Monday, October 31, 2011

Parmesan Chicken Sticks

Let's get this out of the way first.  I know I've been absent.  I warned you that historically I've not been good at this.  I went to the doctor on Thursday (after the Pizza post) and found out I have a sinus infection.  So I slept on Friday.  Plus Josh was home sick and playing his game on the computer.  And I didn't cook.  Nothing to share.

And I make it a point not to do much cooking on weekends.  Preparing for a marathon cooking day is always an exception.

So that gets you up to speed.

Dinner tonight is Parmesan Chicken Ina Garten creation. (Sidebar:  I once told my mom that I want to be Ina Garten when I grow up.  She told me I already am.  BEST compliment ever!)


  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts (3 to 4)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • Unsalted butter
  • Good olive oil
  • Bamboo skewers (6 to 10 inches long) or ice-cream sticks


Lay the chicken breasts on a cutting board and slice each diagonally into 4 or 5 large strips.
Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate. Beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water on a second plate. Combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan on a third plate. Dredge the chicken breasts on both sides in the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and roll in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly to coat.
Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook the chicken strips on medium-low heat for about 3 minutes on each side, until just cooked through. Don't crowd the pan. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts. Serve each strip on a skewer or stick.
You can keep the chicken breasts warm for about 15 minutes on a sheet pan in a preheated 200 degree F oven.

 So changes I will make.  I actually have chicken tenders.  I also have Locatelli Romano cheese in addition to parm.  I will likely use a combo.  Save with Panko and my regular Italian seasoned bread crumbs.  And since we're  both adults, I'll skip the skewers.  In this episode of Barefoot Contessa, Ina was cooking for a family with 2 young daughters.  I will also make my gravy and a side of spaghetti.  Josh can't have chicken parm in any form without a side of spaghetti.  

So that's what I'm making tonight.  How about you?

happy cooking.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


First...the souffle didn't puff.  My husband is a chocaholic and ate it up.  I was very disappointed though.  Thus, no picture.  I think I've identified the problem.   I'll rectify it when I try again.  And I will try again.

So dinner tonight is homemade pizza.  I can buy the dough at Mariano's and it's not difficult to stretch and roll.  I'm not trying any fancy dough tossing, but I can make a pretty consistent oval/rectangle shape.  Pizza sauce is readily available in your market; as is mozzarella cheese.  Husband likes pepperoni. Check. I like onion. Check.

That's the plan here.  How 'bout by you?

happy cooking, kristen

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Date Night--10/26/11

So tonight is Date Night.

Appetizer:  I have just roasted most of a head of garlic. Yum.  I will serve that with melted Lingonberry preserves and crostini.  We had something similar to this at a restaurant downtown.

Cocktail:  Likely Manhattans.  Possibly Martinis.

Entree:  Josh's favorite flank steak.  This was a part of the cooking extravaganza from earlier this week.  Because neither of us really likes our meat cooked passed medium rare, we will be eating this at room temperature.  Additionally I will be making the wild mushroom and shallot "ragu" that accompanies this dish on

This will be accompanied by smashed red bliss potatoes.  I cook these in chicken stock (sometimes beef).  I think it infuses the potatoes with some extra flavor.  I also salt and pepper the potatoes while they are in the stock.  I add sour cream (a hefty spoonful for 3 lbs of potatoes) and 4-6 T butter, melted.  If the potatoes seem to need it, I whip them with my immersion blender.  I will make these ahead and keep them warm over a pot of simmering water.

I will also steam some broccoli.

Dessert:  I'm very excited about this.  I made chocolate souffles.  Individual ones.  8 of them.  And yes, this is actually a do ahead recipe.  The bake from frozen and can stay in the freezer for up to a month.  If I am pleased with the result, I will post both the recipe and a photo tomorrow.  I like knowing that I have future Date Night desserts ready.  And I know that our best friends would be happy to share as well.

That's my dinner plan.  What's yours?

happy cooking, kristen

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Day After

So here we are on Tuesday. The day after, if you will.

We finished everything that I had planned.  By  3:00!  Last knife was washed; last cutting board put away.  It was great.

So what have I done today?  Slept.  A lot.

But as I am slowly waking up again, my Date Night plan for tomorrow is coming together in my head.

What's Date Night you ask?  And why capitalized?

I prepare one at home date each week.  That means, I prepare an appetizer, cocktail, dinner, and dessert.  All the things you might have in a restaurant.  And yes, some of it was prepared yesterday.

Dinner tonight is the meatloaf I made yesterday and some kind of veggie.  Maybe peas, maybe corn.  Don't really know.

Kristen out.

happy cooking.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


So Aunt Kate (the one who is cooking with me on Monday) gave me a pasta attachment for my Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer.  I was very excited to try it.

But the recipe in the book didn't strike my fancy.  I had just seen Emeril Lagasse make fresh pasta.  (I told you I watch a lot of cooking shows.)  I wanted to make it as close to authentic as I could get.  I had already purchased some semolina flour, so last Monday I rolled up my sleeves and got started.

