Today’s recipe is a bit of a beast but so worth every second it takes to prepare. Biscuits and gravy is a dish that I’ve recently come to enjoy but sparingly. It’s such a classic comfort food but it’s also very heavy and rich making it more of a treat than a regular meal. Inspired by biscuits and gravy, this recipe adds a little fried chicken to make it an even more comforting dinner. There are a few steps so I’d recommend making this one day on a weekend but you won’t be disappointed in the results…Read More
Coming off a two-week east coast trip, you’d think that the weather here in Chicago would be similar to what I experienced. Instead, I’m still somehow adjusting to a 30 degree temperature change. My last day in Boston was 80 degrees, my last day in Washington DC was 70 degrees and this weekend, we had a 10 minute blizzard in Chicago. Yes, snow in October! It's not unheard of but not usually this early. With that said, comforting dinners have been front of mind lately and nothing says cozy fall dinner like a roast chicken. Except, who has time for a whole roasted chicken on weeknights and more important, who wants to carve it? Not me, that’s for sure…Read More
Good morning from Syracuse, New York! Things have been a tad quiet lately while I’ve been getting ready to embark on my two-week long trip to the northeast. It’s been exhausting so far, I won’t lie but still so much fun. I’ve already eaten myself into a coma and hunted down several coffee shops to visit. A long walk on an unexpectedly hilly campus stretched out my legs after twelve hours in a car. Yes, twelve long hours where a few naps took the place of good night’s rest. Needless to say, as I write this my reward for productivity is sleep. I could have napped as soon as we arrived at the hotel on Friday afternoon but I’m the kind of person who prefers to push through the rest of the day and get back to a regular schedule as quick as possible…Read More
Nothing is more comforting than a bowl of pasta with homemade gravy. It instantly takes me back to my childhood. One of my favorite Sunday Night Suppers from when I was a kid is Chicken Parmesan. This dish doesn’t necessarily take a long time to pull together but there are a lot of steps and moving parts. It’s a great meal to make with someone too. Normally, I prefer to cook alone but there are some dishes that are nice to have a companion in the kitchen for. Everyone is familiar with Chicken Parmesan. It’s one of those classic Italian dishes that you can find anywhere. It’s been transformed into a sandwich, salads, and I’ve even seen pizzas and recipes for soup! Nothing beats the classic, pan fried and oven finished meal.
This recipe has two parts, the pasta and the chicken. Chicken Parmesan is traditionally served without pasta. Italians don’t mix meat entrees with pasta. You have the meat course, the pasta course and the salad course all separate. My family never had a problem with the American tradition of mixing meat and pasta though. Spaghetti and Meatballs? Bring it on. If it saves us from an extra set of dishes, we’re in. With that said, I went all in with this recipe by creating a homemade gravy (or red sauce) to use in the pasta and the Chicken Parmesan. I’m not above store-bought but to do a Sunday Supper properly, pour the ingredients into the pot and get the real thing going. It’s hardly any effort at all. The only hassle is stirring the gravy regularly to ensure the bottom doesn’t burn. Tasting it each time is also important. It’ll tell you whether you need to adjust the seasoning.
When it comes to the Chicken Parmesan, the end result that you want is a nice, crispy breading with a gooey outer layer from the mozzarella, finished with a delightful crisp Parmesan crust. This recipe, I’m proud to say, yields that result. Believe me when I say I surprised myself with how delicious this meal turned out. My Noni would have been proud had she been with us that night. Let’s start at the beginning. The chicken receives a classic breading technique. Flour followed by egg finished with breadcrumbs. Don’t be afraid to get messy. Get the chicken nice and soaked by the egg so that the breadcrumbs can hold on tight. Make sure to be really generous with the breadcrumb coating too because you want a nice, crisp breading. The oil should be screaming hot before placing the chicken into it otherwise you risk the chicken being soggy. It will only take a few minutes per side to fry the chicken. You’ll know because when you go to flip the chicken, the cooked side will be nice and stiff. This is what you want.
