Chicky Parm

While I’m eating my way through Italy & Spain, I figured I’d share my Chicken Parmesan recipe with you. I was really happy with it and will definitely make it again. Chicken Parm isn’t always something I order out, but I do love it. We had some mammoth chicken breasts from our favorite butcher which feed 2 so I knew just what to do with one. As you may recall, Mr. J grabbed Lemon Pepper marinated chicken and he wasn’t a big fan.

Ingredients

1 large chicken breast (or 2 normal sized)
¼ salad dressing (Italian or Greek)
½ Parmesan Cheese
1 cup marinara sauce
1 egg & tbs water, whisked
1 cup bread crumbs (I mixed Panko & regular)
¼ cup shredded mozzarella (or sliced Provolone)
Pasta (quantity & variety of your choosing)

Directions

Marinate the (defrosted) chicken breasts in salad dressing.
Butterfly or slice a pocket into the breast. I don’t claim to have strong knife skills so I cut a pocket rather than mess with it too much. Stuff each breast with a few tablespoons of Parmesan.
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Carefully dip each breast into egg then breadcrumbs and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. (yes, this was 1 breast, halved!)
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While chicken is cooking, prepare pasta to serve with the Chicken Parm.
Take chicken out when cooked through and top with remaining Parmesan and mozzarella. Return to oven just until melted.
Serve over pasta.

Mr. J and I loved it! I probably didn’t stuff it with enough cheese, but I think it was a nice touch. The chicken was super moist and the breading had a great crunch.

I didn’t quite make my own sauce, but I did doctor-up some jarred sauce with my own seasoning and some tomato paste. I finished the pasta in the sauce which was good, but my timing wasn’t perfect so it was a touch over-cooked.
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I wonder about making a few at a time and freezing them. It seems like a handy thing to have pretty ready for a busy weeknight dinner. I keep chicken in the freezer anyway so I’ll have to remember this when I’m defrosting chicken and needing an idea.

I didn’t bake it again after it cooked through since I wanted the crust to be really crunchy and feared it might get sogged. Maybe next time I’ll try pounding it out to be really thin instead of stuffing it. Either way would be delicious. Baking the chicken instead of pan frying definitely kept the moisture in, and I usually don’t like frying things.

This was a great dinner that got us pumped up for our honeymoon to Italy & Spain!

Dinner Straight from the Freezer

I just had a really great frozen meal. No, not a TV-Dinner style meal, but real food, just frozen. Way back when, for my birthday (in March) Mrs. S sent me a gift certificate to pick out a frozen dinner of my choice. They came with a protein, starch, veggie, and even dessert. Unfortunately it got a bit buried and I didn’t choose right away.
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Once we were in the final planning stretch for our wedding, it seemed like the PERFECT time to have a ready-made meal to call on. It came from Omaha Steaks and was delicious.omaha_box_590_390
We had chicken cordon bleu, twice baked potatoes, green beans with herbed butter, and cheesecake. It was a meal for 4, so that meant two dinners. Score!
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It was a really nice gift. I think anyone stressed at work, busy planning a wedding, bringing a new baby home, or just moved to a new home would all really appreciate this.
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Lemon Pepper Kebabs Without So Much Pepper

Summer mugginess and I don’t mix so something cool, fresh, and Mediterranean sounded perfect. It was also a good use for some marinated chicken hanging around.
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The boneless skinless lemon pepper chicken came from our fav butcher. Mr. J thought it was too peppery so I thought re-marinating it in a basic Italian dressing would tone down the pepper a bit.

One of my favorite things about Greek and Mediterranean food is that the fresh ingredients get to be the focus. It screams summer to have so much crunch and individual flavor.

Ingredients

1 large boneless chicken breast, marinated, cut into chunks
1 yellow pepper, cut into chunks
1 tomato
1 English cucumber
1/2 cup feta
1/4 cup Italian or Greek dressing

Directions

Soak wooden kebab sticks in lukewarm water
Skewer chicken chunks alternating with pepper chunks and grill.
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Chop tomato and cucumber before mixing with feta and dressing.
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Serve kebabs with rice pilaf and cucumber tomato salad.

