Simple Chicken Cacciatore

Sorry I forgot to snap a photo of this wonderfully simple and warming dinner we had last night.  With the temperatures dropping, warm food that simmers on the stove just feels right.

Last night was Sunday. Sunday. Do you feel the way I mean that? Sunday is that day that you try to pull it all together, but it is just too overwhelming. Also, I had an afternoon holiday party, so I was out most of the day. When I did get home I decided that I needed to prep and prepare a few meals for the week.  One of those was this chicken dish.

When I think cacciatore, I think peppers and mushrooms and a delicious tomato sauce. However peppers and mushrooms aren’t very popular at this address. I can get away with peppers but mushrooms would cause a mutiny. My pepper was bad, so I created the most simple cacciatore that even picky eaters will enjoy.

Simple Chicken Cacciatore

2 pounds boneless chicken thighs*
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 cup red wine
Olive Oil
salt
pepper
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

Heat olive oil and brown chicken on both sides. While chicken is browning add salt and pepper. Remove chicken and saute onion in the same pan 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook 2 more minutes, stirring frequently. Add chicken back to pan and add wine to pan. Bring to a boil and turn burner to low. Simmer chicken in wine for 5 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring back to a boil and turn down and simmer 30-40 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with your favorite pasta.

*There are many opinions on white and dark chicken. As I have gotten older I have grown fond of dark meat.  Thighs are very tender and forgiving. Give them a try.

Try this simple cacciatore on a cold winter night.

 

A Lack of Take Out and Meatloaf Monday

A major goal of mine has been to make and eat more dinner at home.  Our day, like everyone else, is full. By the time we get in the door making dinner can cause a full-fledged panic.  I promised myself that we would seriously cut back on the take out. Being that December is already a pricey month, it’s a great time to do that.

The order of dinner has slipped away from my brain, but in the last seven nights we had four chicken meals, a meatloaf, homemade macaroni and cheese and a quick chili.  There was a lot of noise made about eating chicken four nights in a row; I ignored it.  Then I threw in a meatloaf ( a few groans, but mostly happiness).

I LOVE meatloaf. It isn’t fancy or necessarily healthy, but it is something I have always loved. Growing up, my mother made a cream of mushroom soup based one because my father was not a tomato based meatloaf fan.  When I was in high school I sometimes made us two different types because I am totally a tomato based meatloaf fan.  This week I threw together a from scratch meatloaf that we ate pretty quickly.  I will be repeating it this week just to give it one more try before I share it. Shhhhh. Please don’t tell them we are having meatloaf again.

My goals for  a weeknight meatloaf are minimal ingredients, no chopping, quick cooking and delicious. Basically it should make itself so you can walk away and fold laundry, drink some tea or help a kid with homework. Meatloaf is coming soon.

*Disclaimer-We ate the meatloaf Tuesday, but my love for alliteration trumped honesty.

So I did make dinner

and I did not take a picture. It is a recipe I do hope to share soon, but it needs some tweaking .  It was a very basic get dinner in the oven type of meal. I do think it will be good, but the cooking time and quantities are a bit off. A bit more tweaking and here it comes.

This week’s goal is to make dinner for the next five nights. Dinner five nights in a row. Can I do it?  Yes, I can!

The Dinner Making Struggle

I love food, hence my attempt at a food blog. However, since I want to be upfront about things, I do have a confession to make.  As much as I find food fascinating, and love being in my kitchen, I am VERY BAD AT MAKING DINNER during the week. The struggle, folks, is real.  It is embarrassing to admit this, so I would like to share some of those reasons that I feel this has been happening for years and how I hope to fix it.

The first reason is that we are gone about 10 hours a day. This is way too long for me to leave a crock pot on because I can’t check on it.  And I am just not comfortable leaving it unattended for a ten-hour stretch.

Another reason is that by the time it hits 5:30,  I have used all the brain cells in my head. Also, while cooking there is always someone talking to me…………………………………………….

“Mom, can I have a piece of Halloween candy?”
“Mom, how do you spell this word?”
“Mom, do I have to do the extra credit?”
“Mom, she won’t give me her eraser.”
“Mom, I need help with this math.”
“Mom, what’s for dinner?”

In addition to answering the above questions, I am emptying my dishwasher,  breaking up fights and thinking about how much work I still have to do later that night, while chugging a cup of coffee.

The tastes in our house vary a great deal. Basically I will eat anything and I can not say that about the rest of family, other adult included.  Veggies aren’t popular, except with me. So because no one else cares about certain food items, I could skip them. However, that is having an impact on all of us. It takes a certain effort for me to prepare things I know we should eat, even though I know groans may ensue.  Get ready family. The vegetables are coming.

Restaurants
Some of my solutions have included going out for dinner or take-out. This has been an on again on again problem for us. I swear we could have bought a new car with the money we have over spent on take out in the past 5 or 6 years. Enough is enough.

Homemade pizza
This has been a go to recipe that I usually have the ingredients for, however, we have been eating way too much pizza. I am trying to up our protein and lower our carb intake. This may fit in once or twice a month, but weekly or sometimes more is embarrassing.

