Parmesan Chicken

Hands down, my husband’s absolute favorite dish that I make.It’s funny because I don’t think there’s anything specifically unique about my recipe, but he insists that it’s just my “mojo” or something (whatever that means). Probably more specifically it’s that I brown the chicken in a saute pan on the stove first, then finish cooking them in the oven. The chicken stays super moist on the inside, with a nice crunchy breading on the outside. If you’re looking for a really impressive, yet easy to execute dish – this one’s great! Also super good when served with risotto and grilled asparagus!

Ingredients:

4 boneless chicken breasts (cleaned and trimmed)
1/2 cup of flour, approx.
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup of italian style bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
marinara sauce (homemade or from a jar is great too!)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Grated parmesan cheese, or a blend of shredded “Italian cheeses”

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a glass baking dish with cooking spray and set aside for now.

Trim any skin or gristle from chicken. (Theres nothing worse then biting into a beautiful breaded piece of chicken, only to get chewy or gristly bits, IMHO. Yuck!)  Pound each of the chicken breasts with a mallet or rolling pin until all are relatively same thickness throughout.

Heat olive oil in a saute pan on med to med-hi heat. It’s best to use regular pure olive oil, and not extra-virgin because it has a higher smoke point.  (Extra-Virgin olive oil will start to smoke and burn before it can get hot enough to really sear the chicken).

While saute pan is heating up and working quickly, dredge each chicken breast in  flour, shaking off the excess, then dip into the beaten eggs, then finally, dredge in the breadcrumbs. Place chicken into the hot saute pan and brown on each side for about 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Turn off the heat. Remove from saute pan and arrange in the glass baking dish. Spoon about 3-4 tablespoons of marinara sauce on each chicken breast (use more or less depending on how much you like sauce.).  Sprinkle grated cheese over the top of each breast. Cover dish with foil and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Remove foil and put back into the oven to brown the cheese – another 5-10 minutes. *Chicken should not longer be pink inside and reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. 

Serve with warm marinara sauce for dipping.

 

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Parmesan Risotto

If anyone were to ask me, “what is your favorite comfort food?”, I could answer without, hesitation, “Risotto!”  It’s so creamy and delicious and it can be transformed in so many ways just by what you choose to serve it with or toss in the pot at the end.  I don’t actually eat much pasta – the gluten and I just don’t get along. But risotto is made with arborio rice and we get along just fine! I do sometimes like to add asparagus, peas, or mushrooms too.

Arborio is a short-grain, pearl-like Italian white rice that is high in starch and becomes creamy and chewy when cooked. Like other rices, Arborio is a member of the grass family. What distinguishes it from other rice is it’s higher than normal amount of soluble starch that is released during cooking. The starch is what makes a risotto creamy. Arborio rice takes about eighteen minutes to cook. It’s done when it is al dente, tender on the outside and firm in the center.

Another thing about making risotto, as that it is a labor of love.  It’s not something you can just toss into a pot and simmer until it’s cooked through, but that’s part of the appeal for me.  It takes almost constant stirring while adding warm broth, one ladle-full at a time as the risotto slowly absorbs the liquid and releases starch. And if you over-cook it you end up with a mushy mess.  So grab a glass of wine, and pull up a chair by the stove.  This is gonna be fun!

This recipe is for a basic Parmesan Risotto, which goes perfect with my homemade chicken parmesan – oh my goodness.  So good.

Ingredients:
(This probably should serve 6-8 people, but come on… It’s risotto!!  I know I eat two servings myself. I like to think of it as my reward for a job well-done)

2 cups arborio rice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup dry white wine, (I usually have pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc on hand so that’s what I use)
6 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
about 1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat broth in a saucepan on medium heat.

Heat an enameled dutch oven or large pot. Add oil and saute the chopped onions until transluscent. Stir in the rice with a wooden spoon and cook until it becomes just transluscent on the edges with a white dot in the middle. At this point add the wine, then begin adding the heated broth, one ladle-full at a time.  You’ll want to keep the mixture wet enough that the rice does not stick to the bottom. But don’t add too much to fast either, risotto needs time to absorb the delicious broth and release the starch SLOWLY in order to stay creamy.

When the rice is somewhat soft, with just a bit of a bite to it (al-dente), turn off the heat and add grated cheese and cream, as well as salt and pepper. You may or may not have used up all of the 6 cups of broth, but I usually do.  The risotto should be creamy and moist but NOT runny. You can also add grilled or broiled asparagus, fresh peas, or sauteed mushrooms to the rice at this point as well. I usually serve risotto on a plate with some type of protein, like chicken.

That’s all. Enjoy!!

 

 

Easy Butter Chicken

What do you do when you are craving indian food, and have several family members coming for dinner in an hour?  Pull out an EASY indian recipe of course.  This recipe is adapted from a tandori chicken recipe I had found on Pinterest.  It was a good start, but I felt like it was missing something, so I added my own favorite secret ingredients – butter, tumeric, and  cardamom.

I should note that this is my “easy version” of Butter Chicken, and not the real deal.  I am definitely not an expert on Indian food. I just like to try to figure out what’s in my favorite restaurant dishes and get as close as possible to recreating them.  Guess you could say I’m an Indian food hack as well. I just learned of some authentic indian cooking classes in my city though, so I will most definitely be enrolling in some of those!

Easy Butter Chicken

Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 lb bonesless chicken breasts (cut in 1/2 or into thirds)
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp coriander
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne (red) pepper
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 (13-ounce cans) coconut milk
  • 16 oz plain tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Tumeric
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3-4 whole cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp dried cilantro
  • Recommended accompaniments: cilantro, fresh mint, brown rice, plain greek yogurt (omit the yogurt to be dairy-free)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the garlic powder, coriander, cumin, salt, and cayenne with a fork. Dredge each piece of chicken in the spices and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken, sprinkle any remaining spices on top, and sear for a couple of minutes until golden brown on both sides.
  3. Add the coconut milk, tomato sauce, butter, tumeric and cardamom to the pan, bring to a boil, cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the chicken is done all the way through (no longer pink), about 8 – 10 minutes, (or longer if you like).
  4. Layer in bowls with brown rice on the bottom, then spinach, chicken, sauce, yogurt, and fresh herbs. Enjoy!

HINT:  I like to cook my brown rice in Chicken broth and add a couple cardamom seeds to the pot as well, to give it a little more flavor.