Orange Thyme Grilled Chicken

On Sunday, the day I made this meal, we were faced with how surreal life is.  It was a gorgeous day and we were tackling the hops (seriously never plant those!).  We were struck by how busy the fire and police departments were.  While we were planting some veg in the back we realised the current set of sirens didn’t go past our house.

Out of curiosity we wandered out front to see 5 cop cars, 2 ambulances, and various other vehicles.  Something was definitely up.  A few minutes later an ambulance went tearing up the road.  The initial report was someone shot himself by accident and he was belligerent which caused the cops to be called to hospital.  Unfortunately the real story was worse.  The man died and the guy who shot him is in jail for felony manslaughter.

It’s a bit shocking in our small town.  What made it all surreal for me was as they were putting up the crime tape I noticed how life continues on.  The next door neighbour to the crime scene was mowing the lawn, people were walking their dog and we’re were putting about in the garden.  I know it’s how life works but I found it jarring.

After all the work in the garden we wanted a light dinner.  I had seen a few recipes involving orange juice and mustard, orange juice and thyme or orange juice and garlic.  I thought I could come up with a recipe involving all of it.  Lots of flavour and still keeping it light.

In a bowl add equal parts orange juice and olive oil.  Finely chop a few cloves of garlic and add it to the bowl with a handful of fresh thyme.  Add a dash of lemon juice and a good heaping spoonful of stoneground mustard.

Orange Thyme Grilled Chicken 1 2018

Season with sea salt and pepper.  Add the chicken breast to marinate for a couple of hours.

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When it’s time for dinner fire up the grill.

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I did up a fresh salad with avocado, tomato, cucumber and carrot.  I do love salad season!

Orange Thyme Grilled Chicken 4 2018

Here’s hoping the upcoming weekend is a lot quieter for all.

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Bacon Wrapped Steak Salad and They Really Should Teach Body Mechanics in PE

I was able to touch my toes today.  So what you say?  Well, I can’t remember the last time I’ve been able to do that!  I had to bend my knees a little but I got there.  Part of what helped was reading an article from NPR about the proper way to bend to pick up things.  Seems so basic but it really changed things for me.

I was speaking with my massage therapist today and casually mentioned I was discussing with my husband how they should teach body mechanics in Physical Education.  Perhaps if they did less of us wouldn’t find us feeling old as we hit our 30’s and 40’s.  She completely agreed as she definitely sees all sorts of body issues.  Just add it to the long list of things that kids should learn before heading out into the world!

Bacon Steak Salad 1 2018

Only five more shifts of tax season, not that I’m counting!  But the last few weeks mean I need to come up with simple dishes to cook on the days I’m home in the evening because my brain is fried!  I came across a dish with steak wrapped in streaky bacon with the usual Worcestershire sauce, which is tasty but I wanted to mix it up a bit with a fresh salad and Italian flavours.

Bacon Steak Salad 2 2018

At least an hour ahead of cooking marinate the steak.  In a bowl add two parts olive oil and one part balsamic vinegar.  Finely chop 3-5 cloves of garlic, depending on size, and finely chop a small handful of fresh oregano and thyme.  Add a bit of sea salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Cube the steak.  I used steak tips as the co-op has a great local source, so good! Add the steak to the marinade.

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When it’s time to cook, wrap each cube in half a rasher of streaky bacon and place on a skewer.

Bacon Steak Salad 5 2018

If you remembered to get propane for the grill, use the grill but as I hadn’t done that I used the griddle on the cooktop.  Get it to medium high.  You don’t want it too hot because you don’t want to burn the bacon before the steak get’s cooked.

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Use the marinade to baste the bacon and turn frequently so, again, the bacon doesn’t burn.  While this is cooking put together a fresh salad with mozzarella cheese and fresh made balsamic vinaigrette.  Use 2 parts olive oil and 1 part balsamic vinegar.

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I’m definitely ready for salad season.  Love the lightness and all the flavours.

Cheese and Onion Pie, a Treat for My Husband

“Oooh, I do like a bit of cheese” as Wallace likes to claim.  It’s a sentiment we agree with.  Maybe a bit too much but hey, we all have our vices!  One of my husband’s favourite crisp flavours is cheese and onion so I thought as a treat I would make a cheese and onion pie.  As I thought it was a treat from his childhood I wanted to get this right!

Cheese and onion pie 1 2018

This is not overly difficult but there are a lot of steps to this.  You’ll need a few hours to get this done.  I researched several recipes and decided to use this Foodie with Family recipe as a guide.  I did change a few things.

