An Occasional Drink?

Visit this web site (from the National Institute of Health) and you may be “rethinking drinking.”

http://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/

Check it out!  My only advice . . . never drink on an empty stomach.  Here’s one of my favorite recipes for just such an occasion (from Simply Recipes).

Chicken Pasta with Thyme-Mint Cream Sauce Recipe

Ingredients

      1 pound pasta, such as linguine or fettucini
      2 Tbsp olive oil
      1-1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
      Salt and freshly ground black pepper
      1/2 cup of dry white wine
      1/2 cup chicken stock
      1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
      2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
      1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
      1 teaspoon lemon zest
      2 teaspoons honey
      1 teaspoon sherry vinegar or apple cider vinegar
    1/2 teaspoon salt and more salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

1 Heat 4 quarts of salted* water in a large pot for the pasta. As the water heats, prepare the chicken. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium high. Season the chicken pieces generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the chicken pieces, spreading them out initially and then not stirring them, so they have an opportunity to brown. Once lightly browned on one side, use tongs to flip the pieces over so they brown on the second side. When pieces are browned on both sides, and just cooked through, remove to a paper towel lined plate.

2 Deglaze the pan with white wine. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock and let liquids reduce by half (turn up the heat if necessary). Add the cream, mint, thyme, lemon zest, honey, salt, and vinegar. Reduce the sauce by half again.

3 Once the pasta water is boiling, add the pasta and cook following directions on pasta package. When pasta is ready, drain and add to cream sauce when cream sauce has been reduced by half and is thick enough to coat a spoon. Add chicken to the pasta and sauce. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

* Use a teaspoon of salt for every quart of water. Some people wait until the water is boiling to add the salt. Makes little difference to me. Just make sure you get the salt in the pasta water or your pasta will be tasteless.

Serve immediately. Garnish with a little chopped fresh mint and thyme. Serves 4-6.

And, for dessert (in honor of St. Patrick’s Day this month):

IRISH CREAM CHEESECAKE

Crust Ingredients

1¾ cups finely chopped chocolate graham crackers
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling Ingredients

1 cup sugar
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
4 eggs
½ cup Irish Cream liqueur
¾ cup mini real semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

Garnish Ingredients

Whipped cream, if desired
Chocolate curls, if desired

Instructions

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine all crust ingredients in medium bowl until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press onto bottom and 1 inch up the sides of lightly greased 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

Combine sugar and cream cheese in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Continue beating adding one egg at a time, until well mixed (do not over beat). Stir in liqueur by hand.

Stir together ½ cup of chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon of flour in small bowl; gently stir into cream cheese mixture. Pour batter into crust. Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips over batter.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until center is set and firm to touch. (Cheesecake surface may be slightly cracked.) Cool 10 minutes. Loosen side of cheesecake by running knife around inside of pan. Cover, refrigerate at least 3 hours.

Pipe whipped cream over top of cheesecake and top with chocolate curls, if desired.

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