Comfort In A Bowl – Jude’s Shredded Chicken Stew



I love food in a bowl. Macaroni…corn flakes…ice cream…

Each one of those things makes me happy, gives me that warm fuzzy feeling that makes a great bite of something worth the time, expense or both.

When I travel and know I may never return to the area of the world I am I always ask “if I never return, what is the one bite I should remember “insert city name here” by?

In St. Louis the answer was chicken and biscuits. Gosh. That seemed pretty pedestrian but since I asked I took the advice. That bite came so long ago but I still remember the buttery biscuits over a chunky and creamy chicken stew. I was traveling alone for business and remember that evening not just for the meal but because after dinner I went to the lobby bar, busy with folks participating in the Variety Club Telethon. Lou Rawls was the celebrity host and chat with me about the mission of the organization. It was just a few short years after our son died and he was very kind. It was exactly 23 years ago this month because my best memory of that trip, however, was coming home and finding I was expecting our son.

Chicken and biscuits…food in a bowl…warm fuzzy…this is how my mind works.

My friend recently asked me if I had a good recipe for chicken and dumplings. Honestly I had no idea what the difference between chicken and biscuits and chicken and dumplings was. The Internet is a beautiful thing. I did a little research and learned dumplings and biscuits are made from the same biscuit mixture, which varies regionally, but cooked differently.

The chicken is cooked in a liquid (usually water which miraculously turns to chicken broth when simmered with a chicken and other good stuff) and then removed. The biscuit mixture (I saw some recipes where the only biscuit mixture preparation was “pop open the tube”) is dropped in the broth where it turns into moist, dense drops of goodness called dumplings. The broth is then thickened and the chicken and vegetables are added back in and simmered a bit more to cook the chicken and dumplings through.

Chicken and biscuits are a savory chicken stew finished in the oven with biscuits baked on top. If you put the mixture into a bowl, cover it with a pastry dough and bake you’ve just made chicken pot pie.
At our house we like the stew straight in the bowl. I have played around with some ingredients and offer you my twist on this savory chicken recipe which when eaten from a bowl is meant to bring back a memory of home.

Jude’s Shredded Chicken Stew

Servings: 10
Prep time: 1:00
Total time: 11:00
Categories: Chicken & Other Poultry, Soup & Stew


• 4-5 lb Chicken Thighs, bone in, skin removed
• 2 Potatoes
• 3 Parsnips
• 4 Carrots
• 3 Stalks Celery
• 10 oz Pearl Onions**frozen are fine but see below for an easy tutorial on using fresh pearl onions
• 6-7 oz Shitake Mushrooms
• 1 12oz-16 oz bag Frozen Peas

• 2 Tbsp Butter
• ½ c flour


Peel and cube all vegetables. Clean mushrooms, remove stems, cut in half then chop. Add to slow cooker.

Boil pearl onions for three minutes, rinse in cold water and drain. With one hand remove stem while squeezing onion out with the other. Add to slow cooker.

Season vegetables with about 1 tablespoon coarse salt and fresh ground pepper. Mix with hands.

Remove skin from chicken and place on top of vegetables. Season generously with Old Bay seasoning. Cook on low for 9-10 hours.

Remove chicken from slow cooker into a bowl, saving any drippings.

Using a turkey baster, remove as much liquid as possible, at least two cups.

Add frozen peas.

Cool chicken to the touch and remove from bones. With two large forks, shred chicken and add back to slow cooker.

In medium saucepan, over medium heat melt 2 tablespoons butter. Whisk in ½ cup flour and heat through. Add 2 cups liquid from slow cooker. Whisk gravy until thick. Fold in gently to chicken mixture.

Cover and heat on medium for 15 minutes.

Serve in bowls with bread and butter.

**how to peel pearl onions

Add to boiling water and cook about 3-4 minutes.



Cut stem.


Squeeze into bowl.



Roasted Chicken Breast Snack Strips


Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 0:10
Total time: 1:00
Categories: Chicken & Other Poultry


• 3 ½ – 4 Pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts

• Jude The Foodie House Seasoning:

• 1 ½ Tsp Old Bay Seasoning
• 1 Tsp Onion Powder
• ½ Tsp Dried Rosemary
• ½ Tsp Dried Thyme
• ½ Tsp Garlic & Herb Powder
• ½ Tsp Dried Mustard
• ½ Tsp Fresh Ground Pepper
• ½ Tsp Corse Salt

• Or use Hunters Blend seasoning from D’Avolio


Makes 3 ½ – 4 pounds

Preheat oven to 400F degrees.

Mix all dried ingredients in a bowl with fingers rubbing herbs to get the essential oils.

In 13” x 9” glass baking dish drizzle about 1 TBSP D’Avolio Milanese Gremolata Olive Oil. With clean hands, rub oil around dish. Place chicken breasts in dish and coat with oil. Sprinkle half the dry mixture on chicken and rub. Flip chicken and repeat rubbing chicken well with mixture. Place in 400F degree oven for about 25 minutes until cooked through and juice is clear.

