Turkey Leftovers Sandwich

Are you still stumbling around the house in a turkey coma? Or are you out at the stores scoring the best deals retailers have to offer? Either way, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday.

If you're lucky there are some leftover ingredients hanging around in your fridge and this sandwich is the perfect excuse to use some of them up.



Turkey Leftovers Sandwich
Source: a Cookaholic Wife creation
Servings: 1
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Ingredients:
    • large dinner roll or two slices bread
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • 2-3 slices turkey
    • 1 tablespoon cranberry sauce 
    • 1 slice white cheddar cheese
    • handful of spring mix lettuce
Directions:
1. Spread Dijon mustard on both sides of the roll and lightly toast.
2. Place turkey slices on one side of the roll and spread with an even layer of cranberry sauce. Top with cheese, lettuce then the other half of the roll.



Simple, but a tasty way to use up some of those leftovers! I really liked the combination of the dijon mustard and cranberry sauce together.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope your turkey day is going well so far. In lieu of a recipe today, I decided I'd share some pictures of prepping everything yesterday.

Fortunately, I am not included in any of these, as I just realized I never brushed my hair or changed out of my pajamas all day Wednesday. Oops?

Butternut Squash and Poblano Gratin - I'm really excited about this one. Also, note my recipe in the background with color coded notes on what to do each day. 

That's sugar burnt onto a baking sheet. This is after it soaked for 6 hours. 
Ina Garten lied to me. She said that if I covered my whole sheet with parchment paper this wouldn't happen. Thanks a lot, Ina. 

Herbed Compound Butter - recipe coming soon! 

A total last minute addition - vanilla cinnamon butter


Think the refrigerator is full enough? 

Itty had a hard day watching me. 

This was supposed to be red onion, pear and rosemary focaccia. 
The onions burnt and I think it's more of a flatbread than a focaccia since it never rose. 

Organization is key. Every dish is laid out with a sticky note telling me what to put in it.

It's completely acceptable to move your dining room table into your cats room to have more space...

...for a folding table and chairs in your actual dining room. 

Then Itty decided she wanted to be a guest and sit at the table. 

That's all folks! I've managed to cross everything off my list and then some. All that's happening the morning of is some simple reheating and baking. 

Happy Turkey Day! 

Baked Oatmeal

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Oatmeal has always been one of my cold-weather breakfast choices but I typically stuck to the instant variety for convenience in the mornings. Peaches and cream has always been my favorite flavor, with strawberry following as a very close second.

On multiple occasions I've tried the unflavored versions of oatmeal so I could add my own flavorings and hopefully make it healthier, but it just never tasted as good as the flavored varieties. The baked oatmeal train has been around for quite some time but because of the above flavoring issues, I've never had any real interest in getting on board.

It wasn't until I saw Sarah post a baked oatmeal recipe that I decided to finally make it. Why? She doesn't like oatmeal but was still willing to try it and I figured if she could try to like it, I could certainly try to like this version.



Baked Oatmeal 
Source:  A Taste of Home Cooking 
Servings: 8
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Ingredients:
    • 2 tbsp. butter
    • 3 cups old-fashioned oats 
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup milk 
    • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
    • 1 tbsp. vanilla 
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Place the butter in an 8x8 baking dish and place in the oven for a few minutes or until melted.
3. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, maple syrup and vanilla.
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir well with a wooden spoon until all of the dry ingredients are fully coated. Spoon into the buttered dish, press down until evenly spread and flat, and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.
5. Serve hot, or let cool before dividing into individual containers. Keeps for 1 week in the fridge.
To eat from fridge: add 1/4 - 1/2 cup hot water and stir. Microwave until heated through.

This is really, really good and much denser and more filling than I expected it to be. I had mine with some cinnamon-sugar baked apples mixed in every morning and I was more than full until lunchtime.

If you're like me and need to eat breakfast at work or very quickly, I think this is a tasty choice to warm you up and keep you full. 

Recipe Remake: Savory Pot Roast

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Ooof. Look at that picture at the bottom. Pot roast is not the prettiest of meals, but it sure could look a lot more appetizing than I managed to capture in that picture. I opted to remake this recipe, not only for the picture but because  I wanted to see if I could re-create it without using the cream of mushroom soup. 

I try to avoid using "cream of" soups because they're full of sodium and unpronounceable ingredients you don't really need in your meal. However, they do cut down time significantly in most recipes, so I won't fault you at all for using them. I just wanted to see if I could reach the same consistency with a more homemade version. 




Campbell's Savory Pot Roast 
Slightly adapted from: Campbell's
Servings: 8
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Ingredients:
    • 3 1/2 lb. beef chuck roast
    • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
    • 1 envelope dry onion soup mix
    • 2 cups water
    • 3/4 cup baby carrots
    • 2 stalks of celery, cut into 3" pieces
    • 4 oz. mushrooms, chopped
    • 2 tbsp. all purpose flour 
Directions:
1. Add the vegetable oil to a large dutch oven and heat over medium-high.
2. Brown the roast on all sides for 3-5 minutes on each side.
3. Add in the onion soup mix, water, carrots and celery and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and allow to simmer for 1 hour.
4. Add the mushrooms to the dutch oven and cook for 30 more minutes.
5. Remove 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and put in a small bowl. Whisk in the flour until a slurry forms, then pour back into the dutch oven. Using two forks, gently break apart the roast, making sure all of the meat gets covered with the sauce.
6. Serve the pot roast and vegetables alongside homemade mashed potatoes and drizzle all with gravy.

