Sunday, July 18, 2010

My heart is full!

So sorry it has been so long since I have blogged. NO excuses, just been so busy! I am currently in one of my favorite cities, Atlanta,GA, visiting with my daughter, son-in-law and new grandson. He was born July 14, weighing in at 7lbs. 9 oz. and 20 inches long. He is very healthy, eating and sleeping well. I will be staying for about 2 and 1/2 weeks to help my daughter as much as I can. I will be doing some cooking for her and freezing so she has some meals after I leave that she can just pull out and heat for her family. I will do my best to post some of the recipes that are particularly good for making ahead and freezing. So check back often!

This "nanny" thing is just wonderful!! I was able to watch him come into this world and it was such a phenomenal experience. I am so honored that my daughter wanted me present for the delivery.

I am in the process of getting my "act" together for September at the church I work for. This means lots of menu planning and I mean LOTS! It also means budgeting, organizing, cleaning,etc. I am looking forward to getting back to cooking in September when we start our Wed. night dinners for the school year. I am thinking about making some changes. Some of those changes are offering soup and salad bar, adding a second meat, maybe going to buffet style, I don't know! I just want to bring more people to our Wed. night dinners. The more people, the better! Since menu planning can be difficult at times, what are some of your best menu planning ideas, menu plans, etc. I would love to hear from others on these subjects.

Happy Cooking!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring is Finally Here!!!

Greetings from incredibly warm Richmond, VA:

It's been a while since I have blogged. So sorry for that, but my job has kept me really busy. It's a blessing to be busy! Believe it or not we need to mow our yard. Hope to do that this week. Spring and summer is when I do lots of recipe development, reorganizing and rethinking all I do in the kitchen. I have come to the realization that I need to reorganize my kitchen storage room and some parts of the kitchen. The more steps you can save yourself the better when it comes to time management. I am looking for good organizational tips that others would like to share. When you get time share with us your favorite organizational tip for the kitchen. I would love to read them all!

We are going to enjoy Mexican tonight since my youngest son is on a trip to Kentucky. He is not a huge fan of Mexican so we are going to love it tonight! The rest of us LOVE it!! I am going to wrap up this note and go get started on it.

I wanted to share my latest recipe that I found that is really easy and yummy! Pan-Seared Chicken Breast with Lemon and Chive Sauce. It is absoulutely scrumptious! Let me know if you try it. Let me know what you think of it. It is a light and "springy" recipe!

For the best results, buy similarly sized chicken breasts. If your breasts have the tenderloin attached, leave it in place and follow the upper range of baking time in step 1. For optimal texture, sear the chicken immediately after removing it from the oven.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each), trimmed of excess fat (see note)
2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 recipe pan sauce , optional (see related recipes)

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 275 degrees. Using fork, poke thickest half of each breast 5 to 6 times; evenly sprinkle each breast with ½ teaspoon kosher salt (or ¼ teaspoon table salt). Place chicken, skinned side down, in 13 by 9-inch baking dish and cover tightly with foil. Bake until thickest part of breast registers 145 to 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 30 to 40 minutes.

2. Remove chicken from oven and transfer, skinned side up, to paper towel-lined plate and pat dry with paper towels. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. While pan is heating, whisk butter, flour, cornstarch, and pepper together in small bowl. Lightly brush top side of chicken with half of butter mixture. Place chicken in skillet, coated side down, and cook until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. While chicken browns, brush with remaining butter mixture. Using tongs, flip chicken, reduce heat to medium, and cook until second side is browned and thickest part of breast registers 160 to 165 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer chicken to large plate and let rest while preparing pan sauce (if not making pan sauce, let chicken rest 5 minutes before serving).

Lemon and Chive Pan Sauce
1 medium shallot , minced (about 3 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
1 tablespoon unsalted butter , chilled
Table salt and ground black pepper

Add shallot to now-empty skillet and cook over medium heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Add broth, increase heat to medium-high, and bring to simmer, scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits. Simmer rapidly until reduced to ¾ cup, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in any accumulated chicken juices; return to simmer and cook 30 seconds. Off heat, whisk in lemon juice, chives, and butter; season with salt and pepper. Spoon over chicken and serve immediately.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Spring is Coming!

The weather has been beautiful here today! I hope it was where you live. The great weather has gotten me started thinking about new recipes for the warmer weather. I am hosting a baby shower in May for my daughter who is expecting her first baby and my first grandchild. I'm thinking we will have a luncheon so I am trying to come up with some great ideas for it. I want really tasty but light food. You will find a recipe that I've included for a great pea salad that I will be serving at the shower that is packed with flavor and very light. We are going to have petits fours from my favorite bakery in Richmond, Westhampton Pastry Shop. If you have any great ideas for the shower, please send them to me. I would love to hear your ideas for food, decorations, games, etc. I want this shower to be very special for her and memorable!

I don't know how many of you that endure reading this blog know that my job/career is Food Service Director at a local church. My boss/administrator called me today letting me know that someone from the church had called him to tell him that the church kitchen was extremely dirty. He called me and in the discussion we figured out who was responsible. I explained to him that I left the kitchen spotless on Thursday afternoon. So, I went to the church kitchen myself and was absolutely appalled at the mess that was left behind by a certain group in the church that meets each Friday night. I was so disappointed and frankly, upset that adults would leave the kitchen in such disarray and leave behind such a mess. Now, on Monday, in addition to work I have already on my schedule, I have to add cleaning up this group's mess. It's so frustrating! I am really particular regarding cleanliness. I am trying to come up with checklists, signage, etc. that will help guide folks as they use the kitchen. I want it to be as simple as possible. Do you have any suggestions?

