Curried Chicken with Cauliflower, Apricots and Olives

This Christmas we had a big group of family come into town to celebrate. Instead of doing gifts between individuals we did an adult gift exchange. Each person had to buy a gift for $20-40 that the majority would like and then we played the dice game to choose and steal gifts. Lucky for me, I won an awesome new cookbook and sheet pan (my other one is very very “seasoned”). The cookbook is called Sheet Pan Suppers by Molly Gilbert and so far the two recipes I’ve made have been easy, tasty and not too much prep or dishes to prepare! I can’t wait to try more recipes in it as we have time!

One of the many great things about having family come to town is the extra hands to hold baby Miles usually allows me to cook a few nights.  I have found out quickly in Miles’ first 4 week of life that when it’s just me and the kids around to prep dinner (kids being: 3.5, 2 and 1 month) we survive on quick dinners not new recipes.

This past month we have had a lot of company to help us as we get used to being a family of 5. Ryan’s grandmother, Audrey, was our most recent visitor and the giver of my great cookbook. What better time to try our first recipe out. We decided on a curried chicken dish with an interesting pairing of cauliflower, apricots and olives. It was DELICIOUS. A hint of sweetness from the apricots and tartness from the olives paired great with the curry flavors. If you like curry, you’ll love it. We served it over brown rice.

Curried Chicken with Cauliflower, Apricots and Olives

Recipe from: Sheet Pan Suppers by Molly Gilbert

Ingredients

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3/4 cup chopped dried apricots (soaked in hot water for 5 minutes and drained)
  • 1 cup pitted green olives, halved
  • 2 cups brown rice, uncooked (or quinoa as a gluten free option)

Directions

  1. Combine the chicken thighs with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil, 2 tsp of hte curry powder, the cyaenne, 1/2 tsp of the paprika, the cinnamon, vinegar and 1/2 tsp of the stalt in a large zip-top bag. Seal the bag and make sure chicken is covered in marinade. Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 45 minutes and up to overnight (we did 45 minutes)
  2. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425 and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  3. Place the cauliflower on the sheet pan. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp curry powder, 1/2 tsp paprika and 1/2 tsp salt and toss to coat. Scatter the apricots and olives over the cauliflower, and toss to combine. Spread into a single layer.
  4. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade and place them atop the cauliflower, spacing them evenly apart. Discard the bag. Roast, rotating the pan halfway through, until the cauliflower is slightly charred and the chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes (a thermometer into the meat should read 165).
  5. Start the whole grain rice when you put the meat into the oven as it will takes ~40 minutes. Cook according to brown rice packaging. If making quinoa you can do it now or once the chicken has been in for 20 minutes as it won’t take as long. I recommend preparing 2 cups (before cooked)

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Chicken Tortilla Soup and Turkey Lasagna

When you pass your 40 week gestation date and you feel comfortable with baby happily hanging out you realize it’s time to cook. We hit single digits for the first time all winter and we didn’t have plans (as we could have been at the hospital) so Ryan and I took our stab at getting ahead for dinners. Yesterday he made our favorite turkey lasagna recipe and today we made chicken tortilla soup to freeze and enjoy post baby T3. Unlike a lot of chicken tortilla soups this one has noodles in it which I thought the kids would love. Two recipes down, one Asian Noodle dish prepped and ready for dinner tonight.

Looking for an easy, tasty meal for these cold days? Try one of these recipes. The lasagna is my favorite as it’s easy but still has homemade sauce and great flavor. As for the soup, one spoon in to taste test and it’s yummy!

Turkey Lasagna-  (Ina Garten) Barefoot Contessa

Chicken Tortilla Soup (with noodles) from damndelicious.net

Family Meal: Biscuit Topped Chicken Potpie

We learned at 13 months old that our daughter has a milk/dairy intolerance. She can eat yogurt but anything in addition to that ends with many diaper changes. Since this realization I’m always on the look out for new dairy free recipes since my mind always comes back to lasagna, macaroni and grilled cheese. Thanks to my recent Cooking Light I was reminded of a childhood classics to re-enter into our dinner menu rotations: chicken potpie.

This one was a biscuit-topped chicken potpie. It was DELICIOUS. Everyone in the family was a fan even mom and dad. I used Pillsbury Biscuits vs making them homemade (as I listed below) and put the chicken in the crockpot the day before so all I had to do was prepare the filling the night of which made for an easy dinner. Kids or no kids its a classic flavor that I’d recommend.

