Sheet Pan Chicken Parmesan

chicken parmesan

I made this sheet pan chicken Parmesan multiple times this past year. I like that it’s not fried but still crisp. You wait to add the sauce and cheese until the last few minutes in the oven so the panko coating stays nice and crusty. Line your sheet pan with foil and clean-up is easy.

The marina sauce you use here makes a huge difference so choose your favorite. We love Rao’s Homemade Marinara but it’s expensive ($8-10 full price depending on the size of the jar) so I buy it when I find it on sale and savor every drop. And then I freeze leftover sauce and use it as pizza sauce, make turkey meatballs subs, etc.

This chicken parm can be served with pasta (my kids’ and husband’s preference) or with crusty bread (my choice) or just as is, with a side of veggies or salad. We were having the leftovers for lunch today and Clara told me that when she grows up she would like me to give her the recipe. Hopefully it’ll still be right here for her when that day comes!

Sheet Pan Chicken Parmesan

INGREDIENTS

1  1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or cutlets, each about 1/2 inch thick (about 1 1/2- 2 lbs. total)
1 jar (24 oz.) good-quality marinara sauce (our favorite is Rao’s)
6-8 slices provolone cheese (I love smoked provolone, mozzarella will also work)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (or Pecorino) cheese

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 400 F with a rack in the upper third. Generously mist a sheet pan with cooking spray.

2. Stir together the panko, garlic powder, oregano, paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in a large bowl to combine. In another bowl, whisk together the flour and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the pepper. In a third shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs.

3. Dip each chicken cutlet first in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess, then in the egg, and finally in the panko mixture, patting to coat thoroughly on both sides. Place the breaded chicken cutlets on the prepared pan. Mist the chicken with cooking spray to lightly coat.

4. Bake the chicken until the panko has browned and the cutlets are almost entirely cooked through (they’ll no longer feel squishy when you poke them), about 12-15 minutes.

5. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Top each chicken cutlet with about 1/2 cup marinara sauce (use up the jar),  the provolone and the Parmesan, and return to the oven. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly, an additional 5-10 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

(Adapted from Shutter Bean, originally from Sheet Pan Suppers)

*post contains affiliate links

By in Chicken, Italian, Uncategorized ·

Orzo with Peas and Parmesan

IMG_6910

This pasta with peas is the perfect quick dinner to please a kid (or anyone, most likely) or effortless side dish with meatballs or fish or panko crusted chicken. We all love it and it’s simply made with ingredients I usually have on hand. Orzo pasta (they look like little grains or rice) shouldn’t be hard to find at most grocery stores now. I buy this whole wheat version at Whole Foods.

Other favorite orzo recipes… Baked Shrimp with Feta and Orzo, Italian Sausage, Vegetable, and Orzo Soup, and Greek Orzo Salad.

Orzo with Peas and Parmesan

INGREDIENTS

2 Tbsp. butter
1 small onion, minced
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 ¼ cups orzo (I use whole wheat)
2 1/2 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or Pecorino Romano)
2 Tbsp. fresh minced parsley or basil (or 1-2 tsp. dried)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
lemon wedges, for serving (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. Melt the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and salt and cook, stirring often, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the orzo and cook, stirring often, until most of the grains are golden, about 5 minutes. Carefully stir in the broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the orzo is tender, 10 to 12 minutes (slightly longer for whole wheat pasta). (Be careful not to cook at too high of heat at this point because the liquid will evaporate instead of cook the orzo and you’ll be left with undercooked pasta.)

2. Reduce the heat and stir in the peas, Parmesan, and parsley and let sit until the peas are warmed through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and crushed red pepper flakes to taste and serve with the lemon wedges (optional).

Serves 4-6, as a side dish.

(Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

By in Italian, Pasta ·

Deep Dish Skillet Pizza {Giveaway}

deep dish pizza

Not too many posts ago I confessed that despite living in Chicago, I haven’t been converted to deep dish pizza. And it’s still true. If I have any say, I’d rather have a thin chewy crust, heavy on the cheese and toppings. That was until I made a deep dish/pan/skillet (whatever you want to call it) pizza my own way. I ditched the dense butter crust (which after a little research I learned isn’t even made with butter, but rather vegetable oil) in favor of my favorite dough. It was this simple: my go-to pizza dough, baked it in a cast-iron skillet (12 inches so it fits), mozzarella layered on the bottom (as is traditional), then the toppings (roasted vegetables, spinach, Italian turkey sausage, and black olives) and the sauce, finished with freshly grated Parmesan. It takes a little longer to cook- but not that long. And it’s good. Not near as heavy or exhausting as a true Chicago pizza. But just a satisfying and delicious.

