Lemon Chicken Linguine

I love lemons.
And I want a lemon tree.

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I’m trying to find out exactly how small a dwarf lemon tree is. So far, everyone (friends, websites, etc) tells me that a dwarf lemon tree will reach about six feet tall, and if I wanted one in my house, I’d need to dedicate a room solely for the tree. I’m starting to wonder if I really even need a living room…

I use lemons all the time… pretty much on a daily basis…well…almost on a daily basis. Frequently. So, a lemon tree would be so wonderful to have growing in my yard..or in my lemon room (a.k.a. living room)..

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What I wanted to hear was that the tree would reach about four feet tall. And that I could keep it in a little pot, bring it outside in the summer, and then bring it back inside during the winter months. Unfortunately, it’s not meant to be.

Unless I move someplace warm…there are no lemon trees in my future.
I don’t like those words.
I don’t like those words at all.

While that’s a real bummer, it’s not the end of the world, because there are lemons always readily available to me whenever I need them. A lemon tree just would have been fun, you know?

I’m not going to give up, and will continue my search for that perfect little lemon tree.

But in the meantime, I’ll continue to use the lemons that I can buy at the store, and that’s ok, because they do exactly what a fresh lemon would do for me… like this Lemon Chicken Linguine.

Despite my fame for posting heavy creamy dishes ( I really don’t eat that way all the time), this dish is definitely on the lighter side…not laden with sauce, but the lemon truly makes up for that! A squeeze of lemon over the chicken at the end gives this such a refreshing taste! And the asparagus? Well, it’s asparagus…it just belongs in this recipe.

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This is actually one of the meals that I make often, but I felt like it wasn’t worthy of the blog…maybe “not worthy” is being a little too harsh…maybe I thought it was too easy, a no brainer… because it is a common meal that I make. But just like the Embarrassingly Simple BLT Wedge Salad I posted the other day, I started to think that it’s ok to post ordinary meals that I make for my family. After all, my promise to you was simple, rustic and delish, right from the very beginning. This dish truly fits that bill.

It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s delicious. And everyone loves it. Well, maybe not your pickiest eater, but that’s why you have chicken nuggets stashed away in the freezer, right?

Life is good.. it’s a “Not giving up on the lemon tree, and thinking that I really don’t need a couch…” kind of good…

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Lemon Chicken Linguine
Serves Four

For the Chicken:
8 chicken breast tenders
1 cup flour
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp white pepper
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp cayenne
Olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon

The Pasta:
½ pound linguine

For the Sauce:
½ cup butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 lb fresh asparagus tips (save the stalks! Use them for another meal…chop them up in eggs! Make soup! Just don’t toss them!)
2 cups chicken stock
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup Romano cheese
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish:
Fresh lemon zest for garnish
Fresh parsley for garnish
Fresh ground black pepper
Lemon wedges for garnish

Mix the flour, black pepper, white pepper, garlic powder, salt, and cayenne in a medium size shallow bowl. Dredge the chicken breast in the flour mixture until well coated.

(While the chicken is cooking, bring a pot of water to boil. Cook the linguine per the instructions on the box. )

Pour enough olive oil in a large frying pan to coat the bottom. Sauté the chicken about four minutes on each side, or until fully cooked and golden brown. Right before removing the chicken from the pan, drizzle with the lemon juice (1/2 to 1 full lemon, depending on your lemon preference) Remove the chicken from the pan, and set aside. Save the pan with the oil, you’ll use that for the sauce.

Immediately after taking the chicken from the pan, add the butter, garlic, and shallots. Sauté for about two to three minutes, or until golden. Add the asparagus, and sauté until tender (not mushy, but tender), about three to five minutes. Remove the asparagus from the pan, and set aside. Add the chicken stock and the lemon, and simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

As soon as the pasta is cooked, transfer it from the water to the pan of sauce with tongs or a wire strainer. Mix the pasta around in the sauce until it is fully coated, and then add the asparagus back to the pan. Add the Romano cheese and parsley, stirring until the pasta is fully coated.

Serve with the chicken and lemon wedge. Garnish with a little more parsley, fresh lemon zest, black pepper.

Enjoy!

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Chicken Pot Pies

 

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I really hit a writer’s block with this one… I’ve been sitting for two days, trying to come up with something really wise, witty…and mind-blowing to say about my pot pies… but honestly, what can be said about chicken pot pie that hasn’t already been said?