I had two very large onions which I sliced thinly.  Oh the tears!  In a skillet melt 4 tablespoons of butter to start with.  Add more butter as needed as the onions cook down.

Cheese and onion pie 2 2018

The onions will mound up in the skillet but after several minutes of slowly cooking the onions will soften and cook down.

As the onions cook, add 1/2 cup of veg bouillon and about 5 teaspoons of coleman’s mustard.  Feel free to add a bit more if you like the heat.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Simmer for a few minutes to reduce the liquid a bit.

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Remove from the heat and let cool.  Grate 1 1/2 pounds/675oz of sharp cheddar cheese.  Yes, it’s a huge amount of cheese!  In a large bowl beat two eggs and add 1/2 cup/4oz double cream.  Add the onions.

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Mix in the cheese completely.

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Set that aside.  Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

Next prepare the hot water pastry, though in this case it’s hot milk pastry.  In a mixing bowl sift together 3 cups/12 3/4 oz of all purpose flour and 3/4 tsp of kosher salt.  Make a well in the flour.

In a saucepan, melt a cup/1/2 pound of butter, 1/3 cup/2.5oz of whole milk and about 4 teaspoons of coleman’s mustard.

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Simmer but don’t boil.  Pour into the flour well.

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Mix well until the ingredients come together in a ball.

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On a lightly floured surface knead the dough for a couple of minutes to work the gluten.  This is a pastry where you don’t have to worry about overworking which is a nice change.

Line a 10″/25cm springform pan with parchment paper.  Divide the dough into two balls, roughly in a 60/40 ratio.  Now this dough is very fiddly!  There were some words spoken as I rolled it out and tried to get it into the pan.  Forget having it done in one piece!  Use your knuckles to press it into the pan and up the sides.

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Fill the pastry with the cheese and onion mixture.  Top with the remaining pastry.  As best you can pinch the seam of the top and bottom together.  Use a knife to cut vents in the top.  Beat an egg and add a tablespoon of the whole milk.  Brush this over the top of the pie.

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Bake 60-75 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.

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Let it cool and allow the cheese to set a bit before serving.  I found I prefer it served cold but it’s good warm or cold.

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My husband loved this.  Turns out this was the first ever cheese and onion pie he had!  So instead of an old tradition it’s become a new one.  🙂

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Pork Loin with Mustard Garlic White Wine Sauce

With this week’s nor’easter we weren’t sure if the kids would be at school to participate in the national walkout to protest the mass shootings that keep happening in this country.  We had a snow day on Tuesday but only a delay yesterday.  Both kids at each of their schools joined in and I couldn’t be prouder.  It’s so important for people, kids in particular, to find a way to get their point across in a mindful way.  May they bring about the change that is so needed.

I’d love to say that this storm was the last but we’re not going to be that lucky.  Another one coming next week!  So over this winter.

I wanted to treat the family to a nice Saturday meal this past weekend that would have a side of Brussel sprouts as it’s a treat for my husband.  I was puttering about on the Pinterest site and I saw many recipes for mustard and garlic pork and then white wine garlic pork and I thought, why not do it all?

Mustard garlic pork 1 2018

A couple of hours before dinner I did up the marinade for the pork loin.  In a bowl that would fit the loin add a 1/3 cup of olive oil and 1/4 cup of white wine.  Finely chop 4-5 cloves of garlic and a healthy handful of fresh thyme.  Season with sea salt and pepper.

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Score the pork loin, season with sea salt and pepper and add it to the bowl and make sure the marinade coats the pork well.  Set aside in the fridge for a couple of hours.

When it was time to cook everything up I prepped the potatoes and parsnips for roasting.  I really like them cut into disks.  I find I get a lovely golden roast on the veg.  Brush them with olive oil and season, again!, with sea salt and pepper.

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Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.  Take the pork out of the fridge and put on a sheet to roast.  Mix 2 tablespoons each of brown sugar and brown mustard and brush it onto the pork.

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Pop it into the oven along with the potatoes and parsnips.  In a skillet add the remaining marinade and mustard mix.

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Bring to a low simmer and add a cup/8oz of chicken stock.  Simmer slowly while the the pork cooks.  As it reduces add more chicken stock if needed to balance out the flavours and to make sure you have enough sauce.  You don’t want a watery sauce but you want enough to go round!

As I mentioned my husband loves Brussel sprouts so I pan seared a bunch for him and our daughter.  Our son and I don’t like them so I did up some green beans for us.

