Chicken Florentine

chicken florentine

Chicken Florentine is an easy and fairly quick meal to pull together for your family or even a small dinner party. It’s mostly cooked on the stovetop which is great for those warm days where you don’t want something baking in the oven for a long time. Meals that are prepared “florentine” style are served on or with a bed of spinach. If you aren’t a huge fan of spinach you can either use less in this recipe or even try it with your own favorite wilted greens.

This recipe is from an excellent cookbook entitled, The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook 10th Anniversary Edition: Every Recipe and Every Review From All Ten Seasons . It’s filled with really delicious recipes and step-by-step instructions for every meal! I highly recommend adding this one to your collection, especially if you feel that you need a little more guidance and help in the kitchen.

This meal was so a big hit in my house so it’s a keeper! The chicken was very moist and well seasoned and I loved all of the melted cheese throughout. I served it alongside roasted potatoes which was the perfect accompaniment, you can’t go wrong with potatoes! When making this dish, be sure to drain the spinach as indicated to avoid a very wet, soggy mess and be sure to take the time to reduce down the sauce. Don’t sweat it if the sauce takes a little longer than 10 minutes to thicken and come together, not all stoves are created equal so give yours the time it needs. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 12 oz baby spinach
  • 4 (6 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1 /4 cups water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Instructions

Adjust oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat broiler.

Heat 1 tbs of vegetable oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the spinach and cook, stirring occasionally until wilted, 1-2 minutes. Transfer the spinach to a colander that is set over a bowl and press the spinach with a spoon to release the excess liquid. Discard liquid.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Wipe out the pan and heat remaining 1 tbs of vegetable oil over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook the chicken on both sides until golden, about 4-6 minutes. Add shallot and garlic to skillet and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the stock, water and cream and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and tent with aluminum foil. Continue to simmer the sauce until reduced to 1 cup, about 10 minutes. Off of the heat, stir in 4 tbs of Parmesan cheese, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Cut the chicken crosswise into 1/2″ thick slices and arrange on a broiler safe platter. Scatter the drained spinach over the chicken and then cover in the sauce. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and broil until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Serve.

Veggie and Cheese Frittata

Frittata2

Frittatas are super simple, can be made with almost anything you have in your fridge and are the perfect meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. When I’m feeling lazy and need something to eat in a pinch, frittatas are one of my “go-to” meals. Despite a little bit of cheese, they are also pretty healthy as well since you can load them up with a ton of delicious fresh veggies and herbs.

There really isn’t a specific recipe you need to follow in order to make a delicious frittata. It’s really a matter of grabbing some eggs, cheese, meat, and veggies OR any combination of those and get cooking. I generally like to make a twelve egg frittata because I love the leftovers! Don’t have a crowd to feed? Use fewer eggs. As for the mix-ins, include as many (or as little) of all the things you love to eat as you want. I’m partial to onions, cheese, spinach, peppers, and potatoes but feel free to change up my “recipe” and be as creative as you wish. Some other great additions are breakfast sausage, bacon, various cheeses, fresh herbs, and literally any veggie you can think of. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • Pat or two of butter, for pan
  • 12 large eggs
  • 12 tsp heavy cream or half-and-half
  • 2 cups of assorted veggies/meats/herbs
  • 1/2 – 1 cup shredded cheese
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

Crack all of the eggs into a large bowl, add in the cream/half-and-half and salt and pepper. Whisk until well combined.

Heat up a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter to the pan and allow to melt. Add the vegetables to the pan and cook until slightly softened.

Lower the heat to medium-low and turn on the oven broiler. Pour the eggs into the pan and using a rubber spatula, continue to move the eggs around until they begin to cook. Gently lift the eggs/frittata with the spatula while tilting the pan to allow the uncooked egg to run underneath the and set. When the frittata looks set around the edges and mostly cooked, sprinkle with the shredded cheese, remove the pan from the stovetop and place under the broiler. Cook until the eggs slightly puff and are set in the middle.

Slice into wedges and serve.

*If using potatoes, be sure to cook them first or they will remain hard once the frittata is done cooking. To quickly cook a potato, use a fork to poke a few holes all over a cleaned, unpeeled potato. Place in the microwave and cook on high for about 5 minutes. Flip the potato and cook for another 3-5 minutes, depending on size. Allow to cool, peel (if desired), and cut into chunks. Add to the pan once the other vegetables are done softening. 

 

Sweet and Savory Cheese Board

cheese board_n

Cheese boards are one of those apps that when you put it out on the table everyone will “oooh” and “ahhh” and think that you went to a ridiculous amount of trouble to put it together when in reality, they really are super easy to pull together. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to cheese boards and it doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive other. Simply, choose a variety of foods that you love, pile them up on a pretty platter or board, and serve. It’s really that simple! You can make them as creative or as simple as you like, just use some (or all) of these simple guidelines to create a delicious and appetizing cheese board for your next party.

First things first, you’re going to want to grab some kind of board, platter or tray. The one pictured above I happened to find at Home Goods® a while back for just a few bucks. It’s a great size and perfect for this type of thing however, if you don’t have something similar don’t sweat it. Take a look through your kitchen and use whatever you have on hand. Things such as a wood cutting board, a glass platter, a piece of slate, or even a cookie sheet will work great for your cheese board! As long as it can hold food, it’ll function!

