Chicken Marsala Casserole

pasta bakeI’ve wanted to talk with you about what I’ve been cooking but I feel like I’m supposed to have a pretty picture to oooh and aaaah over before I post.  Which makes for a lot of radio silence here at BAH .

Clearly I’m still feeding my family.  I’m just not doing a great job of documenting what’s been on our plates.  Which is really a shame because I have been serving up some serious deliciousness.

Like Chicken Marsala Casserole.  I grabbed this one from Smitten Kitchen, as you can tell from my (not food) photo above.  If you’d like to see a pretty picture of baked pasta, clicky here to see the lovely photo Deb included in her post.  Mine looked remarkably similar.  And tasted good enough that I’ve made it again AND put some in the freeze for a future get-out-of-dinner-free night.

Here’s why this dish appeals to me:

Making a double batch = 2x reward and only 1x work.  (You do the math.)

There’s something for everyone at my table.  If The Libster is feeling peckish, she can pick out the pasta and politely say no thank you to the porcini and poultry.  The Mistah and I aren’t quite so persnickity.  (Try saying this five times real fast.)

If I can’t cobble together enough time to get from start to finish in a single shot I can make the sauce and keep it in the fridge for a day or two until I’m pasta ready.  Come to think of it, I could probably make and freeze the sauce and then have it at the ready to spoon over cooked pasta anytime. (I just had an a-ha moment!)

Feel free to use any of my reasons, or come up with one of your own.  But get to know this casserole. (No aside necessary.)

Chicken Marsala Casserole

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

BAH Note:  Sturdier pastas like ziti, rigatoni, twists, and penne are well suited for this application.  I’ve used plain white mushrooms as well as crimini and they’ve both worked equally well.  I work on making the sauce while I’m waiting for my pot of water to boil and pasta to cook.

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast or thigh, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 8 ounces pasta
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Marsala wine
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • kosher salt

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned and cooked through, working in batches if you need to.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Return the pan to the stove, add the remaining oil, mushrooms, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid released by the mushrooms is nearly cooked away.  Add the marsala and cook until most of the wine has cooked down before adding the butter to the pan.  Once the butter has completely melted and been stirred around once or twice, sprinkle the flour on top of the mushrooms, give the mixture a good stir so that all of the flour combines with the butter and mushrooms, and cook for about two minutes.

Add about a quarter cup of broth to the pan and whisk.  It might bubble up angrily and look pasty; just keep going.  Slowly add the remaining broth and continue to whisk until the sauce smooths out.  Keep the sauce on a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens up slightly.  Add the chicken and any accumulated juices to sauce and stir to combine.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a pot of well salted water for 10 – 12 minutes.  You want the pasta just a teensy bit underdone so it can finish cooking off in the oven.  Drain the pasta, add it back to the pot, and stir in the sauce and grated Parmesan.

Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees.

{printable recipe}

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Easy Chocolate Cupcakes

cupcake

would this face lie about a cupcake?

Life, in general, is not easy.  Life with a toddler, specifically, is not easy.  Especially when it comes to matters that concern the safety of said toddler, life is not easy.

Toddlers don’t understand that you don’t run out into the street….everything is a game of catch me.  Toddlers don’t consider that a car may come around the corner at any second when they decide to park their bottom in the middle of the road…walking from the car to the house takes a lot out of you and sometimes you just need to rest, geez momma.

Toddlers, much like Honey Badger, don’t care.  But as their parents, we do.

So it is that I’ve been on the hunt to repair the fence in our front yard.  Thanks to the driving skills of our neighbors, our fence has been hit, banged, knocked, and generally whacked out of service.  The posts are so far out of alignment that the gate can’t latch closed, the top rail isn’t connected to anything, and the chain link itself has pulled away from the posts leaving huge gaps.

Exactly the kind of gap that a toddler can use to make a break for it.

With the promise of a thaw from this endless winter, at some point we will want to be out in the front yard.  But before that can happen, the breach must be secured.  Never, in my wildest imagination, did I expect to pay nearly two month’s worth of mortgage payments for some metal posts, chain link mesh, and a gate.  And yet I am about to sign a contract to do just that.

