Chicken Piccata

What a week! Amy went to a conference and came back with anti-biotic-resistant strep, an ear infection and bronchitis. Suffice it to say it was a long week of tea, soup and popsicles (Bomb Pops, if you must know...). There were a couple of takeout meals and a rotisserie chicken purchased from the grocery store which became a homemade stock, but generally, there wasn't a lot of cooking going on in our house last week. But that stock was fantastic, and when Amy felt better, we made her famous chicken pot pie, and then last night, chicken piccata.

It starts with a well-seasoned flour

The chicken, dredged in that flour, is then browned nicely in butter and olive oil

The chicken is set aside while the sauce is made

Neither of us is big for ordering chicken when we go out to eat. We make chicken so much at home, it seems like a waste of a night out. The one exception to that is chicken piccata. When done right, chicken piccata is a wonderful Italian meal, filled with the most simple flavors - chicken, capers, lemon, white wine, butter, garlic - that mesh together to be just perfetto! And last night when we saw that beautiful homemade chicken stock, and a package of chicken tenders in the fridge, we came up with this recipe on the fly but were quite impressed with the tasty result. Buttery, tangy, well-seasoned, and garlicky, with juicy and tender chicken pieces - all the invidual parts came together in a delicious way and paired nicely with a bottle of Pinot Grigio. Now that we can make it ourselves, we'll have to figure out something else to order next time we go for Italian!

Capers packed in salt offer a boost of flavor

The chicken finishes cooking in the sauce
while the pasta finishes on the back burner

Chicken Piccata


1/2 pound linguine, prepared according to package directions
1 lb. chicken tenders
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
(we prefer Connecticut's own Boxed Goodes' version, found here)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chicken stock/broth
1 tablespoon (or more, to taste) capers packed in salt
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

Begin to prepare pasta according to package directions. In a shallow bowl, mix together the flour, lemon pepper, garlic powder, and seasoned salt until well combined. Dry the chicken tenders and dredge them in the flour mixture; set aside. Heat one tablespoon butter and olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until butter is melted. Place the chicken tenders in the heated pan and brown them on each side; remove from pan and drain on a paper towel (do this in batches if necessary). Wipe out pan with some paper towels. Return pan to heat and add the white wine, water, lemon juice, chicken stock, capers and fresh garlic. Bring to a low simmer and return chicken to the pan. Allow the chicken to cook in the liquid until cooked through, about 6 minutes, turning half way through. The liquid should have reduced by about half. Once again remove chicken from pan and set aside. By now the pasta should be done so divide pasta onto plates. Swirl remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into the sauce until well incorporated. Serve chicken over pasta with plenty of piccata sauce poured over it. Garnish with a couple more capers if you like, or maybe a slice of lemon. Mangia!


Chocolate-Covered Sea Foam (Secret Recipe Club)

Chris writes:

If there is one sort of candy that Amy loves, it's molasses chips; her #2 would be "sea foam," also known as "sponge candy." Growing up, the only place that I remember having it was during the occasional family trip to Mystic Seaport when I was a child. I remember buying it in the general store for a penny (those were the days) and enjoying it until my sister told me it was made out of bad eggs which had turned foamy. Don't get me wrong, I still ate and enjoyed it -- I was a 10 year old boy after all! The next time had it was almost twenty years later when my then-girlfriend-soon-to-be-wife Amy told me the real ingredients when we saw it at Munsons, a local chocolatier. When I saw the recipe on our March Secret Recipe Club assigned blog, Melissa's Cuisine, AND saw how simple the recipe was, it was a no brainer to give it a try.

Chocolate-Covered Sea Foam

1 cup sugar
1 cup corn syrup
4 tsp baking soda
6 oz chocolate chips

Mix the sugar and the corn syrup in a saucepan over med/high heat until the temp reaches 305 degrees. Add the baking soda. (This will cause the mixture to rapidly foam to almost three times its original volume so be careful not to burn yourself!) Immediately pour it into a pre-greased baking pan and allow to cool. Score lines into the bottom of the candy to help you break it evenly. Heat chocolate in a double boiler and dip pieces. Placed dipped pieces onto wax paper for cooling.

