rosemary gorgonzola chicken

There is no dry chicken allowed in my house. I will throw it out the window.

There is also no complicated chicken allowed in my house. Chicken is…chicken. It should be easy, fuss-free, and totally delicious.

That’s why my favorite chicken dish is completely easy (three ingredients, one pan) and stays incredibly moist (because it’s stuffed with gorgonzola cheese).

Want to give it a try?

Grab four chicken breast halves, bone-in. Here’s where natural, organic, cage-free, monkey-tamed, no-ruffled-feathers birds come into play. I’m no (longer a) hippie, but I buy hippie chickens. Spend the extra $1 per pound, my friends.

Rinse ‘em and pat dry.

You’ll also need about 1/2 a cup of gorgonzola cheese. 3/4 if you really love stinky cheese. I do.

Find one sprig of rosemary. I clipped mine from the massive rosemary bush that is taking over my back garden. I think that thing is going to envelop the house soon.

De-stem the rosemary and give it a nice fine chop.

Would we call these needles? These are the kind of questions that keep me up at night.

Sprinkle the rosemary in with the cheese and stir it on up.

Now would also be a good time to preheat your oven to 425°.

Make a slit in the long, curved side of the chicken breasts. It needs to be about 3″ long and as deep as you can manage.

Stuff each breast with a quarter of the cheese mixture. Stuff it in there real good—we don’t want any lost cheese. It would be a sacrilege.

Season well with salt and pepper.

Cleavage shot!

Sorry. I couldn’t resist.

Heat one tablespoon of oil in an oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. If it’s shimmering, ya know it’s ready.

Throw in the chicken, skin side down. Let ‘em cook for about 4 minutes undisturbed. They’ll snap, crackle and pop, but that’s okay. It’s just the skin getting crispy brown and delicious.

Flip ‘em over and throw the whole shebang in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of your breasts.

I wasn’t giggling. You must be thinking of someone else.

If you want to get all technical you could stick a meat thermometer in one of those lovely breasts. But if you have chicken intuition, like me, you just know when they’re done.

And these beauties are perfect. See that gooey cheese? Perfection, my friends. Perfection.

Move those puppies to a platter.

Put the skillet back over a burner on medium-high heat. Add a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and a few tablespoons of water.

Give it a good whisking and let it boil for a few minutes so it reduces. Make sure to mix in all of those browned bits on the sides of the pan. If you don’t, the chicken gods will whack you over the head with your own shoe.

I know. They’re vicious. Don’t shoot the messenger.

When the sauce is ready, go ahead and pour it over the chicken.

You could serve this with fancy-dancy sides, but I like to keep it simple—mixed greens with walnuts and apples in a garlic vinaigrette.

I love, love, love this stuff. The skin is crisp, the meat is moist, and inside there’s a creamy layer of gorgonzola with a hint of rosemary.

Make an easy dinner this week for your nearest and dearest.

Happy New Year’s Eve!

-RDG

Rosemary Gorgonzola Chicken

  • 4 chicken breast halves with skin and bones
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Combine cheese and rosemary in a bowl and mix to combine.

Rinse and pat chicken dry, then cut a deep 3-inch-long pocket horizontally in long curved side of each chicken breast half. Fill each pocket with one quarter of cheese mixture. Season chicken all over with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Place chicken, skin side down, in skillet and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Turn breasts over, then place skillet in oven and bake until just cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer chicken to a platter.

Return skillet to burner (handle will be very hot) and add water and vinegar. Boil, stirring and scraping up any brown bits and melted cheese, until sauce thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Serve chicken with sauce.

spyin on cakes

Have you met my friend Cakespy? If not, let me introduce you.

Readers, Cakespy. Cakespy, readers.

Cakespy is one of my favorite blogs because it explores sweetness and cake in all of its beautiful (and tasty) forms. From interviews with all-star bakers to recipes to bakery visits around the world, Cakespy has got it all. And then some. Including some awesome artwork.

Let’s get to know each other a little better, shall we?

This is some of Cakespy’s (a.k.a. Jessie Oleson’s) artwork. Talented, eh? I don’t think I could even draw one of those candy canes. I think Jessie draws a little something for each post–time consuming and total attention to detail. Makes every post feel special.

This is Cuppie. Isn’t she cute? Cuppie is ever-present in Cakespy’s art, and here she is in ornament form. I need her on my Christmas tree.

