French casserole Chicken – Supreme of Old Hen

This recipe brings back such fond memories of my childhood. It is not hard, but it is a bit time consuming. For some reason my late-father who loved to cook did not like to cook this. But he always made it for me on my birthday because he knew it was my favorite. It still is…. I have such wonderful memories of my birthday and this meal. I remember one time, he spent all day making it and we were all sitting at the table waiting for dinner. He liked to make a big deal out of the fact that he made it and was presenting it with a flourish, as he brought it to the table.

To be a good cook you have to have a love of the good, a love of hard work, and a love of creating” – Julia Child

Baking Tip – How to cut the perfect brownie.

I know this sounds silly, but ever since someone told me about this trick, I use it every time. As a parent of a child with food allergies, I always bring the snacks….so I make a lot of brownies. I tend to cook brownies a bit underdone on purpose, which is our family’s preference. The trick is to use a plastic spoon when cutting them. The edges come out perfect and clean and the brownies do not stick to the knife. It is miraculous. Give it a try next time you are making brownies or blondies, you will be amazed.

 

It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life – J.R.R. Tolkein

 

Chocolate Muffins

These seriously are the best muffins ever and so easy to make.  I cannot take credit for these, someone gave me the recipe and I am not sure of the origin. But thank you to whoever thought of it. The idea seemed strange but I quickly realized what a great way to get a vegetable into my child who seems to be allergic to almost every other vegetable except broccoli and cauliflower.  So here it is …. couldn’t be any easier and they will never even know there is pumpkin in them. Preheat oven to 400 degrees  Fahrenheit.

It is always the simple that produces the marvelous – Amelia Barr

  • 1  15 oz can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 box devils food cake mix

Spray the mixing bowl and all the utensils with cooking spray because the mixture sticks to everything without it.  Mix the two together, it will take a while, but don’t give up. ( I have tried to do this in my mixer and it doesn’t work… don’t bother).

Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray (do not use paper muffin cup liners, it will not work) and use an ice cream scoop to split mixture evenly to make 12 muffins.

Add to oven and cook for 15 minutes.  That’s it and they are the best muffins. They are so moist and are perfect for breakfast or a snack.

Chocolate pumpkin muffins

Allergens: Wheat, Check your cake mix for other allergens.

Linguine with Clam Sauce

When I was a young girl we had a summer house on Cape Cod and my godfather would go clamming and make steamers.  I loved them… I would eat more than most of the adults.  Then I got a little older and turned into a squeamish little girl and that was the end of that.  Well this dish made me love clams again.  It is so easy to make and everyone is always impressed with how it looks even if they won’t eat it.

Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink in the wild air – Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • 1 lb. linguine cooked (reserve a cup of the boiling liquid) Regular or Gluten Free
  • 2 lbs. clams (washed and scrubbed clean to get rid of the sand that may have been left on)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • fresh parsley chopped (about 2 tbsp.)
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon
  • Parmesan Cheese to taste (contains dairy)

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until garlic is translucent. Add the white wine and the red pepper and simmer a minute and the reserved water. Add the clams and cover the pan. Leave the cover on and cook for app. 5 minutes until all the clams have opened.  If you need a few more minutes, take it and then throw out any of the closed clams.  Add the juice of half of a lemon. Take off the heat and add the pasta to the pan and very gently toss.  At the last minute add the parsley and serve. Garnish with lemon.  I put a little Parmesan Cheese on top also. Goes good with a Chardonnay and crusty bread.  Enjoy!

Allergens: Shellfish, Dairy, gluten  (Does work good with gluten free pasta also)

Linguine with clam sauce - kingsrookdreams

lemons and parsley - kingsrookdreams

parsley - linguine with clam sauce

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Linguine with clam sauce -kingsrookdreams

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Chicken Cacciatore

I was feeling nostalgic today and missing my late father. This dish always reminds me of him. Everyone should know how to make a good Cacciatore!

