Entree

Pesto & One pot pasta

Happy Father’s Day – I hope you are all safe and able to spend a little time with your some of your family today! It is a sunny day here in NH but it is a very warm and humid day. I am currently sitting on the couch writing this blog listening to Psych. That is one of my favorite TV shows to play in the background. I cannot tell you how many times I have been through the entire series. Enough to know pretty much all of the snarky little comments. Image

I don’t know how well your gardens are going, mine are a lot of hit and misses. I went to to local gardening shop yesterday, the same one i have been going to for many many years and was shocked at the lack on inventory they had on hand. I know I probably shouldn’t have been. I know a lot of people took up gardening this year but it was still a little alarming. They have always had a plethora of hanging plants and I could always find what I needed and sometimes things I didn’t know I needed.

Here are a couple of things I use up my basil in. Though basil is one of my favorite summer herb and can be used in so many dishes.  These two are worth checking out!

Basil Pesto 

6 Ounces of washed and dried basil leaves, stems removed
4 Ounces of pine nuts
6-8 Cloves of Garlic
2 Ounces of grated parmesan cheese
Olive oil – Salt and Pepper

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Combine first 3 ingredients in a food processor or blender, pulse to combine. Add olive oil until you get the consistency you like, finish by adding the parmesan cheese a little salt and pepper pulsing until combined.  Enjoy with and/or on just about anything!

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One–Pan Pasta 

 1 lb. Linguine
1 lb. Cherry or Grape tomatoes halved
1 Onion diced
4-6 cloves of Garlic
½ tsp. crushed Red Pepper Flakes
6 Cups Chicken Broth
1 bunch of Basil
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Combine pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, basil, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, pepper and the chicken broth in a large straight sided skillet

Bring to a boil over high heat, boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs, until pasta is al dente and broth has nearly evaporated.  About 9 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Divide among 4 bowls and garnish with basil.  Serve with Parmesan cheese.

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Roasted Pork Shoulder

So my kids just celebrated their quarantine birthday’s last week. Yes they are 2 years and a day apart and yes I know they are both adults but it was my daughters 30th so it’s a little more of a milestone. They actually could have been born on the same day but I told the doctor I was busy so my son was born the day after his sister’s second birthday party. We take our parties very seriously LOL.
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Anyway back to cooking! When I buy a pork shoulder or pork butt it is generally to make pulled pork. I have some leftover BBQ pulled pork in the freezer already so I wanted to make something else with it. So I covered it with garlic and herbs and roasted it in the oven. It was delicious very flavorful and so easy to make for either Sunday dinner or even during the week. Plus the leftovers made for excellent sandwiches; according to my husband.
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I know summer is upon us and maybe you don’t want to heat up your house, though around here in NH we have had some chilly days and evenings and having the oven on is kind of a blessing. But I have no doubt this would be equally good cooked out on the grill. I have cooked many pork loins out there. The only difference is there would be no pan drippings for a little au jus or to make a little gravy. You do what it best for you!
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roasted pork shoulder

Prep Time 0 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Course Main Course
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon garlic chopped
  • 1 clove garlic thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoon rosemary chopped
  • 2 tablespoon fresh sage chopped
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 pound pork shoulder

Instructions
 

  • Pre-heat oven 350F
  • Liberally sprinkle salt and pepper all over the roast. 
  • In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, and sage.
  • spread the mixture all over the roast
  • Make slits in the meat, about 1/2-inch wide and deep. Insert the garlic slices into the slits
  • Set the meat on a roasting pan on a rack if you have one
  • Cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast reads 155°F, about 25 minutes per pound. 
  • remove the roast from the oven and let stand for 15 minutes.
    slice and serve.
Keyword garlic and herb roasted pork shoulder, herb roasted pork, roasted pork shoulder

Chicken and Pasta bake

Late Friday afternoon my “co-worker” daughter from another company sent out an email to everyone in her company. She created a 30 day act of kindness calendar. Just a few ideas of how to show a little kindness in our area can go a long way! And it seems our country is in dire need of some kindness.
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Her only hesitation was sending it after closing time on Friday or wait till Monday morning. I told her send it, there are some who check their emails and it can’t hurt to sit there unopened until Monday either. Before she told me what she was working on I had planned to go grocery shopping for my in-laws who are 89 & 90 and finally arriving home from being quarantined in FL. My sister-in-law kept them safe for 6 months; now it is our turn.
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Browning all the meat in the same pot separately for several dishes I was making – less dishes

A friend of mine has been spreading kindness for several weeks now making fried rice and selling it with all the proceeds being spread out to some local charities, first responders, families in need you name it and she has touched a lot of lives. My daughter and I picked up some of the rice and then headed to the grocery store. While in the store my daughter was approached by a co-worker who proudly said she had already started on the list and shared with her what she had done just that day. My daughter was so excited to tell me about this. It’s working!
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When we got home and put away their grocery’s and ours I started making food. I wanted them to have a few things they could just pop in the oven, or take out of the freezer and re-heat. How to keep them safe is to keep them home. Which isn’t going to be that easy but we will try.
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I actually find it pretty easy to cook for an army; as they say. I am pretty organized in my thought pattern; say if I am making several dishes and a couple of them need onions I will cut up enough for whatever I am making. Basically I rock at mise-en-place (put in place). Yesterday I made a large pot of chili, a couple of shepherd pies, some bolognese and a I wanted to make a chicken and pasta bake of some sort. I had such a busy afternoon I popped one of the chicken bakes in the oven for dinner which I will share with you here.
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Chicken and Pasta bake

Donna Clark
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
0 mins
Course Main Course
Servings 6 people

Ingredients
  

  • 2 Boneless skinless chicken breast cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 box pasta cook to package directions
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 packets Sazon seasonings
  • 1 container mascarpone cheese small container or replace with 1/2 brick cream cheese
  • Kosher Salt, Black Pepper and your choice seasoning

Instructions
 

  • Cook your pasta to the package instructions
  • Dice your chicken breast into bite size pieces, season your pieces with your favorite seasoning liberally. I chose kosher salt, black pepper and Crop Dust all purpose seasoning from my local butchers shop The Flying Butcher.
  • In a saute pan add the olive oil and when hot add the chicken, sprinkle on the 2 packets of sazon. If you want the pieces browned do no over crowd the pan and cook in batches. Set aside.
  • In the same saute pan add the butter and flour making a roux. cook the flour for about a minute. Whisk in all the milk and keep whisking until the sauce thickens. Lower the heat and add the mascarpone cheese stir till all combined. Remove from the heat and add the cheddar and half of the mozzarella cheese stir till melted.
  • In a large bowl add the cheese sauce and the cooked chicken to the pasta. Stir till combined. Depending if you are saving for later or having now. Add to your baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is browned and heated through.

https://www.theflyingbutcher.com/

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy and Be Kind

 

Chicken wings with a Thai sweet and spicy sauce and a side of Pineapple shrimp fried rice

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Happy Mother’s Day – not sure this one will be like any other. Not sure about your area in this crazy world but flower delivery is not considered an essential business, not that I ever got flower’s for mothers day delivered. One of my kids lives with me and the other is just up the road. But I sent a few over the years. Sorry Mom your going to get a call in a bit.
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I hope you are hanging in there and staying safe and healthy! I hear about so many people cooking at home a lot more or even learning how to cook. I actually haven’t gone above and beyond my “norm” in all fairness my “norm” is usually making something I haven’t made before or changing up something we have on hand.
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Wings Ingredients 

1/4 cup Thai sweet and spicy chili sauce
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon ginger 
1 teaspoon lemongrass paste
20 chicken wings, split and tips tossed

Wings Directions

Make the glaze, in a small bowl, whisk the sauces, sesame oil and ginger together.
preheat the oven to 375’F
Lightly brush or spray with the oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place wings on a sheet pan
bake for 10 minutes.brush the wings with the sauce; bake another 10 minutes.
Flip the wings and baste again with the sauce, bake for another 10 minutes. 
Turn one last time and baste with the last of the sauce and bake another minute or so until the cooked through.

Stir Fry Sauce – 1 cup chicken stock, 1 cup soy sauce, 1 cup oyster sauce, 2 teaspoon sugar combine and whisk till the sugar dissolves. the leftover can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container

This past week I needed a little more space in my freezer so I pulled out some chicken wings and had some leftover white rice that I had made for dinner a day or so ago so here is what I made that was not my “norm”
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Pineapple shrimp fried rice Ingredients

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small white onion diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 ounces peeled and deveined shrimp
1 egg
6 cups steamed jasmine rice – best if it is a day old
2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons stir fry sauce
1/4 cup drained canned crushed pineapple
1/4 cup toasted cashews
2 green onions, cut on an angle
salt and pepper 

Pineapple shrimp fried rice Directions
make sure to have everything prepped – it goes quickly

heat am empty wok over high heat until it begins to smoke, swirl in the oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the onion and garlic and stir-fry until they are softened and translucent. add the shrimp and cook until slightly opaque, 10-20 seconds. 

Add the egg and mix with the onion and garlic. once the egg is soft scrambled, add the rice, sugar and stir fry sauce. working the rice around the wok so the sauce distributes evenly and breaking up the egg. 

stir-fry until there is no more moisture in the rice and it is lightly toasted, not fully brown you don’t want it to stick to the wok. 

remove from the heat and add the pineapple, cashews and green onion. taste for seasoning add salt and pepper if needed. 
Serve warm

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Roasted Garlic Lemon Chicken

I know I know I know another roasted chicken recipe from me. This is my go-to comfort food all day long! I do however have a little something different for you. Yesterday I made my first cooking video for my blog. You will see what I mean by my first. It’s pretty rough but I have thought about doing one for years and seeing so many people putting themselves out there by singing, cooking, crafting etc. on FB live I thought I would try this first. I was too nervous to go live just yet. We’ll see how this goes and if I can muster up the courage to go live I will. Baby steps!

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It tasted as yummy as it looks!


I have posted this recipe before; it was about 3 years ago so I hope you will indulge me and give it a try if you haven’t already. The one I made yesterday made the most excellent gravy, so much so my daughter said she could actually bathe in it. There was a little left over after dinner so when I was putting everything away I added the gravy to my slow cooker along with chicken bones plus a couple of carrots, celery and an onion all very roughly chopped and set it on low and this morning had almost 3 quarts of liquid gold.

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A friend of mine finally took me up on making his own chicken broth and has already made it twice in the last couple of weeks. Just saying!

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A couple of things I wish I would have clarified on my videos. Oh yeah I had to have the in two because I stopped filming and then changed the angle of the phone – rookie move. I can learn so it can only get better from here, right?

So I have been trying to load these since 9am-ish. Our internet has been terrible all week and was totally out this morning. They are supposed to come out sometime tomorrow before 6pm. Not even a window anymore just sometime before 6. The rest of the time was trying to get the videos to load onto my computer then and into wordpress.  There has to be a better way!!!! this was painful so I hope you at least get a chuckle from it.

 

I ended up marinating it for 2.5 hours. You will notice that I told you a time I was going to put it in the oven but never mentioned what time it was. I also wanted to share with you that this type of roaster is also great made out on the grill.
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Here is my adaptation of Ina’s Tuscan Lemon Chicken

1 5lb chicken, spatchcocked – you can do this, I promise! (see below)
Kosher Salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
⅓ cup Olive Oil
2 lemons zested
1 lemon squeezed
3 cloves garlic minced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves minced

Sprinkle the chicken with the salt and pepper. Combine the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic and rosemary in a small bowl. Place the chicken in a dish just large enough where it can lay flat. Pour the marinade all over the bird getting it all over both sides.
Let it sit on the counter while you preheat your oven to 425’F. If you want to a couple of hours, put in in the fridge and take it out about 15 minutes before you are ready to put it in the oven.

I cooked mine in my cast iron pan for about an hour. Please make sure to cook the the bird till the internal temperature is around 165’F note that it will continue to cook a little while it is resting covered with aluminum foil for 5-10 minutes.

Spatchcock directions – with either kitchen shears or a knife. Remove the back bone of the bird. Cut down one side and then the other and then push down on the bird to flatten it. That’s it – once you do this you can brag to all of your friends. I did to my co-workers, they had never heard the actual word before. If you don’t want bragging rights, your butcher will do this for you.

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BBQ steak sweet potato & squash

I hope you are staying safe and healthy! We are living in such a weird time right now which none of us have ever seen before I do hope we can get back to some sort of normal before too long. I am coming up on week seven for working at home. It’s actually going really well I think having my daughter working next to me helps even though she works for a different company. Last week to break up the groundhog day feel of it we held spirit week. Animal print Monday, crazy hair Tuesday you get the picture. We had a lot of fun! We’ll have to come up with something else since we are home until at least June if not longer.

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It’s about time we start getting outside and take the cover off the grill. We have only had a few nice enough days though I will grill even when it’s not so nice. I do recall one very rainy night several years ago where my very good friend was holding an umbrella over me and I think there was a flash light as well? I know there were drinks involved and apparently whatever we were cooking HAD to be cooked out on the grill 🙂

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This isn’t out on the patio yet but I hope it will be soon!

This is a great any night meal, it comes together very quickly and doesn’t take long to cook and then you are eating within the hour. Plus clean up is just as fast and it tastes great. I am so looking forward to getting my garden in. We learned our lessen years ago to not plant until Memorial Day (the last weekend in May) we have lost too many plants to that one last frost after Mother’s Day which used to be our planting day. I have already started some seeds in the house; which I haven’t done in years. Let’s hope that works.

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As long as the raw meat doesn’t touch the tray; you can use it to take everything off the grill

For some veggies I find it easier to put on tinfoil or you can use a veggie tray made for the grill or one of those copper grill mats. I have lost a fair few potatoes or veggies through the grates over the years.

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I use a little tinfoil so I don’t lose the veggies

Steak – you cannot go wrong with Ribeyes
Squash – whichever kind you like or both
Sweet potato or whatever you have on hand
Large Onion peeled and sliced
Olive Oil
Black Pepper
Kosher Salt

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You still get grill marks even while using tinfoil

That’s it!  Take the steaks out before you start anything else, they are best when the come to room temperature; season liberally with Salt and Pepper and put aside.
Start the grill, Slice the veggies and potatoes. Season those with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Grab a sheet pan or whatever you use when you grill and head outside. I have a little plastic basket I put all the supplies I need like the plates, utensils and tinfoil etc. And I usually only have to come back in to refill my wine.

Stay safe Stay strong and Stay healthy!!!!

Pantry and Freezer time

I started writing this morning about how I opt to play Switzerland and play nice in the sandbox on social media and mostly in “real” life. I learned that behavior very early on in my life. I had three paragraphs written and then deleted the whole thing. I am at a loss to what we are seeing in our world today. I don’t understand the whole TP buyout debacle of 2020.

 

I am going to keep my blog light and as positive as I can. We have a enough doom and gloom going on in the world today so I even though I didn’t make anything special this past week to share. I did meet up with a few girlfriends yesterday for a nice and pleasant visit and they thought I should share some tips and tricks to help get people through the next few weeks and hopefully not months. Time to put those packets of Ramen noodles to good use.

When I see what I use on sale I tend to buy several of them at that moment. My pantry is full of different kinds of pasta, several different kinds of beans and rice options. pasta sauce and San Marzano tomatoes to name a few. I feel we are in pretty good shape.

When I make meatballs I more than double the batch and freeze what we don’t eat. I do the same with chili and some soups. Frozen shrimp is so easy to make into a quick dinner. Butterball turkey burgers are in the freezer section and delicious. If you have never froze bread you are missing out. I will buy sliced bread on sale and freeze a loaf. When I am in Montreal I buy several loafs of there fresh baked bread and freeze all but one loaf to eat that night for dinner.

I do know personally quite a few of the people who read my blog and they have on occasion reached out to me to ask a food related question and I do not have all the answers but if you have a few things in your home that you are not sure what to do with; give me a shout out and I will try to help with suggestions if I can. Stay safe and strong!

Chicken cutlets in a sun-dried tomato cream sauce

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So today is already starting out by losing an hour; lets hope it gets better from here. I have never been a fan of daylight savings; it totally messes with my whole being. I have a hard enough time sleeping and twice a year having to jolt the system to a new schedule for what is now not really necessary seems to me we really don’t need to do this to ourselves anymore. Plus now I get to run around the house changing close to a dozen clocks.
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Since I love history and trivia I wanted to know a little more of the who and whys of daylight savings. We all know it was Benjamin Franklin; I learned that in school many years ago but I was surprised to read that he only mentioned the idea in a published essay in 1784. I was also surprised that the first country to adopt this was Germany but not until 1916 which was 132 years later. I will admit I thought it was only a US thing, that shows a little of my ignorance. The US didn’t start using it until 1918 and bully for Arizona to be the only contiguous state to stop observing daylight savings. Hopefully that was some fun facts for your morning reading now back to some food.
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I have been noticing a huge difference in the chicken I have been getting; to the point where I will not buy just any kind. I am sure some of you might not find this as such a surprise but I have been buying a certain brand for as long as I can remember and also store brand chicken when something strikes me. I don’t know if it is me or if they changed whats happening with the chicken but if I can’t find a Bell and Evans or a Misty Knoll roaster chicken, we won’t be having our usual Sunday roaster it has come to that.
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I made this recipe with store brand chicken cutlets and while the recipe I will make again as we all loved the flavor but I won’t be making it unless I can find the better chicken at the store.
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chicken cutlets with a sun dried tomato cream sauce

