Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chicken Marsala

So cooking takes energy. Duh. Not just physical energy but emotional energy is needed to think about, plan, shop for, prepare, cook and clean up after a meal. Add in kids that need attention and entertainment and *whew*, it can be alot. On an average day when everything is going "normal" for us, cooking and the energy I spend on it is FUN and somewhat of a creative outlet for me.

This week we've had some trials and more than our share of worry and I found it interesting that I had next to no desire to expend any extra energy on meals. I gained a new perspective; cooking takes energy! So, if you've got something in mind and in the works for dinner tonight, awesome! If you're struggling...try to make a good choice for take out and remember there's always tomorrow.

I made this dish several nights ago and now that all my boys are napping peacefully and some level of calm has found it's way back here, I'm sitting down (with a piece of chocolate) to another of my creative outlets, blogging.  I know it's totally weird but I kind of like html coding, what do you think of the new wider blog layout with bigger pictures?  Enjoy this one!

Recipe: (serves 4)

4 chicken breasts, pounded thin 
1 cup all-purpose flour
3-5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons shallots, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced

salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped (or 1/2 tablespoon dried)
1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving

1. Lightly season the chicken with salt and pepper, coat lightly in flour.
2. Bake chicken on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray in a 425'F oven for 15-25 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until it reaches an internal temperature of 160'F.
3. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large saute pan, add the shallots, garlic and thyme and saute for ~ 1 minute.   Add the mushrooms cooking an additional 3-5 minutes.  Season lightly with pepper.  Deglaze the pan with the Marsala wine. Add butter and remove from the heat.
4. Serve the chicken topped with mushroom mixture and a lemon wedge.

Serve hot with a side of pasta and vegetables. Tonight I made a semolina pasta, which has more protein, a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and about 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon unsalted butter and some fresh green onions. We also had broccoli, notice it's color, just cooked until al dente. Enjoy!
...click here for the recipe!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

This is a great way to use up leftovers, especially roast chicken or turkey and top them with some delicious mashed potatoes. I love the addition of leeks, which are so tasty and in season right now! The recipe is adapted from the Eating Well in Season Cookbook. It was tasty and hearty. I opted to leave the skins on my potatoes for some added fiber. I also made this ahead of time (during nap time) and stashed it in the fridge until I was ready to bake it off for dinner. I don't know about you but evenings around our house can be alittle crazy so it helps to have most of dinner made ahead. Serve this up with a fresh green salad or as a stand alone one dish meal.

Recipe: Serves 6

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, washed well and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups carrots, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
3 tablespoons all purpose flour (or for gluten free; substitute 1 tablespoon potato starch)
2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
2 1/3 cups Low-Sodium, Organic Chicken broth
2 cups cooked turkey or chicken diced
1 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper

Mashed Potatoes:
2 pounds potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold, cut into chunks
3/4 cup non-fat buttermilk
salt & pepper to taste
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425'F. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and carrots and cook, stirring often, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, stir 1 minute more.

2. Pour in just 1/3 cup chicken broth and stir to deglaze the pan. Add 3 tablespoons flour (or potato starch) and sage, stir constantly until the flour starts to turn light brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in rest of broth and bring to a simmer, stirring often, until sauce thickens and carrots are just tender, about 5 minutes.

3. Add turkey (or chicken) and peas, season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a 2 quart baking dish and set aside.

4.Place potatoes in a large pot and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, cook ~ 10 minutes, drain and return potatoes to warm pan. Mash potatoes with masher or with Immersion Blender (stick blender) adding enough buttermilk to make a smooth puree. Add Parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper, stir in egg. Spread the mashed potatoes on top of the turkey mixture.

5. Bake at 425'F about 20-25 minutes until heated through and top is golden.

{Make ahead TIP}: Prepare through step 4, cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator up to 1 day, pull out and let rest on counter about 20 minutes before baking. May need to add 5 minutes to baking time as needed.
...click here for the recipe!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pesto Pizza - I Heart Faces Photo Challenge

My Dinner Recipe in Photos for the I Heart Faces Photo Challenge...

This is a favorite dinner around our house and a special treat! We were inspired by a dinner out at our favorite pizzeria and decided to try our hand at making pesto pizza at home. We simply pull out some Semolina pizza dough from the freezer, (made ahead it in the bread machine, then frozen for quick meals later on) smothered it in my homemade pesto, some freshly grated Mozzarella cheese and grilled chicken cut into strips. It is delish and actually very close to the restaurant's version, maybe even better since it was a tad less greasy. This is a garlicy-basil explosion in your mouth, wonderful!

I took some of the tons of fresh basil we have growing in our garden and made some pesto! I used walnuts for this and toasted them in the oven to give them alittle extra toasty flavor. Just spread them on a sheet pan and toast in a 350'F oven for about 8-10 minutes until fragrant and just browned, but not burned. :o)

Pulse food processor to chop nuts
 Add basil and garlic and pulse again
 Add Parmesan and stream in the olive oil
finished pesto...yum!

Pesto Recipe: (yields ~1 cup)
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup walnuts
3 garlic cloves, minced
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Place walnuts in a food processor and pulse a few times to chop then add in your basil leaves and pulse a few more times to chop the leaves. Add the garlic and pulse a couple more times.
2. Pour olive oil in slowly while the food processor is running, about 1 minute. Scrap down the sides with a spatula halfway through to be sure it all incorporated. Finally, add the cheese and pulse once or twice to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread on fresh bread, smooth over pasta, layer on sandwiches or make pesto pizza!
*I like to freeze the sauce in small-one meal portion-zip top bags, or you could freeze it in ice cube trays for easy 1-ounce measuring.

Semolina pizza dough - In the Bread Machine
Mix the following in the bread machine and run on the 'dough' cycle: Makes two 12 inch pizzas
1 1/2 cups water
3 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 cups All Purpose (AP) flour
1 1/2 cups Semolina durum wheat flour
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 3/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast

When the dough cycle is over (~1.5hr) "cloak" the dough with AP flour and then divide into two even pieces. Shape each piece into a dome shape by folding the edges underneath. Cover with a damp towel for 30 minutes. Use immediately or place into quart size ziploc bags and refrigerate for up to 24hrs then let rest for 20 minutes on the counter, then use. Or freeze for up to 3 months, put the dough in the refrigerator the night before to defrost.

Baking instructions:
Par bake your dough! Place pizza stones in the oven and Pre-heat to 450'F. Shape the dough using plenty of AP flour until it is a uniform 12-14 inches in diameter. Cook for about 5 minutes or so until the outside has a light crust to it but it is still very soft to the touch. Constantly check for bubbles in your dough, pop with a fork. Take it out and add your pizza toppings then cook until the cheese is melted and bubbly or until the dough is to your liking (some like extra crispy crust some like soft). Enjoy.

Assembling the pizza:
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, grilled and sliced
salt & pepper to taste
1/2-3/4c up of Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Par bake your dough as described above. Spread about 1/4-1/2 cup of pesto sauce all over dough. Lay out your sliced grilled chicken strips evenly. Top with shredded Mozzarella cheese and finish in the oven for 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted and golden brown. Add your family's favorite and have fun with your toppings!

...click here for the recipe!

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