Thursday, February 20, 2014

Chicken and Mushroom Fettuccine

Photo Credits to my friend, Atrin Assa.
I love to look through cooking magazines.  Elegantly prepared dishes placed right in front of you waiting for you to drool all over the pages, always makes my stomach rumble hungrily.  While I love to read these magazines and look at pictures, I rarely actually make a recipe from them.  While flipping through a Martha Stewart magazine at my moms house a few months back a recipe caught my eye–something that looked delicious, totally doable and just up my alley.  Martha's chicken and mushroom tagliatelle really is fantastic.  

The dish is all about building on flavors.  First, you cook the chicken to a nice golden brown and after it's cooked you add mushrooms and shallots to the same pan and let them slowly render their juices off to deglaze the pan and work a bit of magic.  Then you add cream, parmesan, pasta (you know all the good things in life), some celery and parsley to add a little fresh crunch to all this richness and finish it off with the golden chicken.  When we tasted this dish the first time, we thought we had died and gone to heaven.  The second time I learned that you really do need to eat this as soon as you make it.  It was still fantastic but it did lack that choir of angels we had experienced the first time around.  I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs in my dish as I really like dark meat but I know there are many people who do not like dark meat.  You can easily use thin chicken breasts in this.

Chicken and Mushroom Fettuccine

Serves: 4
Total cook time: 35 minutes

12 oz dried fettuccine
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs or thin chicken breasts
2 Tbsp butter
2 shallots, halved, peeled and thinly sliced
8 oz cremini mushrooms, quartered
1/2 cup chicken stock (you can use white wine if you prefer)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 oz parmesan, grated, plus more to serve
1 stalk celery, sliced very thin
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Cook pasta in a large pot of generously salted water until al dente.  Reserve 1 1/2 cups pasta water.  Drain.

2. Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Brown chicken, flipping once, until cooked through, 6-8 minutes; transfer to a place.  Reduce heat to medium; melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter.  Cook shallots and mushrooms, stirring, until golden brown, about 8 minutes (you may need to add a little pasta water if the skillet browns too quickly).  Add stock, bring to a boil, and reduce by half.  Slice chicken; add to pan with cream, parmesan, 1 cup pasta water and pasta.  Toss until sauce coats pasta, adding more pasta water if needed. Add celery and parsley; toss to combine.  Serve topped with parmesan.  

Recipe source- Martha Stewart

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Quinoa Salad

Just as I promised– today is all about this healthy, fresh, quinoa salad.  Just to be clear–I am not a person who eats something I don't like just because it's healthy.  I am all about eating healthy but I believe if you really want to eat healthy and you want your family to eat healthy– you have to enjoy eating healthy or it won't become a habit.  I just want you to know that when I post a healthy recipe–it's something I loved eating that just happens to be healthy.  

This quinoa salad is pretty darn fantastic.  It is crisp, light and the PERFECT lunch.  I had this last week at a church function and brought the recipe home after I went back for a second helping.   The next day I made a double batch for my family and enjoyed eating on it for a few days.  The flavors are very simple–lime is the prevalent flavor of the dressing which really helps to emphasize the natural flavors of the peppers, black beans and cilantro.  I hope this will be as much of a hit at your house as it was at mine.

Quinoa Salad

1 cup dried quinoa, cooked per package directions and cooled- should yield about 3 cups cooked
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
3 green onions, sliced thin
1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves plucked off and roughly chopped- about 1/2 cup packed
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can yellow corn, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp salt

In a large bowl combine the salad ingredients and toss together slightly.  In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine the dressing ingredients and whisk to combine thoroughly.  Pour about half the dressing over the salad and toss to coat, taste and add more dressing as needed until you get the desired taste.  You may need to add more salt while you are doing this.  Chill until serving.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Chicken Croissants

Cooking during January is always a little bit tricky– on one hand you want warm comfort foods to get you through all the cold days (hello chicken croissants!) and on the other hand you just stuffed yourself silly during the holidays and you made some wonderfully practical New Years goals about eating healthier or losing weight.  So which do you go with?  Luckily this year I can steer clear of that decision–one of the many wonderful things about pregnancy.
To make life a little easier on you I won't bombard you with only decadent comfort foods or only kale smoothies.  Today I will share with you a family favorite comfort dish–chicken croissants– and later in the week I will post a super delicious and also super New Years resolution friendly quinoa salad.  Sound fair?  I hope so.

These chicken croissants are absolutely wonderful.  No "chicken pockets" or whatever I have heard them called on the internet can touch them.  I may be a teensy bit biased but my moms are better and anyone who has tasted them will agree.  They are a frequently requested birthday dinner, coming home from a long trip dinner or just a "please mom I really want chicken croissants" dinner.  The filling is a simple mixture of cream cheese and cooked, shredded chicken.  This creamy mixture is rolled into a refrigerated croissant, rolled in butter and then bread crumbs (remember I said decadent) baked to golden brown perfection and smothered in lovely gravy.  And while all the bites you take of these babies are great the first bite is perfection.  I hope you enjoy this family favorite.  

(I should probably admit that I did none of the cooking on these so that I could take the pictures with clean fingers.  Rolling croissant dough in butter can get a little messy!  Thanks to my Mom for doing all the real work this time around!)

Chicken Croissants

4 oz cream cheese, slightly softened
2 large chicken breasts, boiled and shredded
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 packages refrigerated croissant rolls

Preheat the oven to 350.  In a large bowl combine the cream cheese, shredded chicken and 2 Tbsp butter.  Stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Open the croissant rolls.  Gently separate the triangles of dough that come in the package.  Gently press them out with the palm of your hand– the goal here is to make them just slightly bigger and more flexible and not to smash them really thin.  Spoon about 1.5 Tbsp of the chicken mixture into the wide end of the croissant dough (as pictured).  Gently roll the dough up into a croissant shape, pinching a little on the sides as you go to keep the chicken contained.  Repeat with all the croissants.

Dip each croissant in butter and then roll in bread crumbs and line them up about 1.5-2 inches apart on a baking sheet.  Bake until golden brown, usually 8-12 minutes.  Serve with chicken gravy.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

We had a great few weeks of holiday around here.  Both Wor and I had lots of time off work and we enjoyed being lazy, spending time with family and friends and most of all enjoying time as a little family.  We even snuck a zoo trip into the mix!  Lily got very accustomed to having our full attention whenever she wanted it and she is having quite a hard time adjusting back into normal life.  Lily isn't the only one having a hard time getting back to the grindstone– but I finally am emerging from the holiday fog and have returned to the kitchen to cook some real meals.
This macaroni and cheese recipe is my very favorite.  I absolutely love the warm, gooey comfort that homemade mac' and cheese brings on a cold winter day.  Alton Brown hits a home run with this recipe, as usual.  This time around I decided to change things up a bit–why mess with perfection?  Because my sister told me to and I actually listened and really it turned out fantastic.  The cheesy sauce was creamy perfection and I kept sneaking spoonfuls before it even went into the oven!

If your New Years resolution is to eat healthier– eat this tonight and start that goal tomorrow.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 Tablespoon powdered mustard
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • fresh black pepper
  • Topping
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup bread crumbs, panko preferred
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.

3. while the pasta cooks, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Add the onion to the butter and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the flour and mustard and stir continuously for about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk. Add the bay leaf and paprika. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently and remove the bay leaf.

4. Stir the cream cheese into the mixture and whisk until combined. Temper the egg into the milk mixture. Stir in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Gently stir the macaroni into the cheese mixture. Pour into a greased baking pan.

5. To make the topping- Melt the butter and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the crumbs.

6. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and serve.

Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 Servings

Source: Alton Brown