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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pan Seared Chicken in Tarragon Cream Sauce

Last week I was flipping through some channels and I saw the most beautiful French-style, pan seared chicken breasts that were bathed in a gorgeous tarragon cream sauce... and I thought "Yep, I have to have that!"  Then I went through the normal litany of thoughts that the rest of you probably go through when you consider a recipe, "Hmmmm.... will my kids eat that?" and "How long will it take to make?" and "How difficult will it be?"

Well, my dear friends, I am SO excited to tell you that my kids LOVED this recipe!  The one I saw used gargantuan chicken breasts, which I imagine took quite a while, but I don't have quite that amount of time after work for my busy family, so I took care of the time factor by choosing thin cut chicken breasts and the rest was a snap for a work week meal (although it was SUPER elegant and could easily have been a date night or supper club meal! ... and it was so simple that I wish I had discovered it before!  But now the secret is out, and it is definitely one of those things that needs to be added to the dinner rotation.  Oh - MY -  GOSH!!!


Ingredients: 
  • Thin cut chicken breasts (I was making 8)
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp shallots
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 Tbsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped 
  • Juice of half a large lemon
  • 1 1/2 cup crimini mushrooms
    • cleaned with stems removed, sliced
  • 6 -8 large garlic cloves
    • just cut in half
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
    •  I used Sauvignon blanc
  • 2 Tbsp butter


Note:  You could go with regular chicken breasts here if you need to, but I am going to save quite a bit of time by using the thin cut ones.  If you are using a regular breast, you will need to either slice them thin by butterflying them (like a book) and pounding them out to a uniform thickness, OR... cooking them quite a bit longer so that they will be completely cooked through.  If you would prefer chicken thighs or similar dark meat pieces, go for it, but please cook them longer than I am cooking these thin-cut breast pieces.

Step-by-Step:  
Season your chicken simply with kosher salt and black pepper.
kosher salt
black pepper
Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to a heavy pan and let it get really hot.
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Add the chicken to the pan.  The chicken should start to sizzle immediately.  If it doesn't, that means your oil is not hot enough.  You may need to add the chicken in batches depending on how much you are cooking.  Don't overcrowd the pan, as it will drop the oil temperature too much. 
FYI - I am using a 14" pan this time.
After a few minutes, flip the chicken over.  The chicken should release easily if it's ready.  If it sticks, it's not ready.
Remove the chicken to a plate and cover lightly if you wish to keep warm.
To that same pan, without cleaning it out, add your shallots.  I have my fire on about medium heat.  You can add an extra tablespoon of oil if you feel like you need.  If you do, add it along one wall of the pan, so that by the time it gets to the bottom, it's hot.

Sauté them around for a minute or so to allow them to wilt.
3 Tbsp Shallots
Add in the garlic cloves.  I am not cutting them small.  They will really mellow out and get sort of roasted and sweet when they are like this in the sauce.  You can always pick out the large cloves later, but I betcha you will love them!
6 - 8 large garlic cloves, cut in half
Go ahead and add in the crimini mushrooms now.  We will welcome the liquid that they are going to give off.
1 1/2 cup crimini mushrooms
Let's get this all sautéed together.  Can you see how lovely this is going to be?
Well we are going to really make it delicious now!  Add in the butter next for some silkiness....
2 Tbsp butter
Followed by that dry white wine (Sauvignon blanc in this case) to deglaze the pan. 

Note - Always use a wine that you are actually going to drink if you are a wine drinker.  If you are not a wine drinker, I recommend that you purchase the small little individual wines that are available in a 4 pack.  They are usually just the right amount for a recipe without having to purchase and open a whole bottle.
1/4 cup dry white wine
I am now bringing this all up to a boil, and adding in the fresh chopped tarragon.  Mmmm.
3 Tbsp fresh tarragon
After it reduces a bit, I added the heavy cream.  We are in business now! 
3/4 cup heavy cream
When I get the sauce pretty much the consistency that I'd like it (which didn't take long at ALL), I added back the cooked chicken. 
I'm added the juice of half a lemon, just to add some brightness to the sauce.
juice of half a lemon
Looking good, huh?
Before serving, I added just a smidge more fresh tarragon.  Fresh herbs have a way of losing some of their pungency during the cooking process, so I wanted to make it just a little more assertive.
I served this gorgeous, silky sauce over some garlic mashed potatoes, with a side of roasted asparagus.  Oh - MY - GOSH, y'all!!!  I know I started the post with this, but I just had to say it again.  This was so good! 

The sauce was so silky.  The delicate flavor of the tarragon played so nicely with the earthiness of the mushrooms.  And of course the mashed potatoes were there to catch every bit of that sauce!  
Oh!  And let's not forget about those whole quasi-roasted garlic cloves that have not only perfumed the sauce, but that have been sweetened and transformed into something....ahhh... magical!

I hope you enjoyed this simple, elegant, and delicious recipe!
There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

The Menu Musings cookbook is sure to be a hit at your house, and will make great gifts!  They are over 350 pages of full color recipes!  For more information, here is a link!

Also, Please be sure to visit my YouTube Channel for short video tutorials on selected videos.  Watch me explain the steps of the recipes in just a few minutes!  Just one more way that I'm giving you the tools to get in that kitchen!!! Aren't you curious?  Click and see how many there are!  :)

Here's just one example - Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Pesto Penne! YUM!
Connect with me.    
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.

Here are some bonus recipes for you!
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Spicy Garlic Aioli

Korean Beef Shish Kabobs

Cajun Crawfish Bread

BLT Buffalo Chicken Wraps

Ham, Caramelized Onion, and Gruyere Quiche

Turkey and Brie Panini with Cranberry Chutney


Written Method:   
Note:  You could go with regular chicken breasts here if you need to, but I am going to save quite a bit of time by using the thin cut ones.  If you are using a regular breast, you will need to either slice them thin by butterflying them (like a book) and pounding them out to a uniform thickness, OR... cooking them quite a bit longer so that they will be completely cooked through.  If you would prefer chicken thighs or similar dark meat pieces, go for it, but please cook them longer than I am cooking these thin-cut breast pieces.

Season your chicken simply with kosher salt and black pepper.  Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to a heavy pan and let it get really hot.  Add the chicken to the pan.  The chicken should start to sizzle immediately.  If it doesn't, that means your oil is not hot enough.  You may need to add the chicken in batches depending on how much you are cooking.  Don't overcrowd the pan, as it will drop the oil temperature too much.  After a few minutes, flip the chicken over.  The chicken should release easily if it's ready.  If it sticks, it's not ready.  Remove the chicken to a plate and cover lightly if you wish to keep warm.

To that same pan, without cleaning it out, add your shallots.  I have my fire on about medium heat.  You can add an extra tablespoon of oil if you feel like you need.  If you do, add it along one wall of the pan, so that by the time it gets to the bottom, it's hot.  Sauté them around for a minute or so to allow them to wilt. Add in the garlic cloves.  I am not cutting them small.  They will really mellow out and get sort of roasted and sweet when they are like this in the sauce.  You can always pick out the large cloves later, but I betcha you will love them!  Go ahead and add in the crimini mushrooms now.  We will welcome the liquid that they are going to give off.  Let's get this all sautéed together.  
Add in the butter next for some silkiness.... Followed by that dry white wine (Sauvignon blanc in this case) to deglaze the pan. 

Note - Always use a wine that you are actually going to drink if you are a wine drinker.  If you are not a wine drinker, I recommend that you purchase the small little individual wines that are available in a 4 pack.  They are usually just the right amount for a recipe without having to purchase and open a whole bottle.

I am now bringing this all up to a boil, and adding in the fresh chopped tarragon.  Mmmm.  After it reduces a bit, I added the heavy cream.  We are in business now! When I get the sauce pretty much the consistency that I'd like it (which didn't take long at ALL), I added back the cooked chicken. I'm added the juice of half a lemon, just to add some brightness to the sauce.  Before serving, I added just a smidge more fresh tarragon.  Fresh herbs have a way of losing some of their pungency during the cooking process, so I wanted to make it just a little more assertive.

I served this gorgeous, silky sauce over some garlic mashed potatoes, with a side of roasted asparagus.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

BIG NEWS for Menu Musings!!

Oh my Gosh, Y'all!  You have to check this out!  With the recent numbers on the blog, and the growing popularity of the cookbook, a reporter from my local news came out to my house to do a story on Menu Musings.  How cool is that?!  You know who made this happen?  YOU, my friends!  

Thank you all for following along on this journey with me.  I hope we will cover many, many more miles together.  :)   So without further delay, here is the news clip.  

Click the link under the photo.


Once again, thank you, friends!

There are so many recipes for you to hang around and discover!  You can do that by clicking on my Recipe Index at the top of the home page where you are sure to find some great dishes!

