I really have to admit that, honestly, this Chicken with Morel Mushroom Sauce is one of my favorite dishes that I have ever made.
Honestly. Ever. I don’t know whether the magic of the sauce is from the morels or from the sherry-based sauce..or the heavy cream. Who knows. It’s good. Real good.
I came home to a huge bag of fresh picked morel mushrooms on my doorstep! A friend of mine foraged for them and thankfully decided to share his treasure! These puppies can go for as much as $40 per pound! We are eating like royalty over here!
With such a large bundle of morel mushroom-delights, I decided to prepare a recipe that was provincial and special: a french morel mushroom sauce. This sauce deserves a trumpet of announcement. It deserves to be served in a bowl with amazing a crusty baguette, if you can have it. Sop it up. Don’t waste this sauce. With only 1/2 cup of heavy cream added at the end, the sauce is not heavy but it is substantial. I also think that adding champagne vinegar or lemon juice at the end really brings this sauce home with a small acidic kick.
Note – If you are unable to get fresh morel mushrooms, either substitute the mushrooms for equal quantity of cremini or shiitake OR go online and purchase about 2 oz of dry morels. If using dry morels, you will need to rehydrate them. In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat off and add the morels to the saucepan. Cover the saucepan and soak the mushrooms for 30 minutes to rehydrate. Remove the rehydrated mushrooms out of the soaking liquid using a slotted spoon, gently squeezing out the excess liquid back into the saucepan. Reserve the soaking liquid.
Chicken with Morel Mushroom Sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
- 3 pounds of bone in chicken thighs or breasts (skin removed)
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup minced red onion or shallot
- 1 pound fresh morel mushrooms, washed and cut in half if large (this is how I wash my morels)*
- 1 cup dry sherry
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon Champagne vinegar or lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper up to one day in advance.
- Add olive oil (or butter) in a large skillet placed over medium-high heat. Add chicken to skillet bone side up, and cook about 6 minutes per side, turning once. Allow the chicken to become golden brown on both sides. Remove the chicken and place on a plate.
- Lower the heat to medium. If needed, add another tablespoon of olive oil and then add onion (or shallots). Sauté until soft and translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes. Then add washed morel mushrooms and sauté for a few more minutes. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the mushrooms to a separate plate. Add dry sherry to skillet and bring to a boil. Allow the sherry to reduce by half (about 2 minutes). Add chicken stock and chicken to skillet and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the skillet with a lid placed slightly ajar. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Check chicken after 20 minutes. After cooked through, transfer the chicken to a platter.
- Add the mushrooms back to the skillet. Add cream, vinegar, and thyme. Simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken. Add salt and pepper to taste. To serve, pour the sauce over the chicken on the platter. Sprinkle with additional cracked pepper and fresh thyme, if desired.
Notes – recipe adapted from here and here.
We all need a little treat now and then. For me, my favorite treat is always peanut butter eggs or dark chocolate peanut butter cups. Swooooooon. I don’t have them often, but when I do, I prefer the mini ones because I can have more than one and not feel so bad. I also am like a squirrel and like to save them, placing them in weird places in our house (hiding them from my chocoholic husband).
We hosted a huge Easter gathering at our house this year and had 30 people in our tiny and cozy little abode. It was a lot of fun because I had a game plan: only make stress free food! This would ensure that I could enjoy my family and not appear like a crazed woman. One of the stress free foods that I made were these amazing Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs.
My sister and I whipped up these easy peasy peanut butter eggs a day in advance. They didn’t take much time and they were a great tiny sweet treat for people to pop one, two, or five eggs into their mouth.
Did I mention that these Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs are made with only FOUR ingredients? FOUR. They are very very very easy to make and very very very easy to eat. Too easy. But hey, on the bright side, they are made with all natural ingredients and are only 70 calories per egg. Boom!
Homemade Four Ingredient Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs
- 2 cups creamy salted natural peanut butter
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 5 oz dark chocolate
- Using either an electric mixer or a food processor, thoroughly mix the peanut butter, honey, and vanilla on high-speed for several minutes until the mixture turns into a thick ball of peanut butter dough. Depending on the time of year and humidity in your kitchen, a tablespoon of water may need to be added to the mixture so that it will come together like dough. You can also pull it out of the mixing bowl and work it by hand for it to come together at the end after mixing it.
- Place parchment paper or waxed paper on a rimmed baking sheet or inside several glass pyrex baking dishes.
- Take a tablespoon of the peanut butter dough and use your hands to shape into a ball or egg shape, if you are feeling eggy. Place the balls (or eggs) onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Continue making the peanut butter eggs or balls until all of the dough is used. Depending on the size of your eggs, this recipe makes between 50 and 60 peanut butter eggs. Chill the peanut butter eggs in the freezer for 1 hour or in the refrigerator overnight.
