Thankful for garlic


I bought and planted garlic last spring not knowing it is an overwinter fall plant crop. Looks like I’m good to go!!

Chicken Marsala; Spinach Salad, home made Croutons


My Husband says my chicken Marsala is the best he’s ever had. with one minor exception for a local restaurant.   I’ve talked before about how I am  a recipe fiddler.  Basically by the time I’ve made something more than a few times I pretty much just keep it in my head and then whip it out via memory when the time comes.   Now that being said, I haven’t made this dish in a long while.  But I was feeling  cocky and I was also short on time and attention span.  I made this dinner Tuesday night for my husband and SIL while trying to supervise home work and get the kids fed a snack.   It’s been better, but it was still good.   The pics below will show you what it all look like, but the recipe basically goes like this.

Chicken Marsala

Boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin.  anywhere from 2-4, anymore and your pan size could end up being an issue, but you could always cook them in batches.

Lightly dredge in flour, you can add salt and pepper to taste, I do not.

Cook them in a large flat bottom skillet in a little olive oil until they are browned on both sides and you have a nice pan full of cooked brown bits.  Take them out and set them to the side.

White or yellow onion,  diced fine, about a half an onion, you don’t want a ton of it because the focus is the shrooms.

Couple cloves of garlic, smash with a knife and peel.  Then I run them through a garlic press and dump right on top on the diced onion pile.

This time I deglazed the pan with red wine,  you could use white whine, Marsala, beef or chicken broth. Heck you can even use water if you need to, but you MUST deglaze the pan before you put in the onions and garlic. You want to cool the pan down a smidge and also get all the flavor up form the bottom to go into the sauce.   Then I added a little butter and olive oil and sauteed the onions and garlic until soft.   The red wine made it a bit difficult to keep an eye on heat and make sure the garlic did not burn, if you ever burn garlic in a dish you should probably just throw it out and start fresh, there is no  rescue from burnt garlic.

80z or more of mushrooms, I hoped to use the rest of the Criminis we got locally, but they were dry moldy yuck.  I  just used sliced button mushrooms, about 12 oz, and gave them a rough chop to break them down to something with a little smaller/better mouth feel.

Toss mushrooms into onions and garlic and saute until tender and clear, but not caramelized ( though that might be yum)

You sauce is basically some  ratio of butter, Marsala ( buy a good one) and broth.  I prefer beef broth because I like the darker color.   Now thickness can be an issue here.  Butter wise I try  not to use more than 2-3 TBs in the sauce itself.  Too much fat and sauces are harder to keep together and do not reheat well, think Alfredo…

I also don’t prefer to use corn starch when thickening sauces. I am a make a roux girl. And you kind of already have roux in your pan because the chicken had flour on it, and you have cooked those meaty floury bits in olive oil and butter (fats).  Then deglazed and incorporated them into the sauce.   Got it? So you can a- be bold and  trust your skills ( what I did this time) b-make some more roux paste in your pan. If I had done it this time it would of been 1-2 TBs of flour and butter.  Be sure to cook until paste is brownish, not raw and yellowish white.  You will need a cup of liquid for each tablespoon of flour you used in your roux.  ish…  Sauces are so fun!

c- just use corn starch . If you do,  use 1 tsp corn starch in a cold cup of broth and shake it well.   I think I usually temper the broth/starch with some warm broth from the pan as well before putting it in the pan.

Now you add your broth and Marsala and simmer and stir until your sauce is right where you want it.   This is TRULY a taste issue.  Husband made it last week with an online recipe that called for no broth and 1.5 cups of Marsala. When he cooked it down the sauce was very light brown and very thick, Marsalaly. It as good, it wasn’t mine.  This time I used about 1.5 cups of the broth and maybe 1/4 cup Marsala.  At the end 2  Tablespoons of butter was stirred in and it turned out great.  Next time I’m trying, white wine, chicken broth and more Marsala..maybe…

When you are comfortable that your sauce is together and the taste you’d like place your breasts back into the pan and simmer for a bit until you are happy with it and serve over Gemelli.

Now the croutons.

I use my big white bowl I use to make dressing for Thanksgiving or pasta salads for pitch-ins.  Though lately it has become the defacto Spinach Salad bowl.

In the bottom of the bowl warm butter and olive oil and then add your spices.  I use a crap load of dill and something called Garlic Garlic sold by Tastefully Simple.  You want a lot of spice in your oil/butter and you can spice it however you want.    You do NOT want too much butter/oil so error on the less side until you learn what works for you.