Once the chicken is fried, it’s not completely cooked so it needs to finish in the oven. This is also where the cheesy magic happens. The mozzarella will get all gooey around the chicken and the parmesan will become golden and bubbly on top while creating a crisp later. This is pure heaven and while it might seem like you’ve overcooked your chicken, you haven’t. The result should be a moist center. Serve on top of a bed of spaghetti and you’re good to go. See? Not too bad! There are a few moving parts but in the end, the result is completely 100% worth it.
Homemade Red Gravy
2 - 28 oz. cans Crushed Tomatoes (low-sodium or no salt added preferred)
8 oz. Tomato Paste (low-sodium or no salt added preferred)
½ cup Fresh Basil (or ¼ cup dried)
6 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 tbsp. Oregano
2 tbsp. Parsley
1 Bay Leaf
½ tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1 - Place all the ingredients in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and let cook for 2-3 hours stirring every 15-30 minutes. Keep the temperature as low as you can to avoid the bottom from burning. Taste the gravy each time you stir to make sure the seasoning is good. Adjust as necessary.
½ cup Flour
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
¾ cup Breadcrumbs
½ cup Parmesan, grated
1 tbsp. dried Parsley
1 tbsp. dried Basil
1 tsp. Oregano
⅓ cup Vegetable Oil
4 boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts
1 recipe of Homemade Red Gravy (above)
1 lb. Spaghetti
Salt & Pepper
1 - Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prep three bowls. In one add the flour, garlic powder and salt and pepper. In a 2nd add the eggs and whisk. In the 3rd, mix together the breadcrumbs, parmesan, basil, parsley, and oregano.
2 - Add 1-inch of vegetable oil (about ⅓ cup) to a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. While the oil gets hot, start breading the chicken. Coat first with flour followed by dredging in the egg and then coating generously with the breadcrumbs mixture.
3 - Add the chicken to the hot oil and cook 4-5 minutes until golden brown on each side. Take off the heat, add half of the gravy and top the chicken with th mozzarella cheese, parmesan, and basil. Bake 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the chicken temperature reads 165 degrees internally.
4 - While the chicken bakes, bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously and add the pasta. Cook until al dente and drain. Toss with the remaining gravy. Serve the Chicken Parmesan by making a bed of spaghetti for the chicken and placing the chicken on top.
IF YOU DON’T HAVE A CAST-IRON SKILLET OR OVEN-SAFE SKILLET
Grease a baking dish and spread a half cup of gravy along the bottom. Place the chicken in the dish after shallow frying in the skillet. Continue the recipe as is.
4 Large Chicken Breasts Makes 8 Servings
We’re coming towards the end of tomato season which is so sad! Tomatoes are in the height of their harvest from August to about mid-September, maybe through the month if the weather keeps warm. I went to the farmers market this morning and it was obvious the end is near. Heirlooms are bountiful right now but all the other tomato varieties are starting to phase out. It’s the only time of the year you’ll see me bite into a tomato the same way you would an apple. A little salt and that’s all it needs, if anything. From colorful, rustic heirlooms to the delightful mini cherry tomatoes, there are a million things you can do with tomatoes. Cook a fresh pot of tomato sauce, make a cold gazpacho on a hot late summer day, puree a bowl of steaming classic tomato soup to pair with a crispy, gooey grilled cheese sandwiches on fall-like September days...the options are endless! This particular recipe is a hearty version of summertime flavor combination that is one of my personal favorites: Caprese.
Caprese is an Italian salad consisting of tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. It’s also served as a pizza, sandwich and more. It’s fresh and delicious. Something about the combination of these three ingredients is dynamite. I wanted to do something similar for this time of year because the tomatoes are perfect but I wanted it to be a little more substantial for dinner. So I thought...add chicken! To really bump up the flavor of the basil, I also threw together a quick and easy pesto to schmear the bread with. The end result had great flavors and left everyone completely satisfied.
