Friday, January 29, 2010

Chicken Marsala

I had never made Chicken Marsala until I tried the recipe that I found in the Nativity cookbook. It is an old recipe from a restaurant that isn't around anymore, but used to be a standard for really good, authentic Italian cooking.
We have been making it for about 5 years now, and have made it out own by kicking the flavor up a notch. It's relatively low fat too. Give it a try, you'll be glad you did.....

Chicken Marsala

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
salt and fresh ground pepper
2-4 tbsp olive oil
16 ounces mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup dry Marsala wine
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
flat leaf parsley
1 tbsp butter, softened
1 tbsp flour
1/2 pound spaghetti, cooked and drained
1-2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
parmesan cheese

Preface, I buy our skinless, boneless chicken breasts at Sam's Club and they are HUGE; we will use two of those for this recipe. Laying one flat on the cutting board, with your palm holding it firmly in place, carefully slice the chicken breast in half (half as thick...). If you don't buy your chicken breasts at Sam's Club and have "normal" sized breasts, pound it out gently between plastic wrap so that it's about 1/2 as thick. Combine the 1/2 c. flour, salt and pepper in a flat container (pie pan works great) and dredge the chicken pieces in the flour so they are well coated.
In a large non-stick skillet, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil at medium-high heat until it shimmers in the pan. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned on one side (4 minutes) and then turn over for another 4 minutes. (with the big breasts, they are a little thicker, cook until it reaches about 155-160 on an instant read thermometer).

Remove the breasts from the pan.
Heat the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil until simmers and then add the sliced mushrooms.
Saute until they are lightly browned and the moisture is beginning to be released (about 5 minutes). Add the 3 cloves of pressed garlic, saute until fragrant, about 30-45 seconds. Add the wine and chicken broth (some people don't care for a lot of wine in this dish, we happen to like the taste of it, so we will sometimes use all wine and eliminate the chicken broth). Reduce heat to medium and simmer for a few minutes (I put the chicken breasts back in the pan for this step, but remove before the next). In a small bowl, mash the softened butter and flour with a fork until it forms a paste. Remove the chicken from the pan, if you added it in the last step. With the butter paste on the fork, stir it into the wine and mushroom mixture until the butter has melted. Combine thoroughly with a spatula.
For serving, I add the spaghetti to the pan to coat with sauce, place the chicken on top. Sprinkle with parsley and parmesan and serve. (I serve it right out of the pan at the table, we don't like to dirty too many dishes...)
Salt and pepper to taste, individually. Enjoy!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Christmas Cookies in a Jar

I found this on a random blog today and am filing this here because....well, I'll be making these next year for my kids teachers gifts....and in case you're wondering, these cookies are delicious!

Christmas Cookies in a Jar, adapted from Taste Of Home (makes ONE quart-sized jar)
18 Servings

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup dried cranberries (I used Craisins)
1 cup vanilla or white chips

Additional ingredients (list these on a tag, or email me for the PDF of the label)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Using a quart sized glass jar, layer (use a canning funnel!) the white sugar, followed by the brown sugar. Tamp down between each layer to create a clean line. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour gently into jar and tamp down gently. Layer in the oats, cranberries, and white chocolate chips, tamping between the oats and cranberries. Cover and store in a cool place for up to 6 months.

To prepare cookies (provide these instructions to the recipient!): Preheat oven to 375. Pour cookie mix into a large bowl, stirring to combine. Beat in the butter, egg and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2" apart onto un-greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes until browned, cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

I'll be making a label to attach to the jar, before the lids are are put on....I had originally thought of these, but got a terrific deal on the awesome Entertaining at Home ice cream scoop...the teachers LOVED that with a jar of hot fudge! Super cute!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Red Velvet Cake

Saw this recipe on Cook's Country a few weeks ago and it looked delicious! It is definitely on to file away and try when I feel ok about using 16 tablespoons of butter in the frosting!


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Pinch salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder
2 tablespoons red food coloring
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter , softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
Frosting16 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
16 ounces cream cheese , cut into 8 pieces, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch salt

1. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, and eggs in large measuring cup. Mix cocoa with food coloring in small bowl until a smooth paste forms.

2. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as necessary. Add one-third of flour mixture and beat on medium-low speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add half of buttermilk mixture and beat on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl as necessary and repeat with half of remaining flour mixture, remaining buttermilk mixture, and finally remaining flour mixture. Scrape down bowl, add cocoa mixture, and beat on medium speed until completely incorporated, about 30 seconds. Using rubber spatula, give batter final stir. Scrape into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes then turn out onto rack to cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

3. For the frosting: With electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Beat in vanilla and salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.

4. When cakes are cooled, spread about 2 cups frosting on one cake layer. Top with second cake layer and spread top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 3 days.

Pancake Mix

The recipe for pancake mix to store in the freezer and use as needed:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups cake flour
1 cup non-fat milk powder
3/4 cup malted milk powder
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter , cut into 1/2 -inch pieces

Process all ingredients in food processor until no lumps remain and mixture is texture of wet sand, about 2 minutes. Freeze in airtight container for up to 2 months.

To make 8 pancakes: Whisk 2 cups mix, 2 lightly beaten large eggs, and ½ cup buttermilk** (I prefer thinner pancakes and pancake batter, so I use a little more buttermilk) in large bowl until smooth. Pour ¼-cup portions of pancake batter onto lightly oiled large nonstick skillet or griddle and cook over medium-low heat until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining batter as desired. Serve. (If you don’t have buttermilk, make clabbered milk by whisking ½ tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice into ½ cup whole or low-fat milk and letting the mixture thicken for 10 minutes.)

**if you don't have buttermilk, you can use 1/2cup milk and add 2 tsp of vinegar, let rest before whisking in with the mix and eggs.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Who are you?

I looked at the stats of this blog and there's a lot of people checking this....who are you?
is there any recipes that you would love to share? something that you'd like to see posted here?
Leave a comment and let me know....

Perfect Pancakes

One of favorite thing to have for breakfast is pancakes. We make pancakes of all varieties, sourdough, whole grain, buttermilk, Swedish, from a box, etc. Between Dan and I, we've tried just about every recipe that we have in our file and cookbooks for pancakes. Yesterday, I tried a recipe that we've made in the past, but we didn't have our own buttermilk....So, I improvised.

Perfect Pancakes
about 16 4-inch pancakes

2 cups flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
3 cups buttermilk**
4 tbsp butter, melted
additional butter for griddle

Heat griddle on stovetop at medium....I'm a very impatient cook and tend to turn the stove up too high. I set the stove one notch above medium, but NEVER go higher than that.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar together in a medium bowl. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk and egg.
Add the buttermilk mixture and the melted butter to the flour mixture and gently combine. Don't overmix. This has a lot of liquid, so it is a thinner batter, but don't overmix to get rid of the lumps. Lumps are key to great pancakes!
Put 1/2 tsp butter on the griddle and wipe with paper towel to coat the griddle.
Drop the batter by 1/4 cup measuring spoon onto the griddle. Let it cook for abotu 2 minutes, until it has lots of bubbles covering the cake. Gently turn over. The top should be a nice golden brown. Adjust cooking time accordingly. Cook on the second side for another minute. Remove to a platter and keep warm in your own set to warm setting.
You can drop blueberries onto the batter before turning, don't mix into the batter or it will turn blue....We have also tried thin sliced pears on the griddle and then pour the pancake batter on top of that. Delicious!
**we don't always have buttermilk on hand. this recipe works great by combining 3 cups of milk (really should be at least 1%) and add 3 tbsp of cider vinegar, stir and let it rest for a few minutes. Add to the recipe as directed.

These pancakes are so good. I love buttermilk pancakes, but am not a fan of ones that turn out to be 1/2 thick because the batter is so thick. This batter is thin and light. So delicious!

Also, it makes more than we need. So, I put the extra cakes on a cooling rack and freeze them in a single layer. When frozen, put them in a zipper freezer bag for a quick breakfast. They can be microwaved or put into the toaster (our preference).

I saw a new recipe for pancakes that we really want to try, it's for a dry pancake mix to store in the freezer and just use as needed. It sounds GREAT.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Chicken Soup with Spaetzel

Several years ago, I decided that I really disliked canned soup...I couldn't eat it for lunch anymore...Homemade soup is where it is at! And I have a love for chicken soup of all varieties. Chicken Noodle and Chicken Soup with Spaetzel are two of my favorites and ones that I think that I've perfected. Tonight, Louie said that Chicken Soup with Spaetzel was delicious and it was his favorite! I think that is a winning endorsement.

