Thursday, September 15, 2011

Childhood Redoux

Tonight was another of those kinda frantic meal prep nights. It may have been caused by my total lack of prior preparation , but I doubt it. I think the convergence of spices in my cabinet and the electrical pulses from the fridge created some break in the space time continuum, causing me to run to the Pig at nearly 7:30 to gather the ingredients for the impending dinner. At least that is the story I am sticking with.

I had no idea what to cook tonight but whatever it was had to be easy and preferably something I had on hand, but then I remembered I don't keep real food on hand. If you want a can of coconut milk or some red curry paste, call me and I can hook you up. Want capers packed in salt? Got it covered! Going to die if you don't have immediate access to food grade lavender? I am your go to guy. I have 10 pounds of flour always, at least 5 pounds of sugar. Every condiment known to man is at my disposal, but...Need lettuce? Thawed meats or chicken? Fresh beans? Uh not likely to have it.

I admit I love the European method of daily shopping and would love to walk 2 blocks with my little basket and wind through the local shops to gather what I need for the day, instead of driving to Publix or the Pig and pushing a huge grocery cart through the store. It begs to be filled so I do my duty and start filling. Oh Rice a Roni is bogo. I must get it even though we don't like it. Cheeze It's the same buy one get one thing. Into the basket they go and I am happy as a clam until I have a nearly full cart and realize I still don't have a blooming thing for supper.

Tonight I went with an actual list and discovered something amazing. If i have a list and it's late I buy only what is on the list. Well what was on the list plus a pack of pork chops because they were pretty and on sale. Prior to hitting the store I did an emergency quick cookbook look -see. The first book I pulled out ( without even looking at the cover was the Emeril Lagasse cookbook "There's a Chef in My Family" . It was bought several years ago when Son3 was first learning to be self sufficient. I spent about 2 minutes looking through it and found a quick simple recipe that I have never made before. Trust me, I have made Chicken parm often but it has always been a traditional "pound the breasts into cutlets, bread and saute" type thing. This was a cleaner, easier version of the old standard.

Emeril Lagasse's kid friend version Chicken Parmesan Emeril Style .

4 boneless Chicken breasts
2 teaspoons Baby Bam
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 C. Emerils Kicked up tomato sauce or jar of your favorite brand
of red pasta sauce ( Duh make it or buy it? Buy!)
1/4 lb. Mozzarella cheese cut into 4 equal portions ( 4 slices of already sliced mozzarella)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese ( again the green cylinder stuff)

!/2 lb cooked fettuccine

preheat over to broil

Season each chicken breast with the Baby Bam* (Dorky herb blend with no heat so little people can think they have something special.) I opted for traditional Italian herbs and salt but you choose what you want. Heat the olive oil in an oven safe saute pan and warm over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook on one side for about 4 minutes. Turn it and cook on the other side for about 2 minutes.put about 1/4 cup of the red sauce on each chicken breast and top it with the mozzarella cheese. Then sprinkle with the Parmesan. Run it under the broiler for about 3 minutes until the cheeses are hot and bubbly.

Serve over the cooked fettuccine with a side salad and garlic bread.

To be honest this tasted pretty good. Insead of the baby bam, I threw some finely chopped fresh basil, some oregano, minced garlic, salt and pepper on the chicken before sauteing. I used Classico tomato and basil sauce because we like it. It is not sweet and is full of flavor. We all thought the mozzarella was overkill and will leave ti off next time, but the Parmesan melted then had a few crispy bits at the edges. It was very good . This might one of those meals that you should always have the ingredients on hand. I will make it again but will leave off the mozzarella.

Hopefully I will never be in the same situation I was tonight where I had to run buy stuff to cook quickly, but who am I kidding. Most likely I will repeat the process ...tomorrow.

* Baby Bam
3 Tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons of each of the following: salt, dried parsley, onion powder, garlic powder
1 teaspoon of each of the following: ground black pepper, dried oregano, dried basil, dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon celery salt.

Add all ingredients to a medium sized bowl. Stir everything together with a wooden spoon to mix well. Store in an airtight container for 3 months.

If you have a little person in your midst who would like to learn to cook the Emeril books are real gems. He does not dumb it down and use many prepared foods. Instead he has very easy to follow instructions for simple yet real food. Son3 learned how to cook using these. Better than that, a friend with a newly married daughter saw them and thumbed through them at my house one day. She immediately went out and bought both of the Emeril's" There's a Chef in My " cookbooks . I have no idea if she is still using them but according to her mother the books may not have turned her into a mini Martha Stewart, they at least have her where she can put a complete meal on the table.

I forgot to take a picture so I will have to recreate it from leftovers tomorrow, but right now it's late and I need sleep.


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