Monday, November 24, 2008

Third time's a charm!

My best friend, Michelle, and her husband, Jay, came over for dinner on Friday night - after our 3rd time rescheduling this dinner (starting in August) we finally got the timing right! I made a great chicken recipe that I had had in my "to try" pile for quite some time so I pulled it out for this occassion. I let it marinate all day while I was at work (as opposed to the 2 hours suggested below) and used canola oil instead of vegetable oil.

The side dish recipe below, a baked orzo, came from one of my co-workers, the same one who handed me this recipe in the hallway a couple of weeks ago. She said she had made it recently for company and that it was a perfect recipe for when you have dinner guests. I thought it sounded kind of fun and different from the typical starch side of some kind of potatoes so I went for it. De-li-cious! My best friend even asked for the recipe after and I think we all had seconds on it! I would definitely serve this again, and much to the request of my husband and Michelle, I would make it with mushrooms this time. Yes, I was being a selfish cook who left out the mushrooms for the sheer fact that I don't really like them haha!

Chicken in Lemon Marinade

2/3 Cup vegetable oil
1/2 Cup lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 Teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 small grated onion
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon black pepper
1 Teaspoon celery salt
6 chicken breast, boneless skinless

Process 1st 8 ingredients in a blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Reserve 1/4 cup lemon mixture, and chill.

Place chicken in a shallow dish or zip-top plastic bag; pour remaining lemon mixture over chicken. Cover or seal, and chill 2 hours, turning chicken occasionally.

Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade; place chicken on a lightly greased rack in a broiler pan.

Broil 7" from heat (with electric oven door partially open) 11-12 minutes on each side or until tender, basting chicken frequently with reserved 1/4 cup lemon mixture.

Baked Orzo with Fontina and Peas

4 cups chicken broth
1 pound orzo pasta
3 tablespoons butter, plus more to grease the baking dish
1 onion, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Marsala wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces shredded fontina cheese (about 1 cup)
4 ounces diced fresh mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish.
Bring the chicken broth to a boil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the orzo and cook until almost tender, about 7 minutes. Pour the orzo and the broth into a large bowl. Set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium heat in a medium skillet. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to saute until the mushrooms are beginning to turn golden around the edges, about 7 minutes. Add the Marsala. Scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan and cook until the Marsala has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the mushroom mixture to the orzo in the large bowl. Add the cream, fontina, mozzarella, peas, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.

In a small bowl combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and dried thyme. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture on top of the pasta. Bake until golden, about 25 minutes.

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