Friday, June 15, 2018

Creamy Parmesan Chicken Florentine

I am finishing out Mushroom Week with this delicious and easy, on-the-table-in-30-minutes meal, Creamy Parmesan Chicken Florentine. While this can, indeed, be on the table in 30 minutes, it helps to start the day ahead by marinating the chicken breasts in buttermilk. If you have never done this, trust me when I tell you that this should be your new practice with absolutely every dish that you make that uses chicken, and I am talking every single one, including chicken salad, or even if you’re just adding pieces of cooked chicken to a chef salad. It makes a world of difference, because that buttermilk helps to break down any toughness the chicken may possess, and it will come out juicy, and melt-in-your-mouth tender.
Creamy Parmesan Chicken Florentine

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and halved*
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
Melissa’s shallot, minced
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cracked pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 handfuls baby spinach

In a large sauté pan, melt oil and butter together. Sauté the chicken on medium high heat for 3-5 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked through. Remove chicken to a
plate, tent, and set aside. Put sliced mushrooms into the pan, cook and stir until softened. Remove with slotted spoon to bowl; set aside

Add the 1/4 cup butter to the pan and allow to melt. Add garlic and shallots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 1-2 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook until partially thickened. Whisk in chicken stock, cream, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, and salt. Add the spinach, and allow to simmer until sauce starts to thicken and the spinach is wilted. Return the chicken and mushrooms to the pan, heat through, and serve atop the pasta of your choice.

Makes 4 servings

*You learned how to do that here.

Another easy and excellent chicken dish is this toothsome Chicken Piccata.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Creamy Bacon & Mushroom Fettuccine

Recipe three in my celebration of Mushroom Week features pasta, namely fettuccine. There are a lot of ways to fix fettuccine, but this is one of my favorites. It is particularly easy to put together if you start your water boiling for your pasta around the same time you cook your bacon. This way everything tends to get done at the same time and you can toss it together and serve. This is one of those 30-minute meals that come in so handy on busy days.
Creamy Bacon & Mushroom Fettuccine

4 slices bacon, cut into ½” pieces
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
Melissa's shallot, minced
4 ounces fettuccine, uncooked
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
1/3 cup whole milk
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried basil leaves
¼ cup freshly chopped parsley

Red pepper flakes, for garnish

Cook bacon until crisp; drain. Add mushrooms and shallots to the skillet, cook and stir about four minutes. Stir in reserved bacon. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook fettuccine as directed on package in large saucepan; drain. Return fettuccine to saucepan. Stir in cream cheese, milk, garlic powder, basil, and fresh parsley. Cook and stir over medium/low heat until cream cheese melts. Toss bacon mixture with fettuccine mixture. Serve immediately. A sprinkling of red pepper flakes takes this over the top!

Makes two main dish servings.

Another fabulous fettuccini dish is this Fettuccini Alfredo for Two.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Bacon & Mushroom Spread

Continuing in our Festival of Fungus, today I am offering up Bacon & Mushroom Spread. Not only is this a delicious spread, but it has to be made ahead in order to allow the flavors to meld into something magnificent. You reheat it in the microwave when ready to serve, so this is probably one of the easiest hors d’oeuvres you can possibly serve your guests.
I put mine in one dish alongside an assortment of crackers, but if you like, you can use this as an appetizer at the beginning of the meal, putting small servings in ramekins and serving them on a plate with a couple of crackers or pieces of flatbread. It’s a lovely presentation, and a delicious way to start a meal.
Bacon & Mushroom Spread

3 slices bacon
6 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
Pinch salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Cook bacon in a 9-inch sauté pan until crisp. Remove bacon from pan to drain; crumble and set aside.

Add mushrooms, onions, and garlic to the pan in which you cooked the bacon. Cook over medium/low heat until tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. Sprinkle flour, salt, and pepper over the top, and cook, stirring, until smooth. Add cream cheese, Worcestershire, and soy sauce, stirring until cheese is melted (At this point it is going to look like glop. Don’t despair; it is supposed to look like glop.) Stir in sour cream, lemon juice, and reserved crumbled bacon. Heat through.