It's that easy.

A big "Thank You" to Melissa for this recipe and the memories it brought back. I am looking forward to everyone's comments (Did you ever lie to your siblings?) as well as hoping my sister will read this and see how much she affected my culinary tastes. Probably not as much as when my mother told me that tapioca was really frog eggs; but that is a different story.


Why You Shouldn't Be Scared of Souffles (French Fridays with Dorie)

Souffles seem scary, don't they? First, there's the French name. It sounds so mysterious and intimidating, like only chefs who trained in Paris can make them the right way. Then there's the whole falling factor: the mind imagines hours of cooking resulting in a sunken puddle of goo. Not much could be worse than that. So when we saw that this week's recipe for French Fridays with Dorie was Cheese Souffle, we were, admittedly, a little nervous. Neither of us had ever eaten, never mind cooked, a savory souffle before. This was unchartered territory. And, well, souffles are scary!

Still, we put our trust in Dorie Greenspan and forged ahead. Chris was late getting home so Amy gathered the ingredients and waited, since a souffle certainly has to be timed perfectly. Butter, flour, milk, cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg. Could that really be it? We set to work when Chris came through the door. It wasn't too long before we made our first mistake.

Buttered souffle dish dusted with bread crumbs

"Oh, s*#^!" Chris swore, pointing out the eggs he had started to beat without first separating them. Luckily, the neighbor had an extra egg and we started over. "You're supposed to whisk the yolks in one at a time," he chided, as Amy was half-way through mixing six egg yolks into her bechamel all at once. Another oops. We were pretty sure this souffle was going to flop. Literally.

Bechamel sauce

Egg yolks

Egg whites

We kept checking it as it cooked, looking through the oven glass, willing it to rise. And it did! We ended up with a gorgeously fluffy, cheesy, nicely browned cloud of cheese, mistakes and all. It hadn't sunk in on itself, and it stayed puffed up until we cut into it. Served with a side salad and some crusty French bread, it was a refined meal that made us feel pretty fancy about ourselves. Guess souffles aren't so scary after all.

Adding the cheese

Folding in the egg whites

Our souffle actually rose to the occasion!

FYI - French Fridays with Dorie members agree not to post the actual recipes from Around My French Table, which is where this particular recipe can be found.

So fancy and French!


Sweet Potato and Kale "Souper" Food

We were going to make colcannon. With St. Patrick's Day around the corner, it seemed like a good idea to try something truly Irish. But, no offense to Ireland, mashed potatoes with some onions and greens seemed, well, boring. So we headed in an entirely different direction. We bought one big sweet potato and a head of kale and decided to make a "souper" soup.

What makes it "souper?" That's an easy one to answer. Sweet potatoes and kale are two of the most nutritious foods in the world – packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and dietary fiber. They have health benefits for cancer prevention, anti-inflammatory properties, can lower blood sugar and cholesterol, and are great for digestive health. They are also both high in Vitamin C so they boost the immune system. 

This simple soup was a cinch to make. It has only a handful of ingredients, and could easily be made vegetarian- or even vegan-friendly by using olive oil and vegetable broth instead of butter and chicken broth. It was really tasty and made us feel good about eating these super foods. 

And what about St. Patty's Day? Maybe our "Souper" soup isn't an Irish recipe, but it has the right colors, doesn't it?

Sweet Potato and Kale "Souper" Food


2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil, divided
1 large sweet potato, diced (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 cups chicken broth (substitute vegetable broth if you like)
2 1/4 cups water, divided
1 head of kale, chopped (about 6 cups)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

In a large soup pot, over medium heat, melt one tablespoon of butter. Add the diced sweet potato, chopped onion, salt and pepper. Stir until onions start to soften, then cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add broth and 2 cups of water, then bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender. In a separate pot, add the remaining 1/4 cup of water and tablespoon of butter. Bring to a low boil then add the kale and thyme leaves. Cover and cook for five minutes, stirring once about half way through. Using an immersion blender, blend the sweet potato mixture until smooth. Add the cooked kale and thyme to the sweet potato mixture and stir to combine. Serve hot.


