Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A morning without coffee is like sleep.

Its Tuesday.  But it feels like Monday.  Holidays throw me off for at least a week so I anticipate being a day behind all week.  Nothing like cramming 5 days of work into 4.  On a bright note, however, I enjoyed a blissful day of pure nothingness with the family yesterday.  Lounging in the yard, napping on the couch, and catching up on a good book.  Beautiful day to recharge.

Sometimes, there are days where you just throw caution the wind and try something new.  Saturday was one of those days.  I decided to try a Martha Stewart recipe.  Don't get me wrong... everyone who knows me knows I am a huge fan of Miss Martha, but rarely have I attempted her culinary creations.  Her recipes, while tasty and beautiful, tend to be complicated and time-consuming.  Then I found this one:  Chicken Tetrazzini.  Not just any chicken tetrazzini... Martha's Chicken Tetrazzini. 

It took me an hour and half in a hot kitchen and I dirtied every pot I own (I even had to stop and wash one to use it again for another part of the recipe.)  As I was already well into making the sauce (the most important part!) I realized I was out of chicken broth and sent my handsome hubby packing to the grocery store.  Of course, I was in a panic knowing that my cream sauce would probably overcook before he got back.  One of my sweet little girls chose this opportune moment to walk into the kitchen and boldly declare that it smelled "mostly terrible, but a little good."  She's my diplomatic child.   (Amazingly, it turned out to be quite... amazing!)  The meal was spectacular, one of the finest meals I have ever made... and definitely worth the hour of clean-up in the kitchen.  (Yes, I have a dishwasher... 2 of them, actually, right at the end of my arms.)

So before I share the recipe, I should note the changes I made.  I substituted portobello mushrooms for white (simply because I was out, but the flavor was fantastic!), asparagus for peas (because hubby hates peas with passion) and I poached chicken breast in water seasoned with garlic and Italian seasoning. 

(This makes enough to have one casserole ready to eat and one to freeze!)

Chicken Tetrazzini (from Martha Stewart)

Serves: 8

Our freezer-friendliest chicken recipe makes one casserole that will serve four tonight, plus a second meal to freeze and pull out when you're in a pinch.

Total Time: 1 hr 10 min
Prep Time: 30 min
Oven Temp: 400

Ingredients

Coarse salt
Ground pepper
6 tablespoon(s) butter
1 pound(s) white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced 1 inch thick
1/2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
3 cup(s) milk
1 can(s) (14 1/2-ounce) reduced-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup(s) dry white wine
3 cup(s) grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon(s) dried thyme leaves
1 pound(s) linguine, broken in half
1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed, meat shredded (about 4 cups)
1 package(s)  10-ounce) frozen peas, thawed and drained

Directions

Preheat oven to 400. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (for pasta). In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over high heat. Add mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing frequently, until tender and browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and set aside.

Make sauce: In same saucepan, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add flour; cook, whisking, about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, gradually add milk, broth, and wine. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and add 2 cups Parmesan and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook pasta 2 minutes less than package instructions for al dente; drain and return to pot. Add sauce, chicken, peas, and mushrooms. Toss well to combine. Divide between two shallow 2-quart baking dishes; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Freeze (see below) or bake until browned, about 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

To freeze: After placing pasta mixture in baking dishes and sprinkling with Parmesan (step 3), cool to room temperature. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, and freeze up to 3 months.

To bake from frozen: Bake, covered with foil, at 400 degrees, until center is warm, about 2 hours. Uncover, and bake until top is browned, about 20 minutes more. Serve.

To bake from thawed: Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Bake, covered with foil, at 400 degrees, until center is warm, about 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake until top is browned, about 20 minutes.

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