I couldn’t stop marveling over how perfectly cooked the chicken was. It was perfectly juicy. I think the size of each piece had a lot to do with that. The peppers got a nice char too without losing all the crunch.

The kebabs, plus buttery rice pilaf, plus salty feta in a crisp salad was awesome. I was really happy with it and thought this meal was nicely well rounded.

Have a good Labor Day Weekend everyone! Can you believe it is already September?!

Wing It

I’ve been so excited to post these fan-tas-tic wings. Despite chicken being a very regular menu item for me, I haven’t cooked wings…probably ever. Also, I haven’t even thought about cooking wings since I do not have access to the grill. Waaa waaa. Someday it will come out of storage.
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These were so good! I was so happy with them! They were sweet, had a nice soy zing, and the fresh green onions provided a crispness that I appreciated. I truly felt like these were restaurant quality.

Ingredients

1 pound chicken wings, drumette & wing separated, if desired
¼ cup soy sauce
3 tbs honey
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup sesame oil
2 tbs chopped garlic
½ tsp salt
¼ cup chopped green onions

Directions

Whisk liquid ingredients together before adding trimmed wings and sauce to marinate for at least 3 hours.
After chicken has marinated, sprinkle with salt and heat oven to 375 degrees.
Bake chicken in a single layer, skin side down for 20 minutes and flip and bake for 25 minutes until browned & crispy
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Serve with chopped green onion.

The leftovers were just as good served cold. It made me feel like I was on a picnic…though I haven’t picnic-ed in years and probably didn’t have Asian-inspired wings then anyway.

The recipe is pretty basic but super convenient since I had everything on hand, and an easy one to set up to marinate while other fun things are happening. I chopped off the wing tip but left the wing and drumette attached. I used the tips to make a little bit of chicken stock.
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I served these bad boys with some of my favorite (also, mayo-less) slaw. It has apple for sweetness and a vinegary/mustardy dressing. I love it and can’t get enough of it. I made it here too. I haven’t attempted potato salad yet and it’s already August so I should really get on that!

These would be a great game time snack, appetizer, or meal. BBQ wings cooked low and slow and finished on the grill are my favorite. Until I live somewhere that allows grills, ours will hide in the garage just waiting for a chance to make the neighbors, and the pup, jealous with a smokey scent in the air.

Fun to Say and Fun to Eat

Succotash is such a fun word and made me really excited to make it since I’d never had it before. Announcing this made Mr. J’s jaw drop which made me even more excited to make this chicken & succotash meal!
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Sometimes I dream about when I won’t live in an apartment and I can have a normal kitchen, or when my puppy can have a yard, and especially when I can have a grill! That sometimes might actually be quite frequently. I promise the dog he’ll have his own yard all. the. time.

This dinner is pretty good inside but would be amazing on a grill outside too. The chicken is stuffed with pepperjack cheese and spinach with a zippy spice on the outside. It’s served with succotash too.

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts
6 oz pepperjack cheese, sliced
2 cups baby spinach
2 tbs grilling rub of your preference
1 cup edamame
1 cup red pepper
1 cup corn
1 tomato, chopped
¼ cup lime salad dressing or lime juice and olive oil

Directions

Butterfly the chicken breasts and stuff with cheese and spinach, or cut a pocket into the middle and stuff with cheese and spinach.
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Season the outside with a rub or spice mix
Grill chicken on a grill pan or panini press for about 10-minutes until all juices are running clear
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Meanwhile, saute edamame, red pepper, corn, for about 3 minutes and then add tomato.
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Add lime dressing and serve
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I got this recipe from The Food Network Magazine awhile back. I use spinach instead of argula like they recommend. I also did edamame instead of lima beans and threw in the red pepper instead of summer squash and thought it made it wayyy better.

Funny story. I always stop by the reduced produce, don’t judge, and I thought I was grabbing a bag of cukes & zuccs. I figured the store employees don’t know the difference. I got home and had lots of cukes but no zucchinis. This is kind of like the time when they didn’t know how to label prosciutto and charged me the bologna price. Score! Anywho,  I also got a steal on red & orange peppers (4 for $1.77!!). The cashier just entered the pepper code and it would have been $5-something if I wasn’t watching. I felt like I was on extreme couponing!!

