Not just one but two!…back with a bang

As I have mentioned in a previous post, it was sophomore year of college that I really saw my cooking passion evolve but I quickly learned that there is a little amount of pleasure in cooking for just one person (aka myself).  Yes, I very much enjoy most of the food I make (so long as it is successful), and I enjoy being able to write about it here.  But there is such a different feeling of accomplishment when you sit across from another person who you worked with in the kitchen and each read each others’ faces as you dive into the dish you each slaved over.

It wasn’t until I met Shelly and Maddy the summer after sophomore year that I found my foodie friends.  We spend that entire summer together planning meals that we would all cook together that night and enjoy together.  It was with their help that I started planning whole meals as opposed to a dish that I would cook that night.  There is a well known and heard of statement that “we eat first with our eyes,” and that summer that phrase became our mantra.  We wouldn’t just plan to make a specific pasta, no no no, we had to figure out what would go with that pasta that would make the meal that much more enjoyable and pretty to look at before diving in.

This mentality is specifically why, after deciding to cook dinner with Shelly tonight, that we planned two dishes and a dessert (although the dessert didn’t really involve cooking so it wont be included in this post).  As we were planning what we wanted to cook for dinner Shelly made it particularly clear that she had been wanting to attempt stuffed tomatoes, so that was the first dish we agreed upon, so it was only natural that the other dish was more of a main dish.  We settled on chicken piccata and set off to trader joes to gather supplies.

It has been a little while since I last posted a recipe so it was only appropriate that I did it big.

These dishes were extremely good, so good that we each ate too much to dive right into dessert so we called upon the thanksgiving day tradition and decided to take a walk to help with the digestion so we could enjoy dessert too.  The spinach goat cheese mixture that fills the tomatoes really could serve on its own as a spinach dip, and in fact we ate the remaining mixture that didn’t fit in the tomatoes with tortilla chips and it was extremely satisfying! The stuffed tomato recipe had to be adapted while we walked around Trader Joes because sadly, they were out of ricotta cheese, but the Chicken dish is courtesy of Giada de Laurentis via foodnetwork.com. ENJOY!

Chicken Piccata

ingredients:(serves 4)

  • 2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbl minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

Recipe:

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

2. 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 1 tbl minced garlic, then 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.

3. 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.

4. 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  Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

Spinach goat cheese stuffed tomatoes

Ingredients:(makes 8 halves)

  • 1/4 package of frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 tbl butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • approx 3 tbl all purpose flour
  • 1 tbl minced garlic
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • bread crumbs to top each tomato
  • 4 large tomatoes

recipe:

*preheat oven to 400 degrees

1. cook the frozen spinach according to package directions and sit in a collander to drain

2. in a medium sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat and add the onions.  Saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Then add the flour slowly while stirring to create a roux (or base to build the sauce on top of).

3. slowly add the heavy cream and mix until the mixture becomes more solid.  then add the parmesan cheese, sour cream, and goat cheese.  Stir until all is melted together to form a creamy cheese sauce.  Then fold in the drained spinach and mix until all the spinach in encorporated into the cheese mixture evenly.

4. Cut each tomato in half and scrape out the insides, including the fleshy dividing parts of the tomato so that it is a hallow shell. then evenly distribute the spinach mixture into each half and top with breadcrumbs.

5. bake for about 15 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are starting to brown.

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