Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Oven Fried Parmesan-Crusted Chicken

Good news - crunchy, flavorful chicken can be achieved without the messy deep frying! This delightful little recipe gives you the best of both worlds. The tangy marinade helps to keep the meat moist and tender during cooking. And the Parmesan and panko breadcrumb coating forms a delicious, crispy crust.

No need to compromise on taste and crunch. So, spare yourself the grease-covered kitchen and first-degree burns and give this dish a try.

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into smaller strips
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2-3 dashes hot sauce
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Whisk the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, and hot sauce together in a medium bowl.
  3. Add the chicken strips. Toss until coated in the mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  4. In a shallow dish, combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.
  5. Coat the chicken with the breadcrumb mixture.
  6. Place the coated chicken on a greased baking sheet.
  7. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes. Turn and bake for an additional 10 minutes until crisp and golden brown.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Supper - Maryland Steamed Crabs

Every now and then, it's really nice to escape the city. We ducked out of the District today for a beautiful afternoon on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

We hit up Harris Crab House on Kent Island for a little beer and some mallet banging. The steamed Maryland crabs are sweet and perfectly cooked and seasoned with Old Bay, of course. 

Grab a picnic table on the deck and enjoy your time on the water. If you saved room for dessert, try out their homemade Nutty Buddies. Sadly, we were too stuffed . . . ok, we weren't that sad about it, but you get the point.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Honey Badger Lager

The first official Lower Breaux Bridge Brew House beer pays homage to this blog's city of origin: Washington, D.C. . . well, sort of. The brew dudes decided to start with something simple and "presidential."

This country has a history of home brewing commander and chiefs -- starting with the first, George Washington, and most recently, Barack Obama. But that's enough history, says beer agent 007.5 (Pete) and Brewmaster Fred, now on to brewing.

President Obama recently brewed a batch of beer, which he simply called Honey Lager. Per their non-disclosure internal sources (some may call it a leak, but leaking beer is a major disaster), the boys ascertained that the recipe was a knock off of the Rocky Raccoon Crystal Honey Lager from the book The Complete Joy of Brewing.

Taking a cue from the original, woodland creature-inspired brew name, it was only natural for the Louisiana native football enthusiasts/beer buffs to rechristen this lager the Honey Badger in honor of LSU's defensive back Tyrann Mathieu.
Cooking the wort.
  • 1 (3.3 lb can) light liquid malt extract
  • 1 lb honey
  • 1 lb corn sugar
  • 2 oz cascade hops
  • 1 pack ale yeast

  1. Combine the malt extract, honey, corn sugar, and 2 gallons of water in a large pot.
  2. Place one ounce of hops in a brewing bag (a.k.a. an old clean sock tied at the top with fishing string . . . I told you LBB was low-tech). Add bag to the pot.
  3. Bring to slow rumbling boil for 1 hour.
  4. Add the second ounce of hops for the last 15 minutes of the boil.
  5. Transfer the mixture (know as the wort) to a 6 gallon bottle half-filled with water.
  6. Pitch the yeast (in non-brewer talk, this means adding yeast to the unfermented wort).
  7. You really should read a brew book while enjoying a cold one to fill in the details.
Then, the fun begins.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Supper - Fish Tacos with Tomatillo and Avocado Salsa

After my trip to Chicago, I was craving the fish tacos that we had at my friend Sarah's apartment. So, I just went ahead and made them again. But this time, I'll share the recipe. I recommend keeping the extra salsa around to snack on during the week.

Feel free to use whatever kind of fish you like. It is delicious with mahi mahi, catfish, and tilapia.

  • 8-10 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 2-3 (6 oz.) fillets of mahi mahi
  • 2 medium tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and quartered
  • 1 large avocado, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup queso fresco or asadero cheese, crumbled

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the tomatillos, avocado, garlic, cilantro, parsley, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and 1/4 cup of olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until the desired consistency (smooth and well-blended). Set aside.
  3. Sprinkle the Good Stuff seasoning mix over the fish fillets. Be sure to season both sides.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  5. Cook in fish over medium-high heat until firm, about 3-4 minutes per side. Let cool for a few minutes, then cut into smaller pieces.
  6. Lay the corn tortillas out on a large sheet pan. Warm in the preheated oven until softened and pliable, about 5 minutes.
  7. To serve, place the cooked fish on a tortilla. Top with tomatillo-avocado salso and crumbled cheese.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rosemary Lemon Fizz

Happiest of birthdays to my favorite sister-in-law Lydia! I can't think of a better way to celebrate than with a tasty champagne cocktail. Because this girl loves her bubbly. So, here's a bit of an unexpected combination that leads to very good things.


