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Soft (and Addictive!) Garlic Bread

We love garlic bread in our house, especially as an accompaniment to spaghetti and meatballs. What I don’t like, however, is super crunchy bread that takes on the consistency of toast. I’m sure some people love toasty garlic bread, but it’s just not for me.

Soft Garlic Bread

The Ingredients:

  • A fresh loaf of French bread (16 oz). Or, if you’re a huge sourdough fan, grab a loaf of sourdough.
  • 1/2 cup (yes, one stick — don’t freak out) of unsalted butter, softened.
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, smashed and minced.
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of freshly chopped parsley.

The Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix the butter, garlic and parsley together in a small bowl.
  • With a good bread knife, make 1 inch thick slices into the bread, down to the crust, without going completely through.
  • Put a teaspoon or two of the butter mixture between each slice.
  • Wrap the bread in aluminum foil and heat for 15 minutes in the oven.

Try not to eat the whole loaf before your family comes down for dinner.

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Baked Spaghetti Casserole

Last weekend I was looking for something to jazz up an otherwise boring spaghetti and meatball night, and I stumbled across this recipe which did just the trick.

Baked Spaghetti Casserole

The Ingredients:

  • 12 oz spaghetti
  • 28 oz of your favorite pasta sauce
  • 1 lb lean ground beef OR do what I did and thaw and cut up pre-made turkey meatballs because, frankly, it was WHAT I HAD IN THE FREEZER!
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

The Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • In skillet, brown the meat and drain (or you can do my little frozen meatball trick). Stir in pasta sauce.
  • Cook the spaghetti al dente, then drain.
  • Mix the cooked spaghetti with the cream cheese, Italian seasoning and garlic. Stir until the pasta is coated with the cheese mixture.
  • Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan and spread a small amount of meat sauce on the bottom of the pan. Put the spaghetti mixture in the pan and cover with meat sauce and then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes, until bubbly.

We enjoyed this baked spaghetti casserole with soft and yummy garlic bread and freshly steamed green beans.

Garlic Chicken (that the kids will eat)

Garlic ChickenThe other day I was looking to change up my typical chicken cutlet menu, and I stumbled across this yummy dish that was very easy and delicious. Bonus: my kids devoured their servings. I think we found a keeper.

The Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons crushed garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 or 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

The Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. In a saucepan, gently warm the olive oil and garlic
  3. In a shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese
  4. Cut your chicken breasts in half so you create double the number of thinner cutlets. This will help the chicken cook quickly and evenly.
  5. Dip chicken in garlic olive oil, then breadcrumb mixture.
  6. Place chicken cutlets on aluminum foil-lined baking sheet
  7. Bake 25 to 35 minutes until juices run clear. Time will vary depending on the thickness of your cutlets.

The chicken was incredibly moist and flavorful. I paired this entree with roasted broccoli (broccoli + olive oil + salt and pepper in a baking dish at the same time as the chicken) and mashed white potato/sweet potatoes (half and half).

We had one lonely cutlet leftover, so I took it to work and ate it with a piece of leftover lasagna … perfection!

Chicken with Lemon Caper Cream Sauce

chickenlemoncapersI made this dish recently and had forgotten how much I liked it. The sauce is so delicious and yet simple that I made another batch the next day to refresh my leftovers.

The Ingredients:

  • 1/2 medium sized onion (or a combination of onions and shallots), chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 and 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • zest and juice from one lemon
  • 1/3 cup cream (or half and half)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • approx 3.5 ounces of capers
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch

The Instructions:

  1. Slowly cook the onions, shallots and garlic in olive oil over medium heat in a saute pan. Stir frequently until onions are soft, but be careful not to brown the garlic.
  2. Add the chicken stock, lemon and dill. Then, turn up the heat and allow the mixture to boil for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cream, Parmesan cheese and capers to the mixture, stirring frequently. Allow the sauce to return to a boil.
  4. Take about 1/2 cup of the sauce and combine it in a small bowl or cup with the cornstarch. Combine and then return to the saute pan.
  5. Add chicken breasts to the saute pan with the sauce and reduce the heat. Continue to stir and turn the chicken until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is cooked through.

Enjoy the chicken and sauce on top of Jasmine rice and serve with a green vegetable, like asparagus.

Curry Chicken

curry-chickenI realized I haven’t made this recipe in quite some time, and it’s so delicious …. I think it’s on our family menu in the very near future.

The Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 T curry powder
  • 1/4 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • Cooked white rice
  • Optional: 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn; 1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped

The Instructions

1. Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces and place in a bowl. Sprinkle it with the curry and cinnamon, toss, and set aside.

2. Heat 1 T of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and zucchini and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

3. Heat the remaining oil in the skillet. Add the chicken and cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Add the broth, cream, salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer. Return the onion and zucchini to the skillet until the chicken is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Place cooked rice in individual bowls and top with your chicken curry. If desired, sprinkle with basil and almonds.

Substitution Ideas
You can substitute coconut milk for the cream …. eggplant for the zucchini … cilantro for the basil … and cashews for the almonds.

Creamy Risotto with Chicken Sausage

I’m a sucker for risotto. It’s so creamy and homey – I call it “fancy comfort food.” I only recently discovered how EASY it is to make really good risotto! You can amend this recipe and mix in pretty much anything you want, but here’s one I’ve had a few times that always turns out well:

The Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (16 ounce) package sweet Italian chicken sausage
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/4 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup Chardonnay or other dry white wine
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen petite sweet peas
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

The Directions

  1. In a heavy, large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute sausage and onion until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and thyme and cook about 30 seconds.
  3. Add rice and wine; stir until the wine is absorbed.
  4. Next, stir in 3 cups of the chicken broth. Then, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the broth is absorbed, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Continue adding broth, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring until all the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender and creamy. (This part I do somewhat unattended … I enjoy a glass of wine, check my email, stir the pot, flip through a magazine, stir the pot, etc …. Just keep going until it looks like what you get at a restaurant.)
  5. When the risotto is rich and creamy, stir in the frozen peas and approximately 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese; cook 1 minute or until heated throughout.
  6. Dish into bowls and sprinkle with the rest of the Parmesan cheese.

The first time I made this, I said to myself and my friends, “This is by far the best thing I have ever made.” It’s true.