Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ina Garten's Chicken Piccata

I really adore Ina Garten. She's wicked smart and completely composed. Not to mention, she's a fantastic cook. If you don't know much about Ina's background, I highly recommend reading her Wikipedia page. She's got her pilot's license, she wrote the nuclear energy budget for the White House under multiple presidents, and more. Seriously, she's amazing.

I've had her Chicken Piccata recipe bookmarked for a long time, and I finally made it the other night. Let me just say, it does not disappoint! And for once I actually didn't stray too far from the actual recipe!

Ina Garten's Chicken Piccata
original recipe found here


2 split (1 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 extra-large egg
1/2 tablespoon water
3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs (I made my own using dry bread and italian seasoning, salt, and pepper)
Olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), lemon halves reserved
1/2 cup dry white wine
Sliced lemon, for serving
Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a shallow plate. In a second plate, beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon of water together. Place the bread crumbs on a third plate. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, wipe out the saute pan with a dry paper towel. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Discard the lemon halves and serve 1 chicken breast on each plate. Spoon on the sauce and serve with a slice of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh parsley or basil.

Ina's Chicken Piccata

Monday, August 22, 2011

August Garden Update

We've had so many storms lately, I feel like I end up checking the weather forecast every day just to see if I need to water my plants! Luckily they've survived multiple torrential storms and even two hail storms, and the veggies are absolutely beautiful.

Let's start with the red bell pepper plant:


From this top-down view, you can see these pretty bright red peppers peeking out between the leaves! There are also still a few green peppers that haven't turned yet, but boy are these red peppers gorgeous.


The basil is still flourishing, and I'm starting to need new basil recipes!


Finally, the tomatoes are popping out everywhere.


A few are starting to turn red, but most are still growing.


I'm happy that the tomato plant is still flowering though, because it should mean that I'll have a steady stream of tomatoes for a while!

Now you may have noticed that I'm missing some pictures of a plant here - the cilantro plant. That's because it's very, very dead. After bolting and flowering, and creating the coriander seeds, the plant decided it had fulfilled its potential and kicked the bucket. That's ok, it wasn't producing cilantro anymore anyway!

I'm definitely loving my little Chicago garden, and already plotting out next year's crop!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Asian Pork Burgers

Flipping through my Real Simple magazine the other day, I came across a delicious-looking recipe for Asian pork burgers. We don't make burgers all that often since we try to eat pretty healthy, and turkey burgers often are kind of a letdown, so I liked the idea of trying pork. Somewhat in between beef and turkey on the healthy scale, we made these with a side of grilled corn and salad to balance out the meal.

Overall, I was super impressed! With only a few ingredients, these burgers were tender, flavorful, and completely satisfying. Also, we bought a pound of ground pork, which made four patties for us. I froze two of them, so we will definitely be enjoying them again soon!

Asian Pork Burgers
recipe courtesy of Real Simple

1 lb ground pork
2 tbs Sriracha
2 tbs soy sauce
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 green onions, diced
Ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup ketchup
1-2 tbs Sriracha

Combine the pork, 2 tbs Sriracha, soy sauce, garlic, green onions, and ground black pepper.

Asian Pork Burgers 1

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Form into four patties. To keep them from puffing up in the middle while cooking, use your thumb to create a small divot in the center of the patty.

Grill until cooked through.

Mix together ketchup and remaining Sriracha to create a spicy sweet sauce. Slather on pork burger, and top with your favorite burger toppings.

Asian Pork Burgers 2


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New Pillows

I feel like a home is never finished, and I always find new ways to put my stamp on each room. Especially since we currently rent our place, decorating can be a little limited. Without the ability to paint or change the hideous light fixture hanging above the kitchen table, I have to rely on changes that I do have control over!

We recently got new couches from West Elm, and I absolutely love them. Gray microfiber, classic look, I know we'll enjoy them for a very long time.

The only thing is that they didn't come with pillows. But you know me, I had no problem with that since of course I had some fabulous fabric in the back of my mind that I wanted to use!

Every time I walk into The Needle Shop in Bucktown, I find more and more amazing fabrics that I just adore. I also love that they have an Etsy store, so I can peruse even before walking into the store!

Anyway, back to my pillows. I got my fabulous fabric this past weekend, and came home to whip up my pillows. I just love how they turned out!

New pillows 1

New pillows 2

I love how they go so well with the gray couches but also bring a wonderful pop of color and whimsy!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Asian Braised Beef Shank

I think I've mentioned before that Chris and I love to go to Whole Foods on a Saturday, then stay in that night and cook an amazing meal. And since we love to try new recipes, we also often buy ingredients we've never used before. This past weekend, we picked up a beef shank, and even though we didn't know what we were going to do with it, we came home and found a great recipe to use as a rough guide!

Asian Braised Beef Shank
adapted from Ming Tsai's Asian Braised Short Ribs

1 beef shank
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped into chunks
2 celery stalks, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, minced (from 1/2-inch knob)
10 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 tbs rice wine vinegar
2-3 tbs soy sauce
2 whole sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup water
Sesame seeds
Pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a pan. Sear the beef on both sides, 2-3 minutes per side, to get a brown crust on each side. Remove the beef, and add the garlic, ginger, onion, carrots, and celery. Sautee until the onions begin to turn translucent. Add the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and water to deglaze the pan. Nestle the beef back into the center of the pot so that the liquid reaches the top of it. Bring it to a simmer, then add the mushrooms, thyme, sesame seeds, and pepper.


Turn the heat to low and put a top on. After 30 minutes or so, take off the top and ladle some of the liquid over the beef.


Cook until the meat begins to fall apart, approximately 2 hours. Serve over rice and enjoy!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Reading List :: The School of Essential Ingredients

The fourth book in my Summer Reading Series is one my mom came upon, and she even got to go to a book signing by the author, Erica Bauermeister.

This is a great book that really hits on the emotion of food. A fictional novel, The School of Essential Ingredients follows the lives of eight students who gather every Monday night for cooking class. A young mother struggling with the demands of her family; an Italian kitchen designer learning to adapt to life in America; a widower mourning the loss of his wife to breast cancer; and more. Chef Lillian helps them to create dishes whose flavor and techniques expand beyond the restaurant and into the secret corners of her students’ lives. One by one the students are transformed by the aromas, flavors, and textures of Lillian’s food.

"Brought together by the power of food and companionship, the lives of the characters mingle and intertwine, united by the revealing nature of what can be created in the kitchen."

It's a lovely read that will leave you smiling from chapter to chapter!