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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Chicken Fajita Pasta

an easy, early prep dinner.  

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 envelope (3 tablespoons) taco or fajita seasoning (I used this Homemade Taco Seasoning.)
  • 2 cups diced onion (about 1 whole onion)
  • 2 cups diced bell peppers (2-3 bell peppers)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 (10-oz) can Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles
  • 8 oz. (about 3 cups) penne pasta (I used mini penne, so since those little guys take up less room, mine was about 2 cups.)
  • ½ teaspoon salt


Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Season with half of taco seasoning. In a 12-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat. When the oil is very hot, carefully add the chicken in a single layer and cook without stirring until one side is seared and browned, about 1-2 minutes. Flip the chicken to the other side and cook until browned. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet with the heat still on high. When the oil is very hot again, add the onions, bell peppers, and remaining taco seasoning. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are slightly blackened. Turn heat to low, add minced garlic, and stir until fragrant and well combined, about 30 seconds. Remove the veggies to the plate with the chicken.

In the same skillet, add the broth, cream, diced tomatoes, uncooked pasta, and salt. Stir to combine and bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 15 minutes until pasta is tender and liquid is mostly absorbed. Add the chicken and veggies back into the skillet and stir to combine until heated through, about 2 minutes. 

Makes 4 servings.


Here are some cheese options too!

1. After adding the chicken and veggies back into skillet, stir to combine until heated through, then turn off the heat and stir in 1/2 cup shredded cheese until melted. 
2. At the very end, before serving, while it’s still in the skillet, top with shredded cheese, then place under the broiler in the oven until browned and bubbly, about 3 minutes. 


Friday, September 25, 2015

Coq Au Vin

this may not be the fastest dinner, but it is definitely one of the most delicious.  
even better next day.  
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 3-4 pound whole bone-in, skin-on chicken cut-up (I used 2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks.)
  • 3 tablespoon butter (or more olive oil)
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced (I only used 8 oz.)
  • 3 cups chopped onion
  • ½ pound carrots cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ¼ cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. (**For an easy make-ahead meal, dice all of the veggies beforehand and store until ready to use.)  
  2. Preheat oven to 325-degrees F.
  3. In a dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat.
  4. Liberally salt and pepper chicken on both sides. Lightly dredge chicken in flour. When oil is heated, add chicken to pan; brown each piece for about 1-2 minutes each side. Remove chicken and set aside.
  5. Add butter to pan, scraping up any bits from bottom of pan.
  6. Add mushroom and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  7. Add onions, carrots, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  8. Stir in wine, chicken stock, parsley, and bay leaf. Add chicken, tucking into sauce.
  9. Cover and transfer to oven. Cook at 325-degrees for 2½ hours.
  10. If sauce is not thick enough, remove chicken and cook sauce on stovetop over medium-high heat until slightly reduced and desired thickness.

(I served mine with mashed potatoes.)


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Easy Lemon Chicken

  • 1 cup vegetable oil 
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs 
  • Zest of 2 lemons, plus more, for garnish 
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets, cut crosswise in half 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. 
  • In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs and lemon zest; set aside. 
  • Season chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. Working one at a time, dredge chicken in flour, dip into eggs, then dredge in bread crumbs mixture, pressing to coat. 
  • Working in batches, add chicken to the skillet, 2 or 3 at a time, and cook until evenly golden and crispy, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. 
  • Serve immediately, garnished with lemon zest, if desired.

Southwestern-Spiced Pork Tenderloin

delicious.  yah.

If you have time, you might also try brining the pork loin before roasting it. Even just a half hour soak gives the pork more flavor and ensures juiciness after cooking. (Click on link to see brining instructions.  It doesn't give specific ingredients to use in the brine, so to the warm water, I sprinkled in some black peppercorns, cumin seeds, three smashed cloves of garlic, a few bay leaves, and six fresh thyme sprigs.  They were all ingredients I had on hand, so don't make a special trip to use the same ingredients.  I also used a 9 x 13 pan to brine.)

Serves 6, so halve the recipe if you're feeding less people and don't want leftovers.  I could eat this every day, so I made the recipe in full.

2 to 2 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin (usually 2 tenderloins)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly-ground black pepper
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place a cast iron skillet or roasting pan in the oven as it is heating.
Pat the pork dry and cut off any large pieces of surface fat. Mix together all the spices in a small bowl and rub them into the surface of the pork on all sides.
Remove the hot pan from the oven and swirl the oil to coat the bottom. Set the pork in the pan and return the pan to the oven. Roast for ten minutes, then flip the pork to the other side. Reduce the oven temperature to 400°F and continue roasting another 10 to 15 minutes (CHECK IT AFTER 10!), until the internal temperature of the pork registers 140°F to 145°F in the thickest part of the meat (20 to 25 minutes total).
Transfer the pork to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing. For extra-thin slices for sandwiches, cool the pork completely, then refrigerate before cutting.
Leftovers will keep for one week refrigerated.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Simple Minestrone with Gnocchi


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

6 cups broth (I used 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth and 2 cups veggie broth. Original recipe called for water, not broth.)
1 15 -ounce can diced tomatoes
1 small sprig rosemary
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus 1 small parmesan rind (optional)
2 cups spinach or kale, chopped (original recipe called for one head of escarole, chopped)
1 16 -ounce package gnocchi (9 oz. package of tortellini would be great too!)

(I added 1 small rotisserie chicken.)


Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the celery, carrots, onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes; cook 1 minute.

Add 6 cups broth (or water), the tomatoes, rosemary, and parmesan rind.  If using water and not broth, add 1/2 teaspoon salt to the pot. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium and cook until the vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes.  Stir in the spinach (or whichever green you use) and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the gnocchi (or tortellini) and cook, gently stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes. Discard the rosemary sprig and parmesan rind.  If using, add chopped rotisserie chicken.  Ladle the soup into bowls; top with the grated parmesan.

*Adapted from Food Network Magazine, April 2015

Sunday, August 23, 2015

One Pan Mexican Quinoa

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked, but rinsed 
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes (These are most common in grocery store.)
  • 1 cup corn kernels (I used frozen, but let them sit out to defrost.)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add garlic and jalapeno, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about one minute.  (I minced mine in mini food processor.)

Stir in rinsed quinoa, veggie broth, beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder, and cumin; season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Bring to a boil; cover, reduce, heat, and simmer until quinoa is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.  Top with avocado, lime juice, and cilantro.  (I did not think it needed juice of entire lime.  Gradually add.) 

Serve immediately.


Mom's Pasta Fagioli


5 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
pinch red pepper flakes
3 15.5oz. cans cannellini beans
1 can petite diced tomatoes
5-6 cups chicken broth (Start with five, then gradually add.)
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped 
1.5 cups ditalini pasta
salt and pepper (to taste)

  1. In a stock pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil and add onions. Cook until translucent.
  2. Add carrots, celery, garlic, and red pepper flakes, and cook for 5 minutes. (I used mini food processor to mince carrots and garlic.)
  3. Add 2 cans of beans (with liquid) to pot and stir. With the last can of beans, puree with blender or manually mash, and add to pot and stir.
  4. Add diced tomatoes (I roughly pureed these too) and the chicken broth and stir.
  5. Bring all to a simmer, then add the chopped spinach and ditalini pasta (uncooked) and allow it to cook.