Eliminating the cream of mushroom soup really doesn't make a difference at all as long as you increase the amount of liquid for the beef and vegetables to cook in. We like a lot of gravy so I needed to make a second batch. I used the liquids from the pan, but needed to add stock to make enough. We didn't have any beef stock so I used chicken which is why the gravy on the potatoes is much lighter.

Even with my adjustments, this recipe is just as good as the original. I hope you'll try out my slightly adjusted version.
_____________________________________________________________________________
Original post: March 14, 2010 
It is sad to admit, but I have never made a pot roast before. My mom always made them really tough so I wasn't a big fan. I also had no idea what type of meat to buy. Then I found this recipe on Campbell's.com and figured it was worth a shot to make it. I mean, it is Campbell's, I'm pretty sure they know what they're doing.











Savory Pot Roast
Adapted from: Campbell's

Ingredients:
    • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
    • 2-4 lb. boneless bottom round pot roast
    • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
    • 1 1/4 cup water
    • 1 pouch dry onion soup and recipe mix
    • 2 cups baby carrots
    • 4 stalks celery, chopped
    • 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp. black pepper
    • 1 tbs. garlic powder
    • 1 tsp. meat tenderizer
Directions:
1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Season the roast with pepper, garlic and meat tenderizer on both sides. Add the roast and cook on all sides until browned.
2. Add soup, water and onion soup mix to the meat and stir to remove clumps from the soup.
3. Add carrots and celery and cook for 2-3 hours, covered over low heat.
4. Transfer meat and vegetables to a platter and cut with an electric knife.

I served this over homemade mashed potatoes with a little extra gravy and corn.

Apple Crisp Muffins

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Last week I mentioned my addiction to honeycrisp apples and asked you for recipes. I am sad to say that no one responded to me. :( I guess next time I'll try seeking you out on Facebook.

I was going through my recipes on Pinterest and found that I had saved this recipe back in September. Kristin also used honeycrisp apples for these muffins, so I thought it was the perfect choice to slowly attempt to empty out (or at least reduce the size) of the bowl o'apples.




Apple Crisp Muffins
Source: Iowa Girl Eats
Servings: 10 muffins
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Ingredients:
    • 1 1/2 cups flour
    • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp. salt 
    • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
    • 1/4 cup canola oil 
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 1 1/2 cups Honeycrisp apples, peeled and chopped 
Crisp Topping:
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon 
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a muffin pan with 10 liners.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and stir.
3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add butter, both sugars, oil and applesauce and beat until smooth. Then add in the egg and vanilla.
4. Once fully combined, slowly add in the flour mixture until a soft dough forms. Stir in the chopped apples by hand.
5. Divide the batter between the muffin pans.
6. Prepare the crisp by mixing all of the ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined, then add a heaping tablespoon on top of the batter.
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool.




It doesn't take much out of a muffin to make me happy, but chopping the apples slightly larger than usual really gives this muffin a nice slight crunch when you bite into the apple. And really, can you ever go wrong with a crisp that includes brown sugar? I think not.

Weekly Menu 11/24 - 11/29

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Well it appears, at least from the Facebook front, that my post Friday with holiday tips and my menu was well received. I think I'll try to make it a tradition to give you this type of information in advance of all the holidays I host.

I still can't believe Thanksgiving is this week. On one hand, I'm more than ready for it because its later in the month than ever, but on the other hand, I want to push it back a few more weeks because I'm not ready for the chaos that ensues after Thanksgiving and runs straight on through to New Years.

While the menu may not appear that way, I'm keeping it relatively simple in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

Sunday - cider glazed chicken, wild mushroom orzo, roasted green beans 

Monday - cheese souffle, bacon 

Tuesday - beef stew biscuits

Wednesday - sloppy joes and fries 

Thursday - the day of the turkey 

Friday - leftovers, hopefully enough to do a turkey version of shepherd's pie or maybe a pot pie 

I decided to indulge a bit on breakfast this week since I'm sure all of the Thanksgiving cleaning and cooking will burn off a few calories. (I hope!) Breakfast will be a cinnamon crunch brioche bread and to balance that, a lighter lunch of roasted tomato and mozzarella salad.

Although I'm not going to need any more desserts, there is a cupcake recipe I've been eyeing for a while now. I think I'll halve the recipe and have Tom take it into work to share. Everyone likes a pre-holiday treat of the sugary variety, right? 

Black Friday, a rant

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As a seasoned Black Friday shopper, I need to get something off my chest.

I need to warn you, there will be a lot of caps lock in this post.

Black Friday is FRIDAY. The day AFTER Thanksgiving.

It is not 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving, K-Mart.
It is not 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, Walmart, and Best Buy.
Nor is it 8 p.m. Kohl's, Target, Sears and Macy's.
And Toys R Us, it is SURELY not 5 p.m.

Do you know why NONE of these are acceptable hours for the sales to begin?
1. They are not on Friday, Black Friday, the day that the great sales are supposed to start.
2. You need to arrive at least an hour before the start of the sales to stand in line. Which means as early as 5 am on Thankgiving day people will be camped out in front of Thanksgiving. Oh who am I kidding, they'll be there earlier than that.
3. This means employees need to come to work HOURS BEFORE THE SALES START to prepare for the madness that will ensue.

Please, tell me what are you doing at 5 am on Thanksgiving day? Or 2 pm? 5 pm? In the early hours of the morning I would expect you are putting the turkey in the oven, packing up the kids to head over to a family members house a few hours drive away or sleeping. At 2 pm, you're either gorging on delicious appetizers or you've sat down in front of a perfectly cooked turkey, a tall pile of mashed potatoes with a swimming pool of gravy on top, a mound of stuffing and your assorted vegetables. At 5 I expect you are either in a tryptophan induced coma from all of the turkey you consumed, or you're just sitting down to your above described meal.

