Chicken Parmesan

This week Manny and I went grocery shopping and as we were in the store, shopping from our list, we realized we didn’t have a plan for dinner. We were in the meat section, looking at the selection of chicken and Manny suggested we team up and make Chicken Parmesan. So we did. I made the sauce and Manny did the chicken. We decided to cheat and buy a loaf of garlic bread instead of making pasta so that was simply a matter of heating it up. Dinner was delicious, making it was fun, and it ended up being something of a much needed date-night in the end.

Chicken Parmesan
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 C shredded mozzarella and provolone mix
Panko Bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Egg
1/4-1/2 C canola oil

1 jar spaghetti sauce
2 large onions
2-3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp garlic
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp italian seasoning mix
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C water
2-3 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To make your chicken you will need a meat mallet (we used a hammer). Pound your chicken until it is an even thickness all the way through. Dredge you chicken through a mixture of the flour, salt, and pepper. Next dip in a well beaten egg, making sure it is completely covered. Then coat in Panko. Warm oil until very hot in a skillet on medium high heat. Add chicken. Cook on either side until Panko is golden brown. *The chicken will not be cooked through yet* Place chicken on a cookie sheet and cover liberally with shredded cheese. Bake until heated through to 165 degrees being careful not to rest your thermometer on the cookie sheet when temping. If you don’t have a thermometer you can always do the old standby of cutting open one piece to make sure it is cooked through. Baking time will depend on the thickness of your chicken.

While your chicken is baking you can make the sauce. Most recipes call for the chicken to be cooked in the sauce but Manny and I prefer a crispy chicken so we made it this way instead.

Dice your onions and place in a skillet with olive oil and garlic. Cook on medium high heat until the onions are caramelized. Reduce heat to medium low and add red wine vinegar to deglaze the pan. Add spaghetti sauce, rinsing jar with a little water and adding that to the skillet as well. Stir in spices. Allow to simmer until meat is done. Serve over chicken and enjoy! We had ours with garlic bread and it was absolutely scrumptious!

In this crazy world we’re living in, I hope you are all taking time for yourselves and for the people you do get to have in your life. Keeping relationships healthy is so important during this time of social isolation. So plan a date night and make it something special. Or cook as a family. Find something to be grateful for instead of feeling down over what we’ve lost. And as always, take care and God bless.

Kimchi Fried Rice

1 1/2 C uncooked rice ($0.52)
3 C water (free-ish)
2 boneless skinless chicken thighs or equivalent of meat, cubed ($0.77)
2 small onions ($0.32)
1/2 C frozen peas ($0.16)
1/2 C diced carrots ($0.13)
1/2 C chopped kimchi ($1.34)
1 tbsp brown sugar ($0.02)
sriracha to taste
rice vinegar to taste
soy sauce to taste
1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger ($0.02)
1 tsp chopped fresh garlic ($0.06)
2 eggs ($0.22)
Total: $3.56

Whether in a rice cooker or a separate pot, combine water and rice. Make sure you rinse your rice ahead of time! In a separate skillet cook chicken on medium heat with a little olive oil or butter, your choice. When done add peas, carrots, and kimchi. Cook until heated through. In a bowl combine brown sugar, sriracha, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. Add meat and vegetables to sauce in bowl. In the skillet you used to cook the chicken and vegetables, cook eggs, stirring often to break up into small pieces. Add rice and vegetable mix. Fold through until thoroughly mixed. Serve with sriracha and enjoy!

This was my first attempted ever at making fried rice which is kind of funny considering how much Asian food I make otherwise and I’m decently pleased with how it turned out. It wasn’t the prettiest dish ever but it tasted AMAZING. There were no left overs and quite honestly I’m impatiently waiting until I can make it again! It was warm and comforting and just plain delicious.

If you know any tips or tricks to making fried rice please let me know in the comments. I’m always interested in learning something new! As always, take care and God bless.

Dirty Rice

Today a new challenge fell in my lap. Little did I know this morning when I asked my fiance what we should have for dinner I would be researching a food I’ve never made and creating a new recipe from scratch! See, this morning I asked Manny what we should have for dinner. In our house this means, pick a protein and I’ll do the rest and sometimes he’ll give me some ideas of what I could turn that protein into. He said I should make whatever we have the most of which is in fact venison. So I went in the freezer and grabbed the first package of venison I found which just happened to be a pound of venison hamburger. If you’re starting to get squicked out by the prospect of deer meat, take a deep breath. You don’t have to use venison. You can easily substitute traditional hamburger or even leave the meat out entirely to make a delicious vegan/vegetarian version of this meal!

