Delicious Chicken Stew Recipe for a Chilly Day

chicken stew recipe with vegetables

I’d like to think I’d be craving ice cream by now, but with a nip still in the air, my go-to chicken stew recipe is on my mind. I love this stew at any time of year, especially when I’m hungry, but want a healthy option. This variation of Giada De Laurentiis’ Chicken Spezzatino is hearty, yet fresh and light at the same time. I recently shared the recipe with a friend and she gave it the thumbs up, so I thought you all might like it too.

While Giada uses split chicken breast on the bone (which I’ve done and it does add flavor) I opt for the easier alternative – boneless chicken breast and lots of it. I also prefer to use only white kidney beans (cannellini) vs. red. I think this adds to the lighter essence of the chicken stew which I favor. My final adaptation is that while the original recipe calls for ½ cup of fresh basil leaves. I load up with one, maybe even two cups. I just love the fresh basil taste and aroma.

Hear it goes…

Chicken Stew Recipe


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-4 stalks celery, cut
  • 2 carrot, peeled and cut
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 28oz. chopped, crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 14.5oz. can low-salt vegetable broth
  • 1-2 cup fresh basil leaves (I leave them whole)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 2-3 boneless chicken breast
  • 1 can Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • Salt and pepper to taste.


Warm oil in a pot. Add onion, celery and carrot until onions are translucent. Add salt, pepper and thyme.


Chicken Stew ingredients - sauteed onion, carrot, celery
Mirepoix – onion, carrot, celery


Add chicken breast and brown slightly.


Boneless chicken breast with chicken stew ingredients
Boneless chicken breast


Add tomato and chicken broth. Press chicken to submerge and bring to a boil. Add tomato paste (I skip this if I don’t have any in) and bay leaf. Lower heat to a simmer. Allow chicken to cook through until tender and breaks apart relatively easily with a fork. Once cooked through, remove chicken to slightly cool.


Chicken cooking in for chicken stew recipe
Cook chicken until tender


Add cannellini beans and basil to the broth.


Basil and white kidney beans - cannellini beans
Basil and beans


When chicken is cool enough to handle, break apart into bite size pieces and add back to the stew.


chicken stew recipe
Break chicken apart and add back in


Let all of the ingredients in the chicken stew simmer together for 10 minutes. Take off burner and let sit for 15 minutes before serving. Remove bay leaf. Great with rice or crusty bread, but also perfectly filling on its own.



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Moving Forward – A 50th Anniversary and More

Mom and Dad 1966
Mom and Dad 1966


It’s been mighty quiet around these parts lately. It’s school vacation week in Massachusetts and my neighborhood seemed like a ghost town.

While low key, my week had some highlights. Some higher than others, but even the small moments were meaningful. It may sometimes feel like we are standing still, but we are always still moving forward.

A Week in the Life…

  • We celebrated the confirmations of two lovely young ladies whom we’ve known since they were toddlers. As I watched them stand amongst more than 70 of their peers, I couldn’t help but think about time gone by. With Julia by my side, I realized she was just a year away from being part of this mature group. I felt nostalgic.
  • Speaking of Julia, she started her first real job. I couldn’t believe it when I dropped her off and said, “Have fun at work.” Where did my little 4 pound preemie go? Her life is moving forward so quickly, I can’t keep up.  I felt emotional.
  • I unloaded years’ worth of old magazine issues in which I had published articles. I’d collected multiple copies of cover stories and other contributions that I was particularly fond of. My house was overrun with magazines and it finally came time to sort through everything and let go of the extras. This was oddly hard to do – it’s as if a piece of me was in each publication no matter if I had one copy or ten, but I got the job done. I felt satisfied and a little unsure.
  • By far, the most impactful thing we did was celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. My sister, Karla, and I planned a lot of fun activities for the evening. We reminisced over old music, photographs and stories that we’ve been told before, but since forgotten. But most significant, was my parents’ telling of what has made their marriage work. “Compromise,” they agreed. We didn’t ask them to elaborate; we just listened and appreciated the message. I felt proud.
Mom and Dad still going strong and moving forward
Happy 50th Anniversary Mom and Dad 2016


No, we didn’t travel anywhere warm and exotic this vacation, yet I still came away from it feeling uplifted. Several opportunities to look at the past left me sentimental, but happy and ready to be moving forward to a bright future. All in all – a good week.

I hope yours was a good one too.

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Learn How to Sew at Reach Fashion

learn how to sew at reach fashion

The Rockingham Mall has a new pop-up shop and it’s just the kind of creative energy the retail center needs. This crafty corner, next to Macy’s on the second floor, puts sewing and fashion design in your hands. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to sew, or you have little ones interested in the craft, Reach Fashion is the place to be.

I’m a creative person – when I connect with people with a similar sensibility I’m immediately drawn to them. This was the case when I first met Giovanni Capato, owner and creative director of Reach Fashion.

Reach Fashion Owner Giovanni with two formal dresses
Giovanni and two glamorous dresses available for sale.


I first came to know Gio when my girls first asked to learn how to sew, and began taking sewing classes at his original location in Haverhill. I was thrilled for Julia and Ally to explore their artistic sides. The skirts, headbands and bags they brought home made me as proud as any basket they’ve ever scored on the basketball court. There is so much value in the creative arts and I love that Gio is reviving the lost art of sewing.

Sewing Classes and Fashion Camps

Now at The Rockingham Mall, Reach Fashion is making their weekly sewing lessons, fashion camps, custom-made clothing and alterations even more accessible. With school vacation upon us here in Massachusetts, there are still a few slots open in Gio’s afternoon session starting tomorrow from 1:30-4:00.  Your budding fashionistas will learn about basic stitching techniques, patterns, how to use a sewing machine and so much more.

