Mango Chicken with Mascarpone Sauce

Sometimes I read someone’s blog and find a recipe that looks just too perfect to mess with, like this Creamy Kabocha Truffle Pasta that Bam recently posted.  Or how about Happiness Stan’s Shrimp-entouffee which looks fantastic as is but I can’t help but think…what if I added mussels to that… and then made up some of Celia’s Dakos to dunk in the sauce?  Then there are times when you’re not sure where you’re going with an idea and start scrolling through other blogs as I did one evening only to find Adam Holland online.  All I had for an idea was ‘something with sausages…and it should have a sauce’.  Since Adam was online at the time we went back and forth with ideas about adding a marinara sauce and caramalized onions – viola!  a great meal was born.

Some times it takes a team effort and someone to bounce ideas off of when you hit that road block of “what am I going to make tonight”.  This happened when my daughter called me from the market.  “I’ve got chicken and and a mango, but I really want a sauce – what do you think?”  Mango, mango…”Okay, what do you think of mascarpone cheese?”  Bingo!  A new and very easy recipe was born.  After giving it a try that night, Niki had to call me to tell me what a winner it was.  Now we both make this one on a regular basis.IMG_1593Easy?  You betcha:
– Thinly slice about 3-4 shallots.  Cook in a large saucepan with a half stick of butter
– After pounding chicken  breasts, sauté until almost done
– Add 8 oz. of mascarpone cheese, stirring with pan drippings and butter until creamy
– Add sliced mango for just a few minutes.  Mango should be ripe but not mushy to get the best flavor, over-ripe or overcooking the mango gives it sort of a bitter taste.
– Sprinkle a little cilantro on top for a nice fresh taste

And there you have it – a simple meal that takes less than a half hour to prepare and cook.  If you don’t count the butter (I never do), I’m pretty sure it’s even healthy.  As a matter of fact this is hitting the table tonight – thank you Niki.  And thanks to all of you, my blogging friends for inspiring me as well as holding my hand when I lack the confidence to try something on my own.  Does anyone else get inspired to try something different – a new ingredient, a new cooking technique from blogs you follow?

 

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In My Kitchen – January 2015

I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays and that 2015 will be a happy and healthy new year for all.

Don’t you love getting ‘real’ mail?  Real mail being NOT bills, supermarket flyers, or 6 pre-approved credit card offers.  You can imagine my delight when I received a chubby envelope from Celia in Australia.  Many of you know Celia from her great blog and as the hostess of these monthly In My Kitchen features.  If you haven’t stopped by yet to see her, this would be a good time to check out what’s happening in her kitchen this month at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.  Inside the envelope were the seeds for making my first ever sourdough starter…so, the first thing happening this year in my kitchen is sourdough:
IMG_1673Celia very helpfully included very detailed instructions on getting the started perked up and ready to go.  She also suggested naming my starter, referencing where it came from, namely Priscilla.  I’ve named my starter Mamie, sister of Priscilla, in honor of my mother who was a world class baker.  I should warn you though, that at any time Mamie may decide to suddenly change her name as my mother did.  Yes, I have to tell you the story of the time I was visiting my mother when I answered the phone for her.  That conversation was a pretty typical conversation with my mother and went something like this:

Mamie:  Who was that?
Me:  I don’t know – wrong number, someone looking for Mary
Mamie:  Oh!  That’s for me, who was it?
Me:  I have no idea but it was someone looking for MARY, Ma. (My mother was a little hard of hearing).
Mamie:  No, that’s me.
Me:  (Who’s on first?)  What do you mean – are you Mary?
Mamie:  Yes of course I’m Mary!
Me:  When did this happen?
Mamie:  I’ve always been Mary
Me:  Then why did your parents call you Mamie?  And why did Dad call you Mamie…and your brothers and sisters?  Why is the mail addressed to Mamie?
Mamie:  They got it wrong and it was wrong on my birth certificate.  (End of discussion, next!)

So, just like that my mother decided her name was Mary and started using it on all of her documents so I guess it was legal.  One day I may take out my Mamie starter only to find that it’s now Mary, twin of Mamie, sister of Priscilla.

