Chicken Parmesan & Butternut Squash Bowl


Hi friends– With all the cakes and cookies we bake around here, I’m trying to stick to healthy-ish meals at dinner time.  This was a favorite.  Our student “room mate” Kendall even asked it this was hard to make.  I think he’s yet to develop kitchen skills (but he’s awesome philosophy student!).  I think you’d like this quick week night dinner as much as we did…

CHICKEN PARMESAN & BUTTERNUT SQUASH BOWL
1 large chicken boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 tab. olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper
1 small butternut squash, peeled & cut to small chunks
2 cups farro
14 oz. can chicken broth
1  3/4 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. dried basil
1/3 cup cream (or whole milk)
1/2 cup parmesan
garnish:  green onion sliced

Cut the chicken breast into small bits.  Heat the oil in a large skillet and then drop in the chicken.  Salt and pepper it liberally and cook 5 or 6 minutes until the chicken is browned and cooked through.  Remove the chicken from the skillet.

In the same skillet, drop the butternut squash into the chicken drippings and cook 2 or 3 minutes.  Then add in the farro, chicken broth, water, salt, pepper and basil.  Bring it to a low simmer and cook uncovered for 12 to 15 minutes, until the squash is tender (but not mushy!) and the farro is cooked through.

Then stir in the chicken, parmesan and cream. And simmer a minute or two more to heat it all up.  Spoon it all up onto dinner plates and garnish with green onion.  Hot and hearty!

Citrus Honey Chicken

Hey friends– It’s a little crazy here– working ahead on a stack of blog posts to send off to you before we leave on a 2 week trip tomorrow!  So I’m typing away, doing last minute laundry and stacking piles of things to drop into the suitcase.  So fun!

And for your busy days, here’s an easy dinner, done in about 30 minutes.  It’s full of citrusy flavor with just hint of sweetness.  A little mixed rice, a bright salad and it’s dinner!

CITRUS HONEY CHICKEN
4 chicken thighs
2 tab. olive oil
salt
freshly ground pepper
2 limes, juiced
1 lemon, juiced
2 tab. honey
1 tab. soy sauce
garnish: more lime & lemon slices, green onion

Salt and pepper the chicken on both sides (I like to take the skin off, but skin on is fine too).  Heat the olive oil in a skillet that has a lid.  Cook the chicken meatier side down for 5 minutes in the hot oil until they are golden brown.

While they are cooking stir together the lemon juice, lime juice, honey and soy sauce.

When he chicken is browned turn it browned side up in the skillet and pour over the lemon/lime mixture.  Cover the chicken and let it simmer on low for 15 to 18 minutes until the chicken is cooked through (about 180 degrees with a meat thermometer).  It’s good to spoon the juice over the chicken a couple times while it’s cooking!

When the chicken is ready, put the pieces on a pretty platter and drizzle the pan juices over the top.  Garnish with lime and lemon slices and green onion.  So inviting!

Orange Strawberry Bread

Hello all– Love a little loaf of quick bread.  It takes about 15 minutes to get it into the oven.  It smells sweet and fruity while it’s cooking.  And it’s great to share with a friend and a mug of tea.  Simple pleasures.

ORANGE STRAWBERRY BREAD
1 orange, peel grated, juiced
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tab. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups strawberries, cut to bits

Grate the peel off of the orange.  Then cut it in half and juice it.  Set the peel and juice aside.

In a mixing bowl beat the two eggs and sugar until blended.  Then stir in the sour cream, oil and vanilla.  Next mix in the flour, baking powder and salt.  And finally stir in the strawberries, orange peel and juice.

Spoon the mixture into a standard loaf pan (9″ x 4″) that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake the bread at 350 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes, until it’s well browned and a sharp knife inserted in the top comes out clean.  Delicious warm with a slather of butter and a mug of tea!

Italian Turkey Sausage & Spinach Lasagna

Hi there — Some men in our church built a sleek, beautiful long table this spring.  It’s being used for a series of “family” dinners.  Anyone can reserve the table for an evening and invite 14 people to come sit around together over dinner.  It’s gone on for weeks, night after night.  There’s a fire in a fireplace and flowers on the table.  But the best is the unhurried conversation, a chance to sit together in the middle of the week.

This week I joined in for dinner with our young adult group friends.  It was pot luck and this was my contribution.  Hearty and hot from the oven, I think you’d like at your table too.

ITALIAN TURKEY SAUSAGE & SPINACH LASAGNA
1 pound Italian turkey sausage
2  28 oz jars of marinara sauce*
1 package no cook lasagna noodles*
16 oz. ricotta
4 cups mozzarella, grated
4 cups spinach, chopped to shreds (about 5 oz.)

Cook the sausage in a deep skillet, chopping it to crumbles with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Drain any excess fat.  Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce into a 9″x 13″ baking dish and then pour the rest of the 2 jars of sauce in with the cooked sausage.

