Twofer: Dinner and dessert

Tonight was a pasta night.  It happens quite a bit, usually in the form of an easy microwave dinner or just some pre-made in a jar sauce with noddles.  Nothing fancy but nothing creative either.  I decided to forgo the stables and do something new.

The menu?  Pasta with an easy creamy garlic sauce that I found on this blog and a quick, microwave dessert that’s a bit of a stable for me when I want something sweet and fruity.  I will say this about the menu…  wait a bit before going from your garlic sauce to your apple dessert.  It doesn’t always go well together right away.

Let’s break it down.

The sauce wasn’t too difficult to make and I say this as being a person who cannot make a savory sauce or gravy right to save her life.  Desserts?  No problem.  Savory?  Apparently it doesn’t work in my brain.  That being said, I’ve watched enough cooking shows to believe I could handle this, and you know what?  I did.  What I will say, however, was that I did have to change things up a bit…as usual.

Pasta with a creamy garlic sauce topped with cherry tomatoes, shredded cheese and parsley

Pasta with a creamy garlic sauce topped with cherry tomatoes, shredded cheese and parsley

The recipe on the site calls for a tablespoon of butter, finely chopping garlic and three tablespoons flour (among other things, you’ll have to check the website out to see what).  I didn’t have fresh garlic (boo) so I used the minced stuff which is probably what changed things for me.  My mixture ended up too dry before I added the milk to the mix.  So I hurried and put in another tablespoon of butter, which seemed to help and worked the milk into the mix.  I do think I will cut back on the flour in the future and add more salt, otherwise, the quick save did the trick.

Now, to top it off, and because I’m a sucker for cheese (forget mold allergies, I love my cheese!), I sprinkled a bit of shredded cheese on top, a bit of dried (wish I had fresh) parsley (I’m on a parsley kick), and some cherry tomatoes.  I turned out rather tasty.  It wasn’t as strong a flavor as I would have liked and fresh garlic is probably what would have made this so I’ll give it ago another time when I have it in the house, but for a quick and easy pasta sauce?  It’s a keeper.

On to dessert.  I’m a fan of microwave desserts since I’m just one person.  It makes it easy to stop at one serving.  What I love even more are apples.  I can eat apples till I’m too stuffed to eat.  Just ask anyone who has worked with me at Greenfield Village at Firestone Farm during apple harvest.  Apples, love them!

My favorite thing to do is to add some sugar, both brown and white (I love the flavor mix of the two with an apple), cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to a chopped apple.  Always taste your apple to check the sweetness, etc.  Every apple breed is different and that changes your ratio of sugar to spices.  I’ll admit, I had a sweet apple and might have added a bit too much sugar (ha!), but I got excited.

Spiced apples with ice cream

Spiced apples with ice cream

Microwave those apples with your spices and sugar for about 1 minute.  I always do spurts of 30 seconds just to be sure.  Then I crumble up some graham crackers or vanilla wafers (preferred) and top it off with just a small scoop or two of french vanilla bean ice cream.  It warms the belly and really isn’t as bad for you as a good slice of chocolate cake, which is a winner in my book.

All in all… not a bad meal.  A typical meal, but a pretty good one.


Lemon Parsley Chicken

Very tragically, I missed last week.  It wasn’t that there was no baking or cooking going on, just that they were repeats and requests by the family and a few standbys for GV which stars next Monday.  This just means there are two recipes for this week to make up for it.

This one is rather easy.  I started with a lemon-dill chicken recipe and had to modify it per what the pantry and frig contained, which is often the case.  Happily, this recipe still tasted amazing after the tweeks which I think owes itself to the recipe.  I’m quite fond of recipes that allow that freedom in the kitchen, but don’t we all?

Look at it cooking away, smelling up the house with yumminess.

Look at it cooking away, smelling up the house with yumminess.

The changes I made were pretty basic anyway.  Luckily, there were a couple of lemons in the frig (which aren’t usually there but I’ll take it) and it allowed me to use my little, wooden juicer and I love using my wooden utensils.  I didn’t have any dill (though the next time I will make this with dill because it would be amazing) or any onions since the last one had been used for a dinner in which I hadn’t been home to notice.  My family didn’t miss it since they are not the biggest onion fans but I am and I wish I could have used them.

