Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Parmesan Crusted Chicken from JABC Christmas Banquet

I got lots of recipe requests for this chicken after the banquet.  Though I think my helpers questioned whether this chicken was worth all of the steps to prep it, I think it was!


2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
4 large boneless skinless chicken breast fillets (Sam's Club has great prices on chicken breasts)
4 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 cup Panko bread crumbs (usually found in the Asian food section of your store--they're Japanese bread crumbs)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (note:  I used shredded Parmesan, not the grated powdery stuff)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

NOTE:  If you cut your chicken breasts into two or three sections, you may find that you need more Panko and Parmesan than stated in the recipe--more surface area to cover!

Lemon Chardonnay Butter Sauce

1/4 cup salted butter
1/4 cup chardonnay wine (I substituted chicken broth)
2 T lemon juice
3/4 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

GARNISH:  chopped sundried tomatoes, fresh basil and shredded Parmesan

Make a brine for your chicken by dissolving the salt in the chicken broth in a bowl.  Cover the chicken breasts with plastic wrap and pound each one to about 1/2 inch thick with the flat side of a kitchen mallet.  After they were flattened, I cut each breast in half.  Add flattened chicken to the brine; cover and chill for two to three hours.

When chicken has marinated, remove the fillets from the brine and dab with paper towels to remove excess liquid.  Beat eggs in a medium bowl and pour flour onto a plate.  Combine panko bread crumbs, Parmesan, salt and pepper in another bowl.  To bread the chicken, first coat each fillet with flour, then egg, and then the Parmesan mixture.  Let the breaded fillets rest for a bit on a plate in your fridge while you prep the butter sauce.

Make the butter sauce by melting the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add wine/broth and simmer for 1 minute.  Stir in lemon juice, sugar and salt, and then add cream.  Simmer over low heat for 10 to 12 minutes, until thicker.

Add enough oil to cover the bottom of a large saute pan, and heat over medium/low until hot.  You can check the heat of the oil by dropping a bread crumb into it.  If it starts to sizzle, your oil is ready.  Saute each breaded chicken fillet in the oil for four to five minutes per side, until brown.  Remove the fillets to a paper towel-covered  plate until ready to serve (if you're making 200 pieces, like we were, you can hold them in the oven until you get the rest cooked).  Serve each fillet with a couple of tablespoons of butter sauce spooned over the top.  Pile a tablespoon of Parmesan on each fillet, followed by a heaping teaspoon of minced sun-dried tomatoes and some chopped basil.

The JABC Christmas Banquet

 We've been planning the annual JABC (Jefferson Ave. Baptist Church) Christmas Banquet for the past 12 to 15 years (none of us can remember exactly when we started doing it)!!  It's really become a part of who we are, and even though it's hard work, it's such a fun thing to do!  Tim and I love the challenge of figuring out how to put together a wonderful meal in a beautifully festive environment for 250+ people.  I'm a total foodie, so I love trying out new recipes and determining whether or not I can get them to work for that many people. 

This year, we got the fun task of decorating our brand new, very spacious gymnasium.  We were DELIGHTED with the space but challenged by how to turn that giant beige box into something with some ambiance!  We also got the pleasure of cooking in our brand new kitchen. . .what a blessing!
 Another thing we like about the banquet is working with our friends Rick and Helen.  Though Tim and I sometimes get more publicity for putting the banquet together, they are totally with us the whole time (Friday through Sunday), and I LOVE working with them!   We also get a lot of help from various church members who drop in over the weekend to help us decorate the tables, prep food, etc.  And, Sunday afternoon before the banquet, it is ALL HANDS ON DECK!  You don't have to be incredibly skilled to help with the banquet--just show up with a willingness to work and take orders from a slightly-stressed Christina!! 

Banquet planning schedule:

Thinking about and trying possible banquet foods--all year long

Trying out final dessert candidates on my Close to My Heart customers September through November

Hope to have the menu set by Thanksgiving (didn't happen this year)! 

 Start shopping for decorations and non-perishable foods in November.

One week before banquet:  start trucking LOADS of groceries to my house or the church.

Thursday before banquet:  Make cheesecakes (usually about a dozen)

Friday before banquet (9 a.m. to 9 p.m.):  Set up tables in the morning, start decorating, more shopping and cake baking.

Saturday before banquet (9 a.m. to 10 p.m.):  Finish all decorating; finish desserts; start prepping and cooking foods.

Sunday after church (1 p.m. to 6 p.m.):  ALL HANDS ON DECK.  Chop, slice, cook. . .dinner starts at 6 p.m.

This year's menu:

Wedge salad with Texas Ranch dressing
Fabulous Fruit Salad
Southwestern Braised Beef Roast
Parmesan Crusted Chicken
Loaded Twice Baked Potato
Asian Vegetable Medley
Dinner rolls
Dessert Choices:  Chocolate Truffle Pie, Hawaiian Sunset Cake, White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake and Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

 Greenery and lights can go a long way!!
 We always try to decorate the buffet
lines as beautifully as we can make them
. . .I'm sure it makes the food better!

