Chicken Parmesan

chickparm4Don’t shun me. Please. Although I’ve really shunned myself, but I’m back.

This right here has become my New Year’s Resolution. I used to post 2-3 times a week, and now…well I don’t even know. The better part of last year was a little rough. I stopped eating all Gluten and Dairy products in hopes of fixing my lil’ Claire tummy issues. After several months of remaining about 90% true to the former, I’ve been slowly able to bring a few of those items back into my diet. Although limited, it’s nice to ONLY be able to just eat…meat and vegetables. Ha!

I’ve spent the better part of this last year building my career, kicking butts, and taking names. I absolutely must rejuvenate my culinary creativity, because those protein bars aren’t really cutting it in the expressive department.

I could easily write pages and pages about my personal life, but this is a food blog, not a me blabbing blog so, as you were-

I thought I would do a “Welcome Back” with an oldie but a goodie Italian Chicken Parmesan.chickparm2

If you have all the right ingredients, this can be from prep to table easily in 40 minutes. Lay it all out so you’re ready to go from one thing to the next and boom! I would recommend a stove top to oven safe skillet if you have one, or even better, a cast iron. (Cast-iron is also your secret weapon for perfect pancakes…totally unrelated. Who’s surprised?)

Chicken Parmesan
(For 2)

*If you read almost any Chicken Parm recipe ever, it will tell you pound out to flatten out two chicken breasts. A quick cheat to this, is just to take a larger chicken breast and slice it lengthwise (carefully of course).

Chicken
1 Large Chicken Breast, sliced lengthwise
2 Tbsp. Canola Oil
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup flour
salt/pepper
1/2 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp garlic

Sauce
1 can of peel tomatoes + 1 tsp olive oil: blend in a food processor + 1/4 tsp salt+ 1/4 tsp pepper
OR
1 can/jar of tomato sauce + 1 tsp olive oil+ 1/4 tsp salt+ 1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup of mozzarella
2 tbsp. parsley

1. In a skillet or cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium. If it starts to smoke it’s too hot. You want it to sizzle if water touches it.
2. While the oil heats, you want to soak the chicken in milk with about 1/8 tsp of each salt and pepper.
3. In another dish coming the flour+ 1/8 tsp salt+1/8 tsp pepper+1/2 tsp parsley+1/4 tsp chili powder+1/4 tsp ginger+1/4 tsp garlic.
4. Starting with piece one, dredge the soaked piece in flour, then back into the milk for a second dip, back into the flour another one last time. Repeat with 2nd piece. Set off to the site until the oil is hot enough.
5. Shallow pan fry about 1-2 minutes each side. Then set aside.
SAUCE
6. Preheat oven to 375. Turn down stove top to low. If it’s too hot your sauce will bubble (spit)
7. While the oven heats, whip out your pan you used to fry the chicken with just a paper towel. Place back on the heat and add your sauce ingredients minus the mozzarella and parsley.
8. Warm sauce on stove top until oven is ready at 375. Place your chicken breasts lightly on top in the sauce, top with mozzarella, and bake for about 15 minutes.

Serve with pasta of your choice.

xoxo : Claire ❤

 

Lasagna Rolls

lazrolls2This is one of my absolute go-to recipes, I can’t believe I’ve never posted about it. It’s in our regular rotation, and a perfect winter comfort meal. I love that it’s made in easy single-dish servings, making it easy to pack and go. Plus, have you ever tried to reheat lasagna and did it too quickly or on too high of heat? The outside it’s crazy hot, and the inside…ice cold. How to you reheat something that burnt your mouth, then cooled it in the same go? Ya, I have no idea either- that’s why I like these, they make me look less…stupid.

No one makes better lasagna than my Mom. I don’t know what she does that’s different, I’ve never even tried to learn, but it’s- just – different. I can only think of one reasonable excuse for my lack of attempt… and that’s because I’m not trying to feed an army of people, and I don’t want to have leftovers for an entire week, of the same meal. To avoid overkill on one of my memories of her recipe,  I’ll be proactive and just keep letting her make it when I come home 🙂

We use cottage cheese in my family instead of ricotta, but feel free to swap out whatever you prefer. I think store-bought ricotta is absolutely disgusting, so if you’re feeling adventurous… try my Homemade Ricotta. I really like putting left-over ricotta in my oatmeal. Is that legal? It’s a cheese technically, but somehow it just works. A dash of cinnamon won’t hurt your feelings either. Promise.

Just a heads up, the first time you make these, you’re going to burn your fingers on the noodles, and make an absolute mess of your noodle space. Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out 🙂 Here are some tips for the above mentioned.

