Saturday, April 22, 2017

Chicken Vesuvio

I was watching an episode of Andrew Zimmerman’s Delicious Destinations the other day and the show was from our recently visited Chicago area.  One of the places he showed was an Italian restaurant and they were cooking a Chicago invented dish called Chicken Vesuvio – origins unknown and debated.

This restaurant’s recipe was not available to me so I went on-line and found the Saveur recipe which had very similar ingredients to what I saw during the show, but I cut the recipe in half.  I also looked at the recipe from Chicago’s Marie at Proud Italian Cook and preferred her directions so I adapted the two of them to get the following.

Chicken Vesuvio 

1/2 cup olive oil (approx), divided
5 cloves garlic
3 large russet potatoes, peeled and quartered lengthwise
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or two Dolly sized cut in half crosswise)
¾ cups white wine
1⁄6 cup finely chopped parsley
½ tbsp. dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¾ cups chicken stock
1 cup frozen peas, thawed

I made it a one pot meal and cooked everything in our seven quart, cast iron Dutch oven.

1.  Add some oil to the bottom of the pan over medium high heat, add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Brown on all three sides and set aside on a plate – it took me two batches and I added additional oil as needed.
2.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and coat lightly with flour (I did this since it was skinless chicken).
3.  Heat oven to 375° at this point.
4.  Repeat the cooking process in the pan for the chicken and I once again browned on three sides of the large breasts.
5.  Remove the chicken to the plate and toss in the garlic to cook for a couple of minutes until golden.
6.  Add wine to deglaze the pan and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes  
7.  Add stock, season with parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper and cook a couple of minutes to get it hot.
8.  Add the chicken to the pan, top with potatoes, and cook in the oven (uncovered) until the chicken reaches a 160F internal temperature, then pour the peas over the top and return to the oven.
9.  When the chicken reaches 165F,  remove and plate: chicken-potatoes-sauce with peas.  

When I got ready to download my pics I found the card was in the computer and not the camera so here are a couple from the web that look very much like ours (my pan shot was deeper).

I thought it was very good and a pretty easy one pot meal.  I’d say from start of prep to plating, it took about 1½ hours, with about 30 minutes in the oven.  If I make it again, I’ll make the full recipe for a bigger group, using bone-in thighs, then serve it on a platter.  I think I'll also add some red pepper to give it a little more color like I saw in some of the photos like this.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


4/21/17 Meal Date

Friday, April 14, 2017

French Cassoulet & More Wurst

We both wanted white beans and I had been wanting to try cassoulet and we had sausage so that’s what we made using some more sausage from The Wurst Kitchen.  I looked around and found a fairly simple recipe to use from My Recipes, that I altered a little.

Cassoulet - Adapted from My Recipes
8 bone-in chicken thighs (I used a whole chicken)
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces chicken sausage or kielbasa, cut into 1/4-inch slices – note 1
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 celery rib, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 (19-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup chopped Italian or flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Monday, April 10, 2017

Lets Eat Wursts

For our initial try of the sausages from The Wurst Kitchen, we opted for the first one I came to in the freezer - Chicken Cordon Bleu - which we just grilled and served with some parboiled then grilled sweet potatoes.

Friday, April 7, 2017

A Visit With Eric And Family – Sunday

We had originally planned to stay another day but since Eric had to work, Ann was leaving town and the weather was nasty, we decided to drive home Monday and make this our final day, so we marked the last two things off of our list.  We began with all six of us making a mid-morning drive west into Aurora – the adjoining town and 2nd largest city in IL. 

