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Chicken Breasts Diable

Celebrating life, community and new experiences.

Double Digits! WP 2013

We celebrated my youngest’s birthday when she rolled into proud double digits. It is our family tradition to honor a new year with a special dinner.  The previous year she choose Lamb with her family-famous quote “Lamb is my cake” when asked what she desired for dinner. This time she chose her favorite steamed beets with melted chèvre and being a member to the French Friday’s with Dorie I decided to try a new recipe from her most loved cookbook Around My French Table – Chicken Breasts Diable.

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Staycation-Mango Spring Rolls

RKW Spring roll wrap Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are happily in the process of switching our mindset and culinary menus from the thick layers of Winter warm to Spring layers and lighter, fresher fare. It’s at this time when I eagerly await the first bulbs to emerge from their sleep and buds to pop from the trees.

Afternoon walks linger when the warmth of the sun’s rays replace my winter down coat. Our living room view becomes its own Planet Earth series time-lapse moving from once black and white to muted grays and browns and now the Technicolor slowly pours on with vibrant shades of green and yellows.

The song birds are back and I half expect Julie Andrews to burst out from the greening fields with the “Hills Are Alive”. But I don’t think this crosses everyone’s mind like it does mine; all those car rides with my 5-year-old requesting to hear the sound track over and over again, could be the reason for my Spring memory replay.

But Spring is a time to hit the refresh button. Spring cleaning, depending on who you are, can invoke a number of ideas. First the house comes to mind but next my cravings begin to change from rich hearty foods to those that are lighter and fresher. Not much is growing for us yet, and I am aware that mangoes are not “in season” (are they ever here in the Pacific Northwest?) But I know many who traveled south…way south, for Spring break. So, for those of us who didn’t hit the Southern Hemisphere, but rather, enjoyed our staycation; here are mangoes for you!

Staycation- Mango Spring Rolls- makes 6 -10
This recipe was inspired from The Solitary Cook‘s recipe found at Food 52 made with a good friend one afternoon.

RachelleKWeymuller/Caramelizelife.com Mango Spring Rolls

Ingredients For Shrimp Steam Bath:
(this might be the spa part of your staycation, lean over to indulge in a steamy facial 😉

3 cups/24 ounces of water (enough to cover mango skins, limes and shrimp)
2 mango peels – washed (use the fruit for sauce and spring rolls 1 each)
1/2 sweet onion- quartered
1 lime- sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 teaspoon sea salt
black pepper to taste
2 dried japonés chiles – chopped (add more if you like more spice, my kids don’t)
8 ounces shrimp uncooked, washed and deveined ( go for wild caught spot prawns, rock shrimp or US farmed shrimp if possible)

*Have ready a bowl of ice water  to immerse the shrimp and keep them from overcooking
For The Shrimp Steam Bath:
In a stainless steel pot add all ingredients but the shrimp and bring to a boil.
Once water is boiling add the shrimp and reduce heat to medium.
Cook until shrimp are pink about 3-7 minutes.
Drain cooked shrimp and immediately place in bowl of ice water to keep them from overcooking.

Shrimp Steam Bath

Shrimp Steam Bath

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Ingredients For The Mango Sauce:

2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce (we were out so we used Bragg’s Amino Acids and it worked well)
2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
2 Tablespoons Sesame oil
2 limes (zest from 1 lime and juice from 2 limes)
1 mango fruit – (from the steam bath) pit removed

For The Mango Sauce:

Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth
Place in serving a dish and set aside until ready to eat

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RKW Spring Rolls

Ingredients For The Spring Rolls:

8 oz Vermicelli Noodles (Beans Thread)
**************************************
1 mango-(from the steam bath) pit removed, small cubes
1 bunch cilantro (20 stems and leaves) – chopped
1/2 a cucumber – peeled, seeds removed, chopped
1/2 cup  green onions – diced
All the cooked, now cooled shrimp – tail removed and chopped
Juice of 2 limes
*************************************

8-10 rice paper wraps (spring rolls skin)
9 inch cake pan (for softening rice paper wraps)
1/4 inch hot water (for cake pan and rice paper wraps)

RKW_0097 noodles for spring roll

Cooked Vermicelli Noodles

 

For The Spring Rolls:

Soak Vermicelli 3 to 5 minutes in hot water then drain and set aside.
Combine; mango,cilantro,cucumber, green onions, shrimp and lime juice to a bowl and toss.