Biscuit-Topped Chicken Potpie

Adapted from Cooking Light September 2013

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (one medium onion)
  • 1 cup chopped carrot (~2-3 carrots)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery (~1-2 stalks)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (~3/4 pound chicken)
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 1 (3/4-ounce) package fresh poultry blend herbs
  • One container of Biscuits (such as Pillsbury)

Directions

  1. This recipe calls for the chicken to be cooked when you prepare it. I usually put the chicken in my small crock pot with chicken broth in the morning or a day ahead. Another option would be to use a Rotisserie Chicken chopped up. Whatever you chose, make sure your chicken is cooked before moving on.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°.
  3. To prepare filling, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery; sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Stir flour, salt, and pepper into vegetables; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in chicken and peas; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove rosemary from herb package; reserve for another use. Strip leaves from stems of remaining herbs; chop leaves to measure 2 tablespoons. Stir herbs into filling. Pour filling in a 2-quart baking dish or cast-iron skillet coated with cooking spray.
  4. Arrange the raw biscuits on top of the filling; coat with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 35 minutes or until browned.

Basil Pepper Pesto

My husband and I love sauces, spreads and things with a kick. Now that it’s basil season that means lots of pesto. Pesto chicken paninis, pasta, sandwiches, salad dressings…you get my drift. We love pesto!! When we were up north over the fourth of July I saw a recipe for a spicy pesto that caught my eye. We made it last week and I can’t wait to make it again this week. It was AMAZING. I know I say that a lot but this truly was to die for. We ate it everyday until it was gone. Day one was grilled chicken with the pesto on top, day two paninis with pesto, day three grilled chicken club sandwiches with pesto. I even found myself sneaking in the kitchen to dip pretzels in it during the day. If you like a little spice you will love this recipe (I think I may even try a little jalapeno in it next time too to kick it up another notch). They said you can store it in your refrigerator for up to three weeks but believe me it will be long gone before you have to worry about the expiration date. I can’t wait to try it on pasta and grilled fish!!

Basil Pepper Pesto

Adapted from David Rocco’s Pesto Sauce in People Magazine

Ingredients

  • 2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
  • 1 cup hot peppers (the original recipe calls for Serrano, I used salsa hot peppers from my garden but a mix would work as well. Now if you don’t like a big kick go with a pepper with less heat like a banana)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil packed)
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

 

Directions

  1. Place the first four ingredients in a food processor fitted with steel blade. Process until well combined (but not pureed). If you don’t have a food processor you could also chop these ingredients on a cutting board and lace in a bowl
  2. Place mixture in a jar or storable container and pour in olive oil and stir.

The amazing cooks I know…

It’s been too long since I featured some of the amazing food that I eat after other peoples hard work. A few weeks ago my dear friend Amanda, who I met at work came over to visit Elena and I. Not only did she bring wine she also brought everything to cook us dinner. I was already grateful for her company and delicious food but we also had a good cribbage match (I won) and she did the dishes…talk about an amazing friend. For those of you who have moved to a city that you didn’t grow up in or go to college in you will agree it’s always fun to make new friends. I was blessed to be introduced to Ryan’s friends from growing up when we moved here and I nowcall them my best friends as well but it’s always fun when you start to make your first friends on your own. Amanda is one of those women for me. After working at Regions Hospital for about six months I had seen her a few times in medical rounds and then noticed her wearing something Badger (I can’t remember if it was her badge holder or what). As most of you know I’m a huge UW-Madison fan as I am an alum (Go Bucky!) so I struck up a conversation that likely went something like this:

Me: “Hey are you a Badger fan”

Amanda: “Yeah I went there for college”

Me: “Me too. Want to come over this weekend to watch the football game”

Amanda: “Definitely”

…the rest is history. We’ve attended Badger/Gopher basketball games together, attended an alumni event and watched football games together. She’s just as into sports as me and always up to talk about the recent game and news at work. So, over the years we have become great buds. We have much more in common than Madison such as our love for cooking, laughing, playing cribbage, gardening, etc…

Have I talked her up enough!?! Okay, well now let me show you what she made for dinner.

Amandas Ravioli with Chicken, Asparagus, Roasted Tomatoes topped with Fresh Basil Pesto

Ingredients

  • Roasted tomatoes (see recipe below)
  • Fresh basil pesto (see recipe below or you could use store bought but you would lose a lot of the fresh taste)
  • Two package of pre-made ravioli, any type (we used one mushroom, one beef)
  • 3 chicken breasts, pounded so they have a thin consistent thickness
  • Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • One bunch of Asparagus, washed with the ends trimmed off

Things that can be made ahead:

Roasted Tomatoes: 

Toss cherry tomatoes with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, place on a pan. Cook in the oven at 350 until the juices start to run and the tomatos are kinda of shrivelled up (~30-40 minutes)

