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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Appetizers

Last-Minute Appetizer Recipes To The Rescue

Looking for a last-minute appetizer to serve at your upcoming holiday party?  I’ve got you covered.

These recipes will keep your guests happy and make it seem like you are the ultimate hostess. Because you are!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Andouille Pigs in a Blanket with Chutney Mustard Dipping Sauce

Andouille Pigs in a Blanket with Chutney Mustard Dipping Sauce

Baked Brie with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Thyme

Baked Brie

Cucumber, Whipped Feta, and Sun-Dried Tomato Bites

Cucumber, Whipped Feta, and Sun-Dried Tomato Bites

Whipped Feta with Herb Oil

Whipped Feta with Herb Oil

Zucchini Ribbon and Goat Cheese Bruschetta

Zucchini Ribbon and Goat Cheese Bruschetta

Lamb Meatball Lettuce Cups with Homemade Tzatziki Sauce

Lamb Meatball Lettuce Cups with Tzatziki Sauce

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.)

Salads

Sesame-Ginger Soba Noodle Salad with Chicken

Sesame-Ginger Soba Noodle Salad with Chicken

I’m writing this at 2pm on Friday of Labor Day weekend. We’ve all mailed it in at this point, right? We’re done doing “actual’ work. So, in the spirit of Labor Day, I give you this fantastic dish. Ideal for a lazy summer weekend afternoon. Sesame-Ginger Soba Noodle Salad with Chicken.  Vibrantly flavored, full of crisp vegetables, and easily adaptable. (Did I throw in enough buzz terms there?)

I made a vinaigrette packed with fresh ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce and a hint of heat from the chili paste. A subtle bit of spice. Just enough.  Soba noodles, often times labeled as buckwheat noodles, can be found in the Asian section of your supermarket. They’ve got a distinct flavor and sweetness. I love ’em.

Sesame-Ginger Soba Noodle Salad with ChickenSesame-Ginger Soba Noodle Salad with ChickenSesame-Ginger Soba Noodle Salad with Chicken

Easily modified by using any variety of vegetables you have on hand.  Asparagus in your crisper drawer? Shave thin and toss it in (That was an unintentional rhyme). Bright and beautiful green beans at the farmers market? Quickly blanch along with the soba noodles during the last minute of cook time, then add ’em to the party.  Looking for a meatless meal? Simply leave the chicken out. You’re the boss.

Whip this dish together before fall flavors take over the market. Unique, delicious, and (obviously) a cinch to put together. Now, let’s get after this long weekend!

Sesame-Ginger Soba Noodle Salad with ChickenSesame-Ginger Soba Noodle Salad with Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp canola oil, divided
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced or fresh ginger paste
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp chili paste
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • 8 ounces soba noodles
  • 1 lb (2 large) boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 2 large carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 handful cilantro, chopped
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, combine 2 tbsp canola oil, 2 tbsp sesame oil, 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 4 garlic cloves, 1 tbsp minced ginger, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 2 tbsp honey, and 1/2 tsp chili paste. Pulse until combined.  Pour sauce into a bowl, add toasted sesame seeds, and set aside.
  2. Cook soba noodles according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet with 1 tbsp oil over medium heat.  Add chicken, season chicken with salt and pepper, and cook until golden brown and just cooked through.  Add 1/3 of the sauce to the chicken, toss to coat, remove from heat, and set aside.
  4. Toss together noodles, cucumber, carrots, red pepper, cilantro, green onion, chicken, and another 1/3 of the sauce.  Add additional sauce if necessary.
  5. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Servings: 4

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.

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad-1Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese SaladHeirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad-3

 

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)

Appetizers, Main Course Recipes

Steamed Mussels with Wine, Garlic and Parsley

Steamed Mussels with Wine, Garlic and Parsley

 

I don’t cook mussels at home often enough. But, I did this past Friday. It was glorious.

Elegant, affordable, readily available, and a breeze to make. From the fridge to dinner table, the mussels are ready to devour in just 20 minutes. I paired this batch with white wine, garlic, parsley and lemon. Obviously, I had some good bread to soak up the broth.

A few tips about buying, storing, and cleaning:

Buying: When you’re at the fish market, make sure the mussels are kept over ice and that their shells are glistening with moisture. The shells should be tightly closed. The mussels should smell briny, like the ocean. Mussels are living creatures, so they will still be alive when you buy them at the store. (Don’t worry, they don’t bite) Though wild mussels are available in certain markets, the vast majority of mussels you’ll find at the market are farm-raised.

Storing: Mussels are best if cooked within a few hours of purchasing. If you can’t do that, they’ll be fine for a few days in the fridge. If you need to store them, place the mussels in a large bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel to keep the mussels protected and moist, and store in the fridge. The mussels need to breathe, so don’t store them in an airtight container or in water.

