Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bribe the Dog and Stampede to the kitchen - It's Italian Night

Chicken Parmigiana is on the menu of all Italian restaurants, from the worst, to the five star. It can be wonderful crisp and rich or dry and tasteless.   Here's a way to get a wonderfully moist dish with a crisp coating.

Brine It.

You can make this with your favorite red sauce, or just use a jar (my favorite is Rao's, which isn't very expensive.)

Use a blend of cheese instead of just mozzarella to up the melting factor and give it a little more depth (I used a mixture of  mozzarella and grated Parmigiano-Regginao).

Bribing the dog to go into the other room, makes preparation a lot easier

Italian Night Chicken Parmigiana

2 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves


1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk,(note this is the time to use REAL buttermilk, not milk soured with juice or vinegar to get  the enzymatic and bacterial tenderization you want from the buttermilk)
2 and 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

With a sharp knife, split the chicken breasts in half horizontally, then pound them between pieces of parchment paper to about 1/2 inch thickness, which keeps them tender and juicy.

In a bowl combine the buttermilk, garlic, salt and pepper.

Place chicken in bowl of brine and turn until coated, then transfer chicken and brine into a clean zip lock bag. pressing out any air and put in the refrigerator for about 4-6 hours.
The 70 year old gas stove-
we have a doctrine of mutually assured destruction in place.

When you are ready to prepare dinner:

(1) Preheat oven to 425 F.

(2) Remove chicken from brine - pat dry with paper towels and set aside after discarding brine, then wash your hands thoroughly.

(3) Get a large sauce pan filled with water to heat for pasta.

(4) Heat a jar of pasta sauce in another pan until just gently simmering

(5) Get out a large skillet and place 1/4 to 1/3 cup (depending on how big your pan is, you are not deep frying but  doing a gentle crisping saute) extra virgin olive oil in it and set aside

(6) Mix up 3-step coating.

Note:  Use one hand for wet ingredients and the other hand for dry ingredients to keep it cleaner

Bowl (or pie plates) #1:
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour (add a little more if needed)
   pinch of basil

Bowl #2
-1 egg plus 2 teaspoons of buttermilk, whisked, depending on the size of the chicken breast, you can add an extra egg

Bowl #3
-2 cups panko bread crumbs*
 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Regginao
 dash of pepper

Note:  If you have half a loaf of Italian or french bread getting old, cut it into slices, leave out to dry overnight on the counter, then chop into chunks and process in a food processor into crumbs with the cheese and pepper.

Dip chicken in flour, followed by egg mixture, followed by crumbs.  Set on a plate. Wash your hands again with soap and hot water.

When oil is 375 degrees, cook chicken, using tongs to get them into the pan, 2 pieces at a time, swirling the pan a little and using a thin, flexible spatula to keep chicken from sticking.  If needed, add another Tablespoon of oil.  When golden brown, (2 to 3 minutes) flip with spatula and fork and cook on other side until golden brown (about another two minutes) Remove to plate covered with paper towels to drain

Make sure your pasta water is about ready to get your pasta cooking (I use about half a box of spaghetti).

Place a thin layer of the warm pasta sauce in an 8 x 8 pan or casserole dish and top with chicken. Drizzle chicken with a little more sauce (don't drench it)and top with 2/3 cup of Mozzarella cut into 1/3 inch shavings PLUS 3 Tablespoons of Parmigiano-Regginao.  Leave the edges of the chicken free of cheese to give it room to melt.

Bake until cheese is starting to melt (16 - 18 minutes) then place under the broiler for just a few moments until starting to brown.  Top with shredded basil* and/or parsley and serve immediately.

*To get the shavings of basil as picture, place 10 basil leaves on top of one another, roll up like you would a cigarette, tightly, then cut from end to end like you would do a green onion, then detangle.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

That Show Should be a Crime

Mom!  Mom!  Animal Planet is on!

I watch very little TV, some Discovery Channel,  Mythbusters, Top Gear, Firefly, Castle, Dr. Who, Corner Gas, all on tape as I don't have a TV or cable (getting cheap tapes and watching on the big computer monitor is a lot cheaper than a flat screen and cable).  Mostly I'll join Abby the lab on the couch and watch an action movie with my husband and have fun making fun of some of the technology-

Because I'm the second generation in a law enforcement field, the weapons in the shows ARE fair game and my husband just sits there quietly and chuckles as I pick apart the errors.

Picture the scene, a Sniper setting up on a hill to take out his target.

"The Gun is totally disassembled?"

