Sunday, April 21, 2013

Easy Cheese and Mushroom-Stuffed Chicken

It seems like everybody is looking for quick and easy dinner ideas. Here's one of my favorites - Cheese and Mushroom-Stuffed Chicken!

You'll have to touch raw chicken, but somehow, I think you'll live.

Madeleine Dee's Easy Cheese and Mushroom-Stuffed Chicken
Serves 2-3 (2 if the cook happens to devour the third while preparing dinner...)

1.5 to 1.75 lbs. raw chicken breasts (about 3 individual breasts)
1 cup mushrooms, sauteed w/ salt, pepper, garlic, & lemon zest
1 generous cup shredded cheese (mozzarella, mild cheddar...)
Salt and black pepper
Olive oil cooking spray
1 cup breadcrumbs (I use roasted garlic ones)
2-3 large eggs
Aluminum foil
Fresh parsley, for garnish

1. Preheat your oven to 35O*F. Lay your chicken breasts on a clean plastic cutting board (never use a wooden board when handling raw proteins) and trim off the fat and various other "icky" parts. Be sure each breast is equally sized for even cooking.

2. With a sharp knife, slice evenly into the side of each breast to make a pouch. Do not cut through the other side or through the still-connected ends.

3. Stand your chicken breasts up so that the pouch you just created forms a boat. Yes, a chicken boat. Best kind of boat if you ask me. Now that you've got your chicken standing up with flat bottoms and open tops, season liberally with salt and pepper, then fill the breasts with cheese and top with the sauteed mushrooms.

4. Get out two medium-sized bowls and fill one with your breadcrumbs and the other with your eggs.

5. Beat the eggs well, then use your hand to coat only the chicken (you don't need to worry about the filling).

6. Shake off the excess egg and coat the chicken lightly with breadcrumbs.

7. Shake off the excess breadcrumbs and gently transfer the chicken breasts to a large, greased, foil-lined baking pan.

8. Top with some extra cheese. Be messy about it.

9. Spray liberally with olive oil cooking spray, sprinkle with salt and pepper,  and bake at 350*F for 35-40 minutes, or until cooked through. I won't judge you if you cut into a breast to make sure there's no pink left, then eat all of it.

When finished, your chicken should look like this.

This chicken goes very well with pretty much anything. Below, I served it with white wine risotto, mushrooms, and sugar snap peas.

And you know what's super awesome? When you got all messy with that final cheese sprinkling, the cheese made thin, crispy sheets out of itself in the bottom of the baking dish. (!) They can (and should) be used to garnish your chicken.

Enjoy, my dears! :)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Liebster Award!

Cheers. :)

I was recently nominated for the Liebster Award by a fellow blogger, the Bitter Baker, and I am honored! A little research told me that this isn't an award in the normal sense of the word, but a way for bloggers to recognize little-known colleagues, learn a little about them, and help spread their name and their work to more readers. It's a lovely idea, so I thought I'd pass the gesture along!

The 11 Questions Asked of Me by The Bitter Baker:

1. What did you want to be when you grew up? - An archaeologist, but then I realized that the profession is nothing like Indiana Jones, so my love for acting took over, and then I discovered cooking while I was preparing to move to Hollywood.
2. What’s the number one thing on your bucket list? - To live in London someday.
3. What inspired you to start food blogging? - I wanted to help people learn to understand and love cooking as much as I do. Cooking is incredibly enjoyable once you know the basics. Also, there isn't much possibility for exposure when you work as a personal chef, so I wanted a way to reach more people with my cooking, my writing, and my food photography.
4. What keeps you going? - I want to quit frequently because I have so little time for blogging, but every time I decide to stop, someone gushes about how much they loved a recipe or how much they admire a photo of mine. And then I'm just all warm and fuzzy.
5. Have you ever stood on a skateboard? - Yes. I decided I wanted to be a skateboarder once when I was about 11, so I saved my money, bought one, played with it for a day or two, and then left it to collect cobwebs in the garage.
6. Tell me about an awkward moment that you laugh about today. - I was sneakily eating a bag of Skittles on my lap during class one day in high school, which was wayyyy not allowed, and when I moved to look for something, the bag fell and busted all over the floor. Colorful orbs went cascading, bouncing, swirling, and twirling EVERYWHERE. I was mortified, and the teacher tried to give me detention after class, but I cried so much that he just blanched and put the slip of paper away.
7. Do you like kale? - I LOVE it, but I just discovered that I do, so I'm putting it in everything.
8. Are you a coffee or tea person? - Both, but I drink tea more. Most of my coffee consumption involves floofy concoctions from Starbucks.
9. What do you have for breakfast? - Whatever I can find.
10. Three words your friends would use to describe you? - Strange, loving, loyal.
11. Your favorite motto/quote? - "Poco a poco se va lejos." It's Spanish for "little by little, one goes far". Helps me with patience. ;)
11 Random Facts About Me:
1. I have a small birthmark on my ankle that looks like a tiny pair of lips kissed my skin.
2. If I wake up between 6 AM and 6:59 AM, I am miserably tired. Any other time is fine.
3. I have an intense aversion to ham, but I eat all other pork products.
4. I have hundreds of issues of Gourmet magazine. It was my favorite publication, and I was so sad when they stopped printing.
5. I played ice hockey for a brief while in high school. It's just as scary as it looks.
6. I burnt my arm on a searing hot pan when I was a TA at Sullivan University. The burn finally healed and was almost invisible a couple months ago, and then I burnt my arm in the exact same spot, so now I have the scar again.
7. I once lived in Hollywood for 5 days.
8. I got excellent grades all my life, even 100% in several, but I almost failed Chemistry.
9. I cross days off on my calendar at 9 PM. It's an old habit from when I had to go to sleep early and wake up at 5 AM for culinary school.
10. I can parrot almost any voice, accent, or noise that I hear, and I do a mean Miss Swan impression.
11. I'm a sucker for brown eyes.

