Martha Mondays: Vinegar Glossed Chicken

December 21, 2009

Martha MondaysHello and welcome to Martha Mondays this Christmas week. I hope all of you are ready, or almost ready for the big day and if you celebrate Hanukkah, I hope you had a nice holiday.

This week’s project, Vinegar Glossed Chicken,  was chosen by Sara at Sassy Suppers. I was excited to try this since it is a Lucinda recipe and I usually like her recipes a lot.

This recipe was pretty simple to put together. I used boneless chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken cut up since no one here likes dark meat. You start by browning your chicken in some oil. Once that’s done, add the chicken stock which you reduce by half. Next add in the vinegar which has been mixed with garlic and rosemary. The recipe says to swirl the pan and cook it down till it forms a glaze.

This did not work out very well for me at all. I followed the amounts exactly and ended up with a pan of very sour vinegar – cooking it down make it thicker, but did not change the flavor. There was no way I could feed that to my family so I set about doctoring it up. I added about a cup of more chicken stock and then added Wondra to thicken it. I added sugar to cut the taste of the vinegar – several teaspoons. I also added some water at the end and more Wondra to try to thin out the taste of the vinegar. No one really cared for this. I served the sauce/gravy separately so people could control how much they got. The chicken did turn a pretty color. I wouldn’t try this one again. I guess maybe if you love the taste of vinegar this would appeal to you, but it just tasted horribly sour to me. The kids complained about how it made the house smell. It was just overwhelming. Lucinda, you’ve failed me!

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My Martha Mantel

December 19, 2009

Martha has definitely inspired me to take decorating more seriously. For years, I’ve been moaning about how I don’t like some of my Christmas decorations. I’ve finally started to get rid of the ones I don’t like and focus on collecting things I do like.

Last year when I was shopping the after Christmas sales, I picked up three glass tree toppers are bargain basement prices. this year, I added a mercury glass tree topper I found at Target and a smaller pink vintage German topper I bought on eBay. I’ve got them displayed on my mantel in front of the mirror and I’m thrilled with them. I hope to keep adding to this collection.

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Definitely Not Martha

December 18, 2009

I just had to share with you these cookies, made by Teen Martha. Shhh, don’t tell Martha. Teen Martha had these at school and was craving them. They’re called Funfetti Cookies. You buy a box of Funfetti Cake Mix and there’s a recipe on the side of it to make cookies with it. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Funfetti is a white cake mix with multi-colored pieces in it – almost like jimmies. I don’t buy cake mixes, ever, so I was pretty unfamiliar with this myself. Teen Martha insisted it was good though. She whipped them up and and ta-dah – Funfetti cookies. I have to admit they were kind of good, in a this can’t be good for me, it’s so filled with chemicals kind of way! They are a crunchy sugar cookie and the colored pieces are kind of pretty.

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Chicken Paillards

December 17, 2009

It’s been a while since I tried a completely new-to-me Martha dish. In fact, I had never heard of paillards. There’s a section in January Living all about paillards, which are essentially thin cuts of meat. To make chicken paillard, I butterflied chicken breasts, then pounded them flat. This was easy to do. The recipe itself was also simple – cook the chicken in butter and olive oil. Remove it from the pan and cook 1/4 minced shallot then add two lemons that have the rind removed and have been cut into segments. 3/4 cup of chicken stock also gets added. You cook it down and toss in a little butter at the end. It sounded simple and delicious.

It was simple, but it was not delicious. I liked the chicken cooked this way very much. It was tender and thin. The sauce, however, was horrendous. It was so incredibly sour that we couldn’t eat it. I don’t understand how anyone could think adding two entire lemons to this pan sauce could be a good idea. The photo in the magazine is deceiving – it shows a small amount of light brown pan sauce. Mine turned out lighter  with big hunks of lemon in it – it looked like applesauce and as you can see, there was a lot of it. It was not appetizing at all.

I will definitely prepare chicken in this style again, but I’ll make  a completely different sauce.

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Hal Linden’s Chanukah Bread

December 16, 2009

We are not Jewish. Yet every year I make Chanukah bread.  And every year we remember that Hal Linden is (was? I don’t even know if he is still alive) Jewish and pay homage to him. It’s definitely a little kooky, but let me explain.

Back when we were first married, I was in college. My fall semester ended and I was in our apartment on my first day off decompressing with daytime tv. I was watching some talk show that has been lost to time and Hal Linden (of Barney Miller fame – younger readers probably have no clue who this is!) was a guest and he made a recipe for Chanukah bread. It looked so good, I grabbed a pen and scribbled the recipe down (I still have that piece of paper). I made it for dinner that night and we loved it and so since then I’ve made it every year, with some tweaks over the years. Sometimes we have it during Chanukah, sometimes just during the Christmas season. It’s always a special event though.

Hal Linden’s Chanukah Bread (adapted)
1 loaf sliced bread (I usually use Italian, but you could use plain white bread or even wheat)
1 stick butter, softened

2 tbsp olive oil

2/3 cup minced onion

6 tbsp country style Dijon mustard

2 tbsp poppy seeds

4 tbsp lemon juice

Mix butter, oil, onion, mustard, poppy seeds and lemon juice together. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8 x 12 glass baking pan (first test your loaf to see if it will be held in place and not flop apart – if you have a shorter loaf, use a shorter pan so that the bread is supported by the ends of the pan – it is also possible to just wrap the bread in foil to hold it together). Place the bread in the pan. Using a knife or small spatula, spread the butter mixture on one side of every piece of bread and reserve enough to spread all across the top of the bread.

Hal’s recipe calls for Swiss  and American cheese – but I use Swiss and cheddar. You could substitute any type of cheese you like Place half a slice (I’m referring to those presliced pieces of cheese you can buy – if you’re slicing your own, just approximate this size and remember to keep it thin) each of Swiss and cheddar between each slice of bread.

Smear the remaining butter mix across the top.  Cover with foil and bake for at least 30 minutes or until all the cheese is melted (it could take up to 15 minutes more if your cheese is thick or your loaf is very large). If it is getting too brown, reduce heat.

This is even better the next day.

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MSC Cupcake Club: Gingerbread Cupcakes

December 15, 2009

Gingerbread cupcakes – what could be a better pick for December? I was so enthusiastic about these, I even bought holiday cupcake papers and little gingerbread toothpick guys to decorate. This recipe is from the Martha Stewart Cupcake book. Visit the MSC Cupcake Club page and other members if you get a chance.

As always, these cupcakes were a breeze to whip up. There was only one small problem – I didn’t have quite enough ginger. I only had 1 1/2 tbsp and the recipe called for 2 tbsp. Sorry Martha!

This made 22 very small cupcakes. Usually I like to fill my cupcake tins pretty close to the top and have them rise out of the tins. There wasn’t enough to do this and they didn’t rise a lot.

I just made a plain white frosting and decorated with my toothpick guys (as always I am sure I will be embarrassed once I see the other club members’ creativity!).

As for taste, I was not a big fan. I would rather eat real gingerbread. The kids liked them and so did Mr. MarthaAndMe. I sent most of these off to school with Teen Martha who fed them to her Virgil (Latin) class.

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Martha Mondays for 12/21

December 15, 2009

Sara at Sassy Suppers has picked Vinegar Glossed Chicken from the December issue of Living for the 12/21 project.  This should be fun to try.  If you need the recipe, let me know.

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