Our destination was The Wurst Kitchen, which has been making sausages since 1895 and sits on the corner in a residential neighborhood.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Visit With Eric And Family – Friday Night & Saturday

Friday night, we went to Lou Manalti’s Pizzeria in Naperville where we had “The Lou” deep dish and a pepperoni for the kids.  We ordered ahead so we had less of a wait in the balmy 75F sunshine.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

A Visit With Eric And Family – The Area

Eric and Ann moved to Naperville, IL (southwest of Chicago) a couple of years ago and we had yet to make it up for a visit but things finally fell into place and we recently drove up for a long weekend.  In addition to seeing them and the grand kids and seeing their home and Naperville, we wanted to do some food things – eat a deep dish pizza, eat a Chicago hot dog, eat some ethnic food, and visit a sausage maker.

They live in a nice neighborhood which is now seeing its second generation of young owners and is typical of homes built around the early 60’s.  They have a shaded lot backed up to a golf course and a split level home that has a very similar floor plan to the one I spent my late teens living in – a plus for me was the need to negotiate stairs (good knee exercise) many times a day.  Here is a shot from Google Earth – no tree leaves when we visited.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Greek Pasta Bake (Toss)

I had been craving something with Greek flavors and especially a pasta dish and we had some tomatoes we needed to use so I looked through my saved recipes (I have about three lifetimes worth) to discover one from Taste Of Home which sounded almost perfect but I adapted it a little to suit our taste and ingredients – we prefer tossed vs. baked for most pasta dishes.

Greek Pasta Bake TossAdapted From “Taste Of Home”

1 package penne pasta
3-4 cups cubed cooked chicken breast (we grilled ours)
29 ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup fresh tomatoes, diced and squeezed a little
1 cup cherry tomatoes, whole or halved depending on size
2 packages fresh spinach, chopped and sautéed (or 10 oz frozen)
½ cup each sliced ripe and kalamata olives, sliced
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped yellow pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup crumbled feta cheese, plus more for garnish

1. In a 12” sauté pan, with some olive oil, cook the onion and green pepper until soft, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
2. Add the spinach and sauté until well wilted and most of the liquid is gone.
3. Stir in the tomato sauce, diced & grape tomatoes, chicken, herbs, olives, and S&P to taste and simmer about 20 minutes.

4. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and return to cooking pan
5. Add the sauce to the pasta cooking pan along with the cheeses and toss until well combined.
6. Plate and top with a little more feta.

We served it with a Caesar salad for a delicious meal – this was definitely a keeper pasta dish.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


3/21/17 Meal Date

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Wine Club BBQ

Over the past year or so, our wine club seems to have morphed into a supper club with wine playing a very diminished role and the entrée, provided by the hosts, becoming the star of the evening.  Since I haven’t cooked BBQ in a while, we decided it would make a good entrée and theme, but it is beyond hard to come up with your wine pairing for the BBQ.

We provided ABT’s (stuffed jalapenos) as an appetizer, slaw as a side, and pulled pork, ribs, and brisket as the entrée.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Good Eats and Cars vs. Concrete

My last post was for a Beef Oscar dish and we had some leftovers that just screamed to be made into breakfast.  So I added a little butter to a skillet and tossed in some of the chopped asparagus and crab meat, shortly followed by a nice scoop of the Bearnaise.  When the sauce began to melt, I added a couple of well beaten eggs and scrambled into soft curds.  It wasn't an inspiring photo, but sided with a slice of buttered toast, it made for an excellent breakfast.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Beef Tenderloin Oscar

Spring flowers from our yard are earlier than usual so Bev made a bouquet.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Dogs At Play

While Cindy now lives with us, she continues in her job as house/pet sitter and recently brought one of her charges over here to meet our pups.  He is a really big Golden Doodle named Barley and is roughly middle aged so still playful.

After a period of adjustment to the new dog, it was playtime and Pat’s dog, Frankie, who believes everything on the planet is a toy for him was soon on the attack, trying to jump up to Barley’s face and do what dogs usually do mouth-to-mouth, but he was just too short.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Stromboli Numero Uno

Bev had bought some refrigerator pizza dough and suggested calzones for supper to which I counter-suggested Stromboli which I had been wanting to make – basically the same thing in a different shape.  Bev had frozen some homemade meatballs so we opted to use them along with some pepperoni, onions, peppers, tomato sauce, and fresh mozzarella.  Here it is before baking and before braiding the top.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Pizza Sandwich Ala Mom

When I was a kid, my mom made these sandwiches for us at lunch (we came home from the neighborhood school for lunch) and they were always a hit.  After I made them for Bev and me several years ago, she also became a fan.

