Orange Chicken with White Wine and Mouse part 3

After John left for work yesterday morning Lola and I came downstairs and the house had that empty, super quiet feeling.  Then it hit me… the pantry door was open and the mouse traps were gone!    I ran into the pantry and flicked the baseboard calling “Jerry?!? You in there li’l buddy?”  It was like going to visit a friend in the hospital, walking into their room and finding the bed empty and the sheets pulled off.  Had to call John right away and it went like this:

“Where’s Jerry?”
“Who’s Jerry?”
“You know damn well who Jerry is – our mouse!  What happened?”
“I dumped him out behind the grass clippings.”
“OMG!  Is he… was he… you didn’t kill him did you?”
“No, he was in the trap and I dumped him out… just looked a little dazed is all.”
“Did he look happy?”
“Hard to tell, it’s a downpour, he just looked wet.”

So Jerry’s relocated (for now), Moe’s nervously pacing trying to figure out where his new best friend went, and Lola’s bummed because Moe’s food dish is back in the pantry, behind the barrier where she can’t slurp up his food.  But at least I can stand in the kitchen without wondering if some little critter’s going to be running over my feet.  And to finish up that wonderful meal from last week – the chicken!

Chicken in White Wine with Orange Zest

1      Orange
4-6  Chicken Breasts
4      Tablespoons butter
1      Red onion, small, minced
1/2   Cup sweet white wine, like a Riesling
Majoram, about a tablespoon

– Pound chicken breasts until about 1/2″ thick and season w/salt & pepper
– Finely grate about a tablespoon (or more) of orange zest then squeeze juice into small bowl.
– Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat and saute chicken until golden.  Remove to separate plate, pour 1/2 of the orange juice over chicken and cover.
– In same pan, melt an additional 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Add minced onions until opaque but not brown.  Add the wine, marjoram, remaining orange juice, and zest.  Stir, scraping up browned bits until sauce is bubbling and slightly reduced – just a few minutes.
– Transfer chicken and any juices back to pan for a few minutes.  Serve with sauce spooned over chicken.

This is a really fast and easy dish with a lot of flavor.  You know I kinda miss Jerry.  I was thinking too… if Moe had actually caught Jerry, I wonder if he’d say he tasted just like chicken.

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Chicken, Grapefruit, Pistachio Salad

Light, refreshing and perfect for a hot summer day… Which we haven’t had and I don’t see in the near future but last night I just didn’t feel like a heavy meal. After being out the night before until midnight at the final (sigh) Bruins game, I really didn’t feel like cooking anything that required thinking, a lot of work, or heavy lifting.  I did have 4 thin sliced chicken breasts on hand, a grapefruit, and pistachio nuts.

While poaching the chicken breasts in some white wine with a little ground pepper (only takes about 10 minutes) I prepped the salad dressing:

In a medium size bowl:

– Mix about 1/4 cup of mayonaise with 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard (I love the Mailie Old Style whole grain with the seeds)

– Stir in juice from 1/4 fresh lemon
– Add about 2 tablespoons of fresh minced coriander

– Peel 1 grapefruit, remove membrane between segments & mix segments into the dressing
– Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of pistachio nuts
– After poaching and letting the chicken breasts cool, cube & mix in to the dressing
– Arrange chicken salad on a bed of romaine lettuce

And tonight, now that I’m a little bit rested I will attempt to make Susan’s Zucchini Pancakes.  I’ve been desperate to try these when I saw them on her site and now I’m just thinking…”how do I disguise the zucchini so that John doesn’t know that he’s eating a vegetable”? Oh well, he’s a smart man.  If he wants his food supply to continue he’ll eat them.

My daughter returns home

After Niki graduated from college she moved home for a while and had apparently picked up some expertise in a cooking class that she took while in Florence.  Then I caught her red-handed.  I walked in on her while she was watching a cooking show on tv!  Who was this person?  Could she have any of my genes?  Why was she watching cooking shows?  Although she’d tried to help in the kitchen many times when she was young, she’d never really shown any particular aptitude in that area.  Usually the results were edible although presentation definitely needed some work.

Niki’s come a long way since this colorful birthday cake and she actually does enjoy cooking.

Thinking that she might like to try more interesting recipes, Niki brought home Giada’s Kitchen by giada de laurentiis.  I knew things would be very different in our kitchen.  When I showed my husband this cookbook, he took one look at Giada’s picture on the cover and declared that she looked like a really good cook.

I agree with my husband that Giada looks really good, as a cook or otherwise and although I hardly look like Giada I decided to try one of her recipes.  I started with her chicken piccata because I actually could identify all of the ingredients and it seemed fairly easy enough for me.   I served this over wide noodles and it was absolutely delicious!  Definitely one to repeat.

Since I got so many compliments on this dish (see how devious my husband is – compliments my efforts so I’ll do it more often), I decided to also check out her website on the food network.  If the chicken piccata was delicious, I can tell you that the chicken with marscapone cheese was out of this world.  This is definitely my go-to recipe for company or when my daughter comes home now for some comfort food.  If the chicken marscapone wowed John and Niki I can tell you that I got a standing ovation for Giada’s chocolate honey almond tart!  I’ve since served these dishes to guests and had so many requests for the recipe that I finally typed them up to copy on request.  And that’s how it all started….

When my daughter moved to her apartment she would call me to find out how I made various dishes.  Rather than just write them down, she would call me again when she wanted to make the same thing.  I finally just started a recipe file of all the likely recipes that she might ask for which I would then email to her.

Last Christmas it occurred to me that I had a decent recipe collection and hundreds of photos from Italy.  As I’ve mentioned I love playing with photos and decided that a collection of these photos with family recipes overlayed would be a nice gift for her and save a lot of time on the phone.  I made 8.5 x 11″ photos and stacked them in an acrylic frame which can be hung on her kitchen wall.  When she needs a recipe, she can just move that to the front of the frame & it protects the photograph from splatters.  This particular photo is one that Niki took from the Venice canals of a very unique dress shop.

The Recipe, courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis :

CHICKEN WITH MUSTARD MASCARPONE MARSALA SAUCE

1 to 1 ½ lbs     Boneless chicken breasts
2 TBL              Olive Oil
5 TBL              Butter, divided
1 Cup             Chopped sweet onion
1 lb                  Mushrooms – cremini or baby portabella
2 TBL              Garlic, minced (more is fine)
1 Cup              Marsala wine (or I’ve sometimes used Vermouth
1 Cup              Marscarpone cheese
2 TBL              Natural stone ground mustard (seeds)
2 TBL              Chopped fresh Italian parsley
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Serve on wide noodles or fettuccine

Directions:
Pound the chicken breasts to tenderize, then sprinkle salt & pepper.  Heat oil in heavy skillet over med-high heat.  Add chicken until just browned (about 4 min each side).  Move to a plate & cover to keep warm.

Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter to the same skillet over med-high heat.  Add onion & sauté until tender (about 2 min).  Add the mushrooms & garlic and sauté until the mushrooms are tender & juices evaporated (10-12 minutes).  Add the Marsala wine or Vermouth and simmer until reduced by half (5 minutes).  Stir in the marscapone and mustard.  You can serve the chicken as cutlets or slice into slices.  Return chicken & juices to the skillet.  Simmer, uncovered over med-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through & the sauce has thickened slightly (just about 2 minutes).  Sprinkle with parsley and top with fresh Parmesan cheese.

After cooking pasta, melt remainder of butter (3 TBL) on top.  Serve chicken & sauce on top of pasta.

(This may seem like a bit of work but it really isn’t and it cooks up fast so have the pasta water boiling.  It is the most delicious sauce I have ever had!)