Skillet Chicken Parmesan

There’s nothing quite like starting your day with the sudden realization that you have just used your lip liner to line your eyes instead of your eyeliner.

I wondered why the color looked a little off….

Fortunately, I caught my error before I had done both eyes, so it was an easy fix. I just hope that it’a not a precursor to the rest of the day. I have a lot on my to-do list, starting with sending a short grocery list to Dad in preparation for our arrival next week. It’s The Queen Mother’s 75th birthday (shhhh, don’t tell her I mentioned it..), and we are all flying in to celebrate. I have the menu set for the party, and all I have to do is make her cake. I know what kind of cake I’m making (chocolate, obviously!), but I am still figuring out the design/details.


I want to make sure it’s amazing and  extra special, but since I’ll only have the day of the party to put it together, I have to make sure it’s doable with limited tools on hand.

Challenge accepted…

Skillet Chicken Parmesan – adapted from Food Network

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 10 ounces each)
1 8 -inch piece day-old baguette (about 4 ounces)
2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 15 -ounce can tomato puree
1 small clove garlic, grated
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Slice the chicken breasts in half horizontally to make 4 thin cutlets. Put between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet or heavy skillet until 1/4 inch thick.

Cut any hard crusts off the bread with a serrated knife, then cut the bread into cubes. Add the bread cubes to a food processor with the motor running, a few pieces at a time, and process to make coarse crumbs (you will have about 1 1/4 cups crumbs).

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons parmesan and cook, stirring, until melted, about 1 more minute. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons basil; set aside. Preheat the broiler.

Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste; add to the skillet (in batches, if necessary) and cook until golden and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Add the tomato puree, then rinse out the can with 1 cup water and add to the skillet. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and 1 tablespoon parmesan; reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup basil and season with salt and pepper.

Return the chicken to the skillet, turning to coat with the sauce. Top with the remaining 1 tablespoon parmesan and all but a few tablespoons of the toasted breadcrumb mixture. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and the remaining breadcrumbs. Broil until the cheese melts, 1 to 2 minutes.

Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla Pie

For the last few days, I’ve had pie on my mind. Chocolate cream, vanilla bourbon, peanut butter… mmmmm peanut butter.

I suspect, though, that my current pie-mindset has something to do with the fact that I feel supremely confident in my pie-crust making ability these days. Or, it could be that I simply haven’t made one in awhile.

Option #2 is most likely the correct assumption.

At any rate, I saw this savory dinner pie recipe on and conveniently had everything in the house to make it. The kids, of course, loved it. I did too, even if I didn’t get a chance to make the actual crust….


Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla Pie – adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

  • One 10-inch flour tortilla
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I used a monterey jack / cheddar blend)
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup chopped Hatch chiles (or poblanos)
  • Pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Grease 9-inch deep dish pie plate. Press tortilla into prepared pie plate and spray lightly with oil spray. Toss shredded chicken in bowl with 1 cup cheese, cilantro, and chiles – season with pepper, then spread into pie plate.

Whisk eggs, milk, flour, and baking powder together in bowl until smooth. Slowly pour into dish, then sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake until surface is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve.

Oven Roasted Chicken Shawarma

After spending three glorious days in Vegas with my parents, I feel invigorated, refreshed, and re-energized. The large amount of time Mom and I spent clothes shopping miiiiiiight have had something to do with it…. Seriously though, it was simply wonderful to have all that uninterrupted time with them to chat, brainstorm, plot, plan, and of course, eat.

And eat. And then eat some more….

Now I’m back in the wondrous humidity of Austin (that’s not sarcasm, I felt like a shriveled raisin in the extreme dryness of Vegas.. ), and now it’s time to sort through the mail, catch up on laundry, and plan dinner.

There’s that eating thing again….


