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Chicken Fricassee

October 17, 2018

Have you ever made a dish that you remembered to be just amazing, and then a year went by and you weren’t sure if it would be AS GOOD as you remembered? But then you made it and you realized, YUP it is that good, possibly even better than you imagined.

Just me?

Chicken Fricassee is the dish to make for your next Boss over for dinner/Priest over for dinner/Dinner Party/Birthday/Holiday or just a very special Tuesday night. It’s a classic that should be revived because everyone needs to try this to know that food can taste this good. (It actually dates back all the way to a medieval cook book from 1300’s).

The reason it’s lasted so long through history is because its DELICIOUS. The alchemy of the lemon juice, and the wine, and the fresh herbs, and the vegetables, simmered with cream and egg to make a velvety texture, and then tender chicken that soaks up all the juices, along with rice and bread – it actually makes me close my eyes to take in all that is happening in my mouth, which is my test for the best things I have ever eaten.

Julia Child in Mastering the Art of French Cooking describes a fricassee as “halfway between a sauté and a stew” in that a saute has no liquid added, while a stew includes liquid from the beginning. Technically in a fricassee, cut-up meat is first sauteed but not browned, then liquid is added and it is simmered to finish cooking. But most recipes have you brown the meat first, so I guess there is some room for interpretation.

I knew this to be a classic French dish, but when my au pair from Columbia tasted this she said “you are cooking with flavors from Columbia. This is the type of dish we would make after everyone has been partying all night, and they are hungry again at 1 or 2 in the morning, and this is what they all eat to feel better again.” (If that doesn’t make you want to try this recipe I don’t know what will). But I looked and there is a popular Spanish dish called fricasé de pollo that has spread to other Spanish speaking countries so clearly this dish has travelled not only through time but geography, again because it is DELICIOUS.

To make it, you start by cutting up your veggies (doing this prep before makes assembling this dish so much easier, I highly recommend it) and the chicken (I like smaller pieces than a whole breast):

After you’ve browned the chicken take it out of the pan to rest and start building flavor with the familiar flavors of mirepoix + mushrooms (I used a leek instead of onion but it is good either way). Then you add flour + white wine to this and let it reduce:

^I can’t tell you how good this smelled. The wine, the veggies, the bay leaf. You’ll just have to make it so you can smell it too.

Then, add chicken broth and herbs, and while that heats up, stir together cream and egg yolks. Then – and this is the most complicated part of this recipe but still doable –  you add a little bit of the hot liquid to the cream + egg mixture to temper the eggs so they don’t scramble, but instead create this velvety, creamy, rich complex sauce that holds everything together.  (I used a 1/4 cup instead of a 1/2 cup as the recipe calls for to be extra sure I didn’t add it too quickly!)

Then you add this creamy mixture back to the pan and let everything simmer. Then at the end you add lemon juice and fresh tarragon. These flavors go together so well that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and does that thing that makes me love cooking so much – it becomes something special and magnificent and memorable.

My kids love rice pilaf, so I serve it with that but mashed potatoes or crusty bread soak up all that delicious flavor. Or you could just drink it straight. It’s that good.

Last night I was still dreaming of it before I went to bed, and I made a small bowl. And I sat there and thought ‘this is what I would order in any restaurant and be totally blown away and happy.’

I don’t have to wish you Happy Eating with this dish – if you make it I know you will have Happy Eating. Cheers!

xoxo Katie

Chicken Fricassee (I doubled this recipe – printer version here): 

Recipe from the blog Everyday Occasions

4 chicken breasts (I cut them in half for kid portions)

4 chicken thighs (remove skin)

sea salt & black pepper

3 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 small onion, diced (I used one leek instead, so delicious)

2 carrots, diced

1 rib of celery, dice

8 oz. of mushrooms, sliced

2 tablespoons of flour

1 cup of white wine

3 cups of chicken stock

fresh thyme

bay leaf

1/2 cup of cream

2 egg yolks

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

fresh tarragon

Serving suggestions : Rice, French Bread or Mashed Potatoes

Pat chicken with paper towel.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Melt butter in a heavy dutch oven. Add oil and brown chicken for 4 minutes on each side.  Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Cook onions, carrot, celery and mushrooms in the same pot until almost soft.  Sprinkle with flour and cook for another minute until flour is absorbed. Pour in white wine and cook for another minute, stirring.  Add chicken stock, thyme and bay leaf.

In a small bowl, mix cream and egg yolks.  Add a small amount of the hot stew mixture to the cream and yolks, stirring constantly.  Your goal is to slowly warm the eggs so they don’t scramble. Once warmed (after about 2 cups of stew mixture is added), pour into the stew pot with vegetables and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the mixture reduces and thickens.

