Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Tale Of Two Cities

Taking It Slow With My Citrus Spiced Chicken And Mushroom Stew

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After coming back from the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival, and visiting with Pam Smith of Spice Blends, I knew I needed to implement her wonderful spice blends into my dishes. I thought what better way then with this awesome French style stew of chicken and mushrooms. Usually I do this dish in a dutch oven, but I thought with my new 7 quart slow cooker, I thought I would test out this dish by using it. Now to be honest if it didn’t work I wouldn’t be posting this recipe, but it turns out that it came out beautifully. Really the only major prep to this dish is just the browning of the chicken. I would suggest that having the chicken cut, refrigerated, covered in plastic wrap. The flour can be seasoned the day before if you know this is something your going to make this dish. As far as the veggies go I would say that with the exception of the 4 potatoes that your going to cut in half, all the other veggies can be done ahead, placed into a plastic bag, and kept in the frig. The mushrooms need only to be wiped off with a damp paper towel to get any grit off of them and that can be done ahead as well.

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Here what I’ve done is to take 4 bone-in skin-on chicken breasts and cut them in half. I wanted to make the pieces easier to eat, being that they were going into a #stew. As you see in my top left picture, now the large breast, have become 8 manageable pieces. Next I have 3 pints of Cremini mushrooms. 2 large onions, diced into large chucks,3 ribs of celery cut into 3 inch pieces, 6 whole cloves of peeled garlic, and finally 4 small to medium size Yukon gold potatoes cut in half. If they are large then cut into quarters. You just want to make sure they are relatively the same size. This is what I have here in the picture on the top right.

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Now that all the prep work is done, next, the chicken. It’s time to get some nice color first on the outside before putting it into the slow cooker. , I have my trusty cast iron skillet getting hot on med heat, with enough canola oil to just cover the bottom of the skillet. When the oil starts to shimmer its ready. You want to pat all the chicken dry with paper towel first. This will ensure the oi won’t splatter and of course to get a nice brown crunchy texture on the outside of the chicken.I take a pinch of Pam’s Citrus spice blend and place some under the skin of each piece. then I do a light sprinkling of Kosher salt and pepper on the top of each piece as well. Let me tell you about the seasoned flour that i used I put 3 cups of all purpose flour into a bowl with 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. To that I added 3 tablespoons of Pam Smith’s Citrus Spice blend. Pam”s secret ingredients in this recipe gives the chicken a kiss of that citrus flavor that we all love with chicken, as well as some added color to the skin. I then sear the outside of the chicken, skin side down first, in batches of 3 so as not to overcrowd the pan. When the chicken releases itself easily then you know it’s time to flip the chicken and do the other side. You want to see a nice golden color on the outside, the chicken will finish cooking in the slow cooker. As the pieces are finishing up browning, I set them on a baking sheet until all the chicken pieces are done.

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Now for the slow cooker. First put all of the potatoes, onion, celery, and garlic into the pot. I then sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper over the veggies. Next pour in 1/2 a cup of wine and 1 cup of low sodium chicken broth. Next place all the chicken pieces on top, but make sure they are nestled in there really well. You want to set the temperature on high if cooking for 4 hours and low for 8 hours. Keep in mind that all the vegetables are going to release water as they cook, and this will cause the liquid to rise slowly as everything progresses. So I cooked this version of high for 4 hours because I just happen to be home and I needed to watch the progression of the dish so I could post everything correctly.

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3 1/2 hours in I pulled the chicken out that was on top so I could now add the mushrooms in with 1 tablespoon of dried thyme, because, you know how mushrooms love thyme. If I would have added them at the beginning, they would have probably cooked down to nothing and, I wanted them to keep their integrity and shape. So now if you left this to cook on low after being gone all day, you would just pull the chicken out after 7-1 /2 -8 hours hours and do the same thing. Steve likes a slightly thicker gravy so what I did was to ladle out about a cup of the cooking liquid and whisked in 1 heaping tablespoon of flour.

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After this was whisked together really well I poured this right back into the pot. Gave everything a big stir, then I added all the chicken pieces right back in, Place the lid back on to cook for the last 1/2 hour. The heat from the hot liquid and the chicken on the top will cook the mushrooms in no time at all and they will have a nice color on them as well. Oh, I made some cheddar biscuits for dipping too, but that’s a story for another time.

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Don’t these look awesome! Ok, so now I just ladle some of the stew into a large bowl, making sure I get a little of everything. There it is, #takingitslow Citrus Chicken And Mushroom Stew.

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A Meyer Lemon Pound Cake With A Ricotta Meyer Lemon Cream

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So I wanted to put my first very first harvest of my Meyer lemons to good use. My Meyer lemon pound cake sandwiches with a ricotta Meyer lemon filling are just the ticket. All I did was to find my favorite pound cake box mix. Now of course I could have done the pound cake from scratch, but on a week night this is just so much easier  and faster to kick up the box mix, I add the some delicious flavorings to this one that takes it a step above.

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So here I have the box mix that I follow the directions for the wet ingredients except, I also add in 1 cup of whole milk ricotta cheese, 1 tablespoon of good vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon of cream cheese baker’s emulsion, and finally the zest of 2 of my Meyer lemons, and the juice of one. I whisk all that together until well combined before adding in the dry from the box. The lemon zest just perfumes the batter beautifully.

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After the wet and dry have been combined, and my pan has been buttered to ensure no sticking will happen, it goes into the oven at the temperature the box requires. The only difference is the amount of time. It bakes a bit longer due to the extra ingredients that have been added.  At this point I watch the cake carefully checking on it every five minutes using a cake tester to see when it will come out clean. Once it does then I set it on a cooling rack until completely cooled. I sliced the pound cake into 1 1/2 inch slices and filled them will the most glorious filling.

