Coq Au Vin (My version)

You all know that Coq au vin is just a fancy French way of saying “Chicken Stew”, right? ¬†IDK… many of my friends don’t know that so forgive me when I seem like I need to be “Captain Obvious” ūüėČ

I’ve mentioned before that my Mom’s family is French. ¬†NOT the sophisticated eloquent French that you might be picturing… more like the poor kind. ¬†I’m proud of that though because along with being poor comes the need to be inventive. ¬†We’re ALL inventive when it comes to food. ¬†My grandmother had 10 children and that’s a LOT of mouths to feed when you only have 1 chicken! ¬†Grandma used to go out to her yard and choose a chicken, chop it’s head off and take the feathers off. ¬†Yummy huh? ¬†Thank GOD I never had to SEE it, much less do it. ¬†I’d probably never eat meat if I had to witness something like that. ¬†Coq au vin is one of those recipes that you can make your own and it’s inexpensive. ¬†It just takes a little bit of time.

Here’s my way… which, BTW, has been SO simplified but SO tasty! ¬†This is what we had tonight. ¬†I have to be in the right mood to want to go through a little trouble and tonight, while it’s cold and rainy, I’m in the right mood!

Coq Au Vin (Michelle’s Way)


2 1/2 to 3 lbs chicken pieces (breasts, thighs or drumsticks) OR a whole chicken, skinned and cut up (I used 3.5 lbs chicken breasts, boneless)

2 TBSP cooking oil

salt and pepper

2 large vidalia or sweet onions, cut into 8 pieces each

1 1/4 cups Burgundy

4 medium, thinly sliced carrots

1 lb sliced fresh mushrooms (optional)

1/4 cup chicken broth (or water)

1 TBSP dried parsley

1 TBSP fresh chopped parsley

1 tsp dried marjoram

2 tsp dried crushed thyme

1 bay leaf

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb smoked bacon, chopped and cooked crisp, bacon grease reserved

5 TBSP flour

2 TBSP butter

16 oz cooked Penne pasta for serving


Cook bacon until crisp. ¬†It’s easier if you chop the bacon while it’s still a little frozen. ¬†Set aside.

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, brown chicken pieces on all sides in hot oil, about 15 minutes.  Drain fat.  Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.  Add onions, mushrooms, bacon, carrots, Burgundy, chicken broth, dried parsley, marjoram, thyme, bay leaf, and garlic.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer and cover.  Cook for around 50 minutes or until chicken is fork tender.

Take chicken and vegetables out of pot and set aside.  Discard bay leaf.

Heat reserved bacon grease and the 2 TBSP butter until hot.  Add flour and stir.  Cook for about 2 minutes.  Once roux (bacon grease and flour) is made, add mixture to the juices from chicken.  Cook and stir until thick and bubbly.  Once thickened, cook for 1 minute more.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Garnish with fresh parsley.

Pour sauce over chicken and vegetables and serve over pasta.

*This recipe makes very generous servings for 6 people. ¬†The bacon makes this even more tasty than the other recipes I’ve tried. ¬†Enjoy!

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta & Broiled Shrimp

And in the midst of ALL this chaos… I’ve still had time to cook! ¬†Sometimes take out just is NOT satisfying and Lord knows we’ve been doing way too much take out lately! ¬†

Last night I made the most amazing dinner. ¬†I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’ve always steered away from this roasted red pepper sauce because it seems like anything you have to use a food processor with or a blender… well, it’s too complicated and creates too many dishes to wash later. ¬†Yeah, I’m lazy.. so what? ¬†lol ¬†This is WELL worth the extra step of pureeing the roasted red peppers and if you decide to make this, you’ll be SO thankful! ¬†Or maybe you’ve already tried it. ¬†Either way, it was new to me so I have to share ūüôā