We had gotten a rice cooker as a gift at my bridal shower and Manny has been dying to try it out so he suggested I make a big pot of rice, half it, make dirty rice tonight with the hamburger and tomorrow we can make fried rice (which will be another adventure I’ve never been on!) So that’s what I’m doing! Tonight is my version of Dirty Rice and tomorrow we’ll see how I do making Kimchi Fried Rice.

Sorry to have had to put the introduction before the recipe this time, but let’s get into it!

Dirty Rice

2 C uncooked rice ($0.70)
3 C water (free-ish)
1 C mixed frozen veggies (peas, corn, lima beans, green beans, and carrots) ($0.33)
1 can dark red kidney beans ($0.48)
1 lb hamburger ($3.71)**
pinch cayenne (< $0.01)
pinch black pepper (< $0.01)
1 tbsp paprika ($0.12)
1 tsp fresh garlic ($0.06)
1 small onion ($0.16)
cajun seasoning to taste (I used a lot… like a lot a lot.) ($0.05)
Total without beef: $1.90
Total with beef: $5.61

As mentioned above, I was working with a rice cooker, so first step is to start the rice. If you don’t have a rice cooker you can make your rice in a pot. Remember to rinse your rice though in order to get excess starch off and make the texture more pleasant.

In a separate pan brown hamburger with the spices and the onion. Strain kidney beans and add to pan along with vegetables when the meat is done browning. When rice is done add rice and mix. Eat and enjoy! We topped ours with Franks hot sauce and it was absolutely delicious!

As always, prices are an estimate. Obviously the venison also does have some cost as well. Best I could figure our venison cost about $0.58 a lb. This of course does not take into account time for hunting or processing. I come from a hunting family and hunt myself so it makes sense for us to use a lot of venison. All recipes involving venison can easily be made with beef or even pork sometimes.

Why venison?

For me, I’ve grown up hunting. It was a think I did with my papa before he passed away and a thing I continue to do with my dad. This year Manny decided to try it and although neither he nor I got deer it was still a fun experience and we will likely continue to hunt as we are able in the future. On a purely humane note, I like to hunt because I know how the animal was killed. If done correctly hunting can be very humane. Instead of living in big corporate pens, raised with the sole purpose to be someone’s meal some day, the deer get to live free and wild. A good shot can kill a deer with a single shot. This means the animal gets to live a free, wild life and have a humane death.

Venison is also really good for you. It is higher in protein than beef, with 26g per 3 oz as opposed to only 22g per 3 oz in beef. Additionally it has only 2.7g of fat per 3 oz serving instead of the whopping 13g in beef per 3 oz serving. Venison is high in vitamins B6 and B12 AND it’s high in iron too, making it a great choice for people who struggle with anemia. Plus, it’s organic and free of hormones and chemicals.

Whether you make this recipe with venison, beef, or no meat at all, it’s a delicious zippy meal to get you through on these chilly spring days. Let me know in the comments what you think! And as always, take care and God bless.

Banana bread without a bread pan

No bread pan? No problem. Use a saute pan! As always, we’ll get straight to the good stuff and jump right into the recipe.

B-nana bread

1/2 C oil ($0.24)
1 1/4 C sugar ($0.34)
2 eggs ($0.22)
1/2 C milk ($0.11)
1 C mashed bananas (roughly 3 bananas) ($0.58)
2 C flour ($0.66)
1 tsp soda (> $0.01)
3/4 tsp salt (< $0.01)
Total: $2.15

Cream sugar, oil, eggs, and milk. Add flour, soda, salt. Mix well. Add bananas, mix very well. Oil pan and add batter. Bake at 350 degrees until done. Because the saute pan cooks the bread thin it will cook much faster than a regular loaf of banana bread. Should be done in 30-45 minutes.

Does anything smell better baking in the oven than banana bread? It’s such a warm and comforting smell. I remember as a kid my mom making banana bread quite frequently and for me the smell conjures up such pleasant memories. Sometimes she’d add nuts but more often she’d add chocolate chips. This basic recipe has neither but as with all of my recipes, feel free to play around and make it your own.

