Chicken in Savory Tomato Sauce

I got home from work and realized I had no plan on what to make for dinner.

I really hate when this happens! But I had a full pantry and hungry mongrels all around me. What to do?

This is what I did, and I’m glad I did.

The sauce was really rich and delicious…a quick homemade marinara. Simmer some chicken in it, and I wondered why I hadn’t thought of this before.

I didn’t have any, but tear some basil over the finished plates if you like. Or add fresh herbs for even better flavor!

I sprinkled shaved Parmesan cheese over the top, but you could use mozzarella too.

Something about the crunchy, peppery arugula under that rice really worked here. If that’s not your fancy, serve over pasta.

Either way, this recipe just proves the old saying that simple is better!

Chicken in Savory Tomato Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds chicken (any pieces you like; I used bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs)
  • 3-4 large garlic cloves, halved or quartered
  • 1/2 medium onion, cut into slivers (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 small green bell pepper (about 1 cup)
  • 26 ounce container chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup white wine (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • rice or pasta, for serving
  • arugula, for serving (optional)
  • Parmesan or mozzarella cheese, for serving

Heat the oil in a deep pan over medium heat. Generously salt and pepper the chicken. Add to pan and cook 10-15 minutes, turning once, until browned all over. Remove from pan to a plate.

Drain all but a small amount of oil from the pan (you may not need to do this if your chicken is skinless). Add garlic, onion, and green pepper, and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until vegetables are soft and beginning to brown.

Stir in tomatoes and oregano, and bring to a simmer. Put chicken back in the pan, cover, and simmer on medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes, until chicken is cooked through, turning once.

Serve over a bed of greens and rice like we did, or over pasta. Sprinkle with cheese. Enjoy!

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Gluten Free Easy Chicken & Vegetable Pies

So I haven’t posted in a while because my sister Whitney got married! It was total craziness! But so fun.

In the last few hectic weeks I’ve come to really appreciate easy recipes. That everyone can (and will!) eat.

Therefore, I give you refrigerated gluten free dough, frozen vegetables, and leftover chicken. Add a few everyday ingredients in, and bingo – dinner is done! Kids and adults will eat these because they’re yummy, my sister Caroline can eat these because they’re gluten free…everyone is happy.

The chicken base is optional, but it adds a lot of flavor – add it if you have it! You can also use a (non-gluten-free) chicken bullion cube.

If gluten free isn’t necessary…roll out those premade biscuits or croissants in a can and put this filling in. So good.

A few comments:

  • gluten free dough is finicky. If it starts to tear as you’re cutting it, put it back in the fridge to firm up. When you bake it, bake it to well done so it gets crispy but not burned (cover the tops with tin foil if needed).
  • use individual ramekins filled with the chicken and vegetable mixture and cover with a piece of dough, for easier assembly.

Chicken & Vegetable Pies closeup

Gluten Free Easy Chicken & Vegetable Hand Pies

Adapted from rachelschultz.com’s Chicken & Vegetable Hand Pies

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 white onion, diced small (omit if it’s in your vegetable mix)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups frozen cut vegetable mix
  • 2 cups cooked cubed chicken (grocery store rotisserie chicken works great!)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 cup gluten free, low sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 milk
  • 1 tablespoon gluten free chicken base (I use RC Fine Foods Brand)
  • 3 ounces gluten free flour (I use Better Batter All-Purpose Flour), or 3/4 cup regular flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2-16 ounce container refrigerated gluten free pie dough (I use Pillsbury, it’s in the dairy section), or regular pie dough, or mini biscuits in a can
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

(If you are starting with raw chicken, cook them in the olive oil over medium heat until cooked through and do not drain the pan; then proceed with onion and garlic below.)

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the butter and vegetables, stir, and cook until they are thawed and warmed through.

Add the diced chicken, celery seed, chicken base, milk and chicken stock and cook to a simmer. Add salt and pepper. Sprinkle the flour over everything and mix well; the final filling will be thick.

Roll out half the pie dough to 1/4 inch thickness and slice into 4 pieces. Repeat with the other half of the dough, then repeat all steps with the second pie crust.

On each of 8 dough pieces, add 1/2 cup of the chicken and vegetable mix. Sprinkle with cheese. Top with another piece of pie crust and seal edges well with a fork, or crimp with your fingers. Brush tops with egg. Cut 2-3 small holes in the top to vent. (No need to brush with egg if using biscuit or croissants.) Sprinkle tops with more cheese.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until dough is well done and golden brown. Enjoy!


