Breakfast, Brunch, Classics, Comfort food, Sweet

Blueberry Waffles, gluten-free

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I have this foggy memory of Saturday mornings from childhood.  My father sitting at the breakfast table, reading the newspaper and eating Eggo waffles–toasted with strawberry jam.  I think I get my love of waffles from him and I eat them like he does too.  Toasted, no butter or syrup.  If I am feeling indulgent,  I will slather on some nut butter or fruit preserve.  Waffles are now a Sunday staple, made even better because I eat my waffles while I Skype with my parents back in India.  It takes a while to make a large batch of waffles, so when I have time (which I do now, thanks to the pandemic) I make them and freeze them.  This past Sunday, I experimented with this recipe.  It is gluten-free and has dried blueberries instead of fresh.  I will be honest, the rice flour does give it a grittier texture, but when toasted, it actually lends a lovely crunch.  It suits my palate and I hope that somebody, somewhere, out there will enjoy these.  I know my Dad would!

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Ingredients:

1 cup of rice flour

1 cup almond flour

2 tsp of baking powder

2Tbsp of sugar

2 eggs

1 cup almond milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 tsp of vanilla bean paste (you can use extract too)

6 Tbsp of dried blueberries

Method:

In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients.

In a large measuring cup (I love measuring and mixing in the same vessel–less dishes) measure and mix almond milk, oil and eggs till smooth.

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Mix the wet and dry ingredients together and fold in the vanilla and blueberries.

 

 

Turn on your waffle maker and let it come to temperature.  I like to cook mine on the highest setting to get nice golden and crispy waffles.

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Once the waffle iron is hot, spray the surface with some non-stick spray and pour 1/4 cup of the batter into the center of the iron.  Working quickly and using the back of the measuring cup (or ice-cream scoop like I did) gently nudge the batter to spread it evenly.  Close the iron and cook the waffles–I am sure your waffle maker will have an indicator to let you know that your waffles are ready.

 

 

Serve hot with butter and maple syrup.  If you are like me, I cool them down completely on a wire rack and freeze them individually.  When I want to eat them, I simply pop them in the toaster and they are ready to go!

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Comfort food, Savory, Sides

Perfect Pee-wee Potatoes

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Alright, I did not come up with the name.  The sack of potatoes actually had these tiny potatoes labeled as “pee-wee”.  I can not take credit for the cute name, but I certainly fell for the marketing ploy in the store !!!

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This recipe is a no-brainer, but I have learned that it is easy to mess it up.  So after a few trials,  I believe I have come up with the perfect recipe for roasted potatoes

Ingredients:

2 cups of the tiny potatoes, sliced length-wise

2 Tbsp of olive oil

3/4 tsp of salt

1/4 tsp of pepper

1 Tbsp of fresh chopped parsley (you can omit this)

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Method:

Preheat oven to 400F

Slice the potatoes lengthwise.  Mix them with salt, pepper and olive oil.

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Take a dark metal pan–this is important, you need good heat conduction and line it with tin foil.

Empty the potatoes on to the lined baking sheet along with every last little bit of the oil-salt-pepper mixture.  You will need the oil for the potatoes to get golden and crispy.

Arrange the potatoes cut-side down–this step is important.  You want the cut-side to turn golden brown. Dumping the potatoes in a pile (like I used in the past) will steam the potatoes and only a few pieces will crisp up.  You will note in the picture below, I accidentally started adding the parsley.  I had to stop myself, not that it would ruin the potatoes, it’s just that fresh parsley tastes better as a garnish.

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Bake for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, the potatoes will be tender but they will not be browned.  At this point, you can continue to roast the potatoes for an additional 10 minutes at 400F.  For my particular oven/sheet pan combination, I found that reducing the temperature to 375F and cooking the potatoes for an additional 15 minutes is ideal.

At the end of the cook-time, pull the potatoes out and let them rest for a  full minute.  This will make it easier for you to lift the potatoes off of the tin foil.

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Sprinkle with parsley (and additional salt if you want some more) and serve.  These are wonderful as finger food appetizers, but they taste best with a nice piece of juicy steak!

