Sauvignon Blanc and Mustard Braised Chicken Thighs

I’m sort of crazy about chicken thighs. I don’t know about you guys, but they happen to be my favorite part of the chicken—aside from the drumsticks, but that’s only because I love the idea of eating like a caveman which is a story for another time. But yes, I love the thighs because to me, they’re the most flavorful and most versatile of the chicken pieces. You can do a lot with them, but predominantly their fat makes them perfect for slow cooking. Take these Sauvignon Blanc and Mustard Braised Chicken Thighs for instance, they’re first seared and then slowly braised in a delicious white wine and mustard sauce made with Barefoot Wine’s Sauvignon Blanc. The fresh thyme and tarragon gives it that perfect rustic taste that makes people believe you cooked it all day. No one needs to know that it’s a lot easier than that. Rule number one in the kitchen, don’t share all of your secrets. You follow that rule, I wont because then I won’t have anything to share with you. 

When the weather (finally) begins to cool down, like now, I like to get in the kitchen and make these heartier dishes that require an hour or two in the oven, cooking away in a stew-like sauce. There’s something so magical about autumn cooking that makes me so happy. Maybe it’s the idea of creating something warm and comforting for those you love. It could also be the fact that if you serve this with some crusty bread for mopping up the sauce, it would just be the perfect pairing. Bread is always a happy welcome to any meal I’m eating. 

I always like to encourage people to braise more of their meats. While yes, it does take a while to cook—the whole low and slow method isn’t for everyone—braising is absolutely incredible. The meat gets so tender that it just falls off the bone. FALLS. OFF. THE. BONE. One might think that such a long cooking time would dry out the meat but if you think about it, the meat is slow-cooking in this delicious sauce just making it super moist. You can’t beat that. 

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Paella Pasta Salad

I’ve always wanted to make a paella for the site. It’s something I’ve had in the back of my mind for a while now. I’m a sucker for rice, in any shape or form. In any recipe, really. My motto is, the more rice the better. Serve it to me every single day for the rest of my life and I’ll be happy as a clam (pun intended). I began brainstorming recipe ideas this past week and for some reason paella kept popping up in my head. Perhaps it was a sign pointing me to make paella, because the time had come for me to finally make this recipe happen. It could’ve been a sign, but really if I’m being honest, it was my stomach doing all of the thinking because I really just wanted an excuse to eat paella this week. Go figure. Anyhow, there I was brainstorming when it hits me, “Jonathan! You should make a paella but create it with a twist because there are a million paella recipes already out there!” Just like that, that’s how it happened. Word for word, and I know what you’re thinking, yes I do talk to myself in first person. It’s what I do. 

Aside from talking to myself, I’d also like to point out the fact that it’s currently the third of November. The THIRD of NOVEMBER people!!! Where did the end of October go? This whole time change thing over the weekend has got me all sorts of confused. Sure it’s just one hour of a difference, but still, my mind is taking a bit longer to adjust. I don’t know what is what anymore. The only thing I am sure of is the fact that it’s finally getting chilly here in Los Angeles and all that means is that I get to eat more comfort foods that warm me up inside. Pasta is my favorite comfort food of all. Especially hot pasta baked with lots of cheese. Yes, I’m referring to mac and cheese. Why didn’t you just say that Jonathan?!!? What can I say, I like to be cryptic sometimes. 

Okay so this paella pasta salad isn’t served hot and yes I know there’s no cheese involved, so what’s so comforting about it? It’s no mac and cheese, that’s for sure. Well, it is a pasta dish loaded with all of the meats and all of the seafoods. What’s not comforting about that?!?! You tell me! What isn’t comforting about that, huh? Huh? Well? What have you got to say for yourself? This recipe is comforting because it’s pasta mixed with sausage, ham, chicken, shrimp, mussels and clams! It’s so filling that it should be illegal, but not really because I’d really like to eat this until the end of time, and I think you should too. 

