Friday, September 30, 2011

Recipe: Chicken in Thyme Marsala Cream Sauce

Chicken in Thyme Marsala Cream Sauce
 
Thanks to Very Culinary for posting this recipe and singing its praises.  It is worthy.  Trust.

This would work over rice or pasta but I think rice is better for soaking up the sauce.  Oh, this sauce!  I wanted to drink it.  Yum.

Ingredients

Chicken in Thyme Marsala Cream Sauce

Serves: 4

Ingredients: 
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into large chunks
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 - 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 shallots, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup Marsala wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted 
  • Cooked rice, for serving

Directions: 

  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. 
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil.  Add chicken and cook over high heat, turning once or twice, until browned, about 4 - 5 minutes.  Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside. 
  3. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes.  
  4. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for another couple minutes.
  5. Add the Marsala wine and simmer until the liquid is reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the stock, cream, thyme, salt and pepper and bring just to a boil.  Cook until the sauce has reduced by half, about 6 minutes.  
  7. Return the chicken to the skillet and simmer over moderate heat until the chicken is cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.  
  8. Add the peas and simmer for 1 minute.  
  9. Season with salt and pepper. 
  10. Serve over rice. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Recipe: Lemon Goat Cheese Pasta

Lemon Goat Cheese Pasta

This is a light, lemony, great-for-summer pasta dish.  It is also easily customizable.  Feel free to use your favorite pasta and veggies...or whatever you have on hand. 

Fusilli pasta.
Veggies ready for roasting.
Finished pasta.

Ingredients:
  • 1 package pasta, such as fusilli
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 - 5 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 8-ounce package sliced mushrooms
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Pasta: Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add pasta and cook according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.  
  • Veggies: Place garlic and vegetables in a single layer on a large baking sheet.  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Broil on high for 15 - 20 minutes, until veggies have softened and are starting to brown.  Check and stir the veggies around every few minutes.  Once done, remove from oven and set aside.
  • Sauce: In a large bowl, combine the lemon zest, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and crumbled goat cheese. 
  • When pasta and veggies are ready, add to the large bowl and stir to combine with the sauce.  The heat from the pasta and veggies will melt the goat cheese and create the creamy sauce.  Salt and pepper to taste. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

After 9+ years working at the same nonprofit organization, I start at a new job tomorrow.  I am excited...and a little bit nervous.  I am sharing this update here as a disclaimer that if I am posting less often for a little while, it is because I am busy getting acclimated to my new work environment. 

Through my new job transition period, I am already planning on putting some tried and true recipes in our dinner rotation, along with some easy prep recipes, like this slow cooker chicken chili recipe that I made for the first time last week.  Coming home, after a long work day, to a house that smells like chili is one of the best things ever.   Oh, and the chili was delicious.  Yum.


This recipe is adapted from a version posted on the blog, Skinny Taste.  Yes, it is easy, delicious AND healthy!  So I totally justified putting light cheese and sour cream on top...

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili Ingredients.
Ready to cook.
Cooked chili.
Chili with cheese.


Ingredients:
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes with chilies
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • Optional toppings: cilantro, shredded cheese, sour cream, Tabasco

Directions:
  1. Combine onion, black beans, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder and taco seasoning in a slow cooker and stir to combine.
  2. Lay the chicken on top.  
  3. Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours.  
  4. 20 - 30 minutes before serving, remove chicken and shred.  Return shredded chicken to slow cooker and stir. 
  5. Spoon chili into bowls and add toppings of your choice. 


Friday, September 16, 2011

Read More: A Resolution Update

One of my goals for 2011 is to read a book a month (or at least 12 books during the year).  I just started book #13 so...resolution achieved!  Below is a list of the books I have read from January - September.  Yes, I do enjoy a young adult book now and then.  *cough* The Hunger Games series is awesome. *cough* *cough*
  1. Winter's Bone
  2. The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
  3. Bossypants
  4. Club Dead
  5. Dead to the World 
  6. The Hunger Games 
  7. Catching Fire  (The Hunger Games book 2)
  8. A Stolen Life: A Memoir
  9. The Invention of Hugo Cabret (re-read)
  10. Mockingjay  (The Hunger Games book 3)
  11. World War Z
  12. Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical 
  13. A Song to Sing, A Life to Live: Reflections on Music as Spiritual Practice (currently reading)
I bought book #13 at a United Methodist Women's Conference that I attended with my mom years ago.  Emily Saliers (1/2 of the Indigo Girls!) was one of the key note speakers and she and her father performed both secular and sacred music during the general session.  This was, by far, my favorite part of the conference.  I was so excited to meet her and had her sign my copy of the book...now I'm finally reading it.

Also, a note on #9, I rarely re-read books but we saw a preview for Hugo, a movie based on the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret, before seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.  It reminded me how much I enjoyed the book. I hope the movie is good.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Recipe: Avocado Pasta

Avocado Pasta

I found this recipe at the blog, Oh She Glows.  I made a few slight changes, including the addition of pine nuts.  Below is my version of the recipe and here is a link to the original recipe.

