Dinner Menu: Chicken Primavera and Fruity Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake1

I love a quick and easy meal that looks and tastes like it took much longer. This menu sure qualifies. Lots of fresh vegetables and if you want to really amp up the flavor, use a flavored linguine, either from a local source (farmer’s markets usually have them) or the gourmet section of the market. A lemon pepper pasta is really good with this. For the vegetables, I’d go with whatever you favor and is fresh, think of the list below as a suggestion. Maybe add mushrooms, artichoke hearts, fresh spring peas.

The carrot cake is not what you’d expect, it is a fruity, light confection with a definite spring touch.  A favorite when I’m taking birthday cake requests.

Meanwhile, on the board tonight:

  1. Chicken Primavera
  2. Carrot Cake

Chicken Primavera

  • 3 boneless chicken breasts, cubed in large pieces
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz sliced carrots
  • 8 oz broccoli crowns
  • 1 small yellow summer squash, sliced
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed or ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • ¾ cup chicken broth or equivalent
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 oz grated parmesan
  • 9 oz fresh linguine

skillet, large saucepan

Sprinkle salt & pepper over chicken pieces. Heat oil in skillet, add chicken and saute for 5 minutes over medium-high heat, until golden on all sides. Add carrots, broccoli and squash, and stir for 2 minutes. Add basil, garlic, tomatoes. Stir additional 2 minutes. Remove mixture to bowl. Add chicken broth and wine to skillet, deglaze drippings, bring to a boil, reduce heat, add chicken mixture, toss and cover. Reduce heat to low and let simmer while pasta cooks. Bring water to boil in saucepan and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain very well and toss with chicken mixture. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve.

Carrot Cake

  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Frosting:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar*
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

2 bowls, 8×8 baking dish, well greased

Preheat oven to 350°

In a large bowl, combine grated carrots, flour, white sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in egg, oil, vanilla, pineapple and pecans. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients, except nuts. Beat until smooth. Spread on cooled cake and garnish with pecans.

* I use half of the sugar because I don’t like it quite that sweet.

Shopping List:

  • 3 boneless chicken breasts
  • 8 oz sliced carrots
  • 8 oz broccoli crowns
  • 1 small yellow summer squash, sliced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • ¾ cup chicken broth or equivalent
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 oz grated parmesan
  • 9 oz fresh linguine
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 8 ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Also: salt, pepper, olive oil, vanilla, butter, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, garlic, basil,

Not Turkey: Guest Recipe from Joshua D.

This popped up in my mail just before Thanksgiving from Men Who Cook regular, Joshua D. I thought the timing was perfect since I always post not-turkey recipes after the holiday. So if you’re tired of turkey, Joshua has the perfect remedy:

This was an impromptu recipe too good to not share! One point: how much honey you will need will depend on the sweetness of your tomatoes. True it’s November but this is a good recipe to hold for summer plus if you have spare canned San Marzanos hanging around that will work beautifully!

PENNE POMODORO

(Note from TaMara, I changed amounts to serve 4)

  • 12 oz dried penne
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped (or two cans of diced tomatoes, San Marzanos preferred)
  • 3 large shallot, sliced
  • 2 -4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp basil, chiffonaded
  • 1 tbsp oregano, chopped
  • Few drops honey
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup parmigano reggiano

Cook penne in boiling salted water) for about a minute under package directions. While pasta is boiling, cook shallots in a skillet over medium heat. After about 2 minutes, add in tomato with a healthy pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until tomatoes break down, about 4-5 minutes. Add in sliced garlic,wine and herbs and cook for another minute. Drop in honey and stir well. By now the penne should be very toothsome. Add penne to skillet (if water gets into sauce this is good!) and cook together until sauce thickens slightly and penne is done to your liking. Turn off heat and mix in most of cheese. Serve with slices of toasted ciabatta or your favourite bread. Top with more cheese and enjoy!

Joshua De Mers

Basil Grilled Chicken

As promised:

Basil Grilled Chicken

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded
  • 4 to 6 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup white wine (non-alcoholic ok)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic

zip-lock bag

To easily pound breasts, wrap one breast in plastic wrap and pound with flat side of meat tenderizer. Repeat with each breast. This keeps the chicken from flying everywhere. In zip-lock bag, add all ingredients and marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour in the refrigerator. Remove chicken from marinade and grill, approximately 15 minutes for each side, until cooked through. Don’t overcook, you may want to move it off direct flame after searing each side for 5 minutes, then 10 minutes on each side until internal temp reaches 165 degrees.

