Chicken Cacciatore

Okay – I feel better now :) I made a dish that didn’t fail; granted it’s a tried and true recipe and the previous ones were ones that I hadn’t tried before. Even so, I feel like less of a failure and I feel that it’s relatively post-worthy.

red pot Look at one of my pretty Christmas gifts from my husband! A gorgeous red Le Creuset dutch oven. I’m so in love with it. I’ve been wanting one for quite a while and he remembered…I wasn’t picky about the color, but I do like red things for my kitchen so again, he remembered!

I’m not very well-versed in cookware like this, so I still have a lot to learn in terms of what I can and cannot cook in it. I figure “low and slow” is a good mantra for this pot – soups, stews, and dishes that need at least a good 30-45 minutes to meld together. I am proud of the fact, however, that I remembered that it’s a coated cast iron pot – meaning that you need to wear oven mitts whenever dealing with it or else you risk some major burns.  This is also a step in the right direction for me, as I’m that person that will carelessly forget when a pan has been in the oven, and will accidentally grab it with my bare hands when I’m ready to serve it (my husband will vouch for me on this one).

Anyways – it’s winter time. It’s pep band season. We’re working a lot, and to save a little bit of cash, we need dinners that are going to last us a while so we’re not stopping at the store for a quick meal or even *ugh* fast food. Dinners that are still delicious and (relatively) healthy, but still stick to the ribs to keep us warm. Know what I mean? I thought about something to cook this week with my new pot, and immediately thought of chicken cacciatore!

Chicken cacciatore is “hunter-style” chicken; chicken with mushrooms, onion, and tomatoes. It’s a hearty dish that fills you up, goes a long way and tastes amazing. The recipe that I based my dish off of, however, doesn’t include mushrooms! I think I’ll have to make a note in my cookbook for next time.

Chicken Cacciatore

adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

  • 4 boneless chicken thighs, cut in half
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, quartered (or 4-6 tenders, halved)
  • salt and pepper (just a sprinkle of each)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (based on your preference)
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth/stock
  • 3 tbsp drained capers
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  1. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. On a plate or in a shallow bowl, dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat.
  2. In a large heavy saute pan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and saute just until they’re just brown (~5 minutes). Do not crowd the pan; feel free to brown the chicken in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and wait two minutes. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute until the onion softens. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the wine and simmer until the liquid reduced by half (~3-5 minutes). Add the entire can of diced tomatoes (including the juice), broth, capers and oregano. Stir to combine.
  5. Return the chicken to the pan and coat it in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until all the chicken is cooked through and the flavors have melded together.
  6. Serve hot, sprinkled with basil and with pasta if desired.

cacciatore

As I said in the recipe, you can serve with or without pasta. This makes a lot of sauce and leftovers reheat really well. I had mine with a piece of baguette from work on the side to pick up any last sauce that was leftover in the dish.

I cannot recommend this recipe enough this time of year – it really warms you up and sticks to your ribs!  Delicious Italian food in the dead of winter. How can you go wrong!? Enjoy :)

 

Out of Practice

I am sad to admit that in slightly out of practice in the kitchen lately. I’ve had two dinner fails in a week – two! – and my husband is on a new shift, so I’m readjusting to the concept of “cooking for leftovers” once again. I feel as though its like a game of baseball…even my Christmas cookies didn’t turn out right (my cookie press broke midway through making spritz cookies :-( )

On the flip side, though, Santa brought me a beautiful Le Crueset Dutch oven for Christmas! And Grandma bought us a new rice cooker, which is great, seeing as rice is the one food i just cannot seem to get right! Especially brown rice…

I promise that I haven’t forgotten about you all – I just seem to be in a slump of sorts. I’m also considering starting “fresh” in my blog reader to get some new inspiration. Thus, fear not! I’ll be simmering again shortly!

Lemon Parmesan Tortellini

One of the first cooking blogs that I ever started reading was Stephanie Cooks.  Stephanie’s tastes are very similar to my own and I really like her down-to-earth, simple writing style. Her recipes are easy to follow and really user-friendly, too. And, I can’t help but love that she’s also a teacher! :)

I too am not the biggest fan of cream sauces, – I feel that they can become extremely ‘heavy’ and almost a little to decadent. The opposite goes for my husband – he loves them and will be the first to admit that I do not cook with them enough! I decided to trust Stephanie’s judgement on the consistency and flavor of this sauce; since I love lemon 24/7, I figured this would be a good compromise for dinner.

