Chicken

lemon-parmesan-spaghetti-squash

Man! Things have been busy over here. We’re selling our house, and who knew how much work went into that? (you do, if you’ve ever moved).  When the realtor casually mentioned ‘make sure you take everything off the counters and floors for showing,’ it sounded so simple. So quick. So easy. We’re not collectors, we don’t have knick knacks, we get rid of things regularly. But it’s taken days, hours, boxes & bags & storage space we don’t have.  The good news is we don’t have pets, so no pet hair. The bad news is we have twins, so we have toys and hand prints and two humans following us around while we’re trying to get stuff done. It’s been a good cleanup process though and my husband and I will both be about 17 pounds when this is all over with.

And even though we’ve been working up an appetite, we were craving healthy this week for dinner. I made this super easy, fresh, bright, lemon-y, cheesy spaghetti squash and topped it with plain grilled chicken and it really hit the spot.

Recipe

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • S&P
  • 1.5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan or asiago cheese
  • 1 large lemon or 2 small
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Lemon pepper
  • 4 grilled chicken breasts, seasoned with lemon pepper

Preheat the oven to 450.  Place the whole spaghetti squash in there for 10 minutes to soften it up (I find them nearly impossible to cut open otherwise).  After 10 minutes, take it out and slice it open lengthwise.  Drizzle the inside with olive oil and a little S&P.  Place flesh side down (skin side up), and roast for another 35-40 minutes or so until soft. Using a fork, scrape the squash out into a bowl.  Mix in the olive oil, cheeses and juice from one large lemon. Season with the 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a little lemon pepper. Top with grilled chicken breasts.

Chicken Dumpling Soup

chicken-dumpling-soup

The week of Thanksgiving always confuses me. Like, it feels like such a short week but Thanksgiving isn’t until Thursday which is really towards the end of the week anyway. And in this year’s case, I feel like I have sooooo much to do. In reality, I have very little to do. I have to make a pumpkin pie and green bean casserole. And yet, I haven’t been putting anything on my calendar because I’ve been feeling like I have to get ready for Thanksgiving. I don’t.

We did do a mini-outing today though, to the Trains at North Park. So cute, so well done, and the boys loved it. Tons of trains just rolling around. One of the little guys kept saying ‘bop bop bop,’ which is his version of ‘beep beep beep,’ which is a truck sound and not quite applicable to trains but I let it slide. They were so happy and cute. Until. Until I thought I had a minute to relax because they loved the trains so much and I pulled out my smoothie. All the sudden it was like the trains disappeared and the Christmas music stopped, and all they could see was my smoothie. When I wouldn’t let them have it (for lots of reasons – messy, etc – but mostly because it was MINE and I love it)- we had our first public dual tantrum.  Two screaming, completely boneless babies. Couldn’t pick them up, couldn’t hold their hand and walk back to the stroller, couldn’t entice them with another snack. I finally had to just pick them both up at the same time (backs arched, arms flailing, etc) and carry them to the stroller so we could get out of dodge. Not my most graceful moment. It’s very hard to look graceful and in control when you have twin toddlers.

Anyway. This soup is a winter staple. Sort of tastes like pot pie and is so comforting and delicious. AND…would be awesome with leftover turkey.

Recipe

  • 1.5 lb cooked & shredded chicken or turkey (~4c)
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 cups diced carrot (small)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 6 cups chicken broth (full sodium)
  • 5 tablespoons corn starch + water
  • 1/2 cup Half & Half
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • Kosher salt if needed (I used full sodium broth and used an extra 1/2 tsp kosher )

Dumplings

  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • pepper

Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to a large soup pot. Stir in the onion, celery and carrot. Cook for about 5-10 minutes.  Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Whisk together the corn starch with about 1/2 cup water. Add it to the chicken stock and allow to thicken.  Stir in cooked chicken, parsley, half & half, and S&P.

To make the dumplings, mix all ingredients together. Bring soup to a low simmer, and drop the dumplings in teaspoonfuls on top of the soup (messy is ok, they always look misshapen). Once you have dropped in all the dough, cover and cook for about 20 minutes on medium.  If the dumplings cook together a little bit, just break them up with a fork before serving.

Stuffed Chicken Primavera

stuffed-chicken-primavera

I love Primavera pasta. And the funny thing is I can tell you EXACTLY when my love for it started. Trisha Benetti’s kitchen, Rothschild Wisconsin, circa 1996.  New school, new friend, and new snacks. (did you ever get excited about that, btw? A new friend always meant new snacks. Juli Coleman’s house always had Doritos and pudding cups). Trisha’s family had those pasta envelopes (can’t remember what brand and I even looked it up- no luck) – you know like a big bag of pasta with the powder for the sauce in there. One afternoon we wanted a snack so Trisha made the pasta primavera in the microwave and I was blown away. My mom didn’t really cook pre-made stuff out of a bag so I really thought I hit the jackpot.  Afterwards Trisha and I probably went and lit some incense next to her lava lamp.