Reach Fashion student sewing projects
Student projects include skirts, pants, pillows and more.


Camp will also be held next week, Tuesday through Friday, for New Hampshire students on break. Morning sessions are from 10:00-12:30 and afternoon from 1:30-4:00. Check back with Reach for their summer program.

The moment I saw the store’s artsy signage, I couldn’t wait to take a peek inside.  The colorful bolts of fabric, buckets of buttons and spools of thread were a feast for my eyes.

Learn how to sew at reach fashion
Color, classes, camp and more.


A glimpse of the sewing machine room left me itching to stitch. Good to know that adult sewing lessons are also available (Thursday nights and Saturday mornings).

If you are out and about at the Mall, and want to learn how to sew, be sure to stop into Reach Fashion to find out more about all they have to offer. Giovanni has so much to share, and if you are anything like me, you’ll love the authenticity and creativity of this new shop.

Reach Fashion has teamed up with Macy’s and other Mall stores to bring fashion to the forefront of your shopping experience. Keep an eye out for what’s new from Reach Fashion.
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Mind and Body Health: Making Exercise a Priority

exercise elliptical, stationary bike and schanuzer
Elliptical or bike? Neither – Oscar always comes first


Only one of the exercise options shown above has seen much activity lately. If you guessed the cute, fluffy one, you’re right.  Oscar demands a daily walk and I’m happy to accommodate. The problem is, if I walk him that’s one hour gone. If I then work out, that’s another hour, if not more, gone. I know we all have busy schedules and lately I’ve really been feeling that pain, both in my mind and body. I just have not had the time, energy or inclination to make exercise a priority. I’ll admit I’ve been bogged down with other obligations and I’m obsessed with this blog. I find it hard to focus on a good workout when I’m preoccupied. If I’m not up to giving 100% to a workout I tend to think, why bother? WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!

This is not news, we know this is wrong, but not until a recent bout of daily headaches did I realize what a toll this mentality had taken on my mind and body. I’m not a person who gets headaches, but this past week I could not shake a dull, nagging pain.  It was so draining and persistent, I thought it might be seasonal allergies. Headache aside, I decided to drag myself to my new fitness studio, FYFE Training (if you’re local, check out the spinning, tabata boxing and cross-conditioning classes). I’d been feeling guilty for not going because I felt my favorite instructor, Rory, would take note. I love Rory for her great classes and music, but also because she holds me accountable!

No sooner did I get moving, and Rory kicked my butt, did the headache disappear.

I was relieved, but also pretty mad at myself for reaching that point. I should have known that my sedentary ways had contributed to my fitness funk. From now on I follow Newton’s First Law of Motion- an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion. No more lazy-day headaches for me – I’m staying in motion.

What motivates you to stay active?

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Sous Vide: My Kind of Cooking

Sushi by C. Ross
Sushi by C. Ross


I love to cook. That’s a lie, but I do love to watch other people cook. I’ve been watching cooking shows since the days of Julia Child and Jacques Pepin on PBS. Today I’m obsessed with The Food Network – especially “Chopped.” I could watch that show for days.

But since we all need a little less screen-time, I decided to go live with my cooking curiosities. Last week The North Andover Country Club put on a cooking demonstration led by their knowledgeable and charming sous chef, C. Ross. I was accompanied by a few friends – a good thing since otherwise I might never have dragged myself out the door on a weeknight (2 teenage daughters=tired=old=I don’t care, I love staying in).

C. Ross opened with a beautiful serving of sushi. He shared that mastering sushi rice at home involves three very important ingredients: rice vinegar, salt and, to my surprise, sugar. It was delicious.

He upped the presentation by showing us how to make the prettiest wasabi shell.

Wasabi sea shell by C. Ross
Wasabi style.


Even my friend Maureen, who typically doesn’t eat sushi, enjoyed her tasting. Way to go Mo!

How to cook sous vide

For the entrée, we were enlightened about a cooking method called sous vide. It involves food placed in air-tight plastic bags, then submerged in a temperature controlled water bath. The end result is food cooked to an ideal temperature with ultimate moisture retention. Imagine flawless sous vide steak, salmon, chicken, eggs or veggies. No more hockey-puck filets for this girl! The concept behind the sous vide technique is that you heat the food just enough for it to reach the desired doneness, essentially eliminating the risk of over or under cooking.

The Menu

On this night we were having sous vide chicken flavored with blood orange, thyme and a touch of salt. Once out of the water bath, C. Ross gave it a quick sear to give it that crispy exterior we all love, meanwhile the center remained juicy and full of flavor.

Sous Chef C. Ross searing
Sear following sous vide


Served with tender, sous vide carrots and the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever eaten; I figured I couldn’t possibly ask for more.


Sous vide chicken and carrots with mashed potatoes
Dinner is served.


But then out came my absolute favorite dessert, crème brulee. This was again prepared sous vide and although I was already stuffed, I savored every last bite.


Sous vide Creme Brulee
Creme Brulee – yum!


This was an entertaining night that made me happy I’d gotten out, enjoyed a great dinner and learned something new. By the end, I declared C. Ross to be the next Food Network Star!

Interested in a Sous Vide machine?

I researched sous vide equipment online and found that Williams-Sonoma has a device that may just make my 2016 Christmas list.

Who knows, between all of the Tasty videos on Facebook and fun nights like this, I may end up loving cooking after all!

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