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food – Hippocrates

  • 4 Chicken Breasts (Bone In – chicken thighs or even boneless breast could be used to)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • One red bell Pepper, chopped
  • One small onion, chopped
  • One shallot, chopped
  • 8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes (No salt added)
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 cup good white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Parmesan rind – about a tablespoon equivalent (whole)
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. pasta (pasta of your choice depending on allergies – gluten free works great here)

Heat a deep, heavy pot over medium heat until very hot. Add olive oil and chicken breasts. Brown for about 4 minutes or until the chicken releases from the bottom of the pan. If it is still stuck, give it a few more minutes. Just leave it, do not mess with it. Flip the chicken and repeat on the other side.

Remove the chicken from the pot and put aside. Now add the onions, shallots, and peppers to the pot. Saute’ until onions are translucent. Now add the mushrooms and garlic and cook a few minutes more.

Add the wine, broth, tomatoes, salt, pepper, Parmesan rind and red pepper flakes.

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Add the chicken back to the pot, cover and simmer for at least an hour. Some will say quicker, but I think the extra time makes all the difference. Add more wine or chicken broth if needed.

Serve over pasta (regular or gluten free) with some crusty bread.

Allergens: Dairy

Perfect Roast Chicken

I spoke before of the fact that you need to learn how to cook three things in order to survive….one good breakfast, one good lunch and one good dinner.  Well this is the dinner. Roast Chicken is something I can make and be confident of.  Everyone is always so impressed and it is really quite easy.  Plus you can also make a great chicken soup after, which I will show you later. Here is a simple version for you to try….

You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces. Just good food from fresh ingredients – Julia Child

Ingredients:

  • Roaster Chicken 7-8 lbs.
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • Softened butter
  • Lemon

Preheat the over to 375 degrees F. Remover the giblets (I have to admit, I did leave these in one time and the whole meal was ruined. I believe more people have done it than they care to admit). Rinse the chicken inside and out. Pat dry with a paper towel. Put the chicken in a heavy duty roaster pan on a rack.

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Salt and pepper the chicken well, inside and out. Loosen the skin on the breasts and insert some lemon slices under it.

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Add the remaining lemon (cut up) into the cavity.  Rub the softened butter all over the chicken (Messy, but worth it!). Add some water to the bottom of the pan, (this helps with broth for soup later on).


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Cook for approximately 2 hours until juices run clear when the leg is cut or pulled on. (Internal temperature should be app. 165 degrees at breast and 175 degrees at thigh).

I usually shoot for 170 degrees at the breast, but that is my preference.   Let the chicken sit for a bit before cutting into it. Everyone in my family loves this and that is very hard to do with five picky eaters. Serve with rice or potatoes and some seasonal vegetables. Great for leftovers also
roast chicken

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Corned Beef and Cabbage is that once a year meal I think I don’t like and then I make it and it’s great! I think the problem is, it’s not the prettiest meal to make. But it wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day in this Irish House without it.

 

May you be in heaven a full half hour before the devil knows your dead – Irish Blessing

 

Ingredients: 

  • Corned Beef- 3-4 lbs in Brine with spices included
  • 4 potatoes, quartered
  • 5 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • One large onion
  • 1 medium size green cabbage
  • Mustard (optional)

Put the corned beef in a large heavy pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Drain off the water and cover it again with cold water. My friend Kristen gave me this tip and I don’t know what I did before. It takes a lot of the salt out. Add the seasoning packet. Bring to a boil again and then lower temperature and simmer for about 2 hours.

Add potatoes, carrots and onions. Bring to a boil again, then lower to simmer for about 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Add the cabbage and cook for about another 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and serve warm. Enjoy!

Just remember….everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!

Additions: Mustard for Corned Beef

Allergens: Gluten Free, Nut free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Peanut Free, Soy free

Spinach, Lemon and Bacon Risotto

My first attempt at Risotto! Do you believe it? I have always been a big fan, but very intimidated to make it. It was so worth it.

