Friday, February 16, 2018

Creamy Mushroom Chicken

We have something on the calendar each night this week, so we celebrated Valentine's Day the night before. It was a dinner for all four of us, but my tablescape was still a Romantic Paris-Inspired theme. Never to early to teach my twelve-year old son how to appreciate a little romance! And of course Jewell loved it. She is truly a romantic at heart.

Here's a bird's eye view of our beautiful tablescape last night. You can see every inch of it by clicking here.

I found this recipe on Pinterest, but like most of them, I modified it according to what I had. I also made some changes that I'll share with you as we go.

Creamy Mushroom Chicken

for the chicken
12-14 chicken tenders
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons of EVOO
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

for the creamy sauce
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
four slices of bacon, diced
16 oz package of brown mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup Parmesan, plus more for garnish
salt and pepper to taste
parsley for garnish

Begin by mixing the EVOO, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Add chicken to a gallon zipper bag and add EVOO mixture. Seal and massage into meat, distributing evenly. Allow to sit for a few minutes.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken tenders and brown on both sides. Remove to a platter.

Add another tablespoon of EVOO to the pan and add mushrooms.

Allow to saute without stirring until they get a little brown. Then stir them around a little.

Add minced garlic and stir for a few seconds until you smell the garlic. Don't allow it to burn.

Add cream and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Be sure to scrape the yummy brown bits off the bottom of the pan.

Reduce to a simmer and allow to thicken.

After about 8 minutes on simmer, it still was not as thick as I would have liked, so I mixed one teaspoon of corn starch with a tablespoon of water. Then I drizzled it in slowly while I whisked the cream sauce. It thickened perfectly. Add chicken back to the sauce and let it simmer about five minutes or until the chicken is done. The tenders don't take long. 

I had cooked my bacon the night before, so I added it before serving. The recipe actually called for cooking the bacon before sauteing the mushrooms. I thought I wanted my bacon to be crispy, and so I added it last. In all actuality, it was not needed at all. It really didn't add anything to the dish. I will leave it out next time.

The original recipe also called for boneless chicken thighs, but since I always have boneless tenders, that's what I used.

I will make this again. Everyone enjoyed it.

I served it with a wild rice and quinoa blend, brown butter garlic green beans, and garlic knots. I'll share the recipe for those soon!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Romantic Paris-Inspired Valentine's Day Tablescape 2018

Happy Valentine's Day, y'all! Buckle up, 'cause this tablescape is not for the faint of heart! But it is perfect for Valentine's Day. I'm so pleased with how this design came out! 

Back at the beginning of the year, I challenged myself to buy very little, if anything, this year. Mama and I made a quick trip to the lake last Friday when I saw that one of my favorite thrift stores was having a half-off sale. On the way, I had a little talk with myself to clarify exactly what the above challenge meant. The way I understand it (and myself agreed!), is that I am not planning on buying anything new to design a specific table this year. For example - for this Valentine's Day table, I used what I had. Nothing new. However, when the best thrift store in the world (in my humble opinion) goes half off, it's fair game to stock up on a few pretties. As long as we all understood what I meant!

On to the tablescape...

As (almost) always, I began with my white tablecloth. It is polyester, but I refer to it as my white "linen" hemstitched tablecloth. I have two - a larger for my dining room table that fits when my leaf is in and this one for the kitchen table. I'm needing to replace the one for the dining room as it has developed a hole from wear and tear. However, it still works when I'm using an the one below.

This gorgeous cut was in my fabric closet. I had bought it for a couple of bucks off the remnant table back when a local fabric shop was going out of business. I think it may have even been 75% off a couple of bucks. As I used to use red as my accent color through the house, I intended to make pillow covers. In fact, I still may. My new sofa and loveseat are a pretty neutral color and this would make great accent pillows for February.

My local Dollar Tree had a ton of chargers during Christmas. A couple of my simple gold ones that I had for years were beginning to crack, so I pick up a dozen new ones. They also had them in a pearly white. Fantastic investment. A pretty charger really sets off a stack of dishes. 

The pretty dinner plate above is "Double Phoenix" in red by Nikko. I love, love, LOVE these dishes. I only have four dinner plates. They're pretty rare. I usually have three of them hanging in a plate display rack in my foyer. I pulled them for tonight's dinner. I'd love to have more of these one day.

On top is a salad plate - also by Nikko - called "White Satin". This is the everyday pattern I got when we married. The outside rim of the plates is similar. These are so versatile. They're nearly 20 years old, but they still look fresh and modern. 

