Sweet And Crumby

Baking, a Love Story


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My Grandpa’s Favorite Orange and Honey Glazed Chicken

Food memories, to me, are better than looking at photographs or reading old diaries. Smelling or tasting a food that is associated with a missed loved one can hit me like a ton of bricks, and can bring me back to a time and place that was long ago, reminding me of a favorite person.

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 This Orange Glazed Chicken is one of those nostalgic foods which creates fond memories of my grandfather. He always requested this dish for his birthdaydinner, along with a spectacular orange layer cake with cream cheese frosting, and my mother, his daughter-in-law, always obliged.

My mother’s orange chicken is phenomenal…and can perfume the entire house with citrus-y, honey smells that will waft up to your nose and give you goosebumps because you know just how good it’s going to be. I think I have made it only twice in my twenty or so years on my own, even though it’s one of my favorites, and the reason being is two fold: 1) I can never, ever make it as good as Mom does and 2) Although helping me to conjure up fond memories of my grandfather, it makes me a bit melancholy since he has been gone for many years.

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My grandfather  was a prisoner of war in WWII where he courageously fought the Nazis as a tail gunner. I have a journal that he kept with poems, stories and long “Thank You” notes written to him for being the optimist of his battalion; the one who would keep the men going and convince them that there was going to be an end to the awful war, and they would someday get to see the ones they loved and go home.

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As a kid, I would hear his war stories and feel proud, but I  never fully understood the depths of his heroism and selflessness until reading the journals, newspaper articles and, frankly, getting old enough to appreciate how monumental it is that some people are willing to give their lives for others.

To me, he was just an amazing grandpa, who would pick us up every Friday to take us out for some fun, make us milk shakes to slurp at night and omelets in the morning sung to his own silly song. He and my grandmother would act as if we were the best things that ever happened to them, and that’s just hard to beat as a child or an adult for that matter.

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I think, as I am planning to make the Orange Chicken tonight, is there anyone in my life who feels like they are the best thing that ever happened to me? I hope so.  I really hope so because there are so many people who I just couldn’t do without and are, without a doubt, the best things that ever happened to me.

 

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Sometimes, I guess, we just have to slow down, even though it’s nearly impossible at life’s breakneck speed, and make sure we are filling our loved ones’ days with special little things which they can create life-long memories with.

Above all, I want to make sure that I cook and bake family favorites often so when my kids are at a college apartment far away, or a newlywed cooking in their own kitchen for the first time, they can whip up a batch of a good old favorite like this Orange Glazed Chicken, and hopefully, it will instantly remind them of me and make them feel like I am right there.

Orange Glazed Baked Chicken
Serves 4-6 people, depending on whether it’s adults and kids or big and small eaters!😉
2 packs (8 pieces total) of chicken with skin, bone-in (either one pack of drum sticks and one pack of thighs, etc.)

Liquid to dip chicken pieces in:
1/2 c. orange juice
1/4 c. buttermilk (optional)

Crumb mixture
2/3 c. plain bread crumbs
3 T. grated orange zest (no white pith or your chicken will be BITTER—consider yourself warned)
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
1/2 t. dried thyme
1 T. fresh parsley minced or 1/2 t. dried parsley flakes

Glaze
1/4 c. of melted butter
1/4 c. of honey
3 T. orange juice

For the Chicken: preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray coat two glass rectangular dishes.  You can just rinse your chicken and pat dry with paper towels, OR my mother taught me to soak my chicken in tepid water with kosher salt(about 1/4 c.) for a few minutes in a very large bowl filled 2/3 full with the water. Pat dry with paper towels. Lightly salt and pepper your chicken. After handling your chicken, wash your hands.  I make sure to either let my kids handle the spices for me while I have “chicken hands” or wash my hands EVERY time I have touched the raw chicken. This is imperative so you are not spreading raw chicken bacteria onto the outside of your spice jars, etc.

Grate your orange zest and mix together with bread crumbs and seasoning in a pie pan.  In a bowl large enough for one piece of dipped chicken, mix together your orange juice and buttermilk.  Now dredge one piece of chicken in the orange juice and buttermilk mixture and then coat amply in the crumby mixture and place in the prepared glass dish.  Repeat until you are done coating all eight pieces.

Place the baking dishes in the top rack and middle rack of your oven (the top rack should be at the second highest position of the oven, not the first).  The bottom dish will cook a little faster.  You will bake the chicken like this for about 20 minutes and then you can put on your glaze.

To make the glaze, simply melt the butter in the microwave and then stir it together in a small bowl with the honey and orange juice.  Using a pastry brush, or simply a large spoon, drip the glaze over the chicken pieces using all of the glaze for all eight pieces. Cook another 25 minutes for a total cooking time of about 45 minutes.  Check your thickest piece for doneness and then remove all the pieces if they are ok.  Chicken, obviously, should not be pink, however dark meat can tend to have just the slightest pinkish hue and it’s fine (very slight, ok?).


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How to Roast a Turkey Breast(Technically Half a Turkey Breat)

I have brought back this post because hands down it is my most-viewed post and seems to get many positive comments of satisfied customers who have replicated it. So have at it, and let me know if you enjoyed it too. And before you hem and haw, and drag your feet, prep time is about 20 minutes and it cooks in about 1 hour and a quarter. So, no excuses! Chop, chop or roast, roast more appropriately.

Where is your happy place? What is the one thing in the world that can pick you up out of a slump and place you on solid ground? It’s important that you know yours and that you can summon it up on any given day when life is more than a little topsy turvy. There are too many moments that can throw you for a loop so please, if there is one take away from this post, research your happy place and know how to reach it at a moment’s notice. It is essential.

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My happy place is my kitchen.   My happy place invites me in, gives me a hug, and seems to say, “It’s OK. You are welcome here and everything is going to be fine.” It also seems to shout, “Roast a turkey! Make some soup, mash those potatoes and then throw in a pumpkin bundt cake!”. I have some pretty weird self-talk. I am aware.

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And when I’m in my happy place, my hand instinctively reaches for the knob on my oven and swishes it on to 350 (well in this case for the turkey, technically 325 folks), I step outside to snip some rosemary and pluck a fresh orange off the tree, and I inadvertently begin to sing the chorus lines from my favorite songs. I usually only know a couple of lines from any given song, but I belt them out anyway, unknown words be damned. Please don’t tell me I should turn on Pandora. I love Pandora. We’re good friends, but when I’m in my happy place, I sing. My Golden Retriever, Sadie, who sits dopily at my feet, with her sweet smile and her big brown eyes, likes my singing and would not be as warmed by Pandora. I know this for certain. I am a doggy mind reader. It’s one of my hidden talents.

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You can now officially stop saving that delicious roasted turkey dinner for Thanksgiving alone. Roasting a half turkey breast is the easiest thing you’ll do in the kitchen and it’s extremely rewarding. This particular turkey breast turned out so golden and juicy that I would swipe little slices of it to snack on the next day.  The herbs give the turkey so much savory flavor and the oranges add a hint of sweetness and help the turkey stay nice and juicy.

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You can then use the turkey breast for dinner, lunches during the week or for the king of comfort foods at my house,Creamed Turkey. It’s what we always eat the day after Thanksgiving, gets requested by several family members for their prized birthday dinners, and it is creamy, warm and comforting. To me, any dinner that includes roasted turkey is like a big hug on a plate so consider this post a big hug from me to you.

How to Roast a Turkey Breast

Makes enough turkey slices for a family of four for dinner (small-medium eaters). If you need more, roast two turkey half breasts.
This is an S&C original recipe
20 minutes prep time and approximately 1 hr. and 15 minutes cooking time.

1 half bone in turkey breast with skin, rinsed and patted dry
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (if using dry spices, use two teaspoons of each)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed juice from an orange
2 tablespoons good olive oil
one orange thinly sliced
2 whole sprigs of rosemary
4 large washed but unpeeled carrots
1/2 unpeeled sweet onion
1-2 cups chicken broth or white wine
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter

To make the turkey: Turn your oven on to 325 degrees Fahrenheit to preheat and get out either a small roasting pan or a glass rectangular casserole dish or other comparable dish. Rinse and pat dry your turkey (don’t leave it wet, the paste won’t adhere well). In a small bowl, make a paste, mixing together the chopped herbs, rosemary through sage, salt and pepper. Squeeze in the juice and drizzle in the olive oil. Mix together until it forms a paste. Rub the paste all over the meat and skin of the turkey and then also underneath the skin.

