Main Course Recipes

Sheet Pan Greek Lemon Chicken and Potatoes

It’s the first Friday in June. June 2nd, to be exact. And, apparently, today is national “leave work early” day. (True story. You can look it up.)  I’m never one to not honor a national holiday …  or, national day … or, a made up by social media “day”.  Soo … I’m leaving work early to spend the weekend with my family on the shores of Southwest Michigan. Coming for ya Bakken clan.

The above paragraph has little to do with this deliciously simple and flavorful recipe. I just felt the need to divulge … and pay tribute to our “national holiday”.

I love cooking meals on sheet pans. You will too after you follow this recipe.  Healthy, minimal prep/clean up, and the pretty presentation.  A beautiful food painting on a canvas … made of metal.

Greek lemon Chicken and Potatoes

Anyway … the point is … this is delicious!  I know it’s extremely cliché to call perfectly cooked meat “super tender” … but that’s what this chicken is. And nobody ever complained about eating anything that was super tender and perfectly cooked (and Greek). At least, nobody I know.  So, just put everything on the same tray, pop it in the oven, and enjoy deliciousness. What would be easier for us “leave work early” slackers?

Greek Lemon Chicken and Potatoes 2

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into wedges
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 medium Yukon gold potatoes
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place chicken skin side up on a large sheet pan. If you do not have a large sheet plan, split onto two smaller sheet pans.
  3. Combine half of the lemon juice (1 lemon), 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 tbsp dried oregano, and half of the minced garlic (5 cloves) in a small bowl; pour over the chicken pieces. Toss chicken so sauce gets on both sides.
  4. Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  5. Cut the potatoes into quarters (you can peel them or not). Place in a bowl.
  6. To the potatoes, add the remaining olive oil (1/2 cup), oregano (1 tbsp), lemon juice (1 lemon) and minced garlic (5 cloves). Season with salt and pepper and toss until well coated.
  7. Add the potatoes onto the sheet pan with the chicken, including all of the sauce.
  8. Nestle the onion wedges between the chicken and potatoes.
  9. Roast for about an hour and fifteen minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes and onions are golden and crispy.
  10. I like to serve this dish with fresh lemon wedges straight off the sheet pan. Easy peasy! Just be sure to scrape up all of the browned bits from the bottom of the sheet pan as you serve – they are the best.
  11. Serve with homemade tzatziki and a fresh green salad.

*You can use less oil in this dish if you are watching calories. However, the oil is what helps with browning the chicken and potatoes.

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Main Course Recipes

Spicy Chicken Teriyaki Bowls

Bowls are, as the kids say these days, the new hotness.

I attended my youngest sister’s college graduation this past weekend. While joyfully celebrating, something very real was obvious: My parent’s generation still considers me young, while my sister’s generation certainly considers me the opposite. I was straddling the fence between “oh, you’re still young,” and, “is your old sister going to make it out?” Heck, the truth is I’ve been atop this figurative ‘age fence’ for a while now.

 

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teriyakibowl6

What does any of this have to do with spicy chicken teriyaki bowls, you ask?  Well, I was just attempting to justify the use of the term “new hotness” in that opening sentence.

So, lately I’ve been using my Sunday afternoons to prep meals for the upcoming week. I’ll fire up a few different proteins like chicken, shrimp, salmon and chicken sausages. I’ll cook up some grains (farro, quinoa, rice, couscous).  I’ll roast all the veggies in my crisper drawers. I’ll make a few sauces/condiments (tzatziki, hummus, pico de gallo, pickled onions), and I’ll prep any other veggies to be eaten raw (shred cabbage, clean lettuce, slice bell peppers). Each night that week I’ll whip up a different bowl combo.  A weeknight dinner in 10 minutes. Added bonus, one dish to be cleaned after a busy day. I’ll be sharing a few of my favorite combos soon.