Next up, and probably the most important part, is to add some cheeses to the board. Try and mix it up with different varieties, textures and strengths. I’m not a huge fan of the “moldy and stinky” cheese variety but if that’s your thing, go for it! On the board above I added sharp provolone, a mellow Swiss, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. You can slice up the cheese and assemble it on the board, leave the cheese in large chunks served alongside cheese knives, or a combination of the two. It’s nothing more than personal preference so you really can’t go wrong here. If you’re going to leave it to your guests to cut their own cheese, be sure to leave a separate knife with each cheese variety. Sharing cheese knives will contaminate the flavor of the cheese and make them taste less than stellar.

Once your cheeses are in place you’re going to want to add in some salty goodies. Things like roasted nuts, a variety of olives, dried sausages, and other charcuterie meats like salami, pepperoni or prosciutto. Because olives are wet and oily I recommended adding them to a small bowl before placing them on your cheese board. It’ll keep the other foods on the board neat and dry. I chose to assemble some of my meats on a small festive dish but don’t feel like you have to, they can be added directly on top of the cheese board as well.

At this point you’re going to want to add in some sweet things to balance out all of that salty and cheesy goodness. I love to add things like dried apricots (not pictured on the above board), fresh grapes, dried cherries and a sugary sweet bowl of nuts. For this board I used cinnamon sugar almonds but any kind of sweet, candied nut will do. You can even add some nice, dark chocolate if you so desire. Again, there are no hard and fast rules here so add in whatever sweet treat appeals to you!

Now it’s time to layer in some crackers, breadsticks and/or torn bread chunks. I really love adding breadsticks because it gives the board a little height plus, my kids love munching on them at parties! Depending on what you’re serving on the board, you can also add in some condiments as well. Things like spicy mustards, chutneys, honey and jams are perfect to include. You can serve them right out of the jar with a little spoon tucked inside or transfer them to a pretty little bowl that you add to the board.

If after everything is placed on the cheese board you feel that it looks a little too empty, add in some extra fruit, crackers, or fill in the empty spaces with lettuce, herbs, and other brightly colored veggies. Be creative, have fun with it, and your guests will absolutely love it! Lastly, keep in mind that cheese boards aren’t just for parties. They also make great, easy lunches/dinners as well. We have an awesome Italian deli by our house so on the weekends I love to go pick up a few things, assemble them on my board, and serve it for lunch. My husband and kids love it and the kids really enjoy getting to choose exactly what they want to eat. When I make it for us I usually buy a nice, crusty loaf of bread to serve alongside the board. We love to tear off chunks to dip in good extra-virgin olive oil seasoned with herbs, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. So delish! Enjoy!!

QUICK TIPS FOR DESIGNING A CHEESE BOARD

1) Choose a board

2) Choose your cheeses making sure to include different varieties, strengths, and textures.

3) Add in some salty goodies such as nuts, olives, and meats.

4) Add in some sweet goodies such as dried and fresh fruits, chocolate, and/or candied nuts.

5) Add in crackers, breadsticks, and/or bread chunks.

6) Add in sweet and spicy condiments.

7) Garnish and fill in the empty space as needed.

Creamy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

cutlets and macncheese

My kids are obsessed with macaroni and cheese and would pretty much eat it every day if they could. I feel A LOT less guilty about letting them have it when I make it from scratch over serving them the little blue box mix. The great thing about this recipe is that it’s super easy to make and it doesn’t really take any more time than making a prepackaged version. This mac n cheese is very creamy and flavorful and it even reheats well too. Just add a splash of milk to thin it out a little, microwave, and stir!

I like to use extra sharp cheddar cheese since it has a more distinct flavor however, feel free to change out the cheese to others such as American, Swiss, Asiago, etc. You can even use different cheese combinations, American and cheddar is a nice one to try. Make sure when you heat the milk you let it bubble and thicken. You will know the milk is thick enough when it can coat the back of a spoon easily. Rushing this step will result in a very wet, “soupy” mac n cheese which isn’t very appetizing.

Traditional mac n cheese recipes call for an elbow macaroni which is what I used but other pasta shapes also work well. I like gemelli and mezze penne in this recipe as well. If you use elbow macaroni, try the 3 minute versions they make, I use them all of the time and it really speeds up the process of making this dish. As is, this makes plenty of macaroni and cheese for a side dish but the recipe can be easily doubled to serve a crowd of hungry kiddies too!

Ingredients

  • 8 oz elbow macaroni
  • 1/4 c salted butter
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups of milk 
  • 8 oz grated cheese (cheddar, American or a blend)

Instructions

Cook the macaroni while preparing the cheese sauce.

Melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper. Slowly add the milk and cook until bubbly and thick, stir frequently as it warms up.

Add in the grated cheese and stir until melted. Add the macaroni to the cheese sauce, stir to coat.  Serve hot.

**TIP** – If the sauce seems to thin, stir in a little sprinkle of Wondra to thicken it up. Also, letting the mac n cheese sit for a few minutes before serving will also help to thicken the sauce.