Meal Kits
I admit that I started using a meal kit this fall. I got a great deal to try one, and they aren’t bad. The best part about meal kits is the lack of thinking required on my part. When I am making one though, I feel like it is something I could have made on my own for half the money.  It is better than take-out, so I am leaving it on the back burner as an emergency back up.

The Solutions
I have read the blogs, joined menu planning sites. read make ahead cookbooks, but nothing sticks for me.  At this point I am beyond fed up. I am sick of take-out, don’t enjoy eating out that much and always feel over budgeted.

The one thing that has worked for me is knowing in advance and having some foods prepped ahead of time.  I can’t cook it all on Sunday. It is Sunday morning as I type. I was going to go shopping at 7:30, but I decided to write this and plan my week instead. So now I will finalize my weekly plan, maybe try something new and creative and then off to the store I go.

Side Dish Deliciousness

Oops. I forgot to post this before Thanksgiving, so here it is a bit late. It is not my recipe, but you have to make it. Yum!

While it would be exciting (and stressful) to host a big giant Thanksgiving feast, that is not what I am doing. We will be traveling to two different houses, to see both sides of the family.  Appetizers at my cousin’s and dinner at my sister-in-law’s. My contribution to dinner is this amazing squash recipe I found last year in the Wegmans magazine. You can make this for Thanksgiving or Christmas, or both.  Make it as a fabulous side dish since it has something for everyone with butternut squash, onion and cranberries.  You can find the recipe over at their site. This is one recipe that will never grow for me.

https://www.wegmans.com/meals-cooking/recipes/vegetables-accompaniments/roasted-butternut-squash-with-baby-spinach-cranberries.html

Enjoy all your fabulous recipes and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

*I have no affiliation with Wegmans, however, one opened a town over from us a couple of years ago. I don’t shop there exclusively, but it is an amazing store. It has prepared food for crazy busy nights, fancy cheese and great wine and large family sized bulk items at great prices. It is an extremely large store and can take some time to shop at, but to me it is worth it. 

 

 

Phyllis’s Coffee Cake

 

Food is nostalgic.  There are special foods that we grew up with that may bring us back to being a certain age, remind us of certain traditions and evoke memories of the past.  Since it is Thanksgiving week, I made my mother-in-law’s coffee cake recipe. She always made it on holidays.

My husband grew up eating this coffee cake that his mother made. He loved the smell that permeated the house and eating the extra chocolate chips. At my wedding shower I received a book of recipes shared by my guests. (This truly priceless gift was put together by my sister; twelve years later I still love looking at all those recipes.) My mother-in-law gave me her coffee cake recipe.  She called it a Jewish coffee cake. I read many Jewish coffee cake recipes and they were all different than this.  I am renaming it Phyllis’s Coffee Cake. She is no longer with us, but I have the recipe card, hand written by her.

Phyllis’s Coffee Cake

2 sticks butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 cups sifted flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pint sour cream

Topping
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 ounces chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat over to 350 degrees and grease and flour a Bundt pan.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Cream butter and sugar and add eggs one at a time, beating well. Beat in flour mixture. Add sour cream and beat until just mixed. Mix sugar, chocolate chips and walnuts in small bowl. Pour half of the batter into the Bundt pan and cover with half of the topping. Spread the rest of the batter into the pan and cover with the remaining topping. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until a knife comes out clean.

This is a very heavy batter. I actually broke the handle on my wooden spatula. I used about 3/4 of the topping in the middle of it and the rest on top. I threw a few more chocolate chips on top. Feel free to add extra chocolate.  I accidently used a spring form pan, but I recommend you use a Bundt pan.

The cake itself is not an extremely sweet cake, but the cake in combination with the chocolate, sugar, cinnamon and walnuts is delicious, especially with coffee.

 

The Truth Behind Food Blogging

I snapped this picture this morning after a night of cooking. Yes, I did run my dishwasher, but I was too tired to clean up the leftovers. I don’t quite know the truth behind food blogging, but I know the truth behind cooking. One must clean up, and it can be a pain. When I woke up this morning creating this food blog was on my mind . My dirty sink jumped right up at me and said, “Um, if you have a food blog I am always going to look like this.”

“You pretty much always look like that now,” I retorted.

Not only did I start this blog, I put my sink in its place as well.

 

Why Start a Food Blog

Hello,

If you are reading my very first post, thank you! I appreciate it. I hope you keep reading, and that I keep blogging. My plan is to share my love for all things in the kitchen. Being in the kitchen is my yoga. That being said, I still can’t pull it together to make dinner many nights, so if you feel the same way maybe we can be friends.

Food has been a huge part of me for my entire life. The tradition and nostalgia.

I read so many wonderful food blogs, and a  little voice inside has always been whispering, “you can do this.” Well, I am not sure if that voice is correct, but here I am.  I hope to share what I create in my kitchen for my family with you. “You” being anyone who enjoys food and understands the way it connects us all.

When you find someone who loves food the way you love food you can easily make a new friend. I hope you enjoy your time here.