Paella In My Paella


Paella is a Spanish dish made with rice, and a variety of meat (chicken or rabbit), seafood (shrimp, mussels or a firm fish like cod), and spicy sausage like andouille or chorizo.  It also includes vegetables like green beans or peas and spices like paprika and saffron.  This dish allows for countless variations.  The rice is supposed to be cooked in such a way that it crisps up on the bottom and edges.  It’s frequently prepared over an open fire or a very high burner.  Every summer we attend a music festival in northern lower Michigan where huge iron paella pans are set over an open flame and enough paella is being prepared to feed dozens and dozens.  It’s almost as much fun watching them make it as it is eating it.  They make a vegetarian Paella as well making them a very popular stop.  Paella cooked in this fashion allows for nicely crisped rice.  Personally, I prefer my rice without the crisp so that’s the way I prepare it.

This post, however, is as much about my new pan as it is about the paella.  Interestingly, the word “paella” derives from the Old French word paella for pan which in turn comes from the Latin word patella for pan.  (I didn’t happen to know that off the top of my head but I do know how to access all things Wikipedia.)  I frequently stop and browse in shops that sell  Le Creuset cookware.  Le Creuset is a French company that makes enameled cast iron cookware.  I have several knock-off enameled cast iron pieces which I use all the time but have never purchased a Le Creuset.  Until now.  I am still excited!  My husband gifted it to me so I promised to, appropriately, make paella my first dish in this beautiful 5 quart Braiser aka Paella or Patella.


A thing of beauty, no?!

This recipe makes a generous amount.  Although the leftovers were great I probably will not  make this again until we have guests.


Herb Blend

1 cup chopped fresh parsley and cilantro

2 or 3 large cloves of garlic minced

juice of one lemon

1 T olive oil


1 cup water

1 tsp saffron threads

5 cups chicken broth

1/2 pound unpeeled jumbo shrimp

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

4 links andouille sausage

3-4 slices of thick bacon cut into 1 inch pieces

2 cups finely chopped onion

1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

1 cup canned diced tomatoes undrained

1 tsp sweet paprika

3-4 cloves of garlic whole

3 cups Arborio rice

1 cup frozen peas

1 lemon juiced


Combine the first 4 ingredients and set aside.  Combine the water, broth and saffron in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Do not boil.  Keep warm over low heat.

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Heat 1 T of olive oil in large heavy skillet over medium high heat.  Add the chicken pieces and saute 2-3 minutes per side.  Remove them from the skillet and set aside.  Add the sausage and bacon to the skillet and saute 3-4 minutes.  Remove them from the skillet.

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Reduce the heat to medium low and add the onion and bell pepper.  Saute for approximately 15 minutes stirring occasionally.

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Add the tomatoes, paprika and garlic and cook for 5 more minutes.


Add the rice and cook for 1 minute stirring constantly.  Stir in the herb blend and the peas.

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Add the broth mixture, chicken, and sausage mixture and bring to a low boil.  Cook 15 minutes, stirring frequently.


Once the meat is added this 5 quart pan is VERY full.  Be careful.


Add the shrimp and cook 5 more minutes.  Most of the liquid should be absorbed.  Remove from the heat, sprinkle with the juice from one lemon, cover, and allow the paella to sit for 10 minutes.  If your skillet doesn’t have a lid cover the paella with a clean dish towel.

Serve with lemon wedges.

NOTE:  Like I mentioned earlier, this recipe is perfect for modifying based on personal tastes.  I would love to use mussels but availability is an issue.  I may try this next with strictly seafood and substitute seafood broth for the chicken broth.  My husband likes foods kicked up and he added hot sauce to his.





Chicken Soup with Vegetables and Orzo


I baked a roasting chicken one night and used the rest of the chicken for soup the next.   You could also shred half of a grocery store rotisserie chicken.  In less than an hour you will have a perfect comfort food that is hearty and full of vegetables and chicken.  And it can be easily modified based on your personal preferences and/or what you have in your refrigerator.  We all know that chicken soup cures what ails you no matter what’s in it.