What does all of that weekly prepping have to do with spicy saucy chicken teriyaki bowls, you ask? Well, it doesn’t take much to elevate the weekly prepped ingredients to the next level for a Saturday or Sunday night dinner … just like I did here. These delicious bowls are perfect for the kids, the parents, and those of us on the ‘age fence’ … and they’re comin’ in HOT!

 

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Ingredients:

For the chicken:

  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger root, grated
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

For the veggies:

  • 1 lb broccolini, stem ends trimmed
  • 5 baby bok choy, cut into quarters
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes (less if you don’t want it too spicy)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For finishing:

  • 1 1/2 cups jasmince rice, cooked according to package instructions
  • finely sliced green onion
  • toasted sesame seeds

Directions:

In a mixing bowl, combine soy sauce, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, garlic, ginger, black pepper, and cayenne. Whisk until combined.  Place chicken in a separate bowl and pour over the sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Meanwhile, prep the veggies and pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. In a small mixing bowl, combine olive oil, sesame oil, low sodium soy sauce, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt; mix well.  Place broccolini and baby bok choy on a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with sauce. Be sure to get the sauce into all the small crevices of the baby bok choy. Reserve veggies and place in the oven when you begin reducing the teriyaki sauce below. Don’t worry, I’ll remind you. (See below underlined text.)

In a small bowl, combine corn starch with 2 tbsp water.  Mix well and set aside.

Place 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Remove chicken pieces from marinade and add to skillet.  (I did this with tongs as to not add too much of the marinade to the pan).  Cook the chicken in two batches as to not overcrowd the pan. Reserve marinade. Cook until chicken is just cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. (At this point add your veggies to the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees F.)  Add reserved marinade to the pan you cooked the chicken in and bring to a boil over high heat, cook for 10 minutes stirring often. Add cornstarch mixture, reduce heat to a simmer, and stir continuously for an additional 5 minutes until sauce is thickened. (Be sure to keep your eye on the sauce. it can easily burn. Your sauce is done when it can coat the back of a wooden spoon.) Add the chicken back in the sauce, and cook 2-3 additional minutes to heat through.

Assemble bowls – Add a scoop of rice, a heap of teriyaki chicken, residual sauce, and veggies, and finish with green onion and sesame seeds.

Soup and Chili Recipes

Lasagna Soup

lasagnasoup3

I have quite the love affair with both soup and lasagna. (My husband is fully aware of these ongoing affairs and he’s cool with it.) Even though my lasagna love is strong, I don’t always have the motivation or time to make it. So I improvise. Case in point, lazy ravioli lasagna,  individual spaghetti squash lasagnas, and now this delicious lasagna soup.

One of the main pluses of this dish, other than that ricotta cheese, is that the noodles are cooked on the side. Thus, you can add as much or as little pasta to your bowl as you want. Works for the portion controllers and the carb cravers. Also, with the pasta on the side, soup leftovers are plentiful. You know those soggy noodles in left over soups? Not happening here.

Beautiful and delicious. I love it.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 lbs. mild Italian chicken sausage (pork sausage can also be used)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more if you prefer spicy)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 28oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, I used a combo of basil and parsley
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Ricotta Cheese Mixture:

  • 8oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Toppings:

  • 1lb. fusilli pasta cooked, drained, rinsed, and tossed with 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, I used a combo of basil and parsley

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add Italian sausage, breaking up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, and brown until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add chopped onion and red bell pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 additional minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate and cook for 2 additional minutes.
  2. Add diced tomatoes, bay leaf, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the fresh herbs and season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  3. While soup is simmering, cooking the pasta according to package instructions. Drain, rinse, toss with olive oil, and reserve. Also prepare the ricotta cheese topping. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.
  4. To serve, ladle soup into a large bowl, and add 1/2 -1 cup cooked fusilli, a dollop of the fresh ricotta cheese mixture, a sprinkle of mozzarella and Parmesan, and some fresh herbs.
Salads, Sandwiches

Lebanese Lamb Kufta Kebabs and Tabbouleh Salad

Lebanese Lamb Kafta Kebabs and Tabbouleh Salad1 (2)

I grew up with a Lebanese Mother who loved to cook.  Her Lebanese feast ranks #1 on my “If I was stranded on a deserted island with one meal, what meal would it be?” list. So, with that in mind, go grab plenty of parsley and lamb and let’s get crackin’ on a few key components of that “#1 – stranded on an deserted island” meal.

