Thursday, February 28, 2013

Chicken Parmesan

One of my favorite parts of recovery was all of the visitors. I had friends and family visiting, some that I haven't seen for years. I can't even describe how happy I was to hang with everyone.

Kate and I were friends during my college years. Never extremely close, but we would hang out one on one. When she moved to NC I was sad to see her go. We kept our relationship going enough to always be able to contact each other (you have to remember that this was long before facebook and other social networking sites), but would lose touch years at a time. Our relationship became much stronger when we started our families and would share our parenting triumphs and follies. It didn't take long to bond and become best friends over emails.

I finally got to visit with her when she came to Ohio after surgery. I was feeling pretty good at that point and was hopeful that we would be able to spend some time together cooking dinner and sharing a bottle of wine, which we always talked about in our emails. We took the opportunity and did just that.

After a brief discussion we decided on Chicken Parmesan. Delicious. Next was a quick trip to the grocery store and we were ready to cook.

1 sweet onion
1 cup extra virgin olive oil (plus more for frying)
56 ounces whole peeled canned tomatoes
28 ounces crushed tomatoes
20 ounces stewed tomatoes
1 bunch basil
7 cloves garlic
1 1/2 pounds mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese
1 bottle Pinot Noir red wine
3 pounds chicken (we used thighs, the original recipe recommended breasts)
Seasoning (oregano, garlic powder, salt, pepper, etc.)
6 eggs
4 cups bread crumbs (we used homemade, the original recipe recommended Panko)
1 box spaghetti

Heat olive oil in a stock pot, medium high heat.
Dice onion. Add to heated oil, cook for 10 - 15 minutes. Soften onions without turning them brown.
Dice garlic cloves. Once onions turn opaque, add diced garlic.
Add tomatoes. Add 1/2 cup red wine. Add seasoning (we seasoned to taste using my Italian dressing seasoning and adding other spices as needed, the original recipe suggested 1 tablespoon Penzey's pasta sprinkle).
Slice mozzarella into thin slices. Whisk eggs in a Pyrex dish. Add seasoning (we used a healthy dash of my Italian dressing seasoning). Dip chicken in eggs. Coat chicken with breadcrumbs. Repeat until all chicken is finished. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and place in freezer.
Preheat oven to 400.
Start a boiled pot of water, heavily salted.
Using submersion blender, blend marinara sauce to desired thickness. Pour a layer of marinara on a baking sheet and sprinkle Parmesan on top.
Heat olive oil in large pan. When oil is hot, add breaded chicken. After about 10 minutes, once edges of the chicken start to brown, flip.
Add spaghetti to boiling water.
Layer the chicken on top of the marinara. Repeat cooking chicken and continue adding it to the marinara covered baking sheets. Give the chicken a thin coat of marinara on top. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on chicken. Layer mozzarella on top. Put in oven and set the timer for 12 minutes.
Slice some basil into thin slices (chiffenade).
Add finished cooked spaghetti to leftover marinara sauce.
Continue to check on chicken in oven. Once it is bubbling and the cheese is beginning to turn brown, it's finished.
Pour remainder of wine into glasses. Plate generous portions of spaghetti and chicken and sprinkle with basil. Enjoy!

Kate's admitted that she's always been a bit intimidated to make Chicken Parmesan. I've never made it. We both thought that this recipe was not only easy, but incredibly delicious. My boys ate a ton of it. She made it for her family shortly after she returned from Ohio with success (cooking and family enjoying). I haven't made it again, but plan to invite some family over for dinner soon and this will most likely be our entree.  Without further ado, treat yourself to this deliciousness!

As written, this recipe makes enough to feed an army. Recipe adapted from Diane's Chicken Parmesan.
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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Banana "ice cream"

Last Friday after looking undesirably at my to do list, I figured that my time would be better spent in the kitchen. I cleaned out the refrigerator, made chocolate chip cookies, and looked around for something else to do. I eyed the four remaining bananas and thought that I would try the banana "ice cream" recipe that I see on Pinterest so frequently.  Bonus that I get to use the new Ninja, yet again.

I'm not usually a fan of "mock" recipes. I don't mind swapping ingredients like vegetable oil for healthier options like coconut oil, but I still like my ice cream to be ice cream and cake to be cake, etc. I really didn't have high hopes for this "ice cream", but figured that it couldn't hurt to try.

The recipe is easy enough. The ingredients are four bananas, two tablespoons peanut butter, and two teaspoons cocoa powder. Pretty much the only part that takes any kind of work is slicing and freezing the bananas (single layer) for at least an hour. I usually freeze bananas whole once they are about to turn for muffins, bread, etc. I think that I am going to start slicing and freezing them in the future, though.

Anyway, once the bananas are frozen, combine with the peanut butter and cocoa powder and blend until smooth. I originally tried to use the single serve cup on the Ninja, but found that it was too much density and too little liquid. I had to use the larger blender attachment and the process went quickly after I switched. I had to pulse a few times to make sure that all of the lumps were out of the bananas. The final result was a texture very much like soft serve ice cream.

I put the finished product back into the freezer and saved until the boys were finished with dinner. Collin ate a ton during dinner and didn't have much interest in dessert. William ate two bowls of the "ice cream", though, and I know that he would have eaten more. It definitely wasn't ice cream, but it was still so good!

This is one of my favorite Pinterest recipes that I made to date. I feel like it really is no fail and I enjoyed it along with my kids. I also felt good about giving that to them as dessert. I think that it would be excellent with a few chocolate chips added.  The recipe as written above makes about four servings. I hope that your family enjoys it as much as we do!

Original recipe from:
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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Welcome to the family!

As I posted earlier, our beloved Magic Bullet finally decided to retire. I knew that we couldn't afford a Vitamax or other awesome blenders, so my research led me to the Ninja and Nutri Bullet. A few weeks of reading reviews and watching various YouTube videos, I was still left completely undecided.

I went to Bed Bath and Beyond armed with a 20% off coupon and excited to make a snap decision and buy a blender. I could only find the Ninja, so that made my decision pretty simple. The cashier did tell me where the Nutri Bullets were located (a special display) as I was checking out, but I already had the Ninja in hand and just took the plunge. The family was excited to welcome our new addition, our Ninja blender.

My review so far... It's definitely better than the Magic Bullet. I've used it for a couple of weeks and already I can tell that it doesn't leak, which was always a problem with the Magic Bullet. The Ninja is also much more powerful than the Magic Bullet. Although, it doesn't "pulverize" as it claims. I use chia seeds and berries frequently in my smoothies and those seeds are always left untouched and whole. The smoothies are blended much better than with the Magic Bullet and overall for the price, I would recommend it. I've also used to blender (not single serve, but the bigger one) for a recipe and it worked really well.

I was originally leaning toward the Nurti Bullet since it was made my the same company as the Magic Bullet and I hoped that we could use some of the cups and other attachments from the Magic Bullet. Although I do like the Ninja, I can't help but still be curious about Nutri Bullet. Does it pulverize? Is it better? There is no reason that our family needs two single serve blenders, but what if one is way more superior than the other?  Any other opinions on cheap(er) single serve blenders?
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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins

I had two predicaments.  The first was that Jason just bought a bag of apples that Collin promptly threw to the floor, so now I have an entire bag of badly bruised apples.  The second was that my beloved MIL accidentally picked up plain oatmeal packets instead of the flavored that my kids prefer.  I could only think of one solution - bake muffins.  I have to admit, it was a wonderful decision, so I am excited to share.

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins
Adapted from Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins at

1 1/2 cups oats (quick or old-fashioned, I used quick)
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsweetened applesauce*
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 egg
(I also added some chia seeds to sneak in a bit more nutrition)

1/4 cup oats (quick or old-fashioned, again I used quick)
1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Heat oven to 400.  Line 12 medium muffin tins with paper cups.  Combine oats, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda.  Add applesauce, milk, brown sugar, oil, and egg.  Mix just until dry ingredients are moistened.  Fill muffin cups almost full.

For topping combine ingredients.  Sprinkle evenly over batter.

Bake 20 - 22 minutes until deep golden brown.  Serve warm.

*I made applesauce.  I just peeled and diced the apples, added a bit of water, and simmered for 1-2 hours over low heat.  It was still a little chunkier than I prefer, so I hit it with my submersion blender.

These muffins are delicious.  I can't even explain the topping.  I tasted a bit before baking and was unimpressed, but after it caramelized and bonded with the oats, it is just amazing. 

Problems solved!
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day is tomorrow.  I love all holidays, but since I've had kids Halloween and Valentine's Day have dropped to my two least favorite.  I love candy and I'm all about celebrating with food, BUT I hate the price that I have to pay with two little boys all hopped up on sugar.

Luckily, mine are still too young for school, so I don't have to worry about other parents giving my kids HFCS and sending them home to me.  I know that one day I will not be so lucky, and since I can't control other parents, I figured that I would at least look into some valentine alternatives to candy in the classroom.  I don't want to be that Mom, that brings in oranges or other lame food, so I looked for fun ideas that kids will still love, even without sugar.

I started a Pinterest board solely dedicated to the creative Valentine's Day ideas of other families which you can follow at Full Plate Momma, but here are my three favorites.

Valentine Bubbles

I love the saying on this tag.  If you follow this link you can find a free tag printable and ideas to make it more affordable for an entire class.

Valentine Glow Sticks

I found quite a few glow stick options, but again this tag was the cutest.  Follow this link and you can find that cute tag printable and how she made these affordable.

Valentine Crayon

I'm not as in love with the tag on this one (I'd prefer this one), but I do love how they made their own crayons out of those useless ends.  Follow this link for incredibly easy instructions to make your own crayons.
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