Oven Roasted Chicken Shawarma – adapted from Sam Sifton

This was well worth the very minute amount of time and effort it took to put together. I was really ahead of the plan by prepping the marinade the night before, and the next morning, I mixed the chicken with the marinade and let it chill in the refrigerator until I was ready to cook it later that afternoon.

  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  •  Red-pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  1. Prepare the marinade for the chicken. Combine the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric, and red-pepper flakes in a  bowl, then whisk to combine. Add the chicken, and toss well to coat. Cover, and store in refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.
  2. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425. Use the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to grease a rimmed sheet pan. Add the quartered onion to the chicken and marinade, and toss once to combine. Remove the chicken and onion from the marinade, and place on the pan, spreading everything evenly across it.
  3. Put the chicken in the oven, and roast until it is browned, crisp at the edges and cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven. To make the chicken even more crisp, put the pan under the broiler for about 2 minutes. Scatter the parsley over the top and serve with tzatziki and pita bread. Tabbouleh salad would be a good accompaniment too.

Spicy Roast Chicken

Here’s another addition to my collection of outstanding dinnertime photography:


Seriously, on a more pressing note, I’m putting together a plan to host a little soiree to celebrate Sabrina’s high school graduation. Which, by my calculations, shouldn’t be happening for at least another 5 years.

But ……. it’s actually occurring in less than two months. gulp.

She informed me yesterday that we (we?) need to go shopping so she can search for an absolutely apropos, age appropriate, and stunningly sophisticated dress. The parameters for said dress are really quite simple: no frilly stuff, no annoying bows, no suffocating belts, nor any dangly ornamentation…. no obscure colors or patterns, the length must be not too short nor too long, fabric must be smooth and not itchy in the least, and it must not require three people to assist her in/out of it.

This should be a snap……..

Spicy Roast Chicken – adapted from Food and Wine

  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs. water
  • 1/2 tablespoon ancho chile powder
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped sage
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • One 4-pound chicken, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 to 1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced
  • 2 tbs. chopped parsley
  • 1 tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbs. unsalted butter

Bread Crumb Topping:

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbs. chopped parsley
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard, water, chile powder, half of the gar­lic, 1 tablespoon of the sage, 1/2 teaspoon of the oil and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Place the chicken breast side up in an ovenproof baking dish; coat with the mixture.

Bake the chicken for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until cooked through.  Let rest for 10 minutes.

In a skillet, cook the jalapeños, parsley, lemon juice, the remaining garlic and the remaining sage in the butter and remaining oil over moderate heat until fragrant.

In a skillet, combine the bread crumbs, garlic, zest, parsley and cayenne and stir until the crumbs are crisp.

Top the chicken with the jalapeño butter, sprinkle with the crumbs and serve.


Chicken Chile Verde

Last week, I was standing in our local market, looking in the produce department for inspiration as to what to make for dinner. I ran through the usual list of suspects – cauliflower (just made a fabulous souffle that I haven’t posted yet), collard greens (made those recently too), eggplant (hmmm, haven’t made eggplant parmigiana lately), and then, I spotted the tomatillos. I thought to myself, someday I’ll make something with those, since I’ve never prepared them before. I’ve encountered more than a few recipes for them (especially here in Texas), but have never taken the leap and actually bought them.

Until now. As luck (or fate, whichever you prefer) would have it, the current issue of Food and Wine showed up in my mailbox that very same day, and the recipe for Chicken Chile Verde practically jumped off the page at me. It was sign from the tomatillo gods, I was sure of it. I went back to the market that afternoon, grabbed a pound of the paper-covered green orbs, and set about making this chile. I did come home first, I didn’t actually start cooking right then and there, but I think that’s kind of a given, isn’t it? Although I’m sure my popularity would have increased dramatically if I had cooked in the middle of the market….

Anyway, this recipe gets extra props for being exceptionally simple to prepare and extremely good. In fact, the leftovers were turned into Chile Verde enchiladas, which the posse will enjoy this evening – while J and I dine with the Queen Mother (and Dad!) for her birthday. Something about crab legs for her (that’s crab with a “c”, not a “k”…) and copious amounts of pasta, chicken parmigiana and wine.

