Guinness Braised Corned Beef

Guinness-Braised Corned Beef

Guinness-Braised Corned Beef

The St. Paddy’s Day parade took place downtown, the restaurants and bars were overflowing with folks wanting to celebrate and have a good time, and wearing something green made everyone Irish.

I don’t know what it’s like in other parts of the country, but it is traditional here in the Northeast to have corned beef dinner for St. Patrick’s Day.  We had ours this weekend when I had the time to prepare it and we also had the time to enjoy a leisurely dinner.  I’m so glad I did that, so now I can tell you all how wonderfully good it was!!  Along with the corned beef dinner I also made Irish Soda Bread and Irish Whisky Cake.  You’ll be reading about them in upcoming posts, so stay tuned.

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This meal begins with a piece of corned beef packaged in brine with a packet of seasonings included.  With Guinness being the traditional beer of Ireland, it is fitting that Guinness is used as part of the liquid in which the beef slow cooks.

The slow cooker is the perfect way to cook this cut of meat since it requires long slow cooking to achieve it’s perfect tenderness.  I started it in the morning and let it cook on HIGH for about 8 hours.  The meat and all the vegetables were falling apart they were so well done and tender, and the flavor was “out of this world”.  This was the best corned beef I have ever cooked.

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GUINNESS-BRAISED CORNED BEEF

Yield:  Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup waterIMG_9400
  • 1 (14.5-oz.) can beef broth
  • 2 cups Guinness stout (if using one bottle, make up the difference with water)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. dried dill
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 large onion, cut into wedges
  • 3-4 carrots, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 4 red-skin potatoes, halved
  • 1 (3-pound) cured corned beef brisket, with seasoning packet
  • 1/2 head cabbage, cut into wedges

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Directions:

1.  In a large slow cooker, begin by stirring together all the liquids, then adding the brown sugar and tomato paste, Stir to combine well.  Add the seasonings, including the packet with the corned beef.

2.  Put in all the vegetables except the cabbage.   You may choose to add other vegetables you have on hand.  Some people like turnip in this mixture  or parsnips.

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3.  Lay the corned beef brisket on top of it all.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 8 hours or until beef is tender.  Add wedges of cabbage when there is 1 hour of cooking time remaining.

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Remove beef, slice diagonally across the grain into 1/4-inch slices.  Serve surrounded by the vegetable mixture.  Discard the broth mixture.

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SOURCE:   AllRecipes.com

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Loaded Cauliflower

Loaded Cauliflower

Loaded Cauliflower

Hi folks, welcome to a new week.  It’s Monday Funday, meatless Monday.  Are you getting tired of trying to come up with something new and delicious, but meatless?   Is your family groaning over the same old same old?  How many of you would be satisfied with a loaded baked potato?  You know, with sour cream, bacon bits, grated cheddar cheese, chives, etc, etc.  Oh, yeah, and all those calories……?

Suppose I told you  you can have all that without the extra calories and carbohydrate you get with a potato.  Just put all that good stuff on …..wait now…..cauliflower!   Cauliflower is the new potato, thus we have loaded cauliflower.   What’s not to love about that!!

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This recipe is rather unique, and a little off-beat, but when it comes to reducing our carbohydrate intake and calories,  off-beat is good.  And it’s a great way to add some zip to cauliflower.

LOADED CAULIFLOWERIMG_9299

Yield:   Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. dry Ranch Salad dressing mix
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped green onion, green part only

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Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.   Lightly spray a 9-inch baking dish.

2.  Place a steamer insert into a saucepan and fill with water to just below the bottom of the steamer.  Bring water to a boil.  Add cauliflower, and steam until very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Steam cauliflower till tender.

Steam cauliflower till tender.

Transfer to a bowl, break up into florets and drain any excess water.

I spread mine out in a baking dish.

I spread mine out in a baking dish.

3.  Mix cauliflower with sour cream, cheese, ranch dressing mix, onion and garlic powders.  Transfer to the prepared baking dish.  Top with pieces of butter.

I mixed up the topping and spooned it over the cauliflower in the baking dish,

I mixed up the topping and spooned it over the cauliflower in the baking dish,

4.  Bake in the preheated oven until bubbling, about 30 minutes.

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Before serving, sprinkle with chopped green onions.  I added some fine unseasoned bread crumbs.

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This is so good.  Just like eating a baked potato with all your favorite toppings.

SOURCE:   AllRecipes.com

Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs and Sauce

Roast spaghetti squash with meatballs and marinara sauce.

Roast spaghetti squash with meatballs and marinara sauce.

Roasted spaghetti squash topped with a simple fresh-tasting tomato sauce and Italian-style meatballs.  I’m getting hungry all over again just thinking and writing about it.  This dish is so darn good you won’t even miss the pasta, and think of all the calories you’ll be saving.

This recipe can be reinvented in different ways.  For instance, instead of meatballs,  brown up ground beef ( or turkey) and add it directly to the sauce for a meat sauce.  Cook up some pasta for anyone who won’t eat meatballs and sauce without it, while you enjoy the squash.  This is a meal that will make the whole family happy.  It is low-carb, gluten-free, and paleo friendly.

A large spaghetti squash provides enough “Noodle-strands” for four generous servings.  It can be cooked in the microwave as a time saver instead of roasting it.  The sauce can be frozen and reheated for a busy night.

Serve strands of squash with sauce and meatballs.

Serve strands of squash with sauce and meatballs.

SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH MEATBALLS AND SAUCE

Yield:  4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash, about 3 pounds
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For the Sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 an onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup white wine, or chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1  lb. lean ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp. flavored fine bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil for browning meatballs

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400 *F.  Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and membrane.  Season with salt and bake about 1 hour, or longer if needed in a shallow baking dish.  It should pierce easily with a sharp knife when done.

Roast the spaghetti squash.

Roast the spaghetti squash.

If you prefer the microwave, prepare squash as directed above, place in a microwave-safe  dish and cover.  Microwave for 8 – 9   minutes or until soft and pierces easily.

2.  In a large deep sauté pan, melt butter and add oil.  Add onions, celery and carrots and sauté on medium-low heat for about 3 – 4 minutes, until soft.

Sauté celery, onions, and carrot till soft.

Sauté celery, onions, and carrot till soft.

Add the wine, tomatoes and bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper.  Let mixture come to a simmer while you make the meatballs.

Add in crushed tomatoes, wine, and seasonings.

Add in crushed tomatoes, wine, and seasonings.

3.  In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and egg.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Blend well.  Form into meatballs (I like mine medium sized).

4.  In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, and in batches, brown the meatballs on all sides.  Add them to the tomato sauce and let them finish cooking in the sauce.  Simmer the sauce with meatballs for about an hour.

5.  When squash is cooked, let it cool for about 10 minutes.  When cool, use a fork to remove the spaghetti-like strands.  Keep covered and set aside to keep warm until sauce is ready.  Serve topped with sauce and meatballs, and grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Top each serving with grated cheese if desired.

Top each serving with grated cheese if desired.

SOURCE:    Martha Stewart

Gardener’s Ratatouille

Gardner's Ratatouille

Gardner’s Ratatouille

What could be better at this time of year than Ratatouille, a vegetable stew.  Using all the fresh vegetables that are so plentiful now, I made up a large pan of this dish.  We love it when I first make it, and we like it even better the second time around when the  flavor seems to get even better.

Extras can be slowly reheated very successfully, but it is actually quite good served cold.  We particularly enjoy folding the leftovers inside a croissant, for a light lunch.  If you wish you can turn this dish into a hearty meal by adding some protein such as grilled sausages during the final stage of cooking.

The ingredients listed provide a guideline;  you can change up the vegetables to suit your taste, or what’s available when you make it.  For instance I used yellow summer squash instead of zucchini.  A red pepper can take the place of a green pepper.  One thing you must do, if making this dish, is use lots of fresh herbs.  Unfortunately I didn’t have any fresh oregano, so I used dried, ( 1 teaspoon),  but I did use fresh basil and parsley.   Fresh herbs make a hugh difference in the taste.

