Sunday, August 30, 2015

Chocolate Mascarpone Brownies

I had some homemade mascarpone left from when I made a recent chicken dish. As we had already explored a savory way to use the cheese, I wanted to do something more on the sweet side. Enter Chocolate Mascarpone Brownies (courtesy of

Spoiler Alert: these brownies are not low-cal. 

Things got started by chopping up some chocolate and melting butter in a saucepan. When the butter was hot, it was poured over the chocolate bits and stirred until the chocolate was completely melted.

Sugar and cocoa powder was sifted into the melted chocolate and given a stir to combine.

Next came beating in the mascarpone, eggs, and vanilla extract. When that was combined, flour and salt was then folded in.

My island counter top at this stage of the recipe:

Hey, sometimes it's good to be messy!

The brownie batter was poured into a pan and put into a pre-heated 325 degree oven to bake for about 45 minutes.

After they were taken out of the oven, the brownies cooled on a rack for about 20 minutes. 

Without a doubt, these are the best brownies I have ever made and eaten. Thick, rich, almost a fudge-like denseness. Simply over the top. You might note that recipe calls for making a ganache to be spread on top. I personally think it would be way too much sweetness. But, hey, that's just me. But no matter what you do, make these brownies posthaste!

Chicken with Mustard Mascarpone Sauce

Recently I was casting around for a different way to cook chicken thighs. As luck would have it, I found this recipe (courtesy of Italian Food Forever). The idea of combining mascarpone cheese with mustard to make a sauce sounded interesting. 

To get the ball rolling, I made a batch of mascarpone the day before I made the chicken, as it needs time to set up.

The next day, I started on the chicken. Thighs were seasoned with salt, pepper, and oregano and roasted in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

While the chicken was baking, I got started on the sauce. The recipe calls for browning up some diced pancetta. That being an ingredient that is hard to come by, here in Corozal, I substituted bacon instead. 

When the bacon was done, I tossed in some finely diced onions and minced garlic. After that, some dry white wine was added, and let to reduce by half.

From there, some homemade chicken stock, thyme, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper were added. The heat was reduced a bit and the mixture was left to simmer for about nine minutes. The mascarpone cheese was then whisked in.

It was time for dinner!

I served the thighs over a bed of rice, spooned some of the sauce over top, and garnished with some of those lovely bacon bits.

The chicken was tender and moist and the sauce was outstanding. Not overly heavy (the chicken stock helped to keep it tasting light), with just the right amount of tang from the Dijon mustard.

I had sauce left over, so it got incorporated in a chicken taco recipe I made a few days later. Just warmed it up a bit before drizzling on top of the chicken bits and other goodies the taco contained. Delicious!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Garlic Butter White Wine Shrimp Fettuccine

I'm a girl that can't resist a cream sauce. And when a cream sauce coats shrimp and pasta? I'm all in. And this recipe (courtesy of Pinch of Yum) does not disappoint.

To get things started, I made a batch of homemade fettuccine. 

Yes, the recipe calls for linguine, but I don't have an attachment for that on the pasta maker. I also thought the slightly broad profile of the fettuccine noodles would provide more real estate for the cream sauce. See? Always thinking.

With the pasta done, I heated some butter in a pan, added some minced garlic and gave it a saute for about a minute. Some homemade chicken stock was added, along with some water. The pasta was added and everything was brought to a boil.

I lowered the heat and let the pasta simmer until almost all of the liquid was absorbed.

In another pan, I melted some butter and added the shrimp.

Wine was added to the shrimp, along with some garlic and sage. This is where I deviated from the recipe. Instead of covering the shrimp and letting continue to cook, I added it right into the pasta. My concern was that if I let the shrimp keep cooking, they would be overdone by the time it came to bring all of the ingredients together.

Anyway, with the shrimp now introduced to the pasta, I added cream, Parmesan, a quick squeeze of lime juice, plus some salt and pepper. 

Is this dish low in calories? Not by a long shot. Is it rich, slightly decadent, and unbelievably delicious? Absolutely. Indulge yourself. I promise you won't regret it.

Chinese Chicken Pasta Salad with Sesame Dressing

It's August. It's hot. It's humid. It's time to break out a pasta salad for dinner. This recipe (courtesy of The Recipe Critic), contains so many of the Asian flavors that we love, so I decided to give it a try.

I had all of the ingredients on hand, except for the chow mein noodles. I knew what the author was intending, which was to use the cooked and crunchy noodles. Couldn't find any here, so I made my own.

This is the package I worked with:

I eyeballed about how much I would need, broke them off from the rest of the package...

...then cooked the noodles until just done.

Then I heated up some vegetable oil in a saute pan and added them into the pan in batches.

In no time at all, I had a pile of crispy, crunchy noodles.

From there, it was just a matter of combining chicken, lettuce, pre-cooked rotini pasta, cabbage, onion, carrots, and almonds. I didn't want the chow mein noodles to get soggy, so I left them as a garnish once the salad was tossed with the dressing.

And speaking of the dressing, all it takes is vegetable oil, rice vinegar, sesame oil, honey, dijon mustard, soy sauce, sesame seeds, plus a bit of salt and pepper. Whisk it all together until combined, then pour over it over the salad.

The chow mein noodles were scattered on top and we were ready to eat.

This salad has it all -- sweet, spicy, salty, crunchy, nutty. We loved it and it will make return appearances on our table year round.