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Rob and I made this a while back and it was delicious. It’s one of the few Paula Deen recipes that has appealed to me and the only one I’ve tried; I’m glad I did!  I thought of it again today and decided to post it…completely forgot about it for a while so I’m looking forward to making it again soon!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 chipotle peppers, roughly chopped
1 (10-ounce) can chicken broth
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 (5-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
Toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), for garnish
White rice, for serving


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add garlic and spices and continue to saute to toast and develop flavor. Add diced tomatoes, peppers, chipotles, broth, peanut butter, and chocolate. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and puree until smooth.

Sear the chicken in a heavy bottomed hot saute pan over medium-high heat until browned on both sides. Add to casserole dish, cover with sauce and braise the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Garnish with pepitas and serve with white rice.


bookcoverjamieathomeThis is from my new favorite cookbook by Jamie Oliver – Jamie at Home.  If you are an aspiring gardener and/or appreciate the Earth’s edible bounty, you will love the photography and recipe ideas in this book.  Organized by season, it will also help you make the most of seasonal meats and veggies.  I brought this soup to my sister’s holiday potluck this year and it received many compliments.  The only modification I made was a shortcut on the croutons…I just drizzled olive oil and sprinkled some parmesan and threw them into the oven until toasty.  Can’t wait to try Jamie’s recipe next time!

Ingredients – Soup
olive oil
16 fresh sage leaves
2 red onions, peeled and chopped
2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
1/2 – 1 fresh red chilli [I used green…it was all I could find], deseeded and finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 1/2 pounds butternut squash, onion squash, or musque de Provence, halved, deseeded and cut into chunks
2 quarts good-quality chicken or vegetable stock [confession: I used bouillion cubes…]
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Ingredients – Croutons
extra virgin olive oil
16 slices of ciabatta bread
block of parmesan for grating

Put a very large saucepan on a medium heat and pour in a couple of glugs of olive oil. Add sage leaves and fry 30 seconds until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve for garnish on a paper towel lined plate. Return the fragranced oil to the heat and add onion, celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary leaves, chilli, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until veggies are sweet and soft. Add the squash and the stock, bring to the boil, and simmer for a half hour or so.

While the soup is cooking, make your croutons. Drizzle a little olive oil over the ciabatta slices, pat it in and press some grated parmesan on each side. Place in a non-stick pan without any oil and fry until golden on both sides.

When the squash is soft and cooked through, whiz the soup with an immersion blender or pour into a blender and pulse until you have a smooth puree (or leave slightly chunky if you’d like). Most importantly, remember to taste and season until it’s perfect. Divide the soup between your bowls, placing 2 croutons on top of each. Sprinkle with a few of your crispy sage leaves and drizzle with a swirl of good-quality extra virgin olive oil.

This is a delicious sweet and spicy stew we love served with couscous or egg noodles.  The hit of lemon and herbs at the end really makes the dish!

Serves 4.  Published May 1, 2006.  From Cook’s Illustrated.

Bone-in chicken parts can be substituted for the whole chicken. For best results, use four chicken thighs and two chicken breasts, each breast split in half; the dark meat contributes valuable flavor to the broth and should not be omitted. Use a vegetable peeler to remove wide strips of zest from the lemon before juicing it. Make sure to trim any white pith from the zest, as it can impart bitter flavor. Serve with couscous.

1 1/4 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 strips lemon zest (each about 2 inches by 3/4 inch)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice , from 1 to 2 lemons
5 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 5 teaspoons)
1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), cut into 8 pieces (4 breast pieces, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks; wings reserved for another use) and trimmed of excess fat
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion , halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 3 cups)
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon honey
1 medium carrot , peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick coins, very large pieces cut into half-moons (about 1 cup)
1 cup dried apricots , halved
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas , drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1. Combine spices in small bowl and set aside. Mince 1 strip lemon zest; combine with 1 teaspoon minced garlic and mince together until reduced to fine paste; set aside.

