Bourbon Peach Cobbler

Peach Cobbler2

Picture this:

I’m sitting at my desk at work daydreaming about cooking, the blog and food (which, is pretty par for the course), and it suddenly dawns on me that the summer is winding down, and I haven’t made a single peach dessert. That’s like a crime, right? Pretty sure it’s probably illegal in some states. I immediately resolved to fix this error and bake something with peaches in it before summer was over and I missed my chance.

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As I always do when I resolve to bake or cook something, I polled the family to see what it was they would be interested in eating with peaches in it. I was feeling gung ho about a peach pie, but the general consensus leaned more in the direction of a peach cobbler. Now in all honesty,  I’ve got nothing against cobblers. They’re fine, they taste good, but I’ve always half-thought that cobblers are really just pies that never quite got their act together and grew up. In a family of fruit dessert overachievers, the cobbler is the wayward rebel kid that’s really charming and suave, but didn’t go to college or get a job and can’t stay in a stable relationship.

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Jas and I got into a mini debate about this. She’s somehow under the impression that cobbler’s superior to pie because in pie there’s such a thing as “too much crust” that “overpowers” the fruit filling. She only needs the top crust that a cobbler provides.

Let me repeat: she thinks there’s such a thing as too.much.crust.

Yeah, I know. I’m definitely the smarter twin.

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But, you know, whatever. I can’t just cook for myself and to be honest peach cobbler is a world of a lot easier to make than peach pie. So I decided to go with the cobbler and save the pie for a day when I’m feeling selfish and have more time to make the crust from scratch. I had a recipe from Tyler Florence bookmarked in my Food Network recipe box for a very long time and that’s what I went with here. I did leave the bourbon out of the cobbler, so that it would be cool for my baby niece to eat, but I’m sure it adds a great compliment to the sweetness of the peaches. Rather than just throw it all in one of my glass baking dishes, I just baked it in the cast iron skillet I cooked the peaches in. It looks so much more homey and rustic, don’t you think?

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I also tried out a fool-proof method of peeling peaches that won’t result in you removing too much of the fruit while trying to get rid of the skin.  I’m sure some of you already know this, but for those that don’t, it’s really pretty simple: set a pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Fill another bowl with ice water. Drop the peaches into the boiling water, and leave them there for about 45-60 seconds. Fish them out and immediately drop them into the bowl of ice water. Let them sit for about 2-3 minutes then take out. The skins should literally come off just by rubbing your fingers over the peaches. Voila.

I’m taking this cobbler to the Fiesta Friday #33 party this week, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted by Andrea @Cooking with a Wallflower and Sylvia @Superfoodista. It’s the freakin’ weekend, so go out and have yourself some fun alright? 😉

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 Bourbon Peach Cobbler

Recipe Courtesy of Tyler Florence

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 8 peaches, peeled and sliced, about 6 to 8 cups
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing
  • Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl add the peaches, bourbon, 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon and mix well to coat the peaches evenly; set aside.

3. Prepare the dumplings: Into a bowl sift together the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter into small pieces. Add it to the flour mixture and cut it in with a pastry blender or your hands until the mixture looks like coarse bread crumbs. Pour in the cream and mix just until the dough comes together. Don’t overwork; the dough should be slightly sticky but manageable.

4. In a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium-low heat, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Add the peaches and cook gently until heated through, about 5 minutes. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls over the warm peaches. There can be gaps, the dough will puff up and spread out as it bakes.

5. Brush the top with some heavy cream and sprinkle with some turbinado sugar; put it into the oven on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Cook for 40 to 45 minutes until the top is browned and the fruit is bubbling.

S’mores Brownies

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People ask me all the time:

“What do YOU like to cook?”

“What’s YOUR favorite recipe?”

“What’s the best thing you’ve ever made?”

And that’s why I’m here now. Not only to show you what I love to cook…but how YOU can make it too.