Disclaimer: The first part of the last sentence is true, the second part of the sentence may be what I’m hoping for ….


Chicken Chile Verde – adapted from Food and Wine

  • 2 poblano chiles
  • 1 pound tomatillos—husked, rinsed and quartered
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 large jalapeño, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 white onion, minced
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • Pepper
  • 2 tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Steamed rice, chopped avocado and sour cream, for serving

Roast the poblanos and jalapeño directly over a gas flame or under the broiler, turning, until charred all over. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool. Peel, stem and seed the poblanos and jalapeño, then cut into 1/2-inch dice.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, and sauce until golden and tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatillos, water,  poblanos, jalapeño, garlic and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately high heat until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

In a blender, combine the boiled vegetables with the cilantro and reserved cooking liquid and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining onion and the poblanos and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is just starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the sauce and bring to a boil, then simmer over moderate heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Serve the chile verde with steamed rice, avocado and sour cream.

Chicken and Tater Tot Casserole

I think, if my not-always-reliable memory serves me correctly, that this recipe was featured in the “Chopped Dinner Challenge” on the Food Network recently.

Yes, a quick check on their site confirms that my facts (and memory) are indeed correct.

alert the media. 

Anyhoo, tater tots, for the uninitiated, are ground up, formed, seasoned potatoes that are held in very high regard in this house. Very high regard. Very high. Very.



This was a winner all around and will definitely be made again.

Chicken and Tater Tot Casserole – adapted from Food Network

  • 4 tbs. unsalted butter
    2 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds
    1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Fresh ground black pepper
    1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    2 cups milk
    1 cup white wine
  • 4 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 3 cups frozen tater tots, thawed
    1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add the carrots and onions and season with pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 6-7 minutes. Add the peas, and cook for another minute or so. Stir in the flour, and then whisk in the milk and wine and bring to a boil, whisking. Boil until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the chicken. Transfer to a greased 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the chicken mixture.

Pulse the tots in a food processor with the thyme until medium ground. Scatter over the top of the casserole and bake until the filling is bubbling and the topping is golden and crisp, 30 to 35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


I’ve said this before, but today, it bears repeating:

“The best laid plans of Mice and Men……”


We (meaning J, Sabrina and myself) were supposed to embark on a 6 1/2 hour drive to Lubbock to take a tour of Texas Tech College tomorrow morning.

Supposed being the operative word. In typical mother fashion, I had it all planned out: Alexander was to be shipped off to a friend’s house, the pups’ care was arranged, hotel rooms were booked, our route was mapped out, and the tour was scheduled.


Then, at 7:30 last night, J came home with the news that he wouldn’t be able to make the trip with us because of work. No problem.

Right about now you’re probably thinking, ok, just because J can’t go, why don’t you and Sabrina hit the road “Thelma and Louise” style?

Without the gunfire, of course.


Do you know what my father will do to me if I tell him I made that drive?

** shudder **

Gorditas – adapted from Food and Wine

These were fun, different, and tasty. They come together really quickly, and are a nice change from tortillas or taco shells.

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for frying
  • Shredded chicken, salsa, sour cream and cotija cheese, for serving

In a large bowl, mix the masa harina with the water and the 1/4 cup of oil. Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a 10-inch log; cut into 10 pieces. Using a 3-inch round biscuit cutter, mold the pieces into flat disks a scant 1/2 inch thick.

Heat a large griddle. Add the gorditas and cook over high heat, turning once, until lightly browned in spots, about 2 minutes per side. Using the back of a spoon, lightly press an indentation in the center of each gordita.

In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of oil until shimmering. Add the gorditas and fry over high heat until golden and crispy, about 2 minutes per side; drain on paper towels. Top the indentations with chicken, salsa, sour cream and cheese and serve hot.