Roast Chicken with Caramelized Shallots


Lately I have been torn on the topic of Sunday dinner.  Normally I tend to take advantage of the opportunity to make more involved meals that wouldn’t be suitable for a weeknight, but for the past month I have only had one day off each week – Sunday.  Which means when Sunday finally rolled around, I would be too busy taking care of things around the house and just generally so exhausted that high maintenance meals were not in the cards.  It turns out though, this meal is a perfect compromise.  It requires literally less than 10 minutes of prep time but the end result is a delicious roast chicken topped with crisp caramelized shallots.  Paired with some mashed potatoes, this is total comfort food with minimal effort.

The simplicity of this recipe is great, and I think it would lend itself well to variations.  I did think it was a tad on the vinegar-y side for me, so next time I may sub part of the vinegar with lemon juice, or just use a less harsh vinegar such as white wine vinegar.  But there most definitely will be a next time because when a recipe is this quick and this tasty, it’s too good to pass up.

Roast Chicken with Caramelized Shallots
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Ingredients:
3 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. soy sauce
4 large shallots, peeled and minced
8 pieces bone-in, skin-on chicken (I used thighs)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Minced fresh parsley

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425˚ F.  In a baking dish large enough to hold all the chicken pieces in a single layer, combine the olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce and shallots; whisk to combine.  Toss the chicken in the mixture, coating with shallots.   Season with salt and pepper.  Place the chicken pieces in the pan so they are skin-side up.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the chicken pieces begin to brown on top.  Turn the pieces of chicken over and spoon some of the juices and shallots over the top.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the shallots are caramelized.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle lightly with fresh parsley.

Source: adapted from The French Farmhouse Cookbook by Susan Herrmann, via David Lebovitz

Shrimp Enchiladas


Filled with chicken, veggies, or straight up cheese, enchiladas are always an awesome meal.  This version in particular is one of my favorites and I’m excited to have revamped the recipe a little bit.  Why?  I found a way to make this meal more efficiently while using less dishes.  I think that’s cause for celebration!  I also played around with the filling to add a few more veggies because that never seems to hurt.  Now, I’ve never been one of those that thinks enchiladas must be covered in sauce before baking to be delicious, but if you are of that camp, you can increase the quantity of sauce and reserve some for pouring on top.  I love these as they are though – creamy, just a tad spicy and packed full of flavor.  I actually think they would be too much with additional sauce on top.  Depending on how quick you are in the kitchen, these can definitely be suitable for a weeknight meal.  The process goes much faster with assistance from my helpful shrimp peeler, Ben.  These also make excellent leftovers and make a lunch I can really look forward to.

Shrimp Enchiladas
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Ingredients:
3 tbsp. butter, divided
1 lb. medium-size shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 red bell pepper, diced
¾ cup onion, diced
¼ tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. salt
Dash garlic powder
Dash cayenne pepper
2 tsp. all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. heavy cream or half-and-half
¼ cup sour cream
6 oz. shredded cheese (such as Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, etc.), divided
1 cup tomatoes, seeded and diced
8-10 (8-inch) flour tortillas
Cooking spray

Directions:
In a large sauté pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the shrimp to the pan in an even layer and let cook without moving, about 1 minute.  Flip the shrimp over and continue to cook until just pink and opaque, 30-60 seconds longer.  Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon and set aside.  When the shrimp is cool enough to handle, roughly chop into bite sized pieces, if desired.

Melt the remaining butter in the pan.  Add the diced bell pepper and onion, and cook until just tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the oregano, salt, garlic powder, cayenne and flour to the pan; stir well and cook briefly until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds.  Lower the heat to medium-low and add the heavy cream to the pan, stirring to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Cook just until slightly thickened, 1-2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat.  Stir in the sour cream, half of the shredded cheese, and the tomatoes.  Return the shrimp to the pan as well, and mix everything together until the sauce is well blended and the cheese is melted.

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.  Scoop 1/3 cup of the filling and sauce mixture down the center of a tortilla.  Sprinkle lightly with some of the reserved cheese.  Roll the tortilla tightly around the filling and place seam side-down in the  prepared baking dish.  Repeat with the remaining filling, tortillas and cheese.  Spray the tops of the finished assembled tortillas lightly with cooking spray.  Bake uncovered for about 30-35 minutes, until lightly browned.  Let cool at least 5-10 minutes before serving.