Pour into serving dish; allow to cool 10 to 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Serve the following day at room temperature, or warm 1 to 2 minutes in the microwave.

Another delicious spread is this Superior Pecan Spread. Everybody loves this one!

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Monday, June 11, 2018

Cream of Broccoli Soup with Mushrooms

I don’t know about you, but sometimes one of my produce bins gets a bit more full than the other. So, when I came home from the store with a 16-ounce package of whole mushrooms, it was impossible (Curses, you kohlrabi and celeriac!) to put it in the vegetable bin where it belonged. So, just for the moment, I put it into the fruit bin that had dwindled down to virtually nothing other than a withered piece of citrus, so old and so shriveled, as to be unidentifiable. Fast forward two weeks later when it was time to wash out those bins and I found the mushrooms. Gasp! A pound of mushrooms, looking the worse for wear, and me with no clue as to why I’d bought them. Sure, I have a lot of recipes that call for mushrooms, but I know, at the time that I bought these, I was thinking of something in particular. Well, it’s too late now, I need to use these up and fast. So, this is going to be the Week of the Mushroom! Four different recipes will be coming to you, all using mushrooms. Get ready to be bowled over by fungus!
First up is Cream of Broccoli Soup with Mushrooms (yeah, yeah I had put the broccoli in the fruit bin as well), a surprisingly tasty, decidedly summer soup that pairs nicely with a tossed or fruit salad, crusty roll or slice of nut bread.
Cream of Broccoli Soup with Mushrooms

8 oz. fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
Melissa’s shallots, finely diced
1 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
16 oz. chicken stock, preferably
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup whole milk
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan, sauté mushrooms, shallots, onion, and garlic in butter over low heat until mushrooms and onions are soft and all of the liquid has evaporated. Add wine and cook until evaporated. Stir in flour, and cook and stir for one minute. Add broth and broccoli, and bring to a simmer and cook for two minutes. Add milk and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Add seasonings to taste and serve. This tastes equally good cold as it does warm, so consider it a soup for all seasons.

One of my favorite broccoli soups is this copycat of St. Louis Bread Company’s.

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Sunday, June 10, 2018

Pick a Color...Any Color

I have a very large great room in the lower level of my house. For quite some time, I have wanted to paint that room, but it just seemed so daunting, particularly considering that I’m troubled with carpal tunnel. It took me a week to paint the master bathroom because I can only do a little at a time. So, when a man who has painted for my family for the last 30 years got in touch with me and asked if I had any work for him, I jumped at that opportunity. But, there is good and bad in everything; I was deliriously happy with the idea of having that room, at long last, painted (I am not a fan of "Contractor's White"), but plunged into the depths of despair at the thought of having to select the paint.
Source: Pinterest
If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that one of my mottoes is, “Go Big or Go Home. The upstairs part of my house is done in neutrals and it’s serene, I like that, but the great room downstairs, designed to spark conversation, conviviality, and fun, needs to be dramatic. I found this picture on Pinterest, and considering I have a similar chair (as you can see below), and some of those exact same baskets, I knew I wanted to paint my wall a dark shade of gray.
But, and you can trust me on this one, there are way more than Fifty Shades of Gray! My painter left with me a couple of fan decks to aid in making my selection, and I was shocked at how many different shades there actually were. There is blue gray, and brown gray, and green gray, and gray gray, there are even purple-y grays. It was a nightmare! He told me to get a couple of paint samples, put them on the wall, and make my choice from there. I cannot tell you how stressful it was for me to select paint. I finally settled on three colors: Armory, Downpour, and Volcanic Ash. I thought to myself how the same guy who names lipstick and nail polish, must also name paint. The paint color that I really wanted was called Zombie. How exotic does that sound? Unfortunately, it was so dark as to look as though big, black hefty bags had been affixed to the wall. No, that would not do.
Why am I telling you all this, you ask yourself, yawning. I’ll tell you why, because I want you to help me select this paint. I put big patches of it in various parts of the room so that I could look at it at different times throughout the day. As I mentioned, I’m looking for bold, in a room that is roughly 20’ x 30’.
Source: Pinterest
I moved most of the furniture to the center of the room (and I needed a big nap after that), but moved one piece and the accessories (Very sentimental because the piece of furniture itself belonged to Jim, and the bust and brass lamp belonged to my mother) back into place so that I could see what they would look like up against the wall. Before you begin to wonder whether or not I have truly lost my mind, let me add that, in late fall, white crown molding is going to be installed all around the top of the room, as is a white fireplace flanked on either side by window seats. (See above inspiration photo.) I am also planning a gallery wall of white painted frames holding black-and-white photos from my travels.
So, here are two pictures of the paint, which color do you like? Color number one Downpour? Color number two Armory? Or color number three Volcanic Ash? I think I’ve made my selection, but I’d appreciate it if you would weigh in.
Funnily enough, son number two and I separately ranked the exact same colors, for the exact same reasons. That apple did not fall far from the tree.

