Tuscan Garlic Chicken in a Creamy Sauce

This is a recipe originally shared with you folks just over a year ago. By the time this recipe is published again, our BIG MOVE should be behind us (hope!) and I will be well on my way of setting up my new kitchen. Moving is always stressful, unless you have the finances to pay someone else to do everything for you. We don’t. Not only did we have the move itself to contend with, there was all the pre-packing sorting to do. Have you ever stood in a room filled to the rafters with “stuff” and asked yourself “What the heck was I thinking?”

Like most people during a move, we had a one-day yard sale. Hubby was hoping we could recoup the money spent on boxes, tape and bubble wrap. Oh yeah, like that was going to happen! Especially with the way we had gone about our sale – nothing was marked with a price, and we told people to pay whatever they felt was a fair price. It’s amazing what a dollar will get you when the seller is more interested in letting go rather than making a buck. A lot of our customers were children with pockets of coin to spend. I’m a sucker when it comes to children. They got the best deals – for a quarter they could take whatever they could carry. We had worked out a deal with some church ladies that we would donate anything remaining at the end of the day to their upcoming Rummage Sale. We were more interested in getting rid of things rather than packing.

Anyway, back to the recipe at hand. Since I don’t know when I’ll have access to a printer, my meal planning for the immediate future revolves around dishes I am familiar with. This luscious chicken dish served over a bed of linguine is one I can whip up with my eyes closed.

Creamy Tuscan Garlic Chicken
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, thin sliced
1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup White Wine
1 cup heavy cream
6 Cloves Garlic, minced
½ cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup spinach, chopped
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut into thin strips
1/2 Lb Linguine

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large flat-bottom skillet. Sprinkle Italian season over chicken. Place seasoned chicken into skillet and cook over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until brown and no longer pink in center. Remove chicken to a small platter, cover with foil and hold in a warm oven.

Add Linguine to boiling water and cook until just cooked through, about 9 minutes.

While pasta cooks, add chicken broth and white wine to the now empty skillet to deglaze the pan, scraping up any little brown bits of chicken.

Add the heavy cream, minced garlic, and Parmesan cheese. Whisk over medium-high heat until smooth. Lower heat to medium-low and continue to whisk until sauce starts to thicken.

Lower heat to simmer, add the spinach and sun-dried tomato strip. Let it simmer until the spinach starts to wilt.

Remove chicken from oven. Cut into strips and return to the skilled with sauce. Spoon sauce over chicken to coat.

Drain pasta, transfer to rimmed serving platter. Arrange breasts over pasta, spoon sauce over chicken, serve and enjoy!

Skewered Chicken Spirals on a Bed of Garlic Couscous

Recently I read a darling recipe for Italian Chicken Sausage and Israeli Couscous. It is definitely on my “gotta try this” list. Everything cooks up in a single pan – always a plus, and I love couscous. Coleen over at Leen Cuisine always is a delight to read, and her recipes are beautiful. Her one-pan wonder is no exception (https://leencuisine.com/2017/08/06/italian-chicken-sausage-with-israeli-couscous/)

Reading Coleen’s post got me to thinking about my own favorite chicken with couscous. It’s a delicious recipe that I had shared with you back in October 2014. This is an updated recipe, as it includes the recipe for the Garlic Couscous. Sure, you could serve this spirals on a bed of rice or risotto or all on their own. I just like the added exotic appeal of Couscous.

Let me know what you all think – and please check out Coleen’s recipe, too.

Skewered Chicken Spirals with Fresh Basil
4 Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless, pounded thin
1 Garlic Clove, crushed
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
4 Hickory-Smoked Bacon Slices
Large handful Fresh Basil Leaves
Kitchen twine, enough to hold rolled chicken together
Oil for brushing
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Bamboo Skewers, soaked for 30 minutes in water

For Serving: A Bed of Garlic Couscous (recipe below)

Soak Wooden Cocktail or Bamboo Skewers in water for 30 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.

Spread out a piece of chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound thin. Repeat with remaining chicken.

01 Pound Breast Thin

On a large work space, lay out chicken. Pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Mix together garlic and tomato paste, spread a layer of paste on each piece of chicken. Lay a slice of bacon on top of paste, then scatter basil leaves. 

