Chicken Parmesan with Chicken Thighs

Growing up in the DC metro area, I didn’t eat a lot of chicken parmesan. I am surrounded by it in New York! You can eat this classic Italian-American dish pretty much anywhere and everywhere. It is served at every casual function. (not to mention eggplant parmesan!)

BUT… Wow! None of it is this good!! This is the perfect indulgent recipe for absolutely fabulous chicken parmesan. Simple and fresh-tasting sauce. Made with boneless skinless chicken thighs too- I think that is the secret to this incredible version. Comfort food at its best. ;) We ate it with pasta and roasted asparagus. This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. As Melissa Clark says, “hearty, gooey, and satisfying.”

For the Simple Tomato Sauce:

Yield: about 5 cups

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon red chile flakes (optional)
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole plum tomatoes (I used San Marzano)
  • 2 sprigs basil or 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a large, straight-sided skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Add garlic and cook until just lightly golden. Add chile flakes if desired and cook 30 seconds.
  2. Stir in tomatoes and juices, basil or bay leaf, and salt and pepper.
  3. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook until sauce is thick and tomatoes have mostly fallen apart, about 30 to 40 minutes. Adjust heat as needed to keep at a steady simmer. Mash the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher to help them break down. Remove sauce from heat and discard basil or bay leaf.

For the Casserole:

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used 10)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 to 3 cups panko bread crumbs, as needed
  • coarse salt, as needed
  • freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • extra-virgin olive oil, for frying
  • 5 cups Simple Tomato Sauce (recipe above)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • ½ pound fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • noodles for serving, if desired
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken thighs between two pieces of parchment or plastic wrap. Using a kitchen mallet or rolling pin, pound meat to even 1/4-inch-thick slices.
  2. Place flour, eggs and panko into three wide, shallow bowls.
  3. Season meat generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Dip a piece in flour, then eggs, then coat with panko. Repeat until all the meat is coated.
  5. Fill a large skillet with 1/4-inch oil. Place over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, fry cutlets in batches, turning halfway through, until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  6. Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
  7. Sprinkle one-third of the Parmesan over sauce.
  8. Place half of the cutlets over the Parmesan and top with half the mozzarella pieces.
  9. Top with half the remaining sauce, sprinkle with another third of the Parmesan, and repeat layering, ending with a final layer of sauce and Parmesan.
  10. Transfer pan to oven and bake until cheese is golden and casserole is bubbling, about 25 minutes (on convection) but up to 40 minutes (in a standard oven). Let cool a few minutes before serving.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Baby Sea Turtles, a Volcano, & the Perfect Spritz Cookies

I HAVE to share… My family and I were able to escape our frigid New York weather for Valentine’s Day this year. It was WONDERFUL! :)

Besides being relaxed and warm, we were able to enjoy the sunset from the top of a volcano,

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and release baby sea turtles into the Pacific Ocean each night after sunset. (When the sky was free from pelicans, hawks, and vultures! :/ )

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Amazing!!

Before we left on our trip, I did squeeze in a Valentine’s Day dessert (of course!). This is a simple and amazing recipe for what I think are the perfect spritz cookies. When working as a chef years ago, the father of one of my daughter’s best friends made thousands of these cookies. (TWENTY thousand in a weekend for a single event to be exact- I am happy he is still willing to make them!) He has since made them with his kids and their friends (including my lucky daughter!) and I have been the fortunate recipient of not only warm cookies but also the fabulous recipe. I’m happy to share it this week with my friends at Fiesta Friday #57 at The Novice Gardener. By changing the cookie press shape, they are perfect for any occasion! We ate most of them plain but sandwiched some of them with dulce de leche or Biscoff spread. Yum! :)

Perfect Spritz Cookies

  • 8 oz butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 3 oz (6 T) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees on convection.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream butter and cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add sugar; beat to combine.
  4. Add egg yolk and vanilla; beat well.
  5. Add salt and cinnamon; beat to combine.
  6. Slowly add flour and mix on low speed until incorporated.
  7. Using a cookie press, pipe onto parchment-lined cookie sheets.
  8. Bake for 11 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

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Black Bean Empanadas

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I was originally going to combine my two vegetarian empanada posts… but that would be such a disservice to their fabulously different flavors!

