Showing posts with label Weeknight Dinner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Weeknight Dinner. Show all posts
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Weeknight Dinner: Vietnamese Meatball Lettuce Wraps

The grill just calls to you when it's too hot to turn on the oven, doesn't it?  But sometimes I find myself a little sick of grilled food.  Most of the time, you're just grilling a big hunk of meat and while that's great, that certainly isn't helping me fit into a bridesmaids dress for my sisters wedding.

John has been good about giving up those big slabs of meat for more manageable dinners that can still be enjoyable, although how much he enjoys them is up for debate!  These, though, were a favorite in the house.  The meatballs are completely flavorful and for an easier dinner, you don't even have to make them into meatballs.  Just saute it all up for a quick dinner and then wrap that in lettuce leaves. 

Vietnamese Meatball Lettuce Wraps (adapted from Food and Wine)
Serves:  4 (12 wraps)
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 red onion, half finely chopped and half thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
12 Boston lettuce leaves
1/4 cup cucumber, julienned
sriracha, for serving

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat*.  In a large bowl, combine chicken, soy sauce, chopped red onion, garlic, cilantro, salt, and pepper.  Form into 12 meatballs.   Cook on the greased grill 4-6 minutes per side.  Place a meatball in each lettuce leaf and top with remaining red onion, cucumber, and sriracha. 

*You can also make these in the oven:  preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Cook 12-14 minutes on a greased cookie sheet or until cooked through. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Weeknight Dinner: Chopped Cobb Salad

This is the perfect summer meal.  Our kitchen is so small that when it gets to be this hot and humid out, just standing there to fix a sandwich is torturous.  John and I have been loving easy and simple dishes that require little to no cooking.  It's almost sacreligious of a food blogger to say that, isn't it??  But the truth is, I don't know anyone who wants to sweat making dinner.  It's just unseemly and a great way to lose your appetite.

Now that I've talked all about sweat, let's talk about this dish (if your appetite is still holding on).  A cobb salad is one of my absolute favorite salads. We have a cute little tavern right around the corner from my office that I literally take everyone that I meet for work and for personal life to lunch.  They have this delicious kale salad that I get because I'm trying to be good (ugh).  But, every few times I go, I make it a point to get their cobb salad.

Everything is chopped perfectly and tastes delicious.  In fact, I'm practically drooling while I think about it.  Let's be honest, the salad is practically an afterthought after all the tasty ingredients that go into it.  But it's one of those perfect salads that can really fill you up for dinner, especially if you're good about not adding too much bacon!
Chopped Cobb Salad
Serves:  4
1/2 pound chicken breast
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large cucumber, diced
4 slices bacon, crumbled
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/2 cup blue cheese dressing

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Grill 5-7 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.  Dice and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  Spoon into 4 bowls.  Top each bowl evenly with bacon, avocado, diced chicken, blue cheese crumbles, and blue cheese dressing.

Serve immediately.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Weeknight Dinner: Spicy Chicken l'Orange Burgers with Asian Slaw

Time to get saucy!  Yes, it’s that time!  Saucy Mama is having another recipe contest and I was thrilled when they picked me to be one of their 25 blogger participants.  Especially because you could win $1,000.  But even more than that, you gain entry into the World Food Championships which I hear from everyone was THE coolest cooking contest in the land last year. 

So when the sauces came my way, I spent a few days deliberating what to make.  Just a few though because the package was delivered and picked up by our super who forgot about it and we ran around looking for it for like 3 days.  Finally found it and started tasting.

You can always count on John, whatever the contest, to pick something that’s seriously out of the box.  And that’s this Orange Habanero wing sauce.  It’s citrus-y but spicy and had amazing flavor.  So to please John we went with this sauce and made a burger (something else the hungry man cannot resist).  The burgers were amazing and perfect for summer.  Luckily, you can try them yourself as Saucy Mama is giving away a six pack of delicious sauce to one lucky reader!!!  All you have to do is comment below about which sauce you want to try! 

The contest has ended!  Congrats to my winner: SweetAngl3562
Spicy Chicken l’Orange Burgers with Asian Slaw
Serves:  4
1 1/3 pounds ground chicken
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Orange Habanero Sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
4 sesame seed buns
1 cabbage, thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons ginger, thinly sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
6 ounces greek yogurt
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Orange Habanero Sauce
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

Burgers:  Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.  In a large bowl, combine chicken, breadcrumbs, Orange Habanero Sauce, and garlic cloves.  Form into 4 burgers and season with salt and pepper and top with sesame seeds.  Grill 6-8 minutes per side, until cooked through (white in the middle but very juicy).  Place on sesame seed buns.

Slaw:  Combine cabbage, shallots, sliced ginger, carrot, and red pepper in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, mix greek yogurt, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, and Orange Habanero Sauce.  Pour the dressing over the slaw and mix well.  To use immediately, top with black sesame seeds.  Evenly divide the slaw on top of each burger.  Serve immediately.  Or, slaw can be kept in the fridge for up to 1 day.  

Until the next time my oven is on..

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Weeknight Dinner: Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Here's the problem with traveling all the time (can we just call this super lucky people's problems, because I DO know how lucky we are that we've put on so many frequent flier miles in the last 6ish months).  But the problem is - I eat too much.  I don't exercise.  The other night we were in Chicago taste-testing the new menu of a restaurant I help oversee.  I ate so much it literally looked like I could have had a small child right then and there.

This is only compounded by stress.  Stress makes me hungry; when I'm hungry, I eat.  Even when I'm careful about what I bring for lunch and snacks and everything in between, all the way through dinner (no dessert), the stress does not help me lose weight.  So sometimes, we have to resort to more immediate measures.  Like these Mexican Stuffed Peppers.  The flavors are incredibly big, the calories are incredibly small!  Right now, that's my kind of meal!

Mexican Stuffed Peppers
Serves:  2
2 peppers
1/2 cup wild rice, already prepared
1 cup black beans
1/4 cup corn kernels
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons cheddar cheese

Remove the insides of the peppers.  Set aside.  In a large bowl combine rice, black beans, corn, cumin, paprika, chili powder, and oregano.  Stuff the peppers with the rice stuffing.  Top evenly with cheddar cheese.  Place the peppers in a shallow baking dish.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake 18-25 minutes, until the peppers are soft and cooked through.  Serve immediately. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Weeknight Dinner: Mediterranean Chicken Quinoa Salad

The weather isn't even that warm right now in New York but I am all about springtime.  I think it has to be the fact that we just turned the calendar, too quickly, this time to April.  April is supposed to be springtime right?  That's what I tell myself when I put my winter coat on (again) and trudge to work.  You don't trudge in spring - it's more like a stroll.  But I am still trudging.

If I can't make the weather cooperate with my springtime agenda, at least I can make our meals feel more like spring!  As you know, due to sister M's impending nuptials (um, still 10 months away) but also my ability to never stop eating delicious foods, I have about 10ish pounds to lose before I can wear a bridesmaids dress and walk down the aisle with my two absolutely svelte and gorgeous sisters.  So I've been utterly focused on delicious dinners that don't pack on the pounds.

Emphasis on delicious of course.  Plus, now that I'm eating 1-2 dinners a week at work, and subject to whatever is purchased, I have to put some extra thought into the few weeknight meals I get to eat at home.  Oh, and don't feel bad for John.  He's having a lovely time enjoying leftovers or getting to eat from his favorite neighborhood restaurants.
Mediterranean Chicken Quinoa Salad (adapted from Everyday Reading)
Serves:  4
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
1 chicken breast
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
6 ounces cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 cups baby spinach
1/3 cup shallot, diced fine
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced well
1 avocado, sliced thin
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.  Rinse the quinoa and put it in a pot with 2 cups water.  Bring to a boil.  Then, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 15-20 minutes until the water is completely absorbed.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, season the chicken with half of the salt and pepper.  Grill 3-5 minutes, per side, until cooked through.  Slice into thin slices and set aside. 

Toss the tomatoes, spinach and shallot together in a large mixing bowl. Add the quinoa and chicken, stir well.

Whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl or cup, then drizzle over the quinoa and mix well to coat.

Gently top with the avocado and feta, salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Until the next time my oven is on...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Weeknight Dinner: Thai Tuna Salad

I've had a crisis once I turned 28.  I am feeling a lot better now but part of me is wondering what is most important in my life and how I can maximize my time doing those things.  And what I should give up so I don't always feel exhausted, behind, and overwhelmed outside the office.  It's funny, in the office, I am totally in control - I don't let a lot faze me.  And, I'm pretty much always on top of my work.

But out of the office?  I never have enough brainpower during the week and time to do everything I want to.  This has led me to question whether or not my blog should continue this year.  Am I overtaxing myself?  Am I stopping myself from doing other things that make me happy because I feel the blog has to come first?

And then, I make a dinner like this one.  And it's hard to imagine NOT sharing these types of delicious dinners with you all.  Even if "you all" is only a few people, each of you are still important to me.  So, I share with you my delicious salad.  Make it tonight.  If not tonight, then the minute it gets warm enough to turn on the grill.  You won't regret it. 
Thai Tuna Salad (adapted from Cooking Light)
Serves:  2
2 6-ounce tuna steaks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3 cups cabbage, thinly sliced
1 cup cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 cup carrots, julienned
1/3 cup red onion, sliced thin
1 orange, sections and chopped in half
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon sriracha

Grease the grill with cooking spray.  Season the tuna with salt and pepper.  Cook 2 minutes on each side, or until done, per your liking.  Transfer to a cutting board and tent.

