Friday, February 25, 2011
Yes, you read that right!  Doritos for dinner!!!  Who would have thought?!?  A few years ago, my husband's friend and co-worker made this fantastic creation for the staff dinner at the restaurant they worked at and when my husband came home he told me all about it.  A few weeks back, we had some Doritos laying around, so hubby got the brilliant idea to make Dorito chicken parm.  I've never tasted anything like it and I could wait to recreate it myself!

So last night as I went through the cabinets looking to see what I would make for dinner (in the back of my mind I was starting to kick myself for waiting so long to go grocery shopping) and I saw that there was about 1/2 a bag of Doritos sitting in the cabinet.  Now, I could have left that and it would have been consumed by the hubs as a late night snack, but that's just not healthy and I couldn't in my right mind allow that to happen!  Then it hit me, Dorito Chicken Parm!  I had some mozzarella, salsa and chicken laying around, so why not?  I don't know about you, but this looks pretty mouth watering to me!  (I didn't have any Spanish rice as I had hoped for my side dish, so I made mashed potatoes and instead of using sour cream I substituted cream cheese which was delicious!!!)  I mean, if you really think about it, what kid wouldn't like Doritos for dinner?  Here's a healthy way to give them what they want and be satisfied that they're getting some healthy protein!

 Interested in recreating this dish yourself?  It's so easy!

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 extra large egg
1/2 large bag (or 1 small bag) Doritos
3 boneless skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter

  1. In a large Zip Lock bag, thoroughly crushed Doritos chips.
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium low heat.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Once olive oil is hot, add butter and allow to simmer until all the butter is melted and lightly bubbling.
  4. Lightly coat chicken breast with flour until fully covered.
  5. In a bowl, beat egg quickly.  Dip flour coated chicken breast in egg and allow excess to drip off.
  6. Gently drop chicken breast into Zip Lock bag.
  7. Repeat steps 4-6 until all chicken is in Zip Lock bag.
  8. Zip bag and shake it until chicken is fully coated.
  9. Place chicken in skillet and allow to cook for 5 minutes until Dorito coating is lightly browned.
  10. Flip chicken and allow to cook 5 more minutes.
  11. Remove chicken from skillet and place on a double broiler pan (to allow fat to drip to bottom pan) and place in oven for 20 minutes.
  12. Once chicken is fully cooked (no longer pink in the middle), place a few scoops of salsa and mozzarella slices over chicken and place back in the oven until cheese is melted.
I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as I do!  It may look like a lot of steps, but I wanted to make sure to give you enough detail to make it easy to succeed.  Once you have the steps down, it's a total breeze!  If you try this recipe, please share your thought!  Personally, I love it and so does my family.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Oh my, it's been a while since I've had a chance to sit down and write!  I've had so much I've wanted to share but finding the time to pull myself away from the daily tasks us moms face has been more difficult the past couple of weeks.  Between the recent increase in stress at work (there's never a dull moment during tax time when you're working in an accounting position!) and the normal goings on of a busy family life, finding some time for myself has been even more limited.  I do have to admit that I've been making some time during the day to sit down and read which I have missed for some time now.

These past few weeks have been filled with a lot more than I had expected possible for myself.  I've been trying extra hard to keep a clean house, never knowing when friends or family may pop by.  It's been nice knowing that if someone called and said they would be stopping over in the next 10-15 minutes that I wasn't frantic to hide whatever mess was lying around.  Rather, I would just tidy up a few things here and there and that would be it.  No more stress in that department.  I've found a pretty reasonable way to keep the entire house clean without feeling like I was spending every waking moment scrubbing or as a personal maid.  I've given myself a weekly schedule of things to do during the week.  Sunday is generally a laundry day where I try to get the bulk of the clothes wash, dried, ironed, and put away.  Since hubby is home on Monday, I try to leave that day free to spend quality time with family.  Tuesday is bathrooms, vacuum and dusting.  Wednesdays are my late day at work but when I get home I try to get at least 1 load of laundry done.  Thursday I take out the trash and thoroughly clean the kitchen (although I try to at least do a light cleaning of the kitchen every day and always clean up after myself as I cook to make the work a little lighter on myself come Thursday night).  Friday I try to give myself a little down time and Saturday I clean the entire house.  My load over all has felt much lighter since I've spread out my work throughout the week.

