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}

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}