So I started out thinking about what is usually involved in chicken parm and bruschetta and went to the store. I figured I should make my homemade pasta sauce and cesar salad as well. So here's a tip... Eat lots of vegetables today because there aren't many in this supper. Anyone who thinks cesar salad counts as a vegetable is very wrong... it's lettuce and bacon.
First thing I prepared was the pasta sauce. My mom always made the same one when I was growing up (in addition to the odd jar of Classico!) and it's my FAVE! But I don't usually measure anything, so today you're in luck. Except that after I measured the parsley and oregano, I realized I put in way too much so I just added some tomato paste to make it more tomato-y.
After I added the tomato paste, apparently I forgot to take a photo, so it looks a little more orange than it did turn out - it turns lighter like that when you add the parmesan cheese. The trick with the sauce is to let it simmer for about a half hour so the flavours really set in and it thickens a bit.
Once the sauce was simmering, I took a shot at the bruschetta. I figured, the most common ingredients in bruschetta are red onion, tomato, basil, feta and balsamic vinegar, so how wrong could I go?
I diced and chopped and stirred until I decided it smelled right. Yes, "smelled right". Because that's how I do things - by smell or by taste, and as much as I love bruschetta, I was not about to shove a spoonful of red onions and balsamic vinegar in my mouth.
*Oh my gosh the only photo I have of the bruschetta in the bowl wouldn't upload!! Use your imaginations, I guess.
I let that sit, kind of like the sauce, I thought maybe if it sat and the flavours had some more time to mix up that it would taste better than just whipping it up and sticking it right into the chickens.
Next, the big part of the meal - the chicken parmesan! There is an oven fried chicken recipe I got from one of my aunts that I really like to make, so I kind of used a bit of this. I used full chicken breasts, so it wasn't like real chicken parm where you pulverize the meat so it is nice and thin - I wanted to stuff them, so this wasn't really possible. I sliced them each horizontally down the middle to open like a book. Be careful here though, cause if you don't cut it well, you'll end up like me with holes! One of the breasts opened more like a tin can... After I stuffed them, I used cooking string to keep them shut (shout out to the butcher at Sobey's who saved me from having to wait in literally the longest lines I have ever seen there by just cutting some for me from his shop for free!!). Then came the breading. I used butter instead of egg/milk because I figured it might get crispier - but I think the breasts were just too big for a good crunchy coating. Also to make sure they were a little crunchier, I didn't add sauce on top before baking. Just for the last five minutes.
Is there a course on taking photos of food? Or is the trick mostly good lighting and a good camera? Because I don't really have any photography skills. Or a good camera. And our kitchen really doesn't have lighting for good photos, I presume. So we will just blame it on that. Because literally, if someone showed me that photo, I would not want to eat that. But I promise, it was good! Maybe I should have put it on a smaller plate. Overall, I would just give it a grade of B because: it wasn't chicken parm-y enough for me. I need to figure out a way to thin out the chicken and maybe I should fry it a bit, then stuff it, then bake it? Who knows - I think the possibilities for improvement are endless! As for the salad, it was delicious as my cesar salad always is, I just need photography lessons, as I said. At the end of all of this, I wonder: Do food bloggers actually eat the food they take the photos of? Or do they just make it, try it out, then make a pretty one for the photos but they use stuff to enhance the photos so the food looks amazing (like they do on packaging and in commercials) so they don't eat it? I'm so intrigued!
So if you are interested, here's the actual recipe for you to try out! Please let me know if you make it, if you like or dislike it and if you do anything different!!!
Oven-Baked Bruschetta-Stuffed Chicken Parmesan
Preheat oven to 375F. Makes four (maybe five!!) chicken breasts.
- Just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a medium sized frying pan (I'm sorry I didn't measure - I would say about 2-3 Tbsp)
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- One 796 mL can diced tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano flakes
- 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese + 1 Tbsp
- salt, pepper (to taste)
- 1 can tomato paste (this was an afterthought because I felt there was too much parsley and oregano)
1. Pour oil onto your frying pan and heat about low-medium
2. Mince the garlic cloves, add to oil and cook until fragrant, but don't let them turn brown!
3. Once the garlic has started to cook, add the can of diced tomatoes and stir
4. Add parsley and oregano flakes and 2 Tbsp of parmesan cheese (it really seemed like 1 Tbsp of the flakes was WAY too much and overtook the sauce!)
5. Stir, add tomato paste
6. Turn it up to medium for a few minutes, keep stirring and let it start to bubble a little bit - honestly only like 5 minutes or so
7. Turn to simmer. Stir occasionally and give it a little taste, too! I also add that extra 1 Tbsp of parmesan cheese while it is simmering. Leave the sauce on simmer while you prepare the bruschetta and the chicken!
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 2 roma tomatoes, diced and seeds taken out (about 1 cup)
- 1 tsp dried basil leaves
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar + 1 Tbsp
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
Literally, what you think you need to do to make this - is what you need to do.
1. Dice tomatoes and red onion. Put them in a medium sized bowl and mix.
2. Add dried basil (I used dry because when you buy fresh herbs you essentially have to buy like a fields-worth and I didn't need that much...)
3. Mix the oil and 1 Tbsp of vinegar in another small bowl
4. Add vinaigrette to the tomato/onion mixture. Stir.
5. Add the extra 1 Tbsp of vinegar directly to the mixture.
6. Add feta cheese, mix
7. Set aside
- 4 chicken breasts (I only used three and definitely had enough extra bruschetta for one more or maybe even two more chickens)
- 1 C bread crumbs (I just got mine from the Bulk Barn and they were already seasoned. If I had plain ones, I would season with salt, pepper, parsley and garlic salt/powder)
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- about 1/2 cup melted butter (start with this amount, but you might need more!)
1. Mix the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese together in a bowl (cereal sized) and melt butter in another bowl
2. Cut slits into all chickens, so you can open like a book
3. Add 1/4 cup bruschetta to each chicken and 'flip the lid over'
4. Use butcher's string (or similar) to tie each chicken breast shut. I used about three ties for each chicken breast and was able to shut them completely so there was no bruschetta showing or bursting out ... okay except for one.
5. Dip tied chicken breast into butter, coat
6. Take buttered chicken breast and coat completely in bread crumbs
7. Add a layer of sauce to a casserole dish (mine was a 1.25 qt one, about two inches deep) and lay the chicken breasts (cut side up).
8. Cook for 30 minutes. I started to boil the water and cook the noodles after I put the chicken into the oven. I took them out and added a little sauce to the tops and baked for another 5 minutes.
Add the sauce to the cooked noodles, toss a chicken breast on your plate and enjoy! Just don't forget to take the string off!!!!!!
If you are interested in my cesar salad dressing, it's from Jean Pare's Company's Coming books - it's the one my mom always used to make and it's great
3 Tbsp oil (I use canola)
2 Tbsp vinegar (today I used balsamic)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
a few drops of Worcestershire
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese - I honestly think the recipe (which included other ingredients, I just modified) says 1/2 cup parm. That's insane. I don't usually put it right into the dressing - I just put a bunch on the lettuce and let it soak up the dressing.
Add some croutons and bacon bits and you're good to go!!
That was a long one, thanks for bearing with me! I hope you enjoy :)
dream big dreams, be reckless