Sicilian inspired braised chicken

Today’s recipe was inspired by a dream to…well…be something more.  You see, I never wanted to work in a hospital, I never wanted a job in healthcare for that matter.  But when I joined the Air Force 24+ years ago and signed on the dotted line, this was the job that was chosen FOR me.  The rest is, as they say, history. (Note: I am very lucky to have an amazing job, and people to work with every day.  It’s simply NOT my passion.)

But I am over having my career chosen for me.  I work, because the bills won’t pay themselves.  But I refuse to believe this is my permanent path in life.  And it’s all I can think about lately.  With that, I’ve taken up studying recipes again.  I read cookbooks, magazines, blogs, and websites to get inspiration for new dishes.  Because someday I hope that someone will read MY recipes and get inspired.  I want someone to cook up one of my recipes, and have the food bring a smile to their face and joy in to their home.

So tonight, I have prepared braised chicken thighs in a tomato, Kalmata olive and caper sauce.  Get out your Dutch oven, and a hefty appetite.  You’ll need it for this dish!

Sicilian inspired braised chicken-low carb style

1 package of boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 jar of tomato sauce-(I use Mario Batali’s sauce-YUM!)

1 small white onion, finely diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup of Kalmata olives, roughly chopped

1 tbsp. capers, rinsed

The zest of one lemon

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup of water/chicken stock

1 zucchini-noodled

I LOVE my noodle maker.
I LOVE my noodle maker.

Seasonings/Spices: kosher salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, rosemary, basil, oregano (all to taste-about a tsp. each)

Pre-heat your Dutch oven on medium high heat.  Season your chicken with salt and pepper, and brown on both sides.  Remove, and set aside.  Deglaze the bottom of the oven with water/chicken stock to get all the brown bits up. Add in your onions, garlic, capers and olives and cook for about 5 minutes.  Next, add your chicken thighs back in to the oven and cover with the tomato sauce.  Add the crushed red pepper flakes, rosemary, basil and oregano, and lemon zest – stir well and cover.  Lower the heat to medium-low and let braise for 30 minutes.

Can you smell it?  MMMM!
Can you smell it? MMMM!

I served mine over zucchini noodles for a healthy touch!!

Healthy, AND delish!
Healthy, AND delish!

This is a great weeknight meal, taking only about 40 minutes total to prepare and cook.

Questions!  Did you chose your current profession, or was it chosen for you?  What’s your dream job?

Have a great week, y’all!

❤ Michelle

dedication, Uncategorized

Sunday Summation of sorts and recipes

Last week was a whirl wind of work, work, and more work.

We missed our long run today voluntarily due to a 99 real feel temp after I got home from work.  I hated missing our scheduled 10k, but hey, I am smart too…even at 10 pm it shows a real feel of 88 degrees.  Sorry, can’t do it.  The humidity stabs my head with a thousand pound hammer, and I just can’t do it.  I have had a nagging headache for 4 days, and when I got home from work today at 3 pm I changed into my jammies and napped for 45 minutes. Productive?  Nope…but much needed.

I have made a goal of having Sunday Suppers each week, regardless of schedule, time, or energy.

I have spent so much time studying the basics of cooking, so why not put it into play in my own kitchen?

So tonight, I made goat cheese and fig crostini’s with baked salmon that was topped with a garlic herb butter.  Our side was a simple cucumber, red onion, and tomato salad that was tossed in my favorite vinaigrette.

For the figs:

Thinly slice French bread and spread with goat cheese.  I used a garlic herb blend.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Thinly slice figs, placing on top of the bread, add lightly fried bacon, and bake at 375 for 10 minutes.  Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.

Prep time!
Prep time!

For my salmon, it was an easy prep.  I took one stick of unsalted butter brought to room temperature and added 2 cloves of garlic, minced, the zest of one lemon, a pinch of cayenne pepper, kosher salt and pepper, oregano, and parsley. Mix well, and spread generously on your salmon.  Cook at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until the salmon flakes lightly with a fork.


I served the salmon with basmati rice, and a simple salad of red onions (soak sliced in cold water for 10 minutes to reduce the bite), cucumber, and tomato’s.  Dress with a simple lemon/Dijon vinaigrette, and serve!

I sent in my pre-registration for Master Chef on Friday, and am terrified.  I keep getting comments and posts asking “Do you have what it takes?” basically…and now I am second guessing myself, just like I did last year.

Me, and Graham Elliot in 2012.
Me, and Graham Elliot in 2012.

SO I am trying to remain focused, while continuing to study.  Research.  And practice the skill I love so much.


We shall see!

How was your week with exercise and eats?



dedication, food, goals, moving forward, Uncategorized

Hubby, hills, and hellha-smiles

Wednesday went a little like this:
Today was a busy day…we’ve got turnover in staff, stress, and work piling on…and I LOVE IT.
I nearly broke under pressure, but regrouped quickly…and was even told what I good job I did presenting an issue to one of our VP’s. #lifeisgood

But in all the chaos, running errands after work, and getting things settled my amazing husband said, “We are running.”
I am so proud of his dedication to our pre-half marathon training.
I had a terrible headache. I was tired.
I ran 4 miles with my amazing husband who has embraced my craziness.

4 miles with Brian on Wednesday!
4 miles with Brian on Wednesday!

