Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My Man Can Cook! Mustard Chicken on Pasta

Lee Cooks, Too!

I know, I am a lucky gal! I married a guy who had been single for so long he had to learn how to cook. What a blessing! So that's my tip, ladies...find a man who has been living by himself. They do eat, so they do learn to cook. Usually, they enjoy cooking and creating something delicious to eat, and they like to share and show it off a little bit. At least I know my guy can follow a recipe.

I like to cook, and I usually do most of the meal planning and grocery shopping and cooking. But when my schedule isn't conducive for that, I ask my husband for help, and he gladly pitches in. So one night last week, I was working later than he was and I was feeling really exhausted. I texted him the recipe I was going to make when I got home, hoping that he would get home a half hour or so before me and get it started. The recipe was for pan-fried chicken breasts with a creamy mustard sauce over pasta, something I knew would make his mouth water just reading about it. The plan came together! I can't tell you exactly how my husband made it, because I was still at work when he was cooking. When I walked in the door, he was putting the finishing touches on the sauce. All I can tell you is that it was really good, and we will make it again. He plated everything, poured me a glass of wine, and told me it was my turn to do the dishes. That's love for you!
Here is the recipe I texted him from Eating Well:

Creamy Mustard Chicken
From EatingWell:  September/October 2013 In this healthy, creamy mustard chicken recipe, thin-sliced chicken breasts (sometimes labeled chicken cutlets) cook quickly and are delicious smothered in a velvety, light mustard sauce and garnished with fresh chopped sage. If you can’t find chicken cutlets, cut boneless, skinless chicken breast into 4-ounce pieces and place between pieces of plastic wrap. Pound with a meat mallet, rolling pin or heavy skillet until flattened to about 1/2 inch thick.
4 servings | Active Time: 35 minutes | Total Time: 35 minutes


  • 1/2 package whole-wheat angel hair pasta (7-8 ounces)
  • 4 thin-sliced chicken breasts or cutlets (about 1 pound)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage, plus more for garnish


  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, sprinkle chicken with garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow bowl and coat both sides of the chicken, shaking off any excess. Reserve 2 teaspoons flour; discard the rest.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a clean plate.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Add shallot and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute. Combine water with the reserved 2 teaspoons flour. Add to the pan and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream, mustard, 2 tablespoons sage and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Return the chicken to the pan and turn to coat with the sauce.
  5. Top the pasta with half the sauce, the chicken and then the remaining sauce. Garnish with more sage, if desired.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Chicken Noodle Soup from a leftover roasted chicken

Looking at this, I wish I had added some sliced mushrooms to it. Sigh! Next time!!!

About once a week now, I stop by the grocery store deli on my way home from work and pick up some chicken. Sometimes it is wings, sometimes chicken tenders, but most often its a whole roasted chicken. I like the whole chicken, because then I have leftovers! A whole roasted chicken is such a deal for me because it costs about $6-8, depending on where you buy it, and I get a dinner and a pot of soup or a pasta dish later. I can use whatever veggies and pastas I happen to have on hand to make the magic all happen.

I never throw away the carcass without making some bone broth with it first! Basically, you eat the chicken for dinner one night, then put the leftovers in the refrigerator. The next day you pluck off all the good leftover chicken meat and put it aside in a container, then put the carcass into a stock pot and fill it with water and cook it for a few hours. I like to add a few stalks of celery and carrots, along with some onion, and a couple of cloves of garlic and a bay leaf, and season it with salt, pepper and garlic. Usually, I save the ends of the onion that I have trimmed off to use in my chicken stock. That's because after you make the stock, you strain out all the vegetables and bones and skin from the chicken carcass and discard that. Then you make your soup using fresh vegetables that you are not going to cook to death. You can also add a few sprigs of fresh parsley and thyme if you have it on hand.

For a little deeper flavor in my chicken noodle soup, I have been carmelizing an onion or two in my crock pot while the broth simmers on the stove. I start with two teaspoons of butter and an equal amount of olive oil in the crock with the sliced onions. Turn it on high and let them cook for two hours, stirring every now and then. The onion cooks and browns and develops beautiful flavor. This could be just the start of a French Onion Soup, but today its going to have other vegetables and some chicken meat in it.

When the broth has simmered on the stove for a good long while and sucked out all the goodness from the leftover chicken bones and skin and bits of meat, its time to strain it. I put my strainer right over the crock pot and ladled the broth through it into the crock bowl. Then I discarded the veggies and carcass remains that were left in the stock pot. Now I have a rich broth with carmelized onions and am ready to build my Chicken Noodle Soup.

I add to sliced celery and carrots to the broth and let that cook for about 15 minutes on low. The idea here is not to cook these veggies to the point of mush. Next, I season the broth a little more, adding salt, pepper, ginger*, thyme, rosemary, basil and a dash or two of soy sauce*. I still wasn't happy, so I added a teaspoon of my onion soup mixture that has turmeric in it. I could leave out the soy and ginger, but I think I like a more Asian tint to the broth these days. Sliced mushrooms would have been genius here, too, but I didn't think of them at the time. Anyway, I put the Asian-y stuff in parenthesis in the recipe, so you can decide which way you want to go with it).