Here are the 11 blogs/bloggers I'd like to nominate:
The Creole Contessa
Magpie's Recipes
My Recipe Journey
An Uneducated Palate
Scott Borel -
Sugar Dish Me
Lynn's Southern Heart
Lullabies for Pies - Magdalena Hannah
Magnolia Days
Sue's Nutrition Buzz
Cooking is Easy

Now, 11 questions for the people I nominated:
1. What is your name?
2. If you could time travel to one part of history, which time would you choose and why?
3. What is your favorite kitchen tool?
4. If you had to get rid of a whole food group and never eat from it again, which would you choose?
5. What is your favorite kind of cheese?
6. How many foreign countries have you visited? Which ones would you like to visit?
7. Where were you born? (You don't have to say when!)
8. If you could put your 5 favorite musical artists together for a concert, who would be playing?
9. What is your favorite food-related film?
10. What is your blog about, and what does the subject mean to you?
11. What is your fondest food memory?


If you'd like to continue the award ceremony, choose 11 little-known bloggers, tell them they've been nominated with a link to your questions, answer the ones you've been asked, ask them 11 questions,  and list 11 random facts about yourself. Sounds like a lot, but it's very fun! :)

Friday, April 12, 2013

My (Sorta) Famous Salmon Dish! :)

Early this year, I was featured in the Louisville Courier Journal because of my profession as a personal chef, and I submitted this recipe for publication with the article. It has several of my favorite ingredients all in one dish, it's quick, and it's healthy, so it's really a delicious win/win/win situation! :)

Property of Chef Madeleine Dee
This recipe, sans the sauce. (Naked salmon! :O)

Chef Madeleine Dee's Pesto-Roasted Salmon with Fennel, Goat Cheese, and Mushrooms over Lemony Asparagus
Serves 2

1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed off
Olive oil
Zest of 2 lemons, divided
Kosher salt and black pepper
3-4 tablespoons pesto
2 skinless salmon fillets, 6-8 ounces each
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 shallots, peeled and diced
1 bulb fennel, diced
About 2 cups of sliced baby portobello mushrooms
4 big leaves fresh basil, rolled up and sliced into ribbons
1 teaspoon garlic powder, optional
¼ cup of heavy cream
3-4 tablespoons goat cheese
Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Add asparagus and toss to coat it with olive oil, the zest of 1 lemon, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast asparagus for 20-25 minutes, depending on the thickness.

3. Mix pesto with the zest of half a lemon and brush on salmon to coat it completely. Season with salt and pepper, then lay on a greased baking sheet. Roast 6-ounce fillets 15-16 minutes, and 8-ounce fillets 17-18 minutes, turning once.

4. Once the salmon is in the oven, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan and sauté garlic, shallots and fennel with a little salt and pepper until softened, then turn up the heat a little and add mushrooms and the zest of half a lemon with another pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté until you can smell the lemon and the mushrooms begin to brown, but not burn. Remove from heat and stir in the basil, garlic powder (if using), a couple of tablespoons of cream and some goat cheese. Taste and add goat cheese, salt and/or pepper until you like the way it tastes. An extra touch of cream will yield a looser sauce. Keep warm.

5. Simply spoon your sauce over the salmon, add some asparagus, and sprinkle with chopped parsley!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Quick Ravioli with Pears, Parmesan, Spinach, and Walnuts

Property of Chef Madeleine Dee
By Madeleine Dee

I love unique pasta combinations, and I REALLY love ravioli. 
Below is a quick recipe for a quick dish that a client loved:

Ravioli with Pears, Parmesan, Spinach, and Walnuts
By Chef Madeleine Dee
Serves 4-6

1 bag frozen cheese ravioli
2 ripe (but not mushy) pears, sliced into thin strips
About 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
2 cups fresh baby spinach
Generous 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
Zest of 2 lemons
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh parsley, for garnish

1. Put a pot of salty water on the stove and bring it to a boil.

2. Heat butter and olive oil over medium to medium-high heat, then sauté pears with  the zest of 1 lemon and a little salt and pepper. When pears are softened, add in the spinach and the zest of the other lemon. Sauté until softened and season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn off heat.

3. Boil ravioli until they float to the surface. Place your 1/2 cup Parmesan in a large bowl with the walnuts. When the ravioli are cooked,  immediately remove them straight to the bowl with a slotted spoon.  Add in the pears and spinach. Gently shake everything around to coat, season to taste, sprinkle with extra walnuts, Parmesan, and parsley, then enjoy! :)

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Executive Chef and Owner of No Place Like Home in Louisville, KY. Writer, actress, chef, professional cook and professional eater.