Wow. Just wow. It's been a long, long time, my friends. I've spent a lot of time and energy over the past few years on the career thing. A LOT of energy. All at the expense of the many things I care for the most - namely, my family. However, we must live and learn so now I'm making myself learn about balance. Stay tuned... it's gonna be good again! xoxo
I recently received a new cookbook in the mail and was so excited I sat down right away and read (okay, drooled over) every single recipe. It's called Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten. I'm a huge fan of Ina's. Her style is as simple and elegant as her recipes - she's such an inspiration to me. The subtitle of this particular book is Easy Ideas and Recipes that Make Everyone Feel Like Family. There is nothing I love more than to cook for people and help them feel comfortable and at home. This book shows you how to do that as well as providing fabulous recipes and gorgeous photography. I can't wait to add more Barefoot Contessa books to my collection!
Earlier this week I prepared Ina's Parmesan Chicken for my family and served it along with mashed potatoes - it made for quite a lovely little meal.
By the way, my photography was just no match for the shots in her book, so I decided to just take a picture OF the picture so you can see for yourselves just how appetizing everything looks!
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 2 extra-large eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon water 1 1/4 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs (or you can use my favorite trick, wink wink) 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving Unsalted butter Good olive oil Salad greens Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe to follow)
Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4 inch thick. (Super Mom trick: buy your chicken already tenderized; saves time and mess.) Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a plate. Place the beaten eggs on a second plate. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Coat the chicken on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly.
Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken. Toss the salad greens with lemon vinaigrette. Place a mound of salad on each hot chicken breast. Serve with extra grated Parmesan.
1/4 cup lemon juice 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
It's so simple, it's beautiful!
Thanks for saving the day, Ina.
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This has to be one of the fastest and easiest (and tastiest) recipes I've encountered. It comes to me via another one of my "super mom" friends who manages to do it all. Traci has two young children, works in the same stressful business as Annie and me, successfully runs her home, and can STILL show up to work every morning with a smile on her face and looking very stylish, indeed. She brought this cobbler type dessert to one of our many office potluck/birthday celebrations and was more than happy to share her recipe.
Cherry Cobbler 2 cans cherry pie filling 1 box white or yellow cake mix 1 1/2 sticks butter 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Put the cans of cherry pie filling in a 9 x 13 dish. Sprinkle the box of cake mix over the cherries. Melt the butter and drizzle over the cake mix. Sprinkle the nuts over the top, if desired. Bake at 350 F for 50 minutes.
The cherry pie filling can also be substituted with any of your other favorite fruit filling.
I'm telling you, it doesn't get any easier than that!
I would like to dedicate this post to the inspiration behind this blog - my dear friend and co-worker, Annie, who is, I might add, the ultimate SUPER mom. I don't know how she does it: mother to two active boys, wife, career as a financial advisor (and we all know that isn't easy!) - and that's just the tip of the iceberg. One day, Annie asked me if I had any recipes for fast and easy meals she could make for her family before dashing off to soccer practice. Well, I began typing up some recipes and emailing them to her. The emails began to be forwarded to others until finally I decided to start the blog, get creative with it, and share it with as many people as I could. All because of Annie - who is also celebrating her birthday today. Happy Birthday, Annie!
Chinese Fried Rice
1 1/3 cup uncooked instnt rice (I use instant brown rice as a healthier option - you can also use regular uncooked rice if you have the spare time, whateve that is) 1 cup water, plus 1/3 cup 2 eggs butter or oil soy sauce to taste
The measurements above are for about 4 servings. For my group, I double this.
Bring the ONE cup of water to a boil, then add the rice (unless you're using NON-instant rice, follow the package directions). Cover and remove from heat, allow to sit for five minutes.
In the meantime, scramble the eggs in butter/oil. Add rice to eggs and cook on high temperature for about five minutes or until browned to your liking, stirring very often. Add the 1/3 cup of water and cook down. Add soy sauce to taste and heat through.
I've used this recipe for many years. It's great because you can add shrimp, pieces of cooked chicken, vegetables, etc., whatever your family likes, toward the end of the cooking process. For extra protein I add a couple of extra eggs; I've even attempted to use tofu, but my family resisted with a resounding, "NO!" At any rate, it's very versatile.
This dish is also excellent with the following Egg Drop Soup recipe.
This can also be doubled, tripled, etc. You may use chicken stock in place of the water and bouillon.
Boil the bouillon in the water until the cubes are dissolved. Bring the temperature down to a simmer. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the chicken stock (bouillon) until very well incorporated (no lumps). Carefully pour the cornstarch mixture back into the pan and stir thoroughly. Whisk the eggs (tip: use the same bowl from the cornstarch to save a dirty dish). In one hand, VERY SLOWLY pour the beaten egs into the pan while slowly stirring the soup with the other. You may add a little soy sauce if desired. To garnish, sprinkle some chopped green onion on top.
Yeah, that pretty much sums up the story of my life (Chick, stop nodding your head). And speaking of Chick, I was on my way home from work one evening this week, when he called and wanted to know what was for dinner. To be honest, I was kind of hoping for a quiet, pick-at-this-and-that sort of night so I didn't have a menu planned, however he had a stressful day and was looking for some comfort food. I weakly suggested, "I have some chicken?" "Okay." Well, when I arrived home, I did what comes naturally to me: wonder, "now what?" Wanting to try something different, I made up a Chicken Parmesan recipe as I went along to see what would happen. This may be how it went:
Spontaneous Chicken Parmesan
Several chicken breasts Couple of handfuls of seasoned croutons, thoroughly crushed Grated parmesan cheese Cooking spray 1 egg, beaten Salt Mozzarella cheese Spaghetti sauce
(Remember, friends, this was done on a whim so no measurments were used.)
Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Coat a baking dish with cooking spray or olive oil, if you prefer. Combine the bread crumbs (crushed croutons, wink - wink) and the parmesan. Butterfly the chicken and dip it in the beaten egg, then dredge it in the crumb/parmesan mixture and place in the baking dish. Salt it. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until no longer pink in the center. During the last 5 minutes in the oven, sprinkle some mozarella over each piece. Ladle a generous helping of the spaghetti sauce in the center of each plate and place a chicken breast on top.
While the chicken was cooking, I threw together some corn on the cob and green beans with almonds.
Then I held my breath.
Chick exclaims, "Un - believ - able! This is the perfect end to a rough day!"
Sigh of relief. Don't you love it when a "plan" comes together?
It's been said that the fish Jesus used to feed the multitudes was Tilapia. Although the Bible doesn't mention the specific kind of fish that was caught, I like to believe it is. Tilapia is such a clean, mild-flavored fish and one of my family's favorites. One evening, on a whim, I threw together a few simple ingredients for something different and, thankfully, they approved - the fish was consumed so quickly, I wasn't able to photograph it or even try it!
Fresh tilapia fillets Olive oil Garlic powder Sea salt Freshly ground black pepper Parmesan cheese Italian seasoning
Preheat your oven to 375 F. Arrange the fillets in a lightly greased glass baking dish. According to your taste, sprinkle the rest of the ingredients over the fish and bake for about 15 - 20 minutes or until it flakes easily with a fork.
Does it get any simpler than that? Serve with a simple salad, your favorite bread, and all will be right with the world.