Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Santa Maria Chicken

Santa Maria Chicken

I love it when the fall season comes along. A time when you make slow comfort food.
A time to give thanks, relax and enjoy the good things of life.
Like the saint herself, this meal is a blessing.
The distinct flavors of tomato, basil, artichokes,mushrooms and wine.
Each unto itself, like life, takes time to grow rich, full, robust, and the
feeling of warmth.
The sweetness of basil, the earthiness of the mushrooms, bitters of artichokes, the tart of tomatoes, and the fruit of wine.
So if you feel a little chill in the air, and want to share a hearty dinner with someone,
cuddle up and make this dish:

Santa Maria Chicken

3 garlic cloves (minced)
2 tbsp. of olive oil
1/2 lb. of sliced white button mushrooms
2  large cans of whole tomatoes
1 can of tomato paste
1 tsp. of italian seasoning
1/3 cup of white wine
2 jars of marinated artichokes
3 chicken breasts
2 tbsp. of diced fresh basil
2 tsps. of cornstarch
2tsps. of water
2 cups of flour
salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, pour flour in along with a dash of salt and pepper.
Cut chicken into 1 inch squares. Lighlty flour chicken and set aside.
In a large pan or large skillet, pour oil in with garlic. Lightly saute the garlic over medium heat.
Place chicken in the pan and until they are slighty coated with the oil and garlic.
Add jars of artichokes and reserve half the juice.
Crush the whole tomatoes from the can or use diced (ready cut tomatoes)
reaserving half the tomato juice.
Add white wine and continue to cook.
Add Italian seasoning. (Italian seasoning is a mix of oregano, thyme, and parsley.)
If you can find fresh herbs, simply dice and add to the pan.
Add the basil. You could cheat here, if you can find tomatoes with basil in the can.
Add sliced mushrooms.
Reduce heat to simmer (low) and slow cook for 30 to 45 minutes.
If the sauce is too thin, add a slurry. A slurry is a mix of cornstarch and water.
Added to any sauce, a slurry will thicken the sauce.
If the sauce is to thick, you can add more of the artichoke juice and tomato juice.
The sauce with the chicken, tomatoes, artichokes, mushrooms, and herbs is absolutely
wonderful over spinach pasta or spaghetti.

So the time has come, when the leaves turn color of amber and orange,
a brisk chill in the air, and the smell of a saint's dinner cooking in the oven to
warm our hearts and souls.

Happy Anniversary to my wife,
my sidekick in the kitchen,
and the Santa Maria of my life...

Love is a warm meal and a smile from one
that loves your cooking.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Real Men Eat Quiche and Drink Wine: Curry Rye Rounds and Spinach Balls

Real Men Eat Quiche and Drink Wine: Curry Rye Rounds and Spinach Balls: Every once in awhile the girls have their night out. So being the good husband that I am... I decided to whip up a couple of quick and easy ...

Curry Rye Rounds and Spinach Balls

Every once in awhile the girls have their night out. So being the good husband that I am... I decided to whip up a couple of quick and easy appetizers for them.
I should take HONORS for being " man of the year and husband of the century."

I made curry cheese rounds and spinach balls.

I had made Uncle Walt's stuffing earlier which my wife decided to use to stuff some white button mushrooms.
Some recipes I hate to part with and share. Sorry but I think the Aunt Eileen's Red Sauce and Uncle Walt's Stuffing should be a family secret; locked in a vault until I can't write anymore.
Like my dad, who was an incredible cook and never shared his recipes.
"Just watch me and you will learn"
Still practicing dad...

So the girls had their night out and I made extra of the appetizers so I could share them with my daughter.

Curry Cheese Rounds:
2 cups of grated cheddar cheese
1 can of black olives (  pitted and finely diced )
1 cup of mayonnaise (light mayonnaise works great as well)
2 tsp. of curry powder
4 green onions (finely diced)
Rye rounds ( if you can not find  rye rounds, substitute with regular or dark rye bread )
I cut the rye bread into small squares or circles.

Mixed all the ingredients and spread over the rye bread squares (rounds.)
Placed them on a cookie sheet or tin tray under the broiler on High Broil Setting for 3 minutes.
Makes about 18 - 24 curry rounds. ( Depends on your artistic ability and knife skills.)

Spinach Balls:
2 10oz. pkgs. of frozen chopped spinach
2 cups of bread stuffing mix
 3/4 cup of finely chopped yellow onion
4 whipped eggs
3/4 cup of melted butter
3/4 cup of parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. of garlic powder
1 /4 tsp. of fresh thyme
1/4 tsp. of fresh cracked pepper

Preheat over to 350 degrees.
Thaw out frozen spinach and squeeze out all the excess water.
Mix all the ingredients together.
Roll the spinach mixture into small balls.
Bake on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes until lightly browned.
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese
Makes 24 spinach balls. ( Unless you roll them the size of a snowman.)

You can freeze the spinach balls when cooled for future appetizers.
When ready to eat, just thaw for 10 minutes and reheat in 350 degree
oven until warm.
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

To make a dip for the spinach balls:
1 8oz. serving of light sour cream
and 2 tbsp. of horseradish
Mix well together and cool in fridge until ready to serve.

Big thanks to MOM ( Peggy ) for the recipes , Dad for the inspiration,
and my wife and daughter for letting me be Mr. MOM now and then.
Next time I get out of the house,
I will be expecting a couple of hors d'oeuvres for a football game.

Keep eating,

Recipes, your favorite wines and suggestions: