Stuffed Chicken in Chardonnay Cream Sauce

On March 31, 2009, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus

I have made this recipe since the early 1990s. I had caught it watching a Northwest cooking show when spending a summer with my dad in, of all places, Boring, Oregon. Fortunately, the local PBS station was anything but boring when it came to some delicious recipes. I don’t recall the show’s name but it was sponsored by Chateau Ste Michelle Winery.

The recipe that follows is not from the original television show. I have modified the original to make it less complex, but still retain the complexity of the flavors.


Enjoy! This is always a hit and, believe it or not, it only takes less than hour from preparation to on the table. I made tonight after work without much effort.

Stuffed Chicken in Chardonnay Cream Sauce
Serves 4

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup of spinach, coarsely chopped, uncooked
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg, whites only – discard yolk
2 oz. Goat cheese
1 shallot, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup Chardonnay or dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven at 375 degrees.

Cook spinach in lightly oiled pan for about 3 minutes too soften. Fillet chicken breasts by cutting through middle of thickest side, but keep attached, as you will use the filleted chicken center as a pocket for the filling. For the filling, mix the cooked spinach, goat cheese, breadcrumbs, egg white, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spoon filling in chicken breasts, about a tablespoon or more, filling them enough but not too much that you can’t wrap the chicken around the stuffing. Secure the chicken around the stuffing using toothpicks, about 3 per chicken. Make sure you leave some of the toothpick ends poking through enough so they are easy to remove after cooking.

Heat sauté pan on medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and butter to pan. Add chicken when bubbling. Cook on each side to brown for about 2-3 minutes per side for about 10 minutes total. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil if necessary to keep pan well oiled. After browning chicken, move pan to oven and heat for 20 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and remove chicken breasts from pan. Set aside. Being careful with hot sauté pan, add 1 tablespoon of butter and melt adding diced shallots. Cook for about 1 minute and then add wine to deglaze the pan. Reduce wine to about half, about 3-4 minutes. Add heavy cream and whisk sauce adding salt and pepper to taste.

Plate chicken by cutting into one inch thick slices at diagonal. Drizzle sauce over cut, stuffed chicken.

Pork Loin with White Wine Reduction

On March 29, 2009, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus

There are so many ways to make a sauce, but most have one of the following main ingredients: heavy cream, butter or wine. And, yes, some great sauces use all three. The one I invented last Friday night used a white wine reduction.

Breaded Pork Loin with White Wine Reduction
Serves 4

4 pork loin cutlets, trimmed of fat
1 egg, white only – discard yoke
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil

For Sauce:
1/2 cup of white wine, Chardonnay or table wine
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 medium red onion or 1 shallot, finely chopped
Juice from half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon capers
salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter and olive oil in medium high saute pan. Place pork loin cutlets between saran wrap and pound thin with meat tenderizer. Mix egg white and orange juice together in shallow bowl. Mix bread crumbs, fresh parsley, and salt and pepper in a separate shallow bowl. Dip pork cutlets into egg wash and then dip into bread crumb mixture, coating both sides. Cook cutlets for about 5 minutes on each side. Remove cutlets from pan.

In saute pan, add onions and 1 tablespoon of butter, if necessary. Cook onions until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add capers and cook for 1 minute with onions. Add white wine and reduce by half. Add lemon juice, remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, and salt and pepper whisking ingredients to wine reduction. Return cutlets to pan for about 1 or 2 minutes as sauce thickens.

Remove cutlets from pan and pour sauce over to serve. Sprinkle with any remaining parsley, optional.

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Real Home Cooking: Shortcut Ravioli

On March 26, 2009, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus

One thing I wanted to do with this blog was to make it about home cooking, not just gourmet cooking. Home cooking isn’t about doing everything by scratch, well at least the non-idyllic version isn’t. Home cooking is often about finding shortcuts and having dishes that are easy to make after a long day at work.

The following dish is all about shortcuts. First, I started with fresh frozen ravioli from Alcamo’s in Dearborn. The ravioli I like from Alcamo’s is the chicken portobello mushroom. It has diced all-white meat chicken breast combined with diced mushrooms. They are excellent, but run $10 for a package that serves two. If you don’t have Alcamo’s in your neighborhood, than any store bought cheese ravioli works.

