Braised Chicken with Olives, Capers and Zucchini Noodles


I have had one crazy month.  My parents have been on another mission (their 5th) in Kona, Hawaii. They serve as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They were supposed to be coming home is July, but ended up coming home last week.  That means I had 3 weeks to do what I thought I had 6 months to complete. Needless to say I went into panic mode and worked from sun up to sun down.  

May parents live in apartment in our home.  I wanted to complete projects after Christmas to prepare for their arrival in July.  Things like re-grout tile, have carpets cleaned, steam clean all wood work, wash windows, and replace their 30 year old furniture.  Get their car out of storage, get car insurance, get oil changed, emissions...the list goes on and on.  

Here comes the really sad part.  My husband and I went to Kona to help pack them up and bring them home.  Hey, someone had to do it.  It was a tough job packing, snorkeling, packing, kayaking, farewell luau's to attend, eating and more eating.  Needless to say, I really needed that little vacation away.  It was a blessing with perfect timing. 

I'm back and ready to start posting again.

This is a recipe I have wanted to post for some time now. I love one dish meals.  I especially love a meal that can be ladled into a bowl that is warm and brothy.  Light yet filling that warms me to the bone on cold winter days.  

I have a daughter on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) due to an auto immune disease and this is actually a meal she can have.  Anyone who is doing the Whole 30 can plug this into their menu as well.  

It was my daughters idea to add the zucchini noodles (Zoodles) to the dish.  It's fabulous.  Of course, my husband, who has mental issues with anything squash, avoids the zoodles at all cost.  I have  to cook the baby a separate bowl of Orzo pasta so he doesn't cry, which is just as tasty, but then doesn't qualify for the above mentioned diets.

If you are vegetarian, vegetable broth can be substituted in place of chicken broth as well as adding a bounty of vegetables in place of the chicken.

You will need:
2 1/2 - 3 lbs boneless chicken thighs, trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade or purchased organic low-sodium)
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, sliced
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
Zest from one lemon
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 cup chopped tomatoes
2-3 zucchini's, spiralized or julienned
salt and pepper to taste

Begin by prepping the vegetables.

Finely dice the onion.  Set aside.

Chop 2 garlic cloves.  Set aside.

Slice 1/2 cup Kalamata olives in half, if desired.  Set aside.

Using a potato peeler, slice the zest off of a lemon.

Make sure you only cut off the zest and none of the white peel, which can be bitter.

Finely julienne the zest.  Set aside.

Dice 1 cup of tomatoes.  I used three small tomatoes.  If fresh tomatoes aren't available, canned may be used by rinsing the tomatoes through a strainer.  Cherry tomatoes, halved, may be used.  Set aside.

In a large pot or dutch oven heat 3 tablespoons olive oil.

Salt and pepper the chicken.  I used thighs because I wanted to cook for a longer period in the oven. A whole cut up chicken may be used as well.

Brown the chicken in the oil on both sides.

Remove from pot and set aside.

Add diced onion.

Cook for about 5 minutes or until translucent.

Add garlic and cook another minute or two.

Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

For some strange reason I lost about 5 photo's.  Poof they just completely disappeared.  So insert in your mind the following additions.

Return chicken to the pot.
Add:  olives, capers, fennel, lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste.

Top with chopped tomatoes.

Cover with a lid.

 Place in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 1 1/2 hours.

I have baked with at 300 degrees F for 2-3 hours AND this can be cooked in a crock pot for 6-8 hours on low heat. 

In the mean time...

My daughter gave me this vegetable spiralizer.  It's awesome and makes up zucchini noodles in no time.  You can find them on Amazon or Williams-Sonoma.  WS had beautiful red ones at Christmas time.  I thought a red one would make a great Christmas gift, but the only person I knew that would get excited about it was ME!

I used two 7-inch zucchini's for this batch.

If you don't have a spiralizer, just juienne the zucchini.

Set aside while chicken is baking.

After 1 1/2 hours of baking time, remove the lid and add the zoodles.

Cover and return to oven for 10 minutes.

Remove pot from oven.

To serve, spoon chicken, vegetables and broth into shallow bowls.

Top with zucchini noodles.


Braised Chicken with Olives, Capers and Zucchini Noodles

2 1/2 - 3 lbs boneless chicken thighs, trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade or purchased organic low-sodium)
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, sliced
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
Zest from one lemon
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 cup chopped tomatoes
2-3 zucchini's, spiralized or julienned
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large heavy pot heat olive oil.  Lightly salt and pepper the chicken thighs.  Add to heated olive oil and brown on both sides.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add diced onions to the pot and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until translucent. Add chopped garlic and continue to cook an additional 2 minutes.  Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer scraping up any brown bits that may be on the bottom of the pan. Return chicken to the pot and add olives, capers, lemon zest and fennel seeds.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Top with chopped tomatoes.  Cover and place in oven for 1 1/2 hours.  

Meanwhile, prepare zucchini noodles using a vegetable spiralizer or juienne with a knife.  Set aside while chicken is cooking.  After 1 1/2 hours remove lid and top with zucchini noodles.  Cover. Return to oven for an additional 10 minutes.  

Remove from oven, spoon into shallow bowls and serve.  Makes 4-5 servings.

*Inspired by a recipe from Williams-Sonoma


Crusty Bread, The Movie

A few years ago I posted a recipe for Crusty Bread.  I have received over 4 million views on that recipe alone along with THOUSANDS of questions for a simple 4 ingredient recipe.  Thanks to my extremely talented son-in-law I now have an instructional video.  I hope this video will help with any questions you may have with the recipe.  