Here’s Cuppie again on a cute tee. Subway Cuppie, cruisin the tubes.

And here’s Cuppie with some Aussie friends. I love, love, love Cakespy’s bakery visits. From Sydney to San Diego, you can read about “Cakewalks” from Cake Gumshoes around the globe.

But the thing I love most about Cakespy?

The recipes, of course. Like for this Grilled Cheesecake Sandwich.

Oh. My. Goodness. My heart clogged just thinking about it. But it would be worth it, methinks.

Alright, alright. There’s something else I love about Cakespy. They were lovely enough to let me be a guest blogger during the 12 Days of Bakemas and feature my Chocolate Babka and Bacon Cinnamon Rolls.

I’m totally flattered, Cakespy. You’re much more of a talent than I. Keep up the beautiful, delicious work.

Thanks, Jessie, and thanks to all of you readers who came on over here from Cakespy!

-RDG

luna park cafe

‘Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the house

every creature was itching to get the heck out.

So we traveled afar, the car filled with prattle,

and landed in a mystical land called West Seattle.

The Luna Park Cafe would quell all our hungers

with burgers and milkshakes to make our thighs thunder.

Alright. I’ll stop rhyming in meter now.

This spot is sort of a Seattle classic (or West Seattle classic, if you want to get technical). We’d only been once before, and since the in-laws are in town for the holidays, we thought we’d give ‘em another try.

The decor is kitschy and vintage—someone did quite a bit of junking to come up with all this stuff. Try not singing the Batman theme while staring at this guy.

It’s got a cool old amusement park-type feel to it.

But the decor is not what we trekked to West Seattle for.

This may surprise you, my friends, but we like to eat.

This chocolate malt (husband’s–not mine) tasted like a Whopper. Not many chocolate malts actually taste malty. This place does em right.

While waiting for our food it was Lucy’s turn to eat.

Or point at things.

Or laugh at Nana.

Or stare at the camera. Okay, it was her turn to do anything but eat.

Lunchtime! Husband ordered the bacon and blue cheese burger–medium rare, of course.

Pops-in-law went with the Southwest burger. Mmmmmm. Green Chilies.

And I, because I’m 12, went with the grilled ham ‘n cheese.

And my childish intuition did not lead me astray.

Neither did my husband’s ever-present ability to order the best burger on the menu….

…and to douse his fries in bacon salt.

Thanks, Luna Park Cafe, for a lovely post-Christmas lunch, and for feeding my hungry clan so tastily.

Merry (second) day after Christmas!

-RDG

12 days of bakemas: the recap

For those of you who have been following me on my crazy baking adventure these past few weeks, thank you! I hope you found something to enjoy, something to grace your holiday table, something to scarf in the middle of the night in your pajamas while sitting on the kitchen counter.

With all of these stinkin end-of-the-year/end-of-the-decade countdown lists permeating the web this time of year, I thought I’d join in the fun.

Here is a recap of all 12 recipes, in ranking order of deliciousness (voted on by husband, myself, and various friends and family–you may have a different take).

Recipes, please don’t get me wrong. I love you all and you are each special in your own unique way. Some of you I just inhaled faster than others.

Drumroll, please…

1. Blue Cheese and Irish Cheddar Gougeres

Funny that the recipe that tops this list is a savory one. These little morsels were too good to resist. Husband and I literally ate the whole tray straight out of the oven. Plus, they were one of the easiest recipes to make.

2. Apple Cider Doughnuts

This recipe once again reminded me why I’m smitten with Smitten Kitchen. They were soft and chewy on the inside, the tiniest bit crisp on the outside, and full of delicate apple cider flavor. Also, they were much easier to make that I thought doughnuts would be.

3. Eggnog Cheesecake Bars

Lumpiness aside (my own dang fault), these things were killer. Crunchy crust, creamy eggnoggy filling–to die for.

4. Banana Tart Tartin

Jamie Oliver’s recipe didn’t dissapoint. This is the pinnacle of comfort food. Serve with a little vanilla ice cream and you’ll be in banana bliss.

5. Bacon Cinnamon Rolls

Hands down the easiest of all the recipes to make. Sounds weird, I know, but give it a shot. The sweet/savory combo might surprise you.

6. Paula Deen’s Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes

Miss Deen never fails me. This is the creamiest, most buttery alternative to pumpkin pie there is.