I was going to accompany the pasta with my homemade Alfredo sauce, until I realized my heavy cream expired last week. So, I went with a backup sauce packet. Knorr’s garlic herb white sauce actually works very well for store bought ravioli. I did add some fresh asparagus and Parmesan Reggiano to bring some fresh elements to the dish.

There are a lot of dishes that come together without much effort. This was just one of them. I hope you find it useful if you ever are in a pinch.

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Crock Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage

On March 18, 2009, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus

It’s Saint Patrick’s Day so I decided to do the traditional thing and make some corned beef and cabbage. The following recipe is a better version than most, as it leaves the cabbage separate from the main crock pot, giving the cabbage a more independent taste when combined with the corned beef and other vegetables when served.

This year I found an excellent brand of corned beef. Our local Market Square grocer carried a trim corned beef made by a Detroit company from Eastern Market — Wigleys Famous Eastern Market Corned Beef. They have been in business since 1920, first in Ireland and then here in the U.S. Visit Wigleys at either of their Eastern Market locations: 3405 Russell St., Detroit, 48207, 313-833-3030; or 1429 Gratiot Ave., Detroit, 313-567-2857. This was by far the most tender and trim corned beef I’ve ever had. It is really worth seeking out. The whole family was impressed and said it was the best they have ever had too.

Crock Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage
Serves 6

3 carrots, cut in 3 inch pieces
3 red potatoes, cut in 3 inch pieces
2 med. onions, quartered
3 to 4 lb. corned beef brisket
3/4 to 1 1/4 c. water
1 sm. head cabbage, cut in wedges

Put all ingredients, except cabbage wedges, in crock pot in order listed. Cover and cook on low 8 to 10 hours (high 5-6 hours).

Cabbage: To prepare cabbage, cook it separately in 6 quart pot. Remove 2 cups of broth from crock pot during last hour of cooking; pour over cabbage wedges in skillet. Cover and cook slowly for 20 to 30 minutes.

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Products I Like: Geeta’s Indian Sauces

On March 13, 2009, in Food, by Chris Baccus

As much as I enjoy creating sauces from scratch, I don’t always have the time or patience and just want a good quick meal after a long day at work.

I love Indian cuisine and have found a few good store bought sauces that are worth trying in your kitchen. My favorite prepared sauces come from Geeta’s. Geet’s makes a wide variety of Indian standbys like Rogan Josh, Saag, and Makhani to name a few.

I find all the you need to have a good quick meal is some sliced boneless skinless chicken breasts and coarsely chopped onions. The Spice & Stir Geeta sauces come with a plastic top with a tablespoon of spice that you coat your chicken slices with as you saute them in a pan of olive oil.

Once the chicken is cooked, add the onions and let them get translucent for about 3 minutes. Add the jar of sauce and just a little bit of water (maybe 25% of the empty jar filled with water to thin the sauce a bit.) Serve with some rice and Naan bread.

Note: Even though the picture above shows the Saag sauce in my cupboard, it was the first time I used this sauce flavor and it was not as good as some others I enjoy like Karai Bhuna and Jalfrezi.

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Honoring Grandpa with His Infamous Wontons

On March 9, 2009, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus

One of my absolute favorite dishes growing up was one we had often when visiting my grandparents. My grandpa, Yoshio, would wrap pork and put a small slice of egg into a wonton and serve it with some white rice and soy sauce.

I have removed the egg from the recipe below, but if you want to add it you can simply cook a layer of eggs, like you make an omelet. Cook the egg and remove it from the pan like it is a pancake and cut small strips about an inch long and maybe a 1/3 of an inch wide. Basically make some small egg strips that you place in the wonton with the pork mixture.

There are two cooking methods listed in the recipe: steam or boiled. Boiled makes the wonton skins really soft and flowing. The steamed method is a bit more hard around the edges.

You can also take steamed or boiled dumplings, after cooking them, and add them to a saute pan with a tablespoon of oil and cook the dumplings by browning them on each side. This will create a crispier dumpling.

Unfortunately, I won’t enjoy grandpa’s dumplings when visiting as he passed away last month. My sister, wife, and I honored him this evening by making our favorite meal from him.