This recipe is highly adaptable. Stuff your pizza with whatever fillings you desire. Mix up the cheese: you could use smoked mozzarella on the bottom (I’ve made it this way and it was awesome) and/or Asiago or Romano in place of the Parmesan. My only advice is to be careful what you fill it with because you want to prevent too much liquid from accumulating. Squeeze any excess liquid out of the vegetables you’ll be adding. Raw vegetables might present a problem if they release a lot of liquid as they cook. And make sure to reduce the sauce or strain it before using. Letting the pizza sit for a bit before slicing helps it to set and reabsorb some of the liquid.

I should mention the sauce. I think it’s what made this pizza extra special. Don’t be lazy and use a jar. This sauce is worth your time. It’s not a lot of effort and simmers away while the dough is rising. I’ve tried a handful of Chicago pizza eateries and this sauce was pretty darn authentic if comparing. You won’t need all of the sauce for a single pizza so freeze what’s left over for a future sauce emergency.

deep dish pizza

And now for my first ever giveaway! I’m giving one lucky reader this 12-inch Lodge Cast Iron Skillet so they can make their very own deep dish pizza (and pancakes and pot pie and so many other wonderful things) with it. To be eligible, just leave a comment in the comments section. I would love to know what you plan on making if you win…

GIVEAWAY: LODGE 12-INCH CAST IRON SKILLET

2014-01-28.5TO ENTER: Simply leave a comment in the comments section. One entry per person. Giveaway will remain open until 12:00 A.M. CST on Monday February 3, 2014. ONE winner will be selected at random and announced and contacted later Monday morning. Make sure to provide your email address in the comment form so I can contact you (it will not be published). This giveaway is NOT being sponsored by any company. It’s a product that I have purchased myself and use and love. And now I am providing one for you!

** This giveaway has ended. Congratulations to BRITTANY ERICKSON, winner of the cast iron skillet. I’ll be in contact with you via e-mail. Thanks to everyone who entered!**

Deep Dish Skillet Pizza

INGREDIENTS

1 recipe pizza dough
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, for greasing the pan
cornmeal, for dusting the pan

sauce:*
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh garlic, minced
2 tsp. fresh basil, chopped (or 3/4 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
1/4 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
pinch crushed red pepper flakes (more to taste)
28 oz. can plum tomatoes, coarsely crushed
1 Tbsp. dry red wine (I replaced it with 1 tsp. red wine vinegar)
1 tsp. sugar

*NOTE: This makes more sauce than you need for 1 pizza. I used about 1/2- 2/3 of the sauce and froze the rest for later.

filling:
roasted vegetables (I roasted red and green bell peppers, onion, and mushrooms- make sure to drain any excess liquid before adding to the pizza)
spinach, cooked and chopped (remember to squeeze out any liquid)
black olives, sliced
8 oz. Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled (I used mild Italian turkey sausage) and/or pepperoni
~8 oz. mozzarella, grated (or smoked mozzarella for even more flavor)
~3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (and/or Pecorino Romano, Asiago, etc.)

DIRECTIONS

1. Prepare pizza dough according to recipe directions.

2. To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the herbs, salt and peppers and cook, stirring, for another 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, wine (or vinegar), and sugar, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes, until thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely before using. (The sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen until ready to use.)

3. Preheat oven to 450 F. Rub 1 Tbsp. olive oil over the bottom and sides of a 12-inch seasoned cast iron skillet. Dust the bottom and sides with cornmeal.

4. When the dough is ready, use your hands to stretch it into a large circle and place it in the bottom of the prepared cast iron skillet. Continue stretching it evenly and pressing it into the pan until the dough reaches the edges and up the sides of the pan coming to the top. Place the mozzarella cheese on top of the crust. Top with the sausage, vegetables, and olives. Ladle the sauce evenly over top (I use about 2/3 of the sauce) and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

5. Bake pizza in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until the crust is puffed and browned, the cheese is melted and golden, and the sauce is bubbling. Remove from the oven and let sit 5 minutes before slicing.

Makes 1 12-inch round deep dish pizza.

(Adapted from Food Network and Minimalist Baker)

By in Italian, Pizza ·

Winter Minestrone

winter minestrone

I could talk about how cold it’s been here in Chicago and how I can’t hardly remember what it feels like to step outside with less than eight layers on. But that’s all everyone is obsessing about and I’m bored of it. I want to think happier thoughts. I want to talk about warm things like Arizona (Where I’m headed in a few weeks to visit one of my best friends who I haven’t seen in far too long! Besides the two long flights with a toddler on my lap, I can’t wait!!) and Costa Rica (Where I wish I was going. Dustin and I are hoping to take a trip- sans toddler- before or after he graduates for the third and final time this summer. It needs to be somewhere sunny and cheap. Should it be Costa Rica? Any recommendations??).

winter minestrone

And let’s talk about soup. Because this bowl of minestrone was one of the tastiest things that warmed me up recently. I’ve made Summer Minestrone with zucchini and basil and other such summery things. But now we have minestrone fit for Winter filled with butternut squash, pancetta or bacon, and white beans. (And pasta and spinach and finished with pesto and Parmesan which make it extra amazing.) This is a meal in a pot, which means you don’t need to worry about serving anything else with it. Except maybe some crusty bread for dipping.

Winter Minestrone

INGREDIENTS

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 oz. pancetta or bacon, diced
1 large yellow onion (1 1/2 cups), chopped
3 carrots (2 cups), peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery (2 cups), chopped
1/2 large butternut squash (2 1/2 cups), peeled, seeded, and chopped
4 cloves (1 1/2 Tbsp.) garlic, minced
2 Tsp. fresh thyme, chopped (or 3/4 tsp. dried)
1 26-oz. box or 28-oz. can diced or crushed tomatoes
6-8 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken stock (I used 6 cups)
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
15 oz. can canellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked (1 1/3 cups dry) small pasta (I used whole wheat mini shells)
8-10 oz. fresh baby spinach, chopped (I found that 6 oz. was enough spinach)
2 Tbsp. homemade or store-bought pesto
freshly grated Parmesan, for serving

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat olive oil in large heavy pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pancetta or bacon and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Add the onion, carrots, celery, squash, garlic, and thyme and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the tomatoes, 6 cups of chicken stock, bay leaf, 2 tsp. kosher salt, and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

2. While the soup is simmering, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water, according to package directions.

3. Discard the bay leaf. Add the beans and cooked pasta and heat through. (If the soup needs to be thinned at this point, add more stock.) Stir in the spinach and toss with two big spoons. Cook just until the leaves are wilted. Stir in the pesto. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan.

Serves 6-8.

(Adapted from Food Network)

By in Italian, Pork, Soup ·

Oven Baked Risotto with Peas and Parmesan

oven risotto

Risotto has a bad reputation for being fussy/time consuming. It’s true it’s not a dish that comes together within minutes. If you consider standing nearby to occasionally add stock and stir to be a burden then its traditional preparation might be unappealing. But since I’m usually chopping a salad or prepping some vegetables meanwhile stirring, I don’t find it inconvenient. In about the same amount of time it takes to bring a pot of water to boil and cook some pasta, you can make risotto on the stove. But if you want to walk away completely and a half hour later have something just as delicious, this recipe is for you. I actually added the step where you saute a shallot and garlic in butter. If you’re truly pinched for time, skip it.

This is a very basic risotto- flavored with butter and peas and Parmesan (the better quality the cheese, the better the result). Use it as a starting point and get creative. Cook bacon until crisp (which you’ll set aside to cool and crumble on top at the end) and use the bacon grease to replace the butter. Stir in pumpkin or butternut squash puree or roasted vegetables. Instead of peas use baby spinach. Finish it with Romano or Asiago cheese. I added rotisserie chicken to leftovers one night and Canadian bacon the next. Good news is this makes a lot of risotto and it tastes just as good reheated.

Oven Baked Risotto with Peas and Parmesan

INGREDIENTS

2 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
5 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup dry white wine (I replaced it with another 1/2 cup chicken stock)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
squeeze lemon juice (optional, recommended if you remove the wine)

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. In a large oven-proof deep saute pan or Dutch oven, heat 1 Tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook for several minutes, until softened. Stir in the arborio rice and cook for another minute, stirring constantly, to toast.

3. Stir in 4 cups stock, cover, and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the rice is tender and most of the broth is absorbed.

4. Remove from the oven (careful the pan will be HOT) and add the remaining cup of stock, the wine (or more stock), Parmesan, remaining tablespoon of butter, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper and stir vigorously for several minutes. Add the peas and stir until heated through. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice (optional). Serve warm with extra Parmesan.

Serves 4-6.

(Adapted from Food Network)

By in Italian, Vegetables, Vegetarian ·