1 cup of onion rough chopped

1 cup of celery rough chopped

1 poblano pepper diced (seeded if you want to keep the heat down)

1 cup of carrots sliced

2 cloves of garlic minced

2 T olive oil

6 cups of chicken broth

1 can hominy drained and rinsed

2 cups baby spinach

1/2 cup each of fresh parsley and fresh cilantro

zest and juice of one lemon

1/2 cup uncooked orzo

salt and pepper to taste


In a heavy kettle or dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium high heat and sweat the celery, onion, carrots and pepper for about 5 minutes.  Add the minced garlic.  Reduce the heat, partially cover the kettle and cook until the carrots are tender.



While the vegetables are cooking bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the orzo according to package instructions.


Drain and rinse the hominy.


Add the broth to the vegetables and bring it to a boil.  Cover the pot, reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.


Drain the orzo reserving some of the pasta water.  Add the orzo, chicken and hominy to the soup.  Simmer until the chicken is heated through.


Stir in the lemon zest and juice, parsley and cilantro and the spinach.


Stir until the spinach is wilted.  Season with salt and pepper.  If the soup needs more liquid add in some of the pasta water.


Ladle into bowls and serve with toasted tortilla strips.



NOTE:  I love the lemon in this soup but it’s really a matter of personal taste.  You could substitute peas and mushroom for the pepper and hominy.  Serve with a good crusty bread or your favorite crackers.  Cooking the pasta (or rice) prior to adding it to the soup helps to avoid pasta that is overcooked and absorbs all of the broth.


Sweet and Sour Sesame Chicken


I called this sweet and sour chicken.  My husband called it sesame chicken.  So there you go.  The chicken is coated in corn starch, dipped in egg and quick fried.  By quick fried I mean crisped up but not cooked through.  Top the chicken with the sauce and finish the dish in the oven.  Very simple.  I usually like stir fries and typically I make them without meat.  But this is my attempt to replicate a dish my husband frequently chooses when we go out for Chinese.  Which is not very often.  Largely because where we live we cannot readily access any ethnic restaurants.  Actually we cannot readily access ANY restaurants.  And also because when I make it at home I know that we are getting healthy, quality ingredients.  I’m not sure what this would be called on the Chinese restaurant menu.  But on our menu it is now sweet and sour sesame chicken.  When I make this next I will double the sauce recipe.  I would put half on the chicken and reduce the second half and serve it on the side.


Boneless, skinless chicken breast cubed

(I used approximately 1 1/2#s)

1/2 cup corn starch

2 eggs whisked

1 cup peanut or canola oil

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

1/2 cup pineapple juice

4 T ketchup (I use only Brooks Tangy)

2 T soy sauce

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 cloves garlic grated

1 inch fresh ginger grated

sesame seeds, green onions, and toasted sesame oil for garnish


Combine the vinegar, ketchup, juice, soy sauce, sugar, garlic and ginger and whisk together.

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Set the sauce aside while you prepare your chicken.  Preheat the oven to 325.  Heat the oil in a heavy fry pan or Dutch oven.

Cube the chicken.  Put the cornstarch into a zip lock bag, add the chicken and toss to coat.

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Whisk the eggs and dip the cornstarch coated chicken into the egg and then drop in the oil for quick fry.

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Turn the chicken pieces once and then remove to a platter covered with paper towel to absorb any oil.  Transfer the chicken to an oven safe casserole dish and pour the sauce over the chicken.

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Bake for one hour turning the chicken pieces after 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and garnish with sesame seeds, sesame oil and green onions.

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Serve over rice with broccoli or vegetable of your choice.

NOTE:  The chicken was tender and tasty but, as I noted above, it needed more sauce.  A reduction served on the side would have been a good addition.  We also had soy sauce at the table.  I think the sauce recipe would also work well for a stir fry with or without meat.



Matzo Balls with Chicken Soup


This post is more about the matzo balls and less about the soup.  I make a decent chicken soup.  I fill a heavy kettle with about 6 to 8 cups of water and add a whole chicken cut up, several carrots, stalks of celery and a large sweet onion.  And salt of course.  I bring the pot to a boil, skim the top occasionally, and simmer for a couple of hours.  I take the breast piece out after about 30 minutes and set that meat aside to add back to the soup before serving.

