favorite recipes of the week

almost every week I try a new recipe. I just LOVE new discoveries in the kitchen and thought perhaps some of you might share my delight!

Yesterday I tried two new ones and they were both winners…hope you like them!

Recipe One

I wanted to make chicken cacciatore for dinner. So I went to my trusty Epicurious app on my iPod Touch to find a recipe. The one below was fantastic! My only tweaks to the recipe were these: I used boneless, skinless breasts because thats what I had on hand. Skipped the fennel seed (ew – can’t stand it!), and the dried crushed red pepper because I didn’t have any. It was SOOOO yummy.

Spicy Chicken Cacciatore – Bon Appetit – June 1999

  • 4 chicken breast halves with skin and bones
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pound egg noodles, freshly cooked

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, skin side down, and sauté until brown, about 5 minutes. Turn chicken over; sauté 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate. Add bell pepper and next 4 ingredients to skillet; stir 2 minutes. Mix in tomatoes with juices, tomato paste, wine and vinegar. Return chicken to skillet; spoon some sauce over. Bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Arrange spaghetti on large platter; top with chicken and sauce.

Recipe Two

Before bed, I threw together this amazing coffee cake to put in the oven in the morning. So far, I have been totally impressed with every recipe I have made from Smitten Kitchen and this one did not disappoint either. In fact, its freakin’ fabulous. It may edge my grandma’s sour cream coffeecake recipe out of its top favorite slot. My tweaks: left out the rhubarb and sprinkled a few mixed berries on part of it because Kyle’s not a big fan of fruit in his coffeecake (but I am!). I also assembled it last night and baked it this morning. It worked just great to do it that way. It’s particularly delicious with a cup of Starbucks Tribute blend to accompany your large piece.

Big Crumb’ Coffeecake with Rhubarb
Adapted from The New York Times 6/6/07

Not rhubarb season? Don’t fret. I think this cake would be amazing with a blueberry, raspberry, sour cherry or any other tangy fruit filling you can think of. Simply adjust the sugar level accordingly–most of these will need far less than rhubarb does to make them palatable.

Butter for greasing pan

For the rhubarb filling:
1/2 pound rhubarb, trimmed
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

For the crumbs:
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, melted
1 3/4 cups cake flour (I was out and used all-purpose and it worked great)

For the cake:
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour (ditto on the all-purpose flour–worked just fine)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces.

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. For filling, slice rhubarb 1/2 inch thick and toss with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.

2. To make crumbs [this step now updated, see comment #150] in a large bowl, whisk sugars, spices and salt into melted butter until smooth. Then, add flour with a spatula or wooden spoon. It will look and feel like a solid dough. Leave it pressed together in the bottom of the bowl and set aside.

3. To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside.

4. Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon rhubarb over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over rhubarb; it does not have to be even.

5. Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might be moist from rhubarb), 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

andrew peterson is coming to MN!!!

I have only been waiting for Andrew Peterson to come to the city in which I am currently residing since I fell in love with his music back in 2004. So after a 7 year wait, you better believe I squealed with delight when I read on Jenny’s blog that my wish is finally coming true!

Next week, my favorite singer/songwriter will be in concert in MN. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Happy happy Monday to me!

I have all of his albums save one that is no longer available, and even Jack loves his kids album, Slugs, Bugs, and Lullabies. If you don’t have his Christmas album, get it now. It will bless you beyond belief. Labor of Love remains my favorite Christmas song of all time. We had his song, “Let Me Sing”, performed at our wedding for our unity candle. It is one of my heart songs/prayers.

SO it goes without saying that I am totally excited that Andrew Peterson will be giving a FREE concert on Friday, April 15th at New Hope Church as a part of his Counting Stars tour.  The concert begins at 7:00 PM, but doors open at 6:00 PM.

Who’s coming with me? 🙂


this one is a combo portrait – I was teaching Jack how to hold my tiny point and shoot and he snapped this one of me. He is really into taking pictures, but unfortunately, most of them include a large part of his pink finger. The subject is usually furniture. 🙂 We’re working on composition.

I’m sitting on the floor in our dining room and in the background you can see an open kitchen cupboard door. My true habitat, I guess. 🙂 I have a horrible habit of not closing cupboard doors while I’m working in the kitchen. It used to drive my dad NUTS ’cause he would hit his head on them. I always said it was so I had easy access to everything – I was being efficient! He never bought that.

snapped by Jackson

foto friday: for the birds

looking at the birds

early this morning (as in 5am early) I woke up to two sounds – the first, Jackson crying. He’s been wakeful early in the mornings lately, which I’m not sure what to do about. The second sound was a constant chirp, almost like a smoke detector protesting its lack of battery power. It took me a few moments to realize that what I was hearing was a BIRD!

Yes, the birds have made their way back to snowy Minnesota. It may not quite be “spring” as we know it, but the snow is melting, the temperatures are warming up and I know that in the next month, the green mist of spring will spread across the brown and barren landscape of winter. I always think of the phrase “Aslan is on the move!” when winter starts to melt into spring. Not even the long, cold, icy grip of the past several months can hold over a sovereign God who appoints the seasons.

Our layers of winter clothes will soon be unnecessary and I’ll be able to break out my beloved sandals. 🙂 We’ll pull the deck furniture out of the garage and sit in the sunshine to eat our breakfast. I’ll hang diapers and sheets on the line and Jack will make mud pies.

Later this morning an entire flock of robins, mixed with a pair or two of yellow finches, purple finches, chickadees, starlings and blackbirds filled our chokecherry tree for a morning snack. Jack was enthralled and their morning song cheered both of us on this dreary day. Its heartening to see the bright colors of orange, yellow and pink in their feathers and know that this is the beginning of my favorite 8 months of the year.