Creamy Smoked Paprika Chicken Noodle Soup

This recipe takes a comfort food classic – chicken noodle soup – and adds creamy, smoky flavors that transform it into a meal.

Please do try to use the bacon fat – it makes a difference. And if you needed an excuse to make bacon, now you have one!

The broth is best sopped up with some crusty bread (Udi’s gluten free rolls are divine).

I keep it gluten free with gluten free pasta and cornstarch, but regular pasta will work just fine!

Potatoes instead of noodles would also work. Add veggies to your heart’s desire, if you like.

Top with bacon bits…sour cream…shredded cheddar cheese…scallions…yum.

Creamy Smoked Paprika Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat (optional)
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3-4 pound whole fryer chicken, skin removed
  • 8 cups water or chicken broth
  • 1/2-1 tablespoon salt (to taste)
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 cups milk (I use 1%)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 whole zucchinis, cut into chunks
  • 8 ounces sliced baby portabella mushrooms
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 bag/box (16 ounce) gluten free pasta (brown rice pasta works well, or use regular egg noodles)
  • sour cream, shredded cheese and/or scallions, for garnish (optional)

In a large, heavy stockpot, heat butter and bacon fat over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion, and simmer until soft, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the paprika, oregano, cumin, celery seed, and bay leaves, and add the water. Submerge the chicken, breast side down; it will be mostly (but not completely) covered. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. After 30 minutes, flip chicken over. Continue to cook another 30 minutes or until chicken begins to fall apart; remove to a plate.

In a small container, whisk cornstarch with a small amount of the cooking liquid; add to pot along with the milk. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer vigorously, uncovered over medium heat for 20 minutes; shred the chicken meat and discard bones while the liquid simmers.

Stir in the cream cheese and add salt and pepper to taste. Add the noodles and chicken, and simmer uncovered until the pasta is tender. Enjoy!


Spicy Beef Chili

I have about a zillion chili recipes – this is Mike’s favorite! It is also super easy and doesn’t have to sit on the stove all day if you’re in a rush.

It is quite spicy (but we love that). It is naturally gluten free, and very healthy – I always use low or no sodium canned vegetables. The bacon fat is worth the splurge for a little flavor!

As the picture shows, I was really bad and put it on a cheese biscuit (delicious). But a nice, big bowl over some brown rice is just as good.

We like to top this chili with cheese, jalapeno slices, sour cream, cilantro, chives…take your pick. A fried egg on top might send me over the edge.

Spicy Beef Chili

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean (90/10) ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat (or use oil)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 large white onion, chopped
  • 15.5 ounce can spicy chili beans
  • 10 can mild or Original Ro-Tel tomatoes and chiles
  • 15 ounce can whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed
  • 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 1-2 cups broth (beef, chicken or vegetable will work)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon terragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2+ teaspoons salt (to taste)

In a large pot, melt bacon fat over medium heat. Add garlic and onions; simmer 5 minutes or until onion is soft. Turn heat to medium-high and add ground beef, cooking until no longer pink.

Add chili beans, Ro-Tel, corn, beans, and zucchini to pot, then add enough broth to barely cover. Stir in seasonings. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low, simmering 45 minutes to 3 hours, stirring every half hour or so. Season with salt to taste at the end. Enjoy!


Bleu Cheese Burgers with Spicy Onion Confit

These burgers are spicy, savory, and tangy. The flavors hit you all at once!

Red chile peppers are mildly spicy and add just the right amount of heat. The bleu cheese is melty and creamy from being toasted on the bun; the onion confit is mild and buttery, so you don’t even need mayo. And it’s all so easy, but you’ll look super fancy.

Bon appétit!

Bleu Cheese Burgers with Spicy Onion Confit

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef, shaped into four 6-ounce patties
  • canola oil for pan
  • hamburger buns
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • lettuce leaves

for the confit:

  • 1/2 red onion, sliced very thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced very thin
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 red chile pepper or jalapeño, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

To make the confit: Heat the butter and oil over medium-low heat; add the onions, thyme, chile pepper, sugar and salt. Cook slowly, until onions are very soft but not brown, 30 minutes. Add vinegar and simmer another 30 minutes. Turn off heat to burner.

Heat a grill pan over medium heat; brush with oil. Add burgers and cook to desired doneness, flipping once.

Top each hamburger half with bleu cheese and toast until cheese is melted. Add lettuce, 1-2 hamburger patties, and onion confit. Serve immediately. Enjoy!


Spiced Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Squash & Apples

“This tastes like Fall!”

That’s what Mike said about this recipe, which is exactly what I was going for.