Okay. Maybe I swiped that little intro from the Food Network show, “The Best Thing I Ever Made.” (Great show, by the way. I wish they’d put out more new episodes of that and “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” instead of the ‘game shows’ they keep just throwing at the wall and hoping that they’ll stick.) But it really is true that people do ask me those kinds of questions, especially when they find out that I have a food blog. I also get asked a lot of random questions about ingredients, dishes, recipes and other cooking related subjects that people need help with in their kitchens- like I’m the resident Julia Child, or something. It’s flattering, and most of the time, I really can give some kind of helpful advice.

But there is the left-field query that I have absolutely no clue how to answer-to which I quickly give an off the cuff reply based upon the .2 seconds I’ve had to actually consider it. Then I say a silent prayer that the advice  I’ve given won’t result in a ruined dish or in them burning their house down.

Don’t act like you haven’t done it too.

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But seriously though, the question “What’s the best thing you’ve ever made?” has always kinda been difficult for me to answer. The truth is, I’m a fan of ALL the food I cook, because I cook the way that I would like to eat. Pinpointing one or two dishes among them as favorites makes me draw a blank…

Most of the time.

Every once in a while, I’ll try out a new recipe and right after I try that first bite, I will LITERALLY let an audible “Oh my GOD!” slip out of my mouth out of sheer shock and disbelief of the nirvana that’s happening in my mouth. Sometimes, I do make a dish that is literally so delicious, so supremely perfect, that I just can’t believe it.

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These brownies were one of those dishes. It all started innocently enough. My older sister asked me to make her some brownies. Then my twin sister asked me to make her some. Then my Dad’s birthday came up and he wanted some. Well, since everyone was getting their own variations of brownies, I decided that I was getting left out, and thus  deserved some of my own too. Am I right? Am I RIGHT?

S’mores is one of my favorite ‘flavors’; I’ll eat it in just about any form. The thought of putting it in a brownie seemed like a tasty idea, so I clashed together a couple of ideas I’d seen on Food Network and the Rachael Ray magazine, and ended up with this dish of brownies.

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Guys.

I wasn’t prepared. I really wasn’t.

After I put that first bite in my mouth, it was suddenly like everything around me stopped. The world was on pause, and suddenly it was just me and the most flawless brownie I’ve ever had in my life. I actually think my eyes may have rolled back a little bit. Nothing else mattered. Every other brownie I’d had up to that point ceased to exist- they were just cheap imitations of the word.

I don’t know how to pick out what I love the most about these: the brownie itself is just so perfectly thick and balanced, with just enough chew to distinguish it from chocolate cake (boo for ‘cake brownies’), but not so dense that it’s like fudge (I don’t like overly rich brownies). It’s a perfect base for the other ingredients. The graham cracker crust on the bottom gives a texture to the smoothness of the brownies and is a wonderful ‘vanilla flavored’ compliment to the chocolate flavor of the brownie. And the marshmallows? Don’t get me started. They’re the sweet, gooey glue that gives the whole thing that campfire S’mores authenticity. Put together, they’re literally one of the best things I’ve eaten. No joke.

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The last time that I made the recipe for My Grandma’s Banana Pudding, my twin sister Jas said that it was so good that it almost made her want to start dancing. For some reason, that compliment really stuck with me- and not just because it buffed my ego. I started thinking about how interesting it was that food can literally give someone so much satisfaction and happiness that they want to start dancing. The more I thought about it, the more awesome I realized that was. Later for all these people that are demonizing certain foods as ‘bad’ or something we should be ashamed of for enjoying. Nowadays the world is filled with so much evil and unhappiness that I believe that we should grab onto all the things and people that make us happy and just embrace the heck out of it. 

If something that you cook for someone has the power to make them so happy they wanted to start dancing- then I say, make it. Spread some of that happiness around….even if it’s for yourself.

 I’m a huge fan of the Pharrell Williams song from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack, “Happy”. To me, this song is just all kinds of awesome. I was listening to it the other day as I was writing this post and I suddenly had what I think is a pretty good/fun idea for the blog. From now on, whenever I post a recipe like these S’mores Brownies or My Grandma’s Banana Pudding– recipes that just make me, or the people in my life literally feel so ‘happy’ that we want to dance, I’ll be tagging the post with the Happy Stamp below. I also intend on creating a new section for it in my Recipe Index and updating it for the recipes that I’ve posted thus far. That way, anytime you guys need to find a recipe to cook that’s been tested and guaranteed to spread some happiness to a loved one, or even to yourself, you can find it here 😉

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S’mores Brownies

Recipe Courtesy of Food Network Magazine & Rachael Ray Magazine

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups, crushed graham crackers
  • 1 stick, plus 6 tbsp  butter, separated
  • 3/4 cup, plus 3 tbsp sugar, divided
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1/3 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 whole square graham cracker

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil, leaving a 2 inch overhang. Coat the foil with cooking spray.