Fresh Basil Pesto:
2 cups packed fresh basil
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup shredded parmesean
3 cloves of garlic (FYI: Amanda uses a couple more than this because she love garlic)
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a  a food processor, blend then slowly add 1/2 cup olive oil

Day of Directions:

  1. Fill a pot with water and bring to boil
  2. Heat grill to 400 degrees
  3. Pound out chicken until it is equal thickness throughout between 2 pieces of wax or parchment paper (You can just used a flat pan for this if you dont have a meat pounder)
  4. Season chicken with Grill Mates Monterey Steak seasoning
  5. Spray grill pan and place asparagus and chicken on the grill pan. Grill until cooked (~6-7 minutes per side)
  6. While the chicken and asparagus are cooking place ravioli in the boiling water and cook according to the directions.
  7. Once the chicken and asparagus are done, let the chicken rest, then cut into pieces
  8. Place a few ravioli onto a bowl or plate, layer with chicken, asparagus, cold roasted tomatoes top with pesto and serve.

Spicy Korean BBQ Chicken

Day twelve of being a mom and so far I love it. Things thus far have gone relatively smooth and I’ve been able to occasionally cook. I even have a new number #1 fan who already joins me in the kitchen (see picture below). I think she’s going to love cooking just liker her mama. 

For my first post in awhile I didn’t know where to begin with new recipes…the last month of pregnancy my stack of recipes to make got overwhelmingly big. Since I’ve been away from posting in awhile I wanted to make sure my first post back was dynamite so I chose a recipe my husband gave me from Men’s Health for our barbecue with my parents and Ryan’s parents. The recipe is from the executive chef of Momofuku David Chang. Having eaten his food before in New York (and knowing my cousins husband works at his restaurant) I knew this would be a delicious recipe and we were right. This chicken was absolutely dynamite. I HIGHLY recommend making it this summer. It was a fun new flavor for grilling chicken. The chicken thighs were extremely tender and the slight kick with Korean flavor was addicting. This is a recipe I will definitely be using again soon!

Spicy Korean BBQ Chicken 

Recipe from Executive Chef David Chang featured in Men’s Health Magazine

Ingredients

  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 Tbsp sriracha hot sauce
  • 2 Tbsp grapeseed oil (I used canola oil instead)
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp korean miso or white japanese miso
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger (I grated mine in)
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions

Directions

  1. Place the chicken thighs in a large resealable bag.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, apple juice, honey, miso, ginger, garlic and salt. Add 1 cup of water and mix thoroughly. Next, mix in the onion and scallions.
  3. Pour half the marinade mixture into the plastic bag with the chicken, seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to a day. (Note: I would only pour enough to cover the chicken and save the rest to make the sauce after as the topping sauce was delicious)
  4. Refrigerate the remaining marinade in a small covered saucepan
  5. When it’s time to eat place the saucepan of reserved marinade on medium heat and simmer until the mixture is thickened and saucelike, about 20 minutes
  6. Take the chicken out, brush a grill pan with oil and set the heat to medium high. When the grill is hot place the thighs on and cook until the undersides have charred grill marks (about 5 minute).
  7. Flip the thighs and cook until a meat thermometer inserted in the middle reads 165 degrees (about 5 more minutes). Let them rest for 2-3 minutes.
  8. Serve  chicken with the sauce on top (it’s recommended to serve with white rice and grilled vegetables such as scallions, mushrooms or bok choy…we  served it with grilled zucchini, eggplant and corn)


Chicken Salad

There is nothing I love more than to make a salad that I can enjoy for dinner and pack for lunches the next few days. With fresh bought pita pockets and organic chicken in the freezer I thought what better than to make chicken salad. I wasn’t interested in traditional chicken salad and while I love chicken salad with grapes and pineapple I decided to try a new spin tonight, a Mediterranean version. I was very pleased with the result and am looking forward to having them for lunch again tomorrow. The recipe has a slight kick from the crushed red peppers, some crunch from the bell pepper,a salty flavor from the olives and the dressing is light with a citrus tang flavor. A definite repeat recipe.

Chicken Salad Pita Pockets

Adapted from Cooking Light’s Mediterranean Chicken Salad Pitas

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain no fat Greek yogurt
  • the juice from one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (I did 1/2 tsp since we like spice and it gave it a nice kick but if you don’t like spice I’d do 1/4 tsp)
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups cooked chicken, diced (I diced the chicken raw and sauteed it to cook it quickly)
  • 1 larger red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped olives (I did kalamata but green would work too)
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 (15 ounce) can of low sodium chick peas, rinsed
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • Pitas cut in half
  • Tomato slices
  • Lettuce

Directions:

  1. Combine first four ingredients in a bowl and set aside
  2. In a separate bowl combine the cooked chicken, olives, cilantro and chick peas.
  3. Now add the yogurt to the chicken mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper .
  4. Stuff the pita halves with sliced tomatoes, lettuce and chicken salad and serve.

