Thursday, February 25, 2010

cherubs and arrows

Remember Valentine's Day?  You know, that Hallmark holiday that happened weeks ago?  Yeah, we totally made an awesome dinner.  And I am just now deciding to tell you about it.  You're welcome.


For dinner, we had Seared Scallops with Brie & Mushroom Risotto and Roasted Asparagus.  For dessert, Curry-Orange Pots de Creme.  Take THAT, no available reservations at minibar!*  And, if I do say so myself, this meal was delicious.

*For the record, we planned on cooking in the entire time.  I didn't actually try to get reservations at minibar, though I am sure it was completely booked at 11:04am on January 14th for Valentine's day.

We didn't follow a recipe for anything in this meal, other than the pots de creme.  The asparagus was your basic salt, pepper & olive oil.  The idea for the risotto came to me in a moment of genius.  I will admit, I looked off of a few recipes for correct ratios and then rolled with it.  Risotto isn't difficult, even though it sounds all impressive and fancy-restaurant.  Add rice to some oil & butter, add some chicken stock, wait until absorbed, add more stock, repeat repeat repeat ad nauseum.  Or at least until tender.  The key is to be patient, not let yourself get distracted, and keep stirring to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom.   

The mushrooms were sauteed first, stove-top.  I added about 6oz of some incredibly awesome, stinky, double creme brie and the mushrooms (making sure to get any excess olive oil and juices) to the cooked risotto, and voila!  Deliciousness!


So, fun fact, scallops have a tough little muscle on them that must be removed prior to consumption.  It can be pulled off just in using your fingers.  The scallops, after being seasoned with salt and pepper, were seared in butter using a non-stick pan.  Before being devoured, they were given a good spritz of lemon juice.    


Serve & Enjoy!  Preferably, along with some champagne.  
Now, for the dessert:

I love untraditional pairings with chocolate, which is why this recipe for Orange-Curry Creme de Pots caught my eye.  I couldn't be happier that chocolate with sea salt or chili pepper is becoming more mainstream!  

 To start, a combo of milk and cream are simmered with orange oil, curry powder, cloves, and cardamom pods.  Which, cardamom pods?  Not something the local grocery store carries.  It was at this point that the brilliant beau informs me of a spice store right up the road.  Best. Discovery. Ever.  Well, maybe not "ever"... but at least thus far this year!  I was quite happy with myself, though, for exercising restraint- only bought one extra spice outside this recipe!


As you can see from the scale, I erred on the side of excess when it came to measuring the chocolate.  There is NO such thing as "too chocolatey!!"  So, in transcribing this recipe, I realize just how much I drifted from the instructions... I've noted each and every instance for your amusement.

Another fun story?  No picture of the finished product. They were gobbled up as if our lives depended on it.  And they were positively amazing, if I don't say so myself.  I absolutely love orange & curry together, and both curry & chocolate and orange & chocolate are fantastic combos, so together?  Well, ya just gotta try.  Anyways, just make pretend that mine looked just as lovely as Thursday Night Smakdown's did. 

UPDATE:  Made these suckers again, and got a glamor shot.

Roasted Asparagus

Remove ends of asparagus spears.  Toss generously with salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes, though this depends on how crunchy vs. soft you like your asparagus (I like them to have a good bite to them.)

Pan-Seared Scallops

Remove muscle from scallops and rinse, (we bought 12 scallops for the two of us, and it was a perfect serving.)  Salt & pepper both sides and melt 1-2tbsp of butter over high heat.  Sear each side for about 2 minutes, making sure to get some good color.  Spritz or serve with a lemon wedge.

Brie & Mushroom Risotto

2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large shallot, diced
1c aborio rice
~6oz brie
1 package cremini mushrooms
~5c chicken stock

Take out brie, cut into squares and let soften/warm up to room temperature.  Heat chicken stock in a pot.

