Tag Archives: spirits

Blizzard Provisions

4 Feb

I was supposed to have friends over for dinner on Saturday, but we are in for another 12 inches of snow.

Oh well ( hic)!!

Dinner for One: Sauteed Chicken Breast with Bacon and Tomatoes

29 May
Sauteed Chicken Breast with Bacon and Tomatoes

Sauteed Chicken Breast with Bacon and Tomatoes

As a single ( and now working) woman, I’ve forgotton how hard it is to get a meal on the table.

This dish has some steps to it, and the level of difficulty from a scale of one to ten is a five, but if you have a bit of time, you can get this on the table in 30 minutes ( please don’t say “Yum-O or any of her sayings!).

This came from looking around in the fridge for something to eat, and this is what I came up with.

It was pretty damn good, too!

Serves One ( two if you add an extra breast)

1 ea. skinless, boneless chicken breast

2 strips bacon, diced

1/2 cup chopped fresh tomato

1/3 cup sliced onion

1 tsp. chopped garlic

1/2  cup chicken stock or white wine

1 tbl. fresh parsley, chopped

1 tbl. fresh basil, chopped

4 tbl.  flour

2 tbl.  butter, cold and cut in cubes

1/4 tsp. lemon zest

salt and pepper to taste

Take the chicken breast and place it between two generous sheets of plastic wrap and flatten with either a iron skillet or rolling pin.  Season breast with salt and pepper, then lightly dust with two of the four tablespoons of flour. Set aside. In a skillet or saute pan, cook chopped bacon over meduim heat until crispy. Drain bacon on paper towels and set aside. Pour all but one tablespoon of bacon fat off and brown off the chicken breast. Set aside.

Place olive oil in pan and saute off the onions, tomatoes and garlic. Return the chicken breast to the pan and add the wine or stock. Bring to a boil and cover pan. Turn heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover and remove breast from pan. Turn heat up and bring juices to a boil, and reduce until half of the juice remains. Roll butter lightly  in the remaining two tablespoons of flour and add the coated butter to juices in pan. Remove pan from heat and stir butter into sauce until butter is completely melted.  Add bacon, herbs and zest.  Cover chicken with the sauce and serve with pasta, or rice.

Win a $25 gift card from Shop-Rite

24 Apr

shopritelogo Culinary Chick and the kind folks from Shop-Rite grocery stores are giving away $25  Shop-Rite gift cards to two lucky readers of this blog. All you have to do is post an answer to this question:

In these lean times, how do you maintain a gourmet touch in the meals you prepare for yourself, or your family?

A gourmet touch could be anything from using a simple garnish like a parsley sprig,  to breaking out that extra virgin olive oil, to splurging on seafood or a special cut of meat. I will choose the  best five entries; and you, the readers will choose the best two.  The two winners will receive the $25 gift card, courtesy of Shop-Rite.

Contest entries must be in by midnight, May 10.  Voting will end on midnight, May 17. The winner will be announced on May 19, 2009.

Contest Rules:

1) No substitutions will be given in lieu of gift cards.

2) Shop-Rite gift cards can only be used at Shop-Rite stores.

3) Contest entries must be in by midnight, May 10.  Voting will end on midnight, May 17. The winner will be announced on May 19, 2009.

4) All posts must be limited to 50 words or less.

5) All entries must have a valid e-mail address

6) Only one entry per valid e-mail address

7) Please refrain from using racist, sexist or pornographic comments. Entries which contain theses elements will be disqualified.

Have Fun!

Irish Whiskey Brown Sauce

11 Mar

I want you guys to try something different for St. Patrick’s Day.  Instead of eating the usual New England Boiled Dinner  (that’s Corned Beef and Cabbage in layman’s terms, and I will promise a anecdote about this later), try grilling lamb chops or braised lamb shanks with this deep-brown savory sauce.  No need to go all out and use Jameson’s or Bushmills; John Powers will do just fine. The bonus is that this is good with chicken as well as beef.


1/2 cup diced carrots

1/2 cup diced onions

1/4 cup diced celery

4 Tbl. butter

4 Tbl. flour

1 bay leaf

1 Tbl. tomato paste

2 cups beef broth ( or stock), hot

1/2 cup John Powers Irish Whiskey

salt and black pepper to taste

1 Tbl. unsalted butter, chilled (optional)

In a heavy bottomed 3-4 quart saucepan, melt the four tablespoons of flour over medium heat. Add carrots, onion and celery and saute for about six or seven minutes, stirring constantly until vegetables are caramelized.  Add the four tablespoons  of  flour and cook for four minutes stirring constantly, scraping the bottom of the pan to release some of the bits on the bottom. Be careful not to burn the pan at this stage.

