The Pied Piper of Illinois


This post comes with a warning.

The following is a true story. What you are about to read may make you nervous, twitchy, and inclined to run off and close all your windows.

You have been warned.

… Last Thursday, I was in a creative mood. I had chicken in the fridge, waiting to be eaten, as well as a beautiful red pepper that couldn’t go to waste. My eye fell on a lovely port wine that we use as a lasting substitute for red wine in cooking. It was time to combine the paints of pepper, port, and poultry to create of painting of artistic perfection. I hoped to hit the notes of this culinary symphony with perfect intonation.

(That’s a lot of cringe-inducing alliteration and clumsy artistic imagery in one paragraph, you say? Oh, I could do so much worse, dear reader. So. Much. Worse.)

Incidentally, last Thursday was also a lovely day. I threw all the windows open wide and left the sliding door open (with screens intact, of course). I then proceeded to make Balsamic Port Chicken (recipe below).

It was when I started simmering the vinegar and port that I noticed there seemed to be an awful lot of activity around my head. I looked to my right … and promptly wish I hadn’t.

We hang our bananas from hooks on the sides of our cabinets to keep them from turning into black mush under their own weight. At that moment, they were black …

with fruit flies.

I can tell you that I screamed like a little girl, threw my wooden stirring spoon somewhere in the direction of the stove, and high-tailed it out of there.

Somewhere in the recesses of my massively intelligent head, I knew that fruit flies are attracted to both wine and vinegar. Sadly, I did not remember this on the same day I cooked with both and left all the windows open.

“But Happy Jessie, you said all the screens were closed!” you cry. Well, let me tell you how it went down: when I circled around the house to close the windows, I saw that the screens on the lower level of the house were covered with fruit flies. Every fruit fly in the state of Illinois must have come to join the THIH party. It looked like something out of the movie Phenomena (which I have never seen and now never will).

Did I finish the dish? Heck, yes! It smelled (and eventually tasted) too good to give up. In fact, I call this recipe:

Totally-Worth-It Balsamic Port Chicken

  Prep Time: 10 minutes

  Cook Time: 1 hour

  Keywords: stir-fry saute entree chicken

Ingredients (2-4 servings)

  • 2 chicken breasts or thighs (about 1 lb total)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup port wine or other red wine of choice
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme


Sprinkle dry chicken with salt and pepper. Spoon flour onto a plate. Roll chicken around in the flour until coated.

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook for about 10 minutes, flipping once halfway through, or until skin is golden brown. Remove to plate.

Add onion and pepper to skillet. Cook and stir for about 9 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add chicken to skillet. Pour in wine, balsamic vinegar, and thyme. Cover and simmer 30 – 40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

If the sauce is not thick enough, remove chicken to warm plates and boil the sauce uncovered until it is reduced.

Serving suggestion: Try over brown rice, pasta, or quinoa, with a salad on the side.

Powered by Recipage

So, give this recipe a try! Just make sure all your windows are closed (and locked and covered with a fly-proof steel door, if you wish).

What of the fruit flies? Tune in tomorrow for my battle with the fruit fly infestation, including a video in which I talk like Marvin the Martian. Really, who could pass that up?

Happy Tuesday!

P.S. You may notice there are now both “Healthy Eats” and “Recipes” tabs in the top menu bar. The Recipes tab contains all the THIH recipes pre-hiatus, while the Healthy Eats tab has all the post-hiatus recipes in the snazzy Recipage format. I may combine the two recipe lists one day, but unless I win the lottery and hire a personal assistant to convert all the recipes to the Recipage format, probably not 🙂


  1. Ohhh….I am drooling!
    This looks seriously delicious!!

    Oh my gosh, i would have done the same thing!! I swear, I am such a scaredy when it comes to bugs!

  2. Worse is waking up to see a war army of ants crawling up your table to feast on some mysterious crumb!! They make my skin crawl! But haha, I just used up some pretty black bananas, so the memory of fruit flies is fresh on my mind too!

    1. Gah! The only thing worse than swarms of fruit flies is the armies of tiny ants! THANKS for that mental image, SOPHIA. lol 😉

  3. The recipe sounds great! It’s super hot here right now, but I will give this a try when it cools down a bit…

    We had a bad fruit fly problem a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t think of googling what to do for quite some time and just tried various (not very successful) things. Looking forward to seeing how you tackled the problem! 🙂

  4. Love the recipe! Cooking with wine always brings out amazing flavours and it’s so deliciously decadent 😉

    It’s been quite hot and sometimes I see fruit flies in the kitchen around the fruit bowl, they are so hard to get rid of!! I had no idea they were also attracted to wine and vinegar. Thank goodness you made it out unscathed 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *