Chicken Paillard (ish)

chicken-paillard-ish

Chicken paillard is one thing I see on a menu and always just keep on scrollin’.  In most circumstances, I don’t really want a pounded-thin breast of chicken atop ‘lightly dressed’ greens when I’m out to dinner. Lightly dressed? I LOVE RANCH. The full fat kind.

But recently, I’ve been trying to cook more simply during the week. Simple stuff. Relatively healthy. Not 7 million sides. And I opened my eyes and heart to chicken paillard and you know what? It’s just lovely. I breaded mine, but you could easily skip that step. I’m just trying to make sure I hang on to those last 4 pounds of baby weight.

Recipe

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin or butterflied
  • 1 cup italian bread crumbs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • s&p
  • olive oil
  • 1 bag butter/bibb lettuce
  • sunflower seeds
  • This lemon vinaigrette

Start by coating each of the chicken breasts in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Coat a large nonstick pan with olive and heat to medium high.  Working in batches, cook the chicken breasts about 3 minutes per side.  While the chicken is cooking, toss the lettuce with some sunflower seeds and lemon vinaigrette (I like to ‘heavily dress’). Serve the chicken ‘atop’ these greens.

The Best Lemon Vinaigrette

the-best-lemon-vinaigrette

Lemon vinaigrette is something that didn’t even slightly appeal to me until about two years ago. I just couldn’t get on the lemon bandwagon except for the sliver that they put in my cosmopolitan.  Then I went to Eatzi’s one day for a heavy dose of sampling (SW pepper dip and cinnamon roll, mainly), and I went crazy and got the lemon dressing on my salad. I was immediately obsessed. So much so that I called Eatzi’s later that day and asked what ingredients they put in it (which I’m sure was a much appreciated phone call for a place that is bustling with customers morning, noon, and night). To my surprise though, the guy couldn’t have been nicer and actually told me what was in it. He didn’t have the measurements, but this was certainly a good start. So now I make my own and we douse our salads in it. It doesn’t taste EXACTLY like Eatzi’s, but it’s darn close. And that’s how I officially stepped on the lemon bandwagon. Except lemon cake. I will never be a fan of lemon cake. Cake should never include fresh/healthy produce, IMO.

Recipe

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 large)
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoons honey
  • 1.5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher/coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 minced garlic clove
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Mix all the ingredients together, whisk or shake hard to combine and thicken, and serve it on everything! PS this would probably be a great summer chicken marinade.

Dinner Party Series: August

dinner-party-series-august

I’m failing on the blog front lately, but I can’t help it. My twins are BUSY and I’m hanging on by a thread. Not just from keeping up with them all day long, but making sure they’re learning and growing each day – that’s a challenge. Or maybe that’s just pressure moms put on themselves unnecessarily; babies used to literally grow up in caves and they were still helping their moms hunt for dinner by the age of 5.

Anyway, this dinner party post is too late. You really only have 8 days left to use it. Just kidding! Because I’m selecting grilled pizza for this month, and pizza is good ALWAYS. And I’m using grilled pizza for this month because we just went to a dinner party at my friend Annie’s house and grilled pizzas were the theme, and it was perfect. It was so much fun, really interactive, and at the end we got to eat PIZZA. I also feel like we all really bonded over the stressful yet satisfying act of rolling out pizza crust into something reasonable looking.

I’m offering two approaches here – buy the pizza stuff and make the salad, or make the pizza stuff and buy the salad.

Menu

Appetizer: Simple platter of roasted nuts and summer fruit

Pizza:        Homemade grilled pizza here and here or buy all the stuff    somewhere like Jimmy’s Food Store in Dallas

Salad:        Italian Chopped Salad or buy a prepared/bagged salad at the store

Dessert:    Brownie Bottom Cheesecake

To execute:

  1. Bake cheesecake the day before.
  2. If making pizza, prepare the dough the night before or morning of. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Prepare nut/fruit plate before guests arrive.
  4. Prepare salad before guests arrive.
  5. When ready to grill pizzas, roll out the dough, brush with oil, and grill on high heat first without the toppings. When dough crisps up, add toppings and return to grill until cheese melts.

Teddy Bear Birthday Cake

teddy-bear-birthday-cake

I can tell you right now that one of the greatest joys of my life will be making my boys’ birthday cakes year after year. I love nothing more than homemade chocolate cake, and when I’m making one for such a happy joyous occasion, my heart explodes. I can’t wait to make them in the form of C-3PO or Batman or Sponge Bob of whoever these little guys of mine are obsessed with at the moment. And BTW, they WILL each get their own cake every year. They didn’t this year because they just really have no idea, and I personally am not in a place where I need two birthday cakes kicking around the house. I simply cannot control myself.

I’m not going to say how fast this year went because that’s a given. What has truly surprised me though is the amount of shear joy I get from these two little boys, and the strong bond that we have after only one year of life together. I can’t imagine a world without them in it. I also can’t imagine having only one of them – they are undeniably a perfect pair and my heart grew times a thousand to make room for the true love and obsession I have for these two baby boys.

Onto the cake. Just to put it out there, I am a terrible froster, terrible cake slicer, terrible artist, and I have zero patience for cake decorating. When I make my own birthday cake I literally slap on the frosting and douse it in sprinkles.  So when you consider making this cake, a) you’ll obviously note my less than perfect frosting job – but I’m telling myself that’s part of the baby theme and b) know that if I can make this, you FOR SURE can.  There’s something about my hands that just don’t agree with frosting cakes. So. I would definitely say as far as shaped cakes go, this is easy!

What you’ll need:

  • 2 8 inch round cake pans, buttered, floured, and lined with parchment (bottom)
  • 1 3.5 inch round cookie cutter
  • 1 large marshmallow
  • 2 flat chocolate discs (or something similar, for eyeballs)
  • Black gel icing (in a tube)

Cake Recipe

Frosting

  • 5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup + 1-2 tablespoons milk, divided
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted and divided
  • 1/3 cup semi- sweet chocolate chips, melted

Make the cake in the two 8 inch round pans, and let cool completely.  One will be for the face, the other will be used for the ears and nose.  Level the cake with a serrated knife if necessary.  Using the cookie cutter, cut out 3 circles from one of the cakes. One will be the snout, the other two will be the ears. Using a knife, cut off little rounded edges on the bottom of the ears so that they can lay flat against the top of the head.

To make the frosting, cream the butter and powdered sugar together. Add the vanilla and 1/4 cup of the milk. Add in just 1 tablespoon of the cocoa.  This will be the light brown frosting for the ears and snout. Remove about 1 cup of this frosting to a separate bowl.  In main bowl, add in remaining 4 tablespoons cocoa powder, melted chocolate chips, and remaining 1 tablespoon of milk (more as needed).  Frost the bear’s face and ears with the dark chocolate frosting. Frost the snout with the light brown, and add little dollops of the light brown for the center of the ears.

For the eye, cut two white eyeballs from the marshmallow by cutting off either end about 1/8 inch thick.  Secure the chocolate disk onto the marshmallow using a little frosting.  Place the frosted snout on the bear’s face, then add the eyes on top.  Paint on a nose and mouth with the black gel.  And that’s it! The snout tasted the best.

marinated-grilled-chicken-sandwich

Today is one of those days I feel like I just can’t go on. It is just too hot. When your face starts sweating literally the second you step outside, it’s too hot. Add in 75 trips to the car loading babies in/out and I might just lose it. Add in – getting your eyebrows threaded and your baby B throwing a fit for keeping him strapped down for more than 3 minutes, grabbing a vase and breaking it, having to leave halfway through (yep, one brow done), and going back OUT into the 100+ degrees, and quite frankly I’m surprised I’m here to even tell you about it. I really never get my eyebrows done anymore because it’s too much of a hassle, but I thought it might be a good idea since we’re having our one year photos done tomorrow. Oh well, at least I got one done.

Instead I’ll talk about what we ate last week (in between two bouts of the stomach flu).  Super flavorful grilled chicken sandwiches. I ate this a couple ways – with honey mustard, with pickles, with tomatoes, with a couple different buns, and I landed on the simplest version. The chicken is so tasty that it tastes great on its own, with a buttery toasted ciabatta bun. Of course add what you want, but this is a great simple dinner.

Recipe

  • 3 thick boneless skinless chicken breast halves (~1.5 lb)
  • 6 ciabatta rolls, halved and lightly buttered
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup canola or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • black pepper

Prepare the chicken breasts by cutting their thickness in half. You can also pound them thin, but our Central Market chicken breasts are so thick that halving them is best. Mix the marinade ingredients in a ziploc bag; season the chicken with black pepper and add to marinade. I marinated for about 8 hours for extra flavor, but if you only have a couple hours that will be fine.  Heat the grill to medium high and grill 3-4 minutes per side.  Butter the ciabatta rolls and toast in the oven.  Top with what you want, but you won’t need it!

Dinner Party Menu: July

dinner-party-menu-july

I’ve got the best tip for all you moms out there. It’s fully researched, tested, and proven to be very effective. It just takes a leeeeettle bit of sacrifice on your part.

Get the flu. Or mildly poison yourself with salmonella.

Yesterday I got the flu (I know, it’s not inFLUenza but the flu as we all know it from our childhood)…or salmonella poisoning, I can’t be sure because I did spend a good part of my day testing the cake batter for my sons’ upcoming birthday…and I’m telling you guys. My husband had to stay home to take care of the kids…and for the first time in 362 days, I didn’t change 16+ diapers, I didn’t make and clean up 6 meals, I didn’t change outfits 4 times, I didn’t pull Bax out of the fireplace 3 times, I didn’t make 4 trips back forth to the car loading and unloading babies in 100 degree weather, I didn’t read 4 books that make little to no sense, and I didn’t give anyone a bath. Oh and my clothes looked and smelled clean at the end of the day.  What I did do, is lay in bed all day and watch Friends. Sure, throw in a little puking here and there but you know what? I feel rejuvenated. Try it.

So now that both babies are walking around like crazy, I have the opposite problem that I thought I’d have. I am not running in 2 different directions to constantly chase them down; THEY are constantly running in one direction to chase ME down. Seriously, I can’t even go to the bathroom without those two pounding on the door for me to come out. It makes kitchen time very tricky- I’ve got two little puppies just following me step for step; into the pantry, into the fridge, into the dishwasher. So today I am doing a dinner party post because I haven’t been cooking.

July – what a great time for a casual, cool dinner party. Something easy, something summery, something casual, and something outdoors is the ideal gathering. Nothing fussy here – just getting together with friends for good food and drinks.

Appetizer:   Veggies and store-bought dip

Main:           Sweet Texas BBQ Ribs

Side 1:          Sweet Potato Skins

Side 2:          Buy the Dole BBQ Ranch Salad Kit at the store (obsessed with this)

Dessert:      Ice cream with hot fudge/caramel topping

To execute:

  1. Arrange veggie platter the morning of; cover and refrigerate
  2. About 3 hours before guests arrive, start the grill and oven. Sear the ribs and then wrap and place them in the oven, basting for about 2 hours.  Let the ribs rest for 30-45 minutes.
  3. During the last hour of ribs, bake the sweet potatoes. In another oven is ideal, otherwise just put them in a little longer. Or, microwave!
  4. While the ribs are resting, finish making the potato skins in the oven or grill.
  5. Put the salad in a bowl.
  6. Um, that’s it!
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