Tonight has been all about rushing around taking care of last minute details – tying our canoe to the car, organizing clothing and packing up for a week long camping trek… and not a moment too soon.
These last few days have seen my patience all but disappear and my temper get dangerously hot. It’s time for a break – time to unplug and escape. Little Emmett is going on his own vacation to stay with his mom, aunts and cousins up in Port Severn – we might have trouble getting him to come home!
It’s my birthday on Tuesday and I usually try and pack in a great dinner out with some drinks and music, but I wanted something much simpler this year. I look around the room at all the gear we are trying to cram into wet bags and all the shitty canned and dehydrated food for the week and it looks decidedly less simple than I hoped. Just beam me into the wilderness with a tetra pack of wine – this packing and planning is wearing me out.
It’s going to be a great time, but I also can’t wait to play with some new toys when we get home. My parents got me an ice cream maker and I’m already planning all the glorious combinations of flavours and textures to try out. Then last night Johnny gave me an incredible gift – a grill/smoker dealie that looks like it’s begging to make some jerk chicken. Lots to look forward to on the culinary front and I’m sure there will be lots to share with you.
Coming up as well are two new Harlot’s Artists features with super funky bassist, Rich Brown, followed by Pocket Dweller’s front man, Nigel Williams.
For now, here is my first answer to a reader request via Facebook from Marlena Rivett – “Looking for hip, easy, tasty, (but still hearty), gluten free mains and snacks for a teen to cook independently. Instructions would need to be quite explicit she is quite the foodie but her skill set is beginner. Perhaps a new niche?” I have some great snacks coming, but this main is delightfully quick, easy and beautiful.
BAKED CHICKEN & PARMESAN WITH SUMMER VEGETABLES
This recipe is a twist on chicken parmigiana without all that breading and frying. It celebrates summer produce and is a great option for those who don’t like spending a lot of time in the kitchen but want to eat restaurant quality food.
I’m not a big fan of skinless, boneless chicken breasts, they are usually pretty devoid of flavour. Not here – they are baked with zesty tomato sauce, mozzarella and finished with a nice, sharp parmesan.
2 small zucchini (or a small zucchini and a small yellow squash)
1 red pepper
1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes (about 2 handfuls)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
optional: 1/2 tsp chili flakes
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/3 cup prepared tomato sauce
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced or grated
1/2 tsp oregano
freshly grated parmesan cheese, to serve
2 lemon wedges, to serve
Preheat your oven to 400F.
Get out a casserole dish, Dutch oven or high sided baking pan, around 1.5 L or 8″ x 8″.
Vegetables: Cut you zucchini and red pepper into bite sized chunks. If your tomatoes are much larger then you can half them, but if they are grape sized leave them whole. Add your vegetables to your dish and top with olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper, sugar and chilis – if using. Use clean hands tossing to combine.
Chicken: On a cutting board, slice each breast in half across the mid-line. Cover with plastic wrap and bash with a meat mallet or bottom of a pot to flatten the chicken to half it’s thickness. There will be a fatter end of the breast – flatten this one a little more so they are all the same thickness.
Season the chicken on each side with salt and pepper. Lay on top of the veg and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and flip the chicken over. Top with 1 tbsp tomato sauce on each piece. Divide the mozzarella into 4 portions and place on top of the sauce. Sprinkle with oregano. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes.
To serve: Divide the remaining tomato sauce and smear it on half your plate with a spoon. Place 2 chicken pieces per plate on the sauce. Spoon the veg on the side and squeeze a little lemon over them. Grate some parmesan cheese over the chicken and vegetables…. Finito!