Yoshio’s Japanese Dumplings

Serves 6-8

1 1/2 lbs. ground pork
2 dashes worstershire sauce
1/4 tsp. curry powder
1/8 tsp. sage
1/8tsp. orange peel powder
1/8tsp. thyme
2tbs. poppy seed
1tsp. celery seed
dash pepper
3 dashes garlic powder
1/2 tsp. accent or msg
1/2 tsp. oregano
5-6 tbs. fine chopped onions

1 package of wonton skins, 4” squares
8 oz of water and a 1 tsp of cornstarch

Mix all ingredients and knead until meat becomes very smooth. After kneading, refrigerate (covered) overnight before making dumplings. Any excess mixture can be frozen for future use.

Optional: Cook 1 egg with dash of soy sauce. Cut cooked egg into small strips to put into wonton.

Get six-inch square egg roll skins and cut into 4” squares. Wrap meat, which can be
wrapped without tearing egg roll skin, seal loose skin with a dab of water and cornstarch mixture. Let wrapped skin stand about 1-2 hours so skill will seal meat.

Boil a pot of water and cook dumpling for 15 minutes. You can also do this using a steamed method where the dumplings are steamed for 15 minutes.

Serve 6-8 pieces with a side of white rice (preferably short grain) and a small dish of Dumpling Goyza dipping sauce or soy sauce.

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Fettuccine Alfredo with Broccoli and Chicken

On March 7, 2009, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus

Here is a simple pasta recipe that only takes 20 minutes to make. I highly recommend fresh pasta or at least the refrigerated pasta you can find at gourmet markets. If you’re local to SE Michigan, definitely add Ventimiglia Italian Foods in Sterling Heights to your shopping routine and pick up some of their fresh Fettuccine.

Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken and Broccoli

Serves 4

1 lb fresh Fettuccine
1 1/2 cups heavy Cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups grated Parmesan
2 garlic cloves, smashed and sliced
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 boneless skinless chicken breat, cut into bite size slices
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup fresh broccoli, tops only

Boil enough water for the Fettuccine; add a few dash of salt to the water. Heat the butter and olive oil and cook the chicken in a sauté pan, turning to brown both sides, 10 minutes. Remove chicken from the pan, set aside.

Start the sauce, using the sauté pan you cooked the chicken in (do not wash). Add the butter and garlic to the pan on medium heat. Once the butter is fully melted add the heavy cream and Parmesan to the pan, mixing the sauce with a whisk. Add the grated nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Once well blended, get the sauce to a boil and then reduce heat to low and stir occasionally.

Put the broccoli in a small pan with water barely covering the vegetable. Add a dash of salt for flavor and heat the pan on high heat. Once boiling, let it cook for two minutes and then remove broccoli.

Add the broccoli and chicken to the sauce. Now, add the fresh Fettuccine to the pasta water that is boiling. Cook the fresh pasta for about 3 minutes and add the Fettuccine to the sauce in the sauté pan and mix the pasta and sauce together to fully coat while still in the pan, this is easiest if you add the Fettuccine in small batches and toss, repeat.

Serve the pasta and add some chopped parsley and sprinkle with more Parmesan. Add some garlic bread or focaccia slices to complete the meal.

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Taco Truck Tacos… Simple and Great

On March 3, 2009, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus

When I lived in South Pasadena, California I used to stop by a taco truck in Pasadena along Fair Oaks Boulevard. It was a big yellow truck parked in an empty parking lot that sat there in the late hours of the night. We would usually get some tacos there around midnight, or later, after having some fun. The tacos were simple. They were like no taco I had ever had before. There was no shredded cheese. No shredded lettuce. No sour cream. All it was were small corn tortillas with diced onions, chopped cilantro, hot sauce, a slice of lime, and chopped beef (though you could order brains or intestines if you wanted, I was never so daring.)

I created a very similar taco at home. Here is the recipe. Hope you enjoy it. It’s not exactly taco truck, but it is pretty damn close. Also, if you like a nice economical meal, it is a cheap dinner for the family that is quick and easy to make. Let me know what you think!