7. Chocolate Babka

Yes, it was a lot of dang work. Breads always are. But this one was particularly worth it: it’s like a gooey chocolate cinnamon roll inside.

8. Sweet Challah

Another time consuming recipe, but a good one. Sweet, gorgeous bread that goes with everything.

9. Lemon Wreaths

A lot of work for not very many cookies (leave it to Martha to make things complicated), but seriously delicious.

10. Mandarin Mulled Wine

Sugar and spice and everything nice. Plus a merry Christmas buzz.

11. Baked Apples with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Nutty, cinnamonny, appley–gone.

12. Loukoumades with Honey Orange Sauce

Labor intensive, and not the flavor I was expecting. Would be excellent with a few tweaks.

And there you have it, ladies and gentleman. My dishwasher, my oven, and my credit card are grateful it’s over and done with.

Me? I’m still going through a little sugar withdrawal. I may have eaten half a bag of Dove chocolates yesterday to make up for the lack of sweets hanging out in the fridge.

Until next year, this is the 12 Days of Bakemas, signing off. Back to normal blogging content, including some yummy savory recipes in the upcoming week.

-RDG

day 12: mandarin mulled wine

It’s the last day of Bakemas.

It’s also Christmas Eve.

What does that mean? I need a drink. And I’m darn tired of baking. So I’m giving my oven the day off and making a delicious beverage for y’all.

I’m always at a loss for what to serve at holiday parties. Regular ol’ beer and wine seem so blah. I detest eggnog (the real stuff…the store bought stuff sans alcohol I can drink by the gallon). Martinis don’t seem quite festive enough. Cider is good, but I always feel like liquor ruins the flavor of good apple cider.

But this year, I’ve come up with the perfect solution. And it involves cheap, cheap wine.

Need a last minute idea? Follow my lead, ladies and gents.

$5 a bottle? I’ll take it. Two of em. Double the recipe if you’ve got tons of folks, or if your family drinks wine like it’s going out of style. Mine does.

Please, please don’t waste good bottles of wine on this. Good wine was not meant to be cooked.

Rummage through your spice drawer and pull out a couple of cinnamon sticks, a few cloves, and a teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and nutmeg.

Also grab some mandarin oranges. Or “satsumas.” Or “cuties.” Or, as my husband likes to call them, “crack.”

You’ll need about 5, plus more for garnish (I used a regular orange for garnish because they’re bigger, so snag some of those too if you’d like).

Finally, measure out 3/4 cup of sugar. I had some raw sugar that I wanted to use up, but granulated or baker’s sugar would work just fine too.

Pour the wine into a crock pot (or a saucepan, if you don’t have one or it’s otherwise engaged). Halve three of the oranges and juice them over the wine.

Add the sugar…

…and spice(s) and everything nice…and give it a good stir.

Slice up the remaining two oranges…

…and float them on top of the wine mixture. It adds nice flavor, plus it makes it purdy.

Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours (if you’re using a saucepan, cook covered over low heat for 4 hours).

Serve warm, garnished with a fresh orange slice if you’d like. I also threw a cinnamon stick on there to make it bee-youtiful, but it’s not very practical for sippin.

Neither is the wine glass, for that matter. A mug would be much better for a hot beverage. But practicality has never been my strong suit.

Mulled wine is to wine what apple cider is to apple juice.

Does that make any sense?

I’ve been baking for way too long. What I’m trying to say is that the wine tastes spiced like apple cider does. The cinnamon, nutmeg, and oranges all come together to give it a festive, holiday-spicy flava.

Your guests will totally dig this junk. It tastes like you put way more effort into it than you did.

Plus you can get away with serving Trader Joe’s two-buck-chuck at a party.

Well, I’m off for a few days to lick my baking wounds and enjoy Lucy’s first Christmas.

Everyone out there have a safe, lovely holiday. Bake lots, take photos and hug your kiddos like there’s no tomorrow.

And don’t drink too much mulled wine. It may be delicious but it’ll kick you in the pants the next day.

Happy 12th Day of Bakemas and a very happy holiday, whichever one(s) you celebrate!

-RDG

Mandarin Mulled Wine

  • 2 bottles (cheap) red wine
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 5-10 cloves
  • 5 mandarin oranges, plus more for garnish

Pour the wine into a slow cooker or saucepan. Stir in the sugar and spices. Juice three of the oranges and slice the remaining two. Stir in the juice and float the sliced oranges on top of the wine mixture.