Cover the bottom of the baking dish with the uncooked lasagna noodles.  Spoon little dollops of ricotta over the noddles (using about 1/3 of the carton of ricotta).  Sprinkle on a cup of the chopped spinach.  Ladle 1/4 of the meat & sauce over that.  And finish it of with a cup of grated mozzarella.

Do that same layering 2 more times.

For the top, add one more layer of noodles, 1 cup of spinach, the rest of the sauce and the last cup of mozzarella.

Cover the baking dish with foil (tenting it so it doesn’t touch the cheese) and pop it into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake it 5 to10 minutes longer until the cheese is beautifully melted.

Let the lasagna sit for 10 minutes to set before you cut into it.  Delish with a bright salad and a chunk of sturdy bread.  Enjoy!

Blueberry Filled Lemon Cake

 

Hello all–  Made this little cake to take along to our Sunday morning group that meets before church.  We’ve been together every week since we were newly weds– 43 years!  And let me tell you, these are my people.

We’ve celebrated babies, and kid’s wedding, then grand-kids together.  We’ve held each other up through cancer and divorce, job loss and problems with our children.  There were camping trips and banana-gram nights, movies and late nights talks over the dinner table together.  When one family lost their family business we chipped in to get their daughter through her last semester of college.  And now we are walking with dear friends through brain cancer and hospice.  There’s more, but I’ll stop– can’t count all the hugs and prayers or the laughter and sorrows shared.

I just wanted to say all this because I’m hoping you have “your people” too.  People who know you deeply and share your faith, who bring meals when you’re down and walk with you in joy and difficult days.  God has them for you– he can help you find them.

 

BLUEBERRY FILLED LEMON CAKE
2 medium lemons, peel grated & juice squeezed
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups fresh blueberries

glaze:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

 

Grate the zest off of the two lemons.  Then cut them in half and squeeze out all the juice.  Set both the zest and juice aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar until well blended.  Then stir in the sour cream, oil and vanilla.  Next , mix in the flour, salt and baking powder.  And finally, stir in all the lemon zest, 1/4 cup of the lemon juice and the blueberries.  Just stir enough until it’s all thoroughly combined.

Spoon the mixture into a 9″ springform pan (or cake pan) that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Then pop it into a 375 degree oven for 45 to 55 minutes until it’s cooked through and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

While the cake is still hot, mix together 1/4 cup of the remaining lemon juice with 1/4 cup sugar.  Stir until the sugar all dissolves.  Then dribble the sugar over the top of the cake and let it sit for 30 minutes to cool before you serve it up.

 

Simple Spring Salad

Hi all– This was the salad on our Easter table–bright and fruity and just right with ham and Aunt Lu’s marvelous potatoes!  It was a good day with grand-girls and their great grandparents around the table.  Hope you have a lovely Easter with people you hold dear.

SIMPLE SRPING SALAD

Salad:
6 cups greens
3 cups strawberries, sliced
2 cups blackberries
2 cups mandarine oranges, peeled and sliced
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tab. tarragon vinegar (or your favorite mild vinegar)
1 tab. honey
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Layer the greens on a platter.  Then pile on the strawberries, blackberries and oranges.  Sprinkle on the feta.

Pour the olive oil, vinegar, honey, salt & pepper into a container with a tight fitting lid and shake until it’s thoroughly combined.  Drizzle over the salad.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Cake (for Easter)

Hey all– It’s the day after Easter here.  Spending the morning stashing bunnies and plastic eggs away for next year.  And toasting up some leftover biscuits and jam for breakfast.

And sending off this Easter Cake recipe to you.  It’s cherries and chocolate nestled into a white cake, with cherry cream cheese frosting.  Add a few Cadbury eggs on top (or birthday candles for a different occasion) and it’s ready to go!

CHERRY CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE

Cake:
1 white cake mix
canola oil
3 eggs
water
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, chopped to tiny bits

Frosting:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
8 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. amaretto (or vanilla)
1 pound box powdered sugar (3  3/4 cups)
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, chopped fine
2 tsp. juice from the cherry jar
garnish: Cadbury Easter eggs

With an electric mixer, make the cake mix according to the directions on the box (mine added 1/3 cup oil, 1 cup water and 3 eggs).  Beat for 2 minutes.  Then stir in the chocolate chips and chopped cherries.

Spoon the batter into 2   9″ cake pans (or a 9″x 13″ pan) that has been spray with cooking spray.  Pop it into a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cake layers are golden and firm to the touch.  Let the cakes cool completely before you frost them.

To make the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, cream cheese, amaretto, powdered sugar, chopped cherries and cherry juice.  (Start on the lowest setting or the powdered sugar will fly out of the bowl!)  Beat until it is all smooth and creamy, with little cherry bits here and there.

Spread frosting on the first layer.  Top it with the second layer and then frost the top and sides.  So pink and pretty!