Sunday, May 1, 2011

Guest Blogger Courtney from Misadventures in Cooking

This guest post is courtesy of my friend Courtney, her blog is Misadventures in Cooking.   In Courtney's own words she is a "33 year old cooking novice.  Self diagnosed with Mageirocophobia (fear of cooking).  Working on it one small dish at a time."   But this girl is crazy hysterical funny and very brave in the kitchen. What other "kitchen novice would attempt and this?

Check out this amazing family bread recipe that looks incredible and absolutely delicious (also my bread has never looked like that ever).

Also Courtney has mad frosting skills, check out her first time  frosting a cupcakes, it is gorgeous.

Chicken Cacciatore for Dummies

Let’s just start out saying that I am not a dummy.
(I actually did really well in school – and I’ve handled real life pretty well, too, if I do say so myself.)
But when it comes to cooking, I have some challenges.
And a lot of time, I’m drawn to recipes that are considered ‘easy’, ‘idiot-proof’, or ‘for dummies’.
Since I’m lucky enough to be guest posting here at Calamity Kate’s, I thought I’d go all out – and pick a supposed idiot-proof fancy dish.
(You know the ones that I mean.  The ones that you see on restaurant menus and have a hard time pronouncing…like foie gras, cioppino, and pappardelle.)
Oh, yes.  I want to prove that if I can make it, anyone can.

The Recipe:

Chicken Cacciatore from Giada de Laurentiis on Food Network

4 chicken thighs
2 chicken breasts with skin and backbone, halved crosswise
2 t salt, plus more to taste
1 t freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 c all purpose flour, for dredging
3 T olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 c dry white wine
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
3/4 c reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 T drained capers
1 1/2 t dried oregano leaves
1/4 c coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
Sprinkle the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly.
In a large heavy sauté pan, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and sauté just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, sauté it in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and sauté over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes for the breast pieces, and 20 minutes for the thighs.
Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat from atop the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the basil and serve.
The Results:
Since I was intimidated by the phrase “halved crosswise” I just used some boneless breasts and thighs (they were on sale – and easy to find while dragging my two boys around the grocery store).  Note to self and everyone else out there: when a recipe says to use bone-in and with-skin chicken, it is for a good reason – probably flavor.
But I’ll get back to that in a minute.
To start the recipe I had to touch raw chicken.  I hate doing this with a passion.  It completely grosses me out, and I’m a tad paranoid about food poisoning.  But I did it.  I dredged (never done that before), and it wasn’t too bad.
Browning the chicken and making the sauce was actually pretty easy.  (Except when I added the onions -– hot oily pan = hot oily splatters!)

It did smell heavenly…I do love that about cooking; the smells can turn out amazing.
I added back the chicken and periodically checked on it (meaning between changing diapers, feeding my four year old, letting the dog out, etc., I would stop by and make sure nothing was burning).  I also made sure to use my handy-dandy meat thermometer to make sure the chicken came up to the correct temperature.

Look at all that color!
I also cooked up some quick egg noodles to make it a full meal.  And I even timed it out correctly.
I plated it all and was excited to dig in.  And the sauce was delicious!  So flavorful and balanced.
But the chicken… it was kind of bland.  And now I know it’s my own fault.
Must follow directions.   Must follow directions.  Must follow directions!
Guess maybe I am a dummy.
But only slightly, right?
And if I can do it with only one major mistake, and you already know what that is, YOU can do it perfectly!
Good luck and happy cooking!
Hey, at least it looks good!

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