Category Archives: What’s 4 Dinner Solutions

Friday Recipe Exchange: Braised Italian Chicken

Braised Chicken

I’m travelling this weekend, but didn’t want to leave you without a recipe exchange two weeks in a row. This is a repeat from several years ago (have we really been doing it that long?). My life is pulling me in twelve different directions right now and only a few do I have control over. That probably means between now and the big holidays, we’ll have more repeats. Once I move into my new house, I’ll be back into the cooking groove…and in a better kitchen that doesn’t make feel all stabby and want to throw things.

I have a couple of recipes that I made recently that I’ll try and put together for next week. But no promises, if next week unfolds anything like this week.

No Bixby update this week, but a few pictures of how much he’s grown, here. There is no hiding his Great Dane lineage now. BTW, in case you didn’t know it, Mrs. J works at the local shelter and JeffreyW always has lots of photos of the residents. This is a particularly cute bunch.

On to the recipes:

Chicken is our default theme tonight.

First up, Quick and Easy Barbecue Chicken, recipe here.

Grilled Lime Chicken, and additional marinade ideas, here.

JefferyW is fond of Chicken Marsala, photos and recipe here.

I’ll be out trick or treating with eight year olds tonight. What are you scaring up for the weekend? Cooking up anything good in your cauldron?

Tonight’s featured recipe:

Braised Italian Chicken

  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin on
  • Olive oil
  • Flour
  • Dried: basil, oregano, rosemary, cayenne pepper, pepper, salt, thyme

Sauce:

  • 6-8 green onions, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini cubed
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 4-6 button mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic or equivalent
  • 1/2 cup good red wine
  • 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 14 oz can of diced tomatoes or equivalent (I use unsalted)
  • 2-15oz cans of tomato sauce (again, I use unsalted)
  • 2 tsp dried basil (or fresh equivalent)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (opt)
  • Pinch of rosemary
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 10-16 oz of favorite pasta (I like angel hair with this dish)

Bowl, Saucepan, Skillet, Baking dish or Dutch oven

In a bowl, mix together about 2 cups of flour and a good amount of the spices. Wash and dry thighs. Dredge in flour and fry in large skillet in about 1/2 cup of olive oil (I start with skin side down and do not touch it until it moves easily when I nudge it with a fork, then I flip it). When browned on both sides, remove to a plate with paper towels to drain a bit. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of oil and add diced vegetables, cook until the onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute, then add wine, stirring to deglaze the pan. Add remaining ingredients, stirring to mix well. Let simmer, covered, on the stovetop while chicken browns.

In baking dish, add enough sauce to come 1/2 way up the side of the baking dish. Nestle chicken in the baking dish, skin side up. Now here is the important part, ladle additional sauce AROUND the chicken as needed, but DO NOT cover the top. Leave enough room for the browned top of the chicken to remain above the sauce. This lets it braise and the skin still stay crispy. Bake, UNCOVERED, for 1 hour and 30 minutes. At the 15 minute mark, check to make sure the sauce is barely bubbling, if it is boiling, reduce heat to 300 degrees. Chicken is done when it gives easily, but not falling off the bone.

Leave remaining sauce on the stove to simmer on low while the chicken cooks, you’ll probably want extra for the pasta. Prepare pasta just before chicken is done.  Serve with salad or green beans and a nice deep red wine.

Prep time is a lot on this meal, so I suggest it for weekends or special guests. I also doubled the sauce and froze 1/2 for another meal.

Tonight we also get a glossary:  What is braisingWhat is deglazing?

That’s if for this week. Have a safe Halloween. Boo! – TaMara

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Magical Fruit

DSC_9264 (1600x1060)Have I mentioned that I’m only 9 years old?

Shrimp, Ham, and Kale in a Garlic, Lemon, and Butter Sauce

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We watched an episode on The Food Network where a New Orleans joint offers a dish called Shrimp Magazine – named for the street where the restaurant is sited.  I watched the chef prepare the dish on the video a few times and figured I had it down.  A few days pass and I am less sure but I forge ahead.  The only recipe a search turned up looked close but seemed a little off from my memory.  The chef dredged the shrimp in seasoned flour and sauteed them in butter, turning once to brown both sides and then started adding all the rest of the ingredients:  Artichoke hearts, diced ham, tons of garlic, lemon zest and juice, grated Parmesan, green onions, chopped basil, white wine, and salt and pepper – serving it all over angel hair pasta.  I went with kale instead of artichoke hearts and didn’t add the basil.

