Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Food with a message

Have you ever made empty tomb rolls? They’re also called resurrection rolls.

What a wonderful treat to make for your family this Easter season; not only are the rolls delicious, they also have a story to tell.

Empty tomb rolls only have a few ingredients, but each has significance, which you can explain to your children while you make them together.

Start with a marshmallow, which represents Jesus’ body. Dip the marshmallow in melted butter, then roll in cinnamon sugar and tell the children that the butter and cinnamon represent the oils and spices placed on Jesus’ body before burial in the tomb.

Next, wrap the marshmallow in a crescent roll, sealing the seams. The crescent roll represents the linens that were used to wrap Jesus’ body.

While the rolls bake, something very special happens. The marshmallow disappears, leaving a hollow roll, or an empty tomb.

The rolls are very good and taste a lot like cinnamon rolls. Some of the marshmallow will probably ooze out of the roll, but that’s OK.

Although I used a can of refrigerated crescent rolls, I’ve seen recipes that use canned biscuits and frozen yeast rolls.

Once my rolls were all wrapped up and ready to bake, I placed them in a muffin tin to hold their shape.

This was so much fun to make. I was pleased that the recipe came out as it’s supposed to and that my family enjoyed them so much.

I think this would be a fun activity to do with a church youth group.

Give these rolls a try this week, and let the children in your life help you out!

Empty tomb rolls
  • Marshmallows (not miniature)
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2-3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar (I didn’t measure)
  • 1 tube of refrigerated crescent rolls
Set out two small bowls. Place melted butter in one and cinnamon sugar in the other.

Dip a marshmallow in the melted butter then roll in cinnamon sugar to coat. Unroll a crescent roll. Place marshmallow on roll and bring up sides to cover. Pinch seams to seal, making sure no marshmallow is showing. Lightly pat the roll in your hands to form a ball and place in muffin cup of a muffin tin. Repeat with remaining rolls. I added a little cinnamon sugar on top of the rolls.

Bake according to instructions on crescent roll package.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Little sandwiches have big taste

One of my favorite party foods is little ham sandwiches with poppy seeds on top. They’ve been a favorite on buffet lines for years.

A delicious spread is added to the cut rolls before layering ham and cheese and warming in the oven. I always take one or two when I’m at parties.

I was thinking of those sandwiches when I first saw recipes for funeral sandwiches (because they are good to take to families who are grieving) or ham and cheese sliders.

For these sandwiches, ham and Swiss cheese are layered on party rolls and placed in a baking pan. Then a delicious glaze, with a base of melted butter and mustard, is poured or brushed on the sandwiches before baking. It’s the same basic idea of the poppy seed ham sandwiches, but instead of using the spread inside the sandwiches, it goes on top.

I read many recipes for the sliders before trying them myself. I think every recipe I read called for 1 to 2 sticks of butter. If you’ve read my column long, you know there’s no way I’m putting that much butter on sandwiches! I tried it with just 2 tablespoons, but that wasn’t enough, so I’ve settled on 4 tablespoons, which is half a stick.

I played around with other ingredients as well and decided to omit the minced onion or onion powder and to use Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. I also opted to use Dijon mustard rather than yellow mustard.

I didn’t have poppy seeds and didn’t want to buy them, so my sandwiches went without.

Most recipes I saw suggested King’s Hawaiian rolls for the bread. (In fact, King’s has its own version of the sandwiches on its website.) But I used a favorite brand of party rolls instead. In reading up on these sandwiches, I saw one person had cut hot dog rolls in thirds and used them to make the sandwiches.

My husband and I loved these little sandwiches. We liked the slightly crunchy glaze on top, and I especially like the sweetness from the brown sugar. The sandwiches are also very good warmed up slowly in the toaster oven the next day, making workday lunches so easy.

Apparently this recipe can be assembled in advance (glaze included) and refrigerated, then baked later in the day or the next day. Both times I made the sandwiches, I baked them as soon as they were assembled. But if I were to serve these sandwiches at a party, I would make them in advance.

I really want to try a variation of this recipe and use deli roast beef and cheddar.

Glazed Ham and Cheese Sandwiches
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 16-oz. bag party rolls (20 per package)
  • 1/2 pound deli ham, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 pound Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and mustard until thoroughly combined.

Slice rolls and divide ham and cheese between the rolls, cutting meat and cheese to fit rolls. Place rolls on baking pan with sides. (You can assemble the rolls individually, or slice all rolls at one time, making one large top and one large bottom.)

Pour or brush glaze on top of rolls. I used a pastry brush and brushed the glaze not only on top of the rolls but also on the sides.

Bake for 15 minutes, uncovered, or until cheese melts and rolls brown on top. Keep a close watch so they don’t burn.

Note: This is how I made them. You can use yellow mustard, if you like, and different meats and cheeses.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Baked Chicken Parm

One of my favorite menu items at Italian restaurants is chicken Parmesan.

I’ve ordered it at any number of restaurants either locally or while traveling. There’s something extra delicious about the combination of breaded chicken and marinara sauce topped with melted cheese and served over a bed of spaghetti. My mouth waters just thinking about it!

I’ve often made a shortcut version, topping breaded and fully cooked frozen chicken patties with spaghetti sauce and mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and baking until the sauce starts to bubble and the cheese to brown. It’s been a favorite and easy weeknight meal for my family for years.But Saturday night, I wanted to make a different version.

I know how to make traditional chicken Parmesan and have made it several times, starting with dipping chicken breasts into an egg mixture and rolling in bread crumbs, then frying in olive oil. But I wanted to try a baked version this time.

There are so many baked variations. If you do a Google search of chicken Parmesan recipes, you will get more hits than you’ll ever want to read through! Some recipes don’t bread the chicken cutlets at all, just bake with sauce on top, adding the cheese towards the end of baking time; other recipes coat the chicken with egg and bread crumbs before baking.

Here’s what I did.

I bought thin chicken cutlets because I don’t like to flatten chicken breasts. There were four in each of the two packs; four were very thin and the other four were meatier.

I brushed two 13X9-inch baking dishes with olive oil and did the same with the chicken breasts before rolling them in Italian seasoned bread crumbs mixed with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. I placed the cutlets into the pans (thin in one pan and thicker in the other) and baked them until they were almost cooked through. It took twice as long for the thicker ones to cook.

I poured a jar of marinara sauce on top then sprinkled on cheese and let them bake. While they baked, I cooked a pot of spaghetti.

I served the chicken Parmesan with a green salad and garlic bread, and my family gobbled up the meal.

This recipe was well received at home. It was easy to make, and I will probably make it again soon. The next time I make it, I will put aluminum foil over the chicken for part of the baking time to make it a little more tender.

Baked Chicken Parmesan
  • 8 thinly sliced chicken breasts
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs (more if needed)
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan shredded, divided
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 jar marinara or spaghetti sauce (1 pound 8 ounces)
  • Box of spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brush 2 casserole dishes with olive oil. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper if desired. Brush breasts with a little olive oil.

Mix bread crumbs and a 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese and pour on a plate. Roll each breast in bread crumbs; place in casserole dishes. (I had 4 very thin chicken breasts and 4 thicker breasts. I placed the 4 thin ones in one pan and the thicker ones in the other pan.) Bake for 10 minutes, turning the chicken breasts after 5 minutes. After 10 minutes, I removed the pan with the thinner breasts and repeated the 10 minutes of cooking with the thicker breasts. (Next time I might cover the breasts for part of the cooking time to make them more tender.)

Once the chicken is cooked or almost cooked, spoon marinara sauce on top of each breast and top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until marinara sauce bubbles and cheese melts.

Serve over spaghetti.