Over medium heat, heat olive oil.  Add mushrooms, seasoning with salt & pepper, and sauteed until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 1tbsp butter with 1tbsp olive oil.  Add garlic & shallots and allow to cook for 3-5 minutes, until shallots soften.  Add rice and stir around, coating with the olive oil and garlic while allowing to toast a bit.  Then, pour in a cup of chicken broth.  Stir and let rice absorb the broth.  Add another cup and let absorb.  Keep doing this until rice is tender.  Make sure to stir continuously, to prevent the rice from sticking.

Add brie and mushrooms.  Stir, taste, and season generously with salt and pepper.

Orange-Curry Pots de Creme
Serves 3, adapted from Thursday Night Smackdown*

3/4c heavy cream
1/4c whole milk (I substituted whole milk for mostly skim, and a splash of heavy cream to amount to the 1/4c required)
3 green cardamom pods
2 cloves
1tsp curry powder
1/4tsp orange oil
3oz good dark chocolate
3 egg yolks
1 1/2tbsp sugar
pinch salt

Pre-heat your oven to 300** and heat up a tea kettle of water.

Heat the first six ingredients together over low heat, being careful not to let it come to a boil, for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, chop the chocolate and put into a bowl.  In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar & salt. 
Pour cream through a strainer (to remove the cloves and cardamom) over the chocolate. Let this sit for a few minutes, then stir until the chocolate is fully melted and the mixture is smooth.  Slowly pour the chocolate into the eggs, whisking constantly.***

Fill 3 ramekins with the chocolate.  Put ramekins in silicone baking dish,**** leaving an inch or two between each once.  Fill the pan with hot water so that it comes about halfway up the ramekins. Cover entire pan tight with tin foil.

Bake for 45 minutes- they should still be jiggly when removed. Let cool on the counter for an hour and then refrigerate for at least 3 or 4.*****  Served with very lightly, if at all, sweetened whipped cream.

*I heart Thursday Night Smackdown
**TOTALLY neglected to check the temperature here, and actually baked mine at 350.  Nothing horrible happened to them... I imagine they were just more set than supposed to be.
***So, I took the cream off the stove, set aside, and promptly forgot about it as I tended to the risotto.  Oops.  Luckily, it was still warm enough to melt the chocolate.  However, at this point, it had cooled enough that it wasn't a huge risk to ruining the eggs.  Also?  The recipe says to strain the final mixture, again, before pouring into the ramekins.  I did not.
****Instructions say to put a towel down in the baking dish, to prevent the ramekins from slipping.  I found the silicone was less slippery, so skipped the towel.  I did put the silicone dish onto a cookie sheet, to make moving it easier.
*****Umm, apparently we were supposed to serve this cold?  Definitely didn't read that far... oops.  Plopped some whipped cream on top, and engulfed still warm.  Guess I'll just have to make this again, and actually follow directions!

Friday, February 19, 2010

tlc: the "c" is for...


Pulled-Pork Chili.  That's right.  Chili... with pulled-pork.  Ground meat: no.  Pulled-pork: yes. 

*I certainly hope everyone got that reference.  If not, please go back to 1994 and try again.

A long time ago, I made some kick-ass pulled-pork for my family who were helping with the home renovation.  However, after the third day of leftover pork sandwiches, I was done.  So, I froze the rest with the idea of having deliciousness whenever I craved some BBQ.  I took this out of the freezer to defrost overnight; as you can see, it's about 1 1/2 - 2 cups worth.

This was BBQ pulled pork, so it brought that flavor to the table.  Would be just as good if you have un-adorned pulled pork, though you may want to season the meat first; salt, pepper, cayenne, cumin, etc. 

You know what annoys me?  How sticky fresh garlic is.

Ok, so at this point?  I was getting plenty excited.  I don't have much insight for you here, it's pretty much a dump-then-simmer kind of recipe.

CORN!  I love corn.  And, if you would allow me a bit of a rant: what the hell is the matter with you canned-veggie people?!?!  Have you tried frozen vegetables?  Please do.  You can thank me later.  Now, there is no need to defrost the corn before adding to the pot.  It will cook.  Also, any extra water/moisture from the corn will only add to the broth of the chili.