My husband had to work on Super Bowl Sunday this year. :( We don’t usually go to a party, but my husband, kids, and I really enjoy celebrating the big game with a festive menu. I decided that I wanted to be a superstar spouse and deliver a special meal to him at work- just so that he wouldn’t miss everything

My daughter’s special pig “Honey Pie” – another football fan in our house!

If you read my last post, you know how obsessed I am with empanadas- and so you know what a super-special Super Bowl meal this really was!! These black bean empanadas were the second vegetarian empanada version we had for the big game. This filling had a really creamy texture and a spicy bite that held up well to the dough. Great.

Like my “green” empanadas, these empanadas also star Carla Hall’s famous (famous to me, at least!) Cream Cheese Dough. When Carla was on Top Chef, she seemed to be always cranking out both savory and sweet fillings with this wonderful, tender dough. I am SO happy to have my hands on the recipe!! :) I modified her perfect recipe to incorporate whole wheat flour- pretty daring, I know- but it really worked out. :)

I cut the dough into 5-inch circles, and we ate the empanadas as a main course with refried beans and brown Basmati rice. (We had chips and guacamole first, of course!!) If the dough is cut into 3-inch rounds, they would be the perfect size for an appetizer. This recipe was adapted from Carla’s Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes from Around the World by Carla Hall with Genevieve Ko. I also adapted the baking time to use a convection oven.

I am bringing these tasty morsels to share with my friends at Fiesta Friday #54 over at The Novice Gardener. I am co-hosting this week with my friend Sonal of Simply Vegetarian 777. So exciting!! Join the fun- it is a great way to meet other bloggers and increase the exposure of your own blog! Click here for the guidelines to join the party.

Yield: 9 (5-inch) empanadas

For the Whole Wheat Cream Cheese Dough:

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour, spooned and leveled
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 3/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 9 T cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 6 oz cold cream cheese, cut into 1-inch dice

For the Black Bean Picadillo Filling:

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2/3 cup hot water
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups diced yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground Mexican chiles, such as ancho
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a blend
  • 2 T chopped fresh cilantro

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  1. Make the Dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flours and salt. With your hands, toss the butter and cream cheese in the flour mixture until each piece is lightly coated.
  2. With the paddle attachment, beat on low-speed until the dough comes together and forms a loose mass around the paddle.
  3. On a large piece of plastic wrap, gently pat the dough into a 1-inch thick rectangle. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours. (Note: The dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 3 months.)
  4. Make the Filling: In a small bowl, cover the raisins with the hot water. Let soak.
  5. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion just starts to turn translucent, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the ground chiles and cook, stirring, about 1 minute.
  7. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  8. Stir in the beans, corn, and raisins with their soaking liquid.
  9. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  10. When cool, stir in the cheese and cilantro.
  11. Preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  12. To Finish: On a floured work surface (or between layers of plastic wrap), roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick. Using a 5-inch round cutter (I used a bowl), cut 9 rounds out of the dough, reshaping and re-rolling out the dough as necessary.
  13. Mound 2 tablespoons of the filling on half of the round and fold the other side over to form a half-moon. Press to seal the dough and pinch at intervals to make pleats. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds and filling. (Alternatively, start at one end, pinch one corner between your thumb and forefinger and fold it over the rim. Pinch the dough next to the fold and fold again. Continue pinching and folding to create a decorative rope rim.)
  14. Arrange the empanadas on the prepared baking sheets and bake in the upper and lower thirds of the oven for about 20 minutes (on convection) or up to 30 minutes in a standard oven, until browned and heated through. Serve the empanadas warm or at room temperature.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

“Green” Empanadas

I have such exciting news!! For the first time… I am co-hosting Fiesta Friday #54 at The Novice Gardener this week with (sincerely) my oldest blogosphere friend Sonal of Simply Vegetarian 777. Woo hoo! :) In case you don’t already know- Fiesta Friday is a fabulous blogging potluck party. It is a wonderful way to share recipes (etc.!), network with other bloggers, and to make friends out there in the blogosphere. It’s such a friendly and supportive group- I look forward to our get together every week. :) Sonal and I will be there this week to greet all of the guests!