My technique definitely needs some honing.  My "well" of flour didn't have steep enough sides.  I was chasing eggs all over my counter.  I felt that I needed to add a little water before the dough came together.  And an additional egg.  I fear this may have made for a "gummy" dough.  It sure looked pretty though when it came time to wrap and refrigerate.

So I wait my 30 minutes, attached my attachment, and start to feed small  balls of dough into the feed.  I was so proud of myself as I fell into this rhythm where I could cut the pasta and feed more dough into the apparatus all without turning the machine off.  Problem was, as you can see from the photo, I wasn't separating the strands.  And consequently, the buccatini fused together.

All in all, the pasta tasted fantastic.  I just renamed it "blob-sta" as no amount of flour on the board or olive oil in the water could un-fuse the noodles.  We couldn't even save the leftovers.  I mean really, who wants to need a knife to eat their pasta.

So, I will try again.  I will use a different technique.  I'll try mixing the dough in my food processor.

Do you have any experience with this that you could share?  I'd appreciate any tips I can get.

happy cooking

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cooking with Kate

Kate is my Mother-in-Law's sister. She is in love with my dog. And she likes to play with my knives (I do have a pretty awesome and near complete set of Wusthof knives.)

Sonny--my dog

And she has made an appointment to cook with me. I think maybe the dog is the main draw for this, but she says she wants to be my sous chef (that would involve "playing" with my knives), so we've made a date for Monday 10/24.

Everybody (my mom, Josh's mom, my sister) says I've over-scheduled our day. I think we'll be able to handle this with few problems.

This is what we are making:
1.  Meatloaf
2.  quesadillas 
3.  sausage, pepper and onion pasta thing to be baked at a later date
4.  the "best flank steak" Josh has ever eaten
5.  mushroom soup

I'll admit that does seem a little over ambitious.  Allow me, please to explain why I think this is doable.

1.  I can marinate the steak on Saturday.  We will likely eat this without the sauteed mushrooms but sliced over a salad with the mushroom soup.
2.  I will cook the chicken on Sunday for the quesadillas.
3.  I will make my pasta sauce on Sunday (For future reference, I'm Italian...we call tomato sauce "gravy."  This is what I mean when I refer to gravy.)  I can also cook the pasta.
4.  I will saute my onions, carrots, and celery for the meatloaf on Monday morning before Kate joins and we go to the market.  I can also make the glaze (ketchup/chili sauce, cider vinegar and brown sugar) and mix some of the other ingredients.

My plan is that on returning from the market (this market deserves a post of it's own), we will mix the meatloaf and fix the quesadillas for lunch.  After lunch, we'll saute the sausage, peppers and onion for the pasta dish.  Then we'll make the soup.  When Josh get's home and is fixing us Daiquiris, I'll grill the flank steak.

With a "sous chef," the cooking, and especially the clean-up should go more smoothly.

At least, that's my plan.  I'll let you know how it goes.

happy cooking

Friday, October 21, 2011

On the Menu

Well, it's Friday. Husband (Josh) may have to work late, but I hope not.

Today I am making quesadillas for dinner. This is the easiest thing in the world to make and can be almost no-cook if that's how you roll.

cooked chicken--this could be any leftover chicken, a rotisserie bird, or you can cook it however
you like
flour tortillas
grated cheese--cheddar, jack cheese, "Mexican" blend
oil--olive, veggie, whatever you have on hand

Heat your nonstick pan to medium-high. Brush (using a pastry brush) a small amount of oil on one side of one tortilla. Put the oiled side into the pan and top with cheese and chicken. Oil a second tortilla and place on top. When the cheese has melted, flip the quesadilla. Allow the this tortilla time to brown.

You can cook these in a panini press if you have one.
You can use whatever filling you would like--veggies, steak. I tend to make "fajita" quesadillas
and use my fajita marinade on the meat.
You can top it with whatever toppings you would like: salsa, guacamole, and sour cream come to

Speaking of guacamole. I do make my own, but I cheat a little. I mash my avocados and add fresh made but store bought salsa and sour cream. If I'm feeling a fiesta coming on, I'll add garlic, cumin, lime zest and juice. Actually, the lime juice retards the browning so that's a good thing to add.

That's my dinner plan. What's yours?

happy cooking, Kristen

Thursday, October 20, 2011

So about me

I'm not going to go into the knitty-gritty of my personal life, but here are a few things I will share.

1. I am suddenly aware that I am middle-aged. I don't know when that happened. I guess it was a gradual thing, but now I have to apply an anti-wrinkle serum to my forehead daily.

2. I have MS. I don't really like to talk about it, but it does have a fairly significant effect on my life, so it's worth mentioning.

3. I watch a lot of tv. I'm not proud of this. Nor am I proud of my show selections...a lot of Disney, Nick, and food shows. I am currently addicted to Ace of Cakes.

4. I love to cook. I'm not always successful, but I like trying to learn from my mistakes. (More on that later.)

5. I'm not always good at keeping up with my blog. Please forgive me. I will try to improve.

Lastly, I'm Kristen. I dance through life with a whisk in my hand.

happy cooking.