Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Skillet Chicken Parmesan

Pan-Seared chicken breast in a bright, marinara sauce with three cheeses and topped with toasty breadcrumbs. It's a simple recipe for chicken Parmesan. Best of all, you only need one skillet!





I'm back! Sorry to have disappeared from the blog for so long. It's been a whirlwind these last few weeks. We were gone for vacation, came back and I started a new job. Needless to say, I've been busy and very tired. I've mainly cooked many of my quick, staple recipes instead of experimenting for the blog. I did manage to make this wonderful Chicken Parmesan that is delicious and very simple.

When I think of chicken Parmesan, I think of the first time I cooked for my husband (then boyfriend). My parents were out of town one evening so I decided to invite Mark over and make dinner. Chicken Parmesan was one of our favorites to order at an Italian restaurant so I thought I'd give it a try. I had never made it on my own before, but I figured it couldn't be that hard. I mean, all it is breaded chicken, marinara and pasta right? It wouldn't take that long...

Oh my...

While I knew how to cook, I had never taken on a meal like this. Since I was still living at home, my mother did all the cooking and I occasionally made a meal or dessert/snack item for us. I knew how to make the sauce, chicken and pasta. However, I had never practiced this dish (nor was I using a recipe) and didn't take in account the preparation, organization and time.

I had three pots going: one for boiling pasta, one for making sauce and one for frying the chicken. I decided to make "homemade" breadcrumbs by tearing up some french bread. Not a bad idea, but the fresh bread didn't adhere well. And for some bright idea, I decided to "stuff" the chicken breast with cheese before breading and frying. Boy was that a mess.

Mark waited patiently in the living room watching TV while I prepared dinner. By the time I made the main course, garlic bread and salad, I had spent a good 1 1/2 to 2 hours on the meal. I can't remember what time we ate. I just remember how fast the meal went by and how it didn't taste up to my expectations. I also had a huge mess to clean up. Between cooking and cleaning up, my evening was spent.

I'm not sure that Mark remembers that frustrating evening. I for some reason, can't forget it. Every time I see a chicken Parmesan recipe:

I think of that night and...

I run.

Okay, not really, but I have no desire to make traditional chicken Parmesan.

One evening, I was watching Cook's Country and they were making a super, simple recipe of "Skillet" Chicken Parmesan. It only required one pan (a skillet) for all three steps and was ready in 30 minutes or less.

Gah! Could it be possible?

I decided to give it a try and it produced the most delicious, Chicken Parmesan I've ever had! Never again will I try a traditional Parmesan recipe. This recipe takes the fuss out of the recipe but doesn't sacrifice flavor. Unlike traditional Parmesan, there is no breading/frying and then baking in the sauce. The chicken is sauteed, and then added back to the pan when the sauce is done. Top it with three delicious cheeses, let them melt and then top with toasty breadcrumbs. It's a genius idea!

And best of all, this is the perfect dish to make for a date night at home, when you are having guests, or just a weeknight family meal. You can prep all your ingredients early and put it together quickly before dinner. It's a dish that looks like you put a lot of work into it, but is very simple.


Skillet Chicken Parmesan

Ingredients
  • 2 Chicken breasts, sliced horizontally into cutlets. 1/2-3/4 of a pound
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup grate Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Slice of french bread or hearty white sandwich bread
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1-14.5 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 cup provolone cheese, shredded
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions

1. In food processor, pulse bread until coarse crumbs; 10-12 pulses. Toss bread crumbs with olive oil and toast in a non-stick 12-inch skillet, stirring constantly; about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and one tablespoon basil. Wipe skillet clean with paper towel.

2. Using sharp knife, hold chicken securely and slice each breast horizontally into two cutlets of even thickness. Lightly salt and pepper each side. Place flour in a shallow dish (I like to use a pie plate) and lightly dredge the chicken in flour. Shake off excess. Heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add cutlets and cook until golden brown on both sides. About 5-8 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Wipe skillet clean with paper towel.

3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add one tablespoon olive oil and minced garlic to skillet. Saute until garlic is fragrant, 30 seconds to one minute. Add crushed tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in basil and salt and pepper to taste. Return chicken to skillet and press down into sauce to cover. Sprinkle mozzarella, provolone and remaining Parmesan cheese over chicken. Cover and simmer until cheese is melted. Uncover and top with toasted bread crumbs. Serve.

Notes:
*Unlike some Parmesan chicken recipes, this does not include pasta. You really don't miss it! If you desire to serve with pasta and marinara, make extra marinara and serve with the pasta of your choice.
*I halved the original recipe to make it more friendly portioned for two people.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Chicken and Dumplings

Moist, chicken and tender dumplings in a rich, savory broth. It's the perfect comfort food for a chilly spring night!




We were on vacation last week in beautiful, Colorado. I will share more of that later this week. We had fun and are back home and back to normal.

We've had a bit of a chilly week which made perfect weather for some comfort food. This chicken and dumpling recipe is one of my favorites. The soup is very rich and flavorful and is topped off with soft dumplings.

