Cook. Nourish. Heal. Celebrate.

Posts tagged as wild wednesday

Asian Chicken Soup Bowl

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Feb 11, 2010 at 8:44am

What?  I didn’t know what to call this…sort of had the concept of hot pot in my mind, but since each person builds their own version, it’s more a bowl thing than a pot thing.   Anyhow, whatever it is, it’s delicious, and fun for a crowd.  As I’ve mentioned too many times before, I make rather deconstructed food on Wild Wednesdays to accommodate the varying tastes of the family.  Beef stroganoff, sauce on the side.  Spaghetti with meat sauce, meat on the side.  Chicken Parmigiana, cheese on the side.  I often throw a chicken soup in there, chicken and vegetables on the side.

But last night, since my aunt Mary & uncle Bruce were joining us for dinner, I decided to innovate a bit and add an Asian twist to the soup concept.  I loosely had in mind Japanese udon soup, or a Chinese soup with little meatballs or wontons, so I riffed on that.  I also wanted to create a healthy-meal-in-a-bowl, and something I could prepare ahead, so that we could eat right away and fly out the door to get the kids to religious school.

So here’s what we had: a fragrant, lightly spicy chicken broth, with optional pork meatballs; thinly sliced tofu, chicken, and vegetables (cabbage, scallions, shitake, bell pepper, and snow peas); and thin noodles.  It was delicious, and pretty (photo above doesn’t do it justice since it didn’t include the noodles – the vegetables and meatballs piled on top of the pasta are gorgeous), light-yet-filling…and fun to build and eat.  Bonus: the leftover noodles in broth blow away any version of packaged ramen you’ve never had (photo right, with a squirt of sriracha); I plan to have them for lunch (meatballs and veggies are gone…shucks).  Recipe here.

For dessert (we had guests; I pretty much only make desserts for guests), a chocolate cake with killer chocolate sauce – a pre-Valentine’s Day sweet-for-the-mostly-sweet.

(Almost) Chicken Parmigiana

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Jan 20, 2010 at 7:40pm

And an almost-post about it.  I bit off a bit more than I could chew this afternoon and attempted a multi-step dinner when I knew that I had to be out out the door by 4:45 pm (basketball practice, church run).  I usually keep Wednesday night dinners extremely simple (due to basketball practice, church run), but I had crispy chicken breasts on the brain, thanks to both a NYTimes feature on rethinking chicken breasts, and the delicious-sounding Sunday Supper at Lucques chicken paillards with Parmesan breadcrumbs, escarole, capers, and rosemary I was going to make on Monday (but didn’t).  And while my kids aren’t (yet!) interested in escarole, capers, and rosemary (a dish intended for just John and me), they do love a spicy tomato sauce, so I set aside good sense and started pounding chicken breasts anyhow around 3:30 pm.

Actually, chicken parmigiana – at least the way I make it – is not at all tricky.  It took me 10 minutes from start to finish to pound the breasts into cutlets.  It took me another 15 minutes (or less) to quickly beat an egg with a little milk, make fresh bread crumbs tossed with Parmesan (Cuisinart), and pass the chicken breasts through both.  I laid out the breaded cutlets on a baking rack over a baking sheet as I went along, allowing them to dry a bit.

As I sauteed the breasts in batches, I also made a simple tomato sauce (canned chunky tomato sauce, garlic, olive oil, herbs, splash of wine) and sliced some mozzarella cheese (I happened to have a lovely whole-milk version in the fridge, but part-skim shredded works just fine).  I spooned some of the sauce into the bottom of a baking pan, topped the sauce with a layer of sauteed chicken breasts, topped the chicken breasts with a bit more sauce, then topped the sauce with a few slices of cheese.

While the chicken breasts baked at 350 degrees (until the cheese melted, about 15 minutes), I started to make linguine – I’d say that I tossed the linguine with the rest of the tomato sauce, a little pasta cooking water, a healthy grating of Parmesan cheese, and several grinds of black pepper, but I was gone by that point, so John did it.

Yep, I ran out of time, somewhere between sliding the chicken into the oven and stirring the pasta into boiling water.

I took exactly zero pictures after 4:30 pm, which is about when I realized there was no way in hell I was going to complete dinner by 4:45 pm.  Therefore the pics of breaded cutlets, and merrily sauteeing cutlets, but none of actual chicken parmigiana…

I did manage to slice a chicken breast into strips, and quickly pack the strips with some tomato sauce for dipping, for my son to scarf down in the car between school and church.  Not ideal, but it worked.  I ate my dinner, reheated from ice-cold (tasty but completely unphotogenic), between church drop-off and pick-up.  (And made a mental note to stick to the un-pounded, un-breaded basics on Wednesdays from now on…)

And oh, PS, Thursday morning now: I got so cranky about goofing up my timing that I forgot to say that it’s completely worth making chicken parmigiana on a less busy day, because it’s delicious and kids love it, but also because if you make it at home it doesn’t have to be the calorie bomb it tends to be in restaurants.  To keep the breading on the lighter side, I use fresh bread crumbs or panko crumbs – both are fluffy, stick to the breasts in spots, and therefore don’t create a heavy, thick coating.  Saute the breasts in oil meant for high heat (peanut oil or refined safflower oil, for instance) and the keep the heat at medium high so the breasts brown quickly (and soak up less oil).  And use a light hand with the cheese – no need to bury the chicken, a smaller amount tastes fabulous and doesn’t drown out the fresh tomato sauce and ruin the crisp crust you just worked so hard to create!

Balance?

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Oct 28, 2009 at 8:13am

Routine, Routine, wherefore art thou Routine?  Man, if you’re stuck in a rut and need to shake things up a bit, may I suggest a household bout with the flu, close on the heels of acquiring a new puppy?  Actually, you probably already know these tricks – at the least the flu part – given how many of my son’s classmates have also been down for the count.  None of us have felt great for almost three weeks now, with strange appetites and extreme tiredness.  The result?  (My definition of) moderation – cooking and eating relatively healthy food as well as accomplishing some form exercise most days of the week – has been chased right out the window.  (Not a shocker given my sparse postings here…ahem…)   Suffice it to say, we’ve eaten more take-out and Amy’s Organics bean-n-rice burritos in the last few weeks than I’d like to admit.  Hopefully, we’ve turned a corner and are on our way back to fighting form.

And a normal routine!

I realize that I should follow that intro with an interesting, healthy recipe, an example of how to jump back in.  But I got nothin’.  The dinner plan for tonight is what we often have on Wild Wednesday nights, given limited time and wildly varying tastes (on Wild Wednesdays both kids have religious school, I take care of my three-year old nephew Cooper, and he and my sister Stacey join us for dinner).  Pasta, baby, make-your-own pasta.  I vary the shape (I’m currently digging a Whole Foods’ brand of conchiglie/shells).  And the texture and spiciness of the quick tomato sauce (smooth and thin, chunky and thick, sometimes with a little cream stirred in).  And the add-in vegetables (tonight will be sauteed Swiss chard, other nights a pan of zucchini and mushrooms, or garlicky broccoli, or thinly sliced fennel and onions…).  And the protein source (pulled apart rotisserie chicken, simple ground beef, I’ve even set out strips of frittata, or spicy beans, or sauteed tofu, although those are less popular options).  You get the picture.  It’s a relatively easy way to put a fast, nutritious dinner on the table; plus, if you go easy on the pasta, and load up on the veggies and lean protein, you can even call it “moderate.”

Right now, that’s the best I can do.