Monday, March 29, 2010

Chicken Parm - the Healthy Way!

So this Sunday I hosted the first official family dinner of the Spring.  It's been awhile, as I was feeling a little taken advantage of.  All I ask of my friends is that they bring a bottle of wine (if you bring chardonnay you will lose all future invites), and I cook them a gourmet meal.  Quite a few people had been forgetting their wine, or letting me know they would bring it the next week, and they wouldn't bring it.

After much thought, I decided to bring dinner back.  We had chicken parm with fettucini, home made red sauce, salad, and bread.

Healthy Chicken Parm - serves 6
1 1/2 Cups Panko Bread Crumbs
1/2  Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1/4  tsp Dried Organo
1/4  tsp Dried Basil
2 Eggs
3 Chicken Breasts, cut in half
Salt and Pepper
Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350.  In one bowl, mix salt, pepper, bread crumbs, oregano, basil, and parmesan cheese. In another bowl, beat the eggs.  Separate the chicken breasts to be in six pieces.  Pound out the chicken breast until they are flat, and dip in the egg.  Dip the chicken into the bread crumb mixture until the sides are coated and lay on a cookie sheet.

Bake the chicken for 18 minutes at 350.  Switch the oven to a low broil and place a thin slice of mozzarella on top.  Broil for 4 more minutes, and serve.

For a lower cholesterol version, use egg whites instead of full eggs.

Red Sauce
1 Large Can of Diced Tomatoes
Handful of Fresh Basil
1/4 Cup Diced Onion
1 Roasted Red Pepper, Diced
3 Garlic Cloves, Diced
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
3 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
Other Italian Spices to Taste

In a large saute pan, spray olive oil with your mister.  Heat burner at medium low and add onions and cook until slightly tender.  Add roasted red pepper and minced garlic cloves.  Cook another minute, and add the tomatoes.  Cook, stirring frequently on low about 6 minutes.  Add basil, salt and pepper, and other Italian seasonings based on your preferences.  Once mixed, add balsamic vinegar, if you are lucky enough to live near an Oil & Vinegar shop, buy the tomato flavored balsamic.  It will change your pasta sauce in a revolutionary way!

Meanwhile, cook your pasta until al dente, making sure to add salt to your water before cooking.  Mix with the red sauce, serve, and add the chicken parm on top!

Next up, Easter dinner!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Easter Dinner Musings...

It's almost Easter, and it feels like it around here.  It's been sunny and beautiful, and then rainy and gross at the drop of a hat - exactly typical of Spring in New England.

With Easter, I normally go to my roommate B's house and spend the day with her family... 3 brothers, a sister, an 2 little nieces.  This year though, I found out that several of my British friends and my boyfriend Gimpy didn't have plans for Easter, so I decided to cook!

Now I am just contemplating the menu.... I know I want to make a tangerine glazed Easter ham, probably some deviled eggs, but I am stuck there!  Any suggestions?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cinnamon Streusel Bread French Toast

So last weekend was my birthday.  25 again.  Not sure how many more of these I will get away with...

We started the weekend with Andre, then went to Black Bear for a $2 happy hour.   A ton of friends came out, which was awesome, and then we moved to Tiernans, one of our favorite hot spots.  Can't really report much from the evening... but the next morning everyone came over for brunch!

I made a couple loaves of cinnamon streusel bread on Thursday night, and I will admit I cheated and bought boxed mix, but in all fairness, I was too busy to find a new recipe!  I got up early and started some coffee, laid out champagne and vodka grapefruits, and sliced the bread to be about a pinkie finger thick.  I made a standard french toast batter, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, and a dash of skim milk.  Then I pulled out my griddle, battered my bread, and made some of the best french toast!  It really came out amazing, and was a good breakfast choice considering we were drinking from 10am to 11:30 that night...

I only wish that Miss Kitty had been there for the weekend, so I could have had this amazing apron that she designed for my birthday!

The Famous Whipped Cream Incident

Everyone I know gets a bad case of the Sundays.  I think in large part it is due to the fact that we have entirely too much fun Thursday through Saturday that just leaves you dreading Mondays.  To combat this, last year I instituted Family Dinners on Sunday.  It's given me the opportunity to try new recipes, try new wines, and just have some fun with my friends.

Last Spring, we were having a typical family dinner,  friends, wine, dinner, and it came time to have dessert.  I had made a Flourless Chocolate Cake, recipe courtesy of Chef Jon Bonnell in Fort Worth, sliced up some fresh strawberries, and poured heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract from Mexico into my whipped cream maker.  On a side note, if you don't have a whipped cream maker, go get one.  Now.  Everyone should always have home made whipped cream on hand, it comes in handy on so many occasions, both in and out of the kitchen.

This particular Sunday, I filled my whipped cream maker with a little bit too much heavy cream.  I had given it to my friend Amanda, she pushed the button, and nothing happened.  That's when I realized what I had done, so I decided, foolishly, to try and open the container to pour out some of the cream.  I couldn't get the container open, so I asked Amanda's boyfriend Tyler to take a crack at it... He was able to loosen it, but cream started pouring down the sides.  I opened it the rest of the way, and boom!  Whipped cream exploded all over the table, the sliding glass doors to the balcony, and us.  Yikes!  It was quite a mess, but made for some fun stories, and even better pictures!