Thursday, January 28, 2021

Skillet Balsamic Garlic Chicken


When I wrote about the food we ate in the fall, some of you expressed interest in the recipe of the skillet balsamic garlic chicken. I got this recipe from my friend Liz who provided me with some wonderful recipes when our oven broke down last spring and I was limited to meals that you can prepare on the stovetop. I'm not sure where she got the recipe from, so unfortunately I cannot tell you the source.

This dish cooks up fast as soon as you are done with all the prep work.

Here's what you need:

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, sliced or pounded 1/2 inch thick (I slice mine, and I also sometimes substitute the breasts for chicken thighs)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced (I used crimini)
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 TBSP butter, cubed
  1. Season the raw chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and, when hot, place the chicken in the skillet. Cook it on one side for about 5 minutes until browned, then flip and cook for another 3 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and the mushrooms to the pan and stir to combine. Work the mushrooms under the chicken, so it sits on top of the mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes until the mushrooms begin to soften. Add in the vinegar, broth, bay leaf and thyme.
  4. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Then uncover the skillet and cook for an additional 5 to 7 minutes to sligthly thicken the sauce.
  5. Add in the butter and cook for 2 more minutes.
  6. Serve over rice, pasta or potatoes. We like to eat it over couscous.

Don't forget to vote in my annual giveaway that is open until this weekend!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Annual Giveaway

Just like in the past three years, January is the month of my annual giveaway of three photo greeting cards. It's a bit different from the years before since I didn't take that many pictures in 2020 - by far. Most of those pictures were taken with my phone. Although my phone has an excellent camera, my photography lacks my usual creativity that I most enjoy when going out with my DSLR. Nevertheless, there are a few favorite ones and in the end I had a hard time deciding which photos to include.

You will see 15 of my photos and I would like you to tell me in the comments which ones are you favorite three photos. Maybe you might like a photo so much that you want to give it all of your three votes - you can do that, too. You can divide your three votes however you like. All the photos have numbers, so just put in the numbers in the comments. By the end of the week I will see which three photos will have received the most votes. One of you - chosen randomly - will be the lucky winner to get those three photos as greeting cards. This giveaway is open worldwide, so don't hesitate if you live on the other side of the world.

1. Morning at the Lake

2. The Pacific Ocean

3.  California Poppies

4. In the Lavender

5. Through the Lens

6. Morning Light

7. Hollyhocks

8. The Seagull 

9. Rock Cairn

10. Crane Creek Park

11. On the Ground

12. Winter Morning

13. Light and Shadow

14. Autumn Gate

15. Autumn Glory

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Autumn Cuisine


Farfalle with shrimp and roasted bell pepper drizzled with herb infused olive oil

What a start to the new year it has been! I'm still a bit shaken, shocked but not surprised. Unfortunately, my anxiety has flared up again after I was able to get it under control during the holidays.

Cooking has always calmed me. Cutting up vegetables, measuring out the spices, trying out new recipes, changing old dishes into smething new and exciting helps me to forget everything else for at least a short time. I usually listen to some music while cooking - sometimes it's soothing, calming music, sometimes it's fast and I want to dance - so I'm standing in front of my stove swinging my hips!

Lemon chicken with orzo and leeks

Autumn arrives rather late in my corner of the world and then lingers well into December. The food is changing from the rather light summer fare to heartier dishes.

One of the most wonderful things about fall is the abundance of vegetables available at the farmers market. One of the vendors offers an interesting variety of squash and zucchini, among them the Eight-ball zucchini, a small round zucchini that you can stuff with all kinds of wonderful food and flavor.

Every morning I get the morning briefing of the New York Times in my inbox and it always links to one recipe. Some of them I don't care for, but some I want to try out. We love brussels sprouts and when the NYT published a tasty sounding recipe I had to make it. It is easy to make, only has a few ingredients (I skipped the honey because I just don't like it), is wonderfully delicious and quickly became a favorite in our household.

Crisp gnocchi with brussels sprouts and brown butter

Of course Thanksgiving is in autumn. That was a different story this year. Not only was it the first Thanksgiving without our daughter, we also couldn't celebrate with our friends. Usually we go to a friend's house and celebrate with her and her huge family. This Thanksgiving was a lot quieter and since we don't really like turkey we skipped on that as well. I wasn't in the mood for cooking an elaborate meal anyway. Luckily, Trader Joe's saved the day with their tasty beef en croute and sweet potato gnocchi in sage butter. I just had to thaw the beef for 24 hours, throw it in the oven and make the gnocchi in the pan. Easy peasy - and surprisingly delicious. Beef it up (excuse the pun) with a bottle of really good red wine and you have a lovely Thanksgiving dinner.

There are a couple more pasta and meat dishes I at least want to mention here without getting into more detail:

Creamy spinach and mushroom tortellini with caramelized onions

Sausage and peppers pasta with broccoli

Loaded Italian sausage

Balsamic chicken with mushrooms and couscous

One kind of food I shouldn't forget - soup. Now I am not very good at making delicious soups; good soup can be quite time intensive to make. We often have soup on the days that I am at work (either that or leftovers) and usually it's store-bought soup that I spruce up a little bit. Trader Joe's has an organic tomato and roasted red bell pepper soup (that is also low sodium) that by itself is very tasty. Here is how I change it a little bit: I stir minced ginger into sour cream and drizzle pumpkin seeds with good olive oil. Then I spoon a big dollop of the ginger sour cream in the soup and top it with the pumpkin seeds. It is a very satisfying meal.

What's for dessert? you might ask. Simple - fresh pineapple guavas from the garden. They also make a great snack.

I hope you enjoyed this culinary post. If there is a dish or two that you are interested in the recipe, let me know. It will become a future post.