Slow Cooker: Cover and cook on high for 2 hours or on low for 4 hours.

Stovetop: Cover and cook over low heat for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.

Serve warm. Garnish with orange wedges if desired.

day 11: apple cider doughnuts

C is for cider…

that’s good enough for me.”

Sorry to rain on your parade, Cookie Monster, but C has a whole new word to represent. And these doughnuts were way more than good enough for me. They were simply amazing.

The recipe comes from one of my favorite bloggers, Smitten Kitchen. And if you’ve never visited, you must. Deb is an amazing NYC chef/photographer/bloggess who makes me drool with every post. Plus her kitchen is about the size of my broom closet. Plus she just had a baby.

So basically, she’s superwoman.

A few months back she posted this recipe for apple cider doughnuts, and it has been haunting me ever since. I knew that it had to be a part of the 12 Days of Bakemas. And oh boy, they did not disappoint.

You need these doughnuts in your life. Like right now. So let’s go.

First off, you’ll need a half stick of butter (room temperature, please), two eggs, some buttermilk (if you can find regular buttermilk that would be best–my piddly little grocery store only had reduced fat) and apple cider.

Also, from the pantry grab some granulated sugar, salt and all-purpose flour.

And to cap it all off, some cinnamon, nutmeg, a huge tub-o-shortening for frying, baking powder and baking soda.

Got all that? Perfect, dahling.

First we need to concentrate the apple cider. To do that, pour one cup in a saucepan and heat on medium or medium-low until it reduces to about 1/4 of a cup, or about 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the dry stuff (3 1/2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg) in a bowl and give it a stir.

Next, cream the butter with 1 cup of sugar until it’s light and smooth. Then add the eggs one at a time, making sure they’re totally incorporated.

How’s your cider doing? Looks good to me. If it has reduced enough, remove it from the heat and let it cool.

Once the cider concentrate has cooled off enough, turn your mixer on low and slowly pour it in to the butter/sugar/egg mixture.

Also add 1/2 cup of buttermilk…

…and slowly add the flour mixture.

Continue mixing until a dough forms. Bee-youtiful.

Turn the dough out onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper and floured.

Press it down until the dough is about 1/2 inch thick, and then stick the cookie sheet in the freezer for about 20 minutes. We need to harden that dough, my darlings.

Grab a doughnut cutter, or if you don’t have one you could improvise with things of similar diameters. I think my cutter is 3″ on the outside and 1″ on the inside. I’ve been known to use a water glass in a pinch. A shot glass might do nicely for the middle.

Cut out as many doughnuts as you can from the flattened dough.

I was able to squeeze out about 19 or 20…

…plus holes…

…and one christmas tree, for good measure. If you’ve got extra dough, you can reshape it, freeze for a few more minutes, and then cut more shapes out of it if you’d like.

Now comes the fun part. Scoop your shortening into a deep pan. You need an oil depth of at least 3 inches or so for these suckers to cook properly, so plan accordingly. Heat the shortening over medium heat until it reaches 350°. Clip a candy/deep-fry thermometer to the side of the pan to help you maintain constant temperature.

Sorry, meat thermometers aren’t accurate for this sort of thing. Believe me, I’ve tried.

While your shortening is heating up, you can go ahead and get your dippin’ sugar ready. Mix 1 cup sugar with a few teaspoons of cinnamon. Or you could make a glaze if you’re feeling ambitious.

One final measure before we begin frying:

I’m a safety girl.” And if you can name that movie line you’ve won yourself a drink at the Blue Banana.

Once your oil is the right temp, go ahead and drop a few of those suckers on in. Carefully, please. No holiday burns allowed. Fry in small batches, cooking for about 60 seconds on one side…

…and then gently turning them over to cook on the other side for another 30-60 seconds. Have some plates ready right next to you lined with bunches of paper towels. When you’re cooking the doughnut holes, keep in mind that they’ll cook a lot faster.

Let them cool for a few minutes on the paper towels, and then dip the topside in the cinnamon/sugar mixture and let cool on wire racks.

By now all of your neighbors have come over to see what that glorious smell is drifting down the street.

Take that, Top Pot.

The holes were super fun to make, plus they’re darn cute.

And who doesn’t love a doughnut christmas tree?

I also made some doughnut “logs” (*childish laughter*) with the leftover dough that I was too lazy to shape any other way.

