Sunday, January 27, 2013

Stuffed Chicken Marsala

Though this recipe does take a little time and effort, the results are more than worth the work.  This dish has long been a favorite of my hubby's whiand after trying a few variations on this recipe, we finally came up with one that has the right balance between the sweetness of the Marsala wine, the creamy blend of cheeses, and a hint of richness from the heavy cream.  If you are looking for a meal that is sure to impress - this is definitely it.

Having tried this at many Italian restaurants, our version is definitely on par with what we've had when we go out, but at less than a quarter of the price.  This recipe, to me, screams date night at home or a perfect dish to impress the new in-laws, visiting friends and family, and can be a great holiday meal.

If you want to make this meal ahead, most of this can be done ahead of time, from premixing the stuffing, to prepping the chicken - you can have this meal pulled together in about 30 minutes, if you prepare the chicken and the stuffing ahead of time.

And absolutely no one would believe this meal came together for under $10.

Serves well with a garden salad, mashed potatoes, and some Italian bread.


2 whole chicken breasts ($2.15)
1/4 C. flour ($.05)
salt and pepper to taste
1 T. cooking oil ($.05)

1/2 C. shredded mozzarella ($.40)
1/8 C. smoked provolone ($.15)
4 T. ricotta cheese ($.25)
1/2 C. parmesan ($.15)
1/8 C. sour cream ($.10)
2 cloves minced garlic ($.10)
2-3 T. sundried tomatoes, minced ($.10)

1 T. butter ($.10)
1 small onion, minced ($.05)
6-8 medium sized white button mushrooms, sliced thin ($.75)
1-2 tsp flour ($.05)
1/4 C. Marsala wine ($1.50)
1/2 C. chicken stock (free after coupons)
3/4 C. heavy cream ($.75)
2 T. parmesan ($.05)
pinch of parsley, optional


Heat oven to 350.  Lightly grease a large baking pan.

Combine all stuffing ingredients until well blended.

Cut whole chicken breasts in half.  Pound out each half to uniform thickness.  Butterfly open each chicken breast half.  Place a quarter of the stuffing mixture onto one side of each chicken breast half, then fold over the other side of the chicken.

Combine the flour with salt and pepper (to taste).  Dredge chicken in the flour.  Add oil and heat a large skillet over high heat.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add chicken breasts and brown on each side.  Remove chicken from pan into prepared baking dish.  Bake chicken at 350 until stuffing reached 165F - roughly 15-20 minutes.

Using the pan from the chicken, add 1 T. butter and heat over medium low.
Add minced onion and cook for 2 minutes, then add in the sliced mushrooms.
Cook for 5-6 minutes, or until mushrooms are just fork tender.
Stir in the flour.
Deglaze the pan with Marsala wine and increase heat to medium high.
Cook until the wine reduces by at least half, then add the chicken stock.
When mixture reaches a simmer, add heavy cream and continue to simmer until sauce starts to reduce, whisk in the parmesan and cook until well combined and the sauce has reached desired consistency.

Serve chicken and mashed potatoes with sauce drizzled over the top.
Top with parsley if desired.

Yields: 4 servings
Cost: $6.75
Cost per serving: $1.69

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bananas Foster

4 ingredients of pure heaven.

Really, that's all it takes.

Hubby and I were making waffles for breakfast and I got the urge to create.  Having some ripe bananas on hand, I decided on a whim to make bananas foster.  I had seen it done on the Food Network a few times so I thought I dwould give it a try.

Amazingly easy.  Really, one of the simplest recipes I've made in ages.

Served over French toast, pancakes, waffles, ice cream, or blondies - all I can say is YUM!
Here's how easy it is.

2 T. butter ($.15)
2 ripe banans ($.20)
4 T. brown sugar ($.05)
2-3 T. half and half or heavy cream ($.10)

Melt butter in a nonstick pan over medium heat.

Cut bananas into thick (1/2") slices.  Add bananas to butter and saute for 1 minute.  Stir in brown sugar until incorporated.  Stir in half and half or heavy cream, simmer 1-2 minutes, until caramel sauce comes together.

Serve warm.

Yields: 4 servings
Cost: $.50
Cost per serving: $.13

Friday, January 25, 2013

Bacon, Herb, and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

I saw this on a menu in a restaurant in downtown Davenport last week and thought that I could easily make a version of this on my own.  Stuffed mushrooms are a favorite appetizer of mine and one that is great to make at home.  Full of flavor, herbs, bacon (or ham), and cheese - these are a go-to for me when it comes to do-ahead appetizers.

What's great about these?  I can make enough appetizers for a party of 8-10 people for less than half what I spent on these tasty treats in the restaurant.

8 slices of applewood smoked (or your favorite) bacon, cooked ($.50)
3-4 T. bread crumbs ($.10)
1/3 C. parmesan cheese ($.30)
1/4 C. ricotta cheese ($.30)
3 T. sour cream ($.10)
1/3 C. shredded mozzarella or provolone ($.50)
8 thin slices of munster cheese ($.50)
1 1/2 tsp. each: basil, minced garlic, and Italian seasoning ($.10)
2 T. Italian salad dressing (free after coupons)
salt and pepper to taste
32 medium sized white button mushrooms ($2)
1-2 tsp. olive oil ($.10)


Heat oven to 400.  Grease a 9x9" baking dish.

Chop bacon finely.  Remove mushroom caps and set aside for another use (I like to use them in stocks, soups, pasta sauces, etc.)  Cut slices of munster cheese into quarters.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except mushrooms, olive oil, and sliced munster cheese.  Mix well to combine.

Fill each mushroom with 1-2 T. of filling.  Brush bottom of mushrooms with olive oil and top each with a slice of munster.

Line mushrooms up (not touching) in prepared baking sheet.

Bake at 400 for 25 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and cheese is melted.

Yields: 32 mushrooms or 10 servings
Cost: $4.25
Cost per mushroom: $.14

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Restaurant-Style Garlic Spread

In my house, we love Italian and that tends to be on the menu at least once or twice a week.  I have experimented with a few different garlic butters and spreads and after watching the Cooking Channel - I had an epiphany: olive oil.  I know it's a little different, but adding olive oil to my garlic butter really made it perfect.  After several attempts, here is a great make-ahead garlic spread that has tons of flavor and gives your garlic bread or pasta an instant WOW-factor.

1 stick butter, softened ($.50)
3-4 T. olive oil ($.20)
2-3 T. parmesan ($.20)
1 1/4 tsp. basil ($.05)
1/2 tsp. parsley or oregano ($.05)

Mix well all ingredients and use to dress pasta or spread on garlic bread or breadsticks.
Yields: 1 batch
Cost per batch: $1.00

Use this spread on:
French Bread
As sandwich spread
In pasta sauce
Chicken or pork
With seafood