Mushroom Sauce (gravy?) for ravioli

Quick dinner tonight, once I got it going. We bought a 2-pack of a chicken & 4 cheese ravioli at Sam’s Club a week or so ago. The first batch, I just made with a jarred tomato sauce, slightly improved upon with herbs and balsamic vinegar.

Both Chris and I agreed that this was not quite the right topper for this ravioli that is primarily chicken. We also agreed that something more brothy or even gravy like would be better. There was even talk of treating the raviolis like pierogies and topping them with carmelized onions and mushrooms. That takes a long time and Thursday night is homework night so I did this, instead:

Ingredients

1/2 onion, finely diced
8 oz mini bella mushrooms, sliced thin
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
2 tbsp white wine
1 1/2-2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter (may be optional)
1/2 tsp olive oil
1-2 tablespoon flour
thyme
rosemary
1 garlic clove, crushed

Directions

1. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and herbs, stirring 20-30 seconds until fragrant. Add onion and season with a pinch of salt.

2. After onions have cooked down, stir in mushrooms and another pinch of salt (helps release the water). Cook the mushrooms until the pan is nearly dry. Add wine.

3. Add broth and bring to a boil then reduce to medium temperature. Allow to cook down a bit then add red bell pepper.

4. Stir in butter and flour to thicken slightly. Or thicken more or less by varying the amount of butter and/or flour.

Serve hot and garnish with a little cheese of your choice and fresh parsley (I used a bit of cheese leftover from our weekend trip to Petoskey: it had lavender and espresso beans washed over the rind).

Done! I started the onions then put the raviolis in their boiling water when I reached step 3 above.

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Maple-Dijon Chicken and a bit of Buttermilk Chicken too

I don’t really have a recipe, per se, for this dish. And I don’t have any pictures because I was too tired to go get my camera and take pictures.

Maple-Dijon Glaze

 

Ingredients

chopped garlic
chopped shallots
dijon-type mustard (we used Grey Poupon)
real maple syrup
honey
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
olive oil

  

Directions

Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of a small saucepan. Heat over medium. Add approximately 1 1/2-2 cloves chopped garlic and 1 chopped shallot (I used both from jars last night). Cook 60 seconds or so, until fragrant. Add 2-3 tablespoons of dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Whisk to combine. Add 1 cup broth and a 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of honey (optional- depends on your maple syrup). Bring to a boil and reduce to the thickness of your choice. 

 I can not stress enough how easy and versatile this one is!! Last night, I made this as a thin glaze. You could keep cooking it down to a thicker sauce. You could also make it a basting sauce for baking or grilling. I used it on sauteed chicken (seasoned with a bit of salt, pepper and Italian spices) and onions but you could also make this for pork or shellfish. I don’t think its strong enough to stand up to beef but it would also work on some fish, especially salmon.


Buttermilk Chicken

We have a new go-to in our house. The buttermilk marinated chicken from last week has made repeat appearances and even received rave reviews from outsiders.

Over the weekend we went up to St. Helen for some campfire action with some friends. Chris went out four-wheeling with the guys. He returned covered in dust and keenly aware of some muscles he didn’t even know he had. I went shopping at the outlet mall in West Branch and returned with new-found appreciation of the messenger bag-style purse I bought in Puerto Rico. (note: did not intend to shop like that but we had to go in to town for internet access so I could post my homework- all in the name of good grades!)

Before we left on Friday, I tossed a few things in a cooler that I knew we’d need to use up. One of those things was the remaining jug of buttermilk. I also mixed up the spices and salt in a plastic bag, guessing on amounts since I didn’t think I needed to be precise. Saturday morning, I mixed the marinade up and marinated the chicken from 11 AM to 7:30 PM. Here is what I have discovered: you can do this marinade for 30 minutes or 30 hours (or even 48 hours) and it will still come out perfect! No panko crumbs to be found at the West Branch Wally World so I used some Italian seasoned breadcrumbs in the cupboard at the trouse (combo trailer-house, use your imagination). As a result, the breading was a little saltier than I prefer but everyone else loved it.

Squash Risotto and Pan-fried Chicken with Mustard Wine Sauce

This summer, Chris and I were spending some time with friends at their cabin near Tawas (Michigan). One day, Becky and I were trying to use up groceries as we would be leaving the next day and didn’t want to leave a lot of food behind, especially food prone to spoilage in a bad, smelly sort of way.

