Pan Fried Chicken with Gorgonzola Pasta

We’re not a sports family.  We’ll watch tennis once in awhile and the Olympics.  Which is a 180 from growing up.  I didn’t do sports but I watched a lot of sports with my dad.  It was our way of hanging out.  But now we are so busy with the kids or the house sports take a way, way back seat.  Wouldn’t trade it for the world but it’s funny how things change.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t root for our kids if they want to try their hands at sports.  We definitely aren’t the parents who yell at the kids to get the ball, overrule the coach, or expect them to become pros.  As long as they try their best, have fun, and run off energy we’re good.  In the past few years at the rec games for football (soccer) some parents would be screaming into the field.  I was just making sure my son’s shoes were tied.  Fortunately this time round I haven’t seen that yet.  And our son is blossoming which is all we can ask for.

Our daughter is part of a fantastic program in the high school.  Several high schools have set up a sports program for those that have disabilities, whether it’s physical or emotional, and they have a few students without disabilities on the field with them to guide them and support them.  I was so proud of my daughter watching her support and encourage her teammates as they try to get goals.  The kids have a blast.

I still had some gorgonzola and mascarpone cheese left over from the Filet with Gorgonzola Risotto and I didn’t want it to go to waste.  We also had some chicken to use and I was in the mood for Italian.  Let’s face it, I’m usually in the mood for Italian!

Gorgonzola chicken 1 2015

Prep the chicken before hand by coating it in a beaten egg and breading it with panko bread crumbs.  I take one chicken breast and slice it lengthwise to have two portions.  Chop up a few cloves of garlic, a bit of red onion, and a cayenne pepper.  Heat up some olive oil in a skillet.  Start with the garlic and onions.  After a couple of minutes add the pepper.

Gorgonzola chicken 2 2015

In a separate skillet heat up at least a half a cup of olive oil or avocado oil.  Once it’s hot start pan frying the chicken.  In the first skillet add sliced mushroom.

Gorgonzola chicken 3 2015

Make sure the chicken is browned evenly on both sides.  Once it is cooked set aside and keep it warm while you finish the rest of the dish.  After you remove the chicken add about a third of a cup of gorgonzola crumbles and the same amount for the mascarpone.  Toss in a handful of fresh basil.

Gorgonzola chicken 5 2015

Cook until the cheese has melted and add cooked pasta of your choice.  Serve with the chicken topping the pasta.

Gorgonzola chicken 6 2015

Grate fresh parmesan cheese over the dish.  It doesn’t have a ton of colour but it really has a lot of flavour.  And this is a quick and easy meal to throw together when you have a busy schedule.

Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce

Summer, at least in relation to school, is coming to an end.  Tomorrow my daughter has her orientation for high school tomorrow and my son has his meet and greet at the middle school.  So we’ve had fun the past couple of days playing games and letting them be lazy.  Because after today we are off and running with a new year. And back to doing the school lunches.  Though with the days starting earlier as they move up schools I’ll have to do them in the evenings but that’s ok.  I’ll survive.  🙂

I’m just thrilled they are still into board games and such.  I hope they don’t outgrow that.  We have so much fun with family time.

Given that all that went on last week, quick meals were the thing.  This dish couldn’t be simpler.  But it has a lot of flavours and falls into the comfort food category.

Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce 1 2015

It’s hard to go wrong when you have sundried tomatoes and garlic.  We also had on hand some apple smoked chicken sausages.  These are fully cooked so this was added at the end.  If you start with raw sausages, brown them first and set aside to cook off near the end.  In a skillet melt 2 tablespoons of butter and add a few cloves of garlic that have been chopped.  Also, add several chopped sundried tomatoes.

Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce 3 2015

Chop up a few mushrooms and slice the sausages and add that to the skillet.  One of the towns we went on our honeymoon was San Gimignano which is famous for the towers.  It also has very good white wine.  I wanted to use this for the sauce.

Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce 2 2015

Add about 1/2 a cup of a good white wine to the skillet. Bring to a simmer.

Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce 4 2015

While this is cooking prepare the spaghetti.  Near the end of cooking add 1/2 a cup of cream and 1/2 a cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Mix well.

Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce 5 2015

Add the spaghetti and a handful of fresh basil.  Toss well and serve.

Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce 6 2015

Quick and easy comfort food.  When it’s a tough week, it’s perfect.  In fact I did a similar dish at the end with tomatoes from our garden.  Seems to be my go to flavour profile!

Rabbit and the Need to Strangle a Cock….

4am.  Still dead of night as far as I am concerned.  Cock-a-doodle-doo!  My husband then rolls out of bed to close the ceiling window because I’m too short to reach it.  Every morning the bloody thing would go off.  And it would go all day.  There is another one down the road that answers but that is more muted.  Ours was about 10 feet from our window. I say was as this morning it’s been quiet.  I’m wondering if coq a vin is on the menu next door.  If I never hear another cock-a-doodle-doo I’ll be a happy camper.

On my list of ingredients to cook while here in France was rabbit.  So off to the market we went in search of one.  

 
We were successful.  Good thing I asked the head be removed.  An unfortunate thing about the kitchen we’re using, aside from a very anemic oven, is the knives are very dull.  We’ve tried sharpening them without a whole lot of success.  Which made butchering this rabbit quite the chore!  My MIL helped as I had to wrestle it to submission.  I ended up removing the legs and then took what I could of the remaining meat to add to the sauce.  I didn’t want to waste the rest of the rabbit so when my MIL suggested making a quick stock I went in that direction.  In a saucepan I covered the rabbit in water, added a shallot, salt and pepper, and thyme.


Bring it to a boil then let it simmer for 30-45 minutes.  Once that is done heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and brown the legs of the rabbit.

  

While that is happening, prep a small onion, a few cloves of garlic, and some fresh rosemary.

  
Remove the rabbit legs and set aside.  Sauté the onions and garlic until they soften.  Add some of the rabbit stock to simmer with the onion and garlic.

 
Add the rabbit bits and rosemary and sauté for a few more minutes.  I bought some local mushrooms at the market which were really nice.  I sliced a few and added them the the skillet.  Again add some stock.  About half a cup or 4 ounces each time.

  

Chop up a few tomatoes.  I also had a can of diced tomatoes that needed to be used.  Toss these in and add 4-8 ounces of red wine.  Bring to a simmer and add the rabbit legs to finish off cooking.

  
The tricky bit is not to over cook and toughen the meat.  In fact after simmering awhile there was still a bit of rabbit on the larger leg that wasn’t cooked through.  We still had plenty of meat to go round.  

 
The sauce with the stock was really nice.  Not sure if I’d cook a lot of rabbit going forward.  It was nice but not something I would crave.  But I can cross this off the bucket list so to speak.  

Today is packing day as we have a long journey home.  I’ll miss this place.  I’ve loved the food, the sightseeing, working on the language, and the leisurely meals.  No one rushes you and it’s perfectly fine to have a glass of wine or two with lunch.  And I could eat bread here with minimal side effects.  It’s been fabulous!  But back to reality I’m afraid. 

Spicy Sausage and Bursting with Pride

It’s been quite the week with the kids and the end of year celebrations.  Even though I’m not a fan of so called graduations at a level below the end of high school I still enjoy cheering them on.  Our son had his 5th grade recognition and received the President’s Award for Academic Improvement.  Each child had to do a mini speech about their favourite memory from school.  They did really well.  It’s not easy speaking in front of a crowd.  And the poor kid was struggling through a cold from hell.

Our daughter had her 8th grade recognition yesterday.  Somehow she managed to go four years straight without missing a day of school.  I have no idea what that is like.  I was always sick growing up.  She also achieved high honours 11 out of the 12 quarters.  We are so proud of our kids and what they have achieved so far.