03 Spread Tomato Paste, add bacon & basil

Roll tightly to form a spiral, rolling in the opposite direction as the bacon strip. Beginning at the center and working out, secure roll with kitchen twine in 1-inch intervals. Trim the ends so that the chicken will be somewhat uniform in shape and thickness.

05 Roll and Tie

Starting at one end of rolled, about ¾ of an inch from the very end, with the breast perpendicular to the skewer, thread bamboo skewer through chicken to hold spiral shape. Using a sharp knife, slice chicken spiral from roll at the twine; and then cut away twine. Give the skewered spiral a quarter turn, so that the cut side is up. Re-position roll and repeat until entire breast has been threaded onto skewer, cutting away twine as you go. This will make the rolled chicken hold its shape better and will make threading it easier. You should end up with four or five spiral pieces of chicken on each skewer.

07 Place on skewers

Heat broiler element. Lay chicken on a broiler pan and brush with oil. Place chicken under broiler and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes, turning once midway through.

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To Serve: Create a bed of couscous on an oval serving platter. Top with chicken spirals and serve. Great with Smokey Pan Seared Asparagus or even a bright and refreshing Asparagus and Tomato Salad with a Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Garlic Couscous
1-2 Garlic Cloves, minced
Butter, as needed
1 ¼ Cup Chicken Stock
1 Cup Pearl Couscous
2 Teaspoons Butter
1 ½ Teaspoon Parsley Flakes

Peel and mince garlic. Set aside until ready to use.

Bring the stock to a boil. While waiting, sauté the garlic.

Heat a dab of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, and sauté until garlic is tender and just beginning to brown, 2-3 minutes.

To boiling stock, add 2 teaspoons butter, garlic, parsley and couscous. Cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed.

Remove from heat. Let sit a few more minutes for flavors to merge together. Remove cover and fluff before serving.

Simple French Country Cooking – Forty-Clove Garlic Chicken

Gotta use up what’s on hand in the kitchen until we land on our feet in our new digs. Peered into the freezer – on the chicken shelf (yeah, I’ve designated shelves for different things – beats the heck out of digging through the freezer to find a pound of ground chuck or whatever) yep, we’ve got chicken thighs. As for the pantry – yep – got the chicken stock and I’m never without olive oil. Seasonings? Who doesn’t have salt and pepper on hand? As for the garlic, now there we are truly in luck.

My sister lives way out in the country. She has chickens and ducks running around in her yard and cats in the barn. On the back deck, there are pots filled with all sorts of herbs. And a beautiful garden. When you go to her house for dinner, you actually go out back to “pick” your salad for the evening. Like most gardeners, she grown more that she can eat. My sister brought over some of the best onions we’ve ever tasted. And a big bag of garlic. We’ve got garlic coming out our ears! (There’s some of her home-grown garlic simmering in a big pot of spaghetti sauce as we speak – what an aroma!)

This is another “blast from my blogging past” – a recipe I first shared back in April 2014. Brother Dear was still with us, living in our house as his health was beginning to fail. He loved the chicken although he thought the idea of 40 cloves of garlic was a bit over the top. That is until he tasted it. The garlic does not overpower the dish but rather enhances the succulent chicken. This is one of those dishes I like to serve “family style” – a big platter in the middle of the table with small plates for the baguette rounds. You just dig in and enjoy! Finger food with form and grace.

French Country Forty-Clove Garlic Chicken
6 lbs Chicken Thighs
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 heads of garlic, peeled (more if desired)
1 Cup Chicken Stock
1 cup dry white wine
24 (1/4-inch-thick) slices diagonally cut French bread baguette
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or fresh Tarragon (optional)

Peel 3 whole heads of garlic, about 40 cloves. Set aside until ready to use.

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Let rest a few minutes while skillet heats.

Combine butter and oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the chicken pieces to pan; cook 2 minutes per side or until golden.

Remove from pan, keep warm. Repeat with remaining chicken, then remove from pan.

Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic; cook 1 minute or until garlic begins to brown, stirring frequently.

