Tag Archives: Family

Creamy Garlic Chicken

I think I have finally found something I am passionate about. I mean truly passionate about. I love playing golf, I love gardening, I love traveling and exploring; but what gets me really excited is food. It only took me around 20 years to figure out that I get super excited about the experience of and being around food. I mean it has not always been this way trust me but I definitely can see that I have become more excited at the prospect of getting into a restaurant that is impossible to get in, finding a hidden gem by accident and staying for hours,  seeing/meeting a famous chef or even a chef that came in second on Chopped; yeah that really happened.
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My daughter wanted to go to a restaurant the runner up was cooking at in Washington DC; so we were in the city and went for lunch, I mentioned to our waiter we were here only because my daughter saw him on chopped. He said he was cooking out back and then proceeded to tell him without our knowledge. A chef was coming towards us; came to our table and chatted with us, more like me, my daughter was chef shocked and could barely speak. Same thing happened when she came face to face with Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian on a flight from Japan to the US.
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Last year my daughter and I went to a taping of a radio show featuring ex iron chef Mario Batali, this week I am dragging 9 of my foodie family and friends to a fundraising dinner and I paid extra for my ticket for a meet and greet with Iron Chef Alex Guarnascelli.  I am currently waiting “patiently” to see if my name is pulled to make a reservation to the Lost Kitchen in Freedom ME; which is only taking names via 3×5 index cards mailed in for reservations.  Also a couple of years ago my husband and I along with another couple made a reservation to a restaurant in Montreal Canada that had a 4 month waiting list; which by the way is a 4 hour drive from us. Not to mention I am heading into my fourth year of writing a weekly food blog. I think you get the gist now!

I love that I am sharing my passion with my husband and kids and that they are just as much a foodie as I am. Having dinner together at the table every night together IS important! What my husband said about this dish “knocked it out of the park”

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced or chopped up like I did
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken broth
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
1 cup chopped spinach
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions

season chicken with salt and pepper, in a large skillet cook the chicken until cooked through and browned on each side, remove chicken and set aside.
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Add the garlic for and cook for 30 seconds, do not let it brown. add the chicken stock and using a wooden spoon get all the browned bits up off the pan, cook for about 3-4 minutes to almost half of the stock is gone.
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Add the heavy cream, seasoning, cheese and whisk over high heat till it thickens. Add the spinach and tomatoes and bring to a simmer until the spinach wilts.  Add the chicken to the sauce.
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serve over pasta if you want – I served it over linguine and it re-heated beautifully the next day!

Macros – chicken and sauce only
484 Calories 57 g Protein 34 g 23 g Fat 9 g Carbs

Labor Day Weekend – Two states, Two families, Two days.

For the last 4 Labor day weekends Rich and I have gotten up very early on Saturday to drive to West Warwick, RI for a weekend full of Golf, Food, Parades and a lot of Laughs with our adopted Portuguese families.

You know how you have friends, you also will have some lifelong friends; ones you can just pick up where you left off and no one is upset that you haven’t been in touch in a month or so.  Then you have friends that are more like family. Our buddy Steve and his wife Barney are part of a very large extended Portuguese family; and they have all adopted Rich and I; at least over Labor Day Weekend.

The family home is a duplex comprised of a brother and sister growing up in the same house since they were very young and later in life splitting the house in two.  The brother and his family grew up on one side and the sister and her family on the other.  They have lived like this for close to 60 years if not longer.  There are cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, friends, neighbors; generation after generation that stop by; probably around 60 to 80 people stop by on Sunday throughout the day. I love how they all greet each other; everyone and I mean everyone gets a kiss on the cheek and a hug. They do this when you arrive and when you leave.

Saturday we play in the Golf tournament which is in Memoriam of Steve’s sister-in-law that passed away 10 years ago.  This is followed up by a steak or chicken dinner & raffle at a local Portuguese Club – similar to our VFW’s.  They tap the keg Saturday night; and to make sure that it is working properly; of course we have to test it. Sunday morning is set up day – tents, chairs, flags, crock pots and coolers.  Rich took over the job of hanging the American and Portuguese flags on the front of the house; this is where we watch the parade from and take the “family” group picture.  I help wherever I can and also sometimes help “shake” the crock pots; must be a family term.  I will be booking our hotel for next year soon before they all fill up.

Portuguese food is something of a mystery to me. They tend to cook their food for a very long time. I peck at Steve all the time when we eat at each other’s places. We have come to an understanding; I like my steak medium rare and let’s just say he doesn’t.  They make Cacoila (pronounced Caserla); and Chourico several different ways. They have a white pizza, a red pizza and a potato dish with Chourico and onions.  Most are passed around by the Matriarch’s of the families the two Irene’s, or whoever they enlist to do the task.  I lovingly refer to them all as the food pushers.  They crack me up with Donna do you want a Caserla; which I do like but you can only eat so many of them, they walk by with Chourico which they have made into little pigs in a blanket. Not the usual BBQ fare that I am used to; you never walk out of there hungry!

This year we had to rush back on Sunday for a BBQ at my Uncles house.  His 3 brothers were in town. One lives close by (my Dad) one from CA and the other from FL.  It has been 20 years since they have all been together in the same spot; that is very sad to me. Everyone is getting a little older and traveling a little less; but I hope we can make it happen again soon!

We arrived at the BBQ late; we did make sure to tell them that we had a prior engagement in RI. When we did arrive I was happy to see many cousins and their children albeit just before they left; but it was still very nice to see them for a minute for a quick catch up chat.

With the few that stuck around we spent the last hour or so sharing some funny stories; some were cooking gone wrong stories I wanted to share.  I am sure these have not only happened in my family. My husband was making gravy once; I am not sure where I was but he called me to ask how to make it. I told him how to make it using flour; he kept adding more and more and it just wouldn’t thicken – ummm it wasn’t flour; he grabbed the confectioners’ sugar – no gravy in the house that night.  At least he tried!  One also shared her oopsie moments – she had 2 very similar ones with very different results. Adding flour by mistake to peanut butter fudge; my uncle kept telling her that she had to have forgotten the sugar, fudge was supposed to be sweet; they threw that away. The other she added confectioners’ sugar to a chocolaty treat that should have been flour; she was going to a function and didn’t have time to remake so took it with her; the funny part is when people were asking her for the recipe.  She said she gave them the correct recipe – I wonder if they still liked them…

Because I knew we were going to be late I actually had the pleasure of hosting the 4 brothers and 2 of their wives for dinner Thursday night.  We had a wonderful evening filled with good food, lots of laughs and a lot of love as someone proclaimed. I will treasure that night forever!

My Daughter’s last week in America for a year

My beautiful little girl is moving to Japan for a year to teach English as a second language in a private Buddhist High School.  I guess she isn’t little anymore.  She is very bright, has an awesome personality and is beautiful inside and out.  She has been my motivation to start this blog, instrumental in getting my cooking classes off the ground and keeping me motivated;  she has also started gathering all my recipes and cataloging them, to hopefully someday write a cookbook.  Mind you I have always wanted to write a cookbook but only to give to my kids when they finally go out on their own.  Who knows this might actually get done.

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I am on vacation this week to spend some quality girly time with her.  Monday was a massage, lunch out and mani/pedi’s. I will let her pick out all of our menus this week since she will be missing many of her favorites while away.  I must admit I have never thought about Japan as a travel destination; I have never researched anything about their culture, their cuisine, or their interests.  I have since googled where she will be teaching and the city on the coast where she will be living.  She will be 4 hours from Tokyo by bus; it is only about an hour by how the crow flies calculations.  I had NO idea Japan was so well known for their mountains and skiing!  Who knew; I mean I watched the winter Olympics when they were in Nagano; but I guess I never really thought too much about it after that.  Now we are thinking of planning a ski trip to Japan this winter.   Here is an interesting fact I read about Japan and skiing; there are more than 500 ski resorts to choose from in Japan — that’s as many as the United States, in a country a fraction of its size; again who knew!!!

Last night she wanted mashed potatoes and gravy.  Something so simple in our world yet not a lot of potatoes in Japan; I will be an expert on Japan by the time she is ready to come home.  Unless they decide to keep her; I don’t want to think about that!!!  She is sitting across from me right now and chimed in she wants mac and cheese.  Again something so simple but cheese is not readily available.  Mind you she could probably locate a place to purchase these simple staples here at home; but she is going to be on a budget and might have to do without a few of her fav’s.  BUT just think of what she gets to explore culinary wise.  Sushi galore; rice in every fashion; fresh fish – though she is a bit nervous to have it delivered to her on a plate with the head still attached.  Guess she will be on a foodie adventure of her own!  I can’t wait to Skype with her about her likes and dislikes.