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Appetizers, Comfort food, Indian, Savory

Shortcut Samosas

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I have been trying to master this recipe for a while.  The filling is fairly easy and thanks to several skype conversations with my Mom, I think I nailed it.  But the dough is another issue altogether.  For some reason, making the dough to make the shell for samosas has been a battle.  I have also tried using pie dough and phyllo dough as substitutes, and it did not taste the same.  Recently, I saw a friend from college post a recipe for cocktail samosas and I got inspired.  She used vegan egg roll wrappers and they looked great on her website.  I tried it with my mother’s filling recipe and it was a great hit.  So, after many years of struggling, here is my shortcut recipe for samosas.

Ingredients:

2, 15oz can of diced potatoes

1, 12oz bag of frozen cauliflower florets

1 Tbsp of vegetable or canola oil

1/2 tsp of cumin seeds

1 Tbsp of minced or grated ginger

1 and 1/4 tsp of cumin powder

1 and 1/4 tsp of coriander powder

1 tsp of chili powder

1/4 tsp of cayenne powder

1/2 tsp of sugar

3/4 tsp of salt

1 package of egg-roll wraps (I used Nasoya)

Additional vegetable oil for frying

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Method:

In a deep skillet, heat oil and add in the cumin seeds.  Once they start to bubble-up, add in the veggies.

 

After about 5 minutes add all the spices, stir thoroughly, and continue to cook on medium-high heat.  You will need to stir the mixture often.

 

After about 10 minutes, you will notice that the veggies are very soft.  Now, as you stir, start mushing the veggies with the back of the spoon.  You want the mixture to resemble a paste.

Continue to mush and stir till the mixture starts to come off clean from the edges and bottom of te pan.  If you feel like the mixture is sticking to the skillet, reduce the heat and add a little bit more oil.

 

Cool the mixture to room temperature, before you start assembling the samosas.

Take one sheet of the egg-roll wrap and cut it down the middle.  You will notice that the wrap has a slight rectangular shape, so cut it along the “long” side.  Make sure the remaining wraps are tightly covered–if they dry out they will break during the folding process.

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Use the tip of your finger or a small pastry brush and brush the edges of the but egg-roll wrap with water.  the water will help the edges stick to one another during the folding process.

Take 1 tsp of the filling and place it in the bottom of the cut egg-roll wrap.

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Now, start folding from the bottom right-side, tucking the filling in.  You will want to fold it like a flag—neat and tight.  Refer to the pictures below.

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Once you have your samosa ready, you can either freeze them or proceed straight to the frying step.

 

Heat vegetable oil, on high, in a small pot.  I like to use a small sauce-pot so that I use less oil.  I fill the bottom 0.5 inches of the pot with vegetable oil.  You can use any oil that has a high smoke point.

 

Once the oil starts to smoke, reduce the heat to medium and let the oil cool slightly.  Then gently release the samosa into the oil.  Fry each side for about 30 seconds or until the shell is golden brown and puffed.  If the oil is too hot, the shells will burn immediately.

 

If the oil cools down too much, it will take longer for the shells to get golden and you will end up with soggy and greasy samosas.  You want the oil to be medium hot so that the frying process is quick!

 

Serve piping hot.  They are good as it is, but you can always have it with a chili dipping sauce or mint chutney.  I will not judge if you even use ketchup!

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Classics, Comfort food, Dinner, Italian, Savory

Spaghetti and Meatballs

 

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Nothing gets more comforting than spaghetti and meatballs.   If you have read my Simmer Sauce Solutions article, you will know that I have good pasta sauce in my pantry all the time, making it extremely easy to pull together this meal.  During this pandemic, as we all spend Easter away from our families, a simple, classic meal like this is just what the soul needs.  I did not grow up with spaghetti and meatballs, I had Murgh Kofta.  However, my husband did and he associates this meal with a lot of wonderful childhood memories. Therefore, the pressure was on to remake this meal to his liking–after all, you don’t want to mess with food memories.  So this recipe is now our family’s version of spaghetti and meatballs; the husband approved and we had hearty Easter dinner!  So if you are like me and did not grow up with this classic Italian-American meal, I hope you try it.  If you like it, please drop a comment below!

