It's freezing out. Much too cold to schlep to the co-op to replenish the fridge.
Luckily, I've learned how to scavenge the pantry for potential dinner ingredients.
Last night I discovered we had penne pasta, tomato sauce, chicken breasts, and bread crumbs waiting to be used -- just the right stuff to make chicken parmigiana, a childhood favorite of mine.
Although I was a picky kid when it came to food, I loved chicken parmigiana, which is basically -- let's face it -- a big chicken nugget topped with pizza.
After proving I can make chicken cutlets, I decided I was ready to go the next step.
Conveniently, Avo had just made mozzarella cheese using a cheese making kit from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. The cheese came out looking more like ricotta or cottage cheese than mozzarella, but I had a feeling it would be perfect on top of my chicken parmigiana.
I loosely followed Mark Bittman's recipe for chicken parmigiana, but basically, here is what I did:
I fried up some chicken cutlets, plopped them on a baking pan with some tomato sauce and topped with some more tomato sauce, mozzarella and shredded parmigiana. I baked it for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees. What do you know? It looked -- and tasted -- like the chicken parmigiana of my childhood.
Ruby and Jesse ate the chicken cutlets without the "parm" on top, along with some penne.
"This is the best meal ever!" declared Ruby. "And my mom made it!"
(Seriously -- she said that.)
"It's so-so, but for me, that's pretty good," said Jesse. "I still like regular chicken nuggets better though."
Served with a nice green salad and a glass of wine, the chicken parmigiana and penne made a nice romantic dinner for me and Avo.
"This chicken parm holds its own against any deli chicken parm," said Avo.
That's high praise.
I am still marveling at the fact that I can cook at all. Will there come a time when Avo and I take it for granted?
Meanwhile, tonight I plan to use up the bunch of broccoli and seitan in our fridge. Then it's time to go food shopping before we find ourselves trying to make a dinner out of butter, yogurt and carrots.