GRITS BENEDICT

Last night I was thinking Eggs Benedict. But not Eggs Benedict. Something different. And so, rather than an english muffin topped with eggs and hollandaise sauce, I thought grits, which Senior loves. Junior Too protested the sauce on his grits since syrup is more his thing, but once he took a bite…  That’s all she wrote 🙂

Grits Benedict

1 envelope hollandaise sauce mix (I used Knorr brand)

1 cup milk

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

3/4 cup diced ham

3 cups water

2 tsp butter

1/2 tsp sea salt

3/4 cup 5-minute grits

8 large eggs

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced thin

2 tbsp chopped fresh chives

1) In small saucepan, whisk hollandaise sauce mix with milk, lemon juice, and pepper; heat over medium high and, stirring often, bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and, stirring often, cook until sauce thickens, about 1 minute; stir in ham and reduce heat to lowest setting

2) To large skillet, add water to a depth of 2 inches and boil on high; reduce heat to low, crack and gently ease each egg into water; cook 5-7 minutes depending on desired doneness

3) Meanwhile, in medium-sized saucepan, stir together 3 cups water, butter, salt, and grits; bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes; remove from heat

4) Divide grits between 4 plates and top with avocado, eggs, and ham-hollandaise sauce; sprinkle chives over all and serve immediately

Servings: 4

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SKILLET CORDON BLEU: THE SWISS CHEESE VERSION

For my family’s final night with us following our son’s graduation last spring, I went the impressive–but fairly easy–route by making skillet Cordon Bleu for dinner. Though I overcooked the chicken a bit, since they were tenderloins they were forgiving and the meal was delicious. This serves up well with yeast rolls and a spinach-romaine salad drizzled with Ken’s Steakhouse Lite Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette (yes, I’m hooked on this dressing).

Skillet Cordon Bleu ~ The Swiss Cheese Version

1 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs

1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs

1/4 cup chopped parsley, divided

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

2 lbs chicken tenderloins (12-16 pieces)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

8 oz thinly slices deli ham (about 16 pieces)

8 slices Swiss cheese (halved into 16 pieces)

1) Place oven rack 5-6″ from heating element and preheat broiler

2) To large zip top bag, add Italian and Panko breadcrumbs, parsley (reserving 1 tbsp for topping), salt, and pepper; shake to combine; add chicken and shake to coat

3) To oven-safe skillet over medium high heat, add olive oil and butter; when butter melts, add breaded chicken to skillet and cook 3-4 minutes each side until done; remove skillet from heat

4) Place slice of ham on each chicken tenderloin in skillet, followed by slice of Swiss cheese; place skillet under broiler and broil 2 minutes until cheese melts and is lightly browned; remove from oven and sprinkle with reserved parsley; serve to your hungry ones!

Servings: 6

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 05/24/12.

PANKO-BREADED CHICKEN SMOTHERED IN SAUSAGE GRAVY

My mother, a true Southerner, makes the best gravy. Though her perfection eludes me, I do pretty well. And how better to serve gravy for dinner than over breaded chicken, hmm? I am, however, missing one thumbs up with this dish. Junior Too likes gravy but wasn’t thrilled with the absence of biscuits. The lone dissenter 🙂

Panko-Breaded Chicken Smothered in Italian Sausage Gravy

BREADED CHICKEN:

1 egg

1 tbsp water

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

1-1/2 lbs (6-8 pieces) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, opened but not pounded flat

GRAVY:

1/2 lb ground pork sausage

1 tbsp dried minced shallot

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 cup half-and-half

1-1/4 cup milk

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tbsp chopped parsley

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2) In shallow bowl, beat egg and water; in separate shallow bowl, mix panko bread crumbs, flour, salt, and pepper

3) Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat

4) Dip chicken pieces in egg mixture, dredge in panko-flour mixture, and place in skillet; cook 3-4 minutes each side until a golden crust forms but chicken remains pink inside; transfer chicken pieces to a large lightly oiled baking dish; set aside

5) To large skillet over medium heat, add pork sausage and shallots and cook 5-7 minutes until sausage is lightly browned

6) Meanwhile, in medium bowl, combine: flour, chicken broth, half-and-half, milk, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper; stir into browned sausage and cook 5-6 minutes until gravy thickens; remove gravy from heat, pour over chicken, and bake in oven 20-25 minutes until chicken is no longer pink inside; sprinkle with parsley and serve

Servings: 6

SENSATIONAL BACON-ONION SPINACH SALAD (WITH OR WITHOUT RIBEYE)

Junior came home for a visit and, weary of cafeteria food, requested a juicy steak. Enter the ever-reliable Ribeye. I served it with a bacon-onion spinach salad and–my!–it was a hit. With me. While my guys filled up on steak, I indulged in the best spinach salad ever, leaving my own steak pretty much untouched. That’s why tonight’s dinner was something of a repeat. Since my guys didn’t have room for salad the night before, I made it again, this time as the entree. And that extra Ribeye? Sliced and scattered over the salad. Sensational!

Without Ribeye

Without Ribeye

Sensational Bacon-Onion Salad-With Ribeye

With Ribeye

2 tbsp olive oil, divided

6 slices turkey bacon, chopped (if you use regular fatty bacon, you won’t need to cook the bacon in 1 tbsp olive oil)

1 tbsp butter

1 red onion, peeled, quartered, and sliced thin

2/3 cup Craisins

1/2 cup corn (I used frozen and thawed)

8 cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped

OPTIONAL: 1 lb grilled and chilled steak (I used leftover ribeye), sliced thin into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1) Heat 1 tbsp (reserving 1 tbsp) olive oil in large skillet over medium-high; add bacon and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes until just crispy; reduce heat to medium, add reserved 1 tbsp olive oil, butter, and onions, and cook, stirring often, 10-12 minutes until onions soften and begin to brown; add Craisins and corn and cook 5 minutes; remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes

2) Divide spinach between 4 large plates; top with bacon-onion mixture, optional steak, and feta cheese; a dressing isn’t necessary, but I recommend champagne vinaigrette. Enjoy!

Servings: 4

SMOKED SALMON-TOMATO-CHIVE MINI FRITTATAS

Junior Too grimaced when he saw me beating eggs with half-and-half (he’s not big on eggs), so I decided to make this egg-based meal special for my seafood lover by bypassing ham in favor of smoked salmon. Score! Both he and Senior devoured this tasty frittata, and though I would have preferred ham, I didn’t leave much on my plate either. Note: If you don’t own mini-casserole dishes, bake in a large casserole dish for an additional 15-20 minutes or until eggs are set.

Smoked Salmon-Tomato-Chive Mini Frittata

spray olive oil

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

2 tbsp chopped fresh chives

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1 cup shredded Italian 6-cheese blend, divided

6 oz smoked salmon, flaked

8 eggs

3/4 cup half-and-half

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees; oil 4 mini-casserole dishes with spray olive oil

2) Layer ingredients, dividing equally between casserole dishes: tomatoes, chives, parsley, oregano, 3/4 cup cheese (reserving 1/4 cup for topping), and salmon; set aside

3) In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, salt, and pepper; pour over tomato-smoked salmon layers; bake in oven 20-25 minutes until eggs are set; sprinkle reserved 1/4 cheese over frittata and bake additional 2-3 minutes until cheese melts; enjoy!

Servings: 4

CARAMEL POPCORN CUPCAKES

I think cupcakes with mountain-high frosting is glorious. However, the sight of those beauties always alarms my guys who scrape off most of the frosting and leave a beautiful mess on their plates (seems I’m the only one who eats cupcakes for the frosting). So I thought: how about mountain-high caramel popcorn cupcakes? The verdict: no caramel corn left on their plates!

Caramel Popcorn Cupcakes 2   Caramel Popcorn Cupcakes

CUPCAKES:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated white sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

FROSTING:

12 Kraft individually wrapped caramels, wrappers removed (buy 1-14 oz bag and use balance for caramel corn below)

6 tbsp butter

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1/4 cup half-and-half

CARAMEL POPCORN:

8 cups popcorn (I used 1 bag of microwave kettle corn)

38 (or so) Kraft individually-wrapped caramels, wrappers removed

2 tbsp water

1) CUPCAKES: Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2) In large bowl, using electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes; add eggs, vanilla, and milk and beat until combined; beat in baking powder and salt; on low speed, gradually add flour and beat until just combined

3) Divide batter between 12 liners in muffin pan; bake 20-24 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean; remove from oven and set aside to cool

4) FROSTING: While cupcakes are baking, prepare double boiler on stove by pouring 1 cup of water in bottom of double boiler and bringing to a boil over medium-high heat; to top pan of double boiler, add 12 caramels and butter; stir often until just melted (7-8 minutes)

5) Gradually stir in confectioner’s sugar and half-and-half; when mixture is combined and smooth, remove from heat and let cool on counter 10 minutes; refrigerate 1 hour or more

6) Stir frosting to a smooth consistency and frost cupcakes; refrigerate

7) CARAMEL CORN: Pop popcorn, discard unpopped kernels (don’t want to chip a tooth); set popcorn aside

8) In large non-stick skillet over medium heat, add caramels and 2 tbsp water; stirring constantly, melt into a smooth caramel sauce; remove from heat and immediately pour popcorn into sauce; with plastic spoon, gently stir popcorn until well coated; remove cupcakes from refrigerator; lightly wet hands and, working quickly (and carefully if your skillet is hot), scoop a small handful of caramel-coated popcorn, pat into ball shape, and gently push down into frosting on cupcake; repeat with remaining cupcakes

9) Serve immediately or refrigerate for later (if your guys will let you)

Makes: 12 cupcakes

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 05/25/12.

DREAMSPELL: A Medieval Time Travel Romance

DREAMSPELL: A Medieval Time Travel Romance ~ 4.8/5 Stars ~ featured at Bargain Ebook Hunter. Only $2.99.

Cover Dreamspell Final

A TIME TO LIVE. A TIME TO DIE. A TIME TO DREAM.

Sleep disorders specialist Kennedy Plain has been diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor. When her research subject dies after trying to convince her he has achieved dream-induced time travel and her study is shelved, she enlists herself as a subject to complete her research. But when she dreams herself into 14th-century England and falls into the hands of Fulke Wynland, a man history has condemned as a murderer, she must not only stay alive long enough to find a way to return to her own time, but prevent Fulke from murdering his young nephews. And yet, the more time she spends with the medieval warrior, the more difficult it is to believe he is capable of committing the heinous crime for which he has been reviled for 600 years.

Baron Fulke Wynland has been granted guardianship of his brother’s heirs despite suspicions that he seeks to steal their inheritance. When the king sends a mysterious woman to care for the boys, Fulke is surprised by the lady’s hostility toward him–and more surprised to learn she is to be his wife. But when his nephews are abducted, the two must overcome their mutual dislike to discover the boys’ fate. What Fulke never expects is to feel for this woman whose peculiar speech, behavior, and talk of dream travel could see her burned as a witch.

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