Remember To Make Memories At The Table

Remember To Make Memories At The Table

Nonna used To Say...

Got Agita? It's Not What You Eat; It's What Eats You

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pasta, Peas & Bacon (Pasta Piselli)

Pasta Piselli...a family favorite growing up when Meatless Fridays were the norm. Yes, this recipe has bacon but not on Fridays. Lent is almost upon us, so this is perfect for this time of the liturgical year when Carnevale is observed: Carnevale means meat removed, not carnival (festival).  There are many variations of this simple dish. It can be made with diced ham, heavy cream, a bit of tomatoes. Mine has an egg scrambled into it that adds another texture to this savory fare. I use frozen peas as these are closer to fresh than canned peas. I enjoy the "snap" and brighter green of frozen peas. If you'd like a healthier meal use wheat pasta. Somehow spaghetti is the bite and mouth-feel I enjoy most in piselli, though penne or your favorite shape of pasta can be used. I always have leftover pasta after Sunday supper is finished, so a Tuesday meal of pasta piselli is a weekday delight and oh, so easy after a long work day. Don't forget to top this meal off with a sprinkle of Parmesan-Romano cheese..perfetto! Toasty garlic bread compliments this dish and a tomato salad completes the meal. Mangiare e Gustare!! Eat & Enjoy!

Pasta, Peas & Bacon
1/2 box of spaghetti reserve a scant 1/2 cup of salty pasta water
1 & 1/2 cups frozen peas
6 slices of bacon
1 small onion, sliced
1 egg, scrambled
olive oil (if needed)
Parmesan-Romano cheese

Cook the spaghetti according to directions.  Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water, then drain and put to the side. In a skillet fry up the bacon to near crisp. Remove and set aside. In the bacon fat saute the onion until clear, then add peas and cook until done but still "crisp". Add cooked bacon to peas and onions, toss. Add 1/4 cup of hot pasta water and scrape up all the bits in skillet. Add pasta to peas/bacon/onions and toss.  Add remaining hot pasta water. Mix well but gently so as not to break the peas. Bring to a simmer and add scrambled egg. Cook through, but don't over-cook.  If it looks a bit "dry" drizzle with olive oil and toss. Serve in bowls and top with cheese. Yields: 2 servings
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Simply...Chicken Cutlets

Cutlets served with spinach dumplings,
tomatoes and applesauce
As a food fanatic and recipe blogger, I'm always looking for something new to "create".  I have a zillion recipes in my To Try file, and a million recipes that I consider, Special. Every meal eaten out is fodder for a meal at home that will be added to or an ingredient removed to make the recipe more perfect than the original. I have an addiction...but I don't need help, I can lick it on my own (no pun intended). I can't help myself...I love food, I adore cooking, just a title of a recipe makes my heart race.
The simplest of ingredients sets the mind-wheels spinning. What can I do with this pork loin?  Hmmm, a top round roast, what unique meal can I make? So out comes the spices, the marinades concocted, vanilla beans slit, pine nuts toasted, coconut milk poured. A mad scientist has nothing over me! I see ground meat....I think Mexican. I buy lamb, I imagine Greek. Honey and pistachios, Turkish of course. And the list goes on. Yet, even with all this said, there are times, I look into a packed freezer, open up over-stuffed kitchen cabinets, and think, "I have no clue what to cook tonight". It's not much different from a clothes-aholic looking into her jammed packed closet and thinking, "I have nothing to wear."  Oh, My.
Frying cutlets in canola oil
This is when I have to chill out and get back to basics. With all the recipes to choose from, with all the meals I just have to try, I often forget...that sometimes Simple Is The Best.  There is nothing more wonderful than a fat beefy hamburger. Nothing more scrumptious than a humble bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. And nothing more comforting than a supper of breaded chicken cutlets....plain and simple. It can be served with many different sides...rice, mac & cheese, buttered noodles sprinkled with parsley, mashed potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, whatever your heart desires.
This post is not written because I don't think you know how to fry up a good chicken cutlet. No, the reason for this post, is to remind us all of the simple foods we tend to forget--those much loved family favorites we overlook because we foodies are on a quest for the next "blue-ribbon" winner. It's the ordinary comfort foods that Grandma made, that Aunt Bess served every Wednesday eve, that we know are a hit every time, but just forgot. I'm here to remind you..and me. So dust off the top of that index box way up on that shelf, dig inside and pull out that Tried & True Treasure.  It's time to go, Simple.

Cutlets "drain" on paper towels
If you're looking for an exact recipe, you won't find it here. This is not baking, it's cooking. So I hope this is close enough.

Chicken Cutlets with mac & cheese
creamed spinach & cranberry sauce
Breaded Chicken Cutlets

2 1/4 (approx.) lbs. boneless/skinless chicken breasts
remove any fat and pound chicken breasts thin
Seasoned bread crumbs
AP flour
2 eggs
splash of milk
garlic powder
onion powder
canola oil
Trim and pound chicken cutlets and set aside.
Put canola oil in a wide skillet and heat. The oil must be hot so the cutlets don't absorb the oil and become greasy. When a few drops of water flicked into the oil begin to "dance", the oil is hot.
In a flat dish, mix together bread crumbs (2 cups to start), a hefty tablespoon of flour, salt, onion & garlic powders to taste. In a bowl, mix the two eggs and milk. Dip one cutlet into the egg mixture, then into the bread crumb mixture shaking off any excess. Place in hot oil. Repeat with a few more cutlets, but don't over crowd the skillet. Brown for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. If the cutlets were pounded thin enough, it won't take long to cook through. Don't over-fry or the chicken will be dry. When fried to your liking, remove and place on paper towels. Cover with foil to keep warm.
That's it! Serve with any side dishes that please your family. Add tomatoes, lettuce and a swipe of mayonnaise to the leftovers for a great sandwich, put together a chicken parmigiana sandwich or dig out a recipe that you've wanted to try that calls for breaded cutlets. How simple can it get!
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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Shrimp & Bok Choy

Shrimp & Bok Choy ready to devour!
Mushrooms, Garlic & Onions sauteed

Bok Choy in skillet
Bok Choy cooked. White of Bok Choy darkens
due to mushrooms & soy sauce

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bacon Spaghetti Pie

Bacon Spaghetti Pie In Skillet

Remember To Make Memories At The Table
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