Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pasta a la PW - With a Twist!

Here in the Bluegrass, it was a cold dreary day yesterday. I was very much looking forward to going home and making a big dish of warm, hearty pasta last night, and luckily it turned out fantastic!

The inspiration for this meal came from, of course, The Pioneer Woman. I have several of her recipes bookmarked that I want to try and this one was next in line. Nick had to take a final last night, so when it's just Bailey and me I try to look for easy to make meals to make both of our lives easier, and this one fit the bill. Penne a la Betsy was the recipe I started with. I say, started with, because I did make a few adjustments to fit my taste.

The original recipe called for shrimp, but I just can't bring myself to eat shrimp. I think it looks good, it smells good, but the texture gets me every time. So I passed over these bottom feeders and opted instead for good 'ol chicken.

I sautéed the chicken in extra virgin olive oil and butter until it was cooked through. Now, since I chose to use chicken, I was left with these little bits of love in the bottom of my pan.

After moving the chicken to sit on a paper towel lined plate, I added in my diced onion and garlic. The original recipe called for an entire white onion, but I don't like onion that much. I probably added a good 3 tablespoons to the mix. I always hated chopping garlic. My hands would end up all sticky and I could never seem to get them as small as I wanted. Until, I started using this...

that's right, the microplane is garlic's best friend! At least in my house. I'm pretty sure I got this idea from Rachel Ray, but I'm not sure. Anyhow, it makes working with garlic a snap!

So you let the onion and garlic get a little color to them and then deglaze the pan with some white wine. I've always been told to use whatever wine you would drink, but I'm not a big white wine fan, so I just use whatever the cheapest wine I can find is. I've tried several different types, and I can't tell a distinguishable difference in any of them. I'm currently using this,

I think it cost a whole $6. Tip to the wise, go ahead and take your cork out before  you need it. Otherwise you may be left struggling to get it out before your garlic burns, leaving you no choice but to use your teeth, which let's face it, isn't good for you or the cork!

Let the wine cook down for a few minutes and then add in the 8 ounce can of tomato sauce, stir to combine and then add 1 cup of heavy cream. Aside from the herbs and salt and pepper, here is where the recipe for the sauce ended. It tasted ok right here, but it was a little tomato-y for me. I decided to add about 2 tablespoons of sour cream and about 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese. I finished it off by adding the parsley and basil and it was fantastic! Then you simply add in your chicken and noodles and voila, you have one delicious meal!

I can't wait to have some of the left overs for lunch today!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Thick Cut Pork Chops and Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Every week we try to have at least one new thing on our menu. It doesn't always work out, but it's so fun when it does. This week I had two new recipes down and last night was one of them...and it was a delicious meal!!

I'm not usually into the whole sweet and savory thing on my plate. I don't know if it's all in my head or if I really dislike the taste, but for some reason I had been dying to do a pork chop and apple recipe. I surfed the web until I came across the recipe I wanted to try. I chose Tyler Florence's Thick Pork Chops with Spiced Apples and Raisins. I liked the simplicity of the recipe and the fact that it called for brining the chops. Everything came together very easily. You brown the chops for 4 minutes on each side before moving them to the oven to finish cooking, which gives you time to prepare the apples. I chose to omit the raisins from mine, because, well, I just don't like them. They turned out really nicely! Pork and apples have been long friends, but it's the first time they've come out to play with one another at our house. I will certainly be adding this recipe to our list of menu must haves.

I apologize for the poor quality of photo (I promise it tasted better than it looks here!), but I had a screaming 2 year old who was ready to eat, so no time for re-shoots!

Speaking of must haves, The Pioneer Woman's Creamy Mashed Potatoes absolutely won me over!! These are not for the faint of heart, as they include such ingredients as half and half and cream cheese. Yes, that's right, cream cheese! I'm not a cream cheese fan at all, but oh.my.gosh. these were fantastic!!! If you're on a diet, I promise it's worth breaking for one day just to try these. She called for Russet of Yukon Gold potatoes, but I had red potatoes at home, so that's what I used. I didn't follow amounts as indicated because my serving for the 3 of us was much smaller than the recipe's called for 5 pound of potatoes. I just started with a little of the cream cheese and went from there. I used 6 medium sized potatoes and probably used about 1/4 of an 8 ounce package of cream cheese. Bailey doesn't like mashed potatoes (I know, I don't know how that's possible!!) and even she said these were yummy. I promise they won't let you down.

Photo courtesy of The Pioneer Woman. I didn't take a picture because of the screaming 2 year old mentioned earlier.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Coming Soon!

Our elves are working hard on getting this page up and running. Check back soon!!