From time to time, you will hear about the perils of being a chuch food service director, mainly so I can vent, but, also, to get ideas and suggestions from others. I pray that you will not hesitate to give your opinions, suggestions, etc.

I want to share a recipe with you this week that reminds me of spring. It is great for a bridal or baby shower, ladies' tea or get together or a light luncheon. It is one of my favorites!

1-16 oz.package frozen English peas(In the south, we call these sweet peas or sugar peas.)
1/4 cup mayonnaise(I use only Duke's mayonnaise.)
1/4 cup light sour cream
1-1/2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1-1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons dried dill
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper(I use a little more.)

Cook English peas according to package directions; drain and cool.
Stir together mayonnaise and next 5 ingredients; pour over peas, stirring mixture gently. Cover and chill at least 2 hours. Serving suggestions: place servings of peas in red cabbage leaves, serve in a beautiful cut glass bowl. Garnish with fresh dill springs, or a slice or two of red onion,

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Busy Week

Ladies and Gentlemen, it has been a tough and busy week. Even though I don't consider myself to be much of a writer, I have discovered that this "blogging thing" is a great stress reliever. This week we had record numbers for our Wednesday Night Dinner at the church for which I work. We ran out of the pork tenderloin and had to go to the old standby--chicken nuggets! Friday night I cooked for our Celebrate Recovery ministry which was a lot of fun. We had Honey Mustard Pecan Chicken, Scalloped Potatoes and Maple Glazed Carrots, Rolls, Tossed Salad, Key Lime Bars and Honey Lime Fruit Toss. I had doctors' appointments, work, cooking, home stuff, washing machine broken, etc. Tonight I tried a new recipe in the slow cooker for dinner. It was wonderful and I want to share it with you. Please let me know how you like it if you decide to make for yourself or for your family. Also, please ask questions. I love to teach as well. I would love to hear from you.

Slow Cooker Italian Chicken

1/4 cup butter
1 (0.7 ounce) package Italian salad dressing mix
2 (10.75 ounce) cans golden mushroom soup
1 (8 ounce) container cream cheese with chive and onion
1 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Hot cooked angel hair pasta

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add dressing mix, stirring to combine. Stir in soup, cream cheese and wine or broth; cook stirring constantly until cream cheese is melted and smooth. In a 6 qt. electric slow cooker, add chicken. Pour soup mixture over chicken. Cook on low 4-6 hours or until chicken until tender. Serve over pasta. Garnish with parsley if desired.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Recipe

Good Evening, fellow cooks! If you can believe it the weather know it alls here in Richmond, VA are calling for snow again tomorrow evening! This winter has been the worst on record in quite some time. So, with that in mind, I decided to try a new soup recipe for dinner today. It is pretty simple and quite tasty! Working at the church tomorrow making Roasted Garlic Pork Tenderloin, Cinnamon Buttered Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans, Rolls, French Silk Pie. It's going to be a really busy day due to our reservations being up! (makes me very happy!) I look forward to Wednesdays each week. Here is the Italian Bean and Pasta Soup recipe from this evening. Let me know if you like it!

Italian Bean and Pasta Soup

2 ham hocks(if you're not from the south you may not know what these are!)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
12 cups water
2-16 oz. cans navy beans, drained
1-15.8 oz. can great Northern beans, drained
2-14.5 oz. cand diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
2 cups uncooked ditalini pasta(can be difficult to find. Any very small pasta will work.)

In a large Dutch oven,(at least 6qts.) combine ham hock, onion, celery, carrot and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered for 1 hour. Remove ham hocks and let cool. Remove meat from ham hocks; discard skin, bones and fat. Return meat to Dutch oven. Stir in beans, tomatoes, Italian seasoning and pasta. Bring soup to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until pasta is tender. Serve immediately.

Great served with garlic cheese bread and a salad!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Random Thoughts

This week has been really busy! I have been doing quite a bit of cooking at work this week and even more planning for upcoming events. Got booked to speak at a conference this summer so now I have to start planning that class. Just finished my kitchen policy and procedures and will be having a kitchen training class at 4 today. As I am writing my for my summer class at conference, I will share with you the process in several blogs. My topic is event planning how to's. This is a big topic! I am so tired right now I can barely think straight. Yesterday, I made muffins, scones, danishes for a continental breakfast. Then, I made lasagna, pasta marinara and chicken alfredo for a banquet. Watch this week for another post with some recipes for you to try. Will post a simple Chicken Piccata, my personal recipe for rice pilaf and my Aunt Ruby's pound cake recipe. All are absolutely spectacular and extremely easy. Watch for the blog!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Recipe

I came home today so tired. I had planned on cooking a new recipe from Paula Deen. Being so tired I thought this recipe would be great because it was categorized "Quick and Easy". So many times that label does not live up to its name. It is usually NOT quick, NOT easy or is a very bland recipe. This recipe was absolutely QUICK, EASY and is definitely NOT bland. As working women, moms, etc., we all need to have in our repertoire recipes like this one. Try it! I'm sure you will love it! I will be trying some more new recipes later in the week and will blog my opinions and share the recipes if they are found worthy.

Chicken and Asparagus with Pesto Sauce

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4 inch thickness
2 tablespoons olive oil(EVOO)
1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons prepared pesto

Cut chicken breasts in half crosswise to make 6 pieces. Pound to 1/4 inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken, in batches if necessary, and cook for 4-5 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Remove chicken from skillet; set aside and keep warm. Add cut asparagus to skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until just tender. Add cream and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until reduced by half. Stir in pesto. Return chicken to skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes longer, or until heated through and there are no pink juices from chicken. Serve immediately.

*I served this over linguine. It was absolutely a stunning dish! Enjoy!