Arrange chicken on top of garlic. Add stock and wine; cover and cook 25-30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and tender.

Increase heat to medium-high, uncover and cook until liquid in pan is reduced to about 1 cup, about 15 minutes.

Remove chicken and place on a large serving platter. Use a slotted spoon to remove garlic from pan. Surround chicken with garlic. Pour pan liquid over chicken and garlic. Garnish with parsley or Tarragon if desired.

Note: Baguette rounds can be brushed with a little olive oil, and warmed in the oven if desired.

Serve with warm baguette rounds. To eat; spread soft garlic on baguette, top with chicken and enjoy.

New Mexican Santa Fe Chicken

With our “big move” looming, getting creative in the kitchen is increasingly more difficult. Boxes everywhere. Questions running through my mind such as “How many serving spoons do I really need?” Oh, don’t get me wrong – nearly everything is coming with me – it’s just a matter of what to pack now (and do without until the move is complete) and what to keep in the kitchen that is a bare-bone necessity for cooking. Trying an assortment of new recipes or getting creative on my own in the kitchen might not be the smartest move at this point. While some creativity is a real possibility (what can I do with chicken breasts, a can of soup and a few pinches of seasoning?) – for the most part I am sticking to the tried and true.

I’m also racing ahead, getting a jump on future shares. I know that there will be a lull – when the internet is disconnected at the old home front but not up and running at the new place. Creating meal plans, putting together a shopping list and all the rest of my daily routines are going to need to be accomplished the old fashion way. Oh my – it’s amazing how depend I have become on my lap tops to run my household.

Scheduling – that’s what I’m working on today. Writing posts for future shares. Such is the case with today’s share. This is a recipe originally shared back in February 2014. It’s one we haven’t enjoyed in a while. This particular meal takes a bit longer to prepare than I normally like for a typical week day dinner, but these days nothing is “typical”. It’s fairly easy to make – I like that. With Hubby and Kiddo commuting, the dinner hour has been pushed back, so meals that take a little longer to whip up really don’t come into the selection process. Besides, I’m home packing all day, so it’s just a matter of timing.

Whenever I make this impressive chicken dish, I serve it with the usual sides – warm flour tortillas and either Super Easy Refried Beans or Mexican Rice with Chunky Salsa.  For that added “color” to the table (besides the bright red of the tomatoes and pale green of the Pepperoncini peppers) a cool, crisp summer salad is always welcome.

New Mexican Santa Fe Chicken
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons Flour
2 Tablespoons Mexican Chili Powder
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 Jar Chicken gravy
½ Cup Milk or as needed to thin gravy
½ Cup Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
1 Handful Pepperoncini Peppers, garnish
1 Handful Cherry tomatoes, garnish

Place a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add oil to the skillet, giving it just a little swirl to distribute the oil and coat the pan.

While the oil heats, on a sheet of waxed paper, combine flour and chili powder. Once the skillet is ready, coat chicken with flour mixture.

Cook chicken 10 minutes or until browned on both sides. Remove chicken, set aside in warming dish. Drain off fat from skillet.

In same skillet, heat gravy to boiling. Return chicken to skillet. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, turning breasts mid-way through. Spoon gravy over tops of breasts to coat after turning.

Once chicken is cooked, sprinkle breasts with shredded cheese and cover. Continue to cook another few minutes, just until the cheese has melted.

Place chicken on a rimmed serving platter. Spoon/ladle gravy over and around breasts. Garnish with a handful of Pepperoncini Peppers and cherry tomatoes as desired.

Slow-Cooker Asian Inspired Orange-Walnut Chicken

Being unemployed means I have more time on my hands – that’s the good news. Having Hubby commuting 120 miles a day for his new job – that’s the bad news. While I have the time to prepare wonderful meals, getting supper on the table shortly after his arrival home has created a bit of a challenge. Slow-Cooker to the rescue! The beauty of crock pot cooking is that you can cook things a little longer then planned without having a complete disaster on your hands.