2. Mix the crushed graham crackers, 6 tbsp melted butter, 3 tbsp sugar together and press onto the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden, about 8 minutes; cool.

3. Melt 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips and 1 stick butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring. Off the heat, whisk in 3/4 cup each light brown sugar and granulated sugar; cool slightly.

4. Whisk in 4 eggs, one at a time, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

5. Stir in 1 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread in the pan. Bake for 45 minutes.

6. Remove brownies from oven and turn on broiler. Spread marshmallows and milk chocolate chips  over top of brownies and place back in oven. Bake until marshmallows melt and just begin to brown, about 1 minute.

7. Break whole graham cracker into shards. Remove brownies from oven and press graham cracker pieces into melted marshmallows.

8. Allow to sit for about 30 minutes.  Run hot water over a metal knife to make slicing the brownies easier and less messy.

Classic Vanilla Cupcakes

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Do any of you guys watch the show ‘Cupcake Wars’ on Food Network? It gets a pretty bad rap, but I still enjoy it. Apparently there are a good amount of other people that do too, because it’s been on for a few years now. I like to see the creative ideas that the competitors come up with for crazy ingredients, then I like seeing them create 3 of their own signature cupcakes with the different fillings and flavors and frostings. Of course it’s not a perfect show: for one, the host really gets on my nerves with his lame jokes at the different time markers throughout the competition. I feel like if one of the other Food Network personalities were hosting it, the show would be stronger. Just my opinion. This may be just me and my suspicious nature, but I’m not so sure that I buy the whole “1,000 Cupcake display” that they claim to make the competitors put together at the end for a special event. Maybe it’s a few hundred cupcakes, but  from what I’ve seen in most of the episodes, it really just doesn’t look like that many.

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Before I watched the show I didn’t know that there were such things as ‘cupcakeries’ that specialize in putting out gourmet style cupcakes. I blame it on my hometown. It’s lame when it comes to Foodie Culture. But even if we did have a cupcake bakery that sold $8.00 cupcakes, I’m not so sure that I would be bum-rushing the doors to get some every week. #1, when it comes to desserts, I don’t usually have extreme cravings for regular cake- pound cake is ALWAYS welcome, but my cravings for typical, moist cake are far in between. #2, I’m a simple girl when it comes to my favored cake flavors. My favorite type of cakes are a golden yellow cake with milk chocolate frosting, and  a french vanilla cake with white frosting- both of which I think would be a waste of money to buy at a cupcake bakery. If I buy something from there, I’ll probably try to get a wacky, loaded flavor like a caramel apple pie cupcake, or a banana pudding style one, or something like that. If I want a  normal, ‘plain’ cupcake, chances are I’m just going to make it myself.

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This may sound weird, but I actually really love it when people I know specifically ask me to make them something that they’re craving to eat. It makes me feel kinda special that they’re letting me feed the craving of something that they love.  Good food  makes us happy. When I serve someone good food, I get to be apart of making somebody happy- and even if the happiness is temporary, that’s not something I think should be taken for granted. We could all use a little bit more of making somebody else happy especially when so many of us struggle (and fail) to make ourselves happy. Focusing on other people’s happiness is a lot less trouble than focusing on our own, am I right? Of course right. One of my friends recently had a birthday and she wanted some vanilla cupcakes to celebrate it, so I was happy to make these for her.

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I’m really happy with how these turned out. The cake itself is moist, soft and golden. This was also my first time making real buttercream frosting, and I think it was  a huge success. It’s not like that lardy, crap that they make in store bought cupcakes that makes you want to barf and that you just end up scraping off- no, I’m pretty sure that this is the kind of frosting that you may even like more than the cupcake itself. Yep, it’s that good. And the nonpareils? Well they’re there because I think they look pretty and cute- just like the whole idea of cupcakes themselves.

