Friday, January 30, 2015

Pinterest Friday: Chicken Marsala Merlot



Mushrooms are kind of my worst enemy.

I don't like the texture, I don't much like the taste...mushrooms (along with their just-as-evil counterpart, olives) are, I suspect, what Satan himself would serve if he had a dinner party, probably with some form of beet juice.

Anyway, a couple of years ago, my friend Andrea prepared some mushrooms that I ate and actually enjoyed, and now I've come to the conclusion that the only time mushrooms are OK is when they're soaked in so much butter and wine, they can barely count as a mushroom anymore.

Such is the case with these.

This recipe, pinned to my Pinterest board dedicated to chicken, comes from the Pinch of Yum blog.  As per usual, I made my own changes to it, the main one being I didn't use Marsala wine at all, despite this being a recipe for Chicken Marsala.  I did my shopping at Trader Joe's, and couldn't put my hands on a bottle of Marsala, so I used Merlot instead. 

It was phenomenal.

I also added spinach and did not include parsley.

This one is pretty easy to pull off, but looks (and tastes!) super impressive.


Chicken Merlot
Serves 3-5, depending on how much chicken you use


Ingredients



16 oz. sliced crimini mushrooms
3 Tbsp. butter, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Merlot
1 tsp. cornstarch dissolved into 1 Tbsp. cold water
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 1/2 - 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts (or tenders, like I like to use)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup flour
2 tsp. Trader Joe's 21-Seasoning Salute or regular All-Purpose Seasoning 
2 cups cherry tomatoes
3 cups spinach
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat 1 Tbsp. of the butter in a large pan over medium heat and add the mushrooms.  Saute for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.


It's OK.  They won't bite.


Add the wine and the garlic to the mushrooms and let simmer to reduce the wine for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the cornstarch mixture, cream, and salt.  


Mix the flour, seasoning, salt, and pepper in a bowl and toss the chicken in this mixture until coated.  Shake off any excess.

Heat the rest of the butter (2 Tbsp.) and the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the chicken for a few minutes on each side until cooked through.

Add the spinach to the wine mixture and let it wilt for a few minutes, mixing occasionally.

Add the sauce and mushrooms to the chicken skillet.  Add the tomatoes and simmer until the tomatoes have softened.







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One Year Ago:  No Post, but check out the Pecan Pralines from a year ago last Tuesday!
Two Years Ago:  Ginger Honey Tea
Three Years Ago:  No Post

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Pinterest...Wednesday! "Valentine's Day" Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes



I don't generally make New Year's resolutions.  Basically, by resolving to do something, I'm resolve to not accomplish that particular task.  Resolve to lose 20 pounds?  Let's gain 10 instead!  Resolve to get up at 5:30 every morning to do yoga?  Still hitting snooze at 6:30!

It's useless.

But one thing I can resolve for this year is that I will stop trying to plan this blog.  I say I'm going to do XYZ, and I always, always end up lying.  I have to learn that it's OK!  It's OK to intend to do a Pinterest Fridays post every week and then go two weeks without a post and do it on Wednesday instead.  It's really OK!

(Plus, with this particular one, I'm going to pretend I'm just really on the ball with Valentine's Day recipes.  They were birthday cupcakes, but let's pretend I'm prepared for V-Day, OK?)

My friend Sherry had a birthday on January 5th and I was not aware of it until January 8th.  She made an offhanded reference to "her birthday on Monday," and I was like, wait.  Wait, what?  She said she doesn't like to make a big deal out of birthdays.  

(This is from the same person who brought me like 3 different kinds of baked treats and ice cream and I want to say donuts on my birthday in October.  I call shenanigans.)

So these cupcakes were for Sherry's 25th birthday ("Valentine's Day") and they're amazing.  The original recipe came from the Curly Girl Kitchen blog.  As always, some minor adjustments were made.


"Valentine's Day" Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes
Makes 20-24
Adapted from Curly Girl Kitchen's Chocolate Covered Cherry Cupcakes


Ingredients







For the cupcakes
1 box devil's food cake mix
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 eggs
2  tsp. vanilla
1 cup full-fat sour cream
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup tart cherry juice (I actually used cherry-pomegranate juice.  It was excellent.)

For the ganache
4 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream

For the frosting (Not pictured) (I don't know why.)
1 cup tart cherry (or cherry-pomegranate) juice, reduced to a little more than 1/3 cup
1 1/2 cups room temperature unsalted butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2-4 Tbsp. milk

Garnishes
Sweet cherries (You can use maraschino, but fresh is much better)
Chocolate jimmies (optional)



To prepare cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350°F and line your cupcake pan with paper cups.

Blend all cake ingredients until batter is smooth, but don't overmix.

Spoon batter into the pan and bake for 16-18 minutes.  Allow to cool completely.


To prepare ganache

Put the chocolate chips in a bowl.

Pour the cream into a small saucepan and heat over medium low heat until bubbles begin to form around the edges.  (Don't burn it!)  

Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it stand for 3 minutes before stirring the chocolate and cream together until well-blended and smooth.

Dip the top of each cupcake into the ganache and carefully shake off the excess.  Set aside and let set for 10 minutes or so before frosting the cupcakes.


To prepare frosting

Put the butter in a stand mixer.  (You can mix this all by hand if you want, but it'll just take a while.)

(Instructions always say to use the whisk attachment for frostings, but I find that the beater attachment works best for me.)

Beat the butter and your reduced juice together until well blended.

Add the powdered sugar to the mixture little by little (about 1/4 cup at a time) until blended.  Add the vanilla and 2 Tbsp. of the milk to moisten and continue to whip until it's reached your desired consistency.  Add more sugar or milk as needed to make the frosting smooth.

Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes and garnish with a cherry and sprinkles, if you'd like.  I tried to drizzle leftover ganache on some of mine as well, but it just got all gloppy and weird-looking.  But more power to you if you can make it look awesome! 




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One Year Ago:  No Post
Two Years Ago:  No Post

Friday, January 2, 2015

Pinterest Friday: Smoked Sausage, Cheddar, & Beer Cheese Soup



Happy New Year!  To start off the year, here's the first post for my Pinterest Fridays series!

(I've desperately tried to think of a more catchy name, but so far, nothin'.)

Pinterest Fridays will be (as their name pretty much indicates), days when I'll make and post something I found on Pinterest.

(Are you following me on Pinterest?  If not, find my boards here!)

This recipe came from my Soups & Stews & Chowders & Chilis board and comes from The Peace + Love + Low Carb blog.  According to the pin, it's a CrockPot recipe, but I just made it in an evening.  The original recipe can be found here.

This.  Soup.  Is.  Amazing.  There's really no other way to say it.  I know I have my own recipe for Beer Cheese Soup, but this one kind of blows that one out of the water.  I think it's the addition of sausage.

Dennis and I ate this in complete silence, because we were too busy shoveling it into our mouths to say much of anything.  It also makes killer leftovers.

My one mishap with this one is that I tried to taste it while it was cooking, and I'm pretty sure I gave myself 2nd degree tongue burns.  I burned my tongue on a Thursday, and it didn't stop hurting until the next Tuesday.  So...don't do that.

I would say that you absolutely have to use the Trader Joe's sausage I used, because it's so good, and it made the soup so good, but really, any kind of hot sausage will do.  (Or mild sausage, if that's what you're into!)

This is perfect for a chilly evening (Which, as it turns out, we DO have in Southern California!).  Give it a try, and I promise you won't be sorry you did.

(Incidentally, if anyone has anything better than Pinterest Friday to call these posts, I'd love to hear any suggestions!)


Smoked Sausage, Cheddar, & Beer Cheese Soup
Serves 6-8
From The Peace + Love + Low Carb blog


Ingredients




1 package (14 oz. or more) hot Italian sausage (Trader Joe's brand if you have it), sliced
32 oz. beef broth
1 12 oz.bottle of beer, any kind 
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
6 oz. cream cheese
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp. olive oil


Add the olive oil to a large pot and heat over medium-high heat.  Cook the sausage through, then add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes, until the veggies lose their bite.

Add the broth, beer, red pepper, salt, and pepper, and turn the heat up to high.  Stir, and then bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to medium-high and allow to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the cream, cream cheese, and cheese.  Stir until there are no longer clumps of cream cheese.  (You may need to use an immersion blender to break the cream cheese down.)

Taste (carefully!!) to see if any more salt or pepper is needed, and add as desired.  Simmer for another 10 minutes.  

Serve with breadsticks.




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One Year Ago:  No Post
Two Years Ago:  No Recipe Post