2. Season both sides of chicken pieces liberally with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large heavy–bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke. Brown chicken pieces skin side down in single layer until deep golden, about 5 minutes; using tongs, turn chicken pieces and brown on second side, about 4 minutes more. Transfer chicken to large plate; when cool enough to handle, peel off skin and discard. Pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot.

3. Add onion and 2 remaining lemon zest strips to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have browned at edges but still retain shape, 5 to 7 minutes (add 1 tablespoon water if pan gets too dark). Add remaining 4 teaspoons garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add spices and cook, stirring constantly, until darkened and very fragrant, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in broth and honey, scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Add thighs and drumsticks, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Add carrots, apricots, and breast pieces (with any accumulated juices) to pot, arranging breast pieces in single layer on top of carrots. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers 160 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes.

5. Transfer chicken to plate or bowl and tent with foil. Add chickpeas to pot; increase heat to medium-high and simmer until liquid has thickened slightly and carrots are tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Return chicken to pot and add garlic-zest mixture, cilantro, and lemon juice; stir to combine and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Okay, so if you’ve tried the ones with sour cream served at the last potluck you attended, you probably have something very specific in mind when you hear the phrase “Swedish Meatballs.”  Well, I’m here to tell you that this recipe is nothing like those.  We substituted ground turkey for both meats and followed the instructions exactly.  They’re rich and comforting and delicious with egg noodles!

Serves 4 to 6. Published January 1, 2009. From Cook’s Illustrated.
The traditional accompaniments for Swedish meatballs are lingonberry preserves and Swedish Pickled Cucumbers (see related recipe). If you can’t find lingonberry preserves, cranberry preserves may be used. For a slightly less sweet dish, omit the brown sugar in the meatballs and reduce the brown sugar in the sauce to 2 teaspoons. A 12-inch slope-sided skillet can be used in place of the sauté pan—use 1 1/2 cups of oil to fry instead of 1 1/4 cups. The meatballs can be fried and then frozen for up to 2 weeks. To continue with the recipe, thaw the meatballs in the refrigerator overnight and proceed from step 3, using a clean pan. Serve the meatballs with mashed potatoes, boiled red potatoes, or egg noodles.

1 large egg
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 large slice high-quality white sandwich bread , crusts removed and bread torn into 1-inch pieces
8 ounces ground pork
1 small onion , grated on large holes of box grater (about 1/4 cup)
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar (see note)
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
8 ounces 85 percent lean ground beef
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar (see note)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
Table salt and ground black pepper

1. For the Meatballs: Whisk egg and cream together in medium bowl. Stir in bread and set aside. Meanwhile, in stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat pork, onion, nutmeg, allspice, pepper, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder on high speed until smooth and pale, about 2 minutes, scraping bowl as necessary.

Using fork, mash bread mixture until no large dry bread chunks remain; add mixture to mixer bowl and beat on high speed until smooth and homogeneous, about 1 minute, scraping bowl as necessary. Add beef and mix on medium-low speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl as necessary.

Using moistened hands, form generous tablespoon of meat mixture into 1-inch round meatball; repeat with remaining mixture to form 25 to 30 meatballs.

2. Heat oil in 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat until edge of meatball dipped in oil sizzles (oil should register 350 degrees on instant-read thermometer), 3 to 5 minutes. Add meatballs in single layer and fry, flipping once halfway through cooking, until lightly browned all over and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. (Adjust heat as needed to keep oil sizzling but not smoking.) Using slotted spoon, transfer browned meatballs to paper towel-lined plate.

3. For the Sauce: Pour off and discard oil in pan, leaving any fond (browned bits) behind. Return pan to medium-high heat and add butter. When foaming subsides, add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until flour is light brown, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in broth, scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits. Add brown sugar and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook until sauce is reduced to about 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Stir in cream and return to simmer.

4. Add meatballs to sauce and simmer, turning occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

I used gemelli for this recently and it was delicious.  You can modify the ingredients and dressing flavorings all you like with this basic technique of adding pasta water to the dressing…add part of the dressing while the pasta is hot and add the rest just before serving.

From Cook’s Illustrated
Cooking the pasta until it is completely tender is crucial here—pasta becomes tough as it sits in the salad overnight. This recipe was originally published in The Best Make-Ahead Recipe.

