Groundhog Day & Oven Braised Chicken Cacciatore

punxsutawney_philGroundhog Day, we’ve all seen it or at least part of it. No, I don’t mean the annual folderol in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. I mean the movie with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. You know the one where they take a road trip to Punxsutawney. Their mission is to report on the auspicious occasion of a groundhog leaving his burrow to check the weather. Sure, it’s kind of silly but it’s also brilliant, classic Bill Murray. Who can resist?

Before you shout, “I can!” (By the way, that’s my inclination too.) Let’s consider the pros and cons:

First, there’s a definite plus, especially for those of us with unruly hair. Let’s face it; we’d all like nothing more than to wake up one day and look like Andie MacDowell. Who knows, after Green Card, some of us might even want to be her. Anyway, like our beloved Mary Richards (aka Mary Tyler Moore), Andie works in a newsroom as a producer. Like Mary, she is smart, charming, funny and beautiful. Okay, she is a bit of a goody-goody but she had one heck of a curly mane.

Next, there’s the mixed pros and cons of Bill Murray. He’s the egomaniacal weatherman sent to Punxsutawney to cover the groundhog festivities. Funny, yes, Bill Murray is funny but he is also painfully obnoxious. He takes petty, peevish and petulant to new levels. Feigning self-assurance, he flirts with the lovely Andie and bullies the cameraman. He is scornful of the Punxsutawnians who just want to have their fun and celebrate their world famous groundhog.

Looking back, it’s pretty clear, in spite of being Bill Murray and famous and funny, he was everything we didn’t want to date. After all, the film came out in the nineties. From coast to coast and around the globe, we single women were convinced that we could do better. Of course, Andie agreed with us.

And finally, here’s where Groundhog Day (the movie not the sort of holiday) comes out on top. The movie is all about change and redemption. As most people know, the movie tells the story of this dreadful man who finds himself living the same day over and over and over again. As the movie progresses, a new twist develops. We figure out that Bill Murray’s character is not only insufferable; he is miserable.

Let’s face it; we’ve all had those times when nothing but nothing is going right. Unfortunately, although we hate to admit it, some of our difficulties are of our own making. Even worse, we’ve all been known to misbehave when things aren’t going our way. Who hasn’t gone off on a ridiculous tirade, done something petty or spent a good part of a day whinging or snapping at any and every one? Like a groundhog in a maze of underground tunnels, we get lost in our foolishness, pride or plain stupidity. Not every day, mind you, but at least occasionally we lose sight of our best selves. It’s okay to admit it; we’ve all done it … well, maybe not Saint Theresa.

As the snarky weatherman relives February 2nd again and again, he slowly but surely begins to figure things out. He begins to learn and change. If we let it, this little piece of cinema shows us that even at our most dreadful and depressed we are still redeemable. Even if our unhappiness turns us into a despicable bully, there is hope. Just like Bill Murray, we can change and grow. We can find love and happiness.

Have a happy Groundhog Day! Bon appétit!

Thank you Anthony Quintano for the photo of Punxsutawney Phil provided under a Creative Commons License.

Oven Braised Chicken Cacciatore
Whether the groundhog comes out on Thursday or not, winter is here for the duration. This chicken_cacciatore_05comforting chicken dish is perfect for a cold winter night. Enjoy!
Serves 4

4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
About 1 teaspoon Italian herbs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup or more chicken broth
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup or more dry white wine
4 ounces fresh (peeled and trimmed) or frozen pearl onions
3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, trimmed, peeled and left whole
8 ounces whole mushrooms, trimmed and halved or quartered

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a skillet large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer in the oven for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the chicken with half of the herbs and season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken, skin-side down in the hot skillet. Return the pan to the oven and roast the chicken at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

While the chicken roasts, put the chicken broth, tomatoes and wine in a measuring cup or small bowl. Add the remaining herbs, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine.

Remove the skillet from the oven. Turn the chicken, scatter the onions, carrots and garlic around the chicken and add the liquid ingredients. Return the pan to the oven and continue cooking at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

While the chicken and vegetables bubble, heat a little olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high. Add the mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes.

