Friday, September 27, 2013

Grilled Chicken with a Sweet and Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Reduction

I love grilling meats, but the one thing I miss is being able to create a great pan sauce from the drippings you get with stove top cooking. Often when we grill chicken I'll make some sort of dipping sauce, reduction, chimichurri or glaze to go with it.

Most recently I was inspired by a big red pepper I spotted when I got my chicken out of the fridge. I decided to roast the pepper and make some sort of sauce out of it. I didn't want a cream sauce, but something lighter that would really let the taste of the roasted red pepper shine. And I had already marinated my chicken, so I wanted something to complement the flavors in my marinade.

I made this one up as I went along, and for my first try, I think I did pretty well! Next time I might chop the peppers smaller and use just a bit more red pepper flakes for heat. I loved the consistency of the sauce - thick and almost syrupy from letting it reduce for a while. The balsamic vinegar I used added a nice tang against the sweetness of the peppers.
The Marinade
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. white wine
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
Mix all of the ingredients except the lemon and pour over the chicken (in a shallow dish or Ziploc bag). Let marinate in the fridge at least 8 hours. 1 hour before cooking, add the lemon juice.
Grill the chicken over medium high heat for 8-10 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165. Top with the sauce.
The Sauce
To roast your pepper, place it on a hot grill until charred on all sides. Place into a paper bag and roll the top to close it, or put in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. Let the pepper sit for 15 minutes to allow the skin to sweat. After 15 minutes remove it from the bag/bowl. Peel the skin off and then slice the pepper into strips, discarding the seeds and stem.
  • Just a touch of olive oil
  • 1 roasted red pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper
Heat olive oil in a small sauce pan. Add the garlic, sauté 2 minutes. Add the peppers, broth, vinegar, s&p and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer and then lower heat. Let simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Chorizo Quesadillas

This is one of those quick and easy weeknight meals that you can pull together in 15-20 minutes. I made these a while back when we were getting ready to move and I was trying to keep meals simple.
I bought chorizo at the store not knowing what I'd do with it. When it came time to prep dinner, I spotted a package of flour tortillas in the fridge, along with some fresh spinach and cherry tomatoes, and there was my inspiration - a chorizo quesadilla with spinach, tomatoes, and Monterrey Jack cheese. Well, for me anyway! I knew Jon wouldn't like the spinach and tomatoes, so I made a different one for him. That's what I liked about this meal - I could make everyone's quesadilla specific to their tastes.  
You'll need 2 sauté pans to make this meal. In the first pan you'll cook your crumbled or sliced chorizo (crumbled for the little one and me, sliced for Jon). You'll also sauté your other ingredients/fillings in this pan. In the second pan you'll heat your tortilla and put the whole thing together.
You can get really creative with this, using up any veggies that you may have sitting around. It's also a great way to use up leftover veggies, or leftover sausage, making it the ideal easy, weeknight meal.
Chorizo Quesadillas
  • 1 link of chorizo per quesadilla
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Veggies - I used spinach and tomatoes for mine, peppers and onions for Jon's
  • Shredded cheese
  • Tortillas
  • Sour cream for serving
  • Heat olive oil in pan #1. Add crumbled or sliced chorizo and cook until browned.
  • Once browned, either remove the chorizo from the pan or just push it to the side while you sauté your veggies.
  • Heat pan #2 over medium heat. Add the tortilla and allow to warm.
  • Sprinkle some cheese over half of the tortilla, add your chorizo, veggies, and top with more cheese.
  • Fold the tortilla in half and let cook a few minutes before flipping. Cook until crispy and slightly browned.
  • Serve with sour cream

Friday, September 20, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Pasta

Decisions, decisions, decisions! That's how I felt when looking through the blog I was given for the Blogger's Choice Recipe Swap hosted by A Taste of Home Cooking. It took me a while to browse through all of the recipes on Cookaholic Wife and I kept changing my mind of which recipe I'd choose. I finally settled on a chicken and pasta recipe - Buffalo Chicken Pasta. I chose this because buffalo sauce isn't something I'd normally think of pairing with pasta.

