Coq Au Vin

This is the real deal folks; the full Julia Child Coq Au Vin.  It is time-consuming so I wouldn't recommend it for a weeknight meal.  My husband (yes, I married a man who can cook) has perfected this recipe.  If you have never cooked a Julia Child recipe get ready, she is extremely meticulous.  This is why the directions are very specific.  We usually make this with a whole cut-up chicken.  This time we only used thighs and drumsticks and thought it had even better flavor,  the breasts tend to get a little dry.  This dish makes  an amazing meal, if you have the time to make it.

Coq Au Vin:
click here for printable version

4 ounces thick cut bacon-cut into rectangles 1/4 long across and 1 inch long
2.5-3# cut-up chicken, or only thighs and drumsticks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup cognac
3 cups red wine-we use Merlot
1-2 cups chicken or beef stock
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons butter

12-24 pearl onions
1.5 tablespoons butter
1.5 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup chicken or beef stock
salt and pepper to taste
herb bouquet-4 parsley sprigs, 1/2 bay leaf, and 1/4 teaspoon thyme tied in cheesecloth

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 # mushrooms, quartered 
salt and pepper

1.) Bring 2 quarts of water to a simmer, add the bacon and simmer for 10 minutes.  Rinse in cold water.  Dry.
2.)  Using a Dutch oven, saute the bacon in 2 tablespoons of the butter until it is lightly browned.  Remove the bacon to a plate.
3.)  Rinse and thoroughly dry the chicken pieces.  Brown in the hot butter and bacon fat.
4.)  Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, return the bacon to the pot.  Cover and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turn the chicken once.
5.)  Uncover, and pour in the cognac.  This is the fun part....keeping your face away from the pot, ignite the cognac with a match, shake the pot back and forth for several seconds until the flame stops.
6.)  Pour the wine into the pot.  Add enough stock (1-2 cups) to cover the chicken.  
7.)  Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and herbs.
8.)  Bring to a simmer, cover and cook slowly for 25-30 minutes.  

9.)  While the chicken is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.

1.)  Peel the onions
2.)  Heat the butter and oil in a skillet.
3.)  When the fat is bubbling, add the onions and saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions so they brown evenly and don't break their skins.
4.)  Pour in the stock, season to taste and add the herb bouquet.
5.)  Cover and simmer slowly for 40-50 minutes until tender, and the liquid has evaporated.
6.) Remove the herb bouquet

1.)  Heat the butter and oil in a skillet over high heat.
2.)  Add the mushrooms, toss and shake the pan for about 4-5 minutes.
3.)  As soon as the mushrooms have begun to brown, remove from the heat.  Season to taste.
10.)  Remove the chicken to a plate.
11.)  Simmer the chicken, cooking liquid in the pot for a minute or two, skimming off the fat.
12.)  Raise the heat and boil rapidly, reducing the liquid to about 2 1/4 cups.
13.)  Correct the seasoning, remove from heat and remove the bay leaf.
14.)  Blend the butter and flour together into a smooth paste.
15.)  Whisk the paste into the liquid.  Bring to a simmer, stirring for a minute or two.  The sauce should be thick enough to lightly coat a spoon.
16.) Remove the chicken from the bones and add the meat back into the sauce.
17.)  Add the mushrooms and onions to the pot.
18.)  Bring to a simmer and heat through.
19.)  Serve with buttered noodles, potatoes or crusty bread.

Ragu Sauce

This was the first recipe that we tried from Classic Pasta Cookbook and we keep coming back to it.  It is very easy and has a rich flavor.  It is better with homemade pasta, but for a weeknight it is fine on box pasta.  

Ragu Sauce:
click here for printable version
adapted from Classic Pasta Cookbook

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons diced carrot
2 tablespoons diced celery
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup dry white wine (we usually use Pinot Grigio)
1/2 cup whole milk
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1-28 ounce can whole tomatoes, cut up with juice
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat in a deep saucepan.  Add the onion, carrot and celery.  Saute for about 5 minutes.
Add the beef and salt, cook until the meat is browned.
Add the wine.
Cook until the wine has completely evaporated.  Add the milk and nutmeg, cook until most of the milk has evaporated.
Add the tomatoes.
Turn the heat down to very low.  Simmer, uncovered for about 1.5-2 hours, stirring occasionally.  
Mix with about 3/4 pound thin spaghetti and serve with Parmesan cheese.

Caramelized Brussel Sprouts with Lemon

I may have actually found a way that I can eat Brussel sprouts.  I used to just steam them whole, but found myself having to choke them down, yuk!  This method makes them actually taste good!  It is very easy and my boys didn't complain too much when I made them eat them.  

