Monday, February 28, 2011

Skillet Chicken Pasta

Skillet Chicken Pasta

Can you feel it?  That subtle shift in food cravings.  I’m slowly edging away from warm and comfortable, to light and fresh.  But before I go, I want to wallow in a few more cheesy, rich dishes.  Like this.  Except it’s from Cooking Light so it’s not so rich.  Except that it called for 1/3-less-fat-cream-cheese and I don’t use lowfat anything (I’m a full fat kind of girl), so I guess it is rich.  But still 1/2 cup of cream cheese, how bad can that be?

So, this was good.  It was quick and easy, perfect for a weeknight.  It kind of had a tetrazzini/stroganoff kind of vibe going on. 

Skillet Chicken Pasta

  • 1  (9-ounce) package fresh linguine (I used dried)
  • 1  pound  chicken breast tenders
  • 1/4  teaspoon  seasoned salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1  tablespoon  butter
  • 1  cup  mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2  cup  sliced onion
  • 1/2  cup  dry sherry
  • 1  cup  chicken broth
  • 1/2  cup  (4 ounces) cream cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.

While pasta cooks, sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, mushrooms, and onion; sauté 7 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove from pan; keep warm.

Add sherry to pan, scraping to loosen browned bits. Stir in broth and cheese; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until cheese melts (about 3 minutes), stirring constantly. Return chicken mixture to pan, and cook until thoroughly heated. Serve over pasta.


This will be my entry for this week’s Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast.   Be sure and stop by for the big 4th birthday party!!!

This will be my entry for Heart ‘n Soul Blog Hop

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Weekend Wine Reviews #51

Cardiff Merlot

Cardiff Merlot, California, 2008, $5.99.  We say:  Very light color, smooth easy drinking, mild, low tannins, low acid.  Nothing special, but nothing awful either.  Buy again:  maybe.  Not bad for the price.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Weekend Cat Blogging #299 and Saturday Pet Blog Hop


You can get just about anything from Amazon these days.



This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Amar and Luna at CatSynth.

** We are in need of some hosts for Weekend Cat Blogging, if you are interested go check out the site and sign up for a weekend. 

This will be my entry for The Saturday Pet Blogger Hop! 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Red Wine Pan Sauce

Red Wine Pan Sauce

I’m a fan of naked meat.  I don’t like barbecue sauce on my barbecue or gravy on my pot roast.  I don’t want anything to come between me and my meat.  This holds true for steaks, especially my favorite, the rib eye.  But not so much for filet mignon.  Not my steak of choice.  It’s too thick and doesn’t have the flavor of a rib eye.  So, I about a sauce..a pan sauce to be exact.

And guess what?  It was perfect.  It was just what this filet needed.  Now, there are a hundred and one pan sauces.  I just made a basic one, feel free to elaborate in any way you choose, or better yet, leave me a comment telling me how you would elaborate.

And, by the way, for those of you that reached this page by googling “naked meat” and were disappointed to find the ramblings of a 52 year old with a tea pot as a mascot, sorry.

The Very Basic Red Wine Pan Sauce

  • 1/4 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper

In the drippings of the pan (after you cook the steak), stir in the broth and red wine, scraping up the browned bits.  Over high heat, reduce to about 1/2 (or about 1/4 cup).  Whisk in the butter and Dijon mustard, season with salt and pepper to taste.



This will be my entry for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Just a Picture of a Table

My table.

Too tired to be creative or witty.  So you get this.  My table.  I love this table.  It is the pub table from World Market.  So, it’s really tall, you could stand at it and eat.  It sits off of the family room and we use it for lunch, or dinner (when we want to watch the tv).  Yeah, I have a weird duck pitcher on it.  Doesn’t everyone have a weird duck pitcher?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What Was it Wednesday?

Don't have a clue

You’re looking at April 23, 2009.  I don’t have a clue.  Some sort of beef stew?  Pot roast swimming in gravy?

