"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all." ~Harriet van Horne


Mom's Chicken Fricassee

Published by: Kathy

  • Aug
  • 31

Don’t be scared away by the number of ingredients in this recipe. It really is very simple to prepare!

The tradition of Sunday dinner was one I have always loved.  Growing up in a family with four children, two working parents and a calendar filled with conflicting activities, it was the one day we could all be together… and eat at one time.  Even my oldest brother, once he moved away from home, (before he left the state, of course) would find his way back home on Sundays, to partake in the family meal.  Once I married and had a family of my own, I too started my own tradition of Sunday dinner and hold steadfast to it, to this day.  Years ago, even though my work-week was hectic and the weekends unpredictable, I knew one thing for certain…I would be preparing a big meal on Sunday, complete with dessert.  The evolution of my Sunday dinner has taken many twists and turns throughout the years.  Although I know that Sunday dinner is always going to happen, I never know who will be there.  What once would have been a crowd of 8-10 people gathered around my dining room table, has been reduced to the usual 3…My husband, my mother and myself.

There was a time when my son, Anthony, and his family were regulars at Sunday dinner.  Then, his love for the Tampa Bay Bucs and the need to watch them without any distractions on the “sidelines”, scratched him from my Sunday roster.  In the off-season, the excuse was that Sunday was the only day he had to lay around the house and do nothing.  I really do understand and eventually gave up on inviting him.  But, he always knows he is welcome.  A couple of weeks ago, I was making a dish he loves and I asked if he was interested.  His answer was a polite, yet emphatic, “Mom, it’s Sunday.”  Yeah, yeah, I know…Sunday…the Sabbath…A day of rest…Whatever!

Then there’s Eric.  Eric is always ready for a good meal….IF he doesn’t have anything better to do.  So, Eric’s presence on Sunday is always a big question mark.  This Sunday, however, Eric turned his reservation in early.  As a way to entice my boys to come for dinner, I will usually let them pick what they want on the menu.  I love cooking for them and hope that catering to their cravings will let them know how much I love them and how special they are to me.  Eric’s choice was Chicken Fricassee…This is my mom’s recipe and she has been making it for as far back as I can remember.  Although my mom made it the traditional way, in a pot over the stove, I have always used a pressure cooker.  I have provided the traditional instructions as well as the pressure cooker method.  Give it a try…it is delicious!


  •  3  lbs. chicken, cut up and skinned
  • ½  c. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½  tsp. cumin
  • ½  tsp. basil
  • ½  tsp. oregano
  • 1  bay leaf
  • 1  lg. onion, sliced
  • ½  med. green pepper, sliced
  • 3  cloves garlic, minced
  • 1  (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1  (10½-ounce) can chicken broth
  • ½  c. sherry wine
  • 1  envelope Vigo yellow coloring
  • 2  potatoes, cut in ½-inch slices
  • 3  carrots, peeled and cut in 1-inch slices
  • 2  Tbsp. cornstarch
  • ¼  c. sherry wine

I cook this in the pressure cooker.  Heat olive oil and brown chicken.  Add all spices and place onion, green pepper, garlic on top of chicken in pot.  Add tomato sauce, chicken broth, ½ cup of wine and coloring; stir gently, just enough to mix liquids at bottom of chicken.  Once the pressure cooker has reached the “jiggle” stage, cook for 25-30 minutes.  Release pressure and remove chicken to a separate dish.  Put potatoes and carrots into liquid and start the pressure cooker again.  Once the pressure is right, cook 7-10 minutes.  Release pressure again and remove lid.  Mix cornstarch and ¼ cup of wine and add to liquid.  Bring to a slow boil until thickened.  Return chicken to gravy and heat thoroughly.  Serve over cooked white rice.  Serves 4.

Note:  If you choose to cook this in a regular pot, cook on medium low heat for approximately 1 hour, or until chicken is tender and pulls away from bone.  Add carrots and potatoes and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until they are fork-tender.

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The Cheesecake Factory Chicken Madeira (Copy-Cat Version)...

Published by: Kathy

  • Aug
  • 27

Look veerrrry closely and you will see a chicken breast nestled in a pile of mashed potatoes.

OK, so I’m still working on my food stylist and photography skills…But I promise you, I’ve got the cooking part down pat!