"The scope is completely off of it, WT. . . ."

"No Free Floating Barrel?"

9 MM. " 9 MM?????"

Then, later on, towards the end.

"Why do all the bad guy guards have short barrelled AR15's? They're going to make so much noise that every cop in the county will be here to arrest all the now deaf people".

"Oh come on! M203 doesn't work that way!!"
There's probably a reason guys, including my husband, never took me to the theater while dating . I almost got thrown out at the last one when a gal friend took me to Twilight and every time the bad CGI werewolves in wolf form talked like humans I'd exclaim like the dog in the Bush Bean commercial  "Roll that Beautiful Bean Footage!

But with the Ph.D., I also have to make fun of the science in the shows.  So once in a while I just can't resist and  I will watch some CSI type shows on tape when my husband is on the road.

It's more entertaining than most of the TV shows out there now, so removed from actual reality that they hardly bear watching. The original CSI Vegas though I actually liked, shelving most of the science and just watching the interactions between the characters which were well acted and crafted. But the spin offs were sometimes painful to watch..

Opening Scene -Young party girl in the New York subway has her face suddenly start to melt while vomiting blood.

In the distant city, Mac the steely eyed investigator, to his date: "sorry" (damn, my beeper went off at the opera. . . AGAIN).

Here comes the CSI Team, back from their night on the town, arriving in terribly expensive fashion wear, from their homes or dates, with all the traffic, in minutes.

Mac (entering the scene with no gloves, no mask, no eye protection, as he bends closely over someone that looks like a sleeping supermodel, except with lots of blood splashed on her and the melted face.

"Detective Angel, What have we got ?"

Detective Angel, (Victoria's Secret Model in tight pants and a skin tight low cut sparkly t-shirt under her suit jacket) "Looks like a Chemical or a Biological ! ! "

Female CSI assigned to the scene: "Oh Happy Birthday Mac!" (giggle, giggle, blush stare at ground, forget to work the scene)

Mac smiles and pokes closely at the body again, steely eyes glinting since he's not wearing any eye protection.

Mac: looking closely:" hmmm. . . doesn't look like small pox or anthrax"

(Time to look a little closer and poke in the blood spatter to make sure it's not something you can GET from exposure to blood spatter)
From XKCD - click to enlarge

Dr. H.: "No pruritic macular or papular rash" (Good thing, as that might be Ebola or Cutaneous Anthrax, which means you're standing in the minefield.)

Mac: "So no hemorrhagic fever!" ( Wow Mac, you diagnosed with just that steely glance. You didn't even have to isolate the virus from the patients blood and have acute serum samples inoculated into tissue cultures of mosquito cells or directly into live Toxorhynchites or Aedes mosquitoes or try a Immunodiagnostic method such as detection of anti-dengue IgM and IgG by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and detection of hemagglutination inhibition antibody. Good job Mac, you'll have this solved before the hour is up!)

Pretty girl in a $700 outfit playing with something that I swear is an Etch a Sketch: "It's OK now! This subway tested negative for all hazmat and biologicals!"

Mac: " great!"

Watching any more would have made me laugh so hard I'd spill my beer. Besides they'll have their DNA evidence in oh, like 10 minutes.
Forensic Science Dog will hold the deaded pose until you get the chalk outline drawn.

TV is fantasy, what remains of a life is seldom so pretty. If you don't suit up properly, to protect yourself from elements, the terrain, or a hoard of nasty biologicals, you will likely join them on the next table. But then again the TV scientists never discovered that if you have a linoleum floor, some chalk, and liquid nitrogen you can make little hovercraft. . .

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

That One Friend

For those of you that are "that one friend", thanks for making life so much more joyous.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Snackie Search and Rescue

Dad - I tried to catch my treat but it bounced off my nose and landed under the stove! You have to save it before the dust bunnies eat it!
 I'll snoopervise
 You got it!
 Nom Nom Nom Nom

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Musings

Easter dawned early, church bells ringing.  Breakfast would be later in the morning.

But first, it appears the redheaded Easter bunny left some eggs around the house.

My husbnd just chuckled at the ears as I replied. .

"If you call me Flopsy - someone's going to get hurt"
 In the office (yes, that's a computer we made out of a 40's Analytical  Balance)
 In the shop - how hard IS an easter egg
Someone hid them everywhere.

All around the house - more candy eggs.
Even in the kitchen that's coming together.
Time for breakfast!

I can't wait for the new cupboards, finished next Month-- but it felt good to have the appliances back in and pictures and plate collections hung up on the walls, even the egg adorned one.

