Reasons to Cook

This post is not so much about what I made as it is about why I made it. 

Today was special; and not because it was a holiday or Hallmark “______” Day. It was special because my eldest returned from France and my in laws returned from Florida. These are special people in my life, and I want to cook well for them. 

Each time I have travelled internationally my first desire for food is “normal”, meaning normal for my own routine. With this in mind I selected bold simple flavors that are typical in our house. 

Rather than a salad, a shishito pepper appetizer – pan fried and seasoned with lemon and coarse sea salt. 


And for dinner, skirt steak and roasted cauliflower with chimchurri sauce, along with green rice and one of our favorite wines, Kouros red


Lastly for dessert, triple chocolate cake. 


I hope that you treat your family with love and good food. 

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Dinner for Two

With our eldest in France and our youngest with activities that run through dinner we are finding ourselves learning what life will be like once they in turn leave for college. Tonight’s dinner is just the two of us and there are no allergies to contend with. When I went to the store, I had most of a grocery list, but only fish in mind for tonight. At the meat counter I pursued the selection and was excited to find beautiful yellowfin tuna (1¼” thick steaks)  for only $10/lb. and that is all we needed! With the weather abnormally awesome today (66 and sunny – in Michigan) I quickly decided on grilled tuna with a citrus pepper crust, lemon garlic broccoli, and couscous. I also came across shishito peppers in the produce section and decided that they would make a great appetizer. 

I started by making the citrus pepper marinade/crust by zesting ½ of an orange, lemon, and lime and adding the juice from the lemon and lime halves. (I always cut the end off the lemon so it juices better.) 

  
I then chopped the leaves of a few sprigs of parsley and a sprig of basil that I had on hand. 

    
I added a very generous amount of pepper, about ½ teaspoon of coarse salt and two very large cloves of garlic, then covered the mix with olive oil (1-2 Tbsp.).

      
Then I patted the tuna dry with paper towels and coated them with the marinade and set them aside. (You need to wait at least 20 minutes, but can set them in the fridge for up to an hour.)

  
I also cleaned the peppers and the broccoli. 

  
The peppers are simple, cook them in hot oil over medium heat until they blister, ~3-5 minutes. When they are done, drain them briefly on paper towels, squeeze fresh lemon (¼ lemon/pound) on them, and sprinkle them with coarse sea salt. (YUM!!! This was inspired by a dish at The Sardine Room in Plymouth.) 

          


While we had our tasty appetizer, I was heating the grill. 

After our appetizer I started the couscous and broccoli, adding the lemon to the broccoli after 5 minutes and with only 5 minutes left on the couscous I started the tuna on the hot grill. 

        

  
The tuna should be served rare, so it only takes 2½ minutes per side. After the first side, I added the garlic to the broccoli. 

  
All was perfect. 

Updated Creamy Tuscan Garlic Chicken

My motivation for dinners come from several places, tonight it was from a Facebook post my husband shared with me earlier in the week. It was almost correct and I immediately replied to the post with a few suggestions including the omission of garlic powder in favor of garlic cloves. When I went to cook it today, I realized that the recipe didn’t match the video and ultimately I made a few other changes. The recipe below includes all of the edits. 

I began with prep work, ending with the chicken. 

  

  

  

  

The cooking is very simple, starting with the garlic and shallots. 

  

   

Followed by the chicken after setting aside the shallots. 

  

I had also started the water for the pasta. 

When I set aside the chicken, I started the pasta and the cream sauce. 

  

    

  

  

It all came together beautifully at the end. 

  

  

Creamy Tuscan Garlic Chicken

Paprika Recipe File

Entrées, Pastas, Poultry, Tested and Approved!

Makes 4 ∙ Source: Inspired by Getinmybelly.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 jar (~7 oz.) sun dried tomatoes in oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced, optional
  • 1½-2 lbs chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, cut into strips (~1″ thick)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 4 cups baby spinach (not packed), washed
  • 1½ cups parmesan cheese, plus additional for topping
  • ½-1 lb. farfalle (bowtie) pasta

DIRECTIONS

Drain the sun dried tomatoes and reserve the oil. Slice the tomatoes into thin strips and set aside.

Season the chicken well with the salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.

In a large skillet heat the reserved olive oil over medium high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the smashed garlic and sliced shallot (if using) and cook until the garlic is fragrant or the shallots are crispy, remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon. Discard the garlic.

Cook the chicken in the oil on medium high heat for 3-5 minutes, until browned and cooked until no longer pink in center. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil, and cook pasta as directed.

Remove chicken and set aside on a plate.

Add the heavy cream, chicken broth, and minced garlic. Whisk over medium high heat until it starts to thicken, then add parmesan and continue to stir.

Add the shallots, sundried tomatoes, and spinach and let it simmer until the spinach starts to wilt.

Add the chicken back to the pan and then the pasta stirring to combine.

Serve with additional parmesan.