Just talking about it makes me hungry for the leftovers in the fridge...




The recipe is fairly simple and the soup can be prepped ahead of time. It can reheated when ready for the dumplings or kept warm in a low temperature oven. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat some vegetable oil over medium high heat and brown chicken skin side down for 4-5 minutes. Turn chicken over and brown for an additional 4-5 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and remove skin. If needed, add olive oil to dutch oven (you may not need additional oil after browning the chicken) and saute onions and celery until softened. Stir in flour and cook an additional one minute. Whisk in water and broth until combined. Add in carrots, bay leaves, and chicken thighs. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes until the chicken is done. Remove the chicken and allow to cool before shredding. Keep soup at a simmer until ready to assemble the dumplings. Return shredded chicken to pot and add salt and pepper as needed. Mix together the flour, baking powder, melted butter, salt and milk until combined. Scoop golf-ball sized dumplings and drop into simmering soup. Cover and cook until doubled in size. If making ahead of time, keep warm in a low temperature oven (195 degrees), covered, for up to two hours.





Chicken and Dumplings

Ingredients
  • 2 lbs of bone-in, skin-on, chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely diced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 can  low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cups of water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3/4 cup milk, warmed
Directions

1. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Brown chicken skin side down 4-5 minutes. Turn chicken over and brown an additional 4-5 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate and remove skin. 

2. Add onions, celery and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Saute for 5 minutes until vegetables soften. Add flour and cook for one minute. Whisk in water and chicken broth. Add carrots, bay leaves and chicken to pot. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken registers 175 degrees. Remove chicken and allow to cool. While chicken cools, keep soup covered and simmering. Shred chicken and return to pot. Remove bay leaves and add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, melted butter and milk until combined. Do not over mix. Using two large soup spoons, scoop golf ball sized dumplings into soup. 9 dumplings in total. Cover and simmer for 15-18 minutes until dumplings have doubled in size.

Note: Do not mix dumplings ahead of time. If made too far ahead the dumplings will be dense.

Adapted from: Best Lost Suppers by Cook's Country 


Friday, March 14, 2014

Five on Friday

Hurray for Friday!

1.Today is the start to my week long vacation!

2. Last weekend we had a family dinner at my parents house. My mom was whipping up some biscuits and my niece, Lily had to help. If you follow me on instagram, you probably saw the pictures I posted. Hopefully she grows up loving to cook like her Grandma and Aunt!
 
http://distilleryimage5.ak.instagram.com/5b5852caa73911e3bae5122554e9122d_8.jpg

3. The weather has been up and down lately. Last week we had some brutal cold along with a snowstorm. This week has been beautiful, we even made it in the 70s for a couple of days. I peeked at some of my garden pots and noticed that my chives are starting to come in! It makes me anxious to start my garden.


http://photos-c.ak.instagram.com/hphotos-ak-prn/926696_748198371865298_1184353165_n.jpg 

4. Speaking of the warmer weather, I am so happy that daylight savings time was this past Sunday. I am loving the fact that it's still light at 7 o'clock!

5. I accepted a new position at the bank I work for. I currently work as a teller and am moving to administrative assistant. I'm excited to start in two weeks.

Those are my top 5 moments of the week. I hope your week went well and that you have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Baked Cheese Tortellini with Italian Sausage

Sweet Italian sausage and cheese tortellini baked in a creamy, tomato sauce. It's the perfect pasta dish for a date night at home!



Baked cheese tortellini is one of Mark's favorite dishes. He often orders a similar dish at a local Italian restaurant. Several months ago, he asked if I could make it at home so I experimented and came up with this recipe.


This baked tortellini sounds complicated but it really isn't. The dish combines a very, simple tomato sauce, delicious Italian sausage, tortellini and cheese.

Start by browning Italian sausage, add in onions and garlic and saute together. Add the tomatoes and spices to make a simple tomato sauce. Simmer the sauce for 15-20 minutes or until sauce has thickened and spices have bloomed. Once that is complete, remove from heat and stir in a little cream. I do not use a lot, just enough to make the sauce a little creamy. Stir in one package of cheese tortellini, making sure tortellini is evenly coated with sauce. Pour into a baking dish and top with fresh mozzarella. Bake covered for 15 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese melted and bubbly.



Baked Cheese Tortellini with Italian Sausage

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 onion finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1-14.5 ounce can or 1 3/4 cups of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dry basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1-2 teaspoons of sugar, optional* 
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream 
  • 1-9 ounce package of cheese tortellini
  • 3-4 ounces fresh mozzarella
  • Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
Directions

1. Preheat Oven to 375 degrees

2. In a 12-inch skillet, heat olive olive oil over medium heat. Add Italian sausage and onions  and cook until sausage has browned and onions have softened. Add garlic and chili flakes and saute for 30 seconds until garlic is fragrant. Stir in tomato paste and saute for one minute. Add crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, basil and sugar if using. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes until sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and stir in cream. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

3. Add tortellini to sauce and stir until tortellini is coated with sauce. Pour into a oven-safe baking dish and top with mozzarella. Cover with foil. Bake covered for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 7-10 minutes until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving. Top with freshly grate Parmesan cheese.

