Chicken Parm, You Really DO Taste So Good…and are Crazy Easy to Make!

Last night I once again I found myself in a panic, tearing myself away from a project at 5:30 pm, and realizing I had not planned anything for dinner.  Thankfully, I dug up some chicken breasts and threw together this easy crowd pleaser before 6:15.  I promise you that I am not above throwing on some hot dogs in this situation, but I’m trying to be good.

Add a can of mushrooms to jazz it up a little.

Chicken Parmesan

Ingredients
  • 1 package spaghetti or egg noodles, cooked and drained
  • 2 TBSP flour
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, flattened slightly with a meat mallet
  • 1-2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-4 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 jar prepared spaghetti sauce
Directions
  1. Mix the flour, bread crumbs, garlic salt and parmesan cheese in a resealable plastic bag.  Shake flattened chicken breasts in the mixture to coat completely.
  2. In a 12 inch skillet on medium high heat, cook the chicken breasts in the olive oil until browned- 6-8 minutes, turning once.
  3. Add the spaghetti sauce, any remaining bread crumb mixture and the mozzarella cheese to the chicken.  Cook 5-8 minutes then serve over prepared noodles.

For an easy twist to save dishes, cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and serve in bowls.

ChickenParm

ChickenParm2
Nicely browned chicken breast

 

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Pork Chops & Applesauce…I Mean Rice! Pork Chops and Rice.

When I was younger, I was convinced that I could cook like my mom even though I’d had very little practice or instruction.  I must have thought that it was an inherited trait, like patience or blue eyes, which one gets from their parents.  Sadly, I fail regularly at patience, but I like my brown eyes and have practiced a lot to get a palatable meal on the table.  Anyway, this was the one easy recipe that even I couldn’t screw up.  Better than fried lettuce and bologna surprise, right Mom?

Anyway, this is a basic “throw it in the oven and go” recipe, which is even better.  Normally, I use cream of mushroom, celery or chicken for the sauce, but I had this recipe starter can I didn’t know what to do with, so I tried it.  It was pretty darn tasty and the boys loved the cheesy rice.  Pork Bake2

You don’t have to brown the chops first, you can add cooking time, but I like to shave a few minutes off of baking time by browning.

Oven Pork Chop Bake

Ingredients
  • 4 pork chops
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 can cream of mushroom or other soup or recipe starter
  • 1 cup+ water
  • Salt, pepper, Tony’s to taste
Directions
  1. Grease a non stick pan and brown the chops on medium high for 4 minutes per side (I season with Tony’s and Garlic before browning).  Transfer to a baking dish and top with onions, then layer uncooked rice in the bottom of the baking dish.
  2. Mix water, soup and seasoning then pour over rice and chops, making sure all is covered.  Add water, if needed to insure you have at least twice as much liquid as rice.
  3. Cover and bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes until chops are tender.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seafood Lasagna, Cheesy Nirvana

If you are looking for a healthy recipe for seafood lasagna, this is not it.  If you are looking for a rich, decadent once a year treat for your family and friends, read on.  Even if Captain America isn’t your server, seafood lasagna is a creamy, taste bud loving, tummy pleasing, comfort food that you will love.

This is a relatively easy recipe and it is always a huge hit.  Like many foods, it’s almost better the second day and freezes really well.  I can usually squeeze 2 lasagna pans out of this and will freeze one for later.  You can’t really use too much Tony’s or creole seasoning because the cheese and noodles dissipate the flavor, but don’t get too crazy.

Seafood Lasagna

Ingredients
  • 3 large onions, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3, yes, 3, sticks of butter (1 & 1/2 cup)
  • 1 lb shrimp (chopped, if desired)
  • 1 lb crab meat (I use the fake stuff and chop it up)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 cups mozzarella, shredded
  • 2 cups cheddar, shredded
  • 1 cup parmesan, shredded
  • 1 box lasagna noodles, cooked, or 1.5 boxes ready to use lasagna
  • Salt, pepper, garlic, Tony’s to taste (if you want specifics; 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder, 2-4 TBSP Tony’s)
Directions
  1. In a large stock or black pot, saute onions and bell pepper in 1 stick of butter for 10-15 minutes, stirring often.  Add shrimp and crab and cook 15-20, minutes, stirring often.  Season with salt, pepper, garlic and Tony’s.
  2. In another pan melt 2 sticks of butter and 1/3 cup of flour, whisking until smooth.  Add the milk and cook until thick.  Add to the seafood and veggie mix, stirring until blended and taste to season.
  3. Layer in lasagna pans, starting with seafood mix, cheese then noodles.  Bake 45 min to an hour, (longer with ready to use noodles) at 350 degrees.

