Friday, June 13, 2008

My Summer Cooking Adventures Continue...

And this week I was on a roll! I tried two new recipes and they both were excellent. You have to try these.


Chicken Piccata

I love Chicken Piccata. While I was browsing http://www.foodnetwork.com/ for a different recipe, I stumbled across this recipe from "The Barefoot Contessa". It is absolutely divine and surprisingly simple. We enjoyed it with some almond rice pilaf (Near East, best rice in a box on earth).
2 split (1 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 extra-large egg
1/2 tablespoon water
3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
Good olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), lemon halves reserved
1/2 cup dry white wine
Sliced lemon, for serving
Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a shallow plate. In a second plate, beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon of water together. Place the bread crumbs on a third plate. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce.
For the sauce, wipe out the saute pan with a dry paper towel. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Discard the lemon halves and serve 1 chicken breast on each plate. Spoon on the sauce and serve with a slice of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.
Italian Meatloaf
Sorry no picture. I will take one next time I make this. Here is the story though. I HATE meatloaf. There is something about mixing ketchup with meat and then calling it food that just makes my stomach turn. I don't think I have eaten it since I was a kid and even then I am sure I hid most of it in my mashed potatoes or slipped it to the dog. However, Bryce loves it and has been wanting some for, probably the duration of our marriage. Poor guy, he is so patient. I went looking on the Internet for a recipe that would somehow be palatable for me too. I found this recipe on about.com. It caught my attention because it lacks ketchup and onion chunks. Instead, it uses Marinara sauce, some seasoning, and just a bit of dried chopped onion. I also love that it is a slow cooker recipe. It is great when I can get dinner cooking during Isaac's nap instead of in the evening when he is tired and hungry. This recipe was a hit with BOTH of us. I did find it slightly salty though, so I will leave the salt out next time.

INGREDIENTS:
2 pounds extra lean ground beef, or Laura's Lean Beef
2 cups soft bread crumbs, loosely packed
1/2 cup spaghetti sauce, your favorite
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons dried chopped onion or 1/4 cup finely minced onion
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs, crushed, or use a mixture of oregano and basil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons spaghetti sauce
2 to 3 slices Mozzarella cheese, about 2 to 3 ounces
PREPARATION:
Fold a 30-inch long piece of foil in half lengthwise. Place in bottom of a slow cooker with both ends hanging over top edge of cooker. I also put a piece of crumpled foil in the bottom to keep the meatloaf out of the fat.
The foil strip will make it much easier to remove the meatloaf when it's done.
In a large bowl, mix ground beef with bread crumbs, 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce, egg, onion, salt, garlic powder, Italian herbs, and pepper until well blended. Shape into a loaf. Place in slow cooker. Spread 3 tablespoons spaghetti sauce over the loaf.
Cover and cook on HIGH for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or on LOW for 5 to 6 hours, or until juices run clear. Top loaf with cheese slices, overlapping, and continue to cook (turn to HIGH if necessary) for 15 to 25 minutes longer.
Use ends of foil to lift out meat loaf and transfer to a serving platter.

I have a baby and

A giant box of packing peanuts....

C'mon, tell me you would have done anything else!

Our Son turned One- Fun!

I am WAAAY behind on blogging once again. Its certainly not lack of motivation or writers block. This time, it is lack of TIME! Life has been crazy lately and between work, church, and family, there is just not a lot of down time. If there is, I choose sleep!

Isaac's birthday was great. I decided to get cake creative for the first time in my life. When you see the images to follow, please just remember FIRST TIME-NOT AN EXPERT, that is why it looks so strange.
We needed two cakes of course. One for guests to enjoy and one for Isaac to destroy. For the smash cake, a filled a few ramekins with red velvet cake batter:

I used the remaining batter to make cupcakes. And I am sure you already get the idea, but here is what I did next.

For the guests cake, I found some instructions for a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse cake on http://www.playhousedisney.com/. Here is my interpretation:
I forgot to put the blue frosting in the windows. Oh well. Pretty gross looking huh? Isaac's friends and well wishers were kind enough to choke it down with some ice cream:).

Isaac provided most of the entertainment of course!


After a quick bath, it was time for gifts. Like they always say, Isaac was a lot more excited by the box then the gifts. Good thing he had friends to who all wanted to help open them!



All in all, it was a fantastic day. In fact, Isaac said it was his best birthday ever! Thank you to everyone who celebrated with us here and in spirit.