But first - my husband, born when I was in grad school, (yes, I know ALL the cougar jokes) had NEVER blown up a Peep.  Not with a microwave, not with C-4. . . . sigh.

Time to remedy that!

Into the microwave.
And watch them blow up. (when you are a kid this was mindlessly entertaining.)

VOOM!  (next year - a vacuum chamber!)

What do do with those?

Peeps Over Easy with Bacon and Toast?
Hmm.  Maybe not.

If I don't move they'll think I'm a log and accidentally drop the bacon.

How about Danish Braid with Raspberry Filling to go with that bacon.

I'll just have the little end piece.  Because there's still the chocoalate bunny.

What to do with the rest of the peeps?
You all have a wonderful Easter. 

At home or wherever you are.

As we remember the reason for this holiday.
He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

It's Another Special Day

Happy Birthday Dad!
I made you stuffing to go with your birthday meal!
Love - Abby T. Lab

Friday, March 25, 2016

Happy Barkday Sarge

Happy Barkday

It looks like much of Blogville has shown up at your PAW-ty to help you celebrate turning 10 and your Mom and Dad got you some wonderful food and pressies.

Go on over to say hello and join in the fun!  You'll see some old friends and maybe meet some new ones. Frankie Furter and I have already arrived!

Plus -

there's  all kinds of neat foodables as well as PUNCH!
Photo from Sarge's Paw-ty post

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Blogville Birthdays - Special Days

“Who throws a cupcake? …honestly!”
- young Dr. Evil, Austin Powers

I haven't made a cake in a while, usually asked to bring in my dark chocolate cupcakes with buttercream.

Cupcakes are fun

The first mention of the cupcake can be traced as far back as 1796, when a recipe notation of "a cake to be baked in small cups" was written in American Cooker by Amelia Simmons. They're more than a dressed up muffin. They're fun, they're easy to prepare and share, and if they turn out too dry and overdone they make dandy replacements for sporting clays (pull!).  For lunch OR launching in a trebuchet, they're dandy little things.

But when it's a special occassion - especially a birthday around here, a cake gets baked.

My husband usually requests  either my Guinness Chocolate cake,
the Guinness Gingerbread (notice a trend here?) 
Or the creamsickle cake for summer gatherings.

I love cake.

Cake for celebrations or for cheer is a tradition that dates back as far as the Romans, with the idea for the candle on top being attributed to both early Greeks and later, Germans. The origins notwithstanding, the cakes vary from region to region and even among families. Everyone has their own favorite cake for celebrations.

The first one I remember, was not a birthday cake, but an Easter one.  I can still recall that ranch house, the apple trees I was almost big enough to climb, Mom's rose garden that  she painstakingly kept up, that after her death, still bloomed without help or hindrance from any of us.  I can picture that moment as she brought out the cake like it was yesterday.  For at Easter every year, Mom would make a two layer cake, then cut it in half, adding a nose, ears and tail to make a bunny cake. Then she'd make a small cake into a baby bunny. It didn't look exactly like the one in the cookbook but it was close.
We'd eat it at the very end of the day, after church, after thanks, after dinner.  Here is an extremely faded photo  from the late sixties of one of them.
There were other cakes over the years, some plain, some fancy. Another family member  made me a cake one year that, well, was completely burned on the outside and raw in the middle (using that bachelor cooking time conversion  method of doubling the temperature and cutting the cook time in half).  We still laugh about that.

Birthday cakes come in all sizes and flavors. Everyone had a favorite, though mine has been, since the very first cake that I can remember, yellow with chocolate buttercream.

Birthday cakes range from  memories of "Oh, that's so sweet!" (and yes, that's a plumbers candle my husband added to his homemade cake).
to "Someone's in the doghouse!"
Then there are wedding cakes. Cakes at weddings are intense elaborate affairs that can cost hundreds of dollars or can be hand crafted.

What were once tradition white cakes and frosting with the bride and groom toppers are now  as individual as the couples involved.  We had a Doctor Who Wedding Cake.
Since we're fans and I have red hair like Amy and my husband looks like The 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) especially as he's the only 32 year old I know that regularly wears bow ties, it was fitting.
But why all the talk of CAKE in Blogville today? - Abby seems to be asking me.

Because tomorrow is a very special birthday for

So stop in and join the fun tomorrow and wish him a wonderful day. Abby will be there with Frankie Furter and all your friends will be gathered around. We can't wait to see what treat his Mom makes up for him to celebrate.