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Break out the old favorites

Chicken-Parmesan bundles, and special request for dessert

I like to find different ways to make the classic recipes. The first chicken Parmesan I made, many years ago, was like this:  I sliced a chicken breast down the middle and stuffed it with cheese, poured spaghetti sauce over it and topped it with mozzarella cheese and baked it. I thought that was the best thing that had ever come out of my oven. 

After several new versions over the years, I have found another one that is easy, fast, and even better tasting. Try this one and see what you think. Please share your favorites with us.

Think a classic chicken Parmesan can’t get any better? Think again. This cheesy, crunchy version may be better than the original. I have made several different versions, and this one is my current favorite.

Chicken-Parmesan bundles

Servings: 6

Prep time: 35 minutes

Total time: 65 minutes

4 ounces (½ of 8-ounce package) of cream cheese, softened

1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well-drained

1 ¼ cups of shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided

6 small, boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves (pounded to ¼-inch thick)

1 egg

10 Ritz crackers, crushed (about ½ cup)

1 to 1 ½ cups spaghetti sauce, heated

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix cream cheese, spinach, 1 cup mozzarella and 3 tablespoons Parmesan until well blended; spread onto chicken breasts. Starting at one short end of each breast, roll up chicken tightly. Secure with wooden toothpicks if desired.

Beat egg in shallow dish. Mix remaining Parmesan and cracker crumbs in separate shallow dish. Dip chicken in egg, then roll in crumb mixture to evenly coat. Place, seam sides down, in 13-by-9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Bake 30 minutes or until chicken is done (165 degrees). Remove and discard toothpicks if using. Serve chicken topped with spaghetti sauce and remaining mozzarella.

Italian chicken pot pie, basil biscuits 

Looking for a classic chicken dinner? Then check out this great pot pie made with cannellini beans. This dish is prepared and on the table in 30 minutes.

Prep time: 30 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Makes: 6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

3 small zucchini, cut into ½-inch pieces (about 2 cups)

2 cups shredded deli rotisserie chicken

1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce

1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, drained, rinsed

1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with Italian-style herbs, not drained

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 cup baking mix

2/3 cup yellow cornmeal

¾ cup milk

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

In deep 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook onion and garlic in oil 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft. Stir in zucchini, chicken, tomato sauce, beans, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; simmer 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in medium-size bowl, stir baking mix, cornmeal, milk, and basil just until moistened. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls (18) onto hot chicken mixture. Cover; cook 8 minutes.

Nutrition information:

1 serving, 380 calories


for a crowd

Serves: About 25

3  (32-ounce) containers of hash browns, southern or country-style

3 large onions, diced (about 6 cups)

4 large garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon black pepper, or to taste

1 ½ pounds Gruyere cheese, grated

1 ½ pounds Havarti, grated

4 (5-ounce) containers with herbs, crumbled

1 pint half-and-half

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a large roasting pan.

In a very large (8- to 13-quart) bowl, combine the defrosted potatoes, onions, garlic, and pepper with your hands, tossing until well combined. Now mix in all the cheeses thoroughly. Taste for seasoning, adding more pepper if you want. Do not salt before tasting, you may not need any with all the cheese. This can all be done a day ahead and chilled until baking time.

Pack the potato mixture into the roasting pan, smoothing the top. Pour the half-and-half evenly over the potatoes. Sprinkle a little more pepper on top.

Bake the potatoes for at least an hour, up to 2 hours, uncovered, depending on how brown you want them. Halfway through the baking, stir the potatoes up from the bottom to get the already browned bits mixed throughout. After that, leave the potatoes alone. If they start to brown faster than you want, cover the roaster again or lower the heat. If you have the opposite problem, turn up the heat.

A recipes for Delores’ apple cake was printed in an old cookbook loaned to me by Chris Williams, several years ago. Chris recommended this recipe, so I tried it and ran the recipe in this column.  

It was the best apple cake I had ever tasted. It was also well-received by the readers. We have had several requests to re-run the recipe over the years, so It has become a sweet tradition to reprint it every few years.

Some of the ladies asked for it again at Ladies Night Out.

Delores’ apple cake

Beat 3 eggs until thick and lemon-colored.


1 ¾ cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Along with:

2 cups sifted flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup vegetable oil

2 apples, sliced and unpeeled

1/3 cup nuts

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until done. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar.

The recipe does not say what size pan to bake it in, so I used a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. The batter will be thick, since you can see it has no liquid except the oil, so I beat it with the electric mixer to remove all the lumps. It also did not have to cook the full hour, but was done in about a half hour.

I really would encourage you to try this cake. I did not even have to go to the store because the ingredients are usually in our kitchens.

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