Something's missing....


Oh right, cheddar!  MUCH better!!  This was seriously awesome.  I loved the BBQ-chipotle combination.  Also, the pork only became more tender after simmering in juices. 

Pulled Pork Chili
serves 4

1/2 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 orange pepper, chopped
1/2c frozen corn
1 14.5oz can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 15oz can black beans, drained & rinsed
2 chipotles in adobo, chopped
2c chicken broth
1 1/2 - 2c pulled pork

In a large pot or dutch oven, coat bottom of pot with olive oil and heat over a medium flame.*  Add garlic and onion, and cook until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add peppers and cook until soft, about 7 more minutes.  Add in tomatoes, pork, corn, chipotles, and beans.  Add in chicken stock- more if you want soupier, less if you don't.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  You can cook for longer, if you are patient.

Serve as you like your chili- cheddar?  Green onions?  Sour cream?  Go nuts!

*"Flame"... how you taunt me!  I am still cooking on my electric stove.  I think I deserve your pity.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


You know what I get a kick out of?  Using spaghetti squash instead of pasta.  I know, I know: unheard of!!  I made an awesome (and super healthy) twist on spaghetti & meatballs a few months ago and... didn't record anything about it.  Just thought you would like to know. 

Instead, I bring you: Shrimp and Spaghetti Squash a la Cart Vendor... or Shrimp and Spaghetti Squash with Garlic and Fennel?  Years ago, I was watching a Mario Batali show that featured a recipe for "street vendor" or "cart driver" pasta.  The recipe, of course, came with a fantastic story of Batali's travels to Italy and how cart vendors will make this great-yet-basic pasta; a recipe that is easily modified and improved upon.  I use it ALL THE TIME for pasta, shrimp, chicken... anything.  However, for the life of me, I cannot find this recipe online!  Did I make this up??

Basically, you infuse olive oil with garlic, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes; toss in pasta; salt & pepper; Parmesean.  Voila!  Suggested additions include: arugula, protein, onions/shallots, cherry tomatoes, roasted red pepper, etc.  Tonight?  I added in spinach.  Above is a picture of a rough (read: lazy) chiffonade of the spinach.  A chiffonade is when you slice your leafy greens into long, thin strips.  The easiest way is to pile the leaves on top of each other, tightly roll up, and then slice starting from an opened end.  I was lazy because I didn't exactly "stack the leaves," so much as I "crumpled up quickly and violently."  Still good!  Still good.

The spinach was set to the side to be used later.

This is where the infusing comes in.  I haven't measured out the amount of olive oil, but you want a good amount in the skillet.... more like a thin layer than just coating the pan.  Anyways, all seasonings go in here (salt, pepper, garlic, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, shallots) and simmer for at least 5 minutes.  Whenever you add something like fennel seeds, it's advisable to crush the seeds between your fingertips before adding to the dish.  This helps to unleash the beast!  ...the Beast of Flavor!!

True story: it was this recipe that opened my eyes to fennel seed.  It's one of my favorite, go-to spices that usually add a little somethin'-somethin' to a dish.  Gives it a whole new layer!  Give it a try... please???  


And, uh, here is where I cook the shrimp.... not TOO long.  Take them off the heat as soon as they become opaque, so that they aren't over-cooked.

So, normally I oven-roast any and all squash, including the spaghetti  variety.  However, as time was of the essence (I think we had a movie to catch!) I gave the microwave a shot.  Be sure to pierce the squash a few times before nuking it, or else it will... explode?  I can only assume it would explode.  And that would be quite the mess.  

Verdict: I still prefer oven-roasting, especially as you can add flavor to the squash this way.  But the microwave is a great & speedy option, in a pinch.

With either method, let the squash cool before dragging a fork through; this is where the 'spaghetti' forms! Toss spinach, infused oil, shrimp & squash together (conveniently, un-photographed) and serve with grated cheese.

