Creamy Pappardelle with Chicken & Bacon

This quick comfort food dish uses store-bought rotisserie chicken as a shortcut. I loved the freshness and pop of color from the fresh herbs and the minced carrot.

The recipe was adapted from Antoni Let’s Do Dinner by Antoni Porowski of Queer Eye. My daughter and I are big Antoni fans! 🙂 I modified the proportions. Next time I would reduce the amount of chicken meat- just personal preference.

Yield: Serves 8

  • coarse salt
  • 8 oz bacon (about 5 slices), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch wide pieces
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, gently smashed and peeled
  • 1/2 T chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 T coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 16 oz pappardelle (I used two 227 g packages)
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 4 to 6 cups shredded rotisserie chicken, at room temperature (I used 6 cups but would reduce the amount next time)
  • freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
  • coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for serving, optional
  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a skillet large enough to hold the pasta and sauce or a wide heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until just cooked through with crispy edges, about 5 minutes. (I used an enameled cast iron pan.)
  3. Transfer the bacon to a plate, leaving the fat in the pan.
  4. Add the onion, garlic, sage, rosemary, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the cream, bring to a simmer, and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, add the pappardelle and carrots to the boiling water and cook until the pasta is al dente and the carrots are tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
  7. Drain the pasta, reserving 2 cups of the pasta cooking water.
  8. Add the pasta to the sauce with 3/4 cups of the pasta water, the chicken, and the reserved bacon. Toss to combine.
  9. Add more pasta water to loosen the sauce, if desired.
  10. Top with cheese, parsley, if using, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Cheesy & Crunchy Baked Pasta with Cauliflower

I loved that this cheesy comfort food baked pasta dish incorporated an entire head of cauliflower. The lemon zest and capers also added brightness which had a nice balance with the cheese.

The recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Ina Garten. Great comfort food.

Yield: Serves 8

  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound dried pasta, such as medium shells (I used Cascatelli)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds cauliflower (1 large head cut into small florets) 
  • 3 tablespoons sage leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 15 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups Fontina cheese, lightly packed (10 oz with rind)
  • 1 cup (8 oz) whole milk ricotta
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 6 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons parsley leaves, minced fresh
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. (I set my oven to convection.)
  2. Fill a large pot with water, add 2 tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until 2 minutes less than al dente, according to the instructions on the package. (Since it will be baked later, don’t overcook it! Drain and pour into a very large bowl.)
  3. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12 to 14-inch) skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat, add half of the cauliflower in one layer and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the florets are lightly browned and tender. Season with salt.
  4. Pour the cauliflower, including the small bits, into the bowl with the pasta.
  5. Add 3 more tablespoons of olive oil to the sauté pan, add the remaining cauliflower, cook until browned and tender and add to the bowl.
  6. Add the sage, capers, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper to the bowl and stir carefully.
  7. Stir in the Fontina.
  8. Transfer half of the mixture to a 10 x 13 x 2–inch rectangular baking dish.
  9. Spoon 12 rounded tablespoons of ricotta on the pasta and spoon the remaining pasta mixture on top. (I used a cookie scoop.)
  10. Combine the panko, grated Pecorino, minced parsley and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl and sprinkle it evenly on top.
  11. Bake for 22 minutes on convection, or 25 to 30 minutes in a standard oven, until browned and crusty on top. Serve hot.

Note: The dish can be assembled ahead of time. Assemble the dish, cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake before serving.

Buttermilk Cornbread Dressing with Italian Sausage

I loved that this recipe used buttermilk to moisten the stuffing- in addition to the more typical stock and butter. The sausage was not overpowering in the finished dish but added great flavor. I used locally made sweet Italian sausage with fennel seeds- perfect.

This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Yewande Komolafe. The sausage could be omitted for a vegetarian version. The original recipe notes that if store-bought or boxed mix cornbread is used, it should be crumbled and and spread out on a sheet pan to dry for 4 to 12 hours prior to assembling the dish. I made the accompanying cornbread recipe, which does not require drying time, two days prior to making the dish.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

For the Cornbread:

  • 8 T/115 grams/1 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus more for brushing the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups/250 g medium-coarse yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup/114 g all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup/55 g granulated sugar
  • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups/470 milliliters buttermilk, preferably full-fat (I used low-fat)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

For the Dressing:

  • 3 T unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
  • 1 T neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola, plus more if needed
  • 1 pound loose pork sausage (I used sweet Italian sausage)
  • 1 large yellow onion, very finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 4 celery ribs, very finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 T chopped fresh sage (from 10 large leaves)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 recipe cornbread for dressing, broken into 1-inch pieces, or 10 cups loosely packed cornbread
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken, turkey or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup buttermilk, preferably full-fat (I used low-fat)

To Make the Cornbread:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch skillet, preferably cast-iron, and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. (I weighed the dry ingredients when possible.)
  4. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk and eggs. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir until incorporated.
  5. Fold in the melted butter.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared skillet and smooth the top.
  7. Bake until the top is lightly browned and the sides pull away cleanly from the skillet, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  8. Cool completely and serve warm or room temperature, or reserve to make cornbread dressing.

To Assemble & Bake the Dressing:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium and pour in the oil.
  3. Add the sausage and cook, using a wooden spoon to break it into small pieces, until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink, about 8 minutes.
  4. Transfer the cooked sausage to a plate, keeping any fat in the skillet. Add a few additional tablespoons oil if needed to evenly coat the bottom.
  5. Add the onion and celery to the skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic, thyme, oregano, fennel seeds and sage, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  7. Return the cooked sausage to the skillet and stir to incorporate. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, add the cornbread pieces and toss to combine.
  9. Pour in the stock and buttermilk, and stir until well mixed. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.
  10. Transfer the cornbread mixture to your prepared dish and spread evenly.
  11. Drizzle the melted butter over the top.
  12. Cover the dish with foil and bake until heated through, 30 to 35 minutes.
  13. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees, remove the foil and bake until the surface is golden brown in spots, 15 to 20 minutes.
  14. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving warm.

Fried Chicken Biscuits with Cornmeal & Sage

My entire family looks forward to my husband’s birthday feast. It typically involves a lot of comfort food like fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. 🙂 We always have his favorite Vanilla Bean Cheesecake as our celebratory dessert.

When my food blog friend Jess@Cooking is My Sport posted Cornmeal Sage Chicken Biscuits, I knew that my husband would absolutely love them. My first thought was to serve them on Valentine’s Day but then I realized that they would be perfect for his birthday dinner. Jess is an amazing cook and baker but most of all I must say that she is a complete master of biscuits. I learned many new techniques from her post in order to make biscuits thick enough to create a sandwich. Flaky and amazing! I also loved that she incorporated cornmeal in both the biscuits and the seasoned flour that is used to coat the fried chicken. This recipe also made all of us fans of Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute.

I served these fried chicken biscuits with classic macaroni and cheese and green salad dressed with Icebox Buttermilk Dressing. The chicken biscuit recipe was adapted from CookingisMySport.com. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, modified the proportions, cut the biscuits into squares, and omitted the topping. My daughter declared it was the best birthday feast ever. 🙂

Yield: Serves 12 to 14

For the Cornmeal & Sage Biscuits:

Yield: approximately 14 2-inch biscuits

  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 T baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground sage
  • 1 T savory spice mix (I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups buttermilk, plus more if necessary

For the Fried Chicken Thighs:

Yield: about 16 to 18 pieces

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 heaping tsp savory spice mix (I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 8 to 9 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds), trimmed, halved crosswise, patted dry
  • 8 cups vegetable oil
  • hot sauce, for serving, optional (we used Chipotle Cholula)
  • bread and butter pickles, for serving, optional