(Side note: I just got an idea for a silly/cool drawing. Me on an empty tropical beach. A giant Lebanese feast sitting on a beach towel in front of me. Me smiling.)

I’ve tried many different tabbouleh recipes. Here’s my favorite, (meaning it’s obviously the best).  This refreshing parsley salad is made with bulgur wheat, fresh mint, tomatoes, cucumbers, and scallions. It’s dressed with a lemony vinaigrette. I prefer my tabbouleh salad heavier on the parsley and lighter on the mint.

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For those unfamiliar, kufta refers to kebabs made with ground meat rather than cubed. In this dish, I’m showcasing the traditional Lebanese kufta recipe that my family makes at home. Extremely easy to prepare, it makes one hell of crowd pleasing dinner staple. I make it quite often. I prefer to stuff my kufta in a warm pita along with homemade tabbouleh salad, hummus or tzatziki (or both), red onion, kalamata olives, and feta cheese. I guess I also prefer to occasionally imagine myself eating this on a tiny tropical island.

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LAMB KUFTA KEBABS:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground lamb (or ground beef or chicken)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced (I use a garlic press)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, sometimes I also add fresh mint if I have on hand
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (leave out if you do not like spice)
  • 25 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

Directions:

Mix the lamb, garlic, salt, pepper, onion, parsley, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, and cayenne pepper in a bowl until combined. Be mindful not to over mix. Form the mixture into 25 balls. Form each ball around the tip of a skewer, flattening into a 2 -3 inch tube.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.

Preheat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium heat, and lightly oil grate/pan. Cook the skewers 6-8 minutes rotating when necessary.

Serve in a pita (or on a bed of rice pilaf). Serve with tzatziki sauce and/or hummus, red onion, kalamata olives, feta cheese and tabbouleh salad (recipe below).

TABBOULEH SALAD

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (I use a garlic press)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups flat-leaf parsley (2-3 bunches), finely chopped -remove stems and pulse in a food processor
  • 3 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 3-4 tomatoes on the vine, seeds removed and diced
  • 2 small cucumbers, peeled, seeds removed and diced
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS:

Combine water and bulgur in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir, reduce to simmer, and cover for 12 minutes (OR according to package directions).  If any water remains, drain. Transfer bulgur to a large bowl and let cool for 30 minutes.

Combine lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk until well blended. Add parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumber, and scallions to the bulgur wheat. Add the dressing and toss.

Note:  Sometimes I add 1 cup of chickpeas to the salad to bulk up the protein.  Tabbouleh is best served the same day it is made.

Side Dish Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes

Maple and Harissa Roasted Carrots

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It’s an Autumn Saturday morning in Chicago. As I sit here and type this, I’ve already seen the weather go from dark and cold, to windy and pouring rain. Now, its slightly breezy and a lovely 70 degrees F and sunshine. Why am I telling you this? Well, for one thing, my fiance is a weather geek and it’s rubbed off on me. For another thing, I’m attempting to draw the correlation between this simple carrot recipe (three distinct flavor profiles), and the three stages of this mornings weather. For the last thing, I realize this is a lame analogy … I’ll do better next time.

Silly food – weather comparisons aside, this IS a delicious and lovely carrot recipe. A great combination of sweet and spicy with a slight smoky flavor from the cumin. So easy, even your significant other couldn’t screw it up.

I love buying carrots with the leafy tops still attached. Remove tops when you arrive home and store in an airtight plastic bag in your refrigerator. They will last much longer this way. You already know this, but it’s worth reiterating that grocery store pre bagged carrots have nothin’ on fresh farmers market carrots.

