned.
  5. Add the spice mixture and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the red wine and cook for about 10 minutes, until reduced by about one-third.
  7. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and salt to taste.
  8. Pour sauce over the meat in the slow cooker.
  9. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours, until the meat falls away from the bone.
  10. Garnish with parsley.
  11. Serve over polenta, potatoes or rice.
Notes

As I mentioned above I cooked this for 10 hours overnight, then two more hours before dinner to heat it up and thicken. It really did need thickening. I asked friends online how to thicken this and got different responses. My main question was whether to use corn starch or flour. Apparently, corn starch will thin out when reheating so I created a slurry with flour to thicken the pot roast. One thing you never do is just throw flour into the dish. You will get icky lumps. I took out some of the sauce (and fat) from the pot roast and heated it up in my saute pan. I then gradually whisked in about 2 tablespoons of flour. I let that heat up and added about another cup or two of the sauce from the pot roast and let that simmer and thicken. I then added it back to the pot roast and let it cook for about 30 minutes. It turned out perfectly.


P.S. On this post, special thanks to my good friend Brenda that caught all my silly mistakes!!!

Spaghetti Carbonara


When I worked in Osaka, my best girlfriend Carla and I had lunch together every day. One of our favorite spots what this little pasta place called "Hole In The Wall." It maybe had six or eight small tables and had the best pasta. One of my favorites was the Carbonara. I probably had that once a week for three years. What I liked about it was that it was creamy but not overly heavy. It also didn't have peas in it, which I really don't like.

When I got back to the States I searched all over for that same Carbonara, but never found it. Finally, I found a very simple recipe on a newsgroup and tastes exactly like the Carbonara I had in Osaka. I don't make this often, but when I do it's a treat and everyone loves it. If you want a simple and delicious Spaghetti Carbonara recipe, this is your ticket!

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces prosciutto, pancetta or 6 slices bacon cut into 1/4" pieces (see note)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 pound pasta
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to directions.
  2. In a large skillet or wok, melt the butter over moderate heat.
  3. Add the prosciutto, pancetta or bacon and saute until crisp. About 3 - 5 minutes
  4. If there is a lot of fat drain it off until their is only a fine layer.
  5. Add garlic and saute about 1 minute more.
  6. Add cooked, drained pasta to the skillet and mix well with prosciutto, garlic and butter.
  7. In a bowl, beat the eggo yolks, cream, and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese.
  8. Pour cream mixture over pasta.
  9. Toss over low heat until the sauc e thickens and coats the pasta. About 4 - 6 minutes.
  10. Serve immediately with remining Parmesan cheese, black pepper and parsley.
Notes

When I first made this I didn't know the difference between prosciutto and pancetta so I always got prosciutto thinking they were the same. I never thought about it until people started complimenting me on my carbonara, asking me what was different about it. I think it's the prosciutto. That and my amazing skills. :-)

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About Sean & Joey

Joey and I are just a couple of guys living in San Francisco. I love cooking and we both like trying new things. Planning our meals is one of our "together" things. I hope you enjoy our blog! - Sean

Dedication

This blog is dedicated to the two most important people in my life - my mom, Ernee Jean O'Brien, and my partner Joey Concepcion. They both have showered me with unconditional support and love and have always encouraged me to be myself. I will always miss my mom and I don't know what I would do without Joey.

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