 

 

 

 

 

Why, I Artichoke You!

Artichokes5

May the 4th be with you, everyone!  Yes, I could not have timed this better.  Last night I made artichokes and I think I scared my children by consuming them with a speed and pleasure they have never before seen.  I couldn’t help it.  I adore those weird looking things!  My mother used to make them on special occasions when we were growing up and I remember feeling the same level of excitement when they hit the plate in front of me.  I have my mother to thank for most of my exposure to lesser known foods and I hope to expose my kids to the same wonders.

I only made 2 artichokes last night because Jamie wasn’t home and my boys don’t inhale them like I do, but the recipe will make 4.

Eating an artichoke can be daunting for a lot of people, so I’ll try to give an easy tutorial for those new to their wonders after the recipe.

Boiled Artichokes

Ingredients
  • 4-5 quarts water
  • 4 artichokes
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
Dip Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup mayo or Miracle Whip
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice (you may need to add a little more if using mayo)
  • Salt, pepper, Tony’s to taste
Directions
  1. Fill a 6-8 quart sauce pan with enough water to cover the artichokes, and then add the 1/4 cup salt and 1/8 cup lemon juice.  Bring to a boil.
  2. Cut the top 1/3 off of the artichokes, trim the stems so they will sit flat on a plate and snip the sharp points off of the outer leaves (if necessary).
  3. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, place the artichokes, leaves up, into the boiling water.  Use a heavy pot lid or similar to keep the artichokes submerged (I learned this trick from Emeril and I love him for it!), like so:Artichokes2.jpg
  4. Reduce heat to a gentle boil and cook for about 30 minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the dip ingredients, adding salt, pepper and a dash of Tony’s (if desired) to taste, stirring until creamy.  Set aside.
  6. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the cooked artichokes and place upside down to drain, cooling until not to hot to handle. Artichokes3
  7. Serve with dip.

For the artichoke newbies:

  1. Remove the leaves by pulling gently downward and away.
  2. Dip the thicker end of the leaf
    Artichokes7
    Gross?  Maybe.  But this is what it should look like when you’ve eaten it.

    (the side which pulls away from the body of the artichoke) into the sauce and then scrape the thicker, lower inside of the leaf with your teeth to remove the “meat.”

  3. When you get close to the center, the leaves get smaller and you can actually eat the meaty end without scraping.
  4. When you reach the fuzzy looking part, you are at the heart.  Simply use a spoon or knife to remove the fuzz and enjoy the heart.
Artichokes6.jpg
The fuzz hiding the good stuff is easy to scrape away

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caprese, So Easy!

I apologize for being silent so long.  Sadly, we live in a mysterious suburban black hole where our only choice for an internet provider is Suddenlink.  I am now entering day 5 without service and realizing how over-dependent I am on the world wide web.  I have already used 75% of my data on my phone plan just doing homework and writing the blog Friday.  Ugh, first world problems.  We truly are blessed…

Anyway, it’s time for me to admit something…I love tomatoes and basil.  I don’t mean that I could eat it a lot or that I’m very fond of them.  I mean I could live off of the combination for all eternity.  I could sleep on a bed of them.  I could bathe in…I believe I’ve made my point.

When we moved back to Louisiana and I realized that an heirloom tomato plant or two in buckets could not withstand the various plagues of insects we deal with, I went to ground…so to speak.  I am cloning plants like crazy and so excited for the Mortgage Lifter and Black Cherries we have coming in!  Last year we had one so big that I was able to make 5 tomato sandwiches out of it.  5!

Anyway, my take on Caprese varies.  This time I added the prosciutto for a little extra protein and so that we could make a meal out of it.  Luckily, my whole crew feels the same as I do about tomatoes, so it was a hit.  It’s such an easy meal or side and you can use virtually any dressing you like; oil and vinegar, balsamic, Italian, etc.  The secret is fresh mozzarella…and of course fresh tomatoes and basil.  Just play with it, but here’s what I did.

