December 1, 2011

Wrap Me In Comfort on a Winter Day

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we took advantage of the beautiful day that November had presented to us. We motored over to the coastline and Fort Williams Park. I tell you, this is a scene we never seem to tire of. It rejuvenates your soul and calms your mind. Perhaps this is why you will find both young and old walking the trails, taking a stroll along the walking path or sitting on a memory bench to enjoy a picnic lunch.

Yet another beautiful shot of Portland Headlight

A sweet couple enjoying their turkey sandwiches

A seagull landing to rest

A family enjoying the afternoon

So thankful for the all the beauty

When we arrived back at The Maine House, Estelle's knew to welcome us with a most delicious Italian soup and cheesy, crunchy bread bites!

This is a winner! Made this a few times exactly as written
and always receive rave reviews!

1 (1-pound) loaf ciabatta bread, trimmed and cut into 14 (1/2-inch thick) slices
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1 garlic clove, halved

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
12 ounces (12 cups) baby spinach
Kosher salt
2 cups (4 ounces) shredded fontina cheese

For the toasts: Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Arrange the bread slices in a single layer on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until light golden, about 10 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes. Rub the warm toasts with the cut side of the garlic. Set aside.

For the topping: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 1/2 of the spinach and stir until it begins to wilt, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the remaining spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt, to taste. Using tongs, arrange the spinach on top of the toasts. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 5 to 8 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Season with salt and cool for 2 minutes.

I  have made this several times for my family and they love it, so I thought I would make it for a dinner party - I got the ultimate compliment
 "Please give me this recipe, its so good"!!

Chicken, Artichoke and Cannellini Bean Spezzatino
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (4-ounce) piece pancetta, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, halved
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
2 (14-ounce) cans low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 packed cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 bay leaf
4 skinless baked chicken thighs
12 ounces ,marinated artichoke hearts,chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

In a heavy 5 or 6 quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until brown and crispy, about 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta and drain on paper towels. Set aside. Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock, basil, tomato paste, thyme, and bay leaf. Add the cubed baked chicken. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer. Add the artichokes and the cannellini beans and simmer until liquid has reduced slightly, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf and discard. Season the spezzatino with salt and pepper, to taste. Ladle the spezzatino into bowls and garnish with the cooked pancetta.

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