 .... A LOT of grated cheese!  It look like snow, don'tcha think?  Delicious, sharp, snow.  The cheese really took this to a whole new level, and is a definite "must."

We interrupt your regularly-scheduled blog post to bring you......


I arrive at my beau's house, only to be smacked in the nose with the overwelming smell of BACON!  Apparently, his roommate, Karen, felt the need to cook up an entire pig's-worth of bacon.  Ok, maybe not an entire pig... but one of those big 3-5lb packages.  I kept thinking maybe she would stop, and save the rest to cook later?  I thought wrong.  See the carnage for yourself: 

Look at all that grease!  Also, the picture is deceiving... that is one BIG tower of pork.

Shrimp and Spaghetti Squash with Garlic and Fennel
serves 2

2 shallots
3-4 garlic cloves
2 handfuls of spinach*
1tsp fennel seed
1tsp red pepper flakes
~20 shrimps (more/less if you like), peeled & de-veined  
1 spaghetti squash
plenty of olive oil (probably around 1/3c)
salt & pepper
Parmesean/Asiago/Romano, for grating

For Squash:
Puncture spaghetti squash with a few holes using a knife or fork.  On a plate, microwave squash for 10 minutes.  Flip, and cook for 10 more minutes.  Cover with large bowl, and allow to set for 3 minutes.  Cut open the squash in half, length-wise.  Remove seeds & strings.  Then, drag a fork through the flesh, making 'spaghetti'. 

For Shrimp:
Dice shallots and garlic, finely.  Over medium, heat olive oil.  Add shallots, garlic, fennel (crushing in fingertips before adding,) salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Cook for at least 5 minutes, being careful not to let it get too hot & burn the garlic.

Add shrimp.  Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side.  Remove from heat when opaque.

To Assemble:
Chiffonade spinach.

In large bowl, mix squash, all of the shrimp-olive oil mixture, and spinach.  Taste, and adjust accordingly; you may also need to add more olive oil to coat sufficiently.**  Serve with grated cheese.

*"Handfuls" is TOTALLY a proper unit of measurement, right?
**I find I usually have to add more red pepper flakes, and definitely s&p. 

Saturday, February 13, 2010

shield your eyes


Where there's one, there's probably 54,678.  I am not joking.  You have nowhere to run to; nowhere to hide.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

here little fish, little fish, little fish

So, meal #2 for the ravenous family help: fish!  I made Parmesean-Smothered Tilapia with Mashed Cauliflower and Roasted Green Beans.*

A friend of my mom's, who likes to cook and share recipes, gave my mom this recipe.  Which, I was then instructed to cook for my mother.  It was very enjoyable, and I have since re-created it many a'time.... only difference being I haven't given the actual recipe a second glance!  So, this is purely off of memory.

*If you haven't caught on, roasting is my go-to method for cooking veggies.  It's unbeatably awesome.

Do do do, do a dollop!  So, basically, you mix the topping together, spread on the fish, bake, and eat.  Easy, no?  I do recommend you salt, pepper, and spritz the fish with lemon juice, first.

I used, and have always used, tilapia* for this.  Other options would be sole, swa'i, or another white fish.  As long as you avoid the oily fish, or any darker fish, you should be in the clear, (the butter & mayo in the spread wouldn't go well with the heavier fish.) 

*I search for American farmed tilapia, due to sustainable seafood concerns.  I am such a dork, that I have pocket guides from this Seafood Watch site.  True, it may take me 5 minutes to get the guide out and find the recommendations, but I'm perfectly OK with that! 


For the topping, I tend to use whatever I have on hand/whatever I'm in the mood for: shallots or red onion; thyme, rosemary, and/or basil; parm, romano, or asiago; and green onions, if you have them. 

Meanwhile, roast the cauliflower in olive oil, salt & pepper, (coincidentally, the same treatment given to the green beans.)  Then mash.  Purely your preference whether you want to add anything to make this creamier, like sour cream or heavy cream.

 Ok, so, mashed cauliflower really doesn't look that appealing, does it?  Especially, not when you let the cauliflower get nice and browned...