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Shepherd’s Potato Pie

In case you didn’t already know, I happen to be a big fan of shepherd’s pie and I’m always looking out for new and exciting ways to reinvent this classic dish. Between you and me, I’ve toyed around with the idea of a handheld portable version, that of which I’m still working on. The concept of eating shepherd’s pie on the go just sounds so appealing to me. One day I’ll get it right. If you’re looking for a more traditional shepherd’s pie however—and I use the term “traditional” loosely as I’m not an expert on this dish at all—then you might want to take a look at this Shepherd’s Pie, it was on the site a year or two ago, when I first started out. I guess, it’s more of a cottage pie since it’s made with ground beef and not lamb. For this one though, I decided to be more classic with the filling, so I did make it with lamb. I have to confess that I’ve always had a fear of cooking and eating lamb for some reason. Even now, I actually don’t eat it often. In fact, the only time I do is when I go to my all time favorite Indian restaurant. They make a spicy lamb curry that is to die for. Served over basmati rice and garlic naan for dipping, I could die happy then and there. But anyhow, like I was saying, that’s as far as my experience with lamb goes, so this is a nice step out of my comfort zone.

I love how in cooking or baking—it’s the same with most things in life actually—we get into these comfort zones which become difficult for us to step out of. We end up making the same dishes over and over again, utilizing the same recipes again and again, because we’re used to them. Because we know they won’t turn out bad (for the most part). They’re reliable and safe. I’m all about feeling safe and reliable in the kitchen, which is why Taco Tuesdays and Pizza Fridays is a thing at my house. I sometimes have to remind myself that it’s okay to shake things up a bit and explore new ingredients and dishes from around the world. It’s perfectly acceptable to be adventurous when it comes to food. In fact, it’s necessary. I sincerely believe that it makes you a better cook and/or baker and it expands your horizons.  And that’s always nice. 

So what does this all have to do with a potato pie, you might ask? Well, it’s a freaking shepherd’s potato pie for crying out loud! I don’t think I need to say anything more, but I will. A flaky, buttery pie crust filled with lamb and veggies in a light gravy and topped with thinly sliced potatoes and sprinkled with cheese and fresh thyme. It’s a new take on one of my favorite dishes and it’s out there, right in front of your face looking to tempt you. Looking to make you a shepherd’s pie believer. So won’t you just bite the bullet and make this pie along with me? I promise you won’t regret it.

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Spinach, Garlic and Chicken Chardonnay White Pizza

We’re beginning to settle into our new place just nicely these days. I’m starting to cook a lot more, once again, and even getting back into the rhythm of creating new recipes for the site. I’ve been away far too long if you ask me. The very first thing we bought for our new home was a pizza stone, even before we got some of the more important things like a lamp or dining table. I wanted to make sure we had our pizza nights locked in. This is actually the first pizza stone I’ve ever owned. As a matter of fact, someone on instagram recommended it to me a long time ago and I immediately thought about their comment when I picked it up at the store. They were absolutely right, pizzas are 100 times better when cooked on this round ceramic pizza cooking contraption. It’s like magic. Like the future. It makes it so easy to achieve that artisan pizza taste and texture. (The following has been a PSA for Pizza Stones of America. Is that an actual thing? It totally should be).

Moving and unpacking has taught me that we’re all looking for quick and easy recipes that require little to no time in the kitchen. Sometimes we’re just too tired to whip up something fancy during the week, or we simply don’t have the time to devote ourselves to a meal that takes way too long to make. That’s okay. Instead of reaching for that take-out menu, though, we should be focusing on creating simple recipes that taste just as good (if not better) as the restaurant version. I’m always trying to come up with new and exciting ways to incorporate pizza into my daily life. If I had it my way, we’d be eating pizza every single night. Oh, different kinds of course. I mean I do have some standards. Pizza everyday for dinner just sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it? 

One easy way to turn a drab meal into something fun and exciting is by incorporating wine into the dish. Sure, wine is great to drink with dinner, but it’s also great to cook with! I’ve partnered up with Barefoot Wine to bring you this delicious Spinach, Garlic and Chicken Chardonnay White Pizza. It’ll change the way you think about pizza and wine forever! Get ready to eat the entire pizza by yourself, especially with the creamy white garlic sauce that gets slathered on top of it underneath all of that cheese and tasty toppings. Are you rethinking that “pizza every night” thing we talked about earlier? You should be. 

