Once upon a midnight dreary…

Poetic license here, it was 12:00pm (noon) not midnight. It was sunny and warm, nor dreary. Otherwise the title was spot on. I saw this recipe for Chicken Pasta Primavera and thought it would make a nice, easy dinner. As is often the case, I was only mostly right. I made a couple of baguettes over the weekend and thought they would be good for garlic toast. We has a frozen chicken breast left over from a dinner last week and we had some peppers (some from my garden)… perfect!

(Not my photo)

The chicken was neither boneless or skinless, but that was easily rectified. I also butterflied it to reduce the time required to cook it in the skillet.

Baguettes are easy to make with or without a bread machine. I use our machine for ease and consistency. Set the menu to dough so it does the work of kneading and the first rise. When it finishes its cycles remove it from the machine, punch it down, divide it into two balls and put on a slightly greased cookie sheet, covered with a kitchen towel and placed in the oven with the light on. This makes a nice, warm, draft free place to let the dough rise again. After it doubles roll each ball into a rope as long as your baguette pan, dust with corn meal and let rise again until doubled. When ready place in pre-heated oven at 375 degrees for 20 – 25 min. Spray with water, brush with egg white or as I did, but a pan of water in the oven will make the bread nice and crusty.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F.)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 3 teaspoons Instant Active Dry Yeast
  • Cornmeal (optional)

Chicken Pasta Primavera recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into bite size pieces
  • dried basil
  • dried rosemary
  • dried thyme
  • garlic powder
  • grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook red and green bell peppers in 2 tablespoons olive oil with garlic until just tender. Stir in diced tomatoes, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes. Reduce heat to keep sauce warm.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  3. While pasta is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons oil and butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Cook chicken in butter mixture until juices run clear, 5 to 10 minutes. Place cooked chicken over tomato sauce and sprinkle with basil, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder and Parmesan. Serve with cooked pasta.

Red Pepper Cream Sauce Chicken

I know it looks like chicken parmigiana, but its not so get off my case! Our market likes to sell chicken breasts in packages of three. Often we will have them split a package as one is really enough for both of us. This week we decided to buy all three, use one and freeze the others. Great plan, worked well, except I froze the two extra in one freezer bag so I had to thaw both of them to use them. We had chicken parm earlier this week so wanted something a little different, hence the red pepper cream sauce chicken. As you know, i like spicy and this was spicy. Fran could eat it, but just. Its quick to make and easy. Spray a baking dish and place chicken in the center. Place 2 strips of bacon on the chicken. Layer the top with mozzarella cheese and top with 2 more bacon strips.

Meanwhile as we did not have an red pepper tomato sauce, I used plain marinara sauce and added some crushed red pepper, roasted garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Add some cream (about 1/2 as much as the marinara sauce) and mix. Pour this mixture over the top of the chicken/bacon/mozzarella and bake. I used the convection oven at 350 deg for 35 min.

And Fran said “Let’s just have bread for dinner!”

NOT IN MY HOUSE!! I had some chicken cutlets, plum tomatoes, but no garlic bread 😦

Making a couple of loaves of baguettes doesn’t take very long, however, without a baguette pan the loaves tend to flatten. Instead I just made them in bread pans and cut them on a diagonal. Not perfect, but not bad.

The chicken parm was nothing special beyond delicious. a 14oz can of crushed tomatoes, one cup fresh, peeled, diced, plum tomatoes, about 1/4 cup EVO, one clove of garlic, cut into thin slices, 1 teaspoon of salt, one sprig of fresh basil.

Heat the oil and garlic together. When the garlic turns pale gold, add the tomatoes, salt, and basil and mix. Let it cook until it has reduced to the thickness you like. Put the chicken in some type of roasting vessel (I use my au gratin’s), cover with the marinara sauce, sliced mozzarella, torn basil leaves and slices of fresh tomato. Bake at 350 for about 30 min. I cannot abide under cooked chicken so usually cook for 35 – 40 min. For the last 5 min use the broiler to be sure everything is browning.

Also, the home made garlic bread (2 teaspoons mayonnaise and 1/8 cup of garlic powder spread over the bread and broiled until just browning, 3-5 min) is cooked at the same time as the last 5 min of the chick parm.

Even I cannot believe it was that good

Sage Butter Sauce on the left, Maple Cream on the right

We bought some Butternut Ravioli thinking a change might be in order. Now, what do you use for a sauce on butternut ravioli? It needs to offset the earthy taste of the squash, usually that means something buttery, or a spice like cinnamon. I found two possibilities, one is a slightly scalded sage butter the other is a maple cream sauce.

Imagine my surprise when they both worked! The sage butter is made in a skillet. Fine chop some fresh sage, add a couple of tablespoons of butter and mix until the sage is crisp but not browned. Don’t use too high a heat or the butter will burn. Add some salt and pepper to taste and in about 7-10 minutes its ready.

Sage Butter Sauce

The maple cream is made by adding one part heavy cream to two parts maple syrup and a little butter. I used 2 tablespoons maple syrup and one tablespoon heavy cream and one teaspoon butter. Bring it to a boil and turn the head down (or off, it boils easily) and let it cook for 5 minutes.

I think this would work great as an appetizer with both sauces there for dipping.

Hall of Famers don’t hit home runs every time…

Not every at bat will be a homer, some are base hits, sometimes you strike out.

Last night was an extra base hit. The flavors were good, the presentation adequate

but, for me, it lacked snap. The mahi-mahi recipe was good, not great. I won’t do it again and won’t post the recipe. The rice was very good (thanks to Keith B.) The dessert was a cake I saw online. Again the flavor was good but the presentation – no so much.

Rice: Cut corn from a fresh ear and saute in a little butter and EVO until tender. Boil about 3/4th’s cup of water with 3-4oz of tomato juice. Remove from heat, add rice, corn and a little cut cilantro. Let the rice soak up the liquid and fluff with a fork.

The chocolate rolls were excellent (tasted like tootsie roll) made from chocolate fondant and white gum paste. Full disclosure: usually I make my own fondant and gum paste, but I have not been able to make a good chocolate fondant. I bought this at Michael’s.

rolled together, cut into rectangles and rolled up loosely. The cake was too high for what it was. The layers should have been half as high, 1/2″ rather than 1″. the cake would have been lower resulting in smaller portions but easier to balance.

Cake: the cake is a white velvet made in a jelly roll pan.

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a small bowl, sift 2 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.
  2. Blend shortening and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Mix in the flour mixture. Add 3/4 cup milk; beat for 2 minutes. Add egg whites, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 cup milk. Beat well.
  3. Grease and flour 8 1/2 x 12″ Jelly Roll pan. Pour the batter into the pans.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool cake layers on a wire rack
The chocolate base for the cake is made by melting 2 squares of semi-sweet chocolate ( I use a double boiler) and adding 2 or 3 tablespoons of HOT heavy cream. Mix it well and when still hot and pliable spread a thin layer on waxed paper. The size should be about 1/3rd of the size of your cake pan.
Cut the cake into thirds so each will be about 8″ x 4″. Place the lower layer in the still warm chocolate. Frost the top of that layer with butter cream frosting. Add the second, and third layers with frosting in between.
I tried a number of ways to make the orange drizzle frosting. The easiest was to melt some apple jelly, add some orange essence and some orange food coloring. The best tasting was to mix 1/4 cup filtered orange juice (running through a coffee filter clarifies the OJ), adding 1 cup sugar and 1/2 packet of gelatin. I may want to cut back on the gelatin. bring it all to a boil then refrigerate until thick. Spread over the top letting it drizzle down the sides. Make a little royal icing (1 tsp meringue power, 1/2 cup powered sugar and 1 – 2 tablespoons warm water, depending on how thick you want the icing) and “glue” a chocolate roll on each piece of cake using the royal icing. Note: one of mine would not stick to the orange glaze so I pushed a toothpick through the icing into the cake.
Why is a nice easy chicken parmigiana, linguine and maybe a chocolate souffle sounding good to me? Or maybe wings at Bru’s room.