Recipe: The Best Chicken Parmesan Ever

I grew up on chicken parmesan (chicky chicky parm parm, as Tom Haverford would call it) and John did too, so we’re big fans and we make it at home a lot. Usually this just means tossing some chicken in the oven, baking it, and then loading on the cheese and sauce. Good enough, but not bonkers amazing.

A few nights ago we were watching America’s Test Kitchen (like we do every night) and this recipe for the best chicken parm was on (video here). John immediately asked if I could make this for his birthday and I obliged (because I love my hubs and because this recipe looked insanely good). It’s a labor of love, for sure, but so worth it. I’ve actually made it again since this first try too!

America’s Test Kitchen’s Best Chicken Parmesan (original recipe here, serves 4)
2 (6-8 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup fontina cheese, shredded
1 large egg
1 tbsp. AP flour
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil

To begin, start by cutting the chicken breasts in half into thin cutlets. Pound until they are uniformly thin (about 1/2 inch). Sprinkle each side of each cutlet with 1/8 teaspoon salt and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, the chicken will have let off a noticeable amount of moisture. Pat dry with a paper towel – we want nice, dry cutlets so the breading adheres.

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While the chicken and salt are working, you can shred the fontina and mozzarella, and mix them together (or just mix together if you got the pre-shredded kind). This recipe calls for fontina because mozzarella lacks a little in the flavor department. I completely agree after trying this recipe; the fontina is super rich and creamy, the perfect compliment to the mozz. Fun fact: the fontina at Whole Foods is called Fontal (slightly different name, same exact cheese) and it is magnificent.

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You can also prep the breading situation while you wait too. In one shallow bowl mix the parm cheese, panko, and spices together thoroughly. In another shallow bowl whisk the egg and flour together until it is smooth/there are no lumps.

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When all of the ingredients are ready to go, form an assembly line – chicken, egg/flour, coating, and plate.

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Dredge each chicken breast in the egg/flour first, then coat in the breading (pat the coating into the cutlet for more coverage), and then place back on the plate.

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While you’re prepping the chicken, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When it begins to shimmer, place half of the chicken cutlets into the oil and fry until brown (about 2-3 minutes per side). Make sure to take the temperature of the chicken to make sure it has cooked through (we’re looking for 165 degrees here). If it’s not done, just leave in the pan and reduce the heat a bit, waiting until it gets to 165. Tool tip: this is my go-to meat thermometer and I love it.

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When all of the cutlets have been fried and are cooked through, place them on a broiler safe pan lined with tinfoil, top with the fontina/mozzarella mixture, and broil until the cheese is bubbly and melty.

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Serve over pasta, veggies, or by itself. This recipe is classic ATK because they found the best way to get crispy, delicious chicken parm – include parm cheese in the breading, pan fry, mix the fontina and mozz to avoid the standard gummy cheese on top, and serve with the sauce on top to avoid soggy parm. Geniuses! This recipe is pretty flawless and is already a household favorite!

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The Monday Mix

Here’s The Monday Mix for this week! To visit past mixes, click here.

MondayMix

SNew

Did you know that Ben & Jerry’s recently rebranded a new flavor – Food Fight Fudge Brownie – to raise awareness about mandatory GMO food labels in Vermont? I love that despite how big they get, they are still so engaged in what’s going on locally in Vermont.

SDelicious

I have been craving chocolate zucchini bread like crazy lately. It never fails, every summer! I think this Chocolate Zucchini Coconut Cake recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod will be the best way to indulge this craving.

SBrain

Yelp just released a really neat tool that lets you see how the use of word in reviews has changed over the last decade. Yelp Trends searches through words used in Yelp reviews to show you what’s hot and reveals the trend-setting cities that kicked it all off. Cool data visualization, Yelp!

SFun

Did Blowing into Nintendo Cartridges Really Help? An evidence based approach.

SCrafty

I can’t even deal with how cute and clever this DIY Belt Strap Memo Board from A Beautiful Mess is!

SReal

I’m so glad I stumbled on this article last week – it takes a super in depth look at how Orange Is The New Black compares between the book and the show. There are some spoilers, mostly from season 1 of the show, but so worth the read. I want to read the book even more now!

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Boston’s Best: Arnold Arboretum

So far this summer we’ve been lucky in Boston – the heat has been manageable and the weekends have been gorgeous. Seems like all the humidity and rain have happened during the week, which is fine by me since I’m cooped up in my office anyway!

A few weekends back, on one of said beautiful days, John and I wanted to take a long walk, somewhere outdoors/naturey, but paved and nearby. The Arnold Arboretum popped into my head immediately!