**What Was it Wednesday – my attempt to work my way through my backlog of cooking photos. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Garden Tuesday–First Sign of Spring?


Finally.  When I saw these first signs of new growth on my shrub, it was like the angels started singing.  Spring is coming.  It really is.  Oh, not yet, I know, but..still.  Soon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Creamy Cheesy Corn Grits with Ham and Parmesan

Creamy Cheesy Corn Grits

You know what I love?  Cookbooks that give me a lot of bang for my buck.  One such cookbook is Fresh Every Day: More Great Recipes from Foster's Marketby Sara Foster.  She crams so much on each page, it’s like getting three of four cookbooks in one.  Seriously. 

For example.   The page where I found this recipe has a main recipe titled:  Creamy Cheesy Corn Grits for All Seasons.  Then that recipe is followed by 4 different ways to use that recipe depending on the season:  Winter – Ham and Parmesan with Balsamic-Roasted Tomatoes, Spring – Shrimp, Tasso, Asparagus, and Leeks, Summer – Summer Vegetables and Basil, and Fall – Sweet Potato, Bacon, Blue Cheese and Rosemary.  See?  5 recipes on page!  Since it’s winter, I went with her winter take (I’m simple like that).

This was a creamy, cheesy plate of love.  Seriously. 

Creamy Cheesy Corn Grits with Ham and Parmesan

  • 2  teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup stone-ground yellow grits
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup diced country ham, sautéed to a golden brown

Bring 3 cups of water to boil over high heat.  Stir in the salt and add the grits in a slow steady stream, whisking as you add them.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook stirring often for about 40 to 45 minutes.  Stir in the milk and the corn kernels and cook for about 2 minutes to warm the corn.

Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, Parmesan, ham and pepper.  Stir until the butter and the parmesan melts.  Taste for seasoning.  If they’re too stiff stir in some more milk.

Serve topped with Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes. 

Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes

  • 6 plum tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400.  Place the tomatoes and onions on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with the rest of the ingredients.   Roast for 30 to 35 minutes.

For Make it With …  Mondays at Couscous & Consciousness for cornmeal!


This will be my entry for Heart ‘n Soul Blog Hop

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekend Wine Reviews #51

Alamos Malbec

Alamos, Malbec, 2009.  Mendoza.  $7.99 We say:  Earthy, light mouthfeel, not overly sweet, finishes short.  Buy again:  maybe, nothing great, but nothing special.

But what is great, is our new wine decanter from Homegoods.  I love that store.  And it loves me.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Weekend Cat Blogging #298 And Saturday Pet Blog Hop


CoCo thinks the yellowish bathroom light flatters her golden coloring. 



This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Samantha, Clementine & Maverick.

This will be my entry for The Saturday Pet Blogger Hop! 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Double-Chocolate Biscotti

Double-chocolate Biscotti

Three words that forever will go together in my mind.  Double.  Chocolate.  Biscotti.  Nothing can replace them.  Except maybe..Triple.  Chocolate.  Biscotti.  But since I haven’t found that dream combination yet, this will do.  And do very nicely I might add.

I found this recipe in Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2009: Every Recipe...A Year's Worth of Cooking Light Magazine, but you can also find it online, Double Chocolate Biscotti.  If you go check out the recipe, and I do soooo encourage you too (I’m not going to retype it here, so you HAVE to go check it out), you’ll notice that my biscotti has whitish chunks in it.  And nothing in the recipe calls for whitish chunks.  That’s because, when going to my pantry I found myself with only a smidgen of chocolate chips, so I being ever so resourceful, I found some white chocolate and chopped it up.  Sometimes I amaze myself.



This will be my entry for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pork Stew in Cider

Pork Stew in Cider

I am not a big fan of combining fruit with meat, but I make an exception for pork and apples.  When browsing through Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook, I came upon Pork Stew in Cider and decided it would be perfect for my every-Sunday-through-fall-and-winter slow cooker meal.  And it was.  I wanted to serve it over egg noodles, but all I had was some farfalle, and it was good, but I think egg noodles would have been even better.