These little babies are my contribution to this week’s Fiesta Friday, hosted by Fae@Fae’s Twist and Tango and Suzanne@apuginthekitchen. Every week I get so pumped about bringing my dish to this awesome link up, as well as getting the chance to see what everyone else has been up to in the kitchen to bring. Have a good weekend guys!

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Classic Vanilla Cupcakes

Recipe Courtesy of ‘Bake’ by Edward Gee

 CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 extra large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

Frosting

  • 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
  • Nonpareil sprinkles, to decorate

 Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place 12 paper liners in a muffin pan.

2. Put the butter and granulated sugar in a bowl and beat together until pale and creamy. Gradually beat in the eggs and vanilla extract. Sift in the flour and baking powder, then fold in gently.

3. Divide the batter evenly among the paper liners and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until risen and firm to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

4. To make the frosting, put the butter into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes, or until pale and creamy. Beat in the cream and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the confectioners sugar and continue beating until the buttercream is light and fluffy.

5. Use a small spatula to swirl the frosting over the tops of the cupcakes. Decorate with sprinkles.

 

Coconut-Almond French Toast Casserole

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Happy Easter everyone! I’m a Christian, so today I’m celebrating Resurrection Sunday (Jesus Christ’s resurrection), but if you’re not a Christian and just celebrate ‘Easter Bunny Easter’, or if you’re a Jewish and celebrating Passover, then I wish you a happy holiday with your friends and family. True to Cooking is My Sport fashion, I’m sharing some trivia with you guys:

  1.  The name, “Easter” comes from a goddess: Her name is Eostre and She was the Mother Goddess of the Saxons of Northern Europe. She was, according to Grimm (yes, one of those Grimms), “goddess of the growing light of spring.” 
  2. Hot cross buns come from the wheat cakes that were baked in honor of Eostre. As part of the adoption of traditions, Christians added the cross on the top and had the cakes blessed by the Church. In England, it was believed that hanging a hot cross bun in the house would protect it from fire and bring good luck for the coming year.
  3.  Easter eggs once acted as birth certificates. During the 19th century, when many families were unable to get to the closest town hall to file a birth certificate, an egg would be accepted as a method of identification. The egg would be dyed and inscribed with the person’s name and birth date. It was completely legal and accepted by courts and other authorities

Source

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Besides the Easter holiday, today also  marks the final day of the Challah bread series we’ve been doing this week. You guys finally get to find out what I did with the three loaves of braided Traditional Challah and the Vanilla Bean Challah that I made (y’know, besides just eat it warm and slathered with butter). This time, instead of finding another way of doing Challah, I wanted to use it as a main ingredient in another dish. I went with a recipe that my twin sister has been asking me to make for a while now that she saw on the Food Network.

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I love this recipe for so many reasons- not least of which is how awesome it tastes, which I’ll get to in a minute. What I really liked about it was that it let find a use for the ‘end’ pieces of the challah loaves. Don’t look at me like that. I know I’m not the only one that usually ends up throwing them out. Let’s face it: no one really wants them-until now that is. At first I was concerned that only 9 slices of bread wouldn’t be enough to make a substantial casserole. I was also worried that they would be overly soaked and ultimately soggy from the egg custard.  Fortunately, I was surprised. The bread puffed up really well when baked. Challah’s a pretty sturdy bread, so it was more than able to stand up to the egg mixture. I will say this though: if you’re using plain old Texas Toast bread, then I would think about bumping it up maybe two or three slices, as it’s much softer than Challah. It also doesn’t taste near as good, but you guys knew that already, right?

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Okay, now to the good part: what does it taste like? Well first of all, what really (and I mean REALLY) sets this dish apart from any normal overnight French Toast Bake is the Coconut Almond Crust that’s baked on top of it. It’s like a crunchy, sugary almost candied carmelized effect that is doubly awesome when contrasted with the soft texture of the baked challah. If you’re not entirely convinced, then let me say up front that I’m not even a fan of coconut at all. I don’t care for the texture or overall flavor…and I STILL couldn’t imagine eating this dish without the coconut almond crust. It’s that good.