Goes well with yesterday’s Marinated Potatoes.

Potato Leek Soup

I’ve been walking right by the leeks when I shop the produce aisle.  They just look too much like overgrown green onions to me.  Started thinking, “green onions?  Nothing really bad about green onions.”  Picked up a bunch last time around.  I had my iTouch with me, and my MiFi hotspot so I looked through Google for recipes.  Wanted to make sure that I had everything needed to do something interesting with the leeks.  Hmm, potato leek soup, potato leek soup…more soup.  OK, I can take soup for an answer.

Emeril has a very well rated potato leek soup recipe.  I went with his, and wasn’t disappointed.  It was pretty easy and I had it ready before I had given much thought to presentation.  Hmm….croutons?

Went with some sliced hoagie rolls toasted and spread with goat cheese and sprinkled with the dried Tex-Mex peppers I used in the burgers yesterday.  Yummy.

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Roasted chicken with mushroom cream sauce

I mentioned Mrs J found some morels yesterday to a pal in a chat room I frequent.  He was all “Oh! Oh!–Roast chicken in a mushroom cream sauce!”

Sounded like more than I was wanting to take on, thinking as I was along the lines of batter dipped and fried.  He was adamant, and Mrs J chimed in in support of his position so I conceded and went to the Google for inspiration.

It would appear that the dish is a classic of French cooking.  As my chat room buddy put it: “That really is THE classic cuisine francais dish “.

I looked at several recipes from famous and not so famous cooks and dismissed anything that mentioned “boneless skinless breasts” or “Campbell’s mushroom soup”.  Julia Child was calling for flaming cognac and some others for similar.  Most wanted shallots.  I went my own way, mostly.  By my own way this time I mean I went this way.  It was the simplest of all the recipes I looked at.

I pretty much followed it, though I did add some cooking wine to the mushrooms and onions and let that reduce before adding the cream.

Enjoy!

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Mmm…Roast Chicken

Slathered the bird with a butter/EVOO garlic herb sauce, under the skin and on it.  Roasted the bird on a bed of dressing.  I thought it a fair idea but the chicken grease (and all that butter and oil) turned it into a greasy slop.  I put the dressing under the broiler for a while to try to crisp the top some and that helped a little.  I managed to eat a spoonful without gagging.  The chicken was great!

Roasted some cauliflower while the chicken rested and made a lemony butter sauce (beurre blanc) that worked very well on the veggies and on the chicken.

Enjoy!

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Some Spicy Crab Dip

Well, spicy imitation crab dip, anyway.  I made a crab salad the other day using fake “leg meat” – this time I bought the flake style fake meat.  Recommended.

I started with a good double handful of the crab, and chopped it some more.  The dressing is a combination of sour cream, cream cheese, and mayo.  Roughly equal parts of each.  Added the zest of a lemon and a tablespoon of lemon juice.  Some worcestershire sauce, about a teaspoon, a few cloves of garlic, grated or pressed.  It needed a bit of color so I minced some green onion,  and a bit of heat was provided by a finely diced bit of anaheim chile and a sprinkling of ground cayenne.  Added a scant teaspoon of dried dill weed, and a couple of teaspoons of white wine.  After these pictures were taken I also added some diced red bell pepper and just a little diced red onion.  Made it a little prettier.

I think that’s all, enjoy!

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Slowcooked Chicken

Earlier this week I had some chicken thawed and didn’t know what to do with it, wasn’t really in the mood to cook and didn’t think I had time after work to cook a real dinner.  I decided to use the slowcooker.  It was pretty simple, I put a dash of oil and some white wine in the slowcooker, seasoned the chicken (I used boneless thighs and breasts) with salt, pepper and garlic.  Added those to the slowcooker. I sliced potatoes in half lengthwise, rubbed a bit of butter over them and placed them, sliced-side down on the chicken.  Added baby carrots and threw in a sprig of rosemary.  Cooked it on low all day and came home to a nice dinner.

Nothing special, but I’d do it again.