Three things that encompass my life
It’s only one-and-a-half months into the spring semester and I’m already missing my mom’s cooking. I miss the smells from the kitchen as 6:00 rolls around and she has started to saute onions in the skillet, prepped the oven to roast a delicious chicken breast or simply cooked bacon in a sauce pot for the first step in making green beans (Yes, I am a southern girl, we eat our green beans with bacon.) Over the past several days I’ve been wishing my mom could come into my apartment and make one of her many famous dishes, but today, my craving for one of those meals skyrocketed. Maybe it’s the cold weather and the idea of a warm pot of chicken and dumplings is overwhelming my taste buds, or it’s the fact that I’ve eaten way too many frozen dinners and can’t take it anymore! Whatever the reason, I’ve decided to list the top 5 meals that my mom cooks for my family.
My mom always gets inspired by a chef on Food Network or Cooking Channel, so each recipe that follows has a link to the original recipe, but I will elaborate on the personalized touches my mom adds to the dishes that make them one-of-a-kind.
5. Chicken Piccata– this recipe is hands down, one of my favorite Italian dishes that my mom makes. She starts by making traditional chicken piccata, but instead, she dredges it in Panko breadcrumbs instead of regular breadcrumbs. My mom loves the extra crunch that comes with the crispy outer layer of the chicken, so Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) is the ideal choice. After she cooks the chicken by dredging it in Panko, flour and an egg to make the outer coating bind, she cooks them in a large skillet until browned. The original recipe calls for lemon juice, which she adds once it is plated over a plate of spaghetti, but she adds capers to the top of the chicken to give it an extra zip of flavor. I remember the first time I had this dish and I didn’t know what capers were. Being a 10-year-old girl and having the pickiest appetite, there was no way I was going to try a caper, but because I love my mom’s cooking so much, I tried it and I loved it. Capers compliment the lemon flavor of the chicken so well, and give it a well-rounded flavor.
“It’s simple, it’s easy and it’s delicious.“
4. Short Ribs with Tagliatelle– When my mom made this dish for my family, I remember everything about it: where I was, what the weather was like, how the table was set and most importantly, how it tasted. It was a cold night in December, I came home from soccer practice and wanted something to warm me up and replenish my body from a hard practice. As I sat at the table, I remember my mom giving us giant white bowls, not telling us what she had made, then placed a family-sized serving bowl of tagliatelle pasta with luscious short ribs piled on top. Then, the strangest but best ingredient was placed on top of the short ribs — bittersweet chocolate. Yes, you heard me right, bittersweet chocolate. Let me tell you, my mom is the only person I know who would look up a recipe like this and have the interest to make it. With slight hesitation, I placed the pasta and short ribs, chocolate and all, on my plate and I will never forget that first bite. The chocolate melted into the juicy short ribs, giving it the perfect balance of sweet and savory, then the thick pasta pulled it all together to be one perfect harmony of flavors. It’s safe to say I love this dish.
3. Oven roasted bone-in chicken breast– This is an original recipe and it’s fabulous. My mom and I usually make chicken breast without the bone and without the skin, but there’s no flavor without the skin and the bone. I’m glad my mom had this epiphany that chicken breast lacks juiciness and flavor without the skin and without the bone. She seasons it with a simple seasoning of salt, pepper and smoked paprika. It’s simple, it’s easy and it’s delicious.
2. Sirloin steak with mushrooms– I love steak. I love mushrooms. I love steak and mushrooms. This dish was first made for my mom and my dad. They told me about it over the phone, texted me the picture and made me extremely jealous. So, when I came home for spring break my freshman year at Baylor, I requested this meal. What’s special about this dish is that my mom uses a variety of mushrooms: cremini, button, chantarelle. She always tries to change it
up. My mom always begins with a hot skillet, drizzles some olive oil and begins to saute the mushrooms. Once they begin to soften and their juices are released, she adds some white wine, onions and butter to thicken the sauce and enhance the flavor. After the mushrooms, the butter and the white wine have been incorporated and have formed a thicker sauce, she grills the steaks. With a simple seasoning of salt and pepper, these steaks are phenomenal. She cooks them to medium well-done then plates each steak with a pile of mushrooms. Can you say, “fantastic”?
1. Gemelli Alfredo with Proscuitto– Now, this is my all-time, hands-down favorite dish. It’s creamy, it’s filling and it’s extremely satisfying. Growing up, I have always loved anything with Alfredo sauce, even if it was out of a bottle, but this stuff is homemade, with heavy cream, butter and grated Parmesan; talk about heaven in a pasta dish. To make it even better, salty proscuitto is added to this creamy,
delicious pasta dish. My mom has made this meal for me multiple times and every time she makes it, it tastes as good as it did the first time. When I studied abroad in Florence, Italy, this past summer, I recreated this dish with the ingredients I had for the final dinner all the students and professors had together. I think it’s safe to say that because it was all gone within 15 minutes, that everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. Thanks, mom!
Now that I am starving and wish my mom was here to create any of these dishes, I hope that you are adventurous enough to try some of the recipes I have linked the original recipe to! Please give me feedback on your mom’s favorite dishes and/or if you tried my mom’s and how it turned out.