Chicken & Mushroom Marsala Pasta

Luke and I are still adjusting to living in a house.  So far it hasn’t been that much different than living in an apartment, but some changes are natural I suppose.  I stand on the porch and stare at the lawn, wondering how long it’ll take before the grass is so high I need to try out (read: hopefully not break) the electric lawn mower the previous owners left us.  I also think about where I can possibly plant a vegetable garden among the tightly landscaped flowers and how I will ever manage to get usable compost out of the bin out back.

There are changes indoors as well.  Obviously the one most worth mentioning is our house bunny.  Without the precarious, steep steps of a second floor apartment, our little bun is running free and loving it.

I am terrified of our basement and all the creepy crawlers that live down there.  I brave it nearly everyday to use the elliptical (where my head comes oh so close to the cobwebby ceiling) and to access stored goods and the chest freezer we just bought.  Still, I dread going down there.

Since Luke’s office is on the second floor, I have begun to receive texts from him…while we’re in the same house.

Oh pasta!  So we’re back to carbs now; I knew I couldn’t stay away too long, though this one is much more of a balanced meal.  This chicken mushroom marsala is light and flavorful, and could easily be served over rice or polenta.  It’s also incredibly easy to make, so pick your carb and have at it!

Chicken Mushroom Marsala Pasta

Adapted from Meals in Heels

Makes 4-6 servings

 2 lb boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into thin strips
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 large shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 Tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
16 oz white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 cup Marsala
14 oz beef or chicken stock
thyme leaves and parmesan cheese for garnish

Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat half the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the chicken, in batches, for 1–2 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove and set aside.

Add the remaining oil, shallot, garlic and rosemary to the pan, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5–6 minutes or until the shallot is softened. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes more or until browned. Add the tomato paste, Marsala, stock and chicken, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Garnish with thyme and cheese and serve.



Five Spice Chicken & Mushroom Noodle Bowl

One more day.  One more day until this apartment ceases to be my home.  To me, moving is bittersweet.  You say goodbye to the old place you’ve grown accustomed to and felt comfortable in, and go onward to the new strange place that is home, but doesn’t feel like it yet.

When I went off to college, my mom sold the house I had grown up in and moved as well.  I was sad to leave that house, filled with countless memories, because it was the only home I had ever really known.

This will be the first house I can call my home since then.  Right now, it doesn’t feel much like home, littered with half-unpacked boxes and kitchen supplies stacked in various corners.  Maybe it’s because none of our furniture is there yet.  I mean, how can you have a home without a bed or sofa, or any chairs?  Or a cute little bunny to greet you when you get home?

So I suppose time is needed.  Time to acclimate to my new surroundings.  I’m excited.  I’m nervous.  I want noodles.  Noodles are my all-time comfort food.  I ate them practically non-stop in Taiwan (in between sips of bubble tea) and I pretty much eat them whenever possible.

This recipe is kind of an Asian mash-up, featuring Chinese five-spice powder aka my own personal MSG and udon noodles, which are Japanese.  I suppose I could have used lo-mein noodles.  Oh well.  This noodle bowl contains sautéed mushrooms and chicken rubbed thoroughly with five-spice powder.  Plus a classic sauce and of course, scallions.  Ah yes, comfort food at its finest.  Now back to packing.

Five Spice Chicken & Mushroom Noodle Bowl

Adapted from Better Recipes

Makes about 3-4 servings

8oz udon, lo-mein or other medium sized noodle

1 lb thinly sliced chicken breasts or boneless thighs

2 Tbsp Chinese five-spice powder

8oz button or baby bella mushrooms, sliced

¼ cup veggie or peanut oil

4 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp sesame oil

1 Tbsp rice vinegar

1 Tbsp sesame seeds

¼ cup chopped scallions for garnish

Prepare your noodles according to the instructions on their packaging.  While the noodles are cooking, make the sauce and prep the chicken.

Whisk the soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar together in a small bowl; set aside.