Taco Truck Tacos
Serves 4
Makes 12 tacos

1 1/4 lb ground beef
1 tablespoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 red onion, finely diced
1 cilantro bunch, chopped
corn tortillas
vegetable oil for frying

3 limes
your favorite hot sauce

Heat the ground beef in a medium high pan. Add cumin and salt and pepper to taste the ground beef, continue to brown for about 5-8 minutes. Once cooked all the way turn heat down to lowest setting to keep warm. While the beef is cooking, chop the red onion and cilantro and mix the two together. Set aside.

Heat oil on medium-high in saute pan. Add enough oil, about a 1/2 inch, to dip corn tortillas into turning each side to cook 5 seconds on each side. Remove each tortilla quickly and set on paper towels. Continue until all tortillas are cooked (should be soft after cooking in oil, you don’t want them crispy.)

Assemble tacos by placing spoonful of beef atop tortillas then spoon cilantro and red onion mixture over beef. Add some hot sauce and serve with sliced limes. Squeeze lime slices over tacos and enjoy.

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Restaurant Review: Mind, Body, & Spirits

On March 1, 2009, in Food, by Chris Baccus

The above photo is the Half Roasted Chicken at Mind Body & Spirits a new restaurant in Rochester Hills, Michigan that we enjoyed last Friday night. And by enjoyed, I mean the food but also leaving the boys with the in-laws.

Mind Body & Spirits is a very unique restaurant. We discovered them when I came across some Vegan cookies at Plum Market. Oscar is allergic to egg so finding Vegan treats is a rare thing even if the bag of cookies was a hefty $8.99 for eight. Stephanie checked out their website and noticed the restaurant. The place is an “eco-conscious restaurant.” A what? Eco-conscious? But I just want some good food. Do I really care if they have a high capacity food waste compressor, bamboo floors, on-site greenhouse and solar panels? Not really, but it is unique and if the food is good, I’ll be really impressed.

We started with a fairly unusual appetizer, Tarragon Gnocchi. It was made with homemade potato gnocchi, tarragon, balsamic vinegar, arugula, and Hoisin sauce. It was very different and at first bite not sure if either of us liked it. Second bite, I think this is good? Third…fourth…fifth bites and I’m starting to wonder how to make this at home (yes, expect an attempt on the blog soon.)

For dinner, Stephanie had the chicken dish which was flavored by a Hoisin glaze and I went with one of their Vegan dishes, Winter White Bean Cassoulet. Both meals were very good, but we had to try some desserts. I went with a small plate of Madelines (not as good as my friend Lorriane, but still very enjoyable with my coffee.) Stephanie went all out with an impressive brownies and cookies and cream (see photo at right.)

We will definitely return to try some other meals and were impressed by a kids menu too.

Freezer Cooking: Easying Meal Planning in One Evening

On March 1, 2009, in Food, by Chris Baccus

There is nothing really special here recipe wise; instead, I wanted share an approach to cooking I have taken up in the past six months — freezer cooking. Freezer cooking is all about preparing the same recipe 3 or 4 times at one sitting and freezing each meal portion separately for use on another day. I find making 3 or 4 recipes three times each takes about one or two hours (depending on complexity of the recipes) that you can do any evening after work. This way you now have about 15 meals that require no thinking over the coming two months by spreading out your freezer meals from your normal cooking.

There are a few cookbooks I use to do freezer cooking that I have found helpful:

Fix, Freeze, Feast: Prepare in Bulk and Enjoy by the Serving
. This one is my favorite. I haven’t had any issue with the recipes. The blackjack flank steak recipe is very good that is made using balsamic vinegar. Great flavor.

Don’t Panic: Dinner’s in the Freezer. A couple bombs in here, like the Hawaiian chicken that was aweful, but there are some good like the Raspberry chicken.

Of course there are places where you can do food prep and bring the meals home. My wife tried this once at Super Suppers and the meals were good. I just find I don’t have the time to head over to a place and spend a couple hours preping meals, so I do the home method but I do recommend the places like Super Suppers as we have had great success with their menu.

Freezer cooking is just a great way to take some of the thinking out of cooking every day by making meal planning easier. Also, if you do it yourself, you can save money too if you approach your meals with cost budgeting in mind.

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