Buca di Higby

Lasagna + ricotta stuffed chicken parm = bonus Italiano week!

I had most of the ingredients to make both dishes and since I’m all about using what you already have, it was the obvious choice to put them on the menu last week.  I only needed to buy chicken breasts and ricotta cheese; cheap shopping trip!

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But of course, this is a recipe promoted by Martha Stewart – the dishes are easy, only call for a few ingredients, and are seriously fool proof … perfect for a beginner cook!  I cut the ingredients down for a smaller lasagna (we still had leftovers!), just for 2 people.

I had 2 sweet Italian sausages leftover from the spaghetti bake. I had lasagna noodles leftover from the slow cooker [lasagna] attempt. We always have plenty of sliced cheese options in our fridge, I’m telling you- we love cheese. I typically have 1 or 2 jars of marinara sauce in the pantry, never know when it will be a spaghetti kind of night. Ok, easy peasy, it’ll take you maybe 15 minutes to prep the lasagna and 40 minutes to bake it.

Having friends over? Make the original recipe, it’ll definitely be a crowd-pleaser.

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Josh requested garlic bread as a side but to mix it up I found garlic knots which were super squishy and nice change from the usual “Texas Toast”.  Oh and that’s me as “quality control” to ensure the cheese was indeed delicious.  Approved.  I added a picture of the counter to show you I am not the neatest of cooks; feel free to make a mess while you’re cooking – I don’t have assistants cleaning up behind me like they do on TV shows. So if you’re wondering why Giada’s kitchen is so CLEAN … she has minions doing all the dirty work during commercial breaks.  I do have an amazing husband who cleans up after dinner though. God bless. If he ever complains, I remind him that scrumdiddlyumptious dishes mean a not so tidy kitchen as the end result.  If he wants an easy clean up, he won’t get a fulfilling meal. HA!

BTW: the lasagna picture from the recipe website looks a little deflated. I made thick layers to give it more appealing finished look.

 

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Originally on the menu was plain old chicken parm.  It’s becoming one of our favorites around here and I’m making it about every other week … so to change it up and use the leftover ricotta, I figured – ricotta stuffed chicken parm. Best idea ever! I butterflied the chicken breasts, breaded both sides, and spooned on the ricotta. Bake time is the same, it came out bubbly and oozing with cheese.   This became a fancy-pants lunch since it was intended for dinner the night before (we had date night to Ruby Tuesday’s); I didn’t want the ricotta going bad so why not make a decent lunch.  Plus Josh was heading out for the weekend for work … sent him off with a full belly 🙂 .

If you’re wondering about my nifty dredging set up – Pampered Chef! I just got it the other week and was excited to put it to use. It’s the simple things! They clip together and are dishwasher/microwave safe.  Possibilities are endless: chocolate covered strawberries, deep fry station, sundae toppings, whatever!

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cooking with friends: a must.

THIS is the post I’ve been looking forward to … shenanigans commenced in the kitchen with this girl in town & I loved it!

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Listen, Josh and I have fun when we cook together but there’s something about cooking with a girlfriend.  We’re a little too old to be having sleep overs where we paint nails & braid hair; drinking wine, catching up on life, and cooking just sounds so much better anyway 😉 . Oh plus that meant Josh got to sit back and watch football. I’m pretty sure he had no complaints.

Let’s see, overall prep for the shrimp burgers wasn’t difficult but there were quite a few steps with the many ingredients.  I have a ton of photo collages because with Miss Chelsea in the kitchen with me, I had a rock star picture-taker; she just snapped away at pretty much everything and I had so many pictures to choose from. I’d say she’s hired to come back any time 😉 .

IMG_3576 FYI: pulsing the shrimp in the food processor was nasty. It stank and the “meat” was sticky and slimy. It made for handling things a little tricky. (Notice the Scentsy warmer … it did its job and covered the smell. Not just mix cinnamon and seafood; it totally erased the seafood stink! I HIGHLY recommend this product!)

\/ that’s me realizing there isn’t enough Dijon mustard … 2 curse words

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On to making the cream sauce and peach salsa. The recipe calls for chipotle sauce (whatever that is … couldn’t find it after 3 stores); we had Chilula so I stuck with it however it’s not as spicy as what I’d think chipotle sauce to taste like so we kept dumping more and more Chilula into the sour cream. Way more than 2 TBSP; use whatever sauce you like though, taste as you go to make sure you like it.

The peach salsa was delish! A great topping for any burger really, even a salad topping. Peeling peaches isn’t the most exciting task, it’s a pain. Peaches are slimy and impossible to handle once most of the skin is off, so be prepared to possibly drop them. Speaking from experience … I dropped half of one down that black hole between the counter top and fridge… 3 curse words.

Whichever topping called for coconut, I left it out. Blah. I really dislike coconut. It’s so chewy and almost rubbery.

IMG_3579 We did have an injury. Whoopsie-bears. One must be careful how much wine has been consumed when using incredibly sharp knives. Chelsea turned to help me with something and I turned towards her with a knife in my hand. And then they met. Fortunately it wasn’t a deep cut and a band-aid saved the day.  Ok, on to slicing the avocado, it was perfectly ripe. Bottom picture is our side item, sweet potatoes. Those little nuggets took forever, but we planned on that happening. We have the WORST luck with baked potatoes.  So in they went at 400 for 1 1/2 hours. HOLY MOLY. They were tasty though; a famers market purchase from earlier in the day, along with the Poteet Wine.