Lemon Parmesan Tortellini

adapted from Stephanie Cooks

 

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup broth
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound tortellini
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  1. Heat up a pot of hot water to boil.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, heat up the olive oil. Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the broth and turn up the heat to high. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the cream, lemon juice and zest, and Italian seasoning. Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Once you’ve got your sauce going and the water is boiling, cook the tortellini (according to the package directions).
  5. After about 10 minutes, add the parmesan cheese to the sauce and stir to combine, allowing the cheese to melt. Add the peas, stirring constantly so that they begin to thaw. Add the tortellini to the sauce as they finish cooking. Toss and serve.

 

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As you can see, I added peas to the original recipe to get a vegetable into the main dish. You can definitely leave these out if you wish! This dish was filling and decadent, without being too heavy, as some cream sauces tend to do. The lemon in the cream sauce takes it to the next level and makes this meal really shine on a cold winter’s night. It also came together fairly quickly, which you know I never complain about :)

If you’ve been an avid fan of my cooking, I definitely recommend you head on over to Stephanie Cooks! You won’t be disappointed.

Mediterranean Chicken with Roasted Garlic Orzo

Hey look – I’m posting a recipe! Imagine that :)

I hope you all are doing well. Sorry it’s been so long! I’m finally getting back into the swing of things. For real this time, I swear!

Chicken, pan-roasted with herbs, is a perfect compliment to garlicky pasta and vegetables. You can’t really ever go wrong with a combination like that. It’s great comfort food for when the weather is starting to change and you want something to savor after a long day. This dish has a great amount of flavor to it and really isn’t too complicated to make – it just uses a few pots and pans. However – please make sure that you read through the entire recipe first, so that everything is timed relatively well and that you have all the ingredients you need!


 

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Mediterranean Chicken with Roasted Garlic Orzo

adapted from For the Love of Cooking and Epicurious

For the chicken:

  • Zest and juice from 1 large lemon (about 2 tbsp juice)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp fresh minced parsley (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, fat removed
  • 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts (if desired)
  • 2 tbsp feta cheese (if desired)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (if desired)
  • Lemon wedges (if desired)

For the orzo:

  • 5 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves (or 1 tbsp dried)
  • 1 cup orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  1. In a large Ziploc bag or glass dish (with lid), combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, and herbs. Add the chicken breasts, then seal/cover and let marinate for at least 30-1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 450*. Tightly wrap the unpeeled garlic cloves in foil so that it makes a little pouch. Place in middle of oven and roast for about 25 minutes. Carefully unwrap garlic and let cool slightly. Remove skin from cloves and mash into a paste. Transfer garlic paste to a bowl and stir in butter and parsley.
  3. Reduce the oven to 375*. Coat an OVEN-PROOF saute pan with cooking spray and heat over med-high heat. Add the chicken breasts to the HOT pan and cook until brown, about 2-3 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Flip the chicken over and place the saute pan into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Keep the marinade, as you’ll need it for later.
  4. As the chicken bakes, begin your vegetables. Caramelize the diced onion by heating a sauté pan over med-low heat with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. (Note – If the pan and/or onion start to get a little dry, add a little bit of water and toss to coat). Continue cooking until the onions are nice and caramelized. Once the onions are just about ready, get water boiling for your orzo.
  5. To your onions, add the grape tomatoes and cook until they’re about to burst (about 5 minutes). Add the baby spinach then season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste. Check on your chicken in the oven; pour the remaining marinade into the pan, and place back into the oven. Continue baking for 5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from the oven and let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing thinly.
  6. The water should be boiling now; cook the orzo until tender and reserve about 1/4 cup cooking water. Drain orzo well and add to garlic mixture with enough reserved cooking water to melt butter and prevent orzo from sticking together. Season orzo with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve by placing a big scoop of orzo into a bowl. Add the vegetables, followed by the chicken. If desired, top with some toasted pine nuts, feta cheese, and fresh parsley. Use some lemon wedges to add a even more lemon flavored, if you wish.

 


 

I feel that this dish was ‘timed right’. Everything seemed to be done at once, and it was a dish were if I needed to walk away and put the wash into the dryer (or some other quick chore), I could do so without anything burning. It was very low maintenance, which was perfect for a Monday evening meal.

