Oldies and Newbies

So, Chef Rocco Dispirito calls you up, invites you to audition to host a dinner party for him and his friends, and asks you to make your signature dish. What do you make? Everyone has a dish that people request you to make; a dish that you know so well you can probably make it with one hand tied behind your back. I think that if you asked my friends and family they would tell you one of my signature dishes is my mayonnaise chicken. I know, the name doesn’t make it sound very good at all, especially if you’re not a fan of mayonnaise, but I couldn’t think of a more creative name for it at the time. Last night my hubby’s mom and brother J were in town from CT. When I asked Ben what wanted for dinner, he answered “Mayonnaise chicken and sauteed spinach”, withough hesitation. Well, the mayonnaise chicken is easy enough, but the sauteed spinach is a new side dish for me, and I’m still working on figuring out the best way to make it. I’ve made it three times, and every time I make it I change something to make it tastier. I find spinach to be a bit bland.

PS – The ratatouille I made from last week was a big hit last night, too. It’s nice to have such a great side dish that’s easy to prepare on short notice.

I was also in the mood to bake. I love to bake. I love making cakes from scratch (and it gives me an excuse to use my kitchen-aid). I haven’t baked in a long time, since we’ve been trying to go low-carb, but I decided to take advantage of having company to make a desert that I had wanted to try, Devil’s food cake with sour cream-fudge frosting. I am not very good with dimensions: you can’t tell me something is a mile away, or that something has to be cut into 1″ pieces. I have no idea what that means, I can’t visualize it. I thought, “hey, why not just put it all into one 10″ rectangular pan”. That turned out to be a lot bigger than the 2 5″ pans the recipe called for and the cake came out a little thinner than I would have liked, but it was moist, tasted delicious, and people had more than one serving.  Ben thought that the frosting was some of the best chocolate frosting he had ever had.

Приятного аппетита!

Mayonnaise Chicken

Chicken breast

Mayonnaise

Onions, sliced

Grated Parmesan cheese

Cheddar cheese, grated

Italian seasoned bread crumbs

Pre-heat the oven to 350 and grease a baking dish large enough to fit your chicken breasts on, in a single layer. Slice the onions, and spread them out along the bottom of the baking dish. Place the chicken breasts on top of the onions, in a single layer. I have found that this dish works best when the breasts are cut thinly, so you may want to get thin-sliced breasts, or do it yourself. Mix the mayonnaise (enough to cover the chicken in a nice layer) and parmesan cheese (as much as you want, personally I like lots of parmesan cheese so I usually do about equal parts), and spread evenly over the chicken. Distribute the grated cheddar cheese over the mayonnaise (again, in my humble opinion, the more cheese the better), and then lightly sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake in the oven until the chicken is done, about 30-45 mins.

Sauteed Spinach

2 bags of spinach or baby spinach

1/2 head of garlic, chopped

2 tbsp unsalted butter

Crushed red pepper flakes

Fresh lemon juice (2-3 tsp, I used the juice of 1/4 lemon)

Extra-virgin Olive Oil (approx 2 tbsp)

White wine

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil on medium. When it’s hot, add the garlic and butter, and saute until the garlic softens. Add the spinach to the pan, toss to coat with olive oil-butter-garlic mixture, and cook slowly until the leaves wilt. If necessary, cook down one bag of spinach and then add the second bag. Once the spinach has cooked down, add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (more if you want it spicier), and a splash of white wine. Mix the spinach, and cook for several more minutes until the wine has burned off. Add the lemon juice, saute for one more minute. Plate and enjoy!

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