Prepare rice paper wraps:
Add hot water to 9 inch cake pan
place 1 rice paper wrap at a time, submerged in hot water, for 10 seconds to soften.
*Keep hot water handy to add when water in cake pan cools.

CL-mango-spring-roll RKW_0082
Build your Spring Roll!
Place softened rice paper wrap on your work surface
Put a small amount 20 or so Vermicelli noodles down the middle of the roll/wrap
Place 2-3 Tablespoons of filling(mango, cucumber, green onion etc) down the middle leaving room on the sides to fold
Begin to wrap the spring roll (similar as you might a burrito) starting with the side closed to you, then fold each end and finish by rolling the last over the opposite side ( the only one left) and seal.
Set on a serving platter with the seam side down, I like to use a chilled metal one (Yay, a wedding gift I am happy to use).
Repeat.
I have found that if there are left over Vermicelli noodles the kids love it plain or topped with a little extra mango sauce is a great left over snack.

Mango Spring Rolls

Mango Spring Rolls

Enjoy!

Head Shot Rachelle
Rachelle Weymuller @ Caramelize Life
“Making Life A Little Sweeter Through Food, Travel And Community”

Bruschetta In Eleven Minutes Tops!

Bruschetta landscape

A favorite in our home because we love Italian food anything, it’s healthy and a snap to make.

Bruschetta in the making

When my daughter was four she came in from munching sweet cherry tomatoes and basil in the garden and exclaimed ” We have a grocery store in our backyard!”  Then she asked…”can we grow a mozzarella plant?” She asked the proper question; can we? If only that were possible. “I wish we could.” was my answer. However, these questions did open the door to researching how mozzarella is made, and where it comes from. I’ve not yet ventured to make it myself, but I hear Mozzarella is pretty easy to produce, so I’ll have to try it and get back to you about that.

Until then, here’s our favorite bruschetta recipe:

Bruschetta

1 Local baguette sliced (I love the Mazama Store’s because it has a wee bit of salt on top)
2-3 Red, preferably heirloom, garden tomatoes (however with snow still on the ground, organic vine-ripened tomatoes have the most flavor)
15 Basil leaves or as many as you have slices of bread
Fresh mozzarella (you can find the pre-sliced kind at some stores) to top the slices of bread
salt for sprinkling
Olive oil (Italian) to drizzle
Balsamic Vinegar (aged has a sweeter flavor, but any will do) to drizzle

Bruschetta olive oil drip drop bottle

Action:

1. Toast the slices of bread, or if you have time put them over the grill or gas burner, to toast
2. Add sliced mozzarella
3. Add Basil face up to catch some of the oil and balsamic drizzle
4. Add sliced tomatoes to each
5. Sprinkle with salt
6. Drizzle with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

Bruschetta Ready To Eat!

Buon Appetito!

* Thank you to Diane, Geof, Linda, Marc, Hannah and Eva for patiently waiting to devour these tasty bites while E.A did his photo dance to capture the bruschetta when freshest.

Head Shot RachelleRachelle @ Caramelize Life

“making life a little sweeter, through food, travel and community”

We

We

We at Caramelize Life wish you a wonderful Valentine’s Day filled will all that matters most to you.

Cheers!

Head Shot Rachelle Rachelle @ Caramelize Life
“Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community”

Butternut Squash & Spinach Lasagne

We live the lives of busy Moms, friends, entrepreneurs, wives, community members…the list of hats grows long. So it is important that we use our time wisely while the kids are at school and the house is quiet by combining our get together time. Focusing on sharing and connecting, creating new recipes and learning from each other are all great ways to build lasting relationships.

