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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chocolate Glazed Donut Muffins


Cravings. I’m one of those people that can’t stop thinking about them once they hit me. I have to satisfy the cravings to get them out of my head. And they’re for all kinds of things, like the rest of you, I’m sure. A very common one for me is spaghetti and meatballs—I crave that all the time! My family is lucky they don’t eat it every week. Though, I don’t suppose they’d mind…hmmm…I know I wouldn’t!

But that’s not what this post is about! Cravings, yes. Spaghetti and meatballs, no. I had a craving for a Chocolate Glazed donut. Could not stop thinking about them. But do I really want a deep fried, full of fat, greasy donut? Well, maybe, but should I have one? Hell, no! So I went for the next best thing.

Yes. Cake for breakfast. Also known as Muffins. My friends, muffins. I love them! These are no exception—they were so. Damn. Good. And very easy to make—a bonus!


Chocolate Glazed Donut Muffins

To print these recipes, click here!

makes about 9 muffins

2 cup flour
scant 1 cup sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Cake Spice + 1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract


Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Mix in the eggs, oil, butter, milk and vanilla.
Grease the muffin pans. Divide the batter between the muffin cups--an ice cream scoop works great!
Bake for about 18 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
Cool in pan on rack for about 5 minutes, then turn on out on rack to cool.
Cool completely before glazing.


And here is the recipe for the glaze, from King Arthur Flour. King Arthur is the only flour I use, ever. It’s such great quality and never lets me down. And have you checked out their site? Bakers Heaven!

Chocolate Glaze

1/2 cup (3 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) butter
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup (I use Golden Syrup)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the ingredients together over low heat or in the microwave, stirring often. Add extra corn syrup if needed to make a smooth, shiny glaze. Yield: about ½ cup glaze.

If you’re using sprinkles, get them on there right after glazing the muffins so they’ll stick. And then let the muffins sit for a bit so the glaze can set up. The easiest way (for me) to glaze them was to put the glaze in a bowl that’s kind of narrow at the bottom, so the glaze isn’t too shallow. If it is, you’ll be bumping the muffins on the bottom of the bowl and won’t get a pretty glaze. chocolate-glazed-donut-muffin-2

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Bucatini with Tuna and Baby Peas and an Announcement


Easy dinner alert! This one’s a family favorite. We love this dish! Well, honestly, my younger kids don’t because they don’t like tuna or garlic. Crazy kids, right? But my 13 year old loves it, too!

Not only does this one taste great, but the ingredients in it can be kept on hand for a complete pantry dinner! Who doesn’t love that? So not only is it delicious, but you can have everything on hand to make this at a moment’s notice. In fact, I’ll bet a lot of you have nearly all of the ingredients already! And a bonus? It’s extremely quick to make. But it’s pretty! And you know what that means. Guests will oooh and ahhh because it looks and tastes great, but you’ll know you didn’t slave over it. And that also makes this a “guests dropped in, what do I make for dinner?” dinner.


I got this one in an email a few years ago—from my local news station. I’ve made a few little changes, but the main idea is the same. Pasta cooking in one pot, and the rest in a sauté pan, then toss the two together. As far as the tuna goes, I use tuna packed in oil, but if you prefer, you can use tuna packed in water. And the pasta is also up to you—spaghetti, bucatini, this would also be good with penne—but use what you like or have on hand. Bucatini is fun—the noodles are like straws! We love trying new pasta shapes. I know, I know—we need to get out more. You’re preaching to the choir here!

Bucatini with Tuna and Baby Peas

To print this recipe, click here!

This comes together very quickly—so have everything ready to go and right on hand. Because you don’t want to burn the garlic while running around looking for the broth and peas. That would completely ruin this, or any dish! pasta-tuna-peas-3

* 16 oz. bucatini, spaghetti, or your favorite pasta
* 3 tbsp. olive oil
* 6 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth, if you prefer)
* 1 1/2 -2 cups frozen baby peas
* 2 cans tuna packed in oil, drained and flaked
* 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, or to taste
* 1/8 tsp. salt, or to taste
* 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
* olive oil to drizzle over



1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions is a large pot of salted boiling water.
2. While the spaghetti is cooking, heat the oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat.
3. Add the garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds--don't let it burn!
4. Add the chicken broth, peas, tuna, salt, and pepper; stir gently until heated through, about 1 minute.
5. Remove from the heat.
6. When the spaghetti is done, drain well and put it in a large bowl, then add the tuna mixture; toss gently to coat the noodles.
7. Add the Parmesan, and toss it all together.
8. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
9. Garnish with more parmesan, and add a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh black pepper.


