#52NewEats :: Week 19 :: French Onion Zoodle Bake

French Onion Zoodle Bake

This dish popped my zoodle cherry. I have been wanting to try zoodles for a while now, but I hadn’t quite found the right recipe until I found this one. I love alfredo sauce too much to cover zoodles with it. I might try a Bolognese sauce on zoodles, but for this month, we need to go meatless because it’s Vegetarian May!

I actually really, REALLY enjoyed this dish. Between my husband and I, we just about finished the whole thing ourselves. I might make a batch and a half next time! The fontina cheese on top makes it so scrumptious. The flavor in this dish was very good and spot-on with a French onion soup. I found myself wanting something crunchy on top – so I think the next time I make this, I will add some of those French’s fried onion strings. 

We liked this dish so much that it is on the menu for Vegetarian May, but I will be subbing out the beef stock for either vegetable stock or mushroom stock (which I have seen at Whole Foods). I hate mushrooms, but I am thinking the stock will give this dish the beefy flavor it needs to fulfill that French onion craving. I will also top with fried onions of some kind for a little crunch. 

You can find the original recipe //here//.

French Onion Zoodle Bake
Serves 2-3 hungry folks as an entree; 4 as a side

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups zucchini noodles
1 small yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup beef broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup fontina cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a skillet preheated to medium heat, melt butter. Place onion into skillet and cook for a few minutes. Add salt, pepper, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and thyme. Stir and cook for another couple of minutes. Add beef broth and cook until onions are golden brown, about 12 minutes. Make sure to stir occasionally to keep the onions from burning.

3. Next, spray an 5 X 8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl combine zucchini noodles and French onion mixture. Pour the French onion zoodle mixture into the dish and garnish top with fontina cheese. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. If the cheese does not brown in the oven, pop it under the broiler for a few minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly before serving. Garnish with fresh thyme if desired. Also, there is a probability that liquid from the zucchini will appear. If so, just drain it off carefully with a spoon before serving. Enjoy!

#52NewEats :: Week 16 :: Olive Garden Salad Dressing

Olive Garden Salad Dressing

Believe it or not, I never ate at an Olive Garden until I was well into adulthood.  I was in my early 20s and living in Spokane, WA with Aaron, and there is (or, was, rather) a major lack of non-chain restaurants in Spokane.  We couldn’t find a mom and pop pizza shop to save our lives, let alone a hoagie shop (ahem, “sub” shop) or a cheesesteak shop (Bruchi’s did not count).  So we worked our way through the chain restaurants on the scene – being on an opposite coast, many were new to us anyway.  And we finally landed on Olive Garden around the time they had some dish with balsamic-glazed steak medallions atop pasta with alfredo sauce, and it was THE.  MOST.  HEAVENLY.  thing I had eaten at the time.  So we began going pretty frequently.  We quickly found ourselves among the cult following of the neverending salad – mostly for the dressing, like everyone else in the cult.

So when I found this recipe, and I had all ingredients in the house but one, I thought, I gotta make it!

And the results were mixed.

It definitely tasted like a yummy creamy Italian dressing, but at my first bite I wasn’t ooooh-ing at the likeness of it to Olive Garden’s dressing.  You always kind of expect that first bite to be like, YEAH!  THAT’S IT!  But, in the recipe’s defense, it has been years since I’ve set foot in an Olive Garden.  And I will honestly say, that by the end of my hoovering this salad, that it really did taste like Olive Garden’s dressing.

So this one, I will leave up to y’all.  I didn’t not enjoy it, but I didn’t have the reaction I was expecting.  But it was a deliciously tangy, clearly Italian salad dressing that is nice to have in my back pocket, especially since there’s no super special ingredients!

You can find the original recipe //here//.

Olive Garden Salad Dressing

Ingredients
1 (0.7 oz.) packet Italian Dressing Mix
¾ cup olive oil (high-quality yields much better results in this recipe)
¼ cup & 2 Tablespoons white distilled vinegar
¼ cup water
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ Tablespoon mayo

Directions
Whisk everything together thoroughly and refrigerate. Store in a mason jar or other tightly closing container. Shake or whisk well before using.

Balsamic Potatoes

Balsamic Potatoes

I’m sure this sounds kind of strange to you, right?  Balsamic potatoes?  But I assure you – they are so good.  I haven’t made these in years, and when I thought about them recently and how I should make them for the blog, my mouth immediately started watering.

But!  I warn, they are not healthy.  I mean there’s a whole stick of butter in them (if you so choose, and I do so choose).

I discovered this recipe many years ago while paging through some foodie magazine.  There were many things I changed about the recipe to fit my liking – I think enough that I can say I made this a little bit my own.

These are a great side dish for anything – or you could probably even just eat them as they are.  I won’t judge.  😊

Balsamic Potatoes
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 1/2 lbs small red potatoes, washed and scrubbed
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
5-8 tablespoons of butter, cut into tablespoon-sized chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Directions
1. Pour vinegar into a small saucepan and add shallots. Heat over medium-high heat until boiling, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, until the balsamic vinegar has reduced and thickened a little bit. Remove from heat. Whisk in the thyme, and some salt and pepper. Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking to combine. At 5 tablespoons, taste the sauce. If it’s too balsamic-y for you, add more butter until your desired tastes are reached. I typically use a whole stick. 🙊 When finished, set onto a back burner of the stove to keep somewhat warm, but don’t turn the heat on.

2. Boil the potatoes whole, about 20-25 minutes, until done. I usually test by piercing one with a fork or knife – if it slips off easily, they are done. Drain. After the potatoes have finished draining, use tongs to pick them out of the colander and cut them into wedges. (You don’t want to boil them as wedges because they will become too waterlogged for the balsamic sauce.) Put them back into the pot you drained them from.

3. Once all the potatoes are cut into wedges, pour the balsamic sauce over top. Stir together gently to coat the potatoes with the balsamic sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and stir again, and sprinkle with another little bit just before serving. Enjoy!!

Better Burrito Bowls

You guysssssss.

If you’ve noticed, I’m SO sorry for my absence.

If you haven’t noticed, it’s cool.

So I am finding out very quickly that getting a house ready to put on the market is no freakin’ joke.  Since early January, I have spent part or all of every single weekend packing stuff I don’t need to use on a daily basis, cleaning rooms and closets, organizing rooms and closets, storing stuff at my mom’s house until we figure out what to do about a storage unit, donating perfectly usable stuff to Goodwill, trashing whatever is left, AND, somehow, managing to find some time for myself and my family, even if it means we at least make sure we eat dinner together.

Needless to say, cooking for the blog has somewhat fallen to the wayside at this time.

As if putting my house on the market is not stressful enough, I have also managed to land my absolute dream job.  At first I didn’t find this stressful at all.  DREAM JOB!  YAY!  But as I began to give notice throughout my firm, I was surprised to find out how many people seemed genuinely sad at the news of my departure.  There were those I knew would not be doing a happy dance, but I didn’t expect so many sad faces.  I suppose when you work under an evil boss who’s made you feel worthless and stupid and not valuable in the slightest, then on some level you start to believe that about yourself.  I really just thought most people would say “That’s great, good luck to you” and send me on my way.  But countless people have laid a (good-natured) guilt trip on pretty thick and told me that if I ever want to come back, to give them a call and they’ll make sure I have a spot.  What a difference a year makes, huh?  If this new job came along a year ago I would have skated out of there so fast – and nobody at all would have been the least bit surprised.  But the new regime has really turned things around, to the point where it was really hard to make the decision to leave.

I am really excited about the new gig though.  I’ll be doing the work I already love doing, PLUS learning some skillsets in a field I’ve been dying to get into – which would be work I would REALLY love doing.  The prospect of expanding my skillset and my career has been exciting enough that I have barely even realized that I will also be making more money.  Money is as big a motivator for me as it is for anyone, but it takes such a backseat in this instance, because I am so stoked about the work I’ll be doing.

So yeah, the typical response I get at this point is, “What are you thinking?!  Starting a new job, selling your house, buying a house, all at the same time?!”  And I have to shake my head in response.  I OBVIOUSLY HAVE NO FREAKING IDEA WTF I’M DOING, because when you put it like that, it DOES sound scary.  All I can say is that it all just feels right; I have no gut instincts or hesitations in the back of my mind about anything.  So it must be the right time for all of this to take place.  In the words of a dear friend, I am “ripping off the band-aid” – it certainly feels that way!

But anyway.  I anticipate being able to create a few recipes for you next week in between some final rounds of packing, and post them, but then I imagine I will be on hiatus until my life settles down a bit.  Stick with me.  And you can always see what I’m eating on Instagram.

Let’s talk about these burrito bowls.  That are seriously better than Chipotle’s.

I don’t really understand the frenzy that surrounds Chipotle.  I mean – I will give them credit.  The food is good, it tastes fresh, the guacamole is very good, but to me it’s just another place I could grab a healthy-ish meal.  It’s a better alternative for me than a salad place because fuck salads.  But there aren’t many around me, plus the whole food-borne illness thing, plus people, really, let’s look at the ingredients, because with a little effort you CAN do it better on your own.

Everyone always raves about the cilantro lime rice.  And yes, I love cilantro lime rice.  But people, you know what’s in cilantro lime rice?  CILANTRO.  LIME.  AND RICE.  You can make this at home.  You don’t need to pay Chipotle $10 or something for a burrito bowl when you can make this stuff at home.

And their guac?  Mine is good too.

Now – I’ve been trying to eat less meat lately.  (Why?  I don’t really know other than it’s just something I want to do right now.  No particular health reason, no particular diet reason.  Just, hey, let’s see what life is like if I eat less meat.  I’m not trying to lose weight, I’m not trying to become a vegan, or even a vegetarian, but can I eat a vegetarian-style diet and still be satisfied?  Let’s find out!  It’s a curiosity thing.)  So these burrito bowls are just rice + beans + veggies + slutty toppings.  You can very easily add any kind of Mexican-spiced grilled chicken or beef (here’s a recipe I’d recommend if you want to go that route), or even use that to swap out the beans.  Treat this recipe as you are treated at Chipotle – pick what you want to put in it, and make it your own.  What I’ve got here is just what I would ask for if I went to Chipotle myself!

So yeah – you make the cilantro lime rice.  You heat up the beans.  You slice and saute the veggies.  And you top and stir and shovel into your happy little mouth.  It’s THAT easy.

What I truly love about this recipe is that it is GREAT for work lunches.  I think I’ll start a series on the stuff I eat at work for lunch.  I have been pretty creative over the past couple of years for what to bring to work for lunch.  Eating lunch in downtown Philadelphia can range anywhere from $7-15 or more.  If you can take a few hours on a Sunday to cook a batch of something delicious, you’ll be fed for a few days at least.  This recipe in particular makes enough for 4 lunch-sized burrito bowls (which I would say is maybe just over half the size of a Chipotle burrito bowl – which letsbehonest is TOO BIG).  You can very easily double it to make more, or even 1.5x it to make just a little more.  I made a 1.5x recipe when I made it to photograph it for the blog, and my husband and I each had enough for 3 lunches for the week.

And obviously you can go the other way and halve it so that you have dinner for two.

Better Burrito Bowls
Serves 4

Ingredients
Cilantro Lime Rice
1 cup dry California brown Basmati rice (we like Lundberg), or other brown rice, prepared according to package directions (see note)
Chicken or vegetable stock to prepare the rice (see note)
1 large handful minced cilantro
1 lime, cut in half
Salt

Sauteed Veggies
1 large red bell pepper, sliced into strips and then in half again
1 large green bell pepper, sliced into strips and then in half again
½ red onion, sliced into strips
Cooking spray
Taco or fajita seasoning

Other Bowl Components
1 can black beans, not rinsed or drained
1 recipe pico de gallo
1 avocado, cubed, cubes tossed in lime juice to keep from browning
Guacamole for topping, if desired
Sour cream for topping, if desired
Shredded cheese for topping, if desired

Directions
1. Prepare brown rice according to package directions. This typically takes 40-50 minutes, so this is plenty of time for you to get everything else ready! When the rice is finished, season very liberally with salt and stir to combine. Taste to see if it’s salty enough. Then add in the cilantro, and squeeze one half of the lime over the rice. Stir to combine. Taste to see if it’s cilantro-y or limey enough for you. I like a lot of lime, so if you’re like me, you’ll probably end up squeezing the other lime half over the rice as well. Keep warm.

2. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Spray liberally with cooking spray, or drizzle sparingly with a light flavorless oil of your choice. (I use coconut oil spray, and probably spray 2 layers all over the pan.) Add the peppers and saute for about 5 minutes to give them a head start over the onions. Add the onions. Season with 1-2 teaspoons of taco or fajita seasoning, as your palate desires. Stir to combine, and as the vegetables soften, turn the heat down to keep them from burning. You want them to be like fajita veggies – not too soft, but not too crisp either. Keep warm.

3. Pour the black beans into a small saucepan and warm over low heat. Keep warm until ready to assemble bowls. Note that when assembling, you should use a slotted spoon to drain the beans before adding to the bowl.

4. When everything is finished cooking, begin to assemble your burrito bowls. Spoon ¼ of the rice, ¼ of the beans, and ¼ of the sauteed veggies into a bowl. If preparing for lunches at work, stop there. You’ll want all the warm stuff in one bowl, and then you’ll pack the cold toppings in other bowls to take with you to work. If you’re preparing this to eat immediately, you can proceed with topping as you desire. Then feel free to stir it all up and shovel it in your mouth toute suite.

Notes
Regarding the rice/stock :: for whatever reason, brown rice always takes more liquid than what is called for on the package, at least for me. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve got a gas stove that cooks hotter than electric, or maybe I don’t know what a simmer is, but in general, this particular brand of brown rice (Lundberg) takes a little more stock than the package calls for. For 1 cup of dry rice, I use 2 cups of stock (the package calls for 1 1/2 cups of stock). Speaking of the stock – the recipe is good with chicken OR vegetable stock, I’ve made it both ways. I prefer stock over broth, as it’s more flavorful.

Totchos

Hey y’all!

Today is National Tater Tot Day.  Or something to that effect.  Did you know that?  I mean I did because I’m a food blogger and of course I know all the food holidays so that I can celebrate them appropriately.  Or, as my husband says, so I have an excuse to eat bad foods periodically.  Let’s be honest.  It’s not like I’m celebrating National Apple Day.  Now, National Apple Pie Day…. that’s what I’m talking about.

Anyway.  WHO DOESN’T LOVE TATER TOTS?  Raise your hand.  Right now.  Now put it back down, because you should be ashamed of yourself. But I’ll forgive you if you make this recipe.  Because this will convert the unconverted.

Totchos.  Yes, a mix of those adorable little school lunch puffs topped with all the glorious toppings that normally blanket a bed of tortilla chips.  Tots + nachos = totchos.

They’re pretty effing good.  In fact, they almost taste more like a supremely topped baked potato instead of nachos.  But they are sooooo good.  My husband and I polished this whole plate off in like under 5 minutes.  We were hungry that day.

There’s a secret to this dish though – you can’t get generic tater tots.  No store brand.  The best tater tots on the market, the ones that won’t turn soggy and fall apart when you stab them, the ones that will hold up to all those glorious toppings, are the Extra Crispy Ore-Ida tater tots.  No, Ore-Ida isn’t paying me to say that.  Their Extra Crispy line of EVERYTHING is better than all other frozen potato products on the market, in my opinion.  Even their Extra Crispy fries taste like they’ve been deep fried.  They turn our crispier than some fried fries!

Of course, you have to make your own homemade cheese sauce too.  I think it’s about time my cheese sauce have its own post.  I’ll work on that.

In the meantime, make these tots, share them, don’t share them, enjoy them, and Happy Tater Tot Day!