Source: adapted from My Kitchen Cafe

Grilled Chicken Quesadillas


This is an old favorite recipe that deserved a little updating, mainly in the picture department.  I tend to find chicken quesadillas pretty irresistible and I think everyone should be able to make a good version at home.  This recipe is my favorite because it is simple and can be easily adapted to suit your tastes or the ingredients you have on hand.  Though I tend to keep mine on the simple side with just grilled chicken, onions, tomatoes and cheese, you can add beans, corn, peppers, cilantro, and the list goes on.  The wet rub for the chicken adds a lot of flavor and takes next to no time to prepare, which is perfect after a long work day.  I recently started using corn tortillas instead of flour for my quesadillas and find them to be much sturdier and able to hold all the fillings.  I love being able to make this restaurant favorite at home!

Grilled Chicken Quesadillas
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Ingredients:
1 tbsp. chili powder
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves
Half a yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
Corn tortillas (6-7 inches)
Cooking spray
Shredded cheese (pepper jack, cheddar, etc.)

Directions:
Heat a grill pan or skillet over medium high heat.  Combine the chili powder, cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, salt, cumin and red pepper flakes in a pie plate; whisk to combine.  Add the chicken breast halves and turn to coat.  Cook the chicken until browned on both sides and juices run clear.  Remove from the heat and shred the chicken into small pieces.  Add the onion to the pan and cook until tender and golden, about 5 minutes.

Combine the shredded chicken, cooked onion, and diced tomatoes in a mixing bowl; toss to combine.  Lightly brush or spray one side of a tortilla with vegetable oil; flip over on a work surface so the oiled side is facing down.  Place about a quarter of the chicken mixture onto one side of the tortilla.  Top with shredded cheese.  Fold over the tortilla to sandwich the filling inside.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling mixture.

Cook the assembled quesadillas over medium-high heat in a lightly oiled grill pan or skillet until browned on the outside and warmed through with the cheese melted on the inside.  Slice into wedges and serve with sour cream and salsa as desired.

Source: adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Crispy Baked Taco Bowls


Tacos are such a simple, delicious and satisfying meal that many people make taco night a weekly occurrence.  In case you are looking for a way to change up your taco night just a little bit, making crispy baked taco bowls instead of your usual taco shells is a fun and easy twist.  This isn’t even a recipe at all, just a quick kitchen tip that I wanted to share.  All you have to do is place a warmed, lightly oiled 6-7 inch tortilla in between the cups of an overturned muffin tin.  (I prefer to warm mine in the microwave.)  Bake at 425˚ F for 8-10 minutes.  Fill as desired with all your favorite taco fixings.  And while you’re at it, be sure to make some homemade taco seasoning.  No need for those sodium-filled store bought packets!


Note: There are certainly other ways to achieve a similar result.  I have seen other methods involving laying tortillas over ramekins, folding them inside ramekins, etc.  I tried a few of these methods and this was my favorite, but you can be creative with what you have on hand.

Source: Paula of Salad in a Jar

Turkey Pesto Sliders


After our family fell quickly in love with the ham and cheese sliders we served at Andrew’s birthday party, I have come to realize what a quick and versatile meal sliders can be.  Turkey pesto sandwiches have long been a favorite of mine, and I have served them at bridal showers and other get-togethers in the form of finger sandwiches.  Here I changed my old favorite up just a bit by putting them on a slider bun, adding provolone cheese and baking briefly.  These make a great party food, but are an equally fabulous quick and easy dinner.  If I have a busy day, I certainly breathe a sigh of relief knowing Ben can have these ready to pop in the oven when I walk in the door.  You can easily adjust the quantity for however many you need to serve.  Oh, and these are great warmed up as left overs!

Turkey Pesto Sliders
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Ingredients:
6 slider buns
6 slices of turkey deli meat
6 slices of provolone cheese
3 tbsp. pesto
3 tbsp. mayonnaise
2 tbsp. butter, melted

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Line a baking sheet with foil or a silicone baking mat.  Split the slider buns and lay a folded slice of turkey on the bottom half of each bun.  Layer each with a slice of provolone.  In a small bowl, combine the pesto and mayonnaise in a small bowl and mix until blended.  Spread a thin layer of the pesto mayonnaise on the inner side of the top half of each bun.  Replace the top bun over the cheese to assemble the sandwiches.  Brush the tops of the buns lightly with melted butter.  Bake 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sandwiches are warmed through.