There's so much flavor in this and apparently only 173 calories, so score!

There’s so much flavor in this and apparently only 173 calories, so score!

In place of dill, I used the same amount of herbs but used parsley and some basil, plus I rubbed the chicken with just a little bit of poultry seasoning with the salt and pepper before the searing of it.  The only other issue was that the flour wasn’t quite enough to thicken the mixture and I had to add a bit to make it work but that’s all part of the process.

The result is delicious and I love the tang of the lemon with the chicken.  It’s definitely only to be one of those repeat recipes for me while I play with the herb combos.

Lemon Whipped Cinnamon Toast

My mouth has tasted something divine and I’m so very happy my desperate need for dinner and experimentation worked out!  I blame Elementary (which is filling my time before Sherlock is back on).  It makes my brain work.

Being grocery day, I had to make due with what was there, which happened to be enough eggs for french toast and a tub of this lemon pudding whipped concoction I made up as a sort of frosting for a cake I made earlier (post coming for that).  My brain put two and two together, coupled with a love of stuffed french toast from restaurants and voila!  I created something purely fluffy and almost guilt free.  How?  Let me tell you.  (Can you tell I’m very pleased with myself?)

Doesn't it look yummy and so guilty?!

Doesn’t it look yummy and so guilty?!

I made up a cinnamon french toast, pretty basic but I kept the cinnamon and sugar mix down so it was just a hint of it.  Then, for the filling, I followed a frosting recipe I found that didn’t turn out quite right.  Instead, I had this fluffy pudding thing.  Basically, it’s a package of lemon pudding mix (I can’t remember if I grabbed sugar-free or not), lite whipped cream and a cup of 2% milk.  Pudding is pretty low-cal (unless you eat a whole batch) and whipped topping isn’t all that bad for you either.  Mixed up and placed in the frig, it isn’t as frosting-like as I’d have hoped and I have plans to perfect it but as it was, it was utterly delicious, fluffy pudding.  That, I figured might taste good as a filling for a cinnamon toast sandwich.

I took about a large tablespoon of my lemon fluff for each half, then sprinkled the top with powdered sugar instead of syrup.  With the subtle cinnamon sugar toast, it was perfection!  It wasn’t too sugary which happens with french toast and syrup.  I’m excited to try out different flavors of pudding mix in the whipped topping.

I’m never going back to regular french toast again.

What I Call Yummy Chicken

I’m so proud of myself here and it isn’t all that big of an accomplishment, not really but here it is:  I managed, without a recipe, to create an utterly delicious seasoned chicken breast for dinner.  This is big considering where I was a year ago and the fact that I felt confident enough with my seasoning abilities to go out, walk around the produce section and make it up as I went based on flavors that I knew, made me feel like a chef.  I am not, of course, but it’s nice to know that I threw it all together and it ended up tasting very, very good.

Look at it sizzling!

Look at it sizzling!

It’s pretty basic really.  I just fried up some chicken on the stove top but I liked my spice mix.  I mixed together a little poultry seasoning (it had a few spices that I didn’t have separately), parsley, basel, rosemary, and thyme until it smelled like something I wanted to eat.  I often chose my balance based on smell.  In the frying pan, I melted a good amount of butter with some garlic powder.  Rubbed into the breast was a light sprinkle of Italian seasoning because why not?

Then into the pan went the spices, mixed that into the butter and garlic already there and then added one, small, diced onion (relative to your meat).  Then went in the chicken, making sure I spooned some of the mix onto the top of the chicken and sprinkled some kosher salt.  Halfway through I remembered that there was some EVOO in the cupboard (which would have helped in the beginning) and added just a splash of that.  At the end, I decided to be odd and tossed in a little diced tomato.

Very proud of this right here!

Very proud of this right here!

However it worked out, the taste took to the chicken quite well and it was incredibly tender and juicy.  I don’t know if that was the amount of butter I fried it in or what but I’ll take it.  Next time, I’d like to experiment with some heat but I’m still figuring out what flavors of heat I like and what flavors just leave a bad after taste.

To all this I had some homemade creamed corn, the sort we use on the Firestone Farm at Greenfield Village.  All of this (I had most of the spices already but not the produce or meat) came under $8 and I had plenty of leftovers.  Cheaper than most eat-out places and so much better for you.