Parmesan Chicken

This is another family favorite. If I ask for input on what should be on the dinner menu this week, 9 times out of 10, parmesan chicken will be suggested. I don’t mind in the slightest, just don’t tell them! But honestly, this dish has the perfect mix of crispy breading, tang from the mustard and Worcestershire, and the chicken stays super moist.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp of your favorite mustard (I love Dijon or spicy brown)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray. Add the mustard and Worcestershire to the melted butter, stirring well to combine. In a plastic bag, combine the bread crumbs and Parmesan, mixing well. Dip the chicken in the butter mixture, then shake in the crumb mixture to coat evenly. Place each chicken breast in the dish, drizzle with any of the leftover butter mixture. Bake for 25 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear. (longer depending on the size of your chicken pieces).

Our favorite sides are russet potatoes tossed in ranch seasoning and olive oil and finished in the air fryer and a simple helping of green beans.

What’s Cooking This Week

Well honestly, not much has been happening in the kitchen between travel, a return to summer events, and graduation season. But one thing that’s been on the menu constantly are two Upstate New York favorites: salt potatoes and chicken spiedies. What are those you may ask? Well let me introduce you!

Salt potatoes are an iconic food in this area (which I didn’t realize till we had family & friends move out of the area – they always ask us to bring some along when we come to visit). They’re small, white potatoes that are boiled in their skins with a TON of salt. The rule of thumb is one cup of salt to 6 cups of water. That’s why packages of the nuggets of joy and pre-packaged salt are found in every grocery store this time of year. All that salt forms an amazing crust on the potatoes while they boil away. They’re served with melted butter (and no, you don’t need any salt on top of them!) They are the perfect side for anything: burgers, chicken, ribs… One caution if you’re going to try them: if they boil over, all that salt makes a complete mess of your stove, counter, and pot, so keep an eye on them.

Chicken spiedies seem to be one of those dishes that I only make in the summer, mainly because the grilling of the meat is key to success. Cubed chicken is marinaded in a mix of olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and so many amazing spices (oregano, garlic, parsley, basil, salt & pepper). The key to the best chicken spiedie is to let everything marinade over night (ok, sometimes I forget, but a nice 6 hours will work). Because of the acid in the marinade, it will begin softening and breaking down in the refrigerator. Grill on skewers or a grilling tray (so you don’t lose any of the delicious chicken). Serve on crusty rolls (I like toasting them for a bit) They’re perfect on their own, but I also can’t resist topping with grilled peppers and onions.

Time to get planning some meals and get back in the kitchen. What’s an iconic food from your area that you can’t live without?

Refrigerator Pickles

I’ve never gotten into canning and preserving and honestly, I’m in awe seeing pictures from friends making jams, canning the abundance of vegetables from their gardens… This is about as close as I get because we do love pickles (plus it is the season when I end up with a ton of cucumbers)

1 pound of cucumbers, sliced 1/2 inch thick (I did strips this time to mix things up)
1 large Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sea salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1 tbsp mustard seed
1 tbsp coriander seed
1/4 tsp celery seed
1/2 tbsp pickling spices
Fresh dill (or dried dill)

In a medium bowl, combine cucumbers and onion. Toss with salt, combining really well. Top with ice and let everything stand for two hours on the counter.

In a pot, bring the sugar, vinegar and spices to a boil. Drain the cucumbers and onion. Add the vegetables to the vinegar mixture and bring almost back to a boil. Remove from heat and cool. Spoon the cucumbers and onion into a one quart jar (depending on how you sliced the cucumbers, you might need a couple). Add the pickling liquid, top with some dill, to the jar and seal tightly.

You can store these in the fridge for about 4 weeks (but I’ll confess we’ve never had them last that long). They’ll begin having that classic pickle flavor in about a couple hours in the fridge.

Chicken Scampi

We’ll just call this when life gives you lemons… Seriously, this is an easy and wonderfully tasty weeknight meal that’s filled with the flavor of garlic, wine and lemon! I’d made a ton of chicken on the grill earlier in the week, so I knew this would be making an appearance on our dinner menu.

2 pounds of skinless chicken breasts, fully cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
4 garlic cloves
1 stick of unsalted butter
1/4 cup of white wine
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp oregano
ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup parsley
lemon wedges for garnish

Place chicken in a single layer in a broiler-proof casserole dish. Crush garlic in a saucepan, melt butter into garlic. Add wine, lemon juice, salt, oregano and pepper. Heat until butter is melted. Pour over chicken, coating evenly. Place under broiler until fully heated (6-10 minutes). Top with lemon wedges and parsley.

Serve over angle hair pasta. Green beans make a perfect side dish.

Mini Cheesecakes

I always like Memorial Day weekend. Not only is it the unofficial kickoff to summer, but it’s a time to celebrate outside with family and friends. This often means having impromptu gatherings or having to make something quickly to bring to a barbecue and these mini cheesecakes are the perfect dessert. They are quick and easy, portable, and you can top them with any of your favorite fruits.

8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 egg
1 package graham cracker mini pie crusts (package of 6)*
Pie filling or fresh fruit

(This recipe can easily be doubled)

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla & almond and egg until smooth. Pour into mini crusts (just about to the top). Bake for 20 minutes until set, then chill for 3 hours. Top with your favorite fruits and enjoy!

*If you need something even more bite size, substitute mini Phyllo pastry shells for the graham cracker crusts and cut the baking time to about 10-12 minutes.