This pasta is easy, creamy, tart, garlicky, avocado-y, delicious, filling, and vegan!

Starting the pasta.
Pine Nuts
Yes, I cut into one of the avocados before taking a photo.  I was excited.
Olive oil, lemon juice and garlic.

Combining the pasta and sauce.

Servings: 4

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb of pasta, such as spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 2 medium avocados, pitted and peeled
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice reserved
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add the pasta and cook to al dente, according to the package instructions.
  2. Line a small baking sheet with foil.  Add the pine nuts.  Broil in a toaster or regular oven until just starting to brown.  Remove from oven and set aside. 
  3. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce.  
  4. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and garlic to a food processor.  Process until smooth.  Add the avocado and process until smooth.  Salt and pepper to taste. 
  5. Once pasta is done, strain and put in a large bowl.  Add sauce and toss to combine. 
  6. Divide the pasta among plates or bowls and garnish with lemon zest and pine nuts. 

Notes:
Be sure to watch the pine nuts closely while they broil.  Nuts go from perfectly browned to burnt in a split second.

According to Angela at Oh She Glows notes that this recipe does not reheat well.  I was going to test it out but we ate it all for dinner that night.  Whoops.
 


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Imagine

by John Lennon

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Recipe: Stuffed Zucchini

Stuffed Zucchini

Consider this recipe a template.  Inspired by this recipe, I just took the idea and threw some of our favorite flavors together.  The result was very tasty and plenty for dinner tonight with leftovers for lunch tomorrow.   So if you try this recipe, please feel free to mix things up a bit.  Vegetarian?  Leave out the bacon.  Don't like goat cheese?  Replace it with feta or mozzarella or whatever.  Don't like zucchini?  Try another recipe entirely.  You do what you want!

Garlic and onion -- two crucial ingredients for many delicious recipes.
Trimmed zucchini.
Scooping out the insides.
Zucchini boat!
Zucchini insides mixture.
Ready to eat.

Stuffed Zucchini


Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400┬║ F.  Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and onion and saute, stirring occasionally until softened, approximately 10 minutes. 
  3. While garlic and onion are cooking, prep the zucchini.
  4. Rinse the zucchini and pat dry.  Trim the ends and slice in half lengthwise.
  5. With a spoon, dig out the insides and reserve.  Place the zucchini boats in the baking dish.
  6. Chop up the zucchini insides and put in a medium size bowl.  
  7. Add the garlic, onion, bacon, tomato, red pepper and thyme.  Stir and season with salt and pepper.  
  8. Add the sour cream and stir to combine. 
  9. Distribute the mixture among the zucchini boats and top with crumbled goat cheese. 
  10. Bake until the zucchini begins to soften and cheese just begins to brown, approximately 20 minutes. 

Notes:
I have already decided that the next time I make this, I'm going to replace half of the zucchini insides with quinoa and put in diced red pepper instead of tomato.  Yes, I'm pretty much always planning...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Recipe: Cucumber Cooler

Our garden is fertile.  Excessively so.  This is both awesome and overwhelming.  Today I shredded and chopped up enough zucchini to freeze and last us through the winter.  The basil, tomatoes and jalape├▒os are almost ready for a pesto and salsa extravaganza.

Don't even get me started on the cucumber.

I will leave it to say that we are having to get a bit creative.  For the Labor Day BBQ we will be attending on Monday, I will be making spicy crab stuffed cucumber cups. 

When I am at a loss for what to make food wise, my mind goes to the next best thing -- cocktails.  This is the cocktail we are currently enjoying while watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.  (Yes, we are working our way through the films for the umpteenth time.)  It is cool and refreshing.  (The movie and the cocktail.)

Happy Labor Day weekend!  Cheers!




Cucumber Cooler


Ingredients:
  • Cucumber
  • Lime
  • Gin
  • Elderflower Liqueur
  • Soda water

Directions:

  1. Put two slices of cucumber in the bottom of each cocktail glass.
  2. Add a generous amount of ice to each glass.
  3. Add 1.5 ounces gin and .5 ounce elderflower liqueur.  
  4. Squeeze a lime wedge over each drink and drop it in.  
  5. Top off with soda water and give each drink a little stir. 

Recipe: Chili Cheese Dip

Another super duper, easy peasy, "Oh sh#$! I totally forgot to make something for the Labor Day BBQ I'm attending this afternoon!" dip. 






Chili Cheese Dip


Ingredients:
  • 1 can of chili
  • 1 block of cream cheese
  • Fritos or tortilla chips

Directions:

  1. Put the block of cream cheese and chili in a microwave safe dish. 
  2. Microwave for 60 seconds.  Stir and microwave for an additional 30 - 60 seconds until the cream cheese and chili is heated through.  Stir and serve with chips.
Notes:
You can also make this with chili and a block of Velveeta.