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Ingredients:

1 pound 80/20 beef (you need the fat for flavor)

1 small onion

2 tsp of minced garlic

1 tsp of salt

1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes

1 tsp of dried parsley

4 Tbsp of breadcrumbs

1 egg

1, 24oz jar of Victoria’s Tomato Basil sauce

1/2 box of pasta or however much you need to cook for your family.

Method:

Preheat oven to 375F and line a metal baking dish with parchment paper

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In a food processor, chop onion and minced garlic together, The smaller the chop, the better, it will make smooth, round meatballs.

In a bowl, add the minced onion and garlic, beef, egg, parsley, red pepper flakes, salt, and breadcrumbs.

With your hands (yes, your hands!! you have to use your fingers to mix), start mixing all the ingredients together, without folding the in the beef–it is in the bowl, but just work around it.  Once all the other ingredients are mixed, start folding in the beef.  It is critical not to overmix the meatball mixture, nobody wants dense meatballs that tough like hockey pucks.

Roll meatballs into 1-inch rounds and place them on a baking sheet.  I got approximately 12 meatballs from this recipe.

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Bake for 30-35 minutes, till the meatballs are brown and cooked through.  Half-way through the baking process, I remove most of the oil that sweats out from the meatballs–you don’t want to start a grease fire in your oven.

Remove meatballs from the cookie sheet and drain and cool on a paper-towel lined plate.  At this point, you can cool the meatballs completely and freeze them or you could proceed to bathe them in the tomato sauce.

Start cooking the pasta according to package directions.

In a separate pot, add the meatballs and cover them with jarred tomato sauce, just enough to cover all the meatballs.  I like to add some dried basil and red pepper flakes to “wake-up” the jarred sauce, but that is entirely optional.  This brand is really good to begin with!

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Reserve, half cup of the startchy cooking water, and drain the pasta, 2 minutes shy of the cook time.  Return the drained pasta to the pot, add the pasta water and enough of the jarred sauce to coat the pasta.  Cook the pasta in the liquid for another two minutes till most of the liquid has evaporated and pasta is completely cooked through.

Plate the pasta with meatballs and extra sauce and serve piping hot.  A garnish of basil would be great, but during this pandemic, I am working with what in the fridge and pantry.

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Comfort food, Poultry, Savory

Saffron Chicken and Rice

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Over Christmas break, I went back home to India.  It was a glorious three week holiday filled with lots of home-cooked food, family, R&R, and of course shopping.  One thing that I brought back was good saffron from Kashmir–nothing quite like it.  I love the vibrant orange hue and the lovely floral fragrance that saffron lends to any dish.  Spanish saffron is equally delicious and is the appropriate substitute for this recipe, especially since this version is inspired by Spanish-Style Arroz con Pollo

Ingredients: (cooking for two)

5 chicken tenders

1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, and 1 onion–diced

1tsp of minced garlic

1tsp of sweet paprika

2 cups of hot chicken broth

1tsp of crushed paprika

3/4 cup basmati rice

2Tbsp of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Parsley for garnish

Method:

Heat 1 Tbsp in a deep skillet.  Chop up the chicken tenders, season with salt and pepper, and fry in the hot oil till pale golden.

In the meantime, soak the rice in cold water–it shortens the cooking time and improves the flavor!

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Remove the chicken and add the rest of the oil in the same pan.  Add the peppers and onions and saute till they are very soft.  Halfway through this process, add garlic and paprika.

While the peppers and onions are softening in the hot oil,  heat 2 cups of chicken broth and add the saffron.  Allow the saffron to bloom–the yellow stock will turn into a dark orange color.

Once the onions and peppers are softened, add the soaked and rinsed rice to the skillet.  Sautee the rice for 2-4 mins till the grains are lightly toasted and fragrant.

Finally, add the hot chicken stock and saffron solution, reduce the heat to medium-high and wait for the rice to cook through.

Once most of the liquid has evaporated, add the chicken to the skillet and continue cooking till all the liquid is gone and the rice is cooked through.

Finish with a garnish of fresh chopped parsley.  Serve piping hot!!!

