Chicken with Mushrooms in Wine Sauce

Chicken with Mushrooms in Wine Sauce

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My best friend’s mother, Joan, used to make the best chicken. I was very close to Joan, and paid attention when she cooked. I think this was my favorite, and she was nice enough to give me the recipe.

I loved Joan for other reasons, too. Joan was the manager of a high-end gift shop in Beverly Hills, and she had very good taste. Her house was beautifully decorated, and well-organized. Everything had a place, and everything had a job, even the legs on the cast iron dining room table. It’s job was to bite us on the toe as we passed by it and weren’t paying attention.

Joan taught me a lot of stuff. She taught me the right jewelry to wear with what outfit, she taught me the importance of being organized, she taught me how to make the Hot Dogs with Mashed Potatoes and Cheese (Spane’s favorite), and she taught me how to make this chicken dish. She loved me like her own daughter, and I loved her like the mother I lost when I was 15 years old. When I moved out of her place, she gave me metal prep bowls and a stainless steel wok. Despite all the moving I have done, I still have those bowls and that wok, and use them frequently.

Fresh Water ChestnutsThe only thing Joan did not teach me was about fresh water chestnuts. My grocer taught me about those. They look like ginger fingers, and sliced thinly, they are very crisp with a nice flavor. I don’t know about you, but I always avoid water chestnuts when I find them in Chinese food because those have no flavor. But, the fresh ones? They have a very subtle flavor, almost like a potato. If you can find them, I highly recommend them.

Sadly, Joan died just before Spane was born, but I know she watches over us. I love you, Mom!

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Blue Cheese Risotto with Merlot

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Blue Cheese Risotto with Merlot

Last night was the 86th Academy Awards show, and the first time Spane had watched it with me. We had seen several of the nominated movies, and he’s old enough now, at 10, to appreciate and understand the ceremony. Of course, he had a lot of questions, like “When is dinner!?”

I wanted to make sometime special for the Oscars, even though our Oscar party was just the two of us. I thought I had white wine, but at the last minute realized I only had red, and I didn’t want to miss any of the red carpet show before the awards. Red wine is strong, so it needs strong flavors to go with it. Instead of vegetable or chicken broth, I used beef broth, and blue cheese goes great with beef, and has a good strong flavor. I added cherry tomatoes to give the dish some color.

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Braised Chicken with Onions and Mushrooms in the Nesco

Braised Chicken with Onions and Mushrooms in the Nesco

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I have a friend who has a chicken, who I have named Coq Au Vin. She’s a big orange chicken, and she is going to live a nice long life in my friend’s yard, with plenty of food, water and melon treats. Coq Au Vin even recognizes me when I go and visit with her. Why did I name her that? Well, when she is quite old, and not laying eggs anymore, then she will have the glory of becoming a real Coq Au Vin. It will be a good day for her to die because she will know that she is going to make a wonderful dinner.

Well, until that time, I’m not waiting to eat chicken. I bought a chicken, some nice boiling onions, and large mushrooms, most of which became Bacon Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms. I buy most of my produce at the local Armenian store, and they don’t usually have the kind of wine I would need to make Coq Au Vin, but I did have some Marsala in the pantry. I also had some dried leeks in my pantry, which also went into my dish.

Whole vs Precut Chicken

A word about whole chickens vs precut chicken. You know, you pay more for the meat-packing company to cut the chicken, and you don’t even know if it’s all coming from the same bird. When you purchase a whole chicken, you know everything is from the same bird, and you save money by cutting it up yourself. It takes about a minute, and you can find plenty of videos on Youtube showing exactly how to do it. Here’s my chicken, all ready to go.

cut up whole chicken

Cut up whole chicken


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Bacon and Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

Bacon and Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

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Whilst at the local grocery store this morning trying to figure out what I was going to make with the defrosted chicken in my refrigerator, I came across some lovely large mushrooms, perfect for stuffing. I don’t know about you, but I love mushrooms, and stuffed ones even more.

The Braised Chicken with Onions and Mushrooms that I am making for dinner also calls for bacon, so it was just a matter of cooking off a bit more to add to my stuffing. You will love the way these taste, I had fun eating the little bit of stuffing that was left in the bowl!

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Mother’s Day Breakfast Brunch

Recipes in this PostMother's Day 2013

Well, the good folks at Ascencia have asked me to make Mother’s Day breakfast – for 40. Of those 40, there are several mothers, and I’m going to make this breakfast special for them. Of course, I have to have the breakfast ready at 6:00am, and that is going to be eye-opening, to say the least.

Update – Thanks to my friend, Shem of Kobelin by Shem for taking great photos of the food. She even made me look good!

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Pasta Carbonara with Brocolli with Garlic Cheese Rolls for 40

Again, just as on the 1st of the New Year, when I made Ascencia Salad, there was no guest chef, and The Good Plate again came to the rescue. When I looked for what was on hand, there was still a lot of pasta in the pantry, so I made my list to make Pasta Carbonara. I wanted everyone to have a well balanced meal, so the green choice was brocolli instead of salad.

Luckily, there were two large bags of French rolls, perfect for my Garlic Cheese Rolls. We also had a wonderful salad of peas, pepper jack and celery made by guest chef Jerome. A good and healthy time was had by all.

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