Poor Tim spent an awfully lot of time on a ladder trying to get these wreaths up on this giant gym wall (a little to the right. . .no, a little higher), but I loved them.  Thank you, Tim!

 Rick and Helen and Tim and I started brainstorming about the possibility of having a very tall tree of lights in the middle of the gym.  Rick and his brother came up with a great structure that we were able to use for it!

Team Christmas Party

 We had a small group at our team Christmas party this year, but we still enjoyed a fun evening together. . .especially opening up all of the beautiful handmade gifts, each made with Close to My Heart products.  I have some of them photographed below, and I hope I don't mix up who made which one!  I have such incredibly crafty ladies on my team!

Picture frame by Betty Dann--see how our adorable stickers can turn a simple frame into a beautiful Christmas gift!
 Ornament album by Jan Jackson--made with our Dimensional Elements chipboard ornaments.

Lisa Merrill bought a 12 x 12 acrylic frame and used our Bella scrapbook kit to turn it into a really beautiful dry erase board.  She added a stand and attached dry erase marker to the top of the frame with a Velcro dot.  You can't see it well in the photo, but there is a clear acrylic front to the frame, so that you can write and erase all you want.
 What will they come up with next!!?  This is an album made by Pam Thiesen out of gift bags.  Pretty clever, huh?  And, I believe Pam also made the cookie cutter ornaments by mounting our paper to the back of ornaments she found at Walmart.

 Gwen Fillinger made this really nifty album that opens up and expands in every direction.  We made her PROMISE to teach us one of these at the January retreat (with the brand NEW papers, of course)! Gwen also made the notepad holder and the little matchbook candy holder.

Another yummy dessert!

Creme Brulee Cheesecake Bars

I made these for my team Christmas party, and they were really good!  A couple tips. . .be sure to crush your toffee bits and sprinkle them on immediately after the bars come out of the oven so that they kind of melt and form this creme brulee-like crust on the top.  Also, I recommend initially cooling them in the fridge WITHOUT a lid.  I did this and they were perfect.  However, after the party, I put the remaining bars in the fridge with a lid on it.  The condensation made the toffee bits on the top soggy and gross.  But, if you have a very big group, there will not be leftover bars to refrigerate!!

1 pouch (1 lb. 15 oz.) Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1 box French vanilla instant pudding
2 T brown sugar
1/2 c. butter or margarine, melted
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks
2 8-oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 c. sugar
2/3 cup toffee bits, finely crushed (you can find these in the baking aisle near the chocolate chips)

Heat oven to 350.  Lightly spray bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.  In a large bowl, stir cookie mix, pudding mix, brown sugar, melted butter, 1 tsp. of the vanilla and one whole egg until a soft dough forms.  Press the dough into the pan and 1/2 inch up sides.

Beat cream cheese, sour cream and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Add remaining whole egg, 3 egg yolks and remaining 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla; beat until smooth.   Spread over crust.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until center is set.  IMMEDIATELY sprinkle top with crushed toffee bits.  Cool 30 minutes, then refrigerate about 3 hours until chilled.  Store in refrigerator.

We had a blast making monster cupcakes for Andrew's birthday.  Isn't it amazing what you can do with marshmallows, M&Ms, chow mein noodles, Airheads candy, pretzel sticks and frosting??  My favorite monster was the green guy with one eyeball.

I decided to make them because the colors would go with my Hooligans scrapbook paper!!  Another scrapbooker guilty of staging her events to match her paper! 


I'm kind of picky about fudge.  It has to be creamy, not grainy or dry.  My sister-in-law, Lynn, gave me this recipe years ago and I think it's absolutely perfect.

In a 2-quart saucepan, combine:

1 cup margarine or butter
1 cup milk
4 cups sugar

Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.  Boil for two minutes (keep stirring).  Remove from heat and pour the mixture over 25 large marshmallows (or 250 small ones if you're a glutton for punishment)!!  Stir with a wire whisk until smooth.  Add one package of milk chocolate chips and one package of semisweet chocolate chips.  Stir until smooth.  Add 1 cup chopped nuts, if desired.  Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan and let cool.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mocha Punch--one of my Christmas party favorites!

One of the fun things about being a Close to My Heart Consultant is that, when I do a party at someone's house, I get to sample some yummy snacks or beverages. . .and I often walk away with a great new recipe!  I tried Mocha Punch at a hostess' house a few years ago and HAD to have the recipe.  This punch is basically like drinking a chocolate milkshake with a little coffee flavor--mild enough that my kids still loved it.  Honestly, if you serve this punch, who needs dessert?


Dissolve 1/4 cup instant coffee granules (I use decaf), 1/2 cup instant chocolate drink mix (like Nesquik) and 1/2 cup sugar in 1 1/2 quarts VERY HOT water.  Cool the mixture in the fridge.