Also, you know how eggplant can soak up a lot of oil, well this recipe only uses 2 teaspoons olive oil to sauté the onions, the rest of the moisture comes from the vegetables as they are cooked slowly while covered, and the eggplant takes on the flavors of the vegetables and herbs it is cooked with.  Also, be sure to cut all the vegetables the same size to ensure even cooking.

GARDENER’S RATATOUILLE

Yield:  6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

    Beautiful Fresh Vegetables

    Beautiful Fresh Vegetables

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cups chopped plum tomato ( about 1 pound, or 3 tomatoes)
  • 2 cups chopped peeled eggplant (aubergine)
  • 1  1/2 cups chopped zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1.   Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion;  sauté 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.

Saute onions with peppers.

Saute onions, then add tomatoes

Add tomato, eggplant, pepper, squash, and garlic.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer slowly about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add in all the remaining vegetables.

Add in all the remaining vegetables.

2.  When vegetables are tender, stir in oregano and remaining ingredients;  cook, uncovered 5 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates.

Garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

Garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

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Serving size:  3/4 cup.   Calories, 91,  Fat, 3 g,  Protein, 2.8g., Carb 16g.. Fiber  4.6 g.,  Sodium 308 mg.

SOURCE:  Cooking Light

Zucchini Frittata

Zucchini Frittata

Zucchini Frittata

Garden fresh zucchini are abundant and delicious right now—everyone’s gardens are overflowing with them.  Pair zucchini with eggs and Asiago cheese, and make a scrumptious frittata that highlights this vegetable’s subtle flavor.

This wonderful recipe lends itself to many variations.  Originally intended for using zucchini, I like to mix yellow squash with the zucchini, to make it more colorful, and nutritious.  Also if you’re counting calories, fat grams or cholesterol,  you can still get the same great results by using an egg substitute .    In place of the Asiago cheese, substitute grated Parmesan for a slightly different flavor.  You can also place a layer of fresh garden tomatoes on top, and this too provides some added color and nutrition.  So mix it up any way you please with what you have on hand, and it will still be successful and delicious.

I love to make frittatas because you can eat them for any meal, and they are so inexpensive to make.  It you have leftovers, they can be tomorrow’s  breakfast or lunch.  Perfect also for meatless meals, gluten free, and low carb diets.

Recipe:  ZUCCHINI FRITTATA

Yield:   4 – 5  servings

Ingredients;

My version uses a mix of yellow and zucchini squash.

My version uses a mix of yellow and zucchini squash.

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1  1/2 cups grated zucchini, or combination of zucchini and yellow squash
  • 1/2 tsp. salt,  pepper to taste
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup grated Asiago cheese

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 400*F.

2.   Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat.  Stir in onion an cook until slightly golden, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Add zucchini, increase heat to medium-high, season with salt and pepper and cook 2 to 3  minutes or until mixture dries up, stirring frequently.

Saute the vegetables and onion in a little olive oil.

Saute the vegetables and onion in a little olive oil.

3.  In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, egg whites, Asiago, salt and pepper.

4.  Pour the eggs into the skillet, making sure they cover all the vegetables.  (If using tomatoes arrange them on top and season with salt and pepper.)   When the edges begin to set (about 2 minutes) transfer skillet to the oven.  Bake for about 16 to 18 minutes, until frittata is completely cooked.

Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables in the skillet or a casserole.

Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables in the skillet or a casserole.

5.  Remove from the oven and serve hot with tomato wedges or a salad on the side.

Golden with all the melted cheese.

Golden with all the melted cheese.

I made a double recipe here, and baked it in a pyrex casserole, layering in the vegetables first and then pouring the egg mixture over the top.  It looks different because it is not in a skillet.

Cuts nicely and holds its shape.

Cuts nicely and holds its shape.

SOURCE:     Vegetarian Pleasures,  by Jeanne Lemlin

A Meal for Cinco de Mayo

Mexican chicken, yellow rice, and black bean and corn salad.

