Old Friends Are The Best ~ Birthday Dinner (Chicken Piccata)

Karen and I met in 9th grade, and she is still my best friend. We’re both in our mid-50’s now. Don’t know how the hell that happened, but here we are.

She’s like a sister to me, only without sibling rivalry and family baggage.  Even better!  Karen is the real deal salt of the Earth.  I, on the other hand, tend to be more on the flighty, drama queen side.  We balance each other, I guess.  FULL DISCLOSURE, Karen:  You can go all drama queen, and I can go all salt of the earth.  I have pictures and memories to prove it!

We got in our fair share of trouble together as teenagers. But we grew up, got married, raised kids, sent in the dreaded 1040 each year, buried all of our parents.  We went through all those eras of our lives together.  There were times when I’m sure I would have gone totally insane if not for Karen.

The only thing that irritates me about you, Karen?  You are a grandmother and I’m not.  Yet.  Other than that, you are completely perfect.

If we didn’t live half a continent away from each other, I’d take you out for some birthday sushi.  Which you would never agree to.  Since sushi would be out of the question, I’d have you over and cook birthday dinner for you.  Before we get into the birthday food, check out some incredible people you share a birthday with:

1483 – Raphael
1806 – Elizabeth Barrett Browning
1860 – Rene Lalique
1892 – Donald Willis Douglas
1929 – Andre Previn
1937 – Billy Dee Williams
1937 – Merle Haggard

Now, onto your birthday dinner.  Chicken Piccata, brown rice pilaf, and a salad.  I’m posting the Chicken Piccata recipe.

CHICKEN PICCATA (serves 4)
4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup (or more) grated Parmesan cheese
1 big egg, whisked with a splash of water
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
fresh lemon juice, to taste
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Get your stations set up:  A dish of seasoned flour,  a dish of egg & water,  a dish of Panko with Parmesan.

Season the chicken breasts with salt & pepper.  Dip them into the flour, and shake off the excess.  Dip them into the egg wash, then dip them into the Panko & Parmesan. Let them sit for about 10 minutes.

Melt the olive oil & butter in a big skillet.  Put those babies in and cook on both sides until cooked through & nice, crispy browned.  Take the chicken out of the pan and keep warm while you make the sauce.

For the sauce:  throw in the capers, lemon juice, and chicken stock into the same skillet.  Stir it all around until the brown bits in the skillet are incorporated into the sauce.  Throw in the parsley.

Serve the chicken with the sauce, brown rice pilaf, and a nice salad.

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It’s time for dessert.  I have left-over Carrot Cake from Easter, but that won’t do.  If you were here, I’d take you out for an awesome dessert.  There are a lot of awesome desserts in my neck of the woods.  Perhaps we’d even hit a club for some music.

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I miss you, miss living in the same city as you.  Have a wonderful new trip around the Sun.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!