Saturday, October 20, 2012


It has been a long - some points challenging and some points productive - week. Jack was acting out this week, so I begged off a work event this morning to be at home with my family. Turns out, I was the one who needed the TLC. I woke up at 2 a.m. this morning and never really got back to sleep. I was a grump.

We went to one of the last outdoor markets of the season at the Green City Market. The sky was an overcast gray; the trees were beautiful autumnal hues. I did not take any pictures; I just tried to breathe in the nature of Lincoln Park, with Chicago as our backdrop. The Market was very quiet, and it was one of our best trips. We savored hot apple cider from Seedling; apple cider doughnuts from Zullo's; a ciabatta and a loaf of pumpkin sourdough bread from Bennison's Bakery; a fistful of herbs from Smits Farm; and end-of-the-season tomatoes. I also discovered Italian sweet peppers from a vendor, whom I'm regrettably forgetting the name. They look like large chile peppers but are not spicy and quite sweet. The farmer told me that they are sugar-sweet in the summer but have a mild flavor right now.

I tried two new recipes today. After the fact, I realized they probably shouldn't be served together because the quinoa recipe is served cold, but it was still good. Northwestern lost in bittersweet fashion, so we needed an end-of-the-day soul-soothing meal and this delivered.

Roman-style chicken
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

2 skinless chicken breast halves, with ribs
6 skinless chicken thighs, with bones
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1 teaspoon
1/4 cup olive oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced (I substituted two orange Italian sweet peppers)
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced (I substituted two yellow Italian sweet peppers)
3 ounces prosciutto, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/3 teaspoon dried oregano or Italian herbs
1/2 cup chicken stock (low-sodium, preferred)
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. 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 (about five minutes on each side). Remove from the pan and set aside.

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

If serving immediately, add the capers and the parsley. Stir to combine and serve. If making ahead of time, transfer the chicken and sauce to a storage container, cool, and refrigerate. The next day, reheat the chicken to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the capers and the parsley and serve.

Tomato basil quinoa salad
3 cups prepared quinoa
2 cups diced fresh tomatoes (removing seeds) - approximately 4 medium-sized tomatoes
2 cups spinach
1 cup packed basil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
zest of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the quinoa: Rinse 1 cup of dried quinoa using a fine-mesh sieve for two minutes under running water. Stir the quinoa with your hand. Shake off excess water. In a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, warm a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Toast quinoa in the oil for one minute.  Add 2 cups of cooking liquid (water, chicken broth or vegetable broth) and bring to a rolling boil. Turn the burner down to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and stand 5 minutes.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together and set aside.

In a food processor, finely chop basil leaves and spinach. Set aside.

In a large bowl add prepared quinoa, tomatoes, chopped greens, and dressing. Mix until combined, and add more salt and pepper to taste.

Chill for at least four hours. Top with parmesan cheese (optional) before serving.

It was a satisfying end to a hectic week. I leave you with this pretty picture of Jossie that Jack took; she looks 12 years old.

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