Chicken Cacciatore

YIELDS | 4-6 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 15 MINS

COOK TIME | 60-90 simmer time

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Cacciatore means “hunter style” in Italian, and this savory, slow cooked dish features chicken with loads of peppers, tomatoes, wine, garlic and fresh herbs. The bacon adds a smoky flavor and mixes beautifully with the vegetables to create this simply delicious simmered stew. I serve this over thick spaghetti but any pasta will do.
Double Duty Recipe: make a double batch of the cacciatore and spread on top of toasted Italian bread topped with mozzarella, broil for one minute and cut into bite-size pieces and serve warm as an appetizer with your weekend cocktails.

INGREDIENTS

* ½ pound bacon, chopped
* 1 lb button or cremini mushrooms, rinsed, trimmed and sliced
* 6 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
* 1 4 ounce can tomato paste
* ½ cup dry red wine or chicken broth
* ½ large red onion, cut length wise and then thinly sliced
* 1 each small red, yellow and orange bell pepper, coarsely chopped
* 1-14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
* 3 tablespoons capers, drained
* 1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
* 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
* 2 to 2 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
* Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
* ⅓ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
* A few sprigs fresh basil, chiffonnade for garnish
* 1 lb thick spaghetti, cooked for serving
* 1/2-3/4 cups Parmesan, grated, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 400.

1. Fry the bacon in a large oven-proof pot with lid or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp and the fat is rendered, about 8-10 minutes.
3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate and set aside, leaving the fat. Add the onions and stir until slightly browned.
4. Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate.
5. Add the mushrooms to the fat in the Dutch oven and cook over medium-high, stirring a few times, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and lightly brown, about 10-12 minutes.
6. Add the chopped garlic and stir until fragrant.
7. Pour in the wine or broth into the mushroom mixture and let it come to a simmer. Scrape the browned bits up from the bottom of the pot.
9. Add the bell pepper, tomatoes, capers, oregano, red-pepper flakes and stir to combine.
11. Add the chicken, season with 1 teaspoon salt and a few good cranks of fresh pepper and stir.
12. Put the pot in the oven on the middle rack. Cook on low until the chicken is very tender and the flavors are blended, about 1-1 1/2 hours.
13. Remove the chicken from the pot and on a large cutting board, using two forks, break the chicken up into large chunks. Add the chicken back into the pot and stir in the parsley, add more salt and pepper if necessary.
14. Serve over spaghetti and garnish with basil and Parmesan.

NOTES

Best Combinations to use to stuff inside a chicken

STORY

A combination of Rosemary, Thyme, Onion, Garlic and Citrus⁠ make a wonderfully aromatic amalgamation to pop inside chicken for a bright, moist bird every time. Let your imagination run wild. The secret to a succulent chicken is to stuff the cavity with ingredients that will produce moisture such as fruit, veggies, herbs and other aromatics. Always try to add an onion for depth plus here are a few examples and combinations to consider:

* Any savory herb and or combinations such as thyme, rosemary, parsley, tarragon, cilantro
* Halved limes sprinkled with cumin and cilantro
* Halved oranges mixed with honey and thyme
* Carrots, turnips and celery with your favorite herbs
* Halved lemons, garlic and thyme

Chicken with Smashed Cherry Tomato Sauce

YIELDS | 4 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 10 MINS

COOK TIME | 20 MINS

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This mouthwatering dish bursts with sweet cherry tomato sauce and juicy chicken. The sweet basil brightens the cherry tomato sauce. The mushrooms and spinach add an additional layer of flavor. This recipe comes together in a pinch and is perfect for weeknight meals. Serve with pasta and a crisp, green salad for a complete meal.

INGREDIENTS

• 1 Tbsp olive oiln• 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts n• 2 cloves garlic, mincedn• 1⁄2 Tsp saltn• 1⁄4 Tsp ground black peppern• 2 cups or 8oz fresh mushrooms, rinsed, trimmed and slicedn• 1⁄2 cup onion, choppedn• 3 cups red and/or yellow cherry tomatoes, halved. See Kitchen Tips on how to easily and quickly slice several cherry tomatoes at once.n• 4 cups or 5 oz fresh baby spinachn• 1⁄4 cup basil. cut into ribbonsn• 2 Tbsps Parmesan cheese, grated

INSTRUCTIONS

1. in a large pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes on each side or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove from pan.n2. Add mushrooms and onion to skillet. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until mushrooms and onion are tender and lightly browned, add garlic and cook for 1 minute more and until garlic is fragrant.n3. Add tomatoes and cook until they begin to pop and wrinkle, 5-7 minutes. n4. Reduce heat to medium, add spinach and mix. Simmer until the spinach is wilted.n5. Add chicken back into the pan and cook until chicken is warm about 3-5 minutes. n6. Season with additional salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve. n

NOTES

Happy Eating!nMushroom are optional, if not using, add 1 additional cup pf tomatoes

Lemony Ramp Pesto

YIELDS | 16 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 10 MINS

COOK TIME | 3 MINS

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Ramps, aka wild leaks, grow all-over Illinois and throughout the Midwest for a very short period of time in early spring. My son sustainably forages these beautiful, slender plants and blesses me with a bouquet of these garlicky gems. I have pickled them for the past couple of years and decided to try making pesto with this year’s bounty. The result produced a recipe for a fresh, garlicky and bright condiment that will complement almost every spring-time meal and of course is perfect on pasta too.⁠ Spread on bread and broil, or marinate fish or chicken to give it a nice zing.