Sprinkle both sides of the chicken pieces with the five-spice powder, and rub it in well.  Heat half the oil in a large skillet or wok. Add the chicken and cook over medium-high heat until browned and cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.  Remove to a plate and set aside, leaving the drippings in the pan.

Heat the remaining half of the oil and add in the mushrooms.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until lightly browned and tender, about 5-8 minutes.

Add the noodles into the pan, then pour the sauce over the noodles, stirring to coat.  Add the chicken back in and toss the mixture until the sauce thickens a bit, about 3-5 minutes.

Transfer the noodles to bowls and garnish with chopped scallions and sesame seeds.  Enjoy your comfort noodles!

Chicken Fajitas

What do you do when you come back from Sam’s Club with a pound and a half of queso fresco?  Besides making bread, the first thing that came to mind was fajitas.

Especially since I have this badass cilantro plant hanging out by the window.  The herbs that managed to sprout have really taken off: I have lemon basil, thyme, cilantro, parsley, sage, oregano, chives and one unidentified herb growing with the chives.  I can’t wait to move into the house and replant them in larger containers so they can grow even more!

But I digress.  Back to food musings.  I have always liked tortillas better than taco shells.  Always.  I hate when you bite into a hard taco, and the shell shatters, destroying the structural integrity of your entire meal.  The soft tortilla is flexible, and can be molded around its fillings, securing them for their trip to your mouth.

I kept my fajita filling fairly simple.  Just some sautéed vegetables and chicken.  Ok, so it’s really simple.  And tasty.  Did I mention tasty?

I know you can buy taco/fajita seasoning at the supermarket, but I prefer to use adobo seasoning.  I love that stuff.

Fajitas are also great because you can use whatever meat/vegetables you have on hand, given that they soften easily.  I know there are many different kinds of fajitas out there, but this is one you can have on the table in under 30 minutes.

And it’s tasty.  Or did I mention that already…

Chicken Fajitas

A Bashful Bao Original

Makes 3-4 servings

2 Tbsp olive oil (or other veggie oil)

1 large chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces

8 oz button mushrooms

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, sliced into long strips

1 Tbsp adobo seasoning

8 medium flour or corn tortillas

cilantro and/or queso fresco for garnish (optional)

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat and add the chicken.  Cook until browned on all sides, about 6-8 minutes.  Transfer meat to a plate and set aside.

Add mushrooms to the pan and sauté until they start to give up their juices, about 5 minutes.  Add in onion, pepper and adobo seasoning and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onion start to turn a golden color and the pepper is softened, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the chicken back to the pan and stir to heat.  Remove pan from heat, spoon filling into tortillas, top with desired garnish (feel free to sub in other cheeses!) and serve.

Noodles with Peanut Sauce & Chicken

Here’s my mom and me.

She’s the wonderful lady who has nurtured me through my 20+ years of life.  I stopped living with my mom once I went to college (I lived with my dad during vacations because my mom moved to PA with my stepdad) so even though I’m young, I’ve had time to reflect on our relationship.

Though our relationship had its rough patches, (what teenage girl doesn’t have rough patches with her mom) I have come to appreciate all she did, and still does for me.  I hope someday I can become as good a mother as she is.  I think I’m doing a pretty good job with Izzy so far….

Yes, I know mothering a rabbit doesn’t count.  But you have to start somewhere to hone those fine-tuned mom skills.  Like how to deal with your child (aka bunny) when they misbehave, though our current strategy will have to be tweaked since it involves locking the “child” in a cage.

So why am I posting about noodles on Mother’s Day?  Well, why not?  No, actually, I do have a legitimate reason.  It is a Chinese tradition to eat noodles on your birthday, as noodles symbolize long life.