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The Classics: Bacon Cheeseburger

Here we are again! The Classics are back; bigger and better than ever! This time around I’m taunting you with this crazy awesome cheeseburger. The cheeseburger to end all cheeseburgers. If you remember correctly, the last classic was this insanely good Buttermilk Fried Chicken, and if for some reason you don’t remember, I took the liberty of linking it for you. You can thank me later. I’ve gone ahead and added bacon to the mix because as I’m sure you’ve heard, everything is better with bacon. Just in case you didn’t know, I invented that saying. Okay, maybe I didn’t (but let’s pretend I did). Bacon just takes everything over the edge. You always want to invite bacon to any gathering, it’s basically the life of any and every party. You can quote me on that, although I’m sure you’ve already experienced it for yourself. 

I know what you must be thinking, “Jonathan, burgers are so SIMPLE to make. Why are you sharing this easy recipe with us?!” Okay, so burgers are easy to make, I’ll give you that. But I’ve actually been told a few times that burgers are somewhat daunting to people. Actual homemade burgers, that is. I think it’s the whole mixing of the meat and shaping of the patties that scares people away. It shouldn’t be frightening at all, though. Not in the slightest. These posts are meant to bring you those classic recipes without all of the complicated steps and hassle of spending hours in the kitchen, remember? So that’s why I’m sharing my favorite cheeseburger recipe with you. Perhaps you’ll even learn a new tip or trick that you didn’t know before. Maybe, it’ll just inspire you to go out and make your favorite burger, that’s okay too. That just means I did my job well, and that’s all that counts. 

The most important thing is that I’m not ready to let summer go—just for the food, the heat can go away—so I’m still cooking and grilling as if summer is in full swing. Although, it does feel like summer just started over here in Los Angeles. The heat has been insane. I figured why fight it? I might as well embrace it. Hence, burgers in late September. I’m okay with that though because cheeseburgers are everything to me. Especially if they’re mini cheeseburgers. Well, that’s a whole other topic. These? These aren’t mini cheeseburgers, no. But I will tell you what they are. They’re 100% awesome and bigger than life itself, and that’s a fact. 

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The Classics: Buttermilk Fried Chicken

I’ve recently been told by a few people that many of my recipes on the site seem to be a little too demanding or time consuming to make. Some of you have even mentioned that during the week it’s impossible to try out the recipes because you have so many other things going on. You’ve asked for more quick and effortless recipes. I really do appreciate the feedback and have been listening intently because it helps me grow as a food blogger. The main reason why I run this site is so that you try out the recipes for yourself. I want you to fall in love with these dishes and make them over and over again, the way that I do, without feeling overwhelmed about it. So if you’re looking for more simple and delicious recipes, without all of the fluff, simple and delicious recipes you shall get.  

In honor of this revelation, I’m starting a new series on the site called, “The Classics.” It’s pretty much what you might think it is. For the past few weeks I’ve been toying with the idea of creating and sharing easy recipes of classic dishes we all know and love. Recipes with straightforward ingredients and easy-to-follow, uncomplicated steps. I sometimes take for granted how great it is to get into the kitchen and make really simple dishes. It’s therapeutic almost, to not have to think too much and just cook because it’s soothing. Because it’s fun. It’s so easy to get lost in the marvels of the internet with all these delicious recipes popping up, the kind that combine a couple different dishes into one mega dish. I’m all for those recipes, don’t get me wrong. I mean, you have seen my creations on here, but sometimes it’s important to take a step back and appreciate the classic dishes we grew up with.

I’ll be sharing “The Classics” in installments every few weeks (mixed in with my regular posts) so keep an eye out for them. If you happen to have any suggestions or are dying to see a particular classic on here, let me know by dropping a comment down below. Also, if you try out one of the recipes be sure to hashtag them with (#TCAclassics) on FB, instagram or twitter. (I want to see them!) I’ll keep track of that tag and share the photos as they come in. That’s exciting right? Not as exciting as fried chicken I’m afraid. Speaking of, as you can see, the first installment happens to be fried chicken. The king of all classic dishes, and one of my all-time favorites. 

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