Amy’s Beat Bobby Flay Chicken Parm

Image of Amy's Beat Bobby Flay Chicken Parm with pastaMaybe Classic Chicken Parm
We all have those time-suck TV shows that you turn to because nothing else interesting is on. These are the shows that you tell yourself you will just watch for a little while and then 3 hours later (because it was a marathon) you’re still watching. I have a few go-to favorites. Big Bang Theory is one. The worst offender though is Beat Bobby Flay on Food Network. I found myself down that rabbit hole once again about a week or so ago and what’s worse is I haven’t been able to get one of the recipes out of my head.

That recipe? Chicken Parmesan.

I am a fan of crispy fried chicken in all forms. This particular version is a favorite because it adds melted mozzarella on top. I mean, what’s not to love? I will say that I definitely fall into the less sauce is more camp here which may not be traditional. I like some sauce on top. I don’t like so much sauce that my chicken is soggy but to each his or her own. You make it the way you want to make it.

What struck me about the way the chefs were preparing this dish during that episode is that Bobby was adding ground toasted fennel to the flour dredge for the chicken—because it was how his mother would make it. I had never heard of this. By doing some light research and asking a few friends, I have found that a number of Italian mothers and grandmothers will make chicken Parm this way. However, finding a published recipe that includes the fennel is difficult.

The first thing I think of when I think about the flavor of dried fennel is Italian sausage. I love Italian sausage. The idea of that Italian sausage flavor married with the Chicken Parm has had my mouth watering for days and I haven’t had the time to make it for dinner. It’s always crazy busy at the beginning of the school year…

I’m going to give it a go this weekend by adapting my favorite Chicken Parm recipe. I’m hoping for a win…

Amy’s Beat Bobby Flay Chicken Parm
Yields 4 servings Read more…

Roasted Cauliflower Steaks

Image of a plate of Roasted Cauliflower SteaksSteak Your Veggies
My relationship with cauliflower is difficult. I have only just recently started to eat it because my daughter can’t stand broccoli and cauliflower is a fairly easy substitute. My difficulties started when I was a kid when my mom would make cauliflower with a cheese sauce. And, for a long time, I was okay with it. I’m not sure exactly what went wrong. But, after having it one night I got sick. No one else got sick. Just me. From that day forward, in much the same way that college tequila shots have ruined margaritas for many people, I never wanted to eat cauliflower again.

It has taken 40 years but I have tried cauliflower—just a little bit now and then. Cauliflower has that great attribute of not having a strong flavor and therefore will soak up the flavor of anything it’s in. This is why I can handle cauliflower in Indian food, for example. But, large amounts of cauliflower on its own is a hurdle I haven’t cleared…yet.

I am intrigued by cauliflower steaks. There is something about this concept that appeals to me. The idea makes so much sense. A beautifully roasted or sautéed caramelized steak with a flavor-filled sauce of choice sounds so good in my head. So, I have been researching recipes so that I can take the leap…

While this version by Gordon Ramsay with salsa verde seems like it would be right up my alley, I have begun with something more basic as I dip my toe into these waters.

Roasted Cauliflower Steaks Recipe
Adapted from All Recipes
Yields 4 servings

Try these oven-roasted cauliflower steaks seasoned with a simple lemon-garlic sauce. Serve them with Chimichurri or topped with roasted tomatoes, olives, and feta. Read more…

Irish Coddle

Irish CoddleCoddling
There I was, minding my own business reading my email when a message popped up in my Inbox that I couldn’t ignore. It was a recipe that made me stop in my tracks (so to speak). I don’t want to say this kind of thing happens all that often. But, occasionally something will appear in my email that makes me stop all other activities and take a look. Nine times out of ten it is because the recipe is for something I have never heard of. And, the rest of the time it is because the picture shows something that just looks so good that I have to just stop and stare. This particular occurrence was a combination of both.

It is mid-March which means there have been plenty of St. Patrick’s Day food ideas being spread around the online food world. And, this message definitely qualifies. I am a big fan of Irish food. I eat it. I cook it. And while I am certainly not an expert on Irish cuisine I would say that I am comfortable enough with it to not be surprised. I was wrong. Until that message arrived in my Inbox, I had never heard of an Irish Coddle. Irish stew? Yes. Irish Soda bread? Certainly, just not an Irish Coddle. Obviously, I had to do some research.

Traditionally, a coddle is a means to use up any leftovers so, more often than not, there is no actual recipe to follow. You just work with what you have. Judging by the recipe in my email, working with what you have will yield a dish that is the epitome of comfort food. How can you go wrong with bacon, sausage, potatoes, and onions? The idea so excites my food nerd self that I have been telling friends about this recipe when talking about St. Patrick’s Day plans at high school baseball games. Needless to say, this is what we’re doing for St. Patty’s Day.

Take a look at the recipe yourself to decide if it is worth bucking your corned beef and cabbage tradition…

Irish Coddle Recipe
Adapted from the Food Network
Yields 6 servings

The traditional recipe for an Irish Coddle varies from family to family. And, also varies according to what is in the fridge. For example, we have included carrots as an option in this recipe. You could opt to use another root vegetable or omit them entirely.

The main components of an Irish Coddle are bacon, sausage, potatoes, onions, and plenty of black pepper and fresh parsley. Finishing it off with some stout yields comfort food perfection. Read more…

Blondies

BlondiesRaising the Bar
Bar cookies are a wonderful thing. They can be simple. They can be complicated. No matter what version you go with, you can count on one thing—they will be popular.

Bar cookies are so popular because they are relatively easy to make. For the most part, you mix up a batch, put them in a 13 x 9-inch pan, and wait. Best of all, they travel well. This is why you will find a bar cookie at just about any school function, sports tournament, or potluck.

The hardest part is deciding which recipe to make. During the holidays I make a Five-Layer Bar that is deadly, and I usually follow that up with some pecan bars. When I am in the mood for something with a little fruit, there are lemon bars, raspberry bars, or apple pie bars. But, if I am being honest, my everyday go-to bar cookie is a blondie.

There have been heated debates about which is better the brownie or the blondie. The reality is, there is no right answer. For me, while I love the brownie, there is something about the buttery flavor of a blondie that is undeniable.

This recipe is my go-to when I have that blondie craving or just need a little pick me up.

Blondies
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated and Food 52
Yields about 36 cookies

The generous amount of real vanilla extract in this recipe is what makes them so delicious. So, don’t be shy! Also, these are better slightly under-baked rather than over-baked. Read more…