Chicken Milanese-Perfect Summertime Dinner

9 Jul

Always searching for the something new for dinner that is easy, tasty and not full of calories, this is it, Chicken Milanese. I was inspired by my friend and fellow food blogger (you should check her out) Stacey Snacks, she posted a photo on Insta of her Milanese and it was exactly what I was looking for and I didn’t even know it!

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I think the trick to making it really tasty is well-seasoned chicken cutlets and the dressing. The first time I made it I used the typical lemon and olive oil with salt and pepper, it was delicious. But then after looking on Pinterest at different lemon vinaigrette recipes, I decided to try a lemon-caper vinaigrette and it was super good! Of course if you don’t like capers stick with the traditional lemon.

 

One other important thing is that the cutlets are nice and thin. I learned to use a rolling pin from Ina Garten and it really does the trick.

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Ingredients

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced thinly into cutlets (I like to cut my own but you can always buy them and pound them thinner)

1 egg

1 Tbs water

1/2 cup flour

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 cup bread crumbs

2 tsp oregano

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving.

Arugula or any other of your favorite greens (I don’t care for arugula, I use a spring mix)

1/4 cup olive oil plus more for frying

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 Tbs capers

1 Tbs juice from capers

Directions:

Put the flour on plate with salt and pepper. In a bowl beat the egg with the 1 Tbs of water and on a third plate put the bread crumbs with the seasonings and the 1/4 cup of grated cheese.

Put the cutlets between sheets of wax paper on a cutting board and pound with a mallet or rolling pin.

Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip into egg mixture and lastly dredge in the bread crumbs, pressing lightly to cover completely.

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Heat the oil a large pan. Add breaded cutlets 2 or 3 at a time, cook 3 to 4 minutes each side. Place cooked cutlets on a plate with paper towels to absorb grease.

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Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, capers and caper juice. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss greens with vinaigrette, place greens on a platter or individual plates, top with cutlets and grated cheese. I also like to add a vegetable such as green beans, tomatoes, artichoke hearts or asparagus. Serve. Enjoy!

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*I added fresh parsley and basil from our garden to the greens, added nice fresh flavor!

 

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Corn Salad with a Spicy Twist

2 Jul

With the 4th of July just 2 days away, I needed to try something new, I always love the standards like coleslaw and potato salad but like to add something different each year. As I was scrolling my Instagram I came across a beautiful photo of a corn salad with avocado posted by Bon Appetit Magazine and knew I had to try it! It has a Mexican flair with serrano chile, cilantro and lime juice…delicious! Corn Salad with Hot Honey Lime Dressing for the win!

Now, the recipe calls for grilling the corn but I wasn’t going to start the grill for 4 ears of corn (we only have a charcoal grill) so I pan roasted mine in the cast iron skillet, just as good as grilled.

Also, you may not want it to be too hot, spicy that is; I used a mildly hot yellow pepper from my garden instead of the serrano chile. It’s really up to your personal taste and what you think your friends and family like…you can always add more heat but you can’t take it away.

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Ingredients:

4 ears of corn, husked and kernels cut off

2 Tbs unsalted butter

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more

Freshly ground black pepper

3 Tbs fresh lime juice

2 Tbs honey

1 1/2 Sriracha

1 tsp garlic powder

1 1/2 avocados, cut into bite size pieces

1 serrano chile, thinly sliced

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Directions:

Heat butter in cast iron skillet over medium heat, add corn kernels. Cook about 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. I let mine brown slightly. Remove from heat, let cool.

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While the corn cools, whisk lime juice, honey, Sriracha, garlic and 1 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl to combine. Add corn, avocados, serrano chile and cilantro to vinaigrette; toss gently. Season with salt and fresh pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

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Enjoy! We had it with crab cakes but it would be a great addition to any BBQ.

*To make this dish vegan just cook the corn in vegetable oil.

Shallots: Fit for Confit

6 Jun

I have seen the term confit many times on many menus. I know what it means, sort of…and then I saw a beautiful photo of shallots in oil on Instagram and wondered what it could be. Shallots are one of my favorites in the onion family. The photo was the beautiful beginning of a shallot confit. I knew I had to make it!

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I also knew I needed to know what it really meant. So off to Google I go. Confit comes from the French word confire, which means to preserve. A confit is any type of food cooked slowly for a long period of time as a method of preservation, it is usually cooked in oil or fat. It is a centuries old method that can be used for fruits, vegetables and meats. Meats are typically salted too. A confit can kept for weeks, sometimes even months…not my shallot confit, it was gone in the blink of an eye.

Ingredients:

10 -12 shallots, peel and sliced

2 Tbs olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 tsp thyme

1 –  2 tsp sea salt

Directions:

Add olive oil to a Dutch oven or medium pot and heat over medium heat, add shallots, garlic, salt and thyme. Sauté until the shallots start to brown and caramelize a bit, lower heat and let cook until the shallots become super tender, almost mushy. I cooked mine for a  total of about an hour. Remove from heat, let cool slightly and eat right away or store in airtight container and refrigerate until your ready to use it.