INGREDIENTS

• 1 bunch Ramps leaves, rinsed and dried
• 3 tablespoons pine nuts, walnuts or hulled sunflower seeds, optional
• Juice from 1/2 lemon or more to taste
• 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if necessary
• 1⁄3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese or Romano pecorino

Note: Garlic is not necessary in this recipe. The Ramps provide the garlic flavor.

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Remove the leaves from the bulbs by cutting the leaves above where the bulb begins. Wash and dry the leaves.
2. Combine the Ramp leaves, nuts or sunflower seeds, garlic and lemon juice in a food processor or high speed blender and pulse to process for about 1 minute or until a paste forms.
3. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil until the mixture is creamy. You may need to add more olive oil to get the mixture to the consistency you like.
4. Keep the machine running, add the cheese and process for about 5-10 seconds or until the cheese is mixed through.
5. Toss with your favorite pasta. Refrigerate or freeze the leftovers.

NOTES

Be sure to trim, wash and save the bulbs to pickle or sauté to use in another dish. See Pickled Ramps on this website

Warm Chinese Chicken Salad

YIELDS | 4 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 10 MINS

COOK TIME | 20 MINS

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This recipe tastes authentically Chinese. The toasted sesame and warm cucumber work well together and the umami dressing adds an earthy, delicate flavor that is just as delicious cold as it is served warm. Double the recipe to serve over Napa Cabbage as a cold salad to serve as another meal later in the week.

INGREDIENTS

1⁄4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon agave nectar, optional
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 medium cucumber (about 21⁄2 cups)
1 fresh, red fresno chili
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons Sichuan or other peppercorns
1⁄2 teaspoon crushed red- pepper flakes
1⁄4 cup chopped cilantro
Sea salt to taste
Warm brown rice for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

1. In a medium pot with lid, cover chicken with water and bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until chicken no longer pink in the middle. Remove from the heat, uncover and allow the chicken and broth to cool.
2. Meanwhile, rinse the cucumber, slice off the ends, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. Keep the peel on and cut each half into thin strips.
3. In a small bowl, mix the first five ingredients together and set aside.
4. Cut the stem of the chili pepper off and dice it, set aside.
5. In a medium pan, heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the Sichuan peppercorns and chili peppers to the pan and sauté for 1 minute. Add the cucumber strips and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes.
6. Season with sea salt, remove from the heat, and allow to cool. Remove chicken from the liquid. Save the liquid broth for another use. Tear chicken apart into strips using a serrated knife or two forks.
7. Arrange the cucumber mixture on a platter and layer on the chicken. Top with the sesame dressing. Serve with warm brown rice.

NOTES

Double Duty recipe:
Second meal options:
Top chopped Napa cabbage with cold Chinese Chicken Salad, toss and serve.
Mix 1-1⁄2 tablespoons Basic Dressing with 1 teaspoon tahini. Pour over chopped Napa cabbage, top with cold Chinese chicken salad, toss and enjoy.

Tip: Use a serrated knife at an angle to cut the chicken to produce slightly shredded meat that better absorbs the dressing and looks like the real thing-authentic Chinese!

Seafood, Sausage, and Chicken Gumbo

YIELDS | 8-10 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 15 MINS

COOK TIME | 40 MINS

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This is a southern, classic Creole dish. It is piquant, satisfying and full of sausage, shrimp, chicken and vegetables. The dark roux binds it all together with a deep, rich flavor and the okra adds an earthy, starchy texture. Be sure to use a large enough pot because this recipes make a large batch that won’t last long! Serve with hot, cooked rice and warm, fluffy cornbread.

INGREDIENTS

* 1⁄2 pound bacon, chopped
* About 1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
* 3/4 cup all purpose flour
* 2 celery ribs, chopped
* 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
* 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
* 1 large jalapeno, minced
* 5 garlic cloves, minced
* 8 cups fish or chicken stock or a combination of both
* 1 (14 oz) can chopped tomatoes with juices
* 1 Lb frozen cut okra, do not thaw
* 1 tsp chopped thyme
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 heaping teaspoon cayenne
* 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
* 1 Tablespoon black pepper
* 1⁄2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
* 6-7 scallions, chopped
* 1 lb andouille sausage, 1⁄2” slice. If the sausage is larger in diameter then slice 1/2″ and slice in half
* 1 lb chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces.
* 1 lb raw shrimp, rinsed, deveined and tails removed
* Big bowl of hot, cooked long grain rice

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Cook bacon in a very large, heavy pot (preferably cast-iron), over medium heat, until browned but not crisp. Transfer bacon to a bowl with a slotted spoon and set aside.
2. Turn the heat down to medium-low, add the oil and the flour and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook the roux, stirring constantly, until well browned to a shade of dark peanut butter, 15-20 minutes. Do not leave the pot because it will burn-promise.
3. Add the tomatoes, celery, bell pepper, onion, jalapeño and garlic and cook for a 2-3 minutes.
4. Add stock, okra, sausage, chicken, thyme, bay leaf, cayenne, salt and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes.
5. While the Gumbo simmers, make the rice.
6. Add the parsley, scallions, shrimp and cook, stirring, until shrimp is just cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.
7. Stir bacon and simmer until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Discard bay leaf.
8. Serve with hot, cooked rice.

NOTES

Happy Eating!