Chicken with vodka sauce

I was trying to think of something different for chicken tonight.  (I was going to fall back on my boursin chicken but I’ve made that so much recently.)  I found a recipe for chicken breasts in tomato-cream sauce and thought that it would be even better if the tomato-cream sauce was a vodka sauce.

I used bone in chicken breasts, recognizing that they would take a little longer to cook.  I used a heavy saute pan to brown the chicken in olive oil on all sides while the vodka sauce was cooking.  When I removed the vodka sauce to puree it and add the cream, I poured some over the chicken and put it back in the oven to simmer in the sauce.  (The rest of the vodka sauce will be frozen for another time.)  I served it with orzo.  The chicken needed about 30 minutes but it was awesome – very moist.  Samantha tried it and announced that she would eat it the next time I make it.  That’s a good incentive!

Vodka sauce

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion chopped
  • 1 TB minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 2 28 oz cans whole peeled plum tomatoes, drained (preferably San Marzano)
  • 1 cup half and half
  • pasta of your choice (we had penne)

Preheat oven to 375.

Heat oil over medium heat in an ovenproof pan (or Dutch oven).  Add onions and garlic and cook for 4 – 6 minutes.  Add red pepper flakes and oregano.  Add vodka and simmer for about 5 minutes or until reduced.  Crush tomatoes in with pan mixture.   Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Cover pan and place in oven for 1 1/2 hours.   Remove from oven and puree in a blender or food processor.  Return to pan and add half and half.  Simmer for 5  -10 minutes.

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Seafood potpie

Seafood potpie

This is now one of the foods I look forward to in winter.  Here is the recipe, repeated from last winter.  I made 4 of these on Saturday, we ate 2 last night and there are 2 in the freezer for a night when I’m busy.

Seafood Potpie

  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 leeks (white only), chopped
  • 2 TB butter
  • 8 – 10 oz cooked lobster
  • 3/4 pound shrimp (I cleaned and deveined the shrimp and then tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted for about 8 minutes and then chopped)
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas (you can use more – I’m not a huge fan of peas)
  • 1/3 cup frozen pearl onions
  • 2 more TB butter
  • 2 TB flour
  • 3/4 cup seafood stock
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 TB sherry
  • 1 tsp thyme

Pastry

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 stick butter, diced
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 TB water

Saute celery, carrots, onion and leek until veggies are tender (about 8 – 10 minutes) and set aside.  Combine with lobster, shrimp, peas and frozen onions in a ceramic baking dish or smaller single serving bowls.

I used the same saute pan to make a cream sauce.  Start by combining flour and butter, then slowly stir in milk and stock, stirring so sauce is smooth.  Add sherry and stir.  Sauce should be thick and smooth.  Add thyme and pour over lobster and veggies.

Combine flour with salt and baking powder in a food processor.  Pulse in butter about 15 pulses.  Add water with the motor running until dough is just combined.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Roll dough onto a floured work surface and trim to just bigger than your dish.  Brush edges of baking container with egg wash and cover dishes with pastry pressing against the edges.  Make 3 slashes in the pastry and bake at 375 for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  NOTE: My chicken potpie crust got too done on top so we’re going to cover the tops for part of the cooking time so they don’t burn.

Beef stew

This is one of the ultimate winter comfort foods.  I made it yesterday and looking forward to eating it tonight!

Beef stew

  • 3 lbs beef (round or chuck – I used 1/2 and 1/2) cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup flour mixed with 1/2 tsp dry mustard, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper)
  • 6 – 8 strips of bacon
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
  • 1 oz brandy
  • 1 lb baby bello mushrooms
  • 1 can consomme
  • 1 1/2 cups red wine
  • 12 – 16 small white onions, peeled
  • 8 oz baby carrots
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 TB chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 tsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp thyme

Toss beef cubes with seasoned flour until well coated.  Cook bacon in a large pan until it begins to brown but is not crisp.  Chop bacon into 1 inch pieces and place in a heavy glass baking dish.  (I have an old one but one of the really pretty Le Creuset Dutch ovens has been on my wish list.)

Saute garlic and mushrooms in the bacon grease until garlic is browned and mushrooms are soft.  Put mushrooms in the casserole.  Add beef cubes and brown quickly on all sides – turn often.  You may have to do this in two batches.  Put meat in the casserole dish.  Add brandy, consomme and 1 cup of the red wine to the pan and bring to a boil.  Scrape the bottom of the pan to get all browned bits mixed in and pour liquid over ingredients in casserole.

Add onions, carrots and spices to casserole dish and pour remaining 1/2 cup of wine over top.  Bake covered at 300 for 2 hours.  Remove, cover and chill.  Remove from refrigerator 90 minutes before serving.  Let stand for 30 minutes and spoon liquid from bottom of container over meat.  Bake covered for 1 hour at 300 and serve hot.  (Remove bay leaf, peppercorns and cloves before serving.)  Serve with hard rolls or French bread and a green salad.

Eggplant lasagna

I love variations on lasagna.  I have made seafood lasagna, mushroom lasagna, chicken and pesto lasagna, vegetable lasagna – the list goes on.  We had dinner with my sister a few weeks ago and she served an eggplant lasagna that is out of this world and I had to get the recipe.  I’ve been itching to make it and put it on the plan for this week.  I assembled it Monday night and was tired but what a treat to come home last night to dinner that just needed to go in the oven.  And the leftovers are headed for the freezer for an easy night in the future.

Eggplant lasagna

  • 3 large eggplant, skin removed from one side and then sliced about 1/4 ” thick
  • olive oil
  • 16 oz shredded Mozzarella
  • 1 1/2 oz grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb sweet italian turkey or chicken sausage (removed from casing)
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 425.  Spread eggplant on baking sheets and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Let sit for about 30 minutes and then wipe with a paper towel.  (The salt will sweat some of the liquid out of the eggplant.)  Brush eggplant with olive oil and roast for 20 minutes until golden brown.

While eggplant is cooking, heat about 2 TB of olive oil in a heavy saucepan.  Sauce onion until translucent (about 3 – 5 minutes).  Add garlic and cook stirring for about 30 seconds.  Add red pepper flakes and sausage.  Cook over medium high heat, stirring often until sausage is cooked through.  Add tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes.

Combine ricotta with 1 oz of the Parmesan cheese, the egg and basil.

Assemble lasagna in a 9 x 13 pan.  Start with a thin layer of sauce, then eggplant, ricotta, Mozzarella, sauce.  Add another layer of eggplant, ricotta, Mozzarella sauce.  Then a layer of eggplant, ricotta, Mozzarella and remaining Parmesan cheese.  Cover with aluminum foil (spray with Pam first) and bake at 375 for 15 minutes covered and 30 minutes uncovered.  img_3490

By Request

When your child requests that you fix a meal that is easy, healthy and produces leftovers for the freezer, it is certainly easy enough to accommodate that request.  Particularly when your child is still somewhat of a picky eater.  Samantha loves the chipotle chicken chili and has been asking for it but when it was 90 degrees, I did relent now that it’s cooler.

Chicken Chipotle chili

  • 3 TB canola oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into small cubes
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 TB chili powder
  • 1 TB ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 qt chicken stock
  • 28 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained of about 1/2 of liquid
  • 3 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, roughly chopped
  • 2 cans black beans

Heat oil in a heavy sauce pan and brown chicken cubes (about 5 minutes.)  Remove chicken and drain on paper towels.  Pour off fat leaving about 1 tablespoon in pan.  Add onions and brown about 4 – 5 minutes.  Return chicken to pan.

Stir together flour, chili powder, cumin and salt and sprinkle over onions and chicken.  Stir and cook about 1 minute.  Add stock, tomatoes and chipotles and simmer covered about 30 minutes.  Add black beans and cook another 10 minutes.

Let cool and then refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serve with sour cream and tortilla chips.

Pesto = Summer

I planted a bunch of basil this year.  It is probably my favorite herb and one of my favorite things to do with it is make pesto.  To me, pesto is the taste of summer.  I made my first batch and immediately used it to make shrimp and pesto pizza.  If you have a blender or food processor, you can make pesto.  (Technically you can make it in a mortar and pestle but I don’t think most of us are inclined to do that!)

Pesto

  • 2 cups of basil, rinsed and dried
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 TB pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Combine basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and salt in a blender or food processor.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into a bowl and combine with cheese.  Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.
Once you have your pesto, here are some things you can do with it (besides the obvious of putting it on pasta):
 – put on sliced tomatoes and then grill or broil
 – mix with sautéed corn, cut off the cob
 – spread on top of a boneless, skinless chicken breast (with or without sundries tomatoes), roll up and cook
 – spread on tilapia and bake
 – toss with shrimp and then broil or grill shrimp
 – serve with grilled or seared scallops
 – use on pizza instead of tomato sauce
 – use in lasagna as a substitute for tomato sauce in one of the layers
 – mix with mayonnaise and use as a sandwich spread or as the dressing on my soft-shell crab salad
If you search the blog for pesto, you’ll soon realize that it is one of my favorites.  I hope you like it as much as I do.  And if you love it but neglected to plant basil, there is always pesto available at the supermarket.

 

From the freezer

I have a good habit of making things to put in the freezer and a bad habit of pulling them out.  On Thursdays I have a long work day and as the week is winding down, I have a little less energy so I’ve been declaring Thursdays from the freezer night.  Fortunately, we have lots of good choices.  I made seafood potpies to take on our ski trip and froze them.  Tonight we enjoyed a leftover.  Here is what I did:

Seafood Potpie

  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 leeks (white only), chopped
  • 2 TB butter
  • 8 – 10 oz cooked lobster
  • 3/4 pound shrimp (I cleaned and deveined the shrimp and then tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted for about 8 minutes and then chopped)
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas (you can use more – I’m not a huge fan of peas)
  • 1/3 cup frozen pearl onions
  • 2 more TB butter
  • 2 TB flour
  • 3/4 cup seafood stock
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 TB sherry
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 package froze puff pastry dough

Saute celery, carrots, onion and leek until veggies are tender (about 8 – 10 minutes) and set aside.  Combine with lobster, shrimp, peas and frozen onions in a ceramic baking dish or smaller single serving bowls.

I used the same saute pan to make a cream sauce.  Start by combining flour and butter, then slowly stir in milk and stock, stirring so sauce is smooth.  Add sherry and stir.  Sauce should be thick and smooth.  Add thyme and pour over lobster and veggies.

Thaw frozen puff pastry according to package directions.  Roll out with flour and cut to fit dishes.  Brush edges of baking container with egg wash and cover dishes with pastry pressing against the edges.  Make 3 slashes in the pastry and bake at 375 for 1 hour and 15 minutes.   (Or freeze, tightly covered with plastic wrap and aluminum foil until ready to serve.

Having dinner already done meant that I had time to make a huge batch of Asian snack mix for our school Japanese fair tomorrow night.  Here is the Asian snack mix recipe, courtesy of my sister.  Very cute in decorative takeout boxes as a hostess or holiday gift.

Asian Snack Mix

  • 3/4 lb. butter melted
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. ketchup
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Colman’s mustard powder
  • 2 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 box rice Chex
  • 1 box wheat Chex
  • 2 5 oz. cans chow mein noodles
  • 2 9.5 oz. jars cashew halves
  • 3 c. sesame sticks
  • 7 oz. jar sunflower seeds
  • 3 c. wasabi peas
  • 1 jar (2. 5 oz.) crystallized ginger

Combine first 10 ingredients. Combine all remaining ingredients EXCEPT crystallized ginger & slowly stir in butter mixture tossing to coat.  (You will need a few big bowls.) Spread in even mixture in 5 or so pans.  Bake at 250 for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Cool in pan 10 minutes; spread on paper towels to cool completely. Mince ginger and mix in.  Delicious and good for a crowd.