A recent trip to the Cheesecake Factory brought back fond memories of one of my favorite dishes off their menu….Chicken Madeira.  Not that I’ve ordered it for quite some time, due to the fact that their entree portions are so gargantuan.  I usually opt to make one of their appetizers my meal and leave a little extra room for dessert.  (Duh!  It’s the CHEESECAKE Factory!)

When I got home that night, (and was taking a few bites of my Turtle cheesecake) I remembered my handy-dandy Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 cookbook and recalled that it had a recipe for The Cheesecake Factory Chicken Madeira.  I made it last night  and, oh, yeah!  Another copy-cat recipe success story!   The gravy over the chicken was absolutely divine!  My husband noted that it would taste good on just about anything!  And, my potatoes were equally delicious.  Smashed potatoes are all the rage in restaurants these days and easier to make than mashed potatoes.  However, I ended up whipping them with an electric mixwer, instead of smashing them.  I thought a smoother texture would be better paired with the chicken.  Next time, I will go ahead and just hand-smash the potatoes, leaving them on the chunky side.

This post is a 2-for-1, because I’ve added the recipe I came up with for Garlic Smashed New Potatoes.  I promise, you won’t be disappointed in either recipe.


  • I purchased a pound of asparagus and in addition to putting it on top of the chicken, I served it as a side dish that evening.
  • My husband is a big fan of grilling the asparagus, so he helped me out by cooking them for me on the grill.  To do this, turn on your gas grill.  Season the cleaned asparagus with a little salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.  Place the asparagus directly on the grill, going opposite the grates, so that they don’t fall into the fire.  Grill for 3-5 minutes, (depending on the thickness) turning frequently.   Presto!  You have grilled asparagus.  Delicious!
  • Don’t overcook the chicken.  You cannot start your sauce until the chicken is done, because you will be using the juices in the pan to enhance the flavor of your sauce.  So…you should keep your chicken in the oven, covered and on a low temperature, so that it stays warm for the 20 minutes your sauce is simmering.
  • When making the potatoes, leave the garlic with the potatoes once you have drained them.  The boiled garlic is very soft and will easily incorporate itself into the potatoes as you smash or whip them.  It gives the potatoes a beautiful hint of garlic, without overpowering them.



  • 1  T. olive oil
  • 4  skinless chicken breast fillets, pounded to 1/4-inch thick
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
  • 8  asparagus spears
  • 4  mozzarella cheese slices



  • 2  T. olive oil
  • 2  c. sliced fresh white mushrooms
  • 3  c. Madeira wine (found in the Port section of your liquor store)
  • 2  c. beef broth
  • 2  T. butter
  • 1/4  tsp. black pepper
  • 1  heaping tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1  T. Madeira wine

In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil.   Sprinkle each fillet with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Sauté the chicken fillets for 4-6 minutes per side, or until chicken has browned just a bit.  Remove chicken from pan and wrap them together in foil to keep the fillets warm while you make the sauce.

To the drippings in the skillet, and the heat still on medium, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet.  Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté for about 2 minutes.  Add the Madeira wine, beef broth, butter and pepper.  Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Mix cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of Madeira wine in a small bowl, until smooth and all the lumps are gone.  Add to the gravy and bring to a simmer, so that mixture will thicken to a silky consistency.

As the sauce is simmering, bring a medium saucepan, filled halfway with water, to a boil.  Add a pinch of salt to the water.  Toss the asparagus into the water and boil for 3-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of your asparagus spears.  Drop the asparagus in a bowl of ice water to halt the cooking process.  The asparagus should be slightly tender when done…not mushy.  (Or you can eliminate this method and opt to grill them as I outlined in my Helpful Hints.)

Set the oven to broil.  Prepare the dish by arranging the cooked chicken fillets on a baking dish.  Cross two asparagus spears over each fillet, then cover each with a slice of mozzarella cheese.  Broil the fillets for 3-4 minutes, or until light brown spots begin to appear on the cheese.  To serve, arrange one 1 or 2 chicken breasts on each plate, then spoon 3 0r 4 tablespoons of Madeira sauce over the chicken.  Makes 2-4 servings.



