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.

Beef Stroganoff

Here we are, two days into the new year, and I’ve already managed to blow out an appliance.

I think know I’ve set a record here…

Yesterday, I spent most of the day prepping a few food related projects, taking down various holiday themed decorations, and cleaning up from the aforementioned glitter-filled holiday themed decorations. After making several circles around the house with the vacuum, I pulled out the steam mop to clean the entryway from the garage to the kitchen, since that’s the only section of the house with tile. AND it’s where Zeus laid down every night to wait for the Queen Mother to emerge from her room every.single.morning. So he could be sure to trip her greet her every.single.morning ….. and proceed to rub his nose/white fur all over her black pants every.single.morning.

She just loved it. Not. But that’s another story….

Anyway, I pulled out the machine, filled the tank with water, attached the mop head, plugged it in, and waited.

And then…..a burning smell coming from the heating element. Then smoke.


At least my pierogi turned out.


Beef Stroganoff – adapted from Tyler Florence

4 cloves garlic, minced, plus 2 cloves, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
1 large sprig fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped
3 pounds beef short ribs, cut into 2 ribs apiece
1 lb. white button mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup cognac
2 cups half and half
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup sour cream
1 pound egg noodles
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Place the 4 cloves of minced garlic and pepper into a bowl. Add enough extra-virgin olive oil to create a paste. Add the rosemary and thyme leaves to the bowl and stir to combine.

Set short ribs out on a roasting tray and cover with herb paste. Roast in the oven for 2 hours and 30 minutes until they are falling apart.

Heat a large saute pan over high heat and add a 3-count of olive oil. Add mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes until brown. Add shallots and minced garlic and toss to combine. Season with pepper. Cook for a further 2 minutes until garlic and onion become fragrant. Remove pan from heat and carefully add cognac to deglaze the pan. Return to heat and add the half and half. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half. Turn off heat and stir in Dijon mustard and sour cream. Season with plenty of freshly ground black pepper

Cook egg noodles in boiling water according to directions on package. Drain and toss with butter while still hot.

To serve: Pile the noodles high on a plate, top with stroganoff sauce and finish with rib slices. Garnish with fresh parsley.


Steak Pizzaiola

I’ll tell you something – things are changing around here faster than a speeding Dachshund.


Why does she always look guilty? Oh I know – because she usually IS! 

So while change is good and inevitable in life, somedays, when things get thrown at you at all once, you have to stop, take a deep breath, and focus. Which I did several times this morning. And I’m sure that will be my mantra repeated with increasing frequency. With the impending closure on the new house, and the rental we are currently in going up for sale tomorrow, I’m definitely balancing a fine line of needing/wanting to pack and keeping this house looking presentable. Challenging, but doable.

Another facet to the changing times is that Alexander started his new job yesterday. Plus side? He loves his place of employment. The very minor downside? He is no longer home for dinner. It’s troubling him more than me, as evidenced by his comment to me yesterday afternoon, “Mom, I feel so bad, you’re alone because everyone is working! Doesn’t it bother you that no one is home for dinner at the same time anymore?”

Bother me? Not in the least. All it requires is strategic planning of dinners that can be prepared and reheated as necessary.


Steak Pizzaiola – adapted from epicurious

  • 4 (1/2-inch-thick) top blade beef chuck steaks (1 1/4 lb total)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch- wide strips
  • 6 oz white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tbs. red wine
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced

Pat steaks dry and place between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Pound to 1/4 inch thick with flat side of a meat pounder or with a rolling pin. Discard plastic wrap and sprinkle steaks with black pepper.Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook steaks in 2 batches, turning over once, until meat is just medium-rare, 2 minutes per batch. Transfer steaks to a platter as cooked and keep warm, loosely covered with foil. (Do not wipe skillet clean.)

Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to skillet and sauté onion and bell pepper over moderately high heat, stirring, until onion is golden, about 4 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic and sauté, stirring, until mushrooms are golden, about 3 minutes. Add wine and cook until evaporated, about 1 minute. Add  tomatoes with their juice, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes and onion are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove lid and cook until most of liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Season with pepper, and  spoon vegetable sauce on top of steaks.

Carnitas Tamale Pie

I can’t believe it’s been a week since I last posted – the past seven days have gone by in a complete and total blur. It seems as though I say that on a weekly basis, especially since we moved to Texas. I think it’s a side effect of getting older……. as Ferris Bueller says, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around, you might miss something”.

It was with that exact sentiment that J and I took an incredible (albeit short) trip to Vancouver, B.C. over this past weekend. J arranged everything, from the flights (easy-peasy on United) to our hotel in downtown Burnaby (outstanding hospitality at the Hilton). Although it rained practically the entire time we were there, we enjoyed the city immensely and more importantly, thoroughly relished the quiet time together. And as nice as it was to go away, it was really nice to return home – especially to the posse. They had a beautiful birthday card for me ~ and even better, they proved, without a doubt, that they are maturing into conscientious and responsible young adults by not throwing a “Project X” style house party in our absence.

Thank goodness….

Now that we are back and settled on our home turf, our next trip is to Purdue University for Sabrina’s placement testing and tour. We are going to experience the consummate college scene for a few days, so she can get a real-time feel for the school and acclimate herself to what college life is really going to be like.

This will be interesting to say the least…..


Carnitas Tamale Pie – adapted from Pinch of Yum

  • ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 tbs. baking powder
  • 2 tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 can diced green chiles (I used 5 whole roasted chiles, and chopped them up)
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 cups leftover carnitas
  • 1 cup enchilada sauce (I used red, next time I’ll probably use green)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk the cornmeal, flour, and baking powder. Stir in the oil until the mixture makes soft crumbs. Whisk in the milk and egg. Add the green chiles and stir until just combined. Bake in a 9-inch square pan for 15 minutes or until set. Since it’s a tamale-like base, it won’t be completely dry like a cornbread. It’s supposed to be just a little mushy.

