Fried Chicken and Spaghetti

So its Monday, and I had a long weekend, and needed comfort food. Mondays are one of the few nights I don’t have to go anywhere, and don’t have to rush to slam dinner on the table. At least until Girl Scouts starts again.. oy vey.

Tonight I really wanted Chicken Parmesan. But I didn’t have any Parmesan and I had already put on my sweat pants. So I made it without! And it was delicious.

I started out by defrosting 3 large chicken breasts in the microwave. Once thawed, I laid them on a plastic cutting board, and butterflied them down the middle. Making two thin breasts out of each. I then covered the thin breasts with plastic wrap, placed a sandwich bag over the end of my hammer, and gently pounded them until tender and extremely flat. I do this because when frying chicken, I am always worried the outside will burn before the inside is cooked all the way. And I happen to like thin crispy chicken, with anything, and especially spaghetti.

I dredged the chicken in a seasoned flour mix , I was out of bread crumbs too – #thestruggle. For this I just mixed the flour and seasonings listed below in a bowl, and dipped the wet chicken into the mix. I did not use any egg or milk, just the natural wetness of the chicken allowed the flour mix to stick well and make a light crispy coating.

I then fried them in bubbling vegetable shortening in a large skillet. I did 1 tbsp shortening to each breast. TIP: When you flick tiny drops of water off your fingers into hot oil and it sizzles but does not pop – the oil is perfect. I cooked them about 5-7 minutes per side, until golden and dark brown. Then I removed them from the pan and put them on a paper towel bed until the spaghetti was ready.

Then I  simply cooked whole wheat noodles al dente, topped them with my spaghetti sauce and placed the chicken on the side with some spinach for texture. It hit the spot, and I even had a few thin breasts left over, which will make an amazing sandwich tomorrow! Stay tuned 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 3 thawed chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded thin
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp pepper
  • 2 tsp powered garlic
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3-4 tbsp vegetable shortening in a med heated pan

What are your favorite comfort foods?? I would love to try them!!

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Sausage with lentils, onions, peppers and tomato gravy.

Yesterday afternoon cooled off a lot with an approaching thunderstorm. I got a great deal on Italian sausage at my grocery store, and was in the mood for something hearty and spicy.

This dish was satisfying and nutritious. My 8 year old enjoyed it as well, obviously hers wasn’t spicy. I like Texas Pete on just about everything, and this was no exception. This meal also only took about 20 minutes, which is super important on week nights.

I started by boiling some lightly salted water for my lentils. I do a 1:1 ratio of water to lentils. And in a separate med-high heated pan, I added my sausages, and covered it. I let them sear for a minute or two until one side is brown and then I flip them to the other side, add a few tbsp of water, and cover them again. I then added my bag of frozen pepper/onion tri color mixture to the top, and recover. I let this cook all the way down until the veggies are tender, and the sausage is about to pop with greasy, delicious juice.

Making the tomato gravy: In the same pan, I cut down the middle of the sausages allowing the juice to drain into the peppers and onions. I move everything to the sides leaving a clear spot in the middle where I add a slice or two of butter. When the butter is melted, I add it a couple tbsp of flour, salt and pepper. I stir this in tiny circles in the middle until the rue is cooked, and add in an entire can of diced tomatoes, juice and all. Stirring this around in the middle until well combined then tossing in the rest of the veggies and sausages. I do remove the sausages just before serving and slice them, then toss them back in. This dish was SO PRETTY before I hastily added the lentils. The lentils were mushy and creamy, but they belonged on the bottom of this colorful tomato/sausage/pepper mix. But I, not thinking ahead, just piled them all in the same pan and stirred.

I served this with bread, butter and topped with a lot of Texas Pete. It really hit the spot. This amount made enough for 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 kids. Try it out! It won’t disappoint, and without the rue mix, its gluten free!
Ingredients:

  • 1 pack Italian sausage, any flavor
  • 1 bag frozen tri color onions and peppers
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 1 cup water and salt to taste
  • TEXAS PETE -as much or as little as you like

How do you like your lentils? They are one of my favorites, and I under utilize them. Help me out with some recipes!!