Add chicken back into the stew.  Keep simmering until chicken is cooked through.  Keep warm on low simmer or in the oven (about 250) until ready to serve.  Before serving, add lemon, 1 tablespoon of butter and fresh tarragon. Serve with rice, french bread, or mashed potatoes.

See  this and more great recipes from Jenny Steffens at http://jennysteffens.blogspot.com

 

Easy Eggplant Parm

October 5, 2018

I know that Eggplant Parm elicits strong feelings in some people. You either like it or you don’t. If you don’t like it, may I suggest checking out my Chicken Parm recipe? It’s similar in construction and my family loves it maybe a bit more than eggplant parm. Still, we try to eat a meatless meal once a week usually on Fridays and this is one I know they’ll eat.

I love eggplant parm – its such comfort food to me.

It is a great meatless meal, and I’m always astounded at how the eggplant takes the place of meat in terms of meatiness, or substance, in a dish.

This is really an assembly dish, and once you get the hang of it you can make it in 15 minutes. The one point of debate I’ve had with others is that they don’t like this dish if the eggplant gets too soggy. A really easy way to avoid this is to salt it before you start breading it. I lay all the slices in a colander with a big handful of kosher salt covering it. Then I put some weight on it to help extract the water.

My weight of choice was a heavy terra cotta planter (#reallife):

Once you’ve rinsed your eggplant from the salt, its time for the standard flour-eggwash-breading assembly line. Be sure to heat up your canola oil in a large fry pan before you start.

It might seem like a lot of work, but it goes very fast and really gives the dish its decadence.

Once you’ve fried all of the eggplant slices, you layer it in your baking dish, with a layer of sauce on the bottom.

And…that’s pretty much it. The hard work is over. Just pour the rest of the sauce on top and layer slices of mozzarella. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and browned.

Hope your family loves this dish as much as mine! (ps even the babies loved it!)

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

 

Easy Eggplant Parm (printer version here): 

2 eggplants, sliced 1 inch thick

Kosher salt

½ cup flour

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup bread crumbs

1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

¼ canola oil + more for frying

2 jars of good quality marinara sauce (we love Rao’s)

1 large package of sliced fresh mozzarella (enough to have 9 slices)

Directions:

Slice eggplant and lay in a colander in layers, generously salting eat layer to draw out water.

When each layer is sliced place a plastic plate or container on top and lay something heavy such as tin cans or a heavy bowl on top. This will help draw out more water. Wait 15 minutes, then rinse well.

 

While the eggplant is being salted, lay out three trays or plates.  Put the flour on one plate, the eggs on a second, and the breadcrumbs, parmesan, and a pinch of salt mixed together on a third.

Preheat oven to 350.

Warm up ¼ cup of Canola oil in a large frying pan on medium heat.

Working in an assembly line fashion, take a slice of eggplant, press it in the flour plate, then the egg plate, then the breadcrumbs/parm mixture. Then place into the hot oil. When the pan is filled, flip the eggplant rounds starting with the first one you put in the pan. It should look golden brown. If not, let it cook for a little longer. When both sides are golden, remove eggplant slices and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt while still warm.

Keep working until you’ve breaded and fried all of the eggplant slices.

In a large 9 x 13 inch pan, pour a thin layer of the marinara sauce to prevent the eggplant from sticking to the pan. Then layer in the fried eggplant in slices until dish is full. Then pour the rest of the marinara sauce on top. Lay slices of fresh mozzarella on top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until mozzarella is melted on top.

Let cool for 5 minutes, then serve over favorite cooked pasta.

 

My Kids’ Favorite Chili

September 15, 2018

I love how the cooler temps have made all of our bellies crave the comfort food of fall. Chili is always my first go-to meal at the start of fall, and I love nothing more than to make a huge pot from scratch, cowboy style, mixing cumin and chili powder and oregano and garlic, and loading it with peppers and beef and beans.

However, my kids don’t like to eat this kind of chili. They don’t love heat, or peppers, or beans, or my own personal blend of chili seasonings.

When the twins were born and neighbors dropped off meals, one of our friends brought her chili and my kids devoured it. I texted her how she made it, and voila, this was her secret weapon (thanks Carmen!):

Not only did she use McCormick’s Mild seasoning packet, but she also loaded it with sweet potatoes, which actually makes this chili a little sweet. It’s no wonder my kids devoured it.

And even though my daughter doesn’t love beans, I use less in this version than I do in my cowboy style chili and she doesn’t mind. And using two types of meat gives it such a great texture, plus the smokiness from the kielbasa gets infused in the whole pot.

