Sunday, July 21, 2013

Oven Baked Tomatoes

As I mentioned, I had an abundance of delicious tomatoes that I was using to make baked fried tomatoes, and wanted to attempt a "Battle Royale" Fried tomato.  Here's the second version I made after the first, which I posted yesterday.

These were not my favorite way to make fried tomatoes. I think I'm used to a breadcrumb variety, so when I encounter the (decidedly more Southern!) cornmeal variety, I'm not satisfied.  I found these to be a bit bland, so added some salt and pepper and Italian spices to the coating in the second batch with improved results.  Definite add some of your favorite spices too; it will amp up that flavor for you!

Oven Baked Fried Tomatoes Source:  What's Cookin Chicago
3 beefsteak tomatoes
1 egg, whisked
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 C. panko
1/4 C. fine corn meal
1/4 C.  all purpose flour
2 t. kosher salt
1 t. fresh ground pepper
canola oil
1.  Preheat oven to 450.  Remove the tomato core and slice into 3/8" slices.
2.  Prepare your dredging station by adding egg to one shallow dish, buttermilk to another, and the combined panko and corn meal to a final dish.  Dredge each tomato slice by dipping first in the egg, then the buttermilk, and then the breading, pressing to adhere.  Set aside.
3.  Drizzle 2-3T canola oil on an ovenproof skillet (I used cast iron, which adds a great flavor; highly recommend!) and heat till oil is shimmering.
4.  Moving quickly, sear each side (about 1-2 minutes).  Transfer your skillet to the oven for 10 minutes.  Serve hot!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Parmesan Tomatoes

I wanted fried tomatoes, and went a little overboard in the produce aisle, buying a LOT of big beautiful, local beefsteak tomatoes.  (in my defense, these were delicious; I couldn't stop snacking on them!)

So I got creative, and made them two different ways.  There's this baked "fried" tomato recipe on allrecipes that I have made and LOVE, but I can never seem to find it there (of course I have it in my PAPER recipes, but I never thought to look there).  So I made these as the first method of making baked fried tomatoes.

These were tasty, but not quite what I was looking for.  They pretty much were nothing like fried tomatoes, other than they were tomatoes.

They were definitely good, and I'll have to give them another shot when I'm looking for something ooey and gooey and tomatoey.

Parmesan Tomatoes From allrecipes, NRWilson

Friday, July 19, 2013

Chicken Parmesan

My husband loves chicken parm, as I've said many times before.  He asked for it this week, despite my having made the Pinterest chicken parm casserole.

It's been so hot here, I have NOT been in a cooking mood AT ALL and somehow have managed to stay away from the takeout menu folder.  So I went scouring for a Quick Chicken Parm recipe when I came across this from Simply Recipes.  I made it even faster by using jarred spaghetti sauce, though their marinara sounds great too.

I modified ever so slightly by using crushed panko for the breadcrumbs, and I think that added the perfect amount of crunch to the outside.  It wasn't super fast, but I was happy with the results and it *seemed* faster because I was trying something new maybe?

Chicken Parmesan by Simply Recipes
  • 2 chicken breast, butterflied or pounded thin
  • Salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs, slightly crushed
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 2-4 cups prepared spaghetti sauce (I used a tomato basil version with great success)


1.  Preheat oven to 400°F.  If serving with pasta, cook pasta according to package directions.
2.  In a pie plate, set up your dredging station--mix panko and 1/2c Parmesan cheese in one shallow dish, and slightly beat the eggs in another one.  Dredge by dipping each chicken piece first in the eggs then in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing to adhere.
3.  Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat until shimmering.  Add chicken until golden, about 4 minutes a side (don't crowd them; better to do them in two batches).
4.  Coat a baking dish with a layer of spaghetti sauce, then nestle the chicken pieces in the sauce.  Top each breast piece with sauce, then basil, then some cheese.  Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese starts to brown.
5.  Serve with bread, pasta, and some delicious veggies!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Tortellini spinach Bake in Lemon Cream Sauce

I'm not sure how I stumbled across this one, but it's likely something I found on Pinterest.  It looks like a mess, but it's delicious.  I was actually talking with a man at the pizza place about it; he asked the checkout girl if people ordered a lemon cream sauce because it sounded strange, and I chimed in that I'd made one and that it was so light and fresh and summery.  A definite must try.

This is the same, but add in the freshness of spinach and you're in for a treat.  Then it also has bacon!  I billed this to my kids as special mac and cheese, and it is in a lot ways.  The preparation is basically the same, though the pasta and other add ins are a little different.

Tortellini Spinach Bake in Creamy Lemon Sauce Source:  Our Best Bites

12 oz bag Barilla Cheese & Spinach Tortelini
 4 oz bacon or pancetta, (about 4 strips bacon)*
3 cloves garlic, pressed in garlic press or finely minced
2 Tbs flour
2 C milk
¾ tsp kosher salt
⅛ tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp dry basil
¼ tsp red pepper flakes (1/2 tsp or more if you like spicy)
1 medium lemon, zested and juiced
2 C loosely packed fresh spinach, roughly chopped
¾ C grated mozzarella cheese, divided
¾ C grated Parmesan cheese, divided

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain.
  2. Cook bacon until crisp; drain on paper towels.  Reserve two tablespoons bacon grease and discard the rest.
  3. Add garlic to bacon grease and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Whisk in flour and cook for about a minute.  Add milk, continuing to whisk until smooth.  Add basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper and stir.  Bring to a simmer.  Add 2 teaspoons lemon zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.  Continue to stir until thickened, about 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  4. Reserve all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon and add the rest to the pasta.  Add spinach, 1/2c mozzarella, and 1/2c Parmesan, then add sauce.  Stir gently.
  5. Transfer to an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish.  Top with remaining cheese and bacon.  Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake until cheese is melted and pasta is bubbly, about 5-10 minutes.    Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
*Omit bacon to make a vegetarian meal.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Smothered Italian Chicken

Some times, my husband doesn't say anything about dinner.  Some times, his body language says it all (for better or for worse).  And some times, he says something along the lines of "you can make this again ANY time."  This meal was in the latter category.

Struggling with a not-quite-working-properly camera, the focus is horrible, but I assure you the meal is amazing.

Smothered Italian Chicken Source:  Stephanie Cooks

2 chicken breasts
1 egg
3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
Vegetable oil
1 roma tomato, sliced
1.5 cups baby spinach
1/3-1/2 tub Philadelphia Italian Cooking Creme
Salt and pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.  When preheated, place tomato slices in a small baking dish and bake, covered with foil, for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, crack egg into a shallow dish and lightly scramble; place bread crumbs in another shallow dish.  Dredge the chicken by dipping in egg, then bread crumbs pressing to adhere. Heat oil and fry chicken until crisp and cooked through. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
  3. When tomatoes are done, remove from oven and add spinach and cooking creme. Re-cover with foil and bake for another 10 minutes or so, stirring well.
  4. Smother the chicken with the sauce. Serve immediately.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mango, Black Beans, and Rice

This is my boys' most requested lunch.  Well, after "Peanut butter and jelly with a baseball bat," that is.  This was the last lunch I packed for the school year, and I was, surprisingly, out of mangoes but had some super ready to be used peaches and tried them with great success.

I found inspiration here, but my boys' aversion to all things spicy led me to only add the three ingredients.  I tend to use dried beans and brown rice, so I often make up a big batch of each for the week.  If, like me, you struggle to properly cook brown rice, this method has never failed me.

So, I mix it all up in a big bowl--one chopped mango (or peach), an eyeballed amount of black beans, and a serving of rice.  They loved it every time!

Also with this lunch are halved fresh cherries at the top left and Terra Chips at the top right, packed in an Easy Lunchbox.
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