I knew the shrimp wouldn’t like being with the kale as it cooked down so I removed it to a dish as soon as it was done and only added it back to the pan with the cooked pasta to toss prior to plating.  I used white wine to help break down the kale and added lemon juice and zest along with salt and pepper.  I minced at least six cloves of garlic, using some with the shrimp as it cooked, the rest after the shrimp were removed, along with a bit of olive oil.

Everything worked pretty well although I wish the ham had a better dice, I chopped some thin sliced ham that helped the flavor but did nothing for texture.  I think next time I may use crispy bacon lardons.  Mmm… bacon!

Oh, and I need a better name for it.

 

Dinner Menu: Kid Friendly Chili-Mac

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JeffreyW’s Cornbread Muffins. His recipe:  I always use the recipe on the round box that Quaker yellow corn meal comes in as a base, these also have cheddar cheese, minced fresh jalapeno, and a thinly sliced green onion, white part and all.  A half recipe yielded 4 muffins. I used 1 whole egg in the half recipe, and about 1/4 cup of shredded cheese.

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Sorry I have been absent of late. Work has been busy and the deadline of another project I’m working on is looming, so I’ve barely seen my kitchen. Not to mention it’s fall in Colorado and I want to be outdoors whenever possible.

I doubt there will be a Bixby update this week, but he is doing well and growing daily, though he still has not caught up to his ears or his feet. Standing on his back legs he is 53 inches.

This menu tonight is from my Kid-Friendly series. I loved chili-mac as a kid and it’s still one of those quick comfort foods I make when it needs to be easy and tasty.

  1. Chili-Mac
  2. Corn Muffins
  3. Raw Vegetable Tray
  4. Apples

Chili-Mac

  • 12 oz elbow macaroni
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • ½ green pepper diced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can kidney beans
  • 1 tsp to 2 tbsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 qt. saucepan, skillet

Cook macaroni according to package directions.  Drain.  While macaroni is cooking, heat oil in skillet, sauté onions & peppers.  Add hamburger, brown & crumble. Add hamburger, tomatoes, beans, chili powder & salt to drained macaroni.  Stir, let simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.

Corn Muffins

( you can’t beat those 33¢ Jiffy mixes, but this is a good muffin recipe)

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 egg (well beaten)
  • 8 oz can creamed corn
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

muffin pan, paper muffin cups

Mix dry ingredients, make well in the center, add egg, corn, milk & oil.  Stir until just moistened, don’t over mix.  Add paper muffin cups to pan, fill each 2/3 full.  Bake at 425° for 15-20 minutes.

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Variations on a (Chili) Theme

DSC_9236 (1600x1060)Mmm… chorizo chili.  This one also has ground beef, an onion, a can of tomato bits, and pinto beans.  It’s a basic chili made with a sauce of dried chilis that had been simmered and soaked then pureed in a blender with a few cloves of garlic.  Push the puree through a strainer with a spatula and discard the last little bit.  Plenty of chili leftovers, but I have a plan…DSC_9244 (1600x1060)Mmm… chili dogs!  I have these garnished with minced onions, green jalapenos, and red ripe Anaheim peppers – some of the last we will get from our container garden out on the front patio.DSC_9249 (1600x1060)Mmm… not quite Cincinnati chili.  This has everything that the five way chili has but isn’t distributed the same way.  The Cincinnati chili is seasoned differently, too.  Theirs has cinnamon, allspice, chocolate and other stuff I won’t try to replicate.DSC_9251 (1600x1060)Mmm… chili cheese fries!  This dish is finished with a couple dashes of hot sauce.  Mrs J had tater tots instead of fries but she scarfed them down before I could get a picture.  Here are a couple of puppies instead:DSC00628 (1600x1060)

Green Peppers!