But most of all, I shared my passion with the person who knows me best. He looked at my around mile two, and had a smile from ear to ear and my heart sang. He realized where my running joy stemmed from…
We ran hills, and on the downward stretch I found myself “WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEING” all the way down.
I love to run. Even more so, with my people…my persons. My HOME of all homes.

Fast. Slow. Steady. Stopping.

There is something to be said about the constants we have in life. And I. Have many…Family, friends, food, fitness, fotos….my constant passions and reminders that I have a greater purpose in this crazy world…

Tonight we went out to dinner not for a special occasion really, but more so to celebrate how far we’ve come in life, in our marriage, and in being able to tackle so many struggles.

Check it out…

Our amazing menu tonight!
Our amazing menu tonight!

Did someone say, wine??
Did someone say, wine??
Lamb loin with fiddleheads?  Yes please...
Lamb loin with fiddleheads? Yes please…

We spent the evening (our rest day) surrounded by what some would call strangers. But we talked, laughed, and conversed with members of our local community we had not yet met before, yet became fast friends.

The owner of the vineyard remembered us from a previous wine dinner nearly two years ago. She welcomed us passionately, and I was reminded why I fell in love with Fiddlehead Cellar winery. It’s premise is passion…and you can see it in the owners eyes. We were blessed to sit with her at the head table during a wine dinner two years ago along with her Mother, and the memory will forever be engrained in my heart and mind.

And at the end of the day I realize life is all about passion, constants, and moving forward.

Find your passion, and run with it like the wind…

What’s your passion?

dedication, food, goals, moving forward, running

Hey guess what? Two things Tuesday…

I woke up Monday morning literally feeling SICK. I realize I have the worst patience ON. THE. PLANET. And the waiting was killing me. My stomach hurt, my head hurt, but I KNEW I needed to get out of the house and run. Just a mile. Just ONE mile. It had been a week since I’d last ran, and the need outweighed the want ten fold.
So after taking my daughter to school, I allowed myself a teeny nap to try and recharge. It was too cold for me at 9 am (13 degrees, WHA?) so I tried to rest with no luck…
So I got up, had lunch, and texted a friend I knew would prompt me to get outside. Just as I was putting on my headband my phone rang….Yup, you guessed it…I GOT THE JOB!!!! It wasn’t a picture perfect offer, but an offer it was and I snatched it up quickly. As of 31 March I will again be gainfully employed.
I grabbed my Ipod, and headed out the door to get my mile in. I felt giddy and decided I was not going to stress over $$ and just be thankful I had a job lined up. I ran 1.4 miles. Far? No…but I wasn’t just running my neighborhood, I was running OFF the negative crap I allowed myself to get sucked in to. I decided to run as fast as I could (without passing out of course). I ran a 8:54 mile, and the second .4 at 8:38. I left it all out there.
8 min miles

Today, I got up and got my youngest ready for school, did pre-employment paperwork, and headed out for my planned 5 miler at around noon. It was cut short due to stepping in a 6 inch deep puddle filled with freezing water, but I managed just over 4.4 miles regardless. It was a tough run, and I realize the time off I took this winter due to injury/personal issues/polar vortex weather has set me back some. But I kept moving, and allowed myself rest bits to take pics.

One of my favorite bridges on the Fox River trails
One of my favorite bridges on the Fox River trails
clearing of the trails
clearing of the trails
Not my best, but not my worst either!
Not my best, but not my worst either!
My cheering squad!
My cheering squad!
Just me!
Just me!

I was able to keep my miles under a 10 minute pace, but it was NOT easy. My legs were heavy, my breathing off, and guess what? I had a freakin’ blast out there all my lonesome finding cheer leaders along the way between wild life and fellow runners.

Tonight I cooked a simple dinner of curry mango chicken served over pad Thai noodles with a veggie stir fry. I took the help from the store as I am trying to find easier week night meals. I marinated/sautéed my chicken in this yummy sauce purchased at Target:

While the chicken marinated, I chopped veggies…use whatever you like! I used shitake mushrooms, half of a red onion, 2 cups of snow peas, 2 large carrots, and 2 cloves of garlic. Set this aside in a bowl…

20 minutes before you are ready to eat, sauté the chicken in a non stick pan with the marinate. Warm 6 cups of water in a pot, but don’t boil. Just have it ‘hot’ which will precook your pad thai noodles. 10 minutes out, drop in your noodles, and stir fry your veggies in grapeseed oil…add salt, pepper, and low sodium soy sauce. For the last 2 minutes, add in your drained noodles, toss and serve. This meal was easy, and quite the hit.

meal prep
meal prep

Dinner is served!
Dinner is served!

My two things, Tuesday, are this:

Faith…always keep the faith. Even in the darkest hour, and when things don’t always turn out how you may have planned. The man upstairs has bigger plans for us, and we need to take the opportunities he bestows upon us.

Passion…keep your passions in life, even when others may not understand why you do what you do. Even when you may not have time, make the time to do what you love, and do it daily. It will only give you added strength and drive to keep moving forward. For me, my passions are inspiring others, cooking, running, and of course my family and friends.

Keep Movin’ forward gang…allow yourself bad days, but know always tomorrow is a new day to start anew. My heartfelt thanks for all of you amazing support.