Monday, January 21, 2013

Homecooked Dinners from Around the World #2-Italian

I so love Italian food. Carbs and cheese is my version of heaven. If health and money were no considerations I would eat at Olive Garden probably once a week or more. There are so many favorites in Italian cuisine it was hard to pick, but a choice had to be made and it did not include meatballs, Italian sausage, or spaghetti.

 But, I do try and not over indulge when it comes to pasta and cheese. I am going to share my favorite Italian dinner that I make at home:

Tonight's menu includes:
Chicken Parmesan
Fettuccine Alfredo
Tossed Salad

Chicken Parmesan:

3 chicken breasts fillet cut (then makes 6)
1 1/2-2 1/2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2-3 eggs, beaten
Marinara sauce
Mozzarella Cheese

After fillet cutting your chicken breast, you are going to dip the chicken into your beaten egg mixture then immediately into a bowl of bread crumbs. After coating the chicken on all sides, you are going to carefully and quickly dip it back into the egg and then bread crumbs for a second time. This is going to create a great texture as well as a way to help keep your chicken moist. Put your bread-coated chicken breasts into a glass baking dish. You will put it into an oven at 350 degree for about 10 minutes on the first side and another 5 or so on the second side. All ovens vary, and the actual size and thickness of your chicken will change required cook times. My best advice is the bottom side of the chicken should not leave behind any breading when you go to flip it the first time. If the breading looks like it is going to stick it probably isn't ready to flip yet. Just make sure it isn't sticking because it is burnt-that's a different story! I sometimes serve warm marinara sauce with the chicken for those who like it (especially if I make bread sticks or garlic bread). I leave this decision up to those eating it. If they want it I will usually put it back int he oven to melt the cheese as well.

Fettuccine Alfredo:
1 pound of fettuccine noodles cooked per package directions
about 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 stick of butter
1 fresh package of grated or shredded Parmesan from the gourmet cheese case-I don't know entirely how much it weighs but it usually costs me around $5-6 just for the cheese)
a dash of garlic powder
a dash or two of oregano

The sauce is sort of an art-but the key is not to get yourself into a huge rush with it. If you heat your whipping cream and butter too high it will start to separate and curdle. Basically you are going to want to heat up the butter and whipping cream so that as you start to add the fresh Parmesan it will melt and mix rather than clump together in the sauce. Until you know what flavor you are looking for, it is easier to add more whipping cream to your sauce than it is to need to add more cheese and butter. If the sauce is not separating but the cheese is globing together, it probably means you need more liquid so the cheese can dissolve and not clump

Tossed Salad:
1-2 hearts of romaine
red onion
grape tomatoes
Italian dressing
peperoncini or banana pepper rings
baby carrots
black olives
Parmesan cheese

I never measure the ingredients for a salad because each person in my family has items they like more of and items they completely omit from their salad. You can alter my ingredients as necessary!

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