Sunday, April 29, 2012

Why Re-Invent the Wheel?



In less than a week, I will graduate (after returning to college following a 26 year break!) from Southeast Technical Institute with degrees in Business Administration and Human Resources. I'm feeling very pressed for time as I try to wrap-up everything ahead of graduation and I haven't had much time for meals (I'm mortified to have to admit this). Thank goodness for our "go-to recipes", right?

I don't believe it re-inventing the wheel, especially when it comes to recipes. If someone out there has a great recipe, I figure "why mess with it?" Lucinda Scala Quinn's Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo is just such a recipe. It's a restaurant-quality dish that comes together in a surprisingly short amount of time. When time is short or you just don't know what to make for dinner, give this recipe a try. I'm confident this Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo will become part of your "go-to" repertoire, as well!


Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo






1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts

salt & pepper (kosher salt is best, if you have it)

2 tbsp. butter

2 cups heavy cream (in a pinch, I've also used half-and-half or whole milk)

4 cloves garlic, peeled

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (fresh is best)

1 lb. fettuccine (I've also substituted spaghetti or linguine)


Fill a large sauce or stock pot with water and add a large amount of salt (a small handful). It seems like a lot of salt, but you want your pasta water to taste like sea water. This is the first chance you have to season your pasta, so don't be afraid to add the salt! Bring the water to a boil.

In a small sauce pan, combine the cream and garlic cloves and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes. This will infuse the cream with a wonderful garlic flavor that won't overpower the dish. This is a great technique to remember. I use it in many other recipes.

While the pasta water is heating, cut the chicken breasts into strips, pat dry with a paper towel, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

When the water comes to a boil, cook the fettuccine (or other pasta) according to package directions - usually around 7 - 10 minutes.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter. Saute the chicken in the butter until it is cooked through. Remove the garlic cloves from the cream and add the cream to the chicken. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and taste. Season with salt and pepper, if necessary.

Drain the pasta when it has finished cooking, but do not rinse! Taste a noodle and you'll see what I mean about seasoning the pasta while it cooks. Add the pasta to the chicken and cream sauce. Toss and serve. If you like, you can sprinkle some chopped parsley over the pasta.

Enjoy!


** Be sure to check out "What's in the Oven" this week for a wonderful Tres Leches Cake recipe!





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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award



Monday, Katja from Katja's Kitchen nominated It's not just about the recipe . . . . for the Versatile Blogger Award! What fantastic news to start the week!! I am truly honored and thrilled to be nominated. Thank you so very much to Katja at Katja's Kitchen.


The Versatile Blogger Award is a great way for bloggers to introduce different bloggers to each other and also to promote quality blogs that the awardees and their followers might not otherwise discover. The rules of the award are quite simple:
  • Thank the person who gave you this award.
  • Include a link to their blog.
  • Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.
  • Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs.
  • Include this set of rules in your post.
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.  

I had a difficult time with my nomination list. There are so many great blogs out there, I had a tough time choosing just 15.

