Wednesday, July 20, 2016

One Skillet Tuscan Chicken

It's Wine Down Wednesday and you know what that's Wednesday and time to wind down with a nice wine.  We love Cara Mia Pinot Noir.  It's affordable and has a wonderful bouquet.  Chill it down and it's a lovely compliment with a salad, appetizers or dinner.

To go along with our beautiful glass of wine, I had half a brick of cream cheese that needed some love along with a little bit of pesto sauce that didn't get used up from pasta night.  I wanted a nice spreadable cheese to go over my toasted baguette slices...there you have it...two ingredients and the most perfect combination!

Another perfect combination...Saturday mornings and a good laugh!  The other day for the first time, I tuned into Patricia Heaton Parties on Food Network.  If you have not seen an episode yet, you must tune in asap!  Patricia is hilarious!!!  Her quick wit and sense of humor had me over-the-top laughing. She said, "She runs on 2 speeds...completely overcommitted and vegetable".  Right at that moment, the light bulb went on!  That's me!!  That's totally me!!  I am either running on warp speed drive in every direction or I am a pajama clad unshowered vegetable on the couch for an entire weekend.

Well, if you are also in your warp drive mode during the middle of the week like me, this dish is easy, fast and so flavorful.  It's just what you need for a Wine Down Wednesday...Enjoy!

One Skillet Tuscan Chicken

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 (15 oz) can Cannelini Beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup Kalamato olives, pitted and drained
1/4 cup capers, drained
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. thyme
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped for garnish
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the cubed chicken pieces and cook for about 8 minutes. on both sides, until cooked through.  Remove chicken and transfer to a plate.

Add 1 Tbsp. of olive oil to the skillet and saute the sliced mushrooms 5-7 minutes until the mushrooms are tender and the juices have evaporated.  Set aside.

Add another 1 Tbsp. olive oil to the skillet and the diced onion.  Saute the onions 3-4 minutes until translucent.  Add the minced garlic to the onions and saute together one more minute.  Add salt and pepper to taste while cooking.

Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil to the skillet and toss the diced tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, Cannelini beans, Kalamato olives and capers.  Season again with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle in the oregano, thyme and drizzle in the balsamic vinegar and honey.  Stir a few minutes.

Add the cooked chicken and mushrooms to the skillet.  Stir and cook 1-2 minutes or until chicken is heated through.

Serve hot over your favorite pasta with the fresh basil.

One Year Ago: Lemon-Blackberry Olive Oil Cake
Two Years Ago: Fry Sauce
Three Years Ago:  Colorado Pickling Cucumbers

Friday, July 15, 2016

Braised Chicken with Mushrooms and Almonds and Multitasking

I have started to realize there are some days that I am taking my multitasking a little too far...way too far! Even for a full-time working wife and mother, sometimes we just tend to over do it.

I realized it when this week, I had to have my car's quarterly service done.  My first mistake was making the appointment at 7:00 am.  That mean's my caboose needs to get up extra, extra early. Well, I stayed up a little later the night before, trying to tidy up the house before I went to bed.  I have also realized I truly like waking up to a perfectly neat and uncluttered house in the morning.  Putting away mail, straightening up the throw blankets and pillows (yes, I know it's 97 degrees here during the day, but we still like to snuggle with our throws in the evening) and giving the kitchen one last wipe down and polish before I call it a night.  It just gives a feeling of starting the day off fresh.

Well, all that freshness that I was organizing the night before, made me sleep in the next morning!..not good. I had to do the hyper speed shower (which meant the shaving of my legs just got postponed to the next day...again...ewww!!) and the fastest hair drying ever!

I didn't want to be late for my car appointment and get sent to the back of the waiting line...definitely no time for that!  I had achieved getting my "base face" on at home and proceeded to pack up the finishing color touches in my purse.  I grabbed the rest of my hair items and off I went.

After checking my car in, I headed to their restroom (and may I add it is one of the nicest public restrooms I have ever seen).  The place was empty and freshly cleaned.  I then dumped my mail that I needed to still open, the rest of my make up, my hair accessory and spray, and the jewelry I hadn't put on yet either.

There I am in Ford's private dressing room space...getting ready.  I looked down at the counter and just laughed!  Too much going on in life right now...must step back, take a break and breathe.  Oh, then I saw a bottle of clear top coat polish in my purse...what the heck, might as well do a quick pedicure touch up on my toes too while I'm waiting for my car!!

