Chicken Stroganoff

There comes a moment in cooking when you realize you’re a cooking nerd. Ok, admittedly I pretty much already knew that. But making this meal last night, as I stood their whisking the warmed chicken stock into the butter and flour, I got excited. I got really excited. It was thickening perfectly. No lumps. It just all came together exactly how I wanted. After the week I had been having (and it was only Tuesday), this little task made me positively giddy. Of course, my family looked at me like I was loco for being so excited about something as mundane as a roux. What can I say? I happily concede to the fact that I’m a cooking nerd. 

Tonight, I’d like to share with you one of my favorite comfort foods. I hope it brings you as much joyfully nerdy moments as it does me.

Ingredients:

1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into thick slices or chunks
Salt (to taste)
Black pepper (to taste)
½ tsp paprika
¾cup flour (divided)
Canola oil (I used olive oil)
10 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced (save yourself some time and buy the ‘shrooms that are already sliced)
4 Tbs unsalted butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups chicken stock, warmed (I use the low sodium)
Sour cream to taste (the recipe called for 3 Tbs, but that’s just not enough for me, I used at least 1/3 cup. Add as much as you would like)
Egg noodles (I use what I have on hand, this time it was penne)

Preparation:

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Add chicken pieces to a bowl and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and paprika; add ¼ cup of flour and toss everything to coat well.

Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat and drizzle with 3-4 Tbs of your chosen oil. When the oil is hot, work in batches to sear the chicken until golden brown on all sides. As the chicken is browned, remove from pan and set aside. Don’t worry if it’s not quite cooked through, it will finish when added back to the sauce.

Once all chicken has been browned, add a touch more oil if needed and the mushrooms. Sauté until golden brown and somewhat caramelized. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to chicken.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add unsalted butter; once melted add shallots and garlic and sauté until aromatic. Sprinkle remaining ½ cup of flour, stirring it into the butter until a soft paste forms. Slowly add the chicken stock, whisking continually to avoid lumps and allow the sauce to thicken.

Add the chicken and mushrooms back to pan and simmer for 3-4 minutes, turn heat off and stir in sour cream. Serve mixed with cooked noodles.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Chardonnay
Pinot Grigio
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese
Sauvignon Blanc

Serves: 4-6

Total time: 45 minutes

*Derived from The Cozy Apron
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Chicken Stroganoff


Italian Breaded Chicken

Cool Update – Last night I was out of mayo (I know, right?!) so I used sour cream instead.  I got the wrinkled nose from the Hubs, “Sour cream??” nervous laugh “Um, should be interesting”, “talk about changing the taste.”  Well you know what?  It was really good.  It so was good that my son (who is 7!) asked to have it for lunch the next day.  Gasp!  What?!?!  You want something other than PB&J??  Be still my beating heart. 

Tuesday night was one of those nights, I had taken chicken out of the freezer, but what to do with it?  I’ve been cooking a lot of chicken lately.  I was sure my family would run screaming from the house if they were presented with yet more chicken.  I knew I’d have to really make something different.  Something that they wouldn’t turn their noses up at, but wasn’t my “Go To” chicken, or even resembled it.  While perusing my saved recipes on Pinterest, I cam across this amazing chicken dish from allyskitchen.com.  Ally’s Kitchen serves the chicken with Knorr® Italian Sides™ – Alfredo Broccoli.  I did not.  I served mine with a refrigerated alfredo sauce found in the refrigerated section of the store, so I am leaving that portion off of my post.  What an incredibly moist, flavorful chicken!  Everyone loved it, no one ran screaming from the table, and no cute little noses turned up in protest.  Enjoy!

Italian Breaded Chicken

Italian Breaded Chicken

Ingredients:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (I used thighs, I find them much more flavorful and they stay more moist than breasts)
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425°.  Brush chicken with mayonnaise, then coat with bread crumbs.  Line a cooking sheet with aluminum foil (be sure to spray with cooking spray, I forgot and left behind some of the topping) or parchment paper.

Bake chicken 20 minutes, or until cooked through.  Turn chicken over after about 10 minutes.

