Bruschetta Style Chicken

Do me a favor and sing the Indiana Jones theme song while you read this. Why? I don’t really know but it’s what I’m doing currently. Bruschetta, bruschetta, bruschetta is most likely one of my favorite foods. Ironic, because I do not typically like tomatoes raw. I love tomatoes that have been cooked for about 60 seconds…it’s weird I know. You’re the one following this crazy blog not me! Bruschetta….the way I make it is perfect as the toasted bread makes the tomatoes the exact texture I like, and lets out all the juices and flavor, but we aren’t making just regular bruschetta today because we are replacing the bread with chicken!

I make this dinner at least once a week because it is fast, healthy, and I always have the key ingredients in my fridge. I may write a fun exciting blog but all my fun stuff is generally saved for the weekend, and during the week I eat healthy, fast, and convenient foods. Please try this!

Ingredients – 2 Servings

2 Chicken Breasts or Thighs…. you know I’m a the dark side of the chicken girl
4 Roma Tomatoes  – Diced
1/4 Red Onion – Diced
1/4 Cup Good Quality Balsamic Vinegar – I used We Olive Aged Balsamic
Basil – Now, I’m going to throw you a curve ball here because I am not a huge fan of fresh basil….yea yea whatever, I like the flavor I just don’t like the wilted leaves etc….I used basil infused olive oil in this recipe, but you are more than welcome to use what you please
Fresh in water Mozzarella – 2 Slices
Garlic Powder
S&P
I made a side of sauteed mushrooms and pesto potatoes 🙂

How To

So, I wanted to grill my chicken and most of the time for this recipe I do BUT it was too stinkin hot outside so I got some color on the chicken in a pan and then baked the rest of the way through. However you choose to cook your chicken isn’t really important for this dish.
While your chicken bakes dice your tomatoes and onions. Helpful hint: when making salsas, bruschettas, or even just salt and peppering tomatoes themselves the ingredients in which you are flavoring the tomatoes with sticks to them much better if you have an oil involved. I tossed my tomatoes & onions with the basil olive oil from We Olive…. salt,pepper, and garlic powder. I let this sit in the fridge to marinate.
Balsamic reduction. Easy peasy. Take 1/4 cup of good quality olive oil and place in a pan over medium heat. Stir as the vinegar slowly reduces down to a syrup-like texture. Once your balsamic coats the back of a spoon it is reduced enough.
During the last 5 minutes of your chicken baking/grilling place your lovely fresh mozzarella to melt over the chicken.
I plate this by spooning the tomato mixture over the hot chicken(that’s my jam) and then drizzling the balsamic reduction.
Finished!!! Easy, fast, and healthy!

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Chicken Fried Steak Bites!

Okay, so like, did everyone know as a kid that chicken fried steak was actually steak and NOT chicken? I know I know it is in the name, Krystal but it tricked me every time! I would get so excited thinking we were having fried chicken to only be served this chewy fried steak. UGH.  I never really liked red meat as a kid and even now as an adult I rarely eat it. I tend to stick with fish, chicken, and 3-4 nights a week vegetarian. I am not a big red meat eater and when I am it has to be done right, and so I generally leave it up to the expert: 2nd dad. I can make chicken fried steak though, right? Yes! I made these a little differently by cutting the cube steak into pieces rather than “steaks” and making bites to dip in black pepper gravy. Baby, these were good. I am now a fan of chicken fried STEAK.

I found that chicken fried steak (CFS) is all about the gravy. Gravy is life. Gravy runs through these veins. I served these with mashed potatoes, because what else? These would be an excellent appetizer for a party.

Ingredients

2lbs Cube Steak (I cut mine into pieces) Cube steak is generally just top round that has been tenderized
2 eggs
1 1/4 Cup Flour (can substitute almond or coconut here) – reserve 3TBSP for gravy
S&P
Garlic Powder
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
25-30 Saltine Crackers
1/4 Cup Panko
Vegetable oil for frying
1 1/2 Cups Whole Milk (coconut milk can be substituted)
1/2 Cup Beef Stock
3 TBSP Kerrygold Butter

How To

Set up your batter section while your oil is heating up for frying. As always with 99% of fried foods you COULD bake these by getting some color on them and then placing in the oven, but we are going authentic today. Beat your eggs in a bowl. In a separate bowl add the crushed saltines, garlic powder, pepper, panko, and flour. I do not add salt to this because the saltines have salt.