YUM!  Again, my dad & brother finished any remaining fish, which clearly makes it a smashing success.

Parmesean-Smothered Tilapia* with Mashed Cauliflower and Roasted Green Beans

4 Tilapia fillets, (or similar fish)
2 Tbsp Butter
3-4 Tbsp Mayonnaise**
1/2 C Parmasean (or similar cheese, such as Asiago)
1 Garlic clove
1 or 2 Shallots (or red onion)
1 Tbsp Green onions (I didn't have any)
2 Tsp Thyme***
2 Tsp Rosemary***

Preheat oven to 375.

Line a baking pan with tin-foil, and lay out the fish.  Salt, pepper, and spritz with lemon juice.

Grate cheese and finely dice garlic & shallots.  Mix together the butter, mayo, cheese, shallots, garlic, green onions, and 1/2 of the thyme and rosemary.  Add salt & pepper.  Taste mixture, and adjust if needed. This should be more of the mix-ins (shallots, cheese, etc) than mayo/butter, and more mayo than butter (if there is too much butter, it will end up as an oily mess.)

Coat each fillet generously with mixture, and sprinkle with more herbs.  Bake until opaque and flaky, and browned on the top, (I ended up throwing on the broiler to get a better color for the last 2-3 minutes.)  Should take about 15 minutes for the fish to cook.

Before starting the fish, you should throw in the veggies, as these take longer.  Just coat with salt & pepper and olive oil, and cook at 400 for 25-35 minutes, (until brown & crispy.) 

*I should confess that I have no idea if these ratios are correct.  I am the Pied Piper of your culinary demise.
**I have Mayo with Olive Oil that I picked up on a whim.  Don't notice any flavor difference, and better for you.
***Sadly, just had dried herbs on hand.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

i'm the hostess without the mostest....

What is a chef/host without a cute apron?  Nothing!  And therefore, I am... not a chef/hostess.  Le sad.

Just saw these awesome aprons (in "Hostess" and "Chef" styles?  Because they cannot be one and the same?  Clearly, I have much to learn.)


So chic!  So cool!  So I-Must-Have-One!  I think these three are my favorite styles, (I am also a huge fan of the third style in the red&white and black&white options.)  I like that they have pockets, too.  Very handy (GET IT!  Hand??  Pocket?!?!?  HAND??!!)


And look!  For the men!  You know, I would say the cow dissection one is perfect for grilling... but grilling is a messy business, and a white apron is just silly.

Anyways, aprons by Jessie Steele.  Matching oven mitts, pot-holders, and rubber gloves are also available.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

tic, tac, tile


Classic 1950s bathroom.  Pink & black shower tiles that also cover 1/2 the rest of the walls and tiny pink & black floor tiles.  But don't worry, just when you thought it would all make sense, they put a blue tub in this bathroom.  I don't know why.  AND THE WALLPAPER!  Sheesh.  It's like a carousel.  And it was peeling, (shocking, I know... steamy bathroom + wallpaper?  Sounds like a fabulous idea to me!  Except for the fact that they use STEAMERS to remove wallpaper...) 

Though this is the bathroom outside my bedroom, I haven't been using the shower because of a house-crippling leak.   When the shower/bath was turned on, not only was there a substantial leak coming from the pipes behind the tile, but also water SHOOTING at your face when you turn on the hot or cold!  So, first, the pipes were replaced and leak eliminated and the wall tiles removed.


Ain't it pretty?

So, then came up the floor tile....


Or, so we thought.  You see, under that innocent-looking pink & black tile was solid concrete.  And a thick layer, at that!  So, instead of dealing with all the concrete underneath, in addition to the tiny, obnoxious tile, we decided to lay the new tile on top of the old, (a common practice & completely O.K.)  However, there was only one small problem....

.... this realization did not come until a good 2'x4" section was demo-ed.  

 So, we filled the hole with concrete and let set/dry before starting with the new tile.  And none would be the wiser!
... well, I guess except for the two people who read this blog.  They will technically be "the wiser."  Oops.