Wine Serving Suggestions:

Chardonnay
Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese
Sauvignon Blanc

Serves: 4

Total time: 30 minutes

Italian Breaded Chicken

Italian Breaded Chicken

*From Allyskitchen.com

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

Baked Ziti

I have an almost irrational obsession with baked ziti.  And I can pinpoint exactly where it comes from.  It was, I’d say, wow, about 10 years ago.  My wonderful Hubs (who was not my  Hubs yet) invited a coworker to go to dinner with us.  We went to Pasta Pomodoro in Rockridge (amazing outside seating with equally amazing heaters).  I very clearly remember ordering the very rich and creamy baked ziti.  When the waiter brought our food and said, “baked ziti?” I watched in dumb-founded amazement as Hector said, “Yes, right here.”  Right here?!??  “No, RIGHT HERE!!!” I silently screamed.  I don’t even remember the non-baked ziti dish I ended up with that night.  How could I?  It wasn’t baked ziti.  Ever since that fateful evening I have been on a baked ziti quest.  Each variation of a recipe that I try gets put in the “never again” pile, the “hmm, give it one more try” pile, or THIS could be the ONE” pile.  I made this ahead for our Tahoe trip.  My dad loved it, which is a whole other story, but got it added to the THIS could be the ONE pile.  🙂 

Ingredients:

16 oz dry ziti pasta
1 small / medium onion chopped (depends on preference)
1 lb extra lean ground beef (can sub turkey or chicken)
2 (26 oz) jars pasta sauce (such as Classico Tomato & Basil)
6 oz sliced provolone cheese
1 1/2 cups sour cream
6 oz mozzarella, shredded
2 Tbs grated Parmesan

Preparation:

Add ziti to slightly salted boiling water.  You want to cook to al dente because this dish will go in the oven.

Over medium – high heat, in a large skillet, sweat onions until soft, add ground beef.  Once browned, add pasta sauce and simmer 15 minutes.

While simmering sauce, preheat oven to 350°.  Spray a 9×13″ baking pan with nonstick spray.  Layer 1/2 of the ziti, provolone cheese, sour cream, 1/2 sauce mixture, remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce mixture.  Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake 30 minutes, or until cheeses are melted

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Chianti
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Serves 10
Total time: 1 hour

Baked Ziti

Not a great picture, we got busy in Tahoe and I forgot to take another when cutting into it!

*Derived from AllRecipes.com

Quick Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Pasta is a staple in my house.  For the most part, you can make it fast.  But, there are also some amazing dishes that take a while (lasagna, baked ziti anyone?).  I kind of have to admit, too, that one of the reasons I love pasta has to do with the control freak in me.  It’s also the same reason I prefer texting and email.  It’s all on my time. I get to decide, do I want/need a quick pasta tonight?  Do I need/want to respond to this text right now? Basically, whether a text or pasta, it comes down to me.  And no one knows the elements that brought me to the decision.  This dish, however, I’ll share with you the behind the scenes thought process.  I already had defrosted the extra lean ground beef.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it simply because my family is just coming back from a quick little vacation to Kings Beach in North Lake Tahoe (one of our fave places and I encourage everyone to go) and anyone that knows me understands that I spent the week leading up to Tahoe planning, cooking, and packing for our trip (those recipes to follow).  By the time we got back home I was 1) exhausted from a wonderful trip, 2) really tired of planning and cooking, and 3) completely out of groceries save for the staples I had on hand.  I can tell you, quite confidently, this was a huge hit!

Ingredients:

1 lb extra lean ground beef (can sub ground chicken or turkey)
1 (14.5) oz diced tomatoes
1 (14.5) oz tomato sauce
1/2 of (6.5) garlic & herb spreadable cheese (such as Alouette)
1 Tbs dried basil (such as Morton & Bassett) (I prefer fresh, but since my GSD puppy ate my plant, I had to go with dried)
Handful of dried spaghetti
Parmesan grated, shredded, shaved (your preference) for serving

Preparation:

Boil pasta according to your doneness preference.

While pasta cooks, brown meat. Once browned, drain off any excess fat. Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Reduced heat to medium low and heat through. Add the garlic and herb spreadable cheese. Stir to completely incorporate through. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer 5 – 10 minutes. Add basil the last few minutes and stir (if using fresh basil, wait until ready to serve.

Mix pasta with sauce, in batches, stirring to combine with each batch. Top with favorite Parmesan. Serve with crusty bread.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Chianti
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Serves 8
Total time: 40 minutes

photo (5)

*Original Serves-4 Recipe

Lasagna with Zucchini

Lasagna is the quintessential comfort food.  And when you want comfort food, it doesn’t matter if it’s winter (the perfect weather for lasagna) or the start-up of summer.  Since I found this recipe in my June issue of Cooking Light, I felt it was the Food Gods way of telling me I need to make this.  Stat!  While midst of cooking, I realized it is the perfect remake of the perfect comfort food.  The zucchini and squash hold up well in place of Italian sausage or any other meat.  I found myself not even missing the meat.  Also, the sauce was not heavy, but so flavorful and rich.  The next day when I reheated for lunch, I did notice the zucchini and squash had a stronger flavor, but it still was very good and a meal that will make it to my rotation.  PS – This meal takes a LONG time to pull together, definitely keep for the weekend or when you have some additional time.

Ingredients:

2 Tbs olive oil
3 cups julienne-cut zucchini
2 cups julienne-cut yellow squash
1½ Tbs chopped fresh thyme
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (this is where I cheated, b/c I always have to cheat.  I used pre-chopped garlic)
¾ tsp kosher salt, divided
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
¼ cup water from fresh mozzarella container
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
2½ oz grated fresh Parmesan
1 (9 oz) package refrigerated fresh lasagna noodles (Our market did not carry this and I don’t care of the No Boil variety, that is until I found Delverde Ondine Instant Egg Lasagna.  Unlike our American brands, it did not take doughy or uncooked to me.  Certainly will use again and again!)
Cooking Spray

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil to pan and swirl to coat.  Add zucchini, squash, time, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes.  Stir in ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper.  Remove zucchini mixture from pan and cool.

Combine remaining ¼ tsp each of salt and pepper, ricotta, mozzarella water, and mozzarella in food processor or blender.  Pulse until smooth.  Combine ½ cup ricotta mixture and ½ cup Parmesan.

Coat 8″ baking dish with cooking spray; arrange 2 noodles, trimming to fit if needed.  Top with half of zucchini mixture and half of ricotta mixture.  Repeat layers, ending with noodles.  Top with the rocotta-Parmesan mixture.  Cover dish with foil and back for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake additional 15 minutes.

Turn broiler to high.  Sprinkle lasagna with remaining 2 Tbs parmesan cheese.  Broil 2 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Cabernet Franc
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Serves 6
Hands-On time: 20 minutes; Total: 65 minutes

 Lasagna with Zucchini

 *Derived from Cooking Light

Busy Mom’s Spaghetti & Meatballs

Do you ever feel like, when you are working away, that you are just going to topple over onto your desk in a heap, asleep so fast that as your head makes contact a dribble of spittle has already appeared?  That is how the last month to month and a half has been for me.  We’ve had major construction going on in the 2nd most important area of our house, the family room.  This was due to a large flood on Christmas morning (Yeah!  Merry Christmas!!).  So we’ve been dealing with that, in a small part, since then.  But when the construction finally started, well, it’s just been tiresome.  While our general contractor has been amazing at keeping everyone on schedule, I’m just over it, you know.  I’m ready to have that room opened to the rest of the house again.  I’m ready to have a laundry room again (something I’d never in my life thought I’d be excited about, a new laundry room).  I’m ready to have that 3rd bath available downstairs, as opposed to a 5 and 6 year old trying to race upstairs to pee when they’ve been outside playing with ladybugs and refused to “listen to their bodies”.  And at the tail end of this endeavor has been . . . dun, dun, dun . . . daylight savings.  “Come everyone, let’s Spring Forward!” I can clearly hear a very cheery Mother Nature shouting.  I want to shout back, not so cheerily, “Let’s all put our freakin’ happy faces on as our internal clocks get all screwed up!”  Sorry, I’m a grump today.  This is the perfect dinner for a grump to make.  It comes together quickly and painlessly.  And none of it would have been possible without my little sous chef!

My Sous Chef!

My Sous Chef!

 

Ingredients:

8 oz spaghetti
1 Tbs olive oil (go easy on olive oil because the sausage will have plenty of oil when cooked)
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs Italian Seasoning (or any favorite herb, oregano, thyme, etc.)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup beef broth (can sub with chicken)
2 cups pureed tomato
1 lb sausage meat (you can buy sausage links and remove the casings, luckily I found a package of bulk sausage meat prepared by the butcher)
Parmesan
1 bunch fresh basil (optional, I didn’t have on hand so I omitted)

Preparation:

Bring a large pot of water to boil for spaghetti.  While spaghetti cooks, prepare sauce.

Add 1 Tbs olive oil to large pan heated over medium-high.  When oil is hot, add onions and garlic, stirring to coat.  Add Italian seasoning.  Stir in salt to taste.  Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the onions begin to soften.  While onions cook, use sausage meat and form small balls.

Add stock, scraping up any bits from bottom of pan.  Add tomato puree and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.    Add meatballs into tomato sauce and simmer until fully cooked, about 10 – 12 additional minutes.

Serve over spaghetti and top with fresh grated Parmesan and a handful of torn basil.  Serve with hot crusty bread.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Chianti
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Serves 6

Cooking time: About 40 minutes

Busy Mom's Spaghetti & Meatballs

Busy Mom’s Spaghetti & Meatballs

*Original Serves-4 Recipe