Cleaning: Mussels attach themselves to stable surfaces using thin sticky membranes referred to as “beards.”  Most farm-raised mussels will come debearded, but odds are good you’ll find a couple of stubborn beards left over.  Look for a group of short brown strings coming out on one side of the mussel where the two halves of the shell close. This is the “beard.” Grip these strings with your fingers and tug gently from side to side. As you tug, the strings will pull out and detach from the shell. If you have trouble gripping the beard with your fingers, a dry paper towel usually does the trick.

Steamed Mussels with Wine, Garlic and ParsleySteamed Mussels with Wine, Garlic and Parsley

 

On to the recipe …

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds mussels. Prince Edward Island (PEI) are my favorite.
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes (more if you want spicy)
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • Lemon wedges, to garnish
  • Crusty bread, to serve

Directions:

  1. Rinse the mussels in a strainer and check them over. If you feel any muddy spots, rub under running water to remove.  All the mussels should be tightly closed. Discard any mussels with cracked shells. If the shell is open, tap the mussel lightly against the counter. If the shell doesn’t close in a few minutes, discard the mussel. Do a quick check for beards.  If any beards are still attached, remove and discard.
  2. Now you’re ready to start cooking. Warm butter and olive oil over medium high heat in a large pot. Add shallot and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes until shallot is translucent and garlic fragrant. Season with freshly cracked black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  3. Add mussels to the pot and cook, stirring for 1 minute.  Pour chicken broth and white wine over the mussels and immediately cover pot with lid.  Cook, covered, for 5 minutes.  Shake the pan once or twice while cooking (with the lid on) to distribute mussels.
  4. After 5 minutes, the mussels should be fully cooked and open.  If not, return the lid to the pot and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  5. Add lemon juice and fresh parsley and give the mussels a good stir. This coats the mussels in the shallots, garlic and broth. Remove and discard any mussels that have not fully opened at this point.
  6. Serve mussels straight out of the pot in the middle of the table, or pour mussels and broth into 4 large bowls. Serve with extra lemon wedges, and crusty bread for mopping up the broth.

Servings: 4 (1 pound per serving)

Breakfast Recipes, Salads

Asparagus, Egg and Bacon Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

Asparagus, Egg and Bacon Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette4

 

I have to give you an excuse for going over a month between blog posts.  Would you believe I spent the last month in French Polynesia, retracing the last years of impressionist painter Paul Gauguin?  I wouldn’t either. (I’ll save that for next year.)

How about the fact that my good friend, chef Mario Batali, and I finally fulfilled our mutual dream of culinarily sailing the entire Great Lakes.  We only ate the fish we caught.  We prepared and cooked it all on our 35 foot Catalina sailboat.  Never came in to port for a month. You buy that excuse? (At least that one was regional.)

Or, maybe … just maybe, I got engaged. Yup.  That one’s actually true!

Between the many celebrations, and an actual work conference (my blog isn’t my “job” … yet), my time for posting was a bit gobbled up.  Fear not, my friends.  I’m back in the kitchen.  Excelsior!

Onward and upward, indeed, with this dish.  My, oh my!  Asparagus, hard boiled egg, and bacon … a match made in heaven. (See what I did there? He, he. I couldn’t resist.)  When tossed with a Dijon vinaigrette, this heavenly match becomes even more divine.

When asparagus is in season, buy fresh from the market and use within a day or two.  When asparagus is not in season, easily substitute green beans.  I typically keep hard boiled eggs on hand for an easy grab and go snack.  Thus, this salad comes together in a jiffy.  The minimal ingredient list makes this recipe inexpensive to put together.  A low carb, high protein, gluten-free breakfast / lunch for two.  Cooking for two just got a whole lot easier and a whole lot more meaningful 😉

Asparagus, Egg and Bacon Salad with Dijon VinaigretteAsparagus, Egg and Bacon Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette1Asparagus, Egg and Bacon Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette2Asparagus, Egg and Bacon Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette4

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 strips bacon
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends discarded and cut on a bias into bite size pieces (substitute green beans in off season)
  • 2-4 hard boiled eggs (how to cook hard boiled eggs), sliced into thirds and seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Fry bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and drain on a paper towel.  Once cooled, crumble into small pieces.
  2. Discard all but 1 tbsp of bacon grease from skillet. Return skillet to medium heat and add asparagus.  Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until tender.
  3. Prepare vinaigrette by whisking together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Divide the asparagus onto 2 plates. Top each plate with equal amounts of crumbled bacon and hard boiled egg slices.  Drizzle with dressing and serve.

Servings: 2