Easy Chicken….Like Really Easy Chicken

This is our first harvest of green beans from the garden.  What should we do with them was the question?  I had an answer for that, based on a recent recipe I saw on a cooking channel.  Fresh green beans are perfect for a chicken paillard with fresh greens and beans.  We had been on such a food overload since our early July 4th party where we ate an incredible amount of food over the span of the event.  This recipe was perfect for us in the sense it wasn’t heavy, wasn’t grilled and was quick and easy.  It also called for very fresh ingredients, which is always a plus.  Even on the 4th of July, I was able to get to a fresh farmer’s market that was open for some of the other ingredients needed that I couldn’t get out of our garden.  If you are lucky enough to find a place that sells fresh, organic produce, it is well worth the price.  The fresh tastes can’t be beat.  This is the perfect Summer go-to recipe and hit the spot for our 4th of July dinner.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1 pound trimmed green beans (sliced lengthwise on a sharp bias)
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (8 ounces each)
  • 3+ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 32 sage leaves
  • 8 ounces pancetta (finely chopped)

  • 1 sliced red onion
  • 2 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 6 cups lettuce (the lettuce is going to wilt a little because you will put a hot dressing/skillet gravy on top of it…..get some greens that can take that..romaine, red leaf, frisee mixed together work well)

Directions:

Steam string beans until al dente, 3 to 4 minutes.  Dump them into a bowl and set aside.  Slice chicken breast halves in half horizontally; pound lightly, to an even thickness to make 8 paillards.  Season paillards with salt and pepper.  Top each with 2 sage leaves.  Saute in a skillet with olive oil over high heat for 3 minutes.  Flip, and top each with more salt, pepper and 2 more sage leaves.   Heat until cooked through, about 3 minutes more.

Transfer to a platter.

When all 8 paillards are cooked, heat 1 tablespoon oil in skillet over high heat.  Cook pancetta for 2 minutes.  Add red onion; cook until soft, about 3 minutes minimum.  Make sure to scrape up all of the chicken bits that are attached to the bottom of the pan.  They have excellent flavor.

Add red-wine vinegar; stir in green beans.  Simmer for about two minutes to let the vinegar cook down a little and to heat up the green beans.  Toss with lettuce.  Serve over paillards.  There is a lot of greens and beans as you can see.  You can barely see the chicken under all of this salad.

Simple and quick.  We were not in the mood for crazy and difficult. Very tasty and hit the spot.  The warm dressing on the slightly wilted lettuces was a nice touch.  The pancetta, onion and vinegar had a nice mix of flavor.  Believe it or not, the chicken also kept its sage taste which surprised me given that I thought the flavor would be in the olive oil and not the chicken.

This is absolutely a new go-to Summer meal when we need something in a jiffy.  When it’s 100 degrees outside, who wants to spend all day cooking in front of a hot stove and oven?  Not us, that’s for sure.  What is your favorite go-to me meal for the Summer?

Our Happy 4th of July Picnic Celebration

This is our second day of recovery from our July 4th celebration held on Saturday.  Our party started five or six years ago and was really a small affair.  We would invite our immediate family and close friends over for a barbecue.  The kids would swim most of the day and the adults would gossip about what was going on over the beverage of their choice.  Oh yes, we also ate…and ate…and ate.  Each year after that first party, the July 4th celebration just kept getting bigger.  We weren’t really increasing our immediate family so that wasn’t the reason for the growth.  I guess we were just meeting more friends that we felt we wanted to come over.  So this year, it was our biggest party to date.  125 people big.  So big that we thought we needed a tent for people to sit under to ward off the sun.  That was a good idea as temperatures hit 85 degrees with full sun.  The tent that we got was like a circus tent.  We were joking that later that night, one of us would be performing a Cirque du Soleil performance at the top of it.  Festivities went from 1 in the afternoon until about midnight.

Believe us when we tell you that 125 people can eat.  We had food on the barbecue grill outside and lots of good old Italian food on the inside.

We will try now to the best of our ability to document all the food that we enjoyed.  I am sure we forgot a lot, but here’s a good try:

  • 20 pounds of hot dogs
  • 30 pounds of hamburgers
  • 20 pounds of skirt steaks
  • 30 pounds of baby lamb chops
  • 20 pounds of boneless chicken thighs
  • Large tray of chicken marsala
  • Large tray of eggplant parmesan
  • Large tray of sausage and peppers
  • Large tray of penne marinara
  • Large tray of rigatoni with sausage and broccoli rabe
  • Tomato brushetta with ricotta salata
  • Filet mignon on toast points with carmelized onions and balsamic reduction
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Potato croquettes
  • Antipasto (cheese and sliced meats)
  • Pigs in the blanket (because it is not a party without pigs in the blanket)
  • Italian sausage wrapped in phylo dough
  • Salad
  • Bread, buns, rolls (you can’t imagine how much starch there was)

Now the dessert.  Our Brooklyn Italian Grandmother put out the call for all Brooklyn and Staten Island bound guests to hit their best Italian pastry shops.  You can imagine the results.  We had so many pastries, cookies and cakes that we actually took many of the leftovers to the homeless shelter the next day.  There was no way we could eat all of the desserts that entered our house on Glen Road.  Here are some cupcakes (which are always a favorite):

Each year, I also ask one of my best friends to make her famous flag cake which is from Ina Garten.  She always obliges.  The flag cake sort of ties it all up here…you know, a symbol of why we are celebrating.

So Happy 4th of July to all of you from all of us here on Glen Road.  We also want to take this opportunity to thank all of our women and men in the armed services who risk their lives to protect all of us.  We appreciate your dedication.  By the way, if you are looking for us, we are still recovering from the big party.  Our beverage of choice was not lemonade, so that fact, coupled with the number of hours that we partied have made all of us Glen Road old people tired.  Thank God we have to go back to work tomorrow.  At our age, work is much easier than partying.  What are you doing today to celebrate the 4th of July?

Friday Dance Party – Mumford & Sons ‘The Cave’

This is another edition of Friday Dance Party on Acorns On Glen.  It’s the time where we give thanks for making it through another week and for being alive and present here on Earth.  How do we celebrate another week of living?  We dance.  So, are you alive this Friday?  Are you and your family safe and sound?  Take a few seconds now to be in the moment and realize what a great life you truly have.  Did you give thanks for that?

Good, now let’s dance.

We’re getting ready here on Glen Road for a big 4th of July party.  125 people are coming and we just keep inviting more people.  It’s crazy.  Everything is set for a good time.  Plenty of food-the BBQ kind outside on the grill and the Italian kind inside the house.  The pool is heated to a warm temperature.  Since it is forecasted to be 90 degrees outside, it is important that the pool be kept at a constant 80 degrees, right?  Speaking of the temperature, we have had a large tent put up in our back yard so anyone not wanting the sun beating down on them can sit under it.  The tent itself could host a circus.  At night, it has lights in it so the party can go on late into the night.  Oh, and did I mention the booze?  Needless to say, there are bottles everywhere.  All the makings of a great 4th of July!  Now all we need is the music.  Music is always a tough one because at a party like we are having, you need to please people from 5 to 90 years old.  However, this song will absolutely be played because it is one of our favorites this month.  It’s Mumford & Sons ‘The Cave’.  It’s one of those songs that is a cross between several genres of music.  Great strings.  The best part of it, we have absolutely no idea what the lyrics mean.  Internet surfing says everything from a song about recovering from addiction, getting over depression to getting over a failed relationship.  Sounds great for a party, right?  Whatever it means, its our dance number for this week.  So turn the speakers up and celebrate another week of living.  Happy 4th of July and enjoy your dance.  You deserve it.  What are your plans for the 4th of July?

A Not So Ordinary Hamburger

This is a hamburger recipe with a little punch.  For so many years, a hamburger on the grill was just that.  Hamburger from the supermarket pressed into patties with a little salt and pepper.  While they were good, they weren’t great.  There had to be a way to punch the flavor up just a little.  So here is the recipe we use here on Glen Road that combines several ingredients that make the patty taste great.  It may not have been posted for use over Memorial Day, but we have the rest of the Summer.  We call this recipe our ‘Not So Ordinary’ hamburger.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds ground chuck
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1/2 cup seasoned dry seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup steak sauce (use your favorite)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 to 10 hamburger buns
  • Your favorite fixings, for serving

Directions:

Carefully mix the meats, bread crumbs, steak sauce, mustard, eggs, salt and pepper with the tines of a fork, but do not mash them.  Combine them so that the meats and ingredients mix together well, but the meat is light and not packed together.  Lightly form hamburger patties and press lightly into shape.

Prepare a charcoal grill.

Cook the hamburgers for 4 minutes on 1 side, then turn and cook 3 minutes on the other side for medium-rare. Remove to a plate and cover with aluminum foil. Allow the hamburgers to rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, grill the buns, cut side down, for 1 minute, until toasted.  Place a hamburger in each bun, plus your favorite fixings, if desired, and serve.

The addition of the steak sauce and Dijon mustard give the hamburger the kick we were looking for in the burger.  Bread crumbs and the eggs help keep the meat moist.  So why go for ordinary hamburgers when you can go for extraordinary?  Give our ‘Not So Ordinary’ hamburgers a shot.  What did you cook this Memorial Day weekend?

Memorial Day History

This is a little history about Memorial Day.  On Monday, Americans will be celebrating Memorial Day.  Considered by many to be the opener to the summer season, the holiday actually has roots that stretch back through the nation’s history to the Civil War.

That history, shared by the  Department of Veterans Affairs, started when the head of an organization of union veterans, called the Grand Army of the Republic, established Decoration Day on May 5, 1868.  The day was meant to be a time for citizens to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.  Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that it should be observed on May 30, possibly about the right time so that flowers would be blooming all over the country.

Congress declared Memorial Day to be a national holiday in 1971 that would be celebrated on the last Monday in May and would honor all soldiers who had died in the nation’s wars.  In addition to that, the National Moment of Remembrance Act passed in 2000 suggests that people pause wherever they are at 3 PM local time on Memorial Day to remember those who have died in service.  What will you be doing this Memorial Day weekend?