CHEW THIS! Grandma Barbra’s Secret Holiday Recipe

Penny, Blaise and Grandma Barbra.JPG

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Saturday, November 2nd 2019 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Grandma Barbra’s Secret Holiday Recipe
Blaise Doubman

My Grandma Barbra and I have been super close since I was born. Some of my most precious and earliest memories, are of that of the two of us in the kitchen. We have encountered just about every problem you can think of in the kitchen and somehow worked our way around it. Awhile back, I shared a recipe for apple pie that was made from a disastrous situation! Ha! That pie is still baked and served at family gatherings and is the best anyone has ever had. Grandma has always told me to look for the silver lining in no matter what situation and she shared this with me through examples through food and kitchen work. I will always be grateful for the lessons, both good and bad, that I have learned through her throughout the years. One of the funniest recipe memories is when, years ago, she explained to me that sometimes when people give out recipes, they leave out an ingredient or two, that way your version is never as good as theirs! I never understood that! I told her, if you are going to put your name on something, you would want it to be good, right!? She laughed and said she sure thought so!

Skip ahead to Easter dinner a few years back. My Mom, Darla, and I were going on and on about this slow cooker pulled pork that Grandma had at her buffet. For some reason I thought she had bought it somewhere but no, I was wrong! She explained that it was a slow cooker recipe that she had made up on her own one time by accident, it turned out and so she had made it ever since! I had to have that recipe! She shared it with me, and I made it and it was so delicious for it being so simple! I shared the recipe on my blog and people went wild over it! Well, since sharing it, I have made a few simple changes that make it even more fabulous, if that is possible. For starters, when making this pulled pork, do not marinade the pork any longer than overnight in the refrigerator. Also, less water and a little honey does wonders for the overall flavor and even the texture when shredding the pork! Leftovers can be kept, covered and chilled, in the refrigerator for up to three days. Make this and enjoy!

Grandma Barbra’s Secret Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

My favorite way of enjoying this recipe is by sandwiching the meat between two thick hamburger buns. However, you can also serve the meat by itself and alongside your favorite side dishes or alongside streamed rice.

1 pork roast (between 2-3 pounds)
1 bottle Italian salad dressing
½ cup water
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper

In a shallow baking dish combine the pork roast with the bottle of Italian salad dressing. Cover with aluminum foil and place into the refrigerator to chill overnight, but no longer.

When ready to start the cooking process, spray the inside of your slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. I wouldn’t recommend using a plastic slow cooker liner because later, when shredding the pork, there is a chance of ripping the plastic and having it enter your food.

Place pork roast inside carefully along with water. Drizzle on the honey and sprinkle evenly with the salt and black pepper.

Cover and cook on high for four hours. Turn down and cook on low for four additional hours. At the end of the cooking time, remove the lid and carefully shred the pork with two forks.

Serve on hamburger buns with BBQ sauce and pickles or serve as desired.

Ask and Answer: I have heard from some of you who would like to know the difference between table salt and Kosher salt. I have always used Kosher salt in developing and testing my recipes, both sweet and savory. I find table salt to be more of a “chemical” flavor. When using Kosher salt, it is a “purer” clean salt flavor and since it is made up of bigger flakes, the less salt you use compared to table salt. My favorite brand of Kosher salt is “Diamond Crystal”.

CHEW THIS! Mona Brown’s Grand Champion Jade Express Chicken with Rice

Mona Brown and Inga Neal

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Saturday, September 21st 2019 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Mona Brown’s Grand Champion Jade Express Chicken with Rice
Blaise Doubman

My friend Inga Neal, of “Temptations” fame, was kind enough to share with me her Mom’s famous recipe for zucchini bread that I shared with everyone in my last column. At the end of that column, I spilled a secret that Inga had also shared with me another recipe from her Mom, a dish that won Grand Champion in a contest through “The Courier-Times” years ago. The dish is for a chicken and vegetable dish, served with rice and sprinkled with cashews and let me tell you, it is absolutely fabulous and delicious! When sharing these recipes with me Inga shared that her Mom, Mona Brown, had owned and operated “Mona’s Little Shoppe” from 1970-1981. Inga worked at the shop with her Mom and the shop was a craft shop where tons of memories and conversations took place. Inga also shared that her and her Mom used to pick strawberries and black raspberries every year and they enjoyed making jams and jellies. I love hearing stories and memories that are food related and that can be passed down to other generations. Getting to know Inga and hearing about some of her history and passion for food, there is no doubt in my mind as to why she is so successful. Everything she does is out of passion and love.

When sharing this recipe with me, Inga also sent me the original published article. In the article Mona Brown talks about her love for cooking, especially cooking for crowds. This made me smile and think of Inga and not only her successful restaurant but her successful catering business. The article goes on to say that sometimes Mona substitutes the chicken in this recipe for beef and that as a time saver, she recommends chopping and preparing everything in advance before starting the recipe, as well as freezing the dish for a later time. The article concludes that she had plans of writing a “family cookbook”, joking that now since this recipe for chicken with rice had won, there would need to be an additional page added to the book. What I would like to know, is more about this “family cookbook” and where I could purchase one! Ha! In all seriousness though, I would like to thank Inga Neal for sharing her family memories and recipes with me, as well as a thank you to her Mom, Mona Brown. Mona is no longer with us, but I really believe she is smiling down at Inga and her family and is so proud of everything she has accomplished. Inga’s restaurant, Temptations”, is located at 2001 South Memorial Drive, New Castle and is open from 11-2, Monday through Friday.

Mona Brown’s Grand Champion Jade Express Chicken with Rice

This dish can be made ahead, wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and frozen. When ready to bake, remove the plastic wrap and aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven.