The chicken should not be enormous. Unless I’m planning to cut the chicken into strips or cubes myself, I always go to the butcher to order my chicken breasts. It gives me a little more control over the size of the meat. This particular recipe only needs thin-cut chicken breasts which are easier to eyeball in the packaged meat section. You can also buy two regular sized chicken breasts and slice them in half yourself. It’s much easier than it might seem. The trick is to have a really sharp, thin knife. It gives you the control you need to make a nice cut easily. There will be plenty of flavor from the pesto and the tomatoes so the chicken only needs to be seasoned simply with salt and pepper. Thin-cut breasts will cook rapidly over a higher heat which is what you want. No dry chicken in this kitchen! Sear it on both sides for a few minutes and let it rest while preparing the sandwiches.
Roasting tomatoes, especially cherry tomatoes, brings out all their natural sweetness. It’s my favorite way to cook them and it couldn’t be easier. Because you just want to melt the cheese after assembling the sandwiches, all the ingredients should be ready to go before assembly. In other words, the tomatoes need to be roasted. Drizzle a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and slide into the oven while you cook the chicken. Once everything is ready, schmear the bread with some pesto, top with the chicken, add a little more pesto, top with the roasted tomatoes and cheese. I don’t feel like this needs anything to go alongside it but a simple salad or roasted potatoes would pair nicely.
Open-Face Chicken Caprese Sandwiches
2 cups fresh Basil + ½ cup torn
1 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
2 Garlic Cloves
¼ cup Olive Oil, divided
1 pint Multi-Color Cherry Tomatoes, halved
4 thin-cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 thick-cut slices Country or Italian Bread
4 slices Mozzarella Cheese
Salt & Pepper
1 - In a food processor, combine the basil, parmesan, garlic, salt and pepper until chopped. Slowly stream in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until a paste forms.
2 - Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Place the tomatoes on the sheet. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast 20-30 minutes until skins are blistered and tomatoes have softened.
3 - Meanwhile, heat a grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Cook 3-4 minutes per side until cooked through and no longer pink.
4 - Assemble the sandwiches. Brush 1 tablespoon of pesto on each bread slice. Lay the chicken on top and spoon a little more pesto. Top with the tomatoes and mozzarella slice. Place back in the oven for 5 minutes until cheese melts.
5 - Top with torn basil for garnish and serve.
Sunday Night Supper is a weekly tradition that holds memories for a lot of people. If there’s one thing every culture and every person can relate to, its the comfort that food brings when it reminds them of home. Whether that’s a giant pot of Noni’s red gravy or the first crisp bite of Grandma’s fried chicken, we can taste and smell the memory as if it happened yesterday. Sunday Night Supper each week is a time where everyone comes together to be with one another and catch up on each other’s lives while enjoying a great meal. As fun as summer is, this weekly tradition tends to take a back seat to the barbecues, graduation parties, birthday parties and vacations. Now that school is back in session and things have started to settle down, it’s time to start bringing the family around the table again for Sunday Night Suppers.
One of the best things about Sunday Night Supper is the comfort food. It’s the dishes that take too much time to prepare on a regular weeknight. Instead, they take a little extra prep than you probably want to handle and sometimes cook for hours. It’s bolognese instead of marinara, rump roast instead of steaks on the grill. Or in the case of today’s recipe, Chicken Pot Pie instead of pan-seared chicken breasts. Chicken Pot Pie is a classic American comfort food but its history actually goes back to Roman empire times. Bottom line, it’s a meat pie. Meat and veggies cooked in a creamy sauce and served pie-style with pastry dough. There are a lot of moving parts though. So instead of creating a recipe that scares you away from these memorable dinners, I morphed Chicken Pot Pie into a more approachable recipe. Let’s be honest though, I hate dealing with pie dough and the thought of having one part of this dish already finished sounded pretty darn good.
