Tag Archives: tomato sauce

Chicken Parmesan

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This is the meal that started it all….When Glenn and I first started dating I put on the facade that I didn’t cook. At the time I actually didn’t cook a whole lot so what I said was partially true. When I did cook, I had a handful of go-to recipes that never failed me and this chicken parmesan recipe is one of them. When I finally decided to hint that I might cook a little bit and I wanted to make Glenn dinner, this is the dish I made. And, as I suspected, it was once again a success with Glenn happily eating the leftovers all week-long.

Over the years I’ve continued to make this dish both for large get togethers and family dinners. Unlike many parmesans the chicken in this dish isn’t breaded making it lighter than you would expect. A generous amount of fresh rosemary and fresh thyme ensures that the dish is so flavorful that you won’t miss the breading. As an added bonus you can assemble the entire dish ahead of time and keep it, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator until ready to bake it. If you do this, increase your baking time by 10 minutes.

So try this dish tonight. I’m sure your family will enjoy it as much as mine does.

CHICKEN PARMESAN

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 boneless skinless chicken breast filets

4 cups marinara sauce (I like Newman’s Own Organic)

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

3/4  cup finely shredded parmesan cheese

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Combine the oil, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Heat a heavy, oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Working in two batches, brush both sides of the chicken filets with the oil and herb mixture.
  • Place the chicken in the skillet and lightly sear on both sides just until the filets are no longer pink. Move the chicken to a plate and repeat with the remaining filets.
  • When the second batch of chicken is cooked, return all of the chicken to the pan.
  • Pour the marinara sauce over the chicken and top with first the mozzarella then the parmesan cheeses ensuring that the cheeses are evenly distributed.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes until the cheeses are melted, browned, and bubbly.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.
  • Serve over your favorite pasta.

Serves 4

 

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Sausage Lasagna

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There is a tradition amongst Navy wives that the easiest way for us to support each other during our times of need is to make food.  Whether it be a birth or death, a new family in town, or any circumstance that makes getting dinner on the table unusually difficult, we make and bring food to one another.  When Sidney was born the food came in waves and fed us, in many cases breakfast, lunch, and dinner, for weeks.  Having been on both the giving and receiving end of food hospitality, I realize that the easier the dish is for the recipient to put on the table, the more it will be enjoyed.  After all, when you have your hands full the last thing you want is to have to cook.

This lasagna is my go-to meal when it is my turn to provide another family dinner.  This version uses ground Italian sausage but you can easily substitute ground beef, pork, or turkey or make it vegetarian by omitting the meat all together.   You can make the lasagna ahead of time and store it in the freezer, uncooked and tightly wrapped for up to two weeks.  When I make this for my own family I often prepare it in two smaller pans then freeze one for a later meal.  It is also very easy to increase the amount you make; I once quadrupled the dish for a friend who was bringing home her sixth child and had a large household to feed.

If you’re making this to give away, construct the lasagna in a disposable tin tray so your recipient won’t have to worry about returning your dish.  I add a fresh loaf of Italian bread, a bagged salad and bottle of dressing , and bottle of wine and deliver a complete meal where the only preparation effort is putting the dish in the oven.  It really doesn’t get any easier than this!

SAUSAGE LASAGNA

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound spicy Italian sausage, removed from the casings and crumbled

4 cups good quality marinara sauce

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet set over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and garlic and saute until soft, 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the sausage and stirring occasionally, cook until the meat is no longer pink, 5-6 minutes.
  • Stir in the marinara sauce and basil.  Season with salt and pepper.
  • Off the heat and set aside.

For the cheese filling:

2 cups low-fat ricotta cheese

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup broad leaf parsley, minced

Pinch fresh grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper

  • Place the ricotta cheese in a medium bowl and stir to soften.  Add the mozzarella cheese and stir until well combined.
  • Add in the eggs and stir until blended.
  • Fold in the parsley and nutmeg then season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

To assemble the lasagna:

1/2 box no-boil lasagna noodles

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Coat an 8 inch by 8 inch square baking pan with cooking spray.
  • Using a large ladle, place two scoops of the tomato and meat mixture on the bottom of the pan.  Use a rubber spatula to evenly distribute it across the entire surface.
  • Place three lasagna noodles on top of the sauce slightly overlapping their edges.
  • Add another scoop of sauce and evenly distribute it over the top of the noodles.
  • Top the sauce with 1/3 of the cheese mixture.
  • Repeat the noodle, sauce, and cheese layer until you have either used all of the cheese mixture or have filled the pan, ending with a sauce layer.
  • Top the sauce with the 2 cups of mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan cheese.
  • Cover the lasagna with tin foil and bake for 25 minutes (45 if the lasagna has been sitting in the refrigerator prior to baking).  Remove the foil from the pan and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is brown and has melted.  Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6

Sweet & Sour Meatballs

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Who doesn’t love meatballs?  This recipe, adapted from Saveur Magazine is a twist on traditional Italian meatballs.  The addition of brown sugar and a bit of vinegar in the sauce turns an ordinary tomato sauce into a slightly sweet and tangy treat.  With a meat grinder it is easy and fast to grind your own beef; it also allows to you know exactly what you are eating.  If you prefer you can substitute pork, turkey, or a combination of the meats for the beef.  These meatballs turned out huge so if you prefer them smaller use a 1/4 cup measure when shaping them.

I served the meatballs with garlic mashed potatoes which were perfect for sopping up the leftover sauce.  Yum!

SWEET & SOUR MEATBALLS

For the sauce:

2 teaspoons canola oil

1 medium onion, minced

1 15-ounce can tomato sauce

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

Salt & pepper to taste

  • In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil then saute the minced onion over medium heat until tender and golden, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Add the tomato sauce, 1/2 cup of water, the vinegar, and brown sugar to the pan.
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer, uncovered, over medium heat then remove from the heat and set aside.

For the meatballs:

2 pounds ground beef

2 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup long grain rice, parboiled for 3 minutes

1 cup bread crumbs

1 medium onion, coarsely grated

2 1/4 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Put the meat in a large bowl and push it to one side.
  • Add the eggs, rice, bread crumbs, onion, salt, and pepper to the other side of the bowl and combine with a large fork.
  • Work in the meat, approximately 1/2 cup at a time until everything is fully blended.
  • Return the sauce to a gentle simmer over medium heat.
  • Using a 1/2 cup measuring cup, shape meatballs and drop them gently into the sauce.  You should have approximately 8 meatballs when you are done.
  • Cover and simmer slowly for 30 minutes, gently rotating and pushing the meatballs around halfway through the cooking so that they are thoroughly coated with sauce after about 15 minutes.
  • Correct seasoning if necessary and serve hot.

Serves 4

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