It tasted so good that I even hid the leftovers in the back of the fridge, so that I could take them for lunch the next day (my husband takes the majority of our leftovers – I’m not much of a fan of them, but when they’re good, they’re oh-so-good and I have to fight for ‘em).

 

CSA ‘ 14: Weeks 16-17

Alright, alright.

I KNOW! I’m a slacker.

But at least I’m starting to be creative in the kitchen again – give me some credit here! And marching season is officially over so I’m a little less occupied with writing drill, football games, and such. ANYWAY…we’re in the tail end of CSA season and have one more box to go after this post!

Week 16

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  • cauliflower
  • Swiss chard
  • Brussel sprouts – roasted with olive oil and topped with salt, pepper & balsamic vinegar
  • cayenne peppers
  • tomatoes
  • Fresno peppers
  • shallots
  • potatoes – Perfect for beef stew
  • onions
  • ARTICHOKES – how cool is that?!
  • pie pumpkin

Week 17

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Not sure how a filter got put on this one…I think it was late at night?

  • zucchini and squash
  • red sweet peppers – Perfect for sausage and peppers on a Sunday afternoon
  • potatoes
  • kale – I used this in a recipe for risotto instead of baby spinach
  • cauliflower
  • green and purples peppers (and a poblano, too)
  • Brussel sprouts – roasted with olive oil and topped with salt, pepper & balsamic vinegar
  • celery
  • onions – French onion soup, anyone?
  • tomato

One more week to go before it’s back to purchasing our weekly fruits and veggies. It’s hard to believe…and with the summer that we had I’m still thankful for the variety that we were able to receive from the farm.

Anything fun in your CSA this week?

 

 

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

This post is excruciatingly belated – partly because I’m behind in blogging, and partly because I wanted to wait until the weather started to turn to post this recipe. Thanks to my husband, I’ve grown to really love and appreciate having soup for dinner. It makes great leftovers and is a satisfying meal; with my culinary ADD, the more veggies and herbs, the better! :) Thus it’s now fall and I’m *finally* ready for soups and stews.

I came across this recipe back in August, when my CSA was chock-full of tomatoes and eggplant. Especially eggplant. I had a Sunday afternoon to play around in my kitchen, and I decided to make this soup ahead of time to freeze for cooler weather. I’m thankful that I did – this soup really hit the spot during our first chilly week up here!

 

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 3 pounds roma tomatoes,cored and cut in half
  • 1/2 lb carrots, sliced into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 10 cloves garlic (cut it back a bit if you like)
  • 4 tbsp
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • cilantro – for serving
  • rustic bread – for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees . Make sure that you have two racks in your oven, towards the middle.
  2. On a baking sheet, toss together the tomatoes carrots, garlic, and half of the oil. Spread into a single layer and arrange the tomatoes with cut sides down. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. On another baking sheet, toss together the eggplant, chickpeas, curry powder, and the rest of the oil. Spread in a single layer.
  4. Place both sheets in oven, putting the tomato mixture on the higher rack. Roast until the veggies are tender for 45-50 minutes, tossing each mixture halfway through.
  5. Remove baking sheets from oven. Using tongs, peel off the skins from the tomatoes & discard the skins. Transfer the tomato mixture into a large pot and puree with an immersion blender (if you don’t have one, use a food processor or blender). Thin with 2-3 cups of water; add eggplant mixture and continue to blend. Add an additional cup of water if desired.
  6. Turn on heat to medium-high and bring the soup to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with cilantro and with a side of crusty bread.
Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Because of the chickpeas, this soup is ridiculously filling – thus a little goes a long way! Since I had made it ahead of time and froze it, the soup was a snap to defrost and eat on a chilly Monday. The cilantro adds a nice touch to it, and of course we ate it with some fresh bread!

While the ingredients may be a little out of ordinary, they are all things that can be found in your local grocery store (or CSA). You could even save yourself the step of peeling tomatoes by using canned tomatoes; just roast the garlic with the chickpeas.

Oh yeah – I realized after the fact that this soup is also vegan! :) So, hooray for a satisfying soup that is filling, nutritious, and contains no animal products whatsoever (even though we all know that I am borderline meatatarian). Try this – you won’t be disappointed!