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  • Iron Skillet Roasted Chicken with White Beans and Tomatoes

    Ready to serve

    After what seemed like forever, I left New York (again) and went home to Maine (again). The next days were filled with errands, getting the house settled before the Dear One’s return, and breakfast and giggling with my girlfriends.

    But in the evening, I was home alone, and then suddenly you realize just how big the house is and how empty, and you want to have people around you, so then the conversations went something like this …

    Thank you so much for watching the house and picking me up and picking up the mail and packages and turning up the heat. Wanna come for dinner? Sure, but I have a house guest. Bring him. The more the merrier.

    Hey, I’m back in town. Wanna come over for dinner? Sure!

    Okay, dinner for 2 is now dinner for 4. I can do that. Same recipe, just no leftovers.

    Uh, oh, the phone is ringing … we’re going out for dinner, do you want to come. Sorry, can’t, company coming. Oh, well, I’d much rather come to your house. Sure, come on over. GREAT! But I have a house guest. Bring her along.

    Dinner for 2 turned into dinner for 4 and then into dinner for 6. Yipes! Now what!? I trolled through the recipes I have been dying to try and found this recipe that I had first seen in Relish Magazine and then in  Y’all Come Over by Patsy Caldwell and Amy Lyles Wilson. One skillet. Perfect. Lots of great ingredients. Fab! Seriously simple and quick to make. Even better! Turned out to be really easy to double, just switching from a 10″ cast iron skillet to a 15″ cast iron skillet.

    (Heard around the dinner table … hmmm, yum, this is so good. So glad you’re back home. We missed you. Does M know you’re having 4 men over for dinner while he’s away? Answers: thank you, I am too, and me you, and OF COURSE he knows. HEAVY SIGH!)

    As it turns out it was a good thing I fed them all BEFORE the insanity started! See, it seems I live my life like Lucy Riccardo. No, really. Stop giggling, please, I have so little dignity left.

    This group of fellows and my dear friend Lisa were my saviors for the week and a half I was home alone. There were locked doors and dog doors (and snow) and pterodactyls (and snow) and more locked doors and broken windows that needed to be removed and replaced (and snow) and lost spare tires and snow and cancelled flights because of snow and more cancelled flights (can you believe more snow in Maine) and yet more cancelled flights (you know the word that fits here) and a wee bit of emotional upheaval.

    While I realize I have kept them all VERY entertained (when one of them now hears my voice on the phone, he laughs, asks if I’m okay, and then ‘so what did you do’), they kept me very entertained and feeling loved and cared for during my first time home alone trial by fire.

    Give this dish a whirl … you will be making it for company again and again!

    • 1/4 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled (reserve drippings)
    • 1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into serving pieces
    • 1 1/2 t salt, divided
    • 1/2 t black pepper
    • 1/2 C thinly sliced onion
    • 1 can (14-oz) stewed tomatoes
    • 1 t crushed red pepper
    • 2 cans (15-oz) Great Northern beans, drained

    NOTE: I sort of increased this to 1 1/2 of the original above recipe, but using 3 cans of beans and two cans of the tomatoes and 4 1/2 pounds of chicken thighs.

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

    Bacon

    Place the bacon drippings in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat.

    NOTE: I made the bacon in the skillet I used to make the whole dish and just left the drippings in the skillet.

    Dry the chicken pieces with a paper towel, and season with 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Brown the chicken in the bacon drippings, turning once, until the skin is golden brown. Remove the chicken to a plate and keep warm.

    Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat and stir in the onions. Cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes, scraping up any brown bits.

    Adding tomatoes

    Add the tomatoes, crushed red pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook uncovered for about 4 minutes or until the juices are thickened. Add the reserved bacon and the beans. Top with the browned chicken pieces, skin side up. Place skillet in the oven and bake uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes.

    Some bread to sop up the sauce, a salad, and you are done!

    Buffalo Chicken Bites

    Ready to Serve

    I’m always way behind the times on my blog. You know, a day late and a dollar short. For days and days before the Super Bowl there were blog posts of fabulous recipes to make for the Super Bowl.  So, you make them, you blog about them, and then make them AGAIN? As a reader of blogs, it’s great for ideas. As a blogger myself …

    I can’t. I just can’t make things for an occasion so far in advance of the day just so I can blog about them (well, with the exception of Valentine’s Day which you will see this Sunday! It needed to be tried in advance to make sure it worked!). I’m much more of a ‘see-how-much-fun-I-had’ and ‘look-at-all-the-yummies-I-made’ kinda gal.

    So it goes with this post.

    I’m on the sofa. In my pjs. Dying. Yes, DYING. I have a cold. Someone, and I won’t mention who, has been sneezing on me, and sniffling on me, and I’m trying my best not to give in to this malaise because I am just a couple of days away from heading home again.

    My brother friend Nick Rick (he’s very protective of his privacy and image, you see) comes to me, laptop in hand, and asks ‘do you think these would be difficult to make’? I says, “Aside from the dough part, no.’ And, no, we don’t have the equipment to make the dough in a machine. And, yes, I can figure out how to do it by hand. And how about these? Yes, we can do those as well. So off we went to the store to pick up a few ingredients needed. This recipe was adapted from my favorite foodie magazine (oh, we miss you so) Gourmet.

    These were a snap to put together (even whilst dying), even using a rolling pin (my downfall in life), and in an ill-equipped kitchen! Two bites of anything is perfect, in my honest opinion. Serve some blue cheese dressing or buffalo sauce for dipping and you’re set for the big game!

    Truthfully, with the exception of the dough, he did all the work, baked them off, and went on merrily to a Super Bowl Party!

    The recipe has the instructions for a stand mixer. I added what I did by hand under each step in my notes.

    • 1 C finely diced cooked chicken breast
    • 1/2 C crumbled blue cheese
    • 2 T shredded cheddar cheese
    • 1/4 C hot sauce
    • 4 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    • 2 1/4 t rapid rise dry yeast
    • 2 T brown sugar
    • 1 C warm milk
    • 2 1/2 C flour

    NOTE: Could you use a rotisserie chicken? Yes. Next time I probably would. You could (GASP!) use some pre-made bread dough. But this dough came together quickly and easily, even by hand and was really lovely and pillowy and perfect, so the extra time was well worth it.

    Stuffing

    To make the buffalo chicken mixture, in a small bowl, combine the chicken, blue cheese, cheddar cheese, melted butter and hot sauce; set aside.

    NOTE: We made the stuffing the night before and stuck it in the fridge. While making the dough, took it out of the fridge and come to room temperature.

    Making dough

    Heat the milk and add the 2 tablespoons brown sugar; stir the brown sugar into warm milk until dissolved; place in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.

    NOTE: In doing this by hand, after I dissolved the yeast in the milk, I sprinkled the yeast on top and let it bloom, then went on to add the flour.

    Add 2 1/2 cups flour and yeast to the stand mixer and mix on low speed until a soft dough forms, adding up to 1/2 cup additional flour, a little at a time, if necessary. Allow the dough to knead in the stand mixer for 5-7 minutes.

    NOTE: I added the the flour 1/2 cup at a time, starting with a wooden spoon and then my hands. From here, I followed the directions in the original recipe.

    Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times to form a smooth ball. Place dough into a clean bowl that’s been lightly oiled. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled and bubbles appear on surface, about 2 hours.

    Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

    NOTE: So, if there’s no kitchen aide, you know there’s no parchment paper. We sprayed the baking sheet with cooking spray and it was fine, just a little messier on the clean up, which I didn’t do!

    Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust your hands with flour, then gently roll and stretch 1 piece of dough to form a 12-inch-long rope. Flatten dough and arrange so a long side is nearest you, then roll out to a roughly 12- by 4-inch rectangle with a lightly floured rolling pin.

    Cutting

    NOTE: Looks like the drawing from The Little Prince … you know, the snake that swallowed the elephant?

    Gently press one fourth of buffalo chicken mixture into lower third of rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border along bottom edge. Stretch bottom edge of dough up over filling and press tightly to seal, then roll up as tightly as possible to form a rope.

    NOTE: I cut the excess dough off in the front and on the ends.

    Cut rope into 12 pieces and transfer to a sheet pan. Make 3 more ropes with remaining dough, filling and cut into pieces, transferring to sheet pans. Let rest at room temperature, uncovered, 30 minutes (dough will rise slightly).