Before I get into the recipe, I have to share an embarrassing little story. I used to have such a good memory, but then I had my daughter and I don't know what has happened! I feel like I have lost some of that, and it's mostly short term memory. If I don't write it down, forget it, it's out of my head. My husband is constantly teasing me about my lists and yes, I make one for everything. So when I chose this recipe, I didn't remember that I had made it before in another swap just 5 months ago. It wasn't exactly the same recipe, but how could I not remember making pasta using buffalo sauce? It's not your most common combination of ingredients at all. I ate it and didn't remember that I already made it. It wasn't until I sat down to write this post that I remembered I already made something very similar... pretty bad, huh?

But that does NOT reflect on the recipe, at all. I can't believe I couldn't remember this one! I loved the first version, and I loved this one!

Nichole, thanks for sharing this one!

Buffalo Chicken Pasta
Source: Cookaholic Wife

  • 8 oz. penne pasta
  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces (I used 3 - it's what came in the package!)
  • 2 tsp. all purpose flour (I did not coat my chicken in flour)
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • Added: salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp. hot sauce (I used Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Sauce and probably used 3-4 tbsp. since Nichole said the original recipe didn't have enough buffalo flavor/heat)
  • 14.5 oz. diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 cup low-sodium fat free chicken broth 
  • 2 tsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 2 tbsp. green onions, sliced
  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • In a large skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrot and celery and cook for 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.
  • Meanwhile, combine the flour and paprika together in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken pieces through the mixture (I skipped this step and instead seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, and paprika), then add the chicken to the skillet. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the chicken is mostly cooked through, stirring frequently.
  • Pour in the hot sauce, tomatoes and chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in the butter until melted.
  • Divide the pasta among the dishes, top with the chicken mixture and then garnish with the blue cheese crumbles and green onions.
Here are the other recipes shared in this swap -

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

White Bean and Spinach Soup with Brown Rice

The weather is turning cooler, the sun is setting earlier, kids are back to school, and football season has started - I think it's time to start making soup!

I make soup every Sunday and once it cools, I immediately dish it into 5 single serving containers. Lunches for the week - done! Over the past few years I have made close to 50 different soup recipes. I have a few favorites that I go back too quite often, but I also am always in search of a new recipe. I have several recipes pinned to my Food board on Pinterest, including this one that I tried last weekend - Savory Bean and Spinach Soup.

The recipe was from Fitness Magazine, and was written as a slow-cooker recipe. I'm not a fan of making soup, or much of anything really, in a slow cooker. I like to build the flavors in a soup, and feel you can only do that with stove top cooking, so I took this recipe and turned it into a stove top recipe.

Even though I cooked this in a pot, it still only took just under an hour. Most of that time was the soup simmering as the rice cooked; active time was about 20 minutes.

This soup was so hearty and filling, yet healthy. Normally I eat a sandwich along with soup for lunch, but I didn't need the sandwich after eating all the beans and rice. I ate it for 5 days in a row and never tired of it, and think this will be one that I will make again soon.

White Bean and Spinach Soup with Brown Rice
Adapted from: Fitness Magazine
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 sm yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped  
  • 1 15-ounce can small white beans or Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed  
  • 3-4 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
  • Pinch of dried thyme
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice   
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper  
  • 1 sm bag of fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat
  • Add the onion and garlic, sauté 2-3 minutes
  • Add the beans, basil, and thyme, stir
  • Add the broth and tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper; let simmer for 10 minutes
  • Add the rice, cover and reduce heat to medium. Let simmer for 30 minutes, or until the rice has cooked through
  • Add the spinach and stir until wilted
  • Optional: the original recipe noted adding Parmesan cheese at the end, but I didn't feel it was necessary.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Braised Chicken and Brussels Sprouts in a Creamy Dijon Broth with Bacon

Last week Jon went to the produce store with a list which included my request to get 2 green veggies for dinners. He came home with broccoli and Brussels sprouts. I haven't made Brussels sprouts in several weeks, maybe a few months, but we both love them so I was looking forward to trying something new.