Cut your french baguettes into cubes and then take off your rings and toss the cubes with the oil/butter/spice mixture.  Leave it sit for a little bit and make sure you have tossed well.

Dump them in a single layer on a cookie sheet

DON’T wash the bowl, put your salad directly in it and it will pick up the spices left behind on the sides.

Bake them in a 325 oven until they are “done”. I do this by watch and feel alone.   Start with 10 minutes and then check about every 5. You can also pull them out and turn them all, I usually just shake the pan a few times.  You want them dried out, but not  so hard they rip your mouth up and not so soft it is like eating bread cubes.   If you get them a little too hard don’t worry ( mine went a tad too far) just make a wetter salad, think  juicy tomatoes and toss the croutons in with the whole thing. They will pick up the salad juices and get very very yummy.   What you don’t use,  store in a plastic baggie in your pantry. You may be able to freeze them too, but I’ve never tried.  They don’t last that long.

Last Night’s Dinner- Finally a cooking post!

In the next 48 hours I will see not one but two Alkaline Trio live shows.    For the next 3 days, The Husband and I will be ALONE and FAR AWAY from  MiniMe and The Destroyer.    Before I get to take advantage of all that time away I had to make sure the house, and kids and etc was taken care of.   So last night I totally sent The Husband to Sam’s  Club and stole making dinner from him.   I am a fabulous cook. But ever since the reconciliation  I have found myself relegated to sous chef in my house.   One of the ways The Husband coped and relaxed during the almost divorce was to cook.   Before we  split up we used to both cook fairly evenly.  There is debate on who is the better cook.  He is by far the better baker, I am better at sauces. He is  an amazing smoker chef as well.  The place where I excel though is taking what’s left in the house  that seems like nothing and making an amazing meal with it.   That’s because of the way my mind works when I cook.  When I’m deciding what to make for dinner this is what I do.

I take a look at what we have in the fridge or what I need need to use up, and then I just start thinking about what sounds good with it. It’s pretty simple really. Just add some flavor you are craving and voila dinner.  Sorry if the pics line up wonky, but I’m done messing with it.

Last night’s  dinner started with the Italian marinade chicken, fresh local green beans, beets, garden slicing tomatoes, and spicy  field greens. Even better, other than the salad and corn, everything  was being grilled.  Chicken was simply done in a an Italian marinade of The Husbands concoction and grilled for about 8-10 min per side.

Grilled Beets:Chop of tops and roots. Wash, peel, slice in about 1/4-1/2 slices. lightly coat in olive oil.  Grill for about 8-12 minutes a side, flip repeat until done.   Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Beets, peeled and sliced

Beets first side

Beets side 2, green beans on

Grilled Green Beans with garlic and shallots:I rinsed and broke the stem ends off of the beans. A few of them I broke bad spots off. The bean’s got a light coating of olive oil in a cookie sheet. Then I peeled and sliced the shallots, garlic pressed the  fresh garlic on top of that. Sort of cut, mashed it all in with some sea salt, then tossed it with the beans and oil.   I  put the beans on the grill after the beets were flipped and left them in there for the remainder of the cooking time, about another 8-10 minutes or so.

Sliced Shallots, red board is from the beets

Garlic, Shallots, Salt

Beans with the onion and garlic mixed in

Garden Tomato, Basil and Fresh Mozzarella salad:Slice the farmers market or garden tomatoes and leave them sit at room temperature.  Go pick some Basil form you garden and layer the rinsed and bruised basil leaves and fresh mozzarella between the slices.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Serve over field or other spicy greens.

Garden Basil plant


Basil in between. I did this first b/c I was waiting on the mozz to get home.

Final Product


Corn on the cob and Garlic Naan:We also had corn to use up and Garlic Naan in the freezer.  Corn I just husked and trimmed and boiled for about ten minutes. Naan went onto the cookie sheet after the beans came off to get some of the left behind garlic and shallots. Then onto the grill at the end.

Garlic Naan

Naan on cookie sheet

The grill all stacked up

Corn in the pot


The Final Result:  Grilled chicken, beets, beans and garlic naan. With  Caprese salad, corn on the cob.  Oh and  Friday’s Blackberry cobbler (also made by me) for dessert:

Beans and Beets

Chicken, beans and beets



Blackberry Cobbler