I’m raising this bowl of noodles to my mom, and all the moms out there, to say thank you for all their hard work in raising us kids, I hope you all keep it up for a long while yet.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Noodles with Peanut Sauce & Chicken

Adapted from Barbara Bakes and Steamy Kitchen

Makes 3-4 servings

For the chicken:

1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast

1-2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 tsp rice vinegar

1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp peanut butter
½ tsp sesame oil

For the noodles:

12 oz thin egg noodles, soba, or thin spaghetti

1/4 cup peanut butter, preferably chunky

2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp rice vinegar

chopped scallions & sesame seeds for garnish

Prepare the marinade for the chicken first.  In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, peanut butter, sesame oil and whisk to combine. Set the marinade aside.

Cut the chicken breast into bite sized chunks. Add the chicken strips to the marinade and mix well. Refrigerate 1 hour or for up to overnight.

Cook the noodles/pasta according to the package’s instructions.  Meanwhile, set a large skillet over medium high heat and add one Tbsp peanut oil (or any other veggie oil).  When the oil is hot, add the chicken and sauté until cooked through, about 5-10 mins depending on their size.  Transfer cooked chicken to a plate and set aside.  If you’d like to add veggies to this dish, I added mushrooms, saute them now until tender, then transfer them to the chicken plate.

When the noodles are done, strain them and run them under cold water.  Combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar in a small bowl and whisk to combine.  Put the noodles in the hot skillet and pour the sauce over them, tossing to coat evenly.  Add in the chicken and veggies if using and stir to warm through.  Serve with chopped scallions and sesame seeds.

Apple Cider Chicken with Caramelized Shallots

Practically every time I’m in Connecticut visiting my family, I always make a stop at Lyman Orchards in Middlefield.  I know that Massachusetts is certainly not without many, many orchards, but the ones near us are so expensive.

I’m not sure why the pick-your-own produce is cheaper at Lyman’s, but it’s not the only reason I love it there.  They also have a great orchard store where they offer all kinds of goodies: jams, baked goods, cheeses, and of course, apple cider.

I always get at least a pint to bake with, but I had never cooked with it before.  Until I saw this recipe on Crepes of Wrath.  I knew I had to make it, so once I got back from my last trip, I set to work.  Any recipe involving roasting chicken in apple cider has got to be awesome.

And it was.  It involves caramelizing shallots, which is pure genius I might add.  I had never thought of caramelizing shallots, though I do it with onion all the time.

You brown the chicken, then braise it in a sauce composed of cider, chicken broth and apple cider vinegar.  The chicken absorbs the most wonderful apple-y undertones in the oven, then you reduce the sauce and serve it over the chicken, topped with the shallots.

If you’ve got some extra cider and don’t want to bake, definitely give this recipe a try.

Apple Cider Chicken with Caramelized Shallots

Adapted from Crepes of Wrath

Makes 2 servings

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
2 large chicken breasts
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cups unfiltered apple cider
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 cups chicken stock

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter over high heat in a large ovenproof skillet and season your chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken well on both sides, about 2-3 minutes, then remove from the pan, place on a plate, and set aside.

Melt the other tablespoon of butter in your pan over medium heat. Add in your sliced shallots, and cook, stirring frequently, until they are browned and nicely caramelized, about 15 minutes. Add in the fresh thyme and red pepper flakes, stir for 30 seconds, then add in the apple cider. Cook for 20-25 minutes over medium heat, until the cider has reduced to about half, stirring every so often so that the shallots don’t burn to the bottom. Add in the stock and vinegar, bring to a boil, and add the chicken back to the pan. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 30 minutes, until cooked through.

When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pan, place on another plate, cover, and set aside. Place the sauce over high heat and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes, until it has reduced. Add the chicken back to the pan to heat it through quickly, then serve with plenty of juices and caramelized shallots on top.  Serve with rice or bread to sop up the excellent juices.

Chicken Tikka Masala

For the last two months or so, Luke and I have been house hunting.  It’s been a loooong process, full of ups and downs.  But thankfully, it’s all up from here.  Oh yeah, we got a house.

And it’s a great house.  Of course one of my requirements for our house is a (somewhat) spacious kitchen with a good layout.  As we saw more and more houses, I was starting to think we’d have to settle for one with a so-so kitchen, but not this time.  The kitchen has an island!