My mother-in-law made the most beautiful chicken soup.  Her broth was a perfect golden color and was so clear.  It was amazing.  I wish I had pictures of her chicken soup.  Maybe it was the Kosher chickens she used.  Maybe it was because she’d been cooking it up 70 plus years and practice makes perfect.  (She lived to nearly 102.)   I wish I had paid more attention.  I wish I had learned how to make her chicken soup.  I wish I had learned her matzo ball recipe as well.  They were light and airy and took on the flavor of the broth.

It’s all about the matzo ball.  When my sister-in-law calls me, a picture of a giant matzo ball from a Jewish deli in the Chicago area comes up on my phone.

Matzo is an unleavened bread, much like a cracker, traditionally eaten during the Jewish celebration of Passover.  Matzo meal is made by finely grinding the matzo bread into a breadcrumb consistency.  And matzo balls are made using matzo meal.


1 1/4 cups matzo meal

2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

5 large eggs, 3 separated

1/4 cup chicken broth or water

1/4 cup schmaltz melted


Separate three of the eggs and whisk together two whole eggs and three egg yolks.



Beat the egg whites until peaks form and set aside.  Whisk together all of the dry ingredients.  Add the egg yolk mixture, broth, and melted schmaltz to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

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Stir in about 1/2 of the egg whites.  Gently fold in the remaining egg whites until the whites are no longer visible.

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Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.  Scoop up about a tablespoon of the matzo and gently form into balls.  Do not overhandle.  If you find the matzo sticking to your fingers dip your fingers into a bowl of water with a little canola or olive oil.  This recipe makes 12-14 matzo balls.


Bring your broth to a boil and gently drop in the matzo balls,  Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 20-25 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

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Serve  with broth and enjoy!  It’s all about the  matzo ball.


NOTE:  Schmaltz is chicken fat.  My daughter brought some to use on our turkey when she came from Chicago for Thanksgiving.  There was leftover schmaltz so I used my cookie scoop, made schmaltz balls and froze them.  You can google schmaltz and make your own if you don’t have a deli nearby that carries it.  Or you can substitute canola oil in this recipe.

If your parent or grandparent or aunt or uncle makes a dish that you adore eating, pay attention.  Ask them to show you how to make it.  Write it down.  Make a video.  They will be so proud and happy that you asked.  And one day, when they are no longer with us, you will be able to replicate that favorite dish.

Chicken Cacciatore


I recently picked up a Step by Step Italian Recipes magazine by America’s Test Kitchen and came upon a recipe for Chicken Cacciatore. Prepared the proper Italian way. I’ve made Chicken Cacciatore for years and years but a bit differently than the Test Kitchens. So I thought I’d try their recipe to see which we liked better. I’m always about changing things up.


6-8 bone in chicken thighs (I used 2 thighs, 2 legs)

salt and pepper

1 tsp olive oil

1 onion chopped

3 portobello mushroom caps cubed (I used baby Bellas)

4 garlic cloves

1 1/2 T AP flour

1 1/2 cups dry red wine

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes drained

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 Parmesan cheese rind

2 tsp minced fresh thyme and 2 tsp minced fresh sage (I used basil)


Heat oil in a Dutch oven to shimmering. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook, skin side down, until browned. About 4 minutes per side.

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Remove the chicken to a plate and drain off all but about a tablespoon of the drippings. Add the vegetables and cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender. (I also added a sweet orange bell pepper.). Season with salt.

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Add minced garlic and cook another minute until fragrant. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute stirring constantly.

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Add the wine scraping up browned bits. Stir in tomatoes and broth. Season with salt and pepper.

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Remove the skin from the chicken and submerge the chicken into the gravy as well as the Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer 45-60 minutes.

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Discard the rind before serving. Taste the gravy and season to taste. Serve over the pasta of your choosing.


I served it over spaghetti with grated asiago. It was good. But the consensus at our house was the not-authentic cacciatore is better. Sorry Test Kitchen.

Cook the chicken the same as referenced above. The way I’ve always made the gravy for cacciatore begins with dicing 5-6 slices of bacon. I cook the bacon until most of the fat is rendered but the bacon isn’t crisp. Drain off most of the fat and cook the vegetables (mushrooms, onion, and peppers) until tender.  Add the garlic and basil.  Cook until fragrant. Stir in 1 T of tomato paste. Stir in 1/2 cup of dry red wine scraping up any browned bits.  Stir in 1 quart of tomatoes. Add the bacon, Parmesan rind, and submerge the chicken into the gravy. Cook 45-60 minutes.   Serve over the pasta of your choosing.