My nominees for The Versatile Blogger Award are (this is so exciting!):
  • Veronica at MorningNooNight - some of the most fun recipes on the internet are on this site. My personal favorite:  Blue Bubblegum Ice Cream!
  • Jacqui at The French Village Diaries - I've been following Jacqui for some time as she writes about her life as an ex-pat living in France. I feel like I've known her forever and I'm hoping someday to actually meet her.
  • Becca from Amuse Your Bouche - Foodbuzz brought Becca to my attention. Her recipes are inventive and delicious. She also just recently celebrated a milestone:  100 blog posts!
  • Krista at Budget Gourmet Mom - You'll find fantastic meal ideas and recipes here! She also posts weekly menus, so you'll never find yourself eating the same dish - ever!
  • Doggy Dessert Chef from DoggyDessert Chef - Another great "find" in the Foodbuzz community. I have 3 Aussies who dearly love their treats. I always find great (and healthy) recipes for my babies here. Truth be told, I eat the treats, too. They're really good!
  • Penny from Meet Penny - Penny's blog caught my eye because she is also a homeschooling parent. I love the diversity her site offers with everything from cooking to finance to homeschool and much more.
  • Stephanie at The Cookie a Day Challenge - What's not to love about a different cookie each day for an entire year?! All the recipes look wonderful, but my favorite, so far, has to be the bacon chocolate chip cookie.
  • Jane at Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms - In addition to posting mouth-watering recipes and great giveaways, Jane also hosts the "Melt in Your Mouth" blog hop each week!
  • Jill at La Maison des Fleurs - I enjoy reading about Jill's life in France. She posts some of the most beautiful photos on the web!
  • Marie at The English Kitchen and A Year From Oak Cottage - I found Marie through NetworkedBlogs and I'm so glad did! Marie is not only a very talented artist, she's also an wonderful cook/baker and a great blogger.
  • Tina from Flourtrader - Tina and I also met via Foodbuzz. I look forward to her posts because she has such creativity and style with her dishes. I have to confess, it's her desserts and other sweets that really get my attention!
  • Sarah at Repeat Crafter Me - I found Sarah and her delightful vegetable garden rock signs via The Gunny Sack's Linky Party. She writes a wonderful blog about her family, crafting, and cooking.
  • Jenn at Peas and Crayons - I met Jenn in the Foodbuzz community. I love her approach to food as art.
  • Michael Ann from The Big Green Bowl - I love how Michael Ann shares her memories of her grandparents and brother with her recipes. I always think of my own grandma when I read her posts.
  • Tammi at Momma's Meals - My introduction to Tammi is also quite recent. I became acquainted with her and her wonderful blog via Becca from Amuse Your Bouche.
And now for the 7 things about me:

  1. I spent the earliest part of my life in the Air Force (with my dad and the rest of my family). We even lived in Germany for 4 years (thankfully, I was old to remember).
  2. I do not like chocolate - even a little bit - although I do make quite a few recipes that are chocolate (for other people).
  3. Despite my aversion to chocolate, I have a HUGE sweet-tooth, especially for sweet breads and pastries. I've been known to eat an entire pie myself!
  4. I'm completely petrified of my dentist and snakes. I don't think my dentist is a snake, he's a pretty nice person, but I'm still afraid to go see him and reschedule every appointment at least once before I show up.
  5. With the exception of groceries, I do all of my shopping online. All of it.
  6. A couple of years ago, I decided to stop dying my hair so I could see what color it really is. It's almost all white (and I'm still in my 40s) which is why I'm back to coloring it!
  7. I love snow! The more, the better.


Thank you, again, to Katja at Katja's Kitchen for nominating me and giving me the opportunity to nominate others. Be sure to check out "What's in the Oven" later today!
















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What's in the oven? A Cinco de Mayo Surprise!







If you're planning your menu for Cinco de Mayo (which is less than a week away), you'll need a great dessert recipe! For me, that's always a Tres Leches (Three Milk) cake. For those of you not yet acquainted with the Tres Leches cake (or heaven on a plate, as I like to call it!), it's a sponge cake soaked in a mixture of three kinds of milk - sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream. You may be wondering if all that milk creates a soggy cake? The sponge cake is very light and has many air bubbles, so it soaks up all the milk and creates an almost velvety texture that's not soggy, at all! And if that's not enough to convince you, the entire cake is covered in fresh, sweetened whipped cream. I also like to have some fresh strawberry slices or pineapple, on the side. 

Below is the recipe I like to use whenever I make a Tres Leches cake. It's from Ree at the Pioneer Woman Cooks. I've tried other recipes, but hers always turns out great. She has some really great photos of the process and they're very helpful if you've never made the cake before - just click on the link below.