Connect with me!  If you are not already a subscriber, Click here to subscribe to MenuMusings.  You can also follow me on Pinterest as well as on the MenuMusings Facebook page.  


Since we are getting close to Thanksgiving, here are some great holiday bonus recipes:






Roasted Cornish Game Hens (because maybe you don't need a whole turkey?)


I also have a YouTube Channel with short video tutorials that you won't want to miss!  Here's just one delicious example:
Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Butter and Crispy Fried Sage Leaves!  YUMMMM!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Easy Bubble Up Chili Bake

Here we go with another "recycled dinner" post!  Why?  Because 1) - you guys like QUICK and EASY recipes, and 2) - I had leftover Man Chili that needed using, and I was trying to figure out what I could do with it that everyone would like.  I have been seeing quite a few of these "bubble up" recipes on the web, and quite frankly I thought the name sounded fun.  

This particular week, I'm home from school as we are between trimesters, so this gives me a great opportunity to try fun things.  It also means that I get to eat leftovers while the kids are at school.  So for that reason, I decided to go with individual portions when I made these up.  That actually worked great!  You could certainly make this family style in a large casserole dish, but I love things made in individual sizes.  You get portion control (which most of the country NEEDS right now), they often cook faster, and face it - they look cuter! You can also customize them if someone wants something put in or taken out of theirs.  Anyway, the point is... these require practically zero kitchen skill. Serious!  And on a cold day, this dishes up plenty of good old fashioned comfort!

* Please note that I didn't really measure anything.

Ingredients:  (For individual 5 servings.)  
  • Small (5 count) can of biscuits 
  • Leftover cooked chili (approx 1 cup per serving)
  • Shredded cheese (about 2 cups)
  • Toppings of your choice
    • Here's what I used:
    • sour cream, purple onions, cilantro, fresh lime
  • Non-stick cooking spray
Written Method:   
Spray your oven safe ramekins or casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray first.  Cut each biscuit into 8 pieces and place first into the dish.  Cover the biscuits with chili and bake uncovered at 350 for 30 minutes.  Check them with a fork to see that they are cooked.  Mine started bubbling up through the top of the chili. Cover liberally with shredded cheese and bake 8-10 minutes more to melt the cheese.  Top with your favorite toppings!  

Step-by-Step:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray your oven safe ramekins or casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray first so the biscuits won't stick to the bottom.
Cut each biscuit into 8 pieces and place first into the dish.
Remember, they will expand when they bake, so I wanted to leave some space in between them.  I didn't want them to be so large that you couldn't get your mouth on them; and of course they will bake more quickly if they are smaller rather than if we are cutting them into quarters, for example. 

Cover the biscuits with your leftover chili and bake uncovered at 350 for 30 minutes.
Check them with a fork to see that they are cooked.  Mine started bubbling up through the top of the chili.  Here's a peek into the oven.  (This is after 30 minutes.)  I checked with a fork to taste a biscuit in one of them to make sure they were cooked and not still doughy.  If they are, just pop them back into the oven.  Ovens do vary!
Cover liberally with shredded cheese and bake 8-10 minutes more to melt the cheese.

Top with your favorite toppings!
For me, it was a dollop of sour cream, some purple onions, and some cilantro.  Mmmmm.  Serve that with a salad and your cold winter day just got a lot warmer.  You'll definitely forget you were eating leftovers!
So you dip down into the chili, and you have a comforting biscuit waiting for you down there!  Oh my!  Yum!

I hope you enjoyed this simple and delicious recipe!
There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

The Menu Musings cookbook is sure to be a hit at your house, and will make great gifts!  For more information, here is a link!
Connect with me.    
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.

Also, Please be sure to visit my YouTube Channel for short video tutorials on selected videos.  Watch me explain the steps of the recipes in just a few minutes!  Just one more way that I'm giving you the tools to get in that kitchen!!! Aren't you curious?  Click and see how many there are!  :)

Here's just one delicious example - Louisiana Crab Claws Bordelaise!  YUMMM!!

Here are some bonus recipes for you!
Prosciutto and Phyllo Wrapped Asparagus Appetizers

Beef Wellington with Green Peppercorn Sauce

Overnight Stuffed French Toast Roll-Ups

Easy Mexican Chicken Lasagna

Macadamia Nut Crunch Cake with Mascarpone and Chocolate


Mushroom Tortellini in a Cognac Cream Sauce

Follow me on Pinterest

Follow Me on Pinterest