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Classics, Comfort food, Dessert, Pastry, Sweet

Impromptu Apple Crostata

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I used store bought pie dough from the frozen aisle in the grocery and after covering 4 pies, I had enough scraps leftover to roll out a 7-8 inch round crust.  I made this recipe because I had extra pie crust dough leftover from making Chicken Pot Pie. I used store bought pie dough from the frozen aisle in the grocery and after covering 4 pies, I had enough scraps leftover to roll out a 7-8 inch round crust.   So here goes:

Ingerdients:

1, 7-8 inch pie crust

2 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced ( I used honeycrisp)

1/2 tsp of cinnamon

1/4 cup sugar, plus a 1tsp for sprinkling

1 Tbsp cold butter, diced.

Method:

Roll out the crust and place it on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Keep it cold in the fridge while you prep the apples.

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Peel, core and slice two apples.  Toss them in sugar and cinnamon.

Arrange the apple slices on the cold pie crust, leaving a 1-inch border

Fold over the pie dough to create a rustic crust.

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Dot with butter and sprinkle sugar over the crust.

Bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes till the apples are bubbly and the crust is pale golden and flaky.

Enjoy!!!

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Classics, Comfort food, Poultry, Savory

Chicken Pot Pie

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Chicken Pot Pie is a hearty meal that will fill you up on any cold night.  I first made this for my father–he loves chicken pot pie!!  When I was reading recipes for chicken pot pie, I was shocked at the amount of butter that the recipes were calling for–and that was just for the filling!  I was not doing that, so I went and got some store bought shortcuts–and it came out really well.  Since then,  I have been following this recipe and it has never failed me.  The additional benefit is that you make the entire meal in a couple of hours and freeze it OR spend another 20 mins to bake it off and you have dinner!  I love making it on a weekend and freezing it down in serving size portions—dinner is then ready in jiff on a weeknight.

Ingredients:

Pre-cooked, store bought chunks of white meat chicken.  I usually get two, 12oz packages.

One, 14.5 oz container of Mirepoix (carrots, onions, celery–all pre-diced!!!!)

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1 package of store bought pie crust

2 tbsp of butter

3 tbsp of flour

2 tsp of Herbs de provence

1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes (more if you want it spicier)

1/2 tsp of cracked black pepper

1 quart chicken stock

Salt to taste (this will vary depending on how salty your chicken stock is)

Method:

In a large stock pot, melt butter on medium heat.

Once butter is melted, add mirepoix and saute till soft and pale golden

 

Add chicken chunks, spices, and flour and stir well till everything is well mixed.

 

Add chicken stock and cook on medium low heat for 20-30 minutes.  You want the filling to thicken.

Once the filling is made, divide into individual bowls.  I have pot pie bowls, and this recipe makes about 4 servings.

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Let the filling cool completely in the bowls.

Cover with store bought pie crust, crimp and seal the edges.  At this point you can wrap the pies with freezer friendly  plastic wrap and freeze down for later.

Cooking instruction:

If cooking immediately:

Preheat oven to 375F.  Brush the top of the crust with some egg wash ( 1 egg beaten with a little bit of water), and cut a slit to allow for the steam to escape.  Bake for 15 mins till crust is golden.

If cooking a frozen pot pie:

Thaw pot pie in refrigerator for 1-2 days.  Once the pie is thawed, follow the above instructions to cook.  You may need to increase the baking to 20-25 mins to ensure the filling is piping hot.

ENJOY!!!

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Classics, Comfort food, Meat, Savory

“Winter is Coming” Meat Pie

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I recently jumped on to the “Game of Thrones” bandwagon. Yes, I know I am about 8 years late, but I am here now, completely obsessed and can’t wait to see how the story wraps up.  This past week has been everything “thrones” especially with the HBO marathon going on.  In Season 4, there is an extensive description of a particular “Steak and Kidney Pie” made by the character “Hot Pie” at the “Inn at the Crossroads”.  As Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne hungrily tucked away large bites of the pie, I couldn’t stop thinking about how delicious it must be.  Decision made.  I am was to make a classic English Meat Pie (you can read the “mini” versions of these pies here–slightly different recipe though) to celebrate the premiere of Season 8.  Yes, the weather is warming up, but I hope you choose to make this recipe soon, we only have Game of Thrones on till the middle of May !!!