This is an easy & casual one that would definitely impress friends with only a few pans OR deviate from the norm of your grilling menus this weekend!

Cruisin’ to Bahamas

On the cruise to the Bahamas, sis and I had some some tasty meals!

I started with chipotle shrimp with tempura zucchini strings. The shrimp had a good smoky flavor. I would have liked it as my whole meal!
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Sis started with the onion soup. She thought it was OK but the fried onions on the top lost their crunch.
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She had salad for the next course and I had a weird one. I had spicy pineapple salad. It had fresh pineapple, red pepper, and tomatoes.
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Next for the main course, I had a pork chop with sweet potato and apple. Sound familiar? It was good, but huge! There were about four green beans hidden underneath.
cruise_pork_290_200Sis got the chef’s special roasted chicken. It makes me want to roast a chicken as a right of passage in the kitchen. This one wasn’t a photogenic as it looked in person.
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We both got a chocolate moose dessert. The couple next to us described it as a chocolate peep. It wasn’t good. It was a waste of calories. Didn’t it look good though?
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Ranch Burgers and Apple Slaw Apartment Style

You could pour ranch dressing on an Old Navy $5 pair of flip flops and it would make them taste good. I took a tastier approach and was so excited about my creation. I made Ranch Chicken Burgers and Zesty (mayo-less) Apple Slaw in my own kitchen…no party required!
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Ingredients:

¾ pound ground chicken
½ packet dried ranch dressing/dip mix
3 tbs ranch dressing
2 bulky rolls

Directions:

Mix ground chicken, ranch mix, and dressing
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BBQ or cook on a grill pan flipping once.
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Serve on toasted rolls with ranch dressing on top.
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Ground chicken and ground turkey are more likely to fall apart so don’t overflip! I took a tip from my pal Guy on Diners Drive-ins & Dives: I flipped them but feared they weren’t going to be fully cooked so I covered them and added a touch of water for some steam.

They were cooked perfectly! That is tricky without my trusty meat thermometer but I was so proud of myself. They were juicy and I definitely tasted the ranch.

I paired it with some slaw. This was awesome and is a nice alternative to creamy slaws. I put in some apple I planned to use otherwise but had on hand.

Ingredients:

3 cups shredded cabbage/slaw mix
½ gala apple, chopped into matchsticks
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs veggie oil
¼  cup cidar vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 tbs dijon mustard
dash red pepper flakes

Directions:

Heat oils, vinegar, sugar, mustard, and red pepper over medium heat just until warmed through.
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Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Toss with cabbage and apples.
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Refrigerate several hours and pour off excess liquid.
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I liked how light it was with a zesty crunch. This would be a great picnic or bbq item. I only made enough for 2 or 3 servings which was perfect.

Green or red onion would be a great add in and broccoli slaw would be great too. Shortly after making the burgers I made them again and Mr. J cooked them on a BBQ. Aside from our poor puppy not having a yard, not being able to use a grill is our biggest issue with this apartment and something we greatly look forward to enjoying in a house someday.

These made me super jazzed about other burgers inside. I can’t eat red meat so I miss out on fun ones at restaurants like stuffed burgers since they rarely come in turkey or chicken burgers. I’ll just have to make it happen! I have a feeling Mr. J would love a blue cheese stuffed one. I was thinking cheddar or spinach and feta stuffed. Stay tuned!

When on Vaca…

Some things are just fun and exciting when you don’t have them around you. Sonic and Chick-fil-A are prime examples (and 2 restaurants with artery clogging goodness) we just had to enjoy on vacation. It’s also double-y fun since I rarely get fast food. Growing up I was told McDonald’s was a restaurant for grandparents to take you to.

