Monday, July 7, 2014

Giada's Chicken Picatta

Chicken Picatta is a favorite in our house and I don't know why I don't think to make it more often. I make a menu plan each week and finally remembered to add this dish. It's delicious.
* I always forget to buy parsley to sprinkle on top.

Chicken Picatta
by Giada De Laurentiis

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
all-purpose flour, for dredging
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice 
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup capers, rinsed (brined)
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.

Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Chicken Marsala Stuffed Shells

I was struck with inspiration while staring at a half empty box of pasta shells last night. I had all the ingredients for Chicken Marsala and figured why not try it as a stuffed shells dish. It turned out great and I liked the leftovers the next day even better. Plus, as a bonus, my seriously picky toddler even ate some (although I had to dump a can of corn kernels into her bowl to disguise the rest of the dish haha).
I will warn you, I rarely have the patience to write down a recipe and then to add please excuse any mistakes.

Chicken Marsala Stuffed Shells

1/2 a box of large pasta shells cooked to al dente
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut in bite-sized pieces (if you already have leftover chicken from the night before, even better)
2 8oz containers of cremini mushrooms (or any mushrooms you like) stems removed and chopped
1/2 a large diced onion
2-4 minced garlic cloves, depending on how garlicky you like things. I like super stinky garlicky.
1/2 C Marsala wine.
1 8oz container of marscapone cheese (you can substitute cream cheese)
Salt & Pepper
1 C bread crumbs (I used panko)
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 C softened butter

Cook the pasta shells and set aside to cool.
In a large saute pan heat EVOO over medium high heat, saute onions and mushrooms until soft. Add the chicken to the pan and saute until almost cooked through. Add the garlic saute for about 30 seconds and then add the wine. Cook the wine for a couple minutes, you want a fairly soupy sauce, then reduce the heat to low and add the marscapone cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
Prepare the bread crumb topping by mixing the bread crumbs, butter and cheese together. I found it easiest to use my hands.
Grease a casserole dish and ladle a couple spoons fulls of the sauce into the dish. Fill each pasta shells with a scoop of the Marsala mixture and place in the casserole dish. Spoon any remaining sauce over the top. Top each shell with the bread crumb mixture. I like to sprinkle extra Parmesan cheese on top. Baked at 375 until cheese it melted and bread crumbs are golden. Enjoy!
If you reheat the next day for leftovers, cover the casserole dish with foil before putting in the oven. It will keep the shells from drying out.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Creme Fraiche Dijon Baked Chicken

I'm starting with the photo because....Yum! This was delicious. I originally found it on Pinterest but I'm linking to the blog so you have the easy access to the recipe. I'm also showing my adaption of it below.

Creme Fraiche Dijon Baked Chicken
by The Meat and Potatoes Foodie (adapted by yours truly)

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup creme fraiche
juice of a small lemon
2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan
1 small shallot (size of a fig), diced
pinch fresh ground nutmeg, red pepper flakes, kosher salt and pepper (preferably ground tricolor pepper if you have it)

Preheat oven to 350.

In a shallow baking dish, mix together the creme fraiche, lemon zest, mustard, stock, Parmesan, shallot, nutmeg and peppers and salt.

Add the chicken. Sprinkle the tops lightly with salt then turn over in the creme fraiche mixture to coat. Push around the dish so that they're evenly spread apart then put in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes (this depends on the size of your chicken - mine was organic and on the small side) or just until cooked through. The sauce should just be beginning to bubble around and in between the chicken. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
I served with rice and steamed veggies.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

It's HOT! Like record breaking heat where I live. And we don't have A/C. Boo! But I've turned our backyard into a water park so all is well. Well that is until I get our water bill.

I've kept my distance from the kitchen as much as possible since it's so hot but I'm getting tired of takeout so I made a quick dinner of Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells that I found on Pinterest. Quick and really yummy. I added pine nuts to give it some crunch.

Here's the recipe
Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells
original Joelen recipe

12-16 jumbo pasta shells
water for boiling pasta
4oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese + 1/4 cup for topping
3 tablespoons prepared pesto (homemade or store bought)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot over high heat, boil water and prepare pasta shells as directed on package. Cook pasta shells only until al dente. The pasta will finish cooking when the dish is baked. Drain the pasta shells and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients, except the 1/4 cup of cheese for the topping. Fill the pasta shells with the filling and place in a baking dish.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over filled shells. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake shells uncovered for 30 minutes or until shells are bubbling hot and cheese melts.

What do you do to beat the heat?

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Pacific Northwest....Tips for road tripping with a baby.

Last Fall we decided to take a couple weeks off and road trip from California to the Pacific Northwest...with our 10 month old baby. It was to be a long long long drive but you know what- it was amazing.

Here's the happy traveler with just a few of the necessities-

Tips for road tripping with a baby:

Pad your trip with a couple extra days. There were a couple tired cranky moments in our drive that we pulled off the road and stayed in a hotel for the night. Luckily we had added a couple extra days to our schedule just in case this happened.

If friends or family offer their home for you to stay in, accept the invitation. Practical side- it's free (although we always left a thank you gift), you can wash your clothes and cook a meal. Fun side- having people to show you around the area and hanging out with those you love. We were lucky to have people to stay with in almost every city we stopped in.

See muffins made by a friend in Seattle we stayed with- Score!

Plan to stop every couple hours. If my daughter wasn't sleeping, it was necessary to stop every couple hours to stretch our legs. Google is great for this. I was always able to find a beach, park or mall to stop at along the way.

