Creamy Lemon Bacon Chicken Pasta

It was a rite of passage this past weekend for our daughter with the high school prom.  She’s been to friends proms in the past but this was the first for her high school.  I have to say, proms have come a long way since I last had to worry about prom.  It’s much more inclusive and more often than not, groups of students go as friends rather than missing out because a date couldn’t be found.  Way better!

My daughter had a few friends over to get ready before her date showed up.  I did my first ever updo.  It came out ok, phew!  It was lovely to see that all the girls dressed in elegant dresses, no hoochie mamas.  Some of the dresses I’ve seen in the past few years leave little to the imagination.  Thankfully that trend wasn’t to prevalent this time round.

Unfortunately the weather was very rainy so we just did photos round the house.  The weather did bring in some cooler weather which called for comfort food!  I saw a recipe calling for bacon and mushroom in a cream sauce.  That sparked an idea.  Lemon and grilled chicken would be a great addition.

I kept the marinade for the chicken very simple.  With a ratio of about 2:1 olive oil to lemon juice, whisk those together with sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Add the chicken and marinate for a couple of hours.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 1 2018

When it’s time to cook up the dinner, grill the chicken and cook up the pasta.  Cut into small squares, 3-4 rashers of streaky bacon.  Start cooking the bacon in a large skillet.  Slice a few mushrooms and finely chop 3-5 cloves of garlic.  Sauté the ingredients with the bacon.  Add a handful of fresh thyme.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 2 2018

When the bacon is nearly cooked add 1/2 cup/4oz of chicken stock and a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice.  You want this to be really lemony at this point so the brightness isn’t lost in the cream and pasta.  Bring this to a simmer then add a 1/3 cup/3oz of heavy cream.  Cook on low until the chicken and pasta are done cooking.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 3 2018

Slice the chicken and add that and the pasta to the skillet and stir well.  Right before serving add a bunch of arugula or spinach and let wilt.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 4 2018

Serve and grate fresh parmesan cheese over the dish.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 5 2018

Comfort food with the lightness of lemon, great for a cool spring night.

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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.

Orange Thyme Grilled Chicken 2 2018

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

Orange Thyme Grilled Chicken 3 2018

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.

Who Doesn’t Love a Tart? A White Wine Mushroom Tart…

See, when tax season ends it is supposed to be spring.  Normally I can get outside in the fresh air and putter about in the garden.  Mother Nature did not get the memo this year!  On Monday we had a two hour delay for school due to snow and ice.  It’s just been cold this week.  The strong winds took down a large tree in town.  She is being cruel!

I really hope the warm weather shows soon because it would be nice to have a spring longer than a couple of weeks.  Summer likes to show early here.

Every Tuesday night we have pizza and sometimes I buy a phyllo dough mushroom tarts with white wine.  It’s been on my list to recreate it but I decided instead of fiddling round with the phyllo that I would make my short crust pastry.

Mushroom tarts 1 2018

In a skillet melt 3 tablespoons of butter.  Finely chop shiitake mushrooms to give you a cupful.  Finely chop shallots until you have about 1/3 cup.  Sauté the mushrooms and shallots on medium heat.  Chop up fresh thyme and rosemary, about a small handful total and add them to the skillet.  After cooking for several minutes add a 1/4 cup/2oz of dry white wine.

Mushroom tarts 2 2018

Grate about 3/4 cup of jarlsberg and put it in a medium bowl and set aside.

Mushroom tarts 3 2018

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C and prep the pastry.  Technique to do the pastry is here.  For this recipe I used 1/2 cup/70g of flour, a pinch of salt, and just under a 1/4 cup of butter.  When the butter is fully incorporated into the flour gradually add cold water a bit at a time until the dough comes together.  Roll out thinly.

Add the mushroom mixture to the cheese and mix well.  Add a dollop to the pastry.

Mushroom tarts 4 2018

Pinch the dough closed and slice three vents into the top.  Brush with a beaten egg.

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Bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden and flaky.

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These are great for a cheese and wine night or if you have a potluck to go to.

 

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.

Mustard garlic pork 3 2018

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.

Mustard garlic pork 2 2018

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.

Mustard garlic pork 4 2018

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

Mustard garlic pork 5 2018

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.

Mustard garlic pork 6 2018

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.

Mustard garlic pork 7 2018

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.

Pork with garlic herb sauce 2 2018

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.

Pork with garlic herb sauce 3 2018

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.

Pork with garlic herb sauce 5 2018

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

Pork with garlic herb sauce 6 2018

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.

mushroom apple over chicken 1 2018

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.

mushroom apple over chicken 2 2018

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.

mushroom apple over chicken 3 2017

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.

mushroom apple over chicken 4 2018

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.

mushroom apple over chicken 5 2018

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.

Parsnip and Roasted Mushroom Soup

I have to hand it to our son, he had his wisdom teeth removed yesterday and he did really well. Me?  Didn’t sleep the night before.  It’s so much easier when stuff is done to you rather than your kids.  Now he gets to hear his parents telling him to eat his ice cream.  Think he’ll be ok.  😊

Woke up being very happy for fuzzy socks with freezing temperatures and gusting winds.  Definitely soup season!  On one of our date nights, my husband ordered an amazing mushroom soup and it sparked an idea for a mushroom and parsnip soup.  Their soup just had mushrooms in it with Gorgonzola cheese.  Well I shouldn’t say just as it was delicious.  But I went off on a tangent.  


As luck would have it, the co-op had a great selection of mushrooms.  Including a Japanese mushroom called maitake.  Slice up the mushrooms and toss them in olive oil.


Roast them at 350F/175C until they are nicely browned.  In the meantime, peel and dice 1 to 2 parsnips depending on the size.  Finely chop a couple of garlic cloves.  Sauté the parsnips and garlic with olive oil in a saucepan.


Add a amall handful of fresh thyme, sauté for another minute or so.  Add about three cups of chicken stock and half a cup of dry sherry.  Bring to a medium simmer.  Once the mushrooms are roasted, add them to the soup.


Season with sea salt and pepper.  Cook until the parsnips are soft and the broth has reduced about a quarter.  Remove from the heat and purée until reasonably smooth.


Top with a dollop of sour cream and a bit of chive.  This could easily be made vegan with a veg broth.  The parsnip makes it very creamy so I didn’t have to add any cream.  

Tomato Jam with Thyme

I did this post last week, though I thought I did.  But no one saw it, so I knew something was up.  In the meantime I upgraded to the premium plan so my site is now ourgrowingpaynes.blog.  As I was doing that I asked about this post.  Turns out I created a site page instead of a blog post!  Doh.  Hopefully now I can get this back on track.  🙂

I am really regretting removing our air conditioners.  Granted, it’s nice to have a longer growing season this year, but man, the humidity needs to go!  While we don’t like it the tomatoes seem to love this.  Which means we have to be creative is preserving all that goodness!

One of our favourite restaurants has a really good charcuterie plate and they very often have tomato jam as part of it.  It’s something my husband regularly orders there and he asked if I could make some tomato jam at home.  No idea how they make theirs but here is my version.

Tomato Jam 1 2017

I have to say, prepping the tomatoes is a messy endeavor.  But it needs to be done.  Cut the tops off the tomatoes and then cut a cross into the bottom.  Prep 2 1/2lbs/40ozs of tomatoes for this jam.

Tomato Jam 2 2017

Blanch each tomato for about 30 seconds in boiling water.

Tomato Jam 3 2017

Remove and set aside to cool.  Or you can dip in cold water.  I just let them cool.  Doesn’t take too long.  Remove the skins.

Tomato Jam 4 2017

Then it gets really messy!  Remove the seeds and coarsely chop up the tomatoes and add to a saucepan.  Add a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice and a big handful of fresh thyme.  I chopped up the thyme finely as I didn’t want large bits of herb in the jam.  Bring the mixture to a simmer.  Because I didn’t want a high sugar jam I just added 1 cup/8oz of sugar to start.