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Look at those crazy sous chefs, Geno has a huge crush on Chelsea (she’s the first house guest he’s been around since we adopted him). That piece actually sat when she told him to. Jerk. We’ve been working on “SIT” since June and while he does it when he wants to, he did it on command for her. WTF. That’s it, she’s living with us.  As for Ella, well she had no clue why there was so much commotion in the kitchen.

PS Strawberry wine is fantastic. It’s like juice. Yummy. Lots of yummy!

Oh yeah, back to the burgers… form them just like regular burgers, there’s no secret to it (they won’t shrink though: no fat! So make them the size you want). I let the bowl mixture sit in the fridge for about 20 minutes to firm up, it was a good idea since the meat is so sticky. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, set up the toppings station, and voila – dinner’s ready! Josh began the clean up process, love him.  My daily “after dinner” routine is sticking Josh’s Chillow in the fridge. I hate that thing. It takes up an entire shelf. We literally have a shelf dedicated to the Chillow. Which means one less shelf for my groceries. I can’t wait until we move to the new house and have 2 fridges.
(I told you Chelsea snapped pictures of everything! I love it!)

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FINISHED PRODUCT. Oh man, it was so good. I wasn’t sure what the texture would be like, it wasn’t gooey or rubbery. It reminded me of salmon burgers.  Everyone had CPC (clean plate club; I’m astonished at how many people didn’t have that club when they were younger. It was a big deal in my house!); the sweet potatoes turned out perfectly (sorry, no picture – it’s a potato) … so yeah, it’s a keeper for sure. Even the leftover patty was still good; 1 minute in the microwave and you’d think it was freshly cooked. Usually seafood turns to shoe leather if reheated. Josh plans on using the sour cream sauce for his sandwiches and the peach salsa for salads. Leftovers don’t have to be used for their original intention. Be creative and don’t waste perfectly good food.

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Follow me on instagram …mrsdlh50 … I’ll be posting nightly photos from dinner.  That should hold you over until I get time to blog. Chelsea introduced me to this gem of an app and I’m obsessed now!  I’ll use the tags #foodporn and #kitchentails but also whatever the main ingredient is.  I’m trying to keep up with technology!

expect a few things

With this blog you will see A) pictures of meals I pull off and B) pictures of my sous chefs… I mean, the blog is titled in their honor.  In case you don’t know me, my sous chefs are 5 years old, 4 years old, and just about 1 year old.  I do not have kids, instead I have 3 dogs.  I consider them my sous chefs because they get in my way, I curse at them, they help clean up … er… scavenge for dropped food, and I know they are secretly judging me with every move I make.  Whatever, I try to not let them get to me; after all the most important judge is myself. I’m critical and very much a perfectionist which absolutely carried over from my real profession as a musician

Of course I can’t forget about my husband Josh, although his opinion doesn’t matter much to me, he eats PB&J and cereal for every meal when I go out of town. He’s also my human garbage disposal, I wonder if he tastes anything. Seriously though, I actually took up this new cooking hobby because of him (clearly that makes my previous statement a joke, I love him).  He was recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes; no more fried chicken, mac and cheese, carb loaded dinners, and late night trips to Sonic (happy hour shakes, anyone?!). I had to figure out a new way to cook and if you’ve read any “healthy cooking” blogs or books, maybe you too get the taste of cardboard in your mouth.

Our first grocery trip after the diagnoses lasted 2 hours. 2 HOURS!  We left with maybe $100 worth of food after feeling burned out from reading labels and taking in sticker shock (healthy shopping does cost more, I don’t care what people say). Notice how I said “healthy shopping” not “healthy eating” … yes, getting all the no sugar, lean, and light foods does add up HENCE my new hobby of cooking. There had to be a way to not spend an entire pay check on nasty tasting, sugar-free food.

I may be on to something but making my own mayo, salsa, guacamole, marinades, and sauces just tastes better. I know what went in to everything and there’s a satisfying feeling knowing we’re doing our best to be healthy plus we’re not broke after an entire week of homemade meals. Oh most important, I don’t have to read labels anymore! Sure, I have to be aware of what fruits or vegetables have a high amount of sugar but that’s second nature now.

So while this first entry is pretty dull, it’s just that, my first entry. I’m new at this and I will be sure that my dinner posts are funny because lord knows I’m not a professional cook.  I have about 60 inches of working counter space, the stove/oven is lopsided, my sink is 5 inches deep, the fridge actually freezes and the freezer defrosts, all of my small appliances are on top of cabinets in which I need a step stool to reach or I just trip over it most of the time. 2 of my sous chefs beg and 1 sits on my feet.  I drop knives and curse (like a sailor as Josh would put it); you’d think the kitchen was going down in flames.  Somehow delicious meals always end up on the table, sure they may not look like the recipe picture but they are pretty darn close (I blame the camera). Bonus from all of this, Josh has been told by his many doctors that he is one of the healthiest diabetics they’ve ever seen. He actually had one nutritionist tell another guy (in the diabetes class) “you need to get one of those”, referring to Josh’s personal chef, ME.