Caramelized Brussel Sprouts with Lemon:
click here for printable version
adapted from Everyday Food

12-16 ounces Brussel sprouts, halved
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
lemon juice

In a skillet add the sprouts and 1/2 cup water.  Season them with salt and pepper.
Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Cover and cook until most of the water has evaporated, about 7-8 minutes.  You can add more water if the skillet gets dry, you want the sprouts to be crisp tender.
Increase the heat to medium high and add oil.  Cook, uncovered, without stirring until they are golden brown, about 6-7 minutes.  
Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice to taste, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Chicken

Sometimes the simplicity of a roasted chicken dinner hits the spot.  I especially like that it is easy to prepare and very forgiving.  This chicken is no exception, it does call for fresh basil and lemon, but I have used dried basil and omitted the lemon when I didn't have one.   I also like to put wine in the pot, if I have some leftover.  It seems that whatever I throw in, it always produces a great roasted chicken!

Roasted Chicken:
click here for printable version
adapted from For the Love of Cooking

1- 4-5 pound chicken
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lemon
1 handful fresh basil
garlic powder
onion powder
dried basil
6-8 cloves garlic
1 onion, quartered
1 pound (or more if you want them) potatoes, peeled and quartered

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Rinse and dry the chicken.
Squeeze the lemon juice all over the chicken and put halves inside the chicken along with the fresh basil, garlic and some of the onion.  Season outside of chicken liberally with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and dried basil.  Put potatoes and remaining onion in a large Dutch oven, add olive oil and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and dried basil.  Set chicken on top of potatoes.

Cover and put in oven for 1.5-2 hours, checking the temperature with a thermometer at 1.5 hours.  The breast should read 170, the thigh 180 degrees.
Remove and let rest for about 10 minutes.


I am not sure why I have never thought of making calzones before.  I make homemade pizza all the time and it never crossed my mind to even try these.  It turns out, they are really easy and are a fun alternative to pizza.  This is the kind of recipe that you really can add whatever you like to the filling.  We had: genoa salami, sopressata, fresh basil, kalamata and black olives, smoked and whole milk mozzarella cheese.  I made the kids' with pepperoni and cheese because that is all they like.  They actually ate and didn't complain AT ALL, and in my house that is a miracle!  

click here  for printable version

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
pinch sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2-3 cups flour

Pizza Sauce
**Typically, I make this sauce and freeze it in 1 cup measurements in Ziploc bags.  I just pull out a bag or two when I make pizza.  For the calzones I only used 1 cup for 4 of them.  This sauce makes about 6-8 cups.
3-15 ounce cans tomato sauce

1-6 ounce can tomato paste
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1 ounce minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
Saute onions and garlic in olive oil.  Add remaining ingredients, simmer 2-3 hours.

Anything you like!
pepperoni, sausage, olives, mushrooms, peppers, basil, cheese etc.

In a bowl, combine yeast, water and sugar, stir well and let sit for 5 minutes.  
In a stand mixer, combine the salt, olive oil, 2 1/2 cups flour and yeast mixture.  
The dough should be slightly sticky to the touch, if it is too sticky add flour in 1/4 cup measurements until it is the right consistency.  
Using the dough hook attachment, mix dough in stand mixer on low speed for 5 minutes.  
Spray a bowl with non-stick spray, add dough and cover with plastic wrap.  Let sit for 1-2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
After the dough has risen, divide it into 4 even balls.  Transfer to a lightly floured surface and roll out into 4-8 inch circles.  
Place sauce, filling and cheese in the center of 1 side of the circle, then fold dough over the filling.  
Crimp edges together with your fingers and/or a fork until the edges are sealed.  Cut a small slit in the top of the calzone.  
Cook on a preheated pizza stone or a baking sheet for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. 

St. Patrick's Day Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

Okay, seriously...with a name like Chocolate Stout Cupcakes how could you go wrong?  Well, with this recipe you can't!  I found it on while searching for a good St. Patrick's Day treat to make.  I probably don't need to tell you this, but they are delicious.  I was surprised that you can really taste the stout, and that it goes really well with chocolate.  We did sprinkle some with green sugar for the boys.  I think next year I might put some green food coloring in the frosting too!  Happy St. Patty's Day!

St. Patrick's Day Chocolate Stout Cupcakes:
click here for printable version
adapted from Dave Lieberman

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 bottle Guinness stout beer
1 stick butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the stout, butter and vanilla.  Beat in the eggs.  Mix in the sour cream until smooth, then add the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  
Spray 24 muffin tins with non-stick spray.
Fill each tin 3/4 full.  Bake for about 23 minutes, until the cupcakes have a dome on them.
Cool before taking out of tins.