As Celia promised, my starter came to life and I got my first batch of sourdough bread ready to go, leaving it on the counter overnight until the next morning when it was ready to bust out of the bowl.  Alas, the dough was ready to go but I was upstairs with a rip roaring migraine.  Glenda – do you remember suggesting that my husband take up bread making during his retirement?  The idea of fresh bread was too overwhelming for him to not step up to the plate and finish off according to Celia’s great tutorial.  There were a few minor adjustments due to poor math skills with conversions (mine – and they would have happened even if I didn’t have a migraine).  End result – maybe not the prettiest but our opinion is that it tastes great!
IMG_1679Of course I got plenty of cool gadgets and gifts from my family and friends.  Now that I’ve got the first batch of sourdough under my belt, it’s time to try this butter making kit from my daughter.  It should be great on my next batch of sourdough:

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I also had some temporary things in my kitchen.  Sushi:
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Cute little guy isn’t he?  He was a Christmas gift for Tim, our future son-in-law and I was a wreck worrying about making sure he survived until I could get him to Tim.  Lucky for me, I turned around in time as Moe the Terrorist Cat was tap-tapping Sushi’s jar to see the how he handled gravity.  Oh, he’s also been renamed Henry (I think).

Now here’s what looks like a very fun gadget from Tim’s mother:
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I have to buy some more grapes or cherry tomatoes to give this little gizmo a try but what you do is load it up with round objects and slide the slicer to cut the round objects in half.  I imagine I can come up with other round objects to stuff in there and the beauty of it is that the blade is safely inside so I shouldn’t slice off any fingers this year (at least not with this).

And how about this Fadenschneider?  I think I like that name better than just “microplane”.    It’s always useful to have a zester and bottle opener handy but I’ve never had anything to make those clever curly garnishes that all of you fancy bloggers are doing.  I sort of mangled a lime so I guess I still need some practice with my Fadenschneider, but once I do, you are going to see curly things all over my food.
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And finally, moved from my kitchen to the back yard is this fun birdseed wreath from our great friends and neighbors, Tom and Sue.  It took the birds a while to figure out what that was hanging out there, but I think our recent sleet and snow storm convinced the birds to give it a try and we had dozens of birds out there yesterday fighting for treats.
IMG_1684Thank you all for sharing your stories with me this past year and especially for stopping by to read and comment on my posts.  I love hearing from you all and feel that I am a lucky person to have so many wonderful friends around the world.  Your stories brighten my days and I love learning about you through your love of good food and fun friendship.  May you all continue to share your joy of cooking and have a healthy, love filled New Year!

 

 

In My December Kitchen – 2014

When did December sneak up on us?  If it weren’t for Celia over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, I don’t think I’d know what month it is.  Please stop by to say hi to Celia and take a look at what she and other bloggers have going on in their kitchens this month.  She really caught my eye with the awesome Cheese and Garlic Crack bread!

After finding a recipe for Spicy Lime Shrimp with Drunken Grapes (check out the recipe on  Simply Fresh Dinners – Robyn, guest writer on BamsKitchen blog) I tried this recipe as just an appetizer.  My husband and I decided that in the future it’s worthy of an entire meal.  Little appetizer bites were great, but you just don’t want to stop eating these.  I used a dried ginger powders for the shrimp since I didn’t have fresh and Pinot Grigio to get the grapes drunk.  As I say, the shrimp was so good but I may have gotten a little too excited about the drunken grapes. Therefore, in my December kitchen …

IMG_1608an extra mason jar of Drunken Grapes.  They’re sweet red seedless grapes with a Pinot Grigio poured over the top and soaked for 6 hours to no more than 2 days.  I can tell you that after 2 days those little grapes will blow your head off.  So what to do with the extra grapes?

Make some Goat Balls with Drunken Grapes…

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No need to put them on crackers.  I just did that to get my husband to try them.  When he’s watching football, you can put anything on top of a cracker and he’ll eat it.  I just ground up some pecans, made little balls with the goat cheese (I found that small balls are better than big since the cheese can overpower the other flavors),  rolled the cheese balls in the pecans and stuck them with a pick.  Of course you can just eat the drunken grapes.

This is what’s left of the Pinot Grigio.  It was a very nice wine but I’m including it really to show the background kitchen wall paint.  Yes, I really did get that room painted!