Italian Pork Chops served with Alexia Oven Reds and Garlic Spinach

Since you are one of A Couple in the Kitchen's readers, you know that we are pretty big on cooking from scratch. But sometimes the "busy-ness" of life just drags you down and all you need is good food fast. As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, we received a coupon for a free Alexia Foods frozen food product (we chose their "Oven Reds"). We stopped at the market today, after a particularly busy day, to pick them up. Those, a package of on-sale pork chops, a bag of spinach, and a couple of pantry items is all we needed to make tonight's 25-minute meal (take that, Rachel Ray!), "Italian Pork Chops served with Alexia Oven Reds and Garlic Spinach."

We took a good look at the potatoes once we opened the package. They looked like what they claimed to be, which were wedges cut from "Columbia Basin" red potatoes, and seasoned with olive oil, parmesan cheese and roasted garlic. We could vaguely catch the scent of the cheese and garlic, but then again, they were still frozen at the time. We preheated the oven to 425, as directed, and spread them out in a baking pan. That part was done.

We allowed the potatoes to cook for 10 minutes and then started to prepare the rest of the meal. First, we seasoned some plain breadcrumbs with Italian seasoning (you could skip this step by using Italian-style breadcrumbs). We placed those in one shallow bowl; in another, some flour; in a third, an egg beaten with a little water. Into the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs, then into our heated cast-iron pan went our chops. Three minutes on each side, then into the oven with the whole pan. There were five minutes of cooking time left.

Now, for the greens. We heated some olive oil in a saute pan, added most of our bag of spinach, and crushed a clove of garlic into the pan. By the time the pork and potatoes were done, so was our spinach, and all that was left to do was plate the meal. Everything was done at the same time, and all of it done in 25 minutes (the suggested time for cooking the potatoes), from start to finish.

Our verdict on the potatoes? They are pretty good, particularly for a quick-and-easy frozen food product. We do have a couple of criticisms, however. First, we would have liked them to be crisper on the outside (which may be possible with longer cooking time). And second, they were a little bland, so more cheese and garlic flavor would improve the taste. Still, we applaud Alexia for putting out a tasty, all-natural (yes, we recognized AND could pronounce each ingredient) potato product that makes a busy day that much easier.

Italian Pork Chops served with Alexia Oven Reds and Garlic Spinach


1 bag Alexia Oven Reds
2 pork chops
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 bag spinach
1 clove garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 425. Spread the potatoes in one layer on a baking sheet and cook according to package directions. Relax for 10 minutes, because you deserve it and because the rest of the meal only takes 15 minutes to cook. Season pork chops with salt and pepper; set aside. Lay out three shallow bowls. In one, mix together the breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning. In another, place the flour. In the third, beat together the egg and water. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron pan over high heat. Dip each side of each pork chop first in the flour, then in the egg wash, then in the breadcrumbs. Carefully lay the pork chops in the hot pan. Sear for 3 minutes on each side, then place the entire pan in the oven. Heat a saute pan with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the desired amount of spinach and minced garlic. Toss over heat for 2-3 minutes. Remove potatoes and pork chops from oven and serve with spinach.

Disclaimer: Through the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, we received a coupon to try one Alexia frozen food product for free. The recipe in this post, all opinions, and the photos, are our own.

Meatless Monday: Traditional French Onion Soup

Some time ago we made an onion soup with 7 different types of onions in a beef broth base. It was very good, don't get us wrong. But we wanted to try something different, lighter, more authentically French. And that's when we found this post on Michael Ruhlman's informative and entertaining blog. We loved the recipe's focus on the simplest and least expensive of ingredients - onions and water - and the lovely rusticity of the soup. Next thing we knew, we were slicing a bunch of Spanish onions and cooking them until they turned a golden amber color. Good thing we weren't too hungry, because this took nearly four hours! It was well worth the effort, though. We followed Ruhlman's recipe, which you can find here, with a couple of necessary changes (like substituting marsala for sherry, which we did not have). Surely this changed the taste, but we were very pleased with the result. It was a light yet satisfying bowl of good food, much different from the beefy version we're used to, and perfect for Meatless Monday.

