Most of the books I read these days are cookbooks or books about food or travel, so when I saw the Week 10 challenge, book inspired, all I could think of was Harry Potter. None of the recipes I found online really sparked my interest so I had to look further. In book 3 of Harry Potter, they eat roast turkey and roasted potatoes at the Christmas feast. A holiday meal inspired by their roast turkey and roasted potatoes sounded like a good dinner plan to me!
Instead of roasting a turkey, I decided to make herb-crusted turkey tenderloins based on this recipe. There was only one problem - turkey tenderloins were actually pretty hard to find around here! We went to Trader Joe's but they were out, we went to the butcher shop but they didn't sell them, we went to Whole Foods but in the entire store they only had 1 gigantic package, way more than we needed. So, since it just needed to be inspired by the food in the book, I made herb-crusted chicken breasts instead.
For the herb-crusted chicken, the ingredients were:
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts ($2)
- dijon mustard ($0.15)
- honey ($0.10)
- lemon juice ($0.10)
- rosemary ($0.50)
- oregano ($0.05)
- lemon pepper blend ($0.08)
At just under $3 (approximately), that was pretty simple and affordable for the chicken portion. I didn't really measure anything, but just adjusted it for taste.
The steps for making the chicken were:
1. Make the spice blend. I used equal parts fresh rosemary, dried oregano, and ground lemon pepper blend (lemon zest, salt, pepper), maybe about a tbsp of each. (The recipe actually called for dried rosemary, one of the few spices we didn't have in our cabinet, but I forgot and picked up fresh rosemary for this and the potatoes.)
2. Make the honey mustard. We didn't have honey mustard at home, so I mixed together equal parts dijon mustard and honey, maybe a couple of tsp of each, with a few spritzes of lemon juice.
3. Coat the chicken breasts with the honey mustard mixture and make sure they are fully covered. Sprinkle the rosemary spice blend on top of the chicken (and pick up any remainder on the bottom of the chicken).
4. Bake at 400 degrees until chicken is done. I baked it for 20 minutes, which was slightly too much, but for the most part, it wasn't too dry and actually came out well. After pulling it out of the oven, I sliced it up to try to make it look more like a carved roast since it was supposed to be inspired by roasted turkey.
Overall, the chicken was good, tasty and flavorful, and still pretty juicy. I could see us making this in the future for an easy chicken recipe. Just coat it in mustard and then use whatever spices we want on the outside (and all dried spices should be fine), bake for 15 minutes or so. Simple!
The more time-consuming part of the dinner was the stuffins. A and I have been wanting to make stuffins for a while. First, we've been wanting stuffing ever since we started eating that turkey holiday sausage last fall in our Thanksgiving-like meals. Second, A had so much fun piping on the frosting for cupcakes that he made for my birthday that he was really looking forward to piping some mashed potatoes onto stuffins. It might be over 2 months after Christmas, but we finally got around to having our holiday stuffing!
For the stuffing, which I based on the stuffing my mom makes for Thanksgiving, the ingredients were:
- 1 package of herb seasoned classic stuffing ($2.99)
- 1/2 lb of chicken breakfast sausage ($2.72)
- 8 oz of white button mushrooms, chopped ($1.99)
- 1 yellow onion, chopped ($0.55)
- olive oil, about 1-2 tsp ($0.30)
- 1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped (leaves only) ($0.50)
- 2 cups of chicken broth ($0.60)
- water ($0)
- sage ($0.05)
That came out to about $9.70 for the stuffing portion. It did make a lot of stuffing though, considering I ate almost a whole bowl of stuffing while "tasting" it and had another small bowl leftover for breakfast for another day. I love stuffing.
For the mashed potato "frosting," the ingredients were:
- 3 russet potatoes ($1.47)
- 4-5 garlic cloves, minced ($0.10)
- minced rosemary, about 1 tbsp ($0.50)
- milk, about 1/2 cup ($0.35)
- butter, about 1-2 tbsp ($0.40)
- salt, pepper, and garlic powder, to taste ($0.10)
The potato portion of the meal came out to about $2.92. Mashed potatoes are so budget-friendly. That amount of potato made enough for all the frosting plus a big bowl of leftover potatoes. That makes the total for the "frosted" stuffins about $12.62 and the grand total for the whole meal approximately $15.60.
Ideally, we would have made both the stuffing and mashed potatoes simultaneously on the stove, but a serious lack of counter space in our apartment and the need to also prep the chicken made the entire process not so seamless. Anyway, the steps were:
1. Cook the chicken sausages (without casings) and crumble as they cook.
2. Add onions, mushrooms, and olive oil. Saute until both are softened.
3. Add cilantro and mix together.
4. Add some of the bread crumbs for the stuffing and mix together. Add chicken broth to moisten. Continue to alternate adding the bread crumbs and the broth. If you run out of broth, use water for the rest of it (to make sure it's not too salty).
5. Mix together until it reaches desired consistency (smooth and moist). Adjust seasonings (I added some sage).
6. Grease muffin pan and use 1/4 cup scoop to fill the muffin cups with stuffing. Flatten into each muffin cup.
7. Bake at 400 degrees until it has browned a bit. I baked them for way too long (30 or so minutes), but we were trying to get all the other components done, and the potatoes weren't ready and the chicken wasn't ready when it was supposed to be, and there was nowhere to put the stuffins, so yeah, the stuffins were a bit overdone.
8. While the stuffins are baking, make the mashed potatoes. Boil the potatoes in salted water until very tender, mash the potatoes, add all the other ingredients, and mix until smooth and melded together.
9. Pipe the mashed potato frosting onto the stuffins (that was all A). (Be careful - it's hot!) Add some little sprigs of rosemary as a garnish (that was me).
10. Bake for another 5 minutes or so and then serve.
I was a little disappointed in the stuffins, mostly because I baked them for way too long. I imagine they are supposed to have a bit of a browned crust to them, but this was too much. It was a little hard to bite with how overdone they were and that took away some of the great flavor of the stuffing (since we ate it in regular, non-stuffin form as well). That said, they weren't terrible, the mashed potatoes were good, and they were pretty fun as a way of eating 2 holiday staples. Despite the cooking mistake, I'm happy we tried making them. This may not be exactly what they ate during the Harry Potter feast, but it was definitely inspired by their holiday meals!