Today was a pretty low-key day. I spent time researching preschool home school options (My sister offered up excellent suggestions via Facebook text and when I talked to her on the phone today). I spent time with Muffin, watching him play with trains and just be an almost-four-year-old boy. Lots of snuggles and cuddles, as well (although no nap to speak of, except napus interruptus right around lunchtime).
I also (very quickly) prepped two components/ingredients for tomorrow’s meal (the Crock Pot Ranch Pork Chops): I made the Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup from Gimme Some Oven and the Homemade Ranch Seasoning also from Gimme Some Oven. I left the buttermilk powder out of the Homemade Ranch Seasoning, so I will probably add a bit of “buttermilked” milk to the Crock Pot tomorrow. Here are the pickies:
The cream of chicken.
The cream of chicken soup tasted spot on, and I love that it didn’t taste so chemically as the canned version has tasted lately. Plus, I got to add in some of the Crock Pot Rotisserie Chicken to it. Bonus! And one recipe makes two cans worth, and I needed to cans for the recipe tomorrow. Did I mention that it was easy peasy? Seriously. Came. Together. Perfectly.
The ranch seasoning minus the buttermilk powder but with a bit of paprika thrown in for color.
It’s seriously a disease. I can’t help but change a recipe up. I’ve decided something must be wrong with me. I would recommend using the link for the cream of chicken (because I actually followed that recipe verbatim, for once), but the ranch seasoning…well…I followed the cream of chicken recipe verbatim. Here’s what I did:
Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix
Heavily adapted from Gimme Some Oven (Link above)
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon ground black pepper (freshly ground!)
1 teaspoon dried chives, slightly crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika (I used Spanish)
Layer ingredients in an empty jar (I used an empty jelly jar that had previously held another recipe of ranch seasoning). Cover and shake shake shake.
Gimme Some Oven suggests using 1 tablespoon mix with 1/3 cup mayo and 1/3 cup milk and whisking to combine. I plan on adding in 1 tablespoon plus a bit of “buttermilked” milk tomorrow when I make the Crock Pot Ranch Pork Chops.
But now, for the main event. And if you notice the discrepancies between the Ranch seasonings, this is so much worse.
In my defense, I kept the ingredients the same. I changed some of the amounts and definitely changed the process. I would also make a few tweaks before next time. I will say that this was another LFam Approved recipe.
Let me just write it as I did it.
Heavily Adapted from Six Sisters’ Stuff
2 huge boneless, skinless chicken breasts, excess skin and tendons removed, halved to make four moderate sized breast pieces
salt and pepper
barbecue sauce (The original recipe calls for one cup, but I probably put more on each piece)
8 pieces of bacon, cooked using the method described below, and broken in half
3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, hand shredded (or more until it makes things cheesy)
3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, hand shredded (I didn’t and I regretted it)
fresh diced tomatoes
diced green onions
A few notes and disclaimers: Like the Pioneer Woman, I am becoming less inclined to use pre-shredded cheese, especially if it’s something that I wish to melt. She’s right about most things, including that. Pre-shredded simply does not melt as well. I grated the Monterey Jack but not the cheddar, and I could tell the difference in meltability. And yes, I know that isn’t a word. But it should be. That is not to say that grating cheese is my favorite kitchen chore. It isn’t. At all. But it does produce better results. Also, I tended to go with more is better in terms of barbecue sauce, cheese, tomato, and onions. And while I know this is supposed to be a copycat of a Chili’s recipe (that I never consumed), I would probably want to add sauteed mushrooms somehow in one of the layers–maybe on top of the bacon. Also, I used Kraft Honey barbecue sauce. I wish I had used Garland Jack’s or Sweet Baby Ray’s. Kraft products, in general, seem to be more processed than most, and rather than tasting barbecue sauce in the final product, I tasted Kraft chemicals. (Can I please go back to the days when I thrived on processed foods? Please?????)
