Friday, March 1, 2013

On the Menu: French Food

Bon Appetit!

I think everyone knows that French phrase meaning "good appetite"!  The French are known for their delicious food, the decadent pastries and butter-laden sauces, the wines, freshly baked baguettes and croissants, the cheese.... Ok, wipe the drool from the corners of your mouth and let's make some French food.  I saw this recipe on a slow-cooker blog (sorry I can't remember the name) but the author had taken it from 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes so the blog name doesn't really matter, but ANYWAY, it sounded easy to make and delicious - and it was!!  French food has a reputation for being fussy and frou-frou and fattening!  This dish was full of good fats from the olives, yeah it had some bacon, but everything in moderation right?  I had 2 doctor appointments, had to pick up my daughter's softball uniforms, and get our taxes done all on the same day, so I needed something I could slow-cook that would still give us that "French" feeling.  Here it is...

French Country Chicken with Olives
For the recipe you will need:
  • 3 oz. thick bacon- chopped
  • 1 onion - finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves - minced
  • 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup white wine (or chicken broth)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 3 lbs. skinless chicken.  I used boneless thighs and breasts.
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives - sliced
  • 1/2 cup pitted green olives - sliced
  • parsley for garnish if you desire
** Before dumping everything in the crockpot, there is a bit of pre-cooking required- unless you have the Ninja Cooking System that lets you do it all in the same pan- which I don't.

1. In a skillet cook the bacon until it is crispy.  Drain it on some paper towels and save it in the fridge for about 6 hours from now.
2. In 2 tbsp of the bacon grease, cook the onions for a few minutes to soften.
3. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and bay leaf and stir around for another minute.  It smells good already!!
4. Add the wine and bring to a boil.  Boil for about 2 mins.
5. Add tomatoes and bring them to a boil also.
6. Put the chicken in the bottom of the crockpot and pour the sauce you just made over the top.  Cover and cook for 6 hours (low heat) and 3 hours (high heat). 
7. Now for that bacon and olives you've saved. Put them in about 15 minutes before you are going to eat. 
8.  Serve with some crusty French bread dripping with butter (not for me- still restricting carbs) and enjoy!!

This was delicious!!  Sometimes dishes that I make in the slow cooker come out tasting watered down, but this had a lot of flavor! My husband and brother each had 2 bowls of it (with the hot, fresh baguettes and butter) and they raved about it.  My daughter and son even ate some- not a lot, but honestly, more than I thought they would!  And it was able to be made while I was running around like a madwoman! Viva la France!!

For dessert we had another French treat- macarons.  I have seen them before and thought they looked good but the recipes seemed very daunting, so I've never tried to make them.  Luckily, I found some in the freezer section at Trader Joes- and they are wheat-free so I was able to try them :)  Prep couldn't be simpler- defrost for 30 minutes and enjoy!!  My husband was skeptical because he"s not a fan of coconut macaroons but these are a totally different cookie.  The cookie part is made with almond flour and are fluffy and crispy at the same time, while the middle is creamy and delicious.  Needless to say, they are a new favorite!!

Le Eiffel Tower part deux

 Bigger and Better...

I was not about to leave my Eiffel Tower project being so frustrating and poorly executed, so we went back to the drawing board.  Remember our first week when we made a Native American tipi using PVC pipe? Well, I still have all that pipe sitting in the backyard, so we got 4 of them and a roll of duct tape and went to work!

Le Eiffel Tower (part deux)
For the project you will need:

  • 4 Long pieces of PVC pipe
  • Duct tape
1.  Join up your 4 pieces of pipe and wrap the tape around one end.
2.  Go about 18 inches down and wrap the tape around again.
3.  Stand up your pipes and spread the bottom of the pipes apart as far as they can go.  2 adults make this much easier!
4.  Decide where the 2nd and bottom platforms should be and put a row of duct tape around the spread pipes.  If this is going to stay up awhile you might want to brace the pipes open with something.
5.  Use the duct tape to make the arches and gridwork if you wish.
6.  Enjoy the view of your very own Eiffel Tower from the sidewalk cafe as you have a snack.  C'est Magnifique!!

  We had a great dinner that night after our visit to the Eiffel Tower!  I'll post it later, right now we are about to head to the museum to see some sculptures!!  I'll be sure to post pics from that adventure!! Bon Jour!!!