Classic Mac & Cheese

6 Tbs unsalted butter

1 medium onion diced fine

6 Tbs flour

1 Tbs Dijon mustard

1 Quart milk

1 Large sprig of fresh thyme plus 1 tsp chopped thyme leaves

1 bay leaf

2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese – grated

1 cup Monterey jack – grated

1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1.2 tsp Tabasco sauce

Kosher Salt & Freshly ground black pepper

1 Lb elbow or other small pasta

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano – grated

I like the mac and cheese baked with the crust on top, for some strange bizarre reason my family does not.  I have covered half the shells with the topping leaving the other half naked just to keep the peace.

Large pot of water to boil over high heat, generously salted – add pasta once bubbling and cook per package directions.

In a dutch over or heavy duty pot, melt the butter, add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook stirring with a wooden spoon until softened 4 to 5 minutes, Ass the flour and cook 1 to 2 minutes until slightly darker. Stir in the mustard. using a whisk gradually add the milk whisking constantly. using the wooden spoon again, add the thyme sprig and bay leaf pinch of salt, come to a simmer, turn to low and stirring frequently let the flavors meld about 10-15 minutes.  Remove the sprig and bay leaf. Add the cheese till melted, add Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drain cooked pasta – add drained pasta to the cheese sauce stir till combined.

Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish, pour pasta mixture into dish.  Meanwhile in a separate bowl add the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, chopped thyme and olive oil and mix well.  Cover the cheesy pasta and bake in a 400′ oven for about 15 minutes.  Let set 5-10 before digging in.

Tuesday she is finishing up any outstanding projects she has going on, then off to Nashua for the final purchases for her trip. We plan to go to Kennebunkport Wednesday – I love the scallops from The Clam Shack on the bridge.

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My husband is originally from California and moved here when he was a freshman in high school. One of 6 kids most well-traveled; as their mother; originally from MA drove 5 of the kids in the family station wagon across country every summer; stopping at every monument, cemetery and camping ground along the way. When my husband met me, NH my whole life and had only driven to FL though numerous times in the back of our family camper.  After dating for several months, planned a trip to Maine; a cute bed and breakfast in Kennebunkport for the weekend!  I loving sea scallops and being from New England had to stop at The Clam Shack for some.  We ordered, they called our number and Rich went up to get them; the guy pushed the tray towards him and Rich looked at them, then me, then pushed them back towards the guy and said “I’m sorry we ordered scallops” I could not stop laughing.  They were huge OMG delicious and exactly what we ordered.  Rich had never seen a scallop so big; being from CA and a large family, it was his first time having a REAL fried scallops.  He was hooked!!!   We have been back a few times; but I have been craving them for too many years now. So excited to be going tomorrow and sharing them with Abbi.  Oh and Rich and Alex our son is going to take the day off to go with, I told you he was hooked.

Thursday is day of rest, Friday Abbi has a mandatory orientation meeting. so I am going to tag along and run to IKEA while she is there.  I am also re-doing her room; I know it sounds insane to be re-doing her bedroom when she is not going to use it for an entire year, but I wanted a project to do, in my spare time mind you, where I can use my passion for decorating.  If I had an unlimited budget I would do my whole house over, so for now I am settling for the only “empty” room in the house.  Plus she picked out everything in it when she was 12, It needs to turn into an “adult” bedroom. I picked up some drapes that I fell in love with, they are neutral in color but have a silky textured polka dot – they are SO cool, I cannot wait to hang them.