As for meal time, I'm actually feeling a lot more comfortable in this department.  I've been sampling a few recipes, mostly from my favorite chef of all time, the one and only Mario Batali, like his homemade pasta, gnocchi, red sauce, and milanese.  I've also tried a few recipes I found online like one for swiss chard which is one of my favorite veggies and lasagna.  I've had some bumps along the way like with my pasta.  I did much better than my first attempt with the homemade ravioli.  I rolled the pasta dough much thinner and the taste of the fresh pasta was like nothing I've made before.  There's absolutely no comparison between homemade fresh pasta and store bought boxed pasta.  Homemade is so much better!  And really not all that difficult to make, especially with a stand up mixer.  For all you pasta virgins out there, I strongly recommend you give it a try.  My light fowl up was that I didn't put corn meal on the pasta after rolling it.  No where in the instructions did they mention that but after my husband tried to cook his portion of the meal (since he works late and usually gets home after I'm already asleep) he told me that his pasta was pretty much one big lump of pasta smooshed together.  After rolling out the pasta, it's good to toss it in some corn meal to keep it from sticking to itself.

And then there's the gnocchi!  Over all the gnocchi was good, but I put a little too much potato and not enough flour... the dough was a bit more sticky than I expected and after cooking the pasta, it was not as firm as I had hoped.  Next time I'll add just a little more flour to increase the firmness.  On a side note with the gnocchi, I made the red sauce to go along with the gnocchi and allowed the bison (yes, we do eat buffalo at our house!)  I cooked the red sauce, 4 cups of beef broth, and bison meat for about 2 1/2 hours and when my husband walked in the door he was a little concerned with the smell.  The smell of the thyme in the sauce was a little over powering at first, but once the food was done cooking and it was time to eat, he was surprised at how good it was.  Not too much thyme as he had expected.  That was a pleasant surprise for me.  I was a little concerned that the entire meal would be a flop!

I'd have to say that my 3 favorite things I've made have been the pork chop milanese, lasagna and homemade meat balls.  I wrote about the meat balls in a previous post, but I just have to say once again, they were delicious!  We still have a few in the freezer ready to go whenever we're in the mood for spaghetti and meatballs.  They've held up extremely well in the freezer and are a snap to cook.  Something I didn't mention in my previous post about the meatballs, they don't look or feel like regular meat balls you're typically used to when you think "meatballs".  They're a little more... gooey... for lack of a better word.  So if you try the recipe and you're trying to form perfect meatball "balls", you'll be a little disappointed and think you did something wrong.  They're supposed to be like that.  They don't form the firm balls we're all used to, but trust me, you've never had meatballs like this before.  They are fantastic!

Next would have to be the lasagna.  I just made that the other night and after tasting it was so thrilled with the outcome.  I was even happier that my daughter and husband seemed to like it as much as I did.  When it comes to left overs, they generally don't do too well in our house.  For some reason or another no matter how good the meal was, if it ends up going in the refrigerator it usually only comes back out when it's time to throw away since no one seems to like reheating food in our house.  But this lasagna did and I was beyond proud of that!  There was only one minute piece that didn't get eaten and after finding it the next morning still sitting out on the counter all dried up and pathetic looking, I decided the meal was thoroughly enjoyed 2 nights in a row, it was time to toss the remaining bit.  That's definitely a recipe that will be used again and again!

And last but definitely not least was the pork chop milanese.  Just thinking about it makes my mouth water!  Thankfully, it was such a big success with my daughter that I decided to make it again tonight for dinner, but rather than using pork chop I used some veal I had in the fridge.  It really doesn't matter the cut of meat you use, the simple recipe was easy, quick and oh so good!  I'll definitely continue to use this on different variations of meat from chicken to beef to veal to pork!  I was hesitant about having to fry anything.  The last time I even attempted to fry meat, also a milanese but I used my mom's recipe calling for almost triple the amount of oil than this recipe required, I ended up splattering oil everywhere including on myself, burning my arms so many times that I quit before I even finished cooking my first piece.  As I stood there getting ready to heat up the 1/4 cup of oil, not understanding how this recipe could require such little oil in comparison to my mom's dish which I do have to say is quite tasty, I feared finding myself in the same situation as before.  But this whole task of learning to cook is more than just learning to cook, it's also getting over my fears.  I've already overcome my fear, or should I say loath, of onion (for the most part, but that's a work in progress), I'm working to get over my textural issue with mushrooms, and now it was time to face my fear of frying food.  It's not something I plan on doing often since I'm trying to limit the amount of fried food we consume, but every now and then a little deep fried something or other is just so darn good!  As you can probably tell since I not only made pork chop milanese, but also made veal milanese tonight, I'm over that fear!  Not only have I learned a new dish with success, but I've also overcome another fear of the kitchen.  I feel that much closer to having a better grasp of the whole culinary experience I've craved for so long now.

