Saturday, March 2, 2013

We're so cheesy! Chicken Caprese and other culinary adventures.

OK, it's only March 2nd.  Not exactly spring yet, but I think it’s time I come out of hibernation.  I can feel my motivation coming back and I’m ready to tackle some fun culinary adventures again.  Keith is getting pretty tired of grilled meat and salad for dinner every night.  Last night I came home from work with a bag (6 bags) of groceries and announced that I was going to cook something new for dinner.  His knees buckled a little bit.  Sure sign that it’s time to shake off these winter blues!

Back up a few days and let’s set the scene.  For Valentine’s Day, I bought Keith a cheese making kit – basically a recipe book, some molds, a thermometer, some acids and some enzymes.  All you need to add is milk.  (I know, SUPER EXCITING!!!)  We started with a recipe that looked pretty simple and didn’t need to age, since I wanted cheese NOW, not 5-12 months from now.  Courtney, Keith and I spent about an hour heating, stirring, draining, kneading and stretching what started as one gallon of milk – and ended up with almost a pound of fresh, homemade mozzarella!  It is delicious! But there’s no mystery now as to why cheese is so fattening – all the fat and calories in that gallon of milk was compressed into these delicious balls of cheese.  As I’ve said before, a little goes a long way and you have to use restraint when you use cheese in your svelte recipes.  It’s tough, but your waistline will thank you.  We used our first attempt at homemade cheese for pizza night and it was amazingly rewarding – and tasty! (By the way, my entire 8-inch Svelte Gourmet pizza only has 400 calories.  That’s the same as ONE SLICE of take-out.  Recipe is in the cookbook!)
Curds (and whey)
Mozzarella!
Courtney stretching the cheese
This was such a fun project and I can’t wait to tackle the next recipe.  But for now, back to Friday night dinner.  We have leftover mozz in the fridge just waiting for its next recipe.  Chicken breast was on sale, so that’s what we’re having – no need to bust the budget!  I have leftover fresh basil, some tomatoes and, of course, the mozzarella.  Sounds like a match made in Heaven (or Italy).

I didn’t really measure much for this recipe, so just wing it!  Cooking is about flavor and instinct – sometimes my instincts are good, like this time.  Sometimes my instincts are bad.  I don’t write about those recipes.  Keith deemed this one “blog worthy,” so that was all I needed to hear.  Here you go!

Chicken Caprese

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 egg whites
Garlic powder
Salt/Pepper
Panko breadcrumbs
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Dried basil
Dried oregano
Olive oil
Fresh Mozzarella
Fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced and seeded
Fresh basil leaves, torn

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  On the stove, heat 1-2 tsp olive oil in an oven-safe skillet.  Lightly beat egg whites in a shallow bowl with a sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  In a second shallow bowl, mix panko with about 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese and sprinkle with dried basil and oregano.  Dip each piece of chicken in the egg mixture, then press each side into the panko mixture to coat.  Add to hot skillet and let brown for about two minutes.  Gently flip each piece of chicken, then top each with tomato slices, torn basil leaves and thin slices of fresh mozzarella (1-2 oz).  Salt and pepper generously, insert meat thermometer into the thickest piece and put in the hot oven for 20-25 minutes or until thermometer reads at least 165 degrees (I always do 170 to be safe).  Remove from oven, let rest for 5 minutes, then serve.  (Tip:  When you take the skillet out of the oven, put your oven mitt over the handle.  That way, you won’t accidentally grab the hot handle when you’re ready to serve.  Trust me on this.  It HURTS.)

Enjoy! 

Lighten up!  Try a month of healthy main dishes and give us your feedback!  The Svelte Gourmet: A Month of Main Courses cookbook is available at www.thesveltegourmet.com/products.html.

Share it