Mexican chicken, yellow rice, and Southwestern black bean salad.

With this Sunday coming up being the 5th of May, that means its Cinco de Mayo.  This Mexican holiday commemorates the victory of Mexican military over the French at the battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War in 1862.  This relatively little known holiday is a big day in Mexico and Mexican and Chicano communities.  Over the past few years, since Mexican foods have become so popular here in the U.S., this little holiday has also gained importance and now provides a good reason/excuse for putting together a Mexican meal and perhaps having a party.  Pinatas anyone?

The Mexican Chicken recipe produces an extremely tasty dish that is low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates.  It can be served over rice, or wrapped in a tortilla, or simply eaten as is.

Mexican Chicken

Mexican Chicken

Along with it I served yellow rice, for those who can eat carbs, and a corn and black bean  salad.   The recipe for the salad is included here also.

The menu included Mexican Chicken, yellow rice, and corn and black bean salad.

The menu included Mexican Chicken, yellow rice, and Southwestern black bean salad.

I love this salad as it makes a great side dish, or appetizer served with chips.  It can also be used as a topping on taco salads or served with grilled meats.  Nutritionally, it is very low in saturated fat, and loaded with antioxidants.  The carbohydrates that the beans and corn provide are complex carbs for the most part, and do not have an immediate impact on blood sugar.  Use fresh sweet corn when it is in season, otherwise, frozen, thawed corn,  or canned corn will work just fine also.

MEXICAN CHICKEN

The menu includes all these ingredients plus chicken.

The menu includes all these ingredients plus chicken.

Servings:   about 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp. taco seasoning
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup enchilada sauce
  • 4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 green onions, chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.   Grease or spray an 8-inch  baking dish.

2.  Sprinkle chicken on all sides with the taco seasoning.

Sprinkle chicken all over with taco seasoning.

Sprinkle chicken all over with taco seasoning.

Grill or pan sauté  until just cooked.  Remove from the pan or grill and cut into smaller bite-size pieces.

Pan grill or saute the chicken breasts.

Pan grill or saute the chicken breasts.

Cut into smaller pieces and coat with enchilada sauce.

Cut into smaller pieces and coat with enchilada sauce.

3.  Place chicken in the prepared baking dish, sprinkle with salt if desired, and add enchilada sauce.  Toss to coat with the sauce.  Sprinkle cheese over the top.

Spread in a baking dish.

Spread in a baking dish.

Top with grated cheese.

Top with grated cheese.

4.  Bake at 350* for 10 – 20 minutes until heated through and bubbly.  Scatter green onions over the top.

Once baked, sprinkle with green onions.

Once baked, sprinkle with green onions.

Serve over rice or wrapped in a tortilla if desired.  The yellow rice I served was Carolina brand packaged mix that only required water added before cooking.

Nutritional index:  calories, 266,  carb. 4 g.  fat, 12 g.

SOURCE:   genaw.com/low carb

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SOUTHWESTERN BLACK BEAN SALAD

SERVINGS:   about 6 – 8

Ingredients:

  • 15,5 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained

    Corn and black bean salad with avocados.

    Southwestern black bean salad with avocados.

  • 9 oz, cooked corn, fresh or frozen (thawed if frozen)
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped,  or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 – 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped ( or more to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 medium avocado, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, diced.  (optional)

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine beans, corn, tomato, onion, scallion, cilantro, salt and pepper.

Squeeze fresh lime juice into the mixture (to taste) and olive oil.  Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.   Add avocado before serving.

A delicious side dish, topping or dip, and so good for you!

A delicious side dish, topping or dip, and so good for you!

Nutritional profile:  Wt. Watcher Points+;  2 pt.,  calories: 79.5,   fat:  3.5 g.,  Carb:  12 g. Sodium:  127mg.(with no added salt)

SOURCE:    skinnytaste.com

Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

Several months ago, my husband’s office staff got together for a pot-luck luncheon.  One of the dishes that was prepared for the luncheon was this one, that Mr. D. described as “layered like lasagna without the noodles”, and he declared that it was fabulous.  I suggested that he ask for the recipe which he did.  I want to thank Maggie for first making the dish and also Cheryl for sharing the link to the web site where I got the recipe.