Now please tell me how in the world is it fair for YOU to sit there with your friends, your family, your pets or whomever is spending this holiday with you, enjoying food and quality time while these people are stocking shelves, unloading pallets and preparing for the general mayhem that you are going to cause them? It's unacceptable.

This society we live in, driven by a "need it now" mentality and practically brainwashed by these retailers to believe these deals are too good to pass up, is just sad. Disheartening. Pathetic. It's a blow to humanity. We essentially are segregating into those "privileged" enough not to work retail and thus "entitled" to shop and those not "lucky" enough to have non-retail positions. You do know these employees really don't have a choice right?

While these big retailers might make it seem like all these employees just volunteered up their holidays with their families to spend it serving you, that's really not the case. In many retailers, working on Black Friday is MANDATORY.

REQUIRED.

And hey, if you live in an at-will state, you could refuse to work and they could fire you for it. I do realize that there are employees who don't mind working the holiday. Those who can't get home to family, those desperate for those overtime hours, those who don't celebrate the holiday. But these people aren't enough.

At what point did saving a dollar become more important than spending time with family? At what point did we decided that these retailers could take that away from us? Why are we allowing this to continue?

So I suggest you take a really long hard look at your Black Friday shopping list. Do you NEED those items? Are they worth the employees dinner that you're making them sacrifice? Will that dress never go on sale again? That TV? Is your world really going to end without the Twilight DVD for $1.96?

The answer is No.

Fight back against these retailers forcing employees to work on Thanksgiving. Don't go out Thursday night.

If you are a true shopaholic and the thought of passing up deals makes you physically panicky, let me introduce you to this little thing called The Internet. Many of these same stores have just as many good deals all online. Where no employees to assist you are necessary. Oh, and if you're really that addicted, you are surely good enough to find a similar deal offered during the holiday season that doesn't involve going out on Thanksgiving day.

Return Black Friday to what it once was - Shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  

Thanksgiving and Holiday Hosting Tips, 2013

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For the first time since I started hosting Thanksgiving back in 2009, the menu keeps changing. This goes against pretty much everything about me. It's also the first year that I could be hosting 20 people, which is moderately insane in a 1200 square foot apartment, but I'm also letting that one slide.

While I am 100% confident there will be some phrases you shouldn't say in front of Grandma muttered, or possibly even yelled the day before and the day of, I've adopted this very weird sense of just going with the flow of things. This is so unlike my list-making detail oriented self that I feel as though I should be concerned.

In case you missed the other times I've given you the menu and prep plans, I figured I'd share this one with you as well.

Menu Planning:

  • Gather all of the recipes you think you'd like to have at your Thanksgiving feast and organize by appetizers, side dishes, main dish, desserts and drinks. 
  • Take a realistic look at your menu. Can you really make 3 different types of stuffing and 5 pies? Will your vegan uncle have something to eat? Is your menu balanced? 
  • Weed out unnecessary items and condense the menu. 
  • Fill in items your friends/family have volunteered to make. Review to ensure its balanced again. 
  • Go through each recipe and write down ALL of the ingredients it calls for, even if you already have them in your pantry/fridge/freezer/spice cabinet, with measurements. Ex. 1/2 stick of butter, 2 cups of milk. 
  • Translate your ingredient amounts into actual quantities you can buy in the store. Ex. You have 6 recipes all calling for 1/2 stick of butter. That's three full sticks you'll need. 
  • Expect to need double the following ingredients (recipe dependent, but relatively basic): butter, ice, stock or broth, milk, celery, onions, sweet potatoes, mini marshmallows, pie crust, cheese, bread. 
  • Write out your complete grocery list. *Organizing by type (produce, canned goods, meats, dairy) is a lifesaver during hectic store shopping hours. This is also the time to clip coupons, search for the best deals and map out your grocery store game plan. 
  • Print another copy of all the recipes you're making (or bookmark them if you're using a laptop, tablet, phone, etc.) for easier use the day of. Keep in a safe place. 
In Advance:
  • You'll want to prep everything you can in advance. No one wants to wake up at 3 am and cook straight on through until noon when your guests arrive. 
  • Things you can make in advance:
    • Cranberry sauce can be made and frozen for 1+ weeks.
    • Dough for rolls can be frozen after the first rise and last 1+ weeks in the freezer. 
    • Potatoes can be peeled and covered completely with water for up to 24 hours without browning. Mashing them can be done a day in advance. Put in a crock pot to keep them warm and add extra butter so they don't dry out.
    • Pies can be made 1-2 days in advance. 
    • Vegetables can be chopped 1-2 days in advance. 
    • Make sure your turkey is completely thawed before attempting to cook him. 
    • If using fresh bread to make stuffing, allow it to sit in the open air at least overnight.
  • READ YOUR RECIPES ALL THE WAY THROUGH. You need to make sure you have softened butter, cream cheese, eggs, etc. 
  • If you're a compulsive list maker as well, make a general time line of when you need to make something, when it needs to go into the oven, at what temperature, how long it needs to cook, etc. 
  • Put out all of the serving dishes you're going to use. Sitting the printed copy of the recipe in them really helps to keep things straight in those last final crazy hours, plus allows others to jump in and help you without you needing to stop and explain. 
  • Setting the table can be oddly therapeutic after a day of cooking. 
The Day Of:
  • Follow your time line. 
  • Make sure to clean up as you go. This includes UNLOADING the dishwasher. 
  • Take deep breaths. 
  • Remember that you are most likely the only person who will know if something goes wrong. 
  • Never, unable any circumstances, refuse help. If aunt Sally wants to carve the turkey, hand her a knife and get out of the way. 
At last check, my menu is as follows:

Thanksgiving Menu, 2013
Appetizers:
pear and onion focaccia
deviled eggs (aunt M)
veggies and dip 
Main Dishes:
turkey (aunt M)
ham (aunt J)
sauerkraut and kielbasa (aunt M)
Side Dishes:
mashed potatoes and gravy
herbed bread stuffing
butternut squash and poblano gratin
corn
wet cornbread (aunt J)
something with sweet potatoes (cousin W/aunt M)
Bread:
pumpkin dinner rolls
brown and serve rolls (mom)
Dessert:
pumpkin pie (mom)
apple tart
pear galette 

My Tentative Timeline:
Please note that I am not making the turkey. My uncle gets one free through work so my aunt and I have a deal that I cover just about everything else and give her my roasting pan and she makes the turkey. Although she's signed up for a lot more this year. Aunt J typically doesn't come since she's 3 hours away. Wanting to do something substantial, she is bringing a small ham. 

Sunday, 24th: make and freeze cranberry sauce, make and freeze pumpkin dinner rolls
Wednesday, 27th: 
assemble mac and cheese, refrigerate 
make focaccia
mix ingredients for dip, refrigerate
chop veggies
peel, boil, mash potatoes and refrigerate 
chop all ingredients for stuffing, assemble, refrigerate
assemble and bake grain, allow to cool to room temp, refrigerate
trim green beans
thaw cranberry sauce
thaw and bake dinner rolls
assemble and bake apple tart 
Thanksgiving:
bake mac and cheese and dip to be done 20 minutes before guests arrive at 1
put mashed potatoes in crock pot with butter on low to warm through 
bring gratin back to room temp, warm up again in oven 
bake stuffing
bake galettes 
warm up cranberry sauce
cook corn, roast green beans 
make drinks 

My goal is since the green beans need to be roasted, they will be cooked first and with the increased heat, I can decrease the stuffing cooking time and warm up the gratin faster. There's room for all three of those plus the turkey if he needs to be warmed up as well.

If you'd feel more comfortable reading a post of someone who has pulled this off already, with a realistic commentary on the hourly details, you should totally go read my friend Steph's post at her blog,  Life According to Steph







Improv Challenge: Orange Cardamom Cake

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This challenge seriously stumped me for quite some time. I've never cooked/baked with cardamom before so for the first time since I started participating in the Improv Challenge I didn't even have an inkling of what to make.

I usually try to go outside of the box and make something less common for the challenges but not being familiar with cardamom put a damper on that as well. Then, while going through the Cooking Light website for something else completely different, I saw the link for this Orange and Cardamom cake. Not only was it perfect because it was the exact ingredients I needed, but also because I have a very underused bundt pan.

I waited until the weekend before the challenge to make this cake because silly me thought we had cardamom in the spice rack. So while making my grocery list for the week, I checked and found that while we have other spices I'm never going to use (I'm looking at you caraway) there was no cardamom.

I first checked for it at the local grocery store. When I didn't find it on the shelf with the other McCormick spices, I hesitantly looked over at the Gourmet Selection brand of spices which are usually triple the price. And there, nestled between the caraway and cayenne sat the cardamom. For a whopping $17.49 per tiny jar.

A few minutes later, I recovered from my near heart attack in the spice aisle and headed over to the Amish market in hopes they had a cheaper selection for me.

Not so much, but I was able to convince the nice Amish lady to split container of it for me so I only had to pay $6.



Orange and Cardamom Cake
Source: Cooking Light, December 2007
Yield: 1 cake
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Ingredients:
    • cooking spray
    • 3 cups + 1 tablespoon all purpose flour, divided
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 3/4 tsp. ground cardamom
    • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice
    • 2/3 cup canola oil
    • 1 tbsp.  orange zest
    • 2 tsp. lemon zest
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 3 eggs
    • Glaze:
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 4 1/2 tsp. fresh orange juice
    • 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray then dust with the 1 tablespoon of flour. Set aside.
3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cardamon, cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl.
4. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add in the orange juice, canola oil, orange zest, lemon zest, vanilla and eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until fully incorporated.
5. Spoon batter into the prepared bundt pan and spread evenly. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Let cake cool in the bundt pan for 5 minutes. Line a baking sheet with wax paper and place a wire rack on top. Invert cake onto wire rack.
7. Whisk together glaze ingredients in a small bowl and pour over cake.



Do you have certain smells that will trigger a memory? I opened the container of cardamom and took a tentative sniff and was instantly transported back to being maybe 3 years old. My mom had found a scratch and sniff Christmas book for me and one of the items to scratch was an orange. It smelled just like cardamom. I remember a peppermint candy cane and a pine tree smell as well, but my favorite was always the orange. I stood there for a few minutes just savoring the smell of the cardamom.

As you can see from my cake, glaze and I don't always get along so well, but the cake was still amazing without it. I thought it would be dense but it was surprisingly light and fluffy and that wonderful orange spice smell of the cardamom wafted up to me with every bite.

I now want to make all the things with cardamom. It smells so good! Can I buy it in candle form?

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats: Week 9: Grinch Heart Cookies

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Pretty much since I signed up for the 12 Weeks of Christmas I've been excited to make Grinch-related holiday items to share with you.

In case you weren't aware, I am obsessed with The Grinch. Tom is as well, which means when Thanksgiving is over, our apartment is immediately transformed into a winter wonderland of all things Christmas and Grinch. We really should start looking into buying a house soon since we keep finding more Grinch items, but we have no where to place them. However, this doesn't stop us from buying more. While I like to think that we are reasonable, responsible people, all of that immediately flies out the window when surrounded with Grinch items.



