Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Making dinner with my Sister-in-Law

My sister-in-law, Heather, has been asking me to teach her cook for a little while now. She's gained an interest in learning but it was just a matter of us setting aside the time to do it. I see my sister-in-law all of the time, but extra time can be hard to come by somedays!

For her birthday I got her a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook - Anyone Can Cook and since then she's wanted to get together even more. I asked her and her boyfriend Rob over Sunday and told her we should cook something from the book. So 2 nights prior we looked through the book, she'd picked out a Cheese-Stuffed Chicken recipe. (By the way, this book is fabulous, great pictures, great recipes, and lots of instructional information - like the differences in taste between yellow, white, and red onions, to what knives to use for what, and what different cuts of meat are, etc.).

We flipped through the book looking for side dishes when I asked her if she'd ever made mashed potatoes, the answer was no....that's something I wanted her to learn, pronto, so that settled one side. I was going to suggest a veggie of some sort when she asked if I'd teach her how to make a garlic bread I'd made once when we had her and Rob over for dinner. I said ok and decided not to push the veggie. I for one could live off of starches all my life - bread and potatoes ROCK - and secondly, I didn't want to overwhelm her with too much to learn in one day.

Sunday arrived and I decided we should get the apple crisp we agreed to make for dessert made and in the oven. So that was first. Then we went to the store to pick up what I didn't have in the house for dinner while we left my husband and Rob watched the Patriots came. When we got back to my house we immediately got to work on the chicken. Heather asked lots of questions all along which I thought was great - it showed how much she really wanted to learn. And of course we had a really fun time through it all. While we "slaved" in the kitchen, Greg & Rob smoked cigars on our deck....ahh...the life!

I would say our dinner was a raging success. The chicken came out fabulous. We made a few minor changes which is how the recipe will appear below. I also taught Heather the "fine art" of "winging it" (as I like to call it!) with the mashed potatoes (so no recipe below) and the garlic bread was absolutely awesome. The recipe that appears the below is my adjustment for cooking it in the oven rather than on the grill (which I did the first few times I made it), and also a few other changes to reflect our preferences.

I can't wait until we do this again. Heather was even so excited about how easy the apple crisp recipe is that she is going ot make it for Thanksgiving dessert! We had a blast overall on Sunday - as an only child I've been lucky to be blessed with such a great sister-in-law and, really, is there any better combination than cooking and/or baking with one of your favorite people in the world? I think not.

Cheese-Stuffed Chicken
(from BHG "Anyone Can Cook")

4 chicken breast halves (2 to 2 1/2 pounds total)
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
4 slices of bacon, crisp cooked and crumbled
Salt & pepper
Italian Seasoning

Preheat oven to 350F. Using a sharp knife, make a pocket in each breast half by cutting horizontally from side to side, cutting to but not through the opposite side and leaving the edges in tact.

In a medium bowl, combine mozzarella, feta, and bacon. Pack cheese mixture lightly into pockets. Place chicken in 3 quart rectangular baking dish. Light sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, paprika, and Italian seasoning.

Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven for 50-55 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken registers at 170 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Makes 4 servings.

Unbelievable Grilled Garlic Bread
(adapated from AllRecipes.com)

1 cup mayonnaise
6 teapsoons minced garlic
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 (1 pound) loaf French bread, halved lengthwise

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients except bread.

Place the French bread on baking pan, cut side up and put in preheated oven 5-7 minutes or until slightly toasted.
(The picture at the above right is garlic bread in process, see chicken picture for not-so-great picture of finished product)

NILLA Apple Crisp
(from KraftFoods.com)

4 large Granny Smith apples (2 lb.), peeled, thinly sliced (we used 5 apples)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar, divided
2 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
1/3 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold margarine
25 Reduced Fat NILLA Wafers, crushed (about 1 cup crumbs)

Heat oven to 350°F. Toss apples with 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Spoon into 8- or 9-inch sq. baking dish.

Combine oats, remaining brown sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl. Cut in margarine with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in wafer crumbs; sprinkle over apples.

Bake 30 to 35 min. or until apples are tender. Serve topped with COOL WHIP. (Or Vanilla Ice Cream in our case!

The two of us with our finished dinner product. I swear we only broke out our ridiculously highly filled glasses of wine once dinner was already in the oven!


Bridget said...

That looks like fun! :)

Danielle said...

FUN!!! We need to make a date soon! We still have the dessert wine that we forgot to drink that you brought with you guys!!!

That Girl said...

It's always fun to cook with someone else.

Memaw's memories said...

Nothing like good food, good friends/family.

Looks like you had a great time.