Monday, May 24, 2010

Chicken Parmesan



As I get more and more experienced in the kitchen there is a shocking revelation that becomes clearer and clearer. I, apparently, have been quite the picky eater. There are so many foods that I’ve never had before that are a pretty simple, basic, go-to food for so many people. Chicken parmesan is one of those foods. How is it possible that I’d eaten eggplant parmesan before ever having chicken parmesan?

Thankfully, along with me not-so-new-anymore cooking skills comes the willingness, not to mention desire, to try new foods. Including this gorgeously simple and flavorful chicken parmesan, and my first Giada recipe. Now I understand why it’s such a popular meal!

I liked that this recipe, while being slathered with melted cheese, felt lighter than I’d expected. So many chicken parmesan recipes that I went though were breaded (which I will be trying soon. I’m certainly not knocking the breading!) whereas this one stood out for it’s simplicity: chicken. spices. sauce. cheese. yum.


Chicken Parmesan with Simple Tomato Sauce
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Chicken Parmesan
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley
salt and pepper
2 lbs chicken breasts, pounded 1/2 inch thin, or 8 chicken cutlets
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce (recipe follows)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/3 cup grated parmesan
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

Pre-heat the oven to 500.

In a small bowl combine the olive oil, spices, salt and pepper. Brush each side of the chicken with the spiced oil.

Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken to the pan and heat until golden, approximately 2 minutes per side.  Remove the pan from the heat.

Sprinkle the chicken with a spoonful of sauce and a sprinkle of each of the cheeses. Add a bit of the butter to the top of the chicken pieces.

Bake for 3-5 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the cheese is melted. Serve.

Simple Tomato Sauce 
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 32oz cans crushed tomatoes
4-6 basil leaves
2 dried bay leaves
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic to the pot and sauté until tender, approximately 2 minutes.

Add the celery and carrot to the pot. Sprinkle in with salt and pepper. Sauté until all of the vegetables are tender, approximately 5 minutes.

Add the tomato, basil and bay leaves to the pot and simmer until sauce is thick, approximately 1 hour.

Remove the bay leaves from the pot and taste the sauce. If it is too acidic, add the butter to the pan, 1 Tablespoon at a time.

Remove half of the sauce from the pan and puree in a food processor until smooth. Puree the second half of the sauce, then mix back into the pot.

The remaining sauce can be cooled, then frozen.

Source: Giada De Laurentiis, Food Network

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lighter Beef Stroganoff

If I had to choose, if I absolutely had to, I think beef stroganoff would be my favorite meal. But please don't make me choose. That would be cruel.

Normally when I make beef stroganoff I make the same recipe that my mom always made when I was growing up. But this time, I needed something fairly quick that I could make for dinner, so obviously making it in the crockpot wasn't an option.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'll tell you that Brian didn't care much for this version. We determined that apparently he doesn't like the taste of sherry. I liked it a lot and didn't think it tasted too sherry-ish but next time I make it I'll probably either use less of it or completely eliminate in and increase the amount of broth we use. That being said, it was nice having beef stroganoff on a whim and I'll definitely keep this in my arsenal.

Lighter Beef Stroganoff
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1 lb boneless sirloin steak, trimmed
3 cups (8 oz)  sliced cremini mushrooms
½ cup chopped onion
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
¼ cup dry sherry
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
¾ cup low-fat sour cream
4 cups hot cooked egg noodles
3 Tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley

Prepare egg noodles according to package directions.

Cut the beef across the grain into 2 inch slices, ½ inch thick.

Spay a large skillet with cooking spray and saute the beef strips for 2 minutes, or until slightly browned. Remove the beef from the pan and set aside.

Saute the onions and mushrooms in the pan for about 4 minutes, or until the onion is tender and slightly golden. Remove the mushrooms and onions from the pan and combine with the beef. Set aside.

Add the butter to the pan and melt, then add in flour and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute, then gradually add the beef broth to the pan, whisking to combine. Simmer until the sauce is thickened, about 1 minute.

Stir in the beef, mushrooms and onions, sherry, salt and pepper to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 30 seconds, then stir in the sour cream.

Serve the beef mixture over noodles and sprinkle with parsley.

Source: Cooking Light

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gnocchi with Spinach and Chicken Sausage

Hi there! Remember me? I used to post recipes around here? Ha :) Life's been a bit hectic in the last few weeks and our dinners have consisted of tried and true, quick favorites, so posting, as you may have noticed, has been sparse. I'm happy to say that we seem to finally have gotten back in the groove and dinnertime (and breakfast and dessert time) have been much more exciting as of late.

This dish was invented by Yours Truly during one of those aforementioned hectic evenings. I'd been wandering around our grocery store, which is in the process of being remodeled and is at times a complete mess, when I wandered by a display of chicken sausage. On a whim I picked up some spinach feta chicken sausage and put it in the cart without any idea what I was actually going to do with it. At another store a few days later I did the same thing with a box of gnocchi. Then, one evening I was staring into our refrigerator trying to concoct something tasty that did not involve peanut butter and jelly when I saw the chicken sausage. I started throwing things into the pan and - tada- Brian's new favorite meal was born. I'm happy to report that my What Can I Make in Twenty Minutes dinner ended up being a new entry in our weekly dinner rotation. Up next? Making the gnocchi from scratch!

Gnocchi with Spinach and Chicken Sausage
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2 16 oz boxes potato gnocchi
4 chicken sausages, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/2 cup white wine
14 oz low sodium chicken broth
2-3 large handfuls spinach
dash of heavy cream (optional)
grated parmesan cheese

Cook the gnocchi according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots into the pan and saute until tender. Add in the garlic and saute for 1 minute or until lightly golden. Add in the chicken sausage and cook until heated through. Add the corn starch to the pan and stir to combine

Pour the wine into the pan and stir to deglaze, scraping the brown bits off the bottom as you stir. Let simmer and reduce by about half.

Pour the chicken broth into the pan and simmer until the broth is thickened and reduced to about half. Add the spinach into the pan and simmer until wilted. Remove from heat and add a splash of heavy cream, stirring well. Combine with the cooked gnocchi. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and mix together. Serve.

Source: Laura's Recipe Collection Original