Mix 1 cup of  hot stock with the whiskey in a separate container, then add to the pot of vegetables and flour.  With a wire whisk, whisk the sauce together until smooth, then add the remaining stock, tomato paste, bay leaf and rosemary sprig. Turn the heat down to simmer, then allow sauce to cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add salt and pepper as desired, and remove from heat. Strain off sauce through a fine mesh sieve. Press vegetables gently to release any juices and discard. Vigorously whisk in optional tablespoon of butter until melted and serve with gusto.

Valentine’s day dessert ideas

14 Feb

So you’ve decided on what you are going to serve for you “impromptu” indoor picnic, but are lost for suggestions. What should a budding culinarian like you do, perchance? Well, let a girl guide you through the sea of complicated dessert items. You could always buy something, but what I would like to see you do is to combine purchasing basics with a home made touch.

Fun With Chocolate

Let’s start with a basic chocolate sauce; the foundation to any intitimate celebration requires at least a chocolate fondue or dipped strawberries.

4 0z. bitterweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

2-6 tbl. heavy cream

Break up chocolate by one of two methods: On a cutting board sith a damp towel underneath to stabilize the board, place the chocolate on the board. With a heavy knife, place the heel of your hand on top of the knife away from the blade towards the tip. Take the handle of the knife and with a rocking motion, chip away pieces of the chocolate.

Method Two: Double bag the chocolate in ziploc bags, one inside the other and with a skillet and on a sturdy surface, bash the hell out of it until in small pieces.

In a glass bowl, put the chocolate in along with the two tablespoons of chocolate and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Place in microwave and cook for 1 1/2 minutes and check to see if chocolate has melted. Whisk together with the cream, and if chocolate sauce is too thick for your liking, add two more tablespoons of cream and heat for an additional 30 seconds, and repeat until chocolate is  to the desired consistency

Chocolate Fondue:

Chocolate sauce (made with six tbl. cream)

Fresh Fuit of your choice, either whole ( strawberries0, or peeled and cut up ( bananas, apple, mango, ect)

Pound cake and/or brownies, cut into chunks

wooden skewers

The Chocolate sauce should be on the thinner side for this ( should slightly drip). The good thing about this is, is that the choice is yours what you want to serve. Just make sure that you cut and arrange the fruit on a plate, and prepeare the fruit that will turn brown last. Use the skewers to dip the fruit into the chocolate. Don’t even think about buying chocolate sauce; it’s not the same.


Chocolate- dipped Strawbwrries

1 pint strawberries, blemish free

chocolate sauce (made with 2-4 tbl cream)

The chocolate sauce should be on the thicker side for this one ( it shouldn’t drip).  Wipe off each strawberry with a damp cloth; inspecting for blemishes, and discarding ( eating ) the blemished ones. Leave the tops on.

Cover a tray with plastic wrap. Grab the tops of the strawberries, and dip the bottoms into the warm chocolate sauce, placing on the tray as you go. Refrigerate until sauce is firm, about 2 hours. Arrainge strawberries in a decorative glass container and serve with whipped cream on the side.


Fun with Macerated  Berries

1 pt berries of your choice

3 Tbl. or more of your favorite Liquer, or Liquor

-Grand Marnier

-Kirshwasser ( cherry brandy)

-Peach schnapps

-rum, brandy, ect. ( with 1 tbl sugar added to berries)

Inspect berries for blemishes, and discard old and moldy ones. Take liquer and pour over berries.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours;  if using liquor such as rum or brandy, add sigar to berries and follow directions for marinating. Serve over ice cream, on pound cake with whipped cream, with sweetened marscapone cheese, or alone.

There you go. I hope you tell the ones you love how you feel everyday; but if you don’t, here is a great start.

See you Monday!

The CC

Ideas for throwing a Superbowl Party on a Budget

30 Jan

Well, I’m poor and maybe so are you.

But, you want to watch the game with a few friends, and don’t mind having Cletus and the gang over.  Don’t fret; there are ways you can still entertain and do it on a budget. All it takes is some planning, and a bit of creativity.

Have a Pot-Luck Party

There is nothing wrong about pot-luck. Suggest to the masses if they want to watch the game on your brand, spanking-new plasma tv that you bought, they may wanna bring a dish or two. It just takes some coordination, never leave it up to the masses. You are supplying the venue, so provide the paperware and beverages. Guide your guests to what they should provide. Everybody you invite should be willing to bear some cost. Have the guest that can’t cook bring some chips, a dessert or a dip. Tell them to bring enough for the amount of guests you are having.  Tell them if they are briniging a guest, the guest should bring something as well. Nobody shows up empty handed.

Avoid some pre-packaged food

Ideally when you buy that bag , box or tray of prepared food,  you should look at the realistic serving size, not the one put on the package. Example: Frozen Buffalo wings from some of the leading companies cost between $8.99 and $9.49 a pound for a 2.5 lb. bag. That’s spending between $3.59 and $3.79  a pound for just over 3-4 servings, especially if you have a bunch of hungry guys over. It’s just cheaper to make your own, especially if chicken wings cost between &1.69 and $2.49 a pound.