I'm also extremely proud of the fact that I've cut down my reliance on deliveries.  I do from time to time call for some, but that's usually limited to maybe once a week, if that at all!  I've been successful at giving my family a good home cooked meal at least 5 nights a week and left overs 1-2 times a week.  I think that's a pretty huge accomplishment for me.  The best part about it is that it's been much easier than I expected and I'm finding that I'm looking forward to cooking each night.  Hopefully things will continue to go like this and improve with practice.  I'd love to hear your thoughts and if you have any suggestions on some new recipes for me to try!  I promise to try to write more often, but if you're a mom like me, finding time to do anything for yourself is sometimes simply impossible!  Until then, I'll leave you with a few photos of some of my meals.  Enjoy!

homemade pasta, red sauce and meatballs with shaved parmesan cheese


pork chop milanese with sauteed brocclini
Friday, February 18, 2011

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Monday, February 7, 2011

What's more comforting than spaghetti and meatballs?  Nothing!  There's nothing like a hot plate of home cooked meatballs smothered in sauce on a mound of perfectly tender spaghetti.  Sound mouth watering?  Well, it is!

Tonight's menu is a little different than normal nights.  Since hubby has the night off, it's his night to cook dinner but whenever he cooks it's more like a 10 o'clock meal.  Too late for the kiddo so I decided she needed a little something special for her.  Whenever we go out to eat, she'll get 1 of 3 things: pizza, chicken fingers, or spaghettie and meatballs.  I can honestly name the places where she'll actually eat the meatballs on one hand.  Normally she'll just eat the spaghettie and maybe a couple pieces of meatballs.  I've tried giving her the frozen kind but that's a no go!  My husband came across one of Mario Batali's recipes for homemade meatballs and being such a Batali fanatic, I just had to give it a try.  Now, this recipe is not something that's easy to come by so I'm going to share it with you right here:

3 cups basic tomato sauce (or marinara saunce)
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
3 cups fresh bread crumbs (5 slices of bread broken up)
2 Tbsp kosher salt
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
3 eggs
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts (optional)
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, bring tomato sauce to a fast simmer.
  2. Put the breadcrumbs in a medium bowl and pur the milk over.  Set aside
  3. In a bowl of a countertop mixer fitted witha paddle or dough hook, combine the beef and the eggs.  Grate the garlic over the bowl with a microplane. (You can also finely mince the garlic)  Add in grated pecorino, toasted pine nuts, parsley and salt.  Mix briefly just to combine.
  4. Add the milk-soaked bread crumbs to the meat mixture and mix for about one minute until it comes together, but still has some texture and moisture.
  5. Form the mixture into 12 to 15 meatballs, each smaller than a tennis ball but larger than a golf ball.  Gently add the meatballs to the sauce and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to a simmer and cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.
  6. Top the meatballs with parsley leaves, freshly grated pecorino and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
This recipe is fast and super easy.  So easy that even a beginner like me is able to make absolutely delicious homemade meatballs from scratch!  My daughter loved her meal and best of all she ate ever piece of meatball on her plate, leaving a lot of the spaghettie behind.  There's very little that's more heart warming that having your child thank you for the meal you made.  It's always nice to hear my husband tell me he enjoyed my meal, especially with his background and expertise with food, but to have my daughter tell me my food is "yummy" and say "thanks mom", that goes right to my core!  If there's a recipe I could ever suggest to someone to try, it's this one!  If you do happen to try it, please, let me know what you think!

I have mixed feeling when I see pictures like these in magazines and online.  Yes, they're celebrities and probably have people helping them because honestly, what mother can look that amazing while running around the house chasing after the kids?  I know lots of moms who look great day in and day out even with little ones running around, and I envy them so much!  How I would love to know their secrets to looking so beautiful and put together.  Not only do they look gorgeous but their kids too, every hair in place, not a speck of dirt/food/snot on their clothes.  How do they do it?  Can anyone share that golden piece of advice with me?

I know I'm not the only one that feels like this.  I can't be, it's just not possible!  There must be other moms out there who feel the same way as me.  I can't tell you the amount of times I've gone into work with a pony tail in my hair (because of the lack of time to even attempt to do anything nicer to my hair), zero makeup, and an outfit that I put little to no thought into (some of the times even getting to work to find cereal or syrup smeared somewhere on my back from that morning's breakfast).  I wish I had the time and energy to put forth the effort needed to look my best.

If you're one of those mothers who know how to find the time to pamper yourself and look so beautiful who juggling a toddler, please share!  I would love to know how you do it!
I've been a little held up writing this post.  It's been a bit of a hectic week for me and time for writing has been more limited them normal.  I have been itching to tell you all about the Stuffed Pork Chops I made Tuesday night.  I've tried making pork in the past, usually buying the pre-seasoned pork loin that I would end up over cooking even when following the instructions to a T.  After a few unsuccessful tries at making pork loins and a very direct request from my husband to not stay away from pork in general, I decided to give this new recipe a try and boy, was I happy I did!