Oh and as a side note, teenage munchkin had one of her bff’s over (another daughter to me) last night who is SO hard to please with food. ¬†Usually I have to end up making her a grilled cheese or throw in a frozen pizza because she won’t eat anything new. ¬†HOWEVER and Thank you JESUS, she LOVED this dish and asked me to keep it handy to make it for her again. ¬†Anything Shelby approved is a hit in OUR house ūüėČ


Roasted Red Pepper Pasta and Shrimp


1 lb large shrimp, raw and in the shell

16 oz pasta (I used Penne)

12 oz jar of roasted red peppers with juice

1 TBSP Olive oil

5 cloves minced garlic

2 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1/2 cup Romano or Parmesan cheese

1 3 to 4 oz jar of Peproncinis  (Optional for garnish)

Fresh parsley for garnish


1.  Shell and devein the shrimp.  Spray a broiling or grilling pan with Pam and place shrimp (separated well) on pan.  Cook in oven on BROIL just until shrimp turns pink.  Immediately take off of pan (to stop cooking process) an place on a plate to cool.

2.  Cook and drain pasta.

3.  While pasta is cooking, remove about 1 roasted red pepper from jar.  Chop and set aside.  Place remaining red peppers with their juice into blender and puree.

4.  Heat olive oil in large non stick skillet.  Saute garlic.  Cook and stir on medium heat for about 2 minutes.  Be sure not to get too brown or it will taste burnt and bitter.

5.  Add the pepper puree, cream, salt and pepper.  Cook on medium heat, stirring until hot bubbly and thick.  About 6 minutes.

6. ¬†Stir in cheese and parsley. ¬†Stir until cheese is melted. ¬†Add shrimp for a second until it’s warm again. ¬†

7.  Add sauce to the pasta and mix.  Top with Peproncinis if you want and extra cheese.

*Tip:  Always boil pasta in salted water so that the pasta has flavor.  When I drain the pasta, I immediately add back into the pan and toss with a little olive oil.  I then add a little Parmesan Cheese to the pasta BEFORE the sauce is added so that the cheese sticks to the pasta.  



Broccoli & Rice Bake …

So tonight I knew I had to cook these pork steaks I had already thawed out, right? ¬†I also had a fresh head of broccoli but virtually no cheese. ¬†I know, you’re shocked. ¬†THIS house is RARELY without cheese! ¬†I had a little Swiss cheese but that’s it. ¬†So what do I do with the broccoli? ¬†I found this DELICIOUS recipe! ¬†I had all the ingredients so why not give it a try? ¬†I can tell you that it’s going to be a regular here ūüôā

Broccoli and Rice Bake


1 head of broccoli, chopped (you can use frozen)

1 10.75 can cream of mushroom soup

1 1/4 cups milk

1 8 oz container sour cream

1 tsp dried crushed basil

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 1/2 cups white rice (long grain)

1 cup Swiss cheese


Preheat oven to 350F

1.  Cook rice according to package directions.

2.  While rice is cooking, cook fresh broccoli in salted water.  Cook until still bright green.  Drain.

3.  In a large bowl, combine soup, milk, sour cream, salt pepper and basil.  Stir in cooked broccoli and cooked rice.  Spoon mixture into a greased 2 quart casserole dish.

4.  Cover and bake for about 30 minutes or until heated through.  Uncover and sprinkle cheese on top of rice dish.  Bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

There it is! ¬†Simple as that and everyone LOVED it! ¬†The pork steaks were SO good too and fell apart in my mouth ūüėČ ¬†They’re so easy that I’m almost ashamed to tell you how I do them… but I WILL. ¬†All I do is season them any way I want to and throw them in the oven, covered at 350F. ¬†I cook them until they’re for tender (about 2-3 hours), uncover, drain grease and smother with bar-b-q sauce. ¬†Throw them back into the oven for another half hour until the sauce kind of cooks in ūüôā ¬†It’s better than the grill!