Since we had some ham, bread, and tomatoes needing to be used, this was a good excuse to make another round.  The ingredients for each of these sandwiches was:

One slice of sour dough bread from a round loaf
One 1/4” slice of Kentucky Legend Ham 
Shredded cheese of your choice (or slices)
Sliced Roma tomatoes
Diced onion
Italian spices (mom used just oregano)

1. Nuke the ham slice to warm it a little then build the sandwich – bread, ham, cheese, tomato, onion, seasonings.  
2. Bake in the toaster oven at 350 for about 10 minutes or until cheese begins to melt, then run it trough one toast cycle to finish cooking.

Note:  The stacking order is important to ensure the onions and tomatoes cook some.  If you want the cheese on top, just wait and add it after the toast cycle then broil it until melted.

The sandwiches were delicious and, of course, would be even better with tomatoes right off the vine.  My next one will have a couple of ever easy eggs on top.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


2/5/17 Meal Date

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Ham and Potato Soup

We had some ham in the fridge that needed to be used and, again, opted for ham and potato soup using the recipe from Allrecipes.  The first time we made it, I didn’t think it had enough goodies, so we added more ham and potatoes this time.

Ham and potato Soup – Adapted from Allrecipes

7 cups peeled and diced potatoes
1/3 cup diced celery
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
2 cup diced cooked ham (Kentucky Legend)
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground white or black pepper, or to taste
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk

1. Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, ham and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt and pepper.
2. In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour with a fork, and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk as not to allow lumps to form until all of the milk has been added. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot, and cook soup until heated through. 

Serve immediately topped with your favorite garnish.

We all thought this was a very good version of a pretty basic and easy soup.  

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


2/2/17 Meal Date

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Grilled Steak & Veggies

I once again completed the never ending re-organization of the freezer the other day and came across a couple of nice beef filets that were dying to be grilled and Bev wanted one of her favorites – grilled veggies.  We didn’t have room in the grill pan for everything so the potatoes just went on the grill grates.

The steaks got a nice coating of Montreal Steak Seasoning, the potatoes were tossed with oil and dusted with Cajun Seasoning, and the remaining veggies were tossed with Good Seasons Italian Dressing.  I'd tell you more about the Cajun Seasoning but it was the secret recipe from Angelle's Ice Cream Shoppe & Grille in Breaux Bridge, LA and while they sold it, their labels had not yet arrived - so I don't know it's name nor ingredients, but it has a kick.

Here is the platter after arriving in the kitchen and Bev's plate - I like my steak more rare but this was perfect for her.

Cindy is not a cook and not used to eating like we do, so after trying the veggies, she said OMG several times.  She doesn’t eat much red meat but said the steak was delicious as well.  We all thought it was very good and Bev got her grilled veggie fix - hard to beat good ole basic grilled fare, especially when you have a 60 degree January day to cook it.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


1/31/17 Meal Date

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Family Is Complete Again

After the loss of Coco back in November, I really wanted to be dog-less for awhile but Bev was having none of it and she spent a large part of each day online looking at dogs.  As I reported earlier, we got Romeo in December via someone who had found a stray and I hoped this would satisfy Bev but he did not seem to meet all of her needs and the search continued.

Last week on Craigslist she found a dog that needed a home as the owners could not take it into a new rental home and she fell in love with the picture and told the owners that he was just what she was looking for.  We got Teddy on Jan 22 and he is a mix of Maltese and something that could be poodle and he looks like a smaller, brown version of Bodie
(Madison’s dog who lived with us).