Cut the cube steak into strips. Place strips into eggs, then into the dry batter, and then into the fryer! Since these are strips and not full steaks they only take 4-5 minutes a piece in the oil. Place them on a paper towel once out of the oil to get rid of excess oil. Taste one to see if they have enough salt for your liking.

Now, the most important part – the gravy. Country gravy. I always make gravy with pan drippings but it isn’t possible with chicken fried steak since you know….you fry it. We will pass on using oil in our gravy. Melt your butter and make a roux with those 3TBSPs of flour we reserved. Once your roux is cooked add the milk and beef stock. I added the beef stock as a little trick for one you could split the milk/stock ratio and save some calories, and two it adds a beef flavor that the gravy would lack due to the pan drippings situation. Let your gravy thicken and right before serving add a TON of freshly cracked black pepper. Delicious!

I still prefer fried chicken…… but these were bomb! Bring these to your next event and as always if you make this recipe tag us on Instagram or Facebook!

 

Veggie Lasagna

Who doesn’t like veggie lasagna, and IF you raise your hand, why are you here?! I make many variations of veggie lasagna that I will post as it begins to cool down here in California…..if ever. I had a lot of requests for this lasagna and I figured it was safe to start with a basic veggie lasagna that can be customized to you or your family’s liking.

Is anyone else slightly traumatized by lasagna? Just me? My mother used to get the Stoufer ones ALL THE TIME, and if you’ve been reading this blog for long enough you know I am not the biggest fan on marinara or red pasta sauce EVEN MORE SO frozen sauce. Well, ONE TIME, and I repeat that it was only ONE TIME because everyone else in the household wanted regular lasagna my mom bought me vegetarian frozen lasagna which of course was made with alfredo. It was gross too! So, I didn’t eat lasagna until I began blogging and even then it was a few years before I dared to make my own. Now, I am a lasagna advocate. Dirty secret: I still don’t like and haven’t made red sauce lasagna. Oops. Maybe, I should work on that?

P.S EVERY YEAR for Christmas dinner my mom STILL tries to bring those nasty lasagnas in the house. She says “let’s just do something simple this year for Christmas dinner and get frozen lasagnas” and then baby jesus rolls over in his grave. No, Santa can pack those frozen lasagnas up and dump them over the Pacific.

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Ingredients
1 Box No Boil Lasagna Noodles – these things are amazing
3TBSP Kerrygold Butter
4 Cups Whole Fat Milk
2 Cups Grated Parmesan
3 Cups Shredded Mozzarella
4 Zucchini – Cut in half long ways then cut the halves in slices
2 Cups Mushrooms – Sliced
3 Cups Broccoli – Finely Chopped
1 Cup Sauteed Yellow Onion & 2 Cloves Garlic
3 TBSP Flour
2 Cups Ricotta
1 Egg
Fresh Basil
S&P
Red Chili Flakes
2 Roma Tomatoes for Garnish

How To

First you’ll need alfredo sauce, and you can absolutely buy store bought as I will not judge you, and I do it often. Yet, if we are making lasagna we are making lasagna…..I even have a pasta maker I could have dug out but I was having a flare up that day in my right hand so no rolling dough for me!
Alfredo is one of the easiest cream sauces to make and to make it a little tiny itsy bitsy healthier I use whole milk rather than cream. Take 3TBSP of butter and melt over medium heat, once melted add 3TBSP flour and whisk that around so the flour cooks(1-2 mins), and then add your milk. Let this come to a simmer and add the grated parmesan. Your sauce should thicken up once it comes to a simmer and boom – sauce is done! I let the sauce cool before assembly.

While your sauce cools you can make your ricotta mixture. In a bowl put the ricotta, egg, S&P, sauteed onions & garlic, red chili flakes, and some chopped basil. Mix.

