TUSCAN CHICKEN TOMATO SOUP

TUSCAN CHICKEN TOMATO SOUP serves 6

8 thick slices sourdough bread
2 tablespoons avocado oil, plus more for toasting bread 
Salad Supreme garlic bread sprinkle
2 tablespoons salted butter OR 2 seasoned butter cubes (see notes)
3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced OR 2 cups diced rotisserie chicken pieces 
1 LARGE shallot, diced 
2-3 cloves garlic, minced 
2 tablespoons QUALITY tomato paste  (I use Classico sun dried tomato pesto)
14-ounce can QUALITY diced tomatoes 
14-ounce can QUALITY tomato puree 
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth 
One 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 to 2 tablespoons honey 
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano, plus whole sprigs, for garnish 
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper 
One SMALL 6.52-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained 
Mini QUALITY Mozzarella balls 

  • Preheat the oven to 425°.
  • Lightly coat the bread with oil on both sides and place on a baking sheet. Bake until toasted and browned, about 10 minutes.
  • Heat the butter and oil in a soup pot over a medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and the oil is hot, add the chicken (if you’re using the raw thighs otherwise rotisserie chicken pieces are added later), onion and garlic and cook until the onion starts to brown and the chicken is almost cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste and stir until everything is well coated.
  • Add the canned tomatoes, tomato puree, chicken broth, beans, honey and oregano.
  • Add in rotisserie chicken pieces, if using.
  • Season to taste with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, stirring well and bringing to a simmer for 10 minutes or so until flavors are well blended.
  • Add the marinated artichoke hearts to the soup and stir to combine.
  • Tear the toasted bread into large chunks and place in the bottom of soup bowls OR use grilled cheese croutons for an extra yummy plus.
  • Ladle the soup over the bread.
  • Top each bowl with several mini Mozzarella cheese balls, chopped oregano and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

NOTES: When I buy FRESH herbs (thyme, tarragon, oregano, basil…), I chop them up and make butter cubes in my lidded silicone trays to freeze and have on hand for recipes just like this. It adds another layer of flavor.

STUFFED CHICKEN MARSALA

STUFFED CHICKEN MARSALA adapted from Tiffany at Creme De La Crumb serves 4

This is a match made in heaven with the perfectly seasoned chicken stuffed with mozzarella, Parmesan cheese and sun dried tomatoes and then smothered in a savory Marsala mushroom sauce that tastes like it came from your favorite Italian restaurant in less than an hour.

CHICKEN
4 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 slices mozzarella cheese
1 12-ounce jar julienned sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, DRAINED WELL
2/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons avocado oil
FRESH ground sea salt and pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut a slit horizontally along one side of the chicken breast to make a “pocket”.
  • 
Fill each pocket with 2 slices of mozzarella cheese, sun dried tomatoes, and a quarter of the shredded Parmesan cheese.
  • 
Pinch together the open side of the chicken breasts and secure with toothpicks.
  • Drizzle the chicken with oil, then sprinkle with FRESH ground sea salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and then rub in with your fingers.

  • Transfer chicken to a large enameled cast iron skillet.
  • Brown chicken over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side.
  • Transfer chicken on a plate while you prepare the Marsala sauce.

SAUCE
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1 cup chicken bone broth
1-2 tablespoons tomato paste, depending on taste

3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup heavy cream
FRESH ground sea salt and pepper, to taste
grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
FRESH chopped parsley or thyme for garnish


  • Add the onions and mushrooms to the pan, stirring to saute a few minutes.
  • Add garlic, stirring until fragrant, 30 seconds or so.
  • Add the Marsala wine, bone broth, salt and pepper, and heavy cream.
  • Stir and bring to a SLOW boil, cooking for 3-4 minutes.
  • Return chicken pan and spoon some of the sauce over the chicken.
  • Transfer skillet to preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until chicken is cooked all the way through and cheeses are melted. Spoon sauce over chicken midway.
  • Plate chicken and spoon sauce over top.
  • Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and parsley or thyme if desired, and serve.



NOTES: Using sun dried tomatoes packed in oil adds another layer of flavor.

BEEFY RICOTTA MEATBALLS with PENNE PASTA, TOMATO PESTO & GREEN BEANS

The meatball mixture can be made ahead of time you can even shape them like I did into squares using my Joie silicone ice cube tray and then store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re to ready to use them.

Adapted from Marley Spoon’s Anna Painter

BEEFY RICOTTA MEATBALLS with PENNE PASTA, TOMATO PESTO & GREEN BEANS

4 ounces sun dried tomato pesto
2 ounces (regular) pesto
2 ounces cream cheese
2 cups (dry) penne pasta
1/4 cup panko crumbs
4 ounces ricotta
scant 3/4 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons FRESH chopped parsley
½ pound green beans
1 small shallot, FINELY chopped
FRESH ground sea salt & ground pepper
avocado oil
1 tablespoon butter

  • Preheat oven to 450° and arrange rack into the center position.
  • Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Trim green beans, then cut or snap in half.
  • Finely chop parsley leaves and stems.
  • In a medium bowl, combine ground beef, ricotta, panko crumbs, 1 tablespoon of the chopped parsley, FRESH ground sea salt and pepper to taste. Gentle knead to blend.
  • 
Shape beef into 6-8 meatballs of about 2 tablespoons each. Choose your shape round or square – I use square if I’m making them in advance because I use silicone molds to freeze them in.
  • Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with oil.
  • Bake on center oven rack until browned on the bottom and cooked through, 10–12 minutes.
  • While meatballs bake, add pasta to boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost al dente, about 8 minutes.
  • Add green beans to the pot with the pasta, and continue cooking another 4 minutes until pasta is al dente’ and green beans are tender. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and green beans.
  • Place drained pasta and beans over the butter in a bowl. Toss to coat.
  • Return the pot to the burner and add oil in same pot over medium-high.
  • Add shallots and a pinch each of salt and pepper; cook 2 minutes, stirring, until softened.
  • Add cream cheese, pesto, sun dried tomato pesto, and reserved cooking water.
  • Cook, whisking, until cream cheese is incorporated and sauce is smooth, about 1 minute.
  • 

Add pasta, green beans, and half of the parsley to pot with sauce.
  • Cook, stirring, until pasta and green beans are coated well.
  • Add meatballs to pot and gently stir to combine.
  • Garnish with remaining parsley.

 

ITALIAN WEDDING CASSEROLE

ITALIAN WEDDING CASSEROLE adapted from Ree Drummond

CASSEROLE
2 cups (dry) bowtie pasta
2 tablespoons butter 
2 tablespoons avocado oil 
1 cup diced celery 
2 tablespoons chopped FRESH oregano 
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped thyme
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped Italian Parsley
1 teaspoon FRESH chopped rosemary
3 cloves garlic, minced 
2 carrots, diced 
1 onion, diced 
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
4 cups chicken broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
1 1/2 pounds of homemade meatballs OR a 26-ounce bag frozen Italian meatballs 
2-3 cups chopped baby spinach *SEE NOTES
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

  • Preheat the oven to 375°.
  • Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until less than al dente; set aside.
  • Melt butter and avocado oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add celery, carrots and onion, cooking until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add oregano and garlic, sautéing until fragrant.
  • Sprinkle with the flour, stirring and cooking for an additional minute.
  • While whisking constantly, slowly add chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and allow the sauce to thicken, about 2 minutes.
  • Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • Add the meatballs, spinach, Parmesan, stirring to combine.
  • Fold in pasta.
  • Transfer to 9×13-inch baking dish.

TOPPING
1  cup PANKO breadcrumbs
1/4 cup FRESH grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons salted butter, melted
2 tablespoons chopped FRESH parsley 
2 tablespoons chopped FRESH oregano 

  • Mix together the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, butter, parsley and oregano in a bowl until well combined.
  • Sprinkle the breadcrumb topping over the casserole.
  • Bake until golden and bubbly, about 20 minutes.
  • Allow the casserole to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

NOTES:  Baby spinach can be easily replaced with broccoli or green beans, but both of those need to be added during the saute’ process.