Tres Leches Cake






1 cup flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

5 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar, divided

1 tsp. vanilla

1/3 cup milk

1 can evaporated milk

1 can sweetened condensed milk

2 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided

3 tbsp. sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously grease a 9 x 13 pan. Set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer, beat the egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until they are a pale yellow color. Stir in 1/3 cup milk and the vanilla. Add egg yolk mixture to dry ingredients and stir just until combined. 

Beat the egg whites on high until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating the whites until stiff peaks form, but the whites are not dry. Gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and smooth the batter so it is level. Bake for 35 - 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Turn the cake out onto a rimmed platter and cool completely.

When the cake is cool, combine the evaporated milk, the sweetened condensed milk, and the heavy cream in a large pitcher (you'll have about 3 cups of milk). Stir to blend the milks. Pierce the cake surface several times with a fork. Now for the fun part! Slowly drizzle all but 1 cup of the milk mixture over the top of the cake. Be sure to get as close to the sides as you can and don't worry if the milk spills over. Let the cake sit for about 30 minutes and watch as it soaks up all the milk from the sides and underneath the cake. 

While the cake is resting, whip the remaining 2 cups of heavy cream with the sugar until it is thick and spreadable. Spread over the surface of the cake. You can decorate with fruit, if you like - I like to keep mine on the side, just in case someone is allergic or doesn't want any fruit on their cake.

Enjoy!

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cinco de Mayo Countdown - Part One



I'm so excited for this week's post! My good friend and neighbor, Alma has agreed to be my guest! She is sharing a few of her recipes with me - and you! These are a few of the recipes she prepared with her mother as they prepared for Cinco de Mayo when she was a young girl growing up in Orizaba, Veracruz, Mexico.

Look for the little red balloon!

If you click on the map (shown above), you'll see that Orizaba isn't very far away from the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, it's only located about a hour-and-a-half from the Gulf. Maybe we can convince Alma to visit again and share some of her recipes for seafood?

For today, she'll be showing us how to make chicken fajitas, rice, and pico de gallo. Below are the ingredients you'll need to prepare the fajitas, rice, and pico de gallo. This will prepare about four servings. Just a quick note to avoid any confusion:  you will only need one white onion, one green pepper, and one red pepper.

Fajitas

3 medium-sized chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips

2 -3 tsp. Chef Merito Fajita Seasoning

1/4 - 1/3 cup Goya Criolla Marinade

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/2 medium white onion, sliced

1/2 green pepper, cut into strips

1/2 red pepper, cut into strips

Rice

olive oil

1 cup white rice

2 cups water

1 tbsp. Maggi Pollo Seasoning

1 Roma (plum) tomato, cut into small chunks

1/4 red pepper, cut into strips

1/4 greeen pepper, cut into strips

1/4 white onion, sliced

1/3 cup frozen mixed vegetables

Pico de Gallo

2 Roma (plum) tomatoes

1/4 white onion, cut into small dice

1/4 red pepper, cut into small dice

1/4 green pepper, cut into small dice

6 radishes, ends trimmed, cut into small dice

olive oil

2 limes, juiced

handful of fresh cilantro, rough chopped

salt & pepper, to taste


Ready to start cooking a delicious dinner? And I do mean delicious!

Alma preparing the rice.

To begin, trimmed away the fat from the chicken breasts and sliced them into thin strips like the ones shown in the photo below.

Chicken breasts sliced thinly

Place the strips of chicken into a bowl and sprinkle generously with the Chef Merito Fajita Seasoning. Pour the Goya Criolla Marinade over the chicken and mix well. Alma told me these two ingredients are her "secret weapons". Set aside.

Alma's "secret weapons"!

While the chicken marinating, prepare the rice. Coat the bottom of a medium-sized sauce pan with olive oil (2 - 3 turns of the pan) and heat over medium-high heat. Add the rice and cook in the oil just until the rice begins to change color. Add the water and the Maggi Pollo Seasoning (shown below).

Seasoning for the rice.

Turn the heat to low. Add the tomato, onion, red and green peppers, and the mixed vegetables to the rice; stir to distribute the vegetables evenly in the rice.

