Friday, March 30, 2012

Chicken Parmesan

Tonight we had Chicken Parmesan.  My family loves Italian and Parmesan is a favorite dish.

1-1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt & pepper
1 cup flour
1 egg, beaten with a little water
1 cup grated cheese, Parmesan, Romano, asiago (I use asiago and grate it myself)
1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
marinara sauce (I make my own)
olive oil for frying
mozzarella cheese, shredded

Lay chicken breasts flat on cutting board and slice to make thinner portions.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  You will need 3 containers; the first one for the flour, the second for the beaten egg, and the third for grated cheese and bread crumbs mixed together.  Dredge chicken in flour, dip in beaten egg, and roll in cheese and bread crumb mixture, then place the finished pieces on a cookie sheet.
Heat a large skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, add chicken without crowding.  Put enough marinara sauce to cover the bottom of baking dish or pan. When chicken is brown on both sides, place in baking pan with marinara sauce and ladle a little more over the top, then sprinkle a generous amount of shredded mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 375, 30 to 40 minutes till cheese is bubbly and starts to brown slightly.

For my homemade marinara sauce:

1 29 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup diced onions
1/4 cup red wine
6-8 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

Place all ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer 30 to 40 minutes while you assemble the chicken Parmesan.

Serve with spaghetti and grated cheese, we also ate Caesar Salad with this.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Swiss steak

Tonight's dinner will be swiss steak.  Since it's just my husband and 2 1/2 year old granddaughter, I can make it the way I like.  Others in the family have an aversion to onions and peppers, so I usually can't add as much and have to chop them finely enough they can't tell they are in the dish.
I am only making a small amount, maybe

3/4 to a pound of top round steak
1/2 cup onions
1/4 cup orange bell peppers cut in thin strips
6 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 cup red wine
one 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
salt, pepper and paprika to taste
For me 5 mushrooms sliced

Dredge thin slices of steak in flour, place in a sizzling pan with olive oil, and give it a sprinkle of salt and fresh ground pepper.  I use an every day pan.  If there was only one pan in my kitchen, the every day pan is the one I would choose.  Brown meat on both sides and remove to a plate and keep warm.  I sauteed my mushrooms with a sprinkle of salt and pepper at this point, as I need to keep them separate--my husband does not like them--and remove them to a small dish and keep warm.  Add more olive oil and saute onions and peppers with a sprinkle of salt and fresh ground pepper, remove to dish with steak.  Quickly saute minced garlic, then add the wine to deglaze the pan, simmer for a minute or so.  Slip the steak, onions and peppers back into the pan, add paprika to taste, give a stir and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, I put a cover on for the last 5 or 10 minutes.  
While I was cooking the swiss steak, peeled and cut 3 potatoes and put them in water with a little salt to cook till tender.  When they are tender I drain the water and mash them with butter and milk, adjust the salt and add fresh ground pepper.
With this I could have a salad, but since I have peas and pearl onions leftover from last night, they will be wonderful.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Memorable Beginning

My interest in food comes from Mama and Grandma.  I remember as a small child coming to the kitchen just to watch food being prepared.  When times were good, food was plentiful and many dishes would be made and filled the table.  More often than not, the cupboard was nearly bare.  That simple fact did not stop Mama from putting something on the table to enjoy as well as to keep us from starving.  I remember hearing it said of Mama, "Your mother can make dinner from nothing!"  It truly seemed that she could.  I remember having beans and biscuits a lot.  Beans went on the stove in the morning and that would be lunch and supper.  The only meat was a hunk of fat back thrown into the pot of beans as it was cheap and seasoned well.  If there was self-rising flour, lard and buttermilk we would have biscuits with the beans.
I remember the landlord saying to Mama that she could have tomatoes from his garden.  When she started to picking the tomatoes they were green and we had fried green tomatoes.  Once they were ripe we had sliced tomatoes in a sandwich of either sliced white bread or biscuits, and occasionally a piece of fried fat back.  Then she would make fried ripe tomatoes or tomato gravy or maybe a tomato salad.
I also remember that winter we had just potatoes to eat.  Then it was baked potatoes, boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes or potatoes roasted in the coals of the fireplace.  Mama got creative so it did not seem like we were eating the same thing over and over.
When I went to stay at Grandma's house, she showed me how to make biscuits.  One day I decided I wanted to make biscuits all by myself, after all I had watched so much I figured I knew how.  So Grandma was willing to give me the chance.  I made the biscuits and Grandma stayed right there with me, but she did not say a word.  The biscuits tasted really  good, but Grandma said the were 'too short', meaning I put too much lard in them. Grandpa seemed to enjoy them.
I make biscuits today and still think about that experience so long ago.  Grandma made biscuits at every meal, but I only make them on occasion.  My family prefers scrambled eggs and sausage gravy with the biscuits, but I go back to my childhood and eat them with jelly (preferably pepper jelly) or honey mixed with butter or -my favorite-Grandma's Molasses stirred into butter.  Since this does not fit with a real healthy diet, it only happens about once a month.
Cooking is a passion for me and I am still learning about new foods and new techniques.  The Food channel is about all the TV for me.  I subscribe to several cooking blogs and research new recipes online.
Cooking is not my only passion.  God keeps me busy.  Once I asked for a challenge and He has been challenging me ever since.