  • 2  lbs. new red potatoes, washed
  • 6  cloves garlic, cut in half with ends trimmed
  • 6  Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4  c. heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/8  c. chopped chives  (optional)
  • 2  Tbsp. fresh bacon. cooked crisp and crumbled (optional)


Cut potatoes into uniform sizes (so that they all finish cooking at the same time).  Boil potatoes and garlic, until tender.  (20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes).  Drain.

While the potatoes are cooking,  in a small bowl, heat butter and cream in the microwave.  (I find it easier to work with melted butter and warm cream.  But, cover the bowl you are using in the microwave, and be careful you don’t have a boil-over situation…like I did!)  Using the back of a large spoon, or a potato masher,  smash the potatoes and garlic, so they are large and chunky.  Add the butter, cream, salt and pepper.  Stir gently to combine.  If you like, fold in chives and bacon bits.  Gently reheat if necessary.  Serve hot.  Makes 2-4 servings.


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Bow-Tie Pasta with Chicken ...

Published by: Kathy

  • Aug
  • 23

The origin of this recipe brings back good memories of happy times with very special people…My former co-workers and friends for life.

Years ago, when the first Macaroni Grill restaurant opened in Tampa, it quickly became the place of choice for the birthday celebrations, of my office “family”.  We were hard up for decent restaurants in our immediate vicinity and the 15 minute drive to the Macaroni Grill was the ticket.  On the menu, we found a pasta dish that appealed to all of us and without fail, the unanimous choice was “Farfalle Di Pollo al Sugo Bianco”, for the entire table.  This was bow-tie pasta, with slices of grilled chicken, pancetta bacon, fried crisp, red and green onions, tossed in an asiago garlic cream sauce…Divine!  (Macaroni Grill still serves this dish, however, they use crispy prociutto instead of the pancetta.)

On one of our many visits, when we placed our order for Farfalle Di Pollo al Sugo Bianco, we heard our server refer to the dish as “P-Ties” and that is actually what she wrote down on her pad.  When we asked her about the word, “P-Ties”, she said it was the abbreviation the servers used for the pasta dish.  (Is it any wonder??)  Well, that was all we needed to hear…”P-Ties” it was and still is, almost 20 years later!

I loved this pasta dish so much, I was determined to learn to make it at home.  Back then, I wasn’t all over the internet and didn’t have easy access to the copy-cat recipes that I do now, so I did the next best thing…I entered a radio contest, where I had to write something about why I liked eating at Macaroni Grill.  Me, writing about food I like to eat…It was a done deal!  I won!!!  The prize was a private dinner prepared by a Macaroni Grill Chef…Cooked right before my eyes!!  I was allowed to bring a guest, so I invited  the second biggest P-Tie fan I know, my friend, Maria.  (Me being the first biggest fan!)  The chef prepared several of Macaroni Grill’s most popular dishes, but I couldn’t tell you what they were…All I remember was seeing the P-Ties made!  I watched every move the chef made and memorized everything that went into his pot.  He wasn’t able to give me exact measurements.  I’m assuming that was because his knowledge involved the preparation of mass quantities of the recipe.  But no worries…after much trial and error, I eventually figured it out.  The recipe can be found on page 85 of my cookbook.

And now, in 2011 after all that, you can Google “Farfalle Di Pollo al Sugo Bianco” and find at least a dozen copy-cat recipes at your disposal.  But there would have been no memories made and no story to tell!

Bow-Tie Pasta with Chicken 

 Asiago Cream Sauce

  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 6-8  cloves garlic, minced fine
  • 1  c. canned chicken broth
  • 2  c. whipping cream
  • 1  lb. (3 to 4 cups) Asiago cheese, shredded


Melt butter in a medium saucepan.  Add minced garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes.  Add chicken broth and cream.  Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture begins to simmer.  Add cheese and continue to stir until the cheese is melted.  Continue to cook on low for approximately 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside until needed.


  • ½  c. red onion, chopped
  • 4  Tbsp. butter
  • 3  chicken breasts, grilled and sliced thin
  • ¾  lb. (1 cup)  pancetta bacon, diced and cooked crisp
  • 2  lbs. bowtie pasta, cooked al dente
  • 3  stalks green onion, sliced thin
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


Sauté red onion in butter for a few seconds.  To the cooked pasta, add the chicken, bacon, red onion, green onion and cheese sauce.  Add salt and pepper according to your taste.  (Easy on the salt, as the pancetta and asiago cheese are very salty by themselves.)  Toss lightly and heat thoroughly.  I like to put it into the oven for about 10-15 minutes at 325º.  Serve immediately.  Serves 6-8.