Isn't this colorful?

Cover and simmer for 20 - 25 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. While the rice is cooking, make the pico de gallo. Dice the tomatoes, onion, red and green peppers, and radishes.

Tomatoes diced evenly

Place all the vegetables into a bowl and add the olive oil, lime juice, and cilantro. Toss gently with a fork to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper, to your liking. If you like, you can also add more lime juice. 


I cannot describe how wonderfully fresh this pico de gallo tastes!

Set the pico de gallo aside and prepare the fajitas. Slice the onion and peppers.

Ready for the fajitas.

Coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil (2 -3 turns of the pan) and heat over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and marinade to the skillet and cook (stir-fry style) until the chicken is cooked through. If you like, you can sprinkle a little more Chef Merito seasoning over the chicken while it cooks. Add the peppers and onion to the chicken and continue stir-frying until the vegetables become crisp-tender.

My kitchen smelled so amazing!

To serve:  heat some white corn tortillas in a dry skillet or on a griddle until they become soft and pliable. Spoon some of the chicken fajita mixture into the tortilla and top with the pico de gallo. Wrap and enjoy!


With a tortilla . . . .

I prefer to eat fajitas without the tortillas or with them on the side, so this is what my plate looked like:

. . . . and without!

This entire meal went from zero to table in about 30 minutes! Can you believe it? And the taste? Unbelievable! Everything Alma prepared was so fresh and so tasty! I had several little "tastes" while Alma was preparing the dishes, my first plate, and seconds. And then thirds! It's safe to say, I'm hooked!

A very BIG "Thank You" to my friend, Alma for preparing this amazing dinner and for sharing her recipes with us. Be sure to check next week's post for some great dessert and drink recipes to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

Be sure to also check "What's in the oven?" on Wednesday. I'll be making a birthday cake - for me! 


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Sunday, April 15, 2012

In the ring with Marie Barone




How many of you remember the tv comedy Everybody Loves Raymond? If you do, you'll also remember that Ray's wife, Debra was an awful cook and many jokes were made about how bad her food was. It was so bad, it took an entire episode when she finally made something good, much to her overbearing mother-in-law's dismay. Preparing good food was Marie's domain and she never let Debra forget it.

Thanks to YouTube, I found the clip of Marie being confronted with Debra's successful dish:



The dish that unnerved Marie was braciole. That particular episode - aside from being hilarious - made me curious. Just what is braciole? And could I make it to Marie's standard? Probably not, but I had to give it a try, so I did a little research and climbed into the ring with Marie Barone.

Ding, ding! In this corner, weighing in with a mere 30-some years of cooking (none of it Italian - spaghetti and lasagna don't count), the challenger:  Stephanie. And in this corner, the greatest living (if only in her mind) Italian cook of all time, the mamma with the most, the champ: Marie!

And with that, the shadow-boxing match with Marie Barone began.


Braciole


Before we get to the recipe, I should really answer my question:  what is braciole? It is an Italian-American dish (main or side) that consists of thinly sliced meat rolled as a roulade with cheese and bread crumbs and fried. When it is cooked in a tomato sauce, it is not uncommon for pasta to be tossed in it. 

This is my first time making braciole and I didn't have a trusted recipe or even a trusted recipe book to go to. So, I did what everyone else does in these situations - I googled it. After reading through many (many, many) recipes and conversation boards about braciole, I came away knowing two things, for sure:  there are a lot of recipes for braciole on the internet and I needed to find a recipe from a trusted source (usually one of my favorite chefs). I turned to Chef Anne Burrell - another Food Network favorite. Her recipe, at first glance, looks a little intimidating, but (as with most of her recipes) mise en place (have all the ingredients ready) is the key! Chef Anne's recipe can be found at:  Braciole Recipe.



2 lbs. top round, cut into 1/2" slices (about 12 slices)

Place the slices of top round between two pieces of plastic wrap and gently pound with a meat mallet to flatten and even out the slices. Set aside.

