Sunday, March 28, 2010

Parmesian Chicken with Homemade Maranara Sauce

As many of your know, K and I are both Italian and let me tell you we LOVE Italian food. Here's a recipe that is so fresh, delicious, and very easy to make. You will look like a super star when making this dish, so make sure you invite many people over so you can brag about your culinary skills.

Marinara Sauce

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup cooking wine (optional)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves

Heat the olive oil in a large pot on med-high heat, add the onion and garlic and saute 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

The secret ingredient to this recipe is the carrots and celery. You don't taste either ingredient in the final sauce but it adds that meaty texture which makes this sauce so good! Chop the carrot and celery, I usually just toss them in my food processor, and add them to the onions. Add the salt and pepper, stir and add the cooking wine. We have tried it with red and white wine, both are delicious. Allow it to cook for another 10min until the vegetable are soft and the alcohol has cooked off. It will look kind of like baby food at this point so don't worry if it doesn't look appetizing yet.

Add the can of crushed tomato and bay leaf. Turn the heat down to low and let it simmer uncovered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

This recipe makes a lot of sauce, but you can always freeze what you don't use and save it for later.

Parmesan Chicken:
10-12 Chicken tenders
1 cup Milk
2 eggs beaten w/2 TBS water
1 cup flour
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese 
Olive oil

Pre-heat the over to 375 degrees. Mix the breads crumbs with the Parmesan cheese, and set up 4 dishes with the milk, flour, egg and bread crumbs. Take each piece of chicken and dip it in the milk, flour, egg wash and finally the bread crumbs.

Drizzle olive oil in a baking dish and place the breaded chicken tenders in it. Drizzle a little more olive oil on top of the chicken.

Bake the chicken uncovered at 375 until golden brown, about 30-40 min.

Serve the chicken over your favorite pasta and top it with the marinara sauce.

We made this dish when our friends C- Puppy & his wife R came into the city. It was perfect because we made the sauce the night before and the chicken the night of. We had leftover sauce which we put in a container and placed in the freezer. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cheese Calzones

Lately, we've noticed an increase of eating calzones from the local pizza shop around the corner. We finally realized, "Hey, we can make this." So, we took K's favorite pizza crust recipe, found some sauce, and added some yummy cheese and made ourselves little calzones. This was very experimental so all we have for you is how to make the dough and put everything together. What you put in your calzone is up to you!

Here's the recipe:
Pizza Crust:

1 Packet yeast
2 tsp Honey
1 tsp Kosher salt
3 Cups All-purpose flour
1 Cup Warm water
1 tsp EVOO

In a bowl, mix 1/4 Cup of water, yeast and sugar. Let it "proof" for 5 minutes until it is bubbly. Add the remaining water (3/4 cup), olive oil, 1 cup flour and wisk until smooth.

Add salt and the remaining flour (2 cups) and stir until the dough forms. Knead for a few minutes.

Oil a bowl with EVOO and place dough inside. Cover. Let dough rise for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Once dough has risen, turn dough out on a flat surface and cut into six pieces. Roll each piece into a ball.

This is where the fun part begins. Each ball equals one personalized calzone. To make your calzone make sure you have a good pizza sauce. We love the pizza sauce from Trader Joes.

Also, have at least 1/3 cup of mozzarella cheese per person. We just made cheese calzones but you can add pepperoni, suasage...pretty much anything you want. Roll out the dough and spread out the pizza sauce. Add mozzarella cheese and whatever other ingredients you want. Fold the dough over itself and press the edges together. It also helps to roll the dough inside itself for a better hold.

On the top of the calzone you can put a little bit of olive oil or egg wash on the top. You can put some Italian seasonings on the top as well. Cut slits on the top of the calzones for ventilation.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown on the edges.

There you have it, your own personalized calzone filled with deliciousness!

These are super delicious and fun to make. They are great fresh from the oven or you can let them cool in the fridge and save them for lunch at work. Enjoy!

P.S.- this dough recipe makes amazing pizza too, just roll it out, add you toppings and bake at 500 degrees from 12-15min or until the crust is golden! :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Shamrock Cookies

These shamrock cookies are a holiday favorite on St. Patrick's day. It's another great recipe from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book They are very easy to make and delicious with milk. I love the hint of peppermint in these cookies too!

Here's the recipe:
1 C. Shortening
1 C. Powdered sugar
1 Egg
1 1/2 tsp. Peppermint extract
2 1/2 C Flour
1 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 tsp. Green food coloring

In a large mixing bowl, mix together shortening, sugar, and egg until blended.
Add the extract, flour, and salt and mix well.

Add the food coloring

Mix until the green color is evenly distributed within the dough.

Now you are ready for the fun part of making the shamrocks. Take the dough and roll into three or four little balls (depending on how you want to shape the shamrocks) and flatten together. Shape a stem and attach.

Bake for approx 9 minutes. I must admit, my first batch I over cooked and they turned out hard. My second batch I under cooked slightly and they turned out perfect. Set the timer for 9 minutes and then go from there.
These cookies are so much fun to make and delicious to eat. You can add green sprinkles on them before baking if you really want them to dazzle! Enjoy!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Homemade Four Cheese Ravioli

For all those chefs that want a bigger challenge, we have the recipe for you. Homemade ravioli sound like an impossible feat but we are here to prove you wrong. It may take some time but the final result is absolutely amazing. What's even better, you can freeze the leftover ravioli for a later date.

Here's the recipe:

Basic Pasta Dough:
4 large eggs
1TBS water
3 1/2C sifted flour
1/2 tsp salt

15oz carton Ricotta Cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, Romano, asiago cheese blend (or your fav Cheese blend)
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder

For the pasta, add the eggs, flour, water, and salt to your mixer and beat with the flat beater for 30 sec. Exchange the beater for the dough hook and kneed for 2 min.

Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and kneed until the dough is elastic and smooth.

Cover the dough with a bowl and let the dough rest for 20-30 min.

While the dough is resting start the filling. Add the cheeses, egg, salt, pepper, parsley, and garlic powder into a bowl and mix well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it refrigerate for 30min.

Cut the dough in to 4 equal portions and flatten each quarter into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle.

Using a pasta roller, or if you are up for the challenge you can use a rolling pin, to roll out each quarter to desired thickness.

Cut the dough into circles, we found this great dough press that makes the perfect sized half-moon ravioli. Someday we will be able to purchase a ravioli maker but until then this cost-effective gadget is perfect!

Add a spoonful of filling to the dough, being careful not to over-fill it.

Use a small amount of water to moisten the edge of the dough, fold it over and seal it together. Lay the ravioli in a single layer on a floured baking sheet to dry for 10-15min.

Bring water to a boil and add the ravioli. To prevent them from breaking turn the heat down to keep it at a gentle boil. Fresh ravioli will cook in 5-6min and frozen ravioli will cook in 8-9min.

Drain the ravioli and rinse with hot water to stop them from over cooking and sticking together. Top the ravioli with you favorite sauce and enjoy!

This is a labor intensive process, but is well worth the effort. The best part is that it will make 50-60 ravioli so you can eat some and then freeze the rest! Nothing beats homemade pasta, and this one this will really impress as well.