It’s a Chicken Cacciatore Kind of Day!

chicken cacciatore

It’s another frigid day here in Chicago, brutally cold weather with wind chill warnings, school closings and Artic air! You don’t have to convince me to stay inside. It’s definitely a comfort food kind of day, so a nice pot of slow cooked and braised Chicken Cacciatore it is!
fixings for chicken cacciatore Once the initial few steps are done, the browning of the chicken, sauteing your vegetables, deglazing, adding in your tomatoes, you can sit back for a couple of hours and let all the aromas fill your kitchen with comfort and warmth. Chicken Cacciatore is a classic Italian dish also referred to as hunter’s stew, I make it a few times during the winter and I just realized today that I never posted it on my blog, so here it is!

Carrots, onions, garlic, yellow and red peppers, assorted mushrooms ,olives, spices, herbs, tomatoes and wine when slow cooked and reduced makes the most delicious sauce to soak into your chicken and the bonus is, it tastes just as good if not better the next day!

chicken cacciatoreA mixture of crimini and shiitake mushrooms add nice texture and flavor to the sauce as well as oregano, basil, parsley and thyme.

chicken cacciatore This is rustic food, family style, hearty and oh so satisfying! Boil up some pasta to soak up those juices or a nice creamy polenta.

chicken cacciatore Maybe some warm crusty bread? Either way I can assure you this dish is amazing and one of my family’s absolute favorites.

chicken cacciatore

Mangia! Mangia!

Chicken Cacciatore

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, bone-in,skin on and each breast cut in half for smaller pieces
  • 8oz. mixed mushrooms, like crimini and shiitake
  • 1 onion, diced medium
  • 1 small yellow and red pepper, diced medium
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, shaved
  • pitted kalamata olives, a large handful
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 14 oz. can of tiny whole tomatoes or if not available just whole tomatoes.
  • Assorted herbs, parsley, basil, oregano and thyme
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Season chicken with salt, pepper and sprinkled oregano.
  2. Heat a heavy cast iron skillet, drizzled with olive oil.
  3. Place chicken skin side down and do not move it until it reaches a deep golden brown and it's easy to turn, brown other side for a few minutes. Remove chicken and set aside.
  4. Add vegetables, garlic, salt and pepper to taste, a few twigs of thyme, saute for 5 minutes.
  5. Add wine and let it reduce.
  6. Add chicken broth and tomatoes.
  7. Toss in 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper and chopped fresh basil.
  8. Place the chicken back into the pan and sink into the juices.
  9. Simmer on low, stove top, for a couple of hours or until chicken falls off the bone. Uncovered.
  10. Garnish with fresh parsley.
  11. Serve with cooked pasta, polenta or warm crusty bread.
http://www.prouditaliancook.com/2014/01/chicken-cacciatore-kind-day.html

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A Virtual Pot of Pasta Fagioli Soup for my Friends

As I sit in the comfort of my home taking heat and electricity for granted, I can’t stop thinking about all those who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy. Lives were lost, homes destroyed, total devastation, many still without heat and power, and to make matters worse, snow is now on the ground.
I have friends who are affected by this storm, if I were closer I’d make them all a big pot of pasta fagioli soup, it’s warm, comforting, a complete meal with crusty bread and it feeds a bunch.
I stock up on cheese rinds in the winter, ( thank you Whole Foods) I always have them on hand in my freezer, so inexpensive but makes a world of difference in flavoring your broth, it makes the best soup ever!
Ditalini, my pasta of choice!
Ingredients for my soup are;
Garlic, leeks, onions, carrots, red potato, zucchini, white beans, swiss chard, crushed tomatoes, broth, pasta and cheese rinds, rosemary and thyme.
I wish I could tell you I measure but I don’t! I start out with a big pan, drizzle the bottom with olive oil then saute the first 6 ingredients ( generous amounts of all, just 2 crushed garlic cloves though) then open up and pour in 2 cans of white beans and a 14.5 oz can of crushed tomatoes. Add your chard then fill your pot to the top with broth, homemade or boxed, and throw in 3 cheese rinds and the fresh chopped herbs.
I cook my pasta, and keep it separate, adding as much as I want into my serving bowl. I never add it to the big pot, I don’t like when it blows up really big and gets mushy.
Let it simmer for a good hour or so until veggies are tender then add a generous handful of grated cheese and stir.
I can’t be near to help those in need, but by donating to the Red Cross I feel it’s the least I can do, and so can you, here’s the link!

