Archive for September, 2011

September 27, 2011

Chicken Cacciatore Stew

So you got yourself some San Marzano tomatoes to try out, now what? We took some bell peppers , onions and lots of fresh herbs, combined them with chicken and made a version of chicken cacciatore. Only missing the mushrooms, but if you have some, include those as well. The tomatoes were so silky, it made a beautiful sauce. With some crunchy bread to soak up the sauce, it was a wonderful meal. It really turned into more of a stew than your traditional chicken cacciatore, which turned out to be a great spin on it! This is a great fall dish, let us know how yours turns out.


Chicken Cacciatore Stew

1 Bunch of various fresh herbs (basil, thyme, rosemary)

4 Cloves of garlic

1 White onion, sliced

3 Bell peppers (red, yellow, orange), seeds removed and sliced

3 Carrots, sliced on an angle

3 Ribs of celery, sliced on an angle

1 28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, stem end removed and lightly crushed

1 lb. thin cut chicken breasts

¼ cup flour

2 T. olive oil

4 T. butter

Salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add peeled garlic cloves and sauté until lightly browned. Add sliced onion, bell peppers and allow to soften slightly, then add carrots and celery.

Add prepared tomatoes and herbs and allow to simmer while preparing the chicken.

Place flour in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off any extra. Heat 2 T of butter in a pot. Place half of the chicken breasts in the pot and allow to brown, about 3 minutes on each side.

Remove the cooked chicken, set aside and repeat with the second batch. Remove the chicken and slice lengthwise. Wipe out the pot if need be and then add the pepper mixture and the chicken to the pot.

Allow to simmer about 10 minutes to meld the ingredients.

Serve with some good bread and enjoy!

September 26, 2011

San Marzano Tomatoes

Every once in a while we come across a product worthy of sharing with you. These are things that we love to use, if you know about them, we would love to hear what you think!! San Marzano tomatoes are some of the most famous in the world. This brand is something we came across in a lovely shop in our area. Try them out for yourself!



La Valle Tomatoes

Years ago I saw these tomatoes on “Follow That Food“. Only thing …it was impossible to get in my area, without paying twice the cost in shipping. I finally saw these recently and bought a couple cans to see if they were really any better.

Usually I get a restaurant sized can of tomatoes at Costco (Hunt’s I think?). I crush them by hand and remove the flower end of the tomato core. It’s good and I get a large pot of marinara out of one can.

Initial Impression:

Opened the can of La Valle tomatoes and I did notice a difference. The sauce was a rich, silky tomato puree. The broth in the other version was very watery so I’d set it aside and not add it all, so I didn’t get the sauce too watery.

The Work:

Proceeded to remove the cores and that was the second difference. The unusable part was small. When removing the cores in the Costco  version,  almost 25% of the can was filled with cores. In the la Valle version, there was just a little. They didn’t even fill the bottom of the can.

Cooking:  I made a sort of chicken catiatore, but no mushrooms, more of a chicken and peppers dish. (To be shared with you soon, stay posted!)

It was simple so you could taste the tomatoes. Just sautéed chicken, onions and mixed peppers and herbs. It came out fantastic. The tomatoes were sweet, silky and had a kind of earthy background flavor.

Overall, I thought they were great. Worth the money if you can afford it. If not use the Costco version and perhaps add a little tomato paste.


September 12, 2011

Indian Carrot Salad

Indian food is not really on the top of my favorite foods list. I don’t know why, but I just never fell in love with curry. This recipe is definitely an exception for me. Jamie Oliver never fails to impress with his simple and beautiful recipes. I love the spicy lamb and sweet and crunchy carrots. We added some romaine lettuce to make this a meal instead of a starter. We also liked the addition of fruit (grapes from our fridge in this case) for some extra sweetness; green apple peeled like the carrot would be a great addition as well. Such a fresh salad with unique ingredients is a great way to mix things up. Is this one that you will try??


The grapes we added were some cool black seedless grapes, they looked like olives but obviously weren’t. This is a great dish when you are bored or in a dinner rut. The only other curry dish I really like is Jamaican Meat Pies from Molly O’Neil’s New York Cookbook also a great dish. Thanks for this one Jaime!


Indian Carrot Salad

Courtesy ‘Jamie at Home’ by Jamie Oliver

• 1 1/4 pounds good-quality coarsely ground lamb
• 2 teaspoons garam masala
• sea salt
• 1 pound carrots (mixed colors if possible), peeled
• 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
• a small bunch of fresh cilantro, leaves picked
• a small bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked

for the dressing
• 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
• 3 shallots or 1 small red onion, peeled
• zest and juice of 1 lemon
• 1 heaped teaspoon
• freshly grated ginger
• extra virgin olive oil


Heat a large frying pan and fry your ground lamb until all the fat comes out of it (you can remove some of the fat if there is a lot). Add the garam masala and a good pinch of salt and give it a stir. Keep frying until the meat is lovely and crispy.

Shave the carrots into long thin strips with a peeler or a mandolin slicer and keep them to one side.

Heat a small frying pan over a moderate heat and toast the cumin seeds for 30 seconds – they will start to smell nutty and gorgeous. You’re not trying to cook the seeds here, you’re just waking their flavors up a bit. Put them into a pestle and mortar and grind them up. Put the pan back on the heat and toast the sesame seeds until golden. Transfer them to a plate.

Slice your peeled shallots or onion wafer thin. As with all salads that contain onion, you don’t want to be coming across great big chunks! If you don’t feel confident about your knife skills, use the coarse side of a box grater instead. This will almost mush your onions to a purée, but at least you won’t come across any big bits. To make your dressing, put the lemon zest and juice into a bowl and add the shallots or onion, grated ginger, ground cumin and a pinch of salt. Whisk everything together with about 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.