Poke holes in the crust with a fork. Pour the enchilada sauce over the crust. Squeeze or drain excess moisture out of the carnitas and arrange on top of the crust. Sprinkle with cheese.

Reduce oven temperature to 350. Cover with foil, return to oven, and bake for 20 minutes. When everything is heated through, remove foil and let bake for another 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Top with chopped cilantro, allow to cool for 5 minutes, and cut into slices or scoop into bowls.

Brussels Sprouts Lasagna

Just when you thought it was safe to wear short sleeves..

Seriously, what’s up with this weather? Yesterday it was 83 degrees and picture perfect. Today, the wind is blasting and the temperature is 58. Tomorrow the forecast is 81 and calm.

And I’m accused of being fickle? Sheeeeesh……

Anyhoo, this lasagna, although unusual, was tremendously well received at Chateau W (aka our house). An amalgamation of two similar recipes, I used crepes instead of the standard lasagna noodles, and the end result was outstanding. It’s light, full of flavor and if you prepare the crepes ahead of time, it comes together in a snap.

Speaking of crepes, I always use Alton Brown’s recipe. They come out perfect every time – just make sure to follow the directions and let the batter rest for at least several hours. I usually make a double batch, stack the finished crepes between sheets of wax paper, and freeze them. However, the posse love them fresh out of the pan, dusted with cinnamon sugar and a drizzle of maple syrup.

That sounds so good right now, I think I want to go prepare a batch….

Brussels Sprouts Lasagna – adapted from Serious Eats and How Sweet Eats

  • 12 crepes
  • 4 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, shredded
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, pale green and white part only, rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 16 ounces white mushrooms, stems removed, wiped clean, and sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp thyme leaves
  • 3 tbs. unsalted butter
  • 3 tbs. flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigian reggiano cheese
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 lb. mozzarella cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the sprouts, shallots, and leek; season with pepper, stirring to coat. Cook until the sprouts soften and become bright in color, stirring occasionally, for about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the sprouts from the skillet and set them aside in a bowl.

Using the same skillet, add the remaining olive oil. Add the mushrooms, stirring well to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Season with black pepper and thyme.

In a saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. Once it’s hot, whisk in the flour. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the milk, stirring constantly as the mixture comes together. Cook, stirring constantly, until it starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Add the parmigiano reggiano cheese, the marinara sauce,and pinch of cayenne.

To assemble the lasagna, spread 1/4 cup of the sauce on the bottom of the 9×13 dish. Lay three crepes across the bottom of the pan, then top with 1/2 of the brussels and 1/2 of the mushrooms. Sprinkle on 1/2 of the shredded cheese. Spread about 1 cup of the sauce over the top of the cheese. Repeat layers, ending with a top layer of crepes. Cover the whole thing with the rest of the sauce, spreading it out to the edges. Cover with a  sheet of foil and bake until bubbling around the edges, about 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Pork Ragu

I don’t know about you, but Sunday is one of my favorite days of the week. I suspect that it’s most likely a throwback to my childhood, when one Sunday a month, Mom would spend the better part of the day cooking up a big pot of sauce for our dinner. The process was an event in itself, as she would shoo us kids (and Dad) out of the kitchen so there weren’t any distractions, and begin what I now recognize as a true labor of love. The sounds were unmistakable – the pots being pulled from the cabinets, the chopping of the onions, the blender grinding up chunks of bread for homemade breadcrumbs…….. and it didn’t take long until the house was filled with the aroma of her delectable homemade meatballs, spicy Italian sausage, and falling-off-the-bone meaty pork ribs…..mmmmm.

Eventually, Dad would sneak into the kitchen and slyly steal a meatball or two….and feign innocence  when questioned by three sets of eyes wanting a bite as well. It wasn’t fun being at the bottom of the food chain….

While I don’t have her recipe for that treasured family piece of history (something about copyrights, patents and not in my birthright……), one bite of this sauce immediately transported me back to those Sunday evenings, when dinnertime meant pasta, sauce, wine, and bread…. all while surrounded by your family.


Pork Ragu – adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 1 1½-lb. boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 sprig oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 14-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup dry red wine

Season pork with pepper. Heat ¼ cup oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Sear the meat, turning occasionally, until browned all over, 10–15 minutes; transfer to a large plate.

Drain all but 2 tbs. fat from pot. Reduce heat to medium and cook onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8–10 minutes. Tie rosemary, oregano, and bay leaf into a bundle with kitchen twine; add to pot along with pork, tomatoes, and wine. Add water just to cover meat and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer, until meat is very tender, 1–1½ hours.

Discard herb bundle. Using 2 forks, shred meat in pot; cook, uncovered, over medium heat until sauce is thickened, 8–10 minutes. Serve over pasta with freshly grated cheese.


Impossible Taco Pie

Math has never, nor will it ever, be easy for me.

And I can accept that. 


For other members of our illustrious family, however, it’s as…… wait for it.….. simple as pie.

And yes, that’s probably the oldest and worst pun on Pi Day🙂

Impossible Taco Pie – adapted from Betty Crocker

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 can (4.5 ounces) chopped green chiles, drained
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Original Bisquick mix
  • 3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese (3 ounces)

Heat oven to 400°F. Grease 9-inch pie plate. Cook ground beef and onion in 10-inch skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain. Stir in seasoning mix (dry). Spoon into pie plate; top with chilies.  Stir milk, eggs and Bisquick mix until blended. Pour into pie plate.  Bake about 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 8 to 10 minutes longer. Cool 5 minutes. Serve with salsa and sour cream.