I planned on cooking chicken and since I really didn't feel like having a big mess to clean up, I started to think about one-pot cooking. I did some Google searches and came across a simple but elegant looking Martha Stewart recipe for Braised Chicken and Brussels Sprouts.

After reading it I did what I usually do - made a mental list of changes I'd make while cooking. The recipe called for a whole chicken but I used 3 chicken breasts. This also reduced the cooking time. I increased the liquid just a bit to have more sauce, used sweet onion instead of shallots, and garnished the dish with crispy, crumbled bacon. 

Now, I usually make a carb with dinner, but honestly, I didn't feel like it. And once I started to cook and plate everything, I realized we wouldn't even need one. Noodles or potatoes or rice would just take away from this dish.. although some good crusty bread would have been nice for sopping up the sauce. Next time!

We both loved this, and devoured the entire thing. The Brussels sprouts were perfectly fork tender, the sauce was tangy, and the bacon added a touch of salt and crunch. I can't wait to make this again.

Braised Chicken and Brussels Sprouts in a Creamy Dijon Broth with Bacon
Adapted from: Martha Stewart

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil       
  • 3 boneless chicken breasts     
  • Salt and pepper      
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, washed, trimmed and halved      
  • 1/2 small sweet yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard      
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar      
  • 1 cup chicken broth      
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4-5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan
  • Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Cook 3-4 min per side until golden brown, but not cooked through. Transfer to a plate.
  • Add onions and Brussels sprouts to the pan; sauté 3 minutes
  • Stir in mustard and cook 1 minute
  • Add vinegar and broth, return chicken to the pan, and bring to a rapid simmer
  • Cover and transfer to the oven until chicken is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.
  • Garnish with crumbled bacon

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Napa Cabbage and Cucumber Slaw with a Sweet and Spicy Lime Vinaigrette

It has been a while since I planned out an entire week's worth of meals. Between moving and everything else we have had going on, I have been just winging it. However it's time to get back on track and plan for the week. I feel so much more organized and not as stressed when I have a set meal plan for the week.

When I sit down to make my plan, I first look at the weekly circulars. I start with proteins, picking out whatever meat or seafood is on sale or looks good, and then plan my main dishes day by day. Once that is done, I add in sides. We always have a veggie side, and almost always have some sort of starch. I like getting creative with sides when I have the time, and felt like making something new to go with simple grilled, rubbed pork chops.

I have a lot of resources that I use when planning - my blog, blogs I follow, Epicurious, various other cooking sites, and of course - Pinterest. The recipe I chose to go with the pork chops was one I first saw on Pinterest, and comes from the blog Healthy Seasonal Recipes. I liked that it was a cold side, especially since the weather is still on the (very) warm side.

After reading the recipe, I decided to make some changes. I added jalapenos and green onions to the salad, chopped the peanuts, and made some changes to the original dressing, including adding sesame oil and Sriracha sauce and changing the amounts of some other ingredients. What I got in the end was a salad that would have fed 5-6 people, but ended up only feeding 2 of us... it was THAT good. The salad itself had a lot of textures, and the dressing was perfectly sweet and spicy. I'm so glad I made the changes that I did - it definitely brought the flavors up a few levels.

Napa Cabbage and Cucumber Slaw with a Sweet and Spicy Lime Vinaigrette
Loosely adapted from: Healthy Seasonal Recipes

  • 3/4 head Napa cabbage, thinly sliced (use the top yellow and some of the white parts - this will be about 3/4 of the head)
  • 1 large cucumber, julienned (a handheld julienne slicer works great for this)
  • 1/2 jalapeno, minced
  • Handful cilantro, thoroughly washed and chopped
  • Handful of salted, roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped

Dressing Ingredients
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp Sriracha sauce
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lime
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, cucumber, jalapeno, cilantro, and peanuts.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
  • Store the salad and dressing separately in the fridge until ready to serve.
  • When serving, pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Top with the green onions.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Cous Cous with Charred Corn and Cilantro

Hurry up! Fire up the grill and grab those last ears of corn before they are gone so you can make this!

My dad gave me a few ears of corn and I wanted to do something different with them. I considered making this Grilled Corn with Chipotle-Lime Butter, but then decided that I'd rather incorporate the corn into some sort of side. I started to browse recipes and brainstorm when I came across a Mario Batali recipe for Sweet Corn and Cous Cous. The recipe used Israeli cous cous which is larger and has a different consistency than the fluffy, "regular" cous cous. It reminds me of barley without the earthy bite that barley has.

 I loved the idea of charring the corn and adding it to the cous cous. I decided to add a few more flavors, so I also grilled red onion and stirred in some cilantro before serving. What a taste of summer in a bowl!

Cous Cous with Charred Corn and Cilantro
Adapted from: Mario Batali

  • 1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous
  • 2 ears corn, shucked
  • 1/2 red onion sliced into rings
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
  • Handful fresh cilantro, washed and roughly chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Heat the grill. Brush corn and onions with olive oil and place on a hot grill. Cook corn until charred on all sides; cook the onion until charred in spots and slightly wilted. Once cooked, chop onions into bite sized pieces. Using a knife and standing the corn on one end, remove all of the kernels (see second picture above).
  • Cook cous cous according to package directions
  • Once the cous cous is cooked, stir in the corn, cilantro, and red onion.
  • Season liberally with salt and pepper, and stir in the cheese.
  • Serve immediately.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Summer Vegetable Tian

It may be September but it's still summer for a few more weeks. It's actually been hotter the past few days that it was all of August. I'm not happy about that, but I do like that summer produce is still available.
I first saw this recipe for a Summer Vegetable Tian on Pinterest from the blog Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Oh My!  All of the beautiful colors first caught my eye, and I pictured making it with some of the red and juicy Jersey tomatoes my dad picked up at a farm stand - there's nothing like a Jersey tomato!
The recipe is easy, but all of the slicing is a bit labor intensive. I highly recommend you use a mandolin to do your slicing, and that you slice the potatoes at about half the thickness of the other veggies.
Once the slicing is done, you get to do the fun part - assemble it! If you have OCD about things being in order and organized, you'll love this part. I had so much fun trying to make this look just right by perfectly alternating the ingredients and colors. But then I let it go a bit at the end since I had some extra veggies to "stuff" into the dish. It's still pretty though, right?
This was such a yummy and different way to enjoy these beautiful summer vegetables that we normally would have just grilled. I loved that the juice from the tomatoes actually ran throughout most of the dish keeping everything moist while giving it some of that sweet and tangy tomato goodness.
Summer Vegetable Tian
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 medium yellow squash
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium russet potato
  • 2 medium red potatoes
  • 1 large tomato
  • Dried thyme
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
  • Preheat oven to 400°. 
  • Spray 8″ round or square baking dish with non-stick spray. 
  • Saute onion and garlic in olive oil. 
  • Thinly slice all the vegetables. (Note: I cut the tomatoes the thickest, the squash in the middle, and the potatoes the thinnest. and  like the original author, I also cut the tomato slices in half to have twice as many, and because the tomato slices were much larger than all of the other veggies
  • Place vegetables in the baking dish vertically, in alternating pattern.  Lightly pour olive oil over the entire dish and season with salt, pepper, and thyme. Top with the onion and garlic. 
  • Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes (Note - I had to let it cook a little longer - maybe 40 minutes).  Remove foil, sprinkle cheese over top and bake for another 15 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.