Meanwhile, combine cabbage, cucumber, carrots, red onion, and orange in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk sugar, cilantro, lime juice, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and sriracha until fully combined.  Toss the dressing with the cabbage salad.  Divide evenly between 2 plates.  Cut each tuna steak into slices and place over the salad.   Serve immediately.

Until the next time my oven is on...

Friday, March 21, 2014

Weeknight Dinner: Chicken Shwarma

Our last meal from Blue Apron was Chicken Shwarma.  This is one of John's favorite take-out dinners so he was thrilled this was coming to our house for dinner.  It was easy, fast, and tasted practically as good as our normal take-out place!  I loved the beet salad that went with it.  Beets are just so delicious!

Chicken Shwarma (from Blue Apron)
Serves:  2
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
5 red baby beets
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch fresh dill, finely chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 mini cucumber, diced
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/4 head romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
6 ounces plain greek yogurt
10 ounces ground chicken
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 6-inch whole wheat pitas
1/2 cup hummus
2 teaspoons shawarma spice blend (cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, paprika, and cardamom)

Heat a small pot of salted water to boiling on high. Once water is boiling, add the beets and cook 25-28 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork. Using a paper towel, gently rub the skins off the beets. Discard skins and slice each beet in quarters. Toss with the shallot-vinegar mixture and 2 teaspoons of olive oil.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the greek yogurt, lemon zest, dill, cucumber, half of the garlic and the lemon juice. Refrigerate until needed.

In a large pan, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high. Once hot, add the ground chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook 3-5 minutes, until cooked through, frequently breaking apart with a spoon. Add the onion, shawarma spice blend, and remaining garlic to the pan. Cook 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently until chicken is browned and vegetables are softened.

Cook the pitas directly on the oven rack, 3-4 minutes until warm and toasted. Cut each pita into half-circles and fill each with hummus, chicken/vegetable mixture, and lettuce. Spoon tzatziki sauce into each pita and serve with beet salad on the side.

Until the next time my oven is on...

Monday, March 17, 2014

Weeknight Dinner: Manhattan Fish Chowder

A few months back, we were able to try Blue Apron's meal service for a week.  I wasn't sure if it was the dishes that we had that week or our preparation of them, I loved the concept but not our end results.  The ingredients were of premium quality and made for really complete meals.  I knew at once that John's brother and sister-in-law would love them so we bought them a nice gift certificate for Christmas.

After that, it was really on my mind.  Especially how we heard week after week how good the meals were!  So, I chalked our first experience up to some bad execution and ordered ourselves a week of meals for when we got back from my work trip!  I knew that at that point, it would be hard enough to get through the end of the week without having to think about meals.

Luckily, I have a boyfriend who thinks like I do.  When I got the menu and sent it to him, he had already ordered it for us!!  Our first dish we made was this Manhattan Fish Chowder.  John, being from Maine, had never heard of Manhattan Clam Chowder before so I was excited to introduce him to this type.  And he was in love with the tiny bottle of Tabasco which he doused all over his soup!
Manhattan Fish Chowder (from Blue Apron)
Serves:  2
6 ounces fingerling potatoes, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 fresh bay leaf
1 lemon, zested and quartered
2 5-ounce pollock fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Tabasco hot sauce
2 tablespoons parsley

In a small pot, add water and sliced potatoes, bring to a boil.  Boil for 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are softened.  Drain and set aside.  In a large dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion, garlic, carrots, and celery.  Cook until the carrots and celery are softened, 5-10 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, Old Bay, bay leaf, and lemon zest.  Simmer about 15 minutes for the flavors to develop.  Then, add the filets, potatoes, salt and pepper.  Simmer for another 5-7 minutes for the fish to cook through (fish should be opaque).  Stir gently so the fish doesn't break down.  Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice, Tabasco, and parsley.  Serve immediately. 

Until the next time my oven is on...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Weeknight Dinner: Argentinian Steak with Chimichurri

There have been signs, albeit small ones, that this awful winter is almost gone and spring is just around that far corner.  We're almost there.  At least, that's what it feels like some days.  Other days, like this past Sunday when it snowed...well, it feels like winter's heavy hand is still upon us!

For Valentine's Day, John was all about a nice juicy steak.  He orders them sometimes when we go out to dinner but since we don't do that very much, I can't really think of the last time he had a steak.  If I had to guess, I'd say a few months.  So, to keep the kid happy, I decided steak would be a great Valentine's Day dinner.

I know we're weeks past that day now, but I didn't want to tease you with such a juicy and flavorful meal when you would have to pile through a few inches of snow to your grill.  We're almost there, so let's talk about grilling season.  This chimichurri sauce is amazing - it's like a spicier version of pesto.  And once again a great reminder about how all of our different cultures and their foods aren't so different in the end.
Argentinian Steak with Chimicurri (adapted from Chow)
Serves:  2-3 (1 1-lb steak raw)
2 cups Italian flat parsley leaves
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Argentinian Steak:
1 - 1 pound skirt steak
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper

In a blender, combine parsley, garlic, oregano, vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper until a paste forms.  Slowly add the oil while the blender is on until the mixture emulsifies, scraping down the bowl occasionally.  Refrigerate for up to 2 days to let the flavors intensify.