Scatter the mushrooms over the top of the chicken and veggies. Adding more broth and/or wine if necessary, cook for an additional 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and nicely browned and the vegetables are tender and caramelized.

Serve the chicken thighs with a spoonful of mushrooms, onion and garlic.

A great dish for a party, double or triple the recipe and use a large roasting pan. This recipe is very forgiving. If dinner is delayed, add more broth and wine, reduce the oven temperature and let it bubble for an additional 30, even 45, minutes. It can also be made ahead and reheated.

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One Year Ago – Poverty Casserole
Two Years Ago – Roasted Cauliflower
Three Years Ago – Savory Blinis
Four Years Ago – Lettuce Cups with Shrimp & Noodles
Five Years Ago – Caribbean Black Beans
Six Years Ago – Mac & Cheese with Cauliflower & Bacon
Seven Years Ago – Chocolate Mousse
EIght Years Ago – Shrimp & Feta

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? What’s the change you want to make this Groundhog Day? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

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Still Nursing that Cold Weekend Special

stirring_the_potEarlier this week, I let everyone know that a cold had taken up residency in my chest and head. Well, it’s hunkered down and still there. I’m not sure how the weekend will pan out but I am hoping to join the Women’s March in Concord on Saturday. Whether I throw the covers over my head and cough my way through the weekend or feel well enough to head out and about, I’m going to need soup!

If you do too, here are a few ideas:

For many, Nana’s chicken soup is the only real cure for a cold. I hope you’ll consider one of my spiced up versions. My Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup and Curried Thai Soup with Noodles, Turkey (or Chicken) & Vegetables are both good choices.

For a different take on noodle soup, stir up a batch of my Raviolis in Broth with Turkey Meatballs & Greens or Tortellini en Brodo con Spinaci.

Not into noodles? How about my Mexican Chicken Soup?

Or think super foods with my Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Soup. It’s may be just the thing to build you back up.

Stay well and have a good weekend! Bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

How are you spending the long holiday weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Feed a Cold? Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Soup

slippers_02As the last few days have progressed, it has become increasingly clear that a cold has finagled its way into my head and chest. If there is any doubt, I’ve got the cough, aches and pains to prove it. It’s all my dad’s fault. Yah, yah, I know, when in doubt blame the parents. In this case, it really is his fault. It was his cold to begin with.

Three or four years ago, my now ninety-year-old father moved the few miles between the house I grew up in and the one I live in now. As roommates go, he’s not a bad sort. We are two messy-messers but we agreed to hire someone to clean one morning a week. We both adore Sarah and Dad is very fond of my cooking.

Dad is remarkably hale and hearty and claims he never gets sick. That’s interesting (for lack of a better word) because he was recovering from a very serious illness when he moved down here. On top of that, over the past five years, he’s made numerous ambulance trips and spent more than a handful of nights at both New London Hospital and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. But as I like to say, “He’s ninety and good at it.”

After fighting a bit of a head cold for several days, the bug moved down into Dad’s chest. (It also jumped across the dinner table and into me.) A trip to the doctor and a dose of antibiotics seemed to slow it down; at least for a day or two. Unfortunately, Dad’s improvement was short-lived.

I guess I should have known. After all, it has been more than six months since his last hospital stay. Obviously, Dad was overdue for a visit with the EMTs, a ride in the ambulance and a few days in the hospital. As robust and healthy as he is, his chest cold had escalated into pneumonia. Let’s not forget, he is ninety (and he’s good at it.)

Perhaps if the nurses and LNAs weren’t so nice to him, he’d decide it wasn’t worth the trip. For his part, Dad charms the staff and they can’t help but be nice to him in return. Regardless of Dad’s charm, these women and men are phenomenal, as kind and caring as they are professional.

Anyway, as I started to say, between work and visits to the hospital, I’ve been nursing my own cold. Only problem, I can never remember, do you feed a cold or starve it. The same goes with a fever. And what the heck do you do if you have both a cold and a fever? Since I lost my thermometer more than a few years ago, I guess I don’t have to worry about that one. When in doubt, assume 98.6.

