Monday, July 30, 2012

Chicken Cacciatore

Cacciatore...hmm...sounds pretty fancy.  I don't know about this.  All cacciatore means is hunter or huntsman in Italian.  When I found this out, I knew I wanted to try and make it for my little hunter.  I am really not sure where I got this recipe, but I have been tweaking it over the years and somewhat made it my own.  It was one of the first things that I made for Matt, and he raved over it!  Every time I make it, he tells me how much he loves it.

I am also using this recipe to showcase one of my favorite herbs, Thyme.  It is so earthy and pairs perfectly with any type of chicken whether it be roasted, breaded, or grilled.  It is the type of plant that grows better when practically forgotten about.  It loves full sun, high heat, and little watering.  Basically, it is the perfect herb for our Mississippi summers.

Cut off a few sprigs of thyme

Season your chicken legs with salt and pepper.  Let me just say that you can use any kind of chicken you like!  I have also used the thighs and it has turned out just as delicious.  I have not tried this recipe with the breasts, but you will need to decrease the cooking time.  Come to think of it, you could definitely do this in a crockpot.  Just throw some frozen chicken breasts into the crockpot with the other ingredients on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6 hours.  

Here are the players: 2 small onions or 1 medium onion, one clove of garlic, and a few sprigs of thyme.  Also, not pictured are two cans of crushed tomatoes and 1/4 cup of white wine.

Take out your heavy duty cast iron.  I believe this cast iron has been passed down in my husband's family for who knows how long.  We inherited it, and the thing about cast iron is you never, ever, ever wash it with soap.  Nope... I know you are tempted to, but don't!  Just rinse and scrub with water and you are done.  I used 1 TBSP of butter and a circle around the pan of olive oil.  The butter has a lower heat tolerance than the olive oil, so I learned that you can combine the two and get the good qualities from both.  This also adds a depth of flavor which is always welcome!

Start out by searing the chicken  

Look at that fantastic color that is developing!

After the chicken has been seared on both sides, remove it from the pan and begin cooking your onions that have been roughly diced.

The onions really perfume your kitchen.  For some reason, the smell of onions cooking is one of the most comforting smells to me.  I love it!

When the onions begin turning translucent and have a slight brown crust to them, add 1/4 of a cup of white wine.

Chop up your thyme and save a little bit of it to garnish your finished product

Add your thyme and two cans of crushed tomatoes

Place your chicken back into the cast iron

Turn the heat down to medium low and let your chicken braise for about 45 minutes.  It is important to cover  the cast iron so you do not loose too much liquid.

Umm... how delicious does this look???  It is easy to see why it is my sweetie's favorite.  I usually make this recipe and pair it with some sort of grain.  I have used everything from white rice to brown rice to barley.  Believe it or not the barley is my all time favorite.  It has this chewy consistency that I think goes well with the non-texture of the tomatoes.  Grab you a hunk of crusty bread and you have a beautifully healthy, hearty, and rustic dinner that anyone would be proud of.

Chicken Cacciatore

2 small or 1 medium onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 TBSP of butter
1 TBSP of olive oil
1/4 cup of white wine
3-4 sprigs of Thyme, minced
2 cans of crushed tomatoes
3-4 chicken legs

Melt the butter and olive oil over medium high heat in a cast iron skillet.  Sear your chicken legs on each side for about 4 minutes until they turn brown.  Remove the chicken legs and put on a plate.  

Add the onions to the pan and cook until they become translucent.  Add the white wine and reduce by half.  Pour in the crushed tomato and sprinkle in 3/4 of the thyme.  Stir to combine and bring to a boil.  Arrange the chicken in the pan and cover the cast iron.  Lower the heat to medium low and let it simmer for 45 minutes.

While the chicken is braising, make your rice, barley, or couscous.  Spoon the grain onto a plate to make a bed for the chicken.  Remove the chicken from the pan and place it over the rice.  Cover the chicken and rice with the tomato mixture and garnish with the remaining thyme.

Monday, July 9, 2012

I Found the One My Heart Loves

People keep saying, "I cannot believe it has been a whole year already!  Has it just flown by?"

My heart ponders this question.  This year certainly has flown by, but so did the previous six years we spent dating.  Each day that I spend with my love seems to slip through my fingers like grains of sand; each day is different and carefully planned by God to bring us into one heart that beats purely for Him.

When we got married, we received all kinds of marital advice, whether it be: "Never go to bed angry," "Happy wife, happy life," or "Get out while you still can."  But one piece of advice I remember vividly that runs true in our everyday lives was given to us straight from scripture.  In Ephesians 5, Paul talks directly to husbands about loving their wives as Christ loves the church and to the wives, that we need to be submissive to our husbands... I know this sounds very prosaic, especially for the fact that I do not do well with oppressive, Type A guys that take it as they are right about everything and the woman must obey them. Wrong!!  God has blessed Paul with the profound understanding of what God created each of us to need as a man and as a woman.  What this boils down to is that I need to show Matt love through respecting him as man and tenderly speaking to him when I feel like he may be misguided.  I see myself sometimes in my busy school-minded mode, running over his ideas or pushing aside his feelings because I think it is not a big deal.  But it is a big deal to him.  He feels valued in being listened to and having his thoughts heard, not brushed aside.  Your husband is not a child, and you are not his mother.

It does work both ways.  Women are sensitive and need love to be happy.  I have seen friends recently that I have not seen in a long time, and on a regular basis they say, "You look so happy."  I am happy.  Matt has learned over the years what I need and when.  When I am crying, I need a hug and no words.  When I am frustrated, I need him to put things into perspective.  When I am angry, I need time alone.  I am a puzzle that he is still trying to fit the strange pieces together, but patiently and lovingly he figures me out day by day.

Since we have reached our one year anniversary, I wanted to dedicate this blog post to my loving husband, whom I respect for so many reasons.  While I am up and down with my emotions, he is my constant.  He amazes me with his way with people.  He has an ease that attracts even the most closed hearted to him.  He never cares what people think, so doing the right thing is not difficult for him.  He encourages me to reach all of the goals I have set out to achieve.  He forces me to see a situation from the other person's point of view.  He allows me to be myself, even if it means listening to my Sid the Sloth voice.  There are so many things I could say, but I will stop with these few.  I want to end this post with a few flashback pictures over our many years of growing and learning to love and respect each other.

To the man, whom my heart loves for always