Saturday we dropped her off at the airport.  She was super nervous for this trip, it was a combination of being SO far away, for SO long and she is actually going to be in her very first apartment all by herself.  I know she will be awesome over there, actually wherever she goes she will be awesome.  But I can totally understand her emotions.  I held it in for as long as I could but when I was hugging her goodbye; we both broke down and I didn’t want to let her go.  I put my big girl panties on and I did.  I am SO VERY happy for her and could not be more proud, but I will be looking into tickets to go see her as soon as I can – UPDATE: Received confirmation she landed safely in Tokyo…

Earlier I mentioned the cooking class I am doing; there have been 3 classes so far and the next one that is already full is my homemade pasta three-ways.  fettuccine alfredo, spaghetti ragu bolognese and ravioli al uovo.  It has been requested and I am excited to report that when Abbi gets back we will be planning a sushi class or two.  How much fun will that be? However I must confess I am not a lover of sushi; actually I am a little afraid of it.  BUT as my quest to like wine has worked out very well; I vow here and now to make an effort to try to like sushi.  THIS is HUGE for me!!!  I hope I can report back that I have concurred my fear.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Killington Wine Festival

Last weekend we went to our 3rd Killington Wine Festival I guess you can say when we set our minds to do something we kind of go all out.  I mentioned our quest to like wine in my initial post; what better way than to go to a wine festival where they have over 200 wines and over 40 vendors.  I must admit I am enjoying a glass of Pinot Grigio while writing this post.

Invited by our very good friends who have a condo at K-ton; and now a home close by and them knowing we were wine virgins but we were on a mission; we went to our first wine festival and let’s just say since they are not wine virgins, they had a game plan as they have been to this festival several times before.

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When you arrive you get a bag with a small wine glass, pen and booklet with all the wines and vendors listed with a space to make notes. Our first year our veteran wine friends were going to start with all the whites and then walk around tasting all the reds.  Rich and I came up with our own plan since he likes reds and I like whites.  I would try all the whites and he the reds.

Things started out well. We used the usual wine terms fruity, dry, bold, peppery etc.  Also listening to our friends you don’t have to drink all they pour; they do have a place to pour out what you don’t drink. This is a very valuable lesson if you take nothing else away from this post. About halfway through, I think, we started to use what the wine industry would probably cringe at for descriptions. One I particularly like that I wrote was “Yuck” the women apparently looking over my shoulder thought that was hysterical and wanted to know which one I thought was yucky!  Side note about the yucky wine, we went to a friends house a week or so after and the “yucky” wine was on their counter, I being polite gladly drank a glass or two.  It’s not so bad now I have had it a few times over the last few years… We did get the biggest laugh when we got home the next day and re-read what we wrote.  Rich wrote on one of them and I quote “Donna likes, she must be drunk” towards the end of the book we started using buy and don’t buy instead of going into any great detail.  Even that small amount of wine adds up over the 4 hour period they give you

We also learned another valuable lesson that first year – what you can sell and buy in Vermont you cannot always find in the state of New Hampshire.  So the second year we went we, a little more educated I would say, we asked can you get any of these in NH. If not can you buy them online and ship to NH? Not a bad thing that we didn’t have as many to try this year, though we did learn quite a bit about different regions and growing conditions making a world of difference in the taste of wine even the same wine year to year, again probably not new news to anyone who is a novice but we are new and still learning.

This year our son came with us for his first wine festival, he is definitely a fan of the reds; can anyone tell me why some peoples teeth and lips turn purple so much faster than others when drinking red wine? I just don’t understand. Rich and Al walked around to all the reds this year, after awhile they did start to take some notes. Nothing as funny as my first years notes…

I also have another question if anyone knows the answer, why is it so hard to get wine into the state of NH. is it an old boys network, is it because we have state liquor stores?  I think it costs money to sell wine to certain states, Is NH more expensive?  I have tried some very good Finger Lakes Region wine and talked with the maker and he was trying very hard to come to NH.  I must find out why and how to resolve this!

There is a group of about 9 of us that attended the festival; we try to cook out at the condos after and it doesn’t really work out as well as we envisioned; before drinking wine for 4 hours.  I think we need to come up with another plan. Maybe something made in a crock-pot or a lasagna already made just pop it in the oven.  We definitely give it the ole college try; who knows we will probably try to cook out again next year!

I have always loved cooking with wine and if there is ever a bottle left over; direct quote from Dave “just because you open it, doesn’t mean you have to finish it” He and his wife also attend the festival every year.  I do try to use whatever is left over fairly quickly so it doesn’t sit for too long.  IF there is a leftover bottle of red I will make Beef Stew or an au jus for steak. I have a crock-pot recipe I use and an oven one.  It cracks me up that the oven one I use is dubbed the “quick beef stew” from my husband.  He has NO idea it still takes me an hour or so to assemble and peel and cook all the veggies.  Apparently that is fast for him since it is done in an hour and half versus cooking all day.