So, Becky had this acorn squash which we just halved then microwaved before sprinkling with a little herb seasoning and slicing at the table. Chris had long thought he didn’t like squash. But he ate this side dish without much question. Later, he asked what it was and then said “I guess I don’t mind squash then.” Since then, I’ve been thinking about some squash-spotlighting dishes to make.
The fact that I like squash is a bit surprising and probably owes to my maturation as an eater. As a baby, I loved squash. And carrots. In fact, I ate so much squash and carrots, my skin took on a orange tinge and some credit my red hair to the beta-carotene (others blame the cat, an orange/white tabby who slept on my head when I was an infant). By middle-school, I was over squash. I didn’t want anything to do with that blob of orange-yellow goop that usually only showed up around the holidays. I don’t really remember when I realized that I did, in fact, like the taste of squash but maybe sometime in college.

My preference is for firm squash without an overload of cinnamon, maple syrup, butter etc. When I want mashed or pureed veggies, its either potatoes or sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes cooked in heavy cream then mashed are amAzing if horribly high in fat.

On many occasions, I have seen recipes for squash or pumpkin or sweet potato risotto and mentally filed that concept as “one to try.” Tonight, I tried it.

Using a recipe from Simply Recipes as a jumping off point, came up with a home run. Or that’s what Chris said anyhow. For the chicken, I had some thin-cut boneless skinless breasts to use up.

Squash Risotto

Ingredients

1 cup arborio rice
1/2 sweet dumpling, acorn or similar sized winter squash
1/2 cup white wine (I used Barefoot Chardonnay and highly recommend it)
3 cups chicken broth, warmed (veggie broth works too)
2 tablespoons butter, divided
olive oil
1 medium onion, diced small
2 garlic cloves, mashed
sage
cinnamon
1/2 cup grated/shredded parmesan cheese or similar

Directions

To prepare squash:

  • Slice squash in half with a heavy knife (carefully), scoop out seeds then microwave 2-3 minutes on high.
  • Remove squash and when able to handle, cut flesh from skin. I cut the squash in pieces and used a vegetable peeler to get most of the skin off. I found this worked better with less waste than cutting the flesh out with a knife.
  • Chop squash in to 1 inch dice

For risotto:

  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat in a large, shallow pan. Add garlic, onions and squash. Season pan with salt. Cook 5 minutes or so, until onions are translucent but not browning.
  • Add rice to pan, stir to mix and cook another 1-2 minutes.
  • Pour wine in to pan and keep stirring until wine is absorbed.
  • Keep stirring and add some (about 1/4-1/2 cup) of the chicken broth, just enough to cover the rice.
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 teaspoons rubbed sage (dried) to the rice.
  • Keep stirring and repeat adding broth as the previous is absorbed. This process will take about 30 minutes.
  • When all the broth has been absorbed by the rice, stir in the cheese and one tablespoon of butter.

The risotto should be creamy and the squash will still have some firmness but not be crunchy.

Pan-friend Chicken with Mustard-Wine Sauce

This was pretty much all on the fly and measurements are best guesstimates.

Ingredients

2 thin-cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts (from Miller Amish Farms, of course)
1/2 cup bread crumbs (optionally pre-seasoned with Italian Seasonings)
1 teaspoon sage
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 cup white wine (any white, I used the Chardonnay from above)
2 tablespoons Creole mustard
1 tablespoon butter

butter or oil for saute

  • Combine bread crumbs, sage and cheese in a ziploc bag.
  • Heat saute pan over medium heat, add butter or oil (your choice). When ready, drop one chicken breast in the ziploc bag, close it up and shake it around. Remove from bag and add to pan. Repeat with second breast.
  • Cook approximately 5 minutes until coating is a light golden brown. Flip and finish chicken, another 5-7 minutes, until cooked through.
  • Remove chicken to a plate and keep warm.
  • Add wine to pan and scrape any browned bits up.
  • Add mustard and bring to a boil before stirring in butter. After butter is incorporated, reduce heat to medium-low until desired consistency is reached.

Notes: Risotto serves 4-6 but the chicken was a meal for just two.

The coating for the chicken would have done better with something to stick to, like a quick egg dip or even milk. Alas, we had neither on hand tonight.  After I put the meat in the pan, I pressed a little of the breadcrumbs and cheese in to the upside. Anything that fell off became part of the sauce.

To plate, spread a little mustard sauce on one side then top with the chicken before adding more sauce.  Garnished with oregano that is somehow still alive on our balcony.

We enjoyed our fine meal with a glass of Tiz Red, from California’s Tiz Winery.  This wine is a blended red that pretty much goes with anything.  Affordable too, we’ll buy it again.

The comments from Chris: Home run on the risotto, “you should make this for Thanksgiving”,  chicken was B+ mostly because he wanted more sauce which is easily do-able.

The Thanksgiving idea is interesting but I’m leaning towards this instead.