I love that I can keep all of the ingredients for this in my freezer and pantry. Last winter I made this almost every weekend because the kids unanimously shouted ‘yes’ every time I asked them if they wanted me to make it. It cooks up fast, about 10 minutes active time and 20 minutes inactive. This recipe makes a double batch so there are lots of leftovers. The kids pack it up for school in a thermos, or eat it after school. And it is a great go-to lunch for me when I am flying through the day.

Also if we had to be out all day doing sports or other things, I would put this in a crock pot on low and it is ready to eat when we walk in the door.

So as the temps start to fall and sweaters and scarves come out, put a pot of this on and curl up with your fam and watch a movie. And then do it again the next day since you’ll have so many leftovers.

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

 

My Kid’s Favorite Chili (printer version here): 

Serves about 16, you may want to halve the recipe if you’re not feeding a crowd

2 T. olive oil

2 onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 lbs. ground beef

1 large (or 2 small) sweet potato, cubed

2 packages McCormick’s Chili Seasoning Mild

2 cans diced tomatoes

2 cans kidney beans

1 turkey kielbasa, halved and sliced

 

Directions:

Heat oil in a dutch oven or large pot. Add onions and sautee 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Add ground beef and cook through. Sprinkle McCormick’s chili packets over meat mixture and stir for 1 minute. Then add tomatoes, sweet potatoes, beans and kielbasa. Simmer for 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender, adding water if it gets too thick.

Serve with your favorite chili toppings like shredded cheese, onions, sour cream, lime juice and chips.

 

Corn, Crab and Bacon Chowder

August 10, 2018

Why is it I crave chowder in the summer? I mean it’s 80 degrees, and I’m dreaming about potatoes cooked in a creamy broth, preferably with seafood.

What the heart wants, it wants, I guess.

A few weeks ago, my husband took the big kids camping and I had the babies solo, and a whole day to get ready for my best friend visiting. It might be some sort of existential test to ask yourself, ‘If you had a whole day alone with twins what would you most like to do?’ My answer was of course cooking. I made this chowder and a loaf of sourdough bread. It took me most of my free waking hours to do that BUT it filled me up and we munched on the bread all weekend with avocados, jam, and cheese. (I used this recipe for the second time and loved it).

This soup was so good and satisfying, and feeds a crowd. I even pureed it for the babies and they loved it! (After I googled if babies can eat shellfish, which they can! Why do I forget all these things?).

I know most seasoned home cooks keep their bacon drippings around forever, and can’t bare to waste it, but I honestly don’t  – it feels like pressure when it’s sitting there. I usually just try to brown up bacon at the start of a recipe and then use it as a garnish. I love the way cooking onions and garlic in bacon drippings infuses a dish with a rich, smoky flavor.

I added peppers to the dish for color, and loved the flavor they added too. And you can use fresh or frozen corn for this recipe, whatever you have. And I used two cups of heavy cream in addition to homemade broth I had in my freezer (makes it so good but use whatever you have!). But you can sub milk if you want though it will loose a lot of creaminess if you do (maybe add a pat of butter in that case. Creamy soups forever).

Or you could just use more of this secret ingredient is right here: cream cheese. Adding cream cheese to creamy soups to add richness, tang and creaminess.

Trust me, you will want to add this to every creamy soup you make from now on. It adds that quality where you can’t stop eating it, something in it is just so good.  

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go make another batch of this soup because after looking at these pictures I am totally CRAVING it now.

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Corn, Crab and Bacon Chowder (printer version here): 

  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 8 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 all-purpose potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 small orange, red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 sprigs of thyme OR 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 5 tbsp flour
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1-2 cups heavy cream depending on how rich you like it
  • 4 cups corn kernels, scraped fresh from the cob, or 1 bag frozen kernels
  • 1 lb. cooked lump crab meat, fresh is available in plastic tubs at many fish counters
  • Chives, chopped for garnish

Instructions

  1. Place 1 tsp butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until golden. Use a slotted spoon to remove onto a paper towel lined plate. Leave fat in pot.
  2. Lower heat to medium heat. Add 2 tbsp butter, once melted, add garlic and onion. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes until onion is translucent.
  3. Add celery, potatoes, seasoning with salt & pepper, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes
  4. Add bell pepper, bay leaves and thyme
  5. Add flour and mix it in. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  6. Add broth and cream, stirring to combine.
  7. Put the lid on and simmer for 25 minutes (adjust heat so it’s simmering energetically but not bubbling like crazy or super gently).
  8. Whisk in 4 oz (half a brick) of cream cheese
  9. Add corn and lump crab, stirring to combine and simmer for 5 more minutes.
  10. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with remaining bacon and chives.