4 large chicken breasts
2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup cashews
3 tablespoons salad oil
3 cups celery, sliced
1 large green pepper, chunked
13 ½ oz canned pineapple tidbits, drained, save juice
½ cup cooking sherry
1 cup natural soy sauce
½ teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoons corn starch
Prepared cooked rice, enough for 4-6 servings

Start by boning and skinning the chicken breasts. You can also use boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this recipe. Cut each breast into ½-inch chunks.

In a large skillet or Wok, sauté the mushrooms in oil until brown.

Stir in the celery, green peppers and chicken. Cook this until chicken is cooked through and tender and then add the pineapple juice, cooking sherry, natural soy sauce, garlic salt and corn starch. Stir this mixture constantly until the mixture becomes thickened.

Fold in the pineapple and green onions. May be simmered 20-30 minutes.

Serve this over the rice and cover with cashews.

Ask and Answer: Several of you have written in about “Mona Brown’s Famous Zucchini Bread” and wondered if the recipe could be doubled or tripled and wondered if the bread could be frozen. Yes! The recipe can be easily doubled or tripled and when freezing the bread be sure to wrap first in plastic wrap, followed by aluminum foil. The bread will keep frozen for 6 months.

Summer Garden Pasta

One of my favorite pasta combinations!

Summer Garden Pasta

4 pints colorful cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound angel hair pasta
2 cups grated parmesan cheese

In a large bowl combine the halved colorful cherry tomatoes, olive oil, minced garlic, salt and black pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for about 4 hours but no longer.

When ready to serve, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add large pinch of salt and drizzle of olive oil to the water and stir.

Cook angel hair pasta about 3 minutes. Drain. Add the pasta in with the tomato mixture and toss. Sprinkle with chopped basil leaves and grated parmesan cheese. Toss together. Sprinkle additional chopped basil leaves and grated parmesan cheese on top if desired.

Serve hot, warm, room temperature or cold.

CHEW THIS! Chicken Parm Patty

Chicken Parm Patty

Chicken Parm Patty.JPG

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, June 2nd 2019 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

A new twist on a new recipe…
Blaise Doubman

I love chicken parmesan! I must admit that for years I would turn my nose up at it and not even give it a second look. Why? I have no idea, because what is not to love? Chicken, tomato sauce and cheese served as a main dish individually or even placed on pasta! My brother, Damon, loves chicken parmesan and I must credit him for finally getting me to try it. Once I tried it, there was no turning back! He had converted me into a chicken parm lover! Over the years I have tried it individually with extra tomato gravy, on top of buttered pasta and even in between fresh brioche rolls and I have yet to find a way I do not love this dish. However, when I try to make it at home it is messy, time consuming and difficult.

In steps Rachael Ray! She has recently revitalized her show, “30 Minute Meals” and one of the first shows she filmed was all about making chicken parmesan easier for the home cook! Of course, I watched, and instantly loved her take on it! She took ground chicken, formed them into huge patties, baked them in the oven at a high temperature and then topped them with tomato sauce and shredded cheese. Genius! I took her basic recipe and made changes, decided to simplify things by using marinara sauce in a jar and left out some of the spices she used because I found them overwhelming when it came to the final dish. It turned out perfectly! This has become one of my favorite recipes and a recipe I go to when short on time because it is so easy, versatile and not to mention, delicious! I like serving this alongside a salad and garlic bread but feel free to serve as you desire. If the patties are to large for you or your family, feel free to make them any size you desire but be sure to adjust the cooking time.

Chicken Parm Patty

These patties cook in a high temperature oven, 500 degrees, so please be sure to make sure your oven is spotless before attempting this recipe. Otherwise, your kitchen will be filled with smoke. It may be a good idea to raise the kitchen windows and turn some fans on while these are baking, just in case of a smoky fog.

2 pounds ground chicken
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¾ cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup milk
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/3 cup parsley leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon fennel seed
Pinch red chili flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil
Jar of favorite marinara sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Start by preheating your oven to 500 degrees F.

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine the ground chicken, salt, black pepper, breadcrumbs, milk, slightly beat egg, grated parmesan cheese, minced garlic, chopped parsley leaves, fennel seed, red chili flakes and olive oil.

Mix everything together and, using clean dry hands, divide the meat mixture into four sections.

Place each section onto the parchment lined baking sheets and flatten out each section to form four giant thin patties.

Bake, one baking sheet at a time, in preheated oven for 18 minutes.

Remove and top each patty with some of the marinara sauce and sprinkle each with the shredded mozzarella cheese.

Place back into the oven, to melt the cheese, for about 5 minutes.

Remove, place each patty on large serving plate and top with chopped parsley.

Serve hot alongside a salad and garlic bread.

Ask and Answer: A lot of people have wondered about the upcoming delivery changes with “The Courier-Times” and how my column will appear. After this printed column, my “CHEW THIS!” column will appear in the first and third Saturdays of the month, instead of Sundays. Hope you will follow me to Saturdays and thank you all for the continued dedication and support. I love sharing my life and recipes with you all and I love hearing your feedback.

Grandma Barbra’s Drop Dumplings

I love homemade chicken and dumplings. I have recipes for the rolled variety and the drop version. Both are delicious. This drop version is a staple in my Grandma Barbra’s kitchen and a personal, and easy, favorite.

Grandma Barbra’s Drop Dumplings

2 cups white all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups cooked chicken, diced
64 oz chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Start by combining the white all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt and melted unsalted butter until a dough forms.

In a large stock pot over medium heat, add the diced cooked chicken, chicken broth, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil.

Once at a boil, drop tablespoon size amounts of the dough into the boiling broth. Continuously stir, gently, until the dumplings are puffed and cooked throughout, which will take about 25 minutes.

Taste for additional seasonings.

Serve hot and enjoy!