Tarragon Chicken and Mushrooms

Chicken breasts or large thighs can be used in this recipe. This is perfect for company. Each guest has his/her own gratin dish. Serve with you favorite vegetables.

2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
6 skinned and boned chicken breast halves (or substitute 6 large chicken thighs)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
½ teaspoon dried tarragon
¼ cup finely chopped onion
8 oz. fresh mushrooms sliced
1 clove shallot, minced
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock or broth
2 Tablespoons dry white wine
½ cup light sour cream
¼ cup slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt 1 Tablespoon butter with the 1 Tablespoon of oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Brown the chicken about 5 minutes on each side. Season both sides with salt, pepper, and tarragon. Transfer chicken to 6 medium (4” x 6”) gratin dishes that are coated coat with oil.

Add remaining 1 Tablespoon butter over medium heat and sauté onion, mushrooms, and shallots about 5 minutes until tender. Add tomato paste and four and stir to blend. Add stock and wine and stir until thickened, approximately 2 – 3 minutes. Add sour cream and stir until smooth. Pour sauce equally over chicken in the gratin dishes. Sprinkle with nuts. Bake uncovered until bubbly and chicken is cooked through – about 30 minutes.

Serves 6

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Fennel, Red Onion, and Arugula

Arugula is available in most good grocery stores. If you can’t find it, substitute with baby spinach.

2 cups loosely packed baby arugula (or tear larger leaves into small pieces)
2 ½ Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium bulb fennel, cored and cut into ¼ inch slices
1 cup red onion, ¼ – ½ inch thick slices
~ ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
~ ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 clove shallot, minced
¼ cup fresh orange juice

Place arugula in a wide serving bowl.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 Tablespoons of oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the fennel and onion. Season with salt and pepper and brown the vegetables for about 2 minutes. Stir occasionally for about 5 minutes until the fennel and onion are tender and golden brown. Lower the heat if the vegetables are cooking too fast.

Clear a space in the center of the pan and add the remaining ½ Tablespoon oil and the shallots. Cook for about 30 seconds. Add the orange juice and stir with the vegetables.

Immediately pour the vegetable mixture over the arugula and toss to combine and wilt the arugula. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4

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Versatile Vinaigrette

This salad dressing can be altered to your tastes and preferences. Use the vinegar (or combination of vinegars) of your choice and the oil of your choice. Dress salads or vegetables with this vinaigrette.

1 part vinegar (Balsamic, apple, distilled, rice, etc.) to 3 parts oil (mild olive, vegetable, etc.)

Example: ¼ cup vinegar to ¾ cup oil. Whisk the oil into the vinegar slowly.

The following can be added:

Add ½ Tablespoon to Dijon mustard
¼ to ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon coarse salt or Kosher salt
Pinch of sugar

Whisk in the mustard, pepper, salt, and sugar. Taste the vinaigrette and add lemon juice or more vinegar if needed.

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Ham Recipes (to make with leftover ham)

This Sunday is Easter and many families will bake a ham. The recipes listed below all use leftover ham and are found on my blog. The soup uses the ham bone and some remaining ham. The Waldorf salad with the addition of ham is delicious and nutritious. The ham spread is excellent for sandwiches or as an appetizer on crackers.

* Waldorf Salad with Ham: Category: Salad, Feb. 9, 2012

* Ham Salad Spread: Category: Salad, April 11, 2013

* Ham and Bean Soup: Category: Soup, Jan. 6, 2011

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Pear Pie with Crumb Topping

Prepare a single pastry crust or use a purchased one. Trader Joe’s and other grocery stores carry them in the refrigerator or freezer sections. I use d’Anjou pears and ripen them for a couple of days on the counter top. Select pears that stay firm and are juicy. Other pears that work well are Bosc and Comice. If you use Barlett pears, be sure to use the pears when they are slightly firm to the touch but not soft!

I recently served this pie at a dinner party and it was a hit. I hadn’t made it for a few years and was reminded that even my husband likes pears this way. Serve with ice cream and the pie is a winner!

4 large fresh pears
3 Tablespoons thawed frozen orange juice concentrate
1 unbaked 9-inch pastry shell
½ cup sugar
pinch of salt
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Peel, core, and slice pears thinly. Toss pears lightly with undiluted orange juice concentrate and arrange in the pastry-lined pie plate. Mix together sugar, salt, flour, butter, and cinnamon. Mix with hands until mixture is moderately crumbly. Sprinkle over the pears. Bake in a hot oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for ~ 40 minutes until the fruit is tender.

Serve with vanilla ice cream if desired.

Makes 6-8 servings

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Egg Salad

We like egg salad sandwiches and prepare the hard boil eggs with many variations. To start, hard boil the eggs according to my recipe posted on April 17, 2011 under “Dairy”. My husband decided to try a method from “The Chew” and the eggs were too soft. My method will give consistently hard eggs with no sulfur ring around the yolk (sign of overcooked eggs).

Boil 6 – 8 eggs per my blog instructions. Peel the eggs and place them in a bowl. Using a pastry blender, chop the eggs to approximately medium size.

Add the following ingredients:

¼ – ½ cup mayonnaise (depending on the egg volume)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Optional:

½ teaspoon curry powder or
1 Tablespoon chopped pickles or
2 teaspoon chopped green onions or
1 teaspoon chopped chives or
combination of these seasonings

Mix well and place on sandwich bread, crackers, lettuce, or endive etc.

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Laurie’s Roasted Peppers

Laurie introduced this vegetable dish to us. These peppers are delicious. You leave the skins on and cut the peppers into pieces. Use brightly colored ones if you have them available. This will become a family favorite. They are a cinch to make and are healthy with lots of vitamin C.

4 bell peppers (red, yellow, orange, green or colors of your choice)
2 – 3 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste (~ ½ teaspoon salt and ~ ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper)

Slice the top and bottom off the peppers and remove and seeds. Cut the peppers into 2-3 inch pieces. Place pieces on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper and mix well. Bake peppers for ~ 20 minutes at 375oF.

Serves ~ 4

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