Linda, Stacey, Pat, Maryann and Barbara, this pot’s for you! xox

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Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf

I have to admit it was the name of this dish that first intrigued me! Sure I like chicken parmesan, so why wouldn’t I like it in a meatloaf form? I was convinced to try this after my sister-in-law from Florida gave it rave reviews recently while we were talking on Facebook.
What’s not to like, it’s tender, moist and loaded with so much flavor! You could definitely pin this under,
comfort food!
I served it with roasted veggies tossed in my favorite balsamic glaze, a delicious weekday meal it was!
What makes this meatloaf taste so good is a healthy scoop of marinara sauce mixed right into the meat,  then when it’s about 3/4 done, you spoon more marinara over the top and layer on fresh mozzarella, it’s a beautiful thing!
The husband loved it so much he wanted to eat the leftovers the very next day!

Ingredients
recipe adapted from Joelen
I used ground turkey and it was a little over a pound but you can also replace with ground chicken
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
1/2 chopped onion
2 eggs
panko crumbs, enough to just soak up the moisture
1/2 cup marinara sauce, homemade preferred, additional for top and to serve with.
3/4 cup of small cubed asiago cheese
a handful of grated romano cheese
fresh chopped basil and parsley
s&p, of course
Mix everything together and form into a loaf on a sprayed baking sheet. Bake at 375 for around 1 hour. Last 20 minutes spoon marinara over top and place fresh mozzarella slices over it. Garnish with fresh basil.

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Baked Rigatoni

My neighbors just welcomed a new baby boy into their home. Poor thing, shes been having serious back issues so the other day I walked over and brought some dinner for them. I decided to make a pan of baked rigatoni, because lets be honest there aren’t many things as comforting as a pan of baked pasta, are there? It takes less time than making a lasagne, without any sacrifice of flavor. I made this version meatless with 3 different cheese, mozzarella, ricotta with spinach and grated romano cheese, I’ve also made a meat version many many times in my life adding tiny meatballs between the layers, a big hit for a party because it all can be put together a day ahead of time and then heated right before serving. A big pan of baked rigatoni would also be a great addition to your Easter dinner, because you always need to have a little pasta, no?

I love the large ridged rigatoni it holds the sauce perfectly and visually it looks so good. The box says to cook the pasta for 14 minutes but you’ll want to under cook it since it will be baking in the oven. I cooked the one pound box for 10 minutes then drained the water and tossed the rigatoni into a bowl and gave it a quick drizzle of olive oil with a couple of ladles of marinara. Be sure to have enough marinara made because you don’t want the pasta to dry out in the baking process. If you’re buying your marinara in a jar I would buy two, but please try and make your own if you don’t normally do so, it’s such a difference!

I make my marinara very quickly using 6-8 cloves of chopped garlic sauteed in about 1/4 cup of olive oil, sometimes I add a small onion, sometimes I don’t, to that I add two 28oz cans of San Marzano whole tomatoes that have been squished beforehand, and my favorite ingredient of all time, fresh basil, lots of it! Let it simmer for 20 minutes or so.

I buttered the inside of a 13 x 9 disposable pan, ( since I was giving this dish away) spread homemade marinara sauce on the bottom and then 1/3 of the rigatoni, then with a make shift piping bag I added dollops of ricotta all around the layer of pasta as well as good sprinkling of shredded mozzarella, next added the grated romano cheese all over. Repeat 2 more times starting all over with the sauce again.

The ricotta mixture was made by folding a good handful of chopped spinach (squeezed and drained of all liquid) into a pound of fresh ricotta along with one egg, a healthy dose of grated cheese, salt and pepper.

I like to keep my baked rigatoni a little lighter by not covering the top with a layer of mozzarella, I think there’s plenty inside, but that’s just my preference.

Ready for the oven, lay a piece of foil on top and bake around 25 minutes at 360F, last 15 minutes remove the foil.

I found this bottle of wine, Rigatoni Red, I sure hope it was good because I strictly bought it for the label which I just loved, it was the perfect compliment to my dish don’t you think?