On top is a sweet little red beaded bread and butter plate from JC Penney Home Collection. I found these last year at a thrift store for .25 cents each. I only have four, but that's all I needed tonight!

These beautiful stems are "Jamestown" by Fostoria. The color is called amber, but it might as well be gold. They are gorgeous with the chargers. 

The flatware above is called "Golden American Chippendale" by FB Rogers. These were a gift to myself a few years ago. I found them on eBay.

Here's a look at the entire place setting.

My centerpiece is a little French-style vignette. I don't usually like anything tall in a centerpiece, but since you can see through it, I went for it.

I found the Eiffel Tower-esqe statue at Kirkland's several years ago.

These cuties looked a little French...maybe like Little Boy Blue? This has been part of my "Be My Valentine" hutch display this month. It came from Hobby Lobby.

The gold-patterned glass votive holders came from The Dollar Tree a couple of years ago, but they usually have something similar in stock. I scattered four of these down the middle of the table.

I thought a small simple vase with flowers might be something like you'd see on an outdoor French bistro table. The vase is a little brass milk bottle. It picked up on my gold accents.

Here's an aerial view of my tablescape. I love it! It was rich, beautiful, and romantic, and would have been perfect for just me and my sweetheart, but my children appreciated it, too! I had a lot of fun pulling this together. 

We have a busy week - as usual - and this was our only night home, so we actually celebrated a day early. Check back in to see what we had for was scrumptious!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Bananas Foster Banana Pudding

We wrapped up our New Orleans-themed menu for my daddy's birthday party with "Bananas Foster Banana Pudding". Basically, the only difference is that you saute your bananas in brown sugar and butter, and then top it with a baked meringue. I made my vanilla pastry cream from scratch! 

I found the recipe online. You can check it out here.

Isn't that meringue pretty? Best I ever made!

Here's one last look at my Mardi Gras tablescape. 

Laissez le bon temps rouler!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!

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Monday, February 12, 2018

Cheddar Garlic Biscuits

Let's be honest. The reason people go to Red Lobster is for the biscuits. Am I right, or am I right?! You can buy the mix in stores now, but why? It's such a simple and inexpensive recipe. You can throw these together and bake in less than 30 minutes! 

Cheddar Garlic Biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/3 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 stick butter plus 2 tbsp, divided
1 c buttermilk
1 1/2 c grated cheddar cheese
chopped parsley (preferably fresh)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix dry ingredients. Add cheese and toss to coat. Melt better in a saucepan and allow to cool slightly. Add buttermilk. Add to biscuits and mix well. I used a cupcake scoop to drop mine onto the baking pan. You could also use a greased 1/4 cup measuring cup. Bake until golden. While baking, melt two tablespoons butter and add a tablespoon of finely chopped parsley. Brush the biscuits with butter mixture as soon as they come out of the oven. Serve hot.

These were the perfect accompaniment to our meal!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Creamy Cajun Shrimp Alfredo

We love pasta Alfredo. A lot. I wish I could say we loved something really healthy like tofu stir-fry. OK - not really. We do love pasta though, and I make Alfredo sauce lots of different ways. This was an easy dish that followed my New Orleans theme. It got rave reviews!

Here's a look at the Mardi Gras-themed tablesetting. You can see it all here.

You probably have everything you need for this recipe in your cabinets. Frozen shrimp would be fine, but I did have Gerald stop at the fish market on the way home for shrimp. It was a special occasion!

Creamy Cajun Shrimp Alfredo

1 1/2 pounds large shrimp (peeled and tails removed)
1 pound box of fettuccine
2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp EVOO
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
fresh parsley to garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add your fettuccine. Cook to al dente. Toss shrimp in Cajun seasonings. Coat well. In a large saute pan, melt butter along with EVOO. When hot, add shrimp and saute until just done. Remove to a plate. Add chicken broth and cream. Add another teaspoon of the Cajun seasoning. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer for five minutes or until thickened. Add pasta, Parmesan, and shrimp. Heat through. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve warm.

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!

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Friday, February 9, 2018

Commander's Palace Signature Salad...Copycat Recipe

I choose a Mardi Gras theme for my father's birthday dinner last week. Although I understand Mardi Gras got it's start in Mobile (where I happened to have been born), I automatically connect it with New Orleans. So, I chose a menu that represents The Big Easy. And really, all these recipes were...easy!

