I met my cousin Christine and her son for dinner last Friday and Christine's parting gift to me was "Dinner in a Bag" - or maybe even a purse since it looks like one but is actually an insulated bag. Christine knows my penchant for non-cooking and is determined to get me to cook successfully. So she had the inspired idea of prepping a simple recipe for me to make. Simple because she already did the leg work of making the marinara sauce and all I had to do was put it together. Should be simple, right?? Ha! You don't know me :). Although I do have to crack up that she thought of it and my mom had a good laugh when I told her about it. She knows my non-cooking skills well and has been trying to get me to cook for years. Christine included the frozen ziploc of marinara sauce, the package of chicken breasts, the herbs needed (which I never have since I don't cook) and the recipe.
True to her word, the recipe was pretty simple. I pounded the chicken breasts a bit first since I do have actual experience that that works to make the chicken tender. I chopped up the herbs and combined with the olive oil which thankfully I did have from past cooking attempts. Fried the chicken (note to self: really need a splatter screen if I intend to keep cooking in the future) after brushing it with the herb-oil mixture. I don't have a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven so I simply fried the chicken until the outside was brown then laid them in a Le Creuset rectangular baking dish, covered with the marinara sauce and sprinkled the Parmesan cheese on top. The recipe calls for mozarella as well and I thought I had some in the freezer but it turns out I only had the Parmesan. Oops. But I'm sure it'll still taste good! Here's the pre-bake shot:
At first I covered the dish with foil so the cheese wouldn't burn since it's going into a 500 degree oven. I never bake at 500 degrees so I didn't even know until today that my oven does go to 500. I forget how long I had this in the oven but it was until at least the cheese had somewhat melted. I took the foil cover off and let it sit in the oven for longer after I turned it off. Here's the post-bake shot:
Then, because my cooking skills do extend to boiling water, I boiled some whole wheat fettuccine noodles to make a bed for the chicken parmesan. I actually haven't tasted this yet as I'm writing this because the funny thing about me is when I cook, I cook for the next day or days. I've never actually gotten into the habit of cooking then eating (I know, I know, I'm strange). I ate dinner (leftovers from a Pho lunch with my parents after church) then cooked this. So it's too late and I'm too full to eat it now but this is lunch tomorrow - thanks Christine! I'm sure it's delicious.
Here's the link to Giada's recipe on foodnetwork: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/chicken-parmesan-recipe/index.html