A few years ago, we happened to wander down the Christmas aisles at Walmart and found multiple sets of ornaments, stockings and various Grinch decor. We both looked at back and forth between each other and the Grinch items.

"It's like $200 worth of stuff...we could pick up one or two things a week until Christmas..."

"Yeah. That's true...what happens if they sell out though? We should prioritize by the best stuff."

"...We do just have that entire income tax refund sitting in the savings account." 

"Yeah..should we really spend the savings on Grinch stuff though?"

and then our eyes met again and we turned into crazy Grinch-addicted people tossing everything Grinch related into the cart at warp speed before calmly and quietly walking out of the aisle like it never happened.

That happened three years ago and it still makes me laugh. Anyone who happened to see us in our Grinch item grabbing frenzy must have thought we were insane. I don't, however, regret it for one second. I am slightly proud to say that we don't go quite as overboard anymore.



Grinch Heart Cookies
Source: Food.com 
Yield: 3 1/2 dozen (approximately)
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Ingredients:
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp. vanilla 
    • red and green sanding sugar 
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Combine flour and baking powder into a medium bowl.
3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in egg and vanilla until fully incorporated.
4. Add in flour mixture, one cup at a time. If the dough is too thick, add in one teaspoon of water at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.
5. Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Use cookie cutters to cut out desired shapes.
6. Place shapes on prepared baking sheets and bake for 6-8 minutes (depending on the size of your cookies) and allow to cool on wire racks before decorating.


Decorator's Icing
Source: Coastal Living, December 2010
Ingredients:
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream 
red and green food coloring 
Directions:
Add powdered sugar to a large bowl and slowly pour in the heavy whipping cream, stirring constantly. Once it reaches a thick but pourable consistency, divide into portions and stir in food coloring. 
To Decorate:
Fill a piping bag with the icing of your choice and a thin tip (Wilton 1 and 3 are my preferred choices). Trace heart and circle shapes onto the cookies.
To flood cookies - separate out a portion of the icing and add 1-2 drops of water at a time, stirring constantly until mixture has thinned to a drizzling consistency. Transfer to a squeeze bottle and gently squeeze icing into the lined hearts and circles. Sprinkle immediately with sanding sugar and allow to dry completely.


Thanks again to Brenda of Meal Planning Magic for hosting the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats.

Thanksgiving Recipe Round-Up

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AHHHHH! There are only 10 days until Thanksgiving! Are you hosting? Is your menu finalized? Do you even know what you're doing for the turkey day yet?

Well, I can really only help you with two of those things. I've spent the past few days compiling all of my recipes that you can serve on Thanksgiving and now I'm here to share them with you. I had intended to share this last week or even at the beginning of November because that's when I started looking for turkey day recipes, but if you'll scroll down you'll see that this is quite the collection and well, it didn't come together nearly as quickly as I'd hoped.

Plus I recently just upgraded to the pay for it version of PicMonkey and I spent WAY too much time playing with the pay for only features when editing pictures.

So without further adieu, here are some recipes for the grand ole day of turkey. Ironically enough, none of them include an actual turkey recipe since I've never blogged the one I use. I think I'll work on that for next year.



Appetizers:


Bread: 

Butter:



Side Dishes:


Vegetable Side Dishes:


Pumpkin:



Sauce:


Apple:


Sweet Treats:

I hope you find something you can add to your turkey day menu!





Apple Hand Pies

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Happy Monday! I hope you're having a lovely start to this week.

So yesterday, I told you about my addiction to honeycrisp apples and asked that you please tell me what else to make with them. Have you done that? If not, I'd really appreciate it. You can even comment on this post answering "what would you make with a bowl full of honeycrisp apples?" I need to know people! If I don't start finding recipes soon, my entire kitchen will be taken over by apples! Just picture that visual!

I spent my Sunday mornings (...and afternoons if we're being honest) watching The Cooking Channel. They keep adjusting the line up on me, but for the most part, my routine starts with Eden Eats at 7 am, followed by The Fabulous Beekman Boys at 8 am, Brunch at Bobby's at 8:30 and then two back to back episodes of Not My Mama's Meals. It was a little after 8:30 and Brunch at Bobby's was a repeat where he made homemade toaster pastries. I got up to make some coffee and noticed that my bowl o'apples hath overfloweth.

Looking back and forth between the television and the bowl (and a quick peek into the fridge) and this recipe for apple hand pies was born. While I love making cakes and pies, I've learned that here in the Cookaholic Wife household, we tend to eat individual-sized desserts much more frequently than a larger one.



Apple Hand Pies
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 14-16 individual pies
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Ingredients:
    • 2 apples, peeled and chopped
    • 2 tbsp. sugar
    • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
    • 2 refrigerated pie crust, thawed (1 box)
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten 
    • 2-3 tbsp. Sugar in the Raw, turbinado or sanding sugar 
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Place the apples, sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl and toss well to coat.
3. Roll out each pie crust and use a 4 to 5 inch round cookie cutter to cut circles in the pie crust. (A large glass or bowl would also work) You'll need to roll out the dough scraps to reach the desired number of circles.
4. Place 7-8 circles on the prepared baking sheets. Spoon two teaspoons of the apple filling into the center of each circle, then fold over, making a half-moon shape.
5. Use a fork to crimp the edges of each folded circle, then brush each with the egg. Sprinkle sugar on top.
6. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until lightly golden.

Aren't they pretty? They sure tasted wonderful too. There's just something about the combination of cinnamon, sugar and apples that is so comforting. I can't help but picture colorful leaves falling off the trees and the scent of burning wood in the fireplace in the air. 