My Spice Sage

I also want to take the time to announce my new partnership with They’re a great company selling quality spices—which I’ve been using for the last few weeks, and you’ll see popping up in more of my posts. I’ve loved every one of them so far! And also? The people are nice! That counts for a lot in my book. So say hello to Jon and tell him I sent you. Be sure to check out their About Us page on the site to read more about their company.

Not only do they have all of the major everyday spices that we all use, but they also have some amazing blends. The Greek, Pork, and Pizza seasonings come to mind immediately. We’ve tried all three and they’re fantastic! Check them out—you can click to see them in the two ads in my sidebar. Those will take you to their Bestsellers page, but to see all of their spices, click on the links in their right-hand side bar.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

iPod Touch Winner!!!

Hot off the presses, we have a winner!

image It’s Temperance!  Congratulations, Temperance, you won!  Please email me with your address and I’ll get your iPod shipped right out to you.

Temperance said... 136

I just stumbled across your blog, congatuladions on your blogaversy.
and since I love a good contest (a holdover from the publishers clearing house sweepstakes as a kid) here is my email addres

**In case any of you are wondering why her # is 136 and not 336, Blogger will only count up to 200 on one page, so on page 2 of the comments, 201-400, she’s 136, or technically 336.


Thanks to all of you for playing along, Tweeting, and reading my blog!  And stay tuned for more giveaways!

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ingredient Wars! Formerly known as Chopped, the Home Version

Some of you know I did a home version of Chopped, the Food Network show. It was a lot of fun, and forced me to be creative. A great exercise for my brain, and we got a delicious dinner out of it! And my husband has a lot of fun coming up with my surprise ingredients.

And quite a few of you said you’d love to join in the next time I did it, so here it is! But with a small change. I don’t want to give the Food Network any reason to tell me I need to stop using the name “Chopped,” so I gave it some thought and came up with this name and a button you can all use on your posts:


On Chopped, they start with four chefs, and they prepare three courses, with one chef getting chopped after each course. The ingredients are unknown to them until the beginning of each round.

Now of course, we won’t be chopping anyone here, just doing the surprise ingredient part. Much less stress. And there’s no time limit, either. I know how tough it can be to join in blog events because of time constraints in “real” life, hehe. So if you want to join in, just take the ingredients and do something at your own pace. If you want to get back to me with what you came up with, that would be awesome! I’ll add everyone’s links and a photo in the original post.

And as far as the ingredients go, if there’s something you can’t find, or can’t use because of allergies, go ahead and pick something sort of close to the original one. It’s very flexible--the main idea is to push your boundaries and come up with some new stuff.

And remember, you also have access to anything in your pantry, just like on the show!

So here are the surprise ingredients for this installment of Ingredient Wars:

1. Cod Fillets (or some other white fish)

2. 1 orange

3. Ricotta Cheese

4. Egg Roll Wrappers

5. Ritz Crackers (or another butter cracker)

ingwars2 ingwars ingwars4 ingwars3

So there you go! There is no set posting date, no deadline--just take them and do something, then post what you come up with. And you don’t need to have a blog to join in, either. But I’d love it if you let me know in the comments if you participate and what you come up with!

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Sautéed Beet Greens with White Bean Mash on Toasted Baguette Slices


A couple of weeks ago, we were at the (indoor) farmer’s market, and looking at all of the gorgeous fruits and vegetables. I guess when it’s 35 degrees and freezing outside, everything that is fresh looks gorgeous, right? But really, this place has the best stuff. Anyway, I picked out some beets to oven roast, and the beet greens were just beautiful! Usually, the ones I see at the grocery store are gross. Not pretty at all, and full of dirt. Seriously, you wouldn’t even want to imagine putting them anywhere near your mouth. Ick.

But the ones a the farmers market? They were so pretty and green and vibrant, and I knew we could do something with them. Wasn’t sure what at the time, but I couldn’t pass them up.


A couple of days before, I’d been reading blogs and came across Pithy and Cleaver. Great blog! They had me at Garlicky White Beans. Because, yum! I had already picked up the beans for that to have on a baguette, so the beet greens just worked their way into my plans. One whole grain baguette before leaving the market and we were all set.

Sliced baguette, toasted, a bit of sautéed beet greens, some white bean mash, and it’s heaven in your mouth. Seriously, we couldn’t stop eating this. And have been looking forward to it ever since! We lead such an exciting life, do we not?