Today, I eat a more authentic version of Primavera. I get it at Terilli’s Italian restaurant down the street at least once a week. So when my husband came home a couple weeks ago and said I needed to make a stuffed chicken primavera like the one he had at his office cafe, I was sold. He always comes to me with good ideas. Details and execution tips are always elusive, however.  I had to ask about 342 questions before I finally knew what he meant by ‘stuffed primavera.’  To sum it up for you, you cut large slits on the top of a thick chicken breast, then stuff it with fresh thiiiiiiinly sliced veggies. Then you top it with mozzarella cheese and bake it. And you eat it with something like a salad or sweet potato instead of a huge plate of pasta. Healthy! So good! So pretty!

Recipe

  • 6 large, fat boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1.5 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp italian herb blend
  • Olive oil
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 large zucchini, very thinly sliced and then halved (so like half moons)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, thinly slice and diced into small pieces
  • 1/2 sweet onion, julienne
  • 1 yellow pepper, julienne
  • 5 mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 6 deli-style slices mozzarella (or shredded is fine)

Preheat oven to 400.  Divide the chicken into two large baking dishes (I didn’t have one large enough to fit them all). Cut about 3-5 slits along the top of each of them (I did 3 the long way), making sure not to cut through to the bottom. Drizzle with some olive oil, then season with the salt and pepper and Italian herbs. Mix the very thinly slices veggies together (you should have about 4 cups total), season with a little S&P, and then stuff them in all of the chicken slits. Top each chicken with a slice of mozzarella. Pour 1/2 cup of wine into each dish.  Cover the dishes, then bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for about 15 minutes until chicken is done and cheese is browning.

dinner-party-menu-thanksgiving

I’m a traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving. I like to have all the same good stuff, year after year. It actually takes some of the planning stress out, because I always know what I’m going to make when I host. What IS always stressful, though, is timing everything out. So here is my recommended Thanksgiving menu (of course with all of my favorite things), and an easy outline for when to prepare everything. Also, while I typically recommend buying several items when hosting dinner, I believe in making most stuff for Thanksgiving. The homemade element adds a special touch and the chaos is FUN.

PS the picture above is from the Thanksgiving I thought it would be a good idea to make everyone individual pies. It was a great idea in theory and cuteness, but a terrible idea in manual labor output.

PSS sorry for all the terrible pictures in the links below. Most of them are from when I was in the middle of hosting Thanksgiving, and I was very very busy. And maybe a little tipsy.

Menu:

Appetizer: Trader Joe’s cranberry goat cheese + Ginger snaps

Appetizer: Cranberry Avocado Salsa

Main: Perfect Roasted Turkey + gravy

Side: Herb & Sausage Stuffing

Side: Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes

Side: Brussel Sprout Salad 

 – I would simplify this salad for Thanksgiving purposes: saute the brussels instead of roasting (oven space), buy balsamic glaze instead of boiling down your own, and buy bacon from the salad bar if you can (otherwise make bacon day ahead)

Side: Green bean casserole – using the Campbell’s soup recipe! It’s hard to beat.

Side: Sweet Potato Rolls – gotta have bread!

Dessert: Pumpkin Pie with Cream Cheese Swirl

Dessert: Store bought Apple or Pecan Pie

How to execute:

Up to a week before:

Make the sweet potato rolls. Put them in a freezer storage bag and keep them in the freezer until Thanksgiving day. Take them out morning of.

1 day before:

Make the mashed potatoes. Yes! These are great for make-ahead. When warming them up on Thanksgiving day you can add a little cream or butter if they need more moisture.

Make the pumpkin pie; store in fridge

Brown the sausage for the herb sausage stuffing. Keep in ziploc bag in fridge.

If using a frozen turkey, start thawing.

Day of:

~6-7 hours before – prepare the Turkey and put it in oven (varies depending on turkey size)

Have a sip of wine.

Anytime- prepare green bean casserole in casserole dish, and cover; wait to bake.

Have a sip of wine.

~2 hours before- cook celery, onions, etc and assemble sausage stuffing; wait to bake.

Have 2 sips of wine.

~1 hour before – prepare brussel sprout salad

Have 4 sips of wine.

~45 min before (delegate here!) – remove turkey from oven and let rest. Prepare gravy. Put green bean casserole and stuffing into the oven and bake. Prepare cranberry avo salsa and set out cheeses. Warm up mashed potatoes.

Have 87 sips of wine.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

 

 

slow-cooked-french-onion-chicken

My sister should have never given me an FBI hat (she’s an agent).  I liked the hat originally because it had a nice fit and was a nice color, but now I like it because it gives me a lot of power and control.  Crossing streets, stopping traffic, asking people to slow down on our residential streets. Today I had to ask a family at the park to put their dog on a leash and based on their reaction I think they thought they were getting arrested. Or maybe that’s just my hope.  Seriously though – I’m a dog lover – but Pitbull, still a puppy at 8 months old, running rampant at a children’s park, chasing my boys because they are the perfect bite size little chew toy.  He actually looked like a perfectly friendly puppy, but even my childhood dog bit people when he was little. And quite frankly I just have enough threats to dodge when I’m alone at the park with both of them – I need to minimize the ones I can control. AND – it’s the law and at the FBI we enforce the law.

(sorry Ingri, I hope I don’t get you fired)

Onto this chicken. This chicken will change your life. My husband still hasn’t stopped talking about it, and he keeps throwing out ideas of what else we could do with it (“we could eat it on a sandwich with melted cheese.” “I bet we could eat it as a wrap.”  “I think it would be great on a salad.” Yes, yes and yes. Chicken does in fact work as all those things).  But it is one of my easiest recipes, it was so flavorful and the chicken is shreddable-tender when it’s done. The chicken thighs are really what take this over the edge, but if you can’t find a boneless skinless version, you could just use breasts.

Recipe

  • 3 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • Olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 package Lipton onion soup mix
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch mixed with 1/3  cup water
  • Few dashes worcestershire

Preheat oven to 300. Heat a little olive oil in a large dutch oven, and season the chicken thighs with S&P.  Brown the chicken thighs on the both sides, about 2 min/side (if your grocery store doesn’t have boneless skinless thighs, you can sub for chicken breasts. Thighs just get a little more tender).  Once all the thighs are browned (you can drain a little fat here if you want), deglaze the pan with white wine and reduce for 5 min. Pour the onion soup mix over all the chicken and add the mustard.  Add in the chicken broth and water to cover about 3/4 of the way up the chicken. Cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours.  Remove from oven and place over medium heat on the stove; transfer the chicken to a bowl using a slotted spoon or tongs (chicken should be fall apart tender).  Whisk together the  corn starch and 1/3 cup water. Pour into the gravy mixture and allow to thicken. Add a few dashes of Worcestershire. Serve gravy over the chicken.

 

One Pot Chicken Pot Pie

one-pot-chicken-pot-pie

I bet if you googled ‘chicken pot pie’ there would be 87 million search results. Oh actually – just did it because saying that made me curious – 6 million results. Lots of pot pie recipes. You know why? Because it’s awesome. Who doesn’t love pot pie? The devil, maybe, and that’s about it. And I have a couple recipes on this blog already for pot pie (here and here) – and both are good, but I’ve been really trying to simplify things in my life lately. Well mainly just my recipes; I haven’t simplified anything else. So this recipe minimizes steps, minimizes pans, and skips the homemade crust. I personally love homemade crust, but I’ve realized through the years that making homemade crust is really a thankless job. It’s tedious, time consuming, and quite frankly nobody cares. My husband could do without it entirely. So I topped the pot pie with Pillsbury biscuits instead! Loved it. Husband loved it. And this pot pie….oh man. Better put on some eating sweatpants.

Recipe

  • 2.5 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breasts if you can’t find them)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 cups chopped carrot, steamed in microwave for 3 min
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 chicken buillion cube
  • 5-6 tablespoons corn starch dissolved in 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 1.5 cups frozen pearl onions
  • Kosher salt…up to 1-2 tsp
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1 package refrigerated biscuits
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 300.  Melt the butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat on stove. Add onion and garlic and cook. Add carrots and stir to combine. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to pot. Pour in the 1/4 teaspoon pepper, chicken broth, and buillion cube. Bring to a simmer and stir in corn starch whisked into water. Let thicken, then stir in the half & half and onions. Taste for salt. If using full sodium chicken broth, you probably don’t need any. If using reduced sodium, add a tsp or so. Cover pot, place in oven and cook for 1.5 hours. Remove from oven, stir in the parsley, peas, and place biscuits in a single layer on top of pot pie. Cook uncovered in the oven for 40 minutes, until biscuits are done.  Remove from oven, let sit for a few minutes to cool, then shred the chicken with a fork (should be very tender at this point).  Broth/gravy will thicken as it cools, but if you like a thicker/more mashed potato like sauce, you can mix in a couple more tablespoons of corn starch and bring to simmer (make sure to dissolve it in water first).

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