Monday, September 19, 2011

Chicken Parm Casserole

So today I'm sharing one of my creations that I came up with when I was hosting girl's night. I wanted to have a menu where everyone would be happy and satisfied, so I automatically though of chicken parm. However, as I pan seared the chicken, I decided to put it in a casserole dish and turn it into Chicken Parm Casserole, which has become one of my favorites to make for a large group (or just my parents and I).

                                                                  Photo Credit

Ingredients (serves 8):
1 pound of boneless, skinless, chicken breast
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk (or any kind you have on hand)
1-1 1/2 jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce (depending on how much sauce you like)
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
1 tsp salt, divided
2 tsp pepper, divided
1 tsp cayenne pepper
4 Tbl of extra light olive oil or vegetable oil, divided
9X9 casserole dish
Large non-stick skillet
3 large bowls/shallow dishes

Preheat your oven to 350º. Meanwhile, pound out your pieces of chicken so they are no more than 1/4 inch thick. The thinner the chicken, the faster it cooks. If you are buying the very thick cut of chicken, you might want to cut them in half lengthwise before you pound them out.

In bowl/dish 1, add your flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, and 1 tsp cayenne. In bowl 2 beat the eggs together with the milk, and remaining salt and pepper. In bowl 3, add the bread crumbs.

Heat the skillet on medium high and add half of your oil (1/4 cup). You will want to change out the oil/add the remainder about halfway through cooking the chicken so they do not get too dark, or taste burnt.

Dip each piece of chicken first in the flour, coating the entire piece, then into the egg mixture, once again coating the entire piece, and finally into the Italian breadcrumbs. Place each piece of chicken into the skillet and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

Once all of the chicken is cooked it is time to build the casserole. Many people add pasta to their recipes but I do not wish to kill people with an overload of cholesterol/carbs/calories. Place a layer of chicken on the bottom of the casserole dish. Spoon a layer of sauce (as much as you like) on top of that. Sprinkle 1/3 of your Mozzarella cheese and Pecorino Romano on top of the sauce. Repeat this process until you have your final layer of chicken, sauce, and cheeses (usually about 3 layers.

Place your casserole in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes and enjoy!

The great part about this recipe is the amount simple changes you can make to it to call it your own. When I made this last night I caramelized 3 large white onions and put them in between the layers of sauce and cheese. You could add mushrooms, zucchini, or even substitute the chicken for steak or veal. Get creative!

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 461 per serving
Total Fat: 20.5g
Cholesterol: 138.3mg
Sodium: 1,127.3mg
Carbohydrates: 40g
Protein: 29.6g

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Monday Night Dinner

So if you are anything like me, there are always those nights when you don't really feel like taking more than 20 minutes to make dinner. On Mondays my mom has yoga which means I either have to plan something to make for everyone, or I raid the fridge. Usually the latter wins out. This past Monday I went straight from work to the gym and got home around 7:45 hungry for something delicious! This inspired the blog for today: How do I know what to cook?

There are 3 questions to ask before cooking dinner:
1. What do I have on hand in the fridge?
2. What will be ready in the shortest time?
3. What am I craving?

Monday's are probably the easiest days to raid the fridge because many American households have Sunday dinners, and it is the end of the weekend.  In my fridge there was leftover plain penne, ratatouille, I had made ground beef with sautéed onions and garlic for tacos on Saturday night, roasted chicken, squash, roasted potatoes, and I had plenty of herbs, spices, and vegetables to add.

I love spicy food more than any other food, so my first thought was to morph my ground beef into "Buffalo Beef." I added some Franks Red Hot and some diced pickled jalapenos to add the zing I craved. Since I didn't want to just eat a bowl of beef I mixed some of the beef in with some of the leftover penne. I picked out some zucchini (from the garden) that was mixed in with the ratatouille and threw that in as well. I then added some marinara sauce that was in the fridge, some pecorino romano, and threw it in the microwave for 2 minutes. Voilà! Dinner in less than 5 minutes, as well as a new meal to add to the recipe book: Buffalo Beef Penne.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Zucchini Cakes

So my parents have 2 gardens in the back yard- one for my dad to grow vegetables and one for my mom to grow herbs. This summer has turned my family into zucchini eating beasts. You should see the size of the zucchinis that my dad brings in from the yard. Since we have this overdose of zucchini we have been trying to be extra creative in cooking with the suckers.

In our family, we have been using the same recipes for dinner for years and years. Occasionally a new meal is created, but not often do we find something that can be added to the Caplan supper circulation. I often go on, where you can “stumble” all through the internet for websites based on your interests. Since it was my turn to get creative with the green plant, I stumbled around looking for recipes. I came across a website/food blog called which happened to have a tasty looking recipe for “zucchini cakes.”

I read the recipe the blogger had, tweaked it to my liking, and created a food that since last week I have already made twice. The first time went well and I used a “normal” sized zucchini. The second time, per request of my parents, I used the largest zucchini the garden produced all summer and made a triple batch (yes, with one zucchini.)

I froze most of the cakes since there were so for many the 3 of us but I can guarantee they will be gone in a week!

                                                                Photo Credit
Zucchini Cakes recipe (makes 8):
1 Large Zucchini
3 cloves garlic
1 egg
½ cup Pecorino Romano cheese
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/8 tsp fresh ground nutmeg (or ¼ of the pre bought)
¼ tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh black pepper
1 Tbl extra light olive oil

Grate the zucchini, remove excess water (with paper towels), and place into a large bowl. Remove the skin of your garlic clove and grate it with a micro plane into the bowl. Add the cheese, bread crumbs, nutmeg, paprika, salt, and pepper. Crack your egg into a separate dish to make sure you don’t get any shells and add to the bowl. Get down and dirty and mix everything up with your hands.

Pour the oil into a large skillet and heat on medium high. Form the mixture into patties about the size of your palm (a little larger) and place them in the skillet. Cook for 4 minutes and then flip them over, cooking for 3 minutes on the other side. Place them onto a paper towel covered plate to cool down.

These can be eaten by themselves or dipped in marina!

My mom and I were also saying if we opened up a restaurant these would make great vegetarian safe meatballs!

Enjoy :)

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 110 per cake
Total Fat: 5.3g
Cholesterol: 31.6mg
Sodium: 468.7mg
Carbohydrates: 12g
Protein: 5.5g