Roman-ish Chicken

If you are like me and are not a fan of dark meat, this recipe will convert you. I promise.

My poor husband has to live with all of my silly food likes and dislikes. He is a guy who really loves all types of food and though I love to cook, I confess that I’m not a fan of some of the things he really loves. Dark meat happens to be one of his favorites. Each time we’re at the store together he gravitates to chicken thighs and suggests we make them. Stubbornly, I refuse because I hate dark meat. (Well I used to refuse until I found this recipe!)

Just look at that photo up there! With this cast of characters, how can anyone not like this recipe! The bonus is that it’s super easy (and cheap) to make!

First you lay out your chicken pieces making sure to pat them dry. After seasoning them with salt and pepper, brown them on both sides in a dutch oven. It isn’t necessary that they cook all the way through at this point. You are just looking for a nice color on both sides. When this is to your satisfaction, remove the pieces and set aside.

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Using the same pan, cook the bacon three quarters of the way to crisp, then add in the rest of the vegetables to saute until soft. Don’t forget to season and reseason every step of the way!

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Once your veggies have reached the desired consistency, add in a can of diced tomatoes, half of a cup of dry white wine, half of a cup of chicken stock, half of a cup of your favorite marinara (I use only Rao, because it’s Keto-approved. You may also make your own fresh marinara if you choose.) Here I threw in a whole bunch of fresh herbs from my garden and also more fresh cracked pepper and salt.

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I let this simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavors to marry and then I add back in the chicken. It’s not a beautiful picture, from here I let the chicken and the sauce simmer for about twenty minutes to allow the chicken to cook through. Charlie suggested last time that olives would be great in this. I agree. I also think artichokes would be tasty as well.

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Once it’s all cooked through, all that remains is to serve it over whatever your heart desires OR to serve it alone with a side of green vegetables. This will do well over rice, pasta, zoodles and even quinoa.


Roman-Ish Chicken
Serves 6

Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (you may use bone in, skin on if preferred)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (you may use bone in, skin on preferred)
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped or sliced (however you prefer)
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
6 pieces of bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Optional Ingredients:
¾ cup thinly sliced eggplant (I grow Japanese eggplant, so that’s what you are seeing in the photo)
½ cup sliced olives (whatever type you like)
¾ cup jarred quartered artichokes

Directions:
Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a heavy, large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, cook the chicken until browned on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Using the same pan over medium heat, add the bacon & cook it until it’s just about crisp, then add the onions and peppers (and whatever other fresh veggies you may decide to add), and cook until tender (about five minutes or so). Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, wine, and herbs. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the stock. Stir. Return the chicken to the pan and bring the mixture to a boil. IF you are adding jarred olives and/or artichokes, you would add them here. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Just prior to serving, stir in the parsley and capers.

 

Gimmee that Bacon Roasted Tortellini!

A lot of times I adapt recipes that I have made at home in order to serve for a large crowd. This tortellini casserole is a showstopper every time!

 

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By day, I do the finances for a very large, beautiful Baptist church here in Louisville. (Not that it matters, but hubs and I are Catholic and we joke with the members of this church all the time that, “We are the heathen Catholic couple!”) Every Wednesday afternoon I knock off at 1:30 to meet Charlie at the door and walk down to the church kitchen where together, we prepare their Wednesday Night Fellowship meal. This is our fifth year of doing that walk.

I think it’s worth noting here that I haven’t always been a good cook, let alone someone who was trained in feeding the masses!  Raising my daughter alone, I remember a very limited scope of what I actually made from scratch. There for a while, we ate almost all of our meals out at Applebee’s. (Yes, it’s true. If I could do that over, I certainly would.) When Charlie came along ten years ago, he came with the experience of not only being a retired Firefighter, but his firehouse’s cook. Soon enough, he was preparing all of our meals.

That is, until we moved to a new condo that had a wonderful kitchen. It was there, two years prior to my being hired at the church, that I discovered my absolute love of cooking. Turns out, I not only love cooking, I’m told my food is worth eating! (That’s a total plus!)

Just after I was hired, I learned of an opening to aid in the Wednesday Fellowship Meal prep. I am ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS on the hunt for side job experiences, so I immediately signed us up! (Poor Charlie. He’s sooo stuck with “a joiner”.)