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When the pork is done let it rest for several minutes then slice and layer over the potatoes.  Spoon the sauce over the pork and serve with veg and parsnips.

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This had so many delicious flavours that worked together.  We all really enjoyed this meal.

 

Garlic and Herb Sauce with Pork and Pasta

It’s common for people to lament the fact the younger generation will never make something of themselves.  Every generation does it.  They don’t work hard, they feel entitled etc.  But then something happens and you can’t deny they are a force to be reckoned with.

When I was in high school the district was doing the usual layoffs but just using the seniority system rather than getting rid of teachers that weren’t good.  The students including me were not pleased.  There was a public meeting where students gave impassioned arguments saying we wanted teachers that would give us a good education. One of the maths teachers had to be constantly corrected by the students and she would get all flustered and it would get worse.  She had seniority so she would stay.  Hence the displeasure of those of us who were heading to university.  We didn’t get very far but we showed the higher ups that we should have a say in decisions that would affect our future.

We’re seeing the power of students now for a much more serious reason.  This country is plagued with school shootings but nothing has been done about it.  Well the ground swell that is happening now is completely down to the students.  Rightfully so they say enough is enough.  They are using their voices for change.  On the 14th of March there will be walk outs across the country and I’m proud to say my kids are going to be part of it.  I really hope change will happen.  It shouldn’t be a dangerous thing to send your kids to school.

Here is to positive changes with the students leading the way!

And now onto the cooking portion of this programme.

I came across a recipe for pork chops with a creamy garlic herb sauce by What’s In The Pan that looked good.  I hope you enjoy my version.  🙂

Pork with garlic herb sauce 1 2018

We had 4 boneless pork ribs to use so I didn’t bother buying extra pork chops.  I prepped the pork first so it could be finished off in the oven.  Mix a 1/4 cup of flour, a teaspoon of dried oregano, 1/2 a teaspoon of sea salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of ground pepper on a dish.

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Season the pork with sea salt and pepper then dredge them in the flour mixture.  Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet.  Brown all sides of the pork until they are nice and golden brown.  Finish them in the oven at 350F/175C.  I’ve no picture of this step as the one I took came out really blurry.  No idea why I only took one!  While the pork is cooking prep the rest of the ingredients.

Slice 4-5 mushrooms and chop 5-7 cloves of garlic.  Add two tablespoons of butter to the skillet and add the mushrooms and garlic.  As the mushrooms begin to cook add another tablespoon or so of butter.  Also add small handfuls of fresh thyme and rosemary.

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Pork with garlic herb sauce 4 2018Take about a tablespoon or so of the flour mixture and add it to the skillet.  To this add a heaping spoonful of brown mustard.  Stir well and cook for a couple of minutes to cook the flour.  To create the sauce add 1/2 cup/4oz of dry white wine, 1/2 cup/4oz of chicken sauce and 1/4 cup/2oz of lemon juice.  Bring to a simmer to reduce down by a third.

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Once the pork is nearly cooked along with pasta add 1/2 cup/4oz of heavy cream.  Heat through and toss in the pasta.

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Serve with a bit of parsley.  I have to say one of my weaknesses is a cream sauce with lots of garlic.  I could eat that all day!

 

Mushroom Apple Thyme Sauce with Panko Crusted Chicken over Parsnip Mash

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Mother Nature spoilt us yesterday.  While we are getting snow today we had a lovely break from winter with incredible warm weather of 70F/20C.  It was wonderful to be out and about walking downtown.  The only downside are the guys that suddenly walk round with their shirts whipped off.  Let’s just say, ahem, not always a good thing.  But I loved not having to wear a coat and the dogs had a great time sniffing about on their walk.

I was in the mood for some autumn flavours this past weekend and as it is still tax season it needed to be easy.  I thought it would be fun to do a sauce with apple and mushroom over chicken with a parsnip mash.

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Start by prepping the parsnips.  Peel and cube.  Put it into a saucepan and cover with chicken stock.  Bring to a boil then simmer until cooked through.

Coat chicken breasts with egg and panko bread crumbs.  I usually don’t have an issue with the panko falling off but if you do, dredge the chicken in flour first, then the egg and panko.  Heat a couple of tablespoons olive oil and brown both sides of the chicken.

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Finish off in the oven at 350F/175C.  Meanwhile slice 4-5 mushrooms, finely chop 4-6 cloves of garlic, and chop about 3/4 of an apple.  It helps to have dogs to eat the rest of the apple!  They are so spoilt.  Add more olive oil to the skillet and begin to sauté the mushrooms, garlic and apple.

