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Ellie Krieger's Chicken Cacciatore recipe. / Renee Comet / USA WEEKEND


Weeknights at about 6 o’clock can be a make-or-break time when it comes to eating well. It’s at that juncture, when appetites are raging and energy is flagging, that a crucial decision is made: Order takeout or cook at home.

Choosing the home-cooked option has more power than you may realize: Simply fixing food at home means you will automatically be eating smarter portions with much less saturated fat and sodium than if you went the restaurant route. And it costs less.

Having an arsenal of fuss-free recipes at your fingertips can tip the scales in favor of home cooking and can ultimately have a big influence on your family’s health. This savory chicken and vegetable stew is one of my go-to rush-hour staples. It involves basic ingredients, easily pulled together and on the table in about an hour. It is also one of those meals that tastes even better reheated, so you can make a double batch and refrigerate the leftovers or even make it ahead and freeze. It’s a healthy meal in a bowl that could make a delicious difference.

Savory Chicken Cacciatore

• 4 skinless bone-in chicken breast halves (about 2½ pounds)
• ¼ tsp. salt, plus more to taste
• ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
• 2 tsps. olive oil
• 1 medium onion, cut in half, then thinly sliced into half-moons
• 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
• 8 ounces white mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
• 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)
• ½ cup dry white wine
• 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, with juices
• ½ tsp. dried oregano
• 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes, or more to taste

Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels, then sprinkle with the salt and black pepper.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown the chicken on both sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Reduce the heat under the skillet to medium. Add the onion and bell pepper, cover and cook, stirring a few times, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the oregano and red pepper and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Return the chicken breasts to the pan and simmer, covered, until just cooked through, about 20 minutes longer. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, black pepper or red pepper.

Yield: 4 servings
Per serving (1 piece of chicken and ¾ cup vegetables and sauce): 343 calories, 11g carbohydrates, 56g protein, 5.5g fat (1g saturated), 3g fiber, 132mg cholesterol, 430mg sodium

Contributing editor and registered dietitian Ellie Krieger is best known as the host of Food Network’s Healthy Appetite. Her most recent cookbook is Comfort Food Fix: Feel Good Favorites Made Healthy.

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Ellie Krieger is host of the The Food Network’s hit show “Healthy Appetite,” which airs on The Cooking Channel. The author of three cookbooks, her latest is Comfort Food Fix: Feel Good Favorites Made Healthy. A registered dietitian, Ellie has helped out with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign and has teamed up with New York City SchoolFood initiative, where she created healthy, delicious menu items for students citywide.