My summer pasta

Spring Pasta – A Meal to Enjoy with Friends

Get the recipe here.

Spring is Near

The weather is finally starting to change (last week it was sunny, this week it snowed – welcome to Spring in the Tennessee Valley).  It is time to enjoy the weather, while also enjoying some of the delicious vegetables that the season has to offer.  If you are at all like me, you’re also trying to take it easy after a winter spent eating everything in sight that looks good.

Sometimes it’s good to skip the cream sauces and go a different route. Continue reading →

Blackened Chicken with Wine Pan Sauce aka My Favorite Roast Chicken Recipe

Get the recipe here.

The Story:

I love blackened chicken.  Hell, I pretty much love everything blackened.  I always have some sort of blackening seasoning in the cupboard where its easy to get to.  Generally I am partial to and ‘s line.  As with most things, you should try a couple and find one that makes you happy. Continue reading →

Blackened Chicken with Wine Pan Sauce Recipe

Read the article here.


2lbs Chicken Breasts or Tenderloins

16oz Buttermilk

1/2 Cup Blackening Seasoning + 1/2 cup for dredging

1 tbsp Kosher Salt

3 tbsp Olive Oil

2 tbsp Butter (unsalted)

1/2 cup Chicken Stock

1/2 cup Red Wine


In a large mixing bowl or a resealable bag, add buttermilk, salt, and chicken.  Add 1/2 cup blackening seasoning and mix to combine.  Marinate at least 2 hours – but best when done for 24hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees if your chicken is particularly thick.

Drain chicken.  Dredge or dust with remaining blackening seasoning.

Heat a skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium high heat.  Add olive oil, and sear chicken on both sides.  Remove from pan and let rest on a plate.

Add wine, broth, and butter to pan and stir to incorporate the crusty bits from the bottom of the pan.  Simmer over medium heat.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your tastes.  You’ll want it thicken a bit so it will lightly coat a spoon.

Return chicken to pan and baste with your pan sauce.


*If your chicken is particularly thick, pop it into the oven for 20-30 minutes with the pan sauce to insure doneness.  Raw chicken is bad.  Clear juices running out of the chicken = done.

Pasta with sauce

Tarragon Pasta Recipe

Read the article here.

Tarragon Cream Sauce


1 tbsp Olive Oil

Mise-en-place – Tarragon, garlic, and shallots

1 tbsp Unsalted butter

1 Shallot – minced

1 clove Garlic – minced

Salt & Pepper (to taste)

2 tsp dried Thyme

1/2 cup White Wine

2 cups Heavy Cream

1 cup Whole Milk

1x Bunch Tarragon (pull the leaves off of the stem)

Parmigiano-reggiano (grated)

(Get your pasta water going.  This sauce takes about 10-15 mins to prepare so you will want your pasta ready about the same time as the sauce.)


Shallots, garlic, thyme in

Shallots, garlic, and thyme have been added to the pan

Heat the pan over medium heat.  Add the olive oil and butter.  Toss in the shallots and garlic.  Let the shallots clarify.  Add the thyme, salt, and pepper.  This will be fairly thick, and you want to stir things rapidly.  Add the wine to deglaze.  Stir.  A lot.


Wine going in. Stir!






Next, add the cream and milk.  Stir.  You will want to taste the sauce at this point to check the salt and pepper concentrations

Cream and milk added

Cream and milk added.

and adjust to your preferences.  Keep in mind, you will be adding parm at the end – typically a salty cheese – so do not overdo it.

The sauce will begin to boil as it comes up to temperature. Never fear, you want this! (*See notes.) Now is the time when you will add in your tarragon and stir to incorporate.

Tarragon input

Tarragon going in!

It should get very fragrant at this point. Enjoy!

Turn the heat off, and grate your parmigiano into the sauce.  Taste.

To finish, you will toss your pasta with the sauce and some more parmigiano.  Use some of your pasta water (ALWAYS save your pasta water!) to thin things out if things seem too thick.


Sauce simmering

Sauce simmering before cheese and pasta are added.

Pasta with sauce

Sauced and eat to eat!


*What you are looking for is called nappe,


a fancy french term meaning the sauce

will coat the back of a spoon.

I generally serve this with a nice hunk of my garlic & cheese bread.

See the article about this post for some protein variations I recommend.

I usually make this in the my wife got me for Christmas a few years ago.  It works great, and I can add my pasta to the pan and finish the dish without having to dirty something else up.