Probably not the best presentation but it was the tastiest pork chops I've ever made!  Good enough that my hubby had 2 servings.  Stuffing the pork chops were easier than I expected and the stuffing was nothing more than some shaved cheese (the recipes called for a blend of 6 Italian cheese but since all I had was some Parmesano Reggiano, I used a cup of that instead.  It is Italian, so that's got to count for something), Italian season bread crumb, and dried parsley.  I mixed all the stuffing ingredients, made a nice pocket in the pork by making an incision leaving 3/4" uncut along 3 sides.  Once the pork was stuffed (don't over stuff or filling will just over flow out of the pork before it's done cooking), pinch the open edge to seal the stuffing in.  Rub seasoning mix (salt, pepper and paprika) on both sides of the pork and brown both sides then top the pork with more of the stuffing mixture and allow the cheese to melt while the meat is cooking.  The recipe calls for browning both sides on medium-high in a skillet then transferring the skillet to the over for 8-10 minutes, allowing the pork to cook at 375°­.  Since I have a beautiful cast iron pot, I allowed the pork to brown then covered the pot and let the pork continue cooking for 8 minutes until completely done (no longer pink when I cut the side to check).

All-in-all, it was a very simple recipe to follow and the end result was delicious!  This is definitely a recipe that's going in the book and will be used again!  Speaking of which, I made 6 pork chops and only used 3 Tuesday night.  These are great to make in quantity and freeze!  I put the remaining 3 in a Zip Lock freezer bag and cooked the left overs on Saturday night.  The held up well in the freezer, even the stuffing was as good the second time around.  For the complete recipe go to
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Having a sick baby in the house is no fun at all!  Poor kid, could barely breath through her stuffy nose.  And when the little one is sick all she wants is mommy, mommy, mommy.  So you can be sure that last night there was no cooking in our household.  But thanks to my loving hubby how gave me a little break from the kitchen to tend to my needy sick child, for picking up some delicious Bahama Breeze.  A little taste of the islands sure helped me forget about the dreary cold weather outside!

I had been debating putting everything off tonight and just trying to go to bed early since my daughter was up most of the night and well into the morning.  Who needs to have a clean house or a home cooked meal when they can hardly keep their eyes open?  But then again if I put this off tonight, I'll just have double the work to do tomorrow and the endless cycle will begin again.  I understand now what my mother always said to me while I was pregnant, "get your rest now because once that baby gets here, forget about getting any sleep!"  A mom's job is never done!

So last night's menu will now be pushed back to tonight.  Since my darling love is working, it'll just be me and my princess.  I'm starting to get the hang of this cooking thing and I'm contemplating using a recipe I stumbled upon for homemade mac and cheese.  Hayden loves mac and cheese so I might just add this to tonight's dinner since I'm not sure how much she'll enjoy stuffing.  She's never tried it before, but then again she surprised me with her love of sauteed spinach (which she calls "pasta", don't ask me why I'm still trying to figure that one out myself) the other night so she could surprise me here too.

I do have to send out a quick shout out to my mother-in-law who's been buying me these awesome KitchenAid cook books to go with my KitchenAid stand up mixer.  I've been going through the recipes and finding so many I want to make.  Lately, Hayden has been utterly addicted to peanut butter (as she calls it "pee pee budder") so this past weekend we tried making peanut butter cookies.  The recipe called for 1 cup of brown sugar, simple, so I thought!  When I pulled out my tub of brown sugar I found that it was no longer soft and moist as it was a few weeks back when I checked on it.  Instead, it was hard as a rock!  So, thanks to my handy dandy iPhone, I was able to look up substitutions for brown sugar... 2 parts molasses and 1 part granulated sugar.  Ok, molasses - check! Granulated sugar - check check!  I was good to go.  We mixed in the rest of the ingredients and proceeded with making our peanut butter cookies.  Hayden loved rolling the cookie dough between her fingers, but I had to constantly remind her not to eat the raw cookie dough.  We had a blast smooshing down the dough and making criss-cross marks with the fork and then placed the cookies in the oven to bake.

Once the cookies were done and cooled, we each took a cookie and began to devour our creation.  Not so good!  I should have know just by the look of things.  I had a feeling that the cookies shouldn't have been so dark!  All you could taste was the molasses, yuck!  Now, if you're a fan of molasses, then this would have been a delicious cookie for you, but I'm not!  I did eventually throw the cookies away, much to Hayden's dismay.  She wasn't really into eating the cookies, she seemed to have the same problem I did with them.  I think it was more the idea of "throwing out cookies" that had her upset.

Since our last cookie disaster, I have paid a little visit to my grocery story, picked up a few essentials (new cookie sheet, cooling rack, and BROWN SUGAR) so we are officially prepared to make peanut butter cookies!  If my princess is feeling up to it tonight, we'll be making cookies and this time I expect a much better outcome!

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