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Add a healthy handful of fresh thyme.  Cook until the mushrooms start to brown.  Add a tablespoon of butter, a 1/3 of a cup of dry sherry and a cup of chicken stock.

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Simmer the sauce until the chicken is cooked.  Once the parsnips are cooked, drain most of the stock but leave about 1/2 a cup in the pot.  Add 2 tablespoons of butter and about 3/4 cup of jarlsberg cheese.  Mash it all together.

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Place the chicken on the mash and top with the mushroom apple sauce.  A very easy but tasty meal after a long day of house projects.

Spicy Filet with an Apricot Orange Glaze

Is it just me or does the coverage of the Olympics stateside seem to be more adverts than sport? I love the Olympics and love to see the human interest stories, people succeeding and when they fall my heart goes out to them. It used to be a lot of all this. Now it is more important for us to see giant Big Macs and sugary drinks. The last things that should be associated with athletics.

Aside from the weird spectacle of the North Korean cheerleaders who outnumber their athletes by a couple hundred it’s been fun to see how everyone is doing. We do wonder of the sanity of the skeleton racers. Who thought, hey let’s go head first down an ice run?

But it has amused me while I’ve been sick this past week. I’m finally catching up with everything. One of the downfalls of getting my life organised and scheduled is it looks bad when it goes south. Such is life! I was glad to be back on my feet in time for Valentines Day. I wanted to make a nice meal for my husband.

I found this recipe on Carlsbad Cravings for a Cajun Steak with an Apricot Orange Glaze. I adjusted it for smaller portions and what I had on hand.

It’s an easy recipe with a few steps. In a small bowl mix together a 1/2 tablespoon each of paprika, brown sugar, onion powder, and chili powder. Add a teaspoon each of dried oregano, cayenne pepper, sea salt then add 1/2 a teaspoon of dried basil and pepper.

Take 2 teaspoons of this mix and put aside in a small saucepan. Use the rest to make the marinade. To the spice mix a 1/4 cup/2 oz of soy sauce and olive oil. Then add a tablespoon each of Worcestershire sauce, orange juice and brown sugar. Coarsely chop 2 cloves of garlic. Mix well and add two filet mignon to the marinade. Set aside for about an hour.

In the small saucepan add about a 1/2 cup of apricot preserves, a 1/3 cup of orange juice, a tablespoon of soy sauce, and a dollop each of brown mustard and brown sugar.

Mix well and bring to a simmer. While the rest of the meal is cooking reduce this by half. Melt a few dabs of butter and brown both sides of the filet. Finish off in the oven at 350F/175C until desired doneness.

I roasted potatoes and sautéed green beans to accompany the steak. Drizzle the sauce over the dish right before serving,

A nice easy delicious meal to enjoy for a romantic dinner.

I did have more than two green beans, contrary to what my husband says I do eat veg! 😄

Pan Seared Chicken with Risotto Milanese

Like every generation before us has said, we live in crazy times. Social media magnifies people’s behaviour, good and bad, and also allows movements to take off like wildfire. The #metoo movement has been such a long overdue and important conversation.

You would have to live under a rock to not hear the conversation. Which makes me wonder about some on social media. I’m in the process of setting up an Etsy shop to sell greeting cards with my photos so I have been doing loads of research and trying to get everything set up so I can hit the ground running. I’m being way more proactive in promoting my brand across the platforms. While I love to connect with people what I’m not looking for is to be hit on. I don’t understand it. Twitter is not Tinder people! Obviously on the scale of what a lot of us women go through it’s mild but I don’t understand that someone thinks this is ok.

Thankfully most treat this connections as above board but it’s just so weird when it happens. Even if I was single I would never dream by starting off by talking about a connection’s physical appearance. Just creepy!

Ah well, good thing I’m not obligated to respond. I’ll just keep cooking!

For this dish I thought I should actually look through my cookery books. They are not just pretty books! I really liked the risotto Milanese from a Williams Sonoma book. A great accompaniment to pan seared chicken. Here is my version.

To start the prep bring 5 cups/40 oz of chicken stock to a simmer. In a small bowl add about a teaspoon of loose saffron threads with a 1/4 cup/2 oz of hot water. Set aside to soak.

I just love that colour. In the large skillet that the risotto will be cooked in, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Season the chicken thighs with sea salt and pepper. Begin browning the chicken.

Finish cooking the chicken in the oven at 375F/190C. Add a 1/2 cup of chopped pancetta and a finely chopped shallot. Sauté until the shallots begin to soften.

