Friday, July 29, 2011

New Recipe #1 - Tuscan Chicken with Mushroom Risotto

This is a Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meals recipe. I religiously watched her show when I was first married (almost 10 years ago!) and printed off a bunch of recipes I would like to try. A lot of them I never got around to because there were things I was afraid of (like shallots, fresh herbs) not to mention, our budget did not include being able to purchase these more pricey items. So this recipe, along with a few others, sat in a binder in the cupboard where I keep my recipes. It finally saw the light of day when I wanted to find something new to make.

I had never made risotto but I love risotto and found the courage to try making it. Well, my first got at it was not a success. Which was a shame because the mushrooms in it were one of the most expensive parts of the whole meal! But I guess you live and learn - which I did :)

The Tuscan Chicken (recipe listed at the bottom of this post) has a wonderful flavor and made the chicken very moist - even when the left overs were rewarmed. I did make a mistake though (I have to come clean), I forgot the to add the flour before I added the liquid at the end. So I wasn't able to make the rue as needed and the sauce was very runny. That is one thing I won't forget next time!

My words of advice if you decide to make this meal:
If you have never made risotto before, DO NOT use this recipe as your first go around. In a later post I will share a recipe I think it better for a first try at risotto. It's one that won't leave you in tears if you have to throw it away.

And don't forget to make the rue with the Tuscan Chicken! It's important in order to thicken the sauce...and no one wants to eat raw flour :p

Tuscan Chicken


  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast tenderloins
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups beef broth (yes, beef broth)


Heat a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, half the chicken pieces, and a couple of crushed cloves of garlic.

Brown chicken 2 minutes on each side and remove from pan. Add remaining oil, another single turn of the pan, remaining chicken pieces and garlic. Brown chicken 2 minutes on each side and remove. Add vinegar to the pan. Let it cook off.

Add butter, shallots, and rosemary to the pan and cook 2 minutes, add flour and cook 1 minute more. Whisk in wine, reduce 1 minute. Whisk in broth and bring liquids up to a bubble. Return chicken to the pan and simmer over moderate heat 7 to 8 minutes to finish cooking chicken through.

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom stock and vegetable stock are now available on soup aisle of market in 1 quart paper containers. They are both rich and deep in color. These stocks are necessary for the preparation of this dish.



Place dried porcinis and stock or broth in a saucepan and bring stock to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer.

In a large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium to medium high heat. Add shallots and saute 2 minutes. Add arborio rice and saute, 2 or 3 minutes more. Add Sherry and cook the liquid completely absorbed. Add several ladles of hot stock or broth and reduce heat slightly. Simmer, stirring frequently until liquid is absorbed.

Remove mushrooms from water and reserve cooking liquid. Coarsely chop the porcinis and add them to the rice. Continue to ladle broth into arborio, half the remaining amount at a time. Stir mixture each time you add broth and remove from heat when the rice is cooked to al dente. Cool and store any remaining liquids if there are any.

The ideal total cooking time for perfect risotto is 22 minutes. The consistency should be creamy.

Stir in thyme and a few handfuls of grated cheese. Season your risotto with salt and pepper to your taste. Serve creamy mushroom risotto from the hot pan with warm, crusty whole grain breads.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Putting Passion Back into Cooking

A few days ago I was in the midst of my normal routine. I opened my recipe book and scanned through it to make our "menu" for the week and a list of needed ingredients. The recipes I had did not sound appealing. They were either ones that seemed more for cooler weather or ones that I had made recently. So I decided right then and there that I was going to make a goal for myself: make one new recipe per week for the next year.

In doing this I have rediscovered my passion for cooking. A lot of times I would see it as a chore. And now I start thinking that way but once I start cooking and the amazing aromas fill the kitchen, I feel the passion growing for making better food for me and my family.

My other goal is to post the recipe I tried each week along with my thoughts. I plan to post even if dinner is a failure - after all, not every recipe will be one to enter permanent rotation.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Over the last few weeks Kian has talked to me about missing our dog Toby, our cat Allie, and his Papaw Jay. I've have no idea why he keeps asking me about them. And at random times he's said, "I miss Toby and Allie and Papaw Jay" and the tears begin to flow.

I knew that Toby (our black lab) passed away in the summer of 2008 so I went back to see when I posted about his death. He died on June 28th - which would make the time that Kian started mentioning missing Toby around the 3rd anniversary of his death. Odd....

Allie, our black and white cat, also died only 2 months later of a broken heart. She loved Toby, became depressed, stopped eating, and her body had an illness it no longer could battle. And Kian's Papaw Jay passed away in April of last year. Since we told Kian that Toby and Allie and Papaw Jay were all in heaven he groups them together.

Kian still doesn't have a good sense of time or uses the wrong words (says weeks instead of days or last year when it was yesterday), so it makes me wonder how his little barely 4 year old brain clung to the timing of Toby's death. Kian might not use the right words, but he has an impeccable memory. Still, it leaves me to wonder how he started talking about our beloved pets who passed away out of the blue and around the anniversary of Toby's death.

Life can be mysterious sometimes...