We set up a plan to meet once a month and share new recipes, try each others favorite recipes and expand our regular “go to” menus for our families. Our goal is to prep and make a dinner for that night and then something to put away in the freezer or “put-up” in the pantry to be enjoyed in the future months as a tasty reminder of our day together in the kitchen.

We decide menus by what we have in our refrigerators. For me that is easy; a quick check, since I have just one. But Stew, she has four refrigerators I’m told so she always comes ready for a multitude of options. On our most recent get together, her car was packed and each time she pulled something from her bottomless box of goodies, like a magician, I was pleasantly surprised at what she emerged with: squash, spinach, fresh squeezed lemon juice, herbs picked that day a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I have to confess, Stew Dietz is not your ordinary super mom (a title I think all Moms carry in this day and age) like the rest of us but she is also a caterer extraordinaire so she has menu planning down to a science.

After taking stock of our potential ingredients, we decided the plan was to make a Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagne, Potato Leek Soup, Parsley Pesto and Apple Butter. These days in the kitchen are very productive. For the Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagne, Stew found inspiration from a Bon Appétit magazine but we didn’t have all the ingredients they called for and staying true to our creative spirit we improvised and tweaked their recipe to what worked for us:

Butternut Squash & Spinach Lasagna

10-12 Servings            9x13x3” pan

2#            Butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded & cut ¼ “slices
1#            Spinach
1               Large Yellow Onion,  diced small
1#            Fresh Mozzarella, grated or cut into small strips
16oz        Skim Ricotta
1c            Grated romano cheese
Zest from one lemon
4              Sage leaves, minced
1T            Fresh Rosemary leaves, minced
2T           Fresh Thyme leaves, minced
½ c         Fresh parsley leaves, chopped

Bechamel

¼ c            Unsalted butter
¼ c            Unbleached all-purpose flour
3c               Whole milk
2c              Half & half
¼ tsp       Fresh grated nutmeg
1                Bay leaf
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1#              Lasagna noodles
½ c            Parmesan

Toss sliced squash pieces with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Bake on sheet pans in preheated 400 oven until cooked, but not mushy, about 20 minutes.

In 10 qt stock pot heat water until boil and cook lasagna noodles until done.  Toss with a little extra virgin olive oil to keep from sticking and lay out on extra sheet pans, wax paper or parchment.

Heat 3T olive oil in 8 qt heavy bottom stock pot and saute onions until tender but not colored, about 8 minutes.  Add rosemary, fresh thyme & sage and cook adding salt & pepper to taste.  Add spinach in handfuls stirring it in until wilted.  Cook over high to finish wilting and help evaporate liquid (or drain in colander, reserving liquid for soup!)  Stir in lemon rind and fresh parsley.  Once cooled blend with ricotta & Romano set aside in a bowl for assembly.

In heavy bottomed 5qt pot melt butter over medium heat.  Whisk in flour and cook not letting it brown, about 2-3 minutes.  Slowly whisk in whole milk & half and half.  Add bay leaves & nutmeg. Slowly bring to boil and simmer stirring almost constantly until thickened, about 10-15 minutes depending on your heat. Season with salt and white pepper.  Pour through mesh strainer.

To Assemble:

In 9”x13” pan spread about 1/3c béchamel in the bottom of the pan.  Top with layer of lasagna noodles, butternut squash slices, Fresh mozzarella, spinach/ricotta mixture & ½ c béchamel.  Keep repeating for a total of 3 layers of “filling” ending with noodles/ last of béchamel and ½ c Parmesan.

Bake @ 375 for 45 minutes, turning to broil for additional 5 minutes.  Let rest before cutting and serving.

*Freezer Tip:

I usually cover the lasagne with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and write on the foil; What is inside, the date it was made, and date it should be eaten by as well as baking instructions, incase I am not the one making it for dinner. I also add a reminder to remove the plastic wrap beneath the foil.
Other ideas would be to add suggestions of what side dishes to pair with it.

Enjoy!

making life sweeter…from Rachelle @ Caramelizelife

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