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Posts Tagged ‘dinner’

We are so lucky to have a great year-round market here in Charlotte that features local farmers, specialty food and craft vendors. I try to make it to the Atherton Mill Market a couple of times a month during the winter to pick up fresh eggs, local cheeses and whatever winter produce looks good.

My produce purchases have featured a lot of greens, sweet potatoes and various winter squash. I love all of these foods but I’m guilty of sticking to the same preparation methods due to ease and lack of time. I actually had some downtime last night to spend in the kitchen so I started researching recipes that used the ingredients I had on hand and found an amazing sounding vegetarian curry on Smitten Kitchen.

Deb’s recipe was for Curried Lentils and Sweet Potatoes with Swiss Chard. I used her recipe as a guide but made quite a few changes based on what I had on hand in the kitchen. I used collards instead of swiss chard but I think any winter green would work well in this dish. I also omitted some ingredients that I didn’t have and substituted others. The resulting dish was still incredible and I couldn’t get over how well all of the flavors came together. I am a big fan of curry and I loved this vegetarian combo that was protein-packed thanks to the lentils.

I served the curry over brown rice and topped it with plain Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of almonds. The Greek yogurt was a nice touch to cool it down a bit (I was a little heavy handed with the cayenne pepper – I love spice!). I can only imagine that the leftovers will be even better after the flavors have a chance to develop even more with time.

Curried Lentils and Sweet Potatoes with Greens
(Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen, original source The New York Times)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (or 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated – I love fresh ginger but didn’t have any)
3/4 teaspoons garam masala
3/4 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 to 3 cups vegetable broth as needed
1 sweet potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3/4 cup dried lentils (I used green)
1 bay leaf
1/2 pound greens such as swiss chard, collards, kale, etc., center ribs removed and leaves thinly sliced (I used about 7 big leaves)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
Zest of 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon lime juice
Plain Greek yogurt and sliced almonds for topping, if desired

Directions:

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, gramam masala, curry powder and cayenne and sauté, stirring constantly, for about one minute. Will be very fragrant.

Stir in 2 cups of broth, sweet potatoes, lentils and bay leaf. Increase to high heat and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and partially cover (leave the lid ajar). Simmer for 25 minutes. (If lentils soak up all the broth, add up to 1 more cup of stock, slowly, as needed.) Stir in greens and salt and continue cooking until lentils and greens are tender. Start checking after about 25 minutes. It can take up to 45 depending on your greens and lentils.

Just before serving, stir in lime zest and juice. Serve over desired base – rice, quinoa, etc. or on its own. Top with garnishes of your choice.

Yield: 2-3 main course servings

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Herbs de Provence is one of my favorite spices but I don’t find many opportunities to use it. I ran across this recipe for Herb-Rubbed Chicken with Creamy Orzo on Annie’s Eats a few years ago and have been making variations of it ever since.

This is a simple dish to prepare because the chicken and orzo cook in the same pan. The original recipe includes broccoli in the pan with the chicken and orzo but I find that I prefer it roasted on the side. If you feel inclined to make it a one-pan dinner, throw the broccoli in there! (Side note, if you haven’t tried roasted broccoli yet, you must. It’s life changing.)

I really like recipes where chicken is braised in liquid. It’s a fool-proof, forgiving method for getting juicy, perfectly cooked chicken. The original recipe includes heavy cream but think all the other flavors are so great that I don’t need more than just a sprinkle of parmesan at the end.

Herbs de Provence Chicken with Orzo
(Recipe inspired by Annie’s Eats)

Ingredients:

2-3 chicken breasts
2 teaspoons herbs de provence
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup orzo
1 cup chicken stock
Freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Season chicken with salt, pepper and herbs de provence. Set aside.

Preheat a large sautee pan (with a lid) over medium heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add chicken and let cook for about 5 minutes until browned on one side. Remove chicken from pan and add orzo, tomatoes and chicken broth. Stir and return chicken to pan, browned side up. Cover and let cook over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes or until orzo is tender and internal temperature of chicken reads 160 degrees.

Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.

Yield: 2-3 servings

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We really enjoy noodle bowl creations but usually lean towards broth-based, curry flavored noodle bowls. This recipe caught my attention because I have never cooked with soba at home and it seemed healthy and satisfying. I’m in the midst of a 10 day break from meat so I added this vegetarian dish to this week’s menu.

Soba noodles are Japanese thin noodles made from buckwheat flour. They are high in fiber contain all eight amino acids, making them a great source of vegetarian protein. I experienced some difficulty finding them in my normal store – they carried them but they were out of stock at two different stores. Brandon stopped by Earth Fare and discovered they had several different brands. If your local grocery doesn’t carry them check an Asian market or a health foods store or substitute whole wheat spaghetti.

