Thursday, December 23, 2010

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas and a Real Dinner: Lemon Chicken

Ryan, my boyfriend of over 2.5 years and I have an unspoken truce. Even if he wants to watch the football game and I really want to watch the new episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, we can always agree on one thing that we both enjoy, Food Network or Cooking Channel.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to cook, let alone eat solid food for the last week due to getting my wisdom teeth out. However, that hasn't stopped me from dreaming, literally. Damn dreams about savory floating steaks. But also inspiration for a new post to come- mini souffles!

Ryan's been a great support (and pillow) and spent hours next to me on the couch watching Barefoot Contessa marathon's, about 5 Martha Stewart's Christmas Specials, as well as our absolute favorite, Iron Chef. Not the new Iron Chef America. The REAL Iron Chef- from the 90s, with the CRAZY american voice-overs. We absolutely love it, even though I wouldn't make or eat any of it.

I'm finally feeling a hell of a lot better- so I decided it's time to post one of my new favorite and once again very simple recipes- Lemon Chicken.

This recipe called for mushrooms- but unfortunately with none in the fridge and no car- I had to do without, and glad I did. It's a dry and tangy sauce but it really gets marinated into the chicken. I also made some pasta and put the sauce on it with the chicken. Perfection.

I used a dry chardonnay (white wine) as the main base for the sauce. The lemon adds the zest to it.

Note: When you pour the wine in- your sauce will go crazy- snap crackle and pop to the extreme. If you are afraid- like I was- I just turned the heat down for a little and then gradually increased again.
(lemon chicken simmering in delicious sauce)

Sit down and make some time for dinner in the midst of this holiday hustle and bustle!

Lemon Chicken
  • Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 8 paper-thin slices lemon
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Chopped fresh parsley

  1. Melt butter with olive oil in heavy medium skillet over high heat.
  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to skillet and sauté until brown, about 2 minutes per side.
  3. Using tongs, transfer chicken to plate. Add mushrooms and garlic to skillet. Sauté until mushrooms are tender, about 4 minutes. (I SKIPPED)
  4. Return chicken to skillet. Overlap 4 lemon slices on each piece of chicken.
  5. Pour white wine and lemon juice around chicken. Reduce heat to low.
  6. Cover skillet and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Transfer chicken to plates. Spoon sauce around chicken. Garnish with parsley and serve

Bon Appetite!
Chef Maggie

Monday, December 13, 2010

All I Want for Christmas is Some Sugar Cookies

Every year around Christmas time, the women in the Fisher family always keep a sacred tradition; making enough cookies in ONE day through the holiday hibernation.

Recently, my Grandma Sue decided it was time to pass down the tradition and teach me how to make her amazing sugar cookies- and a many of her other cookies. But- the traditional sugar cookie is really the main essential to any Christmas dessert platter and remember to leave them for Santa as a last minute bribe can't hurt.

The key is you can’t roll them too thin, because they will burn easily/good luck getting them on the pan without ripping a limb off Santa. You also can’t make them too thick- or they will puff out and not cook in the middle (unless you want Rudolf to look like he’s gained some holiday weight).

Jen, Gwen and I were feeling some Christmas spirit, plus we needed some cookies for an upcoming holiday shindig, class bribes and of course extras to indulge in during the finals crunch.

So Michael sat and played Golden Eye on N64 and ate our broken cookies, and for the first time- I made my grandma’s sugar cookie dough without her looking over my shoulder. A couple of my cookies came out a little too pudgy, poor Rudolf; but I would say not too bad of a job for my first solo attempt.

If anything, I learned that I definitely needed to work on my frosting skills. Here are some pictures from our adventure and my grandma's recipe!

PS- I will do a more detailed post on the Fisher Cookie (+Aunt Kathy’s fudge) Day Spectacular.

(Ryan gave me the awesome moose cookie cutters)

(Jen holding her holly, and Gwen and I proud of our moose- (or as we kept calling them our meese)

(Some of the cookies broke because they were too big- RIP moose)

(The final scrumptious product)

Grandma Sue's Sugar Cookies
Sift Together:
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk

1. Mix until well blended.
2. Refrigerate dough until well-chilled.
3. Roll and cut out cookies. Make sure that dough remains well chilled.
4. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Grandma's Special Notes:
Dough can be frozen

Before baking brush top of unbaked cookies with a little bit of water or milk, and sprinkle with decorating sugar.

May also decorate after baking- mix water with a little egg white powder, and sprinkle with decorating sugar.

After baking- cooled cookies may also be frosted.

Bon Appetite!

Chef Maggie

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lucky Stew

Finals are coming up next week, it is freezing cold and mix that with a bit of the Irish blood- I decided that it wouldn't be such a horrible idea to attempt my first stew.