Slice a few mushrooms and stir in. Add 1 1/2 cups of arborio rice to the skillet cooking for a couple of minutes. Then add a half cup/4oz of a dry white wine.

Gradually add the stock a bit at a time with the rice on medium heat. Halfway through the cooking add the saffron along with sea salt and pepper to taste.

Near the end of cooking before the liquid is absorbed, toss in 2 tablespoons of butter and about 3/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Once the liquid is absorbed serve with chicken and garnish with parsley.

For those that live in the cold climes, trying to get decent photos without natural light can be like trying find a yeti. But this time I tried candlelight. Why I didn’t think of this before. I have no idea.

Bacon and Chicken White Bean Soup and We Have a Houdini

Our puppy boys aren’t actually puppies, they are 11 and 8. We call them puppies as they like to act like that and occasionally they teach themselves new tricks. Guinness, our 11 year old, decided to channel Houdini this morning. Because we’re still having work done on the house we put the dogs safely in a room. It usually works. Only this morning Guinness figured out how to open our sliding doors. It got a little hairy as we corralled him. It was bit bit like a comedy of people going in and out of rooms but no one could see anyone else.

Murphy has been taking this in stride but Guinness has taken to muttering at the intrusions. Definitely put out! Fortunately it will be over soon and he’ll soon get his room back. Silly sausage.

With the cacophony going on, comfort food hits the spot. Bacon chicken white bean soup fits the bill. I added bacon and chicken to this soup because they needed to be used up. Necessity being the mother of invention and all that.

In a saucepan add a half chicken breast that has been cubed and 3-4 rashers of streaky bacon that has been chopped. Sauté on medium heat.

Slice 2-3 mushrooms and chop 4-6 cloves of garlic. Once the bacon has rendered a bit add the veg to the saucepan.

Add 3 cups/24 ounces of chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Next add 2 cans of 15 ounce cans of white beans after rinsing them. Continue to simmer until the beans are cooked through. Season with se salt and pepper. A healthy splash of white wine, ahandful of fresh parsley and 4 ounces of freshly grated Parmesan finishes off the soup.

Fresh baked crusty bread with butter is a perfect companion to this soup.

I really enjoyed this hearty soup. A nice break from all the upheaval.

French Onion Quiche and the Walls Come Tumbling Down Again…

They say wisdom comes with age. When it comes to house projects, my husband and I finally got wisdom! We’re redoing our bathroom and bedroom and instead of slogging our way through the demo we saved up and got our contractor to do it. What a difference. I can breath, we’re not exhausted and not filthy.

Our puppies, on the other hand, are less than impressed with the cacophony going on. I wish I could make them understand what’s going on but I can’t. So all I can do is give them loads of cuddles. Fingers crossed this project goes quickly.

Because we were facing a potential few hours of laying insulation (way too much fun, I know!) I made dinner during the day so we wouldn’t starve afterwards. Turns out, it was a quick job, thank goodness. As we also got several inches of snow to clear it was nice to have dinner ready.

I was inspired by a pin I saw for a French onion tart with bacon and I thought it would be fun to use my French Onion Soup in a quiche. This is easy to put together but just don’t rush it.

To begin cut up about seven rashers of streaky bacon and slowly render them on medium heat. Cook until about 2/3s done.

While the bacon is cooking slice a half an onion thinly. Finely chop two cloves of garlic and coarsely chop a couple of mushrooms.

Remove the bacon and set aside. Pour out the bacon fat until you only have about two tablespoons of fat left in the pan. Add the onions and cook slowly. Once they begin to soften add the garlic and mushrooms. Sauté for a few minutes. Add a cup of veg bouillon, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and two tablespoons of brandy. Stir in a healthy dollop of stone ground mustard.

Bring this to a medium simmer to reduce the broth. Meanwhile prepare the pastry using half the recipe I used in the pie. Grate half a cup of Jarlsberg and half a cup of smoked Gouda. In a bowl beat three eggs together then had a half cup of cream and 3/4 cup of milk.

Once the broth is nearly reduced add back in the bacon. Continue until the broth is nearly gone. Spread it into the bottom of the pastry.

Sprinkle the cheese over the mixture then pour the egg and milk into the dish.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425F/220C then bake for about 30 minutes at 300F/150C. Remove once the quiche is set and golden.

Either serve it right away or save and heat up later.

Quick question, I’ve suddenly gotten a lot of followers from outlook mail accounts. While I’m grateful for followers I’m concerned there maybe something else going on.