Go To Chicken

We all have a “go to” recipe.  It’s a must for the days when the evening gets away from you, for when you are trying to do too many things at once, for when cooking seems like too much.  This chicken is so incredibly easy, so incredibly tasty.  I’m sure you’ll add it to your “go to” list as well.  PS – This is not healthy my friends, just a warning.

Ingredients:

2 sticks butter
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 tsp salt
4 tsp minced garlic
4 Tbs worcesteshire sauce (such as Lea & Perrins)
4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
4 whole chicken legs (original recipe calls for 24 whole chicken thighs, but that’s too much for us. I’ve adjusted it to please the adults, by adding the thighs, as well the kids, who get the drummies)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450°.  Line baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Melt butter in a saucepan.  Add lemon juice, salt, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce and stir.  Set aside.

With metal tongs, dip chicken one by one into the butter mixture and place on baking sheets.  Once all of the chicken is coated and on the baking sheet, take a pastry brush and give them another coating of mixture.

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, turning them over and basting one more time after about 15 minutes.  For more color, turn on the broiler for a couple of minutes.  Remove when golden brown.  Serve immediately with rice or potatoes.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Chardonnay
Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese
Sauvignon Blanc

Serves 4 – 6

Total time:  40 minutes

Go To Chicken

Go To Chicken

*Derived from Ree Drummond’s Spicy Roasted Chicken Legs

Another Weeknight Pasta

I know, I can hear everyone now, “Another weeknight pasta?!  How many weeknight pastas does one needs?  Aren’t they really all the same??”  Like Sugar Skulls, I can never have to many weeknight pasta recipes.  Somehow, there is always a little twist.  And quite frankly, everyone has those, “Oh man, I don’t want to make dinner, nor do I know what to make for dinner” moments.  Weeknight pasta is the perfect solution and it’s simple!  I don’t like simple – said no one ever.

Ingredients:

8 oz uncooked pasta (any small shape that you’d like, I used a mix of what I had on hand)
1 Tbs olive oil (such as my new fave, garlic extra virgin olive oil by Sciabica’s)
1 lb lean ground beef (I use 90%, but 80% is great, too.  Or sub with chicken)
1/2 onion, minced
2 tsp dried oregano (if you haven’t tried LiteHouse freeze-dried herbs, I urge you to.  Run, don’t walk, to your local market and check out all of the options they have)
1 tsp minced garlic (as always, pre-minced, such as Spice Island)
28 oz crushed tomatoes (I love Cento)
2 cups beef broth (helps boost that meaty flavor)
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste (yes, you finally get to use the WHOLE can!!)
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
Parmesan cheese for topping.

Preparation:

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil to medium high.  Add beef, onion, and garlic.  Cook until onions are translucent.  Add crushed tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, oregano, salt, and sugar.  Stir well.  Reduce heat; simmer, covered, for 20 – 25 minutes.  Drain pasta and add back to the pot.  When sauce is done, slowly add sauce to pasta, stirring to mix thoroughly.  Top with pasta and serve with warm, crusty bread.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Total time:  About 40 minutes

Serves 6

Another Weeknight Pasta

Another Weeknight Pasta

*Original Serves-4 Recipe

Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken with Mushroom Marsala Sauce

I came across this recipe on Eating Well.  My first thought, “Who does not like chicken wrapped in prosciutto.”  Just so we’re clear:  Wrapped.  In.  Prosciutto.  This is taking chicken thighs, which have about a million ways to be  yum, and wrapping them in prosciutto.  That’s like taking bacon and wrapping . . .  well, ANYTHING.  But saltier and tastier.  Then you’ve got the mushrooms.  Mushrooms and sauce are amazing.  And yes, of course, I made mashed potatoes.  While this dish came together in at least 45 minutes, but more like an hour, as opposed to the 35 minute “total time” suggestion from Eating Well, it was still amazing.  The hubs even commented that he didn’t realize he was coming home to a 5 Star Meal.  Today is Veterans Day, and I’m a Veteran, of course you’re getting a 5 Star meal!

Ingredients:

4 boneless, skinless thighs
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
4 thin slices prosciutto (If you are not familiar with prosciutto, accept that it will quickly become the higher-power of your bacon God)
4 tsp olive oil – divided (use extra-virgin if you’d like)
1 large shallot, halved and thinly sliced
1 Tbs finely chopped fresh oregano plus 1 tps, divided (ok, I don’t always have time to mess with fresh herbs, especially with the wonderful freeze-dried options, such as those available by Lighthouse)
8 oz sliced cremini mushrooms (I used 10 oz pre-sliced because that’s how it came and I’m not tossing out 2 oz of pre-sliced mushrooms)
1/2 cup Marsala or dry sherry (the best advice I can offer here, if you aren’t willing to drink it, don’t cook with it.  Look in the wine section of your grocery store.  Avoid “cooking” anything wines .  Cooking wines tend to be higher in sodium and less flavorful.)
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth (you want to go with a nice ‘meaty’ broth here.  There are so many that as you pour they look watered down.  My tip, if they look watered down, they are, and that will translate to your dish.My personal favorite is Pacific Foods – Organic)
2 tsp cornstarch

Preparation:

Sprinkle chicken thighs with 1/4 tsp pepper and wrap each thigh with a slice of prosciutto.