You're probably wondering where this is all going and what does it have to do with today's recipe. Well, as my brain was on overload, I realized I never posted this recipe in my que from our anniversary dinner menu. ...yes, the meal I made two months ago, yes that one!!  See, I told you...too much multitasking going on!

Braised Chicken with Mushrooms and Almonds
Courtesy of Anne Burrell, Food Network

extra virgin olive oil
8 chicken thighs
kosher salt
1/2 pound pancetta, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 large onions, julienned
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 pounds assorted mushrooms, such as baby bella, button, cremini, cleaned and sliced
2 cups dry white wine
4 to 6 cups chicken stock
1 bundle thyme
4 bay leaves
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds, toasted

Coat a large, wide, deep pan with olive oil and bring to a high heat.  Pat the chicken skin dry with paper towels and season generously with salt.  Add chicken, skin side down to the pan.  * If the pan is smoking excessively, turn the burner down and continue to cook.*  When the skin is brown and crispy, turn the chicken over and brown it on the other side.  Remove the chicken from the pan and reserve.

Lower the heat and remove most of the excess fat.  Add the pancetta and brown.  When the pancetta has started to get brown and crispy add the onions.  Season with salt and crushed red pepper and sweat over medium heat for 7 to 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and saute for 3 to 4 minutes or until they release their juices.  Add the wine and reduce by half.  Return the chicken to the pan.  Add chicken stock to almost cover the chicken.  Add the thyme and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.   Simmer the chicken for 30 to 35 minutes.  Add more chicken stock, if needed.

While the chicken is cooking puree the almonds in the food processor.  Drizzle in a little olive oil while the machine is running to make a loose paste.  Season with salt and reserve.

Once the chicken has cooked for 30 to 35 minutes, remove it from the pan and reserve.  Taste the sauce for seasoning and add in the almond puree.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer to thicken the sauce, if needed.  The almond puree with help thicken the sauce and make it very rich.

Add the chicken back into the sauce and keep warm until ready to serve.

** Serve over Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Sauteed Haricots Verts

One Year Ago: Spaghetti Squash Fritters
Two Years Ago: Grilled Vegetable Salad

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Chicken, Spinach & Goat Cheese Pizza and The Frederico

We have been enjoying some beautiful summer evenings as of late.  Afternoons have reminded me of our Hawaiian vacations.  Hot sunny days...afternoon thunder and lighting storms...skies open back up to beautiful blue and breathtaking sunsets.

As you recall, we love to make our favorite Frederico summer beverage to bring us back to our Hawaii memories. Since we cannot find pre-packaged "POG" juice (Passion, Orange, Guava) here on the mainland, I found a perfect alternative to still have that tropical flavor!  Nothing like the most wonderful chilled beverage on the patio to end your day.

The Frederico
1 part, Parrot Bay Coconut Rum
1 part, Makers Mark or Gentleman Jack Bourbon
1 part, orange juice
2 parts, Welch's Dragon Fruit Mango juice
2 parts, Welch's Passion Fruit juice
cocktail shaker

Pour all ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker.
Shake well and serve over ice.
Sip responsibly...enjoy!!

This week I started receiving my subscription again to "Cuisine at Home", that I recently renewed and I'm pretty excited about it!  I had a rare opportunity (again) to sit on the patio with my coffee (no Fredericos at 8:00am, thank you very much), the boys taking their post-kibble nap next to me and my latest Cuisine issues.  I pulled out my post-it note pad and started tagging my new recipes to try out.

This grilled pizza really caught my eye and it definitely did not disappoint either.  WOW!!  I would never have thought to put honey on a pizza, but the combination of it with the goat cheese was off the charts good!  This was the perfect date night dinner at home for us, or you could also cut it up into small pieces and serve as appetizer to guests.

Chicken, Spinach and Goat Cheese Pizza
Courtesy of Cuisine at Home, July/August 2016

4 oz. goat cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. milk
2 tsp. minced fresh tarragon
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
salt and pepper to taste

1 purchased thin-style pizza crust or pizza size naan
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken
1 cup fresh baby spinach
1/3 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup each, thinly sliced kalamata olives and jarred roasted red peppers
Red pepper flakes to taste
shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 500 degrees with baking stone.

Combine goat cheese, milk, tarragon, honey, zest and garlic;  season with salt and pepper.  