Pork Stew in Cider

  • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large tart cooking apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • one 8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and cut in half (optional) (I didn’t have any)
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7 grinds of black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rubbed sage
  • 2 cups hard cider
  • Long-grain rice or egg noodles for serving

Coat the slow-cooker with cooking spray (or like me, just brush the inside with some oil).  Layer the onion, apple, water chestnuts, and pork in the cooker.  Sprinkle with the salt, pepper and sage.  Pour the cider over it and turn the cooker to HIGH for 20 minutes (if you have time).

Turn to LOW for 7-9 hours.

Serve with rice or egg noodles with a fresh grind of black pepper on top.

This will be my entry for Heart ‘n Soul Blog Hop



This will be my entry for this week’s Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Pia of Cook Healthy.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What Was it Wednesday?

What was it Wednesday?

You’re looking at April 14, 2009.    What do you think?  Some sort of savory bread pudding?  Looks like maybe some ham.  Some sort of gratin? 

**What Was it Wednesday – where I work my way through my backlog of old cooking photos.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Garden Tuesday

St. Francis

I think we can all agree with St. Francis.


We are ready for spring.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Weekend Wine Reviews #50

The Stump Jump Shiraz

The Stump Jump Shiraz, 2008, McLaren Vale.  $9.98.  We say:  rich, creamy, spicy, full bodied, hint of vanilla, fruity, berry…we tend to run on when we really like something!  Buy again:  Yes!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Weekend Cat Blogging #297 and Saturday Pet Blog Hop


Coco is ready for spring.  How about you?



This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging Valentine’s Edition  hosted by Mr Oliver and Mrs Noli

This will be my entry for The Saturday Pet Blogger Hop! 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Chicken Wraps with Quick Pickled Carrots

Chicken Wraps

Usually cooking doesn’t involve too much of my brain.  And personally, I like it that way.  Because when I get home from school, there is very little of it left.  So, I blindly and gratefully follow a recipe, letting someone waaay smarter than me, tell me what to do. But the other day, I had some leftover, cooked chicken.  I had marked some pasta recipe to try.  But really, I was exhausted, and the thought of boiling the water and cooking the pasta, and getting out a skillet for the sauce, was more than I could handle.  Two pots?  That was exactly, two pots too many. 

So, I thought…what about a wrap?  No pots.  Healthy.  Easy. 

I made some Quick Pickled Carrots from Quick & Easy Vietnamese: 75 Everyday Recipes by Nancie McDermott (I know…second time this week!), because I love the sweet, tart crunchy tang that they bring to sandwiches. Then I tossed the cooked chicken with a little Asian chili sauce.  Laid down a tortilla, a lettuce leaf, then some of the chili chicken, and topped with a generous mound of carrots.  YUM. 

Everyday Pickled Carrots

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups shredded carrots

Combine everything but the carrots in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring, until the sugar and salt dissolve. Pour into a bowl and let it cool to room temperature.  Add the carrots and set aside for 20 to 30 minutes.  Serve at room temperature, or store in a covered jar in the fridge, scooping them out as needed.  Will keep for about 5 days in the fridge. 

These are great on sandwiches, in wraps, on top of salads, garnishes, or a side dish!!



This will be my entry for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Second Choice Barbeque

Last Saturday, I received a call from a friend saying that they were having a barbeque.  But the couple that they had invited had backed out.  I told him, I would think about it.  Second choice?  Me?  But then he sent a picture of some meat smoking on his smoker.  Does he know me, or what?  So, yep.  We went.  Second choice and all. 

His set up.  Very nice. 

His fire pit, which I promptly declared I needed in my yard.


Hubby (on left) and Dan, contemplating fire pit.  