**When cooking the noodles, take them out about 2-3 minutes before they’re cooking time. You want them a little firmer, this helps the noodles not break apart, and avoids overcooking them in the oven.
Strain the noodles, then use tongs to lay them on a large cutting board, or where ever your placing them…or “you’ll burn your fingers”.
**Anti-mess tips- sauce, meat, cheese mixture. Roll firm, but not too tight, and don’t over-fill, or you’ll have all kinds of stuff fall out. Also known as lasagna splooge.

**Cottage Cheese Haters- Have someone in your family that doesn’t like cottage cheese? No problem, put the egg/cottage cheese mixture in a food processor. Hides the texture and traditional taste. Also, it gives it a similar ricotta fluffy texture.lazrolls1

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–Also a great recipe to cut in half!

Lasagna Rolls

8 Lasagna Noodles
1 Large can/jar of sauce (I used Hunt’s brand because the large can’s are just too hard to beat, and they’re under a dollar)
1/2-3/4 lb of hamburger or sausage, browned
1 1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 Egg
4 handfuls of shredded mozzarella, this is about 2 cups
1/4 tsp of s&p
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp ground or flaked oregano
1/2 tsp dried parsley

Directions
1. Start to brown your hamburger or sausage in a saute pan.
2. While meat is cooking, boil the noodles in a large, wide, sauce pan. Cut their cook time short by 2-3 minutes. You want them al-dente if not 1 minute less.
3. Drain the pasta after its done cooking, I lay them out on a large cutting board. If you don’t have one try parchment paper, so that it saves you the mess, and the noodles don’t stick.
4. Prepare a 9 x 13 dish (I used glass) and spread about 1/4 cup of sauce on the bottom.
5. While the noodles cool a bit, mix your cottage cheese mix either with a fork or in the food processor. Mix together the cottage cheese, egg, mozzarella, s/p, red pepper, paprika, basil, oregano, and parsley.
6. Two tablespoons or so of each in order, sauce, meat, cheese mixture. Leave an inch at the end of each noodle for rolling up.
7. Place noodles seam side down, cover with remainder of the sauce, and two more handfuls of cheese.
8. Bake at 350 covered for 30-35 minutes.

Handmade Sausage Ravioli

 

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Yay!!! It’s ClairevsKitchen.com’s 100th post!!

100, 100, 100!
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It’s been a fast 2 and a half years. 2 years ago I was solely taking pictures with my Blackberry, and was getting as many hits per month, as I do in a day now. But I’m definitely not slowing down, I have big blogger goals that I can’t wait to fulfill. I would love to have sponsored affiliates, to guest posts for amazing brands, and actually make an income doing what I love. *someday*  Living in an age with the internet completely intertwined in every aspect of our lives, as strange as it sounds, to have so many total strangers become fans, follow, comment, and subscribe to both ClairevsKitchen by email, thru Pinterest, and via Twitter has been the most amazing support system. Strangers supporting strangers all because of the love of food, I find that pretty cool. I want to keep growing in every facet, reaching as many food-lovers as possible.  I can’t wait to explore and only better this blog experience over the course of this oncoming year as January approaches.

This is embarrassing. I basically founded this blog on dough, and it’s been a year now since we moved into the new house, with an expansive kitchen, without having made fresh pasta. SHAME ON ME. In angst for a unique 100th post, I wanted something refreshed without reverting from my mantra of being able to make something attainable using normal ingredients. Walking aimlessly thru the grocery store aisles, one of my new favorite (as well as Brad’s) ingredients began staring back at me. Why hello beautiful Spicy Italian Sausage, you look pretty (and edible).  Homemade pasta and Italian Sausage…that sounds pretty darn awesome. 100th post located!

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Ravioli: I know that most recipes have ricotta in ravioli, don’t get me wrong, y’all know I love my Ricotta, but I’d rather dollop it on my ravioli than use it for filling. I’ve never experience much with other filling besides ricotta, so using a protein and a cheese that wasn’t ricotta was a new thing for me. This post logged hours upon hours of research and recipe ‘messing’ to come up with this specific Italian concoction, and I think I finally nailed it. The precise filling consistency to compliment the perfect amount of doughy pillows, drizzled with White Wine Red Sauce or Red Sauce (recipe below)

Without further ado, post number 100, fresh Ravioli with sausage/cheese filling topped with a simple red sauce.

**Don’t get overwhelmed! This looks like a lot on the surface, but it’s just the three pieces broken down. Start with the sauce because that can simmer, and cook longer if need be. You can also make these ravioli’s up to 7 days in advance, then gently boil them when you’re ready.

Red Sauce

1 (28oz) can of tomatoes
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced 2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh parsley
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp of sugar

1. Measure oil into sauce pan on low-medium heat. Add the tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, and sugar. Simmer for 30-40 minutes.

2. Add your oregano and parsley (and any other herbs you wish)

Sausage Filling

1/2 pound Italian Sausage
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. crushed red pepper (or if you prefer just ground regular pepper)
1 cup shredded cheese
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. parsley
1 egg yolk
Pinch of nutmeg

1. Cook the sausage until it’s no longer pink. Place in food processor, pulsing several times, but do NOT puree it.

2. Mix the sausage with the rest of the ingredients. Keep in the refrigerated until ready to use.

Ravioli

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup boiling water

1.  I have a smaller food processor/chopper, just for reference I cut the recipe in half, then made the other half while the first set of ravioli’s were chilling.

2. Put the flour and salt in a food processor.  Add the butter and pulse until blended, texture will be course, so don’t over blend in attempt to make it smooth.

3. Add your boiling water, pulse a few times, once you see it coming together gather the dough on your floured surface and gently knead lightly, just until the dough is smooth. Keep whatever dough you’re not using in a bowl covered up.

4. Use a rolling-pin and shape into a small rectangle until you are comfortable putting the pasta thru hand crank machine. Don’t roll the dough too thin, you just want it thin enough for your pasta machine to be able to roll it effortlessly on the highest number setting.

5. Start on your highest number setting and roll thru the machine about 3 times or until the dough feels pliable and smooth. Take the machine down another setting and roll thru a few more times. My settings start at 8, and I use 8 and 7, if you want thinner pasta use 6, just be careful as this makes the ravioli’s much more delicate.

6. Place about a teaspoon of the sausage mix onto the dough. If you roll your dough wide enough you can fold it over the top, sandwiching the sausage mix, otherwise just place another piece of dough over the top and use your ravioli stamp to crimp the edges.

7. Once edges are crimped, I prefer to line a pan with parchment paper, and place them in the freezer for at least 10-15 minutes to harden a bit. This is not require, but I’ve found the best and most even results doing this.

COOKING

1. Start your sauce.

2. Make your filling

3. Roll your dough

4. Make your ravioli

5. To cook ravioli, with  gentle boil, these need to cook about 8-10 minutes depending on the thickness of your dough. I cooked mine at 8 minutes, then added them into a fresh saute pan with your red sauce to cook another minute or two. If you boil them to rough they can start to come apart. sausagerav2

Baked: Turkey Meatballs with White Wine Tomato Sauce

Meatballs. #ObsessedwithItalian. Pssht, Everyone else is using the hashtag, I figured I’m allowed it once. I love everything about Italian, except the button popping waistline! I’ve done Chicken Meatballs  in the past, but ground chicken (if you’re buying it from the store) is the price of a small child. Turkey is much more affordable!

Confession: Because I’m carb obsessed, and we just got back from vacation I’ve been trying to minimize them a bit lately. Taking the normal amount of rice or pasta and using a quarter of it, (literally, a 1/4 cup) and replacing the rest with healthy proteins and/or vegetables. It’s actually been a good body detox, post-cruise!Speaking of cruise, I found myself sneaking around the Internet this evening hoping to book another one. I figured I’d get my hand slapped after trying to get another one in the books not 7 days before leaving the last one, so I kept that information to myself…well, and here. Cakes doesn’t do blogs, so my secret is publicly safe…. here on the Internet.

Meatballs definitely aren’t the quickest meal to make, but they’re great comfort food if you have a few extra minutes to prepare dinner. I’ll guarantee that the extra leg-work won’t go unappreciated…especially if you accompany it with a great homemade sauce! It’s way to easy just to buy the pre-made ones in the frozen aisle that are loaded with preservatives and sodium. Refrain!! Separate yourselves, make better balls.

HINTS:These are also great for lots of extra leftovers, or for an extended family gathering, especially since the holidays are on the rise! Out of 1 lb of ground turkey  I was able to make about 20 medium meatballs. A 1/4 cup of pasta, and three meatballs a person made plenty for a single serving. Need more? Add some grilled asparagus!

** I made my own red sauce, I’ll include the recipe for this as well below. If you can multitask, I would start these right before you start forming your meatballs, that way everything gets done about the same time.

***The original recipe from Smitten Kitchen, that I adapted this from uses tomato paste, but I preferred my tomato sauce+flour combo.

Turkey Meatballs with White Wine Sauce

4-5 slices of bread torn into small pieces (start with 4, if it’s overly sticky then add a 5th)
1/4 cup of milk
1 onion
1 tbsp of garlic
1 tbsp of oil to cook the onion
1 egg
1 lb of ground turkey
1 can of tomato sauce + a few tbsp of flour
2 tsp of oregano
3 tbsp of parsley
5 slices of pepperjack (optional)

Rip your bread into small pieces in a bowl with your milk. Let this soak for a few minutes while you’re chopping your onion. Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cook onion, and garlic in one tablespoon oil with s/p (to taste) in a large skillet over medium heat until onion is softened, about 7 minutes.

To remove the extra milk squeeze it with your hands, then discard milk. Beat an egg in a large bowl, add your turkey, 1 tablespoon tomato sauce, bread, oregano and parsley. This works better if you get down and dirty and use your hands to mix. Form 18-20 meatballs on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. I could fit about 12 on a normal cooking sheet, so you’ll have to do this in 2 batches.

Mix your remaining tomato sauce with a few tbsp of flour until it comes to a thicker consistency. I formally used tomato paste and oil, but I thought it left a bitter taste. Dump a spoonful of the sauce on each meatball. I add freshly sliced Pepperjack laying around, so I cut each slice into quarters and topped each sauced meatball with one and it was a great addition!

Bake for about 15-17 minutes, or until done.

White Wine Tomato Sauce?

1 onion chopped
1 tbsp of garlic
a handful of mushrooms diced
3/4 cup of white wine
1/4 cup of water ( or chicken broth)
2 large cans of tomatoes (i throw mine in my food processor-optional)
1 heaping tbsp of sugar
a handful of parsley
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
 
On medium heat in a skillet, add 1 tbsp of oil, onions, mushrooms, and garlic and gently stir for 4 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape the bottom of the pan, getting all the flavorful bits off the bottom. Allow wine to cook down until reduced by half 3-4 minutes, then add the water.

Pour in tomatoes and stir to combine. Add sugar and more salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat a bit once you’re going to leave it sit and seep for awhile. Allow to cook for at least 30 minutes, taste as you go, follow your palette if you think it needs anything else.In the last few minutes add the cheese and parsley.

*If you want a different consistency, feel free to throw the whole batch into the food processor to bring it all together.

Chicken Kimberlloni’s, I mean, Cannelloni

Let’s play confession time early this round.

Love me some Italian. Love me some anything Italian. People, food, lifestyle, the country, attitude…everything, love it. I feel like I was born in the wrong…everything. 1986 in Omaha, NE a little Kimberbean came along. Something must have gotten mixed up because I missed my calling, in 1951 in Italy. Clearly there is some discrepancy between the two. Ughh, whatever, guess I just have to deal. 

I have to say right off the bat I didn’t make my own noodles this go around. I love doing so when I have the time, but rolling out dough is really only possible on the weekends. The ol’ steady Barilla showed face for dinner, Manitcotti style. I always have a terrible time finding these in the stores. For whatever reason around here many places dont always carry Manicotti. If you can’t find it just substitute the Giant Shells, they work just as good.

Quick Tips: The hardest part about this recipe is probably cooking the pasta right, and actually assembling the whole thing. But…even if it doesn’t work very well and turns into a mess, throw it all in a pan and put it in the oven anyway. It’ll still taste great, promise! I did a taste test this round, half with spinach and half without to see if there was a significant difference….no surprise here….spinach is a must have!

(if you’re short time and want to cheat…don’t forget the rotisserrie chicken at the store and shred it at home!)

My Original Recipe: Chicken Kimberlloni’s

6 Manicotti

Handful of Spinach

Splash of lemon

2 Medium-Large Chicken Breast

2 oz cream cheese

1/2 cup parmesan

1 tsp parsley

1/4 tsp paprika and chili powder

1 tsp minced garlic

3 sprigs of green onion diced

1/2 jar of pasta sauce

s/p to taste

1. If you have your chicken thawed out I like to make quick little side swipes to shred the chicken into small pieces. (you could also do this in the food processor if you wanted to) Put chicken into bowl, season with 1 tsp of grape seed oil, s/p, paprika, garlic, chili powder and mix together. Put in fridge.

2. Bring water to a boil and toss in the manicotti and remove about 1-2 minutes before you normally would. You want to keep them a little firmer so that you can stuff the shells without them shredding. Remove from water and set aside and let them cool to the touch.

3. Put pan on med-high heat and cook chicken just until browned. This shouldn’t take very long b/c they’re so small. I usually leave it on for a minute, then cover it and turn the heat off. Makes them crisp on the outside and center stays tender and not over done. Easy peasy.

4. Saute spinach with s/p and lemon

5. Mix the cheese, spinach, chicken, 2 tbsp of the red sauce, and green onion until a nice smooth mixture. Feel free to throw some extra parsley here too…

6. Take your manicotti and carefully stuff it with a small spoon. If you want a fool proof way, put it in a small zip lock bag, cut the tip (big enough for the chicken and goop to get thru) and squeeze it in.

7. Place stuffed pasta in a square pan small enough where they are tight. 8×8 or so will work. Pour over the remaining sauce, I also threw another handful of shredded cheese on top.

8. Bake for 20 minutes or so, if you want the cheese browned turn it to broil briefly. Take out and top with parsley.