PIZZA CASSEROLE

Not the prettiest looking casserole, but after you dig into it, the flavor makes you forget how it looks!
ITALIAN PIZZA CASSEROLE
4 servings spaghetti or fettuccine
2 sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
1 LARGE shallot halved and sliced thin
1/2 of a LARGE red pepper, diced
2 cups spaghetti sauce
1 cup chopped pepperoni pieces*
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons FRESH chopped herbs (Italian Parsley, Rosemary and Thyme), divided

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray 2 quart baking dish with non-stick spray.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • In a small skillet heat avocado oil.
  • Add Italian sausage, cooking until crumbly and shallots are caramelized.
  • Add red peppers, cooking a few minutes more peppers are tender and juicy. Drain sausage mixture of excess grease.
  • In a mixing bowl combine sauce, two-thirds of the chopped herbs, pepperoni pieces and sausage mixture until well blended.
  • Add half of each cheese, blending well.
  • Fold in pasta.
  • Arrange mixture into baking dish.
  • Sprinkle remaining cheese evenly on top.
  • Sprinkle remaining herbs over cheese.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes until heated through.

NOTE: I buy the mini pepperoni bites so there is no chopping involved.

TUSCAN STEAK with MUSHROOMS & 3 PEPPER SAUCE

TUSCAN STEAK with MUSHROOMS & 3 PEPPER SAUCE serves 4
12 ounces fettuccine
FRESH ground sea salt and tri-color peppercorns, to taste
1 pound sirloin steak
2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Wondra flour
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes (optional)
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
1 small can baby peas (Le Seur)
Balsamic glaze, for drizzling

  • In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside. OR roast or pan fry potatoes in a separate pan.
  • Generously season steak with FRESH ground sea salt and tri-colored peppercorns.
  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook steak 3 minutes per side for medium rare.
  • Transfer to a plate to let rest, 10 minutes, then thinly slice.
  • Meanwhile, make Alfredo sauce.
  • Add butter to skillet and let melt.
  • Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
  • Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute more, then add milk and simmer until thickened, 5 minutes.
  • Add parsley and Parmesan, stirring to combine.
  • Fold in peas.
  • Add tomatoes (if desired) and cook down 2 minutes.
  • Add cooked pasta or roasted potatoes to sauce and toss until coated.
  • Top with sliced steak, drizzle with balsamic glaze and sprinkle with minced Parsley.

UPDATED HUNTER CHICKEN aka CHASSEUR or CACCIATORE ala SLOW COOKER

Chasseur means “hunter” in French. Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian. So let’s just cut to the chase and call it Hunter chicken.

French hunter’s chicken is prepared using chicken that is pan seared crisp and a chasseur sauce consisting of tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, white wine, brandy and tarragon. Prior to pan searing, the chicken can be dredged in flour (I use a fine WONDRA flour). Tomato ingredients can include diced tomatoes, canned crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Other ingredients often include shallots, olive oil, chicken stock, vermouth, tarragon, thyme and marjoram. Chasseur sauce is traditionally prepared using a SLOW simmer to reduce the sauce and thicken it. Often parsley and croutons are used as garnishes. This recipe is also better as leftovers when the sauce has sat and the flavors have fully blended.

Italian hunter’s chicken is prepared using chicken pieces that are first lightly fried and then braised in the sauce. Italian cacciatore is sometimes made with rabbit or salami instead of chicken. The sauce is made with olive oil, onions, herbs, canned peeled tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic and wine. Carrots are often used to add sweetness. Garnish for the cacciatore are often olives, croutons and Parmesan cheese. After the vegetable are sautéed and the broth added to create the sauce, the chicken is returned to the pan, the heat reduced to a SLOW simmer, covered and braised for a couple hours.

In this updated version you can get the same flavor using a slow cooker, making it a weeknight possibility instead of an all day chore.