I am bringing a special dish for this special occasion… vegetarian empanadas! I have been obsessed with empanadas for some time. When my husband and I lived in Chicago, we attended many potluck parties with his co-workers- many of whom were South American. We ate SUCH good food!! (I have absolutely NO memory of my contribution to these potlucks either… :/ ) The two stand-out dishes were empanadas and tortilla espanola. mmmmm…. I have been saying that I really needed to make empanadas ever since. I don’t know what I was waiting for… (as that was long long ago- and this was my first attempt!)

So… I recently revisited my love for empanadas in New York City on my son’s birthday. We went to look at sofas (to sit on them- you know that you can’t buy a sofa if you have never sat on it!) on his actual birthday- it sounds terrible but I assure you that the rest of the day was full of much more fun events!! We also told him (bribed him…) that we hoped that the empanada truck would be near the Pottery Barn on the Upper West Side. When we arrived it could not have been better than if we had planned it- the empanada truck -and a grilled cheese truck for my daughter!- were parked RIGHT outside of the store. So lucky- what great fortune! TONS of varieties of empanadas too- absolutely delicious!!

I put empanadas back on the top of my “to do” list but searched for vegetarian versions (my preference). For my first filling, I adapted this wonderful recipe from Food and Wine, contributed by Mauricio Couly and Piero Incisa Della Rocchetta. The original recipe had a paprika dough for which I substituted a whole wheat cream cheese dough. I also modified the greens as well as the herbs and seasonings in the filling. The dough was adapted from Carla’s Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes from Around the World. I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour. Easy, tender, and FABULOUS!!!

Please join us for Fiesta Friday #54 at The Novice Gardener this week!! Click here for the guidelines to join in the fun.

Yield: 9 (5-inch) empanadas

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For the Whole Wheat Cream Cheese Dough:

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour, spooned and leveled
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 3/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 9 T cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 6 oz cold cream cheese, cut into 1-inch dice

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For the Filling:

  • 10 ounces spinach, stemmed (I used a combination of spinach, baby kale, and chard)
  • 1/2 cup shelled fava beans (thawed if frozen)
  • 1/4 pound trimmed green beans
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Make the Dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flours and salt. With your hands, toss the butter and cream cheese in the flour mixture until each piece is lightly coated.
  2. With the paddle attachment, beat on low speed until the dough comes together and forms a loose mass around the paddle.
  3. On a large piece of plastic wrap, gently pat the dough into a 1-inch thick rectangle. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours. (Note: The dough  can be refrigerated for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 3 months.)
  4. Make the Filling: In a saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the greens for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon or an Asian spider skimmer, transfer the greens to a colander. Drain.
  5. Add the fava beans to the boiling water and cook until bright green, 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon or an Asian spider skimmer, transfer the fava beans to a plate.
  6. Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook until tender, 4 minutes. Drain and finely chop the green beans.
  7. Peel the tough outer skins from the fava beans.
  8. Squeeze the excess water from the greens, then coarsely chop.
  9. In a large skillet, melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.
  10. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in the greens, fava beans, green beans and peas and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 2 minutes.
  11. Stir in the cilantro and thyme and season with salt and pepper.
  12. Preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  13. To Finish: On a floured work surface (or between layers of plastic wrap), roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick. Using a 5-inch round cutter (I used a bowl), cut 9 rounds out of the dough, reshaping and re-rolling out the dough as necessary.
  14. Mound 2 tablespoons of the vegetable filling on half of the round and fold the other side over to form a half-moon. Press to seal the dough and pinch at intervals to make pleats. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds and filling.
  15. Arrange the empanadas on the prepared baking sheets and bake in the upper and lower thirds of the oven for about 20 minutes (on convection) or up to 30 minutes in a standard oven, until browned and heated through. Serve the empanadas warm or at room temperature.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Classic Tomato Soup

Everybody needs a “gold standard” tomato soup recipe – especially in the winter. This is my new one! This tasty recipe was adapted from Mad Hungry Cravings: 173 Recipes for the Food You want to Eat Right Now by Lucinda Scala Quinn. A great book. The soup is creamy but creamless; it is slightly pink from the emulsification of the tomatoes and stock. We ate it with extra-sharp cheddar grilled cheese sandwiches and green salad. Mmmm. Grilled cheese croutons would be wonderful as well. Stay warm! My kids are on snow day #3 today!! :) :/