Thinly slice an orange and tuck in the oranges under the skin in a single layer as well as two sprigs of rosemary.  Cut your butter into small pats and put single pats of butter over the skin and meat. Cut your onion in a couple of large, thick slices. See photo in post for butter and carrots.  Place four carrots lined up in your roasting pan (use more carrots if they are small or your turkey is larger than the four carrots can support) and the onion pieces. Place the turkey on the carrots and onion. Pour the wine or chicken broth into the roasting pan (don’t pour onto turkey),  and drop in any remaining pieces of the orange. Place a meat thermometer in your turkey, place in the thickest portion of the breast, being careful not to touch the bone. Then tent the turkey with aluminum foil and roast for 45 minutes tented. Remove the tent and let roast another half hour or until meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F. Smaller breasts (2-3 lbs may cook in a little over an hour whereas larger ones, 3-4 lbs, may take an hour and a half). It’s a good idea to see where your temperature is at an hour. A meat thermometer is imperative with cooking a  turkey to properly cook it to the correct temperature for food safety.

Your turkey should turn out  a nice golden brown from the butter. When you take out your turkey, tent it with fresh foil (do not use the foil which touched the raw turkey please).  Let it rest for a good 10-15 minutes before slicing to allow the juices to spread through the turkey and be maintained in the turkey meat instead of on the cutting board. Cutting a turkey breast is not my forte….please consult Google for that.:)

Health and Safety Note: When working with any poultry, it is important to wash your hands every time you have touched the turkey. Then when you reach for salt shakers and the foil, you are not contaminating these items with raw turkey juices which could contain bacteria.

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A Fly on the Wall and a Light-ish Lemon Linguine


Not many food blogs include a fly in the title. I guess I am just special that way.  Doesn’t it spawn an immediate interest in my tantalizing lemon linguine, no? Ah well. One can never say I am too sophisticated for my own good over here at Sweet and Crumby. This lemon linguine is definitely something to relish.

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It is absolutely luscious with a bit of tang from the lemon, but just the right amount of saltiness and richness from the parmesan. And those leeks, they add such a nice little bite of both texture and freshness. Top it with juicy and plump shrimp, scatter some freshly snipped parsley, and you definitely have an easy new dish to not only add to your monthly  repertoire, but one that looks flashy and tastes divine (and isn’t loaded with fat and calories!). Win cubed I say! (I am trying to start a new trend…”win cubed”…please pass it on.😉 )

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Now back to my fly on the wall reference. As a young mom, I was frequently questioning my parenting skills. As my kiddo whined for some toy, laundry was piling high and dishes were stacked in the sink, I would wonder, “Is this normal? Do other houses and moms look like this? Or is there something inherently wrong in what I am doing over here?”

I desperately wanted to be a fly on the wall at someone else’s house; someone whose kids I thought were “perfect” and whose momming skills seemed to be exemplary. Someone who never left the sack lunch by the door, always had matching clothes on and never, ever  had french fry crumbs in their kid’s car seat. I wanted to know how it’s done and what it looks like so I could replicate THAT.

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But as I got older and somewhat wiser, I realized no one really has it all together; there are no perfect kids and certainly no perfect moms. We are all just treading water at various times. I do think there are some times out there when one is riding the easy train for a little while.  But those easy times are simply snippets of time in a long up and down hill ride of raising children.

I am thankful my almost-grown kids are doing great, amazing even, but they definitely have had their bumps in the road. And, although I try to be a super duper mom who will never be mentioned in therapy later on, I know that I make mistakes, hopefully recoverable ones, and I worry too much and grasp too tightly to them. Overall, parenting is a lot of intuition and an equal amount of guess work, and sometimes it is just survival based.

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Looking wishfully at other moms who appear to have it all together is just a glossy window pane view in my opinion. We don’t know each others’ pains, squabbles or daily battles that are hidden from public view. The fly on the wall in any of our houses may take in quite a different view than the window that the world looks through, but ultimately, we can all just do the best we’ve got each day and try to afford others the courtesy to do the same.

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I hope you get to make and enjoy this pasta dish with perhaps no flies on the wall at your house.

If this lemon linguine didn’t hit the mark, maybe you would like to try my lightened up Fettuccine Alfredo.

Lemon Linguine with Shrimp

Inspired by Cooking Light but with many changes.
Serves Approximately 4-6 Medium-sized portions (depending on portion size)

  • 8 0z linguine
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs. of raw large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 3-4 T. olive oil, divided
  • 2 T. butter, divided
  • 2 leeks trimmed, cut in half lengthwise, and thinly sliced (1 1/2 cups).
  • 2/3 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth or organic No Chicken broth (made by Imagine Foods). I use the No Chicken…it’s wonderful in this!
  • 2 1/2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 c. dry white wine
  • 1 t. grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Optional Addition: 1 can of drained artichokes chopped.