The confit can be used as a condiment on meats or I like the idea of serving it as an appetizer on slices of a toasted baguette with a spread of cream cheese. I have read that it is also good on a salad…whatever you can think of, it can’t be bad.

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*Recipe from Judy Kim and be sure to check out her Insta and her blog, just beautiful and lots of great recipes.

Spring Vegetable Tart

6 May

It is asparagus season, this makes me very happy. Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables because it tastes great and can be used in so many different types of recipes. Asparagus is great all by itself, in a salad, hot or cold, roasted or steamed…I could go on forever.

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Now when most people think of tarts they think dessert, I know I always did, until I began to cook and opened my mind to all kinds of new things in the world of food. According to Wikipedia “a tart is a baked dish consisting of a filling over a pastry base with an open top not covered with pastry.” So when I was looking for something to bring to my sisters that was a bit different than the usual, I found a recipe for an Asparagus Leek Tart, it was perfect.

Ingredients

4 small leeks or 2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced and rinsed well

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into small pieces

1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed

1/3 cup milk

2 eggs

1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

1 heaping tsp of fresh lemon thyme or regular thyme if you don’t have lemon thyme

1 tsp of fresh parsley, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp concentrated balsamic vinegar

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or line with foil and grease lightly with shortening or butter. Set aside.

 

Melt butter and olive oil together in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add leeks and season to taste with salt and pepper. Sauté for 10 minutes and remove from heat and keep to the side. While the leeks are cooking blanche the asparagus for two minutes in boiling water and then put into ice water to stop the cooking. Add asparagus to the leeks and set aside.

 

On a lightly floured surface roll out puff pastry dough into a rectangle and transfer to the prepared cookie sheet. Using a fork score around the edges to create a crust and pierce the dough all over so that it doesn’t puff up too much in the middle.  Bake for 10 minutes.

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While the pastry is cooking whisk together the eggs and milk in a mixing bowl until well combined. Add cheese, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper to taste and mix well.

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Once the 10 minutes is up, remove the puff pastry from the oven and reduce heat to 400 degrees. Using a fork gently push the air out of the center of the dough so that it flattens in the center.

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Scatter the asparagus and leeks evenly on the dough, pour the egg and cheese mixture over the vegetables. Bake for 20 to 25 until set. Remove from oven and let cool. Drizzle with concentrated balsamic vinegar, serve and enjoy!

 

Thank you The Life Jolie for this delicious recipe!

A Lemony Transition to Spring Soup

18 Mar

As much as we are craving Spring, it’s just not here yet; there is snow on the ground and it’s cold. Now today was beautiful and sunny, it did get up to 42 degrees, but that’s not exactly Spring. During the winter months we eat a lot of soups and stews which I love but I’m ready for lighter and brighter foods, so I went on the hunt for soup that was just that, and I found it! Thanks to the blog Cup of Jo I found the perfect recipe for a soup that warms the body but is light and bright; a Lemony Soup with White Beans and Kale.

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This soup is delicious, especially since I changed it up a bit to make it mine. I used spinach since I’m not a fan of kale and I used orzo instead of Ditilini pasta (not a big deal but that’s what I had in the house). I also used canned beans instead of dry, the last time I tried to use dried beans I ended up with cement not soup…something I need to work on.

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I think that other than the fact that this soup tastes so good, is that it is souper easy to make; the flavors of the lemon and garlic are just so good together and it comes together in less than hour.

Ingredients

1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbs olive oil

1 small potato, peeled and chopped into small cubes

6 to 8 cups vegetable stock

1 lemon, juiced

1 cup orzo pasta, cooked

2 cups fresh spinach

Salt and pepper

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Directions

In a large dutch oven or pot add olive oil and heat over medium heat, add onions and potato. Stir and cook until onions are translucent then add garlic. Cook for another minute or two until garlic is fragrant. Add 6 cups of the vegetable stock, lemon juice and beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Heat till boiling then reduce to a simmer and continue to cook for 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft.

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While the soup is simmering cook the pasta. I like to cook the pasta and add it to each bowl as I serve it, otherwise I feel like it gets to mushy and soaks up the liquid. So cook it and put it aside to add as you serve.

Once you feel the potatoes are done, add the spinach. At this point add more stock if you think it needs it, it’s up to you how “brothy” you like it. I did use all 8 cups.

When it’s ready serve with grated parmesan cheese, drizzle of olive oil and some freshly grated black pepper. Mangia!

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Now if you want to, which I may do the next time I make it, is to leave out the potato and add a second can of beans. And of course if you want to keep it vegan, no cheese. One more suggestion for the gluten-free folks, keep the potato and omit the pasta. Once again one of the reasons I love cooking is that you can always make it your own, there are no rules. So keep on cooking and keep on enjoying!