Chicken Pot Pie made in its classic form includes cooking the chicken and the vegetables, preparing the sauce (or roux) for the chicken and vegetables to bathe in, and prepping a seamless pie crust. This recipe cuts a few steps. For starters, instead of cooking the chicken we’re using a store-bought Rotisserie Chicken. Any leftover chicken shredded or diced would work though. Second, we’re cutting the whole pie dough step and using store-bought biscuits instead. It’s a trick that not only is equally as tasty but so simple and seamless. I kind of like it better because biscuits make it easier to scoop up the delicious sauce. If you have a cast-iron skillet or another type of very large oven-safe skillet, this recipe only gets better because that makes it one-dish! If not, no worries.
When making chicken pot pie, it’s important that you cook all the ingredients through before putting the final product in the oven. This recipe has a little more leniency since there isn’t a traditional pie crust. If you were to put undercooked ingredients in the pie crust to finish in the oven, it risks being a liquidy pie. Since we’re placing biscuits on top, it’s not vital to have the ingredients cooked through before baking but you want the end result to be creamy and chunkier. Almost like a very hearty stew. So I'd suggest to cook everything through. One more important note before you get cooking, store-bought biscuits or your own favorite biscuit recipe will work. The point of the pot pie going into the oven is to cook the dough. So regardless of what recipe or store-bought option you use, follow those directions. I used Pillsbury Homestyle Southern-Style Biscuits which is what you see pictured.
Lazy Girl’s Chicken Pot Pie
2 tbsp. Butter + 4 tbsp. For the roux
1 Onion, diced
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
3 large Carrots, diced
3 Celery Stalks, sliced
¼ cup Flour
2 cups Chicken Stock
1 Rotisserie Chicken, shredded (about 3-4 cups)
3 Ears of Corn, kernels removed
2 cups frozen Peas
1 tsp. Thyme
Salt & Pepper
1 package store-bought Biscuits
1 - Preheat the oven to 325 degrees*. Prepare the filling.
2 - Melt 2 tbsp of the butter in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Cook 15-20 minutes until the carrots have softened. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
3 - Back in the skillet, melt 4 tbsp of the butter over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour. Whisk constantly until the roux turns a golden brown color. Slowly whisk in the chicken stock, continuing to whisk to remove any clumps. Let simmer 3-5 minutes until thickened.
4 - Add the vegetables back to the skillet with the shredded rotisserie chicken, peas and corn. Stir to coat all the ingredients with the sauce. Bring back to a simmer, season with thyme, salt and pepper.
5 - Top the pot pie mixture in the skillet with the biscuits. Move to the oven and bake 20-25 minutes* until the biscuits are cooked through and the filling is bubbly**. Let sit about 10 minutes before serving.
If you do not have a cast-iron skillet, prepare the filling in a large skillet and move to a buttered baking dish to finish the recipe in the oven.
*Oven temperature and baking time depend on the store-bought biscuits that you purchase. Adjust if necessary according to the package directions
**If the biscuits are browning too quickly on top but the rest still needs time, cover the dish with tin foil and remove 2-3 minutes before taking it out of the oven
Fast food doesn’t have much of a presence in my house. The occasional burger from a local spot and a once-in-a-while Jimmy John’s sandwich are pretty much the most you’ll see us indulge in. One of my personal favorite go-to’s when it comes to eating out in a rush is Chipotle. Something tells me I won’t get much judgement from you guys either. I love Chipotle but I don’t love paying $8 for a burrito bowl on the regular and I don’t love venturing out and waiting in line. I don’t love all that especially when I can make my own burrito bowl in the comfort of my home for about the same price to serve four. With that in mind, I went on a mission to create burrito bowls at home without lots of work.
The majority of the prep for these bowls will be in creating the Pico de Gallo which is hardly anything at all. Mix together chopped tomatoes, red onion, garlic, parsley (or cilantro for you weird people), and lime juice. Side note: I hate cilantro. It takes like soap to me. If you feel the same way, use parsley instead. I substitute it for every recipe that calls for cilantro. Once the Pico de Gallo is created, layer your burrito bowls! Make a bed of rice, top it with chicken followed by the pico de gallo, corn, beans, lettuce, sour cream and cheese...or however you prefer to top your bowl.