You see the difference. A lot more tomato, a lot less wine. And bacon. My daughter says everything is better with bacon. And in this recipe I agree.

Try it both ways. Try it somewhere in between. Cooking is all about experimenting with recipes until you find something that tastes great to you.

Let me know what you think.

Citrus Chicken with Vegetables


This recipe is an amalgam of different recipes that I, at one time or another, tore out of magazines and filed away. I get several food magazines and I used to see recipes that I thought looked especially good so I saved the entire magazine. When I decided I wanted to try that special dessert or salad or soup that I’d seen I could never remember which issue or even which magazine I’d seen it in. So, instead of saving all the magazines I get, I now try to tear out the recipes I want to try and file them in spiral binders by category. If I try them and they are fails I throw the recipe out. Keepers stay in the binder with a 😊 on them. It’s my attempt to utilize my somewhat rusty organizational skills. Occasionally I sit down with one of the spiral binders and look for a recipe that strikes my fancy and that I have all the ingredients for. The latter is what sometimes inspires me to combine recipes or just ad lib on a concept. This chicken dish is one of those amalgams.


Whole chicken cut into pieces (or whatever parts you prefer)

3 T olive oil

1/4 cup chicken broth

4 T fresh squeezed orange juice

4 T fresh squeezed lemon juice + 1 lemon cut into thin wedges

4 T whole grain mustard

4 T honey

1 tsp red pepper flakes

5-6 cloves of garlic chopped

1 large onion sliced

2-3 sweet potatoes peeled and cubed

4-5 carrots peeled and cut into chunks

Salt and pepper to taste


Cut the whole lemon in half, then in quarters, and finally cut each quarter into 4 wedges. Put the lemon wedges in a cup or so of boiling water and simmer for about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

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Preheat the oven to 425. In a large roasting pan or jelly roll pan lined with tin foil spread out the potatoes, carrots, and onion.


Generously salt and pepper the chicken and scatter the chicken pieces, skin side up, in with the vegetables.


In a medium sauce pan combine the citrus juices, olive oil, mustard, honey, broth, red pepper flakes and garlic.

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Whisk all of the ingredients together and bring to a simmer. Pour the sauce evenly over the chicken and vegetables and add in the lemon wedges.


Bake uncovered. Take care not to overcook and dry out the chicken. Use a meat thermometer and remove the chicken pieces once they reach 155-160 degrees. Keep them warm on a platter covered with foil. Return the vegetables to the oven until they are tender. Once the vegetables are done spoon the vegetables and sauce over the chicken pieces and serve.


I have a thing about cranberry sauce with chicken dishes; see my cranberry sauce on the plate at 3:00. I also had some leftover Amish egg noodles and served the chicken, vegetables and sauce over the noodles. You can change up the vegetables in this dish based on personal preference or whatever you have on hand… Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, sweet peppers, green beans, turnips or parsnips. Any of those would be good. Your kitchen will smell wonderful while this is cooking!

Lemon and Garlic Chicken ala Pressure Cooker


Can you imagine cooking an entire chicken in 15 minutes that is moist and fall off the bone tender and has a delicious sauce?  It’s that easy in my electric pressure cooker. The beauty of this pressure cooker is that you can brown, boil, simmer and keep food warm. One pan to wash and it’s easy to clean. If you don’t have a pressure cooker you can surely prepare this recipe using a roaster in your oven. Use a meat thermometer to make sure your chicken reaches 165F.  I used to be a little frightened of pressure cookers…some of you might be as well. Afraid it would start rocking on the stove and the top would blow off leaving dinner on the ceiling. Trust me, the new electric model is easy to use, safe, and not the least bit scary.

Though I love the combination of garlic and lemon I was a little concerned that the flavors might be too strong but they were not. The sauce had a nice citrus tang but was not overpowering. Good balance.  I think you’ll like it.


1 roasting chicken cut into pieces (I saved the back for broth)

kosher salt to taste

3 T canola or olive oil

5-6 cloves of garlic sliced

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp oregano

1/2 cup vermouth or dry white wine

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup chicken stock

Fresh parsley chopped




Generously salt chicken pieces and heat oil in the pressure cooker. Add the chicken, a few pieces at a time, and brown on both sides.  Remove browned pieces to a platter. While your chicken is browning squeeze your lemons and slice your garlic.