The verdict? These things are seriously dangerous. The apple cider flavor was delicate but definitely present. I loved the texture, especially when they were still warm–the inside was soft and chewy and the outside was the tiniest bit crispy. The cinnamon sugar was the perfect cap-off and added nicely to the flavor.

Plus, the recipe made about a bazillion doughnuts. My tummy appreciated it very much.

My thighs, on the other hand, might disagree.

Thanks to Deb at Smitten Kitchen for this wonderful recipe that you can find right here. You’re my hero!

Oh, and a note about tomorrow–it’s the last day of Bakemas. Tune in for a wonderful recipe that is (gasp!) not baked. It’s not even fried.

Happy 11th Day of Bakemas!

-RDG

day 10: loukoumades with honey orange sauce

It’s day 10 and here’s the sitch:

1) My crazy great aunt keeps calling for computer advice.

2) I spent 2 hours at Target today, most of which was spent entering and leaving the parking garage.

3) Jillian Michaels has it out for me. I swear she watches me through the workout dvd.

4) I had no appetite for dinner today. I only want doughnuts.

5) I deep fried a bunch of junk over the weekend.

6) I’m going to share that deep fried junk with you.

These little beauties pictured above are loukoumades–little Greek morsels of fried dough. Traditionally they’re served with honey and cinnamon, but this recipe suggests a sweet orange sauce.

Don’t be scared of deep-frying, my darlings. Anyone with a fire extinguisher can do it.

They’re easy as pie. Let’s go.

Grab some flour, 1 packet of active dry yeast, cinnamon and salt.

You’ll also need honey, two oranges, one eggie, Crisco (or canola oil, for frying), canola oil or veggie oil (not pictured) and 1 1/4 cups warm water.

Get your standing mixer prepped with the paddle attachment.

Ready?

Pour the warm water into the bowl and add the packet of active dry yeast. Give it a mix and let the yeast dissolve.

Grate a teaspoon or so of orange rind…

…and add it to the yeast mixture.

Also add one tablespoon of canola oil…

…half a teaspoon of salt…

…and the egg. Beat at medium speed until the whole shebang is nicely combined.

Mix in about 3 cups of flour (13.5 ounces, or 3 cups lightly spooned) until a dough forms.

Cover and let rise in a warm place for one hour.

Meanwhile, let’s make the sauce.

Grate another teaspoon of orange rind, throw it in a saucepan, and juice the two oranges over the top.

Add one cup of honey, a teaspoon and a half of cinnamon and toss that pan on the stove over low heat. Stir occasionally and heat until the honey has dissolved. Remove from heat, or keep on low until you’re ready to serve.

How’s the dough? Looks good to me.

Carefully drop the dough by the teaspoon into 375° oil (or shortening, as I used). Place a candy or deep-fry thermometer in the oil to help you maintain the temperature. Flip those suckers over once the underside is golden, or about 2 minutes per side.

Drain ‘em on paper towels and prepare yourself for deep-fried goodness.

While those are draining, I’d like you to take a minute and take a peek at the photo of these in the original recipe. They look golden and crusty, and perfectly shaped, right?

Now let’s meet my loukoumades.

Meet Crab Claw, one of loukoumades’ crazy cousins. He’s armed and ready for pinchin.

Here’s Roasted Turkey loukoumade. Someone should tell him he’s a little late for Thanksgiving.

And finally we have Fried Prawn loukoumade. He took a wrong turn somewhere near Red Lobster.

When we were ready to eat, the whole gang joined us for a swim in the honey orange sauce.

And boy did they enjoy it.

Whhheeeeeeeeee!

In all seriousness, these things were purdy tasty.

Next time, though, I’d do a few things differently:

1) I’d skip the sauce and serve them with plain ‘ol honey and cinnamon. The sauce was good, it was just a little too orangey for me.

2) I’d use oil instead of shortening. I used shortening because I had some other delicious treats to fry that required it, but I think it made the loukoumades too dense.

3) I wouldn’t get freaked out by how fast they cooked and take them out too soon. I judged by color and not by time. There is nothing worse than something burned in hot oil, and I got scared and yanked ‘em out of there.

But overall, I would definitely make these little darlings again. Second time’s a charm in the baking world.

Happy 10th Day of Bakemas!

-RDG

See the full recipe from Cooking Light right here.