Guess Who Came to Dinners?

We just had a weekend guest, and sadly, put her on a plane to return to her home last night. This woman prefers to eat healthy, in moderation and occasionally diet. Boy did she come to the wrong place!

We started with some rugelach. I made apple/cinnamon, chocolate and hand pies
chocolate/blackberry. They are very similar except the for filling.  I added an apple tart, (I got to use my new spiralizer so am happy.) Fran and I had some fruit dumplings from Apple Hill (much like my hand pies but bigger, so I added blueberry, apply and blackberry hand pie/filled rough puff pastry dumplings. For dinner we had my homemade pizza margherita: sweet/salty sauce, home made dough (ala pizza 2 Independent Pizza in Seattle), basil and fresh mozzarella, baked 6 minutes at 600 degrees in my gas grill. I added some garlic bread knots to accompany.  It was so good, I made second one for Sunday night.  Unfortunately, we at all the garlic bread knots, so I made some chocolate mousse with pink whipped cream topping. Oh, we also had a salad.

mousse

RUGELACH

INGREDIENTS

CRUST

  • 16 tablespoons (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature (2 T cream cheese = 28g. 3/4 Cup = 12 T, ¾ C = 4oz.)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flourrugelach1

FILLING CINNAMON RAISIN

  • 1/2 cup brown sugarrugelach2
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or currants
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • water for brushing dough

DARK CHOCOLATE:

  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 Tsp unsweetened cocoa power
  • ¼ Tsp cinnamon (optional)

TOPPING

  • granulated sugar or coarse white sparkling sugar
  • milk or cream

METHOD

  1. To make the dough using a mixer: Beat together the butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and salt until smooth. Add the flour, mixing to make a stiff dough.
  2. Divide the dough into three equal portions. Press each gently into a disk. Make the disks as round as possible, smoothing their edges; this will allow you to roll the disks into a perfectly round circle, making the resulting rugelach more attractive.  (Note how :perfect this dough circle is.) Wrap the disks in plastic, and chill the dough for about 1 hour, until it’s firm but not rock hard. Or chill longer (up to overnight), then warm for about 45 to 60 minutes at room temperature, until the dough softens enough to roll out without cracking.
  3. To make the CINNAMON RAISIN FILLING: process the sugar, walnuts, dried fruit, and cinnamon in a food processor or blender until finely chopped and well combined (but not pasty). Don’t have a food processor? Simply stir together the filling ingredients; your filling will be chunky rather than smooth.
  4. To make the CHOCOLATE FILLING: Whisk together 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder; add 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, if desired. Sprinkle atop rolled-out dough. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) mini chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate.
  5. Working with one piece of dough at a time, place it on a generously floured surface. Roll it into a 10″ circle and brush it lightly with water. For a flavorful touch, brush the rolled-out rugelach dough with a thin layer of boiled cider, warmed apple or 

    currant jelly, or puréed fruit preserves, instead of water.

  6. Use your fingers to spread about 1/3 of the filling onto the round, going all the way to the edges and gently patting the filling to help anchor it to the dough.
  7. Using a pizza cutter, baker’s bench knife, or sharp knife, divide the dough into 12 equal wedges. Roll each wedge up, beginning with the wide end and ending with the narrow end. Place the rolls point-side down on a baking sheet; lining the baking sheet with parchment will help with cleanup. Repeat with the remaining two pieces of dough.
  8. Brush the rugelach with milk or cream; and sprinkle with granulated or coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Refrigerate the rugelach while the oven is preheating.
  10. Bake the rugelach for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, and cool right on the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  11. Store leftover rugelach in an airtight container at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

APPLE TART

TART SHELLS

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 100 g cold butter cut into small cubes
  • 200 g all-purpose flour
  • 60 g icing sugar (Splenda?)
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 egg (50g)

APPLE FILLING

  • 3 apples (sliced thin or spiralized with skins on)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tsp cinnamon

METHOD

  1. Mix butter with sugar
  2. Add salt then vanilla
  3. Add egg
  4. Stir in flour.
    1. Mix by hand until incorporated
    2. Add 3-5 Tbl water to make dough sticky
  5. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30 min
  6. Butter tartlet pans
    1. Roll dough to about ⅛” thick
    2. Lay over tart mold and press into all crevices
    3. Roll top to cut off excess
  7. Prick holes in bottom and sides of formed dough
  8. Add pastry weights to each pan
  9. Bake in preheated oven 350o F (175o C) for 17 min
    1. Remove pastry weights with 5 min left in the bake
    2. Remove pastry shells from pans and let cool on wire rack
  10. Fill cooled tart shell with sliced apples. I put them in a spiral shape but any way will do
  11. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over the apples.
  12. Cover exposed edges of tart with aluminum foil to prevent over browning.
  13. Back at 375 F for 20-30 min. When apples have reduced and mixture is bubbling.
  14. Remove from over and cool on a wire rack.

Sweet and Salty Pizza Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tablespoons (4 large leaves) fresh basil, coarsely chopped

METHOD

  1. Heat oil in medium saucepan over a medium heat until hot.
  2. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper and cook for 8-10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring and mashing tomatoes with potato masher until crushed.
  4. Stir in basil.
  5. Place in small bowl; cool to room temperature This sauce may be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated or up to 2 months ahead and frozen.
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Chicken Milano-ish

Chicken MilanoWe had a “Use What’s in the Pantry” dinner last night. We bought some thin chicken cutlets during our weekend grocery shopping and wanted to use it soon. Last week I saw a recipe for Chicken Milano and decided to substitute what was in our pantry for what was listed. Not much of a stretch, if you note the recipe below. It resulted in a very flavorful, light cream sauce paired nicely with a glass of 2012 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel. Sorry, there is no photo. It looked remarkably like chicken over fettuccine covered with a light cream sauce.

Chicken Milano

4 Servings, Prep Time: 10 Minutes, Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Description
This is a delicious pasta and chicken dish with garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil. The original recipe called for dry packaged sun-dried tomatoes instead of the tomatoes packed in olive oil. I had neither so used fresh tomato. The sauce can be kept, covered, for one day in the refrigerator; heat again over low heat. Try it with some crusty bread if desired.
Ingredients
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (I used a diced fresh tomato)
• 1 cup chicken broth, divided
• 1 cup heavy cream (I used 2% milk, warmed and mixed with 2 tsp cornstarch)
• 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
• salt and pepper to taste
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
• 8 ounces dry fettuccine pasta
Directions
1. In a large saucepan over low heat, melt butter; add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and 3/4 cup of the chicken broth; increase to medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender. Add the cream (milk/cornstarch mixture) and bring to a boil; stirring. Simmer over medium heat until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
2. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm oil and saute chicken. Press on chicken occasionally with a slotted spatula. Cook for about 4 minutes per side or until the meat feels springy and is no longer pink inside. Transfer to a board; cover and keep warm. Discard the fat from the skillet.
3. In the same skillet, over medium heat, bring 1/4 cup chicken broth to a boil; stirring the pan juices. Reduce slightly and add to the cream sauce; stir in basil and adjust seasonings to taste.
4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add fettuccine and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain, transfer to a bowl and toss with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the sauce.
5. Cut each chicken breast into 2 to 3 diagonal slices. Reheat the sauce gently if needed. Transfer the pasta to serving plates; top with chicken and coat with the cream sauce; serve.

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.

Garlic and Pepper Chicken

I remember we had some peppers in the fridge and I wanted to use them before they spoiled. While driving home i thought, why not cook them up with some chicken and plum tomatoes then throw in some fettuccine to make a dinner.

A little EVO in the skillet, burner on med-hi add the chicken and peeled tomatoes (Do you score an X in the end of the tomato and toss them into boiling water until the skin curls? Works great for peelin.) along with a little garlic, salt, pepper and any other spices you think will complement the dish. I used a Cajun blackening on the chicken before tossing it in the skillet. Let the chicken cook and tomatoes reduce (I drain some of the liquid off after 15 – 20 min) before adding the sliced peppers. I wish I had some green peppers for color, but I always use what is in the cupboard and fridge.

I cooked the fettuccine for about 8 of the suggested 10-12 min then threw it on the skillet on top of everything, cover and simmer for another 10 min or until the fettuccine is done to your liking