LOOK HOW AWESOME!!  This is pre-grout, btw.  And, just a friendly tidbit of information, it's a good idea to clog up your toilet hole, (here, we put a towel inside a plastic bag and stuffed away.)  The purpose behind this is not only to stop any trash, dust or debris from falling in, but also to stop any toxic fumes from escaping.

Add a little drywall to the situation, and...

Yup, who doesn't keep their toilet in the tub?  I can't think of anything more natural...

 Now, the only thing left is to grout & re-install the tub and vanity!


Pretty grout!  I went with a lighter option that blended in more, as I didn't want the lines as noticable as they would have been if a darker grout was used.  This was just a personal preference, largely based on the fact that I wanted the grout on the floor and wall to match, and I didn't want the grout in the tile to stand out.  And, since the floor tiles were so big, there weren't many visible grout lines anyways.  I felt that making them noticeable would have been odd.  

We used the pre-mixed & pre-colored grout from Home Depot.  Worked like a charm.


See?  Barely noticeable.  Also?  Pretty!


Here's the interim bathroom I am using.  Clearly, the walls need to be finished (more spackling, sanding, and then painting,) and the shower walls need to be tiled.  In addition to this, also need to replace the old, wood window and the vanity.  Oh yeah, that ugly vanity is getting kicked to the curb!


Monday, February 1, 2010

some like it hot

My dad & brother came down to help me with my bathroom remodel (more on that, later,) which means FOOD!  And, apparently, veggies and tofu would be extremely unacceptable.  I don't really know what their deal is, but I think deep-seated psychological issues against tofu is an indication of bigger problems...

So, instead, I made Baked Chipotle Chicken with a Spicy Mushroom Cream Sauce and Garlicy Broccoli.  And, for my purposes, "garlicy" is totally a word.  Totally. 

... Anyways, as you see above, I showed a bunch of broccoli who's boss, florets AND stalks, (because I'm crazy like that.)  Just peel/trim the stalks and chop- no need to let the florets have all the fame.  Anyways, roasted broccoli!  I just discovered this, and it is awesome.

Like so.

Now, for the star of the show: The Chicken!  I have adopted brine-ing (wtf, "brining" isn't a recognized word???  I call B.S. on that) as my first step in chicken prep.*  Putting your poultry in a brine makes it juicier and more tender.  It's a win-win!  Anyways, to brine, just throw your chicken into a bowl of water (to cover) and dump a good amount of salt in (I'm talkin' around 2Tbsp-1/4c for the amount of chicken I had) and let sit for at least an hour. 

*That rhymes! 


Remove the chicken, rinse, and pat dry.  If you don't do this, your chicken will be very salty!  So rinse & pat!  For this meal, I had a pair of thighs, drumsticks and wings; all bone-in.  In the interests of saving a buck, my new plan is to buy full chickens and freeze in individual meal-sized section.  The supermarket sells full chickens, cut-up, for a much cheaper price than the breasts, or even the thighs & legs.  I am not at the point where I want to cut up my own full bird (or, rather, I don't have the tools to do so,) so this is a good alternative.  Also?  All the bones and gizzards, (they ain't lieing about that "full" chicken- extra breastbone, neck, etc all accounted for!) means you can make your own stock* or beef.. er... chicken-up store-bought stock/broth.  However, all of this means you have to remove the skin and work around the bones, if your recipe or personal taste calls for it.

I left the skin on the bird because, hey! why not be indulgent for my guests?  Then, coated with the spices; I went a little crazy with the chipotle... we like the spicy.

*I DO plan to make my own stock... some day.....

Then the chicken met his match.  In this case, his "match" is a sizzling hot cast iron pan.  At least 5 minutes on each side to crisp and brown.  (I lay the birds skin-side down, first.  This is because, after flipping, you throw them in the oven and want to keep that skin up & exposed.  If you have removed the skin, then put the meaty side down, first.)  Then, I transferred the chicken into a second cast iron and tossed into the oven to finish cooking.