  • 4 oz. dry sparkling wine
  • 1/2 oz. gin (vodka works well also)
  • 1/2 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. rosemary simple syrup
Rosemary Simple Syrup
  • 5 (6-inch) sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water


  1. Combine the gin, lemon juice, and rosemary simple syrup in a cocktail shaker half full of ice.
  2. Shake vigorously. Strain into champagne flute. 
  3. Fill the rest of the glass with sparkling wine.
Rosemary Simple Syrup
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and rosemary.
  2. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Remove from the heat and let the rosemary infuse the syrup for at least 20 minutes.
  4. Strain, discard the rosemary, and refrigerate until cold.
  5. Keep leftover syrup covered and refrigerated for up to two weeks.
Cheers to another year older and wiser!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Arugula with Simple Lemon Vinaigrette

For those days when you are pressed for time and lack creativity, here's a great simple salad that you can throw together. It's perfect as a starter or as a side to basically anything. Or, throw in some grilled chicken or shrimp to make it a meal on its own. In that case, add cherry tomatoes and toasted pine nuts for an extra punch of flavor and texture.

  • 4 cups arugula, washed and dried
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • juice of one lemon
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  2. Combine the arugula and Parmesan cheese in a larger separate bowl.
  3. Toss with enough dressing to coat.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Supper - Crispy Seared Salmon with Balsamic-Blackberry Sauce

Now that we're getting down to the last of the fresh blackberries from our picking expedition last weekend, I wanted to try something a little different. Something a little savory.

The balsamic-blackberry reduction pairs deliciously with the salty seared salmon. It's definitely a light, quick dish after a long and tiring weekend.

  • 2 (5 oz.) wild-caught Alaskan salmon fillets, about 1-inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 oz. fresh wild blackberries
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  1. Let the salmon fillets come to room temperature 10 minutes before cooking.
  2. Juice the berries by straining them through a mesh strainer.
  3. Combine the blackberry juice and balsamic vinegar in a medium sauce pan over medium to medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer.
  4. Reduce heat, stirring frequently until the sauce reduces (about 10 minutes). 
  5. While the sauce is reducing, pat the fish dry with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper. 
  6. Let stand for few minutes before spreading skin side with 1/2 tablespoon butter per fillet. 
  7. Warm the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat. 
  8. Place the salmon skin-side down in the pan. Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. 
  9. Using a long flexible spatula, turn and sear flesh side until cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes. 
  10. Drizzle the balsamic-blackberry sauce over the seared salmon before serving.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Travel Bites - Chicago

After my weekend in Massachusetts, I boarded a plane to Chicago for a work conference (and a few extra days with my girls). The meetings went well, so it was off to play with Sarah, Meaghan and Lester.

Now, I've been to the Windy City a number of times, so this trip ended up being a lot of friend time and a lot of meals cooked in the comfort of their apartments . . . which are usually the best anyway. So, we spent our time catching up, gossiping, and laughing at totally inappropriate volume levels. Oh, and, of course, enjoying good food and an occasional adult beverage.

First stop on our reunion tour: drinks at the Signature Lounge at the 96th floor of the Hancock Building.
Sarah, Meag, Jessica (aka Lester)
Excellent view, mediocre cocktails, touristy clientelle (which I understand that I was contributing to). As my wise friend Meaghan pointed out: "the quality of the drinks here is in direct correlation with the number of flip flops being worn." And, let me tell you, there were a lot of flip flops.
The Redeeming View
We made up for my poor judgement the next night, when Sarah brushed off her new grill and made us all a delicious meal of fish tacos with tomatillo-avocado salsa and steak with chimichurri sauce.
Sarah, Alex, and the grill named Titus. Yes, the grill is named.
Top it all off with homemade margaritas and it was perfect.
For tasty margaritas - 1 1/2 part tequila,
1 part freshly squeezed lime juice, 1/2 part Cointreau
The next morning we refueled with an al fresco brunch at Feast in Wicker Park.  We all enjoyed the fresh seasonal berries with honey-lime yogurt, the breakfast burrito and a trio of benedicts.
That evening, we trekked over to Meaghan and Eoghan's apartment for an Independence Day cocktail party. And they really outdid themselves with an amazing spread.
Carnitas Bites
Tandoori Chicken
Caprese Salad Skewers
Roasted Eggplant Dip

Their swanky digs come with a panoramic view of Lake Michigan and downtown Chicago. Not a bad way to catch the fireworks. And definitely not a bad way to cap off a great week with new family and old friends.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Travel Bites - Attleboro