Mixed Berry Shortcakes with Whipped Cream

One of the BEST things about Spring time, in my humble opinion, is the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables ūüôā ¬†More specifically, strawberries! ¬†Strawberries come in season during the month of May… ¬†but who’s counting, right? ¬†Who cares that it’s April? ¬†Besides, our local grocery store had strawberries AND blackberries on sale. ¬†Soooo…. without further adieu, I bring you my families FAVORITE shortcake. ¬†Trust me, you’ll love it as much as we do!

Mixed Berry Shortcakes


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup cold butter

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/2 cup sour cream

2 TBSP cream (you can use milk)

5 cups mixed berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries or whatever kind of berries)

3 TBSP sugar

whipped cream (recipe to follow)


Preheat oven to 400F.  Lightly grease a baking sheet (or use parchment paper).  Set aside.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, the 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Using a  pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  In a small bowl, combine egg, sour cream and milk or cream.  Add wet ingredients to flour mixture, stirring with a fork just until moistened.

Drop dough into 8 mounds onto prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden.  Transfer to a wire rack.  Let cool.


Mix 5 cups of berries of your choice with 3 TBSP sugar. ¬†Do not mash fruit but let sit for 15 minutes so that juices can develop and “marry” together.

When ready to serve, split shortcakes in half and and scoop berries and juice on top of one of the halves and cover with the other half.  Serve with whipped cream.

Whipped Cream

In a chilled mixing bowl, add 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 2 TBSP sugar and 1 tsp vanilla.  Beat with electric mixer until soft peaks form.  If you like, you can also like 1/4 tsp cinnamon.

Eden Isle Chicken

In the midst of Skyping with my new Scottish friend Shaun and his sweet wife Dawn, baking cookies for the girls bake sale for charity and getting ready for Easter…. dinner still had to be made. ¬†Here’s another easy chicken recipe and OMG, so tasty! ¬†Anything with bacon, chicken, cream cheese and sour cream HAS to be good, right?

Eden Isle Chicken


6 chicken breasts, fat trimmed

1 lb package of smoked bacon

1 jar of dried beef

1 1/2 ups sour cream

3 oz cream cheese

2 cans cream of chicken soup

black pepper

2 tsp dried thyme


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. ¬†Wash and dry the chicken breasts. ¬†Sprinkle top and bottom of each breast with pepper (NO salt). ¬†Wrap each breast in bacon. ¬†Place the dried beef in the bottom of a greased 9×13 baking dish. ¬†Arrange the bacon wrapped chicken on top of dried beef. ¬†Meanwhile, mix sour cream, softened cream cheese, soup, black pepper and thyme. ¬†Pour mixture evenly over chicken. ¬†Cover dish tightly with foil. ¬†Bake for 2 hours. ¬†Now warm oven to 400 degrees. ¬†Uncover dish and bake until slightly browned on top (approximately 10 minutes). ¬†Serve with rice.

*Some people serve over a bed of mashed potatoes or pasta.

Fast Food at Home… Pasta Con Broccoli!

So, as usual, Tuesday nights are busy for me. ¬†Piano lessons at 4:30 and then rush home to make dinner quick! ¬†I can’t complain though because every other day for me is slow. ¬†Tuesday’s just give me a reason to have to use my brain and think outside my usual box.

Tonight’s recipe came from a little cook book from a French town nearby in Ste. Genevieve, MO. ¬†It’s my go to pasta con broccoli recipe. ¬†The one I use when I don’t want to spend a lot of prep time. ¬†Easy Peasy! ¬†There are several recipes I use for pasta con broccoli. ¬†I just like this one the best because of the few ingredients it’s PACKED with flavor!

Pasta Con Broccoli


12 oz large shell pasta (cooked aldente’)

1 10 oz package frozen broccoli (cooked)

1 stick butter

1 pint half and half

8 oz grated Parmesan (fresh is better)

1/2 tsp garlic powder

 1 tsp red pepper flakes


In a large stock pot, add butter, half & half, cheese and spices to hot noodles and broccoli.  Cook over low heat.  Stir and simmer until thickened.  Adjust spices as necessary.

*You could add cooked chicken and sauteed mushrooms.

*To reheat leftovers, be sure to add a little more milk or half and half.

I served with my own homemade garlic, cheese toast. ¬†Ummm Ummmm good! ¬†We only had a spoon full of leftovers ūüôā ¬†Enjoy!

Chicken Soup for the Soul

Have I told you that the teenage munchkin is “fasting”? ¬†Actually, maybe I’m not supposed to be talking about it but she didn’t tell me NOT to and she should know that nothing is sacred unless specifically stated! ¬†lol ¬†She’s fasting because she wants to show God that she’s open to sacrificing for him the way Jesus did for our sins (her words). ¬†She tells me that she wants to be open to receiving HIS wishes for her life. ¬†She does NOT get this from me. ¬†I’ve never really been a disciplined person and I’m ashamed that I’m the one who believes that God can’t see me sneak that cookie or piece of candy. ¬†Julia isn’t fasting for just a day. ¬†She’s been only eating non processed foods for 2 weeks now. ¬†Mostly she eats boiled eggs and raw vegetables and fruits. ¬†Every day, I try to cook her fish but she can have VERY little salt so everything tastes bland. ¬†I’m proud of her though because, for the most part, she’s not trying to argue about what kind of food she can have. ¬†Yesterday, she kind of pushed the ticket. ¬†She’d forgotten that she told me she couldn’t eat pasta because it was a starch. ¬†So NO starches, right? ¬†She thought I wouldn’t notice when she started frying potatoes and green peppers last night! ¬†lol ¬†Her reasoning? ¬†Potatoes are a vegetable grown from the ground and so were green peppers. ¬†What about the starch thing, Julia? ¬†Oh THIS starch is okay, I’m SURE of it. ¬†What about the fact that potatoes really don’t have nutritional value and you’re eating them in order to feel full? ¬†Oh that’s okay too. ¬†God will understand. ¬†Well OKAY then. ¬†I guess the rules change when you’re really hungry?

Today I’m making her some of Paula Deen’s chicken rice soup. ¬†There’s NOTHING in this soup that she CAN’T have and since it’s cold and snowy AND she’s working hard painting and cleaning, it just FEELS like a soup kind of day. ¬†Everything comes from God’s earth and the chicken is even healthy, right? ¬†This will be the only time in the past 2 weeks that she’s eaten chicken though. ¬†She tells me that this is like a 5 star meal for her! ¬†And then I reminded her about those fried potatoes last night. ¬†Was that like a 4 star meal? ¬†lol

By now you know that I get my recipes from SOMEWHERE. ¬†Lately it’s bee from the great Paula Deen. ¬† ¬†However, I rarely stick to a recipe. ¬†This one is revised by me but comes mostly from her. ¬†Everyone’s got their own way of doing chicken soup. ¬†Soup is just one of those foods that you can’t mess up PLUS it’s good for what ails you! ¬†If you feel bad physically or emotionally, I PROMISE you’ll feel better after a great big bowl of this!

Cure – All Chicken Rice Soup


1 whole chicken, cut up, rinsed and patted dry (mine was 5.5 lbs)

6 celery stalks, washed (use with the green leaves)

6 large carrots chopped into coins

2 lrg Vidalia onions (halved through the root end)

6 cloves garlic (minced)

2 tsp dried thyme

4 bay leaves

5 tsp salt

2 chicken bouillon cubes

2 tsp black pepper

2 tsp tarragon (dried)

2 cups long grain white rice

2/3 cups chopped fresh parsley


In a large stockpot, combine chicken, 12 cups water, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, bay leaves, salt, black pepper, tarragon and thyme.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce to a simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked through (around an hour).

Remove the chicken and carrots from stockpot and set aside.  Strain the remaining liquid and discard the solids.  Return the strained broth to the pot, stir in rice and bring to a gentle simmer, cook until the rice is tender about 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, once the chicken is cool enough to handle, pick meat off the bones, discarding skin and bones.  Return the chicken and carrots to the pot.  Simmer for another 5 minutes.  Adjust seasoning and stir in parsley right before serving.

*The bones make the soup! ¬†You can always use boneless chicken breast. ¬†I do if that’s all I have on hand but if you want REALLY good soup, full of flavor, you’ll want to use chicken on the bone.

*This recipe is a double batch. ¬†It will serve 12-18 people generously. ¬†I always double recipes because I can freeze a batch for later. ¬†It saves time and money ūüôā ¬†Enjoy!

Restaurant Style File Mignon

You guys HAVE to know the secret to the absolute BEST way to do filet mignons! ¬†It has NOTHING to do with the grill, either. ¬†*shock* ¬†Actually, any of my “foodie” friends may already know this but it’s something new to me and I feel compelled to share ūüôā ¬†I teased you with a pic on my hubby’s birthday post.

This is a revised recipe I got off of Pinterest. ¬†If you haven’t tried cooking steaks this way, PLEASE do yourself a favor and give it a whirl. ¬†I PROMISE you that all your family and friends will think you’re the bomb! ¬†You know how you go to your favorite steak house and the steak is better than anything you could grill, ever? ¬†Yeah, this is how you do it!

Restaurant Style Pan Seared Filet Mignon


4 8 oz filet mignons

4 tsp sea salt

8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

2 sticks butter

2 TBSP olive oil

4 cloves chopped fresh garlic

2 TBSP dried parsley

2 TBSP dried thyme

Zest of 1/2 lemon


Take 1 stick of butter, softened. ¬†Mix well with garlic, thyme, parsley and lemon zest. ¬†Form into a log and chill. ¬†Generously season each side of the filets with salt and pepper (approximately 1 tsp of BOTH salt and pepper per side – TRUST me, it sounds like a lot of salt but the salt acts to form the crust on the steak and you really DO need it). ¬†Heat the other stick of butter and the olive oil in a CAST IRON skillet to a SCREAMING HOT temperature. ¬†Preheat oven to 400 degrees. ¬†Sear the filets in the extremely hot skillet for about 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until a nice brown crust forms. ¬†While the steaks are searing, continuously spoon the butter from the pan on top of the steaks. ¬†When the steaks are done searing, place in the preheated oven (center rack) in the same cast iron skillet. ¬†Cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until the temperature reads 135 degrees (medium rare). ¬†During the last minute of cooking, take that delicious herb butter that should be chilling and glob a generous dab of butter on each steak. ¬†The butter won’t be melted ALL the way when you’re ready to take out of the oven. ¬†Let steak sit for 5 minutes before you serve. ¬†The juices will stay inside the steak this way.

*135 degrees is medium rare. ¬†Obviously not everyone likes the cows to be still mooing so cook a little longer if you don’t like that much red. ¬†I think if you’re going to spend the money on filet mignon, you shouldn’t over cook it. ¬†You’ll want that tender flavor. ¬†135 degrees is PERFECT for us ūüôā

Snow on the clover!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! ¬†Hopefully the rest of the world is having GOOD weather and you can celebrate safely on NON ice slicked roads! ¬†In Mid America, where I live, I woke up to snow and ice on our clover patches. ¬†We’ll be staying indoors, where it’s safe and warm ūüôā

To celebrate, in our own very simple way, I’ll be making my Irish Beef and Guinness Stew. ¬†If you haven’t tried this recipe yet, today’s a VERY good day to give it a whirl! ¬†Remember, it looks like this when you’re all done (and taste even better!).

