presidential chicken

as you all know, i’m almost always up for trying a new recipe, and a few weeks ago was one of those nights.  my inspiration was from my dear friend jamie and his fiance caleb.  they have been dabbling in the podcast world and have multiple times mentioned the famous presidential chicken recipe from michigan state university, which is where jamie attended college.  after hearing them describe it as chicken with puff pastry, sour cream, and cream cheese, i demanded a copy of the recipe so that i could try it myself.

so, being the obliging podcast hosts they are, they sent me a link and off i went to kroger to get everything we would need.  as i took over the kitchen with pots and pans and knives and cutting boards, phillip walked in and asked, “what are you making?”

“presidential chicken!” i replied, as if he should have known all along.

he politely said “okay” and left me to my work.

making the stuffing was no big deal, but trying to get the puff pastry looking all nice and on purpose was not as successful.  i may have even ended up with some precious little mini pouches, over there, on the right…oh well!

while these bad boys baked away in the oven, i got to start on the sauce.  now, as i started on the sauce, i found myself confused.  my sauce was not thickening up at all and, with a taste here and there, was quite bland to me.  i double-checked the directions and was doing everything right, but perhaps there’s an msu trick to getting it to thicken properly.  i’ll just have to let one of you show me how it’s done!

eventually the puffs were baked to near-golden perfection.  ah, who doesn’t love a nicely browned, flaky pastry crust?

i plated the chicken up with some broccoli and a little bit of the sauce, but honestly, my sauce wasn’t even necessary (and promptly wound up going down the drain).  those heavenly pouches can stand on their own with piping hot chicken and a creamy, rich sour cream and cream cheese mixture.  this dish is easily one i can see us enjoying time and time again.  🙂

so, if you enjoyed this post, there are two things you need to do:

  1. go get the recipe and enjoy this dish yourself
  2. go listen to jamie and caleb’s podcast

for both, you’ll thank me later.

emerald city bagels

one day in the not so recent past, i had been craving a good bagel.  now, when we lived in buckhead, there were plenty of places around where we could go (and did go) for bagels.  however, we all know that feeling when the same old is the same old and we want to try something new.  as such i searched the internet far and wide for bagels in atlanta and emerald city bagels caught my eye most.  and what do you know?  it’s a pleasant twenty minute walk from our house in east atlanta!

phillip excited about his post-otf bagel.

this darling mother-daughter bagel shop is a charming combination of big city atmosphere and just the right amount of whimsy.  it isn’t too fussy, keeping the focus on what’s most important – those delicious bagels!

without a big line of customers behind us, we walked up to the counter and informed the cashier justin that it was our first time at emerald city and we wanted some recommendations.  thankfully he was also in a chipper mood, so he gladly took some time to give us the lay of the land and also make some personal suggestions.  we didn’t waste any time ordering two coffees, a rosemary sea salt bagel with fig cream cheese, and an everything bagel sandwich with egg, cheese, and pork roll.  yes, go ahead and be jealous.  🙂  with our hot coffees and toasty bagels, we grabbed a couple of seats at the counter inside and got to work.

we’ll start with phillip’s bagel breakfast sandwich with its perfectly cooked egg that oozed out just the right amount.  each bite was super savory between the rich egg and cheese and salty bagel and pork roll.  before i knew it, phillip had scarfed down almost the whole thing!  i somehow snuck a bite of it before it was entirely devoured.

it was time to try the rosemary sea salt bagel with fig cream cheese.  oh.  my.  word.  first, let’s drool for a moment about this incredible cream cheese to bagel ratio.  i mean, i’m definitely on team the-more-cream-cheese-the-better, and this place does it up right.  next, let’s talk about taste.  the fig cream cheese was incredible!  and this is coming from someone who actually likes figs.  they weren’t too much or too little; they were just right.  as for the bagel itself, it was a touch too salty for me and not enough rosemary at all.  don’t get me wrong, i still ate that bagel like it was the last bagel i would ever eat, but if i hadn’t known, i’d think it was just a sea salt bagel with all the big salt flakes everywhere.

likely to no one’s surprise, phillip and i have been back to emerald city bagels each weekend since moving to east atlanta.  and, to ensure we deliver the most to our loyal readers, here’s a list of all the bagel-spread combinations we have enjoyed so far and our ranking of each.

phillip’s rankings:

  1. inverted grilled cheese on rosemary sea salt
  2. everything bagel with egg, cheese, and pork roll
  3. rosemary sea salt bagel with toasted almond and fig cream cheese
  4. plain bagel with garlic herb cream cheese
  5. garlic bagel with plain whipped cream cheese
  6. sea salt olive oil bagel with veggie cream cheese
  7. cinnamon sugar bagel with peanut butter

kelsey’s rankings:

  1. rosemary sea salt bagel with toasted almond and fig cream cheese
  2. inverted grilled cheese on rosemary sea salt
  3. everything bagel with egg, cheese, and pork roll
  4. plain bagel with garlic herb cream cheese
  5. cinnamon sugar bagel with peanut butter
  6. sea salt olive oil bagel with veggie cream cheese
  7. garlic bagel with plain whipped cream cheese

so, if you’re ever in the mood for a killer bagel and some decent company, make the trek south of i-20 and phillip and i will drop whatever we are doing and meet you at emerald city.  after all, there’s a whole world of bagel-spread pairings we have yet to try, and we’d love to try them with you!

equal parts cream cheese & bagel

for those of you who maybe don’t know me well, i have a confession to share:  i love bagels and i love cream cheese and i love them even more when they’re together.  i don’t know when my obsession really started, but it’s been around for ages.  i remember even back in college when i’d have breakfast with kari and brett on tuesday and thursday mornings before class.  we’d meet up at snelling hall on uga’s campus for a quick bite to eat.  i would get a couple of scrambled eggs, some fruit, and then half a bagel.  now, like many restaurant establishments, snelling provided the little philadelphia cream cheese single-serve tubs for use.  most normal human beings might use the logic that “since i have half a bagel, i only need half the tub of cream cheese.”  well, no such logic exists in my world.  i shamelessly smothered that half bagel with ALL the cream cheese for the tub and enjoyed every single bite.  the 1:1 ratio of bagel to cream cheese was the best part of my morning.

well, i’m happy to report i have yet to outgrow this appetite obsession.  ask anyone around me and they’ll tell you the same.  these days, though, without a dining hall to satisfy my bagel-cream cheese cravings, i stop about once a week at goldberg’s.  it just happens to be on the right side of the road on my drive into work; it’s a miracle i don’t stop in there more, actually.

anyway, i typically order an egg bagel toasted with plain cream cheese.  this might not sound so exciting, but trust me when i say that EGG BAGELS ARE EVERYTHING.  anyway, a couple weeks ago i made my regular stop, ordered my regular order, but was slightly disappointed when i got to the office and opened the bag.  there was a measly spread of cream cheese between the two slices of bagel, and it nearly ruined my morning.  okay, that is an exaggeration; i still enjoyed the bagel, but it was obvious with each bite that there should have been more cream cheese.

so, this past friday i stopped in as i usually do and when they took my order, i said, “now, last time i ordered the cream cheese was a bit skimpy.  this time can you be sure there’s a generous amount on there?”  after asking i held my breath, slightly terrified the employee was going to judge me and then proceed to talk about me to everyone the moment i left the restaurant.  however, a smile grew on her face and she said, “i’ll be sure to take care of you.”

i thanked her, waited at the check-out line, and paid.  once the bagel was ready, she reached over the counter to hand it to me and i was instantly satisfied.  wait, how could i know, without opening the bag, that she had done me right?  i’ll tell you how.  the bag felt heavy.  oh yes, i knew she had heard a sister’s cry for cream cheese and delivered!

see?  look at that cream cheese to bagel ratio.  nearly equal, as it should be.

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then, then!  the real test was passed.  you always know you have the right amount of cream cheese on a bagel when you can see your teeth marks in the cream cheese after taking a bite.  i was in heaven!

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do i really think i’ll ever outgrow my cream cheese-bagel obsession?  likely not.  in fact, i hope i pass it down to my children!  if you’ve got any good bagel suggestions that would rock my world, i would love to hear them.  this request especially goes to my friend jamie who is on a one-man mission to try new bagels and cream cheeses in his town of new york city.  you go, boy!

the easiest dip ever

this past weekend phillip and i spent some time in dadeville, alabama visiting my childhood friend adam at his parents’ lakehouse.  at lake martin we lounged in the water drinking beers, took the jet ski for a whirl, ventured to chimney rock, and enjoyed the company of friends both old and new.  after this long day of relaxation and fun, we arrived back at the house hungry and lazy.  well, the dip that adam’s mom tina whipped up was the perfect appetizer for a bunch of hungry and lazy twentysomethings.  this recipe is so easy and so delicious that i insist you go out to the store, acquire all of the ingredients, and make it right now!

so, how easy is it?  let me tell you.

step one:  grab an 8-ounce block of cream cheese out of the fridge (no need to let it soften).

step two:  moosh that cream cheese evenly across the bottom of some kind of microwave-safe dish (i think a square or circle casserole dish would do nicely).