Heat 2 tsp olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides and cooked through, 4 – 5 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate; wrap with foil to keep warm.

Reduce heat to medium and add remaining 2 tsp oil, shallot, and 1 tbs oregano to pan.  Cook, stirring, until shallots are beginning to brown (about 1 – 2 minutes).  Add mushrooms and cook, stirring until browned (4 – 6 minutes).  Add Marsala (sherry will work here, too) and cook about 2 minutes.

In a separate small bowl, whisk broth, cornstarch, and the remaining 1/4 tsp pepper in a small bowl or measuring cup.  Add to pan, stirring.  Return to simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened (about 4 minutes)

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Chardonnay
Gamay
Merlot
Pinot Noir
Viognier

Serves 4

Total time: About an hour

Proscuitto-Wrapped Chicken with Mushroom Marsala Sauce

Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken with Mushroom Marsala Sauce

 *Derived from Eating Well

On Top of Old Smokey Meatballs

All covered with cheese, I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed.  But it’s ok because I made tons!  These meatballs were so easy to make and quick.  Such wonderful flavor!  And one of things that attracts me to a recipe is the ability to really make it your own.  Change it up some. Use spicy Italian sausage for a kick. Or, add your favorite hot sauce to regular Italian sausage. Instead of Italian seasoning, how about the Mexican Blend I always use with some fresh cilantro?  Add ginger and teriyaki sauce, served over steamed rice, for an Asian flavor.  Oh, how about subbing the bread crumbs with finely ground potato chips, shredded cheddar cheese and BBQ sauce.  Tailgate anyone?  So, let everyone sneeze as much as they want, you’ve got meatballs covered!

Ingredients (Meatballs Only):

16 oz pkg premium pork Italian sausage
1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375°. Mix ingredients until blended (the best way is to don some gloves and dive right in).

Shape meat mixture into 2″ meatballs and place on a baking sheet.  Either spray with nonstick spray, or as I did, line with parchment paper.

Bake meatballs 15 minutes or until done (when they reach 160°).  Serve with your favorite pasta sauce (such as my  Busy Mom’s Spaghetti and Meatball – but ignore those meatballs, just this once, and go back another time to try those!)

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Grenache
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Serves 6 (with pasta & sauce)
Prep time: 15 minute; Cook time: 15 minutes

On Top of Old Smoky Meatballs

On Top of Old Smoky Meatballs

*Derived from Jimmy Dean

Lemon-Butter Chicken with Asparagus

Before I started grilling I kind of thought it was really simple.  I mean, why else would that be most men’s sole form of cooking?  I’m learning, however, how wrong I was.  I’ll give you that burgers and dogs are simple, once you get used to the grill.  And that’s the key, getting used to your grill.  Like oven and stove tops, they are all pretty unique in how they heat.  Some can take forever, such as the case with my crappy stove top, while others heat like a stove top is supposed.  I’m finding this pretty much sums it up with grills, too.  Also, finding that perfect spot to grill where the outside doesn’t get charred while leaving the inside raw.  And timing, when to turn it, when to move it, etc.  I’ve found a whole new appreciation for those that grill, and grill well.  But don’t tell them or I’ll deny it.  🙂

Ingredients:

Kosher salt
4 chicken pieces, with bone & skin, about 10-12 oz each piece
1½ lb asparagus
Olive oil
1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges (for garnish – optional)

Lemon Butter:

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbs finely chopped fresh Italian parsley (as a time saver sub Litehouse freeze-dried parsley)
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice (which is super simple since you just zested one)
2 garlic cloves, minced

Preparation:

In a small bowl mash the lemon butter ingredients, including ¼ tsp each of salt and pepper, until thoroughly blended.  (This can be a bit challenging as the lemon juice and butter do no naturally combine well)

Carefully lift the skin of each piece of chicken, being careful to not puncture the skin.  Spread 1 tablespoon of lemon butter around under the skin.  Lay skin back in place.

Transfer remaining lemon butter to small saucepan and melt over medium heat.  Set aside

Prepare grill for direct and indirect heat over medium (350° to 450°F).