I was drawn to two different recipes – I liked the dressing from Annie’s Eats and the vegetable mixture for the noodles from a Gourmet recipe. I decided to combine the recipes and was pleased with the results. I also think this would be delicious with tofu or chicken added to the mix.

Add this to your weekly menu plan as a meatless main! It’s easy, healthy and flavorful!

One Year Ago: Kefta and Zucchini Kabobs
Two Years Ago: Indian Spiced Chicken Burgers

Spicy Soba Noodles with Edamame, Mushrooms and Cabbage
(Inspired by Annie’s Eats and Gourmet)

Ingredients:

FOR THE DRESSING
1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
4 green onions, chopped
2-3 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar

FOR THE NOODLES
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons peeled ginger, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
10 ounces fresh mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced (shiitake or button)
1 pound Napa cabbage, thinly sliced (5-6 cups)
2 green onions, sliced
8 ounces soba
1 cup frozen shelled edamame

Directions:

FOR THE DRESSING
In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients and set aside.

FOR THE NOODLES
Toast sesame seeds in a large, heavy skillet (not nonstick and with no oil) over medium heat. Stir often and cook until pale golden. Transfer to a small bowl.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute mushrooms, stirring frequently, until they start to brown, about 4 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add cabbage and scallions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is crisp but tender, about 6 minutes. Add sauce and simmer for another 2 minutes.

While the cabbage is cooking, cook the soba and edamame together in a large pot of boiling salted water. Cook until noodles are just tender, about 5-6 minutes. Drain and rinse under cool water.

Transfer noodles to a large bowl and toss with sesame seeds and vegetable mixture.

Yield: 4 servings

 

 

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If you’ve been reading for a while then you might be familiar with my tendency to create a recipe including things like feta, spinach, sundried tomatoes and kalamata olives and call it Greek. Case in point – Greek Pasta, Greek Chicken Breasts and Greek Inspired Flounder. Actually, there are 11 recipes in my “Greek” category…right up there with the 12 in the “Italian” category. We just love foods with Mediterranean flavors!

Brandon and I were enjoying happy hour at our local brewery last night and brainstorming ideas for dinner. I remembered seeing feta and spinach turkey burgers on Jenna’s blog this week and I mentioned making an amped-up version of those. Brandon is always up for a good burger so he happily went along with the plan.

We prefer ground chicken over turkey so we started with that as our base. I pretty much went through the fridge and pantry and added in anything that I thought went with my Greek chicken burger theme. We ended up mixing in sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, spinach, feta, parsley and oregano. I made a spin on tzatziki sauce to accompany the burgers.

These “on the fly” burgers totally ended up exceeding our expectations. After all the mix-ins, this was definitely not your average boring chicken burger. They were so easy to make and full of flavor.  I cooked them inside in a skillet but I’m sure they would be great grilled too.

One Year Ago: Mini Quiche (and dinner at Top Chef Kevin Gillespie’s restaurant!)
Two Years Ago: Lady Strawberry Cake

Greek Chicken Burgers
(Recipe inspired by Eat, Live, Run)

Ingredients:

FOR THE BURGERS
1 pound ground chicken
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup baby spinach, chopped
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 -2 tablespoons fresh)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
A few cranks of freshly ground pepper

FOR THE SAUCE
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon olive oil
Squeeze of lemon juice (maybe 1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
Salt, to taste

Directions:

Whisk together ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine all of the burger ingredients and mix together (it’s easiest to use your hands here). Form into four patties. The mixture will feel pretty wet and like it’s going to fall apart but it will firm as it cooks.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a little oil and burgers. Cook about 6-8 minutes per side or until internal temperature reads at least 160 degrees in the thickest part of the burger.

Serve on toasted, buttered buns with sauce, lettuce and tomato. Top with extra feta if desired.

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One of Brandon’s all-time favorite dinners is pasta with red sauce so I wasn’t surprised when he requested it for our first “return to normal eating and homecooked meals” after the holidays. I wasn’t really in the mood for traditional spaghetti sauce and Brandon suggested arrabbita sauce. Spicy homemade marinara sauce with pancetta sounded perfect.

We usually top stuffed shells with arrabbita but I was not in the mood for the richness of stuffed shells after the holidays so we stuck with plain spaghetti noodles. This ended up being a great choice because it really allowed the awesome flavor of the arrabbita sauce to be the star. The pancetta is a must in the sauce – it adds so much flavor and richness. The red pepper flakes don’t dominate the dish but contribute a nice, slow burn.