- When you are ready to coat the peanut butter eggs in chocolate, place the chocolate into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds, then stir. Microwave in 10 second intervals, stirring between until the chocolate is melted.
- Remove the peanut butter eggs from the freezer. Place one egg at a time into the chocolate and roll around until covered. Remove using a large fork placed under the egg and allow the excess chocolate to drip from the egg. Place the dipped egg on the parchment paper to harden. Store in the refrigerator until time to serve.
*Note – for a paleo-friendly version or for those that are allergic to peanuts, almond butter could be used instead.
For my birthday, a friend of mine gave me an amazing cookbook by Rachel Khoo called My Little French Kitchen. I’ve been wrapped up in her delicious recipes, bright photos, and lovely stories about exploring regional french cuisine as she travels all around France! Ugh…Tough job, I know. I try not to get too bitter at the picturesque seaside photos around Normandy and the nonstop lavender fields of Provance…especially when my fingers are numb by just driving my car to work. Spring needs to come quickly.
As we say goodbye to winter, I am still cooking up stews and comfort meals. This cookbook offers plenty of that as well. There is a wonderful section in her book about Alsace, a northeastern region of France, bordering Germany. The recipes in this section are hearty, winter-loving, comfort foods. One of my favorite recipes in the Alsace region of her book is called Baeckeoffe or “Baker’s Oven Stew”. The history behind the stew refers to a time when french women would often bring this casserole to the baker in the morning on their way to the river to wash their clothes. The baker would bake it in the coolest part of the oven all day. The women would then pick up the baked stew and a loaf of bread for dinner on their way home. Hence the name Baeckeoffe or literally Baker’s Oven.
As I started thinking more and more about that story, I couldn’t help but feel so sorry for those poor women. Those women had to lug that huuuuge cast iron casserole pot full of meat and wine to the baker’s shop PLUS haul their whole families’ stinky laundry to the river in the winter! Then they spent all day doing laundry in a cold river. They then had to pick up a fiery hot casserole and hoped that they wouldn’t drop it or get on their newly cleaned clothes. Hmm…Makes my issues seem pretty petty.
The original recipe used several different cuts of beef (oxtail and beef cheeks) and none of the spices that I mention below. Buuuuut I had a leg of lamb staring me down in my freezer that needed to be used. So there. I decided to adapt the recipe by using lamb and several warming spices such as cinnamon, coriander, cumin, and smoked paprika. These spices pair very well with lamb. It gave the stew a hearty and warm balance. If you don’t have lamb, you can sub out a 3-pound chuck roast and leave out the cinnamon and coriander. This stew is so easy and can be easily adjusted for whatever you have on hand. Don’t have red wine? Use white. Don’t have white? Use chicken or beef stock. Seriously… this is like the compost of all stews. And yet it comes out like magic.
Oh and let’s talk about that lovely top, shall we? It is just a butternut squash and a sweet potato that have been thinly sliced and layered around like a flower petal. It’s quite a treat to take the top off of this stew when it is done and see that beautiful rose and smell the amazingness that wafts out. Just think of it as your winter flower.
Baked Lamb Stew
- 3 lbs lamb shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
- 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 medium carrots
- 28 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 2 cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into thin slices
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin slices
- Place the lamb in a large glass bowl or baking dish and toss with the cinnamon, coriander, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, garlic, and pepper. Use your hands to massage the seasonings into the lamb meat. Pour the wine over the meat so that it is submerged. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours (and up to 24 hours).
- When ready to cook the stew, preheat the oven to 325F. Remove the marinated lamb from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cook time.
- In a large 6 to 8-quart Dutch oven, add lamb and marinade, onions, carrots, tomatoes with juice, water, bay leaves, and parsley. Stir and bring to a gentle boil. Remove from heat.
- Neatly and tightly place thin slices of squash and potato around the edge of the pot. The layers will begin to look like flower petals as shown in the above pictures. Continue layering the slices and lay them over the top of the stew until it is covered. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the stew and then place the lid on top. Bake in the preheated oven for 3 to 4 hours, until the lamb is tender. Remove the lid and parchment paper. Increase the heat to 450 F and bake for 5 to 10 minutes to crisp the top. Serve immediately.
Notes – you can easily use a 3-pound chuck roast in this recipe instead of lamb.
I recently brought this easy Black Bean Soup to a pot luck lunch party at my office. It was a breeze. I actually threw all of the ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning in my office and let it cook there until lunch time. The big problem was that I let it cook in my office next to my desk. I nearly ate my arm off trying to not dive head first into the slow cooker and devour the entire thing.
But thankfully I had enough self control to hold off until it was time to serve so that everyone could try it. You’re welcome people!