step three:  grab a can of your favorite chili.  with beans, sans beans, beef, turkey, whatever your taste buds desire.

step four:  evenly spread the chili on top of the cream cheese.

step five:  suffocate the chili layer with shredded cheese of your choice.  i prefer to put so much on that you can’t see the chili through the cheese.  true confessions:  i love cheese.

step six:  microwave your masterful creation for about 3-5 minutes, depending on how powerful your microwave is and depending on how melty you want the cheese.  we nuked ours long enough so that the cheese kind of bubbled around the edges.  mm.

step seven:  devour the entire dish without any regrets because you’re at the lake and it’s the weekend and that’s acceptable.

honey teriyaki appetizer

last week i got caught up in the flurry of an online recipe exchange – how exciting!  i had received a honey teriyaki appetizer dish from our good family friend mary b., and with so much free time over the holiday weekend, i roped my mom into giving it a try with me.

maybe you should give it a try, too?  go on!  flex those cooking muscles, ya beast!

okay, i’ll stop.  you know how i cannot help getting carried away at times.

wait, carried away?

i get carried away, by the look, by the light in your eyes, before i even realize the ride i’m on, baby, i’m long gone”  “i get carried away, nothing matters but being with you, like a feather flyin’ high up in the sky on a windy day, i get carried away

ha!  gotcha!  i couldn’t help myself.  who doesn’t love indulging in some classic george strait?  that’s right.  EVERYONE loves indulging in classic george strait.

okay, i really will get down to business with this recipe so that you can enjoy it.

did you say “get down to business?”

let’s get down to business to defeat the huns”  “did they send me daughters when i asked for sons?”  “you’re the saddest bunch i’ve ever met, but you can bet before we’re through, mister, i’ll make a man out of you

okay, OKAY!  i really, really do promise that’s the last of it.  at least for you.  this show in my mind is 24/7.  ah, to be so lucky…

ingredients

8 ounces of cream cheese, very softened

1 – 1 1/2 cups of shredded chicken (you can also chop it if you need to save a little time; don’t worry, the chicken doesn’t know if it’s shredded or chopped, so i promise it will taste the same)

*also!  this chicken can either be a rotisserie you picked up from the grocery OR you can poach/boil the chicken yourself.  it will really depend on what’s available and how much time you have.

garlic powder

shredded carrots (the recipe calls for shredded, but we only had matchstick carrots on-hand and found those were a great choice because their crunch held up; just personal preference)

coarsely chopped dry roasted peanuts

chopped green onions

honey teriyaki marinade (just look for a bottle of this stuff in the international aisle of your grocery store)

directions

for a few hours, marinate the chicken in some of the honey teriyaki marinade (not marinate, for marinate is the verb and marinade is the noun; the more you know!).

mm, marinated chicken.

mm, marinated chicken.

grab a greased glass baking dish (a 9 x 13 will do, or something a tad smaller; you don’t want an 8 x 8, though, for that won’t be enough space) and spread the cream cheese out on it.  sprinkle with the garlic powder.

all i want to do is put raspberry jam on it and eat it with a bagel.

all i want to do is put raspberry jam on it and eat it with a bagel.

add ze chicken.

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now, at this point you can take this dish in one of two directions.  direction one is to serve it warm.  direction two is to serve it chilled.  i will detail both directions so that you can wisely make a choice.

direction one (warm)

on top of the chicken, add the carrots and peanuts.

drizzle on some more honey teriyaki marinade.

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pop the baking dish into a warm oven for 15 minutes to get everything warmed through and slightly bubbly.  be careful, though; you don’t want to burn that cream cheese.

top with the green onions and serve with crackers.

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direction two (cold)

on top of the chicken, add the carrots, peanuts, and green onions.

drizzle on some more honey teriyaki marinade and serve with crackers.

whether you prefer direction one or direction two, the dish is going to be a hit.  now, as a cream cheese lover, i am always in favor of more than less, but the 8 ounces the recipe calls for here is just perfect.

mom recommended throwing in some water chestnuts, which are another one of my favorites.  i totally understand that they have zero flavor whatsoever, but that crunch is just so delightful!

finally, if you don’t want them on a cracker, we decided it would be just as delectable in a lettuce wrap, either for an appetizer or an entree.

red velvet cupcakes

today is my co-worker ohhee’s last day with the company.  she is moving on to a new and exciting beginning with her fiancé sam in los angeles, california.  she is certainly going to be missed, so in bittersweet honor of her departure today, i specially made her requested red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

cupcakes

the cake batter is delicious, as is the frosting.  the recipe yields 30 cupcakes, so i might recommend doubling the frosting so that they can be generously topped.  enjoy!