This dish is basically a deconstructed version of stuffed cabbage, so if you love stuffed cabbage, you’re going to love this dish.  The idea is to layer shredded cabbage with ground beef, brown rice and a tomato sauce, then bake and finish off with melted cheese on top.

Just as good the second time we had it .

Just as good the second time we had it .

I had the remains of a large head of cabbage and wanted to do something with it besides make coleslaw, so remembering about this casserole dish I went looking for it.   Since the web site is called “Skinnytaste.com“, I felt pretty sure it would fit into my new diet routine.  Actually, I was browsing the web looking for a skinny person to eat, but this is what I came up with instead.  It will have to do!  🙂

To make a long story short, it turned out great.  Even though stuffed cabbage doesn’t usually contain cheese,  the addition of a cheese topping here seems like the finishing touch to a very delicious casserole.  A full recipe is meant to make 10 servings.  If this is too much you can make half the recipe, or make and freeze some.  It can be reheated for another time.  As you can see here I portioned the left-overs into individual casseroles for ease in reheating, covering with foil and reheating them in the oven.

STUFFED CABBAGE CASSEROLE

Servings:   about 10

Ingredients

Cabbage, onion, ground beef, tomato sauce, and seasonings.

Cabbage, onion, ground beef, rice, garlic, and seasonings.

  • 2 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb. 95% lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. finely minced garlic
  • 1 tsp.sweet Hungarian Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 1 large head cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • 1 can ( 14.5 oz.) petite dice tomatoes with juice
  • 1 can ( 15 oz ) tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 cups low-fat mozzarella cheese

Instructions

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.   Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick spray.   My dish was 13″ X 9″.

2.  Heat a large frying pan on medium heat.  Add the ground beef and cook until it’s browned and cooked through, breaking apart as it cooks.  Remove and set aside.

Browning the meat

Browning the meat

3.  In the same pan, add 1 tsp. olive oil, chopped onion and cook over medium heat until the onion is translucent and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic, thyme, and paprika and cook about 2 minutes more.

Cook onion and garlic with seasonings.

Cook onion and garlic with seasonings.

Then add the diced tomatoes and juice,plus the tomato sauce.

Add the tomatoes and sauce.

Add the tomatoes and sauce.

Then add the ground beef and water to the pan.  Simmer until it’s hot and slightly thickened,  about 15 minutes.

Add the browned beef and water to the pan.

Add the browned beef and water to the pan.

4.  While it simmers, core and cup up cabbage.  Heat remaining olive oil in another large frying pan or dutch oven;  add the cabbage and cook over medium heat until the cabbage is wilted and about half cooked, turning it over several times so it all wilts and cooks.  Season with salt and pepper.

Saute the cabbage until wilted.

Saute the cabbage until wilted.

5.  When the meat and tomato mixture has cooked and thickened a bit, stir in the 2 cups cooked rice and gently combine.

Add the cooked rice.

Add the cooked rice.

6.  To prepare casserole,  layer half the cabbage, half the meat mixture, remaining cabbage, and remaining meat mixture.

Layering it up.

Layering it up.

Cover tightly with foil and bake 40 minutes, or until the mixture is just starting to bubble on the edges.

Cover with foil and bake.

Cover with foil and bake.

7.  Remove foil and sprinkle on cheese.  Bake uncovered an additional 15 – 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and starting to brown slightly.   Serve hot.

Cover with grated cheese and bake until melted .

Cover with grated cheese and bake until melted .

This freezes well if you have left-overs.  To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then either microwave until hot or heat in the oven in a baking dish covered with foil.

SOURCE:   Skinnytaste.com

Chicken with Mushrooms and Onions in Balsamic Cream Sauce

Chicken with mushrooms and onions in a balsamic cream sauce.