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 tsp coarse salt
  • 4 28-oz cans whole tomatoes in juice (I used Cento San Marzano tomatoes)
  • 4 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
  • 6 x 1 1/2-inch piece Parmesan rind
  1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the oil. When it shimmers, add the shallots, carrots, and celery, season with the salt, and sauté until soft and golden, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, and Parmesan rind; bring to a simmer, and cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes, until the soup has thickened slightly. Remove and discard the Parmesan rind.
  3. Working in batches, transfer the soup to a food processor or blender, and puree. (I used an immersion blender.)
  4. Reheat the soup, if necessary. Add more chicken stock if needed for the desired consistency.
  5. Divide among bowls and garnish each with a drizzle of olive oil and grated Parmesan, if desired.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Fudgy Brownie Cake

Brownies are often considered to be cookies- but isn’t it fun to consider them as a cake?!? Fudgy or cakey (I love it all!!) they are one of my absolute favorite desserts- especially warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on the side. :) This cake was made with Lindt 70% cacao dark chocolate- AMAZING rich flavor. Super moist and fudgy too. This recipe is from Martha Stewart Living. I adapted the time to bake in a convection oven.

I’m bringing this snow day comfort food to share with my friends at Angie of The Novice Gardener’s First Fiesta Friday Anniversary Celebration (Part 2). Enjoy!!

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  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into large pieces, plus more for pan
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (61 to 70 percent cacao), finely chopped (I used Lindt 70% cacao dark chocolate)
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Melt butter and chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth.
  3. Remove chocolate mixture from heat, and whisk in 3/4 cup sugar.
  4. Whisk in egg yolk, then cocoa powder and salt.
  5. Beat egg whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Raise speed to medium-high, gradually beat in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and beat until soft, glossy peaks form, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Fold flour into chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula, then fold in egg whites.
  7. Pour batter into pan, and bake until set, about 25 minutes on convection or up to 33 minutes in a standard oven.
  8. Let cake cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Remove side of pan, and dust top of cake with cocoa powder.

Note: Cake can be stored in pan at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap (do not let plastic touch cake), up to 1 day.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Indian Butter Chicken

This dish is insanely delicious. I LOVED it!! It’s no wonder it made it onto “The 20 Most Popular Recipes of 2014” list in the New York Times. It is so flavorful and amazing that it deserves to be served to my foodie friends at the First Fiesta Friday Anniversary Party at The Novice Gardener!! (Part 2) (Such a big fiesta needs to be celebrated over 2 weeks!) Woo hoo! :)

I served this luxuriously saucy chicken over brown Basmati rice with roasted broccoli on the side; we ate the leftovers with sautéed spinach on the side. There was enough sauce to douse the veggies too- fabulous!! This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sam Sifton, adapted from Amandeep of Attica in Melbourne, Australia. I adapted the recipe by using boneless skinless chicken thighs. Dinner party worthy!

Time: 1 hour 15 minutes, plus marinating overnight

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

  • 1 ½ cups full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 ½ tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • ¼ pound unsalted butter
  • 4 teaspoons neutral oil, like vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 medium-size yellow onions, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 medium-size tomatoes, diced
  • 2 red chiles, like Anaheim, or 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • ⅔ cup chicken stock
  • 1 ½ cups cream
  • 1 ½ teaspoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons ground almonds, or finely chopped almonds
  • ½ bunch cilantro leaves, stems removed
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving
  1. Whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, turmeric, garam masala and cumin in a large bowl. Put the chicken in, and coat with the marinade. Cover, and refrigerate (for up to a day).
  2. In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter in the oil until it starts to foam. Add the onions, and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent.
  3. Add the garlic, ginger and cumin seeds, and cook until the onions start to brown.
  4. Add the cinnamon stick, tomatoes, chiles and salt, and cook until the chiles are soft, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken and marinade to the pan, and cook for 5 minutes, then add the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for approximately 30 minutes.
  6. Stir in the cream and tomato paste, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Add the almonds, cook for an additional 5 minutes and remove from the heat. Garnish with the cilantro leaves.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Other NY Times Top 2014 Dishes on thebrookcook:

Velvet Chicken with Mustard Sauce

I had to make this dish because I have to try as many “mustard chicken” recipes as possible, but also because this dish was included in the “Top 20 New York Times Recipes of 2014.” The beauty of this recipe is that it minimizes the boneless skinless chicken breast cooking time in order to keep the meat moist. It also utilizes a Chinese technique called velveting to doubly ensure this moistness. This recipe also shines because of the delicious creme fraiche-mustard sauce that the chicken cooks in. Mmmmm….