Bake pizza crust on baking stone until bottom starts to brown and crips, 3-4 minutes.

Remove pizza crust from oven and brush with 2 tsp. oil.  Spread goat cheese mixture over crust, leaving a 1/2 inch border.

Toss chicken, spinach and shallots with 1 tsp. oil; season with salt and black pepper.

Top pizza with chicken misture, olives and roasted red peppers; season with pepper flakes.

Bake pizza until toppings are heated through, 4-5 minutes, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

One Year Ago: Artichoke Gratin
Two Years Ago: Grilled Vegetable Salad

Monday, July 4, 2016

Fireworks Cookies and Cream Cookies...Happy 4th of July!

Wishing everyone a safe and wonderful Happy 4th of July!  Thank you to all of those who have served and continue to serve to protect our Nation!  We continue to pray for your safety and blessings.

Once again Pinterest saved the day for our annual Fireworks Picnic this year and my much needed dessert.  I didn't care what, who or how, I needed chocolate this year!!  We are headed back to our favorite golf course to enjoy our sunset picnic dinner with the girls, play a little paddle ball, relax and enjoy the show.  Not only do these festive cookies bring the chocolate...they bring fun colors and deliciousness with every bite!  I know this because I taste tested about 13 of them before I packed up for our evening...just wanted to make sure they were acceptable to serve to our guests, of course.

Fireworks Cookies and Cream Cookies
Courtesy of Inside Bru Crew Life

1 vanilla cake mix
8 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups Oreo cookie chunks (14 chocolate cream-filled)
3/4 cup red, white & blue M&M's divided
1/2 cup red, white & blue sprinkles, divided

Mix together the cake mix, butter, egg, and vanilla until soft dough forms.  Add the cream cheese and mix again.

Stir in the cookie chunks, 1/2 cup M&M's, and 1/4 cup of the sprinkles gently.  Cover and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Set out 2 cookie sheets and line them with parchment paper.

Roll into 24 even dough balls.  Press the remainng M&M's into the tops of the dough balls.  Add extra sprinkles to the tops of the dough balls.

Place the dough balls on the cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool for 2 minutes, before moving them to another piece of parchment paper.  Let the cookies cool completely and store in a tighty sealed container.  Makes 24 cookies.

One Year Ago: Traeger BBQ Beef Ribs
Two Years Ago: Apple Pie Cake

My husband's famous Potato Salad...this will be an awesome side to our BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders tonight!  He also got to experience first hand how difficult it is to photograph food!!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Lemon Bundt Cake for The Birthday Girl

The other day I was in a waiting room passing time for my upcoming appointment. I started thumbing through the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens and noticed a feature they call "BHG throwback".  The title 1944 caught my eye...the year my mom was born.

Today is her birthday...Happy Birthday Mom!!  This collage was made by my grandmother in one of her great scrapbook/photo albums she made for me.  I love seeing all the fun photos of my mom and me, especially all the different fashions and hairstyles from "back in the day".  As you recall, I shared with you my quest to duplicate my mom's Sunday Night Pot Roast a few years ago.

My mom also is a fan of lemon flavoring and has her sweet tooth moments.  In her honor today, I made a new lemon bundt cake, from the BHG magazine I was perusing through that day.

I even purchased a new fun shaped bundt pan to test out...super cool designs.  I forsee a lot of bundt cake experiments in the future.

Lemon Bundt Cake
Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens, May 2016

3 eggs
1-1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 Tbsp. lemon extract
2 Meyer lemons or lemons, zested (2 tsp.)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder

Lemon Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
Meyer lemon juice or lemon juice (about 2 Tbsp.)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Coat a 10-inch fluted tube pan with nonstick spray for baking.  In a very large mixing bowl whisk together eggs, milk, oil, butter, extract, and zest.  Add flour, sugar, baking powder, and 1 tsp. salt.  Whisk until smooth.  Pour into prepared pan.

Bake about 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes.  Remove cake form pan; cool.  Drizzle with glaze.

For the Lemon Glaze; in a bowl stir together powdered sugar and lemon juice (enough to make drizzling consistency).

After glazing the cake, sprinkle about 1 Tbsp. lemon zest over cake.

This is what happens when I get too busy to photograph a 
recipe right after it is completed.  My family thought they
needed to "test it out" before I published it...and I thought
my dogs were bad!!