Totchos

Ingredients
1 bag Ore-Ida Extra Crispy Tater Tots
1 recipe homemade cheese sauce
2 links chicken or pork chorizo
1 ripe tomato, seeded and diced
Sliced scallions, for topping, if desired
Pickled jalapenos, for topping, if desired
Sour cream, for topping, if desired
Minced cilantro, for topping, if desired

Directions
1. Prepare the tater tots according to the package directions. If you are still making the cheese sauce and prepping everything else when they are finished, keep them warm on the baking sheet.

2. Prepare the cheese sauce as directed in my link. Add as much Tabasco or Chipotle Tabasco as you’d like (the more, the better!).

3. Remove the chorizo sausages from their casings, and brown in a skillet over medium heat. Break into crumbles with a spoon or spatula. Drain if needed – I did not need to drain my chicken chorizo.

4. When your cheese sauce is ready, it’s time to assemble your totchos. Remove the warm tater tots to a platter, or keep them on the baking sheet if desired. Drizzle with the homemade cheese sauce. Top with the browned chorizo. Then top with any additional toppings you desire – diced tomatoes, scallions, pickled jalapenos, and sour cream round out the platter in my picture. If I’d had cilantro that day, I would have added it. I’ve had the cilantro in the past, and that’s what makes it more nacho-like to me. If you’re going for more of a supreme-baked-potato flavor, leave the cilantro off.

THANKSGIVING !! Parmesan Smashed Potatoes

I may lose my foodie card today, because I have to tell you that there is one food I have yet to master on a consistent basis – and that is mashed potatoes.

Most of the time when I make mashed potatoes, they are just ok.  They aren’t terrible, but they don’t knock your socks off either.  Sometimes I make mashed potatoes and they are pretty damn good.  But for whatever reason, no matter how hard I try, I can never quite duplicate those results.  Mashed potatoes are my forever work in progress.  But there IS one potato dish that I can make consistently well, no matter what, and that’s these Parmesan smashed potatoes.

I don’t even remember where this recipe came from, but every single time I make it, they come out perfectly.  And since we are calling them “smashed”, I don’t have to worry about that perfect, chunkless, silky-smooth consistency that characterizes mashed potatoes.  Nope.  Chunks are okay in smashed potatoes.  Totes ok.

But I must share a little tip with you that I learned the hard way…. DO NOT USE A HAND MIXER TO MAKE THESE.

Why?  Well for one, you’re not making mashed potatoes, remember – you’re making smashed potatoes.  So you must smash them.  With a potato smasher.  A hand-held (s)masher like this one.  No hand-mixers.  Nothing that you’re plugging into the wall.  You’re doing this by hand.  It’ll be your arm workout for the day.  You get to eat an extra helping of them because you’ll be in such a carb deficit after smashing these by hand.

Ok you get it right?  No hand-mixers.  Oh and why #2 is because you are never ever ever EVER supposed to use hand-mixers on red potatoes.  I can’t explain it scientifically but I can say from experience that a hand-mixer will ruin red potatoes.  If you feel like eating potatoes of a matte, soupy, gluey, porridge-like consistency, then have at it, but I highly recommend against it.  It’s pretty gross.  Scientifically, it has something to do with the wax content or something.  Idk.  I don’t care.  Google it if you care.  But you shouldn’t, because all you have to do is not use a hand-mixer and you’ll have good potatoes, which is what you really care about right now.  Get it?  Got it?  Good.

If you follow the directions and proportions exactly, these potatoes will turn out creamy, dreamy, silky, sweet, and delicious.  Good luck friends!

Parmesan Smashed Potatoes

Ingredients
3 lbs red potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and cubed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
1 to 1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions
1. Boil potatoes until tender and drain. I know this is a generic direction, but I have found over the years that I can never nail down a time limit for boiling potatoes. I rely on the fork test for doneness – draw a large chunk of potato out of the water with a large spoon, and stab the potato in the center with a fork, and lift it off the spoon. If the potato slides off the fork easily, they are done. If the potato sticks to the fork, it needs more time. Just babysit them, or rely on someone else’s directions for how long to boil potatoes. I can’t tell you how many recipes I see “boil 10-12 minutes and drain”, and there are times when 10 minutes is too long and there are times when 12 minutes is not enough. Thus, I rely on the fork test. Ok end rant and sorry.

