Okay, I didn’t quite fly over the sea, but I did fly a plane today. I had a lot of help from my instructor, but he let me take off and land the plane on my own. He even commented that most people don’t turn as quickly or as sharply as I did on their first flight. I think I’m a natural. He probably thought I was crazy.
Either way, I’m hooked. I will get my pilot’s certificate. And then maybe my glider pilot license. I can see myself soaring through the air without the noise of an engine – just peaceful, serene, and practically weightless flight.
Heroes Reborn is premiering on television right now. I am so excited for this show! I watched the original and was practically heartbroken when it went off the air (mid-season too)! Seems good so far. I guess we’ll see.
Save the cheerleader. Save the world.
Anywho, my grandparents are settled in their new home and my mom and I have been sorting through their things. We’ve found some pretty interesting stuff already. It’s amazing what Polacks in their 90’s have held onto over the years. For example, I found an opened Pillsbury crust mix box that read, “New! 6¢.”
Made me smile.
Lots of updates in one post. I’ll write again soon. For now, I leave you with this easy, one-pan meal. Chicken, tomatoes, broccoli and lemon. Shove it all into a cake pan, bake for 20-25 minutes, and inhale. Chewing is optional.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, each about 5 oz.
4 oz. cherry or whole tomatoes, halved or cut into small pieces
8 oz. broccoli tops, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 lemon, cut into 8 thin slices
Preheat an oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a baking dish with 2 tsp. of the olive oil.
Pound the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap until each piece of chicken is the same thickness, about 1/2-inch thick. Place the chicken breasts in the prepared baking dish. Arrange the tomatoes, and broccoli around the chicken. Drizzle everything with the vinegar and 2 1/2 tsp. of the olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
Top each chicken breast with 2 lemon slices. Drizzle the remaining 2 tsp. olive oil over everything.
Bake until the chicken is opaque throughout, 20 to 25 minutes. Serves 4.
With all of the recent tragic events it’s really made me sit back and count my blessings. America is supposed to be a nation of nations, where people come to be free and thrive and build better lives. What is happening lately? Too many public shootings, then Newtown and now the Boston Marathon. As one of my friends put it, it’s like the pendulum has swung and we’ve all become vulnerable. I can’t imagine what all of the victim’s families must be going through. I feel so helpless. America needs to unify again and make a come back. Anywho my heart goes out to everyone in Boston this morning.
Moving from my darker rant to something that always lightens my mood: Fresh Pesto.
Pesto is one of my favorite sauces to add to a dish of steaming pasta. I wanted to add some more nutrition to my bowl and thought it might be fun to incorporate broccoli into the mix too. As it turned out, many other foodies and bloggers alike have had this same idea of pureeing broccoli into a pesto. However, most of them omit the basil completely. I decided to make a hybrid.
We have also added whole wheat pasta to our regiment. Although I don’t use it 100% of the time, I try to at least incorporate at half and half mixture to our pasta dishes. I’ve found that some wheat pastas are a bit “wheatier” than others and may take a bit of adjusting to if you are used to all white, smooth flour pastas. Mixing wheat and white pastas are a great way to start.
I really loved the texture of this sauce. If I were going to add anything to this recipe, it would be a bit of fat from either heavy cream or greek yogurt. Either would work great.
2 tablespoons pine nuts (or your favorite nuts to use in pesto)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped, for garnish
grated parmesan, for serving (optional)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, chop the broccoli into florets. Use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to remove the tough outer skins of the broccoli stem and chop the stem into 1/2-inch discs. When the water is boiling, add the broccoli florets and stem to the water to boil until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Remove broccoli to a bowl, leaving the water in the pot.
Maintain the water at a boil. Add the pasta to the pot and cook according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and then drain the pasta well. Set aside.
Return the pot to the heat. Add the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and cook 1 minute more. Return the cooked broccoli to the pan and cook 1-2 minutes to heat through. Season with pepper to taste.
