Herbed Chicken Parmesan

Sometimes I am in the mood for a comforting meal that’s filling and delicious, but don’t have a lot of time to prepare it.  I’m sure you have the same experience on many occasions. Well, I am alway on the look-out for easy to prepare, quick meals, and when I find ones that look interesting, I dog-ear the page, or tear out the clipping.  The problem with me is that I can’t remember where I saw it , or where I put the clipping.  I just remember enough to purchase the necessary ingredients,  and then go “where did I see  that recipe? or,” where did I put that clipping?”  I am developing a better system of recipe organization,  but that story will wait for another time!  This recipe meets all my requirements:  quick, easy, well-balanced, not very fancy, but just plain good.

Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan

For the pasta, I recommend Orzo, because it cooks quickly; and tastes good with some sauce over it.  To round out the meal add a vegetable like broccoli, which  also cooks quickly, and  looks great on the plate with the white pasta and red sauce.  A side salad would go well with this meal, but not really necessary.   I would, however, have a great white wine with it , like a Chardonnay!

Total time to prepare:  about 30 minutes.   Yield:  4 servings

  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound chicken breast tenders
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 cups bottled tomato-basil pasta sauce, or better yet, your own homemade tomato sauce.
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup shredded provolone cheese
  1. Combine 2 tablespoons of Parmesan, breadcrumbs, parsley, basil, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a shallow dish.
  2. Place egg in another shallow dish.  Dip each chicken tender in egg, then dredge in bread-crumb mixture.
  3. Melt butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken;  cook 3 minutes on each side or until done.  Set aside in the pan.
  4. Combine 1/8 teaspoon salt, pasta sauce, vinegar, and pepper in a microwave-safe bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap;  vent.  Microwave sauce mixture at HIGH for 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
  5. Preheat broiler.
  6. Pour the sauce over the chicken in the pan.  Sprinkle  evenly with the remaining Parmesan and all of the provolone cheese.  Wrap handle of pan with foil, and broil 2 minutes or until the cheese melts.
Chicken Parmesan with Orzo and Broccoli

Chicken Parmesan with Orzo and Broccoli

Source:  slightly adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

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Lemony Pasta with Goat Cheese and Spinach

Lemony Pasta with Goat Cheese and Spinach. 

 

During this time of year as the number of activities and parties increase all tempting us with special foods to eat, I try to lighten up what I prepare for our everyday meals.  My rational is that if we eat light but healthy meals at home then it’s OK to have some treats when we go out.  I’m not sure how that all adds up, but it works for me.

The recipe I’m offering today is one that is very quick to make with just a few ingredients.  It could stand alone with only the addition of a salad to make it a complete meal.  Although the main ingredient is pasta it is kept light with a sauce  that incorporates  goat cheese for creaminess, and also includes spinach and lots of parsley.  The addition of lemon jest and juice provides the brightness that makes the flavors pop.

LEMONY PASTA WITH GOAT CHEESE AND SPINACH

EVERYDAY FOODS

Only a few ingredients needed.

SERVES:   4

Ingredients

  •  3/4 pound spaghetti
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  • 2 cups fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

Directions

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to boiling.  Add pasta and cook according package directions for al dente.  Remove and save 2 cups of pasta cooking water.  Drain the pasta.

2.  In the pot, stir together 1 cup of pasta water and the goat cheese over medium heat to melt the cheese.  Add pasta, spinach and parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Cook pasta, then mix everything together in the same pot.

Stir to coat with the sauce.  Add more pasta water as needed to  create a sauce that coats the pasta.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with walnuts to serve.

Lemony Pasta with Spinach served with crispy breaded shrimp.

Chicken and Tortellini with Asparagus and Zucchini

Most of us love pasta with red sauce.  They go together like peanut butter and jelly, or iced tea with lemon.  But let’s face it when the days are beautiful and warm we’d much rather be outdoors than in the kitchen making the sauce, cooking pasta and eating a heavy, hot meal.  Right about now I’m lightening up our meals, and including as many fresh,  seasonal, vegetables as I can work into our diet.  Pasta(s) still have their place, but are used a little differently.  The pasta assumes a secondary role rather than being the main focus.  In this recipe chicken and vegetables are the main focus and tortellini helps round out the meal for an all-in-one-pan entree, quick and easy to prepare.

Chicken and Tortellini with Asparagus and Zucchini

SERVES   4-6

  •  1 pound chicken tenders, cut into bite-sized pieces
  •  1  9oz.package refrigerated tortellini ( herb and chicken or any other flavor of choice)
  • 1  lb. fresh asparagus
  • 1 small-medium zucchini, cut into half-moons
  •  1/4 cup chopped green onions
  •  2 Tablespoons olive oil
  •  1 med. size red pepper, cut into thin strips
  •  1  8-10 oz.jar basil pesto (pictured here, homemade pesto)
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 Tablespoons sliced black olives (optional)

1.  Prepare tortellini according to package directions.  Meanwhile, snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus, and cut the asparagus into 2-inch pieces.

2.  Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper.  Saute in hot oil in large skillet over medium-high heat 6-7 minutes or until almost done. Remove to a platter and keep warm.

3.  In the drippings remaining in the skillet, sauté the onions  and red pepper over medium heat 1-2 minutes or until softened.  Increase heat to medium-high, add asparagus and  zucchini  and sauté 5-6 minutes.

4.  Stir in pesto,  and return chicken to skillet.  Cook, stirring occasionally, 2-3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.  Save aside about 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.  Drain the tortellini and add to skillet with additional cooking water to loosen the sauce as desired.

Sprinkle with Parmesan and sliced black olives if desired.  Serve immediately.

SOURCE:  adapted from  Southern Living Magazine

Italian Wedding Soup

Here we are at the middle of June and the weather this week has been overcast and quite cool.

This put me in the mood for a warm bowl of soup.

Not a thick, hearty one but something rather light, yet filling and containing healthy ingredients.  The one that came to mind is this recipe for Italian Wedding soup.  A chicken broth base, with carrots, tiny pasta, beef meatballs and spinach,  it was just what I wanted.

A quick side note:  I always assumed it was so named because it was served at Italian weddings.  HaHa!  My friend Pauline who is  Italian by heritage straightened me out on that one.  She says it gets its name from the fact that it is a marriage of beef meatballs with chicken stock,  a wedding of sorts.  So—now we know.

I usually start this recipe by making the meatballs first,  putting them on a platter or tray in the refrigerator while I begin the actual soup-making……then when I need the meatballs they are all ready.  In fact they could be made a day in advance and kept cold so you save time on the day you make the soup, since this is what takes the most time.  With the meatballs all made, it takes less than an hour to make the soup.  Now let’s get started.

ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP

SERVINGS:  ABOUT  8

INGREDIENTS

  • 1  Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 carrots, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried mixed Italian herbs
  • 1- 1 1/3 cups small pasta, like orzo or ditalini
  • 10 oz. box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry; or 8 0z. fresh baby spinach
  • Prepared meatballs  (see separate directions)

For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs, preferably Panko
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon finely diced onion
  • 1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

In a medium bowl mix together the milk, egg, salt, breadcrumbs, and seasonings.  Crumble and add the ground beef. Gently mix with  the other ingredients.  With your hands, form into tiny meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter.  It’s helpful to moisten your hands occasionally while doing this—-the meatballs seem to stick together better.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

In a large soup kettle, sauté the onion and carrots in the olive oil, just till onion is translucent.  Add garlic and sauté another minute.

Add the chicken broth and herbs;  Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium and simmer till vegetables are tender.  Add the pasta, bringing soup back up to boil,  simmer about 10 minutes.

Add the meatballs and cook until they are firm and float to the top,  about 4-5 minutes.

Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, if using fresh, or warmed through if using frozen.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.

Ladle soup into serving bowls and top with grated parmesan cheese.   Oh, yeah!  This is good stuff!

SOURCE:   Pauline’s recipe with slight modifications by yours truly.