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Slow-Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

Published by: Kathy

  • Jul
  • 28

Here is another slow-cooker success story!

Don’t think for a minute, that just because I’m retired, I have a lot of time on my hands.  After sweet talking my husband into dinner out two nights in a row, I knew I’d better put on my “Kathy in the Kitchen” hat and come up with something good.  Knowing I had a busy week ahead of me, I remembered a slow-cooker recipe I had printed out several weeks ago.  A little more research brought two other recipes to my attention and I decided to take what I felt were the best ingredients from each and make up my own version.

After 20 minutes of prep work, my dinner was on its way and so was I!

Slow-Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

  • 3  lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast and thighs, fat trimmed
  • 2  c.  onion, sliced thin
  • 2  (14.5-oz.) cans diced fire roasted tomatoes (run them thru the food processer, if you are not fond of a chunky sauce)
  • 1  c. sliced fresh mushrooms (add more if you like)
  • 1  small green bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1  small red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 4  cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2  c. dry white wine
  • 1/4  c. tomato paste
  • 1  1/2  tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2  tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2  tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1  1/4  tsp. salt
  • 1/2  tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2  tsp. sugar
  • 1  bay leaf
  • 1/4  tsp. celery seed
  • 2  Tbsp. all-purpose flour

Place sliced onion in the bottom of the slow-cooker.  Add chicken pieces.  In a bowl, stir together remaining ingredients.  Pour over chicken; cover.  Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.  Serve over cooked linguine.  Makes 4-6 servings.




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P.F. Chang's Spicy Chicken

Published by: Kathy

  • Jun
  • 25

I am super excited to share this next recipe with you!

While in the check-out line at Kohl’s a few weeks ago, I looked up to see the granddaddy of all copy-cat cookbooks, “Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2″,  on sale for only $5!!!  Although I have sworn off buying any more cookbooks, (At last count, I was approaching 250!) I couldn’t resist the affordable price tag and the opportunity to get my hands on a few more copy-cat recipes.  Well, I hit the motherload with this purchase…There were at least a dozen recipes I was excited to see!  Being able to make P.F. Chang’s Spicy Chicken at home,  is in itself, worth whatever I had to pay!

This recipe was fairly simple to prepare…As with most Asian dishes, the prep work is what usually takes the longest.  Once I had everything chopped and measured out, it took a total of 30 minutes to put together.  If I must say so myself, this was a winner, first time out!!  I did add some red pepper flakes for a little added heat…The recipe didn’t call for any and after a quick taste of the sauce, I realized that it lacked the familiar zing.  To complete my meal, I did cheat by picking up some vegetable fried rice at the nearby China Moon…I tried my hand at homemade fried rice a few weeks ago and let me just say, that I won’t be doing that again any time soon!  That recipe would have definitely made it to my “Hit or Miss” category.



  • 2  tsp. vegetable oil
  • 2  Tbsp. garlic (6-8 cloves), chopped
  • 3  Tbsp. green onions (about 3 onions), chopped
  • 1  c. pineapple juice
  • 2  Tbsp. chili sauce
  • 2  Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 4  tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1  tsp.  soy sauce
  • 1/4  tsp. crushed red pepper flakes  (adjust to suit your taste)
  • 2  Tbsp. water
  • 2  tsp. cornstarch

Make the sauce by heating 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan.  Saute the garlic and onion in the oil for just a few seconds, not allowing the ingredients to burn.  Quickly add the pineapple juice, chili sauce, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and red pepper flakes.  Dissolve corstarch in 2 tablespoons of water and add it to the other ingredients in the pan.  Bring mixture to a boil and continue to simmer on medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until mixture is thick and syrupy.  Reduce heat to low and keep warm while you make the chicken.


  • 2  boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/3  c. cornstarch
  • 1  c. vegetable oil

Heat 1 cup of vegetable oil in a wok or medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  While the oil is heating up, chop the chicken breast fillets into bite-size pieces.  Put conrstarch in a plastic zip-lock bag and toss the chicken pieces with cornstarch until dusted.  Saute coated chicken in the hot oil, stirring occasionally, until light brown.  Remove chicken to a stack of paper towels to drain for a moment.  Place cooked chicken into a medium bowl, add sauce and toss well to coat the chicken.  Serve immediately with rice on the side.  Serves 2.