Long story short, after the first season, we ended up taking over the entire meal preparation. That means we decide what to make, we shop for our ingredients, we prepare the food, we help to serve the food and do the dishes and it’s darned hard work. I joke all the time that,”It’s ALWAYS Wednesday in our life”. I feel like it’s true! It’s also true that it’s like planning a huge party once a week and for this reason, I adore it!

A lot of times, I adapt recipes that Charlie and I make at home in order to share with the church. This tortellini casserole is something I saw on TV long ago. It seemed so easy. I made it for us and we loved it, so I figured out an easier way to make if for the church.

I will give you the original recipe and then I will tell you how to tweak it for a crowd! But first, meet my hubs, Charlie Alfredo! LOL!

Charlie Tortellini


Bacon Roasted Chicken Tortellini

Makes 8-10 servings.
Ingredients:

½-20 oz. pkg.  Hardwood Smoked Bacon

1 pkg. Chicken Breast (about 1 ¾ lb.)

½ tsp. Kosher Salt

½ tsp. Garlic Italian Seasoning

1/2 tsp. Dried basil

¼ tsp.  Coarse Ground Black Pepper

2-19 oz. pkgs. Frozen Cheese Tortellini (I always go for the tri-color variety. It’s just prettier)

1-12 oz. pkg. Frozen Peas

2-16.9 oz. pkgs. Alfredo Sauce (at home, I make my own, but use jarred if you are scared!)

6 slices Provolone Cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375° & lightly spray a 9″X13″ casserole dish with pan release.

Layout bacon on a baking sheet & bake until crisp (about 15 minutes or so).

Remove bacon from baking sheet & move onto a paper towel lined plate to drain. Do not discard the grease from the baking sheet.

Season both sides of the chicken breast with salt, Italian seasoning & black pepper. Place directly on the already hot baking sheet. Flip chicken so that bacon grease is now on both sides of the chicken. Roast chicken for 10 minutes & then flip. Roast another 10 minutes & check for doneness. The chicken should read 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from oven & let rest on your cutting board for 3-5 minutes before slicing into thin strips.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sliced chicken, uncooked, frozen tortellini, frozen peas & both jars of Alfredo. Crumbled the bacon over top & toss well to combine.

Pour mixture into your prepared casserole dish. Cover top with sliced provolone cheese. Bake for 25 minutes covered with foil & then 10 minutes uncovered. The casserole should be hot, bubbly, and browned on top.

Tortellini casserole

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Yeah okay, that’s how we made it at home.

For church (or a large group), skip frying the bacon and doing the chicken in the bacon fat. Instead, go to the market and buy prepared chicken. You can find frozen chopped chicken as well OR buy a rotisserie chicken OR boil some chicken tenders. AND for the bacon, buy frozen, chopped bacon OR buy already prepared bacon and chop it up. Skip the entire part about cooking all this stuff and just add it in with the other ingredients.

THE BEST part about this recipe is that you NEVER have to cook the tortellini; just dump it in as is. Oh and…it’s DELICIOUS,too!!!

PS- Tomorrow’s recipe will be “Zucchini Leak Pie”! Don’t miss it!

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Breakfast Burritos ala Bobbe. My first video.

Breakfast on Thanksgiving was delicious and a personal favorite: breakfast burritos ala Bobbe! Rater than repost the recipe, I decided to try to make my first video!

Trying to teach myself how to do videos. This is too slow, but it’s a good first try.

This was Thanksgiving Day breakfast. I have posted the recipe before. The key to these things is not to skip the step of heating and browning in a medium heated pan. Don’t worry if you burn them a little either; that’s extra flavor!

I will be back next week with some new recipes and blogs. Hubs and I catered a Wedding for 250 people last weekend, so this little blog of mine had to take a backseat for a time.

Here are some pictures of what we did. I was very pleased with the results. It was all simple food, but we made it beautiful.

Vegetable Couscous Stuffed Acorn Squash! Pretty Food!

Once upon a time around Thanksgiving time, we catered a huge interfaith meal. Because there were many different religious dietary restrictions, it was important that we offered a vegetarian option. As per usual, I wanted the food to be beautiful and colorful, so we came up with this recipe for stuffed acorn squash! I was beyond thrilled with the result!