Stuffing

olive oil

1/2 cup finely diced pancetta (use bacon, if you don't have pancetta)

1 lg. onion, finely diced

salt

1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

2 cups day old bread, crusts removed, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 cup milk

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced

1/2 lb. fresh spinach, stems removed, cut into chiffonade (you can also tear it into small pieces, if you don't want to chiffonade the spinach)

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

1/2 cup grated provolone

1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano


Heat a large skillet over medium heat and coat with olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook until it gets brown and crispy, about 5-7 minutes. Add the onion and pepper flakes; toss to incorporate with the pancetta. Season with salt, to taste. Cook on medium-low until the onions become soft and very aromatic, about 7-8 minutes.

While the onions are cooking, combine the bread cubes and milk in a large bowl. Toss to combine and let this sit until the bread has absorbed all the milk and is very soft. Set aside.

Add garlic to pancetta and onions. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms; season with salt (to taste) and cook until the mushrooms become soft and have release their moisture, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the spinach.

Combine the onion/mushroom mixture with the bread/milk. Add the pine nuts and cheeses; stir well to combine. Taste and season with salt, if necessary. Set aside.

Sauce

olive oil

1 lg. onion, finely diced

1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

salt

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

4 tbsp. tomato paste

1 cup red wine (may substitute beef stock, if you like)

1 - 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

2 cups water


Lightly coat a large pot with olive oil and heat over medium temperature. Add the onion and pepper flakes, season with salt and cook until the onions are translucent and very aromatic, about 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and wine; cook for 6-8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and water; taste and season with salt (to your taste). Cover and simmer until needed.

While the sauce is simmering, lay out the flattened beef slices and spread about 1/4 cup of filling on each slice. Roll up the beef slice and secure with a toothpick. Repeat with the remaining slices. Using the skillet the filling was made in, coat the pan with 2-3 turns of olive oil and place over medium-high heat. Brown the beef rolls on all sides. You may have to work in batches so you don't crowd the pan.

Place the browned beef rolls in the sauce and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the beef is very tender, about 2 - 2 1/2 hours.

To serve, place a little sauce on a platter and arrange the braciole on top of the sauce. Be sure to remove the toothpicks before placing them on the platter! Spoon sauce over the top and garnish with grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese and chopped parsley.


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For my first time preparing braciole, I think I did fairly well. There are things I will definitely do differently, the next time. There's no question, Marie won this round - by decision, not a knock-out.

I did learn one important thing while making braciole: my kitchen was missing an essential tool. A meat mallet. I flattened the meat with a rolling pin and, while that does work, a meat mallet is much more effective at getting the job done. My advice? Do what I did. Add a meat mallet to your kichen tool collection, if you don't already have one.

The braciole was served as a main dish and I prepared the pasta shown below as a side. The two paired beautifully.


Angel Hair Pasta with Fried Red Chili Flakes & Lemon


This recipe comes from another one of my favorite chefs, Tyler Florence. I used to watch him all the time on Food Network and I don't think he ever prepared a dish I didn't think I'd like. I've tried many of his recipes and they always turn out great! This pasta dish is super simple and makes a great side dish to the braciole. I especially love the little bit of heat the fried chili flakes add to the subtlety of the lemon.

If you'd like to see the original recipe, please follow this link:  Tyler Florence's Angel Hair Pasta.




1/2 cup olive oil plus 2 tbsp.

2 cups panko bread crumbs (you can use plain breadcrumbs, but panko gives the best results)

salt & pepper

3 cloves garlic, slivered

1 tsp. dried red pepper chili flakes

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1 lb. angel hair pasta

1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano

6 cups lightly packed arugula (I don't care for arugula, so I omitted this)


Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a skillet over low heat; add the panko bread crumbs. Toast until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a bowl and set aside.

Using the same skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat; add the garlic and chili flakes. Saute for 2-3 minuts to infuse the oil and cook the garlic. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the lemon zest and remove from heat.

In a large pot of salted boiling water, add the angel hair pasta and cook for 3-4 minutes. Drain and place in a large mixing bowl. While still warm, toss in the arugula, infused olive oil, bread crumbs, lemon juice, and the cheese. Transfer to a large serving platter, if you like.

Enjoy!


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Monday, April 9, 2012

What's in the oven? A little bit of honey.




Can you think of anything that smells better than the aroma of freshly baked bread? I think it's probably my most favorite scent in the world because it reminds me of my grandma. She was the one who taught me how to make bread when I was a little girl and I can't help but think of her whenever I have a loaf of bread in the oven.

I love making a variety of breads and most of the bread eaten in our home is made from scratch. I make all the artisan breads by hand, but I use the dough setting on my bread machine for regular loaves like traditional white bread and the honey-wheat bread in this week's post.

This week's recipe comes from Gooseberry Patch's Dinners on a Dime cookbook. I haven't had much success with wheat breads in the past, but this recipe worked perfectly and made a beautiful, tasty loaf of bread. I made just two changes to the original recipe:  I used white whole wheat flour instead of the regular wheat flour and I adjusted the ingredient amounts. The original recipe makes five loaves of bread, but I wanted to make just one, so I reduced the ingredient amounts. The link below the recipe title will take you to the original recipe and instructions at Gooseberry Patch, if you'd like to make multiple loaves and/or mix the bread by hand. The recipe I used in my bread machine is shown below.


Honey-Wheat Bread

Submitted to Gooseberry Patch by Brenda Ervin, Festus, MO



1/2 cup milk

2 tbsp. honey

1 egg, beaten slightly

2 tbsp. butter, softened

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup wheat flour

1 cup bread flour (or all-purpose flour)

1 tsp. yeast


Add the ingredients to the bread machine pan in the order shown, beginning with the milk and ending with the yeast. Set bread machine to the dough cycle and start. Check the dough during the mixing cycle and make any necessary adjustments. The dough should be moderately firm and tacky. I like to spray the top of the dough with a little non-stick cooking spray during the proofing (or first rise) to keep the dough from drying out.

When the dough cycle had ended, roll the dough out to a rectangular shape about the approximate length of the pan (the longest dimension). Roll the dough up and seal well. Place the dough, seam side down, into a greased loaf pan and cover with plastic cling wrap that's been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Place the dough in a warm, draft-free location to rise (proof *). This will take approximately 30-40 minutes.

Bake in a 350° F oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped. About half way through the baking time, I like to brush the top of the loaf with 1 tsp. melted butter. Remove the bread from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool. I like to brush the loaf with butter a second time after removing it from the pan. Be sure to let the bread cool completely before cutting.




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Sunday, April 8, 2012

I ♥ Gooseberry Patch





I am a HUGE fan of Gooseberry Patch and this week I've had the honor of being their "Fan of the Week". I can't tell you how excited I was when I found out! This week, to celebrate, I'm sharing a wonderful recipe from Gooseberry Patch's Quick & Easy Autumn Recipes Cookbook. Even though we're well into spring, the recipes from the Gooseberry Patch cookbooks work beautifully in any season.

Gooseberry Patch also shares many of their recipes (like this one) on their website (see link above and click on "Free Recipes"), along with many FREE e-cookbooks. They even provide a link to free app, if you don't have an e-reader. Please stop by their Facebook page (if you haven't already), browse a little and let them know It's not just about the recipe . . . sent you!

 


Skillet Chicken & Mushrooms

Submitted to Gooseberry Patch by Tina Wright from Atlanta, GA




1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts

salt & pepper

3 tbsp. butter, divided

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 lb. sliced mushrooms

1/4 cup Madeira wine or chicken broth (I used chicken broth)

1 tbsp. Worchestershire sauce

1 tbsp. fresh tarragon, chopped (you can substitute 2 tsp. dried tarragon, if you don't have fresh)


Rinse the chicken breasts and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Be sure the skillet is large enough to hold the chicken breasts without crowding (or they won't brown) or work in batches. Cook chicken in butter until golden on both sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer chicken breasts to a plate and set aside. Add onion to skillet and saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute until the juices are released, about 5 minutes. Stir in wine (or broth) and worchestershire sauce. Return the chicken breasts and any juices left on the plate to the skillet. Spoon mushroom/onion mixture over chicken. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until chicken juices run clear, about 20 minutes. Stir in tarragon, taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, as desired.

To serve, place the chicken breasts on a serving platter, spoon mushroom/onion mixture over chicken, and sprinkle with a little fresh tarragon or arrange sprigs of tarragon on platter. I served my chicken and mushrooms over Uncle Ben's Vegetable Harvest Whole Grain Medley rice along with oven-roasted carrots.



If you find, like I did, that you have plenty of mushrooms left, don't throw them out! They're perfectly seasoned to go over grilled or broiled steaks. They'll just need a little warming.

Enjoy!

This recipe is linked with love to the linky parties shown below. Lots of really great recipes to check out!















Be sure to check "What's in the oven?" on Monday for delicious recipe from Gooseberry Patch's Dinners on a Dime cookbook!


Honey-Wheat Bread


Happy Easter!




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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What's in the Oven? Everything Really is Bigger in Texas






To start, I have some exciting news to tell you! (I hope you don't mind.)


It's not just about the recipe . . . . is Gooseberry Patch's Fan of the Week! It's no secret I'm a big (BIG, HUGE) fan of Gooseberry Patch, so I was beyond excited when I found out. Then I had to keep it a secret. I'm not good at keeping secrets, especially fun ones, so it almost killed me!

What I love most about Gooseberry Patch is their books. They share so many great recipes and wonderful tips on making your home feel special during the holidays and every day in-between. I have a few of their books and love them all, but my favorite is Gooseberry Patch Christmas All Through the House. Even though its' theme is centered around Christmas, I use it all year long.


If you've not been introduced to Gooseberry Patch just yet, please stop by. You'll love it, I promise!

And to celebrate my new "fan" status, cake for everybody! Not just any cake, a Texas Sheet Cake.



Texas Sheet Cake


1 cup butter

1 cup water

1/4 cup baking cocoa

1/2 cup sour milk *

2 eggs, room temperature

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

frosting of your choice (I used a caramel frosting, but chocolate works just as nice)

2 cups toasted pecans, coarsely chopped **


Grease a 15" x 10" baking sheet pan and dust with cocoa powder (instead of flour to reduce the chance of a white residue from flour being left behind).



Over low heat, combine the butter, water, and cocoa in a small saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until butter melts and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.

Mix the milk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed; add the cocoa mixture and continue mixing until well blended.

Combine the sugar, flour, and salt in another bowl; whisk to combine (shortcut sifting). Gradually add to the buttermilk-cocoa mixture and mix just until all the ingredients are combined. The batter will be thin.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 F for 20 - 25*** minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

* To make sour milk, just add 1 tbsp. plain vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Fill to one cup mark with milk and stir. Let the milk sit for a minute or two before using in a recipe. For this recipe, I used 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice and filled to 1/2 cup mark. Buttermilk or sour cream (same amount as milk) will also work.

** To toast the pecans, evenly spread the nuts on a baking sheet and place in a 350 F (preheated) oven for about 5 - 10 minutes or until they become aromatic. I like mine salted, so I lightly spray them with non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle with 1 - 2 tsp. kosher salt before toasting.

*** I usually slow my oven to 325 F and bake for 25 - 30 minutes to ensure a level cake.


Enjoy!




Caramel Frosting


Makes:  3 cups

1/2 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1/3 cup milk

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla


Combine the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, for about 2 minutes. Carefully stir in the milk and return to a boil; remove from heat. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Use immediately.


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