There’s garlic in both the greens and the beans, but it mellows out during cooking, so you won’t be keeping any vampires away with this one. And really, if they all look like Edward Cullen, why would you want to? There’s also fresh lemon juice in both. Add some fresh basil to the beans, and you’ve got some wonderful flavors going on.

Sautéed Beet Greens

To print these recipes, click right here!

To print these recipes, click here!

Beet greens from 3-4 large beets, rinsed well and drained, then roughly chopped
2 shallots, minced
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth, if you prefer)
1/2 a lemon
salt and pepper

Sauté shallots with garlic in a little olive oil over medium heat--don't burn!
Add the beet greens and toss them in the oil mixture, after about a minute, add the broth.
Cover and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
Remove the lid, and squeeze in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.


Bean Mash inspired by Pithy and Cleaver

1/4 cup olive oil
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 can white beans (don't drain!)
about 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 a lemon
salt and pepper

In a pan, heat the oil over medium low heat. When it's heated, add the garlic and cook slowly, to infuse the oil with the garlic flavor.
Add the beans and cook for about 3-4 minutes.
Begin to mash them with a fork, or a potato masher--even the back of a spoon.
Add the basil, lemon and salt and pepper to taste.


Serve the greens and the bean mash on toasted whole grain baguette slices.

This is definitely one recipe that we’ll enjoy again and again. it’s so easy to prepare, and it’s not to bad for you, either. Makes a nice appetizer, or a light meal. Unless you eat all of it, like we did, and then it’s not so light. hehehe.


There’s still time to enter my one year blogiversary giveaway! Just leave a comment to be entered to win an iPod Touch.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Thinking Outside the Cereal Box…


And I’m here to prove it! I was recently contacted by Katharine Schuler from U.S. Mills. She wanted to know if I would be interested in trying some of their products. One of them is Uncle Sam Cereal—we buy that pretty often at Trader Joe’s, so I said yes, please! She asked what I’d like to try, but I left it up to her—though I did add that I have four kids, so if she could tuck a few kid things in there, that would be great. My kids get so excited when a package arrives, but so bummed when there’s nothing in it that they think is cool.

Katharine packed a box so full of stuff, it was like a puzzle. I don’t think I could have ever repackaged it if I had to, hehe. But I was so surprised, and the kids were thrilled! U.S. Mills doesn’t just have cereal, they have cookies, graham crackers, 100 calorie graham cracker snack packs, hot oatmeal---if it’s for breakfast, they probably have it. Have a look around their site—I’ll bet you see something you want to try, or have already tried and had no idea it was from them.

So I had all of this cereal, and aside from eating it in a bowl, I knew I could find something else to do with it. I had a quick look at the recipes on the site, and messed around with a couple. I’m happy to report my experiments were successful!

You all know how much I love muffins—they’re an excuse to have cake for breakfast. So I went with those first. And came up with these Chunky Monkey Muffins. What’s not to love about banana and chocolate? Nothing! And adding a healthy dose of good for you Uncle Sam Cereal was perfect. Gave them a little crunch, and the kids loved them. They were like “Cereal? In a muffin? Have you gone nuts, Mom?” But I knew they’d love them. And I was happy they were getting some good grains into their systems.


Chunky Monkey Muffins
Makes 2 dozen

To print this recipe, click here!

3 1/2 cups Uncle Sam Cereal (Original)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 smallish bananas (1 cup total mashed banana)
2 cups milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375.
Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Combine wet ingredients in a medium bowl.
Add the wet stuff to the dry stuff, fold in chocolate chips.
Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.
Bake for about 18 minutes, until tester comes out clean.
Cool in pans for a few minutes, then remove to a rack to cool.


Look who was hoping I’d drop a muffin…sorry, Hamilton!


A couple of days later, while looking at the bounty of cereal in the pantry, I decided it was time to try something else. The Erewhon Raisin Bran said “Ooooh! Pick me! Pick me!” So yay, it was the lucky cereal of the day. And it had a recipe on the back for Apricot Nut Bread. I didn’t have dried apricots, but I did have dried figs, and just about everything else it called for, so I got to work and came up with this Fig Nut Bread. It’s very moist and dense, almost like a gingerbread that’s studded with raisins, figs, and nuts. It very much reminded me of Morning Glory Muffins, in fact! It was totally delicious.


Fig Nut Bread
Makes one loaf

To print this recipe, click here!

1 1/2 cups Erewhon Raisin Bran
3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp Cake Spice
1 egg
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup agave or honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup applesauce
3/4 cup diced dried figs
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup chopped walnuts


Heat oven to 350.
Pour the boiling water over the figs and set aside.
Grease a loaf pan.
Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
In a medium bowl, blend the egg, oil, agave, vanilla and applesauce together.
Add to the dry ingredients and stir; fold in the figs (and any leftover water from the figs) and nuts.
Pour into loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes or until tester comes out clean.


