Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

Reinvented classics fend off menu boredom.  A fresh take on a kid-friendly dish especially piques my interest since it offers familiar (safe!) flavors for my family and an opportunity for me to learn something.  This particular recipe is yummy and simple, and a good part of the preparation can be done in advance.  On a side note, I rejoiced avoiding the messy, not to mention deafening, endeavor of pounding chicken.  Hurray!

Chicken Parmesan Burgers (Click here for recipe)

I opted for toasted whole wheat rolls in lieu of french bread and also axed the radicchio garnish that would have certainly launched my children into the yuck hysterics.  I stuck to the actual burger recipe though, which is creatively enhanced with a spoonful of marinara sauce (just store bought sauce jazzed up with some fresh basil...so easy!) to add flavor and tenderness.  The burgers can be easily prepared in advance, leaving just the breading, sauteeing and sandwich assembly for the hopefully-un-frantic dinner hour. 

I happily tucked this tasty recipe into the "keeper" file!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


This certain charcoal-obsessed husband I know is of the firm belief that anything and everything can be cooked on the grill.  The start of football season, I learned, necessitates employment of this theory at any opportunity, and especially if the Redskins are playing.  Tailgating at home turned out to be a blast, with an appreciated added benefit of keeping the kitchen sparkling before the start of the week.

I'm not pretending to offer a healthy menu here...but man, this feast is out-of-control good....and feels pretty football-y.  I'm such a girl. 

Cheesy Meatball Subs

The meatball recipe comes courtesy of Ina (click here for recipe), and my only modification was to reduce the amount of water to 1/2 cup so they'd be less likely to fall apart on the grill.  They were still moist and darn delicious.  Ryan browned them in batches in a cast iron skillet on the grill, and then moved them to indirect heat - which acts like an oven - to cook them through.

We brushed the rolls with olive oil and sprinkled them with salt and pepper before laying them flat on the grates for a gentle toasting. 

This added great flavor while preventing the inside of the sandwich from getting soggy.  Next, we spooned on some store-bought marinara sauce (I've taken a liking to Delgrosso...made in PA!), and topped it with the meatballs and fresh mozzerella before closing the grill to give the sandwich a final, glorious toasting.  These sandwiches left all four of us stuffed, sauce-covered, and reeeal happy.

Smoked Wings with Blue Cheese Sauce

I had this little love affair with smoked wings from this joint down the street until that joint abandoned me and closed down without warning.  The nerve.  Ryan exhaled with relief that he could finally just make some darn wings at home.  I protested a little bit...they sounded messy, and pleading no offense to hub, I honestly doubted they'd be as amaaaazing as the ones I had grown to crave.  I decided to shut my mouth and get out of Ryan's way, while he proceeded to prove me straight up wrong.  These wings were better than any restaurant wings I've had, thanks to a 2-hour smoke, a quick fry in blazing hot peanut oil, a swim in buttery hot sauce, and a dip in smothering of homemade cheese dressing.  Best. Wings. Ever.

This whole event occurred outside and commenced with 18 wings being rubbed with this mixture.  Next, they went in a 225 degree smoker for 2 hours.  Meanwhile Ryan heated a big fat pot of peanut oil on the burner on the side of his gas grill.  The smoked wings took a speedy, one minute dip to fry in the oil.  The wings were then swirled in a bowl with a 50-50 (1/2 cup each) mixture of melted butter and Frank's Hot Sauce until coated.  We served them with the classic celery accompaniment, alongside a quick blue cheese dressing (about 3/4 cup of mayonnaise, 1/3 cup buttermilk, 1/4 cup half and half, a splash of tarragon vinegar, salt, pepper and a fat handful of blue cheese crumbles).  I love love love how the rich blue cheese sauce cooled the fire the wings left in my mouth.

Okay, so clearly these dishes are not something we - or anyone in her sane mind - should make on a frequent basis.  And as a rule, I generally prefer to enjoy dinner free of the impending loom of Zantac.  But sometimes it's totally fun to live a little, and the start of football season seemed like a festive occasion.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Reflective moments can be seriously therapeutic.

This post hearkens back to a simpler time… pre-first-day-of-Kindergarten, -5th-birthday-party, -big-girl-bed-transition, 2-yr-old-croup, -hurricane/3-day-power-outage, and -earthquake/aftershocks…which was actually less than a mere three weeks ago.

Kitchen Clambake (Click here for Recipe)

The subject of said reflection: a summer clambake with some of my best friends in the world.  This is a simple, completely delicious and totally festive experience.  Shockingly, despite the circling laps of five children under five, the grown-ups of this gathering were actually able to enjoy a reasonably relaxed, family-style meal, shelling seafood at our own paces while a basket of crusty bread made its passes up and down the table.  This meal’s service is refreshingly low key, and so is the preparation!  Most of the work was done in advance, including browning the fresh kielbasa and cleaning the potatoes, corn, shrimp, clams, and mussels, so that all that had to happen in the presence of guests was some sautéing of leeks/onions, and then the layering of ingredients in a big, fat lobster pot.  This pot did not actually contain lobsters, as both the pot’s title and recipe would suggest.  I ask for your forgiveness there, and I don't mean to deceive.  But with the goodness from the other ingredients, magnified with a rich white wine sauce singing with the salty essence of the sea, I, for one, found nothing lacking.

Some clambake and low country boil methods include halved corn cobs.  We steamed them separately in order to feed the kids in advance.  So they were served on the side, along with two baguettes that had been thrown in the oven to warm for 5ish minutes before sitting down.

Tasty desserts came courtesy of our friend Jess and included awesome homemade vanilla ice cream dotted with mini M&Ms and a gorgeous, tangy key lime pie.  That scrumptious recipe from Barefoot is actually already on the blog!

Bon voyage, summertime.  Till next year.