The whole meal was fabulous.  For appetizers, we had smoked chicken wings and pork sliders.  Then Connie served a fabulous wilted bacon salad, which made me think that, really, I should dress all of my salads with bacon grease.  Followed by the highlight of the dinner which was this smoked meatloaf.  Smoked meat loaf!!!  Why had I never thought of that!!

Raspberry Wine

Then as if that wasn’t enough, Connie served dessert.  Brownies.  Love brownies, so simple and so good, but made totally over the top by the fact that they served them with a glass of this raspberry wine. It was perfect.  A bite of brownie + a sip of wine = chocolate raspberry heaven. 

Thank you Connie and Dan for a fabulous evening!!!  We were on our best behavior, so next time, we might even be first choice!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What Was it Wednesday?

Some sort of shrimp

You’re looking at April 3, 2009.  Some sort of shrimp served over rice?  Creole maybe?

**What Was it Wednesday – my attempt to work my way through my backlog of cooking photos!! 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Garden Tuesday–Fall Meets Winter

Purple Cone Flowers

Dried purple coneflower heads against the snow.

Sedum Autumn Joy

Sedum Autumn Joy

See? If I actually cleaned up my garden at the end of fall, I would miss views like this.  My laziness serves a purpose.  Now, if I could only make my house-dusting laziness serve a purpose.  

Monday, February 7, 2011

Shaking Beef with Purple Onions and Watercress

Shaking Beef Salad

Do you have a favorite type of food?  Italian?  Greek?  I would be hard-pressed to chose a favorite.  When I want rich and creamy, an Italian pasta dish usually hits the spot.  Sometimes I have to have my black olive and feta fix and then I turn to Greek.  But when I want simple, clean, and fresh flavors, I usually turn to Thai or Vietnamese.  They never disappoint me.  And what’s even better, they are usually simple, letting the ingredients speak for themselves without too much work on my end. 

So, when I was craving a salad with some fish sauce-y flavors, I turned to my go-to Vietnamese cookbook, Quick & Easy Vietnamese: 75 Everyday Recipesby Nancie McDermott.  I can’t say enough good things about this book, gorgeous pictures, gorgeous recipes. 

This salad was everything I hoped it would be…lovely to look at and lovely to eat.  I didn’t serve it with the purple onions because I didn’t have any and I don’t really like raw onions.

Shaking Beef with Purple Onions and Watercress

for the marinated beef

  • 3/4 pound thickly cut steak (rib eye or New York strip), cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

for the watercress salad

  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup very thin onion slices, preferably purple onion
  • 2 cups bite-sized or torn pieces of watercress, tender spinach or lettuce

Combine the beef and the fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and black pepper in a medium bowl.  Let marinate at room temperature for 20-30 minutes, while you make the salad, or refrigerate for up to 1 day.

In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Add the onions and toss to coat.  Add the watercress on top, but don’t toss it yet.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large, heavy skillet over high heat (cast iron works great to get good browning).  Add the beef and let it cook without turning for a minute or two to get a good browning.  Shake the skillet to turn the meat and let the other side cook the same way.  Add the garlic and continue cooking and shaking until the beef is done to your liking.

Toss the salad and serve on a plate, top with the steak.  Enjoy. 

Serves 4 (or two if you are pigs, like us)

This will be my entry for Heart ‘n Soul Blog Hop


This will be my entry for Delicious Vietnam created by Ravenous Couple and A Food Lovers’ Journey!

Which is hosted this month by Flavor Boulevard


Cookbook used: 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Weekend Wine Reviews #48

Verdemar Albarino

Verdemar Albarino, 2009, Spain, $7.99.  They say:  full of bright grapefruit flavor and seashell minerality.  We say: grapefruit, tart and sweet, bright.  Buy again:  Definitely!!

Confession - I actually bought this wine, simply because I loved the color of the label and thought it would look pretty sitting on my table.  I was right.