Last year around this time we were contracted to contribute a vegetarian dish for an Interfaith meal hosted by the church where I am employed. We knew we wanted to make something eye-catching utilitizing a Fall vegetable. Say hello to my friend, Mr. Acorn Squash.

I literally went to the store and searched for something colorful to stuff it with and I found this tri-colored pearl couscous. (Thank you, Lucky’s Market!)

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Next, I knew I needed more than just couscous to make it an actual vegetarian dish. Well, to be honest, the squash and the couscous would have been fine, but it wasn’t enough for me. I decided to sauté some yummy vegetables to add into the squash, so I stocked up on onions, carrots, a few butternut squash, dried cranberries, slivered almonds, etc. I literally just thought about things that I love and went from there.

Next, I needed my big, strong hubba hubba hubby, Charlie, to open each squash and scoop out the innards! Don’t worry, I will reduce this recipe so you aren’t feeding 150 people with it! <<grin>> He also sliced off a bit of the bottom so they would sit on a plate without wobbling.

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After the squash have been halved and scooped out, they go in a pan with a little water, (cut side down) to bake until almost soft. (To make these for the family, you can absolutely do this step in the microwave to save time.)

Then it’s a matter of sautéing the vegetables, (I used squash, onion, carrots, cranberries, toasted almonds) preparing the couscous according to package directions and combining all…then stuffing the squash. Here is my bowl combining my sautéed ingredients with my toasted almonds.

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Here is the couscous combined with the sautéed vegetables and toasted almonds stuffed inside the acorn squash.

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Here, I have spooned in the stuffing.

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And finally, it goes back into the oven, sprinkled with fresh seasonings and then it comes out looking like a work of art! (So colorful!) If you are looking for something new to take to your Thanksgiving pot luck dinner, try this. It looks like you’ve spent hours, yet it’s super easy. You could even prepare all of this a day or two in advance, then bake just before you leave for your event OR before you have your event. These will do well stored warm in a baking dish covered with foil.

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Pretty, aren’t they?


Ingredients:

4 acorn squash, washed, cut in half, seeds scooped out.

1 Package tri-colored pearl couscous (or whatever your favorite happens to be) prepared according to pkg directions.

2 Tbsp Olive oil

2 Tbsp butter

2-3 fresh sage leaves chopped

2 carrots peeled & sliced.

1 large onion diced

1/2 butternut squash, peeled, and cubed (save time and buy this already diced from the market)

1/2 c Toasted almonds

1/2 c Dried cranberries (chopped dried apricots would be great in there too or even yellow raisins)

Salt & pepper

1/2 freshly chopped Italian parsley

1/2 c freshly grated cheese of your choice. (I used Asiago/Regiano)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400

  1. Prepare tri-colored couscous according to package directions, set aside.
  2. Dice all of the vegetables (except the butternut squash) and sauté (until tender) in half the olive oil and half the butter. Season with salt and pepper and the sage. Just prior to finishing, toss in the cranberries to soften them.
  3. When the vegetables are tender, remove to a bowl, clean out your skillet and dry roast the almonds over medium high heat for about 2 minutes until fragrant. Add to the vegetables.
  4. Put the butternut squash in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper, pour out onto sheet tray, bake 20-25 minutes.

Prepare the squash:

  1. Wash the acorn squash, cut in half, scoop out the seeds.
  2. Brush the cut sides and the cavity with olive oil. Sprinkle them with salt & pepper& garlic
  3. Place cut side down in a large roasting pan
  4. Roast in the oven for one hour until tender and still holding their shape.

Prepare the stuffing:

  1. In a bowl, combine the couscous with the roasted butternut squash and the sautéed vegetables and cranberries.
  2. Stir in the parsley
  3. Spoon into the cooked acorn squashes.
  4. Sprinkle the tops with freshly grated cheese of your choice. I like Asiago, but you can use what you like.
  5. Place back in oven uncovered for about 5-8 minutes until just heated through.
  6. Garnish with more parsley.

Enjoy!

Vegetable Tartlets! Beautiful and Delicious!

I catered a cocktail party the other day and my clients wanted a vegetarian option. We decided on vegetable tarts, mainly because they are delicious, but also because they are so pretty!