Weekly Menu 11/17 - 11/22

Holy crap can you believe Thanksgiving is next week? I'm actually kind of glad that it's falling later in the month than usual since I still feel like I need all of the prep time I can get. However, you should definitely check back here on Tuesday morning because I have a little treat for you.

As in, I've complied all of the recipes you could/should make for Thanksgiving, added in some cool pictures thanks to a paid-for subscription to PicMonkey.com and I hope you'll find something to bring to a gathering or serve at your own.

Oh, and I'm addicted to honeycrisp apples. Like, seriously. I seek them out in stores. I search grocery store ads to see which store has them for the cheapest price. I found that you can get 2 pounds of them for $3.49 at Aldi!!!!! (Yes, all of those exclamation points were necessary) Except, I keep buying them with no intention of what to do with them. I'm already eating an apple a day and I still can't keep up with my purchasing habit. Is there an intervention for this?

I think I'm going to remake the honeycrisp apple breakfast pastry for this week, which will use a few of them, but I need more ideas. Leave me a comment with them, please?

So, speaking of Aldi, they just remodeled and had a grand opening on my local store. Every time I've went to Aldi there have been no more than 10 people there, including the employees. The grand opening? The entire parking lot was packed with cars and the store was completely full. Where are these people on every other day? Actually, I'd prefer for them not to be around considering it took me over an hour to get through the store. If you've ever been in an Aldi, you'd know the store is not big enough for an hour-long shopping event. The point I was getting to with this paragraph is I'm curious if you ever shop at Aldi too? Their prices for dairy and dry goods are just too good for me to pass up. I typically save at least 30% compared to the regular grocery stores, and that's even with adding random cool stuff into my cart. So comment on that as well, do you shop at Aldi? Do you find yourself saving a bunch of money? 

I believe it's time to get to the point of this post, what I plan on making next week. It's a simple and kind of boring menu, but I think I'll appreciate the downtime with Thanksgiving and all of it's prep looming around the corner.

Sunday - parmesan herb chicken tenders, fries, corn 

Monday - shrimp bisque 

Tuesday - cashew beef with sesame green beans 

Wednesday - BBQ chicken, fries, corn 

Thursday - queso nachos 

Practically an entire week of foods I've already shared with you. That's gotta be some kind of new record, huh?

I already told you about the breakfast pastry which I'll have for...breakfast! Creative, no? I bought everything for sandwiches this week but then I saw this couscous salad and although it appears a bit summery, it appealed to my summer-loving heart and I may need to go buy some couscous and have this instead.

On the baking end of things, I think I'm taking it nice and easy and just making my required 12 Weeks of Christmas recipe along with my Improv Challenge recipe. 

Recipe Swap: Vegetarian: Mushroom Melt Sandwich

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The Recipe Swaps are getting a new outlook on life, starting today. When Sarah of A Taste of Home Cooking (our organizer of these swaps) let us know that participation was dwindling we opted to make a few changes. Instead of being assigned a specific recipe, we are now assigned a theme and can choose anything that fits within that theme from our assigned blog. It's kind of like the Improv Challenge, just not with specific ingredients.

This way the bloggers who have mainly sweets related blogs can still participate if our theme is say...cheese. Cheesecake, mac and cheese, cheeseburgers, cream cheese cookies and the list goes on and on. You get the idea.

So, the theme for this month is vegetarian and I was assigned to The Barbee Housewife. Caroline has quite a few recipes that appealed to me but not all of them met the vegetarian requirements I was going for. Which lead me to go on a bit of a pinning spree. Future recipes to come!

Anyway, I finally settled on these mushroom melt sandwiches.



Mushroom Melt Sandwich
Source: The Barbee Housewife via Closet Cooking
Servings: 1 sandwich
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Ingredients:
    • 1 1/2 tbsp. butter, divided
    • 1/2 tbsp. olive oil 
    • 1/8 cup onion, diced
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
    • 4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
    • 2 tbsp. white wine 
    • pinch each of salt and pepper
    • 1 tsp. fresh parsley, chopped
    • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
    • 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
    • 2 slices of bread 
Directions:
1. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and the olive oil together in a small skillet over medium heat.
2. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until tender and translucent, then add the garlic and thyme and cook for 1 minute more.
3. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and cook for 10 minutes or until golden. Pour the wine into the skillet and scrape up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper to your tastes, then stir in the parsley.
4. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and stir in the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses until fully melted.
5. Use the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter to butter both pieces of bread. Spoon the mushroom mixture onto a non-buttered side of bread and spread evenly. Cover with the remaining slice of bread, butter side up.
6. Place the sandwich in the skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes per side or until the bread is golden brown.



You can't really go wrong with mushrooms, fresh herbs and cheese. Slap that between some bread and you have yourself a mighty tasty meal.

Apple Galette

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If you are looking for a rustic and quick recipe to serve for the holidays or just a quick get-together, you have come to the right place.

I made my first galette with peaches back in September and I have been thinking about making one for the holidays ever since. Like the peach galette, the most time consuming part of this recipe is peeling and slicing the apples. But it doesn't really even take that long. Just compared to everything else you need to do with this recipe, it seems the longest.

I made this for the small party I had last weekend and everyone loved it. I plan on making a pear version for Thanksgiving.