Dressing 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 2 lemons
1 medium shallot, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano leaves , or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 pound farfalle
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated over the large holes of a box grater
1 large yellow bell pepper , stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips
8 ounces crumbled feta cheese (about 2 cups)
1 cup pitted kalamata olives (about 6 ounces), chopped coarse
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1 pint cherry tomatoes (about 12 ounces), quartered

1. For the dressing: Whisk all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside.
2. For the salad: Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Stir in 2 tablespoons salt and the pasta and cook until completely tender. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta in a colander. Transfer the hot pasta to a large bowl.
3. Stir the reserved pasta water into the dressing. Pour half of the dressing over the pasta and toss to coat. Stir in the carrots, bell pepper, feta, olives, and parsley. Scatter the tomatoes on top of the pasta (do not mix in).
4. To Store: Cover the pasta salad tightly with plastic wrap and poke several vent holes. Transfer the remaining dressing to an airtight container. Refrigerate the pasta salad and reserved dressing separately for up to 2 days.
5. To Serve: Microwave the pasta salad on high power to remove the chill, 1 to 2 minutes. Shake the reserved dressing to recombine, then pour half of the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Add the remaining dressing as needed to keep the salad moist.

This is a recipe that was given to me by a friend and coworker.  She is vegetarian and always looking for recipes that are hearty crowd-pleasers without meat.  This was a crowd-pleaser for sure!  I made it twice over the winter holidays, once for family and once for friends.  The first time I followed the recipe for the topping but made some adjustments to the stew (couldn’t find celery root).  The second time I followed the recipe for the stew but made adjustments to the crust (trying to achieve a more cheddar-y and less biscuit-y result).  I preferred the second iteration…the celery root was delicious and the crust less bready.

The recipe below is the original version.  Quantity substitutions for the less biscuit-y crust are in parentheses.

Ingredients – Cheddar Topping
2 cups flour (sub: 1 1/2 cups)
1 tsp. kosher salt
4 tsp. baking powder (sub: 3 tsp. baking powder)
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and well chilled
1 to 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. finely chopped garlic
pinch ground pepper (or more to taste)
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar (sub: 3/4 to 1 cup)

Ingredients – Vegetable Stew
3 tbsp. EVOO
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 red onion
2 medium carrots
1 medium celery root
1 medium acorn squash
1 parsnip
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
3 tbsp. tomato paste
3 cups chicken or veggie broth
1 tbsp. chopped fresh marjoram (or other fragrant, tender herb such as sage, thyme, etc.)
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

First make the topping so that it has time to rest before baking.  Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl.  Cut in butter using forks, fingers, or pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add the cream, garlic, and pepper.  Add the cheese and mix lightly until just holds together (note: the second time around, I added the cheese to the flour first then the wet ingredients and found this much easier to do quickly).  Set aside to rest at room temperature.

Next make the stew.  All vegetables should be peeled and chopped to about 1-inch cubes.  Heat half of the oil and butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, carrots, and celery root; cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies are browned (about 7 minutes).  Transfer veggies to a large (13 x 9) casserole or roasting pan.  Repeat this with remaining butter, oil, and root veggies, cooking about 7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two until just fragrant.  Add this mixture to the casserole dish.

Increase heat to high and add the white wine, tomato paste, and broth to the saute pan.  Bring to a boil, scraping brown bits from bottom of saute pan.  Lower the heat and simmer for 3 minutes.  Add this liquid to the casserole (it will seem like a lot, but trust the recipe…it works!).  Sprinkle with marjoram, season with salt and pepper (be careful…if you used cooking wine or canned broth, it may not need more salt).  Cover the casserole with foil and bake until the veggies are tender, about 30 minutes.  There will still be lots of liquid at this point.

Remove the foil.  Using a large spoon, drop ping-pong size balls of the topping onto the veggies.  The lumpier, the better!  Crevaces are good.  Return the casserole to the oven, uncovered, until the topping is cooked and browned, about 25 minutes.

Let me know what you think!

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