Can’t stop there though! ¬†I’ll be making a different potato dish other than the usual mashed! ¬†lol ¬†I get my Irish recipes from a cookbook called,¬†Ireland’s Comfort Food¬†(Pidgeon Press Publishing) and I haven’t come across a bad recipe yet! ¬†The recipe’s I’ve tried have been PACKED with flavor. ¬†That’s what I look for in a good recipe ūüôā

*Note: ¬†This recipe calls for Durrus Cheese and from what I’ve been learning, the closest that I can come to Durrus Cheese is Gouda or maybe even Swiss. ¬†Today, I’ll probably use a mixture of Gouda and cheddar.

Roasted Red Potatoes with Bacon & Cheese recipe

Durrus & Potato Melt

2 pounds waxy potatoes, cubed (I use small red, quatered)

2 onions, finely chopped (I use sweet or Vidalia)

2 TBSP butter

1/2 LB bacon slices, cut into small pieces

1 LB Durrus Farmhouse Cheese, cut into cubes (I will use some Gouda and shredded cheddar)

8 oz tub of creme’ fraiche (I will use sour cream because that’s what I have)

butter, enough to butter an ovenproof dish

salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Parboil the potatoes and set aside.  Meanwhile, saute the onions in butter until translucent or clear.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Meanwhile, fry the bacon until crisp and crumbly but not burnt.  Mix the creme fraiche, potatoes and Durrus cheese together.  Add onion and bacon, mix well and pour into a buttered, oven proof dish.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Place in preheated oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring gently, halfway through cooking.

What are YOU doing for St. Patrick’s day?

Sunday Dinner… Norman Rockwell, roast turkey with all the trimmings AND, featuring, Maque Choux

When I think of Sunday dinner, I think of a Norman Rockwell painting, where a large, extended family is seated around a large table laughing, sharing a story and passing the bowl of mashed potatoes. ¬†Everyone’s happy and there’s NO family drama. ¬†The biggest problem discussed would probably be the price of dairy going up. ¬†lol

Okay, so this ISN’T my family but I still wanted to make Sunday dinner today ūüôā ¬†My daughter was coming home from spending the night with my brother and his family and I just wanted to do something nice for her, my husband and my friend (who’s staying with us) and her son. ¬†I got up early and put the turkey in the oven. ¬†It turned out SO tender, it fell off the bone! ¬†Yum. ¬†I made mashed potatoes, turkey gravy and Maque Choux (a corn dish). ¬†So okay, there was NO sitting around the table. ¬†lol ¬†That’s almost funny to think about at my house. ¬†I took SO much time preparing this meal and when it was done, everyone grabbed a paper plate and filled up. ¬†It was downed in 2.2 minutes and now everyone is about to fall asleep in front of the TV. ¬†Classic American family, right? ¬†Oh and NOBODY is jumping up volunteering to do the dishes or clean the mess I left behind, as usual. ¬†Another success and probably no memories made here but hey! ¬†The food was good! ¬†lol

So back to the Maque Choux (pronounced mock shoe). ¬†It’s something I’ve not made before but it sounded good and healthy. ¬†You need SOMETHING healthy when you have food like roast turkey, drenched in herb butter with mashed potatoes and gravy, right? Anyway, Maque Choux is another dish that originated in Louisiana. ¬†Oh and it will be my new “go to” side dish recipe. ¬†It’s PACKED with flavor and so easy to make! ¬†Give it a try ūüôā

Maque Choux   

3 TBSP butter

1 med to large Vidalia onion, chopped

1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 cups corn (either off the cob or canned)

3 scallions (green peppers), chopped, dark green tops saved fro garnish

1 large tomato

1 TBSP dried thyme leaves

pinch of cayenne pepper

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper


1.  In a large skillet, melt butter over medium high heat.  Add theonion, bell pepper and celery.  Cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes.  Stir in corn and chopped scallions.  Reduce heat and cover.  Cook for 5 minutes.

2.  Uncover the skillet and stir in tomato, thyme and cayenne pepper.  Cook until the tomato is soft about 3 minutes.  Stir in the cream and cook until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with reserved green scallions.

*This is a really good summer time dish and you can make it a meal by adding shrimp or chicken.