SO the moral of the story is…get out and look for these cereals and other good things from U.S. Mills. And stop looking at cereal like it’s only good for eating in a bowl with cold milk. Although that’s cool, too.

But start thinking outside the cereal box!

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Chopped! Results--Rubbed Steak with Gorgonzola-Garlic Butter and Stuffed Peppers


This was a lot of fun, and something I definitely want to keep doing. Having some ingredients put in front of me that I didn’t choose, and trying to come up with something edible was a great exercise for my brain. And I surprised myself. Not only did I come up with something edible, but it was delicious, too!

Here’s what I started with…


First, I rubbed the steak with one of our favorite rubs. (Remember, in Chopped, you get full use of the pantry!) Let that sit for a few minutes.

Trader Joe’s sells boxes of frozen, cooked Jasmine rice. I pulled one of those packets out and heated it up—I think there’s about 2 cups in each packet. Then I took about 4 or 5 of the figs and chopped those up with kitchen shears. I roughly chopped about 1/4 (maybe a little more) of the sweet and spicy pecans, and tossed both of those things into the rice. Then I threw in a couple handfuls of gorgonzola—about 1/2 cup. A little salt and pepper, about 1/4 tsp cumin, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar were added next. This is the mixture I stuffed the sweet peppers with.

Those baked at 350 in a slightly oiled pan for about 15-20 minutes. Turn on the broiler for an extra few minutes for some color on the peppers.

Now for the gorgonzola garlic butter. Get some butter to room temp, toss in some crumbled gorgonzola. Heat a little olive oil in a pan, add a couple cloves chopped garlic and let it slowly sauté. When that’s done, spoon it into the butter, leaving the oil behind. But looking back, I could have easily added that oil to the butter as well.

Broil the steaks for about 11 to 12 minutes. Turning them over every couple of minutes, and when they’ve reached the desired doneness, remove from oven and let them sit for about 5 minutes.

Serve the steaks with the gorgonzola butter and the peppers on the side. chopped7

I’m definitely going to keep this up. It’s good to get the creative juices flowing, and leave the safety of recipes behind. Even more fun when you’re presented with ingredients you may not necessarily choose yourself.

The next time I do it, I’ll see what my husband picks up for ingredients, and then post them just like I did here. If any of you want to participate, let me know, then when you post what you came up with, I’ll link them in my post. Sound good?


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Monday, March 9, 2009

Chopped! The Home Version

Have you guys seen the new food Network show, Chopped? It’s a lot of fun! Kind like Ready, Set, Cook, I suppose. Four chefs, three courses, and one by one, they get chopped until there’s one chef left standing.

I’ve had this idea I’ve been kicking around for a few weeks. I’m going to do my own version, right here at home. Only there’s no 20 or 30 minute time limit, and there aren’t three other chefs standing next to me to make me all nervous and sweaty, hehe.

My husband chose the ingredients for me, and he did a pretty good job, I think!

chopped2 chopped3 chopped4 chopped5

We have Tri-tip Steak, sweet peppers, crumbled Gorgonzola, dried figs and sweet & spicy pecans.

I’ll play around with the stuff tonight and see what I come up with, then post the results here in a day or two.

I’d love this to become a regular thing—I just have to remind him to bring stuff home to surprise me with, hehe. I have been talking with my Twitter friends about it, and a couple of them thought it would be fun to invite anyone that would like to participate to join in. So if you’d like to join me, let me know! If there’s enough interest, maybe I’ll make it a regular thing. But no time limits—you can just take the ingredients and run with them, and post when you get around to it.

Will keep you posted!

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Cupcakes are POM Wonderful

And while they’re not the prettiest things ever, they sure taste great! I never make cupcakes because something always goes wrong. They sink in the middle, or they get too puffy and then run over the sides of the pan…I’m never going to be a cupcake queen. Ever.

Pom cupcakes

But I found this recipe the other day, and it worked perfectly! The cakes had good texture, a slight spiciness from cinnamon and other good things, and they weren’t like cupcake-shaped hockey pucks. And even though they have whole wheat pastry flour, they don’t taste like wheat bread. Honest! And the kids loved them. The recipe is originally found here. I added vanilla and also switched out the individual spices for a Cake Spice blend.