If it gives me one less thing in life with toddler to worry about, I’m all for it.  And when you come visit me in the poor house because I’ve gone broke paying for the fence, please bring these cupcakes.  They are easier than most moments of life with toddler….and they are pretty freaking delicious.

Easy Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

I’m already planning on making these for Miss Libby’s birthday.  They are what my memory says is a perfect birthday cake…moist, tender, and frosted with indulgence.  Seriously, my frosting was almost too sweet because for some reason I only used 1 ounce of unsweetened chocolate.  For more balance, use the full 2 ounces.

BAH Note: According to The Smitten, this makes one dozen cupcakes or one 8 OR 9 inch cake, so plan accordingly.  The Smitten also provided both volume and weight measures, so they are below.  But if you ask me, it’s so much easier to weigh out your dry ingredients….because hello, precision.  But you use what you’re most comfortable with.

Cake

    • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) butter, at room temperature
    • 3/4 cup (145 grams) firmly packed brown sugar
    • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
    • 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
    • 3/4 cup buttermilk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup (41 grams) Dutch cocoa powder
    • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Frosting

    • 2 ounces (55 grams) unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
    • 1 1/2 cups (180 grams) powdered sugar (sifted if lumpy)
    • 1/2 cup (4 ounces or 115 grams) butter, at room temperature
    • Pinch of fine sea salt
    • 1 tablespoons cream, milk, or half and half
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees, place paper liners in a cupcake pan, and lightly grease the top of the pan with a little butter to help get the baked cupcakes out with minimal resistance. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and stir with a fork or whisk to combine and break up any clumps of cocoa powder.

In the workbowl of your stand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until fully combined and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix. Add the buttermilk and mix until combined.  The batter might look curdled at this point, and that’s ok.

Slowly add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until almost just combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and give the batter a final mixing by hand to make sure there are no dry streaks of flour hiding at the bottom.

Spoon or scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan and  then flip the cupcakes out onto a rack to cool completely before frosting.

Combine the melted chocolate, salt, and butter in a medium bowl and use a hand mixer to beat until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar and mix on low speed until fluffy.  Add the milk/cream/half and half to thin the frosting till it’s to your liking and then turn up the speed on your mixer for a minute for maximum frosting fluffiness.

Spoon or spread the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes and try not to gobble them down all at once….easier said than done.

 {printable recipe}

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Perfect Pimento Cheese

perfect pimento cheese

To quote from the immortal words of Minnie Pearl…howdy, how you all’s?

It feels like ages since we chatted.  So pull up a chair and I’ll fix us a little snack.  I made this pimento cheese for New Year’s Day and liked it so much that now it has a permanent place in my fridge.  In a world of cramped refrigerator quarters, that is no small commitment.  But this pimento cheese can go from being spread on crackers or bread to melting into the most perfect grilled cheese that ever existed to looking all fancy piped into celery stalks.

Or simply licked off a spoon, if that’s your thing.

Perfect Pimento Cheese

Adapted from Demaris Phillips

BAH Note: Ms. Phillips advises you to gently stir the roasted red pepper into the mixture by hand.  I let the mixer do all the work for me.  You do what feels right to you.  Want to turn up the heat?  Add a wee dash of smoked paprika or cayenne.  I bet some soft, roasted garlic would melt beautifully into this cheese…..and give it nice little je ne sais quoi.

  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, preferably sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 8 ounces gouda, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 roasted red pepper, diced

Combine the cream cheese and mayonnaise on medium speed in your stand mixer until smooth.  Reduce the speed to low and add the cheddar and gouda and mix until nicely combined.  Add the roasted red pepper and mix until you’re happy with how it looks. Add kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

{printable recipe}

Posted in Appetizers, Cooking, Food, Photo | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

1.20.15

mommas helperHappy 2.5 Libby.  I have to say, the 2’s have been an education.  You feel and want and do EVERYTHING on a level that astounds me….as though your joys, your sorrows, your smiles, your tears, your wants all pass through a magnifying glass.  It’s amazing, and a little terrifying, to watch you experience the world.  And it’s an incredible gift to watch the world experience you.

