Well…the high point of the week…we had a snowstorm which allowed me to remain home from work a couple of days…the low point of the week…we had a snowstorm so I was home nearly all day for a couple of days this week. Those who know me best know that, like my parents, I’m always ready to be on the go. There are times when I do want to rest and relax at home, but those days are often few and far between. Most days, I like to have something to do (even if it makes me a little crazy and tired at times)…I just don’t like sitting still!
But this week, I had no choice…at least for 1 day, so I allowed my creative juices to flow in the kitchen, something that rarely seems to happen these days. Despite my great love of cooking, over the past few months, it seems that I’m always in a rush to get a meal made…so I do easy things like make a quick sandwich, eat a bowl of cereal, or have chicken with some microwaved vegetables. These options are a bit unhealthy and certainly get old after a bit of time, but they work for my crazy schedule. But with my small bit of down time this week, I decided to make a batch of homemade applesauce, and then today…I stepped completely out of “my” box and made grilled chicken parmesan. We all know chicken parmesan is nothing special per se, but I made the marinara sauce completely from scratch for the fun of it and didn’t just cover the chicken with some sauce, which is special in my eyes. This was a first for me (if we don’t count my “throw together” spaghetti with hot dogs on Thanksgiving a few years back in Nigeria…I think we can skip over that moment though)! Needless to say, I was quite pleased with the results.
This morning, I hand squeezed the tomatoes…chopped the onions, garlic, and basil, and went about the challenge of making fresh marinara sauce to go with the chicken parmesan. Initially I was thinking, making the sauce from scratch wouldn’t make a big difference…was I ever wrong. The sauce was amazingly fresh, and quite tasty, if I must say so myself. I’ll admit initially, I was trying to get the sauce to taste just like my typical spaghetti sauce out of the jar, but it just didn’t, and it probably shouldn’t have, and it allowed me to appreciate something new. Yes, I threw my usual spices in the pot – oregano, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and a little bit of brown sugar, but I also allowed the flavor of the individual ingredients to emerge. I’ve got a feeling I may never want spaghetti sauce out of the jar ever again! Before I placed the chicken in the oven, I grilled it until it was almost cooked through, then topped with basil, shredded parmesan cheese, and a slice of mozzarella cheese before baking until done. The dish really came to gather nicely (in my unbiased and humble opinion). It’s definitely a dish I’ll have to add into my rotation…I think it might even be one of those “She’s a Keeper” dishes that I’ll have to pull out for that special brotha when he comes around.
The beauty of all of this cooking is that it’s relaxing and I’m sharing most of it with others. While I love cooking, I think love sharing even more. So, until next time…be well!