A few notes on this soup: I have a Ziploc bag in my freezer that I keep uncooked chicken pieces and parts in to make soup with. I save the chicken backs that are in the packages of cut up chicken, I save the chicken wings and I know it sounds gross, but if there are big hunks of chicken fat when cutting up a whole chicken. Basically, anything but the chicken livers are used for chicken stock around here.

If you don't have the time or the desire to mess around with making stock from scratch, there are lots of chicken soup base products available.   I typically use the Better than Bouillan Organic Chicken Soup Base (no MSG).  It's perfect for a quick soup with lots of delicious chicken flavor. 

Chicken Soup with Spaetzel6 servings

2 pounds of chicken parts
2 carrots, cut into large chunks
1 onion, cut into large chunks
2 ribs of celery, cut into large chunks
celery tops and greens
1 tsp of kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme

Put all of the above ingredients in a 6 qt dutch oven or stock pot and fill with water to cover. You'll end up adding about 4 qts of water. If you're using frozen chicken parts, like I do, they don't need to be thawed. Bring the pot to a boil, loosely cover so a little steam can escape and reduce head to simmer and let the pot simmer for 4 hours. If you need to add a little more water, go ahead.
During the winter, after 4 hours I turn off the heat and put the pot outside just until the fat at the top semi-hardens so it can skim off easier.
After skimming the fat, strain the soup into a large bowl, to remove all solids. Set aside.

To make the soup:
4 qts of chicken stock
1-2 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into small chunks
3 carrots, small chop
1 large onion, small chop
2 stalks of celery, small chop
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp sugar

Heat olive oil in the stock pot or dutch oven. Add the chicken pieces and saute just until it is no longer pink. Add the carrots, onion and celery. Saute until soft, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and stir about 30 seconds.
Add the chicken stock and stir. Bring to a boil. Stir in 1 tbsp sugar. Salt and pepper to taste. At this point, if the broth doesn't have a rich chicken flavor, I'll add a spoonful of "Better than Bouillon" Chicken Soup Base. This just intensifies the chicken flavor, but be careful of adding too much salt.
Let simmer for 30 minutes.

To make the spaetzel:
1 1/4 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1 egg beaten

Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. In a measuring cup, mix the egg, milk and water. Gradually add to the flour mixture, mixing well.
Add the batter by 1/2 tsp to the boiling soup. After all the batter is added to the soup, reduce heat to medium and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, covered.

Serve with a yummy crusty bread.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

PW's Simple Sesame Noodles, Pelletier style

A while back The Pioneer Woman had a recipe for Simple Sesame Noodles. I thought the recipe sounded delicious, I love sesame anything! The only problem was that I wanted to make a whole meal out of them....So, I added a chicken breast and fresh broccoli and voila, we had a meal and a huge bonus is that it is now Emily and Louie's favorite meal!

And so, without further adieux:


12 ounces, Thin Noodles, Cooked And Drained  (we use whole wheat pasta)
Whisk together:
¼ cups Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Sugar
4 cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Pure Sesame Oil
½ teaspoons Hot Chili Oil
4 Tablespoons Canola Oil
2 Tablespoons Hot Water

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips and then into bite sized pieces
2-3 tbsp corn starch
2 heads of broccoli, stalks removed and cut into bite sized florets
2-3 tsp canola oil
3 green onions, thinly sliced

In a bowl, toss the chicken pieces with the corn starch. In a large skillet, over medium heat, add 2-3 tsp canola oil. Once the oil shimmers in the bottom of the pan, add the chicken in a single layer. Leave it and let it cook for a minute or two. Stir so that the chicken cooks evenly.
When the chicken appears to be almost done, about 5 minutes, add the broccoli pieces and stirfry. Add 1-2 tbsp of water and cover to steam the broccoli. In a couple minutes, it should be bright green, but slightly crunchy.
Add the noodles to the pan and toss thoroughly with the chicken. Pour the sauce over the noodle and chicken mixture and toss. Sprinkle with the green onions. Serve hot.

Enjoy, we do!