I used my go-to marinara sauce as the base for this sauce and added the sauteed pancetta and red pepper flakes at the end. If you have never made homemade marinara sauce, you must! It tastes nothing like what you buy in a jar. I recommend doubling this recipe and keeping a batch in the freezer for a quick dinner option. It reheats wonderfully.

One Year Ago: Three-Ingredient Pot Roast
Two Years Ago: Kefta – Greek Meatballs

Pasta with Arrabbita Sauce
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 stalk celery, broken into 4 pieces
1 carrot, finely diced
32-ounces high-quality crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
Pinch of sugar
Shot of red wine (1-2 tablespoons)
1/3 pound (around 6 ounces) pancetta, chopped
2 teaspoons (or more if  you like spice!) red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh basil, julienned

Directions:

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and saute for about 5 minutes, until they begin to look translucent. Add garlic, celery and carrot and cook for another 5 minutes. Add wine, tomatoes, bay leaves, sugar and red wine. Simmer for 1 hour over low heat, uncovered.

While sauce is simmering, heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and then pancetta. Sautee about 5 minutes, or until it begins to look crispy. Add red pepper flakes and sautee for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir into marinara sauce.

Season with salt and pepper and stir in fresh basil right before serving.

Yield: 4 servings

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I am not exaggerating when I say that I have no reason to ever try another chicken and dumplings recipe. This one is going straight to the “tried and true, will make this for years and years to come” file. I have tried a lot of chicken and dumplings recipes and have never been blown away by any of them – except for this Chicken Pie With Biscuit Crust but it’s not truly chicken and dumplings.

I was in the mood to cook on Saturday afternoon. I wanted to make a dinner that would take a while so that I could spend the evening hanging out in the kitchen, one of my favorite activities to relax and unwind. I chose this recipe from Tyler Florence because I loved that it featured homemade stock, sauce and dumplings. No canned stock, cream of yuckiness soup or refrigerated biscuits.

I made the stock by placing an organic/free range chicken in a pot with garlic, peppercorns, thyme and salt. I covered the chicken with water and boiled. This was a great reminder that homemade stock is easy and far superior in flavor to what you buy in the store. While I am guilty of buying stock, I will be trying to keep some homemade stock in the freezer moving forward. I only used about half the stock this rendered in the chicken and dumplings so I was able to freeze a good amount of leftovers!

I put Brandon to work shredding the cooked chicken while I prepared the sauce. I sauteed carrots, celery and garlic in a mixture of butter and oil and then added in flour to make a roux. I slowly incorporated the chicken stock and then added in extra veggies. I love that this recipe includes peas and pearl onions. The sauce simmered until it was thickened. You get a nice creaminess with the sauce by adding a little heavy cream at the end. Side note: please remember to taste your sauce as you go and season – you might need to add a good bit of salt.

Soon enough it was time to add the chicken and dumplings and sit back and watch magic happen. I love dropping the dough in and then seeing it turn into perfect dumplings.

While this is a labor intensive recipe, it is not hard. I highly encourage you to try this now that the temperatures are dropping and the leaves are turning. This dish is so comforting and it just feels good to eat it knowing that everything is made from scratch.

One Year Ago: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Chicken and Dumplings
(Recipe source Tyler Florence)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CHICKEN AND STOCK
1 (3 to 3 1/2 pound) whole organic chicken
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs thyme
4 to 5 black peppercorns
1 head garlic, split through the center (leave garlic unpeeled)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Enough water to cover chicken

FOR THE DUMPLINGS
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup chopped chives
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk

FOR THE SAUCE
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons oil
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen pearl onions
1/4 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish
Chopped chives, for garnish

Directions:

FOR THE CHICKEN AND STOCK
Place the chicken and all stock ingredients in a large Dutch oven and cover with water. Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce to a simmer.  Cook for one hour until the chicken is tender and internal temperature registers at least 165 degrees. Skim the surface of fat as it cooks.

Remove chicken from pot and place on a cutting board. Let rest until it is cool enough to handle. Strain the stock and set aside. When chicken has cooled, shred and set aside.

FOR THE DUMPLINGS
Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, using a whisk, lightly beat the eggs, chives and buttermilk together; pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently fold. Mix just until the dough comes together; the batter should be thick and cake-like.

FOR THE SAUCE
In a Dutch oven, over medium heat, add the butter and oil. Add the carrot, celery, garlic and bay leaves and saute until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour to make a roux and continue to stir for two minutes to coat the veggies in flour and remove the starchy taste. Slowly pour in the chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add frozen peas and pearl onions.