Chicken with mushrooms and onions in a balsamic cream sauce.

Challenge day # 3 without a refrigerator.  This is the requirement right now:  cook with what you have on hand, ONLY.  Going to the grocery store to fill in the blanks is not an option.   Today these were the food items that had priority for usage:  a package of 6 chicken tenders that had defrosted,  a half-package of mushrooms,  some  light cream, and part of a can of chicken broth.  To those ingredients I added 1 large onion, some balsamic vinegar and some butter to come up with what turned out to be a very good chicken dish.

The chicken tenders worked well because they cooked quickly, and remained tender in the cream sauce.  You could also use boneless chicken breasts, cut vertically in half, so they are not too thick.  The amount of sauce is plentiful, so it’s a good idea to plan rice or noodles to spoon it over.  I used a package of herbed rice pilaf with our meal.  To go along with this I used up the leftover  herbed butternut squash from day #1.

This is how I created this entree:     CHICKEN WITH BALSAMIC CREAM SAUCE, MUSHROOMS AND ONIONS

YIELD:   Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • Chicken tenders, at least 6 pieces, or 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut vertically in half.
  • Chicken Tenders

    Chicken Tenders

  • 1 large onion, cut vertically in half, then sliced into “half-moons”.
  • A large onion, cut into "half-moons".

    A large onion, cut into “half-moons”.

  • 1 pkg. mushrooms, (or less), sliced or halved

    Mushrooms, butter, and chicken broth.

    Mushrooms, butter, and chicken broth.

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2  cup cream, light cream, or half and half
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Over medium heat, in a large skillet, melt 1 Tablespoon butter.

Hot skillet with butter melted.

Hot skillet with butter melted.

Add the sliced onions, reduce heat to low and sauté until nicely caramelized, about 15 minutes.  Remove to a bowl, and set aside.

Nicely browned, caramelized onions.

Nicely browned, caramelized onions.

2.  Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons butter in the same skillet, add chicken pieces and cook to brown each side.  Chicken will not be fully cooked at this point.  Remove to a plate.

Chicken browned, but not thoroughly cooked.

Chicken browned, but not thoroughly cooked.

3.  Deglaze the pan with the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits into the broth.  Add the cream and balsamic vinegar and stir.  Add the mushrooms and salt and pepper.  Decrease heat to low and simmer a few minutes.

Saute mushrooms, add broth and cream.

Saute mushrooms, add broth and cream.

4.  Bring heat back up to medium.  Add the chicken and onions to the pan mixture and cook the chicken all the way through.

5.  To serve, transfer chicken pieces to a serving dish, pour mushroom-onion-cream-sauce over the top and garnish with parsley if you wish.  (I did not have any parsley on hand.)

A satisfying dish of chicken,  mushrooms and onions in a rich cream sauce.

A satisfying dish of chicken, mushrooms and onions in a rich cream sauce.

Our assessment of this dish?  My husband said ” UHMMM! this is great”.  But he loves mushrooms, so anything with mushrooms in it is AOK with him.  I thought it was a very good combination of flavors.  Most importantly for me is that the chicken remained moist and tender.  I always worry about white meat chicken becoming dried out, tough and chewy, but this didn’t.  The cream in the sauce smoothed out the tang of the vinegar, with the vinegar providing a dark color to the sauce. The mushrooms and onions rounded out the dish and were a good compliment over all.  I’m glad I made rice to go with it to put the sauce on.  I will definitely be making this dish again.

SOURCE:   A Carolyn Original

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart

As I was looking through the November issue of Cooking Light Magazine, this recipe for Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart caught my eye because the picture of it was so appetizing.  I wanted to make and eat it right then and there, but I earmarked the page for a more opportune time.  Well, the time came this past week.  After the cooking and baking frenzy that was Christmas I was ready to prepare a simple meal, and enjoy the process of doing it.

Boy, am I ever glad I finally got around to making this tart.  From the crust on the bottom to the cheese on top, it is one layer after another of delicious flavors that compliment each other perfectly.

