Chicken Thigh Pasta

Chicken Thigh Pasta Distracted Living
I’m looking forward to Thursday night. I am looking forward to Thursday night because I need a distraction from our current daily experience and it has offered up the perfect opportunity. Thursday night at 5:20 PM the NFL returns.

I am usually not one of those people who waits with bated breath for the NFL season to start every year—though I do enjoy watching the games. This year, for so many reasons, I really am looking forward to a few hours of not worrying about fires, viruses, or politics. I anticipate being more concerned about first downs and yards per carry. And, of course, I am looking forward to football food.

Now, since the game takes place in Texas and involves teams both from Texas and Kansas City you would think that BBQ would be on the menu. You would be wrong. I am steering clear of all things involving smoke and fire. So, because this first game is happening mid-week, I am not going to do the usual football spread and will go in a totally different direction.

I am going to go with a family comfort food favorite, Chicken Thigh Pasta, which I am shocked I haven’t written about before. This is my go-to recipe when I don’t know what the heck I wanna make for dinner. I could do it in my sleep at this point—and everyone in the family devours it. Also, I almost always have the ingredients on hand because, for me, they are pantry staples. The bonus is that it isn’t too bad for you health-wise. It’s easy, and tasty, and perfect for a no-hassle football meal.

Thursday night will be a short return to normal, whatever that means at this point. But, it won’t be “normal” for everyone. For those of you packing up your homes and preparing to evacuate, stay safe and know that you are in our thoughts. For our firefighters on the front lines, there aren’t enough words to express our gratitude for your herculean efforts. For the rest of us Californians as well as our friends to the north in Oregon and Washington, we can and will get through this.

Chicken Thigh Pasta
Adapted from Ree Drummond and the Food Network
Yields 6 to 8 servings Read more…

Focaccia-Style Sheet Pan Pizza

Focaccia-Style Sheet Pan PizzaSmoke Adjustment
Normally, when the temperatures get toasty, I do a lot of grilling. Grilling outside means that the house stays cooler inside. I had planned to write about cooking pizzas on the grill for this week but, circumstances being what they are, grilling isn’t an option.

Once again the Golden State is dealing with horrific fires that have burned thousands of acres, destroyed homes, and taken lives. And, all of that on top of an ongoing pandemic. It’s emotionally and physically exhausting. Not to mention devastating to those who are experiencing it first hand. The air quality just does not lend itself to outside pizza making.  But, I’m still in the mood to make some pizza. So, I have been looking for alternative ways to get my cheese and carb fix.

I found this recipe for Focaccia-Style Sheet Pan Pizza in a recent copy of Milk Street magazine. While it does qualify as pizza, it is not your typical neighborhood delivery type pie. It’s actually got a crust more like focaccia. (Okay, my mouth just started watering at the mention of focaccia…) The dough for this crust is pretty wet, so the trick to making this sheet pan pizza is to not use fresh mozzarella and to top it with ingredients that do not have a lot of moisture to keep the top from getting too soggy. You can try regular pizza sauce—but use it sparingly. Lightly brushing it on with a pastry brush would be ideal. This is what I have had to do because the original recipe called for sliced up cherry tomatoes on top and that is a no go for a few people in my household. You just want enough to give it some tomato flavor without wetting it down. Also, if you want a little more bang for your buck, you can chop up some fresh rosemary to add to the crust dough to give it some tasty fresh flavor.

Focaccia-Style Sheet Pan Pizza Recipe
Yields 4 to 6 servings
Adapted from 177 Milk Street Read more…

Tomato Explosion

Tomato Explosion For the past week, despite the best efforts of my chicken and the ground squirrels, I have been experiencing a tomato explosion in my garden. Home grown tomatoes are one of summer’s best things. But, as much as I am thrilled to have them, I am running out of ways to eat them.

My favorite way to eat tomatoes is semi bruschetta style or what some may call tartine. I fry a slice crusty bread in olive oil until it is golden brown on both sides. Then I lay alternating slices of tomato and fresh mozzarella on the bread and sprinkle with chopped fresh basil. Finish it off with a little salt and some fresh pepper and you have the best lunch in the world. But even the best lunch can’t be eaten every day.

I’ve also sliced my tomatoes up and served them on a platter alongside some ripe avocado slices with a drizzle of Italian dressing for an easy dinner side dish that goes well with anything coming off of the grill on a hot night. Of course there have been many sandwiches made with thick tomato slices adorning them. And so on…

I could make a tomato tart. But, I feel like exposing these beauties to heat would be a travesty. I have posted a number of tomato recipes on the blog over the years so I figured I would go back and take a spin through the archives. (I have also been doing this with the back issues of magazines that I have saved. It’s made coming up with dinner ideas a bit easier. And, it’s helped jump start my cooking brain again..) I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of tomato recipes that I haven’t made in a while. It’s like what’s old is new again and the Tomato, Chile, Melon Salad is calling my name!

I am slowly making my way through them all and the good news is my tomato pile is getting more manageable but the green ones still on the vine tell me that there are more coming…if the squirrels don’t get them first.

Here’s my list of recipes. Read more…

Mushroom Poblano Tortas

Mushroom Poblano TortasMushroom Motivation
As someone who loves to cook, it doesn’t take too much to get me excited enough about something to give it a try for dinner. Right now I feel like I’ve reached the end of the culinary internet.

I make dinner almost every night—I would say 95% of the time. But, in the past, whenever I felt like I just couldn’t muster the strength, I knew we could hop in the car and go out to eat or to pick something up. In the past almost 5 months, that hasn’t really been an option. Sure, takeout has been available, but that can get pricey quickly. All of this adds up to me having done a lot of cooking. I mean A lot of cooking. And, for the first time that I can remember, I am not very excited about cooking anymore.

My sister is in the same boat and she cooks more than I do. Both of us have cooking fatigue and I am sure we are not the only ones out there feeling this way. The arrival of summer produce has helped. But, it still feels like an ordeal to come up with what to have for dinner—or any other meal. And the other mouths in the house are not always helpful when it comes to ideas.

Over the weekend I made a Mushroom and Poblano Torta recipe that stoked my cooking flame because it was something I never made before; and if you make enough of the filling, you have options for meals the next day. It’s always good to have options. The original recipe called for coriander in the beans, I tried it that way and I also tried it by swapping out the coriander for cumin. I prefer the cumin version. The coriander was just too strong for me…

If you decide to give this a go I would recommend doubling the mushroom poblano and onion mixture. It makes great quesadillas or tacos for lunch or would be super in an omelet or egg scramble for breakfast.

Mushroom Poblano Tortas
Yields 6 servings
Adapted from Milk Street Tuesday Nights by Christopher Kimball Read more…