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Sunshine Chicken - My Inaugural Post

Published by: Kathy

  • May
  • 1

Whenever I eat something I like at a restaurant, the first thing I want to do is recreate it at home. The “copy-cat” websites are pretty good when it comes to the chain restaurant menus.

I can usually find a few versions of the recipes I am looking for and then, with a little mix and match, and a lot of trial and error, I can usually come up with a winner. But what happens when the restaurant is of the local variety? That’s when I have to rely on my taste buds and instincts to come up with a recipe that remotely resembles what I am trying to duplicate.

The recipe in my inaugural blog post is an original recipe, but was inspired by a dish served at the Columbia Café at Channelside. It was a “special” one Monday night and my husband and my son both ordered it. The entree was called “Chicken Manchego”. The recipe wasn’t listed in either of my Columbia Restaurant cookbooks, so the challenge was on! Our server, Leticia, did a great job of describing the dish. Little did she know I was mentally taking notes…Details I wrote down as soon as I got home, just so I would be able to remember the key components of the recipe. The boneless chicken breast was coated in Cuban bread crumbs, pan fried and served with a citrus butter. It was then topped with melted Manchego cheese fresh basil and sun-dried tomatoes. After preparing this dish, I was struck by the fact that, though the name of the dish would lead you to be believe otherwise, the Manchego cheese was not the focal point of the recipe (I actually elminated the cheese the second time I made this dish)…In my opinion, the citrus butter sauce is the star…The sauce is velvety smooth and tart, with just the right amount of pucker…When it hits the palate, it’s like having a mouth full of sunshine! 

I offer you “Sunshine Chicken”, my version of Chicken Manchego…it turned out amazing. My husband admitted that he thought it was even better than the Columbia’s…Wow! Not bad for my first try!!  I will add a disclaimer:  This is a complicated dish.  It’s not that the skill level is high, it’s  that there are several components to preparing it.  Things work much better for me, when I have an extra set of hands in the kitchen.  My husband takes charge of seasoning, breading and cooking the chicken.  This leaves me free to work my magic on the sauce and any side dishes I am preparing.


Citrus Butter Sauce

  • 1/2 c. fresh squeezed lime juice
  •  1 c. orange juice
  • 1/4  c. water
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  •  1/4 c. shallots, chopped
  •  2 T. Dijon mustard
  •  1/3 c. sherry wine
  •  salt and pepper to taste
  •  1 stick butter, cut into 4 pieces
  •  1 T. cornstarch
  •  2 T. sherry wine
  • 5  sun-dried tomates, cut into slivers

In a medium saucepan, combine lime juice, orange juice, water, sugar, shallots, Dijon mustard, sherry wine, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer until reduced by half, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat; add butter pieces one at a time, whisking until melted. Mix the cornstarch with the 2 tablespoons of sherry to make a slurry. Add the slurry a little at a time, to the citrus butter sauce, mixing well. If you feel you have the correct thickness, do not add all of the slurry, as the sauce will get too thick.  Allow mixture to simmer until thick and bubbly. Add sun-dried tomatoes to the sauce and stir.  Set aside and keep warm.  (If the sauce gets too thick while it sits, just add a little more water,)

  •  6 boneless chicken cutlets, pounded thin
  •  8 cloves garlic, mashed
  •  salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 eggs
  •  3 cups seasoned panko breadcrumbs
  •  1 stick butter
  • 1/2  c. olive oil
  •  8 fresh basil leaves, julienned
  •  6 slices Manchego cheese (optional)

Season chicken with salt, pepper and crushed garlic. Beat eggs with 2 tablespoons of water. Dip chicken into egg mixture and then roll in panko. Be sure to press chicken into the breadcrumbs to make sure it is coated well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Heat butter and olive oil in large skillet and fry chicken until it is golden brown (at least 3 minutes on each side). If you are going to use the cheese, remove chicken to a glass baking dish, and top each piece with a slice of Manchego. Place baking dish in a 350˚ oven for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.  Spoon citrus butter sauce over chicken and top with fresh basil . Serve Immediately.

This recipe was inspired by Chicken Manchego served at the Columbia Café at Channelside, in Tampa, Florida.



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