Comfort is a big thing to me. And it can come in all sorts of forms, but I really try to make my home a source of comfort for myself and the rest of my family. Lots of snuggly covers and stuffed animals on the bed. Wearing comfy clothes and going barefoot around the house. Meals that are tasty and low maintenance so all my time isn’t spent cooking and cleaning up afterwards. And the best part is that my family provides all the comfort I really need. Little Man resting his head on my shoulder and hugging me, especially when he is sleepy and extra-cuddly. Little Lady falling asleep in my arms. And my favorite, hugs and snuggles with Big Man, which give me the greatest feeling of comfort in the world.
Food is a big part of it for me too. I know most people have comfort foods, and I am no different. Even the smells associated with certain dishes make me feel warm and happy and home. This dish is one of those comfort foods for me. My mom made it a lot when I was growing up and I make it whenever I need a little extra “home comfort.” It is light enough to eat when the weather is warm, but hearty and filling in the winter too. And it makes the house smell amazing as it cooks: white wine, garlic, herbs, and tomatoes. Major win.
I think the original recipe came from Cooking Light magazine, but my mom changed it a little and I modified her version to make it easier. I think it is best served with lots of hot buttered bread to soak up the sauce. I hope you find this dish comfort on a plate, like I do.
1/4 cup flour
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound)
1 Tbs olive oil
12 cloves garlic, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup black olives, pitted
1 Tbs dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbs tomato paste
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp pepper, or to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Dredge chicken in flour and add to pan. Brown chicken on both sides, about 3-5 minutes per side. Remove chicken from pan. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 90 seconds. Add the wine to deglaze the pan, stirring to pick up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining ingredients, stir well, and return the chicken to the pan. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes or until chicken is tender. Serve with bread to soak up the extra sauce.
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Little Man is generally a really good eater, but sometimes he just decides for whatever reason that he doesn’t want a certain food (even if it was his favorite food just yesterday). But I do have a secret weapon. If the food comes from my plate or Big Man’s plate, it is the greatest thing ever to Little Man. He can have something on his plate and refuse to eat it but if I offer him a bite of the same thing from my plate 99% percent of the time he will eat it and want more. It’s about presentation as much as taste to him.
Truth be told, I am the same way about some foods. Ice cream tastes so much better in a cone than a bowl. Chocolate chip cookies taste different than chocolate chip cookie bars. And my homemade bread is different depending on the baking method. The recipe is the same one I shared here, but this is the way to make a free form baguette-type loaf similar to the ones sold in most grocery store bakeries. This is not a true baguette, but it is an excellent way to make a “french bread loaf” which can be used for garlic bread, french bread pizza, or eating warm with lots of butter.
Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat a baking stone in the oven to 450 degrees. Make sure there is a broiler pan on the bottom oven rack. Take a cantaloupe sized piece of dough, dust with flour and quickly shape into a ball, stretching the dough to create a smooth surface. Then elongate the ball into a cylinder shape, about 2-4 inches across. The narrower cylinder will create a loaf with a higher crust to middle ratio. I generally go about 3-4 inches. Place on a pizza peal or other flat surface (I use a cookie sheet turned upside down) liberally sprinkled with flour. Let rest for 20 minutes (fresh dough) or 40 minutes (refrigerated dough).
Brush the top with water and slash using a serrated knife. Slide onto the preheated stone and pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler pan. Then shut the oven quickly to trap the steam. Bake for 20-35 minutes (depending on the size of your loaf) until the crust is a deep golden brown. Let cool completely or be impatient like I am and serve warm with lots of butter.
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As I have said before, homekeeping doesn’t involve only being Mommy. I am also Big Man’s wife, which I consider my primary role. I am blessed to be married to the most wonderful man in the world, with whom I am head-over-heels in love, but that doesn’t mean our marriage is easy or perfect. Anyone who is being honest with you will agree that a good, healthy, happy marriage takes lots of work.
Big Man and I are both romantics at heart, which meant our dating years included a lot of romance that was book-worthy. Big Man pursued me and romanced me with flowers, gifts, love letters, poetry, and over-the-top dates. Our first few years of marriage included a lot of textbook romance too. But once Little Man came along, the nature of the romance changed, and the addition of Little Lady just continued that trend.
For a while I let myself think that our romance was fading because the flowers and love letter lessened in frequency. I will admit that my attitude was definitely not the best it could have been. But I learned that just because the gestures look different now doesn’t mean Big Man is any less romantic. So I am thankful for the new romantic things he does for me, and I try to romance him as well.
What is post-kid romance for us? It is him watching the kids so I can take a nap on Saturday morning. It is me making his lunch every day so he can take it to work. It is him making Kraft mac n cheese for dinner when I am too tired to cook. It is finding things to do together and learning to enjoy each others’ interests. He watches Food Network with me and I watch Sci-Fi TV shows with him. It is really about Big Man and me making each other our first priority. Yes, during this season with little kids most of our time and energy goes to them. But we both make it a priority to be each others’ best friend and lover. I look forward to when the kids are older and we can go on a dinner date to a fancy restaurant or spend a weekend away together. But for now, we can have a dinner date of Chinese takeout and cuddling on the couch the after the kids are in bed. And that is very romantic to me because I can look into his eyes and remember the most romantic thing of all: that he chose me to have by his side forever. He chose to go through life with me. And that is more than I could ever ask for.
Plus, he lets me eat all the Won-tons
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