Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Chicken with Mustard Mascarpone and Marsala Sauce

I didn't take a picture of this, because we ate it too fast. The husband and I actually bickered over who would eat the leftovers for lunch. It is extraordinary.

Giada De Laurentiis has been the source for many fabulous meals in our house. Everyday Italian inspired me to cook with many new ingredients, including pork tenderloin.  This particular recipe is from her Family Favorites cookbook.

I have never liked Fettucine Alfredo, mostly because it is, from the get go, not a healthy choice. I visualize my stomach expanding even as I read it on the menu (Note: this doesn't happen as I order the cheese plate, or my third drink).  The mascarpone is a lighter and just as flavorful replacement to Parmesan and cream (is that was Alfredo sauce is?).

We paired it with my "All Time Favorite Wine" - Allegrini Valpicello.  More on that later.

Eat at your own risk:  Chicken with Mustard Mascarpone and Marsala Sauce

Friday, November 20, 2015

Preschool Thanksgiving Turkey

I have roasted three turkeys in my life....all for the annual preschool Thanksgiving.  Each year, there has always been a small bit of drama associated with this donation.

The first year, I learned how long it took to defrost a turkey. My husband carried the turkey from the oven and into the church kitchen to carve. When the first turkey was eaten, ours came out and was devoured. I had counted on leftovers for dinner. Clare must have been there?

The second year, I bought the turkey at the last possible moment, and defrosted it outside of the refrigerator for a large chunk of time.  I woke up at six in the morning to put it in the oven. It finished at 10:30. I let it rest, and brought it to the church kitchen uncut (apparently uncarved it not a word.....). I cut it up and had it ready to serve as Ms. Lillian said the blessing.  We didn't get seats and ended up sitting along the edge of the hall,  One of the preschool substitutes told me how her husband had died from heart attack a month before during choir practice in the choir room down the hall. Meanwhile, Clare was crawling all over the floor.

This year, I decided to cut the drama and cook it the day before. (There was also an email from the preschool director stating that "All turkeys must be cut up ahead of him."  I took the hint).  It was still partially frozen the day before.  I read the instructions on the turkey wrapping, and it stated not to defrost outside of the fridge (whoops)  But, apparently, you can just cook it longer if it is still partially frozen.  After five hours, it came out great, and the kid had some "chicken" for dinner.  I put it in the fridge overnight, carved it up the next morning, dribbled it with chicken broth, warmed it up, and the husband carried it into the church hall before Rebekah's dance performance.  After her stellar dance, we went upstairs to the church hall, and didn't get seats again. All the turkey meat from all the turkey's were mixed on one plate, so who knows what we ate.  The kids ran around in chaos. Clare ate two pieces of pumpkin pie.  I am still hungry for some reason.

Meanwhile, here is the cutest example of cultural appropriation ever! Currently, she is making a "Native American" pie????

Thursday, November 12, 2015

"Chili" Saturdays

We have had chili for three Saturday nights in a row.  This means that we have been extremely lucky to have spent the last Saturday nights in the company of our family or friends.  It also means the temperature has dropped, which in North Carolina means to a chilly 60 degrees.

Three weeks ago, my father-in-law made his special chili for our family's visit.  It is always fantastic.

The following Saturday, Halloween, I made beef chili for all of my in-laws.  We ate it while handing out candy. This chili was, by far, my least favorite.  It was also my first time making a beef version of chili. I will spare you my analysis of the failure and just tell you that everyone managed to slurp it down.

Then, this past Saturday night, I had the healthiest/best chili I have EVER had at our friends' new house.  Our friend sent me the recipe.  It apparently had chia seeds in it? and butternut squash? Remember to pass the Fritos! (this was a whole new revelation.)

Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili
Thank you, Kim!

Wishing you all have a "Chili" Saturday soon!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

This past weekend, we ate the last Tomato Mozzarella Salad of the season.  We had it with a side of rib eye steak, and paired it with our favorite red table wine.  This is why we have a house with a garden and a grill. (Garden and Grill? Future possibility?)

The tomatoes and basil were the last from my husband's garden. He grew them from seeds. We will have to wait another year for more of his babies.  

I like my Tomato Mozzarella Salad to look chunky and wholesome rather than orderly and elegant. This is why I avoid calling it a "Caprese" Salad.  I also like more balsamic vinegar than olive oil.  Other additions: toasted pine nuts, sliced/diced peaches, lemon juice, or toasted bread (making it more of a panzenella salad).  

So simple and absolutely perfect!  It is now officially Fall. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Dinner Mishaps

While I pride myself in my meal planning abilities, I cannot always depend upon the outcome of the meals. Despite "years" of experience, I can still manage to botch up an entire week of planned dinners. Was it Halloween? Was it sobriety? Maybe you can weigh in.

Monday:  Roast Chicken Breasts with roasted sweet potatoes and microwaved Honey Carrots. The  roast chicken initially came out under cooked and had to be put back in the oven (see photo). The frozen peas I was going to nuke had already been opened. There was no time to boil them. So, I nuked some carrots. The husband called it "beta carotene" evening.  Miso paste in the sweet potato was a win!

Tuesday:  Hosted Bible Study - Lasagnas came out great. I now have 12 individual frozen pieces in my freezer. When will I eat these?

Wednesday: Smitten Kitchen's Baked Potato with Mushroom Ragu.  This looked so good in the photos. I love potatoes, I love sauteed mushrooms, I love goat cheese. What could go wrong?  1) I only had a quarter of the mushrooms I needed for the recipe. 2) open vegetable broth for two tablespoons? no - used water. 3) open white wine for two tablespoons? no - used Marsala 4) and the kicker, I accidentally bought "Guava Goat Cheese". Thankfully, the guava part was in the middle of the tube, so I was able to cut out the plain part. There was still a fruity tinge. The husband ADDED the guava part and said it was good. Hmmmmm.  

Thursday:  Turkey Bolognese Sauce from the Kitchn web site, which was published in the Observer. Not as "easy" as advertised, but extremely elegant and tasted amazing. Unfortunately, I must have given the whole wheat spaghetti I planned to use to Loaves and Fishes, and ended up using elbow macaroni. Goodbye elegance!

I will spare you the weekend.

Monday:  Shrimp and Green Beans with Green Curry Sauce over rice, from Keepers. The green curry spice is supposed to be minimized by coconut milk. Apparently, there is also a product called "Coconut Cream," which I had bought instead. According to the label, it is used in Pina Coladas. I had no choice. I had to use it. The meal tasted fine, except it was Sweet and Sour Shrimp and no curry to be had.

Currently, Chicken Caccitore from Giada's Everyday Italian simmering on the stove.  Hopefully we will have success turned a corner.