He got his first grooming and cleaned up great.  He is friendly, loving, and gets along well with Romeo and Frankie (Pat’s dog).  So I think the family is now complete and we’ll be about helping them settle in and learn how to live out here in the country.  Here are a few more shots of the three of them playing.

One of Bev's justifications for a second dog was so that Romeo would have a playmate and boy was she successful - Teddy is about all the other two can handle.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Chicken Pot Pie

Bev had a whole chicken and some refrigerator pie crust that she wanted to use and I’d just seen pictures of a delicious looking version from a blogger buddy, so we opted for pot pie.  While it is usually made with leftover poultry, we decided there was no reason not to start with raw chicken and I found a recipe from Taste of Home that would give use the proportions we needed and included potatoes.  Bev usually makes pot pie without a recipe and it is sometimes too runny or too dry, so I was hopeful a recipe would help with that and we’ve always like recipes from Taste Of Home.

Since the recipe called for three cups of chicken broth and I wanted all of the chicken flavor to end up in the pot pie, I cut up the bird, and added it to a pot along with three cups of water and some S&P– this was in lieu of roasting the chicken and then using a separate broth.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Spinach and Artichoke Skillet Chicken with Sundried Tomatoes

I haven’t made many of Kevin’s recipe’s over the years because they often required more effort than I wanted to expend but when he published his 2016 favorites on his Closet Cooking blog, the Spinach and Artichoke Skillet Chicken with Sundried Tomatoes really jumped out at me, as did a couple others.  His recipe called for four 6 ounce breasts, but since I had 36 ounces of meat, I increased everything by 50% to get this:

Spinach and Artichoke Skillet Chicken with Sundried Tomatoes – Adapted from Closet Cooking

1½ tablespoon oil
3 (12 ounce) skinless and boneless chicken breasts, jicarded to ½” & halved cross ways
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1½ cup homemade chicken broth
12 ounce cream cheese, room temperature and cut into cubes
6 cups baby spinach (I used the bag full so about 8 cups)
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, quartered
3/8 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated
3/8 cup sun dried tomatoes, sliced
Handful of grape tomatoes (my addition - they needed to be used).

1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat, season the chicken with salt and pepper, add the chicken to the pan and cook until lightly golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side, before setting aside. (I cooked them to an internal temp of 160F then piled them up as the thinner ones got done)

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Hoppin John’s For New Year’s Luck

As a person who was born on Friday the 13th, I’ve never been superstitious but this is a good excuse to make this dish at least once a year and there is no reason to take any chances just in case good luck is involved.

I looked at several online recipes and most include some type of pork, veggies, the black eyed peas, spices, and liquid all cooked together and served over rice.  But when I read Steph’s recipe on her Plain Chicken blog, the idea of cooking the rice with the peas and using a smoked sausage really appealed to me. 

I made half her recipe with a few changes to arrive at this:

Hoppin John's – Adapted from Plain Chicken

½ lb andouille sausage, sliced ¼” thick half-rounds (I used Poche’s
2 (15-oz) cans black-eyed peas, undrained
1 (10-oz) Rotel, undrained
1½ cups beef broth
½ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup diced green bell pepper
¼ cup diced celery
1 tsp Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp black pepper
Salt to taste
¾ cup uncooked rice

1. Cook sausage in a large pot until browned, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the onion, green pepper and celery and cook until tender.
3. Add black eyed peas, diced tomatoes and green chiles, beef broth, cajun seasoning, garlic, and black pepper & bring to a boil.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Favorite Meals of 2016

I’ve read several posts about the best recipes of 2016, but since we make very few original recipes (we usually make yours), I decided to do one on the dozen favorite meals I blogged about last year.  Some are from restaurants, some cooked by others, and some cooked by us and all delicious.

Lets begin with the little RV trip we made to Louisiana’s Cajun Country in January.

Over Stuffed Seafood Po Boy from Bon Creole in New Iberia 

Crawfish Bisque given to us by our campground neighbors at Cajun Palms RV Resort