Sonic’s concept gets a bit lost on northerners since you can’t rollerskate outside for several snowy months of our year…thus adding to the appeal in other places. I will recognize that Massachusetts got a Sonic where cars waited lined up for hours when it first opened! Plus, who can forget the witty banter of the couple in the commercials? Loved those and I love the How-to.
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My hardest decision at Sonic was which icecreamy/slushy beverage to enjoy. I got a strawberry limeade chiller. Mr. J got a mocha java chiller. Yum and double yum.
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I went with the BLT toaster. The Texas toast makes the sandwich here. I didn’t have my hopes up for real lettuce, which I was spot-on with my assumption. The bacon was perfectly crispy and the tomato was pretty good. I’m an avid BLT-eater and I prefer it in that order: bacon; lettuce; tomato. It wasn’t in that order but although I may notice, I don’t discriminate.
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Mr. J felt like he HAD to get a burger since he’s never eaten there. He went with the Sonic bacon cheeseburger. He liked it, but said it was no Five Guys. Of course we shared some tots.
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Because I only get to love Chick-fil-A when I’m in Charlotte or Houston with work, I made sure we made a stop there too…as if we hadn’t had enough heart-stopping food.

for me: Spicy Chicken Deluxe with pepperjack on a wheat roll (note the real lettuce)
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for Mr. J: Chicken Deluxe
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We shared waffle fries and loved it. Check out the nifty ketchup!
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If you’re concerned about my heart-don’t be. I’m eating lots of veggies now that I’m back!

‘Zone or Pie

I grabbed a few ingredients to make pizza but when I got home, I realized it could easily be a rolled out pizza, or a deep dish pizza, or a calzone! Love love love how versatile Italian dishes can be!
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Ingredients

pizza dough
1 head broccoli
2 chicken breasts
½ cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup Parmesan
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup alfredo sauce
2 tbs cornmeal or wheat germ

Directions

Cut chicken breasts into thirds and roll in breadcrumbs and Parmesan before pan frying in olive oil.
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When chicken is cooked, rough chop it into bite size pieces.
Rough chop yellow onion and caramelize onions in the same pan the chicken cooked in.
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Steam broccoli florets.
Spread out dough onto a sheet pan sprayed with non-stick spray and sprinkled with wheatgerm. Leave half of dough hanging off the edge to become the top.
Layer cheese, chicken, broccoli, sauce and repeat. Pile it high!
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Close the calzone by wrapping the hanging edge over the filled half. Press tightly to close.
Make a few air-vent slits across the top and brush with olive oil or egg wash.
Bake 35 minutes at 400.
Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The key to the best calzones is filling with much more filling than seems appropriate. It settles and should be dense.

I liked this combo and thought it would be easy options from the freezer if you have them on hand. Mr. J didn’t think the broccoli was necessary, but it was OK. I always think a veggie and some color are necessary. Leftovers are also one of my favorite aspects to a calzone!

Enjoy cinco de mayo tomorrow! Have a margarita for me! I’ll be working super late but I’ll celebrate my favorite mexican later in May…

Intense Garlic & Balsamic Vinegar Chicken

I’d categorize Mr. J as a sauce person whereas my sauces don’t always come out perfectly. I think they are coming along. I made a lot of sauce even when making chicken-for-two. This was a FLAVORFUL meal.
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This was a pretty quick meal to put together and I loved the vinegar flavor. It felt different and made me want to use balsamic vinegar more often.

Ingredients

2 chicken thighs
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter, softened
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 cup of chicken broth

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil and cook chicken thighs until a medium golden brown, about 5 minutes.
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Flip the chicken over and cook for about 3 minutes.
Put chicken into the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Add garlic to the chicken pan (careful: don’t let it burn).
Stir in balsamic vinegar and chicken broth over a low boil.

Whisk in mixed flour and butter to thicken sauce, cooking for about 2 more minutes over low.
Add in chicken and coat in sauce and cook for 5 minutes.
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I liked the balsamic flavor but also think I put in too much (I used about ⅓ cup) so I’d recommend a quantity of a few tablespoons.I eat a solid amount of chicken but I don’t use chicken thighs very often. They were a great change. A little dark meat here and there never hurts.
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I served this with mashed potatoes (with a touch of sour cream) and steamed green beans. It was a really comforting meal.