The Anatomy of a Dinner Party

4 Mar

If you read my last post then you know that my husband and I love to throw dinner parties, now I will tell you how it’s done. When you say the words “dinner party” people automatically think it means it has to be formal but not in my world. I do think that dinner parties should take place in the dining room with a beautifully set table. In my world there are 3 kinds of dinner parties:

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Mexican Fiesta tabletop.

Take Out Dinner Party – This is when you haven’t seen particular friends in a while and want to squeeze some time to see them but time is limited so you order take out.

Casual Dinner Party – A casual meal such as salads, tacos or flatbread pizzas for a fun night with friends.

Formal Dinner Party – This a planned event from beginning to end, complete attention to detail and a gourmet meal.

To start with, chose a theme. Pick a country or a region, a movie or even a song. I’ve done A Night in Greece, Italian Countryside, Mexican Fiesta, A Parisian Valentine and I even threw a Breakfast at Tiffany’s dinner party for my girlfriends. When you start with a theme everything flows from that, which makes things easier and fun.

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Parisian Valentine tabletop.

Once you’ve decided on a theme you can make your list; invitations, music, menu, decor and guest gifts.  From the menu you can create your shopping list. I like to have each recipe in front of me while I make my list so I don’t miss anything; no one wants to run the grocery store last minute when you’ve already began to cook.

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Menu, I don’t always type it but sometimes it’s nice.

Now I know that gifts for the guests are not customary but I like to have a little something for our guests to take home and I use them as place cards.

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Mini Champagne bottles as place card guest gifts.

Invitations of course can be done via an on-line site but I prefer a paper invite sent through good ol’ fashioned snail mail. Who doesn’t like to get something in mail that is not a bill or advertisement? I know I do. Be creative and do something fun by making them yourself or go visit your local card shop for something pre-printed that fits your theme. No matter what you do for the invite your guests will love getting it in the mail.

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Love a good spread!

Music is key. Actually, good music is key. I really like Pandora for music; they have just about any kind of music you could need. We recently got The Dot and play it on that, but before we had her I would use our television widget. Pandora has everything from Paris Cafe to martini music on the Frank Sinatra station. And if you end up having a dance party in the living room you can always change the station to dance music!

Ah yes the menu…the most important part. Chose wisely so that you can enjoy your guests and aren’t stuck in the kitchen the whole time. Hors d’oeuvres and a theme cocktail are a great way to start the evening. Once the cocktail “hour” is over I like to serve either a salad or soup before the main dish and then of course dessert.

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Jalapeno margaritas as the cocktail for our Mexican fiesta!

As much as I love to cook, decorating for a dinner party is always my favorite part. The flowers, candles, props; so much fun to be creative and change up dinner table. I also like to dress the part, for example for my Parisian Valentine dinner party I wore a black jumper with a white blouse, a scarf tied around my neck, a beret and red lipstick.

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Mini loaves of French bread for each guest at our Parisian Valentine party.

The guest gifts, they don’t have to complicated or expensive. One of my favorite things to use are the mini booze bottles with name tags tied to them. A small bag of homemade cookies or brownies, a tiny plant or cactus, a pretty soap, the ideas are endless.

Yes, throwing a dinner party can be a lot of work but it is also lots of fun. Creating memories around the dinner table, eating great food…doesn’t get better than that.

 

Dinner Parties, A Lost Art

25 Feb

Here in the Northeast it is not patio season and hasn’t been for a while. So what do we do to entertain, we throw a dinner party.  As you’ve heard me say before, my husband and I love to entertain and we love to throw a good dinner party. From what I hear it is not so common anymore. When I tell people they usually say something like “really, how fun, no one does that anymore” but recently when I told the woman at the shop where I was buying a gift for our guests she said “oh wow, now that’s a lost art!” I guess it is. But not in our house.

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What’s better than good friends, good food and lots of laughs? Nothing in my book. The first thing I do when I decide to throw a dinner party is to come up with a theme. I am big on themes. It can be anything; pick a favorite city or country, type of food, a movie or even a song. Everything springs from the theme, the food, the music, the decor and even the dress code can.

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We always start off in the kitchen. Now I know these days everyone is all about the “open concept”. I am not. I like a kitchen, a living room and a dining room. People say “oh but then you can’t socialize and cook at the same time” and I say “oh yes I can”. We have a very small kitchen but that’s ok, it works. We start out there with hors d’oeuvres while I finish up cooking then head to the dining room for the meal. Many times we end staying at the dining room table until way after we finished dessert; talking and laughing. Other times we will head into the living room to continue conversation and sometimes even having a dance party.

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Wherever it ends up, I would like to say we always have a great time and I would like to think our friends leave with full bellies and great memories. Stay tuned for my next post on the Anatomy of a Dinner Party…

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