Let sauce simmer, stirring occasionally, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Stir in heavy cream.

Fold the reserved shredded chicken into the sauce and bring to a simmer. Using 2 spoons, carefully drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the dumpling batter into the hot mixture. The dumplings should cover the top of the sauce, but should not be touching or crowded. Let the dumplings poach for 10 to 15 minutes until they are firm and puffy. Discard the bay leaves, season with freshly cracked black pepper and garnish with chopped chives before serving.

Yield: 6-8 servings

You can become a fan of Peanut Butter Runner and Bakin’ and Eggs on Facebook!

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I blogged about making Shaksuka on my healthy living blog a few nights ago. I was surprised that it received a lot of positive feedback and quite a few people have indicated that they would like to make this dish.

A very quick overview of Shaksuka for those who didn’t read my post earlier this week. Shaksuka is a vegetarian dish of Moroccan/Israeli/Egyptian origins. It’s traditionally served as a breakfast item. It’s a spicy tomato broth with poached eggs. The dish is very quick and easy to make and also healthy. I served the Shaksuka with homemade pita bread for dipping. I had the leftovers the next night for dinner and the flavors were even better after they had a chance to develop.

I followed a recipe from Smitten Kitchen with a few modifications. First, I used three jalapeno peppers because I was looking for heat in this dish. I find jalapenos to be pretty hit or miss with the spice level but luckily the ones I picked up at the store were nice and hot. Second, I reduced the garlic to two large cloves. I knew that the five the original recipe called for would be way too much for us. And last, I added turmeric in with the spices. While reading about Shaksuka online I noticed that turmeric was a common ingredient but SK’s recipe didn’t call for it. I have a whole jar in my pantry and love finding ways to use it due to its known anti-inflammatory powers.

This is a fun dish for vegetarians and those who love to try new ethnic recipes.

One Year Ago: Incredulada Enchiladas (one of my”biggest hit” recipes!)

Shaksuka
(Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
3 jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon paprika
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
Kosher salt, to taste
6 eggs (I only used 4 because there was just no reason to use 6 for the two of us)
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Warm pitas, for serving

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet (that has a lid – don’t use it now) over medium-high heat. Add jalapenos and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, turmeric, cumin and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

Put tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush with your hands or place in food processor and pulse a few times. Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with 1/2 cup water. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt.

Crack eggs over sauce, cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 5-7 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle shakshuka with feta and parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping.

Yield: 4 servings

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Fish tacos are one of my favorite easy, healthy dinners. They are also a perfect warm weather dinner. As we were eating these we talked about how fun it would be to entertain with a make-your-own fish taco bar and margaritas or sangria. Just might have to do that soon!

Another great thing about fish tacos is that they can be totally customized based on your flavor and topping preferences. We happen to love ours finished with this Baja Cream that I discovered when I was making these shrimp tacos. I like to serve all of the toppings on a big platter so we can each build our own tacos.

I usually use a mild white fish and saute it with a Dizzy Pig rub like Jamaican Firewalk or Shakin’ the Tree.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you should be familiar with these rubs. I can’t sing The Dizzy Pig’s praises enough. These rubs have the best flavor and use high quality ingredients. Also, their customer service is awesome!

I’m sharing my base recipe for fish tacos but feel free to change it up to meet your tastes. But whatever you do, don’t skip out on the Baja cream – even if you’re not a mayonnaise fan – it sounds so simple but adds a wonderful, bright flavor to the tacos.

One year ago: Greek Inspired Flounder

Fish Tacos with Baja Cream
(Recipe source: tacos – Bakin’ and Eggs, baja cream – Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

FOR THE BAJA CREAM
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon (packed) finely grated lime peel
Salt, to taste

FOR THE TACOS
1 1/2 pounds white fish fillets such as tilapia, flounder or mahi
Seasoning rub of your choice – recommended Dizzy Pig’s Jamaican Firewalk
2 tablespoon olive oil
Shredded red or purple cabbage
Shredded cheese such as cheddar, colbyjack or your choice
1 avocado, sliced
Salsa
Lime wedges
Hot sauce, such as Cholula
8 soft taco sized tortillas

Directions:

FOR THE BAJA CREAM
Whisk all ingredients in small bowl. Cover and refrigerate. (Can be made up to 3 days ahead.)

FOR THE TACOS
Drizzle fish with olive oil and coat with seasoning rub. In a large, nonstick pan over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add fish and cook about 3 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Remove fish from pan and cut into slices.

Arrange Baja cream and toppings on a platter and serve with fish and warmed tortillas (I usually wrap mine in a paper towel and microwave for about 30 seconds).

Yield: 4 servings

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