Sunday, December 6, 2009

Mozzarella Chicken

This recipe is a take from a personal favorite, Chicken Parmesan. In fact, when I make this meal, I often call it Chicken Parmesan. But there's a lot more mozzarella cheese than parmesan cheese in this dish main. And because I believe in good ol' fashioned honesty, I hereby title this splendid dish, Mozzarella Chicken.

Quite a line-up: Olive oil, Onion, Garlic, Bay leaf, Canned tomatoes, Italian seasoning, Basil, Salt, Pepper, Sugar, Chicken fritters, Mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and Pasta.

Begin by coating a pan with 1/4 c. olive oil.

As the olive oil heats up, prepare your onion. One medium onion (chopped) will do the trick.

Add chopped onion to the pan. Love that sizzle!

Now add garlic (2 cloves). I buy garlic already minced. It's simply one of those make-my-life easier things I do. Whatcha gonna do 'bout it?

Toss in a bay leaf for good measure.

Once the onions soften (maybe five minutes or so), add two cans of crushed or diced or stewed tomatoes. I don't really care what kind of tomatoes you add. It's your sauce. Do what you want.

Mix 'er up.

After 10 minutes or so, add your seasonings. I add 1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning, 1/4 tsp. dried basil (if you have fresh, add fresh!), and salt and pepper to taste.

Finally, add a couple tablespoons of sugar to balance out the acidity of those crushed-diced-stewed tomatoes.

At the last minute I was feeling rather feisty so I found this lil' number in the back of my fridge. It's basically an olive spread. I dropped a couple of tablespoons into my sauce. Like I said, I was feeling feisty. (PS - I buy this from Sam's Club. Occasionally I fix a muffaletta sandwich, and because I'm too lazy to make my own olive spread, I use this stuff. It is delish.)

Simmer. Simmer. Simmer.
If you're pressed for time or homemade sauce ain't your thing, you can easily use a pre-made sauce for this dish. I'll never know if you never tell.

As your sauce simmers, get the chicken going. Began by lightly greasing a baking dish.


Here's another make-my-life-easier tip for ya. I buy this enormous box of chicken fritters from Sam's Club. I know what you're thinking, "Can she read? It says Deep Fry Only." I can read, don't you worry. But the box lies. Lies, I tell you. You CAN bake these fritters. And I do. And they get the job done!

Place the fritters in your dish and season with a bit of Italian seasoning and basil. Then toss into the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

After it bakes for 15 minutes, pull out the chicken and add 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and . . .

. . . 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese. Yum. Pop it back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes.

While the chicken bakes and the sauce continues to simmer, cook your pasta. We often mix whole wheat and regular pasta - good for the heart and good for the soul. Just make sure to add your whole wheat pasta to your boiling water before the regular pasta. The whole wheat pasta takes longer to cook.
P.S. Use whatever pasta you have on hand - spaghetti, angel hair, linguini. Your taste buds will thank you no matter what.

Once your pasta is tender, strain it. Stick your face in that steam and open up 'em pores.

Pull out your crispy, cheesy chicken, and . . .

. . . make a masterpiece. Almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

Ingredients:

1/4 c. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
2 cans tomatoes, diced or crushed
1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning (plus a bit to season chicken)
1/4 tsp. dried basil (plus a bit to season chicken)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. sugar
6 - 8 chicken fritters
1/2 c. mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
1 pound pasta

Directions:

Coat saute pan with olive oil and place over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and bay leaf. Once onion is soft (roughly 5 minutes), add tomatoes. Allow sauce to thicken for 10 minutes. Then add Italian seasoning, basil, salt, pepper, and sugar. Simmer.

As sauce simmers, prepare chicken. Lightly grease a baking dish. Place fritters in baking dish. Season with Italian seasoning and basil. Bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Pull out chicken and sprinkle mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese over top. Place back in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

As the chicken bakes, prepare pasta. Bring salted water to boil. Add pasta. Once soft, strain pasta and lightly coat with olive oil so that pasta doesn't stick.

Combine pasta, chicken and sauce for an outstanding Italian delight.

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