I love Caprese Salad and I am always looking for new creative ways to make chicken dishes.
So here is a fun combo when you take the ingredients of the Caprese Salad and marry them with a seasoned grilled chicken breast. Ladies and gentlemen I now give you one very simple and delicious chicken meal that is not only very easy to make but is very pretty to look at. It all get’s finished off with the “drizzle” of a Balsamic reduction glaze.
4 (6 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (cut in halves)
1 tablespoon Italian herb seasoning
1 tablespoon Garlic herb Seasoning
2 tablespoons Olive oil
Slices of Soft Fresh Mozzarella Cheese 4 (1/2 inch thick)
Mini Heirloom Tomatoes sliced in half
Bunch of Fresh Basil Leaves - Chopped
2 cups balsamic vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
Preheat oven to 500 degrees
Prepare the Balsamic Glaze Reduction
Mix balsamic vinegar with brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until glaze is reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Glaze should coat the back of a spoon. Let cool and pour into a jar with a lid; store in refrigerator.
Pour Olive oil into a large cast-iron or ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Heat the oil until a small droplet of water pops in the oil. Place seasoned chicken breasts into hot oil, fry for 2 minutes, and flip chicken.
Place skillet into the preheated oven and bake until chicken is no longer pink inside and the juices run clear, about 12 minutes. Top each chicken breast with a slice of mozzarella cheese and return to oven and bake until cheese has melted, 3 to 5 minutes.
Transfer chicken breasts to a serving platter and top each with fresh sliced heirloom tomatoes and chopped basil leaves and drizzle with balsamic glaze reduction.
My favorite pasta of all time has to be “Carbonara”. It’s the pasta that sits very near and dear to my heart. Simple and decadent at the same time. A girlfriend of mine tell’s the story that when she served it to her boyfriend for dinner – 8 months later they where married!
Yes it’s that good…….
Iv’e had several variations of it over the years but below is the recipe that I feel captures Carbonara in the most authentic way in which it is served in Italy.
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more to garnish
½ cup freshly grated pecorino
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing
Add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Once hot, cook the guanciale until browned and crisp. Add the garlic and saute with the guanciale for a few minutes. Remove the guanciale, garlic and rendered fat from the skillet and set aside for later use.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, about 1 minute less than indicated on the package. With a ladle, scoop some of the hot water from the boiling pasta, and set aside in a small bowl. Drain the pasta in a colander and place it into a large serving bowl.
In a different bowl, beat the egg yolks, whole egg, Parmesan, pecorino and some freshly ground black pepper. Whisk in the cooled guanciale with all of the fatty delicious oil. While the pasta is still warm, quickly add the sauce to the pasta and toss very well, then add a couple of very small scoops of the reserved pasta water to help create the carbonara sauce and its unique creaminess.
Garnish the carbonara with some grated Parmesan and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, and serve.
As the years pass me by (ever so quickly) I’m often times reminded more and more about the beauty that there is to be found in “The Simplicity of things”.
Yes gone are the days of clutter and collection of stuff that was crowding my life with stress and chaos. For the last three years I have made an ernest effort to purge my life of all the excess stuff that was weighing me down. This new way of approaching a more simple life has gradually crept into my style of cooking.
It all began with my trip to Italy a year and a half ago. I spent a whole month eating my way through the cities of Parma, Florence, Como, Genoa, Garessio, Venice and Tuscany. What stood out most to me is how simple many these exquisite dishes where prepared. The most glorious meals that contained no more than 5 or 6 simple ingredients. The secret was that all of the ingredients where fresh or artisanal made.
I began to appreciate the fact that “Less is More”. What I appreciated most , was many of the dishes that I was able to taste and enjoy in the region of Toscano. Once I returned home I was eager to focus on that very fresh and simple approach to meals I would be preparing at home.
So you may wonder who could one turn to for true authentic Rustic Tuscan guidance in the Kitchen? Well my friends that’s easy it comes in the form a very true Tuscan Farmer and Cook by the name of Gabriele Corcos.
Gabriele and his adorable wife Debi Mazer are the hosts of the Cooking Channels amazing show Extra Virgin. Let me tell you this is true Rustic Tuscan Cooking at it’s best! I became a fan back in 2009 when they had a little podcast called “Under The Tuscan Gun”. Each week I would eagerly plug in earphones to my ipod and for a few hours each week I would educate myself on the cooking world of all things “Tuscan”. I was an instant fan and I was hooked.
This past March I was fortunate enough to score a reservation a tasting of a very memorable Tuscan dinner prepared by Gabriele while promoting his Porchetta Tour in Los Angeles. The event was held at the ever fabulous Mauro Cafe. Here is a peek at the menu that was served that night.
For the pesto: To the bowl of a food processor, add the almonds, olive oil, parsley, sage, Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice and pepper flakes. Process until smooth.
For the steak: Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper. Add the oil to the pan and, when it shimmers, add the steaks. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium rare. Remove to plates and let rest for 5 minutes.
Top the steaks with a dollop of pesto and serve.
***Cook's Note: Remaining pesto can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
“Tuscans have historically been called bean eaters, because they have often clung to staples that lasts longer, like dried beans. In Tuscan culture, nothing gets tossed out. Tuscan’s have been known to eat beans every day of the week if they need to and if it means more indulging in the round, buttery feel of Cannellini beans when they’re soft and lightly mashed, count us as being leaders, too. We love these beans, especially with rosemary and olive oil. – Gabriele Corcos
6 small zucchini (very young zucchini with few seeds) sliced in half moons
Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Once hot add onions and sauté until soft, about 1 minute. Add the zucchini and sauté while stirring until they are golden and soft, about 8-10 minutes more. Season the zucchini with salt and pepper, to taste.
1½ pounds young kale, stems and leaves coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
½ cup vegetable stock or water
Salt and pepper
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft, but not colored. Raise heat to high, add the stock and kale and toss to combine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring until all the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste
Traditional Chicken Marsala has always been in the top 10 of my favorite Italian dishes. I recently did a little research on Marsala Wine and here is what I found:
Marsala is the west section of Sicily, the island near the foot end of Italy. In 1798 the Sicilians managed to substitute their own wines in place of the standard rum in an English naval shipment. In those seafaring days, something had to be done to wine to allow it to last the long ocean journeys. Brandy was added to allow the wine to last longer and to be more resistant to temperature changes. These brandy-dosed wines were called “fortified wines”.
Marsala Region Once the British had a taste of Marsala, demand grew quickly. In the United States during Prohibition, things became even more interesting. The typical Marsala bottles made the wine look like medicine. People found that getting Marsala was less risky than other types of wine. While not as popular now for straight drinking, Marsala is still used quite frequently as a cooking wine in Italian dishes.
I am always in search of new twists on traditional dishes. I believe this recipe for Chicken Marsala Meatballs is my new discovery of a dish that I will just have to make time and time again.
In a large bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, milk and 1 tablespoon Marsala. Leave to soak for 5 minutes. Add the chicken, pecorino, egg, parsley, ½ teaspoon of the salt and the pepper. With your hands, gently mix together the ingredients until just combined. Form the mixture into tablespoon-size balls and place on an oiled baking sheet. Broil for 5 minutes, or until the meatballs are beginning to brown and are just barely cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside.
In a straight-sided skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mushrooms are brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the shallots and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and cook for another 2 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and stir in the flour and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the ⅓ cup Marsala and stir until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the chicken broth and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for an additional 5 minutes to let the flavors blend. Serve hot, garnished with grated pecorino
3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into ⅛-inch slices
⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add the cream. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat. Stir in the rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper and potatoes.
Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover and bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender.
Years back I used to have pre conceived ideas about the cast iron skillet. I mostly though it was for Cowgirls only and Lord knows “I’m the farthest thing from a cowgirl”.
So when my husband and I where first married he brought a box into our little kitchen and there it was his bachelor cast iron skillet. I asked him “Do you really cook with this thing”? His reply was “Of course I do, you should give it a try”. So then I began trying new recipes in the Bachelor Skillet and low and behold a whole new world of deliciousness was opened up to me.
The Bachelor skillet (Along with a few new ones that have been acquired) has continued to provide many wonderful dishes for my family through out the years. You can make practically anything in it (except ice cream). Steaks, Corn Bread, Cookies, Amazing sautéed veggies, Fajitas, Chicken Marsala, Fried Chicken, Bacon, Fish and now Eggplant Parmesan.
After making my Eggplant in the skillet I think I will never go back to baking it in the casserole dish. I fell in deep love with this version of it. You will too!