Cinnamon, brown sugar, and nutmeg. Salty bacon and tender pork. Sweet squash and apples. I’d say this is Autumn in a Pan, and is completely Thanksgiving-worthy.

Make the bacon-wrapped pork the night before, and you can easily throw everything in the pan and cook it while you entertain guests. A meat thermometer (get one here) ensures perfect doneness and no need to poke and prod at the meat.

Use a large roasting pan if you like, to fit more vegetables. My home was filled with the scent of cinnamon and apples…I buy candles that smell like this!

I served the pork and squash with rice that got a big spoonful of the cooking sauce over the top. Or add sliced potatoes to the pan for a one-pot meal.

No candle necessary for festiveness! Have I mentioned how glad I am it’s Fall/Autumn/Festive Food Time/Good Hair Weather?

Spiced Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Squash & Apples

for the roast:

  • 2 pounds whole pork tenderloin (2 loins)
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 wooden skewers, cut to 4-5 inches long

for the vegetables:

  • 1 sweet dumpling squash, seeded and cut into wedges
  • 1 large red delicious apple, cored and cut into chunks
  • 2-3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • juice of 1/4 lemon

for the glaze:

  • 2 large garlic cloves, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425°F (400°F convection).

Set roasts out on counter for 30 minutes before preparing. Rub roasts all over with chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Use skewers to hold roasts together. Wrap bacon slices, one at a time, around pork, ends on the bottom, slices slightly overlapping. Lightly oil a large skillet, and place pork in center of pan. If desired, sear off bottom of roast over medium heat while you slice the vegetables.

Carefully cut the squash into wedges, using the ridges as a guide. Cut the apple into large chunks (peel if desired). In a large zip-top bag, add squash and apple and toss with canola oil, cinnamon, and lemon. Add to the pan with the pork roast, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part and transfer to the oven.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and simmer over low heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and bubbles form but pop slowly, 30-45 minutes. Strain out garlic (yield about 1/2 cup sauce). Pour over the top of the roast and vegetables about halfway through cooking.

Roast 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until an internal temperature of 135°F is reached. Broil 5 minutes if needed to brown the bacon. Enjoy!


Honey Soy Glazed Skillet Chicken

Mmmm…honey glazed, soy-marinated chicken.

Sweet, savory, tender chicken pieces result from this 2-step cooking method…by starting on the stove, you cut way back on oven time. Which means you cut back on drying out time, something chicken loves to do in the oven.

A honey glaze that thickens and browns in the oven finishes off the deliciousness. Even my mom was impressed (Awesome.).

Marinate up to 4 hours, but try not to do it less than 2. The chicken will really absorb these flavors. San-J’s gluten free tamari sauce is amazing (they make soy sauce too). Tamari or soy sauce will work; tamari is richer and a little thicker, great for this dish.

I used a 12-inch pan and the chicken barely fit. You might need to sear it off in batches, and transfer to a baking dish (stick it in the oven to heat it up first!). No problem – that will work just fine. Or of course you could just make a half batch.

Make sure you spoon the cooking liquid over the chicken regularly – we want that surface to caramelize!

A meat thermometer in one of the big pieces will ensure everything’s cooked through (the smaller pieces will be fall-off-the-bone tender).

If it had been up to me, I’d have used all dark meat, but sometimes you have to please the masses.

Chicken aside – you’ll be spooning the resulting sauce over everything else on your plate too.

Honey Soy Skillet Chicken 2

Honey Soy Glazed Skillet Chicken

  • 5 pounds mixed bone-in chicken pieces
  • 3 tablespoons butter (or canola oil)
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • fresh ground pepper

for the marinade:

  • 1 bottle (10 ounces) gluten free tamari sauce or soy sauce
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder

Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl; stir to combine. In a shallow pan large enough to hold the chicken (9×13″), pour marinade over chicken; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2-4 hours, turning chicken once. When marinating time is done, remove chicken and scrape off most of the garlic and cilantro.

Preheat your oven to 375°F

Heat a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat. Add butter, and slowly add the chicken, largest pieces first. Add some freshly ground pepper. As the chicken cooks, the pieces will shrink some, allowing you to add more pieces. Once all the chicken is in the pan, cook 15 minutes, turning chicken once. Use a meat thermometer to ensure largest piece is at least 80°F; when temperature is reached, pour honey over the chicken and place in oven.

Spoon liquid over chicken every 10 minutes. Cook about 30 minutes, or until chicken registers 165°F in thickest part. If desired, strain off fat and serve cooking liquid with chicken. Enjoy!