*When using canned tomatoes, they can taste acidic or harsh. I find that adding a little sugar helps soften the acidic flavor and bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes.

Yields: 4 servings

From: Tasteful Cuisine

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Quick Tip Tuesday: Measuring Muffin Batter

I have found that an ice cream scoop is the perfect tool for measuring muffin batter. Most muffin and/or cupcake batters are filled 2/3 of the way full. Thus making the scoop the correct size for each muffin.

Simply scoop batter




And release into muffin tin




And there you have a perfectly measured muffin!

*Quick tip Tuesdays are a place to share my quick kitchen tips.  I occasionally come up with a good idea and think, "I should share that!"  Some tips you may be familiar with, but hopefully you'll learn something new!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Oatmeal Creme Pies

Homemade oatmeal cookies with a rich, creamy filling. These creme pies quickly become a new favorite in my house!




I came across this recipe on Sally's Baking Addiction and knew I had to try them right away. The oatmeal creme pie was one of my favorite Little Debbie snacks. Of course, I knew a homemade version would be even better!

I made very little changes to the recipe. My only major change was to the filling. The original called for all butter, which makes the filling rich and soft. I decided to use a combination of butter and shortening to add a little more structure. Either way is delicious, it just depends on your preference.




I did make my cookies slightly smaller than the original recipe. I measured each cookie by 2 tablespoonfuls. A little smaller so that I could have more cookies, but still the perfect size.

The oatmeal cookie is one of the best I've had. The addition of molasses and cloves add extra depth and richness. Dark brown sugar is used for maximum moisture and flavor. If you don't want to make creme filling, the cookies by themselves are fantastic.




Now I want another cookie...and they're all gone...


Oatmeal Creme Pies 

Ingredients

Cookies
  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon dark molasses
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground gloves
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats

Filling
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • pinch of salt
Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Using a stand or hand mixer, cream butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla and molasses and continue mixing; scraping down sides as needed.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and oats. Slowly add to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Scrape bowl with a rubber spatula to mix in any remaining flour/ingredients.

4. Form into round balls, two tablespoons in measurement. Drop onto cookie sheet, two inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes; until lightly browned around edges. Allow cookies to cool on cookie sheet for 3 minutes then move to wire cooling rack. Cool Completely.

Filling:

1. Using a hand or stand mixer, beat softened butter and shortening on medium speed for one minute. Add the powdered sugar and beat for another 1-2 minutes. Add vanilla, cream, and pinch of salt. Mix for 5 minutes until light and fluffy scraping down sides as needed. Add more cream if filling is too thick, one teaspoon at a time.

2. Spoon 1-1.5 tablespoons of filling on bottom side of half of the cookies. Top with the remaining cookies.

Yields: 18-20 creme pies

Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

Monday, February 24, 2014

Slow-Roasted Cauliflower

Slow-roasted cauliflower pairs as a quick, healthy side dish that's tasty and easy to prepare!



Cauliflower can be a boring vegetable for me. In the past, the only two ways I ate cauliflower was from a veggie tray, raw, with ranch dressing or steamed with butter. The veggie can be bland and needs as much help as possible to be flavorful. I recently discovered a recipe for cauliflower sauce that is absolutely delicious. It made me look a cauliflower in a whole new way.

One day, I was watching "The Chew" and Chef Michael Symon was making roasted cauliflower steaks. It sounded like it would be a winner and I decided to give it a try. I followed the same techniques as Chef Symon. I cut mine into florets instead of 1/2-inch slices but you can do either that you prefer. In a medium bowl, toss cauliflower with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil (or enough to coat as desired) and a little salt and pepper. Heat a little extra virgin olive oil in a broiler safe skillet. Once the oil has begun to shimmer, arrange cauliflower in skillet and saute for one minute or until cauliflower begins to caramelize.

See all that beautiful color?

Delicious and full of flavor!




Pop under the broiler for 4-5 minutes until cauliflower is tender and lightly browned. Let cool slightly and toss with freshly, chopped parsley.

It's the perfect, quick side dish!




Roasted Cauliflower Steaks
  • 1 head of Cauliflower
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley, if desired

Directions

1.  Arrange oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat broiler.

2. Heat a little olive oil in a 12-inch skillet*over medium heat. Wash cauliflower and trim away the green leaves and core. Cut cauliflower into florets. In a medium bowl, toss florets with olive oil, salt and pepper.

3. Arrange cauliflower in preheat skillet saute for one minute or until cauliflower begins to caramelize. Do not stir.

4. Place under broiler for 4-5 minutes or until cauliflower is browned on top. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chopped, fresh parsley.

*Make sure your skillet is broiler safe. If it is not, remove cauliflower after sauteing and place in a broiler safe dish before transferring to broiler.

Adapted from Michael Symon