Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Date Night--February 25, 2015

Hey it's Wednesday!  And we're having our regularly scheduled Date Night.  Don't get too used to it...I'm in SC next Wednesday, to the next DN post won't be for 2 weeks.  Maybe...I have a root canal scheduled for that Monday.

Getting back to tonight...


Martinis.  I'm feeling gin, so we're having martinis!


I got these yummy crackers at the market with raisins and rosemary and pecans  (Josh will say the rosemary tastes like a pine forest...when has he ever eaten a pine forest?).  I thought they would be delicious with brie and my market actually sells a "light" brie... Yay!!!


This is a new one.  I attacked Pinterest this morning with some very specific ideas.  It needed to be chicken because I have plenty of chicken in the freezer.  

It needed to have mushrooms.  I over bought for meal I made for a friend and because we are leaving on Friday and I won't home for a whole week, I needed to use them.

Most importantly, it had to be something that could cook, without my help, during Date Night.

This Chicken Marsala recipe hit all three of my action points.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced 

5 garlic cloves, minced 
16 ounces mushrooms, sliced (I used crimini, but use button if you like them!)
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup marsala wine (or white wine)
1/2 cup fat free half & half (low fat milk will work here too)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock

1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup brown rice, uncooked
2 packed cups coarsely chopped cooked chicken 

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat until just melted. Add the onions and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 - 7 minutes. Add the garlic and season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle the flour on top and stir in for 1 minute. Stir in the marsala and cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of broth/stock. 

Spray a 9-inch-by-13-inch casserole with non-stick spray and spread the rice in an even layer. Top with the chicken, pour the mushroom gravy on top and sprinkle the parsley over everything.Cover tightly with foil and bake until bubbly, about 45 minutes. If your rice still is not cooked at this point, turn the oven up to 400 and bake until rice is fully cooked. Remember, brown rice takes longer to cook (if you use white rice, cook the whole dish at 350 degrees for 35 minutes). Discard the foil, sprinkle the parmesan on top and bake for 5 minutes more. 

Best of all, the only ingredient I had to buy, was rice.  Not really a problem at all.

Side Dish/Vegetable

What I like about the entree recipe is that it is really a one pot meal.  Almost.  There's nothing green in it.  S'okay, though.  The part of my freezer that isn't filled with chicken has lots of choices of frozen veggies.  I'm thinking green beans.  Even then I have choices...whole, French cut, regular cut. Maybe the French cut, cause Hubby especially loves those.


"Awesome Apple Pie-lets"

I didn't name the recipe.  But I'm giving it to you just the same.

2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. cinnamon, or more for optional topping
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt
3 cups peeled and chopped apples (preferably Fuji)
6 large square egg roll wrappers (found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket with the other Asian items)
18 sprays I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! Spray (in other words, have a bottle handy!)
Optional topping: Fat-Free Reddi-wip or Cool Whip Free

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium nonstick pot on the stove, combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and salt with 1/2 cup cold water. Mix until ingredients dissolve. Add apples and stir. Bring to medium-high heat and, stirring frequently, cook until apples have softened, 7 - 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and, stirring often, cook until thick and gooey, 1 - 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool. This is your pie filling.

Prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with foil and/or spraying it with nonstick spray. Set aside.

Place two egg roll wrappers flat on a dry surface. Set out a small dish of water. Dip your finger into the water, and run it along all of the wrapper edges. (Repeat as needed while preparing your pockets, as it will help seal them.) Starting 1/2 inch from the bottom, place about 1/3 cup pie filling along the bottom half of each wrapper, leaving a 1/2-inch border on the sides. Fold the top half of each wrapper over the filling, so that the top edge meets the bottom and the filling is encased with a border on three sides. Dab each border with water, and fold each inward about 1/4 inch to lightly seal. Press firmly along the borders with the prongs of a fork to seal completely. Carefully transfer to the baking sheet. Repeat this process with remaining wrappers and filling, for a total of six pie-lets. Spray the top of each pocket with 3 sprays of butter. Bake in the oven until edges begin to brown, 15 - 18 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Top with additional cinnamon and whipped topping, if using.  