First properly clean your leeks. There are bits of dirt in between the layers.  Trim both the top and bottom off of the leeks (like green onions). Then cut the leeks in half lengthwise leaving two long equal halves. Loosen the layers and submerge and soak in water either in a long dish or a Ziploc bag for a couple of minutes. Drain the water and fill again and repeat if there was dirt in your water.

To begin the dish: Boil a large pot of water for your linguine. Salt the pot with two or three shakes of salt (1/2 t.).  Add linguine when the water is boiling and stir. Stir now and then while making your sauce. Make your sauce while the pasta is cooking. Drain linguine when “al dente” ( a little firmer than you like to eat it). I always taste my pasta before deciding whether it is time to drain it. It will continue to cook as you drain it and will cook a bit in the sauce as well. Drain and rinse with cold water and set aside until your sauce is done. Always drain pasta well so you are not adding water into your pasta sauce.

To begin your sauce and cook your shrimp:  In a large pan, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat, stir and saute the chopped garlic for a minute or less. DO NOT COOK ON HIGH HEAT or garlic will BURN! Garlic burns quickly. Scrape the garlic and remaining oil into a small bowl and set aside to add back to the pan later. Remove any bits of garlic left in the pan with a paper towel so they don’t burn while you cook your shrimp. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil and one tablespoon of butter to the pan you used to cook the garlic in, and turn on medium-high heat. When good and hot, put the cleaned and dry shrimp in the pan. Turn shrimp over with tongs in about a  minute or so. When they are ready to be flipped, you will see the shrimp starting to turn a light pink underneath. *Cook another minute or so on the other side until just barely pink and not blue/gray-ish. Take them out with tongs, leaving the remaining oil and butter in the pan, and set aside. Do not clean your pan in between the making of your sauce. The essence of the shrimp and previously cooked garlic will continue to flavor your sauce in the next steps.  *It is important not to over cook the shrimp. Overcooked shrimp tastes rubbery and dry. The shrimp will cook residually when you remove it from the pan and will cook even a little more when added back into the pasta dish with hot sauce.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the “shrimp” pan (if needed depending on how much oil and butter mixture is left after cooking the shrimp) over medium heat. You want to be able to cook the leeks in about 1-2 T. of oil and butter mixture. So if you are short, simply add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan.  Using a wooden spoon, be sure to get those good bits of shrimp-essence scraped off the bottom of the pan and into the oil. Add back in the sauteed garlic and the fresh leeks to the pan. Stir and saute for about two minutes on medium heat until the leeks are somewhat  translucent.  Add the chicken broth, lemon juice and wine. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer. Simmer for about five minutes on a low-simmer or until liquid has reduced by about half. Turn down to a low heat now, and add the lemon zest, Parmesan, one tablespoon of butter, 1/2 t. salt and a few grinds of pepper and stir. Add the optional chopped artichokes now too. Taste. This is where personal preference comes into play. If it’s too lemon-y to you, add a couple  more splashes of your chicken broth (maybe 1/4 c.) and stir. Not enough lemon? Squirt a little (maybe 1/2 T.) of lemon juice into the sauce. Taste again! If it needs a tad more “something”, chances are another tablespoon of butter will add some richness and bring everything together or if it is tasting under salted to your liking, add another 1/2 t. more salt or a little more Parmesan. When the sauce is perfect,  turn off the heat and add the shrimp to the pan and stir.

Add the pasta to the shrimp and sauce (not the other way around) and coat with the sauce. Serve on a platter or in a bowl and top with the chopped parsley.  My favorite side dish is a simple Caesar salad with this. Enjoy!

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Naughty or Nice List and A Gluten-Free Version of My Famous Greek Crescent Cookies

Just like Santa, when I am determining who is on my recipient list for my coveted box of Christmas cookies, I make a naughty and nice list. I require very little to make it to the nice list, but the numero uno qualification is that you “ooh” and “aah” when I arrive with my box. At the very least, to make it to next year’s list, you must either shoot me a text, call or email one of the following, “Those were amazing!!!”, “Best cookies I’ve ever had!”, “So delicious!”. You get the picture.

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Gluten-Free Orange and Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hello All,

I am definitely coming back off a long hiatus. Hopefully, I will have more to say and more to bake, but until then I am well into my Holiday Cookie Baking routine of preparing dough and cookies for gifts for friends. I hope you enjoy this GF spin on my famous Orange and Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies.

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Sometimes Perfection Just Needs to be Messed With:Chocolate Squared Banana Bread

One heaping cup of excellent quality unsweetened cocoa powder, three-fourths of a cup of bittersweet (70%) chocolate chips and two very ripe bananas.  Are you with me yet?  I should say so.

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