“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” ~ Stephen King

Ah Lawd. I’ve created a monster.

My getting back in the kitchen has made my husband come to expect some new dish nightly.

Well. I hate it for him. Lol.

But it’s not too bad when you can whip up something fairly simple – this recipe included.

BTW – we are going out to eat tonight.

Chicken Parmesan

  • 4 chicken cutlets
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 jar ( oz) marinara sauce
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon water, whisked together
  • 10 oz spaghetti noodles, cooked
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • dried basil for garnish
  • salt/pepper

Preheat oven to 350º.

Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour (both sides), shake off excess. Then dredge in egg mixture (both sides), shake off excess. Finally, dredge in breadcrumbs (both sides) and press into chicken.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Brown chicken on both sides (3-4 minutes a side or until cooked through). Remove to paper towel lined plate to remove excess oil.

Place cooked noodles in a greased 9×13 baking dish. Top with marinara, reserving 1 cup to top chicken. Arrange chicken breasts on top of noodles, followed by remaining sauce across the chicken. Evenly sprinkle cheese on top of chicken.

Baked uncovered for around 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly browned.

Sprinkle with basil before serving.

 

-abp

 

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“As long as there’s a few farmers out there, we’ll keep fighting for them.” ~ Willie Nelson

One of the things I love about the spring and summer is the River Market Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning!

It’s a fabulous way to start your Saturday morning! There is just something about it that makes me happy. 🙂

Growing up on a farm with a huge garden will pretty much spoil you to any other kind of vegetables. Unfortunately, for years I had to do without such fresh homegrown vegetables but with the new interest in fresh homegrown food – I am now able to get a little bit of my childhood back.

I love to just look around a grab a few things for the rest of the week but today I had several things on my list that I had to have for tonight’s dinner and they did not disappoint.

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Baked Ziti with Summer Vegetables

  • 4 ounces uncooked ziti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow squash
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cups chopped tomato
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray

Cook pasta according to directions and preheat oven to 400º.

Sauté squash, zucchini and onion in olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Add tomato and garlic for 3-5 more minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients (minus the cooking spray).

Then add cheese mixture to vegetable mixture and pour into an 8 inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly and brown.

 

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“To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.” ~ Mark Twain

The grand finale of my Italian Valentine’s Week was a huge success!!

My husband said it was probably one of the best meals he has ever had.

It was good (if I do say so myself 🙂 )

It’s probably one of the most traditional Italian meals that also happens to be my husband’s favorite.

He loves Meatballs.  He gets spaghetti with meatballs, cheese bread with meatballs, calzones with meatballs and pizza with meatballs.

So it makes perfect sense to……

Make meatballs.

Traditional Meatballs

(adapted from Paula Deen)

  • 1½ pounds ground chuck
  • 1 pound ground hot Italian sausage
  • ¾ cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350˚

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a wire rack over baking sheet, and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine ground chuck, sausage, panko, cheese, garlic, parsley, basil, and salt. Add beaten eggs, stirring gently to combine.

Shape into 2½-inch balls. Place on prepared rack, and bake for 30 minutes.

Makes around 24 meatballs. I froze half to pull out for an easy meal later.

Add to your favorite homemade or jarred spaghetti sauce.

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-abp

“A hug is like a boomerang – you get it back right away.” ~ Bil Keane

Here is day 2 of my Sweetheart’s Italian food inspired Valentine’s Day Week.
This one is so simple, I actually feel bad saying “it’s part of a special week menu” – but not too bad. 😉

Had it not been so simple he may have had only 2 special meals instead of 3 because Friday, I’m going all out!

Well, all out for my standards.
Anywho, here’s the scoop on the simplest meal ever.

Hug-Your-Hubby
Crockpot Italian Chicken

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 6 red potatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/2 bag small carrots
  • 16 oz Zesty Italian dressing
  • 1 Tablespoon dry Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese

Add all ingredients to your crockpot, vegetables on the bottom. Cook on low for 8 hours.
Remove chicken to a bowl and shred. Remove vegetables to separate bowl. Take juice from crockpot and pour over the shredded chicken.

Add garlic bread and it’s perfect!

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-abp

“There’s nothing more romantic than Italian food.” ~ Elisha Cuthbert

One of our favorite dishes we had on our honeymoon trip to Italy was Saltimbocca.  Saltimbocca means “jump in your mouth” and that it does! I knew it would be a meal that I must try back at home and I finally got around to it.

Saltimbocca is a very popular Italian dish that is traditionally made with veal but can be made with chicken (which is what I had on hand).

Chicken Saltimbocca

4 (4-ounce) chicken cutlets
1/8 teaspoon salt
12 fresh sage leaves
2 ounces very thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 8 thin strips
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Sprinkle the chicken evenly with salt. Place 3 sage leaves on each cutlet.

top with sage

Wrap 2 prosciutto slices around each cutlet, securing sage leaves in place.

wrap with prosciutto

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add chicken to pan; cook for 2 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.

Combine broth, lemon juice, and cornstarch in a small bowl; stir with a whisk until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture and the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil to pan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook for 1 minute or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly.

Place chicken on bed of fettuccine and top with sauce.

Chicken Saltimbocca

Love, love, love this dish! It’s simple too!

abp

“Man is not truly one, but two.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

I think I have a split personality.  I love the opposite ends of every spectrum. I’ll go all out with Christmas decorations but love that single candle in the window. I adore a black tie affair but cherish my no make-up Mondays. I’ll spend $$$$ (I’m ashamed to say) on a purse but will buy a $5 pair of shoes at a thrift store and love them both equally. The list goes on……..

I’m having a cat scan on my head next week – it will be interesting to see what’s up there.

