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  1. Tuesday, October 23

    Chicken Parmesan, a Pantry Go-To Classic

    I have two stories of Italians from New Jersey for you today, both of which culminate with a delicious, easy go-to recipe for you!

    When I was in high school, a native-New Jersey Italian from church taught all the teenagers how to make tomato sauce. It was fast, it was easy, it was fresh-tasting and delicious. And when Mike was teaching us how to make that sauce, I’m sure he thought we weren’t paying attention. But I was and the technique stuck with me from then on. He just simply sauteed garlic and onion in olive oil, added some canned tomatoes and tomato paste, a few spices and that was it!

    On to the second story of Italians from New Jersey. A few years later when I was in college, my friend Patti was talking to me one day about how her new roommate didn’t really know how to do anything, you know, like pay bills, do laundry, all that “adult” stuff. I’ll never forget the culminating comment, “She can’t even throw together a simple chicken parmesan!” Spoken like a true Italian from Jersey, no? Anyway, when she said that to me, I just nodded and said, “Yeah, that’s crazy!” but inside I was thinking,”Hmmmm, I wonder how you throw together a simple chicken parmesan?” Thanks to Patti, I figured it out and it became one of my classic go-to meals.

    Which brings us to the promise of this post…an easy, go-to recipe! This chicken parmesan recipe is a great one to have up your sleeve. Essentially all you need is a couple of eggs, some bread crumbs, frozen chicken, pasta, a few basic spices, parmesan cheese and Hunt’s tomato paste and petite-diced canned tomatoes. Yes, I’m working with Hunt’s. And, yes, I actually do always have Hunt’s petite diced tomatoes in my cupboard, even before I started working with them. I love the petite diced tomatoes. They are perfect for making sauce and the FlashSteam process makes the tomatoes taste flavorful and fresh. You would never guess my sauce is made from canned tomatoes!

    So, get your cupboards stocked up and “go to” this recipe next time you’re in a dinner bind!

    Chicken Parmesan, a Pantry Go-To Classic
     
    From Jane Maynard, created after hearing Patti describe making chicken parm over the phone years ago
    Author:
    Recipe type: Main Dish
    Ingredients
    • 1 pound chicken tenders (if you use boneless, skinless breasts, be sure to pound them flat)
    • 1 cup plain bread crumbs
    • ½ cup fresh shredded parmesan
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
    • ⅛ teaspoon paprika
    • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
    • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
    • 2 eggs
    • slices of fresh mozzarella
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
    2. Whisk the eggs in a soup/cereal bowl. In another cereal/soup bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, paprika, oregano and basil. Dip each raw chicken tender in the egg to coat, then place in bread crumbs and coat well. Place on lined cookie sheet.
    3. Cook for about 15 minutes, until they are JUST cooked through. Top with mozzarella cheese sliced and cook until cheese is melted, about 2-3 more minutes.
    Notes
    Note: I usually start cooking the sauce before I start prepping the chicken, so it can simmer while I make the pasta and chicken.

    Homemade Tomato Sauce
     
    From Jane Maynard, thanks to Mike’s inspiration even more years ago!
    Author:
    Recipe type: Main Dish
    Ingredients
    • 1 shallot or ½ onion, diced
    • 3-5 fresh garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a press
    • 2 cans Hunt’s petite diced tomatoes
    • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
    • 1 – 2 tablespoon sugar
    • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
    • ¾ teaspoon kosher or coarse salt
    • ½ teaspoon dried basil
    • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
    Instructions
    1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots/onions. Cook until soft, a few minutes. Add garlic and saute for about a minute. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to the point where the sauce still simmers (usually medium-low). Simmer for 15-20 minutes. While the sauce is simmering, you can smash the sauce up a bit with a ricer or pastry blender, to break up some of the tomatoes. I like my sauce chunky, so I just do this a little bit.
    2. Serve chicken with tomato sauce and cooked pasta.


  2. Thursday, September 13

    Cilantro Sour Cream Enchiladas

    Okay, people. Today’s enhiladas are scrumptious! You have to try them!! (Are you convinced yet? Did I use enough exclamation points? !!!!!! How about now?)

    The recipe comes from Ms. Erika, one of Anna’s preschool teachers. Cate had Ms. Ferneyn and Ms. Erika several years ago and now Anna has the same two lovely teachers. Not only are they fabulous preschool teachers, but they shower me with recipes, food and produce. These ladies are kindred spirits and I love them as much as my girls.