Sausage and Meatball Casserole

Sausage and Meatball Casserole Recipe

Meatball and Sausage Casserole

Post baking


See the article about this recipe here.

The Recipe:

Casserole Ingredients:

2lbs Italian sausage*

24 Meatballs (homemade or frozen)**

1 Yellow Onion, diced

4 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced***

1/2 spicy pepper of your choice, minced (we like Tabasco peppers off of our bush) (optional)

2 Tablespoons

1 cup red wine

1 28oz can whole peeled ****

1 bottle (optional)

1/2 Stick Butter

1 can Black Olives

Fresh Basil to taste (I recommend 8 to ten leaves) thinly sliced

8-10 slices Provolone cheese

2 teaspoons Fish Sauce (optional)****

2 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


You can do this recipe start to finish in one pan.   I recommend using a dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed oven safe pot.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Heat pot over medium heat.  Add olive oil.  Brown meatballs a few at a time, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.  Drain on a plate or other flat surface lined with paper towels.  You just need to brown them at this stage, they’ll get coooked through later on in the process.

Brown the italian sausage in the pot.  Remove sausage from the pot and drain over paper towels.

Add the butter to the pan.  Add the onions and garlic to the pot.  You want to sweat the onions and garlic, but not put too much color on them.  Add the tomato paste to the pot and stir.  After about a minute, pour in the wine to deglaze and stir for all your life.  You want to get as much of the brown bits off the bottom of the pan as possible. Toss in the spicy pepper.

Add in the passata (if you’re using it) and the San Marzano tomatoes. Crush the tomatoes by hand directly into the pot.  Work out some frustrations.  Imagine coworkers (and that old Kids in the Hall script). Be sure and rinse the cn out with some water and add that to the pot as well.  You paid for it, get your money’s worth.

Add your meatballs and sausage back into the pot and bring to a simmer.   Taste and season as necessary. Drain olives and add to pot.

Turn the heat off.

Don’t forget to add the fish sauce (if using) and stir it in.  Sprinkle the basil over the top.  Place the sliced provolone over the top of the casserole, cover, and bake for 40 mins.

Remove lid and bake 10 more mins.

Remove from oven, and allow to cool for 10 mins.  Taste, adjust seasoning as necessary.  Serve.


* – we use sweet Italian because of the boys, but use whatever you like

** – I’ve done this with mixed results using frozen store bought meatballs. Homemade meatballs are probably worth the effort, but Costco makes one we can accept. That being said, if you have the time…

*** – From what I have read, most canned tomatoes labeled as San Marzano aren’t actually San Marzano tomatoes. Find a brand you like, and go with those. I like Vento which I can get at my local grocery store, or the brand linked above, which I prefer and can get at Costco.

**** – I always forget to add this… Don’t be l like me!

Serving Suggestions:

This dish is super flexible as a base for dinner.  You can eat it straight out of a bowl if you like (I do this pretty often).  We have also served it over polenta or tossed with ziti or spaghetti.  One time I even used it as the sauce/meat for a homemade pizza.  The beauty of this dish is in it’s flexibility.

Meatball and Sausage Casserole

Sausage and Meatball Casserole

Sausage and Meatball Casserole

Cheese added, just before baking

Sometimes, you get lucky and find a recipe that hits all of your feel good buttons.  My wife and I love Italian food.  This generally works out in our favor since our oldest son absolutely loves sausage.  Unfortunately, while the boys are still young we have to skip the spicier dishes since the boys won’t touch anything with even a hint of heat to it.

This recipe strikes a happy medium with lots of flavor while being easy, flexible and can be split up into smaller portions and frozen.  It’s very much an adult meal, but both of our children will readily devour it anytime we put it in front of them (something any parent will appreciate).  And one day, we’ll get to add the tabasco pepper back into the mix…

You can easily upgrade the components (homemade meatballs would be a great addition). You start out with the basics, good meat and some easy to snag vegetables and go from there.  The whole thing is complete in just over an hour and you can spend half of that time reading a book.  As far as serving goes, we usually just eat it straight out of a bowl or make some pasta to go with it.  The recipe also freezes well, so feel free to eat some now and save some for later (we generally freeze half the batch for easy meals for the kiddos later on).

As always, remember to use your own judgement and add or omit things to the recipe as you see fit.  The fish sauce adds a great umami bomb and I highly recommend trying it out in your Italian dishes.

Get the recipe here.