2 pounds eggplant (1-2 large eggplants, depending on size)
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoons black pepper
1 egg, beaten
⅓ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
⅓ cup fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
5 Slices fresh Mozzarella cheese
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, for serving
Torn fresh Basil for Garnish
Spaghetti or other pasta, for serving, if desired
Slice eggplant crosswise into approximately ¼ inch rounds. Toss eggplant with 2 teaspoons salt in a colander set over a bowl, then let drain 15-20 minutes. Using a clean towel or paper towels, soak up as much excess moisture as possible. Set eggplant aside.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes, until onions become translucent. Add in the garlic, cook for 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover and allow to simmer over low heat.
While sauce is simmering, place beaten egg into a shallow bowl. Mix bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in a separate shallow bowl. Dip eggplant slices into egg, then coat with bread crumb mixture.
In a Cast Iron Skillet (12 inch), heat remaining oil over medium heat. Cook eggplant in oil 10-15 minutes, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through.
Pour tomato sauce around eggplant in skillet. Lay the soft Mozzarella sliced cheese over eggplant, cover and heat until melted, about 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese and garnish with fresh basil just before serving.
Who Doesn’t love a good roast? Now that the cool weather is in full swing it is now time to welcome back the well loved Pot Roast. This recipe has lovely flavors of of fresh herbs and red wine. Did you hear that? Herbs & Vino!!! Could there be anything more beautifully blended than this? Served with mashed potatoes it can be considered a plate of perfection, down to the very last bite.
First and foremost, choose a nicely marbled piece of meat. This will enhance the flavor of your pot roast like nothing else. Generously salt and pepper your chuck roast.
Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Then add 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil (or you can do a butter/olive oil split).
Cut two onions in half and cut 6 to 8 carrots into 2-inch slices (you can peel them, but you don’t have to). When the oil in the pot is very hot (but not smoking), add in the halved onions, browning them on one side and then the other. Remove the onions to a plate.
Throw the carrots into the same very hot pan and toss them around a bit until slightly browned, about a minute or so.
Place the meat in the pan and sear it for about a minute on all sides until it is nice and brown all over. Remove the roast to a plate.
With the burner still on high, use either red wine or beef broth (about 1 cup) to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom with a whisk to get all of that wonderful flavor up.
When the bottom of the pan is sufficiently deglazed, place the roast back into the pan and add enough beef stock to cover the meat halfway (about 2 to 3 cups). Add in the onion and the carrots, as well as 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary and about 3 sprigs of fresh thyme.
Put the lid on, then roast in a 275F oven for 3 hours (for a 3-pound roast). For a 4 to 5-pound roast, plan on 4 hours.
With the arrival of “Fall” I get excited about inviting some of the world’d best comfort food back into my life. Starting with Chicken Pot Pie.
Do any of you remember those little frozen Swanson Chicken Pot Pies? I did I love them as a kid. Then in the late 80’s Marie Calendars started making their line of frozen pot pies and all kinds of folk became hooked.
Well I am glad those frozen food days are over. The only thing I like frozen these days is my ice cream. One can say that Chicken pot pie could be a little intimidating to make. I say “Be brave” go for it. For you have no idea how much a homemade pot pie could rock your world.
My favorite recipe for this is that of one of my Food Heros– Ms. Paula Deen. I first tasted this masterpiece back in 2007 on a visit to Savannah, Georgia. I stood in that long infamous line at her restaurant The Lady and Sons for well over an hour and let me tell you it was well worth it.
The following is the exact recipe they use at the restaurant. It’s not only pretty but “oh honey it’s so good it will make you want to slap yo mama”…….
4 chicken breast halves, or 2 cups leftover cooked chicken
Seasoned salt and pepper
2 tablespoons cooking oil
⅓ cup butter
⅔ cup all-purpose flour
1 quart heavy cream
¼ cup chicken base
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ small yellow onion, minced
1 cup frozen green peas, cooked
1 cup chopped cooked carrots
Pinch fresh grated nutmeg, optional
Special equipment: 2- Pie Dishes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Crust:Cut each sheet of frozen puff pastry into 1-inch strips, 8 inches long. On a large cookie sheet, weave strips into a lattice large enough to cover each pot pie. Brush beaten egg onto each lattice square. Bake for 5 minutes, or until dough has risen and turned light golden brown. Set aside until ready to assemble pies. Leave oven on at 350 degrees F.
Season chicken with seasoned salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and saute until cooked through. Remove from heat and cut into chunks. Alternatively, you may use precooked chicken.
