Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: Take a break from the elaborate

Cathi Litzenberger offers up some easy-to-prepare meals to give you a time to relax admidst the holiday frenzy

By the time this column goes to press I will be in sunny Mexico celebrating a significant birthday. Time for sunshine, warm waters, rest and relaxation, perhaps an adventure or two, and NO surprise birthday party! Of course I needed an all-inclusive resort, a good book or two to read, comfortable shoes for walking, and good company, all of which I have nicely arranged for the next eight days.

For the rest of you, (wonder women that we think we are), madly rushing around  trying to get all the shopping, baking, wrapping, mailing, arranging  done just right, and in time for Christmas, not to mention fitting in the office parties, dinner parties, concerts, musicals and kids’ school performances,  I have a couple of quick and easy ideas for dinner. The first is a chicken parmesan, and the second a wonderful linguine with a clam sauce.

Favourite Chicken Parmesan

1 cup bread crumbs

3 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese

3 eggs, beaten

2 whole chicken breasts, cut in half and boned

1 – 14 oz. can tomato sauce

1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Mix bread crumbs and 3 tbsp. parmesan cheese together.

Dip chicken pieces in eggs, then in crumb mixture. Fry until golden brown.

Put pieces into a baking dish and spread tomato sauce over all. Sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan cheeses over top. Bake for 1 hour at 350 F.

Linguine with Red Clam Sauce

1 medium onion

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

3 stalks celery, sliced

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 – 28 oz. can Italian tomatoes

1 tsp. salt

2- 7 oz. cans baby clams, with liquid

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. dried oregano

8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Coarsely ground black pepper to taste

Linguine for four

In a medium skillet, sauté onion, garlic, and celery in oil until lightly golden. Add next 7 ingredients and simmer, covered, for 1 hour or more.

Just before serving, cook linguine. Drain well. Mix with half the clam sauce and toss. Serve in shallow soup bowls. Pass the remaining sauce.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every Wednesday and one Sunday per month.