 

Summer Ideas

July 5, 2018

Happy 5th of July! Hope you had a lovely 4th.

Well, the joys and challenges of summer are upon us, and that means lots of heat and extra laundry as we swim every day. And letting meals unfold as we see where the day takes us – basically the opposite of meal planning, especially when delicious meals are found with the freshest, simplest seasonal produce. Tomatoes, corn, blueberries, strawberries. Grill up some protein, add some vinegar and maybe some cheese and sit back with some rosé or a Negroni (or two).

Lots of people have been messaging me asking for ideas for summer grilling and salad ideas, so instead of a meal plan here are ideas for summer get togethers that I am loving.

1.This Kale and Brussel Sprout salad is still our favorite go-to summer salad.

2. A friend made Ina Garten’s Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta for a party and Sophie (my 10 year old) was raving about it the next day and asked me if I tried it. She said, “Mom, I ate the last one and I was so sad because I wanted more!” (how cute is she?). And if you are looking for something really different in the crostini category here is…

3. 35 Bruschetta & Crostini Ideas from Epicurious – I really like this one with thai basil since I am growing a lot of it.

4. Mission Chinese Food – I’ve seen this in several places, the NY Times, Food52 (done by one of my favorite food bloggers Alexandra Stafford) which tends to mean its a very good recipe. Alexandra wrote exactly what I was thinking – that there were a lot of hard to find ingredients but that you can sub any vinegars for the ones they had listed. And that the salad was addictive.

5. Speaking of Alexandra, she has her favorite summer salads up on her blog that all look amazing. (Julie, this list is for you!). She knocks food blogging out of the park.

6. I have been craving zucchini salads and this one from Bobby Flay looks amazing. It happens to be one of the many Summer Cookout Sides he is sharing on Food Network so if you don’t like this one you are sure to find one you do in his list.

7. Grilled Swordfish Kebabs with Golden Raisin Chimichurri we are addicted to grilled Swordfish, especially with lots lemon and blackened seasoning (had it last night with fresh corn and caprese salad). This looks like a great twist and I can’t wait to make it the next time we grill.

8. This Asian Slaw from Alton Brown seems like it would go so well with those swordfish kebabs.

9. Our sitter came in raving about the the Curried Potato Salad with Apples her dad made for their bbq. It got me craving one and both this one from an Indian Chef and this one from Genius Kitchen look good.

10. This Grilled Brie, Pineapple and Prosciutto recipe looks amazing!

11. I could live on this Ratatouille recipe all week.

12. I also always crave Gazpacho so here is the Green one I posted and a Red one I posted.

13. We’ve been loving putting burrata on our Caprese salad.

14. I also can’t wait to make this Burrata Antipasto from A Life From Scratch.

15. If you are looking for a great and easy dessert idea, just add this Strawberry Rhubarb compote onto vanilla ice cream. I posted it here to go on top of muffins that are delicious, but this is the ultimate topping for vanilla ice cream. Along with blueberry compote when they are bursting from bushes and produce sections. Plus if you don’t have time to make it due to  summer fun you can just put the fresh fruit on top.

16. Someone made these Campfire Cones at a party I went to last summer and I know my kids will LOVE them when we go camping.

Weekly Meal Plan 6/25

June 26, 2018

We are loving these slow summer days. It is still a bit chilly at night some nights, so we didn’t mind roasting a chicken last night or planning some comfort meals that still take advantage of herbs on the deck. I was so happy to be back chopping veggies and stirring again after a hectic month of travel and end of year celebrations. I went into ‘cooking for a crowd’ mode now that the kids are done with school and bought a pork shoulder and two chickens to make ahead for these meals. I have made this version of The Pionner Woman’s Pulled Pork many times – it is so good. Just know that I actually slow cooked a whole pork shoulder that I will turn into pulled pork and pork carnitas using these recipes as a guide for finishing them. The pork carnitas by Rick Bayless are amazing – just know your kitchen will smell weird while its cooking, but then it will taste like the dreamiest street taco you ever had.  All of these are great crowd meals for summer fun.

Sunday: 

Pulled Pork 

Monday:

Roast Chicken

Tuesday:

Pork Carnitas 

Wednesday: 

Chicken Stew with Dumplings

Note: My kids favorite dinner is Ina Garten’s Chicken Pot Pie, but I thought I’d mix it up a little with Chicken and Dumplings instead, and this recipe is super fast. This recipe for Chicken and Herbed Biscuits also looks good.

Thursday:

Summer Pasta

(This roasted tomato pasta salad looks amazing too with slightly more work)

Friday: 

Pizza or Pool

Saturday: 

Garlic Lime Steak and Noodle Salad – this one will please everyone.