Season the steak with cayenne, salt, and pepper.  Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and cook about 5-6 minutes, per side, until the steak is only a light pink through the center of the meat.  Let the meat rest for 5-10 minutes, tented on a plate.  Top with chimichurri and serve immediately.

Until the next time my oven is on...

Friday, February 21, 2014

Weeknight Dinner: Kale and Bacon Pizza

Almost a year ago, I made my first pizza with kale and once we ate it, I never looked back.  Usually, I can get John to consent to kale if it is very crispy and surrounded by lots of cheese!  If that surprises you, this must be your first visit to my blog, or else you don't listen well.  I'll leave the judgement to you.

With Valentine's Day on a Friday, I wanted to keep it really low-key.   I thought I could slave in the kitchen on Saturday and we could have a more special day then but by the end of a long week, I just want something easy and relaxed.  Even if it is Valentine's Day.  Poor John; he is an official saint for putting up with my exhaustion.

Anyway, I decided that bacon on his pizza would be just the thing to perk him up and since we have to continue to be healthy, I'd slip some kale on there and he wouldn't even KNOW the difference.  He knew, but I think he was so happy chomping on bacon that he could care less what else the pizza was graced with.  Lucky for me.  And Happy Valentine's Day to us!  Eventually, we got to a real celebration but you'll have to wait a week or two to enjoy that cake...sorry!
Kale and Bacon Pizza (adapted from Just a Taste)
Serves:  4 (1 pie)
4 slices bacon
8 ounces mozzarella, thinly sliced
2 cups kale leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onions
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Roll the dough out into your pizza pie pan.  Place the slices of mozzarella over the crust.  Set aside.  In a large skillet, cook bacon until well-cooked and crispy.  Keep the drippings but remove bacon from the pan and set on a paper towel.  Let cool slightly and then crumble. 

Toss 2-3 tablespoons of the drippings with the kale and garlic.  Evenly distribute the kale/garlic mixture over the top of the pizza.  Top with bacon and red onion.  Lastly, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 13-15 minutes, until crust is golden brown and crispy.  Serve immediately.

Until the next time my oven is on...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Weeknight Dinner: Sausage Chili

Here's how our Saturday went - John wasn't feeling good and I was trying to be sympathetic while also still getting done all I needed to get done.  Like a dinner that would be fit for a Super Bowl party.  I said to him how about chili?  Dubious look.  I could make it spicy, I enticed him.  A little less, but still dubious look.  Then, I pulled my trump card - I was thinking I could make it with hot sausage, I casually dropped.

Sausage, instead of beans!?  His eyes were huge.  Well, with beans...I felt the victory slipping away.  But John said okay, shrugged, and went back to whatever he was doing.  Success!  And thus my sausage chili was born.  John told me it was the best chili I ever made, which is saying something since I like all my chili recipes.  But I have to admit, this one was a huge winner!

You can make this in the crockpot if you prefer.  But sometimes, I like something you can throw together quickly and eat as you go.  You can eat this after 10 minutes, 30 minutes, 90 minutes.  It will bubble away happily on your stove.  John is of the opinion that little tastes along the way is best.  I like to eat as soon as I'm hungry.  If you don't have a dutch oven, make this in a large saucepan.  Our favorite way to crumble up the sausage is with an egg masher, it makes the sausage into perfect little crumbles that infuse themselves throughout the dish.
Sausage Chili
Serves:  6-8
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 onion, diced
2 bell peppers, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 14-ounce cans kidney beans, drained
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Sour Cream, Cheddar Cheese, Cilantro

In a large dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high.  Add hot Italian sausage meat and brown the meat, cooking it almost all the way through.  Lower the heat to medium and add onion, peppers, and garlic.  Cook until the onions and peppers are soft, 3-5 minutes.  Stir in kidney beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper.  Mix well.  Let the mixture come to a simmer (about 12 minutes) and turn the heat to low.  Serve immediately or let the mixture continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for up to 90 minutes.

Top with sour cream, cheddar cheese, and cilantro, if desired.  Serve in bread bowls for a really fancy dinner!

Until the next time my oven is on...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Weeknight Dinner: Chicken Tagine with Two Kinds of Lemon

As I said yesterday, the tagine was a holiday gift that will keep on giving!  In fact, the next time I make a dish in it, grandma Awa specifically requested some leftovers.  That is a feat in and of itself people!  The best part about this dish is that despite it's "exotic-ness" it's something you can make easily after a long day of work.

These are the types of foods I love to cook (and eat).  If you close your eyes and just taste, you literally feel like you are somewhere else.  But then you open your eyes and you're back at the kitchen table.  Close your eyes and you're in the souk market.  Open your eyes're back at the kitchen table.  You get it, I'm sure.

Morocco has long been one of the places on my list we "must see" but since the list is long, it always languished to the bottom.  After tasting this dish, Morocco is moving up on the must-see list.  And, since John and I can yet agree on a place to vacation this year, it might end up being "the destination" of 2014.  I'm trying to convince John we can afford 2 vacations this year but so far I have gotten nowhere.  My normally budget-busting boyfriend has become the tightwad - but not on all things mind you.  Just ask him when we're getting that big screen TV and he'll tell you this weekend!

Chicken Tagine with Two Kinds of Lemon (adapted from Lunch in Paris)
Serves:  4
1/4 cup olive oil
2 onions, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
2 chicken breasts, halved
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 cup white wine
1 cup water
2 tablespoons ginger, grated
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 small preserved lemons, chopped

Note:  you can substitute the tagine with a large skillet, that has a lid.

In the tagine, slowly head up the olive oil.  Add the onions and cinnamon stick, stirring to coat in the oil.  Cook until the onions are translucent, about 3-5 minutes and push them to one side of the pan, stirring occasionally.  Brown the chicken, in 2 batches, sprinkling with salt and pepper. 

When all the chicken has been browned, return all the chicken to the pot.  By this time the onions should be caramelized.  Add the wine and water and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to low and add ginger and cilantro.  Put the lid of the tagine on and let the mixture simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the fresh lemon juice and preserved lemons.  Cook another 10-15 minutes with the lid on, until the lemons are heated through .  Serve the dish sprinkled with additional chopped cilantro, if desired.

Until the next time my oven is on...

Monday, December 9, 2013

Weeknight Dinner: Mediterranean Chicken

Well, we're back from vacation.  I was thrilled to be back late Saturday night knowing we'd have all day on Sunday to relax, clean, do laundry (that evil "L" word), and get ready for the week ahead.  Imagine my surprise when I had a last-minute Sunday night meeting and was out of the house from 6 p.m. to about 11 p.m.  And poor John who will be forced to fend for himself this week today and Wednesday, and had to fend for himself on Sunday night.

I have to fend for myself on Tuesday night so I'm glad we had a few nights away together.  Now, I won't see John until Friday night (we see one another every night but what I mean is spend any considerable time together.  If you come in after 9 p.m., in my book, you haven't seen the other person AT ALL).  So what can keep us going with a long week ahead of us?

Delicious dinners like this one.  This chicken dish is absolutely incredible.  You can make this a one-pot meal (which we do) or you can separate the chicken and sear it first.  That makes an incredible browned chicken for aesthetic purposes but I don't think it's necessary.  And if you didn't believe just me, even grandma Awa loved it!
Mediterranean Chicken (adapted from dinner tonight)
Serves:  4
1 1/2 pounds chicken (about 2-3 chicken breasts)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red onion, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1-14 ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 tablespoons oregano (fresh is best but dried is fine)
2 cups cooked rice, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Cut the chicken into 6-8 large pieces.  Coat a 9x13 baking dish with oil.  Add chicken, garlic, red onion, cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and kalamata olives.  Drizzle marinade from the artichoke hearts over the top with salt, pepper, and oregano.  Bake for 20-35 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  Serve over cooked rice, if desired. 

Until the next time my oven is on...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Weeknight Dinner: Banh Mi Sandwiches

By the time you sit down to read this, we'll be on a plane...heading far, far away to a luscious sandy beach.  OK, it's not TOO far but since I am pretty convinced I threw John off the right track and he thinks we're going to Jamaica even though that isn't even close, I can be a little over dramatic, right? In my defense, I have picked the one man who is terrible to surprise.  He knows me so well and he uses that to his advantage.  

I'm completely impatient when it comes to great surprises and most of the time I am easy to predict, even when I can keep a secret.  For example, John thinks we're going to Jamaica because we've been watching the Voice and there's a Jamaican singer on there that I love!  John wrongly assumed that I'd want to plan my vacation for there.  Because I do this a lot - pretty much, wherever the Bachelor goes, you can bet I'm adding it to our bucket list of "must see" places.  So he wasn't far off track.  

What he failed to realize was 1. I can be sneaky and 2. the Bachelor holds a special place in my heart to which nothing else comes close.  Sort of like the Banh Mi Sandwich.  The first time I had one a few years ago, I kept thinking about where it had been all my life.  It pretty much has all my favorite things and SURPRISE!  It's not hard to make!!  In fact, if you ever cook asian food, I am sure you have 99% of these ingredients already.  It's a perfect feast for the senses...and even if you're stuck at home while we are vacationing, you can still transport yourselves...via your dinner!
Banh Mi Sandwiches (adapted from Use Real Butter)
Serves:  2
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon sriracha
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons onion, diced
2/3 pound pork chops, thinly sliced
2 individual baguettes
1 cup Pickled Carrots and Daikon
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
Sriracha, to taste

In a large bowl, combine soy sauce, brown sugar, sriracha, garlic, and onion.  Add the pork slices and seal with plastic wrap.  Let marinate at least 1 hour or overnight. 