It’s quite something to see how they are doing on their journey.

We had a chilly day a week ago and my son requested pasta so comfort food was on deck.  A local farm had some lovely jalapeno sausages.  Good ones too, not like the mealy ones we kept getting at the co-op.  So I’ll have to buy them as she has them!

Because of the jalapeno I wanted to go with Mexican flavours to highlight the heat.

Jalapeno sausage and pasta 1 2015

Begin by browning the sausages in the skillet with a bit of olive oil.  Brown all the sides but don’t worry about cooking all the way through.  They’ll be finished off in the dish.

Jalapeno sausage and pasta 2 2015

Set aside and add a few cloves of garlic, chopped, and a few mushrooms, sliced.  Saute until the garlic is softened.  Then add chopped peppers and scallions.  Cook for a minute or so then add a chopped tomato.

Jalapeno sausage and pasta 3 2015

Add a cup of homemade stock and bring to a simmer.  Slice the sausages and add to the mixture.  Next add a tablespoon of lime juice, a tablespoon of chili powder, a couple of teaspoons of cumin, and salt and pepper to season.  Chop up some fresh cilantro and stir in at the end. Once the sausage is cooked through add the pasta and toss well.

Jalapeno sausage and pasta 4 2015

Top with a bit of sour cream and shredded cheese.  I really liked this as comfort food.  Loads of flavour and colour.  And it chased away the chill.  🙂

Carbonara With A Twist

I wish that spring lasted longer here.  Winter lasts way too long and summer is always anxious to arrive.  We have been holding off putting in the A/Cs but we might not make it until the end of June like we are hoping.  Yesterday was a scorcher!  I fear summer will be a bit much.

Needless to say my long list for yesterday didn’t get done!  Partly because I grossly underestimated how long it would take to clean out our closet.  Hours!  Just as well as it was to hot to bake.  Hopefully I’ll get that done today.  Wouldn’t want the kids to starve.  🙂

And I didn’t want to be standing over a hot stove either.  We have some black garlic and proscuitto on hand and carbonara is a quick dish to make.  Time for a twist on a great dish!

Carbonara with a twist 1 2015Prep everything ahead of time as this does not take long to cook.  In a bowl whisk three eggs together with salt and pepper.  Great about a cup of aged cheese together.  I used pecorino, parmesan, and romano cheese for this dish.  Cube the proscuitto, about 1/2 -3/4 cups worth.  I finely chopped two bulbs of black garlic and garlic chives.  I love having the fresh herbs from our garden again!

Carbonara with a twist 2 2015

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and slowly saute the garlic. Don’t have the heat higher than medium.  While this is cooking, cook the pasta.  When the pasta is halfway cooked add the proscuitto and chive to the skillet.  The trick with the proscuitto is that you don’t want to overcook it or the flavour will get really strong.

Carbonara with a twist 3 2015

Add a 1/2 cup of dry white wine and lightly simmer.

Carbonara with a twist 4 2015

Once the pasta is cooked add it to the skillet and mix well.  Turn off the heat and add the egg and cheese mixture to the skillet.

Carbonara with a twist 5 2015

Toss and serve immediately.  Garnish with fresh basil and grated cheese.

Carbonara with a twist 6 2015

This is a dish with strong flavours and is great with homemade ciabatta bread.  Here is how to make the traditional carbonara dish.  Both great for when it’s too hot to be standing over a hot stove!

Roasted Mushroom Sundried Tomato Sauce

Meatless Monday is a big trend but I really wasn’t thinking about it last week when I was figuring out what to make.  Just a big coincidence that we had a bit too much meat in the preceding days and I wanted a vegetarian meal.  I didn’t think it would take me a week to post about it though!  And here we are back to Meatless Monday.