The icing…oh, the icing. I was contacted by Diana at POM Wonderful a couple of weeks ago. She offered me some samples of their juice to try. Um, yeah, thanks! Love that stuff! So in thinking about different recipes to try with it, my husband thought of cupcakes.

I had originally thought about chocolate icing, but looked around and found a recipe for Pomegranate Butter Cream. I didn’t have any POM molasses, so I brought some of the regular juice to a boil, then simmered it until it was thick and syrupy—about 30 minutes or so. Then just follow the icing part of that recipe.


Whole Wheat Cupcakes

Makes 12

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp
Cake Spice
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a muffin tin or line with paper muffin tin liners.
Whisk the flours, baking powder, and spices in a small bowl.
Cream the butter with the sugar for about 4 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time until blended, and scrape down the sides of the bowl if you need to.
Beat in the flour mixture until just combined, and then add the milk and vanilla.
Spoon the batter into the pan and bake for 15 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

To print this recipe, click here!


And don’t forget to enter my One Year Blogiversary Giveaway—leave a comment to be entered to win an iPod Touch!

Check out the Savory Pomegranate Chicken Michelle at Life, Lightly Salted did with some of her POM Wonderful Juice!

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Polla alla Cacciatora, or the Story of Me and Chicken

If this keeps up, you'll soon be reading Elle's New Chicken Kitchen. That's a mouthful. All chicken, all day! A birthday? Chicken! Special holiday? Chicken!

That doesn't sound all that great, does it? No. So my next post will be cupcakes. But until then, it's chicken!! I just looked, and four of my last twelve posts have been chicken ones. This makes five.
Ah, well. Hopefully you'll all forgive my extreme chickeneyness. (Yep--that's a word. That I just made up.)

This one is courtesy of Saveur. You know how you get little bonus gifts when you subscribe? Well they sent me two little Italian cookbooks when I first subscribed a few years back. I bookmarked a lot of the recipes, and then...someone (ok, me!)...
immediately lost the books. I know, right? How can you lose them so quickly? I have no clue. Guess I'm just really good that way.

So fast forward a couple of years--we were moving. I assumed I'd find them then.


Oooooh. Would I find them while unpacking? *fingers crossed!*


Time warp. TWO years later (last week). My daughter is moving stuff around and picks up an old cooking magazine of mine. Because, you know, we all save those, don't we? Because we really
will make all of those earmarked recipes. Eventually. Someday. Maybe.

My two missing babie...I mean--books fell out of the magazine. I almost heard the angels singing. Honest! There they were, right there on the floor. It was as if they were glowing, so happy to have been found, to once again see the light of day! (But what really happened was that they fell on the floor in a patch of afternoon sunlight. But hey, I have an active imagination, ok?)

Aha!!! Now I can make that Chicken Cacciatora I've been dreaming about! After all this time! Or... I could have googled, because, you know--it's right there, online. D'oh!

Hunter's Wife's Chicken (Pollo alla Cacciatora) Serves 4

It's Hunter's Style, but it's named in honor of the hunter's wife--the cacciatora, who traditionally cooked it on the eve of the hunt. So there, Hunter!

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 3-lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces

1 cup dry white wine
1 (28-oz). can peeled diced tomatoes, undrained

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary leaves

1/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup chicken stock (see note!)
2-3 TBSP tomato paste
(see note!)

Note: I didn't need the chicken stock, in fact, I opted to thicken it up by adding some tomato paste. But I'm leaving the stock in the ingredient list in case any of you find you do need it.

Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
Add garlic and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes more.
Push onions to sides of pan, then add chicken and fry, turning pieces several times to brown evenly, about 4 minutes per side.
Add wine and let it evaporate, which should take about 5 minutes.
Add undrained tomatoes to the pan.
Stir in bay leaf, rosemary, and parsley (reserving a little for garnish) and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer, for 30 minutes, adding chicken stock gradually (if needed!)as tomato juice evaporates.
Remove chicken from pan, and stir in tomato paste, increase heat to medium and add chicken back to pan.
Simmer 10-15 more minutes until sauce is thickened.
Remove bay leaf and garnish with reserved parsley. Serve with steamed potatoes, rice, or noodles.

To print this recipe, click here!

This dish is wonderful. It makes a thick, rich sauce that coats the chicken nicely. We'll definitely have it again. My husband said it reminds him of the cacciatora he had as a kid. Slightly different, but the closest so far. This is also a very hearty dinner, and I can see why a wife would have cooked it on the eve of the hunt--its good fuel for the hunter.

Don't forget to enter my one year blogiversary giveaway! Leave a comment to win an iPod Touch!

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