Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pan-Seared Chicken with Mushroom Sage Sauce

     WOAH! I cannot even begin to explain how delicious this recipe was! The flavors were so.... delicious! I can barely form words remembering back to how much I really liked this recipe! I will say that part of what made this dish so exquisite was the Basil Pearled Cous-cous that I accompanied with the chicken. The flavors together were just so scrumptious! I will definitely only make this dish with the Near East Basil Pearled Cous-cous from now on! This dish was so creamy and delicious! Of course I used extra mushrooms because I like to have some mushrooms with every bite! I definitely recommend this dish!
     There is a little alcohol used in this dish. My husband doesn't like dishes that incorporate alcohol so I made sure to allow the alcohol flavor to cook off for a while longer than the recipe suggested, so my sauce wasn't necessarily as sauce-y as compared with where I got the recipe from, but I thought it made it richer and more flavorful. And, score!, my husband said he really couldn't taste the alcohol much at all, which he is particularly nit-picky about and able to pick out even when I haven't mentioned that there is alcohol in a dish, so for him to say that was huge. Also, if you would prefer not to use alcohol at all, I would just substitute it out for some chicken broth and it would be just as tasty.
     So, here we go!

3 T butter
1/2 C chopped shallots, or minced onions (I couldn't find my shallots until I finally relented and used onion, cause of course that's when you find what you're looking for!)
10-12oz mushrooms of your choice (I used button)
1 t fresh parsley
1 C dry white white or dry vermouth (I know others would kill me, but I just use the cooking wine that can be found by the vinegar in the store. We don't drink so I don't have bottles of wine on hand.)
2/3 C heavy whipping cream
3 T fresh sage
1 T olive oil
2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded out to 1/3 inch or so
salt and pepper


In a medium saucepan, melt the butter on medium heat. Add onions and sweat for a minute. Add the mushrooms, parsley and a pinch of salt and saute for approx. 10 minutes or so until they begin to get all soft and yummy-butter filled.

Add the wine and deglaze the pan with a wooden spoon by scraping the bottom of the pan to get up all the yummy bits from the onions and mushrooms. Add the cream (make sure your heat isn't too high so as not to curdle the cream, you want to slowly bring it to a higher heat). Now, bring it to a low boil and cook the sauce down for approx 10-15 minutes to allow it to thicken (You want it to be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon).

White the sauce is reducing, begin the pearled cous-cous in a small sauce pan.
Then, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and add to the pan and sear chicken on each side for 3-4 minutes, do not disturb while it cooks. It will gain a lovely caramelized color from the hot pan.

Now, back to the sauce. Add the chopped sage to the sauce, along with a pinch of salt and pepper (make sure you taste the sauce first to see how much salt you actually need to add).

I served this dish by first putting a scoop of pearled cous-cous on each plate, and topping it with the lovely seared chicken breast, and topped it off with a healthy scoop of the mushroom sage sauce. Then, garnish with a pretty sprinkle of parsley!

Then, fall out of your chair as the flavors burst in your mouth! Then, get back up and finish the rest of your dinner! You're welcome!

Recipe Adapted from: Simply Recipes

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Asparagus and Red Pepper Beef Stirfry

     I found this recipe a while back while looking for the perfect stirfry. I wasn't that enthused by the recipe, considering there weren't that many ingredients, but I was pleasantly surprised at how flavorful the sauce was! It actually became our favorite stirfry recipe and I made it most nights that week; I'm not ashamed.

     What's great about this recipe as well, is that it doesn't take long to go from prepping to the dinner table; as most stir fry's. I also love that I don't have to worry about side dishes with this one! I can never remember to plan for vegetable side dishes, which is why I love stir frys: the vegetables are already included!

3 T vegetable or peanut oil
1 bundle of asparagus, bottoms trimmed and sliced into thirds*
1 lb flank steak, sliced into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
Slurry: 2 tsp cornstarch whisked into 3 T water
3 T soy sauce
1 tsp ginger (I use the jarred version)
1 clove garlic (again, I use the jarred version, crushed garlic)
1 scallion, chopped
1/2 tsp chili oil (or Sriracha** if you don't have chili oil)

Prepare your rice and set for 10-12 minutes.

For the asparagus, I have tried two methods here and both worked great, just choose whichever you'd prefer. Since you aren't going to cook the asparagus for very long, this step is going to help make the asparagus tender and not hard and woodsy.
     *1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the bottom half outer layer of the asparagus off (Obviously, do this before you cut the asparagus into thirds otherwise this step will be a bit difficult).
       2. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and cook the asparagus pieces for several minutes and drain.