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I took a 15 ounce container of whole milk ricotta cheese in a bowl and added 1/2 a pound of powdered sugar to it, whisking them together. Then I added the zest of one more of my lemons and about 1 tablespoon of the juice to make the filling. I spread the filling on one of the slices then topped it with another slice of the pound cake. There it is my Meyer Lemon Pound Cake And Ricotta Meyer Lemon Cream.

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My Recipe For Lasagna

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Do I dare to say that we all love lasagna? I’m going to say yes. My recipe utilizes using leftover tomato sauce. I don’t know about you, but whenever I make a pot of tomato sauce I always make too much. I’ve either put it in the frig, saying to myself, I’m going to make something with this sauce tomorrow. Then there are those times where I freeze the sauce and forget it’s in there because life gets busy. Not anymore. Yes, it does take some planning but, I don’t ever have to think about what I’m going to use the leftover tomato sauce for. Once I make the lasagna, I can potion it out or freeze the entire dish for when I’m ready for this decadent dish. If you decide to freeze your lasagna, let it cool completely then what I do is to wrap the lasagna tightly with plastic wrap and then with heavy duty foil and it will keep until your ready. I let the lasagna defrost overnight in the refrigerator. If it is not completely defrosted, take it out of the frig, unwrap the entire lasagna, and let it sit out for 1/2 an hour or so before putting into a 375 degree oven. I will show you my trick to stop the cheese from sticking to the foil when baking. When making lasagna, because there are so many components to the dish it can seem daunting. Just by eliminating on of these parts makes making this dish so much easier. In one of my earlier blogs, I’ve talked about different types of tomato based sauce that I’ve made. I happen to have a hearty meat filled tomato sauce, that has sweet Italian sausage and ground beef in it so that’s what I’m using here.

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I’m slowly bringing the sauce back up to temperature, and once that happens I will turn the heat off and put a lid on it and set it aside. One step done. For my nest ingredient for this lasagna I’m using Portobello mushrooms.

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In a large pan on med high heat with 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter I sauteed 3 large Portobello mushroom caps that I sliced. I added 1 tablespoon of dried thyme. I don’t salt them until they have turned a nice brown color and released their liquid. Then 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper. This whole process happens pretty quickly As you can see they get that nice caramelized color to them. I place the cooked mushrooms in a bowl and set them aside for a minute. It’s time to move on to the next step.

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Moving forward in the first picture you’ll see that I have 1/4 cup of AP flour some fresh nutmeg and 1/2 a gallon of milk. In a large heavy bottom pot I start to melt 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter. On med heat to the melted butter I add the flour and  whisk constantly, until all the flour has cooked out. It becomes a light tan in color. I then slowly, still whisking add in 1 quart of whole milk,  I just judged 1/2 of the 1/2 gallon container of the milk. I then grated in 1 teaspoon of fresh nutmeg, 1 tablespoon of Kosher, salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Still whisking the mixture until the mixture thicken and coated the back of a spoon, with a line holding in place from my finger, like you see in the picture above. This sauce is known as a Bechamel sauce. I immediately removed the pot from the heat and added in some cheese and some fresh chopped Italian parsley, dried it fine too. The cheeses I used for this are shredded mozzarella and Grana Padano, and I added a 1/4 cup each of those to the Bechamel sauce and stirred that through with a wooden spoon. Now this part of the lasagna is done. Next for the ricotta cheese component to my dish.

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In a large bowl I added one 15 ounce container of whole milk ricotta cheese, 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped Italian parsley, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, and 1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper. I mixed that all together and now this part is finished. Next onto the lasagna noodles.

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These are my favorite type of pasta for this dish. I like the flat thin pasta style for my lasagna. They are much lighter in texture then the traditional shaped ones and there is no pre-cooking needed. So you see I’ve eliminated two steps in making this dish.

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Now it’s time to assemble this beautiful dish. I want to let you know in the pictures above I’m using the same pasta picture just to give you an idea of where and when I placing the pasta layers into the dish. First a ladle of the delicious meat sauce to the bottom, to keep the pasta from sticking at the bottom. Then a layer of the pasta sheets and these sheets fit perfectly in the dish as you can see. Next a layer of that cheesy Bechamel sauce. On top of that I arrange the Portobello mushrooms so that there will be some in every bite. Another layer of pasta sheets, then some of the meat sauce. More pasta sheets then the ricotta mixture. A heavy handful of the Mozzarella cheese and Grana Padano cheese spread all over the top of the ricotta, Next more pasta sheets. Then a final layer of the meat sauce. Here I use up the rest of the Mozzarella  and grate another 1/4 cup of the Grana Padano cheese over that. I take 1/4 stick of unsalted butter that I’ve diced up really small and dot the top all over with butter. Now before I place this into a 375 degree oven, I need to cover it.

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The trick I was telling you about earlier is this, spray the dull side of the foil with non-stick cooking spray before covering the lasagna and the cheese won’t stick and come off when you remove the foil, cool right? I cook the lasagna for 45 minutes with the foil on then I remove the foil and bake until the top is golden brown, I’d say another 15 minutes or so. Just keep your eye on it you’ll know when it’s ready to come out. Be sure to let the lasagna rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing into it. This way it will hold its shape.

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Le Coq Au Vin


I have to say that I visited this restaurant during a very special time in my life. It was a one year anniversary for me and my boyfriend at the time.  I believe it was in the mid 90’s. This has to be one of the quaintest places I’d ever dined in. The food, the atmosphere, and the extensive wine selection made the experience one to remember. If you love French food with all of it’s elegance, stop in to Le Coq Au Vin here in Orlando, Florida.

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