What do I want to remember about this time?  I want to remember how you still smile and laugh in your sleep like you did as a baby.  Seeing that completely pure smile still melts me.

I want to remember the sound of your feet tearing across the floors as you charge full steam ahead.  You’re usually chasing the cat and desperately trying to be his friend.

I want to remember how proud you are when you are able to do things yourself.  Whether it’s putting on your socks and shoes or helping dry the dishes, you started saying “I do it” before you started saying “No”.

I want to remember how you sing the same three songs after breakfast every day.   Roar, Edelweiss, and Fix You are the soundtrack to our mornings.

I want to remember how it feels to have you wrap yourself around me.  There is something magical and melty about feeling your body completely relax in my lap.

I want to remember how every single day with you is an adventure….and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

 

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Big Batch Perfect Rice

let's pretend all this rice is already cooked ok?

let’s pretend all this rice is already cooked ok?

I remember how the lid of my grandmother’s butter dish would clang as I removed the top and let my knife sink into the achingly soft stick of Land o’ Lakes (salted).  That creamy goodness quickly melted into the pile of snowy white grains, steaming hot from the stove.

Plain.  Simple.  Delicious.

So I ask you, is there anything better than a bowl of buttered rice?

Big Batch Perfect Rice

Adapted from Parents Need to Eat Too and Kim Severson

BAH Note:  This IS a lot of rice.  But the point is to portion it into smaller servings and stash them in the freezer.  I divided the cooked, cooled rice into 1 cup portions, put them into sandwich size plastic bags (rolled out all the air), and then froze them.  Reheating was easy…I added maybe 1 tablespoon of water to my dish and microwaved until the rice was hot and steaming.

  • 2 cups white rice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups water

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Give the rice a quick rinse in a strainer while you melt the butter over medium heat in an oven safe pot.  Add the rice to your pot and stir to coat the rice with the butter.  Once the rice starts to smell a bit toasted, add the water and salt to the rice and bring to a boil.

Cover tightly with foil or a lid and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let the pot sit, covered, for another 10 minutes before digging in.

{printable recipe}

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Cream Cheese Biscuits

Cream Cheese Biscuit

I’ve said that Miss Libby at 2 is a glimpse at what I can probably expect in about 10 years (or sooner!) when puberty starts rearing its head. What with the tears and tantrums and drama, toddler and teen really aren’t that far removed from one another…and boy, if one is a preview of the other, then I’m in for it.

So it’s kind of fitting that I chaperoned Miss Libby’s first date last weekend.  He’s a younger man so his parents were there too.  Neither of the kids seemed to mind though.  Or if they did, they haven’t figured out the eye roll and the embarrassed sulk.  We have to wait a while yet for that.

Actually, I’ve been trying to make this date happen for about the last nine months.  And I may be lobbying for something of an “understanding” between the two families as far as the kids go because these two are too cute together not to be together.  There may not have been any hand holding but that was probably because because both kids were using their hands to eat.  Something about seeing Libby pass pieces of quesadilla across the table to Evan and watching him accept her gift made me very happy.

Cream Cheese Biscuits

Adapted from Baked Bree

BAH Note:  If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach then I see no better vehicle than a biscuit.  Adorned simply with butter and jam or used to sandwich a savory middle, this biscuit is your friend.  Oh, and I find it easier to cut the cream cheese and butter into cubes after they come out of the freezer.  Give it a try, you might too.

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, frozen for 30 minutes, cut into cubes
  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) butter, frozen for 30 minutes, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk

Heat your oven to 425 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment.

Put the dry ingredients, cream cheese, and butter into a food processor and pulse until the mixture looks sandy and no big pieces of butter or cream cheese remain.

Transfer the flour mixture to a large bowl.  Add the buttermilk and stir until the dough just forms.  Transfer the rough dough onto a floured counter and knead it until it all comes together.  Roll or push the dough into a rectangle (the longer the rectangle the thinner the biscuits, the shorter the rectangle the taller the biscuits) and cut into biscuits.

Transfer the biscuits to your parchment lined sheet pan and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown.

{printable recipe}

Posted in Baking, Breads, Breakfast/Brunch, Food, Photo, Recipe | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Butter Broasted Carrots

8714125363_5ae3c635e0_b

They aren’t exactly braised.  They aren’t exactly roasted.  They’re somewhere in between…they’re broasted.  And they are exactly how I’m cooking up six pounds of carrots this weekend.  I know that sounds like a whole hell of a lot but between a carrot loving toddler, the base for a carrot soup, and a pot luck contribution, I think it might not be enough.

Butter Broasted Carrots

Adapted from Cooking Light, Pick Fresh

BAH Note:  I’m a wimp when it comes to high heat roasting.  It always ends up badly for me.  If you are braver than I am, try using Cooking Light’s recommended temp of 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Me, I take a lower and slower approach.

  • 2 to 3 cups roughly chopped carrots
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat oven to 375 degrees and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Combine the carrots, butter, olive oil, and salt on the baking sheet and toss to fully coat the carrots.  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the carrots reach your desired tenderness.

{printable recipe}

Posted in Cooking, Food, Photo, Recipe, Side Dishes, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Breand and Butter Pickles

Bread and Butter Pickles

Allow me a Seinfeld moment….what’s the deal with Bread and Butter Pickles?  There is neither bread nor butter in the recipe.  So they’re called Bread and Butter because????

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let’s talk quick pickles.  Quick pickles are one of those things that are so simple to make that it’s embarrassing to admit I had never made them before.

They don’t require any processing…meaning no standing over a vat of boiling water in the dead of summer.  My A/C has a hard enough time keeping up with the effects of global warming outside my house.  The last thing I need is to turn the kitchen into a sauna and ask my tired Carrier to work that much harder.

In their simplest form, they don’t need any exotic ingredients…meaning you’ve probably got the most essential of the ingredients in your pantry. Got some salt, sugar, and vinegar?  Then you’ve got the makings of a quick pickle.

They are essentially a blank canvas…meaning that if you choose to, you can fancy them up.  Give them an Asian flare with soy sauce and rice vinegar.  Go bold with red pepper flakes.   Or maybe try the timeless classic combination of garlic and dill.

They make quick work of almost any vegetable you happen to have….meaning all those cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, carrots, and squash don’t have to languish on your counter or in your crisper until they start collapsing in on themselves. I can’t begin to calculate the amount of produce I have wasted that could have been pickled instead of being trashed.

So I finally got my act together.  And in the time it took to slice, salt, rinse, boil, and cool (all of maybe 90 minutes) I had a jar of pickles in the fridge at the ready.  As Ina would say, how easy is that?

Bread and Butter Pickles

BAH Note:  Be sure you use whole mustard seed and celery seed.  Without going in to the sad details of how I know, the ground versions of the spices don’t work as an even swap.  These pickles are not meant to be shelf stable.  They need to be refrigerated.

  • 1 1/2 – 2 pounds cucumbers, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric

Combine the sliced cucumbers and salt in a bowl and let them sit for 30 minutes.  Transfer the cucumbers to a colander, rinse well, and then spoon into a bowl or jar along with the onions.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the brine comes to a nice simmer.

Carefully pour the hot brine over the cucumbers and onion.  Allow the mixture to cool slightly and then cover and refrigerate.  Give them a day or two and then enjoy them while they last.

 {printable recipe}

Posted in Cooking, Food, Photo, Recipe, Vegetables | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Peach Blueberry Basil Crumble

Peach Blueberry Basil Crumble

This crumble represents a celebration of sorts.  On this particular occasion I was:

Celebrating an afternoon spent with friends and indulging in laughter, retail therapy, and insanely good biscuits.

Celebrating progress getting Miss Libby into a new sleep routine.

Celebrating friends who love my child enough to read the same story over and over and do it in character voices.

Celebrating plans that go awry but end up working out the way they were meant to all along.

Celebrating glorious summer days where the trees dance in the breeze and the windows are open.

Celebrating the generosity of others who share their bounty with me.

Celebrating the support of friends and family who remind me that I’m not in any of this alone.

Does it get much better than that?