Pour the dressing over the carrots, add the cilantro and mint leaves, and mix it all together using your fingers. It’s important that you have a little taste to check whether the dressing needs more lemon juice, oil or seasoning.Divide the crispy lamb between four plates and put the dressed salad on top. Sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds. Served with naan bread, some yogurt and lemon halves, this makes a great snack!

September 11, 2011

Remembering 9.11.01

Join us to take a moment to remember those we lost ten years ago and the American spirit that brought us together afterwards. We are thankful for the first responders, the acts of heroism, and our troops still fighting today.

Tags: , ,
September 10, 2011

Fall Colors

It is just getting to feel like fall here in Colorado. This may be my favorite time of year; comfortable days and cool nights. We have the benefit of beautiful seasons and amazing colors on the trees, especially in the mountains. Plus, I love being able to go and run any time of day and feel comfortable! Things feel kind of relaxed and crazy at the same time this weekend, so I am glad to be done with errands and take a quiet night at home with a glass of wine, some Chicken Fried Rice and football. Hope you have a fabulous weekend!


Tags: , ,
September 4, 2011

Summer Shrimp

Vacationing in Aspen, we came across some beautiful Olathe sweet corn. Our Colorado corn can be really good at the end of summer. Lazy day rummaging through my hosts’ cookbook collection I found a side dish to try. Only thing was that we wanted a main dish. The recipe (from Gourmet) admonished the reader not to try to improve it . Hmmph. A challenge. What we ended up with was nothing like the original. I decided to use our favorite way to spice up something bland; marinate it in hot sauce. We didn’t have Franks Wing Sauce that day and we used an exotic Hawaiian hot sauce, though I can’t remember the name. Franks always works though. I tried it again when I got home and it was still great.

Summer Shrimp

1lb shrimp.

4 ears corn

Basil and or mint


1-2 Large Tomatoes

Franks Wing Sauce (regular)




Peel the shrimp if necessary. Pour ¼ c. Franks Wing Sauce in a bowl. Add shrimp. Set aside to let marinate while preparing the rest.

Remove the corn from the ears. A bundt pan helps here putting the corn in the circle and scrape down so the kernals fall into the pan.

Melt 1T butter in a frying pan, add 1T olive oil.

Drain the shrimp, leaving the residual sauce on. Saute shrimp until pink and curled, about 2 minutes. Sometimes the shrimp will exude liquid. If that happens reduce the sauce or drain again.

Remove shrimp to a plate and set aside. Melt one more Tablespoon of butter to the shrimp pan, now empty. Add corn and sauté for 2 minutes, or till warm. Add the reserved shrimp and chopped tomatoes. Pepper generously and salt with celtic salt.

Remove from heat and tear basil and mint on top and serve.

It’s super fresh this way. But a little bacon would be nice…


September 1, 2011

Zucchini Carbonara

This week seems to have gotten away from me! I am a bit behind on posting, but I thought I would share with you a fabulous summer pasta dish. When you have lots of zucchini around, this is a great way to use it. Not to mention this dish has bacon…umm yum. (Ali says that everything should come with bacon and a biscuit! Gotta go to the DMV? Here is your bacon and a biscuit!) Anyway, the bacon works quite well here. This may not be the lowest calorie dish, but it is amazing and so silky. I made this for an impromptu dinner for some friends and we killed the dish. It was fabulous! This is from Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver. I love Jamie’s food and the whole concept of knowing what goes into your food and where it came from. It is something we strive for with regular trips to the farmers’ market and by growing some things at home. I would love to do more, but even the small steps make a difference. Do you have strategies for eating local and wholesome? I would love some tips! For now, go find some fabulous zucchini and try this one out!


Beautiful Zucchini Carbonara

Courtesy of ‘Jamie at Home’ by Jamie Oliver

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 medium green and yellow zucchini

1 pound penne

4 large free-range or organic egg yolks

½ cup heavy cream

2 good handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Olive oil

12 thick slices (about 1 pound) of bacon, cut into chunky pieces

Small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped, flowers reserved (if you can find flowering thyme)

Optional: a few zucchini flowers

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Halve and then quarter zucchini lengthwise. Cut out and discard any fluffy middle bits, and slice the zucchini at an angle into pieces roughly the same size and shape as the penne. Smaller zucchini can simply be sliced finely. Your water will now be boiling, so add the penne to the pan and cook according to the packet instructions.

To make your creamy carbonara sauce, put the egg yolks into a bowl, add the cream and half the Parmesan, and mix together with a fork. Season lightly and put to one side.

Heat a very large frying pan (a 14 inch one is a good start – every house should have one!), add a good splash of olive oil and fry the pancetta or bacon until dark brown and crisp.

If there is a lot of fat, you can pour some of it off. Add the zucchini slices and 2 big pinches of black pepper, not just to season but to give it a bit of a kick. Sprinkle in the thyme leaves, give everything a stir, so the zucchini become coated with all the lovely bacon-flavored oil, and fry until they start to turn lightly golden and have softened slightly.

It’s very important to get this next bit right or your carbonara could end up ruined. You need to work quickly. When the pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving a little of the cooking water.Immediately, toss the pasta in the pan with the zucchini, bacon and lovely flavors, then remove from the heat and add a ladleful of the reserved cooking water and your creamy sauce. Stir together quickly. (No more cooking now, otherwise you’ll scramble the eggs.)

Get everyone around the table, ready to eat straight away. While you’re tossing the pasta and sauce, sprinkle in the rest of the Parmesan and a little more of the cooking water if needed, to give you a silky and shiny sauce. Taste quickly for seasoning. If you’ve managed to get any zucchini flowers, tear them over the top, then serve and eat immediately, as the sauce can become thick and stodgy if left too long.

This is all that was left!! Enjoy J

%d bloggers like this: