Saturday, July 23, 2011

Quick-n-Easy Chicken Parmesan

I have a totally-from-scratch recipe for Chicken Parmesan that I LOVE to make in the winter-time. It's time consuming (like make-your-own-breadcrumbs-&-sauce time consuming!) and it includes loads of pots on the stovetop & the ovens going too. It's wonderful & comforting on a chilly winter day.

But it's NOT what I wanted on a hot summer day! I found this quick-n-easy recipe from that isn't as fancy & rich as my from-scratch recipe, but after a few adjustments of my own, it was really delicious! My family said this recipe was a "keeper"!!! (triple exclamation points from my youngest)

So here it is - my summertime, quick-n-easy version of Chicken Parmesan. Enjoy!

Quick-n-Easy Chicken Parmesan
serves 6, Total cook & prep time: 30 minutes

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 - 1 1/2 pounds)
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tblsp. dried Italian seasoning
2 eggs
2 Tblsp. water
1 cup grated mozzarella or 6 slices mozzarella or provolone, halved
Spaghetti sauce
Spaghetti, cooked according to package directions

Preheat oven to 400*F.
Line a rimmed baking sheets or 9x13" casserole dish with foil. Spray lightly with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese & Italian seasonings.

In a small bowl, beat egg & water well.

Pat each chicken breast dry on both sides with a paper towel. Dunk chicken breast in egg mixture then in breadcrumb mixture. Be sure to coat chicken breast on all sides.

Set each coated chicken breast on the foil-lined baking sheet, leaving a space between.

Continue process until all chicken breasts are coated & arranged on the baking sheet.

Bake 15 minutes at 400*F. (If your chicken breasts are bigger, you'll need to cook them longer - until an internal temp of 165*F)

Remove baking sheet from oven. Pour 1-2 Tblsp. spaghetti sauce over the middle of each chicken breast. Cover spaghetti sauce with mozzarella/provolone cheese.

Return baking sheet to the oven for 5 minutes more, or until cheese is melted & spaghetti sauce begins to bubble.

Serve over cooked spaghetti with sauce. (any other pasta would be fine)

We always pair this with a big green salad.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cake Mix Cookies

Another quick-n-easy, super yummy recipe! :)

Just 3 basic ingredients plus a bonus one for fun. All ingredients you probably have in your cupboards right now.

They're light, fluffy with a tiny bit of chewiness, and you can customize them anyway you wish! Your kids could whip these up for you.


Cake Mix Cookies

1 box cake mix (18.25 oz)
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
just shy of 1/4 cup mix-in, if desired

NOTE: Never add more than 1/4 cup mix-ins total. For example, if you're adding chocolate chips AND nuts, combine them to equal just shy of 1/4 cup. NOT 1/4 cup each.

Preheat oven to 350*F.

In a medium-sized bowl, stir together cake mix, eggs & oil.

If desired, add mix-in(s) too.

Stir just until completely mixed - don't over mix.

Roll dough into balls, about 1" or just smaller, and place on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 350*F for approx 10-12 minutes. (My oven takes 11 minutes)

Cool for 1-2 minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove cookies to a cooling rack.

Once cooled, store in an airtight container 3-5 days.


Just ask my sweet puppy -

- who, with this perfect sit & beg (LOL!), eventually got a plain vanilla cookie. Happy dog!


We like to use mini-chips or chopped nuts for mix-ins. Any flavor you like will be fine. We've had some fun combining chips & cake mix flavors: chocolate cake mix w/mint chips or crushed candy canes, butter pecan cake mix with butterscotch chips & crushed pecans, lemon cake mix with vanilla chips, french vanilla cake mix with walnuts & craisins...

Anything that sounds good to you will be delicious! Just make sure your TOTAL mix-in(s) are just shy of 1/4 cup!

Anymore than that will overwhelm the dough & the cookies will be runny & flat.

Have fun with it!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Easy Roasted Chicken


Can anyone resist a perfectly roasted chicken? I know I can't!

Roasted chicken is a recipe that everyone should have in their repertoire. It's impressive (good enough for company), always delicious, and SOOOO easy.

We always use onion, lemon, garlic & rosemary with salt & pepper - but you can use your family's favorite flavors.

Make sure you have an oil (like butter or olive oil), seasonings/aromatics (like onion & lemon & garlic), and a spice or two.

Set aside about an hour for roasting and you've got a perfect roasted chicken!

If you have one of these - a countertop roaster - you can roast these without using your oven & heating up your kitchen in the summertime. I can roast two birds at once in the same time it takes to cook one in the oven. LOVE my roaster!

There are crock-pot recipes for roasting chickens too. You can look online, but HERE is my favorite link.

It's great to buy whole chickens when they're on sale, roast up a few, then chop or dice or shred the meat & freeze it for later.

Enjoy! :)

Easy Roasted Chicken

1 whole chicken, about 5 pounds
1 lemon, quartered
1 small onion, quartered
3-4 Tblsp. butter, room temperature
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 sprigs fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried
2 Tblsp. minced garlic

  • Preheat oven to 450*F.

  • In a small bowl, stir together butter, salt, pepper, garlic & dried rosemary (if you're not using fresh rosemary sprigs). Set aside.

  • Prepare a work surface for raw chicken. I always use a separate, washable cutting board.

  • Remove & discard giblets from chicken cavity.

  • Rinse chicken, inside & out, and pat dry with paper towels.

  • Sprinkle a little salt & pepper into cavity. Fill cavity with onion & lemon quarters.

  • Using your fingers, GENTLY separate skin from chicken. Rub butter/herb mixture generously between skin & meat. Also rub some on the outside of the chicken.

  • Tie chicken legs together with kitchen twine & tuck in wings, if desired. (This step isn't necessary. It just makes for a prettier presentation later.)

  • Place chicken on a rack set in a roasting pan or on a rack placed on a rimmed baking sheet.

  • Roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 160*F when inserted in the thickest part of the thigh. Avoid hitting the bone when checking the temperature.

  • Roasting time is about 45 minutes to 1 hour, usually. The size of your chicken will determine total cooking time, usually about 10 minutes per pound.

  • Serve & enjoy!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Grilled Tri-Tip Roast

Seriously - doesn't that picture say "Summer Grilling"??

Tri-tip is a favorite cut around our house. It's not the cheapest cut, I know, but it's flavor & tenderness are amazing!

We usually cook our tri-tip in the crock pot with balsamic vinegar, garlic & spices. (recipe to come later) But since it's summer (and to be honest, I hadn't planned ahead for dinner...), we decided to grill it.

I am SO glad we did! It was tender, juicy & so flavorful - especially the crusty bits on the outside.

Watch for tri-tip on sale, store it in your freezer & plan on grilling some this summer!

We served this with a parmesan risotto & broccoli. It would be good with anything, really. Your favorite picnic sides or some fancier sides - it's that good.

I combined a couple of recipes I found online on, then adjusted them to fit our family's tastes.

Enjoy! :)

Grilled Tri-Tip Roast

2 tri-tip roasts, approx. 1.5 lbs each

Generous amount of seasoning salt (we used Emeril's & a little Lawry's - use your favorite or make your own)

Preheat your grill to 450*F.

Dust the roasts generously with seasoning salt all over & rub in gently.

Place the roasts on the grill, fatty side down.

Grill for 20 minutes total, turning about every 2-3 minutes, for a juicy medium rare. (about 130*F internal temp)

Remove from grill, cover & let rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing & serving.

Slice at an angle against the grain of the meat.

Serving suggestions:

Slice very thin & serve over salad.

Slice thinly & serve in tortillas with fresh salsa, avocado & lime.

Cut into smaller pieces, glaze with BBQ spices/sauce & grill.

Robert Irvine's BBQ Spice Rub (if you want to make your own)

1-2 Tblsp each:

Worcestershire sauce

black pepper


garlic, minced

chili pepper

onion salt

ground cumin

ground cilantro

Coat tri-tip with rub & place in a bowl in the refrigerator for 1 hour before grilling per instructions above.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Strawberry (Fruit) Picnic Pies

Aren't these cute?!? They remind me of those pre-packaged, processed but strangely delicious Hostess pies I used to eat when I was young.

This recipe comes from The Farm Chicks. Check out her blog - she's adorable & her decor ideas, recipes, & thoughts are always great!

I'm quite sure these will be MUCH better than the ones I ate - better tasting & better for you!

I can't wait to give these a try. With all the fresh berries in season, these should be a regular on our summer menu.

I bet you can try these with peaches or nectarines or even apples... I'll have to try 'em & let you know.


Picnic Pies

3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 cups cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
1/2 cup cold water

Combine the flour and graham cracker crumbs in a large bowl. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or your fingers until the mixture resembles course meal. Whisk the egg and water together and mix into the flour mixture until just combined. Transfer to a clean work surface and gently press to form a dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, press into a disk shape, and chill for at least one hour.

While dough chills, prepare Strawberry Pie Filling.

Strawberry Pie Filling:
4 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered (cut into eighths if the berries are huge)
1 cup brown sugar (not packed)
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all ingredients into a medium bowl and stir together until flour and sugar are mixed in. Set Pie Filling aside. Line two large baking sheets with foil or parchment and lightly grease.

Roll out dough onto a floured work surface and roll out to a 1/8" thickness. Use a cereal bowl for a guide, and trace with a knife.

Repeat until the dough is all used up. (Should make about 16-18 dough circles). Divide pie filling evenly between the dough circles, folding and pressing each one closed as you go. Press edges with a fork and prick center for steam to escape. Place the pies on the baking sheets.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is oozing out from steam holes. Remove pies immediately to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely. (They will harden up as they cool to room temperature).


These pies will ooze filling as they cook, as the strawberries are very juicy. If you prefer a less juicy/messy pie, don't use all of the juice from the filling mixture when filling the pies.

Your baking sheets will look somewhat - a lot juicy when you remove the pies from the oven. Don't worry, this is normal. Just make sure to remove the pies while they're hot so the filling doesn't stick to the foil/parchment.

I definitely recommend using foil or parchment, rather than placing these directly on the baking sheet. this way, you won't have a huge clean-up when you're done!

Picnic Pies are rustic and don't need to be perfect. They're meant to be enjoyed!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Independence Day Treats - a little inspiration

When Independence Day rolls around, I think we've all made a flag cake with berries for the stars & stripes, or dyed our pancakes red & blue, or decorated sugar cookies, or made cupcakes...

Sometimes it can feel redundant. Most times, I'm looking for something new to jazz up our festivities.

This year, I found a couple of things I think you might like - a little inspiration...

These skewers are adorable! Perfect for little hands at an Independence Day party. You can find them (and more!) at Sisters Stuff.

It's an oldy-but-goody, and it sure looks beautiful. I like to add granola to my fruit & yogurt parfaits. Theses are great for an Independence Day breakfast or snack. Much lighter than pancakes! (Though I do love me some pancakes!)

This one is adorable! What a great way to display breakfast muffins or cupcakes or mini-cheesecakes - anything, really.

The big splash is the topper, for me. Love another way to display a flag at the buffet table.

Finally, our traditional dessert while we watch the fireworks on Independence Day - Indoor S'mores.

They're AMAZING! :)

Happy Independence Day, everyone!



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