I recommend this recipe for anyone looking for something super easy and cheap during the weeknight, weekend, or even for entertaining. This is an all around great soup! If you are going on a ski vacation and want to come home to something hearty and wholesome… this is your soup. If you are just coming home from a long work week, this is your soup. If you are having some friends over for game night, this is your soup.
I promise it to be a winner. It will satisfy both meat eaters and veggie eaters! It also will be easy on your pocket book and be super stress free.
Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
- 4 cans of black beans (undrained)*
- 1 large onion, diced
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 cup salsa of choice (I use Trader Joe’s salsa)
- 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped (reserve half of cilantro for topping)
- Juice of 1 lime
- salt and pepper
- Toppings: greek yogurt, chopped scallions, lime wedges
- Place two of the four cans of black beans (with liquid) in the bowl of a food processor or in a blender. Puree for about 15 seconds. Add pureed black beans and remaining ingredients through salsa into a slow cooker. Cook on low for at least 6 hours or high for 3 hours.
- Just before serving, stir in half of cilantro and juice of 1 lime. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve with greek yogurt (or sour cream), chopped scallions, lime wedges, and additional cilantro.
*Note – this recipe can definitely be made with dried black beans but will take about 2 hours longer to cook. Rinse and soak them overnight. Drain them and then puree half of them (about 4 cups) with 2 cups of water. Add all ingredients to slow cooker as mentioned above. Cooking time will increase by 2 hours, with it taking 8 hours on low and 5 hours on high.
I’m so sorry.
I have been M.I.A. for a month. I need to grovel and ask for your forgiveness….
soooo….. I made brownies.
Nothing says I love you and I’m sorry for being away like chocolate + butter + nuts. Am I right?
I’ve been a little off kilter lately and super busy with life and work. It became increasingly difficult to find additional time (and motivation) recently for posting new recipes. Maybe it was lack of sun and seasonal depression. So I took a break. I went back to just cooking for the fun of it. I stopped worrying about whether or not it was good enough for the blog or whether I had to cook it at the right time so that I had enough natural light to photograph it. I just cooked for me.
I think I go through this every winter. I have to realign myself with what is important to me. Give myself a new focus. In turn, I have also given this blog a renewed purpose.
I want to thank those of you who reached out to me and encouraged me to continue cooking and creating in this space. I received some lovely emails and words of encouragement. This is supposed to be a space of creativity and sharing. I want this space to be several things moving forward and not just a food blog. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely still want it to be a space where my inner grandma gets to cook, feed others, and then sit back and bask in the joy of nourishing the one’s I love. But I also want to focus on discovering, exploring, and escaping comfort zones.
Thank you for letting me cook for you and provide nourishing recipes for the past three years. Also, thank you for giving me satisfaction and fulfillment.
And with that…. let’s talk CHOCOLATE AND BUTTAH AND HAZELNUTS.
Get out that good butter and good chocolate. Turn on your oven. We are also going to throw in hazelnuts into our brownies to add some flare!
V.D. is coming up… I mean, Valentine’s Day. And what better way to celebrate your loved ones and friends (or just you) than to serve up a plate of uuuuuuuhmazing gooey gooey brownies. These brownies are adapted from a past recipe of mine (Paleo Flourless Brownie Bites) and a recipe from my favorite pastry chef, Dave Leibovitz. The results are fabulously out of this world. But, as LeVar Burton would say…. Don’t take my word for it. Make them yourself and share the love.
Flourless Brownies (Grain Free)
- 6 tablespoons salted butter (or use unsalted and add 1/8 teaspoon salt)
- 10 oz semi-sweet chocolate chunks
- 2 eggs (room temperature)
- 2/3 cup coconut palm sugar (or unrefined cane sugar)
- 3 tablespoons arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 2/3 cup chopped nuts (I used roasted hazelnuts)
- coarse or flaked sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 8X8 baking dish and set aside.
- Add coconut palm sugar, arrowroot powder, and cocoa powder to the bowl of a food processor. Process for about 1 minute to make sugar mixture super fine. Set aside.
- In a metal saucepan over medium heat, melt butter until it begins to crackle. Add 2/3 of the chocolate chunks (about 8 oz) and remove pan from heat. Whisk constantly until chocolate is completely melted. Add eggs one at a time and whisk constantly.
- Pour chocolate mixture into food processor with sugar mixture. Process for at least one minute. Mixture will be glossy and thick. Add 1/2 cup of nuts and pulse once or twice to distribute. Use a rubber spatula and spoon out mixture into greased baking dish. Sprinkle remaining nuts, chocolate chunks, and flaked sea salt on top. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 F, or until just set. Do not overtake.
