Sunday, September 23, 2012

Peppers - Part 2!

Here's the final product of the pepper drying:  Crushed Peppers for our cooking!  Don't they look HOT...and delicious? :)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

First Day of Fall, Last Day of Garden Harvest

Well folks, it's the start of my favorite season here in WI - FALL!!!!  I love everything about it. . .ok well there are two things I don't like about it:  1) The length of the season is WAY TOO SHORT 2) And my skin will begin to get itchy and scratchy.  But I love the smells, the colors of the leaves, the cool breezes, the crisp a.m. air, pumpkins, apples, apple pickin' with the fam, walks in the 'hood, h.s. football games, no a/c. . .What's not to love?

Here are a few photos of the last of our garden harvest today:

All of the tomatoes will be stored in paper bags in our garage so we can still enjoy fresh garden schmaters for several more weeks - they ripen up well in paper bags, like a banana or avocado would.  If you haven't ever tried it, you should! 

Our fresh mint has been washed, placed on paper towels, will be left to dry out for several weeks in a cool, dry location, and once it's dried it will be crushed and used in a variety of the dishes we cook here in our household!

And, last but not least. . .HOLY PEPPERS!!!  Ali grew ALOT of hot peppers this year and we have TOO MANY!  Jalepenos, thai chilis, Hungarian hots. . .They have been washed, sliced/chopped, placed on a cookie sheet in a 160F oven.  Leave them in the oven at this temp to dry out at least 6-8 hrs.  Let them cool.  Place in blender or food processor and make into a spicy powder, great for ethnic dishes!  Or you can chop up the dried pieces and make your own "shaker peppers" for pizza. . .and other dishes! :)  DELISH!

Happy First Day of Fall!!!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Chicken Cacciatore. . .Amore'!

Goodness, it's been awhile since I posted a recipe or anything food related on my blog!  It's been busy busy busy and now it's almost fall here in WI!  My FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR!!!!

So, to honor that, I made Chicken Cacciatore for dinner!  This is a version of Giada's recipe - ok, all you men put your eyeballs back in your head and your tongue in your mouth, do you hear?! :)

I tweak this recipe, depending on what all I have in my pantry and refrigerator!  You can add fresh chopped zucchini or 1/2 can artichoke quarters for example! :)

Here's how I made it tonight:

Chicken Cacciatore

Prep time:  15 min
Cook time:  40-50 minutes
Serves: 4

4-5 boneless chicken thighs
1-2 chicken breasts ( you can use more 2-3 more thighs instead, if you wish -the dark meat gives this dish a nice richness)
2 t. salt, or to taste
1 t. freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
Wondra flour for coating the chicken (find it in the baking aisle, near the flour - it's a fine flour, perfect for sauces!  I always have this in my spice cabinet!)
3 T. olive oil
1 med bell pepper, chopped (optional . . .can use jarred red peppers, too - 2-3 large ones, sliced)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 fresh garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 package button mushrooms, cut in 1/2
3/4 c. white wine (plus some  for the chef!  optional. . .I made this without the wine tonight. . . and drank a glass instead!)
1 can diced tomatoes with juice/liquid (14 oz.)
3/4 c chicken broth/3/4 c. veggie broth
3 T. chopped green olives with pimentos (optional. . .I didn't use tonight, but this adds a nice acidic, briney taste to the dish. . .I'm not a capers fan believe it or not, but you can use capers instead - again, optional)
2 t. dried oregano
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil leaves - or more if you wish!

Sprinkle chicken with 1 t. of salt/pepper.  Dredge with Wondra flour to coat lightly.  In a large saute' pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add chicken and saute' until brown, about 5-6 minutes per side, or until golden brown.  If all chicken doesn't fit, do in two batches.  Remove chicken from pan and set aside.  Add pepper (optional), onion, garlic, mushrooms (optional), and carrots (optional) (this is when you could add the zucchini if you are adding it, as well as the artichokes)  to the same pan, using the chicken drippings, on medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3-5 minutes.  Add tomatoes and their juice (liquid), broth, capers/olives (optional), and oregano.  Return chicken to the pan with the sauce and turn them to coat in the sauce.  Bring sauce to a simmer.  Continue simmering over medium-low heat until chicken is cooked through, approximately 20-30 minutes.

Serve with pasta of your choice and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese (freshly grated is always best, but sometimes "pizza Parmesan" does suffice!) . . . slices of a nice, crusty artisan french bread. . .and your favorite white wine! :)


Welcome fall!