I looked for a cute chicken story… Chicken Little…The Little Red Hen… but came up short. Honestly, how could I compare the sky falling to chicken pot pie?

You just can’t.

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We all know that it’s the perfect comfort food, because that’s been said a gazillion times…and I’m sure that everyone is pretty much sick of hearing how they’re perfect for cold weather…but seriously…in my mind? Chicken pot pie is perfect year round, especially on cool summer nights… or cool spring nights for that matter. Imagine sitting around a bonfire with your friends and family, and someone handing you a little pot pie in a cup like this to snack on.. I certainly wouldn’t pass it up..

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I even found a quote from Shannen Doherty saying how everyone thinks she leads a glamorous life, but there are so many times she spends her evenings alone with her dogs, eating a chicken pot pie! But I didn’t feel as though that would really go with what I wanted to say either…although it was nice to know that actors and actresses are real people too..

Truth be told, I would much rather be eating a chicken pot pie with my family and friends around a bonfire…or with Sophie..watching a movie.

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And then, while I was trying to come up with something to say about these pot pies… I started thinking about how there are different pot pie people in this word:

There are the “eat it right out of the tin” pot pie-er…(that’s me)
There are the “plop it upside down on a plate” pot pie-er

When I was younger..I always felt as though eating it out of the tin was THE right way to eat a pot pie. I would eat it in three parts… First there is the crispy top crust…and I’d use that as a spoon of sorts.. to scoop out the creamy, chickeny, vegetabley goodness… and then the pleasure of the soft and moist bottom crust, which was my most favorite part of the whole pot pie. It was like coming upon a buried treasure!

But that’s really not what I wanted to say either…

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And that is pretty much it. I didn’t have anything funny to say today. I didn’t have any words of wisdom for you.. I just had to let the pot pies speak for themselves… and sometimes that’s okay too.. because they’re just that good…

In keeping with my childhood beliefs, I made these pot pies so that you have to eat them out of the cups. These are on the smaller side…so there is no crust on the bottom because I wanted everyone to enjoy the creamy goodness that was inside. Now, don’t worry, there is plenty of crust because I rolled it out on the thicker side!

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Life is good… it’s a “thinking you can’t come up with anything to say, but when you look back you realize that you’ve rambled on for a million paragraphs” kind of good…

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Chicken Pot Pies
This recipe will make six pot pies in 16 oz ramekins

The beauty of these pot pies is that you can make them however you want! Change the chicken to beef, shrimp, lobster…or leave it purely vegetable! You can add whatever types of vegetables you like! For this one, I went traditional…but that’s not to say that I’d never change it myself!  Lobster is sounding mighty good…

Make it fun… use whatever type of container you want for your pot pies…like these cups that I found on Etsy from a girl named Sandy..and her wonderful shop called P.S. Simply Vintage!  You should check her shop out, Sandy has some pretty cool stuff!

Roast the Chicken and Vegetables:
3 large boneless chicken breasts
32 oz container chicken stock (1 cup for roasting, the rest for the gravy)
24 oz yellow baby Dutch potatoes, skins on and sliced into quarters
1 cup diced baby carrots
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp butter
6 fresh sage leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Spray a 9 x 12” baking pan with cooking spray. Arrange the vegetables and chicken in the bottom… placing two sage leaves and one tablespoon of butter on each chicken breast. Pour one cup of chicken stock (saving the remainder of the carton for the gravy) over the chicken and vegetables. Generously season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees F. Remove from oven, drain the juices into the pan for the gravy. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces, and set both the chicken and vegetables aside.

Prepare the Gravy:
Leftover chicken broth from above
Pan drippings from the roasted chicken and vegetables
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups fresh peas, (or frozen)
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tbsp white pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 tbsp cornstarch
4 tbsp butter, room temperature
salt and pepper to taste

Bring the pan drippings, chicken stock, heavy cream, poultry seasoning, white pepper, cayenne pepper, to a simmer in a large frying pan. Add the peas, and let simmer for about 15 minutes. In a small bowl mix the butter and cornstarch to a paste consistency. Add to the gravy and pea mixture in the pan, and whisk until completely blended. Continue to let simmer until thickened. Remove from heat…Add the chicken and vegetables to the gravy mixture.

