Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Flattened Chicken Breasts with Piquant Basil Sauce

Oh my. Yet again I have disappeared from the bloggosphere. But I can for sure say that I am now back for good. How can I say this? Well, my semester ended and I earned another 4.0 GPA. And I no longer have to stress about last minute deadlines and PowerPoint presentations and reading philosophies. I actually even cooked tonight. And I'm not talking spaghetti. But I'll get to that in a minute.

First, let me point you in the direction of the lovely Susan over at Not Quite June Cleaver. I won her April Spring giveaway and she sent me the cutest apron ever!! My wonderful friend A is modeling it for me because unfortunately my physique trends more towards Julia Child's than Giada De Laurentis. But it's a beautiful apron and my friend A loves it tremendously and I have a wee bit of apron envy. I also received a neat vintage pie tin, a recipe booklet, and some very cool heirloom seeds. Thanks Susan!
The other neat thing Susan did was to post this delicious pie recipe. See the Brain's friend Mac just opened a pizza joint and bakery called The Pie Factory (which if you're ever in Sandusky you should check out because it's seriously delicious and won second place in the Sandusky Pizza Bake Off!) Anywho, Mac has a delicious raspberry cream pie. And I keep wanting to go buy it, even though I don't like pie typically. So I was telling Susan about it and she gave out a recipe that's similar. The crust on Mac's pie is a shortbread crust, but I like Susan's too. Her recipe is here.
Ok, so today has been all about 7th grade. Remember 7th grade? Awkward. Uncomfortable. Hormones running amok. Still a kid, but not really. Well, today one of the 7th graders I taught took his rifle (hunting is very big here and all the kids seem to have rifles) and stole the neighbor's truck and last it was on the news he's driven to Kentucky. This kid is a good kid. He had a little trouble focusing in class, but the other kids seemed to like him and he seemed to enjoy them too. Unfortunately they searched his locker and found his diary and there are 31 students and faculty that he "threatened" in this diary. Now the media is calling this a "hit list". I challenge you to look at any 13 year old kid's diary and not find scribbles about how they don't like people. I'm fairly certain that my entire diary in 7th grade was filled with ramblings about how much I loved Chris S. and Brian B. and multiple pages on how John M. was a big fat jerk. And Mrs. Juntenan was a horrible teacher. (I lost touch with Brian, Chris and John by 9th grade and I'll still tell you that Mrs. Juntenan was the very worst teacher I've ever had.) And besides the boy asked a family member to watch after his pet turtle. He's not the twitchy could-be-killer the media is making him out to be. So I'm worried about the kid and I'm starting to get annoyed at stupid hillbilly people making ignorant comments on the local newspaper website.

Then, my best friend T. is going through a divorce. Her hopefully soon to be ex husband is a real jerk and she's having a hard time. So by the time I got off the phone with her and had heard about the 7th grade boy, I needed to pound something. I chose chicken breasts. I was spending some serious time searching through my plethora of cookbooks and I wasn't finding anything good until I remembered this recipe my friend Scott made for me when we both worked at Victoria's Secret in Chicago. We had both picked up Celebrating the Midwestern Table by Abby Mandel on clearance at Borders and he invited me to his apartment for dinner. It was common back then for him and I to invite each other over for dinner. It was always good company and good food, and the best cheap wine we could afford. We were poor college kids after all.

So flattening these chicken breasts had dual purpose. I got my worry and frustration out and it took me back to the happy days of college in Chicago. And the chicken was exactly as good as I remembered it. Tomorrow will be a better day, it has to be, I still have one breast left over for lunch!

Flattened Chicken Breasts with Piquant Basil Sauce

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
2 tsp honey
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
6 Tbsp chicken broth
cooking spray
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp julienned basil leaves

One at a time, place a chicken breast half between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound it to about 1/8 inch thinness. Repeat with the remaining breasts. Place on a plate and set aside.

Combine the honey, mustard, vinegar, and chicken broth in a small dish and set aside.

Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Place the breasts seasoned side down in the hot skillet two at a time. Cook for 2 1/2 minutes. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the top (uncooked) side and gently flip over. Cook for 2 1/2 more minutes until done. Transfer the cooked breasts to a platter and tent with foil. Repeat with the remaining two breasts.

Once all the breasts are cooked and on the platter, add the honey mixture to the hot skillet. Cook for about 20 seconds until slightly thickened. Return the breasts to the skillet, spooning the sauce over them. As soon as they are warmed through, transfer them to a warm serving platter and garnish with the julienned basil. Serve hot.


Emily said...

Yay! The semester is over! Congrats.

I love the apron... too cute.

And the chicken sounds delicious.

Siri said...

I don't know what I like better- the idea of you taking your rage out on some chicken breasts, or the fact that you used to work at VC in Chicago.

Glad you're back- you good little student, you.

And speaking of awesome aprons...any chance I still have one coming in the mail?


Fran Z said...

Mary- Congrats on the grades! We were just talking about that kid, thanks for the real story. Things were so much easier in the "olden" days

Amanda @ Mrs.W's Kitchen said...

Wow, congratulations on fabulous grades! 4.0! You deserve a special ice cream for that!

And so glad you're back. I've missed reading your posts and clever recipes.

Deborah said...

Yay for school being out! And cute apron!

I just planted 2 basil plants (one outside and one inside) and I'm totally excited for homemade pesto!

Johanna said...

Wow - that is a lot going on in your life - glad the semester is over - it will be nice to see some of your posts while you have a bit more time (hopefully) - glad you had the chicken to pound - that is one thing a vegetarian like me really misses out on!

Zylo said...

These look great. I hear a lot of people make "worry" bread. Me? I usually end up with a recipe requiring precision and multiple steps. I think I might try the pouding technique next time though, since it seems so much more satisfying.