Remove from oven, cover tightly with foil and cool.

Either slice in strips or store chicken in well sealed plastic container and refrigerate. The strips make a great lean protein snack. Make these up over the weekend for use during the week.



Chicken Caprese Sandwich


Sorry friends, but I haven’t a second to write a column. It’s way too nice outside and I have tons to do at work.

Instead I had my son do the cooking and will share with you a yummy sandwich recipe he learned from me some years ago.

It uses a rotisserie chicken (any seasoning would do but we like the garlic one best), fresh mozzarella and a good crunchy bread.

Chicken Caprese Sandwich

1 Rotisserie Chicken
1 Fresh Ciabatta Bread (or other flat loaf)
D’Avolio’s Tuscan Herb Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove
6-8 Fresh Basil Leaves (spinach is a good substitute)
1 8 oz ball Fresh Mozzarella, sliced thinly 1 Ripe Tomato, sliced thinly Lettuce
Italian Seasoning

Remove chicken from bone and shred. Slice bread in half length wise. Toast under broiler until slightly brown. Remove immediately, brush with olive oil then rub with peeled garlic clove. Season with Italian seasoning. Put basil then a layer of chicken on bottom half of bread. Cover with half the tomato and mozzarella slices. Layer top half of bread with remaining tomato and mozzarella. Put under broiler until the cheese starts to bubble but not burn. Remove from oven, sprinkle with more Italian seasoning and layer one half with crispy lettuce. With a hand on each half, close the sandwich quickly and press down on a flat surface to marry both sides. Slice and serve. Feeds two hungry college boys or 3-4 adults.

Sunday Dinner


When I was a kid, Sunday was a day of rest … for everyone but mothers. Sunday was a ritual, almost religious in its well-kept traditions.

In our family my mother made dinner every Sunday. Some weekends, it was the predictable tomato sauce but more often it was a rib roast or roasted chickens. My mother had a rotisserie in the oven and I can still hear the mechanical sound as dinner rotated evenly around and around until cooked to perfection.

Dinner always included a “nice” salad (I guess other families had to deal with the nasty ones because ours were always nice) and dessert. Dessert was special because it was saved for weekends.

On Sunday, we would get to eat the pie with homemade crust painstakingly created on Saturday afternoon or a cake baked with mom’s secret flavor combinations.

My dad was an only child so my Gramma Russo was always with us. We didn’t have to share her with other cousins like we had to share Gramma Massaro. So the deal was, we would all eat at our own house then, wherever Gramma Massaro ate dinner was the location of “coffee.” Aunts and uncles and cousins would start to arrive after dishes and the leaves were inserted into the table.

The coffee pot went non-stop and all of the confections consumed. Ed Sullivan would be on TV as long as there was no game on. I really do remember seeing that long-haired band called the Beatles on one night and hearing my uncles laugh about all of the girls screaming. When we were first married, we continued to go to our parents’ houses, alternating to make it fair. I must admit, though, it was a bigger deal in my family so we were there most weekends.

As time went in I longed to have a Sunday alone or with people I did not have a direct DNA match. Foolish, silly me, because eventually Sunday dinner became an infrequent occurrence celebrated like an occasional high holy day. When I became a mother and our mothers moved from our long time family homes to small efficient condominiums, I tried to continue the Sunday dinner tradition even if it was only once a month. All were welcome but it usually ended up to be our mothers and various aunts and uncles.

I still try to have Sunday dinner whenever we are in town, even if it is just my husband and me.

Sunday, I made a roast chicken (no rotisserie for me) which I rubbed with a concoction of D’Avolio California Arbequina EVOO, chopped garlic, parsley, paprika, mustard seeds, dried mustard, coarse salt and fresh ground pepper.

I lifted the skin and put some under it on top of the meat. I rubbed some inside and put the rest on the skin on top.

I preheated the oven to 450F, inserted the thermometer probe (this is one of the most important tools in my kitchen) and put the chicken in the oven. I immediately reduced the temperature to 350F and cooked it until the internal temperature reached 165F.


I covered it with foil for the juices to set and made mashed potatoes, peas and pan gravy.

Just because it was only the two of us doesn’t mean we cannot enjoy a special Sunday dinner.

You can see the results above!

I am writing a book called “If It’s Sunday Dinner We Must Be Family” and want to know how you celebrate Sunday.

Here is a challenge to my foodie friends (face it, you read this if you are a foodie and/or my friend!): Please share your Sunday story. I would love to know things like how you prepare, who attends (not names rather relationships like children, in-laws, neighbors, etc.) and menu.

If the menu changes, who decides? Are they special occasions only? Tell me anything to help me understand how you value the tradition of Sunday dinner.

Each month I will post my favorite one. Each month D’Avolio will reward the winner a $25 gift card good at any of their locations.