Note – If you do not have a food processor, then you will need to adapt the recipe slightly. Add the sugar to the butter and chocolate mixture before you add the eggs. Remove the saucepan from heat. Add eggs one at a time, then add sifted cocoa powder and arrowroot powder straight to the saucepan. Stir with a whisk briskly for at least 1 minute until the mixture becomes glossy and begins pulling away from the sides of the saucepan. Stir in your nuts and then spread the mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts and chocolate and bake as directed above.
Hello. My name is Alissa and I am an oatmeal-aholic. I am. *sigh*
My all time favorite oatmeal flavor is cinnamon apple. However, my recent new oatmeal passion is this Banana Nut Oatmeal.
I love oatmeal with all of my heart. I actually look forward to having oatmeal every morning. It’s my favorite breakfast and my favorite thing about chilly mornings. Nothing is more cozy to me than a warm comforting bowl of oatmeal. It’s like getting a hug from your favorite person while wearing wool socks in front of a cozy fire in a fabulous log cabin with Otis Redding on repeat on the record player.
I’ve been making this delicous Banana Nut Oatmeal every morning lately which is the perfect marriage between banana nut bread and creamy oatmeal. It is also a fabulously healthy way to start your morning during this crazy holiday winter season. The chia seeds and flax seeds help boost the nutrition, fiber content, and protein content which will help you stay full throughout the morning.
I typically work out in the mornings and have to hurry myself getting ready and end up eating breakfast at work while checking my emails. That is why I prep my breakfast the night before. I add all of my oatmeal ingredients to a microwave safe container and simply add liquid in the morning when I get to work and heat ‘er up! So whether you are rushed or have some spare time, this breakfast is perfect for you. You can either throw all of the ingredients into a bowl and refrigerate overnight before making it in the morning or you can cook it in a saucepan on an oven and fill your home with amazing aromas. This recipe also serves 4 hungry people. You can either make the whole batch and eat leftovers all week, or cut it down and make it for solo servings.
But trust me, this breakfast is so delicious that none of it will go to waste if you make extra! Invite me over and I will help you out! I’ll bring the coffee!
Banana Nut Oatmeal (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or regular cow’s milk)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon ground flax meal
- 2 cups gluten free rolled oats
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 bananas
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- Stovetop – Place water, almond milk, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add chia seeds, flax meal, rolled oats, and cinnamon to the saucepan. Turn down heat and allow to cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Dice up one banana and add to saucepan and stir. Allow to cook for an additional 5 minutes, adding a bit of water if needed. Remove from heat. Spoon into four bowls, topping each with remaining sliced banana, chopped pecans, and coconut palm sugar.
- Make Ahead – Place all water, almond milk, salt, chia seeds, flax meal, rolled oats, and cinnamon a large bowl, stir, cover, and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, stir and spoon out into four separate bowls. Dice a banana on top of each bowl and add water to desired consistency. Microwave each bowl for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir oatmeal and top each bowl with remaining sliced banana, chopped nuts, and coconut palm sugar.
This Black Eyed Pea stew provides all the good luck that you’ll need for the new year. Well, don’t quote me on that. You may need some other luck besides this stew. So cross your toes and buy a rabbit foot.
Southern tradition is to eat black eyed peas for luck and greens for wealth. This Slow Cooker Black Eyed Pea, Wild Rice, and Kale Stew has both, plus it is cooked in a slow cooker so you’ll free up plenty of time to do other things, like catch up on some light readings or past episodes of New Girl or really nothing at all.
In fact, I barely put pants on today. *yaaawn* Best. day. ever.
I feel extremely lucky to be able to laze around with my favorite person and my favorite dog while this delicious stew cooked away in the background. It is the perfect bowl of lucky and hearty goodness on a super sleepy and chilly day.
Cheers to everyone. I hope 2015 brings warmth and love to everyone! I’m truly lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life. Now I’ve gotta go serve me up a big bowl of stew!
Slow Cooker Black Eyed Pea, Wild Rice, and Kale Stew (Gluten Free and Dairy Free)
- 1 pound dried black eyed peas
- 1 large ham hock
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
- 1 cup dried wild rice mix
- 1 quart low sodium chicken stock
- 2 cups of chopped kale leaves, stems removed
- salt and pepper to taste
- Soak dried black eyed peas overnight by placing them in a large stockpot and filling with 6 to 8 cups of water. Pick out any bad black eyed peas that look shriveled and float up to the top. After soaking overnight, drain and rinse the black eyed peas.
- Add soaked black eyed peas and remaining ingredients (except kale) to large slow cooker (crockpot). Stir to combine. Place lid on slow cooker and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 6 hours.
- Remove the bay leaves and the ham hock from slow cooker. Carefully use two forks to shred off the cooked ham from the bone. Return shredded ham and kale to slow cooker. Stir to combine and allow the kale to wilt, about 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.