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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Billie’s Chocolate Ice Cream

Lately, I have become (and I hesitate to use this word, but it’s embarrassingly accurate) addicted to a pleasant little Australian drama/comedy now on Netflix called Offspring. A friend of mine from high school (male) got me started watching it. I hadn’t anticipated liking it, because I am a dyed-in-the-wool fan of British television, mysteries in particular, but he had willingly accepted so many viewing challenges that I had thrown his way, that I felt that I owed it to him to watch at least one episode. Six episodes later, and nearing 4 o’clock in the morning, I had to stop. I was hooked from the very beginning. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about the Proudman family of assorted misfits, and all of their misadventures. It is about life, and love, and loss, and misunderstanding, and is seriously hard to stop watching. The casting is excellent, and I doubt that you’ll find a quirkier bunch than in this series. It got to the point where I had to limit myself to one episode per night in order to keep from losing any more sleep.

Last night I was watching an episode where oldest daughter, Billie Proudman (played by Kat Stewart of “Mr. & Mrs. Murder”), received some bad news. She barricaded herself in a room, crawled beneath a pile of blankets, and wouldn’t speak to anyone unless they brought her chocolate ice cream. At that moment I was reminded that I didn’t have any chocolate ice cream on hand. What if I encountered some sort of emergency, late at night? What would I do? It was then that I decided to make some to keep in the freezer just in case.

Here is an easy, no-churn recipe that you can do without standing for lengthy periods of time in front of the stove stirring up a custard, adding eggs, and praying to God that they don’t curdle. It’s astoundingly good, and a must to keep on hand, you know, just in case of emergency. :-)
Billie’s Chocolate Ice Cream

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup Hershey‘s special dark cocoa, sifted
1/4 teaspoon
espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
Pinch of sea salt
2 cups heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks

Whisk together condensed milk, cocoa, espresso powder, vanilla, and salt. Fold into whipped cream, one half at a time, until combined. Pour into a 9” x 5” x 3” loaf pan and put into the freezer. It will be ready to scoop and serve after five hours. Conversely, if you have an ice cream maker, freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Eat while barricaded in your room, hiding under mounds of blankets.

If sorbet is more your thing, this Concord Grape Sorbet is absolute HEAVEN!

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Slow Cooker Sausage Supper

I love a nice, grilled sausage supper, but in this heat I am not about to go outside and grill. So, I selected all of my favorite sausage supper ingredients, combined them with a spicy sauce, and let the slow cooker work its magic. This is quite tasty, considering how easy it is to put together. It’s a great weeknight supper, or weekend meal. It’s only in the slow cooker for a total of three hours, so if you don’t think about it until midday or early afternoon, it will still be ready in time for supper. Why heat up the kitchen on a hot day? Grab your slow cooker and have a wonderful summer sausage supper.
Slow Cooker Sausage Supper

1 small sweet onion, finely chopped
1 cup light brown sugar
3 Tablespoons yellow mustard
3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon horseradish
2 pounds smoked kielbasa
2 ears corn, cut into rounds

Spray slow cooker with PAM.  Add onion, sugar, mustards, and horseradish, and stir to combine. Cut the kielbasa into one-inch-thick slices and add to the crockpot. Stir to coat. Cover and cook on high heat 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add corn and potatoes and cook an hour longer.  Serves 4-6.

Another simple summer meal is this Shrimp Boil Foil Pack.

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