DSC_9226 (1600x1060)We had a couple of pepper bushes out with the tomatoes this year.  I forget the variety names but there was at least one bell pepper and one or two Giant Marconis.  The marconis are pretty much identical to a basic green bells although they tend to be longer.  It’s threatening to frost tonight so Mrs J brought in everything of any size.  Naturally, I had to find a stuffed pepper recipe.  Not sure who Chef John is but this was a pretty good recipe.  I used a wild/long grain rice box mix instead of plain white rice, and my can of tomato bits included green chilies,DSC_9232 (1600x1060)I wasn’t able to find a sure-fire side for stuffed peppers given that the ingredients cover all the usual food groups.  I decided to go with the cucumber and tomato salad we’ve had going for a week or so.  I use a seasoned rice vinegar with salt and pepper on it, nothing fancy.  This used up a few of the peppers but we had plenty left over:DSC_9227 (1600x1060)I chopped the rest and froze them on baking trays and then transferred them to a great big plastic freezer bag.  It’s nice having a couple of big freezers to handle the garden bounty this way.

Roasted Garlic Mac & Cheese

DSC_9212 (1600x1060)Mrs J was calling for mac and cheese today to go with the chicken thighs she brought up from the basement freezer.  I looked around and settled for a recipe Google served up that looked nice.  I have to mention that the roasting head of garlic really smelled good this morning as I was gathering all the ingredients.

Toasting the panko with butter was a nice touch but I nearly let it get away from me.  Only a few of the crumbs turned black before I removed the sauce pan from the burner – the toasting was quick once the pan reached temperature.  Don’t forget to reserve some of the pasta water, it sure did look soupy going into the casserole but it needed every drop.DSC_9205 (1600x1060)The recipe mentioned ramekins and I remembered to fill these two.  I set all the dishes on a baking tray, the big casserole (13″x9″) didn’t bubble over but these little fellows did.

Pizza Pr0n – Many Meats

DSC_9191 (1600x1060)I started the dough for this yesterday, 2 cups of bread flour, one cup water, 1/4t tsp yeast, a pinch of sugar and a dash of salt.  It was pretty well inflated by noon, I dumped it into a pizza pan and massaged it into shape while the oven preheated to 425-ish.  It par-baked for eight minutes and then I pulled it to furnish with toppings.  I had some leftover roasted plum tomatoes that went on first in lieu of a sauce, sprinkled on shredded mozzarella, sparingly, and then piled on the meats.  Italian sausage, already browned and drained, crispy bacon pieces, fried ham, and prosciutto that was tossed in the bacon grease to brown a bit.

Mrs J’s side got pickled onion rings, I added mushrooms and chopped ripe olives.  I gave it another sprinkle of mozz and slid it back into the oven, it needed another ten minutes or so.  It must have been better than usual because Mrs J went on and on about how good it was.  I thought it one of my better efforts – she wasn’t just blowing smoke.DSC_9193 (1600x1060)

Dinner Menu: Mambo Italiano Edition

Spaghetti and Meatballs2

Going old school tonight.  I thought you may still have some zucchini and tomatoes that needed to be used up and this menu does both.  Growing up, spaghetti was a weekly occurrence.  I’m not sure where my mom learned to make it, because it is my dad’s half of the family that is Italian, but it was always a hit at our house.  Over the years we’ve all played with different variations, but this is pretty close to the original. Whether it was at a weekly family meal or the Christmas dinner at my Gram’s, this basic sauce ruled.  And the good thing is, it is simple to modify depending on your tastes.  If you want to spice things up, add 1/4 to 1/2 lb of spicy Italian sausage and reduce the ground beef by as much.

Quick, easy and freezes well, I usually make double so I have some on hand for quick dinners.  Trust me, you will never find any jar sauce in my house.  Ever.  If you’d like to have meatballs instead, recipe is here.