Now you can become a bread baker extraordinaire in just a few minutes.  Have fun and get creative with "mix-ins".  The sky is the limit.  You can do this!

And now I present a film years in the making, starring moi...

Crusty Bread, the Movie

You're Welcome.


You can find the recipe along with FAQ on my blog here:  Crusty Bread, Artisan No-knead Bread
& Crusty Bread the Forum


A Very Late Post for Chocolate Winners

Our holiday season was halted with a nasty flu bug and I'm just getting up and around.  Needless to say I neglected posting the winners of the chocolates giveaway.

I have to say that I just loved reading everyone's holiday traditions.  They just make my Christmas every year.  Thank you so much for sharing with me and for entering.  I'm sorry I couldn't send you all a box.  You warm my heart.

The winners were selected through random.org

The winners were:

Jennifer Clayton
Lindsey Roecker
Carolyn Hyslop
Dawn Walker

Here's to a happy and healthy New Year.  

I've got an exciting post coming for the new year.  Keep an eye out.  It will be up in just a few days.


Homemade Marzipan

For years I have been wanting to make a great marzipan.  I have searched recipes and I haven't been happy with the results.  It seems like most of the recipes had powdered sugar in them and I didn't like the texture.  I didn't want a stiff marzipan.  Thank goodness I wanted to hone my skills with chocolate this season and purchased a book called "Chocolates & Confections" by Peter P Greweling.

 The book contains everything scientific about confections and chocolate.  I have been lying in bed reading this giant book every night for a month.  I have learned so much and there is so much that is going right over my head!  While going through the book page by page I found a recipe for marzipan.  THE recipe I have been searching for.  The marzipan is smooth and creamy without the powder sugar grit. It's a keeper and pretty simple to make.  By pretty simple I mean there is potential to mess it up.  Just follow the Chef Greweling's instructions and you will have success.  He's a master.

You will need:

15 oz (430 g) whole almonds, untoasted
12 oz (340 g) sugar
4 oz (120 g) water
4 oz (120 g) glucose syrup (I used corn syrup)

First the almonds need to be blanched.  That means the skins will need to come off.  I tried using purchased blanched almonds and I think the flavor was more stale, almost a rancid taste.  Blanching the almonds gave my marzipan a fresh bright almond flavor.

Place the almonds in a bowl and pour enough boiling water over them to cover the almonds completely.  Let the almonds sit for at least 5 minutes.

Take the soaked almonds one by one (yes a bit tedious) and pinch them and the skins will peel right off.  I had my husband helping and he got a little carried away with the task and he had almonds torpedoing across my kitchen.

Naked almonds.

Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade.

Pulse the almonds until they are the size of roll oats.

Place the chopped almonds in a large bowl and set aside.

In a small sauce pan, combine 12 oz of sugar.

4 oz water

and 4 oz of corn syrup.

Bring to a simmer and clip on a candy thermometer. Cook to 245 degrees F/118 degrees C.

Pour hot syrup over ground almonds.

Stir to coat all of the almonds.

Pour out onto a lightly oiled marble slab.  You can use a baking sheet lightly oiled or a silicone liner can be used.

Let cool completely to room temperature.  I had to let this batch cool overnight because I was so tired.  I pressed plastic wrap to the surface and went to bed.

I was nervous that the mixture would harden or cool too much,but it worked perfectly.

Process the mixture in batches.  I divided the nuts into fourths processing one quarter of the mixture at at time.

Place in a bowl of a food processor.

Process until creamy.

Remove that portion and repeat with remaining nut mixture.

Once all of the nut mixture has been ground...

Put the entire batch back into the food processor and process the entire batch until very smooth.

Remove from food processor and shape into logs or whatever shape you desire.

Painting your nails red makes the process so much more fun, but completely optional.

Wrap marzipan with plastic wrap.

I weighted the finished marzipan and had exactly 29 oz/826 g.  According to Greweling the recipe should make 35 oz/1000g.  I divided the marzipan, marked the weight and placed them in the refrigerator for later use, but I kept slicing and eating it because it's so delicious.  I decided I had better freeze it so I'd stop eating it.

Best marzipan recipe I made.  I have given a few of my tubes away as gifts to those who would appreciate the wonderful confection.

Thank you Peter Greweling.

What I learned after 3 batches:

  • The first batch was sticky and hard to process. I let the marzipan sit overnight and then I put it back into the processor and re-mixed.  It turned out smooth.
  • You may have to play with the temperature depending on your altitude.  Make sure you know the temperature water boils at your altitude and adjust your candy thermometer accordingly.
  • Don't give up
  • Don't throw a batch out if it doesn't seem to work.  Keep it and mix it together with another batch.

15 oz/430 g Almonds, whole, untoasted
12 oz/340 g sugar
4 oz/120 g water
4 oz/120 g glucose syrup (I used corn syrup)

Place almonds in a bowl and cover with boiling water.  Allow to soak for 5 minutes.  Pinch almonds between fingers to remove skins.  Place blanched almonds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Pulse until the size of oatmeal.  Set aside.

Combine sugar, water and corn syrup in a sauce pan.  Cook to 245 degrees F/118 C.  Pour hot syrup over chopped nuts.  Spread out onto an oiled marble slab and cool to room temperature.

Place 1/4 of the cooled nut mixture back into the food processor and process until smooth.  Repeat with remaining mixture.  Once all of the nut mixture has been ground and is smooth, place all of the marzipan into the food processor and mix together until smooth.

Wrap marzipan in plastic wrap until later use.

Makes approx. 35 oz

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