Tag Archives: cooking

The Tavern. Chicken Breasts

Welcome back to the Tavern.  Last week, Josh gave us a great recipe for Chili.  This week, it’s Italian and I’m hungry. Actually, after reading Josh’s recipe for Chicken Breasts and Pasta, I’m starving.  So let’s get to it.


The Italian Job

Pasta accompanied by Chicken breast with Spinach and Tomato topped with melted cheese

Chicken breast 1 per person

1 tomato

2 cloves of garlic

1 bag of spinach

1 jar of family favorite pasta sauce/store bought (adding a little chopped basil is a nice way to add a little flare to it)

Mozzarella or Fontina cheese (pre-grated in the bag is nice and easy)

1 box of pasta (whichever kind your family prefers)

You’ll need a pot with water and a pinch of salt to cook the pasta.  Also, grab a pan to sear the chicken and cook spinach.

Mince the garlic and put in a medium/high heat pan with a drizzle of olive oil.  Let your garlic sweat. You should start to smell the garlic aroma.  This is the time when you will add the spinach and sauté with the garlic. Once your spinach has wilted you can remove the spinach and garlic from the pan put it in a bowl and set it off to the side.  Take the pan you just used and put it back on the stove on high heat.

The Chicken.

Most people have a fear of a drying out their chicken breast.  A cool trick to prevent this from happening is searing them. Searing is simply cooking your food over a high heat to brown it quickly. This will lock in the juices and prevent your chicken from drying out.

What I recommend doing is getting your chicken breast washed and patted dry. Heat your oven to 375 degrees prior to starting chicken.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

On a plate dump a half a cup of flour. The flour is going to help sear in all the juices of your chicken and keep it moist. Take your chicken breast and roll them in the flour. All you really need is a light white coloring on the breasts. Once you have covered the chicken in the flour add another drizzle of oil into the pan, if needed, which is on your stove on high heat.  Take the chicken breast and add them to the pan.  Salt and pepper your chicken breast.

All you are doing is creating a brown crust. A little brown crust is what we want.

Once you have that color and it looks like the sides are sealed, flip the breast and add a little more salt and pepper.  This technique should only take about 1.5 minutes per side.

Depending on pan size and level of comfort the chef (that’s you) can work with 2-3 chicken breasts at a time. Once your chicken is seared, transfer to the baking sheet with foil and continue working your way through the rest of your chicken.

Once you have seared your chicken and put it on the baking sheet you wrapped in foil, the oven should be heated and ready to go.  Put the baking sheet in the oven.  Depending on the size of the chicken breasts, cooking time will vary.  I would suggest the average size chicken breast you get at your grocery store should take about 15 minutes at 375 degrees.  If you are working with cuts or sizes of meats you are unfamiliar with, Google it: How long does it take to cook *desired cut or portion*.

While your chicken is cooking, you can work on the pasta.  Follow the directions on the box.

While you’re cooking the pasta, you can start to slice your tomato. You will be putting it in the oven, so slice it thin.  This will make sure it gets nice and warm.

If you are using a timer, pull the chicken a minute or two early.  After you take your chicken out, turn on your broiler. The chicken should be plump and firm when you touch it with your finger.

Take your spinach that you set aside earlier and put a nice layer of spinach on top of each chicken breast.  Add the tomato slices top of your spinach and top with a healthy portion of cheese (healthy or heaping, you decide)

Put the chicken breasts, covered with your spinach, tomato, and cheese, back in oven. Give them a few minutes in the broiler to let the cheese melt and everything to warm up. When the cheese starts to brown, pull it out of the broiler.  Don’t leave it in too long!

We didn’t forget about your pasta either. It should be finished by now.  Take it off the stove and drain it. A trick I like to use with my sauce and pasta, take your jar of sauce and add it to the empty pot you just boiled the pasta in. The warm pot will heat your sauce and leave you with one less pot to wash later.  Then add the pasta on top. You can plate the pasta plain and spoon the sauce on if you prefer. You can still add the sauce to the warm pot. Just plate the pasta and spoon the sauce from the warm pot.

