Saturday, February 5, 2011

Chicken Cacciatore, My Way

I have made variations of Chicken cacciatore in the past but I believe that this is the best yet. Using skinless chicken breasts on the ribs cuts down on the fat significantly but still gives the cacciatore flavor.

Before the chicken goes back in the pot. I charred the chicken a little but it didn't matter

Chicken Cacciatore, My Way

4 skinless chicken breasts on the ribs
1 cup of skim or 2% milk
1 egg
2 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
10-15 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems
red pepper flakes, to taste (I used 1/2 a teaspoon)
1 red pepper, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 14oz cans of diced tomatoes
1 cup of dry white wine
1 thinly sliced lemon
3 tbs of capers
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
parmesan cheese, optional
1 box of spaghetti

Heat large pot with half of the olive oil. In a bowl, whisk one egg with the milk. In another bowl, add flour, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Dredge the chicken into the flour, the egg wash, and then back into the flour. Set aside until all four breasts of chicken are coated. Fry chicken for about 7 minutes on each side. Be careful not to char the chicken like I did. Remove and place on a plate. Chicken will not be cooked through until placed back in the pot.

Add remainder of the olive oil in the pot and on low heat,  add onion, red pepper, garlic, thyme, capers, lemon slices, and red pepper flakes. Saute for about 5-7 minutes or until soft. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil and then to simmer for about 15 minutes. 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add spaghetti. Follow instructions on the box.

Add chicken back into pot and pour wine over the chicken. Simmer for about 20 more minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Add parsley and and serve with parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. I usually go easy on the salt considering the canned diced tomatoes contain salt.

*Feel free to use gnocchi, rice, or any other type of pasta other than spaghetti. The wonderful thing about cacciatore is that it's extremely versatile. 

*I like to keep a lid over the pot but slightly cracked while the cacciatore is simmering. 

*Serve with a side salad or an other vegetable of choice. I served it tonight with a side dish of steamed zucchini.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

When Cravings take Control

I posted on facebook last night that I was making something really strange for dinner. I guess what I made wasn't so strange. It was my thought process that led to what I made that was out of character. The actual dish wasn't all that strange in reality. But, it was off track from my healthy cooking streak in preparation for Iron Horse 100, which is in just 2 and a half weeks.

I have found that everyone is quite different when it comes to food cravings. Some people crave sweets such as cupcakes, cookies, candy, chocolate, etc. Others crave salty and/or crunchy items such as chips with dip, fast food items such as hamburgers and french fries, chicken wings, and anything else on the planet that is bad for you. In general, I'm one to crave sweets rather than savory/salty foods. My weakness is chocolate and I really love finishing my dinner with an ice cream bar, or two. I figure that I deserve it because 80-90% of the time, I eat pretty healthy.

Last night's craving was different...
For the past 7 years, I have been attending neighborhood functions: brunch, dinner, holiday parties, and bunco. My friend Diana Konkle, always brings her corn dip, even if we are not requested to bring something. It's extremely fattening and delicious. Normally, I would be more attracted to hummus, or homemade salsa, or any of the other healthier options but when I see this corn dip, I can't stop eating it. It does everything for me. Creamy and cheesy, crunchy (served with tortilla chips), spicy, salty, AND sweet.

As I was helping Grant with his homework last night, I realized that I have not given any thought to dinner. However, that corn dip kept popping up in my mind. I think that I'm craving fat and carbs because my body needs it. If I was craving McDonald's, now that would be a different story.

I couldn't get my mind off of the corn dip but realized that I was lacking cream cheese. I guess I could have dragged Grant with me to Publix and pick up some cream cheese but this doesn't make sense. Marty will arrive home from work and see that we are having corn dip for dinner. He likes the corn dip but honestly, he is watching his waistline and would probably prefer a more balanced meal.

So, what am I going to do? I really want this corn dip. My next thought was macaroni and cheese. I looked in the pantry and did not have any macaroni but did have ziti. I looked in the fridge and saw that I had a variety of cheeses, specifically white cheddar and colby cheese. So off to the races...time to combine the two.

Diana's Corn Dip

1 bag of shoepeg corn (or 2 boxes)
8-oz package cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
1 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 cup chopped jalapeno (find by pickles in store)
Mix all and bake uncovered at 350 for 40 minutes. Serve with tortilla crisps.

(I use a little more corn than what is called for in the recipe)

Beth's Corn and Jalapeno Ziti-n-Cheese

1 box of ziti pasta
4 tbs or half a stick of butter
4 tbs of flour
2 cups of milk (skim is fine, if you would like)
1 and a half cups of shredded white cheddar cheese
1 cup of colby cheese
2 cups of shoe peg corn
1/2 cup of chopped jalapeno (pickled-Mt. Olive)
salt and pepper to taste
bread crumbs (mine were from bread that I food processed and froze for later use)
1 tbs of butter

Preheat oven to 375

Bring a medium to large pot to a boil and follow the instructions on the box for the ziti. However, drain just before al dente. The pasta will continue to cook in the oven.  Once drained, use the same pot and on medium heat, melt the butter and flour together. Whisk it into a roux. Make sure flour is cooked and the mixture appears yellow/brownish. Whisk in the milk. Continue to whisk until thickens to a gravy consistency. Then add the grated cheese and cooked ziti. Finally,  add the corn and drained jalapenos. Salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the mixture into a large casserole dish. Sprinkle breadcrumbs and little pieces of butter over the breadcrumbs. Place in the oven until melted and bubbly. Approximately 25-30 minutes. 

Let sit for 5 minutes and serve.

We had this as a main dish with a side salad. However, perhaps this dish can be a side dish to a big juicy steak. LOL. 

It is not uncommon to add ingredients to mac-n-cheese so I know that what I made was not all that strange. However,  I'm fairly traditional when it comes to homemade mac-n-cheese so this was a new one for me. It definitely hit the spot and makes a lot so enjoy the leftovers!