2. While the potatoes are boiling, combine butter and milk in a small saucepan or skillet over low heat until butter melts. Return potatoes to the pot, then pour in half of the butter/milk mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Smash with a hand masher. If needed, add the rest of the butter/milk mixture to get the potatoes moist enough, and mash again. Taste for seasonings, and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Mash until you’ve reached your desired consistency (more chunks or less chunks, up to you).

3. Add sour cream and Parmesan cheese. Fold in with a spatula, or use your masher to mix them in well. Taste for seasonings and add additional salt and pepper if desired. Keep warm over low heat until ready to serve.

MEMORIAL DAY !! Cilantro Potatoes

With Cinco de Mayo behind us, summer is fast on its way.  And after this winter in Philly, I can-not-wait-for-warmer-weather !

This winter really hung on for dear life.  It did NOT want to move on.  Today it’s 85 and sunny and I am heading down to Atlantic City with my sister for the night.  THIS is the weather I live for.  🙂

This recipe for cilantro potatoes is one of my summer staples.  It goes with everything – steaks, grilled chicken, pork chops.  They are buttery, garlicky, and so fresh-tasting.

The best thing about this recipe is that it’s highly versatile.  If you don’t like cilantro – use minced parsley instead.  Or fresh dill.  Any soft fresh herb would be perfect with the garlic and the butter.  Or hey, if green isn’t your thing, garlic and butter is plenty delicious too.

Cilantro Potatoes

Ingredients
2 lbs baby red potatoes, scrubbed and halved or quartered
A handful of minced cilantro, or other fresh herb
6 tablespoons butter
3 cloves minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Put quartered potatoes into a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the potatoes to a boil over high heat. Boil for 12-15 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. (I always stab a large potato with a fork and if it slides off the fork without much hesitation, they are done.) Drain the potatoes in a colander.

2. Return the saucepan to the stove over low heat and add the butter. When the butter is melted, add the garlic, salt, and pepper, and saute until the garlic softens, about 1-2 minutes.

3. Add the potatoes back to the saucepan and toss with the garlic butter mixture. Add more butter if needed. Add the fresh herbs and toss to combine. Serve warm.

CINCO DE MAYO !! Pico de Gallo

Pico de gallo is like… the perfect condiment for Mexican food.

I use it on almost everything I make that’s Mexican.  Tacos, taco salads, nachos, quesadillas, even as a dip on its own.  Obviously you want to make sure you have the freshest, ripest ingredients as this is a raw dish with simple flavors.

Two things I find to be essential for good pico are cilantro and lime juice.  I know a lot of people hate cilantro, but I love the stuff and can’t get enough of it.  If your tastebuds don’t agree with me though, feel free to omit both – you will still get plenty of flavor from the ripe tomatoes and the tangy onion and the spicy pepper.

I really don’t have much else to say about pico except – stay tuned, as this is really only the beginning of my Cinco de Mayo series and I promise you will have uses for it as May 5th draws near!

Pico de Gallo

Ingredients
4 ripe tomatoes on the vine, or 5 ripe Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 white onion, diced fine
1 medium serrano pepper, or 1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced fine
Juice of 1 lime
Handful of cilantro, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Eyeball it – don’t add all the onion if you’re not an onion fan and it looks like too much. Same with the pepper!

** NOTE ** Please use caution when dicing serrano or jalapeno peppers. If you touch the pepper with your bare fingers, keep your hands away from your face! Clean hands thoroughly when finished dicing. Or use rubber gloves.

Valentine’s Day: Chicken Piccata Menu

Earlier this week I gave you a romantic steak dinner menu to serve to your special someone on Valentine’s Day.  But maybe you don’t like steak.  Or red wine.  Or broccoli (I don’t blame you, I eat it very begrudgingly).  This would be my next pick to serve to someone on Valentine’s Day.  Chicken piccata is lemony and fresh, tangy and delicious.  Rosemary roasted potatoes are the perfect, rustic accompaniment.  Of course you could still serve broccoli with this if you wish, but it’s totally fine with me if you skip it.  No arguments there.

Chicken piccata has always been one of my favorite chicken dishes.  I first discovered it at a restaurant I was working at as a busgirl when I was a teenager.  We used to get 50% off meals after our shift was over, and chicken piccata was something that I had seen on the menu and always wanted to try.  I will always remember the night I pulled $6 from my tips and asked the chef to make this for me.  He gave me a look like REALLY KID because of course he was trying to clean up and go home too.  But I batted my pretty teenager eyelashes and said please and he made it for me.  Because I’m awesome.

I took my first bite and I remember thinking that it tasted exactly how I thought it would taste.  Light, refreshing, lemony.  The chicken so tender and juicy.  The sauce so smooth and buttery.  I housed that plate of chicken and for the longest time, that restaurant was the only place around that I could get chicken piccata.  Until I grew up and learned how to make it myself.  And now I like my version better than that restaurant’s version.  I have spent many years perfecting this sauce recipe.  The secret to this sauce is the butter-flour mixture.  Instead of making a roux, you mix it together like this:

Butter Flour Mixture

And this makes the sauce so, so slutty.

Chicken Piccata

Rosemary roasted potatoes is actually one of our stand-by side dishes.  We probably eat these once a week.  They are so easy and come out perfect every single time.  This started out as one of those recipes we found somewhere online that sounded great but whenever we made them, they didn’t turn out right.  The potatoes were always burnt, or they stuck to the baking sheet, or they were too done on the outside and not done on the inside.  My husband is the one who has actually perfected this recipe, thanks to his many nights of starting dinner before I get home.  There really is nothing like biting into a perfectly roasted potato – crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, perfectly seasoned, tasty and herby.

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

They are a perfect side dish for chicken piccata.  They go pretty well with the sauce so, you know, if you have extra sauce all over your plate as I most often do, you can dip your potatoes in the sauce for a lemony, slutty treat.

Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day: Chicken Piccata Menu
Serves: 2
Time: Give yourself about an hour. Be sure to set butter out to soften for several hours beforehand; overnight if possible.

Chicken Piccata Ingredients
2-4 chicken breasts, pounded to an equal thinness (I say 2-4 because it can depend on how big your chicken breasts are; whether you make 2 or 4, you will have enough sauce)
2 tablespoons + 4 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature, divided
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + 2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons if they are juicy)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup drained capers
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Additional 1/2-1 cup flour
Salt and pepper

Chicken Piccata Directions
1. Prep your ingredients: FIRST – Season your chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Pour additional 1/2-1 cup flour into a shallow dish to later dip your chicken in. Set aside. SECOND – Take 2 tablespoons of the room temperature butter and put into a small bowl with 3 tablespoons flour. Combine with a fork until it looks like the picture above. It will have a pasty consistency. Set aside. THIRD – Pour wine, lemon juice, and stock into a measuring cup. Set aside.

2. Cook your chicken: Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Dip each chicken breast in the flour to coat, and shake off the excess. Place each chicken breast into the skillet. Cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm.

3. Make the sauce: Pour off excess fat from the skillet. Pour the wine, lemon juice, and stock into the skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk in the butter-flour paste. Continue whisking and boiling until the sauce thickens, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the capers, parsley, and remaining 4 tablespoons room-temperature butter. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Lower sauce to a simmer.

4. Finish the chicken: Return chicken to the pan, and cook in the sauce for an additional 5-10 minutes to warm it back up. Serve with extra sauce poured on top.

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes Ingredients
2lb bag baby red potatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons minced rosemary

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray liberally with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Make the taters: Scrub the potatoes and cut into quarters. Place in a bowl and add the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary. Stir well or toss to coat. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet and arrange into a single layer. Bake for 30-45 minutes, checking every 15 minutes for doneness and to stir and flip. Ours are usually done around the 30 minute mark.