Layers that taste delicious and hold together perfectly

Layers that taste delicious and hold together perfectly

Let me start with the crust:  the ingredients are mixed in the food processor and once mixed, go straight into the pie plate where you form the crust with your fingers by pressing it against the bottom and sides of the pan.  Then it goes right into the preheating oven to begin baking.

The recipe as printed in the  magazine relies on prepared ingredients, i.e. pre cubed squash, chopped onions, pre chopped pancetta, and pre sliced mushrooms as time savers.  However as a cost saving measure I don’t usually purchase my vegetables this way, preferring to prep them myself, so that added some time to the preparation of this dish.

Preparation of the tart filling involved peeling and cubing the butternut squash,

Cubed squash

Cubed squash

chopping the onion, grating the cheese  ( I used an Edam cheese that has good flavor and nice melting properties.)

Grated Edam Chese

Grated Edam Chese

The shiitake mushrooms I purchased were whole caps that I sliced, and the pancetta was in slices that I cut into small pieces.

Sliced shiitake mushroom caps

Sliced shiitake mushroom caps

This all added about 15 minutes to the preparation time.

Because I knew the prep work would take a little time, I did all of it before making the crust, so once the crust went into the oven I was ready to continue using the processor to make the filling.  Cutting the squash into fine pieces cuts down on the cooking time, and changed the texture somewhat and when the onions get mixed with it the flavor and “mouth-feel” was very pleasant.  Eggs, cheese and seasonings get mixed with the squash and onions, then poured into the partially baked crust and baked.

While that is happening, you sauté the pancetta till brown and then add and sauté the mushrooms.  The final step is to arrange the mushrooms and pancetta on the tart surface followed by the remaining cheese and bake until the cheese melts.

Hot and melty from the oven.

Hot and melty from the oven.

My final product was as pretty as the picture in the magazine.  The crust was flaky and tender, it remained dry and flaky in spite of the wetness of the filling baked in it.  This tart also cut perfectly; each wedge holding its shape as it was removed from the baking dish.  I will definitely use this recipe and method for making a crust for tarts and quiches that I make from now on.  I might also add that I felt that the time spent making this dish was well worth the effort, because the finished dish was so perfect in every way.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND MUSHROOM TART

SERVINGS:   6

CRUST:

  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons ice water
  • cooking spray

FILLING:

  • 3 cups peeled, precubed butternut squash
  • 2 Tablespoons EVOO, divided
  • 3/4 cup prechopped onion
  • 2/3 cup shredded cheese, divided.  Gruyere, Gouda, Edam are all good choices.
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 1/2 ounces prechopped pancetta, or 3 slices cut into small pieces
  • 5 ounces presliced shiitake mushroom caps
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Lightly spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray.

2.  To prepare crust, spoon all the flour plus the salt, pepper and baking powder into the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse 2 times to mix.  Combine 1/4 cup oil with the 3 Tablespoons ice water in a measuring cup.  With the processor running, slowly add oil mixture through food chute, and process until dough is crumbly. Pour dough into the pie plate.

Pour crust crumbles into pie plate.

Pour crust crumbles into pie plate.

Working quickly, press dough into an even layer in bottom and up sides of pie plate.

Press crust into pan with your fingers.

Press crust into pan with your fingers.

Place crust into preheating oven, and bake for 10 minutes.

3.  To prepare the filling, place squash into food processor (do not clean from dough), and process for 1 minute or until squash is finely chopped.

Finely chopped squash.

Finely chopped squash.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 Tablespoon oil to pan and swirl to coat.  Add squash and onion to pan; sauté for 9 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4.  While squash cooks, combine half the cheese ( 1/3 cup), eggs, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.  Stir into the squash and onion mixture.

5.  At the end of 10 minute baking time, remove the crust from the oven, spoon squash mixture into the crust and spread evenly.  Return to the oven and continue baking for 9 minutes.