Next, I chop up some kale or spinach and a good bunch of parsley (or cilantro) and put that in, give it a good stir, then add spaghetti (or ramen) noodles. After about 10 minutes, I stir in the leftover cooked chicken from the night before, check my seasonings, and soup's ready to serve!

Leftover Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup

One chicken carcass, skin, bones and all!
Stock pot full of water
Salt, pepper, garlic
Half an onion
2-3 celery stalks
1-2 carrots
2-3 garlic cloves
bay leaf

Bring to a simmer and let it cook for 1-2 hours. Strain and save the broth for soup.

2 tsp. butter and olive oil

Meanwhile, in a crock pot, carmelize a sliced onion with some butter and olive oil on high for 1-2 hours.

My own onion soup mix

8 cups chicken broth
carmelized onions
1 tsp each dried thyme, basil, rosemary
Salt, pepper, garlic, *(ginger)
1 tsp. onion soup mix
*(2 Tbs soy sauce)
3-4 sliced carrots
3-4 stalks sliced celery
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped parsley *(or cilantro)

2 cups chopped spinach or kale
6 oz. spaghetti or ramen noodles
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped into bite-sized pieces

Start with the broth and carmelized onions, add the seasonings and taste. At this point I added my onion soup mixture and some soy sauce. The add in the carrots, celery, mushrooms and let them cook for about 15 minutes. Add the pasta and spinach and cook for another 10-15 minutes, then stir in the chicken (its already cooked!) and serve.

Chicken noodle soup that I made tonight with vermecelli noodles and some leftover sauteed squash. More traditional in taste and appearance, no soy sauce. I used one tablespoon of my Onion Soup Mix in the broth.

Onion Soup Mix

2/3 C dried minced onion
3 tsp. parsley flakes
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Use 4 Tbs. in a recipe in place of 1 packet of store-bought onion soup mix. Makes enough to fill a pint mason jar.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Chicken Pho

I made my own Chicken Pho, which is a Vietnamese soup with noodles and spices and bean sprouts and bok choy....mmmmmh! It is cropping up on all the menus lately at Panera and Chinese food places and all kinds of other eateries. The hearty broth flavored with aromatic spices tingles the senses in the most delightful way.
This week SLO Veg Delivery sent tat soi, which is a cousin of bok choy, along with organic carrots and celery, so right there I had the makings of a good soup. I had picked up a roasted chicken from the deli the other night and I had about half of it left over, perfect soup stock makings. I pulled off most of the meat, putting it aside, and put just the carcass into a pot of water, along with the ends and tops of my celery and carrot sticks. Then I added the seasonings: cloves, a cinnamon stick, Chinese five spice powder, salt, pepper and garlic powder. I added a generous dash of fish sauce and soy sauce and let the pot simmer for a couple of hours on the stove top. This can also be done in a crock pot, cooking on high for 4-5 hours to bring out the most flavor.
The broth is then strained and the bones and simmering spices and vegetables are disgarded. Now you have a wonderful, flavorful soup base to mix with the chicken pieces, chopped fresh carrots, celery, bok choy, and noodles for the pho. Restaurants serve cilantro, jalapeno pepper, and mung bean sprouts on the side, to be added to the pho at the table, but I just added them all into the pot and ladeled it into serving bowls.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Mustard Sauce on Swordfish

Today's early Spring bounty from SLO Veg: cauliflower, tangerines, kale, grapefruit, carrots, artichokes, curly parsley, strawberries, lettuce mix, beets, tat soi and swordfish.
 Mustard Sauce on Swordfish

We got a beautiful box of fruits and vegetables today, along with two thick, fresh swordfish steaks, courtesy of SLO Veg and SLO Fresh Catch. I knew we could put together a delicious, fresh and flavorful dinner in minutes with items like the salad mix, grapefruit, carrots, and fish.

My husband got home first, so I texted him and asked if he could start the mustard sauce for the fish. It needed to reduce for 20 or so minutes, so if he got it started, I could steam the veggies and fry the fish when I got home. He also put together a yummy green salad with the lettuce blend we got in the box, some segments of grapefruit and feta cheese. I had already mixed up a blueberry vinegar and basil dressing to serve on the salad, so our dinner salad came together nicely. I still had a bunch of broccoli from last week, so I steamed it with the organic carrots we received  today, along with some sliced onion and finished it with a squeeze of lemon juice.  

The swordfish was simply seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and sauteed in butter. When it was cooked through, I put it on the plate with the steamed veggies and spooned some mustard sauce over the fish. 

 Lee followed the recipe from SLO Fresh Catch for Mustard Sauce for Fish. He used some homemade chicken broth that I had previously frozen, and chopped up a green onion. Mustard and butter brought the sauce together and really made the fish delicious! It really can't get much simplier than this.