Apple Galette
Adapted from: Recipe Girl
Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients:
    • 1 refrigerated pie crust, thawed
    • 2 medium apples, peeled and thinly sliced
    • 1 tbsp. cold butter, cut into small pieces
    • 2 tbsp. sugar, divided
    • 2 tbsp. cinnamon, divided
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place the sliced apples in a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.
3. Roll out the pie crust and arrange the apple slices in a circular fashion, leaving a 2 inch border to fold up.
4. Drop the butter pieces over the apples, then gently fold up the crust to cover just to partially cover the apples.
5. Dip a pastry brush in water and lightly brush the edges of the pie crust. Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar on top and then bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

I was really excited that for as much as everyone liked this, they didn't eat all of it because it meant I could have some for breakfast the next morning! 

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats: Week 8: Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I absolutely can't believe that the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats is almost over! I remember signing up for this back in September and thinking there was tons and tons of time until Christmas. That is definitely not the case anymore!

We have a sign up that is a countdown to Christmas and it is currently registering 41 days until the big man comes down the chimney and leaves gifts. I'm not ready!

I only have one real present bought so far. I know I have time and I usually get all of my shopping done on Black Friday, but I just feel very unprepared this year.

I saw this recipe when I was checking out the other Secret Recipe Club submissions and I thought it would be the perfect recipe to share for the 12 Weeks of Christmas. Why? Because I know I can't be the only one out there who dreads the colder weather, the white stuff that falls from the sky and the general dreariness that follows the holidays and sometimes hangs on right through until April.

What do these cookies have to do with that? They have coconut! You can't possible eat anything coconut and not think of sunshine and warm breezes and flip flops. (Well, if you can I hope I just convinced you otherwise) So, in my head, these cookies remind me that warm weather can't really be that far off (don't remind me of actually how far it is okay?)



Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Phemomenon
Servings: about 2 1/2 dozen
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Ingredients:
    • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 tbsp. vanilla bean paste
    • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut 
    • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. salt 
    • 1 cup chocolate chips 
    • sugar, for pressing the cookies 
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and coconut and beat until soft and fluffy.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt, then slowly add into the mixer until fully combined. Pour in the chocolate chips and allow to mix just until incorporated.
4. Drop tablespoon sized balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Use the bottom of a glass or your palm to gently press flatten the cookies, then sprinkle with the sugar.
5. Bake for 10 minutes or until the bottoms are just golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.



Aren't the plates adorable? I saw them in Marshall's and immediately added them to my cart!
Thanks again to Brenda of Meal Planning Magic for hosting our 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats and don't forget, you can always go check out the Pinterest page to see what everyone has made for the previous weeks!   

5 Layer Hummus Dip

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When I planned to have a party over this past weekend, I made it a point to have as many healthy recipes as their unhealthy counterparts. I shared a pretty unhealthy one with you yesterday so I thought it only fair to share a healthier choice today.

This is something you can quickly and easily whip up for a crowd and it's perfect any time of the year. It's something that I'd love to make for the holidays but I'm fairly certain no one in my family would touch hummus with a 5 foot pole. So I get stuck serving these things to my friends.

Which didn't exactly work out either, but read on for that.



5 Layer Hummus Dip
Source: Domestic Fits
Servings: 2 cups
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Ingredients:
    • 10 oz. hummus (flavor of your choice)
    • 1/4 cup red onion, minced
    • 1 small cucumber, diced
    • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
    • 1/2 cup feta cheese 
Directions: 
1. Spread the hummus in an even layer in the bottom of a serving dish. Layer the onions on top, followed by the cucumbers, then the tomatoes and finally the feta cheese.

*Recipe can be made a few hours in advance: cover with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate.



I am not a fan of olives or artichokes which originally were in this recipe making it a 7 layer dip. I opted to leave them out and go for a smaller 5 layer version. Unfortunately none of my friends were interested in eating this. I had higher hopes for the recipe, thinking they would like it better than my family but apparently not.

I did snag a few bites of this while prepping it, and as someone who likes hummus, I really enjoyed this. It just isn't something I would take the effort to make for myself. 

Warm Bacon Cheese Spread

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Yesterday I gave you a short spoiler that today I would be sharing a recipe involving bacon and cheese. What I didn't tell you is just how incredible this dip is.

Three things that should be a staple in everyone's life are included in this recipe: Bread, cheese and bacon. 

I highly, highly suggest making this for your family and friends. But I wouldn't be surprised if it quickly becomes your signature dish and everyone is asking you for the recipe. It's just that damn good. 



Warm Bacon Cheese Spread
Servings: 32

Ingredients:
    • 1 round bread loaf (sourdough, rye, Italian, etc.)
    • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened 
    • 12 oz. sour cream 
    • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
    • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
    • 10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
    • 1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced
    • bread, crackers, vegetables for serving 
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 325. 
2. Cut the top of the bread bowl off and carefully hollow out the center. Cut the bread into cubes, place in a storage bag to keep from getting stale and set aside. 
3. Add cream cheese to a large bowl and beat with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the sour cream, shredded cheese and Worcestershire sauce and beat until combined. 
4. Stir in the bacon and green onions with a wooden spoon or spatula. 
5. Spoon the cheese mixture into the hollowed out bread bowl and wrap the whole bread bowl in aluminum foil, tenting the top slightly so it doesn't sit on the cheese mixture. 
6. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and serve with the bread cubes, crackers and/or vegetables or serving. 



Doesn't that just look incredible? I can assure you it tastes even better. You can substitute the cream cheese, sour cream and shredded cheese for their lighter or fat-free counterparts if you're looking to save a few calories.

I am definitely going to serve this for Thanksgiving and I have a feeling it might just knock my always-requested mac and cheese cups out of the number one spot. 

Weekly Menu 11/10 - 11/14

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While it shortens the amount of "official" shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I am so glad that Thanksgiving is at the end of the month this year. I have 18 people coming over (and I'll share the menu with you soon) and I feel like I need the extra week to prepare.