Arnold Arboretum is located in Jamaica Plain, about 10 miles from our house and 7 miles from downtown Boston. The Arboretum was established in 1872 as a public-private partnership between the City of Boston and Harvard University. It is a unique blend of respected research institution and beloved public park in Boston’s Emerald Necklace.

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The Hunnewell Building sits at the front of the Arboretum and houses the Visitor’s Center and administrative offices.

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The Visitor’s Center has interactive exhibits, historical information, lots of hands on activities, and a full diorama of the Arboretum.

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My favorite thing in the Visitor’s Center is the high-tech microscope that you can use to check out plants and samples up close and personal.

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The Arboretum covers 281 acres and the paths/trails are about 4 miles in total.

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We strolled and just took in the surroundings. It’s so lush and peaceful here; I really felt a sense of life slowing down while we were here.

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The Arboretum holds over 15,000 living individual plants (which are all searchable, by the way). Most are also tagged with additional information like country of origin, lineage, and when they came to the Arboretum.

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Harvard faculty and students, Arboretum scholars, and visiting scientists from around the world come to the Arboretum for research and education on many different areas having to do with plant diversity, organismic evolution, ecosystem perspectives, and much more.

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The Leventritt Shurb & Vine Garden is a must see – there are almost 700 shrubs, vines, and dwarf conifers. The set up of the garden is perfect, you can really get a great view of each plant as you go through the open pavilion style space.

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My favorite part of the whole Arboretum though is the Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection.

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There are 35 masterfully curated bonsai plants in this collection – all from Japan – and some up to 275 years old.

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It’s so hard to pick a favorite spot in a place as lovely as the Arboretum – but the bonsai collection is unlike any I have ever seen before. It, alone, is worth the visit!

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The Arboretum is so much more than just plants though. It’s an escape from the hustle and bustle. It really does force you to slow down and appreciate being present. It’s paved, it’s safe, and it’s easily accessible. It’s also free to visit too! For all of those reasons, it’s a perfect place to visit for any age, any time of year. And also why it is truly one of Boston’s Best!

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Recipe: S’mores Bark

Right now the internet is overrun with of pictures of perfectly roasted, gooey marshmallows and S’mores covered faces. I’m a city person though – I don’t have bonfires and beach parties at the ready, and I only go camping once a summer – but I want S’mores too! Good thing I came up with this recipe which involves no burnt marshmallows and no sand in your S’more.

Domestocrat’s S’mores Bark
4 tbsp. butter
1.5 bags (18 oz) chocolate chips (I use semi-sweet)
3.5 cups (7 oz) mini marshmallows
7 graham cracker sheets – 6 chopped, 1 pulverized into crumbs

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The only ingredient prep you really need to do is with the graham crackers – roughly chop six sheets of the crackers (I used a serrated knife) and pulverize one sheet into crumbs (I crushed mine with the bottom of a glass but you could use a meat tenderizer, food pro, rolling pin, whatever!).

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Once the ingredients are prepped, it’s time to begin! Start by melting the butter over a double boiler. When the butter is melted, add the chocolate.

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Stir to combine until the chocolate has all melted and remove from the heat when it’s smooth.

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Carefully, stir in the chopped graham crackers and the ‘mallows.

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Scoop the mixture out onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Spread out to form an even layer. Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs over the top and gently press down into the warm chocolate to ensure it sticks. Protip: To make sure you don’t get chocolate everywhere you can wet your hands with cool water and form the bark with your hands, or you can spray a spoon/spatula with cooking spray and do it that way. Same goes for pressing the crumbs down on top too.

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Put the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for about 3 hours to fully cool. You could leave this overnight too.

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When the chocolate has completely hardened, cut into squares and enjoy! This recipe has the perfect ratio of chocolate to graham to marshmallow, which is how a good S’more should be.

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Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Yeah, like it will last that long!

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The Monday Mix

Here’s The Monday Mix for this week! To visit past mixes, click here.

MondayMix

SNew

The new Weird Al parody video Tacky is totally making my life right now. I love Jack Black!

SDelicious

Half Baked Harvest‘s Quinoa Crusted Baked Three-Cheese Zucchini and Eggplant Parmesan looks like just what the doctor ordered!

SBrain

I’m just ging tp put this out there: Scientists Say Smelling Farts Might Prevent Cancer.

SFun

22 Ingenious Products That Will Make Your Workday So Much Better.

SCrafty

Check out this Railroad Tote from The Purl Bee. Looks like the perfect summer bag, no?

SReal

Super into this video of Obama talking about his family’s favorite snacks. “If there’s a bowl of good chips and guacamole … I lose my mind.”

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This Just In: New Taza Chocolate Bars

I’ve written about Taza Chocolate before – they are the local organic chocolatier in our city, located about 2 miles from our house. We’ve been on their factory tour a few times (a must!) and very much enjoy their entire catalog of stone ground, organic chocolate.