On the board tonight:

  1. Spaghetti w/Meat Sauce
  2. Zucchini Italiano
  3. Crusty Italian Bread
  4. Sherbet or even better, Gelato

Spaghetti w/Meat Sauce

  • 9 – 12 oz pasta of choice (I like angel hair for this recipe)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 tsp. crushed garlic
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 tomatoes, diced (or 14 oz can diced tomatoes)
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 tsp dried basil, crushed*
  • 3 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp rosemary, crushed
  • 1 carrot, finely grated or 1/2 tsp sugar (these reduce the acidity of the sauce and bring out the spices – trust me on this one)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

2 saucepans and large skillet

In skillet, heat oil, sauté pepper, onion, garlic.  Add hamburger and cook thoroughly.  Add tomato paste and 1 tsp ea of crushed basil, oregano and rosemary, mix well.   In saucepan, add remaining ingredients and bring to a low boil, reduce heat, add meat mixture and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Cook pasta according to directions, drain well and serve with sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Zucchini Italiano

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ½  tsp oregano, crushed
  • ½  tsp basil, crushed
  • 4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

medium skillet

Clean and slice zucchini, heat oil in skillet, add zucchini, garlic and spices. Stir-fry over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon water and let steam until zucchini is tender.  Toss with parmesan and serve.

*CRUSHING Spices – when using dry spices, to get the best flavor, you should crush them, either by rubbing them in your hand or using a mortar and pestle before adding them to a recipe.

Shopping List:

  • 9 – 12 oz pasta
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 tomatoes, diced (or 14 oz can diced tomatoes)
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 carrot
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • Crusty Italian Bread
  • Sherbet or  Gelato

Also: olive oil, crushed garlic, dried basil, dried oregano, rosemary, salt & pepper

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Originally published Oct 2010 copyright What’s 4 Dinner Solutions Cookbook Spring Edition

Friday Recipe Exchange: Chicken Buttermilk Biscuit Pie

Chicken Biscuit Pie_Snapseed1

They were predicting snow today, it did not show up, but it’s unseasonably cold. SNOW. I am not ready. But it does put me in the mood for cool weather recipes. Soups and tonight’s featured recipe, easy Chicken and Buttermilk Biscuit Pot Pie. 

Life has been hectic, I’ve been busy with house hunting, work and of course the puppy, so I’ve kept meals simple. I haven’t linked to it in a while, but I have a bunch of tips for keeping meals quick, easy and full of flavor right here, which may come in handy now that school and activities are back in full swing.

For the dog lovers, Bixby updates are here and here. He’s now 33 34 lbs and so smart, he’s been a breeze to train.

On to the recipes. Soup is what I miss most in summer, so as soon as the temperatures dip, I break out the soup recipes. Here are three for you:

Cream of Chicken Soup (recipe here).

Spicy Black Bean Soup (recipe and full dinner menu here)

Chicken Tortilla Soup (recipe here)

What’s the weather like in corner of the planet? What’s on your plate for the weekend? Hit the comments and share some of your favorite fall recipes.

For tonight’s featured recipe, I brought together some of my favorite comfort foods into one dish. If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, you can transfer the chicken mixture to a baking dish and top with biscuits.

Chicken and Biscuits_Snapseed2

Chicken and Buttermilk Biscuit Pot Pie

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cups sliced carrots (frozen ok)
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 large Yukon Gold Potatoes, scrubbed and diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 cup peas (frozen ok)

Set a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat

In a large bowl, combine the chicken with salt, pepper and olive oil. Sear chicken in pan, stirring occasionally, until the chicken begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside in a separate bowl. Add butter to the pan and, when melted, add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the stock, browned chicken, potatoes, and spices.

Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce heat so that the sauce just simmers, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken and potatoes are tender…about 25-35 minutes.

While it simmers, prepare Buttermilk Biscuits, below.

Just before adding biscuits, fold peas into chicken mixture and then remove the pan from the heat.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place the biscuits on top of the chicken and gravy, with 6 biscuits around the edge of the pan and the remaining 4 biscuits in the center (if you have a left over biscuit or two, bake on a separate baking sheet). Be sure the biscuits do not touch, so they cook thoroughly. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter and bake until the biscuits are golden brown and flaky…14 to 15 minutes. Allow the pot pie to cool briefly before serving. Makes 4-6 servings.

Buttermilk Biscuits:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 4 tbsp powdered buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp melted butter to brush on formed biscuits

Mix dry ingredients, make a center hole in the dry ingredients and add in shortening and milk.  Blend together, then knead 10-12 strokes on a floured surface, roll out to ½” thick, cut into 8-10 biscuits.

That’s it for this week. Have great weekend. – TaMara

 

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copyright 2014 What’s 4 Dinner Solutions Cookbook: Spring

 

 

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