Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Someone's in the kitchen... on Sunday!

Sunday was a little less hectic. I set to work making a winter squash soup for Thanksgiving weekend. It's a delicious blend of acorn and butternut squashes. I have not made the gruyere croutons with this soup, because I feel that it doesn't need the added richness. It's really quite phenomenal as is and I'm looking forward to having some for lunch this coming Friday.

I had extra butternut squash left over and because I got hungry in the late afternoon, I chose to make some roasted butternut squash to nosh on. It was very easy to make and delicious as well! I simply put the 1 inch cubes of squash into a bowl, poured a little maple syrup (maple syrup not breakfast syrup... I highly prefer the real stuff) and melted butter on top. Then I grated a nutmeg over it all and finished it off with some cinnamon. I tossed these ingredients around and laid the squash out on top of some parchment paper on a cookie sheet. They baked for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees and came out sweet and soft. The syrup caramelized the slightest bit which was quite a pleasant surprise.

For dinner I made homemade chicken nuggets and parmesan-rosemary french fries. These are real simple things to put together, and a very inexpensive dinner! The best trick to get crunchy fries is to cut your potato and soak the pieces in a bowl of water. When your potato is in water it soaks out the starch and helps your potatoes get crunchy while in the oven. I took the fries out of the water and put them into another bowl. I poured some extra virgin olive oil on top and sprinkled parmesan cheese, fresh ground black pepper, and rosemary. I tossed them around and laid them out on a parchment lined baking sheet. 

Note: extra virgin olive oil burns very easily. Don't use any heat higher than medium on a stovetop and don't put your oven over 350 degrees. I had my fries in the oven for almost 50 minutes at 350, turning them a few times in between. They did stay in at 400 while the chicken was baking but by that time a lot of the oil had either cooked off or soaked in, I'm not sure where it went, but the fries were A-OK.

Homemade nuggets and crispy fries! And, you can just see a little bit of the squash at the top-left corner of my plate :)
For the nuggs - and let me say, I am a self-proclaimed nugg nut and I am serious about my nuggets. As I was saying, for the nuggs, set up two separate bowls. In one, pour some olive oil, maybe 1/3 cup, and add some salt and pepper. In the other, add some Italian seasoned bread crumbs, panko bread crumbs, and parmesan cheese. Mix the dry ingredients together to blend. Cut up a chicken breast (or two) into 1-2 inch bite sized pieces. Add the chicken into the olive oil to get well coated and transfer the pieces over to the bread crumbs. I usually take 3-4 pieces and shake them in my hand a little so the excess olive oil falls between my fingers. Then I use my other, dry, hand and coat the pieces. Place these nuggs on a baking sheet. (I wish I could tell you to do a parchment lined sheet, but in fact I used aluminum foil and the breading stuck. Cooking fail. I'll try parchment next time!) These bad boys bake for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Serve with some honey mustard and ketchup. 

Nom. Nom. Nom.

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