In mid-June Taza launched five new chocolate bars in their Amaze Bars line – Coconut (70% dark), Sea Salt & Almond (80% dark), Cacao Nib Crunch (80% dark), Toffee Almond & Sea Salt (60% dark), and Raspberry Nib Crunch (60% dark though not pictured here, I’m not a raspberry/chocolate fan).

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Each bar is 2.5 oz and definitely has a personality of its own. The quality of the chocolate itself is very true to the rest of the Taza catalog – earthy, gritty, sharp, deep – but these added flavors do add a dimension to the taste and texture that their plain dark chocolate bars don’t have.

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My favorite of the lot is the Sea Salt & Almond. Taza is generous with the sea salt, which I really appreciate as a sweet/salty fan. The almonds are the perfect compliment to the already-grainy texture. The whole thing just works!

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Also, I’m really obsessed with the packaging of this line. Taza really took it up a notch! Bright colors with cute representations of the ingredients, while remaining simple and appealing. I also have to mention another thing I love about Taza and this packaging – each bar includes a batch code (which you can look up on their website to see how it was made) as well as a ‘best by’ date.

In addition to being a recognized community leader and all around amazing Somerville neighbor, I love Taza for their mission and what their company represents. Taza Chocolate pioneered the first third party verified Direct Trade cacao sourcing program in the US, called the Taza Chocolate Direct Trade Certified Cacao. It is also certified USDA organic, non-GMO Project verified, certified gluten free, kosher pareve, dairy free, soy free, and vegan.

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All of these bars are available to purchase online (they are having a shipping deal until 7/31 to boot) or in their factory store right here in Somerville!

(Product reviews are never sponsored; I am in no way paid, given free samples, or told to say anything you just read. I have posted about this product because I went out, purchased this item myself, and want to share my findings in a candid and informative way.)

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Boston’s Best: USS Constitution

I know I’ve said it so many times before but one of the reasons I love Boston so much is because I love being a tourist in my own hometown. No matter how long I’ve lived here, I always find new things to explore and appreciate.

A few weekends back the weather was beautiful and we were wondering what to do for the day when the Constitution popped into my head. As you know, John is a huge fan of naval and maritime history so I almost couldn’t believe we had never been there before. Plus it’s literally 3 miles from our house.

The USS Constitution is located in the Boston National Historical Park at Charlestown Navy Yard, one of the 15 National Park Service parks in Massachusetts. The Navy Yard was established in 1800; the workforce served the fleet for nearly 175 years and built more than 200 warships there (maintaining and repairing thousands more). It was closed in 1974 and became part of the Boston National Historical Park.

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Incidentally the Constitution is also the last stop on The Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile path through Boston that includes 16 historically significant sites throughout the city including Boston Common, Site of the Boston Massacre, Old North Church, Paul Revere’s House, etc.

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Launched in 1797, the Constitution is the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat. The ship was retired from active service in 1881 and was designated as a museum ship in 1907.

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The Constitution is a wood-hulled, three-masted, 44 gun, heavy frigate. During active service, the Constitution’s battery of guns consisted of thirty 24-pound cannons, 15 on each side of the gun deck, twenty-two 32-pound carronade cannons, 11 per side of the spar deck, and four chase guns positioned at the stern and bow.

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Most notable, of course, is the name and nickname of the ship. It was named by President George Washington after the Constitution of the United States of America. However, the nickname, Old Ironsides, came during the War of 1812 when the Constitution defeated the British frigate Guerrière – witnesses claimed that British fire merely bounced off the Constitution’s sides as if the ship were made of iron rather than wood.

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Inside the Constitution are three decks: the orlop deck (the lowest deck, which is not included on the tour), the berth deck (seen below, which includes the captain’s quarters and sleeping area), and the gun deck (also seen below with the cannons facing outward).

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Adjacent to the ship is the USS Constitution Museum, full of interactive exhibits, artwork, historical artifacts, and displays dedicated to preserving the history and memory of the Constitution.

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Where the ship tour focused on the active service of the Constitution as well as life on the ship, the museum educates visitors about the historical significance of the ship on American and naval history. Both activities complement each other wonderfully; you’ve definitely got to do both!

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After visiting the Constitution we were walking through Charlestown and I happened to catch this view of the Bunker Hill Monument (the second to last stop on the Freedom Trail, right before the Constitution). We didn’t visit the Monument (it’s definitely next on our list!) but the view was so quintessentially Boston, I had to post it here: beautiful federal-style rowhouses, narrow, gaslit streets, and brick sidewalks. Gorgeous, right? I love this city!

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