Have a great weekend, and Buon appetito!
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Comfort Food

It’s cold here today! Chicago is in the single digits and that requires some comfort food and I can’t think of a more fitting dish than Chicken with Fennel and Olives, and to make it even more comforting it’s served on top of Creamy Warm Polenta.
This is a simple rustic dish, nothing fancy, cooked in one pan and packed with flavor, I guarantee it will make you all warm and cozy inside.
I used chicken thighs but you can use whatever chicken parts you like.
Here’s the recipe.
Chicken with Fennel and Olives
6 chicken thighs
1 fennel bulb, sliced
1 onion, sliced
8 cloves of chopped garlic
1 14 oz can of cherry tomatoes ( or diced)
Jumbo green pitted olives
Parsley, thyme, oregano and basil
White wine
In a large oven proof skillet brown up your chicken which has been seasoned with salt and pepper until it has a nice deep golden color, remove and drain the fat. Drizzle in some olive oil and saute the garlic, onion and fennel and then deglaze with a healthy splash of white wine. Add in your herbs, salt and pepper then place the chicken back in. Spread your olives all around then place the pan in a preheated 375F oven for around 45 minutes uncovered.
Creamy Polenta
1 1/2 cups of half and half, cream or milk
1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
3/4 cup of polenta, I used the instant kind
1 tablespoon butter
Grated parmesan ( a nice size handful) and chopped basil
In a deep sauce pan heat your milk and broth until boiling then whisk in the polenta until it starts to bubble and splatter, be careful! Take it off the stove add in butter, cheese, snipped basil, salt and pepper to taste. Tastes best when served immediately, if it thickens up just add more liquid to loosen it up.
Enjoy your weekend, we’ll be home Sunday rooting for the Bears! Go Bears!
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Neck Bones and Gravy

A big pot of neck bones simmering on the stove is comfort food for my husband. I usually make this for him about once a year, sometimes with pasta, or sometimes just with string beans.

Neck bones to us is like Italian soul food, not fancy by any means, but gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling every time you eat them as you recall memories and smells of your childhood.

This is truely recession food, cheap eats that cost only a few bucks and feeds many.

Having run 6 miles that morning my husband justified the meal that was to come. He quickly called his brother and invited him over for dinner who became giddy with excitement. I cooked up some bucatini, made a salad, and warmed up some nice crusty bread.

No fancy china here, just two brothers sharing a meal together recalling memories of their mom.

The table wouldn’t be complete without a bowl for the picked over bones. You can get my family recipe here, but warning, you might need to wear a bib!

Of course there’s always room for dessert, and if you haven’t tried
Gina De Palma’s Ricotta Pound Cake you’re missing out. I’ve made this several times and it’s always a hit.
Buon Appetito
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Dinner for Two with an Italian Turkey Meatloaf


I brought this little care package over to the new parents the other day, a little comfort food to nourish them from lack of sleep, besides, it was great excuse for seeing my sweet little Granddaughter again!

I used ground turkey for this meatloaf, but you can certainly substitute ground beef. For 2lbs of turkey I used 2 eggs, a nice handful of grated romano cheese, 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 of a chopped onion, 1/2 cup of grated carrot, 1 T. of basil pesto, 1/4 cup of white wine, 1/2 cup of diced fire roasted tomatoes, (drained of juice) panko breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup of small diced provolone or fontinella cheese, salt and pepper.

I baked 2 individual casseroles for my son and DIL and even had enough for me and the hubby for our dinner. Bake at 375F for about 1 1/2 hours or when thermometer reaches correct temperature. The sauce on top was a quick roasted red pepper sauce made by blending in a food processor, leftover roasted peppers, a small amount of marinara and a clove of garlic. If you haven’t tried a meatloaf with turkey yet you really should it’s so good!

I’m still getting some zucchini from my garden so I made this and it was delicious! Zucchini layered with roasted tomatoes, basil, panko breadcrumbs, and feta.


I’ve been seeing these square cut potatoes all over in the blogosphere, they’re called potato dominoes, check out Steamy Kitchen for a great step by step on how to make these. For mine, I decided to add a sweet potato along with the baking potato for a different twist, olive oil instead of butter, fresh snipped rosemary, salt and pepper. I will be making these again after I perfect my mandoline skills!

Enjoy your weekend, and Buon Appetito!

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