A couple of things I need to point out:

I didn't buy any "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" spray.  I melt some light butter and brush that over...I do have butter flavored Pam...I suppose I could use that.  Time will tell.

I may mix some whisky soaked dried cherries in.  Why?  Why not?

I don't have any of the "optional toppings."

Also, this recipe make six.  I'll start by dicing my apples.  I'll stop I have 1.5 cups.  Everything else is easy enough to divide.

So this is what will be cooking in my kitchen later today.  How 'bout you?

happy cooking

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Date Night--Tuesday. February 17. 2015

I know. It's a Tuesday.  But I got my hair cut today, so I'm super cute!  Not just regular cute, SUPER CUTE!

So what is dinner tonight?

This meal started to be planned on Saturday afternoon.  See I came home from the market that day with a bag of oranges.

Why?  I have to go back to Friday for that.  Our dear friends had us over for cocktails.  One of them, (the cocktail, not the friend) called The Communist featured fresh orange juice.  So I came home with a bag of oranges wanting the cocktail again.  (I also brought home a bottle of this markets excellent fresh squeezed oj which kinda made the fresh oranges redundant.)

So, getting back to Saturday, I'm driving home wondering what I will do with this bag of oranges. (I know that eat them is the easy and obvious answer, but really, does that sound like me?)

BOOM!   The answer hit me like a ton of, well a ton of oranges.

I'll make Orange Chicken for Date Night!!!  Josh thought I was brilliant.

A whole meal was beginning to take shape.  You see. I have this recipe for cream cheese baked won tons that I've been wanting to make.  (Think crab rangoon but without the crab.  Honestly, the last time I ordered crab rangoon, I was hard pressed to find any crab, anyway.

I will now lay out the evening for you from beginning (cocktails/appetizers) to end.


Bronx Cocktail.  When I asked Josh what he thought he wanted, his response was, "Something Gin-y."  The recipe goes like this

2 oz gin
1/4 oz each sweet and dry vermouths
1 oz fresh orange juice
orange bitters to taste
garnish with an orange twist

Appetizer will be the aforementioned cream cheese won tons.


4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
2 green onions, chopped top to bottom
16 wonton wrappers
Pam cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Mix together cream cheese, garlic salt, and green onions. Place about 1/2 tsp. cream cheese mixture in the center of a wonton wrapper. Wet your finger with water and moisten the edges of the wrapper. Fold wonton in half to make a triangle, sealing the cream in the wonton well. Moisten one corner of the wonton with more water. Bring the bottom edges of the wonton together, overlapping slightly. Repeat for the rest of the wontons. Place wontons on a nonstick cookie sheet sprayed with Pam. Spray wontons with a bit of Pam to help them brown. Bake for 7-12 minutes or until brown and crispy.

I will be halving this recipe and adding a little heat.  Red pepper flakes?  Siracha? Tobasco? I haven't decided.


Orange chicken.  More specifically Chinese Orange Chicken.  I am actually blending two different recipes for dinner tonight.  As I mentioned earlier, I don't always take the easiest route.

Obviously, not mine but the picture from this website:

This is where the chicken portion comes from.  Here is the recipe:

1/2 lb boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 extra large egg, whisked

Preheat oven to 400F. Dip chicken pieces in egg and then roll in bread crumbs until fully coated and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat until all chicken is coated. Bake for 15-20 minutes until chicken coating is a light brown and is crunchy.

Now  for the sauce:

  • ½ cup orange juice (1-2 large oranges)
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar (may sub white vinegar)
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon water + 1 tablespoon corn starch, whisked until dissolved

This is the website for the sauce portion of dinner:

I should be noted that I am using chicken breasts not thighs.  Not because I don't like thighs, but because I didn't realize it called for thighs until I copied the recipe for you.  I will also be doubling the sauce recipe.

I will be serving this with steamed broccoli and fried rice (for Josh).  The fried rice recipe is on the back of the seasoning packet I bought.


Easy Peasy.  I got Josh some chocolate gelato.  Me?  I haven't decided yet.  I have a WW fudge bar or apple sauce or a sugar free pudding with mini chocolate chips.

So that's what's cooking in my kitchen tonight.  How about you?

happy cooking