But CC, I don’t want to spend time making food; I just want to order it or just pop it into the oven and be done with it.

Only you can be the judge between the cost of convenience versus time. If you want to order wings from your local wing joint, call them NOW and make your reservation. You aren’t the only one wanting wings of fire for the shindig.

Making your own cold cut tray has its advantages. First, you can use sale cold cuts and cheeses and choose the ones you like.  Second, it’s just cost effective.   For $28, you can have 2 meats and 2 cheeses and have enough to feed a hungry crowd. Why pay extra for the kale and the  pile of unidentifiable lunch meat that nobody ever eats?


Alcohol ain’t cheap, y’all. How many times you’ve had to empty half-full cans of beer? It is a proven fact that people are less wasteful of things if they had to pay for them, and alcohol is no exception.

A note, however: You should be diligent with your guests if you are serving drinks. Cut them off if they appear to be too inebriated, and never serve alcohol after the third quarter ( this always eliminates that guy who won’t leave until all of the alcohol is gone).  You may save yourself a headache later on, especially if your state is one who holds a homeowner responsible for how much his guests drink.

The idea is to have fun. If you need any ideas for something to either serve or bring, try one of the following recipes:

Beer-Battered Chicken Fingers

Warm Crab Dip

Chicken and Brown Rice Meatballs

Dirty Rice

My soon-to-be famous Sangria

Now go and root for your favorite team!!!

National Irish Coffee Week & bonus recipe, too!

27 Jan

photo courtesy of http://www.liquerious.com

This is National Irish Coffee Week, and if you’re located in the northestern United States, it couldn’ve come at a better time. It is just a hot mess outside today weatherwise, all icy and whatnot.  I tried my first Irish Coffee when I was 18 or 19 years old. I was trying to appear sophisticated, so I ordered it with a group of co-workers on a frosty winter day way back in 1981.

I was surprised when the server brought this concoction in a glass mug piled high with whipped cream. She then artfully drizzled green creme-de-menthe and chocolate syrup all over the top.  It was spectacular; the swirls of stiff cream looked like a minature mountain while the irridescent ribbons of green and brown slowly glided in between the  crevices of whipped cream. Iwondered aloud how to drink it, and someone said to drink a bit of the coffee through the small red and white coffee stirrers provided.

As I took the  first sip it was incredibly hot , and the bitter, sharp sting of the whiskey proved a bit challenging to me. I wasn’t accoustomed to the taste; you see, I cut my drinking teeth on frozen daquiris and other sweet drinks. Another person said to stir the cream into the coffee slowly, so that as the cream melted it would cool off the drink. I followed their instructions, and secretly felt like I was in an exclusive club. That was before I went to Ireland and had the authentic version.

The chef intructor took us to Slain Castle ( the same place where U2 filmed one of their videos), and had a great dinner. We had some pink trout among other things, and at the end I ordered an Irish coffee. What I got was nothing I had ever seen before. Instead of the glorious mounds of whipped cream and the familiar drizzles of green and brown oozing their way down the sides of my glass, I was greeted with a pedestrian-looking coffee with some cream floating on the top.  The only thing spectacular about the dring was the ornate crystal glass it was housed in. What I wasn’t prepared for was the taste.

Our instructor saw the look on my face and said, ” Just sip it through the cream, and don’t stir it.” Following his directive, I sipped the coffee carefully. The sensations were great; first came the cold and suprisingly thick cream, and then a warm rush of the coffee chasing it. I remembered closing my eyes, and thinking, “Where had THIS been all my life???”  Instead of a bitter wash of whiskey and coffee, it was warm, sweet  and simply sublime. I didn’t miss the cream de menthe or the chocolate syrup at all.

So my friends, you too can have the same experience I had in Ireland at home. Here is a recipe I’ve culled from my memory; it’s simple!


Two large mugs

stainless steel bowl


measuring cups and spoons


You will need ( 2 servings)

 2 cups brewed coffee, strong

1/2 cup whipping cream, cold

2 healthy shots of your favorite Irish Whiskey ( John Powers, Jameson, or Bushmills)

4 T. turbinado sugar, or your choice of artificial sweetener.

Boiling water

Refrigerate stainless steel bowl until cold. Pour cream into bowl and whisk by hand until cream is thick  and still pourable, not whipped. Set aside.

In two large mugs pour boiling water into each mug and let sit for two minutes.  Discard water, and add desired amount of sugar to each mug and stir. Add one shot of whiskey to each mug. Add coffee, leaving an inch below the rim of each mug.  Spoon the stirred cream into each mug and serve. It is imperative that you don’t stir the cream into the coffee; sip the coffee through the cream carefully in order to appreciate the whole experience.