Now, I transferred the chicken so that I could use the pan and all the left-behind flavor in the sauce.  It is certainly not essential that you use another cast iron for this step, I just have two and it was easy... but transfer to an oven-safe pan and cook the rest of the way through.

Back to those juicy chicken bits!  A container & a half (12oz) of baby bellas went into the juices and started to cook.  Baby bellas are meatier than white button mushrooms, so will take longer to cook and will have more bite to themselves when done.  White Buttons would work just as well, I just happened to have the bellas on hand.*  Then, we add liquid and reduce, ad nauseum: Add chicken broth and reduce, (add more if the mushrooms still aren't cooked completely;) throw in a splash of white wine, just for the hell of it, and reduce down to a glaze; add chipotle pepper and then, cream!  And reduce!  Well, "thicken," actually.  For cream/dairy, we say "thicken." 

*"Baby Bellas" is another term for cremini/crimini mushrooms.  Interchangeable.  Just to confuse you.

Allow to simmer and thicken.  As you can see, lines left after dragging a spoon through remained for a while.  This is a good thing!  Make sure to salt & pepper to taste, but this was pretty much good to go.  Also, try not to eat the sauce by the spoonful straight from the pan.  The chicken would be lonely.

I can't even begin to say how delicious this was.  The sauce and chicken had some great smoky heat that hit you at the end of a bite, but the cream softened the hit.  Also? cream makes everything more decadent.  I do plan to try this with some substitutions (like, 1/2 cream and 1/2 milk or milk and sour cream/yogurt,) but would leave as-is when trying to impress.  And the chicken?  Juicy as all get out.  The boys left nothing.  Not even one mushroom remained.  SUCCESS!

... that'll teach them to make fun of my food!

Baked Chipotle Chicken with a Spicy Mushroom Cream Sauce and Garlicy Broccoli
Chicken (brined, rinsed & pat-dry)
Sweet Paprika
Chipotle Powder
Salt & Pepper

~12oz Mushrooms (Baby Bellas or White Button)
1c Chicken Broth
2/3c Heavy Cream
1 Chipotle Pepper in Adobo*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Sprinkle chicken thoroughly with Salt, Pepper, Paprika, and Chipotle Powder.  This is where you can adjust for your level of heat: more/less chipotle powder to your taste.  The sauce is mainly seasoned with the leftover juices & seasonings of the chicken, so changing the amount of spice here not only affects the chickens' heat, but also the sauce's.  I would not omit the chipotle pepper in the sauce, as otherwise it would be too much cream & not enough flavor. 

In skillet, heat olive oil and sear chicken (skin side down) for about 5 minutes.  Flip & sear again for 5 more.  Transfer meat to an oven-safe dish and toss into oven to finish cooking- about 15 to 20 minutes.  Check with meat thermometer or with knife in thickest part of the meat.  Remove from oven and, carefully! pour (or spoon) as much of the remaining juices & brown bits from the pan into the simmering sauce.

Meanwhile, in the skillet you used to sear the chicken, add mushrooms & a pinch of salt and start cooking over medium heat.  I originally added 1/2c chicken broth, and reduced.  But the broth reduced away, and I wanted the mushrooms to cook longer!  So, I added another 1/2c broth (you can add the full cup at once) and a splash of white wine and reduced to a glaze.  Dice the chipotle pepper & add to the mushrooms.  Add the cream and simmer until thickened.

The sauce made enough for the 6 pieces of chicken I had, (2 each of thighs, wings, drumsticks,) but trust me, it would NOT be the end of the world if you had leftover sauce or leftover chicken!

I have no idea how much broccoli I got... but it was coated with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Then 3-4 cloves of diced garlic were mixed in.  Baked on tin-foil lined baking sheets at 375 for, oh, 30 min?  Until crispy, brown & tender.  You can up the temperature at the end, or broil if you want more color.

*After opening a can of chipotles in adobo, I transfer the remainder to a tupperware and store.  VERY handy to add a few, or just the liquid, as needed.