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As you can see, I sprinkled powdered sugar on top of mine and added some berries and syrup, but my mom and sister said that they thought it was good enough to eat all on its own. If you’re looking for an easy dish to make for breakfast or brunch guests that will still knock their socks off, this is the one to try. Or maybe you’re like me and baked a crap load of Challah or other sturdy bread that you have to do something with to avoid letting it spoil. Make this. You won’t regret it.

And I guess that does it for the Challah Series. Until I find another one to try. Then it’ll probably get a reboot. Don’t put it past me.

Challah- 3 Ways

Traditional Challah

Sweet Vanilla Bean Challah

Coconut-Almond French Toast Casserole {Challah}

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Coconut-Almond French Toast Casserole

Recipe Courtesy of FoodNetwork.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter, for greasing dish
  • 9 slices Texas Toast or other thick-sliced bread
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

         Coconut-Almond Crust:

  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 300°. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish.

2. For the French toast: Lay the bread slices in one layer (it’s OK if they overlap a little) on a baking sheet. Bake the slices (to dry them out a little) for 6 minutes, then flip and bake for 6 minutes more. Set aside to cool.

3. Whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, granulated sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Dunk each bread slice in the egg mixture to coat thoroughly and shingle the slices in the buttered casserole dish. Pour any remaining egg mixture over the bread. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

4. For the coconut-almond crust: Put 1/2 cup of the coconut, 1/3 cup of the almonds, granulated sugar, flour and salt in a food processor and process until very fine. Add the butter, egg and egg yolk and process well to form a smooth paste.

5. To assemble the casserole: Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the coconut-almond mixture evenly over the soaked bread slices. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup sliced almonds and 3 tablespoons coconut and bake until puffed and lightly golden and the custard is set (the center of the casserole will no longer jiggle when shaken), 45 to 50 minutes.

6. Allow to cool for 1 hour before serving, or serve at room temperature. Serve with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and berries if using.

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Roman-Style Chicken

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If you guys have read my ‘About’ page, then you already know that I’m a self-professed Food Network addict. That was not an exaggeration. I definitely am. The default station that I always turn to on my television is Food Network. I know all of the tv personalities and their shows. I splurge and buy the Food Network magazine every single month. I’m also a member of their website and frequently save and try recipes that I see on TV or see online. One of my goals for the blog is to have a themed recipe series for each one of my favorite Food Network stars, where I only cook about 3-4 of some of my favorite of their recipes and share them with all of you. It’ll happen. I’m determined. Stay tuned.

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One day I was perusing the Food Network website for ideas of what to do with the standard package of chicken breasts that I bought from the grocery store (that I always end up buying every week). There was a side bar that showed the current most popular/saved recipes at present. One of them was given 5 out 5 stars and had 1,151 reviews. It was a recipe called Roman Chicken from Giada de Laurentiis.

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I literally couldn’t find anyone that said anything negative  about this recipe. Everyone on Food Network’s website said that it was just awesome, and even better (and perhaps most importantly), I had all of the ingredients to make it already on hand in my kitchen/pantry. So I gave it my best shot.

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I  love when I decide to try a completely new recipe and it turns out exceeding my expectations, and this chicken was definitely one of them. I usually don’t care much for Italian-style food, but I could eat this dish all day long. The name is so befitting of it, as it really reminded me of a rustic Tuscany evening. The sauce is super flavorful and it just screams to have a loaf of crusty, Italian-style bread on the side to dip it into- which I also happened to have on hand.

This is an easy dish, but it’s also one that I would serve to guests or a significant other to impress. Moral of the story: when not in Rome, make Roman-Style Chicken and you just may feel like you are.

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Roman-Style Chicken

Recipe Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 red bell peppers, sliced
  • 3 ounces bacon, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

Directions

1. Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

2. In a heavy, large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, cook the chicken until browned on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

3. Keeping the same pan over medium heat, add the peppers and bacon and cook until the peppers have browned and the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes.

4. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, wine, and herbs. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.

Return the chicken to the pan, add the stock, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes. Serve.

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