There is an important difference to note with this recipe. The type of chicken you use in this bowl will have an effect on the flavor. Chipotle seasons their meat pretty well. So for example, I used a store-bought Rotisserie chicken which has flavor but nothing crazy. I didn’t mind the flavors being a little muted but if you want that same spicy flavor from the meat, make a note of that when you choose what chicken you’ll be using. You can chop up some leftover breasts or thighs that you seasoned for a dinner earlier in the week. Or, there are plenty of cooked chicken options in the deli section. Some stores even offer Rotisserie chickens that have been seasoned. Our store has Rosemary + Garlic along with the traditional Rotisserie-style. It’s just something to keep in mind while you’re preparing the ingredients for this meal or doing your grocery shopping for the week. Regardless of your decision, it will still turn out delightful. Promise!
Weeknight Chicken Burrito Bowls
2 small Roma Tomatoes, diced
½ small Red Onion, chopped
1 clove Garlic, minced
Juice of ½ Lime
2 tbsp. Parsley, chopped (or Cilantro)
3 cups Brown Rice, cooked (white rice is ok too)
2 cups Cooked Chicken, shredded or chopped
14 oz. Corn, drained
14 oz. Black Beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups Lettuce, chopped
¼ cup Sour Cream
2 cups Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
Salt & Pepper
1 - In a bowl, prepare the pico de gallo. Mix together the tomatoes, onion, garlic, parsley, and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
2 - In four bowls, split the rice evenly to make a bed for the rest of the ingredients. Layer the chicken, pico de gallo, corn, beans, lettuce, sour cream, and cheese. Serve!
Back to school is starting this week and will continue all month long for many people. Whether that means bringing your baby to pre-school for the first time or heading back to a college campus, chances are time is not something to be wasteful with anymore. Gone are the long days of summer where dinner can be dragged out over a few hours. Weeknight cookouts (if you’re lucky enough to have those) will become a distant memory and budgets get a little tighter. Everyone loves a meal they can prep in under 20 minutes and it’s even better if it saves you a buck. That’s what’s so great about this Chunky Chicken Salad.
Two words: Rotisserie Chicken. I wasn’t a huge fan of these for a long time because breaking them down isn’t fun. One week this summer, I managed to make one $7 Rotisserie Chicken act as the protein for two different dinners plus there was enough left over from both meals to feed two adults for lunch for 5 days. $7 essentially provided 14 servings at least. That’s impressive. One meal was the Southwestern Chicken Pita Pockets that I shared a few weeks ago. The second was this delightful Chunky Chicken Salad. Both recipes need about two cups of cooked chicken which is about what one Rotisserie Chicken will yield. The remaining ingredients are pretty inexpensive and can be used in many other different ways as well.
Another perk of this Chunky Chicken Salad is that it’s no-cook! All of the ingredients get mixed up and spooned onto bread. Simple, easy, quick! Dice up carrots, celery and cucumbers. You don’t have to get crazy because this is a chunky salad but you want them to be small enough so that the sandwich isn't a challenge to eat. Adding cucumbers to the classic carrot-celery combo adds a refreshing touch. I always like to include grapes in my chicken salads if they look good ad the store. Their sweetness takes the chicken salad to another level and gives it a more dynamic flavor profile. Instead of just tossing the ingredients with mayo, add in a touch of relish for a tiny zing. It’s a small extra step that makes all the difference. These sandwiches are quite tasty, and pack well for lunches. The only time you’ll spend on this dish is how long it takes you to prep the ingredients and mix everything together. I used an Artisanal Bread from the farmers market but any kind you prefer will work. Try toasting the bread before hand if it’s not too sturdy so it can handle the salad well.
Chunky Chicken Salad
2 cups cooked Chicken, chopped or shredded
1 small Carrot, diced
1 Celery Stalk, diced
½ Cucumber, diced
1 cup Grapes, halved
½ cup Mayo
1 tsp. Relish
8 slices Artisan Bread
1 - In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the chicken, carrot, celery, cucumber, grapes, mayo and relish. Spoon onto the bread and serve.