Source: Annie original

Greek Panzanella

Why, oh why,  have I waited this long to try panzanella?  In case you are unfamiliar, panzanella is bread salad that has Italian origins.  It’s a very adaptable meal that is easily altered based on the ingredients you have around and what your taste buds fancy.  I have seen lots of variations and they all sound pretty great but none had compelled enough to actually try it.  When I saw this Greek version, it went onto the next week’s menu immediately.  I have to say it more than exceeded my expectations.  I wouldn’t exactly call it healthy since it is, after all, a bread salad and it uses a good deal of olive oil.  However, it is a really great way to get a lot of vegetables into a meal.  Tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber, red onion and olives – plus feta cheese!  Yum yum.  I thought this would be a meal that I really liked and Ben was indifferent to, but he was equally impressed.  It does make a large quantity but I am so glad we didn’t halve it.  I had it as leftovers for lunch and even though the bread was a bit soggy the second day, it still tasted fantastic.  Now I’m super motivated to try more variations of panzanella.  Bring it on!

Greek Panzanella
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Ingredients:
For the salad:
2 tbsp. olive oil
6 cups French bread cubes (1 inch)
Kosher salt
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced ¼-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, large diced
1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
½ red onion, sliced thin
6 oz. crumbled feta cheese
2.5 oz. can sliced black olives, drained (kalamatas would also be good if you like that sort of thing)

For the vinaigrette:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1¼ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Directions:
To prepare the salad, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan.  Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt; cook over medium-low heat, tossing frequently, for 5-10 minutes, until nicely browned.  Remove from the heat.

Combine the cucumber, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onion in a large bowl.  To make the vinaigrette, combine the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Whisk in the olive oil to create an emulsion.  Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables.  Add the feta, olives, and bread cubes.  Mix together lightly.  Set aside for 30 minutes to let the flavors blend (if you can wait that long!)

Source: barely adapted from Smells Like Home, originally from Ina Garten

White Fish Tacos


It seems fish tacos are quite a popular dish.  I see them all over the blogosphere and on lots of restaurant menus, but for a long time they just sounded kind of gross to me.  I think part of it was my childhood fear of seafood rearing its head – growing up in Indiana and being served lots of things that should definitely not be called seafood, I think the fear was justified.  Now that I know where to get fresh, good quality seafood, I keep experimenting with things and do my best to keep an open mind.  Well let me just say this dinner wowed us both.  Actually, it wowed us all – Andrew included.  He ate more than one plate of deconstructed taco!

And, this is another one of those dinners that is a triple threat – it is quick, easy, and healthy!  I came home from a long, rough work day and despite my exhaustion and less than stellar mood, these came together in no time.  In fact, they completely turned my mood around (well, the margarita probably played a part in that as well.)  You marinate the fish briefly and while it is doing its thing, you can prep all the toppings and the sauce.  I used halibut for these because it is my favorite type of white fish but you could also use tilapia or cod (or some other variety of white fish I am less familiar with).  Try these soon for a healthy, colorful delicious meal.

White Fish Tacos
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For the fish:
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 tbsp. minced cilantro
¼ tsp. cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 lb. white fish (halibut, cod, tilapia, etc.)
Salt

Ingredients:

For the cilantro cream sauce:
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp. cilantro, minced
6 oz. nonfat greek yogurt (sour cream is fine too)
1 clove garlic, minced
Pepper, to taste

For serving:
Cherry tomatoes, quartered
Green onions, chopped
Red cabbage, shredded
(Or whatever sounds good to you!)
6-inch flour tortillas

Directions:
Combine the lime juice, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, cilantro, cumin, and garlic in a pie plate or shallow dish.  Whisk together until well blended.  Place the fish in the mixture, turning to coat.  Let marinate 15-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the cilantro cream sauce.  Combine the lime juice, cilantro, greek yogurt, garlic and pepper in a small bowl.  Mix until well blended.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Place the fish in the pan and cook without disturbing, 3 minutes.  Flip the fish and cook on the second side 2-3 minutes more.  Remove to a plate, season with salt as desired, and let rest for a few minutes.  Shred the fish into bite-sized pieces with two forks.

Assemble tacos on flour tortillas with shredded fish, cilantro cream sauce and toppings as desired.

