Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dinner with Dean

Hello everyone!  I'm just back from a 3 day mini vacation to NH with my family.  We went to Storyland & Santa's Village.  It was a great time for the kids and I highly recommend it to everyone.  Yes, we had our fair share of meltdowns, but nothing that couldn't be fixed with ice cream and a trip to the gift shop : )  We drove antique cars, went to the Three Bears house, and road Cinderella's carousel.  We came home with a very happy little boy.

Who was also exhausted! It's taken us a few days to get back to a normal schedule, but it was worth it.  The best part was that we just found out that we have an opportunity to go back to NH in October.  One of the best things about living in New England is the fall foliage, and October in NH is peak season.  We will drive the same roads we just drove, but they will look entirely different.  Instead of bright green and yellow trees we will see red and orange leaves fluttering through the sky.  Fall is my favorite season, so I already can't wait.  When my mother gave me the news on Thursday,  I went to bed craving hot apple cider and pumpkin donuts.  I have to put this out of my head now, or else I will wish my summer away - and I don't want to do that just yet.

Once home and unpacked I was anxious to get back to business.  First thing to do was check on my plants.  My mother had told me we had heavy rain while we were gone, so I was hoping my potted plants weren't flooded.  I had just planted these the day before we left.

Those plant stands aren't very heavy and I was afraid strong winds would blow them over. 

Luckily, everything was just fine.

In fact they must have enjoyed the rain, because they looked better than ever.  I was greeted with vibrant colors and happy green leaves.

I love it when things go well and I didn't have anything do with it.  In fact, I wasn't even here....ha-ha!

Next thing to do was get back in the kitchen. I had an agenda on my mind since last week and I was anxious to get cooking.  I want to share with you my meal from Sunday night.  I made simple, easy chicken parmesan and eggplant rollatini.

For the chicken parmesan, here's my method. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pound boneless, skinless, thin sliced chicken cutlets between two sheets of waxed paper until they are about a 1/4 inch thick.

Season both sides with salt and pepper.

Next set up three bowls for your assembly line.  Put flour in the first bowl, two beaten eggs in bowl #2, and seasoned breadcrumbs in the last bowl. (Judge your amounts based on how much chicken you are making.  You want enough to coat each cutlet). 

In a large skillet heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Dredge each cutlet into the flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs.  Add as many cutlets to the skillet that will fit, without crowding them.  Cook about four minutes on each side or until browned on each side.

Remove from skillet and place into a 9x13 baking dish.  I put a few tablespoons of sauce on the bottom first and then lay the cutlets on top. 

Spoon two or three tablespoons of sauce over each cutlet.  Anyone will tell you the sauce is the key to any Italian dish.  I learned how to make sauce from my mother, who learned from her mother, etc.   To this day I still don't think mine tastes as good as my mother's even though it's the exact same recipe.  It's one of life's great mysteries.  Anyway, I'll post my recipe soon, so stay tuned....

Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and a heavy sprinkle of parmesan cheese.  I love cheese, so yes - I'm heavy on the cheese.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  It's as simple as that.  Serve with pasta and a gravy boat of extra sauce.  Oh yes, and a big hunk of Italian bread. 

Now for the eggplant....

Try this dish instead of eggplant parmesan, if you want to try something different.  It's easy to make and oh-so good.  Here's what you need:

4 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 medium eggplants
1/4 cup parsley
1 cup flour (seasoned with a few shakes of Italian seasonings)
2 eggs, beaten
4 oz mozzarella cheese
12 oz ricotta cheese
salt & pepper

(note: This recipe can be cut in half if you are only cooking one eggplant, which is what I did on Sunday)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice eggplant lengthwise.

Sprinkle each side with salt & pepper. 

Drudge each slice into seasoned flour.  Heat oil in large non-stick skillet.  Saute eggplant until golden brown. 

For the filling, combine in a medium bowl:

Ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, parsley, and egg.

 Remove eggplant slices from skillet and lie flat.  Place a heaping tablespoon of the ricotta mixture at the end of each slice of eggplant and roll up into bundles.

Place in a baking dish and cover with sauce and mozzarella cheese. 

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. 

(This dish can also be served as a cute little appetizer....: )

I made the chicken and eggplant together so they could bake at the same time.   While they were cooking I made my veggies and pasta. 

Everything was ready at the same time , which is always a good thing. 

Serve with a good bottle (or two) of red wine and Dean Martin on the stereo. "On an Evening in Roma" is my favorite Dean Martin song.  I played it while I made my sauce, and hummed it to myself as I ate it.


1 comment:

  1. This looks SO good! You've got some great recipes here Danielle.. and the wine, the music .. a perfect evening :)