Aunt Linda’s Pie Crust:
2 cups flour
1 cup shortening
½ tsp salt
½ cup milk
1 tbsp vinegar
In a small bowl, mix the milk and vinegar together.  Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, blend the flour, shortening, and salt together until mixture is in pea size crumbles. Pour the milk and vinegar mixture into the flour mixture and stir.   The dough will be sticky.

Roll out on a generously floured surface, kind of on the thicker side. Lay your pot pie container on the dough, and cut around the container about an inch larger (to roll the crust into the pot pie).   Using a knife, cut a heart shape into the crust..to let the steam out…and because every pie should have a heart.

Assemble the Pot Pie:
Measure as much of the chicken and gravy mixture as you want into each of your containers. Place a round of the rolled out pie dough on top, and roll the edges in to create a crust around the pot pie container.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 1/2 hour, or until the crust is golden brown, and the pot pie goodness is bubbling.

Serve hot, and Enjoy!!

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Chipotle Lime Chicken over Salsa and Corn Risotto

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Have you ever done a dance in your kitchen after creating a meal that you’re just way too excited about? Yes? Of course you have… we all have.

Have you ever done a dance for your dog while you sang “You put the lime in the coconut, and drink it all up…” (Baha Men) to her/him, after creating that meal? Yeah. I did.

Poor Sophie.. sometimes she just doesn’t know what to make of me, and watched me with this pathetic look in her eyes… but honestly, that’s the first song that came to mind after I finished this meal…  And the dance?  Ok, yeah…it was pathetic..

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My friend Seana (Cottage Grove House) has been on a spicy Mexican food kick lately, and her wonderful recipes have pulled me right in on her kick! If you haven’t visited her blog, you should take some time to visit. You will love the sophistication of her photos, and her recipes are definitely to salivate over. I met Seana back in October right here on my blog…she was the very first person to comment on my my very first post,  rustic tomato tartlet, and we became fast friends with so much in common outside of our blogs… I adore her, and know you will too.

I can’t seem to get enough of the spicy deliciousness that Mexican food tends to bring to the table. It’s festive. It’s colorful. It’s happy.

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So it’s no surprise to me that I decided to try a salsa risotto today, by starting with a jar of salsa as the very first cup of liquid added to the arborio rice. I cooked it with a couple cups of chicken stock, and a generous cup of wine that I found in the fridge. At first, I thought that I wanted to add peas to the risotto, but the green peppers from the salsa, combined with the peas, in my mind, would have been too much green. The peas would have been delicious, but I decided to add corn instead. Beautiful. It gave the risotto a wonderfully sweet and fresh flavor! Finished with a couple tablespoons of butter, and about a half cup of romano cheese, made this a creamy goodness that I was pleased to serve with my chipotle lime chicken.

I thought that a roasted pepper, tomato, black bean salad would be the perfect accompaniment with this meal. …And…it was.

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Life is good….
Life is “dancing in front of your dog while she looks at you pathetically…but you don’t care….because she can’t talk and tell everyone how dumb you looked”….kind of good…

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Chipotle Lime Chicken over Salsa and Corn Risotto

Roasted Pepper, Tomato, and Black Bean Salad
1/2 yellow bell pepper
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 orange bell pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the peppers into 1” squares. Mix with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet, and roast at 400 degrees until tender and browned. Remove from oven and in a small bowl, mix with (until combined):

1 large beefsteak tomato
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of one lime
1/2 tsp chile powder
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Salsa and Corn Risotto

1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
2 to 3 cups chicken stock
1 16 oz jar salsa (I used medium heat, you choose your desired heat)
1 cup white wine
1 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
2 tbsp butter

Bring the chicken stock to a boil, and reduce to simmer during the cooking time of the risotto.

In a large frying pan or sauce pan, saute the onion and garlic in the three tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, until translucent. Add the rice to the onion and garlic mixture, and sauté for about two or three minutes (you don’t want the rice to brown).

Add the jar of salsa to the rice, and begin stirring frequently until the liquid is absorbed. Add one cup of wine, stirring until it has been absorbed into the rice.

Continue to add the chicken stock, one cup at a time, stirring constantly until the liquid is absorbed, and the rice is cooked al dente. Right before you add the last cup of chicken stock, add the corn. Continue to stir until the liquid has been absorbed.  Add the butter and Romano cheese, stir until creamy.

Chipotle Lime Chicken

4 boneless chicken breast halves
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp chipotle chile powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika

Mix the chile powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and paprika in a small bowl. Rub all over the chicken breasts. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the chicken breasts to the oil. Cook over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes on each side, until the chicken is no longer pink, or reaches 165 degrees internally. Remove the chicken from the pan, reserving the drippings right in the pan. Slice on the diagonal and serve over the salsa and corn risotto. Drizzle chipotle lime sauce over chicken. Serve with roasted pepper, tomato, and black bean salad. Garnish with lime slices and chopped cilantro.

Chipotle Lime Sauce
Drippings from cooked chicken
1/2 stick butter
Juice of one lime
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp chipotle chile powder

Heat the drippings in the pan over medium heat. Add the butter, lime juice, garlic and chile powder. Cook until thickened. Remove from heat and drizzle over cooked chicken.

Enjoy!

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Fiesta Friday ~ Quesadillas

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It’s Fiesta Friday #6 tonight…and I’d love for you to stop by Angie’s blog, The Novice Gardner, where the online party is going on right now!  You’ll find a ton of wonderful bloggers who have joined in on the party, and have brought with them some pretty AWESOME recipes!  It’s a blast, Angie is a hoot, and did I mention the awesome recipes?!!

This is my second post for Fiesta Friday…well, technically my very first recipe for Fiesta Friday, but Angie was nice enough to let me post my Pretzels last week (I came a little late to the party)…. so this week I’ve prepared some delicious quesadillas to share with everyone tonight!

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I’m so excited, and honored to be a part of this wonderful event, and I truly hope you check it out!  While  you’re there, browse through Angie’s blog.. I can promise you, that you’ll walk away smiling…

You’ll love these quesadillas… they’re quick…they’re easy…and they’re delicious!  I mentioned in last night’s post that I bought two bundles of asparagus a few days ago at my beloved Wegmans, and decided to use the last bundle in the quesadillas.  I have to say, asparagus, chicken, pepper jack cheese, and chipotle crema is a winning combination!  Add fresh pico de gallo and guacamole to the mix and call it a FIESTA!

Life is good… Life is Fiesta Friday good…

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Quesadillas

Serves 2-4

1 lb boneless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1 8oz bottle taco sauce

1 large red onion, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1 lb asparagus
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

8 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded

1/4 cup sour cream
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce (only 1 pepper from the can)

4 burrito size tortillas

In a large frying pan, add the chicken and the taco sauce over low heat. Simmer until chicken is fully cooked, and taco sauce has thickened.

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In a separate frying pan, heat the olive oil. Add the asparagus, balsamic vinegar, salt, and black pepper. Saute until translucent. Remove from oil. Set aside. In that same frying pan, add the asparagus, salt, and black pepper and sauté until tender. About five minutes before the asparagus is fully cooked, add the garlic to the pan.

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In a small food processor, add the sour cream, mayonnaise, and chipotle chile. Process until fully blended and smooth.

Assembling the Quesadillas  
Grease the bottom of a large frying pan with about a teaspoon of olive oil. Add one tortilla to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle about 4 oz of the shredded pepper jack cheese all over the top of the tortilla.

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Spread one half of the chicken over the cheese. Add as many asparagus stalks as you’d like across the top of the chicken. Layer one half of the red onions over the asparagus. Top with chipotle crema. Top with another tortilla. Let heat in the frying pan until the bottom tortilla is golden brown and crispy. With a large spatula, carefully flip the quesadilla over, and heat until the other side is golden brown and crispy.

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Remove from frying pan to a large cutting board, and cut into fourths. Serve with fresh pico de gallo and guacamole.

Pico de Gallo
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2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 medium white onion
1 small jalapeño (I used Hungarian pepper because there isn’t as much heat as a jalapeño)
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, lime, salt, pepper, and cilantro. Mix well. Refrigerate.

Quacamole
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1 Hass avocado
1 small tomato, chopped
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Remove the avocado from the shell, and place in a small bowl. Mash with a fork. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, lime, salt, and pepper. Mix until well blended. Refrigerate.

Serve the Pico de Gallo and Guacamole with the Quesadillas.

Enjoy this Fiesta Friday!

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Sweet Cheddar Mashed Potatoes with Breaded Chicken and Asparagus

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I had to run to my beloved Wegmans the other day to buy some paper towels. Paper towels? Really?

I know, right?
Wrong.

If you’ve been following my blog, then you know that I have this thing for Wegmans. I mean, if I walked out of that store with just a couple rolls of paper towels, then I’d be mighty disappointed. We’d ALL be disappointed!!  Ok, yes…paper towels were on the list, but it’s a given that I’ll be walking out of there with a few things that I “need”.

Seriously, I’ve gone in for one thing….
Got sidetracked with all of the wonderful displays…
And walked out with more than just that one thing I went in to begin with…

Honestly…I’m a sucker for displays, especially at Wegmans.  Let’s talk about this for a couple of minutes…

Stores see me coming from miles away, and I swear they build them just for me. The most dangerous displays are the ones with kitchen supplies, and I’ll spend forever standing there studying everything!

Even the displays at the cash registers: Candy, Cracker Jacks, pop, gum, dryer vent catch the lint thingys, lip balm, ear buds that break after one use, pens, nail clippers, breath spray… yep…I’m your girl. I’m the one who keeps those displays alive… and I have a drawer filled with junk at home to prove it… I’m sure that there is a medical name for my display obsession “condition”…

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Anyway…back to my shopping trip…

Walking through the produce department there was a beautiful display of asparagus. It was perfectly thin, although I know that asparagus can be just as tender when it’s thick, as it is thin. It really doesn’t matter to me…I love it. I could eat it every day.. I couldn’t pass it up, and two bundles made their way into my cart.

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As I was rounding the corner from the produce section into the cheese shop, there sat a display of Sweet Cheddar.  Sweet Cheddar?  I’d never heard of it, and naturally…my first thought that it was sweet…as in sugary sweet.  But Caitlyn, the girl who works in the cheese shop assured me that there was no sweetness to it at all, and gave me a sample.  She was right… it’s a very creamy type of cheddar, and the only way I’d want to explain it is that there is more of a mellow sharpness to it. When I say creamy, I don’t mean a soft cheese, because it still has that sharp cheese crumble, but it has a creaminess to the taste.

Caitlyn also mentioned that she likes to buy the garlic mashed potatoes from the prepared foods shop at Wegmans, and then grates some of the sweet cheddar into them and bakes them.

Ok, she twisted my arm. But it wasn’t that hard to do.  The cheddar was going home with me regardless.  So..both the cheese and the asparagus definitely dictated my dinner that night. I decided to follow Caitlyn’s lead with the potatoes, and make breaded chicken breast over cheddar, garlic and caramelized onion mashed potatoes, topped with asparagus and parmesan cream sauce.

It was delicious.  If you can find it, I highly recommend making these potatoes with the sweet cheddar, but if you can’t find it…I think any sharp cheddar would be fine!  The asparagus and chicken were delicious…but the potatoes?   The were truly the best part of the whole dinner!

Oh, and the paper towels? I walked out of the store that day with a couple bags… neither of which contained a roll of paper towels… I was totally caught up in displays that day..and completely forgot them…

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Sweet Cheddar Mashed Potatoes with Breaded Chicken and Asparagus
Serves 4

The Mashed Potatoes
4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” chunks
1/2 stick butter
1 tbsp milk (or more, depending on the dryness/moistness of the potatoes)
1 tsp salt

1 large yellow onion, chopped
A few fresh sage leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

8 oz sweet cheddar cheese, grated (Reserve four tablespoons for garnish)

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Melt the 2 tbsp butter over low heat in a large frying pan. Add the onions and sage leaves to the melted butter, and slowly cook uncovered for about 45 minutes to one hour, or until golden brown. You will want to remove the sage leaves and add the garlic when there is about five minutes left for the onions to finish caramelizing. Five minutes after adding the garlic, add the balsamic vinegar, and continue to cook a couple minutes more, until reduced.

Remove all but 2 to 3 tablespoons of the onion mixture, place in a bowl and set aside. These onions will be used in the potatoes.

Leave the remaining 2-3 tablespoons of onions in the frying pan. This will be used to saute the asparagus, and then again for the cream sauce.

Bring the potatoes to a boil in a large pan of water. Boil until fork tender. Drain, and place the potatoes into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the butter, milk, and salt. Using the whisk attachment, mix until the potatoes are creamy and there are no lumps remaining…unless you like your mashed potatoes lumpy, then by all means, leave them lumpy!