I did make a mistake though. :/ I doubled the recipe and used very large chicken breasts- which I halved. My mistake was halving them into two smaller- but still thick pieces. I should have cut them horizontally into 2 thinner cutlets! (What was I thinking?!?) I had to increase the cooking time and I may have missed some of the beauty of this dish…. This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. Learn from my mistake and try this technique!

  • 4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, halved, each piece about 6 ounces
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 egg whites (about 4 tablespoons)
  • 8 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons dried mustard
  • 2 tablespoon grated horseradish
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons roughly chopped thyme leaves
  • 4 tablespoons snipped chives, for garnish

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  1. Trim chicken breasts to a uniform size, shape and thickness; they should be about 1/2 inch thick. (**If using larger breasts, slice them into 1/2-inch-thick cutlets.**) Season generously on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Velvet the chicken: In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk egg whites until frothy, then whisk in cornstarch until lump-free. Add chicken breasts and coat well with cornstarch mixture, then cover and marinate for 30 minutes. (Chicken may also be marinated several hours ahead and refrigerated.)
  3. Meanwhile in a small mixing bowl, stir together Dijon mustard, whole-grain mustard, dried mustard, horseradish and crème fraîche. Set aside.
  4. Put butter or oil in a skillet over medium heat. Lay chicken breasts in the pan and sauté very lightly for 30 seconds a side without browning. Remove breasts and blot on paper towels. Discard remaining oil and wipe pan.
  5. Return skillet to stove and add mustard and crème fraîche mixture and chicken broth. Whisk together to make a thin sauce and bring to a gentle simmer. Add breasts and simmer for 1 minute, then turn breasts over, cover pan and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off heat and leave covered for 1 or 2 minutes more, until meat is firm to the touch. (I cooked until the center of the meat reached 165 degrees F.)
  6. Transfer breasts to a warm platter. Bring sauce to a boil, add chopped thyme and reduce until slightly thickened.
  7. Spoon sauce over breasts, sprinkle with chives, if desired, and serve.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Easy Mushroom Lasagna

IMG_2069 This is the EASIEST lasagna recipe EVER. I had to check my recipe resource a few times (I double & triple checked!) while preparing this dish just confirm that the mushrooms did NOT have to be cooked before adding to this lasagna. The noodles didn’t have to be cooked either! I thought that the finished dish might be too saucy because of the moisture from the mushrooms, but it was perfect.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Todd Porter and Diane Cu. I modified the recipe to use no-boil lasagna noodles. I also added garlic and used different types of mushrooms. My son had been begging for lasagna and he was quite pleased. :) It was a titch too brown but it was still absolutely delicious!!

  • olive oil, for coating baking dish
  • 9 to 12 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • zest of 1 fresh lemon
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced through a garlic press
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt, or to taste
  • fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 24 to 30 ounces tomato sauce (I used Victoria brand marinara)
  • 10 ounces button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 16 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly coat a 2-quart baking dish with olive oil (or cooking oil spray) and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, egg, Parmigiano-Reggiano, lemon zest, garlic, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Spread a light layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Lay 3 to 4 lasagna noodles lengthwise over the sauce (or however they fit best in your pan).
  4. Layer one-third of the remaining tomato sauce over the lasagna noodles and then layer half of the ricotta mixture.
  5. Layer half of the mushrooms over the ricotta and then spread one-third of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat this pattern: noodles, sauce, ricotta cheese, mushrooms and mozzarella cheese.
  6. Add a final layer of lasagna noodles and then add the remaining tomato sauce and remaining mozzarella cheese.
  7. Bake lasagna for about 30 to 45 minutes or until the top cheese is melted and golden. (Watch carefully!) :)
  8. Remove from oven; let cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Panko-Crusted Mustard Salmon