3 lbs boneless beef chuck

Kosher Salt freshly ground black pepper

3 Tbs olive oil – add more when needed

3 Cups diced onions – about 2 medium

4-5 Large cloves of Garlic minced

2 bay leaves

2 tsp dried thyme

3 Tbs flour

1 Cup red wine – or more if that is what you have

2 Cups water

3 Cups of Veggies:  Potatoes – Carrots – Turnip are my go to for Beef Stew

Heat oil in dutch oven trim and cut beef into 1 inch bite size pieces, generously salt and pepper. in batch’s, do not crowd, brown beef on 2 sides and set aside in a dish until all are done.  You want a nice dark brown crust. Add more oil if needed.

Reduce the heat and add the onions and garlic stirring until softened.  Add the bay leaves and Thyme stirring for about 30 seconds.  Stir in the flour and then the wine and water.   Return the beef and all juices to the pan.

Take a large sheet of heavy duty tinfoil and press down until it almost touches the beef; press against the sides, crimp the foil around the rim for a tight seal. Cover and place in a 450′ oven for an hour and 15 minutes.

Peel and cook the veggies either by boiling, steaming or sauteing.  I boil mine; remove the pot from the oven, carefully remove the foil; add the cooked veggies cover with the foil and cover let sit and meld for about 15 minutes or so.

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I am almost done with my glass of wine and it is time for me to make dinner since Alex just came out of the den and asked what’s for dinner.  His FAVORITE thing to say to me…. If he ever moves out on his own; he will MISS me…

My Family of Foodies

Welcome to my Kitchen!

I love to cook, eat, and share what I make and I have recently started teaching cooking classes in my home.

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My favorite part of my home is my kitchen island.  So much great food and many wonderful conversations have been around the island that my husband built.  I have always been a firm believer that making and eating meals together makes for closer relationships.  Even when my children were younger and into all kinds of activities, we made a point to eat at least one meal together everyday. Now that they are older, 21 & 23, and currently still living at home, we have more meals together than apart. I love how they are now an instrumental part of the food planning and preparation.

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My son has been the “picky” eater part of the equation, which at times has been very trying for me.  So much so when he was around 8 and was pitching a fit about having to eat one of my standard favorites, spaghetti no less, I convinced him, kicking and screaming to make the gravy (sauce).  I told him that squeezing the garlic press would make him feel better.  That night all I can say is; it worked.  He had 2 helpings of the food he hated.  Nowadays he is still not a fan of the pasta spaghetti but loves all other kinds of pasta.  He is currently testing my personal boundaries by requesting Lamb, Veal and Mushrooms which I did not grow up eating but I can’t be a self proclaimed foodie without at least testing my comfort zone.

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My daughter while I knew she loved most foods, pretty much surprised me at how adventurous she had become.  While away at college in her sophomore year she spent a semester abroad, lived in an apartment which did not have a meal plan.  She had a crash course in picking out and cooking meals for herself. She was hooked and has been on her own foodie quest ever since.  My husband and I went over to Paris on her spring break.  I could not believe how much she had grown.  Out to dinner one night she asked our waiter what was his favorite meal, that is what she ordered and loved it.  I almost fell out of my chair, wonderful to see but I am not sure If I could have done that.  I am learning from her as much as she has from me.  I will admit I was not so thrilled when my double Political Science and German major proclaimed she wanted to move to the Caribbean and open a restaurant. She is currently off to live in Japan for a year to teach English as a second language.  I cannot wait for her to come home and teach me how to make Japanese food.

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My husband and I started our lives together with the knowledge of good tasting food and we could make some very good meals together, nothing too fancy or exciting but well made meals.  We are now self proclaimed foodies and are on a quest to eat and share great food whether we are alone or with a group of family and friends.  We love to try new recipes and look for new restaurants with good reputations of having well prepared delicious tasting food.  Whether we are home or on vacation, which is mostly in the Caribbean, we seek out and crave amazing food.  We are also now looking into pairing wine with our yummy food.  While in Paris realizing they do not have our kind of beer nor cocktails, we needed to start to like wine.  One of the highest things on my bucket list is to eat my way through Italy, I refuse to go until I can enjoy a glass of wine with dinner.  I think we are safe to go now!

My hope is to inspire you to have your own food adventures, it is never too late to try something new.