Donna Clark - Cooking at Clark Towers

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound chicken cutlets
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cupr slivered oil-packed sun dried tomatoes plus 1 tablespoon oil from the jar
  • 1.2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley - I didn't have any

Instructions
 

  • season chicken cutlets with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the sun dried tomato oil in a large enough skillet over medium hot heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until browned and cooked through, use an instant-read thermometer and insert it into the fattest part and it should read 165'F. roughly 6 minutes. transfer chicken to a plate.
  • Add the sun dried tomatoes and the shallots to the pan. Cook stirring for a minute or so, increase the heat to high and add the white wine. Cook, scraping up and browned bits, until the liquid has mostly evaporated. about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and stir in the cream, and any juices from the chicken plate. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 2 minutes. Return the chicken back to the sauce; turn to coat with the sauce. Serve chicken topped with sauce.

Notes

Adapted from Eating Well

roasted chicken breast acorn squash sheet pan

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Most of the time I go to the grocery store with a plan of what I need to pick up based on what we want to eat for the week. Or more like what I feel like making for the week. I do ask; sometimes what the house wants but really it’s mostly up to me.
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I also mostly go to the store alone but this time my daughter was with me and instead of a spaghetti squash we came home with an acorn squash instead. Guess she is not a fan of spaghetti squash I do try to have on hand a few fresh veggies for a quick side. Usually broccoli, cauliflower always carrots and I guess now acorn squash. It was easy, a great side and we all loved it. So much so my husband stated we will be adding it to the garden this year.
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Quick during the week meals are a must in everyone I personally knows world. We all work and time is tight and dinner needs to be easy to make, which means few ingredients and mostly hands off. This meal was just that and very satisfying. 

A few chicken breasts, an acorn squash, some seasonings, a sheet pan and your oven. You will be enjoying a nice warm meal in an hour.

roasted chicken breast acorn squash sheet pan

Donna Clark - Cooking at Clark Towers
A quick, delicious, satisfying meal

Ingredients
  

  • Chicken Breast bone in skin on a piece or two per person
  • 1 acorn squash
  • kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • maple syrup
  • crop dust or your favorite all purpose seasoning

Instructions
 

  • Spray your sheet pan with cooking spray or line with tinfoil
  • Preheat oven to 375'F
  • dry each chicken breast with a paper towel
  • season each breast on both sides with salt, pepper and your all purpose seasoning
  • wash and slice the acorn squash, scoop out the seeds.
  • place everything on the sheet pan, season the squash with the same seasonings
  • drizzle the squash with a little maple syrup
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
 

 

Valentine Dinner Fare

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Whether you are a fan of Valentines Day or not it’s all on you! But I do hope you are on the same page as your partner. It kinda sucks if one of you is looking forward to something on this day and the other treats it like; say a Tuesday. Yes I know it’s now known as a Hallmark kind of holiday but according to Wikipedia (see below) it’s been around a lot longer than Hallmark that started back in 1910 in Kansas City, MO.

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There are numerous martyrdom stories associated with various Valentines connected to February 14, including a written account of Saint Valentine of Rome’s imprisonment for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, Saint Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his judge, and he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell before his execution. The Feast of Saint Valentine was established by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496 to be celebrated on February 14 in honour of the Christian martyr, Saint Valentine of Rome, who died on that date in AD 269.

The day first became associated with romantic love within the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it grew into an occasion in which couples expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”). Valentine’s Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards. In Europe, Saint Valentine’s Keys are given to lovers “as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart”, as well as to children to ward off epilepsy (called Saint Valentine’s Malady).

Date Night Dine In
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Regardless of what you plan on doing it is damn near impossible to go out to dinner in our little town unless you have already made a reservation somewhere plus the crowds are crazy so we generally stay home and I make something a little more special than our typical meal. I think this year we will be having seared scallops over creamy risotto.

Pan Seared Scallops
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Over the years I have shared a few meals that I think would fit the bill for the night that you could make for your sweetheart!

Chocolate Martini

Individual Chocolate Lava Cake

 

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