Here's a quick peek back at the tablescape. For a more detailed look, click here.

Commander's Palace Signature Salad and Dressing

Romaine lettuce
eight slices cooked and chopped bacon
grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups canola oil, divided
1 egg at room temperature
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons minced onion
four hard boiled eggs

Begin by adding 1/2 cup of canola oil to a food processor. (I have this mini four cup by Cuisinart that I love for small recipes. It only has a pulse setting, but that's all I usually need.) Add onion, salt, pepper, vinegar, and raw egg, and pulse until thoroughly mixed. Drizzle the remaining cup of oil into the top a little at a time. Mix until thickened.

This is what it looks like after it has blended...thick and creamy!

It makes two cups. I made it a couple of hours before dinner and placed it in the fridge. Don't make it too early. You don't want the raw onion to overtake the flavor, and you don't want it to separate. Shake well before using.

I cooked my bacon the night before when I was making dinner. I kept it in the fridge and just chopped it into large pieces as I assembled the salad. Boiled eggs are quartered and added. I just realized I completely forgot to add the croutons! Oh well. It was delicious anyway!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Mardi Gras Tablescape...Daddy's Birthday Dinner 2018

I describe my blog as decorating and entertaining on a budget. That's not just lip-service. I regularly shop Dollar Tree and thrift stores. This year, I have challenged myself to buy very little, if anything, to use for decorating. I'm sure I'll pick something up here or there when I see something, like a pretty set of dessert plates that just must come to live with me. Or I might need a little something to finish off a tablesetting. But I plan to shop at home before spending any money!

Luckily for me, this tablesetting cost me nothing. During our trip to New Orleans in January of last year, I knew I wanted to do a Mardi Gras-themed dinner party. And what better time than for my daddy's February birthday? I saw this book in several shops in NOLA, but couldn't bring myself to pay $50 for it. I came home and found it used on Amazon. $5 with shipping! Yes, thank you! The book is called "New Orleans: Elegance and Decadence" and is a coffee table book filled with art and architecture from the French Quarter and surrounding historic neighborhoods. That sounded like a perfect theme to me! 

I began with my white linen tablecloth.

This piece of fabric is not quite two yards, and I picked it up for less than $5 years ago. I think I intended to make pillows for Brack's room, but it just got stuck in the back of my fabric closet.

These simple black chargers have been in my collection for years. I can't remember if they were Walmart or Dollar Tree, but I know I didn't pay much for them.

I love these yellow plates! They're by Better Homes and Gardens. Walmart first sold them for about $6 a plate. I got eight at $1 each at my favorite thrift store. The details around the edge reminded me a little of a French design. Perfect.

The salad plates are "Heritage" by Pfaltzgraff, and I found these at a thrift store as well. They were .50 each, and I got more than a dozen. I like the way their shape reflects the yellow dinner plate.

The gold-trimmed flatware is "Abigail" by Wallace Silversmiths. I found it at Target nearly 20 years ago.

The vintage stems are "Woodland" by Fostoria. They are somewhat of a taupe color. They looked a little purple on the table, which is what I was going for. These were a gift from my Aunt Dale when we married and were what started me on my obsession with vintage stems.

I had bought several things back in late 2016 when Dollar Tree had their Mardi Gras display out. The simple mask came in a pack of eight, I think. Yes, eight for a dollar! 

The beads also came from Dollar Tree in 2016. They came in this set of three. I picked up about a dozen sets because I didn't know what I planned to do at the time, and I wanted plenty to fill a bowl or vase.

This is the matching champagne glass by Fostoria. It was perfect for our dessert.

These votive candle holders came from Dollar Tree a couple of years ago, although I've seen similar ones lately. The pattern reminded me of a fleur de lis. They're so pretty when they're lit. They are gold on the inside, and the flame just dances up the side. We all sat and just watched it after dinner!

I've used them several times before. Check them out in my Life's a Journey tablescape for a luncheon at Faulkner University and also on my Apples of Gold tablescape from Thanksgiving a couple of years ago.

I already had the black wooden set of fleur de lis. I draped them with actual beads from our New Orleans trip.

Inexpensive beads look extravagant against the crisp white cups. 

The black wood of the fleur de lis worked well with my black chargers, while the gold painted accents mirrored the gold beads and votives.

It was a festive and fun tablescape and a great jumping off spot for planning my menu. Check back soon to see what we had!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!

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