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I catered a cocktail party the other day and tarts were on the menu. I thought long and hard about what kind to make and in the end, I decided on making individual ones because they make a better presentation. I am all about doing things that are beautiful but I don’t bake, so I always opt for pre-made crusts. I was aiming to use Pepperidge Farm tartlets, but of course, I didn’t discover until I was about to bake, that I had actually purchased SHELLS instead. (Shells are bigger than tartlets.) Of course this made me panic, but I decided to bake a few of them to see what happened and to my surprise, I liked how they looked.

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Translate this to, “I don’t want to have to go to the store to start over, so I’m going with this!” It’s hard to tell from this photo but these things are about the size of cupcakes. I was really in search of something half this size. Anyway, they baked up really nicely (18 minutes tops). So that first step was simple.

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Second step is to fill these bad boys with my ricotta mixture. (Ricotta mixed with grated Fontina, Italian spices, lemon zest, a little fresh grated Parmesan cheese & a pinch of nutmeg.)

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Then comes a layer of caramelized onions. We made a huge pot of these the day before, but you can make them whenever you want.

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Toppings come next. We sliced these using a mandolin set on the thinnest setting. The way to make tarts work is to try to get as much of the liquid out of your vegetables as possible. We sliced these, laid them out on paper towels, the sprinkled them with salt and let them sit for half an hour. After this, we patted them dry and they were ready to use.

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I made the little shapes simply by folding my zucchini medallions in half and then in half again. I loved how they turned out. Once you are satisfied with how you’ve decorated your tarts, paint on some garlic olive oil and bake for just about 10 minutes. The key here to remember is that the shells are already baked,so you must be careful not to brown them too much.

Also, I made a huge mistake and covered them after I was finished with them. I wanted them to be warm and poof, they got soggy. These are best served pretty soon OR just leave them out at room temp and if you must warm them, throw them in the oven uncovered, just prior to serving.


Ingredients:

  • 2 package of Pepperidge Farm Puffed Pastry Shells (6 come in a package)
  • 1 c. Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 c. freshly grated Fontina Cheese (you can substitute shredded Swiss cheese)
  • 1/2 freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Zest
  • 1 Teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 onions chopped and caramelized
  • 3-4 Zucchini sliced paper thin
  • 1-2 plum tomatoes diced or sliced (depends on how you want to use them to decorate)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Smash your garlic and combine it with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Set aside.
  3. Pre-bake the pastry shells according to package directions.
  4. Slice the zucchini and tomatoes using a mandolin. Lay out on paper towels, sprinkle with salt. Leave them out for at least 30 minutes, then blot them dry as possible using more paper towels.
  5. Thinly slice the onions, saute low and slow in a pan with 2 Tbsp butter & 1 Tbsp Olive oil until they slowly brown and become caramelized. Set aside to cool. (This step can be done a day or two before. Just store them in an air tight container in the refrigerator.)
  6. In a bowl, combine the Ricotta, Fontina, Parmesan cheese, Italian Seasoning, lemon zest, nutmeg and salt & pepper to taste.
  7. Assemble the tarts by starting with a layer of the cheese, then the onions, then arrange your vegetables how you like them. Brush with garlic olive oil and bake uncovered about ten minutes.

**These tarts can sit on the counter up to 2 hours prior to being cooked.**

**Serve warm or at room temperature.

Click here to see another version on this tart.

 

Grilled Cilantro Lime Swordfish

I confess that I used to hate fish but I think it’s only because I’d never tasted really good fish! Now that my husband and I are trying to eat more healthfully, we make it all the time and I’m loving it. This sword fish recipe is simple with just a couple of ingredients and it takes just a few minutes to make!

I just realized my husband and I are eating a LOT of fish lately! At least once a week, we used our cast-iron grill pan to make some delicious sword fish! We season this all sorts of ways, but one of our favorites is with cilantro and lime. (Go figure. Seems like these are our favorite flavors lately!)

So many people are afraid of cooking fish at home, especially things like sword fish, that can be a little pricey. I did not grow up in a household that ever, even one time, cooked fish. I suspect my Mom was afraid of it. I was never a fish fan until I met my husband and we began our quest to eat healthier. What I have found is that fish is actually the quickest, easiest meal to make on a week night. The worst thing you can do to a fish is to over-cook it, so I usually pick a hearty variety, like this sword fish. I am also picky about taste and even mouth-feel. Anything that’s slimy or that has a strong “fishy” taste, doesn’t make it to my mouth. I absolutely love tuna and cod and swordfish. I wish I loved salmon, but it’s falls on the “fishier”side, so I don’t make it often.