Transfer the broccoli mixture, fresh basil, lemon juice, black pepper and nuts to a food processor. Pulse in short bursts, scraping down the sides as needed, until the mixture is finely chopped. Add a bit of pasta water to thin out the sauce until it is smooth and creamy. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if necessary. In a large bowl (or in the pot), toss the pasta with the sauce. Serve with chopped tomatoes and freshly grated Parmesan if using.
Ina Garten’s recipes are simple enough that anyone can make them, yet when you’re finished with your dish, there is a sophistication about it that makes you feel like you just cooked a gourmet meal. This is the beauty of the Barefoot Contessa.
Who knew that eating your greens could taste so good? If I tried this as a kid I would have eaten it all of the time! (Sorry Mom). This broccoli recipe is hers. It maximizes the flavor of broccoli without allowing it to get soggy and squishy. Roasting the broccoli at a high temperature allows the vegetables to caramelize. That’s the magic behind all of it. This recipe is so easy but it will become such a staple that it will be hard to eat broccoli any other way.
I added the shrimp and tomatoes to complete my dinner and served it on whole wheat pasta (see recipe note). Really tasty and healthy too. There is nothing wrong with that.
Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Take two large bunches of unwashed broccoli (about 4 pounds) and cut them into large florets. Here's where you get to make an exciting decision. The key to this recipe is DRY broccoli. You can either wash your broccoli and thoroughly dry it, or cook the broccoli without washing it. The choice is yours. I didn't wash mine. I wanted the broccoli to get as crispy and brown as possible. If you're nervous about it, just wash and dry it obsessively.
Put the broccoli in a bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add garlic to the bowl and spread onto a cookie sheet.
Roast in the oven for 20 minutes until crisp-tender and some of the florets are browned. You can toss the broccoli in the middle of cooking if you feel it's necessary.
Remove from the oven and squeeze lemon juice over the broccoli, add a bit more olive oil, fresh grated Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts.
At first I had no idea what “Divan” meant. I originally thought it was a specific way you prepare the dish, like a souffle or to sauté. After researching online, I still don’t really know if it has a meaning outside of being a dish consisting of chicken, broccoli and cheese.
Either way, those three ingredients are items that I have mixed together in casseroles in the past. This is like that casserole but in a more gourmet fashion. I found this recipe online, futzed with it a bit, and ended up with this healthier version of Chicken Divan. Who says eating healthy has to be bland?
This recipe calls for transferring your chicken to a baking dish. If you have a cast iron skillet, use it to save you the hassle of washing one more dish.
4 (6 to 8-ounce) boneless skinless chicken breast halves
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (go easy on the salt because the sherry has a lot of salt already)
1 cup low-fat evaporated milk
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch (or more)
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Preheat the broiler. Mist a shallow rectangular baking dish with cooking spray. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli and cook until bright green and crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain well again and squeeze dry in paper towels.
In the mean time, sauté your garlic in a small pan in a bit of butter, 2 minutes or until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
Chop the broccoli and toss in a bowl with Gruyère and sautéed garlic mixture. Insert a paring knife into the thickest part of each chicken breast to make a pocket. Use your fingers here to extend the pocket as large as the piece of chicken can handle. Stuff each chicken breast with equal amounts of the broccoli mixture. Rub both sides of the chicken breasts with oil and thyme and season with salt and pepper. You may need to stab the opening of your chicken breasts with toothpicks to prevent the stuffing from spilling out during the cooking process. If you do, remember to take these out later.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, about 5 minutes. Put the chicken in the pan and cook until golden brown and just cooked through, about 6 minutes per side. If the chicken begins to brown too quickly, turn the heat down to medium to finish cooking through. Transfer to the baking dish.
Combine the milk and stock in a small pot, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir the sherry and cornstarch until smooth and whisk consistently. Cook until just thickened, about 2 minutes. You may need to add more cornstarch if the sauce is too runny. Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan. Top each chicken breast with a bit of sauce, enough to wet the chicken, and place under the broiler. Broil until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and let the chicken rest for at least 5 minutes. Once rested, cut each chicken breast in half on an angle. Whisk the mustard into the remaining sauce and spread a few tablespoons on each plate. Top with halved chicken breast, serve hot and enjoy.