No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing – Julia Child

Ingredients:

  • 5 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice
  • 4 cups of low-salt chicken broth (plus 1/4 to 1/2 cup for the end)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
  • Zest of the lemon
  • 1 cup of cooked chicken (chopped)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 3-4 cups of fresh spinach
  • 1 roasted shallot (chopped)
  • 1/2 -3/4 cups of freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large, heavy, oven-safe pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels.

Add the onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook for about 3 more minutes, stirring frequently. Add the lemon juice and 4 cups of the chicken broth. Stirring frequently, bring to a boil. Cover the pot and put in the oven for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and return to stove top over medium-low heat. Now add the spinach, chicken and roasted shallots and remaining chicken broth. Stir for about 2 minutes (until spinach is wilted). Add more broth if needed. Add the bacon, lemon zest and Parmesan cheese and stir until creamy.

Garnish with parsley and Parmesan cheese.

 

Allergens: Dairy

 

Carbonara

When the recipe card is as old and worn as this one, you know it’s good. Not even sure where I got the recipe, but it is a staple in this house. At my bridal shower, oh so many years ago, the guests all brought me a recipe, it might be from there. This is the ultimate pantry meal.

I split this recipe in two and make half with regular pasta and half with gluten free to accommodate my whole family. It is great both ways!

Life is a combination of Magic and Pasta – Federico Fellini

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 lb. spaghetti, cooked (regular or gluten free)
  • 1/3 lb. bacon
  • 4 or 5 cloves garlic – chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper (I like it spicy, so I add a little more)
  • 1/2 cup white wine or chicken stock
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup boiling pasta water
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Handful of chopped parsley
  • Coarse salt and pepper

Cook pasta Al Dente.

In large skillet over medium high heat. Saute bacon until it browns. Remove bacon and put aside. Drain the bacon oil and then add two tbsp. olive oil, garlic and red pepper. Saute two minutes. Add wine and reduce by half.

Beat eggs vigorously and stir in a ladle of pasta water. Drain the pasta and to bacon pan and remove from heat. Add egg mixture, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper and toss until well combined and cheese has melted. Serve with extra cheese.

Allergens: Dairy, Egg, Wheat (can make gluten free)

Coq Au Vin

Growing up, this meal was one of my favorites. My dad, who discovered cooking in his 40’s enjoyed making this one. He got so much pleasure out of presenting such an impressive meal.  He never disappointed. It takes some time to make, but it is not hard to do, so I will give it a shot for my first official Sunday Dinner in a while. We will set the dining room table, pour some wine and have a traditional Sunday Dinner for this one.

The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken. – Julia Child

  • 1/4 lb. butter
  • 12 tiny pearl onions
  • 1/4 lb. bacon strips cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 lbs. cut up chicken with bone (My kids like boneless, so I use a mixture of chicken thighs, boneless breast and breast with the bone)
  • 1/2 lb. white mushrooms – sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1/2 cup flour (You can substitute corn starch to make gluten free)
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup of brandy
  • 1 1/2 cups of red wine (a burgundy works best)
  • 1/4 tsp. Thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. Herbs de Provence
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.

Heat 4 tbsp. butter in heavy, pan (I use a french dutch oven). Add bacon and cook until crisp. Remove from pan.

Add onions and cook until lightly browned. Remove and put aside.

Add the chicken to the pan drippings and cook until well-browned on all sides. Now set the chicken aside.

Add mushrooms and garlic to pan, cook until mushrooms are wilted. Remove from pan.

Add remaining butter to pan drippings. Remove from heat and gradually stir in flour until golden brown. Slowly add chicken stock, stirring constantly until well blended.

Return to heat, stir until sauce thickens. Add brandy, red wine, thyme, herbs and bay leaf.

Add chicken and veggies (If needed, transfer to a deeper pot). Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove bay leaf.

Alternative: Final stage – Add to roasting ban and cover. Cook in 400 degree oven for 40 minutes or until chicken is tender to the fork.

Serve over mashed potatoes, egg noodles or even rice.

It is better the next day!!!

Allergens- Gluten (if susbtitute flour with corn starch it can be gluten free), garlic