About 20 minutes before you're ready to serve, pour the cold coffee/chocolate mixture into a punch bowl.  Add 1/2 gallon of vanilla ice cream and 1/2 gallon of chocolate ice cream (I add it in big scoops).  It looks a bit ugly at first, but keep stirring it around until the ice cream starts to soften. . .and the consistency of the punch begins to look more like a milkshake.  This usually takes about 15 minutes to get it looking right.  When you serve, ladle it into punch cups and add some spray whipped cream to the top.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Great Gifty Ideas Workshop Coming Up!

 If you'd like to come to my Great Gifty Ideas workshop on Monday, November 22nd, sign up NOW!  I've almost filled up this class.  If I have more sign-ups, I may need to add a second night.  We'll be making a stocking gift card holder, Hershey nugget box, M&M pillow box, Post-It note holder and maybe one other project (yet to be determined).

Cost for this class is $5 for materials plus a minimum $10 order.

Upcoming workshop--Coffee, Tea and Cocoa. . .Oh My!

 These are the projects we will be making at my Coffee, Tea and Cocoa (oh my) class on Monday, December 6th, 6 p.m.  We'll make a cocoa pouch, a card that holds tea bags, a darling coffee-themed notepad, and a box to hold your favorite coffee or cocoa gift items.  The box idea came from Christine Adams' blog (I love her stuff)!!

If you'd like to attend this class, let me know by Tuesday, Nov. 23rd so that I can get the materials ordered for you.  Cost for this class is only $10--that's a holiday bargain!

Andrew's AWANA Grand Prix card

 Tonight was AWANA Grand Prix night at JABC!  Andrew won
second place in design for his bobsled car.  We thought the car turned out pretty cool!  His car was fast, too, but not quite fast enough to earn him a speed trophy.  It's okay. . .we'll take design over speed!

Cards from Christmas Card Marathon

 These are the cards from my Christmas Card Marathon Class last week.  I do a LOT of cutting to get ready for this class (about 100 pieces per person), but I love that everyone leaves with a STACK of cards--four each of  the five designs. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

It's CHEESECAKE season!!

 For the last 10 years or so, we've been in charge of putting on a big Christmas banquet our church.  It's a big event (we feed about 250+ each year), and every fall, I love trying out new recipes to figure out what we'll prepare for this year's banquet.  That's especially true for the desserts--my favorite part of the meal!  I try out desserts on my customers when they come to my workshops, and I think they're always more than willing to help me out!!
I'm a total recipe junkie--I scour through oodles of magazines, I browse cookbooks, and I look all over the internet.  One of my FAVORITE places to get good recipes is from Todd Wilbur's Top Secret Recipes books and website.  Both of these cheesecakes, White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake and Pumpkin Cheesecake, which I made for my Christmas Card Sampler class last night, come from Top Secret Recipes.  They're both knock-offs of Cheesecake Factory cheesecakes, and they both were really YUMMY!!  You can get the recipes from the Top Secret Recipes books or by buying the recipes individually off of his website,  They're usually 99 cents each.  I'd type them here for you, but cheesecake recipes are awfully long! 

I've found that the secret to good cheesecake is letting your cream cheese soften to room temperature and baking your cheesecake in a water bath (you wrap foil around your springform pan so the water doesn't get in) and set the pan inside another pan filled with 1/2 to 1" water.  I also line my pans with parchment paper (sides and bottom) so that they come out easily.

If you want to help me sample some yummy desserts, sign up for my upcoming classes. . .restaurant-quality desserts at no extra cost!


These are some of the cards we made at my Christmas Card Sampler Class last night.  I'll be having another Christmas card class, the Christmas Card Marathon, coming up Nov. 8th or 9th (same class both nights).  At the marathon class, we'll be making 20 cards in one night (four each of five designs).  If you'd like to come, be sure to contact me!  Cost is $8 for materials plus a $10 minimum order.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I'm loving the blues and browns in our new Magnifique paper.  This board shows the layout I did with my club members this month--complete with rub-ons and paper pleating.  Most of the cards (except the clear card) were made by my magnificent team members for our last team meeting swap.

If you live in the Springfield area and want to join one of my monthly workshop clubs, let me know!

Monday, October 11, 2010


When I saw this adorable table topper on our Consultant website (original design by Annette Green of Florida--this photo is my version), I knew I had to try this for myself!!  It's a great home decor item that you can put on a shelf, table or mantle--"Thanks" on one side and "Joyful" on the other.  You can even make it with your letters going the other way and have a vertical wall hanging!  This project uses our new Mix N' Mingle mini album with papers from our Olivia and Mistletoe kits.  If you'd like to come make this project, I'll be teaching a workshop on Thursday, November 18th, 6 p.m.--just in time for Thanksgiving!  Cost is $25, which includes the Mix N' Mingle album, a set of chipboard letters, a package of Opaques pearls and all the papers you'll need.  Please sign up by November 4th so that I can get your materials ordered!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


 Today I've been designing clear cards for my Thursday night clear card class.  If you haven't yet tried these clear cards from Close to My Heart, you need to give it a go!  Clear cards require a little more thought to put together, but they're not difficult, and there's something really cool about giving someone a clear card.