Sorry, I get excited about things like that.  The current owners have a hanging pot rack too, and I think it looks just swell.

The closing date isn’t until June 30th, so we’re not going anywhere for a little while, but it’s still so exciting.  Between the move and the wedding, July and August are going to be busy!

Ok, on to the food.  KA and I made this while she was visiting and it was great.  I love Indian food, though I have to be careful eating it due to my extreme heat intolerance, so it’s nice to make it at home where I have control.  The sauce was well-spiced and flavorful, but not overwhelming.  I could have bathed in it….well maybe not.  Probably would have stained me red.  Serve it with rice and naan, and you’ve got yourself a great meal!

Chicken Tikka Masala

Adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

Makes 4-6 servings

For the chicken:

1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup plain yogurt (I forgot to add this, and it still turned out great)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger

For the sauce:
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced finely
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp garam masala
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)

To prep the chicken: Mix the cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt together in a small bowl.  Sprinkle the mixture evenly over both sides of the chicken.  Put the chicken on a plate, cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.  Whisk the yogurt, vegetable oil, garlic and ginger together in a wide bowl.  You’ll use this to coat the chicken later before cooking – set aside for now.

To make the sauce: Pour the oil into a large Dutch oven set over medium heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic, ginger, tomato paste and garam masala.  Cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes, stirring almost constantly.  Stir in the crushed tomatoes, sugar and salt then bring the sauce to a boil.  Reduce the heat so the sauce is simmering and cover the pan.  Let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring a few times.  Add the heavy cream, stir to combine and bring the sauce back to a simmer (uncovered).  Take the pan off of the heat and cover to keep warm.

To cook the chicken:  Position an oven rack about 6 inches from your broiler and preheat the broiler.  Set a wire rack inside of a foil-lined baking sheet.  Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and dip each piece in the yogurt mixture.  You want a relatively thick layer coating the chicken.  Transfer the chicken to the wire rack.  Broil the chicken until it is cooked through (to an internal temperature of 160 F), about 10-18 minutes, flipping the chicken over halfway through the cooking time.  (The cooking time will depend in large part on the thickness of your chicken pieces.)  Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes, then cut it into 1-inch pieces and add to the warm sauce.  Add the parsley to the sauce as well and season to taste before serving.  Serve with rice and naan.

Mole Chicken Chili

I know it’s Easter, yet I’m posting about a main dish that would be more appropriate for Cinco de Mayo.  Happy Easter everybody!!

Luke and I are going to his parent’s house to celebrate.  I think we’re having steak, since Luke doesn’t like ham.  The other option was ordering sushi…but I put my foot down.  No, we are cooking something on Easter dammit.

I need to spend some time in the kitchen, as I spent almost all of yesterday playing Zelda: The Ocarina of Time on my beat up Nintendo 64.  I just needed to zone out and not think about anything.  And sit on my butt all day.  And eat Spaghetti Os for dinner.  Saddddd.

So I need to get back on track.  While this isn’t an Easter meal, it’s certainly a great weeknight meal, especially since it’s made in the slow cooker.

The sauce this dish creates is very interesting because of the addition of cocoa powder.  It’s definitely in a category of its own as far as chilis go; a great supplement to traditional chili.  If you’re looking for something a little different, this is the meal for you.

Mole Chicken Chili

Adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

Makes 4-6 servings

2 medium onions, minced
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tsp minced canned chipotle chilis
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

Combine the onions, vegetable oil, chili powder, cocoa powder, garlic, cinnamon and cloves in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave until the onions are softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to the slow cooker.  Add the broth, tomatoes (and their juice), peanut butter, and chipotle chilis and stir to combine.  Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper then nestle into the slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, or until the chicken is fall-apart tender. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and, using 2 forks, shred the meat into bite-size pieces. Let the chili settle for a few minutes then skim any fat from the surface with a spoon. Add the chicken back to the slow cooker and heat for just a few minutes to warm through. Mix in the scallions and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over white rice and garnish with the sesame seeds.