To Make the Cornmeal & Sage Biscuits:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, coarse salt, baking powder, sugar, ground sage and the seasoning mix.
  2. Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients; stir with a fork.
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients; add the sour cream. Using a fork, incorporated it into the dry ingredients until it forms thick clumps.
  4. Make another well in the center of the dry ingredients; add the buttermilk. Use a large fork and a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add the additional buttermilk, just until it forms a shaggy dough. (I added 1 3/4 cups of buttermilk.)
  5. Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board, or a clean, smooth countertop with flour. (I used a silpat baking mat.)
  6. Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the biscuits to be tough.)
  7. Use a bench scraper (or a large sharp knife) to divide the dough in half. Roughly shape each half into a square.
  8. Stack one of the halves on top of the other and use a rolling pin to roll it together into one mass. Repeat this process 4-5 more times before patting it into one final rectangle. (This is a process of layering so that the biscuits will bake flaky.) (I formed a 9×7-inch rectangle, about 2-inches thick.)
  9. Tightly wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
  10. Preheat oven to 425°. (I set my oven to convection.) Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.
  11. Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unwrap the biscuit dough out onto it.
  12. Using a bench scraper (or very sharp knife), trim the edges of the rectangle. (I trimmed it to form a 6×8-inch rectangle.)
  13. Using a biscuit cutter or a knife, cut the dough into rounds or squares about 2″ each. You can recut the leftover dough into new biscuits, just try not to handle it too much. (I cut my dough into 12 2-inch squares and reformed the trimmed edges into 2 additional 2-inch squares.)
  14. Place the cut biscuits on the parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheet, placing them close to each other (it will help them rise higher).
  15. Place the tray into the freezer for about 15 minutes.
  16. Spray the top of the biscuits with cooking spray.
  17. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 22 minutes, covering them with foil if they brown too quickly. (I baked mine for 22 minutes total, covering them with foil after 20 minutes.)

To Make the Fried Chicken Thighs:

  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper, foil, or plastic wrap on the bottom; place a wire rack on top.
  2. Line a second rimmed baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels; place a wire rack on top.
  3. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, cayenne, spice mix, salt, and black pepper in a bowl.
  4. Pour buttermilk into a separate bowl.
  5. Working with one piece at a time, toss chicken in flour mixture, dip in buttermilk, then toss again in flour mixture. Transfer to the wire rack over the wax paper/foil/plastic wrap-lined baking sheet to allow batter to set, about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Repeat dipping process until all of the chicken is double-coated.
  7. Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil to 350 degrees. (I used a large stainless steel Dutch oven fitted with a thermometer. I found it much easier to control the temperature of the oil in this pot versus using a cast iron skillet as I have in the past.)
  8. Working in batches of no more than 3 or 4 pieces at a time, use tongs to place the chicken in the hot oil. Using a slotted spoon, turn it occasionally and cook until each piece is golden brown on both sides, about 2-4 minutes per side. (I tried to cook pieces similar in size at the same time.)
  9. Using a slotted spoon or clean tongs, remove chicken to the wire rack over the paper towel-lined sheet pan. At this point, use an instant read thermometer to confirm that the chicken is cooked, having an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  10. To assemble: Split a biscuit in half (it will have a natural breaking point) and assemble the sandwich with chicken topped with pickles, as desired. Serve with hot sauce to pass at the table, as desired.

Much to my husband’s displeasure, another birthday tradition is to document the many seasonal feathered visitors who arrive to celebrate with us. Like clockwork, the night heron arrived on his birthday morning while I was making pancakes. 🙂

Herb-Scented Mashed Potatoes

These wonderful, creamy and fluffy mashed potatoes had a subtle flavor from cream steeped with rosemary, sage, and garlic. My son made them as part of our Thanksgiving feast this year. I loved the contrasting texture of the crispy top layer.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Justin Chapple. I modified the proportions and broiled the potatoes in a 9-inch cast iron skillet.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T whole milk
  • 4 ounces (8 T, one stick) unsalted butter, plus 1 T melted butter for brushing
  • one 4 to 6-inch rosemary sprig
  • 1 4 to 6-inch sage sprig
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces (I used Maine Cold River Gold potatoes)
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, milk and one stick of butter with the rosemary, sage and garlic and bring just to a simmer.
  2. Remove from the heat and let steep for 15 minutes, then discard the rosemary, sage and garlic.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot, cover the potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt and simmer over moderate heat until tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Drain well, then pass the potatoes through a ricer into the pot.
  5. Fold in the cream mixture and season generously with salt and pepper.
  6. Light the broiler and position the rack 8 inches from the heat.
  7. Scrape the potatoes into a 9-inch round flameproof pan or baking dish (2 inches deep) and, using a spoon, decoratively swirl the top. (I used a cast iron skillet.)
  8. Gently brush with melted butter.
  9. Broil for about 8 minutes, until the top is browned in spots. Serve hot.

