Thursday, April 7, 2016

Baked Chicken Parmesan with Homemade Tomato Sauce

First one of the new month.....

Baking the chicken breasts rather than pan-frying results in a crisp, golden crust without any added fat.
To save time, look for thin sliced or filleted chicken breasts at your supermarket, which are the perfect thickness for this recipe. You can make the tomato sauce up to 2 days ahead, but jarred marinara (look for brands with less sodium) works just as well.

Check it out-


For the sauce:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1 small carrot, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 small rib celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 cans (14 ounces each) no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1 dried bay leaf
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

For the chicken:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1⁄2 cup)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each), pounded 1/4" to 1/2" thick
1/2 cup grated part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 2 ounces)


1. Prepare the sauce: Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, thyme, and oregano and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft and the sauce is slightly thickened, about 25 minutes. Add the vinegar and basil and simmer until the flavors blend, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf. Working in batches, transfer the sauce to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and puree until smooth (be careful when blending hot liquids). Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and set aside.
2. Prepare the chicken: Heat the oven to 400°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place 3 shallow bowls in front of you. Add the flour to the first bowl. Crack the eggs into the second bowl, beat, and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper. Combine the bread crumbs, oregano, and three-quarters of the Parmesan in the third bowl. Dip the chicken breasts in the flour, shaking off the excess. Dip in the egg, then press into the bread crumbs so the mixture adheres to the chicken. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake, turning once about halfway through, until golden brown and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Switch the oven to broil.
3. Reheat the sauce over low heat if necessary. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the sauce inside a 21⁄2- to 3-quart baking dish. Add the chicken in a single layer, overlapping slightly if necessary. Spread about 1/4 cup of the sauce over each chicken breast (you may have some leftover). Top evenly with the mozzarella and the remaining Parmesan. Transfer to the center rack of the oven and broil until the cheese is melted, 2 to 4 minutes. Serve with an arugula salad, if desired.

I suggest a nice Red wine to go with this-


Drink and Eat Well My Friends!


Food Safety Tips
Protect yourself against food-borne illnesses.

1. Use a "refrigerator thermometer" to keep your food stored at a safe temperature (below 40 degrees fahrenheit).

Cold temperatures slow the growth of bacteria. Ensuring that your refrigerator temperature stays at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of food-borne illness. You can buy a refrigerator/freezer thermometer at appliance stories, home centers (i.e. Home Depot), and kitchen stores including online ones, such as

2. Defrost food in the refrigerator, the microwave, or in cold water... never on the counter!

Perishable foods should never be thawed on the counter for longer than two hours because, while the center of the food may remain frozen, the outer surface may enter the Danger Zone, the range of temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees fahrenheit, in which bacteria multiply rapidly. If you’re short on time, use the microwave or you can thaw meat and poultry in airtight packaging in cold water. Change the water every half-hour so it stays cold and use the thawed food immediately.

3. Always use separate cutting boards for raw meat/poultry/fish and cooked foods/fresh produce.

Bacteria from uncooked meat, poultry, and fish can contaminate cooked foods and fresh produce. An important way to reduce this risk is to use separate cutting boards for raw meat/poultry/ fish, and cooked foods/fresh produce.

4. Always cook meat to proper temperatures, using a calibrated instant-read thermometer to make sure.

One effective way to prevent illness is to use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat, poultry, and egg dishes. The USDA Recommended Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures are as follows:

* Beef, veal, and lamb (steaks and roasts), fish - 145 degrees fahrenheit

* Pork and ground beef - 160 degrees fahrenheit

* Poultry - 165 degrees fahrenheit.

Cook meats like roasts and steaks to lower temperatures, closer to medium-rare, so that they retain their moisture. It is recommended that those who are at high risk for developing food-borne illness (i.e. pregnant women and their unborn babies, newborns, young children, older adults, people with weakened immune systems, or certain chronic illnesses) should follow the USDA guidelines.

5. Avoid unpasteurized/raw milk and cheeses made from unpasteurized milk that are aged less than 60 days.

Raw milk is milk from cows, sheep, or goats that has not been pasteurized (heated to a very high temperature for a specific length of time) to kill harmful bacteria that may be present. These bacteria, which include salmonella, E. coli and listeria, can cause serious illness and sometimes even death. The bacteria in raw milk can be especially dangerous to pregnant women, children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems or chronic illnesses. Raw milk cheeses aged 60 days or longer are okay, since the salt and acidity of the cheese-making process make for a hostile environment to pathogens.

6. Never eat "runny" eggs or foods, such as cookie dough, that contain raw eggs.

Even eggs that have clean, intact shells may be contaminated with salmonella, so it’s important to cook eggs thoroughly until both the yolk and the white are firm. Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160 degrees fahrenheit and you can use an instant-read food thermometer to check. Eggs should always be cooked fully and those who are at high risk for developing foodborne illness (pregnant women and their unborn babies, newborns, young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems or certain chronic illnesses should follow the USDA guidelines. If you can’t resist runny eggs or sampling cookie batter, use pasteurized eggs. They’re found near other eggs in large supermarkets.

7. Always wash your hands in warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds before handling food and after touching raw meat, poultry, or eggs.

You can pick up a lot of bacteria out in the world, so it’s important to always wash your hands before you eat or prepare food. You should also wash your hands after touching any uncooked meat, poultry, fish, or eggs, as the bacteria from these foods can contaminate cooked foods and fresh produce. Use soap and warm water and wash thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.

8. Always heat leftover foods to 165 degrees fahrenheit.

The USDA recommends heating all cooked leftovers to 165 degrees fahrenheit in order to kill all potentially dangerous bacteria.

9. Never eat meat, poultry, eggs, or sliced fresh fruits and vegetables that have been left out for more than two hours or more than one hour in temperatures hotter than 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you leave perishable foods out of the refrigerator or freezer for more than two hours they may enter the Danger Zone—the unsafe temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, in which bacteria multiply rapidly.

10. Whenever there’s a food recall, check products stored at home to make sure they are safe.

You should discard any food that’s been recalled because it’s associated with the outbreak of a food-borne illness. But, according to a survey conducted by Rutgers University during the fall of 2008, only about 60% of Americans search their homes for foods that have been recalled because of contamination. For more information on food recalls, visit the website

Cavier & Vodka
Courtesy of The Lady (Bug) of the Household