Monday, May 20, 2013

Chicken Parmesan ... so simple

Ah yes, Spring is in full swing and summer is rapidly approaching... which means dinner parties with friends and EASY meals to prepare so there's more time to hang! I'm going to let the photos sell you on this dish, because they will. And something fun about our version of chicken parmesan is that we don't use bread crumbs. It's much lighter that way and we find it doesn't really need them! This meal takes maybe 20 minutes to prepare and 45 minutes in the oven... SO simple and delicious and looks like a million bucks. So let's dive in.

INGREDIENTS: (for two)
  • boneless chicken breasts or tenderloins, thawed... we used 4 breasts
  • half box thick whole wheat spaghetti
  • your favorite tomato sauce
  • fresh buffalo mozzarella, sliced into thick medallions
  • big dollop yogurt, greek or regular
  • 1 egg, whisked well
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • parmesan reggiano or parmesan romano blend cheese
  • sea salt
  • herbs de provence and rosemary (fresh or dried)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil. Lightly drizzle it with olive oil and prepare your chicken breasts for dipping. In a small bowl, whisk your egg and add in a fair amount of your herbs de provence and rosemary (yes, herbs de provence does include rosemary but I like extra). In another small bowl, toss together the cup of whole wheat flour with more herbs, about 1/2 cup parmesan and a sprinkling of sea salt. Whisk that together until you've got a nice, powdery blend. Place those two bowls of mixture side by side and close to your prepared baking sheet. 

Now place one breast at a time into the egg wash and press down until it's completely covered. Flip the breast over and repeat to the other side. Once the chicken is completely coated in egg herb wash, quickly transfer it to the flour mixture and press down firmly to make sure the flour mixture gets into all the nooks and crannies. Flip the breast and repeat to the other side. Make sure it's REALLY COATED, flipping a few times and pressing firmly each time to make sure it's really sticking. Then lay each breast onto the baking sheet side by side.
Once you've done that, pour all the excess flour mixture over the chicken breasts and then lightly drizzle over the top with olive oil.
Place the baking sheet in the middle rack of your oven and bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes, or until the thickest part of the breast cuts clean and is cooked through.
Once your chicken has been baking for about 10 minutes, go ahead and start boiling your water for noodles. Once boiled, set your timer and only cook them for 8 minutes. Drain out most of the water but leave a little in the pan.
 Turn the heat to a medium low and add in your marinara sauce and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
Stir that well and then add in your big dollop of yogurt and a drizzle of olive oil.
Stir stir stir until well mixed and then sprinkle on some of that parmesan cheese. Ta da! Your simple tomato cream pasta is finished.
At this point, your chicken should be just about finished baking as well. So turn the heat to low on your pasta, keeping it warm while you finish your chicken... Remove the chicken from the oven and top each breast with a small spoonful of your marinara sauce. Then top each breast with the thick sliced mozzarella, a little more marinara, some more herbs de provence and a little more parmesan cheese. Place the sheet back in the oven for about 5 minutes, until that cheese gets melty and beautiful.
Now you've got a beautiful piece of chicken to place on top of a pretty pile of noodles... whip up a small side salad and voila!
Dinner is served.
Typical us, we served this with a peppery cabernet, but if you're serving it for a dinner party, I'd say a little red or white sangria is in order! I hope you enjoy every bite and you don't miss the breadcrumbs one bit!
 I have faith that you'll love it.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Na' any Banany ( na'an )

As promised, this magical, easy na'an recipe will ACTUALLY make you feel like you're sitting in the best, hidden secret Indian restaurant in town..........     or better yet, Bangalore.
SO quick to make, on-hand ingredients and it really makes the difference in making your homemade Indian dishes LEGIT.

also in case you were wondering, the answer is no, it doesn't have anything to do with bananas.. i just thought the post name was clever so i went with it. ;)

*Give yourself 30 minutes to an hour to prep this before actually cooking it just before dinner... dough needs to sit a little. *

adapted from this blog here.
INGREDIENTS: for six large pieces

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour or half and half it with whole wheat and all-purpose
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 big pinches baking soda
  • 6 Tablespoons greek yogurt, or regular, European style, whatever
  • LOTS of freshly minced garlic (optional.... but not really) ;)
  • few Tablespoons cold water if needed
In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix well until evenly blended. Then add in the greek yogurt and garlic and mix mix mix it all together with your hands, making sure to press into the globs of yogurt to make sure the flour really gets in there. If the dough doesn't seem like it'll come together enough to make a large ball, add in 1 Tablespoon of cold water at a time until it does.... mine usually never takes more than 3 Tablespoons to get there. Once it can be pressed into a ball, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes to an hour. Flour your work surface GENEROUSLY and have a stick of softened butter and a knife on hand nearby. Keep in mind you'll want to continue flouring your work surface as you go, so have an extra mound of flour close by, as well.
Once the dough has rested and your awesome chickpea curry dish is almost finished, flour your hands and separate the dough into 6 balls. I like to split it in half first, then in threes.... makes it a little easier to get them roughly the same size I think. One at a time, begin to roll the dough balls out until they're thin but not sticking to your workspace. Make sure to flip the dough over if you need to for a nice consistent rolling out. Butter the front and back of each piece and if you need to, gently begin to stretch them out even thinner by hand (the baking soda will make them fluff up when they go into the skillet so the thinner the better).
And now the fun part! Get out your cast-iron skillet or just a regular large skillet and heat it up with some butter in the middle! Medium high heat will work best. Have a spatula on hand as well. Once the butter is melted and the skillet is hot, place one dough piece in the middle and wait to watch a bubble or two start to form before flipping it over. This should take anywhere from 10-20 seconds. After you've flipped it over, begin to gently press down, flattening it out one last time. Once you see bubbles forming on that side, flip it over one or two more times and it's done! Continue with the rest of the dough pieces, adding in another small pad of butter in between each one so they don't burn.
And there you have a beautiful pile of fresh, warm, garlicky na'an right from your own stove. Serve it with your favorite indian dish, the curry recipe I showed you the other day or just by itself as an appetizer before dinner with some fresh cucumber and yogurt!
This na'an will be the star of your dinner show and it's SUCH a versatile recipe, too... add in whatever you like! We prefer lots and lots of garlic but even adding just seasonings would taste fantastic too... paprika, curry, masala garam... whatever your fancy! I've even thought of making it more mediterranean and adding in chopped black olives, sea salt and rosemary! The point is, make this a regular part of your cooking repertoire because it's just that good

But beware... it's addicting!