Chicken Piccata

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Quick and easy. That’s right. Any dish where you pound a piece of meat flat and it cooks in 6 minutes is quick. That’s why if I’m in a hurry and the fam needs some dinner, I’m going with schnitzel or piccata. This version is quick and simple. If you want to go nuts an add cream to your sauce, ok, but it’s not needed.

Chicken Piccata

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 x 6 oz Chicken Breast Halves
  • 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 TB Butter
  • 1 TB Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Dry White Wine (Pinot Grigio)
  • 1/4 cup Lemon Juice (fresh squeezed if possible)
  • 2 TB Capers
  • 2 tsp Fresh Minced Garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 cups hot cooked Spaghetti
  • 2 TB chopped fresh Parsley (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pound chicken to 1/2 inch thickness. Salt and pepper both sides. Dredge each side in flour, shake off excess.
  2. Repeat step 1 if chicken isn’t thin enough (I had to when I realized my chicken could be thinner). I wrapped it back up in plastic wrap, pounded it again, added more salt and pepper and re-dredged.
  3. Heat butter and oil in large skillet over med-high heat. Cooke 3 minutes on each side or until browned. If pan gets dry add more oil. Cook in batches if necessary. Remove chicken and keep warm.
  4. Add wine, lemon juice, capers, and garlic. Scrape and loosen brown bits on bottom of pan. Cooke for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add salt and pepper.
  5. Top the chicken and/or pasta with the pan sauce. Serve with a vegetable.

Italian Bean Soup

There are times when you ask yourself: what should I eat tonight? Eat whatever sounds good and tastes good to you. This is a dish I ate growing up that I had sometimes get a craving for. It’s easy to make, and a batch can feed a family for days. This simple take on Italian bean soup features zucchini, ham and of course, Cannellini (white kidney beans) – the famous legume of Tuscany.

Take the recipe as a guide that you can tailor to your own palate. Sausage or chicken would work fine instead of ham. You can add spinach, garlic, Parmesan and more spice if you like. My basic rendition here is how it went down for me.

Step 1 is basically food prep. Get everything chopped and ready to be sauteed.

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Slice carrot and zucchini, dice celery, mash cannellini, chop the onion, cube the ham, heat up some oil, flavor attack – bam!

Add a half tablespoon of olive oil, and brown the cubed ham.

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Take that out. Add another one and a half tablespoons of olive oil. Then add onion, celery, zucchini, and carrot along with dried basil and fresh ground black pepper.

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Let the vegetables soften for about 15 minutes. Add a little bit of water if it gets too hot/starts to burn. Bring the ham back to the party and add stewed tomatoes, broth, beans, and 2 cups of water.20170216_012121 20170216_012223 20170216_012525 20170216_014750

Now the secret ingredient… Parmesan Rind. Yes, add the rind from a chunk of Parmesan cheese. This is how this dish gets away with not adding salt. Although, you can of course add salt to taste or add grated Parmesan cheese, but try boiling it with the rind. It won’t hurt unless you have a milk allergy.

Italian Bean Soup with Zucchini and Ham

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 to 1/2 lb cooked ham
  • 2 celery stalks – diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 carrots sliced – (about 1 cup)
  • 1 onion chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 zucchini sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 14oz cans white kidney beans
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 14-16 oz can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 13-14 oz can chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • chopped spinach (optional)
  • parmesan cheese rind or grated parm (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut ham into 1/2 inch cubes or pieces. Dice/Slice vegetables.
  2. Remove 1 1/2 cup white beans to bowl; mash.
  3. In large pot add 1/2 TB olive oil and brown ham. Remove ham and add 1 1/2 TB olive oil then onion, zucchini, celery, carrots, basil and pepper. Cook about 15 minutes until soft. If vegetables start to burn or are cooking too quickly, add a small amount of water as needed.
  4. Stir in stewed tomatoes, broth, spinach (if using), mashed white beans, parmesan rind and 2 cups of water. Heat to boiling. Simmer 15 minutes. Stir in beans. Enjoy.

Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Olive Garden makes some great soups, but you can make them better by choosing better ingredients and putting your own spin on it.

One way to make soup quicker and boost flavor is to saute or cook components individually before adding together. Step one here is to saute the vegetables. For this soup, onion, carrot, celery and garlic are used. You can also saute the spinach once the other vegetables are done (as spinach takes less time to cook).

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Next add chicken broth and/or water. You can adjust the ratio here.  For this soup, I like 4 cups chicken broth and 3-4 cups water. Some recipes only call for broth.

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Add cooked chicken. I buy a rotisserie chicken, and use a combination of white and dark meat, chop it up then add. Whatever chicken or meat you add, make sure it’s precooked before you add it. You could also take chicken breast, salt pepper and roast in oven. Add it to the simmer.

Cook gnocchi according to package instructions. It may still need cooking time once you add it to the soup. I’ve found it improves and thickens as it breaks down slightly. You can also wait to add the spinach at the end, but it will take longer than if you saute ahead of time.

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Add half and half and season with salt, pepper, basil and oregano.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cup chicken, cut in bite size pieces (rotisserie works well)
  • 2 TB vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 2 TB butter
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup carrot, juliened
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 oz (3 cups) baby spinach (or regular) stems removed, torn
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 lb gnocchi
  • salt, pepper, basil, garlic salt, garlic powder and oregano (to taste)
  • chicken seasoning (optional).

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat up dutch oven or large pot. Add oil and butter and saute onion, carrot, celery, and garlic until soft and translucent (approximately 10 minutes).
  2. Add enough of the chicken broth to cool the vegetables and keep them from burning.
  3. Add baby spinach and cook down until slightly wilted (2 minutes).
  4. Add remaining chicken broth, half and half and water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
  5. Add chicken and let simmer.
  6. Cook gnocchi according to package instructions. Add gnocchi to the soup and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Add seasoning as desired. Salt, pepper, thyme, parsley, garlic powder, garlic salt and oregano work well. If desired add chicken seasoning.
  8. It doesn’t hurt to let it simmer for a while longer after all ingredients are added. This will allow the flavors to come together and co-mingle.