But now to what I did. I actually pre-baked the bacon a few hours in advance because I wanted to give it time to cool, drain, and stiffen up. Limp bacon is not wanted here. If it bends when you go to break it, you have not cooked it long enough. And I baked mine. Alton Brown swears by it as well as several other people in the Pinteresting Blogosphere. And it produces flat, evenly cooked, bacon. I’m a bit picky that way. However, it takes 25 minutes to produce perfectly cooked thick-sliced bacon. And I had to do it in two batches. So keep that in mind if you are using this method. On a lipped cookie sheet (size doesn’t matter) place a small baker’s rack (one that will fit inside the cookie sheet). Arrange slices of raw bacon over the rack, taking care to ensure that they are not touching. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (remember to preheat) for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, take the bacon out and turn each slice. Bake another 10 minutes. Evacuate to a plate to drain and cool. Once drained and cooled, break the bacon in half.
Reserve the bacon drippings for searing the chicken breasts (go ahead and pour them into the skillet you plan to use).
Gently pound the chicken breasts to a uniform thickness with a mallet or (if you cover the breasts with plastic or wax paper) your rolling pin. Don’t mutilate the chicken, however. This is not a project to take your road rage out on; just sayin’. Season both sides of the breasts generously with salt and pepper and seal in a zippy bag for the seasonings to do some work.
When ready to continue the cooking process, heat the bacon over medium-high heat until hot. Arrange chicken breasts in the pan (I fit three out of the four pieces). Cover and sear for 3 minutes. If you don’t cover, expect bacon fat splatters. Trust me, they are not as much fun as confetti being thrown at your face and arms. And they hurt a lot worse, too. After three minutes, use your trusty spring loaded tongs to turn over the chicken. The chicken may be stuck at this point. Finesse it off of the pan with the tongs (Translation: Scrape as hard as you have to to get the chicken off the pan so that it doesn’t burn). Cover and wait three more minutes. Realize as you notice the spatters on the lid how lucky and smart you were to cover the pan (because you would be wearing those spatters–it may have taken me the first half of the cooking process to realize I needed a lid). Evacuate the chicken to a glass 9×13-inch pan sprayed with cooking spray. Repeat with remaining chicken breast(s).
Pour (Glug) barbecue sauce over chicken. The point here is flavor and coverage. You want the maximum of both. The barbecue sauce provides a grout for the bacon tiles to come. Arrange the bacon artistically (you may have to break one of the halves into smaller pieces) over the chicken breasts, 4 bacon strip halves per breasts (a total of two complete bacon strips). Cover with Monterey Jack and then with cheddar. Here’s where I made a huge deviation from the original: sprinkle liberally with the tomato and green onions. Cover with foil. Place in a 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Uncover. Turn your oven broiler to HI, and broil until the cheese bubbles on the surface (browning would be great here as well!). Serve with Parmesan Garlic Toast and a salad.
And, since, I can’t leave you hanging in suspense, here is the “recipe” for Parmesan Garlic Toasts:
Parmesan Garlic Toasts
2 hot dog buns, split along the split and separated into four halves total
2 teaspoons margarine spread (or butter), softened
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes, crushed finely with the fingers
2 tablespoons grana padano (or another Parmesan-style cheese), grated with a Microplane grater/zester
Spread the “white innards” of the hot dog buns with the margarine spread or butter. Sprinkle with garlic powder, pepper, and parsley flakes. Grate the cheese directly over the buns until the surface resembles snow drifts (low, small snow drifts, but still…snow drifts). Broil until the cheese is melted delightfully and the surface is browned. Eat. Repeat.
As the untoasted toasts entered the oven.
Garlicky, Parmesan toasty perfection!
There were leftovers. I could only eat about half a breast. Other sources for the Monterey Chicken mention that it is served as a sandwich, so I cut the remaining breast pieces in half and plan to make sandwiches with them tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it goes.
How did your dinner plans go today?