Chicken Mole Poblano

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Latin food is one of my favorite genres to both cook and eat, and this dish is on the top of my list.  I originally got this chicken mole poblano recipe from Top Chef Season 5 contestant, Carla Hall, when she was featured in Health Magazine.  I made it a few years ago and loved it, so I decided it was time to break this recipe out again this past week.  I’m not going to lie though, Carla would have been disappointed with the amount of “love” I put into this dish.  In the beginning of the week, I couldn’t wait to make it, and then reality set in.  I got home from work late, I was tired due to lack of sleep the night before, and the last thing I wanted to do was try to make a recipe I hadn’t done in three years.  I had planned on creating this post, but then I was in such a funk that I scrapped taking photos and glumly resumed my wifely/motherly duties with a sour look on my face.  I had promised my husband (and he was super excited) to make this delicious meal, but I just didn’t feel like it!  However, I knew it was the right thing to do to by making it.  You know those days when you really just don’t want to go to the gym or work out?  But then you do anyway…and you feel SO much better afterward???  Well, this is how cooking this meal went.  I really was not in the mood to cook in the beginning, and was super cranky about it (sorry dear husband).  But as I got into it, I started getting excited (more than likely because I was going to get to eat it)…and then after it was done, I was extremely proud of how it turned out.  I then rushed to grab the camera and take a photo of the final product.  I got back on board with doing a blog post about it, and wished I hadn’t been such a grouch in the beginning.  It’s amazing how making a little meal can uplift your spirits and shift your mood.  I’m still blaming certain mood swings on the hormones. 😉

As for this recipe, I think you will also find it delicious.  And it’s even better when you make it with a little love.  As usual, I made a few changes to my own liking (especially with the chicken – I tend to prefer white meat over dark), but for the most part, the sauce is the same.

Hope you enjoy!

What you need:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1.5 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

.5 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes

1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles

1 teaspoon tahini (I omitted this, because I couldn’t find it at the store)

3 oz dark chocolate chopped

1 tablespoon cilantro chopped

Carla used an already cooked rotisserie chicken, divided into 6 pieces and warmed – I used uncooked chicken breasts instead covered in cumin and cinnamon to taste and white cooking wine

1/2 avocado, pitted and sliced

1 tomato, diced

How to Make it Happen:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place uncooked chicken breasts covered in cumin, cinnamon, and white wine into a baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.  Bake the chicken for approximately 35 minutes (will depend on thickness of the chicken and how your oven cooks, so make sure to check it early to avoid overcooking!)

While the chicken is baking, heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.  Add onion and cook for 3 minutes or until translucent.  Add garlic, and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in cumin, cinnamon, sale, and pepper; cook for 1 minute.

Add canned diced tomatoes and chiles to saucepan, and simmer for 10 minutes.  Stir in tahini and chocolate until melted.  Stir in chopped cilantro.  Remove from heat and cool slightly.  Put sauce in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Spoon as much sauce as you like over the chicken.  Serve with avocado and tomato.

I also decided to serve it with some black beans and rice, which really completed the meal for me.  The cheese on top of the beans is cotija.

Happy to say, we blended everything all together to serve to our little guy as well, and he happily ate it as well!

Hope you are all having a great week!

XO,

Gina

Garden Fresh Homemade Tomato Sauce

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It’s that time of the year!  The time when our tomatoes are coming up in the garden, and more importantly…time for fresh pasta sauce!  I typically make my own homemade sauce (carrying on the family tradition) all year long using cans of tomatoes, but there is something about those fresh tomatoes that really make the world go ’round.  I have tried both all fresh and all canned versions of this recipe, but my preference is actually a 50/50 method of half fresh, half canned.  For some reason, that packs the best punch of flavor in my book, and it’s just the perfect combo for an amazing sauce.

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The recipe is quite simple.  Most of it is all about taste and preference.  I hardly measure anything, and I kind of pinch and throw in as I go.

What you need:

4-6 cloves of garlic chopped (or whole, but I chop mine)

chopped yellow onion (or white or spanish) – I use about 1/4 of a medium size onion

extra virgin olive oil

fresh tomatoes from the garden (I used about 12)

canned tomatoes (my favorite brand is the Sclafani crushed, I used 1 can for this batch, because that was about how many fresh tomatoes I had, and I wanted it to be a 50/50 mix)

fresh basil from the garden to taste (I used about 10 leaves)

salt

pepper

dried italian herbs (if you have more fresh, the better!)

sugar (my secret ingredient)

How to Make it Happen:

First prep the fresh tomatoes by dicing them up to remove all the seeds (the more seeds you have the more bitter the sauce is, so I remove them all from the fresh tomatoes).  Then, you can either put them in a food processor to blend or keep them as is (again your preference of texture!) and put them aside.