Note: If doubling the recipe, place the riced potatoes into a 12-inch round flameproof pan such as a cast iron skillet.

Savory Butternut Squash Crumble

This is another lovely seasonal side dish. I received a lot of butternut squash in my CSA share this season and kept looking for new ways to enjoy it. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories by David Lebovitz. I modified the proportions. It would be a great side to serve as part of a Thanksgiving feast.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

For the Squash Filling:

  • 1 T unsalted or salted butter
  • 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced into 3/4-inch (2 cm) cubes
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup peeled and thinly sliced shallots (I used 1 large shallot)
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 T finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

For the Topping:

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 T (52.5g) fresh or dried bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup (35g) stone-ground cornmeal or polenta
  • 1/4 cup (22.5g/.75oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 T minced fresh sage leaves
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt or Kosher salt
  • 2 T (1oz/27.5g) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 large egg
  1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C), preferably on convection.
  2. Generously butter a shallow 1 1/2 to 2 quart baking dish with softened butter. (I used a round ceramic baking dish.)

Make the Filling:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the squash and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the squash pieces begin to brown on several sides.
  3. Add the shallots and cook for another few minutes, until they’re softened.
  4. Add the stock and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring, to reduce the stock a bit and heat everything through.
  5. Scrape the squash mixture into the prepared baking dish; stir in the parsley. Press the mixture into a relatively even layer.
  6. Cover the dish snugly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes, until the squash is pretty soft when poked with a paring knife or fork.

Make the Topping:

  1. While the squash is baking, combine the bread crumbs, cornmeal, Parmesan, sage, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. (Alternatively, the topping can be made by hand in a large bowl, using a pastry blender.)
  2. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is completely incorporated.
  3. Add the egg and pulse a few more times until the mixture just starts clumping together in bits.

To Finish the Dish:

  1. Remove the squash from the oven, remove the foil, and cover with the topping.
  2. Decrease the oven temperature to 350˚F (180˚C) ad return the dish to the oven.
  3. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown, and serve.

Note: If doubling the recipe, use 1 egg.

Butternut Squash, Sage, & Ricotta Manicotti

I made this baked pasta dish to serve on Thanksgiving Eve. My Mother-in-Law asked that I post the recipe so that she could make it to serve to vegetarian guests. It was such a compliment! This post is quite belated- oops. :/

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living’s Everyday Food. I used manicotti noodles instead of lasagna and modified the proportions. I boiled the squash in the salted pasta water but may roast it instead next time to enhance its flavor. It was cheesy, creamy, and rich comfort food.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

  • 6 T olive oil, plus more for baking dish
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (8 oz each) packages manicotti (there will be leftover noodles)
  • 1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 4 large shallots, chopped
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used whole milk)
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh sage leaves, plus 16 to 20 whole leaves
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 (15 oz each) containers of whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly oil a 9×13-inch baking dish. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  3. In a large pot of boiling, generously salted water, cook pasta until al dente. Using tongs, transfer pasta to a rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Add squash to boiling water and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain squash and transfer to a bowl. (Alternatively, the squash can be roasted at 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast, until lightly browned and tender, about 25 to 35 minutes.)
  5. In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium. Add shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
  6. Transfer sautéed shallots to the bowl with the squash and add 4 tablespoons milk, chopped sage, and nutmeg; season with salt and pepper. Mash with a fork until a rough puree forms.
  7. Fill a gallon ziplock bag with the squash mixture. Cut an opening in one bottom corner of the bag, large enough to fit the opening of the manicotti noodles.
  8. Pipe the squash mixture into the manicotti noodles, about 1/4 cup each. Place each filled noodle into the prepared baking dish. (I had 8 cooked noodles leftover.)
  9. In a bowl, combine ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, and 1/2 cup milk and season with salt and pepper.
  10. Spread ricotta mixture over cannelloni and top with remaining 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan.
  11. Bake until warmed through, about 25 minutes.
  12. Broil until top is browned, 2 to 3 minutes.
  13. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium to medium-high. Fry whole sage leaves until crispy, 15 to 20 seconds. Drain on paper towels.
  14. Serve the casserole topped with fried sage.

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