Caprese Salad

Ingredients
  • 4 large tomatoes, sliced
  • fresh basil leaves, enough for every tomato
  • 1 roll fresh mozzarella, sliced and enough for each tomato
  • 1 pack prosciutto
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette salad dressing
  • Salt and pepper, if desired, to taste
Directions
  1. Layer in order: tomato, prosciutto, cheese and basil then place on a platter.
  2. Cover all with dressing and salt and pepper, if desired, and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Done.

 

 

The Boys All Holla’ For My Chicken Marsala! Sorry, I panicked.

Okay, you try to find something that rhymes with Marsala and makes sense.  I meant my kids and husband, by the way.

Anyway, it was late Wednesday and I realized I had nothing, absolute bupkis, on the menu.  I ran to the freezer and found some chicken breasts I’d used the food sealer to separate and tossed the package into the pool.  Sadly, it’s already warm enough here to defrost this way in about 20 minutes without having to use the microwave.  Or maybe I’m lucky, but I can’t be sure.  I miss the seasons and I miss having a reason to wear sweats and fleece, but I like swimming and gardening already.  Oops, sorry.  Took you down the rabbit hole again.

Sooo, I decided on Chicken Marsala.  This is always a hit over here, but I don’t know why.  Let me explain: my house is divided.  Andrew and I adore mushrooms, but sadly, Jamie has always professed to hate them.   Apparently, they remind him of chopped up snakes and, no, he’s never eaten a chopped up snake.  Daniel has gone back and forth from mushroom lover to mushroom hater so often it makes my head spin.  Currently, he is a hater, but managed to eat thirds anyway.  Point being, don’t be afraid to try this even amidst a sea of mushroom loathers.  You can pick them out, if you must.

This is a super easy meal which you can sell as gourmet and a ton of work without anyone questioning you.  You can use fresh mushrooms, but I learned not to keep them around when there are only two of us committed to eating them.  The rosemary is optional, but so good.  Use fresh or dried and enjoy!

Chicken Marsala

Ingredients
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • flour, for dredging
  • 1/2-1 tsp garlic salt
  • 2-4 TBSP butter or olive oil (I usually start with butter and use the oil to prevent burning)
  • 1-2 cans sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 1 cup Marsala cooking wine
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 TBSP chopped parsley
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp rosemary, optional
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • cooked egg noodles to serve with chicken and sauce
Directions
  1.  Pound the chicken breasts flat with a meat mallet between plastic wrap and then sprinkle with the garlic salt.  Coat with flour and cook over medium high heat about 4 minutes per side in 2 TBSP of the melted butter or olive oil.  Add more butter or oil as needed to prevent sticking or burning.  Remove to platter and keep warm.
  2. Add butter or olive oil as needed and sauté the mushrooms for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the wine, water, parsley and rosemary.  Stir until all the bits stuck to the bottom are incorporated into the liquid then add salt, pepper and extra garlic as needed.
  4. Serve over cooked egg noodles, spooning the mushroom sauce over everything.  Voila!  Awesome sauce, indeed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakneck Breakfast Burritos

It’s big time testing week here in Louisiana.  A time for parents, children and teachers alike to stress out over whether or not we all measure up.  One of the things drilled into our head is that we need to make sure our kids get a healthy breakfast, so I’m pulling out all the stops.  Okay, not really, but we’ve shifted from Pop Tarts and cereal to pancakes and these babies, which are the breakfast of choice around here.  I let Andrew make his own today and I should have taken a picture.  I could have fed a small village with his, but I’ll be darned if he didn’t eat the whole thing.

This is such a simple crowd pleaser and people never believe it’s as easy and fast as I tell them.  Here’s the proof, folks!

You can add chopped onion and bell pepper, salsa, extra chili powder and cumin or anything you desire.  Serve and dress them as you would a regular burrito, then sit back and accept applause.

Breakfast Burritos

Prep time: 5 minutes     Cook time: 10 minutes     Serves: 4-6+
Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground sausage (we usually use Jimmy Dean Original)
  • 1-2 can Bush’s Chili Beans in chili sauce, or other brand
  • 1 can Rotel, or other diced tomatoes and chilies
  • 10 inch tortillas
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, olives, avocado, taco sauce, etc. for garnish
Directions
  1. Brown the ground sausage in a pot and drain any liquid.
  2. Add the chili beans and rotel and cook until bubbly.
  3. Scramble your eggs.
  4. Warm tortillas, spread with eggs, chili, garnish and then roll into tortillas.
  5. Done.  Told ya’ it was easy.