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ALMOST in my kitchen are some food rings.
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I’ve been coveting food rings every time I see Happiness Stan making something with his (like this cottage pie with seared filet in madeira sauce) and vow to get some for myself.  While my husband and I were out Christmas shopping I found these at Sur la Table – a really fun store with everything you can imagine for cooking.  Since I couldn’t find the food rings, my husband asked a clerk and we BOTH went over to the bins where I picked 4 rings and said “I’ll get these but you can wrap them and put them in my stocking for Christmas”.  So that’s why they’re not quite in my kitchen yet.  BUT…a few days later, my husband went back out Christmas shopping alone.  When he got home I was taking a picture of these and he did a double take and said “where’d you get those?”.  I reminded him that we bought them when we were out shopping, that I explained that he needed to wrap them, and they were to go in my stocking.  At which point, he went back down to his car and came up with these…

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Oh look…more food rings!  One of each size … from Sur La Table.  Since I wanted them to make pretty and equal portions of foods like mac and cheese or some sort of meat patty meal, I’m not sure what to do with one of each.  Maybe I could make a portion for papa bear, mama bear, and baby bear – any ideas or should they just go back?  Especially that tiny little one, I’m not quite sure what you’d put in that other than maybe – oh yes – a drunken grape sitting on a goat ball.

Well that’s all that I can show in my kitchen right now since the island is full of Christmas gifts waiting to be wrapped and I can’t very well share those pictures yet.  Thanks again to Celia, hostess for In My Kitchen.

 

In My Kitchen – November 2014…The best way to choose paint colors

In My kitchen this month is decision central…

In my last post I mentioned that we were getting ready to paint most of the rooms in the house, starting with the kitchen.  I mentioned that we must have just about every paint chip available from all of the major paint companies.  Did you thinking I was exaggerating?IMG_1607

I think the problem is having too many choices and of course there really isn’t a huge difference between say Mystic Cream and Artist’s Canvas.  As for the names of these paints…what are they smoking to come up with names like First Love, Meditation, Woodstock Tan, and Stone Harbor?  I like names that at least have something to do with color – tell me what color do you imagine when you think Meditation?  I also feel like I’m color blind when I talk to the paint experts at the hardware store:

Diane:  “I have a light beige and persimmon duvet cover that I’d like to coordinate with, what do you think of this linen color?”
Paint Expert:  “Well, I suppose you could go with that but aren’t you afraid of the green undertones in that?”
Diane (to herself):  Green undertones?  I see light beige…
Diane (to Paint Expert):  “Oh, of course, I see what you mean, how about Lonesome Dove”
Paint Expert:  “Weellll, I could see it but do you really want to bring the hint of gray in there?”

In any case, I’ve come up with a pretty good way to pick the color for the back hallway and the kitchen.  I wait for a rainy, muddy day and let the dog out.  Once Lola does the test color with her tail I go find the color card that’s the closest to our mud.  Now if you have dogs, you’ll need to do your own test since I’ve noticed that mud varies region by region so I won’t give you any particular recommendation but ours looks like this:

As always, thanks to Celia for hosting the In My Kitchen feature.  Please stop by to say hi to her and if you don’t already, think about joining in next month – there should be plenty going on in everyone’s kitchens during December.

 

Rosemary Braised Short Ribs and Retirement

It seems like a very long time ago I mentioned that I’d be posting my version of braised short ribs based on a meal my daughter and I had in New York City.  I’ve been tweaking the recipe a few times to get it pretty close to that great meal but we’ve had a few things going on here that just keep getting in the way of actually writing a post.

You might recall that my husband retired.  If you ask him how retirement’s going, he’s likely to say “great, getting used to it, but it’s great”.  Out of his hearing though, my friends ask me “So, how is it having John home all the time now?”.  My response is usually something like… “Well we haven’t killed each other yet although he almost got smacked upside the head with the cast iron skillet when he thought it was a good idea to rearrange the kitchen”.  Don’t get me wrong – retirement’s great…I’ve loved every minute of MY retirement and after 36 years of marriage we still love each other and it’s nice to finally be able to just go and do whatever we want, when we want to do it.  But, it’s an adjustment and just like recipes, you need to tweak things a little until you get them just right.