Saute the garlic and onions in the olive oil in a large pot on medium heat for a couple minutes or until the onions are translucent.

Add the fresh tomatoes and the can of tomatoes to the pot and stir, stir, stir.  Lower heat so it’s not popping bubbles of sauce all over the kitchen.

Next, stir in the basil, salt, pepper, extra Italian herbs, and sugar to taste.

Let it sit, stirring frequently, and tasting frequently.  You may find you want to add a few herbs, a little more sugar, etc. as it cooks.  You can really cook it as long as you want.  The flavors will change a bit as time wears on, and you may want to add more to it.  I am all about the quickness, so unless I have a very large pot of sauce, I don’t really cook mine for more than 20-30 minutes.  I am usually just cooking for two, so it can cook pretty quickly.

Boil up your favorite type of pasta while you are waiting for the sauce.  Once the pasta is ready, drain it, and coat it with a few large scoops of sauce so that it doesn’t dry out and stick together.  Serve it up in bowls, and add as much extra sauce as you like!  I top mine with grated Locatelli Romano cheese as well, and voila!  Dinner is served.

Buon Apetito!

XO,

Gina

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Pasta Fagioli

“When the stars make you drool, just like pasta fazool, that’s amore…” – Dean Martin

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On New Year’s Day, I spent my time exercising, doing laundry, and whipping up a big ol’ pot of pasta fagioli! (pronounced “pasta fazool” by us Italian Americans.)  Like a lot of other favorite Italian dishes, this one also started out as a peasant dish, being composed of inexpensive ingredients (i.e. pasta and beans).  Families have since passed down their recipes from generation to generation, and each family has their own little twist on this tasty little soup.

I remember eating this dish at my grandparent’s house when I was a kid, and this winter I had the sudden urge to recreate this in my own home.  My grandmother passed the recipe down to my aunt who then in turn passed it down to myself.  This was my first crack at making pasta fagioli, and according to my husband, it turned out wonderful!  Of course, being me, I added a few of my own twists and turns to the recipe that I will share with you.  Warning: I had to break out the lobster pot (my largest pot), and we ate this soup for an entire week (even after giving a large batch to my neighbors!)  Be prepared, this produces more soup that you might think!

Ok here we go…

1 – 16 oz. bag of navy or cannellini beans (or any white beans)

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large diced onion

4-6 cloves crushed garlic

4-6 stalked chopped celery

4-6 chopped carrots

1/2 small boneless ham (cubed)

2 – 28 oz. cans of diced tomatoes

3-4 bay leaves

1 bottle white cooking wine

32 oz. chicken stock

salt and pepper

oregano

crushed red pepper

1 lb. small macaroni (or pasta of choice)

Romano cheese (topping)

Wash beans in a colander.  Put beans in a pot and cover with water 2 inches above the beans.  Boil for approximately 2 minutes.  Let it cool and sit for one hour.  Return beans to colander and rinse well under cold water.  Set aside.

In a large pot, saute the garlic, onions, celery and carrots in the olive oil for 3-5 minutes until onions are iridescent.  Add ham, beans, 1 can of tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano, red pepper.  Also add some white cooking wine, chicken stock, and water to taste.  (You don’t have to use the full bottles at this time.  I ended up using it all eventually as the soup cooked down, but I started with just enough liquid to cover all the ingredients.  The original recipe just called for water to cover the ingredients, but I decided to kick up the flavor with the white cooking wine and chicken stock.)  Cook until the beans are tender.  This took me about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.  Keep checking!  As the liquid cooks down, add the second can of tomatoes (original recipe called for one can, but again, I wanted more tomato flavor), more cooking wine, chicken stock, and water to taste.  You can add as much or as little as you want depending on how thick vs. brothy you want the soup to be.  The important thing is to make sure the beans are fully cooked.

Cook the macaroni separate, then add as much of it to the soup as you want per portion.  I ended up putting all of the cooked pasta right into the soup pot, but some people might want less pasta in their portion.  Serve in bowls.  Last but not least, top the dish off with some freshly grated Romano cheese!  As you can see from my photos above, I like a lot of cheese.

If you decide to serve up some pasta fagioli using my family recipe this winter, please let me know how it goes!

Buon Appetito!

Gina

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