Wednesday, August 17, 2011

8-17-2011 Dinner for Friends with New Baby

Our good friends just had a baby girl. Anyone who has ever been in their shoes knows how great it is to receive meals prepared by friends. I always jump at the chance to make friends dinner because I will never forget when I had newborns and how helpful it was to not worry about dinner.

I doubled what I made tonight, and we had the same dinner. Here is what I made: Chicken Piccata over Sauteed Spinach, Whole Wheat Penne with Homemade Marinara Sauce, Green Salad, and Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I like to buy big packages of foil baking containers at Costco to use specifically for these types of occasions. I package every dish in the foil bakers, cover them tightly with foil, and it makes for easy transportation.

Here are some pictures and recipes:


Chicken Piccata

This is for all you lemon lovers. Thanks Giada for your take on an Italian classic.

2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts,  butterflied and then cut in half
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flour for dredging
6 tablespoons margarine
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped, optional

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour, I like to do this by placing 1/2 C. flour in a large ziploc bag. Then place the chicken inside, seal the bag and shake. Shake off excess flour.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of margarine with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When margarine 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 margarine and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When margarine 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 add salt and pepper if necessary. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes covered. Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons margarine to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley if desired.


Quick Homemade Marinara

This recipe taste fresh and is a welcome change from jarred marinara. The original recipe comes from Mario Batalli, I have changed it to my liking.

6 T. olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. dried basil
1 t. dried oregano
1 T. sugar
1 small or medium carrot, finely shredded
2 (28 oz.) cans tomatoes, crushed by hand and mixed well with juices
salt, to taste

Place oil into a sauce pan with onions, and cook over medium heat until translucent but not brown (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes.  Add the thyme, basil, oregano, sugar, and carrot; cook 5 minutes more. Add the tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to just bubbling, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.

Season with salt to taste. Serve immediately. If you prefer chunky sauce leave it alone, but if you like a less chunky sauce, use an immersion blender and blend until smooth.


Have a good night!

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