Peach Blueberry Basil Crumble

Adapted from Bon Appetit

BAH Note: This is what happens when  I buy peaches but don’t have time to wait for them to ripen enough to eat.  I start looking for what else I can do with them.  This particular time I had a perfect bunch of basil and a pint of blueberries.  I just threw them together and let the heat of the oven work its magic.  You can use whatever combination of fruit you have (peaches, plums, berries, cherries, whatever floats your boat) so where I called this Peach Blueberry Basil, you might call it something else entirely.  It goes without saying that if Basil ain’t your thing then skip that ingredient.  And word to the wise, put your dish on a baking sheet…bubbling fruit juice is rocket hot and that’s no joke.

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 stick butter, chilled and cubed
  • 8 cups mixed fruit  (see Note above)
  • 1 cup sugar (if you want to get fancy, put the basil and your sugar in a small container, cover, give it a good shake, and then let it sit for a hour or so to allow the basil to infuse the sugar and the sugar to sort of crystallize the basil).
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • fresh basil (I pinched off about three small bunches of leaves from my plant)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat your oven to 375 degrees.

Working in short pulses, combine the flour, brown sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the oats in a food processor.  Add the cubed butter and continue to pulse until the butter is fully combined and no dry spots remain in the mixture.

If you put the basil in your granulated sugar, remove the basil, use your thumbnail to tear it into small bits, return it to the sugar, and give it one more good shake.

Place the fruit, granulated sugar, corn starch, basil, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl and stir until fully combined.  Transfer the fruit to a baking dish and top with the oat mixture.  Bake for approximately 60 to 70 minutes or until the juices bubble and the topping browns.  Allow the crumble to cool for about an hour before digging in.

{printable recipe}

Posted in Baking, Dessert, Photo, Recipe, Sweets | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Homemade Magic Shell

Magic Shell

I’ve been hiding something and I need to finally set it free…I am impulsive.  There, I said it.  My impulsiveness comes in two different flavors.

There is the entitled impulsiveness like when I see a little something that makes me WANT it in the same way that my child WANTS damn near everything (as two year olds do).  That led to an embarrassing amount of consumer debt as I tried to keep up with all of The Joneses around me.  And I’m hard pressed to recall one single thing that I absolutely HAD TO HAVE in those moments.  Thankfully, that debt has been retired and I strive to be more mindful about the why when I feel WANT’S manic urge creeping up on me.

There is a productive impulsiveness that compels me to DO.  I’ll see a project and I simply won’t rest until I start working on it.  That would explain the random assortment of craft related items overtaking the limited storage space in my tiny house.  See, I’m better with the starting the projects than I am with the finishing.  For example, Libby just turned two and I have yet to finish creating the first year of her baby book.  But then again, this is the impulsiveness that gives me a creative outlet and I’ve got one hell of a nice felted wool blanket as proof that sometimes I stick it out and see a project through from start to finish.

Although maybe I am actually hounded by a third kind of impulsiveness…a hybrid of the WANT and the DO (WAND? DONT?)  This is the torment that comes from seeing something that I WANT (NOW!) and then focusing on how and when can I DO it.  And I mean a singular focus on when I can DO it.  Almost obsessive.

That’s how I came to experience Homemade Magic Shell.  That recipe showed up all around the internet and every time I saw it I wanted it desperately.  It made me pretty crazy until I could find the time to make a batch.  It was that itch that you just can’t reach no matter how much you stretch your arm behind your back.  And then, one day, it  happened.

I melted, cooled, and drizzled.  And I decided sometimes impulsiveness tastes like chocolate.

Magic Shell

Adapted from chocolateandcarrots.com

BAH Note:  Scale this recipe to your liking.  I like it too much to keep much of it on hand in it’s magical form so I only make this wee batch.

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (dark or milk, your choice)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Combine the ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave on  high, stopping to stir every 15 seconds, until the chocolate and coconut oil are melted.

Carefully remove from the microwave and stir to combine thoroughly.  Once cooled to room temp it will magically firm up when you drizzle it over ice cream.

Any leftovers should be stored in an airtight container at room temp.

{printable recipe}

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