In a large saucepan, melt butter and then slowly add flour, stirring until consistency of peanut butter, but not brown like a roux. Slowly add cream and keep stirring. Add chicken base, garlic, and onion and stir until thickened. Add peas, carrots, nutmeg, if using, and cut up chicken. Remove from heat. Fill 2 individual Pie Dishes with chicken mixture and then top each with a pre-cooked lattice square. Bake for 10 minutes or until bubbly. Any remaining pie filling may be frozen.
For the last two years Ive had a small addiction to Pinterest. Much like 99.9% of America’s women. My boards get blown up with all these idea’s for the 100’s of parties I would like to throw (even though in reality I probably will only get accomplish a couple if that), There are boards filled with books I would like to read, with idea’s of organizing every last corner of my kitchen and house ,there’s a board for all the shoes and pieces of clothing I would like to wear, inspirational sayings the list can go on and on.
However I must admit that out of the thousands of “pins” I have on my board the one pin that proves to have been put to good use the most , comes in the form of the recipe:
Man Pleasing Chicken
This recipe is beyond simple and delicious. It could easily be called the “Man, Woman, Child and Dog Pleasing Chicken”. I have no idea who the original genius was that created this recipe. However I did hear somewhere through the grapevine that it was featured in the “Fearless Flyer” a newsletter that Trader Joe’s publishes that has yummy little recipes which feature ingredients that can be found in their grocery store. I have never made a chicken dish that is this easy to put together and in the end delivers such a huge payoff of flavor. So give it a try – the response will be amazing. Bravo to Man Pleasing Chicken!!!!!!!
Preheat your oven to 450ºF. Then, mix together ½ cup of dijon mustard, ¼ cup of maple syrup, and 1 tablespoon of rice/rice wine vinegar.
Put a 1.5 pound package of chicken thighs into a foil-lined, oven-proof baking dish. I used boneless, skinless thighs. Six came in my package. Then, salt and pepper the thighs. Pour your maple mustard mixture over them, turning the thighs in the mixture so they are fully coated.
Put the chicken thighs into the oven, and let them bake for 40 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165ºF. Baste the tops of the chicken with more sauce half way through. I find that a meat thermometer is essential in cooking because it allows me to check for doneness without cutting into the meat and losing its precious juices.
Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving. Plate the chicken, making sure to spoon some extra sauce over the top. Sprinkle over some fresh rosemary. This makes it look extra pretty and add's some extra aromatic flavors to the chicken.
I know, I know what you may be thinking- “Meatloaf Cupcakes”?
But let me better explain, there is nothing sweet about this kind of “Dinner Cupcake” it’s all Meat and Potatoes (with little bits of Applewood Bacon). It makes a statement from the very beginning and it’s so ridiculously yummy beyond words.
I grew up in the 70’s where meatloaf was one of the main staples at our family dinner table. Yep I remember mama’s recipe was loaded with crushed saltine crackers and smothered with ketchup. But since those days’s I feel meatloaf has come a very long way. This is why I adore this little recipe so much.
Think of it was a new way to make meatloaf more interesting. I can guarantee that whoever you serve this to, will remember this little cupcake for the rest of their lives!
Making the Meatloaf:- Line your muffin tin with the bacon so that each tin is circled by one strip.
Mix together the beef, bread crumbs, onion, egg, salt, pepper, tomato paste, sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Form the meat into 12 equally sized balls and place them into the bacon-lined muffin tins. Fold the top of the bacon over, if needed.
Pop them into the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the meat is cooked through and the bacon is crisp.
Making the Potatoes: While the meatloaf is cooking, prepare your mashed potatoes. Dice up the potatoes and boil them in salted water until they’re soft. Drain the potatoes, pop them into a mixing bowl, and mash them with a fork until they’re completely smooth. Add your butter, cheese, sour cream, salt, etc and mix until fully combined. Move your mashed potatoes into a piping bag (or a zip-lock with an edge cut off) and save it until the meatloaf is ready.
Assembling the “cupcake”: Once the meatloaf is ready, take em out of the oven, and pipe them with the mashed potatoes! After they’re all piped, pop them back into the oven, and turn your heat up to 400-500 degrees. Heat until the tops of the potatoes are golden brown (it should be very quick – no more than 5-6 minutes).
Remove them from the oven, let cool for a bit, and enjoy!