UPDATED HUNTER CHICKEN
4-6 chicken breasts
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon QUALITY tomato paste
1 cup chicken bone broth
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
6 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cups baby carrots, halved or quartered depending on size
1 SMALL Vidalia onion, chopped
28 ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and then rustic chopped or crushed
1/4 cup WONDRA flour

  • Whisk together the wine, bone broth, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, garlic, onions, carrots, salt and pepper.
  • Add to slow cooker.
  • Generously season chicken with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Dredge chicken pieces with flour.
  • Nestle chicken pieces into tomatoes.
  • Sprinkle any remaining flour evenly over top.
  • Scatter mushrooms over top.
  • Cover and cook on low 5-6 hours.
  • Serve with desired garnishes

GARNISHES
3/4 cup pimiento stuffed green olives
Parmesan cheese
Crusty bread pieces

ITALIAN MEATBALLS in RUSTIC TOMATO SAUCE

ITALIAN MEATBALLS in RUSTIC TOMATO SAUCE
1/2 pound ground sirloin
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 SMALL onion, FINELY chopped
2 LARGE cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons avocado oil

  • In a large bowl mix together ground meats, seasonings, chopped onion and garlic until well blended.
  • Form into golf ball sized meatballs.
  • Heat oil in cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  • Sear meatballs, turning often, until browned.
  • Transfer to paper towels to drain.

SLOW ROASTED TOMATOES & RUSTIC TOMATO SAUCE
SLOW ROASTED TOMATOES
2-3 pounds FRESH Roma or cherry tomatoes, chopped rustic
1/4 cup chopped FRESH flat leaf Parsley
2 tablespoons chopped FRESH oregano
2 tablespoons chopped FRESH basil
Avocado oil
1 bulb garlic, sliced
1 small red onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, sliced
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • Preheat oven to 300°.
  • Cover large baking sheet with foil.
  • Arrange tomatoes, onions and garlic in a single layer.
  • Drizzle with avocado oil.
  • Season well with herbs, salt and pepper.
  • Roast for 3 hours until tomatoes are shriveled and soft.
  • Cool completely.

RUSTIC TOMATO SAUCE
Pureed Slow Roasted Tomatoes
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream

  • Puree tomato mixture before running through a food mill to remove seeds and large chunks.
  • Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat.
  • Add chicken broth and pureed tomatoes.
  • Bring to a SLOW simmer for 40 minutes.
  • Whisk in heavy cream and simmer 5-10 minutes more.

BAKED RICOTTA DIP

Compliments of Martha over at Seaside Simplicity I bring you her Baked Ricotta Dip. I have found A LOT of uses for the leftovers also. And yes, with just two of us there ARE leftovers. 

The first time I used the leftovers as a thin layer in my Ravioli Lasagna between the first layer of ravioli and the meat sauce.  Next time I will make a batch in a large flat baking dish that can be easily transferred to a thin layer in the lasagna.

The second time I added some leftover Cara Mia Artichoke Bruschetta from Star and 8 ounces of tomato sauce. I then served it over some simple pan seared chicken breast for a complete meal.

BAKED RICOTTA DIP
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Mix all ingredients together.
  • Pour into a 8″ greased baking dish.
  • Sprinkle with additional Italian seasoning and bake about 40 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.
  • Serve with Crostini or sourdough chunks.
VARIATIONS
  • If you don’t like garlic, it can be completely omitted or decreased in amount and you’ll still have a delicious warm cheesy dip.
  • If you love a good strong garlic flavor like we do, mix an additional 4-6 cloves of minced garlic with a tablespoon of olive oil or avocado oil and pour over the top for the last 10 minutes of baking time.
  • For a slightly sweet version, omit garlic and Italian seasonings and add a tablespoon of a good QUALITY honey, with additional honey to drizzle on top, great for brunch!
CROSTINI
  • Cut French bread in 1/2 inch thick slices.
  • Brush both sides with olive or avocado oil.
  • Sprinkle with Italian seasoning (optional).
  • Bake at 400° for 3 minutes, flip and bake an additional 2-3 minutes. 

NOTES:

I didn’t have any crostini, but did have some good sourdough bread that was beginning to stale so used that and it was great!

CHICKEN PARMESAN STUFFED GARLIC BREAD

CHICKEN PARMESAN STUFFED GARLIC BREAD adapted from Tasty

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenders
1 cup flour
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup avocado oil, for frying
2 large baguettes**
Prepared marinara sauce**

  • Place the flour, eggs, and bread crumbs into 3 separate bowls.
  • Roll a chicken strip in the flour, dusting off excess.
  • Dip the strip into the egg, then place into the bread crumbs, coating it completely.
  • Repeat with the remaining chicken.
  • Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat to 350˚.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Fry the breaded chicken strips until both sides are golden brown.
  • Remove from heat and drain on a paper toweling.