Pit Stop at Pismo Beach-

Don't take the fastest route. Take the route that has the most to offer. We made the mistake of taking the fastest route once during our trip and it was awful. Long and boring with only a couple gas stations and fast food places to stop at. It's just not worth the time you save if you're miserable. Road trips are supposed to be fun. 

Pack entertainment. For those moments we just couldn't stop and she was fussy I would break out the portable DVD player. She loves Baby Einstein so that was a great distraction for about an hour. We also had plenty of children's music to play and sing along to. 

Plan your drive around baby's nap schedule. My daughter's daily routine is like clock work so I knew exactly when I could put her in the car and expect her to sleep and when I couldn't. It makes for a much calmer drive when baby sleeps through it.

Communicate with your spouse before you leave and share expectations. This was the longest trip we had ever taken together so it was important that we knew what to expect from each other before we got started. I was on baby duty for the most part so I sat in the back. My husband preferred to be the driver. Also, I'm the world's worst navigator so he knew up front to have good humor about it since I got us lost more than once. 

Have fun! Oh and don't forget the camera. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Hey, It's Ok Tuesday

I'm linking up with Amber for Hey, It's Ok Tuesday!

Hey, It's Ok...

To sometimes not brush my hair in the morning and just put it up in a clip. I have a lot of hair and I mean a lot. Brushing it takes effort so on days I know I'm not leaving the house, I might just clip it up. It's got the nice messy pony look (or so I tell myself).

To let my daughter watch a DVD during the day. I primarily work from home and there are times I'm desperate for a good 30 minutes of time to concentrate, so I pop in Baby Einstein. She's happy, I'm happy but I'm sure there's a group out there that will scold me for letting my under 2 year old watch TV.

To wear my jeans several times before I wash them. This is mainly because I'm terrified the dryer will shrink them and then they'll be too tight. I hate tight and uncomfortable clothes.

To spend an extra couple minutes in the shower so I'll have some time to myself. I shower in the evening while my husband plays with our little girl. It's the only time I'm really truly alone. Although a couple nights ago my daughter opened the bathroom door and started knocking on the shower door, so that alone time may soon be coming to an end.

To think my baby is cuter, smarter and just better than all other babies in the world. I mean just look at her-

Every mom thinks that though, right?

You can link up as well:

Airing My Dirty Laundry

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Routine

I've missed my blog and I've missed reading others. I'm very curious by nature so getting a peek into the lives of others is fascinating for me.
I'm hoping to add blogging to my normal routine but with a toddler in the house that could prove difficult, so we'll see.
If you're like me, you appreciate lists, calendars, schedules and such. Here's a little glimpse of daily life here in Toddlerville...

7:00-7:30 Wake up time. I love the way she sleeps....

7:30-8:00 General wake up stuff like diaper change, brush teeth, make breakfast etc.
(I'm a very lucky, albeit sometimes lonely mommy, who primarily works from home so we're generally in our jammies for most of the morning).
Oh and empty mommy's cabinet. Anybody else have a kid who does this? I find toiletries hidden all of the house.

8:00-8:30 Kiss the husband goodbye. Baby girl and I eat breakfast together while I check my emails.
Favorite breakfast foods are: Trader Joes blueberry waffles with strawberry jam and sliced strawberries. Kale smoothies (as you can see from the green moustache below).
Coconut milk oatmeal with frozen blueberries.

8:30-10:30 Playtime for baby, work time for me. Each room is our house has toys and I have a portable lap top desk that I can cart around the house depending on which room she wants to be in. We also spend about an hour outside during this time. Love wireless living :)

Crawled onto my mommy don't work, play with me.

10:30-12:00 Nap for little girl. This is prime work time for me. I can concentrate on important projects and make phone calls.

12:00-12:30 Get dressed. Yes, we usually get dressed after her first nap. For me this means swapping jammies pants for yoga pants but if I have to run errands after work I'll make more of an effort.
I've read if you work from home you should dress like you're going to work, but really? no thanks.

12:30-1:00 Lunch time.
Favorite lunches:
Macaroni and Cheese with sliced grapes.
Trader Joes Parmesean Chicken Lollipops (if you haven't had these, you're missing out).
Peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches, string cheese and apples.

1:00-3:30 Story time, play time, tidy up the house, laundry and fitting in work time. My daughter loves loves loves books. So we have tons and have recently started going to the library so we don't go broke buying them.

She also love love loves to unfold all my laundry

3:30-4:30 Naptime for her and any work phone calls for me. I'm very lucky to have an awesome napper. She'll actually say "nap" when she's ready to sleep.

4:30-5:30 Dinner prep and more playtime.

5:30-6:30 Husband comes home and dinner time.
We have many many favorite dinners. I make a dinner schedule once a week so it varies. I'd have to say baby girl's favorite dinner is spaghetti. Although it's a HUGE mess so I reserve it for bath night.

6:30-7:30 Bath or Walk to the park. If it's not bath night, we usually head to the park. 

7:30-8:30 TV time with daddy (she loves Baby Einstein and Yo Gabba Gabba). This is when I shower and get ready for bed.

8:30-9:30 Bed time for baby. I take her to bed and it's usually about 30 minutes to an hour before she'll fall asleep. 
9:30.... If I have work to do, I get back up, otherwise I'm fast asleep. I never leave anything work related for the next day, that's just asking to get really behind and stressed. 

I have to say, writing down our daily schedule was fun for me. People some times ask me how I make it through each day working and raising my daughter. I usually say I have no idea and it's all about surviving but now I can see I've got a pretty good system here. At the end of every day, I almost always say it was a good day and it's true.