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Simple side dish is the name of the game here.  Cut carrots, toss with glaze, and roast away. Just make sure to bring an umbrella when you leave the house today.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs (about 6-8 large) carrots
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp harissa chili paste, more if you like spicy
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
  2. Peel and trim off the ends of the carrots.  Cut into quarters, first crosswise, then lengthwise.
  3. Make glaze by combining the remainder of the ingredients.
  4. Toss carrots in glaze.
  5. Arrange carrots onto baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 30-35 minutes. Flip/turn carrots 2 times during the cooking process.
Soup and Chili Recipes

Italian Sausage, Kale and White Bean Soup

Italian Sausage, White Bean and Kale Soup

 

(New Years day, 2013)  While watching his beloved Stanford Cardinal lose in the Rose Bowl, our friend declares, “this is the best soup I’ve ever had.”

(I can’t remember the specific below zero windchill day in the month of February, 2014)  My fiance came in from the cold to find this soup cooking. He consumed it. He smiled, then he DIDN’T complain about the weather.

(Two weeks ago) I was tense. I made this soup. I ate it. I relaxed.

This soup has powers. Powers that can change your state of mind. Make you forget about your team losing a big game. Make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, even on the worst of days. Make you involuntarily exhale an audible “Mmmmm” after your first spoonful. Make you relax away the days tension in your shoulders and jaw. Make you smile.

Doesn’t take long to make. Doesn’t take long for the robust aroma to permeate your kitchen. Doesn’t take long to realize … This soup is powerfully, comfortably, so very … good.

Italian Sausage, White Bean and Kale SoupItalian Sausage, White Bean and Kale Soup

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cleaned, ribs removed and diced
  • 1 28oz can chopped tomatoes in juice
  • 2 15oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 boxes fat free chicken broth (8 cups)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 sprig rosemary, left whole (I have a rosemary plant on my windowsill.  Rosemary can easily left out if you do not have it readily available)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 lb dried pasta (I used medium shells)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, plus more for garnish, chopped
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
  • Additional chicken broth, if needed

Directions:

Heat a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the Italian sausage and cook for 6-8 minutes until no longer pink while breaking up the sausage into bite sized pieces with the back of a wooden spoon. Add onions, celery, carrots and red bell pepper, and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute until fragrant.

Add tomatoes, beans, chicken broth, oregano, red pepper flakes, rosemary, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  (Note: Cook the soup at this stage for as long as you can. Sometimes I let the soup simmer away for several hours.)  During the last 10 minutes of cook time, add kale and cook for 10 minutes. Remove rosemary stem and adjust seasoning for salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup fresh parsley.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and reserve.

Add the cooked pasta to the soup pot, simmer for a few minutes, and ladle into bowls. Top with Parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley.

Note: If you plan to have leftover soup to eat later in the week, do not add the noodles to the soup pot. Instead, add 1/2 cup cooked pasta to individual bowls and ladle pipping hot soup on top. (When noodles are added straight to the pot, they will adsorb the broth and leftovers wouldn’t be much of a “soup” anymore.)

Appetizers, Salads

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad-2

 

“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” Laura Ingalls Wilder was right on.

The freshness of your ingredients – heirloom tomatoes, burrata cheese, fresh basil – make this simple salad so beautiful and delicious. Ideal for late summer gatherings with friends or family.  Pair with a good bottle of wine and fresh bread.

A simple post for a simple salad. I’d like to think Laura would wholeheartedly enjoy this. I’m certain you will.

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Ingredients:

  • 3 large Heirloom Tomatoes
  • 2 balls burrata cheese (8 ounces total), torn into pieces
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Wash, dry, and slice tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices.  Discard ends and season tomato slices with salt and pepper.
  2. Arrange tomatoes on a platter, overlapping slightly.  Top with burrata and fresh basil.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Servings: 4 (side-dish) or 2 (main-dish with some crusty bread)