7 Spanish Onions

Sliced onions go into the pot

About one hour into the cooking time

After four hours of cooking

Adding water, marsala, red wine

Ladle into bowls

Top with dried baguette

Top with shredded gruyere

Broil until melted and browned

Traditional French Onion Soup
our very slight adaptations from Michael Ruhlman's recipe are below


1 tablespoon butter
7 Spanish onions, thinly sliced
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 slices of baguette
6 cups water 
1/3 cup marsala
splash of red wine
2 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated

Place the large pot over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the sliced onions, sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt, cover, and cook until the onions have heated through and started to steam. Uncover, season with pepper, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally. Preheat the oven to 200°F. Place the bread slices in the oven and let dry completely. When the onions have completely cooked down, the water has cooked off, and the onions have turned amber—this will take several hours—add the water. Raise the heat to high and bring the soup to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Add the marsala. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed, and add a splash of red wine. Preheat the broiler. Portion the soup into bowls, float the bread on top, cover with the cheese, and broil until the cheese is melted and nicely browned.


Saucy Mama Mustard Giveaway Results

We are having a crazy week - standardized testing at school, meetings galore, things falling apart around our home, etc. - and thus we haven't been cooking much. However, we have good news for Jessica, of the great food blog Bacon and Souffle, who was the #2 comment in our Saucy Mama Mustard Giveaway (number chosen by random number generator)! Congratulations, Jessica! And thank you to everyone who voted and commented! We'll be having another giveaway soon, so keep reading.


Only Two More Days!!!

There are only two more days to vote for our Skinny Stuffed Tarragon Lemon Mustard Chicken in Saucy Mama's "Skinny Mama - Cooking with Mustard" Recipe Contest, so VOTE HERE NOW.

Also, there are only two more days to enter our Saucy Mama Mustard GIVEAWAY by leaving a comment on the ORIGINAL POST HERE.

Thank you, and happy eating!


Golden Goose Egg Waffles

"I want a golden goose! Gooses. Geeses. I want my geese to lay gold eggs for Easter!" whines Veruca Salt in the 1971 cult classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Mr. Wonka steadily informs her, and her enabling father, that his golden geese are not for sale. We're not Veruca Salt, and it's not Easter yet. And it's not the goose or the egg that's golden in our "Golden Goose Egg Waffles." It's the waffles!

Here's the story: Amy was sitting at her desk at school when in walked her coworker, technology diva M, who has a small farm, which includes (apparently) a goose. She said, "I have a gift for you!" and held out her hand which was completely filled by this gorgeous goose egg. Oh, the possiblities! M suggested waffles, and since she has more experience with these things, and since this is our very first goose egg, we obeyed. By the way, thanks, M!

Ooooohhh they were delicious! Crisp and golden on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside - this recipe made for eight amazing waffles. We were tempted to add to the mix (chocolate? nuts? outlandish toppings?) but in the end went with the quintessential classic - warm Vermont maple syrup made by Amy's cousins at Maplehurst Farm in Greensboro. It was the perfect way to celebrate the soon-to-start sugaring season.  

Sift together the dry ingredients

Whisk together the milk, melted butter and goose egg yolk

Mix the wet and the dry

Beat the goose egg white

Fold in the beaten egg white to make the batter

Cook using a waffle iron

Golden Goose Egg Waffles
slightly adapted from The Good Home Cookbook by Richard J. Perry
Makes 8 square waffles

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 goose egg (or 3 large eggs), separated
1 1/2 cups whole milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Your favorite waffle topping

Spray a waffle iron with cooking spray and preheat it according to manufacturer's directions. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, briefly whisk together the egg yolk, milk and melted butter. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the egg mixture; mix together with a wooden spoon until well combined. Beat the egg whites until white, fluffy, and somewhat stiff, then gently fold the egg whites in with the rest of the ingredients. Once the waffle iron is hot, pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup of batter onto each waffle cooking area (depending on the type of waffle iron you have). Close the lid and cook for 4-5 minutes, until golden brown and crisp on the outside. Continue the process until all the batter is gone, then serve waffles with your favorite topping.
"Don't care how, I want it now!"