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.  Grill the slices of pork for 3-4 minutes per side, until the pork is fully cooked through and the marinade starts to caramelize.  Cut the bread lengthwise but toast the bread whole for 2 minutes (so the outside is crispy but inside is soft).  Layer pork slices evenly on the bottom sides of the bread.  Top each evenly with pickled carrots and daikon.  Then, top each with fresh cilantro and additional sriracha, to taste.  Top with the other half of bread and serve immediately.

Until the next time my oven is on...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Weeknight Dinner: Autumnal Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken Burgers

Anyone remember when I entered last year's Legends from Europe recipe contest with my prosciutto flatbread?  I was so happy to be chosen as one of the winners!  Then, this year, I was even more thrilled to get an email while we were IN Europe for the first time asking if I wanted to compete again (silly question!).  I was asked to choose cheese or meat and while I leaned towards cheese (since we did do meat already once), John vetoed me and asked for meat.  I was thrilled when I was asked to use Prosciutto di San Daniele which I kind of consider my namesake (Danielle, Daniele...roll with me on this one). 

Prosciutto di San Daniele is like the creme de la creme of pigs thighs.  If I was a pig thigh, Prosciutto di San Daniele is where I'd want to end up!  The pig thighs must start with the right origin.  That's right, only 10 regions in Northern Central Italy breed pigs that qualify for this honor. If that wasn't enough, the prosciutto is produced from an ancient tradition (love that).  Since you can't freeze the meat, these thighs must reach a small hillside town called Fruili.  There, the production process recreates the seasons, using only sea salt.  There's no chemical additives or preservatives. 

And if you can get your pig thighs from one of ten regions, and then cure them in Fruili, the last part seems easy.  The development MUST occur at San Daniele del Fruili.  It's almost a maturation of the thighs where the sea air develops all the flavors that we know and love about this prosciutto.  Mouth watering yet?  We stopped at the local farmer's market this weekend on our way home from a weekend in Maine.  I bought some fresh pears (John's favorite) and a local cheddar cheese.  Then we came home and made these chicken burgers and transported ourselves back to Europe.  Just for a few minutes until we turned on the football game!
Autumnal Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken Burgers 
Serves:  4
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, sliced thinly
1/2 pound Prosciutto di San Daniele
1 pear
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
1 tablespoon black pepper
4 ounces cheddar cheese, thinly sliced.  
4 rolls (We use Challah or Potato Rolls)
6 tablespoons dijon mustard
4 tablespoons honey

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the olive oil.  Add the thinly sliced onion and set on low.  Stir often for 20-25 minutes, until the onions are a light golden-brown.

Meanwhile, separate the Prosciutto di San Daniele.  Keep 4 slices to the side.  Then, finely chop the rest and place in a small bowl.  Wash the pear well and grate half of the pear into the same bowl as the prosciutto.  Add the ground chicken and black pepper.  Mix well.  Form into 4 patties. 

Take the 4 reserved Prosciutto di San Daniele slices and carefully wrap each patty with one slice. 

Heat a grill (we use a grill pan) to medium heat and spray with cooking spray.  Place the patties carefully on the grates and cook 4-6 minutes per side, until fully cooked through.  Evenly add cheddar cheese to each patty in the last 3-4 minutes of grilling.  Grill the rolls cut side down for 2 minutes, until grill marks form.

Lastly, in a small bowl, mix dijon mustard and honey.  Thinly slice the remaining pear. 

To assemble the burgers, place a patty on each bottom bun.  Top with caramelized onions and pear slices.  Spread the dijon-mustard mixture generously on the cut side of each top bun.  Top the burger and serve immediately. 

Until the next time my oven is on...

Friday, September 27, 2013

Weeknight Dinner: White Truffle Pizza with Spinach and Sausage

We haven't gotten a lot of pizza in our jaunts around the world the last few weeks.  Um, did I just say that?  Look at us - we're "jet setters"!  Someone said that to me last week before I left work and I reminded them, perhaps not so nicely, that before September 4th, John had not been out of the country in 35 years and I had not been in my lifetime either!

We just got lucky here.  It took a year of planning and scrimping and saving for this trip to Europe and we intend to make the most of it.  Of course, it's practically over so excuse me while I go cry in my croissant!  Our trip to London was a big bonus!  Anyway, back to my story about pizza.  Obviously, no one does pizza like New York.  So much so that I don't really even want to try it anywhere else - too many other good things to be had, you know?

So the one night John and I had to really cook required some inspiration, brilliance, and a little bit of home.  It required pizza!  I loved the white pizza with spinach I made last year but wanted something a little more dressed up.  A grown-up type pizza, if you will.  Adding the white truffle oil (just a drop) makes this pizza seem decadent and rich, like a forbidden treat instead of a fast Friday night dinner!
White Truffle Pizza with Spinach and Sausage
Serves:  4
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup baby spinach
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon white truffle oil
2 tablespoons oregano
1 pizza dough
6 ounces mozzarella, grated
2 cooked chicken sausage links, sliced thin

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  In a small skillet, add olive oil.  Over medium heat, add the garlic and cook until fragrant (1-2 minutes).  Add the spinach and cook until wilted.  Remove from heat.

In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, white truffle oil, and oregano.  Mix well.

Meanwhile, spread pizza dough out onto a greased pizza pan.  Top with ricotta mixture.  Then, add half of the mozzarella cheese evenly.  Top with spinach mixture and then remaining mozzarella.  Top with sliced sausage links.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the crust has baked to a golden brown.  Serve immediately.

Until the next time my oven is on...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Weeknight Dinner: Deep Dish Pepperoni Pizza

John and I were lucky enough to be invited to my cousin and his fiancee's wedding last week.  Let me tell you that if you've never been to a Long Island Italian wedding, you don't know what you're missing.  First of all, there's enough food for everyone who's invited plus about 100 of their kinsman.  There are 11 stations filled to the brim with pastas, meats, fajitas, calamari (of course), and antipasto platters.  And that's just at the cocktail hour.

Then, you head into the reception and are greeted with no less than 3 courses (this wedding had 4) tastefully presented and complete with serenading by a live band.  Do I even have to tell you that there was a man walking around playing the bongos?  And should I mention that after 3-4 drinks (I can't be sure), I decided it would be a good idea to play the bongos on the man?!  There are videos so...sorry to all of you that happen across it.  Luckily, my family knows me well enough that they laughed and moved on.

Anyway, a good family wedding would not be complete without a few toasts.  And you know you're at a wedding with my family WHEN...the mafia is mentioned.  And, we toast to James Gandolfini who "would have wished he could be here today and may he rest in peace".  Yes, I'm serious.  In fact, when I went in to tell my coworkers about this the next day, no one actually believes me.  Sure they humor me, but inside their head they're thinking I'm ripping off the Jersey Shore.  Nope...that's just my wonderful family.  Who I absolutely would not trade for the world!  Welcome to the family cousin A.  And good luck.  You're going to need it.  Hey - what's more Italian-American than pepperoni pizza right?!
Deep Dish Pepperoni Pizza
Serves:  8 (8 slices)
Homemade Pizza Dough
1 package of active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons warm water
1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons oil

Pizza Toppings
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
24 slices pepperoni
1 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Grease a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray, set aside.  In a small bowl, combine yeast, sugar, and warm water.  Let stand ten minutes until foamy.  Put the dry ingredients in a food processor and process once until combined.  Then, start the food processor and slowly pour in the yeast mixture.  Let the dough work approximately 45 seconds to one minute until a ball forms.  Knead once or twice.

Place the dough in the prepared pan and using your hands, work the dough evenly on the bottom and up the sides.  Let sit 30 minutes to rise.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Place 1 cup of cheese on the bottom of the dough, top with half of the pepperoni.  Then layer with tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, and mozzarella cheese.  Top lightly with remaining pepperoni.slices.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until crust is browned and cheese is bubbling.

Serve immediately.

Until the next time my oven is on...
Monday, September 2, 2013

Weeknight Dinner: Bruschetta Chicken Tacos

I can't believe that today is Labor Day.  I mean, where did the summer go?  I feel like I might have worked my way right out of a summer.  John probably agrees since he likes to put his arms next to mine and admire his gorgeous tan next to my ghostly pale skin.  I don't even think we got to the beach once this summer; poor John, he loves the beach.

Earlier in the summer we planned a 'bucket list' of sorts of things we wanted to do and see in NYC from June - August.  There were 12 things on the list and we did...2 of them.  So forgive me, but I'd like to hold on to summer just a little bit longer.  Granted, there are things I love about the fall - football being a big one.  But all the rest - the itchy sweaters, jeans, cold weather, working until it's dark out (well, I pretty much do that anyway but it will be much worse soon) - autumn can keep all that.

The fact is September is also going to pass us right on by and maybe, if we're lucky, we'll be able to hold on to a tiny part of autumn in October.  Until then, I'm cooking up a storm with the best produce summer has to offer.  This dinner was an inspired one filled with a mixture of all things I love - bruschetta, balsamic vinegar, and tacos.  It's so easy, and yummy, that while the weather is still nice, it's worth cranking up the grill and delivering these just to enjoy the last few tastes of summer.
Bruschetta Chicken Tacos
Serves:  4 (8 tacos)
Balsamic Drizzle:
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar

2 large tomatoes, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 cup basil, loosely torn
1 tablespoon olive oil 

Chicken Tacos:
2 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons black pepper
8 soft taco shells (we like the small 6-inch ones)

Balsamic Drizzle: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine balsamic vinegar and sugar.  Cook until reduced by half (about 8 tablespoons remaining).  Set aside.