We’re into my favourite part of the year where the days are gorgeous and we’re in the garden.  The past few days have been spent getting some of our veg into the garden.  I’m behind the eight ball this year with the gardening so I’m trying to catch up bit by bit.  Hard to believe in a couple of weeks we’ll be transplanting the peppers and tomatoes.  We did better with the timing of starting seeds. It’s less like a jungle in the house.  It’s much more under control.

Roasted Mushroom Sauce 1 2015

This is a quick sauce with loads of flavour.  Slice a few mushrooms, drizzle olive oil over them and roast at 350F/175C until they are nice and brown.  Chop a handful of sundried tomatoes and a few cloves of garlic.

Roasted Mushroom Sauce 2 2015

In a skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and saute the garlic and sundried tomatoes on medium heat.  Near the end add the mushrooms.

Roasted Mushroom Sauce 3 2015

Add a bit of dry white wine and simmer to reduce a little bit to allow the flavours to develop.  While this is cooking prepare the pasta of your choice. Just before serving add fresh basil.

Roasted Mushroom Sauce 5 2015

Grate fresh aged cheese over the dish.  I used a combination of asiago and parmesan cheese.  Of course I added more after the photos.  🙂

Black Garlic and the Craziness Quiets Down

I feel like school is out for summer.  It was a long tax season inside and outside of the office.  But hey the 15th of April comes around the same time every year so I knew I’d be able to breath soon.  A woman I do Zumba with asked if I’ve been cooking up a storm.  I wish!  Well, it’s not that I haven’t been cooking and things but there just wasn’t time to actually blog about it.

I did this dish a few weeks ago.  My husband found black garlic and thought I’d have fun trying it out.

Black garlic sauce 1 2015It’s an interesting ingredient that has been fermented.  The flavour that comes through is balsamic vinegar, so much so I double checked the container wondering if anything was added.  But no that is what comes out with the fermentation.

In a skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and add the chopped garlic.  For this dish I used two small bulbs.

Black garlic sauce 2 2015You want to cook the garlic on low to medium heat and let the flavour infuse into the oil.  After a few minutes add about 14 oz of diced tomatoes.

Black garlic sauce 3 2015While the sauce is cooking prepare the pasta of your choice.  Add it to the sauce.  Add a handful of fresh basil to the sauce.

Black garlic sauce 4 2015Serve with parmesan or asiago cheese grated over the dish.

Black garlic sauce 5 2015This simple dish has an amazing amount of flavour.  I have one more bulb of the garlic to use, oh the possibilities!

Now it’s time to catch up with all the blogs and get back into creating again.  🙂

Ricotta Pasta – Gluten Free and All

Back in October I mentioned trying out a gluten free diet because I was looking to alleviate the chronic pain I was having.  It didn’t really help with the pain but it did let me sleep better which has been a major problem.  So I do gluten free or very low gluten.  I find now my body can’t handle too much gluten.

I did finally get answers, though, about the pain last week.  I have fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis.  What a relief it was to get answers.  And to now know what to fight against.  Before I hadn’t a clue and it was really beginning to get to me.  I need to learn how to manage the pain and make sure my diet is such that helps me manage the symptoms.  Fibromyalgia isn’t an inflammation disease but something that affects the brain and nervous system.  They react to various stimuli with pain. Funny I was really glad to find it wasn’t chronic inflammation!  Won’t always be easy but it will get better now.

Part of changing my diet with gluten free is to try to find a decent substitution for pasta.  Not easy because it’s hard to beat good homemade pasta.  I’ve been trying various rice pastas to see what I like.  They aren’t horrible but I’m not a huge fan.  But they’ll do.

We made some ricotta cheese the other day and I wanted to do a pasta dish with the cheese.  Poking about on the internet I saw references to using the ricotta cheese as the sauce.  I think it was from Bon Appetit.

Ricotta pasta 1 2015

In a skillet saute sliced mushrooms, chopped garlic, and fresh thyme.  Cook slowly until the mushrooms brown.  Add equal part fresh ricotta and fresh grated parmesan cheese.