Prepare the sauce: Stir together the soy sauce, ginger, garlic, scallion and chili oil or Sriracha (**I didn't have chili oil the first several times I made this dish and used Sriracha instead. This time I did use chili oil, and I must say, I preferred the Sriracha. The Sriracha gives the dish a bit of heat and a bit more flavor).

Begin the stirfry: Add 1 T of oil. Start with the asparagus and cook on high heat for a few minutes until browning. Remove and set aside.

Add 1 T of oil to the pan and stirfry the beef strips in 2 batches for 1 minute on each side (2 minutes total); don't cook the beef any longer even though you might be tempted to. By the time the dish is ready, the meat will be so tough and dried out. Trust me, it might not look done, but just go with it.
Then, add all the beef to the pan along with the bell pepper and cook another 2 minutes to allow pepper to soften.

Give the slurry one more stir to make sure the cornstarch is incorporated into the water and pour into the pan with the stir fry sauce. Allow to thicken for 1 minute. Add the asparagus and toss to combine all the ingredients.

Serve over white rice.

Recipe adapted from: Simply Recipes

Friday, September 7, 2012

Thai Green Curry Coconut Shrimp

      This dish was so outstanding! I was really surprised at how delicious and flavorful it was considering it took less than 15 minutes to make and there weren't many ingredients involved! Definitely make this one! I know that the fish sauce might kinda throw some people off, but just trust me... if you're careful with it and use it sparingly, it adds such depth and flavor. This was a perfect dish for two, we like lots of shrimp though! Do it!


1 tsp peanut oil
4 scallions (green onions) diced, with the white and green parts separated
1 Tb Thai Green Curry paste
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
1 lb shrimp
10 oz light Coconut Milk
6-8 dashes of Thai Fish Sauce (use sparingly and taste as you add)
2 T fresh chopped Basil
salt to taste


Prepare 1 C dried rice and set for 10-12 minutes.
Begin to peel and de-vein shrimp if necessary.
Chop scallions and basil.
In a 10 in skillet over med heat, add oil and let heat for 30 seconds or so.
Add white scallions parts and curry paste and allow to cook for a minute or so, stirring to combine.
Add garlic and stir to combine.
Add shrimp and allow to cook for several minutes until the shrimp begin to turn pink.
Add coconut milk and fish sauce* and stir to combine, allow to simmer 2-3 minutes to heat thoroughly.
Turn heat off and add the green scallions parts and chopped basil and mix together.
Serve over white rice.
Be amazed at the deliciousness!

*Please, please, please be careful with the fish sauce. I just know that people are going to put a lot in and then hate me for suggested this recipe when the smell eminating from this dish makes you want to vomit, and it's so salty and fishy tasting. Fish sauce is super tricky: if you put too much, it can completely ruin a dish. If you put just the right amount in, it adds so much depth and flavor and you cannot taste fishiness at all. I promise. My husband would not eat it if he could taste it.

     (I remember the time I followed the recipe and put 1/2 C fish sauce in a dish and that was the first time I refused to allow my husband and I to finish the dish past one bite. We ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner instead. That meal will go down in history as the worst dish I've ever made. So just DON'T do it.)

Be very careful. I accidentally added a dash too much in this dish, and compensated by adding more coconut milk and it was perfect! I ended up really liking the extra sauce that it provided for the rice, so I've written in the addition to the recipe here. After each dash or two, taste the sauce to see if it's right.

Recipe adapted from: Gina's Skinny Recipes

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Grilled Chicken Week

     This week came about because we are trying to be healthier; like everyone else, when aren't we? Grant wanted to do something a little simpler, well, wanted ME to do something simpler for dinners, like grilled chicken. I was totally up for that, but of course, I couldn't just make the same recipe every night, I had to find some fun recipes that were also easy-ish and not defeat the whole purpose of the plan.

     I found some recipes online in various places and the result was pretty awesome! These recipes are originally for various amounts, and different types of chicken. I have changed each recipe for our liking: dinner for two. You may also click on the link to each recipe to see any changes I've made to the recipe or to the amounts.

     A friend gave me some pretty good tips for grilling chicken, so I thought I'd just do an introductory post to explain the specifics of how I'll be grilling the chicken so I won't need to do it for each post.

Grilling Tips:

1. I'm using medium sized chicken breasts which are about the size of my palm (roughly 6 inches long). And I'll be grilling them for approx. 6-7 minutes on each side. If you have larger ones, you'll need closer to 10 minutes per side.

