If it weren’t for the holidays, I’d wish I were a bear, so I could just sleep off this whole winter nonsense and wake up with up to 30 percent of my body weight gone (according to the National Parks Service.) The gray dawn filtering through my east-facing window every morning gives all that more compulsion to sleep the day away, and the fact that it’s dark before the evening news comes on only encourages hermit-like impulses. This is why date nights are necessary to liven things up.
Who doesn’t love a romantic dinner? This first recipe I have for you is a great date night meal. I’m telling you, food is made to bring people together. It brings people even closer if you cook together, too. This wonderful date night meal is best when cooked together. There’s can be a lot going on with it, depending on how complex you want to make it, so having an extra set of hands makes it that much better.
When I tell you to use your own tomato sauce, it’s really a matter of how much effort you want to put into it. Some people make their own from scratch (a feat I’ve yet to attempt, though I have a wonderful recipe) while others open the jar and call it done. I fall somewhere in the middle, taking a cheap jar of sauce and add veggies and herbs to my heart’s contentment.
Chicken Parmesan (from The Joy of Cooking)
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1/2 C bread crumbs
- 1/2 tsp. Oregano
- 1/2 tsp basil
- 1/2 tsp. Garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. Onion powder
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 C flour
- salt and pepper
- 2 Tbsp. Olive oil
- 24 oz. Tomato sauce of your choosing
- 1 C shredded Mozzarella
- 1/2 C Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 lb. Spaghetti
Warm up the tomato sauce in a small sauce pan on low heat.
In a shallow bowl, mix bread crumbs, basil, oregano, onion powder and garlic powder. In another bowl, beat the egg. In a third bowl, combine the flour with salt and pepper. Pound the chicken to about a 1/2 inch thickness. Dip the chicken into the flour, shaking off excess, then dip into the egg and then the bread crumbs.
Heat the oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Cook the chicken about four minutes on each side. Smear about 1/4 C sauce in the bottom of a greased 9×13, top with with chicken breasts. Cover more sauce, reserving some for the pasta, and the cheese. Bake for 1/2 Hour at 350.
Cook pasta according to its package. When chicken is done, make a bed of pasta on your plate, then top with sauce and chicken. Enjoy.
This next one is much less complex, much more suited for a week night dinner. Really and truly, once you got the sauce mixed up, “there’s nothing to it but to do it” as one of my favorite Muppets would say. It’s baked chicken, but it’s just different enough to stand out on a weekly menu.
This dish is sweet and spicy; as a matter of fact, we were surprised by how the cayenne stood out when we put such a small amount in. I put more cayenne in my coffee than this, and I’m guessing there was something about how it reacted with the Dijon and the lemon juice that made it kick that much stronger. Not so strong that it ruined the dish, but strong enough that you knew it was there.
- 2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
- 1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
- 1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
- 1/4 tsp. Salt
- 1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
- 2 Chicken Breasts
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a small mixing bowl, combine Dijon, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt, and cayenne.
Place chicken in a baking dish, brush on half the mixture, bake ten minutes. Brush on the remaining mixture, bake ten more minutes.
Tip of the Week: With a sturdy pair of tongs and a gas stove, you can fire roast your own peppers on medium-high heat. Just pay attention to what you’re doing.
Sally is a wife and domestic diva in Maryland. She approaches life with gusto, humor, and a passion that is unmatched. She is a classic woman, with a modern twist and is the kind of woman who will throw back a beer and watch Star Trek with her husband, and entertain the church croquette group with homemade cheese cake. Sally offers something for everyone, and is always experimenting and cooking up a storm in her kitchen.