Baby greens salad with Fuyu persimmons, Feta Cheese & Almonds (Our garden & Farmer's market)
with Champagne Pear salad dressing (Trader Joe's)
Mama Maria's Chicken Cacciatore (recipe below)
Rotini Whole Wheat Pasta (Trader Joe's)
Today is the official launch of our Great Pantry Challenge. We skipped our grocery shopping for this week in an effort to save money, live out of our pantry and contemplate the abundance we are blessed with in the United States. If you're just tuning in, find out more details here.
We just returned from a weekend hanging out with my brother and his family in Los Angeles. Since most of our weekend meals were provided by them, we'll say that tonight's dinner is our starting point for reflection. Our meal began with a Baby Greens Salad. The greens are the first we have ever harvested from our own garden. No, we didn't plan for them to be ready today. We have been aspiring to garden for years but never really got around to it. A friend helped us build planter boxes from Sunset magazine in June. Then we had to wait until we returned from a month-long trip to Haiti before we could plant.
Our 3-year-old picked out seeds at the local garden store for bok choy (her fave), a variety of greens (for salads) and a mix of sunflowers. We also plan to do carrots. We finally planted the seeds about six weeks ago and then waited. We've been watering (when we remember) and checking on the plants every few days. Finally on Friday we were able to harvest our first two bunches of bok choy and then today a handful of greens was ready. This was a perfect quantity for a salad. We sliced up a fuyu persimmon and sprinkled feta cheese on top. The "fuyu" persimmon is like an orange, squatty tomato and firm when ripe. These are great in place of apples or pears in your fave dishes. We have a few fuyus left from our last farmer's market trip (October 17). We pretty much always have feta cheese or goat cheese in our fridge so we added that with a handful of whole almonds we had from a local farm.
Our main entree was Chicken Cacciatore, an Italian dish I learned to make from my mom. This comfort food dish melds together the flavors of onions, green peppers, tomatoes and black olives with tender chicken. We only had frozen chicken thighs so I substituted them for the usual chicken breasts. I also had to ditch the mushrooms since we didn't have any and I threw in some fresh zucchini instead. I stock up on canned organic tomatoes (when they're not in season) and sauce from Costco at the start of each month. The great thing about this meal is that I actually made it last Thursday to feed my family (including my parents). We had enough to feed our family (of 3 minus the baby) tonight when we rolled in from L.A. and even more for at least one lunch leftover. I love making meals that I can freeze or refrigerate extra portions for another meal. I try to make at least one of these kinds of meals a week so I can save time on another busy night.
A note from our Nutrition Guy (aka my hubby, Ericlee):
Tonight's pasta was whole wheat "rotini" (curly-Qs) from Trader Joe's. We try to eat whole wheat pastas in place of the typical enriched pastas. Since Bible times wheat has played an important role in our diets. Today, we seldom think about where pastas and bread come from or what is used to make it. The life of a wheat kernel begins once it is broken open through a process called milling. Essential nutrients immediately begin to oxidize when the kernel is milled. Within 72 hours of milling, 90% of more than 30 nutrients have oxidized or disappear.
Looking back in history, the 1920s brought new technology which allowed enterprising millers to separate wheat components. They removed the germ, germ oil, and bran, and the remaining white flour could be stored forever. Now white flour was accessible to the common person and not just to royalty and the wealthy. White flour also became a status symbol; the whiter the flour, the richer the household. But while some people were feeling rich, they were eating white breads and pastas with very few nutrients and thus were getting sick. In the 1940s, the U.S. government made it mandatory that some nutrients be returned to flour so the large mill companies “enriched” the flour by replacing 3 vitamins and 1 mineral.
For more details about grains and personal grain mills, read Grains of Truth by Donna Spann or check out her web site.
3 lbs. cut –up chicken pieces
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cage-free eggs, well beaten
1/4 cup raw milk
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 29 oz. can organic diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can organic tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 cloves, crushed
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 green pepper cut up in 1 in.x 2 in. slices
3 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1. Wash chicken and pat dry.
2. Heat oil to medium heat in large skillet.
3. Mix flour with salt, pepper, parmesan cheese and garlic in a plastic bag and shake together.
4. Combine eggs, milk, and parsley in a shallow dish. Shake chicken 2 pieces at a time, coating all sides. Roll in egg mixture and place skin side down in skillet. Brown all sides, turning pieces as necessary with tongs (about 20 minutes).
5. Sauce: While chicken is browning, sauté onions in a Dutch oven a few minutes, then add peppers and garlic.
6. Add all other ingredients of sauce and cook on low until chicken is browned. Carefully add pieces of chicken to sauce.
7. Cover tightly and cook on low for 30 to 45 minutes or until thickest part of meat is fork tender. Add a small amount of water if sauce becomes too thick. Chicken Cacciatore may be served plain or over cooked pasta of your choice.