Monday, January 28, 2008

Chicken Parmigiana, can it be light?

Well last night after asking Alex what he wanted for dinner all I could get out of him was italian. So I went to my new cookbook, Cooks Illustrated Best Light Recipe, and found a recipe for Chicken Parmigiana. So that became dinner. It was really quick to put together and turned out relatively good. I think we would give it a 3.75 out of 5. Reason for the middle number, well I didn't have any panko so italian breadcrumbs took the place and we used jarred sauce instead of homemade. I served the chicken with Barilla Plus penne. I am thinking that with those two changes, dinner would have been near perfect.

The recipe takes chicken cutlets through the three step breading process, flour, egg white, breadcurmbs and then to ensure a crisp crust all around the chicken is baked on a rack.

Here is the original recipe, Enjoy!

Light Chicken Parmigiana (Cooks Illustrated Best Light Recipe)

1.5 cups Panko
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 oz. grated Parmesan (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper
3 large egg whites
1 tbsp water
vegetable oil spray
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (pounded to 1/4 inch thick, or sliced in half to make cutlets)
1 recipe for Simple Tomato Sauce for Chicken Parmesan
3 oz low-fat mozzarella, shredded (3/4 cup)
1 tbsp fresh basil, minced

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475. Combine the bread crumbs and oil in a 12-inch skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring often, until golden, about 10 minutes. Spread the bread crumbs in a shallow dish and cool slightly; when cool, stir in the Parmesan.
2. In a second shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, 1 tbsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper together. In a third shallow dish, whisk the egg whites and water together.
3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, place a wire rack on top, and spray the rack with veg oil spray. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with S&P. Lightly dredge the cutlets in the flour, shaking of excess, then dip into egg whites, and finally coat with the bread crumbs. Press on the bread crumbs to make sure they adhere. Lay the chicken on the wire rack.
4. Spray the tops of the chicken with the veg oil spray. Bake until the meat is no longer pink in the center and feels firm when pressed with a finger, about 15 minutes.
5. Remove the chicken from the oven. Spoon 2 tbsp. sauce onto the center of each cutlet and top with 2 tbsp. of mozzarella. Return the chicken to the oven and continue to bake until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and serve.

Per serving: 310 calories, 8 grams of fat, 2.5g sat fat, 75mg cholesterol, 20g carbs, 38g protein, 790g sodium

Simple Tomato Sauce
(Source: Cook's Illustrated)

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. olive oil
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tbsp minced fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper

Pulse the tomatoes with their juices in a food processor until mostly smooth, about 10 1-second pulses; set aside. Cook the garlic, tomato paste, oil, and pepper flakes in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the tomato paste begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the pureed tomatoes and cook until the sauce is thickened and measures 2 cups, about 20 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil and season with S&P to taste.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Plenty of options with cake mix!

Over the weekend, Alex and I were in charge of caring for his two nieces. We had a great time and spent some time in the kitchen creating two great desserts.

The first one is for a cake and I have seen this recipe floating around the boards for some time now and wanted to try it out. A great plus is that it only requires a couple of ingredients.

Diet Soda Cake

1 pkg. cake mix (I used Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Cake)
1 can diet soda (I used Dt. Caffeine Free Coke, b/c that is what we have)

Pour cake mix in bowl and add soda. Stir together. Pour into a 9x13 pan and bake according to the box.

One change I made was that I only made half the cake mix. I think it came out to 2 1/4 C mix and half a can of coke in an 8" round or square pan.

For the frosting I combined dream whip topping, sf/ff chocolate pudding, and 1 1/2 C milk, beat with a hand mixer and spread over a cooled cake.

My oh my, this was so simple and so moist and delicious!

What to do with the rest of the cake mix, you might ask...well make cookies of course.

Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies

1/2 box cake mix (chocolate)
1/4 oil
1 egg
1/2 bag chocolate chips (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and bake at 350* for about 15 minutes. Cool on rack, ENJOY!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Demerera Sugar, who knew!

Well I just felt like baking today. Nothing really struck my fancy, except that I knew whatever I made would have to include peanut butter and chocolate. As someone who very seldom has cravings, this was one craving that was not going away. I had made some Rice Krispie topped Brownie Marshmallow Bars the other day, well I threw them away finally because they were just too addicting and Alex did not like them. One look at the marshmallows and his nose turned up. So I wanted to be a loving wife and make something he would enjoy, even though his sweet tooth is nothing like mine.

After seeing this recipe with rave reviews everywhere I knew I would have to try it. With some demerara sugar in the pantry (how it got there, who knows!) I started baking. The recipe turned out okay, but a little disappointing because they were not show stopping. Not a waste of demerara, I just think my hopes were a little high for this one!

Here is the recipe for the brownies/bars:
Demerara Topped Peanut Butter Brownies

1 cup peanut butter -- not natural PB
1/2 cup butter -- at room temperature
2 1/2 cup Demerara Washed Raw Sugar
3 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips or chunks, to taste
4 tablespoons Demerara Washed Raw Sugar -- for topping

Preheat oven to 350.

Line a 9x13 pan with release foil or grease the pan.

Cream peanut butter, butter, and sugar until light in color. Add eggs and blend to combine. Add vanilla and blend well.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, soda, and salt. Add to peanut butter mixture and blend until just combined. Stir in chips, if using.

Scoop batter into prepared pan and smooth it out. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons demerara over the top. Bake 28-30 minutes. Brownies will sink slightly in the center while cooling. Cool completely before cutting.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The kitchen is off duty!

Well after a week of not posting I feel it necessary to at least say a few things. We have been extremely busy around here. Last week was Alex's birthday week and with a Coldstone Peanut Butter Playground cake, dessert was taken care of. We also ventured to Buca di Beppo twice over the week for Alex's parents 40th wedding anniversary as well as the annual birthday dinner with friends. Both times it was great, but I think Buca will be on hold after that much indulgence.

