Sunday, March 18, 2012

Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce

I love me a good pan sauce. Especially one with not one, but two types of mustard. And brandy. And cream.

Need I say more?

This dish is going in the rotation immediately. It's easy. It uses ingredients I tend to have on hand. And it makes GREAT leftovers. My co-workers are jealous.

I served it with couscous. This in and of itself is not newsworthy, as I serve just about everything with couscous, but it's used to great effect here. It really sops up the yummy sauce, and is not the least bit heavy. The cream takes care of that :-)

Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce
(adapted VERY slightly from The Pioneer Woman Cooks)

  • 4 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 whole Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1 cup Brandy
  • 1 Tablespoon (heaping) Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon (heaping) Grainy Mustard
  • 1/4 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/4 cup Chicken Broth
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise so that you have eight smaller, thinner chicken cutlets. Salt and pepper both sides.

Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook cutlets on both sides until nice and golden brown and cooked through. Remove chicken from the skillet and keep on a plate. (No need to keep warm)

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic to the pan and saute it for a minute, stirring to make sure it won't burn. Next pour in the brandy being careful if cooking over an open flame.

Then just let the booze bubble up and cook until it's reduced by half.

Throw in the mustards and stir to combine, then pour in the cream. Stir in chicken broth, adding more if the sauce seems too thick. Taste sauce and adjust whatever you think it needs. Add chicken breasts back to the pan, nestling them into the sauce. Allow sauce to cook for another few minutes, shaking the pan if needed to move things around.

Serve chicken with couscous, spooning the sauce over the top.

Chocolate Chip Thin Mint Cookies

I have a confession to make. I was never a Girl Scout. I never made it past Brownies.

I did, however, sell Girl Scout cookies. Back in the day, Samoas were my favorite, closely followed by Tagalongs. I couldn't understand why we couldn't get them year round. No matter how many boxes my parents bought, it was never enough to last through the year...

Fast forward 25(-ish) years, and both the times and my tastes have changes. Now I'm a sucker for Thin Mints, preferably straight from the freezer. And pre-ordering is a thing of the past. Now, we can simply walk down the street any day in March and pick up a box or two from the corner Girl Scout.

This innovation in delivery is what makes cookies like this possible. In the past, I would be too afraid of wasting precious Thin Mints to bake them into cookies. Now, I feel assured that if I use them up, I can buy more.

That deserves a big HUZZAH.

As for these cookies, I can see them becoming a yearly tradition. Consistency-wise, they remind me a LOT of the Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookies already on this blog -- soft, delicate, and buttery. I had to omit the peppermint extract, as I accidentally dumped my last bottle in a batch of ginger shortbread (oops!), but I didn't miss it a bit. The Thin Mints added plenty of mint all on their own.

Chocolate Chip Thin Mint Cookies
(from Sweet Pea's Kitchen)

¼ cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (or sub an extra 1/4 teaspoon vanilla)
  • 11 broken pieces Thin Mint Cookies
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

    In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, and sugars until combined. Reduce speed to low and add egg, vanilla (and peppermint extract, if using); mix until combined. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and Thin Mint Cookies until just combined.

    Drop by rounded tablespoons of dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets spacing 1 1/2-inches between each. Bake cookies until edges have just begun to set but centers are still very soft, 8-10 minutes.

    Let cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

    Sunday, March 11, 2012

    Lemon-Garlic Pasta with Marscapone and Shrimp

    It's not very often that I find myself with an extra tub of mascapone in the fridge, but that's exactly the (random) situation that inspired me to try this dish... And I am SO glad I did.

    Healthy, it's not, but oh, so delicious!

    I cannot recommend this highly enough. It is easy enough for a weeknight, but fancy enough for guests. I used a a bag of "argentian" shrimp from Trader Joe's -- a variety that claimed to taste like lobster -- and it proved to be a perfect choice. So succulent they melted in your mouth!

    I have to thank Jose at Pink Parsley for the recipe. I followed it to a T, except that I subbed penne for liguini (due to my boyfriend's aversion to long pasta).

    It makes me proud to pass it on. enjoy!

    Lemon-Garlic Pasta with Mascapone and Shrimp
    (from Pink Parsley)
    • kosher salt
    • 8 oz dried pasta
    • 1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
    • juice of 1 lemon
    • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 Tbs butter
    • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced into rings
    • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1/4 cup dry white wine
    • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
    • 2 Tbs minced fresh chives
    • lemon slices, for serving
    Bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil.  Add the linguine and cook until just al dente, 7 to 8 minutes.  Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta wat

    Meanwhile, pat the shrimp dry and toss with half the lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.

    In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, melt the butter until the foaming subsides.  Add the shallot, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring continuously, until the garlic is just turning brown, about 1 minute.  Add the shrimp and cook about 90 seconds on one side.  Turn the shrimp, reduce the heat to medium, and add the white wine and half the lemon juice.

    Bring to a boil and cook about 1 minute.  Add the mascarpone, reserved pasta water, and linguine, and toss to coat.  Cook an addtional 1-2 minutes, or until the pasta is well coated and the sauce has thickened.  Mix in the remaining lemon zest and juice, and the chives.  Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary, and serve immediately with lemon slices.