Monday, February 25, 2013

Recipe for Make Ahead Chicken Parmesan

I am due any day with our fifth child, and this time around I wanted to make and freeze plenty of food in advance so we wouldn't be eating out as much after the baby is born.  I am aware that you can buy a variety of chicken already prepared in the frozen section of grocery stores, but I wanted ours to be healthy and homemade.  So, I developed this simple recipe for chicken Parmesan. We prepared and froze thirteen pounds of chicken.  It was used for the first time a couple nights ago.  Not only was it a hit for dinner that night, but my four year old wanted chicken for breakfast instead of cereal!  I had baked a double batch so we had plenty of leftovers.  I was curious as to how well it would reheat in the microwave the following day.  Cha-ching!  Just as good if not better.  Since this recipe was such a hit with our family, I am going to share it with you.

Make Ahead Chicken Parmesan:
Fresh (not frozen) chicken breasts - thin-sliced if you can find them
French bread - some grocery stores have a "day old" section where the price is reduced.  Day old is even better.
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Italian seasoning
Lowry's garlic salt with parsley
2-gallon freezer Zip-Loc bags

Pasta sauce
Mozzarella or Italian blend shredded cheese
Italian seasoning

Prep day:
  1. In a large bowl, crack as many eggs as you have pounds of chicken.  Whisk.
  2. Thin slice your chicken breasts if they aren't already.  Place in the bowl with egg to soak.
  3. While the chicken is soaking, chop the French bread and send it through a food processor until crumbly.  Add Italian seasoning and Parmesan to food processor and give it a few extra pulses until mixed.  Spread bread crumbs out into a large cookie sheet.
  4. In a separate large cookie sheet lay out the chicken and sprinkle with garlic salt.  Flip.  Sprinkle garlic salt on the other side of the chicken pieces.
  5. Transfer the chicken to the bread crumbs and press down, flip, and press down again until the pieces are coated in bread crumbs.  Move the chicken back to the original cookie sheet.  That batch is ready to bake at 350º until cooked through.  Do not overbake.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you have finished coating and baking all the chicken.
  7. Now it's time to freeze the pieces individually.  Don't be tempted to skip this step!  Lay the chicken out individually in bags, on foil, on a cookie sheet or whatever you have handy.  Freeze them for about 4 hours or until you can bag them without them sticking to each other.  After they are sufficiently frozen, load them into the giant Zip-Loc bags.  Press out as much air as possible then put them in your freezer until you are ready to eat them.
Dinner day:
  1. Place as many chicken pieces as you wish into a casserole dish.
  2. Pour pasta sauce over the top generously.
  3. Top with cheese.  Sprinkle with Italian seasoning.
  4. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Choices of the Heart - Laurie Alice Eakes

I absolutely loved Choices of the Heart by Laurie Alice Eakes, Book 3 in the Midwives series.  I had the pleasure of reading books one and two, and was very much looking forward to Choices of the Heart.
The novel features Esther Cherrett as the main character.  She is the daughter in a long line of midwives and has a genuine love for the career.  After a horrible scandal, she chooses to leave town and move into a very unpopulated, mountainous area of Virginia.  She takes this opportunity to pursue an entirely different career and step as far away from scandal as possible.  Teaching seemed pretty benign, so she does that.  However, there appears to be a greater need for a healer in the small community, and Esther feels the pull back to practicing medicine.
The novel is very well written.  The choices Esther faces regard the best interests of her parents, the decision to stay or leave the mountains of Virginia, the decision whether to practice medicine or not along with two romantic interests.  During all this she is caught in the center of a family feud of epic proportions.
I found Choices of the Heart to be encouraging and filled with wisdom. I highly recommend this series.  Do start with Book 1 and move forward.  Each book is exquisitely written, and you will thoroughly enjoy the series.
This book was a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an objective review.

Waiting for Spring - Amanda Cabot

I had already read Amanda Cabot's Book 1 in the Westward Winds series, and Waiting for Spring was just as much of a treat.  The author wove a creative plot together with a minimum of three different storylines.
Barrett Landry is running for office and needs to find a wife to help establish his political career.  His advisers suggest Miriam, and Barrett agrees she would be an excellent choice.  Since Miriam's family is politically aware, they are in full support of the match.  However, when Barrett finds himself drawn to Charlotte, this attraction threatens to derail his plans.
Meanwhile, Charlotte is hiding a secret identity, and she can't trust anyone with the truth.  A notorious villain is seeking her death, and she quickly finds out he is living right there in the same town.
The author, Amanda Cabot, does a fantastic job weaving romance and mystery together.  This novel held me spellbound from front to back.  I was so thankful I had chosen it for a long trip, so I had the time to dive in and read it front to back.  My only regret is that Book 3 hasn't been released yet!  I can't wait to see who the main character will be and what the author has in mind.
This book was a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an objective review.

Monday, February 4, 2013

5 Days to a Clutter-Free House - Felton/Sims

5 Days to a Clutter-Free House: Quick, Easy Ways to Clear Up Your Space presents a practical approach to home organization.  The authors break down the "how" of the process into reasonable steps and encourage teamwork.  They have managed to present it in a way that is not intimidating.
With the recent popularity of the television show "Hoarders" many of us have felt the pressure to organize our homes more effectively.
I loved the book and found it very helpful.  The approach was agreeable, and I do plan to use it -- especially in my master closet!  However, I do have one suggestion.  Because those of us with clutter issues can tend to be more creative and artsy than logistical, it takes a lot of patience to focus on non-fiction books.  My suggestion is to pare down the hype at the beginning of the book and get straight to the good stuff.  Learning is motivating.  Also, we learn best from pictures, so if more graphs, charts, or drawings can be incorporated that would help maintain interest.
Overall, this book was helpful, practical, and it had a positive impact on my home life.  Thank you, Revell!  I needed this!
This book was a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an objective review.