GARLIC BUTTER
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 LARGE cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon FRESH parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

  • Whisk everything together and set aside.

ASSEMBLY

  • Slice the baguettes into thirds or fourths, each piece should be about the same length of the chicken strips.
  • Hollow out the insides of the baguette pieces with a knife.
  • Overlap two slices of mozzarella lengthwise.
  • Place a chicken strip on the overlapping region, then fold the mozzarella tightly around the chicken.
  • Push the rolled chicken strips into a baguette piece.
  • Slice the stuffed baguette pieces into 1 inch slices, then place them tightly side-by-side on a baking sheet lined with foil.
  • Brush the garlic butter evenly over the baguette slices, making sure some drips in between the slices.
  • Wrap the foil up and over the re-assembled baguette and bake for 20–25 minutes, until cheese is melted and the top is starting to brown.
  • Remove the foil and serve with marinara!

NOTE:

  • I make a “PINK” marinara that is half traditional red marinara and half alfredo sauce with a garlic crema (recipe below) 😀  The garlic crema is also wonderful to add to any base for any pizza.
  • I also like to use a ‘par baked’ baguette from the bakery.

GARLIC CREMA
1 cup heavy cream
6 cloves to the entire bulb or garlic depending on preference, minced
Combine the heavy cream and garlic in a small saucepan.
Cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently, 10-15 minutes until thickened and fragrant.

UPDATED CHICKEN CACCIATORE

This recipe is one that is so versatile that it can feel like you are eating separate dishes on the same night.  Hubby doesn’t do cooked mushrooms.  I don’t do capers or olives. So, I make the red part of the sauce and then split it in half and prepare each half with the items we like individually. 😀

UPDATED CHICKEN CACCIATORE
6 BONELESS, SKINLESS chicken chicken steaks
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1/3 cup WONDRA all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 pound sliced cremini mushrooms (optional)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, THINLY sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon FRESH and FINELY chopped oregano
1 teaspoon FRESH and FINELY chopped rosemary or thyme
One 28-ounce CRUSHED whole tomatoes
1/3 cup chopped black olives
2 tablespoons drained capers, chopped
1/4 cup torn FRESH basil leaves

  • Sprinkle the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, then toss them in a bowl with the flour to lightly coat.
  • Heat the oil and butter in a large, wide pot over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  • Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a plate.
  • Add the onion and mushrooms to the pot and cook, stirring, until the onion is softened and the mushrooms are lightly golden, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and peppers, stirring, until the peppers are just starting to soften, about 1 minute.
  • Add the wine and bring to a boil, then cook, scraping up any brown bits, until reduced by about half.
  • Add the oregano and rosemary or thyme.
  • Add the tomatoes and their juice and bring to a simmer.
  • Add the olives and capers.
  • Return the chicken to the pot, nestling in the sauce.
  • Reduce the heat to keep the sauce at a gentle simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 5-10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with the basil.
  • Serve immediately.

CREAMY SUN DRIED TOMATO CHICKEN

CREAMY SUN DRIED TOMATO CHICKEN
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup marinated sun dried tomato strips, drained of oil, reserve oil
2 tablespoons marinated sun dried tomatoes oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup white wine
3/4 cup chicken broth/stock , low sodium
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup FINELY shredded Parmesan
1 cup basil leaves, packed
Prepared pasta or mashed potatoes

  • Slice chicken breasts in half horizontally to form 2 thin steaks.
  • Generously sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Heat sun dried tomato oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • 
Add the chicken and cook until golden on both sides and cooked through.
  • Remove to a plate, keep warm.
  • Add the garlic and cook for 15 seconds until light golden.
  • Add wine.
  • Bring to simmer and scrape the bottom of the skillet to mix all the brown bits into the wine.
Let the wine simmer for 1 minute or so.
  • Add the chicken broth, heavy cream, Parmesan and sun dried tomatoes.
  • 
Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until thickened and well combined.
  • Taste sauce and adjust seasoning as needed.
  • Fold in basil leaves.
  • Return chicken into pan, turning to coat in sauce.
  • Serve over prepared pasta or mashed potatoes.
  • Serve immediately with garlic bread to sop up sauce!