It’s not that we don’t have plenty of room in the house.  We’ve got more than enough room for just two people but the problem seems to be that even with all that room, we both end up being in exactly the same place at the same time – namely in front of the ONE computer.  Which is why I’ve had a hard time getting a blog posted since I write in spurts.  I’ll do a paragraph, get up to maybe get a load of laundry going, grab a cup of coffee, and sit back down at the computer – except there’s now someone else’s butt in the chair.  I may have posted a while ago what I think of the new Windows (##@#!!!##).  One of the  ‘features’ is that if someone else logs on, you have to go back through your logon security screen to get to where you were.  You might not think it’s that big a deal but if you end up doing that every 20 minutes or so, it does get annoying.  That problem should be resolved soon since I just bought a new Mac laptop.  Just hang in there though while I go through my learning curve of switching from a desktop to a laptop and Windows to Apple (I’m signed up for one of their classes November 10th).

Another interesting thing with having a retired husband home is that he suddenly realizes all of the things that need to be fixed or updated around the house.  You know, the things I’ve been staring at and ‘mentioning’ for 10 years.  My thinking is, that it’s perfect to have someone to help me repaint all of the rooms in the house.  What’s not going so well is color selection. As a result, I think I have the little paint cards for every Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore, Glidden, and Valspar color ever created.  Every day I drive over to Lowe’s, Home Depot, or Ace Hardware to pick up some more color cards.  I think if I just tape all of the cards on the walls, I’ll have at least one room completely repainted.   Let’s just say that our tastes are so different that we’ll be lucky to get a color selected by next spring – but you can be sure that one of the guest bedrooms will NOT be electric mint green.

Since my husband has seen the error of his ways in rearranging the kitchen and he’s decided that I’ll still be head chef around here, this is my final version of the braised short rib recipe – although please feel free to play with the ingredients, especially the ketchup and mustard, depending on how sweet or tart you like things.

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Rosemary Braised Short Ribs

Prep Beef short ribs:
Sprinkle 4-6 beef short ribs with salt, pepper, and rosemary.  Slow cook seasoned ribs in a crock pot with about 1 cup of red wine  for an afternoon until meat falls off the bone and can be shredded with a fork.  Save liquid from pot for meat sauce.

For the meat sauce:

– Dice 1 medium onion and 3 large cloves of garlic.  Sauté onion in olive oil in large, heavy skillet until  translucent then add minced garlic.
– Stir in about 4 tablespoons of ketchup and 2 tablespoons of mustard of your choice.  I love using the using the Maille brand Old Style whole grain Dijon mustard.
– Skim off the fat from the liquid in the crock pot and add beef/wine liquid to skillet with shredded rib meat.  Stir it all together and let it simmer to the consistency of a pasta sauce.
– Serve on top of your favorite pasta with a nice topping of fresh grated parmesan cheese.

 

 

Gluten Free Chicken Piccata

Time to catch up… We had a great time hosting the engagement party.  We were certainly glad to have rented the canopy because it was cold and rainy although lucky for us, the rain held off until the food was served.  The amazing thing is that we actually were able to stand under the canopy – if it had been up to my husband we would have been standing on top of it.  If you ever need anything assembled, my husband is not the first guy you’d call for help.  After the rental company dropped it off along with 50 tables and chairs, my husband went out to set it up with Tim.  Not that he gives up easily, but seriously…14 minutes after being out there he was back inside fuming, telling me to call the company to send someone out to set it up.  I had to tell him that they don’t do that and sent him back out with the warning that he’d better not come back inside in under an hour.  As it was getting dark I started to worry until I heard our neighbor out there and figured we finally had a fighting chance on getting the canopy up.  Our neighbor is not only a super nice and handy guy but he’d already dealt with the same canopy for a party he’d had a few weeks earlier.  So thank you Jim for getting that canopy up and helping John save face by explaining that the equipment was all rusted and bent.

We had plenty of food some made ahead, some provided by Tim’s mother, and delicious appetizers friends brought.  The only thing that I had to do at the last minute was to make the chicken piccata – why I made so much I’m not sure but by the time I sliced and pounded the chicken breasts, I ended up with about 50 cutlets.  At least I had great help from Tim’s mother and we sort of got a rhythm going with me dusting the cutlets and Kath sautéing like crazy.   I had a number of guests who have severe gluten intolerance and decided to make this a gluten free dish that everyone could enjoy although I was a little leery of how the almond flour would work out.  Frankly, it turned out great and I’d definitely make it again because the almond flour actually seemed to make it a little lighter yet the flavor was marvelous.  I especially liked this recipe because it made plenty of extra gravy and who doesn’t like a little extra gravy on top?