Last night I had some friends over for a small party. They were my guinea pigs taste testers for some recipes I had planned for the holidays. In the end, they only ended up tasting two of the three recipes. One turned out perfectly, which I'll share with you tomorrow (SPOILER: it's full of bacon and cheese), one turned out tasty but hideous and the third was just a complete flop, but only because I had too many things in the oven at once.

Oh, but more importantly than anything else, you should really head over to your neighborhood Target and score some of this.



Seriously! I don't even like milk and this is probably one of the best tasting things I've had in a long time. They also have a chocolate mint variety which I need to pick up ASAP and try out. Oh and if you're wondering what to do with a flavored milk, such as snickerdoodle, I can suggest dipping cookies into it (YUM!), mixing it with caramel vodka for a sweet adult beverage, or mixing some whipped cream vodka into it for something that tastes like Christmas and winter and sugar cookies.

So, what am I cooking this week?

Sunday - baked ziti (double batch for my lunch)

Monday - crock pot hoisin beef stew over rice

Tuesday - jalapeno popper chicken chili 

Wednesday - grilled cheese and tomato soup 

Thursday - crock pot general Tso's chicken over rice 

I have a super unhealthy muffin recipe for breakfast this week - graham cracker chocolate chip. Doesn't that sound heavenly?

Since I did so much cooking for the party, I'm not making anything other than my 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats recipe this week. Check back on Wednesday to see what that is!


Review: Cocozia Coconut Water

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If you spend any amount of time on the internet, you will know that all things coconut are the biggest trend. It started off last summer with coconut water and various companies began manufacturing their versions.

This year it has spread to coconut oil. Its the healthier alternative to other oils, you can cook with it and bake with it and bloggers every where love it. Hell, there are unrefined versions that you can even put on your face.



Basically if it includes coconut, it's been super popular for the past 18 months or so, which is why I wasn't all that surprised when I was contacted by a company named Epicurex asking me to review their product 100% Organic Coconut Water called Cocozia.

First, I did what any good blogger does and looked up Epicurex. They are an importer and distributor of organic drinks. Their two brands are Aloic, an aloe vera drink, and Cocozia, the organic coconut water. They have three offices and from what I understand, a fairly new company.

I am not a huge health nut by any means, but I do believe that your diet should consist of healthy, low-sugar low-fat items much more than the sugar-laden preservative packed counterparts. Cocozia fits this mission.

For something as simple as coconut water, they pack a pretty big punch compared to their competitors. Cocozia is kosher, USDA Organic Certified and Non-GMO project verified. On top of that, they have NO added sugars and zero fat. The sole ingredient: organic coconut water.

While you can't find Cocozia in stores, you can order it in cases of 12 from Amazon.

First, let's talk about the packaging.  Cocozia brings out the juice-box lover in us all, by serving their coconut water in a simple but recyclable silver carton, with a straw. (I like to add my own) Each carton is just 70 calories and has 14 grams of natural sugars.

The facts: on the back of the carton you find out the coconut water has electrolytes (I really didn't know this) and that it's a good drink to have after or during working out because of how hydrating it is.

And the part you're really all looking for,

The taste: I need to remind you that this is simply coconut water with no extra additives. The water that comes out of a real coconut is exactly what you're going to taste here. It's not sweetened.

Personally, I like mine ice cold and partially frozen. The flavor is mild. It's not quite coconut but not quite anything else either. It's hard to explain.

If you are a sugar junkie, I'm not positive you're going to like this. But if you need something really refreshing after a workout, or maybe you had one too many glassses of wine last night, I think you should definitely reach for this.


Review Disclaimer: Epicurex provided me with an Amazon gift card to purchase 1 carton of their Cocozia Coconut water in exchange for my review on Amazon and blog. All thoughts are my own.




Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Marsala

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Much like Cassie's experience of creating this recipe when she just wasn't feeling her original dinner plans, I chose to make this recipe on a night where my original plans had fallen through and I knew I needed to use up the mushrooms in the fridge before they went bad. The original dish also called for chicken cutlets, so when went through my pinned recipes and saw this, I felt like it was a sign from the chicken and mushroom gods for me to make this dish.




Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Marsala
Source: Cassie Craves
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 4 chicken breast cutlets
    • 4 slices prosicutto
    • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
    • 1 shallot, minced
    • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 springs fresh rosemary, chopped
    • 1 cup Marsala wine 
    • 1 cup chicken stock 
    • salt and pepper, to taste
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 300. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Spray a skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add the chicken cutlets to the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes or each side or until lightly browned.
3. Remove the chicken from the skillet and reduce the heat to low. Wrap each chicken breast in a slice of prosciutto and place seam-side down in the baking dish. Place the baking dish in the oven.
4. Meanwhile, add the butter to the skillet and once partially melted, add in the shallots and mushrooms, cooking until the mushrooms are browned. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for 1 minute more.
5. Increase the heat to medium-high again, then pour the Marsala wine into the skillet and use a wooden spoon to scrape the browned chicken bits from the bottom of the skillet. Allow the Marsala wine to cook off and reduce by half, then pour in the chicken broth and allow to also reduce.
6. Remove the chicken from the oven and nestle into the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then serve immediately.

The original recipe calls for bacon instead of prosciutto but I have such a hard time getting the bacon to cook evenly, and we had just a few slices of prosciutto left in the fridge that I figured I would try out this version.

I have to say, this is probably one of the best dishes I've ever made. It simple and relatively quick, but the amount of flavors packed into that chicken breast and the sauce is absolutely incredible. 
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