Thwack

We have a new favorite, go-to dinner in our house: the Barefoot Contessa’s (of course) Parmesan Chicken. There are several reasons why we’ve made this several times in the past few months:

1) It’s really good. Especially with the lemon vinaigrette salad on top.

2) It’s pretty easy.

3) It’s as close as the attractive nuisance gets to having fried chicken… except for all the fried chicken he sneaks while I’m out of town.

4) You get to beat the ever-loving sh*t out of chicken breasts with a giant rolling pin. Quite the aggression releaser! The attractive nuisance even took a brief study break tonight to take a whack at a free range bird breast.

Since I’m now capable of making tonight’s main dish practically blindfolded, I decided to throw something else into the mix: Dinner Spanikopita, from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics (this recipe’s not online). I’ve made it once before, with my sister, and it turned out well enough to try again. Fortunately, I remembered that I had forgotten to add the feta (seriously, I can’t believe it either) soon after putting the tightly wrapped suckers in the oven. I recommend remembering the feta before wrapping the spinach mixture in the delicate phyllo dough as unwrapping and rewrapping is an unnecessary step. Of course, we’re glad the feta made an appearance, and the spanikopita tasted pretty, pretty good.

Gyoza

Fun to say, fun to make.

Based on another recipe I was looking at, I decided to add chopped up bits of shrimp to the mixture, too. Opting for buying the wrappers rather than making them from scratch = good idea.

A little warning: be careful when switching from pan frying to steaming. Turn down the heat before pouring water into the very hot pan… or there might be a small explosion… but no one will get hurt…

Gyoza (Japanese Pan-Fried Dumplings)

These were a nice appetizer before the Pad Thai.

I actually made bread!

I’ve never made bread. Well, I did make Connecticut’s famous “quick brown bread” for the fourth grade state fair at John Eaton. And I did make brioche. But I’ve never made bread bread. Glutton for punishment that I am, I decided to kill two birds with one stone: pop my Alice Waters/Chez Panisse Cooking cookbook cherry and do it making her recipe for country bread.

Now I know why people buy bread. It takes days to make. Kneading is fun and good exercise, but the dough sticks to the counter (don’t use a cutting board!) like nobody’s business. Sorry, Alice, I had to use more than one ounce of flour when rolling it out, even though you explicitly told me to use no more than that. The first batch tasted good, but came out too flat. We’ll see how round two turns out using bread pans instead of a baking sheet. (Rookie error.) Hopefully that’ll be the ticket. It sure smells good!

30 minutes later…

Now I know why people make bread. It’s delicious! Hot out of the oven, tasting of the sweet satisfaction of accomplishment! Perhaps it’s like childbirth… the kind of pain you forget…

Boyfriend book from my sister

Since I’m thinking back on my birthday, it’s probably a good time to flip through the Tyler’s Ultimate cookbook that my sister, her husband, and my niece sent as a gift. Here are the other boyfriend recipes I’ve made so far:

Sesame Chicken Salad with Spinach, Cucumber, and Cilantro (this one doesn’t seem to be online)

Ultimate Spaghetti and Meatballs

Pear Cobbler with Cranberry Streusel