The same goes with food – my Thanksgiving Turkey this week is going to be a royal, time consuming affair and I’m going to love it. But last night I made a quick and easy baked ziti recipe that I found on the back of the zita pasta box.

It’s my new go to meal.

Back of the Box Baked Ziti

  • 1 (16 oz) package of ziti
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
  • 1 (26 oz) jar tomato and basil pasta sauce
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tablespoon prepared basil pesto
  • cooking spray
  • 2 cups Italian blend cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375º.

Start by cooking pasta according to directions.

Saute meat and onions in large skillet over medium-high heat. Once cooked, drain off excess grease.

Stir in pasta sauce, tomatoes (I squished these a little with my hand first), Italian seasoning, and pesto into meat mixture. Reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix sauce with pasta.

Spray 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray and pour mixture evenly into dish.

Top with cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes or until heated through and slightly browned.

yummo!

Let countdown to Thanksgiving begin!!!!

abp

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.” ~ Helen Keller

Ok, I am feeling adventurous today – maybe it’s the wisdom I feel because I’m a year older this week…….

In any event – I am trying a recipe I found in bon appétit. Although I love reading this magazine – this will be the first recipe out of it that I have ever attempted. They are usually a little too involved, they include ingredients that are either too hard to find or too expensive or they are something that not a whole lot of people would have to eat on an average day.

But alas, I found one that I thought would be a good fit for me and my family, especailly coming off our trip to Italy.

Garganelli with Fennel and Pork Shoulder Ragù. (sounds fancy, huh??)

I did change up a few things though.
The first being the garganelli pasta which is a hand shaped egg based tubular pasta. Well, I’ll be using dried penne pasta. Also – I do not like the taste of fennel so I replaced that ingredient with celery which is common replacement because I’m one of many who is not of fan of the licorice flavor.

So with that being said, here’s what we got.

Gargnelli Penne Pasta with Fennel Celery and Pork Shoulder Ragù

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ cups minced celery
  • 1½ cups minced onions
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1½ cups dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 6 ounces (half a can) diced tomatoes
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 8 oz Penne pasta
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil

You start by mixing the pork and 1 tsp of salt by hands until sticky, cover and chill for at least 2 hours.

After chilling, roll pork mixture into 8-9 large meatballs (about 1/4 cup each).

Heat olive oil in large, heavy, deep pan over medium-high heat.  Cook meatballs until all sides are brown. Adjust heat so the brown bits on the bottom do not burn.

Drain meatballs on paper towel lined plate. Reduce heat to medium and scatter celery, onion and garlic in pan. Return meatballs to pan and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, or until vegetables are translucent and juices have evaporated.

Add wine, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan and bring to a simmer.  Cook for about 15 minutes or until the wine has reduced by 3/4.

Add the chicken broth and tomatoes. Return to a simmer, once again scraping up brown bits.  Continue to simmer with the lid slightly ajar for about 2½ hours, stirring occasionally.

When finished cooking, remove meatballs and break up into small pieces and season with salt and pepper. Then return to pan.

Add cook pasta to ragù, mix well.

Serve topped with cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Such a hardy and unique meal.  It tasted very authentic – and I can say that since I still can taste all that yummy food with had in Italy (more on that next week).

This took a little time but it was well worth it!

Hope everyone has had a great week! TGIF!!!!

abp

“My idea of bliss is to wake up on a Monday morning knowing you haven’t a single engagement for the entire week. You are cradled in a white paper cocoon tied up with typewriter ribbon.” – Edna Ferber

Mondays. How quickly they seem to come around. I really don’t mind Mondays – it’s just that Tuesday follows Monday and that’s when the work week starts for me.

Mondays are a great day for me to catch up on everything and get everything prepared for the next week with very few distractions. Also – it’s the day I prepare a new meal to test out on the peanut gallery.

Today’s meal will be:

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

(recipe adapted from foodwishes.com)

  • 2 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • hot red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce
  • ¼ cup chopped basil
  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 oz shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 (5 oz) package of garlic croutons

Preheat oven to 350°.

You start by pouring olive oil into a baking dish (the size determined by how much chicken you have). Next crush your garlic into dish. Mix garlic in and evenly spread on the bottom.

Sprinkle with hot pepper flakes.

Now place your cut up chicken in dish. The original recipe had it as whole chicken breasts but chicken breasts are so big nowadays that I think one is too big a serving so at least halving them will make the recipe go farther.
Of course, you can always leave them whole if you’re feeding hungry hippos or you could even cut chicken up into smaller pieces. (I think next time – time permitting – I’ll cut into 1 in. pieces)

******note – there has been a few problems of the chicken not being completely cooked because each oven is different so I would definitely cut chicken into bite size pieces and not just halved or whole to eliminate this problem.

Pour marinara sauce evenly over chicken and top with basil.

Layer with half the mozzarella and parmesan cheese. (I also added a sprinkling of dry italian seasoning to both cheese layers)

Top with croutons (I crushed them in the bag with my hands a little first) and the remaining cheese. (Next time, I will crush even more)

Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes. You want to make sure chicken is done, so if the top starts to brown a little too much, cover with foil.

Here you go – Chicken Parmesan Casserole – serve with a salad and Parmesan Knots (see below).

For the Parmesan knots you’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon of melted butter
  • ¼ cup oil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 Tablespoons of grated parmesan (the kind in the green can)
  • 2 teaspoons dry italian seasoning
  • 1 can refrigerated buttermilk bisuits

Take each biscuit and pull/roll out into a rope, tie in a knot, tuck ends under and place on a foil lined, Pam sprayed baking sheet.

Bake at 400° for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients

Brush mixture onto warm rolls.

Now you have a perfectly simple, perfectly good Italian Dinner.

Thumbs up from the peanut gallery!

🙂

abp