Assembly – Take a ladle of your sauce to the bottom of your baking dish, lay out a layer of noodles, generously coat that layer of noodles with the ricotta mixture, lay out your veggies in any fashion you desire(I keep my zucchini thicker cut so that they don’t turn to mush, also no bake noodles are PERFECT for zucchini because they absorb any water the vegetable lets out), layer of cheese, and more sauce! Repeat until you are out of noodles or out of ingredients.

Foil the top of your lasagna and place in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove foil and let cook for an additional 15-20 minutes to let the cheese on top get nice and bubbly.

I garnish with some chopped tomatoes, chopped basil, and mix those with some olive oil, S&P, and a squirt of lemon. Lasagna is heavy and this is a fatty dish so having some acidity helps cut through the fat and cleanse your tongue for the next bite! I hope you enjoy!

Wine @ 815

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There are three things I am exceptionally good at in life: cooking, writing, and wine tasting. The struggle with wine tasting (and I use struggle lightly because we all know I still get in my car and go) is that the nearest wine country is about 45 minutes from where I live. Amador County is where I go to giveaway all my money to grapes less fortunate than myself. Napa is about an hour and a half away, and so realistically reaching wine country is not too bad, but then Wine @ 815 moved in 5 minutes from my house. Girl, we are in trouble. Rayann and I did not walk we ran to see what this was all about.

From all stand points Wine @ 815 is genius.

Genius #1 – it is actual wine tasting in Historic Folsom. $5 per flight (5-6 tastings) which is extremely reasonable and tasting fees are waived if a bottle is purchased.

Genius #2 – Marketing. Wine @ 815 consists of 3 wineries: Rempfer Cellars, Fiddletown Cellars, Los Portales. Cross promotion makes me swoon, and these guys are doing it right. All 3 are local as well.

Genius #3 Atmosphere. I really just want to take my laptop and setup shop there while sipping on wine all afternoon, and I might actually get something done(probably not cause I totally love Lia the Tasting Manager). The shop is small but they have kept the floor plan open so the feeling of being in a tiny space never sets in. Dimmed lighting is key, because everyone looks better in dimmed lighting, right?

Genius #4 Make your own cheese board. Okay, so I almost never order cheese boards, because they always consist of cheese I can’t pronounce and I don’t want to look like a fool AND there are more creepy cheeses than anything else. 815 has changed the game, though. They have a tiny fridge filled with a wide variety of cheeses, pickles, olives, crackers, and snacks. You pick what you would like, pay for those items only, and grab a cheeseboard to eat off of. Unique and fun.

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Genius #5 Experience. I am not going to give too much away here, because wine tasting is really something that absolutely has to be experienced in person. I will tell you that I would have been more than happy to stay at 815 all day and chat with Lia. The education provided while tasting is the perfect blend as all highlights about each bottle, awards, and regions are discussed, but not so in depth that you need a full glass of wine just to be able to listen about the next. Having only 3 wineries provides a more in depth discussion for each pour, and each back story is extremely unique. Lia is fun, smart, and you can really tell she has passion for what she does.

The Wine. Have ya’ll just been waiting for me to talk about the wine? Shut up, Krystal and talk about wine. Okay, here is the main thing. Just go there. Seriously. I will tell you the most shocking reason you should take all your friends and go. Wine @ 815 is red. Red. Red. Red, and some more red. They did not have Los Portales in when I visited so I was only able to taste Fiddletown and Rempfer which are both red. Let’s be honest California is red. Krystal (me) is a white girl living in a red state, and I loved every.single.pour, AND bought with REAL money Rempfer Cellars Petite Sirah and my life was forever changed. I have been to Amador more times than I can count and I have NEVER brought home a red. I thought I would be the girl that loves bubbles and German wines forever, but I am very excited to say that my favorites are now changing thanks to 815. I will put the tasting flights below. I am not going to repeat the fun facts about either the wineries themselves or each wine because it is such an amazing experience to hear Lia tell you for yourself. I will be back. I might live there. I may have them on speed dial. Follow them on Facebook!