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Food of the Month

I just returned from an eight day trip in the Pacific north west and Canada and while part of September is over it’s still not to late to enjoy this months food. Peppers! They come in many shapes, sizes, colors and spice levels.

The Scoville Heat Scale is a great way to see what level of pepper is best for you.

To start the celebration of the food of the month I made Un-Stuffed Peppers. You may be asking why I made the recipe “unstuffed.” It came down to the size of my peppers. I was planning to make stuffed peppers for dinner but all the peppers I wanted to stuff were too small to fit much filling so instead I mixed all the things you would put in a stuffed pepper together in a dish and baked it. I am eating this dish as I type my blog post and OMG it’s AMAZING! Every year when I make stuffed peppers I just use up what I have in my fridge and that is what this recipe was but the flavors came together perfect. The pepper mix was perfect since my husband and I like a small kick in our dishes.  This is a great dish that we will definitely have again!

“UN-Stuffed” Peppers

Ingredients

  • 2 cups brown rice (cook according to instructions. I did 2 cups of brown rice with 4 cups chicken stock)
  • You could use any combination of peppers. Here is what I used: 7 small Bell Peppers, 1 Banana Pepper, 1 Jalapeno (without seeds), 1 unknown hot pepper from crop share (the dark green one), diced
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp Italian Parsley, chopped
  • 3 chicken sausages, cut into slices (you could also sub boca crumbles here for a vegetarian dish)
  • 1 small zucchini (or in my case it was 1/3 of a large one)
  • 2 ears of corn, cook and add only the kernels
  • 2 ounce of cheese (any type of shredded or diced cheese will work)

Directions

  • Cook rice according to directions
  • Stir all ingredients in a big bowl with the cooked rice and mix
  • Grease a 9 x 11 pan and pile ingredients in.
  • Bake at 400 for ~35-40 minutes
Garden Peppers

Unstuffed Peppers – prebaking


…just went and got seconds…time to go.The beauty of this dish is it’s flexibility. Don’t have one of the ingredients or want to add another vegetable, go for it.

Food of the Month

Get out your togas because this month we’re going Greek. Rich and creamy are just two words to describe Greek yogurt, which is this months featured food. A few years ago Greek yogurt was a rarity on produce shelves but with the growing attention it’s gotten from health  nuts it has gained popularity. Over the past year I’ve seen more brand available at supermarkets and more competitive prices. This calcium-loaded food contains healthy bacterial cultures that boast digestion benefits. Like traditional yogurt Greek style yogurt is made from fermented milk. It is then strained in cloth leaving a thicker product with the same sour taste. Some of the nutrition benefits are due to the increased concentration of Greek yogurt. It generally contains more live cultures and probiotics. In addition, Greek yogurt is higher in protein and lower in sugar than traditional yogurt and since it contains fewer carbohydrates it is also lower in lactose content (which is great for all of my fellow lactose intolerant readers out there). One 6-ounce container of Chobani nonfat Greek yogurt contains 140 calories and 14 grams of protein per serving which keep me feeling full and satisfied between breakfast and lunch.
Greek yogurt is very versatile so think outside the container. It can be used as a base for dips, sauces or smoothies. Here’s what to know when you head to the stores.
  • Look for a low fat or non-fat variety.
  • The plain flavors tend to be best for dips and sauces and take on the flavor of the herbs or spices added.
  • If you have children you may want to Chobani’s Champions that were developed just for kids. Each 3.5-ounce container contains 100 calories.

Here are a few of my favorite varieties and recipes

Brands

  • Trader Joe’s Greek Style NonFat Yogurt- Honey Flavored
  • Chobani Nonfat Greek Yogurt– Strawberry & Peach flavored or the 2% Fat Pineapple flavored variety (I have yet to see the 0% honey, black cherry or lemon flavors at my supermarket but can imagine I’ll like those too).
  • Fage- comes in a large container with a lid to reseal. Great for making the french onion dip recipe below

Most Recent Dish I’ve made with Greek Yogurt

Bahamian-Spiced Chicken with Yogurt-Cilantro Sauce

Source: Bobby Flay for Health Magazine
Pictured above
**My husband and I both loved the flavor of the chicken. I can imagine it will be even better when we are able to make it on the grill.

Sina’s French Onion Dip

Ingredients (I don’t usually measure but you can’t mess it up)

  • Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Diced green onions
  • Sodium free seasoning blend (any should work)
  • Small amount of Morton’s seasoning blend

Directions

Mix onions and seasonings into the yogurt to your liking. It was delicious with potato chips!