Since Dad comes home tomorrow, I’ll soon have two colds to worry about. I think I’ll go with feeding. A nice hot mug of soup sounds like a delicious cure for the sniffles.

Here’s to good health and bon appétit!

Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Soup
There is nothing like a mug of soup when you have a cold. Let the steam open your sinuses and the hearty goodness warm and heal you. Enjoy!
sweet_potato_red_lentil_soup_05Makes about 4 quarts

2 (about 1 1/2 pounds) sweet potatoes
Olive oil
2-3 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon or to taste sriracha
2 cups red lentils
8-10 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Sea salt to taste
1 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
Grate zest and juice of 1 lime
Garnish: fresh chopped cilantro

Put the rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Prick the sweet potatoes with a sharp knife. Bake at 450 degrees on a baking sheet until soft, 1–1 1/2 hours.

While the sweet potatoes bake, heat a little olive oil in a soup kettle over medium-high. Add the onion, celery and carrot, season with cumin and coriander and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and sriracha, and sauté for 2-3 minutes more.

Put the lentils in a sieve and rinse under cold, running water. Drain the lentils and add them to the vegetables and stir to coat and combine. Add 8 cups stock and the herbs, raise the heat and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to very low and simmer the lentils for 30 minutes or until very tender. Season with salt.

As soon as they are cool enough to handle, halve the sweet potatoes, scoop out the flesh and it add to the lentils. Use a potato masher to break up the sweet potatoes and mix them into the soup. Or for a smoother soup, remove the bay leaf and thyme twigs and puree the soup with a handheld immersion blender or in the food processor .

Add the coconut milk and more stock if necessary to reach the desired consistency.

Can be made ahead to this point, covered, cooled to room temperature and refrigerated.

Reheat the soup to steaming, stir in the lime zest and juice, ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro.

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One Year Ago – Tomato Soup
Two Years Ago – Savory Galette with Spinach, Mushrooms & Manchego
Three Years Ago – Mac & Cheese with Roasted Broccoli & Sun-dried Tomatoes
Four Years Ago – Red Bean Chili with Pork & Butternut Squash
Five Years Ago – Piri Piri Prawns
Six Years Ago – French Lentil Soup
Seven Years Ago – Spicy Chicken (or Turkey) Noodle Soup
Eight Years Ago – My Favorite Chili

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? What are your New Year’s resolutions? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Thaw to Freeze – We Love January (NOT) Special

pl_winter_01That’s the thing about January. One day its’ (relatively) warm and raining. The next it’s bright, sunny and arctic cold. This weekend, the cold creeps in again. So bundle up, strap on the skis or snowshoes and do your best to get out in the fresh air.

Afterwards, reward yourself with a delicious dinner with a few of your favorite people. Here are a few suggestions:

Start the evening with a delicious eggplant dip. Try my Baba Ganoush or Caponata with wedges pf warm pita bread or pita chips.

Sit down to the table with a fabulous salad. It’s probably been awhile (Thanksgiving? Halloween?) since you enjoyed my Mixed Greens with Warm Roasted Squash. Why not put it on the menu this weekend?

Next, cook up one of those family night classics. After all, home is the place we treat friends like family and family like friends. I’ve taken a few shortcuts and hope you’ll love my easy version of the Italian classic Tortellini en Brodo con Spinaci.

Stay with that homey theme through dessert. Think warm apples and spicy cinnamon. They may be homey but both my Apple Bread Pudding and Mini Tarte Tatin are delicious. Take your pick!

Have a great weekend! Bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

How are you spending the long holiday weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Welcome to January – A Cozy Dinner Special

Pleasant_Lake_Winter_MistBrrrr! It’s January, alright. In between a thaw or two or three, we can count on blistering, can’t feel my face cold. What to do? Cook cozy of course. Bake spicy muffins and cakes and stir up a stew or chowder or two. Then, invite friends over for a cozy evening.

Light a fire, open a bottle of wine and relax while dinner bubbles on the stove. Here are a few suggestions:

Everyone loves a little cheese with their wine. If you want to take it up a notch, whip up a batch of my Warm Gorgonzola with Caramelized Onions & Walnuts to start your evening.

