Sunday, April 10, 2011

Feta stuffed chicken

I had a little dinner party in the new place and all my friends had to give themselves "the tour" because I was too busy cooking to show anyone around when they arrived. Oops.

What was on the menu? Lots of yummy things. And wine, lots of wine. The main event was feta stuffed chicken (recipe notes below), broiled stuffed tomatoes, roasted lemon broccoli, a very nice pear-walnut salad brought by a friend and apple cake, also brought by a friend.

I had made the cheese stuffed chicken one other time, over a year ago but this time I shook it up a little.
The original recipe is here but instead of butterflying the chicken breasts, I bought thinner chicken cutlets and pounded/rolled them ever flatter (like when making chicken Kiev), put my cheese in the middle and rolled them up, securing with a toothpick. Also instead of stuffing with cheddar & cream cheese, I stuffed it with feta and cream cheese. Feta is always a good idea but I think you do need the cream cheese to get a nice melty center. I also did not put Romano cheese in with my breadcrumbs because I feel that most of the cheese gets wasted that way, instead I sprinkled it on top of the already breadcrumb-ed chicken and I actually used Parmesan and not Romano.

If I make them again, I might skip the butter-garlic-lemon topping. I'm just not sure it adds much to a dish already full of flavors. And fat, did I mention fat? Do I really need to pour butter on top of my cheese stuffed chicken? Probably not. It also makes at least 1 extra dish to wash, the real nail in the coffin. The first time I made this dish, I actually served it with pasta and Alfredo sauce, can you say heavy? Lesson learned. And this time around, went for vegetable focused sides.

The chicken seemed quite popular, though wine was the real attraction of the evening.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Urban gardening

One thing I'm really looking forward to in the new place, is starting my garden. I'm having a hard time resisting buying plants, especially since I walk past Home Depot, which has lots of little plants on display outside, every day on the way to and from work. Unfortunately, the weather is still a little unstable (ie cold!) in DC to get started. Some lettuces could have already been planted but most things have to wait until the end of April or beginning of May.

Since I live in a condo, and not a house, gardening takes a little more planning to make sure I maximize my limited space. I will putting some pots out on my balcony, which is thankfully bathed in sunlight most of the day. This is a lot more restricted then if I had a yard to work with, but it's most space I've had to use yet in DC and I'm hopeful that I will fresh veggies and herbs to use in my summer cooking! If you don't have a lot of space, don't let it discourage you from planting vegetables! You just have to think about it a little.

What am I planning to plant?
-Cherry tomatoes, I could also plant the regular variety in a pot but I like the cherry ones better so I'm going that route.
-Bell peppers, these are a pricier veggie, so I'm hoping to get a lot from my garden and not have to buy any at the store.
-Cucumbers, normally you need a big space for cucumbers because they vine all over the place! However, my step-dad told me there is a kind of "bush cucumber" that I can plant in a pot, so I'm going to check that out.
-Basil, there is nothing better than fresh basil! I'm starting out with a plant this year, because my past attempt at growing basil from a seed was a dismal failure.
-Rosemary, hopefully I will be able to keep this over the winter as rosemary is pretty cold tolerant.

I also want to check out the options for more organic home gardening. Using produce in my kitchen that I grew myself is undoubtedly as "local" as food gets but I wonder about all of these packages of Miracle this-and-that at the store. Plus I spend way more time than the average person reading about the impacts of agricultural runoff on marine environments, soil degradation and pesticides. If you have any experience with organic home gardening, please let me know!

Are you gardening in a small space? I'd love to hear about what you are planting and to share ideas!