Have a yummy week.

Next week: the Foodie finally visits the Lewiston Village Pub


Chicken and tomatoes’ saute can be ready in 45 minutes


The Foodie:

Who feels like cooking when it’s so hot? Me, of course! I know this may sound nuts but I was really in the mood for some comfort food tonight.

Maybe because it was finally under 80 degrees or that I had a few minutes to cook but I was in the mood for a “go to” meal affectionately called chicken and tomatoes in our house.

The basic (and I mean basic – all of these things should be in your house) recipe includes chicken (I had some boneless skinless thighs in the freezer which I took out in the morning and put in the refrigerator on a few paper towels), a medium onion, garlic, good olive oil and a can of tomatoes. I had some fresh herbs from my patio herb garden (rosemary and garlic chives were perfect). Figure one small breast or two thighs per person.

Here goes:

Make some brown rice (I like the nutty flavor) or boil some water for macaroni.


Chop the onion and sauté it in a heavy skillet (my cast iron skillet is a part of my family) in some olive oil for a few minutes. Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt, pepper and other seasonings to taste (I am a big fan of Old Bay – not just for seafood anymore). Add the chicken to the pan and let brown on one side before flipping. If the chicken sticks it is not ready to flip. If you flip it before it is ready it will shred and break apart.

Once the chicken has browned on both sides, open the can of diced tomatoes and add on top of the chicken. Add about a half a cup of white wine, cover and simmer. The chicken should be done when the rice is done (about 20 minutes).

Remove the chicken and tent with foil to keep warm. In the pan, add another ½-3/4 cups of white wine and raise the temperature to high. Stir frequently, scrapping the brown bits and reduce for a few minutes. The secret of a velvety sauce is adding butter (about a tablespoon) at the end.

20120613-065942.jpgLet the butter melt and add body to the sauce. Add the chicken back to the pan and cook for a few minutes.

Plate chicken and add sauce on top. I made some fresh corn on the cob to complete the meal.

There is just something magical about food bubbling on the stove. I just want to go out and buy a sweater!

Honey Ginger Chicken and Broccoletti Stir Fry


An original recipe by Jude Russo Caserta

1          Tbsp D’Avolio Extra Virgin Olive Oil

½         Onion, diced

2          Cloves Garlic. Minced

2          Boneless Skinless Split Chicken Breasts, chopped into thumb size pieces

1          Pound Broccoletti, rinsed, chopped into two inch pieces

½         Cup Water

In heavy skillet heat oil on medium heat; sauté onion until it begins to caramelize, about 5 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in large microwavable container, cook Broccoletti and ½ cup water on high until al dente (about 7-8 minutes).  Do not drain and set aside.

In skillet, add garlic and sauté for an additional 2 minutes.  Add chicken, spreading evenly in pan and let brown on one side (about 5 minutes) before turning each piece over and browning on other side.  Add Broccoletti with water into pan and stir.  Add sauce and bring to a bubble.  Cook for about 5 minutes on medium low heat until sauce is cooked and thick.

Sauce (Amounts are approximate – don’t measure – have fun!)

½         Cup Orange Marmalade

½         Cup Garlic Ginger Stir Fry Marinade

¼         Cup D’Avolio Honey Ginger White Balsamic Vinegar

1          Tbsp Corn Starch

½ – 1    Tsp Crushed Red Pepper (smashed in your palm) (amount to taste)

In medium glass bowl add first four ingredients and stir until corn starch is blended.  Add crushed red pepper and stir.

Serve with steamed brown rice and ENJOY!

Life is TASTES good!


Twitter: MidMajorMom

Twitter: JudeCaserta

Roasted Chicken Breast Snack Strips

   Original recipe by Jude Russo Caserta

Makes 3 ½ – 4 pounds

Uncooked chicken breast rubbed and ready for the oven.

Preheat oven to 400F degrees.

3 ½ – 4      Pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts

House Seasoning:

1 ½ Tsp    Old Bay Seasoning

1 Tsp         Onion Powder

½ Tsp        Dried Rosemary

½ Tsp        Dried Thyme

½ Tsp        Garlic & Herb Powder

½ Tsp        Dried Mustard

½ Tsp        Fresh Ground Pepper

½ Tsp        Corse Salt

Mix all dried ingredients in a bowl with fingers rubbing herbs to get the essential oils.

In 13” x 9” glass baking dish drizzle about 1 TBSP D’Avolio Arbequina Olive Oil.  With clean hands, rub oil around dish.  Place chicken breasts in dish and coat with oil.  Sprinkle half the dry mixture on chicken and rub.  Flip chicken and repeat rubbing chicken well with mixture.  Place in 400F degree oven for about 25 minutes until cooked through and juice is clear.

Remove from oven, cover tightly with foil and allow cooling. 

Either slice in strips or store chicken in well sealed plastic container and refrigerate.  The strips make a great lean protein snack.  Make these up over the weekend for use during the week.