Ingredients:

1.5 pounds stew meat, cut into small bite-sized pieces

Chopped button mushrooms, carrots and onions – cut them small enough so that they are the same size as the meat.  You can change up the ratio, but I went meat heavy since that is the way my husband likes it.  I would reckon about 1/4-1/3 cup for each veggie would be sufficient.  

1/4tsp of dried rosemary, thyme, and sage

3tbsp of flour

2tbsp of good red wine, you know what to do with the rest of the bottle

1tsp of Worcestershire sauce

1tsp of paprika

1 can of chicken stock

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil for frying

Store bought pie crust

Method:

In a heavy bottom pan (I like my dutch oven), heat olive oil and brown beef in batches, seasoning it salt and pepper.  Once browned, set aside.

 

 

In the same pan, add a little bit more oil and add all the veggies and saute till pale brown.  Once browned, added dried herbs, salt and pepper and saute for 5 more minutes.

 

Add the beef back in with all the veggies.

Add flour, and saute till all the meat and veggies are coated with the flour and browned (5-7mins)

 

Add 1 can of chicken stock, paprika, wine and Worcestershire sauce.  Cover and simmer on medium low heat till the gravy thickens, the carrots are soft and the meat is fork tender.  This is a pie filling, so it has to be nice and thick.

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Divide the filling into individual “pot pie” dishes (OR one big pie pan) and cool the filling completely.  In the past, I have made a meat and potato version of this in muffin tins, with a double crust.  You can find that recipe here

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Cover the filling with thawed pie crust.  Crimp the edges to seal in the filling, add a slit on the top for steam to escape.

 

 

Brush the top with egg wash–this will ensure a deep golden crust.

 

 

Bake in a 375F oven for 40-45 mins till the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling underneath.

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Serve Hot !!!

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Classics, Comfort food, Dinner, Poultry, Savory

Roasted Split Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon

 

IMG_20181001_183729Roast chicken is a classic, but it takes time–more suited for a Sunday night.  It has its benefits too.  Plenty of leftovers for sandwiches and chicken noodle soup.  However, when it is fall and you want a hearty, comforting meal on a weeknight,  turn to this recipe.  The trick is to remember to marinade the night before and take the time to brown the chicken (preferably in a cast iron skillet).  Try it soon !

INGREDIENTS

½ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

2 large split chicken breasts

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Whisk together all ingredients except chicken.

Put split chicken in a re-sealable plastic bag and add marinade.

Seal bags, removing as much air as possible and massage marinade around chicken to coat evenly. Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. convectional or 425 degrees F. conventional.

Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade. Heat a large heavy bottom skillet (I use my cast iron skillet) over medium heat. Once heated, put chicken skin side down in the skillet and cook until browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer skillet into the oven.

Roast until chicken is browned, meat is cooked through and juices run clear (an instant reading thermometer when inserted in the meat should read 165 degrees F.) about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow sitting 15 minutes to “rest” (this allows the juices to settle in the meat so they don’t run out when chicken is cut).

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Classics, Comfort food, Dinner, Gluten-free, Italian, Poultry, Savory

Chicken Cacciatore

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For those who know me and also read my recipes, you might have noticed that I cook with whatever is lying around.  I rarely “follow” recipes, most of it is by smell, look and taste.  Nevertheless, I love collecting cookbooks and my inner scientist can respect the importance of a well written “protocol”/”recipe”.  So I dusted off a cookbook that I got for Christmas and cooked this recipe–with a few changes

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Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 pounds of chicken breast, cut into cubes

1 large onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

8 oz mushrooms, sliced

1 tsp of rosemary

1 small can of chopped tomatoes

salt and pepper

(original recipe called for fresh rosemary, chicken thighs and tomato paste)

 

Method:

Heat oil in a skillet, season chicken with salt and pepper and saute till browned.  Set aside.

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Add onions, garlic, mushrooms and rosemary to skillet.  Season with salt and saute till softened.

 

Add chopped tomatoes and 1/4 cups water.  Return chicken to pan.

Cook on low heat till sauce reduces.

Serve with crusty bread.

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