It is only mid-January and I am completely ready for winter to fuck off.
This is not a good sign, because I know myself, and I know that the worst of the winter doldrums belong to February–the longest short month ever. If I am this restless and cranky in mid-January, what kind of foul wizardry awaits me next month?
Well, one piece of foul wizardry I know about already. My birthday is in February and I’ll be turning a number with a 4 and a 7 in it. I have long made peace with the 4 part of the equation–a girl’s got to get real at some point, after all. But the 7? I don’t like birthdays that have a 7 on the end.
I have a history with those years. In short, they tend to suck.
The year of 1-7 was fraught with college admission paranoia, weekends of frantic SAT-preparation and the realization that every single person in the universe had been having some sort of sex except me. Hello, Year of the Awkward and Shameful Virginity!**
The year of 2-7 was the year I spent every cent I owned attending everyone else’s wedding. Or engagement party. All of humanity was madly in love, planning a future…and I owned three chairs. Hello, Year of Destined to Be Alone!
The year of 3-7 was the year I had a newborn and a 4-year old at home, under one roof, in my care, all of the time. Ahem. Hello, Year of I Will Never, Ever, Have a Life Again!
I have no idea what’s in store for me this time around. Part of me is rather unsettled out about it but part of me thinks, “Uh, the year of 46 was the Year of Freakish Early Menopause. That’s a whopper. How much worse can it get?”
I think it’s probably best that I don’t think about that.
Instead, I’ll tell you about these yummy Mushroom and Chicken Marsala Bowls. I made them last week and they’re the perfect thing to cuddle up with on a chilly night, and since they’re in “bowl form,” you can easily eat your dinner on the couch while binge-watching The Making of a Murderer (or whatever you’re into these days. I am only on episode 4 of MoM, so shaddup if you know anything. Maybe not, because I think I’m quitting. Am I the only person who gets so angry watching this? I cannot binge on this series because I am constantly leaving the room in a homicidal froth. Thank GOD the X-Files re-boot begins soon. I love you, Mulder and Scully!).
It’s no accident that the mushrooms have front-billing in the title of this recipe. Chicken takes the back seat to the veggies, proportion-wise, which is unusual. Recipes for chicken marsala are usually all about the chicken, but this is a lighter, healthier dish. Don’t worry, though. It’ll still fill your belly and the mushrooms add enough heft that you really don’t feel like you’re missing out. The addition of spinach is a departure from the norm as well, but it serves the lovely purpose of making this a full meal. Grab a big bowl, spoon some whole grains into the bottom, add the marsala mixture and BOOM! Meal in a bowl.
Cooking Light magazine recommends serving this over quinoa, but I am unabashedly anti-quinoa. I don’t like it. I have tried, diligently. And yes, I do know the trick about washing it before you cook it but frankly, the stuff still tastes like soap to me. If you are into the q-stuff, go for it. I served mine over brown rice, but any whole grain will suffice.
Then again, if you’re feeling racy or have had a particularly taxing day, consider serving this over mashed potatoes or noodles. Bad days deserve white carbs. They just do.
Everyone will understand.
Mushroom and Chicken Marsala Bowls
slightly adapted from Cooking Light magazine
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 (8-ounce) bag fresh baby spinach
1 pound mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of visible fat and cut into bite-sized pieces*
1/4 cup minced shallots or onion
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
4 minced garlic cloves
1/2 cup dry Marsala wine
1/3 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
cooked brown rice, barley or quinoa
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add the spinach and cook until beginning to wilt, about a minute. Remove from pan.
Melt 1 1/2 teaspoons butter in pan along with 1 1/2 teaspoons oil. Swirl to coat. Add mushrooms and cook 8 minutes, turning to brown sides. Remove mushrooms from pan.
Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken pieces and saute about 4 minutes, turning to brown all sides. Add shallots, thyme and garlic and saute a couple of minutes. Add wine and chicken stock to pan, scraping the bottom to loosed the browned bits. Cook a couple of minutes or until the liquid is reduced by about 2/3 and is slightly thickened. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter, Dijon mustard, pepper and salt, stirring constantly until butter melts. Stir in the mushrooms and the spinach.
To serve, spoon about 2/3 cup of hot cooked brown rice, barley or quinoa into each of 4 bowls. Top evenly with the chicken/vegetable/sauce.
*If you’re really pressed for time, you can use leftover rotisserie chicken in the recipe instead of the chicken thighs. Just make the sauce, reduce it, and throw in the rotisserie chicken at the end (with the sauteed mushrooms and spinach) to warm through. Even easier and let’s face it, on dark winter nights, who doesn’t welcome a few extra minutes on the couch?
** the Year of the Awkward and Shameful Virginity proved to be impossibly hard to shake. It decided to stick around for 3 more years, just for fun and games.