    Ms. Erika brought us dinner a few times last year through all the baby-being-born madness and these enchiladas were one of the meals she shared with us. These enchiladas are delectable and you can use chicken or black beans or both! The cilantro sour cream sauce is so good, with a mellow, balanced heat that pleases both kids and adults alike. It’s my new favorite enchilada recipe and, when I made them the other night, I could not eat just one.

    Cilantro Sour Cream Enchiladas
     
    From Ms. Erika, preschool teach extraordinaire
    Author:
    Recipe type: Main Dish
    Cuisine: Mexican
    Ingredients
    • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken OR 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained (or a half and half combo)
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
    • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
    • 1 can (4 or 4.5 oz) chopped green chilies
    • 1½ cups shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack Cheese, or a combination
    • 1½ tsp minced garlic, or to taste
    • ½ tsp ground cumin, or to taste
    • 1 package (10 count, 17.5 oz) soft taco size flour tortillas
    • 1 jar (16 oz) green salsa
    • ½ cup water
    • Suggested toppings: sour cream, guacamole, chopped tomatoes, diced onion, minced cilantro, extra green sauce
    Instructions
    1. Grease a 13×9-inch baking dish. (Jane note: I did not grease my pan b/c I forgot. Everything turned out fine.)
    2. In a bowl, mix chicken, half of the sour cream and half of the cilantro, the red pepper, chilies, ½ cup cheese, garlic and cumin.
    3. Puree salsa, water and remaining ½ cup each of sour cream and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Spread 1 cup over the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
    4. Spoon about ¼ – ⅓ cup chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll up and place seam side down in rows on the sauce in the baking dish. Cover and refrigerate, along with the remaining sauce and cheese, up to 2 days.
    5. To serve: Heat oven to 350*. Pour remaining sauce over tortillas; bake uncovered 35 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake 15 minutes longer or until bubbly.
    6. Serve with lots of toppings and tortilla chips.
    7. Jane notes that you need to read: I think these are better if you make them the day before, but I cooked them as soon as I assembled them and they were still AWESOME. Also, I didn’t pour all of the sauce over the enchiladas for baking – I reserved probably ½-3/4 cups or so and used that as a topping when we ate the enchiladas.

    cilantro sour cream enchiladas | from @janemaynard at thisweekfordinner.com


  3. Tuesday, November 29

    Quick and Easy Pudding Frosting

    YEARS ago we met up with some friends for their cute daughter’s birthday. Emily (the mom and my dear friend) cooked a cake in a 9×13 pan and then made a really fast, really easy, REALLY yummy “frosting” for the cake. For whatever reason that cake popped into my head a few weeks ago and I got a hankering. I emailed Emily for the recipe and made a cake the very next day!

    When Emily made this frosting, it was soft and spreadable. When I made it, it was thick as could be and hard to spread around. I think the difference must be that I used my hand mixer. The stuff thickened up so fast I had zero control over the final product. I’m thinking whisking by hand is the way to go!

    Also, if you do whip it up thick, this recipe would be a great filler for a layer cake. In fact, I am definitely going to try that sometime!

    Anna looking lovingly on…wishing her mom would let her eat the cake already! (Yes, she licked the bowl clean.)

    Quick and Easy Pudding Frosting
     
    From Emily Stratford
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 1 small box of pudding (chocolate or white chocolate are good flavors to use)
    • ½ pint cream (8 ounces)
    Instructions
    1. Whisk together by hand until the desired consistency. If you use a hand mixer, it will get very thick, very quickly and could be used as a nice filler for a layer cake.
    2. Also, I used a lot more cream and a lot less pudding…probably ¾ of a box of pudding and 1 pint of cream. The main reason for this change is I had used the hand mixer and it got so thick so fast, I had to add more cream. Just play around with it to your taste!

  4. Wednesday, January 31

    Waffles

    Waffles
     
    From Better Homes & Gardens cookbook
    Author:
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Breakfast
    Ingredients
    • 1¾ cups sifted flour
    • 3 tablespoons baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 2 beaten egg yolk
    • 1¾ cups milk
    • ½ cup salad oil
    • 2 stiffly beaten egg whites
    Instructions
    1. Sift flour & dry
    2. Mix wet
    3. Mis together
    4. Fold in whites
    Notes

    I have made this recipe with half white flour and half white whole wheat flour and they came out great!