Sit down to the table with a colorful salad. If you have not tried my Rainbow Salad with Black Olive Vinaigrette, please do!

Next, take a New England classic in a new direction. Chowder is a winter favorite in the northeast. My Spicy Shrimp Chowder might not be your Nana’s Chowder but it is just as delicious. (And spicier!)

Stay with the spicy theme through dessert. Think cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Both my Applesauce Cake with Brown Butter Icing and Carrot Cake are as cozy as they are delicious.

Have a great weekend! Bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

How are you spending the long holiday weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Holiday Entertaining – Dinner Party with Friends

Christmas_Cheers_01The holidays are a great time to entertain. Dinner for eight, brunch for a dozen or cocktails for fifty; you decide. Perhaps you are thinking that you are long overdue for a dinner party? Maybe it is your book club or the neighbors or your favorite, oldest, nearest and dearest friends. The ones you met when you first moved to town … how many decades ago? Whomever the company, take a break from the hustle and bustle and get a group together for a long and lazy dinner party. Let casual meet elegant with your favorite cashmere sweater and cozy bistro dishes.

Maybe you’re thinking … what the heck is a cozy bistro dish or how did that hole find my sweater? I can’t help you with the sweater but I can suggest a menu!

So, here we go.

Start with a glass of champagne and a tasty amuse-bouche. (Translation – amuse-mouth. It’s just a fancy way to say a one or two bite treat.) How about a nice little tartlet (or tartelette in French)? You might like to try my Butternut Squash Tartlets or Tartelettes au Fromage avec Saucisse et Poireaux (Sausage and Leek Tartlet). Add bowls of Spicy Olives and Rosemary Cashews to nibble.

Moving à table (to the table) … a lovely soup is just the thing on a chilly night. I suggest you try my Wild Mushroom Soup.

For the main course … you can’t go wrong with my Lemon Roasted Chicken Thighs. Serve the chicken with a spoonful of Whole Grain Pilaf and Roasted Parsnips with Rosemary and/or Roasted Carrots (skip the pearl onions).

Next, comes the salad; yes, after the main course. Keep it simple with Salad Greens with Classic Vinaigrette. Keeping with the French theme, add a wedge of your favorite cheese and a basket of artisan bread and/or crackers.

Now, it’s time for dessert. As always, you can’t go wrong with chocolate. My Chocolate Walnut Tart is rich and delicious. If you’d prefer a creamy French pud, then give my Cranberry Clafoutis or Ginger Crème Brûlée a try.

Have a lovely evening! Bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

How are you spending the long holiday weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! target=”_blank”>Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

Cozy Weekend Special

books_coffeeThere are a whole lot of reasons to get cozy this weekend. The election results could be bumming you out … or maybe you are celebrating or figuring it all out and cautiously contemplating the future. One thing is for sure, in northern New England, we’ll be doing the whole chilly and partly cloudy thing. It seems like a great time to take a break from politics and make some soup.

Celebration, commiseration or contemplation, feel free to invite friends in for a cozy evening by the fire. Here are a few thoughts if you’d like help with the menu:

Pour a glass of wine and pass some delicious appetizers. I can suggest Butternut Squash Tartlets or Mushroom Crostini. Or let your friends help themselves to Gorgonzola & Walnut Shortbread with Savory Fig Jam.

stirring_the_potNow, what about that soup? With chilly air and cloudy skies, I’m thinking hearty. If you are too, you must try my French Lentil Soup with Chicken and Sausage, Harira (Middle Eastern Soup with Chicken, Chick-Peas and Lentils) or Raviolis in Broth with Turkey Meatballs & Greens.They are all full of flavors and delicious at the end of late autumn day.

If you’d like to add a salad, I can suggest a couple of my favorites. Roasted vegetables make a great addition to the greens in my Roasted Cauliflower, Radicchio & Arugula Salad and Mixed Greens with Roasted Beets & Goat Cheese.

For a cheery dessert, think mini. A sweet little treat might be a Pumpkin Cupcake or Mini Tarte Tatin.

Have a cozy weekend and bon appétit!

What’s up with you for the weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2016