2. Preheat grill on high. Then when you're ready to put the chicken on, turn down to med-low.

3. Spritz the grate with cooking spray several times so you're chicken is less likely to stick (Don't just spray the whole thing b/c you'll get major flare ups, just spritz it). Also, many people dip a paper towel in olive oil and using tongs, brush the grate with the paper towel. I myself haven't used this method, but most recipes will have you do this. I just find it easier to use Pam.

4. Place your chicken on the grill. If you want to give it that extra punch of prettiness, put it at an angle so you'll get cool grill marks. I place the large side of the breast closer to the middle of the grate since it's thicker and will need more time to cook. Close the lid and walk away.

5. Look at your watch (clock on your cell phone) and check the time so you know EXACTLY when to come back and check the chicken.

6. Flip your chicken to the other side. Close the cover, walk away again. Again, check your watch.

7. If basting, here's where you wanna do it. One thing I've learned is that if you put your chicken on the grill with a very sugary sauce on it (BBQ), it will be more likely to burn and char. You might like that, my husband, however, does not. It is better for me to wait and put it on the chicken at the end and cook the chicken for another minute to adhere the sauce to the chicken.

8. Plate your chicken and take it inside and let it rest for 5 minutes to allow the juices to settle. If you cut right into it, all the juices will flow out of your chicken leaving you with dry chicken, and no one ever said "MMM" while eating a dry piece of chicken. Never. Don't do it. You'll be tempted... but you'll be mad at yourself.

A lot of people have been requesting these recipes.
Here are some pictures of this weeks dishes:

Day Four: Mustard Grilled Chicken with Creamy Polenta

     I was blown away by this dish. First off, I don't like dijon mustard. Second, I've never cooked with polenta before, nor mascarpone cheese. I was in for a real treat with this one! I was so pleasantly surprised by this recipe! My husband and I both really enjoyed this one; I'll definitely be making this again! 

     The one thing I'll do differently next time is to actually get quick cooking polenta. Since I'd never cooked with polenta before, I had no clue that it came in any other way than what I'd already seen before: a tube. So, a tube I used. Now, don't get me wrong... it was extremely delicious; but because it was in tube form it was pretty solid, and took quite some time to get it to break down into a smooth consistency. It would just be easier with quick cooking polenta. They also didn't have any plain polenta at the store, so I was forced to use a sun dried tomato flavored polenta; no complaining on this end. I was worried how it would taste combined with the ingredients I was going to add to it, but it was just scrumptious! My husband said the polenta reminded him of corn chowder, which, who doesn't like a thick creamy bowl of corn chowder!? Here I'll explain exactly how I made the polenta, but I would probably use the quick cooking kind next time.
     That, combined with a delicious piece of mustard grilled chicken... just outrageous flavors! I must say that one thing I really liked was that the dijon wasn't overpowering, so if you're looking for very intense mustard flavor, maybe add some dry mustard into the mix. But for me, it was perfect, just mild and tasty! Get ready!

3 scallions, finely chopped
1/4 C dijon mustard
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic (again, I find it easiest to use jarred crushed garlic, about 1 tsp)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Olive oil
3 C water
1 tube polenta (or get quick cooking polenta and follow the directions on the bag, which I'll do next time)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 ear corn, kernels shaved off
1/2 C mascarpone cheese (this is similar to cream cheese, and typically comes in a container)

In a resealable bag, add scallions, mustard, lemon juice, and garlic and mix. Add chicken to the bag and seal. Refrigerate for 6-8 hours. 

30 minutes before dinner, begin polenta. Bring water to a boil in saucepan. Slice tube of polenta into 1/2 inch chunks and whisk into water. You'll need some muscle for this step. Add salt, sugar, and continue to whisk that polenta until it begins to melt down to a smooth consistency. It will seem to take quite some time, but just stick with it, it'll get there (10-15 min). As it begins to form a smooth consistency, you can decide the texture you want it to be by adding more water. I started out with 2 cups and slowly added more along the way, and ended up with around 3 cups water.

Preheat your grill, lightly spritz grate with cooking spray. Place chicken on grate over med-low heat and grill for 6-7 minutes per side for 6-7 oz medium chicken breasts. Allow chicken to rest for 5 minutes.

Add fresh corn kernels to polenta and cook a few minutes more (5-10 mins). Stir in mascarpone cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. It should now be a creamy chowder type consistency. 

To serve, place chicken breast atop a generous bed of creamy, delectable polenta and enjoy!


Recipe Adapted from: Serious Eats