Ricotta pasta 2 2015

Cook slowly until the cheese becomes creamy.  Add the cooked pasta and serve.

Ricotta pasta 3 2015

Perfect comfort food for the chilly nights and super easy to throw together on a week night. 🙂

Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce

Got caught out with a summer cold today.  Miserable thing.  When colds come round it’s much preferable to be cosy but in the summer that’s hard to pull off.  Ah well, the dogs are keeping me company while I watch Bleak House.  Cheerful show, ahem.  I’m behaving myself so we can go out tonight to see the movie “Chef”.  It will be a quiet date night but that’s ok.  🙂

When I made the Crêpes with Roasted Vegetables I really liked the taste of the oven roasted tomatoes and planned on making a sauce once we had a few ripened tomatoes from the garden.  This week I was able to get enough off the vines to do up a sauce.  This is an easy sauce that is packed with loads of flavour.

Slice the tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil, season with sea salt and pepper.  Slow roast in the oven at 300F/150C for about an hour.

Oven roasted tomato sauce 1 2014

If you are making homemade pasta, prepare it before making the sauce.  In a skillet heat up olive oil.  You want enough to create enough sauce to coat the pasta.  Saute 2 cloves of garlic, chopped.  The heat should be medium low so the garlic doesn’t burn but softens instead.  Then add the tomatoes.

Oven roasted tomato sauce 2 2014

Add a 1/4 cup of white balsamic vinegar and a handful of chopped basil.  Toss the cooked pasta and serve immediately.  I also did up some parmesan toast to accompany this.

Oven roasted tomato sauce 3 2014

As I said to my husband “not to toot my own horn” but I loved this dish.  It’s hard to beat fresh ingredients from the garden.  Love this time of year!

Hot Italian Sausage with Apples and Sage

It’s been a fun week so far.  Last night a few of the ladies from our PTA decided we needed a girl’s night out.  It was a lot of fun and we stayed out past 10 on a week night!  LOL.  Today our school put on a volunteer tea for those of us that have been volunteering with the PTA and other school activities.  It was lovely with iced tea and baked goods.  A treat in the middle of the week and I got to see the kids on an off kid week.  Bonus!  Now if the pending thunderstorms hold off until we get the dogs walked, well, we’ll just be riding high.

At our farmer’s market I bought some ground hot Italian sausage and I wanted to do some meatballs.  I saw an idea for using apples and sage.  Once again though the pin was considered spam and didn’t give me a recipe.  That’s ok though, I was able to come up with something.  🙂

I made our homemade pasta first so it was ready to go.

I was pleased to see our sage was doing well again this year so I had some fresh sage at hand.  The plants only last about three years or so.

Apple Sage Sausages 1 2014

Peel and chop about 1/2 a cup of apple.  Give the rest to the optimistic dogs at your feet.  I swear the mantra is “drop it, drop it, drop it”.   In a small bowl mix about a pound of the sausage, the apple, chopped sage, and salt and pepper to taste.

Apple Sage Sausages 2 2014

Form the sausage into balls and heat up olive oil in a skillet.  Brown both sides.

Apple Sage Sausages 3 2014 Apple Sage Sausages 4 2014

Bake the meatballs at 375F/190C until cooked.  In the meantime prepare the sauce.  Chop up some onion and a couple cloves of garlic and saute in the pan that browned the meatballs.  Slice up mushrooms and add to the mixture and saute for a few minutes.

Apple Sage Sausages 5 2014

Add a cup of reisling and a cup of chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Reduce about a third.

Apple Sage Sausages 6 2014

Add about 3/4 cup of milk or cream to the dish.  Bring to a low simmer but do not boil.  Add the meatballs and the cooked pasta.

Apple Sage Sausages 7 2014

Grate fresh parmesan cheese over the dish and serve.  I do like the pairing of sage and apple and it went well with the spice of the sausage.