Remove and discard the tough bottom of each asparagus.  This is done easiest by taking one and bending it gently at the bottom until it snaps at its natural point, then line the rest up and cut them at about the same location.  Drizzle asparagus with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Brush chicken with oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill chicken, skin side up over direct medium heat, with the lid closed, until nicely marked on the bottom, about 5 minutes.  Without turning the chicken, move it over to indirect medium heat, close the lid and continue cooking until the meat is opaque all the way to the bone, about 30 minutes.  About 5 minutes before the chicken is done, brush the tops with some of the melted lemon butter and then turn chicken over to skin side down.  Slide over to direct medium heat, close the lid, and continue cooking until the skin is brown, basting once more with the lemon butter.  Remove from the grill, cover, and let rest 3 – 5 minutes.

Grill asparagus over direct medium heat, with the lid closed, until crisp tender, 6 – 8 minutes.  Turn occasionally.  Arrange asparagus on serving platter and drizzle with remaining butter.  Serve chicken warm with asparagus and garnish with lemon wedges.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Albariño
Barbera
Chardonnay
Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio
Sauvignon Blanc

Serves 4

Prep time: 20 minutes / Grilling time:  43 minutes

Lemon-Butter Chicken with Asparagus

*Derived from Jamie Purviance

 


Rustic Italian Braised Beef Short Ribs with Cheesy Polenta

I know, I was just going on and on about grilled steak and not wanting to give up summer.  Then what do I do?  Mix it up with a rich, hearty comfort food that would be perfect for winter.  I can’t explain it, I just goes with what speaks to me as I’m coming up with the weekly menu, then factor in time and schedules.  The beauty of this is that the braised ribs were done in a slow cooker. Believe me, I’m shocked too.  And, I was able to do the major prep work the night before. This is an incredible meal for sitting down with your family, and it would be equally appealing for guests.  I’m already planning my next dinner party!  (PS – Cheesy Polenta to follow in another post)  Update my friends – The short ribs reheated fabulously for lunch!  Polenta, not so much.

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped onion
10 garlic cloves thinly sliced (I’m sorry, as a working mom. I just don’t have time for this.  I subbed minced garlic [by Spice Island] and no one ran from the table covering their mouths)
3 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional, especially if you have a 6 & 7-year-old that will act as if you are trying to perform some ancient ritualistic punishment)
1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes (such as Muir Glen)
4 (10 oz) boneless beef short ribs (definitely go boneless.  The meat is fall off the bone, so the bones, well, just become a problem)
Salt and pepper to taste
Slivered fresh basil, to taste

Preparation:

In a medium skillet over medium heat, add onions, garlic, tomato paste, oil, oregano, and pepper flakes.  Stir until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to slow cooker.  Stir in tomatoes.  Season short ribs with salt and pepper.  Add to slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low until beef is tender, 8-9 hours.  Less time?  5-6 hours on high is just as good.

Transfer short ribs to serving dish and tent with foil.  Strain sauce into fat separator, reserving  tomatoes, and let stand 5 minutes.  Add reserved tomatoes back to empty slow cooker and break into large chunks with a wooden spoon (I used a square face potato masher and it worked just fine!). Stir in defatted sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour sauce over short ribs and sprinkle with basil.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Bordeaux
Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot
Sangiovese

Serves: 6
Active time: 10 minutes; Inactive time: 9 hours

Braised Short Ribs

*From America’s Test Kitchen – Slow Cooker Revolution

Tortellini with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

My kids love, love, love cheese ravioli.  Every time we go to Mary’s Pizza Shack that’s what they both order.  Well, Daniela being Daniela has to add, “No sauce.  And not a dot of cheese on top!”  At least my girl know what she likes!  This is like that, but so different.  It totally satisfies their craving for cheese rav, but gives the adults a better meal than feeling like they are eating just buttered pasta.  And I must be doing something right because D did not once say to me, “And NOT a dot of cheese!”  

Ingredients:

1 lb sliced cremini mushrooms (if you are not buying the pre-sliced already, start now!)
1 Tbs olive oil
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 (15 oz) jar Alfredo sauce (such as Classico)
12 oz dried cheese tortellini (I used Barilla and loved it)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs minced fresh basil

Preparation:

Cook tortellini according to package directions.

Add olive oil to large skillet heated to medium.  When heated, add mushrooms and cooked until reduced by about half.  When mushrooms reduced by half, add broth, Alfredo sauce, salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

Drain pasta.  If your pan is large enough, add the pasta in batches, stirring to combine between each batch.  If not, once drained, return pasta to pot and add sauce in batches, stirring to combine in between.

Serve with your favorite  veggie, maybe broccoli.  Don’t forget the garlic bread!

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

White Burgundy
Chardonnay
White Bordeaux
Alboriño

Serves: 4
Total time: 40 minutes

 

Tortellini with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Tortellini with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

*Derived from America’s Test Kitchen – Slow Cooker Revolution