On Sunday, I was in charge of bringing dessert to Alex's birthday lunch at his parents house. I asked Alex to pick out a dessert and he chose the Vanilla Charlotte with Raspberries by Gale Gand in her book Chocolate and Vanilla. So on Saturday I set out to make the ladyfingers. Not too difficult, came out a little thin, but tasted great. On to the custard. Well, that thing did not want to set for its life. After pouring it into my lined spring form, the custard began leaking out all over the counter. My shriek beckoned Alex, who helped me get the custard into a 9" round pan. After four hours in the fridge, the custard was halfway to being set and the ladyfingers were not show worthy after all the rigmarole. So the dessert found its way into the garbage.

Dessert number two...I always keep box mixes on hand for occasions such as this. So into the oven went a yellow Duncan Hines. The next morning, the day of the lunch, I went to frost it with a lemon cream cheese frosting, homemade of course, and with some lemon curd in the middle that we had in the pantry. Well I guess the fact that the lemon curd was in our pantry should have elicited fear, but instead after finishing the cake, I licked a finger only to discover that the lemon curd tasted well, in the best words, inedible. So the second dessert went into the garbage.

So here we enter the house with half of the leftover coldstone cake:)

I have tried to redeem myself this week making CI Coffee Cake, Krispie topped Brownie bars, and CI's Chicken and Rice Casserole. Well they all turned out delicious...phew, I am not cursed:)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Cranberries and pork, oh my!

Well I have one more post for tonight. I have been slacking a little but we didn't do much cooking over the weekend. Tonight for dinner was a new recipe I wanted to try from Sunset Magazine. The recipe is for Cranberry Pork Tenderloin with a side of Rice Pilaf with Shallots and Parmesan. It was quite tasty but not so amazing that it will get put into the tried and trues. With a side of steamed broccoli it was a complete dinner and healthy to boot:)

This week began birthday week for Alex and for dessert all week, well there is a Peanut Butter Playground Coldstone cake in the freezer!

Here are the recipes, enjoy!

Cranberry Pork Tenderloin


2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb.)
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large frying pan, heat 1 tbsp. oil over medium-high heat. Season pork with salt and pepper; brown lightly all over, about 5 minutes.

2. Transfer pork to a foil-lined 9- by 13-in. baking pan. Add remaining 1 tbsp. oil to frying pan, reduce heat to medium, and add onion. Cook, stirring, until softened, 3 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, then pour in chicken broth, cranberry sauce, rosemary, and vinegar. Cook 2 minutes.

3. Pour hot cranberry sauce over pork and bake, uncovered, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into meat registers 160°, about 20 minutes. Let pork rest 10 minutes, then slice and serve with sauce.

(Adapted from Sunset Magazine)

Rice Pilaf with Shallots and Parmesan


2 teaspoons butter
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup basmati rice
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of sea salt


Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in rice; sauté 1 minute. Stir in broth and wine; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.

Remove from heat; stir in cheese, parsley, pepper, and salt.

(Adapted from Cooking Light)

The yummiest peanut butter cookie:)

We had a baby shower for a friend this past weekend and one of the girlfriends that was coming has Celiac disease. I have made these one other time before for a different friend with a gluten intolerance and every time they come out absolutely delicious and have the most distinct peanut butter taste. This is a recipe from a Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine for Flour less Peanut Butter cookies. If you are not making them for someone with a gluten intolerance or CD I think adding a couple T of flour may be a good addition if you don't like your cookies being a little crumbly.

Here is the recipe for these tasty little numbers:

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg (lightly beaten)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts

  1. Preheat oven to 350°, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a large bowl, stir together peanut butter, sugar, egg, baking soda, and salt until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips and peanuts.
  2. With moistened hands, roll dough, about 1 heaping tablespoon at a time, into balls. Place 2 inches apart on two baking sheets.
  3. Bake until cookies are golden and puffed, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through. Cool 5 minutes on sheets; transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.
Per cookie: 134 calories; 8.9 grams fat; 3.9 grams protein; 12.2 grams carbohydrates; 1.2 grams fiber
(Adapted from Everyday Food)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A new year, a new blog!

Well, I did it. I am now a food blogger and first up on the menu, Cooks Illustrated's Perfect Chocolate Brownies! We needed dessert tonight after an okay dinner so we decided on brownies. This recipe is so simple and easy to put together, and they taste great. Although I am usually a box brownie type of girl with as many mix ins as possible, these were pretty good for homemade...but I don't think I will be throwing away any boxes yet!

Here is the recipe for these:

Classic Brownies

Be sure to test for doneness before removing the brownies from the oven. If underbaked (the toothpick has batter clinging to it) the texture of the brownies will be dense and gummy. If overbaked (the toothpick comes out completely clean), the brownies will be dry and cakey.

1¼ cups (5 ounces) cake flour
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into six 1-inch pieces
2¼ cups (15¾ ounces) sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

(i added chocolate chunks and white chips ~1/2 C)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking dish, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhand pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and, if using extra-wide foil, fold lengthwise to 12-inch width; fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; set aside.

3. Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. (Alternatively, in microwave, heat butter and chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl on high for 45 seconds, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more. Stir again, and, if necessary, repeat in 15-second increments; do not let chocolate burn.) When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually whisk in sugar. Add eggs on at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla. Add flour mixture in three additions, folding with rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous.

4. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Sprinkle toasted nuts (if using) evenly over batter and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan by lifting foil overhang. Cut brownies into 2-inch squares and serve. (Store leftovers in airtight container at room temperature, for up to 3 days.)

(source: smitten kitchen)