Tag Archives: onion

Chicken Cellentani with Goat Cheese and Lemon

My friend Cassia has a blog full of lovely, lovely recipes. A while back she posted a recipe for this creamy pasta dish with lemon and basil, and I started hankering to make it the moment I saw her pictures. So on a lovely Sunday afternoon while Heidi and Baby James were staying with us, I whipped it up.

My first reaction: it was okay. Fine. Not bad, not awesome. I wanted to love it but was a little underwhelmed, so I decided not to blog about it because of my commitment to myself (and to you!) to only share recipes I truly love and would make again.

Then a couple days passed. Tuesday night my husband and I immersed ourselves in baking chocolate chip cookies and lemon cream bars, so I decided that it was time to eat the leftovers from Sunday so that we could focus our culinary efforts on the baking side of things. I wasn’t too excited about the leftovers, but I can’t stand to waste perfectly good food, so I pulled the pasta out and reheated a bowl for my husband and a bowl for myself.

And we dug in.

Oh my. It was like a dish transformed! “Wow, this is really good,” I said to my husband between mouthfuls. “Yeah,” he agreed. “You should blog about it.” “Yeah,” I said, engulfed in the wonderment of each bite.

I don’t know what happened to this dish as it sat in the refrigerator for a day and a night, but it was something magical. It got . . . creamier. Tastier. Really friggin’ delicious. So: know that on day #1 it’s a perfectly acceptable pasta dish. But also know that on day #2 and day #3 it becomes a marvellous concoction. Conclusion: if you are cooking for yourself and need something that will stay good or improve in the fridge over time, this is it!

Musical interlude: This is it! Ooooooh, I’ve finally foooooouuund someone, someone to share my life, I’ve finally foooooouuuuund someone . . .

Who the heck sings that song and why is it playing in my head with such clarity?


3 chicken breasts
1 cup flour
Salt and pepper
3 TBS olive oil
1 lb cellentani pasta (or any other small ridged pasta)
1 white onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
28 oz can diced tomatoes, partly drained
Juice of 1 lemon
12 leaves basil, 10 minced and 2 chiffonade
1 T dried parsley
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 oz goat cheese

Mission #1: let’s get that pasta started. Boil some salted water, and dump it in!

When it’s al dente, drain it and set it aside for later.

While the pasta is cooking, cut the chicken breasts lengthwise into strips. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and season the strips liberally on both sides with salt and pepper. Then dredge the chicken in the flour and shake off the excess.

Heat 2 TBS of olive oil in a pan over high heat. When very hot, add the chicken strips.

Lower the heat to medium-high and don’t touch them for about 3 minutes. When browned on one side, turn them over and continue to brown until cooked through.

Look at that lovely, golden crust!

Remove the chicken to a plate and cut the strips into bite-sized pieces.

Gather the remaning ingredients to your bosom.

Yes, that picture is terribly blurry. But I have a very small and convenient scape-goat–one with poofy cheeks and a little fuzzy head. You can blame my photographic failure on the distractions provided by Baby James in the arms of my husband.

Oh, that Baby James. I miss him so much!

And no, I can’t manage to call him just “James.” He’s Baby James and that’s just that.

While the pasta is cooking and the chicken is frying, apply yourself by dicing the onions and slicing the garlic. Multitasking makes everything go faster.

Add another 1 TBS of olive oil to the pan and cook the onion and garlic until over medium-high heat until soft, about 5 minutes.

Mince up the basil while the onions fry:

And squeeze the lemon too.

By now the onions should be exactly where we want them, so add the partly-drained can of tomatoes, the minced basil, the lemon juice, and the parsley.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Things are smellin’ oh-so-fine ’round these parts.

Add the cream and chicken pieces, and stir to coat. Then add the goat cheese and stir the whole creamy mess over low heat until melted.

You’ll notice I didn’t cut my chicken into bite-sized pieces. But I darn well will next time! That Baby James. My culinary focus was totally shot.

Mix the cooked pasta with the sauce, and serve!

Garnish with the basil chiffonade.

And just remember: this dish improves greatly after a night in the fridge!

Click here for printer-friendly version: Chicken Cellentani with Goat Cheese and Lemon

African Peanut Chicken Stew

This stew is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Now it’s not going to cause a flavor revolution in your mouth like you might encounter at a fancy restaurant where they have lychee-flavored foam with truffle-scented oils that can be absorbed through your finger tips and which cause your taste buds to go into electric shock. However, it is rich and tasty and comforting, and somehow simple in the best sense of the word. I ate 3 bowls of it the first time I made it. 3 bowls, folks. And though at that point I was quite satisfied in the stomach area, my mouth was already craving more. So I immediately demanded that leftovers be separated into two containers, one for the fridge and one for me to carry to work the next day so that I could have it again as soon as possible, especially since rain and storms were predicted. It’s my idea of comfort food. The recipe was inspired by Kay over at Kayotic Kitchen–click here for the original (Chicken Palava). My variation has squash instead of spinach, some flour for thickening, some more spice, etc. If you’re looking for some serious inspiration, you can count on Kay’s blog to send you running into the kitchen at top speed, where a flurry of cutting boards, knives, pots and pans will quickly result in something incredible.


(Serves 5)

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 1/2 TBS flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 large yellow onion

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 zucchini

1 summer squash (yellow squash)

1 red bell pepper

2 large, juicy tomatoes

3 + 1 TBS peanut oil

1 TBS sesame oil

1/4 tsp white pepper

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp ground ginger

3 tsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp thyme

6 TBS crunchy peanut butter

2 c chicken broth

2 tsp chicken bouillon or base (in addition to the broth)

2 tsp cornstarch + 1 TBS water

Salt, black pepper, and brown sugar to taste

Blanched almond slices and/or cilantro, to garnish

Chop the chicken into smallish cubes and mix it with the peanut oil, sesame oil, ginger, brown sugar, salt, thyme, black pepper, white pepper, chili powder, and flour. Let it marinate for at least 15 minutes. Don’t worry about the seemingly large amount of oil–that will also serve to help cook a ton of veggies.

Roughly chop up the squash and mince the garlic . . .

. . . chop the onion and red pepper . . .

. . . and give the tomatoes a rough chop, too. Keep them separate, because they’ll go in later than the rest of the veggies.

Heat 1 TBS peanut oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. When hot, add the chicken.

Cook for 2 minutes, until the chicken starts to look less raw; your kitchen will immediately start to smell delightful. Add the onion and garlic, and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Don’t be frightened by the fuzzy white object in the lower lefthand side of the above picture. It’s just a defenseless oven mitt.

Add the bell pepper and squash. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, and peanut butter. I combined them all in this lovely measuring cup.

Then I poured in the whole shebang. If you didn’t know what the ingredients were up front, this may have looked . . . disturbing. Questionable. Not tasty.

Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer gently for 25 minutes, uncovered.

If the stew isn’t thick enough, mix in the cornstarch/water slurry to help it along. At this point, taste and re-season. I added an additional couple teaspoons of brown sugar and a heft, hefty dose of salt and pepper. Don’t underseason! The right amount of salt really brings this dish to life.

Serve over rice with some blanched almonds and cilantro. I didn’t have cilantro on hand . . . but it would be perfect.

 Let’s take a bite, shall we?

Have any of you begun to make stews this fall? If there are any recipes you think I must make, please send them my way!

Click here for printer-friendly version: African Peanut Chicken Stew