If you need to go gluten free this recipe works well with standard mixed all purpose gluten free flour. It also does very well with a 50/50 mix of almond and coconut flours. Stevia is an easy substitute for the sugar as well. Want a more buttery flavor? Use butter instead of oil and substitute butter milk instead of milk. And lastly apple sauce instead of oil will keep it moist but reduce the fat content if that’s a thing you worry about.

Now, taking that fear of fat and throwing it straight out the window! Who loves butter on banana bread? I know I do! One of my favorite ways to eat banana bread when it is no longer fresh from the oven is to melt some butter in a non-stick pan and gently fry the slice of banana bread in it over medium heat. You can flip it. I find doing this gives the bread a delicious crunch and irresistible butter flavor, but uses less butter than if I just slathered it in cold butter. So a win-win!

Prefer banana cake to bread? Simple fix. Double the recipe on everything except the flour. Keep that at 2 C. Top with cream cheese frosting and voila! Delicious! Need a simple but delicious cream cheese frosting recipe? Well bonus, here one is!

Simplest Cream Cheese Frosting

1 package cream cheese (softened)
1 stick butter (softened)
2 tbsp vanilla
3 C powdered sugar

Mix well! I use the food processor attachment on our blender but you could mix using hand beaters or even just by hand. We have the food processor attachment though and I’ve gotten spoiled. Mix until smooth, spread on top of your cooled cake! Bam! Delicious desert!

Whatever you do, whether you make cake or bread; choose frosting, butter, or just pain; enjoy yourself. Play around a little! Add chocolate chips or nuts or something else entirely! If you’ve got a unique add to banana bread let me know in the comments! Let me know if you try the bread or the cake! Comments are love and as always, take care and God bless!

One-Pot Wonders are Indeed Wonderful

Spicy Beans and Rice

Nothing’s worse than when a blogger makes you scroll for ten freaking years just to find the recipe hidden in the depths of their post. So let’s get to the good stuff right away, shall we? And if you like what you see, do me a solid and read the rest after.

2 C rice ($0.70)
4 C water (free-ish)
1 can diced tomatoes w/habeneros ($0.99)
1 can pinto or black beans ($0.66)
1 C corn ($0.33)
1/4-1/2 C lime juice ($0.06)
1 tsp cumin ($0.14)
salt and pepper to taste ($0.05)
1 ring spicy smoked sausage ($2.98)
pinch dried or chopped cilantro ($0.09)
1/4 C salsa verde ($0.62)
Total: ($6.62)

Prepare sausage by cutting on a bias, cubing, dicing, whatever you want to do! In a large pot crisp up your sausage on medium-high heat. When browned add rice, water, and the can of diced tomatoes. I used Ro-tel brand for the tomatoes and habeneros and since I do not like chunks of tomato I pureed the whole thing before adding it but you could do either way. Reduce heat to medium-low. Next strain your beans, you can use pinto or black beans, and add these to the pot. Make sure you stir periodically. Add corn and lime juice. How much lime you use is up to you, I prefer a more limey taste so I did more. Next add cumin, salt, pepper, and cilantro. Cook until rice is done. Serve in a bowl with salsa verde as a garnish. Enjoy!

I don’t care for the chunks in salsa either but love the flavor so I also pureed this. Please be aware if you do the same it will make your salsa more spicy if it has pepper seeds in it as the seeds hold a lot of spice and when broken up they can get VERY spicy.

Pro-tip for rice preparation! Get a fine mesh strainer, we got ours from the dollar store, and strain your rice in cold water before cooking to get the excess starch off. This will make your rice not as mushy as it cooks and makes the overall texture of the dish more enjoyable.

So now that we have the recipe done, I’d just like to do the disclaimer that the prices are an estimate based off the current running price for that item in my area… which may not be your area… so don’t quote me on the prices. Also, I broke down what the full packages would cost if you split it up for what the recipe calls for. There are ways to make this cheaper. If you leave off the sausage the whole cost goes down to $3.29. A delicious one-pot meal that can easily be made vegan.

We had this meal last night for dinner and it really did hit the spot. Cold weather with a dreary drizzle and a beastly wind made the warm spice of this exactly what the doctor ordered. It was a little bit of a learning experience because I hadn’t realized how blending the salsa would affect it until too late and had added too much to my own bowl. Thank goodness my fiance was happy to help me out cleaning up the remainder that I couldn’t finish!

So give it a try, let me know in the comments what you think of it! And as always, take care and God bless.