Stir in the caramelized onions, and sweet cheddar cheese. Place in a baking dish, and keep warm in the oven on 200 degrees until ready to serve.

The Chicken

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2 boneless chicken breast halves, split lengthwise

1 cup breadcrumbs
½ cup romano cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper

2 eggs

1 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter

Prepare your breading station using three bowls:

Bowl number one:.Add the flour, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Mix thoroughly.
Bowl number two:  Whisk the three eggs.
Bowl number three: Add the breadcrumbs, romano cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Mix thoroughly.

Dredge the first piece of chicken in the flour mixture.  After it is covered in flour, dip the chicken breast in the egg.  When it is completely covered with egg, dip the chicken into the breadcrumbs, make sure that it is completely covered. Repeat with the other three pieces of chicken.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan on medium heat, and fry the chicken pieces until they are golden brown, about 15 minutes on each side, or until completely cooked.   Remove from the pan, place on a plate lined with paper towels to remove excess oil (if you didn’t forget to buy them at the store). Place on a baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm.

The Asparagus

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1 lb fresh asparagus, snapped to remove woody ends
Remaining onion mixture
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Add the olive oil to the remaining onion mixture in the frying pan, and heat over low heat. Add the asparagus. Saute until the asparagus is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Remove asparagus from pan, leaving some of the onion mixture in the pan, and set aside.

The Parmesan Cream Sauce

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Reserved caramelized onions (from asparagus)
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Add the heavy cream to the onions in the frying pan. Bring to a simmer, and add the parmesan cheese. Simmer until thickened. Remove from heat.

Assembling the Meal:
The potatoes will be the base of the meal, place one fourth of the potatoes in the middle of a dinner plate. Place a piece of chicken on top of the potatoes. Spoon the Parmesan cheese sauce over the chicken. Top with asparagus, and one tablespoon of grated cheddar.

Enjoy!

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Twisted Tuesday: Cobb Lettuce Wraps

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I was watching the weather on the news before I left for work this morning, and the weatherman said something like: “If you think you’ll be walking out the door to dry roads this morning, you will be very mistaken”… and of course, he was right. It was yet another slippery morning, one of the many we have had in the last month and a half. It just set the tone for the rest of the day.

And….There is a very good chance that this weather could be my fault.

I’m quite certain this past summer I proclaimed to the world that I was melting (numerous times throughout July and August), and how I would love a raging blizzard outside my window. I goofed. I should have made it clear that I only wanted one raging blizzard. One blizzard. For only one day. And then the snow could shut off, and the sun could come out, and the roads could be dry for the rest of the winter. But that’s not meant to be. Not just yet, anyway. Apparently we have about six more weeks of winter.

Six weeks.
I think we can handle that.
Right?

Six more weeks of winter.
Ugh.

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I can remember how excited I was in October to start making winter meals. I love them. They’re truly comfort food. They’re the stick to your ribs, keeps you warm meals. That seems like so long ago.

I’m sick of them.
At least for today.

All day long I thought about summer, and how a salad with an ice cold bottle of pop (Yep.. I call it pop. Western NY girl here!) would taste so good…

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A Cobb salad. With blue cheese, chicken, bacon, eggs, tomato, and avocado. For the twist? Maybe something a little lighter… like a Cobb lettuce wrap. Everything we love in a Cobb salad, but a smaller version that we can just pick up and eat. Drizzled with homemade buttermilk ranch dressing, and topped with chopped chives. And a bottle of ice-cold sparkling clementine. Perfect.

It was definitely a pick-me-up, and brought a little summer into what was a rather dreary day.

Six more weeks… we can do it, right? Yeah, I think we can..

Cobb Lettuce Wraps
Serves Four / Two Wraps Each

8 Boston lettuce leaves, cleaned and left whole
2 chicken breasts, grilled and sliced into cubes
4 slices of bacon, cooked crisp, and chopped
1 avocado, cut into cubes
4 hard boiled eggs, cut into cubes
1 large tomato, chopped
4 oz blue cheese
¼ cup chives, chopped
Lemon slices for drizzling

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing (Recipe Below)

Assemble the lettuce wraps:

Lay each lettuce leaf on work surface. Place a few cubes of chicken on each lettuce leaf. Arrange the bacon, avocado, eggs, tomato, and blue cheese in rows on top of the chicken.

Drizzle with buttermilk ranch dressing, and garnish with chives.

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Buttermilk Ranch Dressing:
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, finely minced
¼ tsp ground mustard
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 tbsp fresh parsley
, chopped
1 tsp fresh chives
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
Whisk the buttermilk, mayonnaise, garlic, ground mustard, cayenne, parsley, chives, salt, and pepper in a small bowl until well blended.

Cover and refrigerate for up to one week.

Enjoy!

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Chicken Corn Chowder

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This Polar Vortex has me in soup mood. I’m a cold weather kind of girl, but this is just way too cold! Seriously, as I was walking into work this morning, I couldn’t believe how the cold air hurt. I mean, it really stung my face. It’s not a very long walk (like two minutes), from the parking lot to the building where I work, but it honestly felt like I walked a mile. That short walk in the frigid air set the tone for the rest of the day. I was chilled to the bone. All day.

When I got home from work today, I couldn’t have been happier that I had made a huge pot of chicken corn chowder last night. It’s one of Michael’s favorite soups, and when I make it, I have to make it big. He’ll eat it all night, and the next day. The container of leftover soup was the prettiest sight I’d ever seen!

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You know, any kind of soup is comfort food; but when you add cheese to it, and make it thick and creamy; it just adds that highest level of comfort that we all desire. That’s exactly what this soup does, and I can honestly understand why this is one of Mike’s favorites.

Although I don’t make it often, I do love to make this soup, and it is another one out of my “quick and easy” recipes. It’s made from rotisserie chicken from my beloved Wegmans; boxed chicken stock, a quart of half and half, frozen corn, and some fresh vegetables. It takes about an hour and a half from start to finish. An hour and 15 minutes to cook down, and 15 minutes to cut up the vegetables! It’s a no fuss kind of meal, just perfect for this type of weather when all you want to do is snuggle under a blanket to keep warm!

Life is good. Life is “Polar Vortex makes me want to make soup” kind of good… Keep warm and safe!

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Chicken Corn Chowder

This pot of soup would easily feed my family of five when everyone was home, and with leftovers for dinner the next day, and snacks all night for Mike. When I make it in my 8 quart soup pot, it is filled to the brim. In my house, every last drop is eaten over a period of two to three days; but you can easily cut the recipe in half!

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I have to come clean. When I was at Wegmans buying the ingredients, I wanted to find some breadsticks to go with the soup. I saw this really cute bag of crackers on the shelf in the Italian Section. I didn’t have my reading glasses with me, and the bag was printed in Italian. I thought they were crackers. Well, they’re not crackers. They’re cookies. What I thought looked like salt, is actually sugar. I was expecting a kind of pretzel type of flavor, but got kind of like a shortbread flavor, and I must say rather delicious…just not to dunk in the soup! If anything, they looked cute in the photos!  I really need to learn to speak Italian!  Francesca?  A little help here?!

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The Ingredients:
2 store bought rotisserie chickens, meat removed from bones, and cut into bite size pieces
2 – 32 oz cartons culinary chicken stock
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 quart Half and Half
2 – 16 oz bags frozen corn
1 ½ lb Velveeta processed cheese spread (Hey, I didn’t say this was calorie free!)
1 tsp salt to begin with, and add more after to taste
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp white pepper
¼ tsp cayenne (or more, depending on your heat preference)

Shredded Cheddar and chopped bacon for garnish (optional)

In a large soup pot, add the chicken, chicken stock, carrots, celery, potatoes, onion, salt and black pepper. Simmer over medium heat for 45 minutes.

Add the Half and Half, corn, cheese spread, white pepper, and cayenne. Cook for ½ hour until thickened.

Serve immediately with shredded cheddar and chopped bacon as a garnish. And breadsticks! Or cute little cookies with roosters on them… whatever tickles your fancy!

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Chicken and Peas Alfredo

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This is going to be short and sweet tonight.

After a full day of researching and testing a little project that I hope to share with you this weekend (whether it turns out to be a success or failure!), time completely away from me. By the time I looked at the clock, it was 5pm, and I had nothing planned for dinner.

Isn’t that kind of funny?  I spend the whole day in the kitchen, yet no meal on the horizon..

That’s okay; I always have the ingredients for Alfredo sauce in the refrigerator; which is not only quick and easy, but also so versatile.  You can serve it as a plain Alfredo sauce, or you can add chicken or seafood, and vegetables, and make it a different meal every time! Serve it over any kind of pasta or gnocchi….it doesn’t have to be limited to fettuccine.

It happens to be one of my daughter Jessica’s favorite meals.  She likes it with chicken and peas, so that’s how I made it tonight, and served it over spaghetti. It was easy enough to thaw a couple of boneless chicken breasts… No one was the wiser that an hour before, I had no idea what I would be serving!

Typically, an Alfredo sauce is made with butter, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese.  I didn’t use butter tonight, because there was plenty of juice in the pan after sautéing the chicken in a basil flavored olive oil.  If you can’t find basil flavored olive oil near you, use regular olive oil.  It will be just as delicious. I promise.

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Chicken and Pea Alfredo
(Serves 4)

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, minced
3 tbsp basil olive oil (or extra virgin olive oil if you can’t find basil flavored)
2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into medallions
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 tbsp Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Poultry Magic (or your favorite cajun seasoning)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
Spaghetti, cooked to al dente

In a heavy frying pan, sauté the garlic and onions in the olive oil, until translucent. Add the chicken medallions, Poultry Magic, salt and pepper to the garlic and onion mixture, and cook until browned.

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Add the peas to the chicken, and sauté for about 2 minutes.

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Add the heavy cream to the pan, and let simmer for about five minutes.  Add the parmesan cheese, and simmer until thickened.

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Serve over spaghetti, and sprinkle with more parmesan, and fresh ground pepper.

Enjoy!

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Barbecue Chicken Personal Pizzas

This is a post in which you just might judge me a little bit.

The judgment involves me taking down my Christmas decorations today. Yes. You read this right. I did. I took them all down, and they’re all packed away already.  I know it was way too early, but I had a strong impulse to do it…so I went with it.  I’m really tired, but it feels really good to have it all done.

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So, about 3:30 this afternoon, and while I was knee deep in packing up the decorations, Mike comes into the living room and says: “I dreamt last night that you made barbecue chicken pizzas, and they were really good.”  Now, did he really dream that, or was he just hinting around that he wanted barbecue chicken pizzas for dinner? Part of me tends to believe the latter, but that’s ok. It was a good idea, and with some of the ingredients I had on hand, I could pull it off easily.

These personal pizzas are genius. My friend Steve shared this awesome idea this past summer with me when we were talking about easy meals to make after working all day.  They’re especially perfect on a hot day. Steve and his wife use Naan bread, so all you’d have to do is cook the chicken on the grill, and then throw the chicken and cheese on the Naan, and then put them back onto the grill to cook. Don’t feel like cooking the chicken?  Rotisserie chicken is a perfect substitute! Top them with whatever you might have on hand, and you have a great meal that took hardly any time, and very little work!!

Mike’s hint to make these pizzas came at the perfect time.  I was starting to get really tired, and the thought of heading into the kitchen to prepare a meal just didn’t appeal to me. I ran to the freezer, and took out a package of frozen chicken, and a half of a bag of Rhodes frozen roll dough to thaw. While I was rummaging through the freezer for the chicken and dough, I found a baggie of cooked bacon that I tossed in there a few days ago.  Some lettuce, onions, black olives and blue cheese to throw on top? Perfect.

I started preparing these pizzas at 5:30pm, and served them by 6:30pm. It’s now 7:17pm, the kitchen is cleaned up, and I’m sitting here typing this post.  Pretty darn good if you ask me…And the pizzas?  They’re delicious.

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Here are the ingredients I had on hand:
Frozen roll dough
Barbecue sauce
Boneless chicken breast
Chopped cooked bacon (Optional)
Shredded cheddar
Lettuce
Red onion
Black olives (Optional)
Blue cheese dressing
Crumbled blue cheese

Cut the chicken into bite size pieces, and cook it in the barbecue sauce in a medium frying pan. Flatten each dough ball, and roll them into flat mini pizza circles.

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Three circles fit on one greased cookie sheet.  Spread about a tablespoon of barbecue sauce on the pizza circles. And spoon some of the cooked chicken on top of that.  Sprinkle some shredded cheddar cheese on top of the chicken.  Sprinkle some chopped bacon on top of the cheddar.

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Bake them at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes until the cheese is melted, and the crust is golden brown.  Top with whatever you might have on hand. I topped them with lettuce, red onion, black olives, blue cheese dressing, and crumbled blue cheese.

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Enjoy!!