Bruschetta:  In a large bowl combine tomatoes, onion, basil, and olive oil.  Set aside.

Chicken Tacos:  Slice the chicken breasts in half length-wise so they form 4 thin cutlets.  Brush with balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper.  Grill the chicken for 5-7 minutes, on each side, until cooked through.  Thinly slice the chicken.  Place the chicken evenly among the taco shells.  Top with bruschetta and then balsamic drizzle.  Serve immediately.

Until the next time my oven is on...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Weeknight Dinner: Muffaletta Pizza

*Don't forget my giveaway going on now!  Lee's Olive Salsa is part of the Local Happiness HERE to enter!*

Tell me this isn't the best idea ever...Muffaletta Pizza!!!  When we first got the basket of Local Happiness products, the only thing to stump me was Lee's Olive Salsa,  As you know, neither John nor I are Southerners - both Yankees through and through so when I read on the side that you should put it on a Muffaletta, I knew exactly what to do.  I didn't want to just make another traditional sandwich.

You know me well enough to know that, right?!  Nope, instead we got right to work on a delicious pizza using the salsa and some tomatoes as a base.  Top it with some delicious meats, two different types of cheeses, and pepperocini (John's fave) and we knew we had ourselves a keeper.  In fact, my mouth is watering just thinking about the possibility of eating it again.

John liked it so much that it is no longer referred to as "Muffaletta" Pizza in our house but "Manaletta" Pizza because apparently "men" will really like this pizza.  At least, that's according to John.  I think women will really like it too, and what better way to pretend you're from the South (for at least a meal or two, right)!  Don't forget you can win this salsa and tons of other products just by heading on over to the giveaway page.

Muffaletta Pizza
Serves:  4 (8 slices)
1 Mom's Easy Pizza Dough (or storebought)
1/2 cup tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup Lee's Olive Salsa
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
4 ounces provolone cheese, thinly sliced
4 ounces ham, thinly sliced and torn into small pieces
2 ounces pepperoni, thinly sliced
1/2 cup pepperocini

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease a 12-inch pizza pan or a large cookie sheet.  Roll the pizza dough out over the pan.  Meanwhile, combine tomatoes and Lee's Olive Salsa.  Evenly cover the pizza dough with the salsa mixture.  Top evenly with garlic powder.  Then add in layers:  mozzarella, provolone, ham, pepperoni, and pepperocini.  Bake 13-15 minutes, until crust is brown and cheese are melted and bubbly.  Cut into 8 slices and serve immediately.

Until the next time my oven is on...

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Weeknight Dinner: Chicken Jalapeno Popper Burgers

Of course, the rolls from yesterday, wouldn't be complete without a complement, right?  Basically, when I told John I wanted to use the rolls as hamburger buns, he could only think of one burger that would just go perfectly with those rolls.  Of course he did.  Chicken Jalapeno Popper Burgers.  Really the only thing this meal was missing in John's mind was the french fries.  Sorry John, maybe next time.

There is an amazing amount of flavor packed into the burger - so much so that John did not ONCE complain about having to eat chicken burgers rather than beef.  Well, to be more accurate - what he thinks is beef but is really turkey.  Please let's just keep that our little secret.  What he doesn't know won't hurt him in this instance right?

Anyway, back to the burger, packed with flavor, so incredibly delicious, the perfect way to celebrate your summer.  Incidentally, these would also be perfect the first few weeks of fall when you actually want to turn on your oven to make these rolls AND you can totally justify having burgers because well, football season will be upon us.  But until then, we'll celebrate the bounty of summer, and try and hold on to these last few weeks.  I don't know about all of you but it has literally FLOWN. 

Chicken Jalapeno Popper Burgers
Serves:  4
1 pound ground chicken
2 jalapenos, diced
1 scallion, sliced thinly
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
6 ounces of cheddar cheese, grated and divided
4 Cheddar-Jalapeno Rolls (or hamburger buns)

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.  In a large bowl, combine chicken, jalapenos, scallion, salt, black pepper, and 2 ounces of cheddar cheese.  Form into 4 burgers.  Grill for about 4-5 minutes per side, until fully cooked through.  In the last 2 minutes, top each burger with the remaining cheddar cheese and let it melt over the burger.  Remove the burgers from the grill and immediately serve them on cheddar-jalapeno rolls.

Until the next time my oven is on...

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Welcome! I'm Dani (aka the Growing Foodie), just a girl balancing her career and passion for all things edible in NYC. I hope you'll join me in my adventures in life, through food. (Click for More)
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