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There is just not enough time in the day. This is my complaint- almost every day…. When I was expressing this to one of my good friends the other day, she said, “Why don’t you just make the Ina Garten salmon for dinner? It’s so easy and my kids gobble it up!” Well, needless to say, a couple of days later, I was short on time after running our kids to all of their extra-curricular activities. I was so happy to make this salmon- It was just as quick, easy, and tasty as had been promised too! :)

This recipe was adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That?, via food network.com. We ate it with roasted asparagus and potatoes on the side (easily roasted in the same oven!!). Delicious!

  • 2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • grated zest from 1 lemon
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 2 pound salmon fillet
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Lemon wedges, for serving, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (on convection roast).
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the panko, parsley, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Drizzle with the olive oil and stir until the crumbs are evenly coated. Set aside.
  3. Place the salmon fillet on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Generously brush the top of the fillet with mustard and then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Press the panko mixture thickly on top of the mustard-coated salmon. The mustard will help the panko adhere.
  4. Roast for 10 minutes, or until the salmon is almost cooked and the panko is browned. Remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve the salmon hot or at room temperature with lemon wedges, if desired.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Caramelized Onion Dip

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My kids have been taking piano lessons for a few years. Starting in October, they study a lot of Christmas music in preparation for a Christmas performance for their grandparents. This year, a couple of my friends enrolled their kids in lessons with the same piano teacher. My kids and their friends performed in a Christmas concert at our house for all of the parents- and each other!- followed by a reception. It was fabulous!!

I first saw this recipe on Feasting with Friends. It was perfect for the occasion. We also served wine, lemonade, double cream brie with sourdough baguette slices, and mini red velvet cupcakes. My friends brought tasty appetizers as well. I loved it- I hope it becomes an annual tradition. We ate the onion dip with kettle chips and crudités. This recipe was adapted from Alton Brown, via foodnetwork.com. It is super easy and delicious- it would be perfect for the Superbowl as well!

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups diced yellow or sweet onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  1. In a saute pan over medium heat add oil, heat and add onions and salt. Cook the onions until they are caramelized, about 20 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Mix the rest of the ingredients, and then add the cooled onions.
  3. Refrigerate and stir again before serving.

Two Years Ago:

Corn Queso Fundido

When I think of the Superbowl (this weekend!), I think of chips and dip (& fun commercials)…

When I think of a snowstorm (just snow shoveled for THREE hours!), I think of warm comfort food…

When I think of a fiesta (Angie’s Fiesta Friday!), I think of Mexican flavors…

& When I think of the ONE YEAR anniversary of Fiesta Friday at the Novice Gardener, I think that I better bring something extra tasty and festive…

It’s too bad that when I think of (and my son has) a swim meet over the weekend, I get nothing on my “to do” list done!!

So, this appetizer fits all of the above criteria, it’s just a little late to the party… Enjoy the First Fiesta Friday Anniversary Party (Part 1)! Over the past year Fiesta Friday has not only exposed me to wonderful dishes each week, I have made many friends who share a love of cooking. Fun! I look forward to it every week. :)

This warm, cheesy dip would be wonderful for a Superbowl fiesta as well. This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Justin Chapple. I made half of the recipe (with 1 garlic clove) for my family of four and we gobbled all of it up.

Yield: Serves 8

  • 1 pound frozen sweet corn kernels (3 cups), thawed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 poblano chile—stemmed, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • 1 to 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • finely chopped cilantro, radish matchsticks and thinly sliced jalapeños, as desired, for garnish
  • salted corn tortilla chips, for serving
  1. In a blender, puree half of the corn with 1/2 cup of water until smooth. (I used a Vitamix and pureed the mixture at high-speed for 30 seconds.)
  2. In a cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the poblano, onion, remaining corn and a pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened and barely browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the corn puree and cook, stirring, until bubbling, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Add the cheese and cook over low heat, stirring, until melted.
  6. Season with salt and garnish with cilantro, radish, and jalapeño, as desired. Serve hot, with tortilla chips.

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