Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Happiness Is A Basket of Strawberries.......

Strawberries are one fruit we have in our house all year long, blueberries as well.  They are full of antioxidants and fiber, fight bad cholesterol, are anti-inflammatory and last but not least my favorite, they're anti-aging! What a great little fruit they are.  Strawberries have so many good things about them, besides the fact that they are just plain delicious and sweet. 

I try to find many ways to use my strawberries, outside of putting them in cereal or just eating them out of the box. I do put them in many different kinds of salads that I make, because we eat a lot of salad in this house too. Plain salad with vegetables is boring to me, so I like to push things up to a new level with salads, especially when that is the main course.  I made this fruit-full salad last night and it was spectacular! It was so filling I didn't need a dessert and still wasn't hungry when I woke up this morning. Check it out and make it, you'll love it.
Recipe Below.

I started with 2 boxes of greens, one was a mix and one was spinach. Don't mind the organic labels, unless you are an organic food eater.  This is what I buy, I have an organic vegan in the house so you all know how that goes.  I also used romaine in my salad for crunchiness.
Toss the lettuces together in a large bowl. Some of my ingredients.
 I added in a few more ingredients and chicken.
 Building the salad with all this healthy deliciousness.
 And what is a salad without cheese, any kind of cheese, and crispy wonton strips.
 And, what can I say about glazed pecans, they're so good! You could also use sliced 
almonds or walnuts if you like.
 Dice up and add the chicken breasts after they cool so your salad doesn't wilt.
 Now the best part, the Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette, it's awesome!
All ready to go.
 Let's Eat!
Hearty Chicken and Strawberry Salad

Ingredients for Salad
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
6 cups of mixed greens, washed
1 large head of romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup matchstick carrots
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup bacon bits
1 cup crispy wonton strips
1/2 cup glazed pecans

Ingredients for Dressing
1 cup Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Cracked Black Pepper
1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper, more if you like heat
Shake vigorously in a jar until all is combined.

In a frying pan over medium high heat, add the olive oil and heat until hot.  Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides.  Cook the chicken breasts for 8 minutes on each side or until juices run clear.  Cover with a lid, turn off the heat, let cool.

In a large bowl, toss all the greens together.  Add the strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, carrots, onion, feta, bacon, wonton strips and glazed pecans. Add chicken around the sides of the bowl.

Toss with desired amount of dressing. 

Makes 4-6 servings

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Homemade Funnel Cakes

OH funnel cakes! Eating them brings back all the memories of childhood.  Going to the local seasonal fairs and carnivals, smelling and eating all the food they had to offer, what a great time that was.  My favorite was always funnel cakes, they were so much fun to share and eat.  When the grand kids come over now, I sometimes make these for everyone and they are always a hit.  It's that time of  the season again and funnel cakes will be made and served at the local fairs and carnivals. I don't go to them anymore, but I can still enjoy these at home.
Recipe below.
Just a few things to mix up.
Hot oil in a frying pan.
Pour the batter into the oil.
And here you go!  A fresh, hot, Funnel Cake of your very own.

Funnel Cakes
Makes 8 servings

2 eggs
1 cup of milk
1 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups Oil for frying
Confectioners Sugar

In a large bowl beat eggs.  Add the milk, water and vanilla, beat until well blended.  In another bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Beat the dry mixture into the egg mixture until all is combined.  In a heavy frying pan, heat oil on medium high heat.  Drop a dot of the batter to test the heat of the oil to make sure it is hot.  Fill a small pitcher, or cup with a spout, with some of the batter. Hold the cup a few inches above the fry pan, make a circular motion around the pan to form a funnel cake, criss crossing and continuing with the circle motion.  Let the cake get golden brown on one side for about 2 minutes, then flip it over to fry on the other side.  Drain on paper towels, dust with confectioners sugar.  Serve warm.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Oui, Oui! French Onion Soup

There is just something about a nice hot bowl of soup that warms my soul.  Any kind of soup, I love almost all of them - Vegetable, Tomato, Chicken Noodle, Mushroom, Minestrone, Italian Wedding and French Onion, I could go on, but to name just a few.  Most people eat soup in winter, well I'm an all year round soup girl.  Homemade always tastes better to me and I make a lot of it.  Here is my take on homemade French Onion Soup.
Recipe Below.
 Just a few ingredients that's all it takes.
 And everything is better with butter.
 I used three very large sweet onions.
 Minced garlic and sliced onions.
 Into the pan they go!
 Break up the onions.
 Add herbs....
 Cook them down....
 a little Sherry doesn't hurt....
 It's lookin' good....
 The aroma is amazing!
 A little flour to thicken.
Add the beef stock.
Simmering with all that good flavor.
Wow, it looks so good!
Almost ready....
I did use an immersion blender for some of the onions.  Took out about 3/4 of them and used the blender on what was left in the pan and then put the rest of the onions back in.
And here it is, yummy homemade onion soup.  Toast a few baguette slices and top with cheese, put under the broiler for a few minutes until cheese melts.  Please use an ovenproof crock or bowl.
Makes 4-6 servings