Anyway, start with your sword fish filets. I usually take mine out of the refrigerator about a half hour prior to cooking. Coat both sides with olive oil, about 1/4 c. Cilantro, zest of a couple of limes, juice of a couple of limes, and of course, salt and pepper.

At this point I let the fish just rest in the juice for 15 minutes, then I flip them and let them rest for 15 minutes more.

Then I heat my grill pan to medium-high. Add 2 Tbsp real butter and about 1 Tbsp of your favorite cooking oil.

Sear the fish on the first side (about four minutes), then when it releases from the pan easily, flip it to sear the second side (about 4 minutes). Then I turn the heat down about medium and let the fish cook all the way through. (Time depends on how large your filets are.)

And here you have the finished product. You can tell it’s ready when you see it starts to flake! YUMMY!!


Ingredients:

2 large swordfish filets

4 Tbsp olive oil

1-2 Tbsp butter

2 limes (zest & juice)

1/2 c. Chopped fresh cilantro

Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Coat fish with olive oil (both sides)

In a bowl, mix 1 Tbsp olive oil, cilantro, lime juice, lime zest, and salt and pepper. Pour over the fish, then turn the fish so both sides get the marinade.

Let rest for 15 minutes, turn over and let rest 15 more.

Heat a grill pan to medium high. Coat it with olive oil and butter.

Sear both sides of the fish for 4 minutes or until it easily releases from the pan.

Turn the heat down to medium, continue cooking fish until it’s flakey.

Balsamic Chicken with Roasted Vegetables. One One Pan Wonder!

Beautiful, delicious food doesn’t have to take a million steps to prepare. Check out this one pan wonder…

Dinner doesn’t always have to have dramatic preparation to be both beautiful and delicious. Last night when I got home late, my husband already had the chicken marinating in a balsamic concoction. All I did was figure out what vegetables to throw on a pan and dinner was underway!

I opted for beautiful tri-colored baby carrots, purple potatoes and spiralized beets. (I am on a spiralizing kick lately!) I sprinkled on some olive oil and salt and pepper, then popped them into the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. At 15 minutes, take them out and make a little room on the pan, then add your chicken and pop it all back in the oven for twenty minutes. Last night I got involved with writing for another site and I forgot this step which is why you see no chicken on this pan. No worries. I baked the chicken in the pan it was marinated in.

And here is the finished product. Aren’t they beautiful? Here, I usually sprinkle on a little more pepper and call it a day.

Here is my plated dinner. Okay, I lied. At the last minute we had a taste for some steamed broccoli so we made it. We could have just as easily roasted it on the same pan as the other veggies, but we didn’t decide on it until the other stuff was already in the oven. Beautiful and delicious and no one has to know how simple and easy it was to prepare.

Unless you write a blog about it to tell the world!


Balsamic Marinade Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp honey(optional)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1-4 pounds boneless skinless chicken (There are just two of us so we usually opt for chicken tenderloins as they cook very fast.)

Directions

(Are you ready for this?)

  • Whisk together all ingredients.
  • Pour over chicken.
  • (Wipe the sweat from your brow. That was hard!)

How long you wish to leave the chicken marinating is entirely up to you. I like to let mine sit from 1-4 hours. Just cover it and put it in the fridge. Take it out and let it sit at room temp for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking. If you are in a rush, just let it sit half an hour, it will still be great.

Bake at 400 degrees approximately 20-25 minutes.


For the one pan dinner:

  • Preheat oven to 400.
  • Decide on what veggies you like, roll them around in 1-2 Tbsp olive oil and salt & pepper.
  • Pour them on a sheet tray.
  • Bake 15 minutes, add chicken to the pan, bake 20-25 minutes more.

Use your common sense here. If you are roasting soft veggies that will cook fast like zucchini, yellow squash, onions, tomatoes, etc. Put everything, including the chicken, on one pan and cook them together.

When you are roasting dense veggies like potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips, acorn squash, etc, start them in the oven at least 15 minutes before adding the chicken.