Source: adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Salmon with Strawberry Salsa


I mentioned not long ago that I wasn’t a big fan of fruit and meat, etc. combos but it seems I’m coming around.  This dish totally blew me away.  Honestly, I was expecting this to be so-so for me, and maybe something Ben said he liked to be polite.  But no, we both devoured it.  And so did Andrew!  Even better, it’s incredibly simple to prepare, quick, and healthy to boot.  How can you say no to a meal like that?  I think this would be great for entertaining because it is easy, certainly unique and the bright colors make for a beautiful presentation.

Salmon with Strawberry Salsa
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Ingredients:
For the salsa:
2 cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
4 scallions, white and green portions, sliced thin
1 tsp. fresh parsley, minced
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Drizzle of olive oil
Drizzle of honey
Salt and pepper, to taste

4 salmon fillets (about 6 oz. each)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
To make the salsa, combine the strawberries, tomatoes, scallions, parsley, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, honey, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl.  Mix well to blend, then cover and refrigerate while you prepare the salmon.

Preheat the broiler.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Place the salmon fillets on the foil.  Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice over each fillet, and season with salt and pepper.  Broil about 6-8 inches away from heat source (in my oven, this is upper middle rack).  Cook about 10-12 minutes, depending on your oven and the size of the fillets, checking for doneness.  Transfer the salmon to serving plates and top with strawberry salsa.  Serve warm.

Source: barely adapted from Good Things Catered

Chicken and Artichokes in a White Wine Sauce


There are lots of reasons to like this dinner.  For one, it is pretty healthy, providing both lean protein and vegetables in one low fat dish.  Also, it uses ingredients that you are likely have on hand most of the time so as long as you have a package of mushrooms, you should be good to go.  The end result is a dish that is delicious, elegant, and appears as though you spent far more time on it than you actually did.  It’s also great as leftovers.

Chicken and Artichokes in a White Wine Sauce
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Ingredients:
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. herbes de provence (or a combination of other dried herbs such as basil, parsley, oregano, thyme)
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (2 chicken breasts total)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
2 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 (14 oz.) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup chicken broth
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Minced fresh parsley, for serving

Directions:
In a pie plate or shallow dish, combine the flour, dried herbs, salt and pepper and stir with a fork to blend.  Reserve 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture.  Using tongs, coat the chicken breast halves in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken to the pan and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.  Remove the chicken to a plate; cover and keep warm.

Add the butter to the pan and warm until melted.  Add the mushrooms and artichokes to the pan and cook until most of the liquid is released from the mushrooms and the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

In a liquid measuring cup, combine the white wine, chicken broth, and reserved tablespoon of flour; whisk until smooth.  Add the mixture to the skillet, cooking until it is warm and slightly thickened.  Return the chicken to the pan to warm through and cover with sauce.  Serve the chicken with sauce spooned over the top, and garnish with grated Parmesan and fresh parsley as desired.

Source: adapted from Proceed With Caution, originally from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, Bridal Edition

Turkey Burgers


It’s still summer and we’re still grilling.  I just can’t get enough!  I use ground turkey quite frequently as a healthier substitute for ground beef, but I’ll admit that have always preferred a classic beef hamburger to any turkey burger I’ve tried.  Finally a recipe for turkey burgers came along that actually tempted me enough to try them.  I’ll be darned if these weren’t some of the best burgers we’ve ever made!  In fact I enjoyed them so much they went right back onto the menu for the following week – always a sign of a winner.  Most recently I prepared a full batch of patties (8 total), wrapped half of them in plastic wrap and stored in the freezer for a quick dinner at a later date.  They came in handy this weekend when I needed a quick meal for my dad, who tends to think it isn’t food if it didn’t come off the grill.  I’ll be sure to have these around as a freezer staple in the future.  (And just so you know, these buns freeze amazingly well too.  I always keep some in the freezer.)

Turkey Burgers
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Yield: 8 burgers
Ingredients:
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. ground turkey
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
1 tbsp. minced fresh sage
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

Directions:
Heat the coals of a grill to medium-high.  Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook about 2 minutes longer, until the onion is tender.  Remove from the heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl; let cool.

Once the onion mixture has cooled, add the ground turkey, salt, pepper and herbs to the bowl.  Mix well so everything is evenly blended.  Mix in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Form the mixture into 8 equal sized patties.  When you are ready to grill, oil the grates of the grill with additional olive oil or vegetable oil.  Cook until evenly browned and cooked through, about 4-6 minutes per side.  Serve with toasted buns, lettuce, tomatoes, and condiments as desired.

Source: adapted from Simply Recipes