Add the garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes to the hot oil and cook for about 1 minute until garlic becomes fragrant. image

Add lemon juice, vermouth and stock to the pot and arrange the chicken in the liquid.



Lock the lid and cook at high pressure for 15 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally. Remove the chicken to a serving platter. Bring the sauce to a boil and stir in chopped parsley. If you wish you can thicken the juices with a little flour or corn starch. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.

While the chicken was cooking I decided to prepare some smashed cauliflower for a side. An easy, tasty side.


1 large head cauliflower cleaned and cut up

3-4 garlic cloves (I know, no vampires in our house!)

1-2 cups chicken stock or broth

1/2 cup Romano cheese shredded

1/2 cup Le Gruyere cheese shredded

2-3 green onions thin sliced

salt and pepper (white pepper if you have it) to taste

2 T butter



Cook cauliflower and garlic cloves in the chicken broth until the cauliflower is fork tender. Drain off the broth holding a little back to add in while smashing. Add butter to the cauliflower and begin mashing with an ordinary potato masher until the consistency of mashed potatoes. Add some of the broth if necessary. Add the shredded cheese, salt and pepper to taste and green onions stirring well. This is one of my favorite sides!

I was always taught to use contrasting colors on your plate and white and white are a bit off putting. So I added a sizable sprig of parsley (good for getting rid of garlic breath after dinner) and some cranberry relish which I think is a must have for any poultry dish.


And then there was color.

Lemon and garlic chicken with smashed cauliflower. It’s what’s for dinner tonight. And tomorrow night.

NOTE:  My lemons were particularly juicy and 2 of them made a little over 3/4 cup of juice. I put the extra juice in a small zip lock snack bag and freeze it for a time when I have no fresh lemons on hand.


And seriously, parsley IS a good breath freshener.

White Enchiladas

Enchiladas with a little twist. Red on the inside, white on the outside. It’s what was for dinner tonight.

Chicken breast
2 cups chicken broth
2 cloves of garlic

Poach a chicken breast (mine was approx 12oz) in chicken broth along with a couple cloves of garlic. Once the chicken is done set it aside to cool and save the broth to use in the sauce.


1 medium onion diced
1 sweet red pepper diced
1T olive oil
Sauté over medium heat in olive oil.


1 cup fresh or frozen corn (thawed)
1 cup black beans
1 small can mild green chilies chopped
1 can or jar of stewed tomatoes
2 chipotle chilies in Adobe sauce finely diced



Stir into onion/pepper mix and simmer over low heat.

2 T cumin
1tsp garlic powder
1 T oregano
Salt to taste
Stir into veggie mix.

Using two forks shred the chicken breast.


Add the chicken to the veggies. Remove from the heat.

Now for the sauce.

4 T butter
4 T flour
1 1/2 c chicken broth
1/2 c half-n-half
1 T Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
1 1/2 c shredded cheese (sharp white cheddar, Monterey Jack, any combination of your choosing)

Melt butter and whisk in flour. Continue whisking for a bit over medium heat to work in the flour. Gradually stir in the broth and half-n-half and continue whisking until the sauce begins to thicken. Reduce heat and add cheeses a little at a time stirring to blend. Stir in Frank’s Red Hot Sauce.

Now it’s assembly time. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread about a third of the sauce in a 9×13 pan. I line mine with the magical non stick Reynolds foil.

10 tortillas (flour or yellow or white corn)
Warm the tortillas in the microwave or over a flame on the stove.


Spoon a generous amount of filling in the center of the tortilla and roll. Place the filled tortilla seam side down in the prepared pan. Continue filling the warmed tortillas until you’ve used all the filling.


Pour the remaining sauce over the tortillas and top with additional grated cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly and browning on top.


Use as many garnishes as you like:
Black olives




For those of you that would rather go meatless add additional beans, corn and other veggies such as mushrooms, summer squash, etc) and omit the chicken. Veggie broth can be substituted for chicken broth.

I’m a little shy of really spicy dishes but you could add more chipotle chilies or a T of hot chili powder.