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Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs

I love this recipe. It takes a little longer to cook, but its one you can walk away from. I hate babysitting the oven. This is also a GREAT alternative to pasta, which I eat way too much of anyway. And for me to say its a good alternative says something, because I do LOVE pasta.

First lets discuss the spaghetti squash. It’s the YELLOW one shaped like a small oblong watermelon. There are several usually grouped together, but this one in particular is more of a SUMMER squash, thus its light texture and flavor vs the butternut or acorn squash that are WINTER squashes with dense heavy flesh, and more of a sweet potato taste. All great. But obviously the SPAGHETTI SQUASH is for SPAGHETTI. Duh.

All of these are cooked the same way in my house. First I grab a BIG knife. And I cut it down the middle long ways. These squashes do not saw like pumpkins!! I kind of stab it and move it a little down and stab it again, and wiggle the sturdy big knife to make it crack a little, and move my knife further down. So stab and crack, stab and crack. Eventually you’ll make it all the way around, and be left with two oblong halves. Scoop out the seeds and the slimy bits, doesn’t take very long, and a soup spoon works great. 20170712_22295520170712_22304820170712_223124

 

I season these clean halves with a small drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, then place them face down in any dish. I like to cover mine with aluminum for easy clean up later, and about a half cup of water in the bottom. Basically the water steams up, helping keep the skin and flesh soft to scoop out.

 

I bake this at 400ºF for around an hour. I know its done when the top of the squash skin is sagging down into the squash and when I poke it, its soft. Like a baked potato.20170712_223158

 

And wham! Done! There are a thousand things you can do with this beautiful roasted squash. The spaghetti and meatballs is one of my family’s favorites.

While that’s roasting in the oven, I go about making my spaghetti sauce. I’m sure most people have their own special way of doing it, but this is mine. Keep it simple.

I take a generic jar of sauce. I really strive to buy the cheapest one–WITH the least amount of sugar. Some of those sauces have 10g of sugar per 1/2 cup serving. ??? I’d rather save my sugar intake for dessert. So I get a jar of decent sauce. I also keep canned tomatoes and minced garlic around, and onions, peppers and zucchini’s and mushrooms depending on my grocery store selection. I also buy pre-made meat balls. I’m sure they’re gross, and here I am preaching about sugar in the sauce and god only knows what the hell is in those frozen meatballs. But I’ll be damned if they aren’t quick, tasty and cheap. Judge all you want, but I can’t afford to be top shelf on everything.

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I love to make sauce in my dutch oven pot thing. I always wanted one of these, because every chef on TV uses one, for just about everything. But any pot will do. The rest is simple. In a medium heated pot goes the olive oil, to cook the onions and peppers, then the softies like zucchini, squash, and mushrooms. When they’re almost done, in goes the super wimpy softie, garlic. Then when they’re all happy and mostly cooked, I like to add butter, because why not. And some salt and pepper. I then add those frozen balls of  mystery meat deliciousness. I let them get pretty warmed up, and pour in my sauce and a can of Italian tomatoes. I also then fill the sauce jar with about half cup of water, shake it up, and pour that in too. You wouldn’t believe how much sauce your wasting by throwing out that un-rinsed jar! And the extra bit of water seems to really help my sauce. Sounds weird, but it works. Then they just cook along on med -low stirring less than occasionally until the squash is done.

I just added the sauce on the squash and baked it with the cheese until melted. It was so easy, the foil was already lined in my pan! After I melted the cheese I just scooped out heavy portions for everyone in a bowl, served salad and called it a night. Delicious, mostly nutritious and CHEAP.

 

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Ingredients

  • 1 spaghetti squash per 3-4 people, 2 people if you’re really hungry
  • 1 jar of your favorite sauce
  • 1 can of Italian tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 green pepper (or a cup of frozen peppers – try these. cheap and EASY)
  • 1 pkg mushrooms
  • 2 small zucchini’s
  • 2 small yellow squash
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil, for roasting the squash and for starting the sauce
  • 1 tbsp butter – not required, just can’t seem to help myself
  • frozen meatballs – I used a fourth of a very very large bag. probably half a regular grocery store bag.
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

What are some of your favorite healthy substitutes?? I’d love to try them!! Follow me on Instagram Link on my page!