    NOTE: Okay, so I didn’t see the let them rest for 30 minutes until JUST NOW. But they were fine and rose while baking.

    Ready to bake

    Bake buffalo chicken bites in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned. Remove from oven (some cheese may have melted out.) and brush tops with melted butter before serving (optional).

    Veggie Pot Pie

    Veggie Baked
    Cooking. It’s a fine dance, I tell you, and not an easy one.
    In this house there are two meat eaters, one who only eats chicken, and one who eats no meat at all. How do you make ONE meal and make sure no one is horrified and everyone is satisfied? I really, really refuse to become one of those people who makes two, perhaps three, dinners to cater to everyone’s dietary choices.
    I came across this recipe for veggie pot pie and knew I had at least one solution … that is if everyone liked it!
    I  made the filling in one large skillet, poured it into two baking dishes and added poached chicken to one baking dish, then made one and a half of the biscuit topping and plunked them both in the oven.
    It was a hit! Seconds were taken, even! Leftovers were taken for lunch! Hooooooray! I have one gret cold night, comfy, easy dinner now in my arsenal.
    Yes, there’s a lot of chopping, but I have a great helper in the kitchen. Once the chopping is done, this dish comes together really quickly.
    • 2 carrots, diced
    • 1/2 white or yellow onion, diced
    • 2 celery stalks, diced
    • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
    • 1/4 C flour
    • 1 C vegetable broth
    • 1/2 C cream
    • 1/2 C milk
    • 1 C frozen peas
    • salt and pepper
    • oil
    • 1 T white vinegar
    • 2 T chopped fresh chives
    • 2 T chopped fresh parsley

    NOTE: One request was made for the next time (yes, they want this one again, SCORE!) less peas. A cup sort of overwhelmed the rest of the vegetables. I poached three boneless, skinless chicken thighs, and then chopped them into bite-sized pieces before adding them to the vegetables. Three thighs was plenty for the 3/4 of the recipe that was dedicated to chicken. Also, I chopped up extra parsley and chives to press into the biscuit dough.

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    Veggie Chopped Veg

    Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a Dutch oven on your stove top. Add the diced onion, carrots, celery and garlic and cook until translucent, about five minutes.

    NOTE: Because I was splitting this between two baking dishes, I ditched the Dutch oven idea and went for a large skillet. But there’s a LOT of filling so you really need a LARGE skillet.

    After the veggies are translucent, add the diced potatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes and sprinkle in the 1/4 cup of flour, stirring, making sure you coat everything with flour. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.

    Next, slowly add the broth, cream and milk, stirring as you go. Salt and pepper liberally.

    NOTE: Just when you think you’ve added enough salt and pepper, add more! Really. I thought I had added too much and in actuality, it needed more than what I thought was a ridiculous amount.

    Bring to a simmer. Simmer for about five minutes until the mixture has begun to thicken. Pull the skillet off the heat and stir in the chopped herbs, vinegar and peas.

    While the veggie mixture is bubbling, make the crust.

    NOTE: This seemed like an awful lot of peas, next time I’ll cut this back to maybe to a scant 3/4 cup.

    FOR THE BISCUIT CRUST:

    • 1 C all-purpose flour
    • 2 T shortening
    • 1/2 T baking powder
    • 6 T milk
    • 1/2 t salt

    NOTE: The above measurements are for the straight veggie pot pie. I mixed up one and a half of these to cover both baking dishes.

    Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.

    Use a fork to cut in the shortening until the flour forms little crumbs. Use your fingers to mix in the milk as you pour it in slowly – the dough should not be sticky, so go easy. If it is sticky, add a little more flour.

    NOTE: Being in a hurry, I put everything into the bowl. Sigh. So the biscuit on the large pie was a little tough. Making the second one, I followed the instructions and it was perfect. And don’t over work it, it gets tough! I had extra chives and parsley, so when I rolled out the dough, I rolled the herbs into the biscuit.

    Roll the biscuit dough into a disc roughly the size of your Dutch oven (or baking dish) and place it on top. You don’t want this to cover the entire surface, leave a little space around the edges for venting.

    Place in the oven with no lid and bake for 30 minutes, or until the biscuit top is done.

    Veggie Ready to Serve