Saturday, October 29, 2011

I'm a wife!!

Hello, Internet! I'm back and a Mrs.! The wedding was the most fun I've ever had in my life and everyday, I wish we could do it all over again! But, after a lovely honeymoon in Hawaii and two never-ending weeks unpacking boxes and moving my new husband in, it's back to reality!

I am more than ready (though, admittedly, also more than rusty) to jump back into writing, but I'm waiting for one of the stories swirling in my head to become clearer and take hold. I may go back to a piece I was working on while I was planning the wedding, but I'm also intrigued by this new idea that seemed to appear out of nowhere. How many stories do you have in your head before you pick one? And after you pick one, how many are still in your head, vying for your attention?

There are two things I'm not quite ready for: (1) Going back to work after 5 glorious weeks off and (2) cooking everyday. Don't they both sound scary?! Yup, I have more appreciation for my mom (and all moms out there) who put something different on the dinner table every single night. How the heck? I'm so intimidated, I've been scouring the Internet for recipes. I don't outline my novels, but I've been trying to plan out my week. Watch out world! New working woman / wife, so excuse me while I collect recipes to try this whole making dinner everyday thing.

Chicken Parmesan
* the original recipe teaches you how to make a tomato sauce from scratch, but I decided to take the easy route and use jarred sauce

4 chicken breast cutlets (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds total)
2 eggs
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced

Preheat oven to 400°F. Working one at a time, place a chicken cutlet between two layers of wax paper (or plastic wrap). With a meat pounder, pound the chicken pieces to flatten them to an even thickness - between 1/4 - 1/2 inch. (If you don't have a meat pounder, you can use a rubber mallet, an empty wine bottle, or a heavy rolling pin.) Salt the chicken pieces well.

In a shallow bowl (large enough to dredge the cutlets), mix together the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, and pinch of salt. In separate shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs.

Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium-high heat. The oil should be shimmering, not smoking. Dredge the chicken pieces 1 piece at a time first in the egg mixture, then in the breadcrumbs. Then lay the pieces in the hot sauté pan. Turn the heat to medium, then gently fry the cutlets until they are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side.

Spread enough tomato sauce to thickly coat the bottom of 9x13 casserole pan or baking dish. Once the cutlets are browned on both sides, arrange them on top of the tomato sauce in the baking dish. Place sauce over each of the cutlets. Sprinkle the tops with sliced basil. Then top the cutlets with slices of mozzarella and the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.

Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the mozzarella begins to brown.

Serves 4.

For a side dish for above chicken, how about some grilled lettuce! Got this idea from my cousin's food blog:

1 head of Romaine lettuce
enough olive oil to slather both sides
1/2 cup of fresh grated Romano (Parmesan or Asiago could also be used, just nothing from a green can)
pinch of salt
couple turns of black pepperdusting of granulated garlic

Basically, grill the lettuce until it's slightly charred and then sprinkle with the cheese before serving.

Panko-Crusted Salmon

4 teaspoons olive oil
4 pieces thickly cut, boneless salmon (each 6 oz)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp honey mustard or sweet-hot mustard
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
2 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Set the salmon on a foil-lined baking sheet skin side down. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine the honey mustard and 1 teaspoon of the thyme. In another small bowl, mix the panko with the remaining 1 teaspoon of thyme, 4 teaspoons of olive oil, parsley, and paprika. Add salt and pepper (a light sprinkle).

Using a small spoon, spread the mustard mixture on the salmon; top with the bread crumb mixture.

Roast the salmon for 12-14 minutes (test at 10) or until it is almost completely firm to the touch and flakes when poked with a fork. Serve at once.

Other recipes I want to try sometime:

Hamburger Stroganoff (might try it with turkey and yogurt to be a little healthier)

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