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CHICKEN WITH MUSHROOMS IN AN ASIAGO CREAM SAUCE!

Recipe:

1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into pieces


2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 Tablespoon butter

3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup shredded Asiago cheese
salt & pepper to taste

Marcona almonds (I bought mine at whole foods)

Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in deep skillet over medium.

Dredge
chicken in seasoned flour.  Add to hot oil and sprinkle with salt
& pepper.  Saute until golden on each side, about 5 minutes per
side.  Remove from pan.

Add the other Tablespoon olive oil and 1
Tablespoon butter to the hot skillet.  Saute mushrooms and garlic until
mushrooms begin to brown.

Add white wine to skillet.  Return the chicken to the pan. 
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes. 

Remove
the chicken again from the pan.  Add the cream and cheese and heat them
through, stirring to melt cheese.  Once all combined and reduced a bit,
add the chicken to the pan for a minute or two.  Sprinkle
almonds on top! Serve over brown rice or pasta.


This amazing recipe was adapted from The Midnight Baker!

Spring Vegetable Skewers and Saffron Couscous

At least once a week I try to make a simple, no frills vegetarian dinner.  I clear out the extra veggies that have accumulated in the fridge, and I usually roast them, or stir fry them up and eat them with eggs, or something like that.  But you know what?   This is just as easy, and looks so much more appetizing.  It’s the vegetarian
version of my salmon and cherry tomato skewers from last week.  I’m getting hooked on this
easy way to make a quick meal.  This time I served the skewers on top of a simple saffron couscous.

I used cherry tomatoes, colorful bell peppers, mushrooms, baby eggplant and zucchini, baby artichokes, some radicchio and red onion.  I think I even put on a couple of leftover stalks of asparagus.  Nothing required any special prep, except maybe the baby artichokes, which I rubbed with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.

Everything is bite sized, so the skewers take just 15 minutes in a hot oven.  I drizzled them with olive oil and lemon, and gave them a good dose of salt and pepper before they went in. 

There’s nothing earthshaking about these, but, like I said before, it’s nice sometimes to get back in touch with the simple flavors straight from the garden.  A tomato shouldn’t need anything more than some olive oil and a little salt and pepper to make us happy.  But it’s harder and harder to appreciate the taste of foods in their original state because we’re so used to eating out and buying prepared foods, all of which is loaded with other stuff to enhance our ‘enjoyment’ of it.  I’m retraining my taste buds with dinners like this one!

Spring Vegetable Skewers
oven to 450F  
cherry tomatoes
colorful bell peppers
cremini mushrooms
baby zucchini
baby eggplant
baby artichokes
radicchio
red onion
asparagus
olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and fresh cracked pepper

  • Peel the tough outer leaves from the baby artichoke, cut off the stem and halve it.  Rub lemon juice on the cut edges to keep it from browning.
  • Cut the rest of the vegetables in bite sized pieces.  Leave the cherry tomatoes whole.  Thread the veggies onto skewers.
  • Lay out the skewers on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet.  This will help with clean-up later.  
  • Drizzle the skewers with olive oil and lemon, then sprinkle liberally with salt and fresh cracked pepper.
  • Roast for 10 to 15 minutes until everything is tender and the tomatoes are starting to burst.

Saffron Couscous
serves 4
1 cup couscous
1 1/4 cups water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp saffron threads
1/2 tsp salt

  • Add the olive oil and salt to the water and bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat and add the saffron, crumbling the threads with your fingers as you add it.  Stir and let it steep for a few minutes.
  • Bring the water to a boil, add the couscous and stir well.  Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Fluff and serve.

Whole Wheat Skillet Focaccia with Pine Nuts

If you have a fear of working with yeast, you’ve just found your ideal first project.  Consider it the training wheels of bread making, it really doesn’t get any easier than this.  There’s nothing fancy about it, just a good hearty, quick bread to go with soups, stews, or pastas, and there is almost no work involved.  I use my stand mixer, but since you don’t knead this dough, and it’s super soft, you can use a wooden spoon if you want to.

Normally I spread my focaccia dough out on a baking sheet in one big rectangle, but today I divided it into two skillets.  The nuts brown up in the oven, and if you aren’t familiar with toasted pine nuts, you’re in for a treat.  The only other flavor is the fruity extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.

The distinguishing characteristic of focaccia bread is its dimpled surface, made by dipping your fingers in olive oil and poking them all over the surface of the risen dough.  The oil pools in the dimples and bakes into the bread.  Whole wheat gives this particular focaccia a little more chewy whole grain texture.  It’s best eaten warm right from the oven.

Whole Wheat Skillet Focaccia with Pine Nuts

What You Will Need

  • 2 cups warm water (110F)
  • 2 tsp dry yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cup whole wheat flour
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup pine nuts

Instructions

  1. Set oven to 400F
  2. Pour the warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a regular bowl if you want to beat it yourself. Add the yeast, salt and two cups of all purpose flour. Mix until a sticky dough forms.
  3. Add the whole wheat flour and mix until the dough comes together. It will still be sticky.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and set the dough in a warm place for 45 minutes.
  5. Coat two cast iron skillets liberally with olive oil, including the sides. Take half the dough and press out into each pan, nudging the dough with your fingers to fit the surface of the pan.
  6. Dip your fingers in olive oil and dot the entire surface with oil. Be generous.
  7. Sprinkle with pine nuts, and then with sea salt.
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes until risen and lightly browned. Watch carefully towards the end so the pine nuts don’t burn.
  9. Cut in the pan or lift out for cutting.

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Tips for success ~

  1. Your water must be between 110-115F or the yeast will not become active and the bread will not rise.  Use an instant read thermometer.
  2. Liberally oil your skillet before putting the dough in.  Don’t forget the sides.
  3. Don’t be shy with the olive oil.  Dip your fingers in the oil and then poke lots of little holes all over the dough and let the oil pool in the dimples.  The oil will give the finished bread lots of flavor.
  4. Make sure your oven is at temperature before baking.
  5. Watch carefully toward the end of baking to make sure the pine nuts don’t burn.  They can go from golden brown to burnt in a short time.

Enjoy the weekend!