Corner- Cutting Chicken Parmesan with Spaghetti

Chicken parmesan is one of those enveloping comfort foods. And let me tell you, today I needed some comfort food! It was just one of those days, heck, it’s already been one of those years. It started two days before Christmas and again on Christmas morning with a major plumbing leak in the family room. Next, with the very start of demolition asbestos was detected. That prompted us 1) not being able to use our kitchen (or even enter it) for 48 hours, and then a move-out to a hotel for about 4 days. All of the nights at the hotel, my usual 5:00 a.m. girl slept way past that. When we finally get back into our house all of that changes and girlfriend brought herself into our room at 5:15 this fine Sunday morning. Sometimes there is just not enough coffee in the world. Sometimes one just needs a major food hug. And sometimes one that has been a mite grumpy needs to share that food hug with those that she was grumpy with. In walks my corner-cutting chicken parmesan with spaghetti. The Italians have really got this food hug thing down!

Ingredients:

4 oz uncooked spaghetti
2 (14.5 oz) cans unsalted diced tomatoes
1 1/2 Tbs olive oil, divided
6 cloves garlic diced (time saver tip: use jarred minced garlic, such as Spice World)
1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
3 Tbs finely chopped basil (time saver tip: one of my fave products  – Gourmet Garden Basil Paste, it’s amazing!)
4 skinless chicken breast tenders
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs
1 tsp butter
4 oz shredded mozzarella

Preparation:

Cook pasta according to package directions,omitting salt and fat; drain.

While pasta cooks, empty cans of tomatoes in food processor; process until almost smooth.  Heat saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add 1½ tsp oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute, or until fragrant, stirring occasionally.  Add tomatoes and 3/8 tsp salt; cook 15 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.  Stir in basil (or basil paste).  Toss 1 cup sauce with pasta, keep warm.

While sauce cooks, combine flour, garlic powder, and remaining 1/8 tsp salt in a large ziploc bag.  Add tenders one at a time and shake bag to coat.  Shake off any excess flour mixture.  Place lightly beaten egg in shallow dish.  Place Italian bread crumbs in another shallow dish.  Dip tenders in egg mixture and then dredge in bread crumbs.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add remaining 1 Tbs oil and butter to pan; swirl until butter melts.  Add chicken to pay; cook approximately 4 minutes on each side, or until browned and cooked through.  Place chicken on a backing sheet, top with mozzarella.  Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts.  Serve over pasta with sauce spooned over chicken.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Albariño
Merlot
Sangiovese
Sauvignon Blanc

Serves 4

Total time: 45 minutes

Chicken Parmesan

*Original Serves-4 recipe

Mini Meat Loaves

A few awesome things about these mini meat loaves: 1) they are mini, so everyone gets their own personal meat loaf, which is key if you are 5 and 6 years old; 2) you can even kind of make them to order, as far as the toppings go since they are pretty small, and; 3) the cook so much faster than your grandmother’s meat loaf.  The pasta sauce, basil, and cheese really made these tasty.  Add a nice green vegetable (such as the roasted asparagus with parmesan cheese that I did) and you’ve got the start of a quick and filling meal.

Ingredients:

1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup prepared marinara sauce
½ cup Italian style bread crumbs
2 Tbs Gourmet Garden basil paste (one of the best inventions ever)
1 lb lean ground beef (can use turkey, chicken, etc)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ tsp salt

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450°.  In a large bowl, combine egg, 1/2 cup marinara sauce, bread crumbs, basil paste, and salt.  Add beef and 1/2 cup of cheese; using hands, mix well.  Divide mixture into four equal parts.  Shape into a small loaf.  Place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Spoon remaining marinara sauce over the top of each and sprinkle with cheese.

Bake 15 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160°

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Chianti
Merlot
Petit Sirah
Syrah / Shiraz
Zinfandel

Serves: 4 large helpings (or 6 smaller servings)

Total time: 25 minutes

Mini Meat Loaves

Mini Meat Loaves

*Original Serves-4 Recipe