All that is left is to add a chicken breast to your plate of pasta and to make sure you have some fresh Italian bread to go with it.


Founding a Father Tavern. Chili

As a parent, my culinary skills fall somewhere around ‘Not Bad on an Easy Bake Oven’.  But as a parent, its my job to make sure my kids get at least 2 or the 4 food groups during a meal.  Yet, I’m guilty of cutting corners, microwaving those corners, and substituting something steamed and green with applesauce.  Yes, I’m guilty, at times, of foregoing good food for fast food (be it a drive-thru or a two minute heat up in the microwave).

Its time to change that and what better way than to invite my friend Josh to share some of his favorite recipes.  Josh has the culinary credentials and the passion for food that makes him perfect to kick start a new weekly column at Founding a Father focusing on food for our families.

My hope is not only will this help me, but also help you.  Help to eliminate drive-thru’s and take-out on Friday night and put in its place food we all can make and not have to slave over the oven to do so.  Recipes that not only have us eating good food but new food and eating together.  As a family.

So without further ado, I present my new weekly series:


                                   The Founding a Father Tavern.  

Friday Night Chili

(Serves 10)

3-5 slices of bacon

2lbs ground meat

Including meatloaf mix to the meat can be a nice addition too.

1-32oz Bloody Mary mix

Bloody Mary Mix is a trick I learned from a friend for depth of flavor without adding 357 different spices and saves you money since spices can be costly. If you prefer a more tomato simple chili, substitute with tomato juice.

1-29oz can of tomato sauce

Chunky or smooth

 1 ½ – chopped onion

3 garlic cloves

 1/4 cup peppers

If chunky tomatoes, onion, and peppers are not preferred by kids or spouses, use a hand chopper, immersion blender, or food processor to finely chop or even puree and hide in the chili.

 1 large can of bush’s baked beans smokehouse tradition

 1-15oz can Kidney beans drained and rinsed

 1-15oz can black beans drained and rinsed

 Pinch to 1 tsp. of sugar

 1/2 tsp. of oregano

 1/2 tsp. of black pepper

 1/2 tsp. of salt

Be careful though. Salt is easy to add. It is hard to take out.

1/4 tsp. of chili powder

Even with the chili powder, this will be on the sweeter side so for anyone wanting some heat I suggest some jalapeno slices or hot sauce.  Add to your taste. Sriracha is a great addition too.

1 tsp. of cumin

Totally optional but will give your chili another layer of flavor

Thursday Night:

Mince garlic cloves.  Take strips of bacon and cut into 1/4 inch pieces and put in to a frying pan in medium high heat.  Once the bacon starts to get some color add the minced garlic.  Let the garlic sauté for a moment and when that gorgeous garlic aroma smacks you in the face add your meat.  Once your meat is evenly browned and broken up, drain away the grease. Put in to the refrigerator for the next day.

Friday Morning:

In a crock pot on low heat, add your remaining ingredients and the meat.  Stir and let cook for 8-10 hours.

If you get home early or are planning a late dinner, instead of the crock pot, you can use a large pot. Add your meat and remaining ingredients into the pot and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat and let simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

The great thing about chili is, it is extremely versatile.  You can serve with corn bread, grated cheese (a nice sharp cheddar) or sour cream. It can be served over white rice but try serving it over smashed sweet potatoes or regular mashed potatoes or even couscous.

Leftovers can be used for Nachos on Saturday night, Sunday during the game, or packed in your lunch for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Chili is a wonderful staple meal that everyone is most likely familiar with and that we can teach or kids and significant others to experiment and transcend into an open mind.  If you don’t like this chili recipe, take your family’s recipe and use different meat, try different spices, or serve it over something new. A simple change gives an opportunity for a varied taste. Don’t be afraid to try something new.  It is a better option than our future generation only having pizza, soda, and McDonald’s on their pallet.


Thanks Josh.  I’m looking as forward to making this chili as I am to see what we’ll be cooking next week.

If any of you have variations of chili recipes you’d like to share, email them to:


We would love to share them.