6.  Return skillet to medium-high heat.  Add remaining 1 Tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add pancetta; cook 1 minute or until beginning to brown.  Add mushrooms and cook for 7 minutes or until browned.

Browning the pancetta and mushrooms.

Browning the pancetta and mushrooms.

Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 cup white wine.  Cook 1 minute or until liquid almost evaporates.

7.  Remove tart from oven.  Arrange the mushroom mixture evenly over the top of the tart;  sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup cheese.  Return tart to 425 degrees oven and bake for 3 – 5 minutes until cheese melts.

Hot and melty from the oven.

Hot and melty from the oven.

A fantastic dish on all levels!

A fantastic dish on all levels!

Serve this delicious entree with a mixed green salad for a complete, low calorie, almost meatless meal.  To make it vegetarian just omit the pancetta.

Calories  368,   Fat 21.8 g.,  Carb  31.6 g.

SOURCE:   slightly adapted from Cooking Light Magazine,  November, 2012

Summer Squash, Bacon and Mozzarella Quiche

At this time of year I try to take advantage of summer’s bounty of fresh vegetables as much as I can.  Summer squash and zucchini are two vegetables that seem to grow in great abundance for anyone who gardens.  Several of my friends tend small garden plots and are generous in sharing ” the wealth” with me.

The recipe for this quiche was in Cooking Light Magazine last July and I made it several times last summer and already this summer I’ve made it again because we like it so much.  Except for the inclusion of some bacon it is almost meatless, so if you choose to omit the bacon the quiche will still be very good.  It’s also a good way to get children to eat some vegetables by surrounding them with eggs and cheese and calling the dish “pie”.

When I make this I usually serve it with just a green salad along side for a light summertime supper.  It is also a very good dish to serve for a brunch.

SUMMER SQUASH, BACON AND MOZZARELLA QUICHE

SERVINGS:  8

Crust:  You may choose to make your favorite pie crust recipe,  use a refrigerated pie crust such as Pillsbury, or a frozen premade crust from the frozen foods isle of the grocery store.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees  Pierce the crust bottom and sides with a fork.  Bake at 400 for 15 minutes.  Watch carefully to prevent bubbles from forming, by pricking with a fork.  Cool slightly.

Filling:  

  • 4 slices smoked bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled.   Save about 2 Tablespoons of drippings in the pan.
  • 2 cups zucchini, sliced about 1/8 inch thick
  • 2 cups yellow squash, sliced about 1/8 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion or shallots
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme,  or about 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk  ( I used skim milk, and it was fine.)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup egg beater product, or one more egg
  • 3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella

To prepare filling:  Saute the two squashes and the chopped onion in the bacon drippings, sprinkling with the thyme.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until squash becomes tender.

Combine the milk, salt, pepper and eggs in a large measuring cup, stirring with a whisk.  Arrange the squash mixture evenly in the pie crust, sprinkle with the bacon and mozzarella cheese.  Pour egg mixture over all.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until filling is set.

When you write a food blog like this the photos taken usually show off your dish to good advantage, and the reader gets the impression that everything goes smoothly and comes out looking ‘picture perfect”.  Not so!  Sometimes everything goes wrong and the dish looks horrible.  Those I don’t write about.  But sometimes funny things happen which was the case with this quiche.

For my crust I used one which was frozen from my freezer.  Some how I failed to notice there was a crack in it.  Look closely, you can see it!   So after I filled it with the veggies, bacon and cheese, I poured in the milk mixture, which ran out the crack, over the side of the pie pan and onto the baking sheet underneath.  I discarded as much of the overflow as I could manage, then put the whole thing in the oven and hoped for the best.  Needless to say it continued to leak in the oven.  When the quiche was cooked and I removed it from the oven there was a hugh bubble of cooked egg mixture attached to the side of the pie pan.  Sort of like a pop-over attached to a quiche!  It deflated quickly so I didn’t get a good picture of it, but you can see remnants of it in the  pictures below. 🙂  In spite of this the quiche tasted very good, and we really enjoyed it.

   

SOURCE:  Cooking Light Magazine,  July, 2011