Needless to say, with the career relocation, we are in the process of sorting, packing and hitting the road. This also posses a few challenges in the cooking department. We aren’t creating scrupulous meals and then running off to the market with list in hand to buy whatever is needed. Meal-planning is now done in a reverse – peering into the fridge, freezer and pantry to see what we have that can come together for a meal. Rather than whim-shopping, we need to use what is here. I’d like the fridge, freezer and pantries (both inside and out) empty as much as possible.

At the same time, we really can’t pack up all the pots, pans and every day things just yet. For one thing, we haven’t found a place to live – and until we do, I don’t know what’s coming, what’s going to be donated and what might be part of a big “moving sale”. Another dilemma is that I am the Queen of Kitchen Hoarders – I have so much stuff – a garage full, a den full, a kitchen full.  We are bursting at the seams with kitchen and cooking related items. In wine glasses alone, I have enough to open a bar! There are enough platters to supply a full-time catering company. And don’t even get me started on serving spoons – I have a thing for serving spoons. (Maybe I should get some help).

Anyhow, here’s an awesome Asian inspired supper that I cooked up recently. The whole kitchen took on a sweet soy scent – and the longer the pot simmered, the thicker and more delicious the sauce became.

Slow-Cooker Asian Inspired Orange-Walnut Chicken
1 1/2 Cup Chicken Broth
1/4 Cup Teriyaki glaze
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
3/4 Cup Orange Marmalade
4 green onions, sliced (more for garnish if desired)
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
4 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
2 Boneless Chicken Breasts, cut in half
1/2 Cup walnut pieces
2 Cups Cooked regular long-grain white rice, prepared according to directions

Stir the broth, teriyaki sauce, garlic, marmalade, green onions, cornstarch and soy sauce in a 6-quart slow cooker.

Cut chicken breasts in half width-wise so that the breasts are about the same size as the thighs.

Remove skin from thighs, leaving bone in place.

Add the chicken to the crock pot and turn to coat in the sauce.

Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 9 hours or until the chicken is cooked through. Every few hours, turn the chicken so that the sauce soaks in evenly. (This step is optional, but it did give the chicken pieces a nice, even color).

During the last 45 minutes or so (depending upon method for rice), cook rice.
While rice is cooking, sprinkle about 1/4 cup of the walnuts into the crock pot and continue to simmer.

Place cooked rice on a large serving platter.

With a slotted spoon, remove chicken from crock pot and nestle nicely over rice bed. Ladle some of the sauce from the crock pot over the chicken.

Pour remaining sauce into a bowl or gravy boat to pass table-side.

Just before serving, garnish with more green onions if desired.

Apricot Sage Honey Glazed Drumsticks with Young Carrots

Recently Hubby, Kiddo and I spent a day at a Flea Market (of sorts) on Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay. The Flea, as it is called, is a mixture of vintage peddlers, and local craftsmen. There is everything from recycled art to small cottage-kitchen homemade goods. We found a vendor peddling her homemade marshmallows in a variety of flavors (our favorites were the salted caramel and peanut butter mallows). We sampled some wonderful, creamy goat cheeses from a nearby farm (bought four different flavored cheeses), various honey from local keepers, balsamic vinegars, and bottles of the most flavorful olive oils. These vinegars and oils are lovingly made in small batches – a bit pricey, but well worth the extra costs. If you are ever in the San Francisco area on the last weekend of the month, I highly recommend a side trip to Treasure Island. The views of the bay are spectacular, the merchandise offered is unique and the endless assortment of food trucks (the best in the bay) are sure to satisfy whatever craving you may have. Get there early, as the crowds grow throughout the day. And plan for a lot of walking.

Needless to say, we were in hunter’s heaven. Hubby bought a great hand-crafted leather belt. I found vintage dishes, hand-painted serving bowls and all sorts of honey, cheeses, vinegars and oils to stock my pantry. The Cherry Balsamic Vinegar was a great update to my Refreshing Compressed Watermelon,Tomato and Goat Cheese Salad. I’ve got big plans for the Lemon-Goat Cheese (for a creamy sauce to add with chicken – but that’s a post for another day).

The sage honey was awesome in this glazed chicken recipe. So golden, so delicate, so down right delicious. Both the apricots and young carrots came from a visit to the farmer’s market. While large carrots can be used, or the baby carrots in a bag, there is something sweet about the young, tender carrots with their tops that add to the dish (just be sure to cut off the green tops before using!)

Valley End FarmNeedless to say, the quality of your chicken will greatly impact the flavor of your dish. Whenever possible, look for hormone-free, antibiotics free, all natural chickens. The “brands” that I prefer are Rocky or Rosie Chicken – both from the same company.  Their chickens come from Sustainable Farms in and around the Sonoma area of California. The chickens are then packaged in nearby Petaluma. Beautiful country – great farms, vineyards and awesome foods abound throughout the Sonoma Valley.

Apricot Sage Honey Glazed Drumsticks with Carrots
Chicken Drumsticks
10 drumsticks
Salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 fresh apricots
10 young carrots

To prepare Chicken: Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Pit the apricots, then slice into strips. Set aside.

Wash carrots, trim tops and ends. Cut as necessary into 2″ long sections. (Mine were perfect, needing almost no cutting beyond the trimming stage). Set aside.

Heat oil in heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat. Once oil is hot, brown the drumsticks on all sides, about 8-10 minutes, turning as needed. While chicken is browning, make apricot glaze.

Apricot Sage Honey Glaze
1/2 cup apricot jam
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sage honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon salt or to taste

To Prepare the Apricot Glaze: Combine apricot jam, red wine vinegar, sage honey, mustard, garlic and salt in a small bowl. Whisk mixture thoroughly to combine. Reserve 2 heaping tablespoons of the glaze and set aside.

Using a pastry brush, brush the remaining glaze over the drumsticks on all sides. (You will not use all the glaze in this application).

To the remaining glaze in the bowl, add carrots and apricots. Mix to coat well. Set apricot/carrot mixture aside.

Arrange drumsticks in a large casserole dish. Spoon carrot/apricot/glaze mixture over legs, spread evenly.

To Bake the Chicken: Place chicken in the oven to bake. After about 20 minutes, remove dish from oven, close door to retain heat, Rotate legs, and brush with reserved glaze. Return dish to oven for another 20 minutes.

Check for drumsticks for doneness. If more time is needed, rotate legs once more and return to oven for an additional 5 to 10 minutes of baking.

To serve: Plate legs and carrots, drizzle with juices from the casserole dish. Serve with fluffy rice such as Rice  Pilaf.

Butterfly Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli

This is one of those recipes that has made several appearances on our meal planner, only to be pushed aside, opting instead for fast food, a night of left overs or cold sandwiches. For whatever the reason, the dish could not find its way from the planning stage to the execution process. Finally, I painted myself into a corner – two beautiful breasts wrapped in butcher paper sat it the refrigerator, along with fresh broccoli from the farmer’s market and a bright orange pepper. No excuses – no backing down.

Delicious! Easy and delicious! Hubby loved the rich sauce and even Kiddo ate his broccoli. Yeah, this is one dish we will serve again. It’s one of those yummy dishes that would do well at a potluck, too. Hope you give it a try soon – I promise, you won’t be sorry!

Butterfly Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli
1 Tablespoon Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast Halves
Flour for dredging.
1 (12 oz) Package Farfalle (Bow Tie) Pasta
1 Cup Chicken Stock
1 Head Broccoli, cut into Florets
1 Orange Bell Pepper, seeded, sliced thin
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
Salt & Pepper to Taste
1 (8 oz) Container Chive & Onion Cream Cheese
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Add pasta and cook 10-15 minutes or until al dente (Firm to the Tooth/Bite). Drain.

Heat a large, heavy bottom skillet over medium heat. Melt 1 tablespoon butter mixed with 2 tablespoons olive oil in skillet.

Cut chicken into strips, dredge lightly in flour and brown in the skillet until cooked through, about 8-10 minutes per side, turning as needed. Remove from skillet and keep warm.

To now empty skillet, add chicken broth, bell pepper, garlic, broccoli, salt and pepper. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and add chicken. Cover and let simmer 8-10 minutes or until broccoli is crisp-tender.

Stir in cream cheese until smooth. Add pasta to sauce. Toss to coat evenly and heated through.

Pour mixture onto large rimmed serving platter. Garnish with Parmesan Cheese and serve.