1- 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened at room temperature
3/4 cup to 1 cup heavy cream
1- 1# box powdered sugar

Beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.  Gradually beat in the cream.  Slowly add the sugar until smooth.  Refrigerate frosting if you are not using immediately.
Frost the cupcakes when cooled completely.

White Whole Wheat Bread with Olive Oil

I found this recipe on a food blog.  It is from the cookbook Healthy Bread in Five Minutes which I don't own yet, but I plan on buying soon.  The bread was very easy to make.  Just to make it clear, it is obviously not "made" in five minutes, that is just the amount of hands-on time that it takes.  There is about 3 1/2 hours of rising that you need to account for.
We were happy with the bread, but one tip is to not judge the breads' "doneness" by the darkness of the outside.  I ended up taking it out too early because it looked done, but it wasn't quite finished on the inside.

White Whole Wheat Bread with Olive Oil:
click here for printable version
adapted from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes

3 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
3/4 tablespoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
1 3/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup olive oil

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the flour, yeast, salt and vital wheat gluten.  
Then, using the low speed, mix in the olive oil and water.  
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for about 2 hours.
Sprinkle the dough with flour and remove to a piece of parchment paper.  Shape into a loaf.
Let sit for 90 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with the baking sheet in the oven.
Take sheet out of oven and put parchment and bread on the sheet and put back in the oven.
Using another metal pan (I used another baking sheet) pour one cup of hot water into the baking sheet and put on the rack under the bread.  Doing this will create steam in the oven and will give the bread a crispy crust.
Bake bread for 30 minutes.

Tuscan White Bean & Garlic Soup

So this is the week for recipes that don't take good pictures, but can't put taste in a picture!  This is a really easy soup that everyone in my family ate (with a little bit of coaxing.)  I added a lot of extra seasoning to the original recipe, because I found that it was too bland.  This is a definite do-over for me;  easy, healthy and all my boys ate!  We paired the soup with a loaf of freshly baked bread, the perfect compliment.

Tuscan White Bean & Garlic Soup:
click here for printable version
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
2 teaspoons dried sage
2-15 ounce cans cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups chicken broth
6 garlic cloves, cut in 1/2
1/2 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste

Heat the butter and oil in a medium soup pot over medium heat.  Add the shallot and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the sage and beans.  Add the broth and bring mixture to a boil.  Add the garlic and simmer for about 10 minutes.  
Use an immersion blender to blend the soup and make smooth.
Add the cream, pepper and salt to taste.

Chicken Fricassee with Red Cabbage

This is one of those recipes that just doesn't present itself well.  It is the kind of picture that I feel like I have to say "No, it really does taste great!"  With that said, I know by the picture you might not be inclined to make this, but it really does taste great!  With a simple list of ingredients you get a dinner of chicken pieces smothered in tender, sweet red cabbage.  This time I made it with chicken thighs, but we have done it with a whole cut up chicken before and the results were just as good.  If you are making this for a weeknight dinner, I would suggest going with only the thighs, because it is faster.  I am going to double the cabbage from now on because it cooks down a lot and for me that is the best part.

Chicken Fricassee with Red Cabbage:
click here for printable version
adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan

2 cups onion sliced very thin
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
8 cups red cabbage, shredded (roughly 1 head of cabbage)
3-4 # chicken, cut up into 8 pieces OR 1.5# chicken thighs
1 cup dry red wine
salt and pepper, to taste

Put the onion, oil and garlic in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Cook until the garlic becomes a golden color.  Add the shredded cabbage.  Stir thoroughly, sprinkle with salt (roughly 1 1/4 teaspoons.)
Adjust heat to a simmer and cover.  Cook for 40 minutes, or until the cabbage is very tender and has reduced in bulk, stirring from time to time.

Wash the chicken pieces and pat dry, season with salt and pepper.
In another skillet,  over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add chicken and brown on all sides.

Remove all of the chicken, EXCEPT for the breasts (if you are using a whole chicken), to the pan with the cabbage.  Add the wine and pepper.
Cover the pan, with the lid slightly ajar and cook at a slow simmer.  Turn the chicken over once in a while.  After 20 minutes add the breasts (if you are using a whole chicken.)  Continue cooking until the thigh registers 180 degrees and the breast 170 degrees, about 30-40 minutes.  
Remove chicken to a pan, and take the meat off the bones.  Add the meat back into the cabbage and stir to reheat.