1/2 cup butter
3 very large sweet onions, sliced (mine were huge)
4 big cloves of garlic, minced
4 bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh thyme (you can use 1 tsp dried)
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 1/4 cups Sherry or 1 cup red wine (not cooking sherry/wine)
3 heaping Tbsp. flour
3 quarts beef stock
Baguette slices, toasted
Sliced Baby Swiss cheese (or Mozzarella or Parmesan)

Over medium heat in a large dutch oven, melt stick of butter.  Add - onions and break them apart, garlic, bay leaves, thyme and salt and pepper. Cook until they are soft and somewhat caramelized, about 25 minutes.  Turn off heat (to be safe) and add the sherry/wine, turn heat back on and bring the pot to a boil.  Reduce heat until the sherry/wine has evaporated and the onions are on the dry side, not so much liquid left in the pan, around 10-15 minutes.  Take out the bay leaves, and if using fresh thyme, strip the leaves from the stems and discard the stems. Put thyme leaves in the pan. Sprinkle the 3 Tbsp. flour over the onions, mixing in as you sprinkle to coat the onions.  Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn't burn in the pan.  Add all the stock, bring the pan back to a slow boil and cook for about half hour. Season with salt and pepper if you like.

When ready to eat, start the broiler.  Ladle soup into oven proof ramekins or bowls, arrange baguette slices over the soup and top with cheese.  Place under the broiler until cheese is melted and browned. Serve immediately. 

Monday, April 20, 2020

Company Is Coming Chicken!

Hoping everyone is well during this corona virus pandemic.  Haven't been posting for a very long time as I babysit my grandson everyday.  But now with the virus and being quarantined, all that has changed. I miss him terribly as well as the rest of my family.  Being stuck inside the house is not something I enjoy.  My days are now filled with cleaning, cooking, eating and watching TV.  I have gone on an occasional walk, but the weather is still cold and I don't like being cold. I am cooking and baking a lot more, which is not good for the waistline (I gained 6 lbs already!) as I have a dress to fit into for my oldest daughter's wedding. I keep saying to myself "YOU NEED TO STOP FEEDING YOUR FACE!" Every day I wake up with a plan and by mid-morning it's all out the window!

But, good food is something I do enjoy, so I plan ahead what I am gong to make for dinner and try to have something healthy to snack on as well.  The fridge and freezers are stocked, so everything I need to prepare a delicious meal is always at hand. If I don't have something, I can always improvise.

I made this chicken dish last week and it was fabulous.  Creamy sauce with sun dried tomatoes, cheese, cream, fresh basil and a little heat. Try it, you will love it, and it's easy to make all in one pan.
Recipe below.
 I like to start cooking with all my ingredients in front of me, it makes pulling a meal together faster.
 I used a cast iron frying pan, love using them.  Chicken breasts cooking up with a little salt and pepper.
 After chicken is semi-done remove and start making the sauce.
This is so easy and I love the fact that it's all done with one pan, an easy cleanup.
 Add the cream and look at all that flavor!
 Tomatoes in.........
And the cheese!  Everything is better with cheese.
 Bake the chicken and spoon sauce over the top.
And this is the end result, a beautiful and tasty dish,  I served mine with garlic green beans and
 Cacio e Pepe farfalle. Enjoy!
 Please stay safe and healthy my friends.

Chicken Breasts in a Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Sauce 
Serves 4

2 T. olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp. each salt and pepper
4 gloves minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme, 1/2 tsp. if using dried
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, more if you like heat
1 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup oil packed sun dried tomatoes, chopped and drained
3/4 cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese, reserve 1/4 cup for topping
Fresh Basil, sliced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large cast iron skillet or other oven safe skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat.  Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.  Add to the pan and cook on both sides until golden brown about 6-7 minutes on each side.  Remove the chicken and put on a plate.  Do not clean the pan.  Reduce heat to medium and add the garlic, saute until fragrant, do not burn it.  Add the thyme, red pepper flakes, broth and heavy cream.  Cook, stirring for about 5-7 minutes.  Add in the sun dried tomatoes and 1/2 cup Pecorino-Romano cheese. Add the chicken breasts back into the pan.  Bake until the chicken is cooked through, juices run clear and the sauce is bubbly and thickened.  Remove from oven.  To serve, spoon sauce over the chicken breasts and top with reserved 1/4 cup of cheese and fresh basil.