After years of hearing about the land of the Motts, I finally made my way to Attleboro, Massachusetts to see where my father-in-law's family grew up. It was great to actually spend some quality time with everyone (the wedding weekend wasn't exactly packed with free time) and get a grand tour of all of the wonderful places that I had heard about so many times. 
The House at Lindsey Street
We capped off our weekend in New England with a big ole traditional clam bake for Nancy's 80th birthday celebration.
The Mott Matriarch
Now that the seaweed was ready to go, there were just a few other last-minute preparations before the big event. So, we dug the pit, prepped the food, started the fire, loaded up goodies, and enjoyed some brews while the steam worked its magic.
The ritual sacrifice . . . I mean Hans and his artfully-constructed fire stack.
The Corn Husking Crew
Purging the Clams
After the fire smolders down to red hot rocks, add the seaweed,
then the seafood, cover and steam.
A few, short, delicious-smelling hours later, the perfectly
cooked shellfish are unveiled.
Wicked excited about our lobstaaas!
We spent the rest of the afternoon eating, chatting, and laughing and it was pretty darn awesome. I think I'll invite myself up there every year for tasty seafood and wonderful company.
Mott Family Clam Bake 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Travel Bites - Kelp Hunting

Last week, I got to spend three fun days in Massachusetts with my father-in-law's family. His mother turned 80 and the whole clan gathered to celebrate with a big New England clam bake. 

Now, I've been to more than my fair share of crawfish/crab/shrimp boils, but clam bakes are a whole different ball game. I really had no idea what was involved, but was excited to find out. In addition to procuring and prepping all of the food, you need to dig a hole for the pit, gather rocks and wood for the fire, and collect seaweed to help steam (and not burn) the seafood.

When they first told me that I was on seaweed duty, I figured we'd just be picking it up from some specialty shop. But nope! Off we went to the Westport River to yank kelp off of rocks.
 My new uncle- and cousin-in-law corralled us into the truck to head towards the coast. We arrived at an amazing house that Hans (uncle-in-law) built and got down to business. Step one: ready the sea vessels. Oh, and debug them.
Step two: make our way to the rocks. This, for the most part, was pretty smooth. Except for the fact that we forgot a few things on shore and had to send Jared back.
Now on to the main event: harvesting the rockweed! We braved the calm waters of the river, mucking through the mud to fill our bags with kelp for the clam bake. So, we pulled rockweeds . . .
 And pulled more rockweeds.
 And pulled more rockweeds. And ran from monster crabs that were attacking our toes.
Final step: throw some sea water into a barrel and head back home . . . easier said than done, though, as is turns out. We seriously misjudged the slope of the hill leading to the car. And it took some sweating, some cursing, and a few extra hands, but we managed to get it done. Especially with the help and support of Lydia.
Definitely a productive and hilarious day with the in-laws.
Cousins: Angus, Jared and Lyd
Operation Kelp Hunt = Success!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Wild Blackberry Pie

Yesterday morning, we got up bright and early (and by that I mean we trudged out of bed before the sun was even up) to beat the heat and pick blackberries out in rural Virginia. These tart little berries apparently grow wild out at one of the hunting leases. 
So, we put on some truly attractive outfits to protect ourselves from the bugs and the angry blackberry prickles and sweat out every toxin that could have ever existed in our systems. 
 After a graceful attempt to climb through some brush, I lost my footing and fell into a particularly ornery patch of blackberries and their protective thorns. My arms are now covered in scratches and scrapes. But we hit the mother lode in that little area and it was totally worth it!
Now we are left with buckets of berries to enjoy in all sorts of tasty varieties. First order of business? A birthday pie for our good friend Tim. Hope he enjoys it! (I made one for myself too, and I know I sure did).


Pie Crust
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5-7 tablespoons ice water

Pie Filling
  • 6 cups fresh wild blackberries, rinsed and picked clean
  • 3/4 cup sugar (adjust depending on the sweetness of the berries)
  • 3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca or cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon zest
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces


Pie Crust
  1. In a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar; pulse to mix. 
  2. Add butter and pulse 6 to 8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  3. Slowly add the ice water, pulsing until mixture is moistened and just begins to clump together.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather it into a ball. 
  5. Knead the dough 2 or 3 times, just until it comes together. 
  6. Gently shape the dough into two disks. 
  7. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
  8. If using immediately, use this time to prepare pie filling.
  9. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. 
  10. Working on a lightly floured surface, roll out one disk of dough to a 12-inch round.
  11. Transfer to a 9-inch round pie dish.   
  12. Roll out the remaining dough to an 11-inch round. Use to top the pie once filling is added.
Pie Filling
  1. In a large bowl, combine the blackberries, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and quick-cooking tapioca (or cornstarch). Let sit for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Spoon the berry mixture into the dough-lined pie dish. Dot the top with the butter.
  4. Brush the overhanging pastry with water and carefully set the top crust over the berry filling. 
  5. Press the edges of the dough together and trim the overhang to 1 inch. 
  6. Fold the edge under itself and crimp to seal the edges.
  7. Score the top of the crust with a sharp knife to create air vents for the steam to escape.
  8. Bake the pie in the center of the middle rack of the oven. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any juices that might bubble over while cooking.
  9. First, bake the pie at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes. 
  10. Then place a sheet of aluminum foil over the pie to protect the edges and tops from getting too burnt. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 30 minutes.
  11. Let the pie cool for at least 2 hours before serving.
Lyd and the Birthday Boy!