This past summer- Amanda and I got a little taste of Ireland when we spent a weekend in Dublin. We both decided that we had to take the opportunity to find our roots, as well as find some really good food. London isn't known for having the best food- so as you can imagine I felt completely at home when I found my meat and potatoes in EVERY restaurant :)

(Amanda and I at Malahide Castle)

This Irish stew is very basic- perfect for an upgrade meal. Additionally- also great if you are cramming for a final and don't have the time to watch constantly. It slowly cooks for 45 minutes- I checked every 15-20 or so, and it was never even close to bubbling over the pot.

My mom usually cooks her stew in a crock pock for an entire day (guess what's on my Christmas list Santa). The meat wasn't as tender as hers- but once again this is a quick fix.

Perfect meal if you are feeling cold after walking in the snow. Also great for left overs! Make sure to get your meat and potatoes during finals.

Protein = good grades! or so I hope!

Irish Stew
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds stew beef, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves

  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


  1. Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add beef and sauté until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute.
  4. Add beef stock, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Stir to combine.
  5. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  6. Meanwhile, melt butter in another large pot over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion and carrots. Sauté vegetables until golden, about 20 minutes. Add vegetables to beef stew.
  7. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes. Discard bay leaves.
  8. Tilt pan and spoon off fat. (Can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before serving.)
  9. Transfer stew to serving bowl.
  10. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Good luck on finals and bon appetite!
Chef Maggie

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 101: The Cranberry Sauce

It's that time of year again, when my family locks themselves in the kitchen to prepare for Thanksgiving dinner. People always ask me, how much food could you possibly need to make. Well... A LOT

When we have Thanksgiving with my mom's family, there are her 7 siblings, plus significant others, plus cousins and of course my grandma. We need to have enough food for around 25 people total. That means one really big turkey.

Because there are so many people, my mom prepare our own turkey just so we can have leftovers!

This morning I woke up at 7:30 A.M. to help her make....
2 pumpkin pies
1 apple pie
1 apple cake
1 turkey + stuffing
and apparently brussels sprouts....(we'll see how those turn out!)

But, we started cooking yesterday! I made two batches of my special cranberry sauce- one for my family and one for Ryan's.

This isn't your average cranberry sauce. It has a little twist. You add fresh orange juice and orange zest. It may seem odd, but the orange balances out the tartness of the cranberries.

I've been making this sauce for the past three Thanksgiving dinner- we always have to make extra because there would be no leftovers!

Tip: Cranberry sauce is always EVEN better the day after

Cranberry Sauce
36 ounces fresh cranberries (3 bags)
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup cranberry juice
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons grated orange zest

1. Combine ingredients in a saucepan.
2. Cook over medium heat until the berries pop open (about 10 minutes)
3. Skim the foam off the surface with a metal spoon and discard.
4. Cool to room temperature.
5. Refrigerate, covered, for up to a week.
(Great on turkey sandwiches)

I'm very thankful for my friends and family and boyfriend, and their continual support and faith in me. Thanks for always being my rock.

Bon Appetite and gobble gobble!
Chef Maggie

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Treat from Paradise

My friend, Jen is absolutely in love with Hawaii. I'm pretty sure if it could some how be a person she would marry it. Jen spent some of the summer in Hawaii this year with her family and misses it a ton. If she didn't talk about it so often, you would still know how much she is in love with the ocean as her walls are plastered with posters and pictures of Hawaiian beaches.

I decided to incorporate Jen's passion for Hawaii into my first cake for the apartment family. Thus coconut, her favorite flavor was an absolute must.
(Mike and me pumped for coconut cake)

Barefoot Contessa is one of my favorite Food Network chefs. Her recipes are easy and call for simple and very available ingredients, but they also create a profound flavor. I realize most people usually don't have a taste for coconut, however if you do, you will absolutely love this.

Bloomington is starting to get a little chilly and all the leaves have fallen. So before it snows and we start getting into the hustle and bustle of Christmas (I have to personally wait until after Thanksgiving to get into full swing), I decided to give one last hurrah for summer, even though Gwen said that my cake actually looked as if it was covered in the first blizzard of winter. Maybe it was more a celebration of both endings and new beginnings.

The recipe creates enough batter for a 9-in cake pan. However, I think it's more resourceful to use my 8-in pan and then use the extra batter to create cupcakes.

There were a couple reviews saying that the cake itself was dry, I think it was because they might have overcooked the cake. I just did the toothpick test (stick a toothpick into the center of the cake, when it hits the bottom pull up, if you come out with a clean toothpick, your cake is ready!) every 5 minutes after it was in the oven for 30. I think my cake ended up being done about 5 minutes early.

Jen and I, avid coconut lovers that we are really enjoyed this cake.....let's just say there was only a few coconut flakes left on the plate.
Coconut Cake


  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

For the frosting:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, line them parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don't be concerned.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula.
  4. Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.
  5. For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract on low speed. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until just smooth (don't whip!).
  6. To assemble, place 1 layer on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting. Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides. To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides. Serve at room temperature.

Bon Appetite!
Chef Maggie