Tomato Jam 5 2017

Mix well and keep simmering.  I also use low sugar pectin to help thicken the jam.  I didn’t want to mask the flavour of the tomato with too much sugar.  I add a bit of the pectin at the time.  Hard to remove it if you go too far!

Tomato Jam 6 2017

This is really good with cheese and would be good with bread and butter.  It’s a nice alternative to the usual berry jam.  A reminder of summer when the cooler decides to finally arrive.

 

Making a Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Mac and Cheese 

We’ve all done it.  Opened the door, peered in, shut it again.  Left to wonder what exactly is in that freezer.  Despite best laid plans it’s easy to lose the plot.  Our freezer is nearly 6 feet tall so it’s really not a good idea to lose the plot!  It got to the point where we couldn’t fit anything in and I was wondering how much money we were wasting by not using what we had.  

Off I went to get clear containers to organise the meats, leaving the baskets for all our fruits and veg we had harvested.  I did have to get rid of some things but overall getting it organised and knowing what the heck was in there was a success.  

One of my finds was a vacuumed bag of leftover Thanksgiving turkey.  So this post is either well overdue or too early for Thanksgiving.  😄.  Even though we seem to be stuck back in with the sticky heat of summer we did enjoy autumn weather for a few weeks.  It was wonderful and perfect for some comfort food.  Mac and cheese would do the trick.


Would you believe this onion was supposed to be a scallion?  We planted half a raised bed of bunching onions so you imagine our surprise to find proper onions growing.

While making the cheese sauce for this dish, cook up the pasta.  Preheat the oven to 375F/200C. In a separate saucepan heat up a couple of tablespoons of butter.   Coarsely chop half of a large onion and add it to the butter.


Sauté on low until the onions soften.  Then add a couple of cloves of garlic, finely chopped.  Cook for a couple of minutes then add about a cup and a half of chopped turkey.  Season with a couple of teaspoons of fresh thyme and sage.  If you don’t have fresh sage use about a teaspoon of ground sage.  Continue to season with sea salt and pepper.  Then add a half cup/4oz of dry white wine.


To make it a roux add 2 tablespoons of flour.


Stir continuously until the flour is incorporated and cooked, about three minutes.


Next add 1 1/4 cup of milk and heat through.  Don’t boil!  Once the cheese is warm enough to melt cheese add a cup of grated cheddar and half a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Stir until the cheese has melted,


Put the cooked pasta into a baking dish and add the cheese sauce.  Mix well. Top with more grated cheese.


Cover and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover and brown the top of the dish.


Serve while hot.  Now we try to eat small portions in our house but with this dish we all had seconds and there weren’t any leftovers!  Guess we needed a break from salads.  😊

Scallops in the Shell

Does anyone have the cure for jet lag?  As we get older it seems to keep a hold on us longer and longer.  It didn’t help we came back to dreary rain.  Good for the garden, not so good at getting us going!  I do hope it means our garden will do better than it did last year.  Last year was a very dusty growing season.

Being back in the UK was wonderful, we had incredible weather and did loads of walking.  We had to walk off all the lovely meals my mother-in-law cooked up!  Of course we like giving her a break from cooking, she runs a B & B so she welcomes the break!  Last year we did a curry night as my father-in-law is a big fan but my MIL isn’t so this time round we did a tapas night.  Which I love doing!  So off we went to the shops to get ingredients.

Aside from the usual dishes that are easy to throw together I found some scallops on the shell, which is near impossible to get stateside, never mind getting scallops with the coral still attached.  So I couldn’t pass this up.

Scallop in the shell 1 2017

Heat up the broiler/griller to medium.  Season the scallops with sea salt and pepper, thyme, olive oil, and rosé wine.  I had some of the wine from our France trip and while it turns out it’s not a favourite of mine I knew it would work well with this dish.

Scallop in the shell 2 2017

Broil/grill until the scallops are cooked.  Be careful not to overcook the scallops, you still want it tender.  This will only take a couple of minutes.

Scallop in the shell 3 2017

Serve on the shell.  This is a fun and quick dish to make, I just wish I could get this round here! It was a great night with good food, good company, and good wine.