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GLUTEN FREE CHICKEN PICCATA (for less than 50)

4-6           Chicken breasts, pounded to thin slices
1/2 Cup   Almond flour
5 TBL     Olive oil, or enough to coat bottom of pan
1/4 Cup  Lemon juice
1 Cup     Chicken stock – I found gluten free chicken broth made by Swanson
Capers for topping

–  Coat chicken breasts in almond flour then sauté in hot olive oil until lightly browned
–  Remove chicken and keep warm while making sauce:
– Add lemon juice and chicken stock to pan, loosening chicken bits, reducing sauce
– When sauce has thickened, add chicken and capers

And that’s all there is to it…unless you’re doing 50 of them in which case bring a stool over to the stove.

 

 

In My Kitchen – September 2014

In my kitchen is my now retired husband…

IMG_1578Okay, that’s not my husband but a gift to him from someone who’s obviously not worried about John doing his performance review next year.  My husband’s hair is a little sparse and I admire the extent that this fella went to to find the perfect gift.  There’s Chia Pets all over the stores but it’s hard to find a Chia guy and you might not be able to read the fine print, but it is HANDCRAFTED!  Can’t beat that now can you?  Actually, after 20 years as a controller with EMC my husband had quite a round of parties and send offs from people from all over the company (and yes, he did get some extremely generous gifts other than Chia Guy).

John’s been incredibly worried about what he’s going to do in his retirement years but I took care of those worries the first morning of his retirement!  Despite an incredible heat wave here, we needed to get the yard spruced up because this Saturday is the engagement party for my daughter Niki and her fiancé Tim.  So we’ve been scraping and painting the deck, taking out shrubs, digging out stumps, and slinging mulch.  We ended up with a huge brush pile and I was lucky to coerce our backlogged landscaper to at least come with the chipper and get the mountain of debris out of the yard.

Then, the food planning and decorating ideas…

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Rather than take individual photos of what I have (still more to buy), I just took one shot of what I have so far (still plenty more to buy).  I found terrific disposable steam tables (back left) for the hot foods.  They have a metal stand, then you put the foil tray for hot water on the stand with the food trays above (cans of sterno under).  The craft store had some little chalkboard stands to label the food and note everything that’s gluten free for those with sensitivity.   Since the wedding colors will be gray and pink, I found silver plates and utensils.  In the middle are adorable flower shaped cupcake papers for pink M&Ms and I will put the little silver balls in the center since they only had one box of those.  Boy, are M&Ms expensive!  The candy store has these dispensers where you put the plastic bag under, pull the lever…and spill about $40 worth of M&Ms all over the floor!  I went into shock when I weighed and got the price on my bag of M&Ms but decided not to complain since I’d trashed the woman’s store…oh well.

We’ll be using plastic wine glasses and my “pink” champagne glasses arrived yesterday.

IMG_1588What?  They don’t look pink to you?  They don’t look pink to me either and I was about to call the company to complain when I looked at my online order…yes, they certainly were pink in the picture but then after reading the description that says CLEAR champagne glasses, I realized they’d just poured pink bubbly in the glasses for their photo.  Guess I’ll be looking for some pink champagne.

But my absolute favorite item in my kitchen this month came all the way from South Africa!  My dear friend Mandy (do check out what she has in her kitchen this month too) sent me these perfect cake decorations.  I get excited any time I get mail that isn’t a bill or piles of advertisements but I was truly touched that Mandy would go to the trouble to send me this little gift which I will use to top the mini cakes – I’m thinking of a making heart shapes on the cakes.  Thank you again Mandy, you are one of the sweetest most thoughtful bloggers I’ve been lucky to meet via our blogs.

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So wish us well and send us some sunshine.  In the meantime, check out what Celia has in her kitchen this month, as well as the other IMK friends who’ve posted what they have going on.  Thanks as always to Celia for hosting this monthly feature – Celia, you’re the best!