Meat & Potatoes

Believe it or not, I actually have a few blogs up my sleeve that I have yet to post. Looking through other blogs, however, I realized that most of what I post here is either a baked good of some sort, or its vegetarian.  While we are not at all vegetarians, we do only eat meat 3 or so times per week - I read an article recently that called this type of diet "flexitarian" - not totally willing to give up meat, but making an effort to eat less of it.  I think there are a few reasons why people are trying to cut meat out of their diets: 1) Its cheaper to eat vegetarian (while this is definintely true, it may be hard to convince some folks that this is reason enough to eat a black bean burger), 2) It is healthier to eat vegetarian (as long as you get your protein from elsewhere, I suppose), or 3) Its more sustainable and eco-friendly to eat vegetarian (having to do with the amount of our agriculture goes towards growing corn to feed livestock. I don't think this is the top reason people eat vegetarian, but it yields a good result in addition to 1 & 2). So, usually half of our meals are vegetarian, as long as you don't count chicken stock, and the other half have a regular protein on the plate.

All that being said, this is a recipe for chicken and potatoes! Usually, when we do eat meat, I don't do anything inspiring to it - some seasonings, olive oil, and lemon juice suffice, if even all that.  But, I decided to try a few recipes that feature a meat and really make it the centerpiece. I wouldn't call the chicken here the "centerpiece", but the whole thing together makes for a good meal.  And as long as you use cremini/baby bella mushrooms, that flavor won't be too strong. So don't let that scare you or any folks in your family from this meal!

Portobello Chicken with Red Potatoes
Adapted from Simple & Delicious, Jan/Feb 2010

1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, cubed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6oz each)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
3/4 pound sliced baby portobello mushrooms
1 package (8oz) softened cream cheese, divided
1 1/4 cups chicken broth, divided

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and fill with cold water until just covered. Salt the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes until fork-tender.

While potatoes cook, in a large resealable plastic bag, combine flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Add chicken, one piece at a time, and shake to coat.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat, and add chicken to skillet. Cook for 5-8 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 170. Remove and keep warm. (I had a hard time getting the meat up to temperature, so I heated the oven to 350, popped the chicken in a baking dish, and let it finish in the oven while I made the sauce.)

In the same skillet, add butter and mushrooms - saute until tender and reduce heat. Add 4 ounces cream cheese, 1 cup broth, and remaining salt and pepper. Cook and stir until cheese is melted.

Drain potatoes; mash with remaining cream cheese and brot. Serve with chicken and mushroom sauce.

Serves 4


I Made Pound Cake

Strawberries were only $1 for a whole pound today, and they were good strawberries too! I suppose some people would go home with these strawberries and make a nice fruit salad, or eat them on top of some yogurt, or even plain. I made pound cake to eat with the strawberries. It balances out the salads we had for dinner tonight. I should note that I planned on making salads for dinner tonight after seeing the strawberries at the store and deciding that I would make pound cake to be their date for the evening.

Who better to turn to than Paula Deen? I mean, pound cake got its name from using a pound of butter after all, and why not go straight to the self-proclaimed expert on this one. Granted, it doesn't use a pound of butter, but there's plenty in the recipe to make up for that. Here's the thing, though. Its really light and (at the risk of sounding like a Food Network host) has a perfect crumb to it. And when you take it out of the oven and let it cool on the counter, it gets this crispy crust that you can peel off because you're going to invert it onto a plate anyway so no one will know the difference (well, now you do, but it still tastes great!).

P.S. Will we ever be able to make anything in a bundt pan without thinking of My Big Fat Greek Wedding?

Buttermilk Pound Cake
From Paula Deen & Friends: Living it Up, Southern Style

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (otherwise known as Crisco - I can never keep "shortening" and "oleo" straight.)
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan (make sure to get the shortening/flour into all of the creases).

With a whisk, lightly mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, shortening, and sugar until fluffy. Add tghe eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients and the milk mixture/buttermilk alternately to the butter and sugar, beginning and ending with the flour. Add the vanilla and mix well.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 1 hour 45 minutes, or until the cake is done. (The cake will slightly pull away from the sides of the pan when its ready, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.)  Remove the cake from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Invert onto a cake plate to serve.

Top with macerated strawberries. (Clean, hull, and slice strawberries; mix with some sugar and allow to sit until juices form. If needed, add more sugar to increase the amount of juice. Just be warned that the more sugar you add and the more juice it makes, the less firm the strawberries will become.)

Paula Deel says it serves 8. I'd go more with 10.


Sharing the Wealth

There are so many interesting, funky, helpful, and appetizing food blogs out there - there's never enough time to read them all. I was turned on to a few new ones while I was looking through the Bloggie nominees, and then I started to pay attention to sites that other bloggers recommended. Its overall overwhelming. But, here are (in the order in which I discovered them, not necessarily by any other ranking) a few blogs and some favorite blog posts to show you what I've been reading! Of course this is an incredibly small sampling, but I hope it whets your appetite!

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Candied Ginger
This one was a little too strong on the ginger for me, but Steve still talks about it. I'm going to give it another go with a little less candied ginger. I'm fairly certian it will be a special-occasion staple.
Bouchons au Thon
Wow, I just realized how long its been since I made these. Too long. These are wonderful, easy, and loved by everyone in our house.

Summer's Last Hurrah Panzanella
What's not to love about toasted bread and fresh veggies?
Smashed Chickpea Salad
I just made this last week and it made for some amazing sandwiches. And some spoonfuls inbetween meals. But when its pretty good for you, its probably nothing I need to feel guilty about.
Couscous and Feta Stuffed Peppers
Really hearty and again, pretty good for you. I haven't made this one in a while either... I'm glad I'm going through my personal archives!

I told Steve I'd be making this during the summer... I'd better not go back on my word!

Pico de Gallo & Guacamole
Everyone has their own spin on these two items, but I highly recommend these as go-to renditions, or a jumping-off point for your own variety. 
Cinnamon Rolls
I've posted on these before. Go make them.


These blogs I've only just discovered, so here are a few ideas from their recipe archives that I very much look forward to trying:
Food in Jars
Granola and Fruit Studded Pancakes
Canning Whole Peeled Tomatoes
Dilly Beans

5 Second Rule
Oven-Baked Oatmeal

Simply Recipes
Grilled Tomatoes
Veggie Tacos

Apple Walnut Gorgonzola Rustic Tart