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