Mushroom and Chicken Marsala Bowl

In the most recent issue of Cooking Light, there is a feature section that “flips” a few recipes:  more plants, less meat.  The reason for this flip is simple:  American’s eat way too much meat.  In fact, most American’s eat twice the recommended amount of animal protein while on 14% of us are eating enough plants.  {source}

Wait, wait, wait…I’m not turning into a vegetarian.  While I do eat lots of vegetarian meals, I love steak, chicken, fish, pork, BACON.  The “flip” is simply a way to reduce the amount meat and increase the amount of veggies.

Traditional chicken marsala has three times more meat than veggies and after the flip there is three times more veggies than meat.  And instead of serving the chicken and mushrooms over white pasta, this mushroom and chicken marsala is served over a bed of quinoa – a powerhouse of nutrients.

The quinoa is cooked in beef stock (it’s what I had on hand – feel free to use chicken broth) to give even more flavor to the dish.  With the chicken and mushrooms is sautéed spinach, lots of sliced garlic, fresh thyme and a sauce that’s made with beef stock, marsala wine, mustard plus salt and pepper.

The end result was ridiculously satisfying.

Meaty, rich and buttery.

This “flipped” dinner was so delicious I have a feeling you’ll see another edition of “flipped” soon.

Teriyaki Chicken and Carrots with Black Sesame and Ginger

Nothing makes me happier in life than cooking dinner for Big Guy during the week.  I love being in the kitchen and cooking a healthy and delicious meal for us both.

Most days I start cooking dinner before he gets home from work.  I at least like to get the prep work started – cutting up the carrots, marinating the chicken – before he walks through the door.

Some evenings it’s an intensive recipe and takes some time in the kitchen.  Other evenings I keep it simple and the meal takes 15 minutes to prepare.

Big Guy usually walks through the door around 6pm.  I always hear the garage door before I hear him.  And  I make sure the local news channel is turned on (as opposed to what I’d usually be watching…DVRed Rachael Ray or House Hunters) so he can catch up with the happenings of the day before dinner.

I try to have the table set.  But sometimes I leave that chore up to him.  He is always responsible for filling the glasses with water.

Through the clanging of the pots and pans, we catch up on the day.

Sometimes I have more to say than he does.

But he always asks “What’s for dinner?” even if he knows.

chicken pork 001


This particular night, teriyaki chicken was on the menu.  Big Guy was pretty excited about this dinner.

The chicken had marinated in a homemade teriyaki sauce of balsamic vinegar, honey, ginger, miso, pepper and mirin for an hour or so before grilled to perfection.  The chicken was cooked perfectly but I should have marinated it longer.  I think 5-6 hours would have been optimal.

On the side, carrots.  I typically eat carrots as a snack so they’re rarely a side dish for dinner.

chicken pork 002


I tried to cut the carrots as “matchstick” size as possible.  The carrots don’t need long to cook.  You don’t want mushy carrots.  Sesame and ginger provide so much flavor and I love the flecks of black toasted sesame seeds in the sea of orange.

chicken pork 004


An insanely delicious plate brightened up with fresh cilantro and green onions.

And despite wanting to catch up on the day even more, a quiet dinner table means the food hit the spot.

Spiced Chicken Thighs with a Summery Salad

The cake may have been a fail but dinner was amazing.  This may be one of the best chicken dishes to come out of my kitchen.  And I didn’t even have to make Big Guy fire up the grill.

The spices on the chicken thighs are incredible.

Brown Sugar

Chili Powder



Garlic Powder

Ground Red Pepper

The perfect combination of sweet and spicy.

The chicken thighs were generously sprinkled with the spice mixture on both sides and broiled to perfection.  The smell took over the house.  Once again making me want to bottle up the scent and sell it.

Though I think more people would be interested in the failed cake smell compared to the spiced chicken smell.

Spiced Chicken Thighs

Spiced Chicken Thighs

For the salad, a herb lettuce mixture was topped with sweet strawberries, mini mozzarella balls and spiced pecans (from Trader Joe’s – you must find these!).  It was simple but scrumptious.  A simple drizzle of a balsamic vinaigrette was all that it needed.

Summery Salad

Summery Salad

You can find the original recipe on Cooking Light. I obviously didn’t prepare the rice and I switched up some of the ingredients in the salad with what I had on hand.



Grilled Chicken with Tomato-Avocado Salad

If a recipe makes it to the front cover of Cooking Light it probably means it’s delicious.  And pretty.

June 2013 cover

I knew that I had two ears of corn that needed to be used and I also knew that I wanted chicken.  Big Guy demanded that he use the grill.  With those requirements, I went on a recipe search.  Final selection:  Grilled Chicken with Tomato-Avocado Salad.  

And a good selection it was.  I headed to the fancy Harris Teeter (I say this because HTs are my favorite and the one in my town is not “fancy” – aka it’s the size of a shoebox) to find some pretty tomatoes.  I found a gorgeous heirloom red tomato and some cute little yellow tomatoes.  Thankfully there was also a perfectly ripe avocado that I grabbed.

This recipe will also keep the kitchen cool – all the work (the hot work) is done outside on the grill (you could totally make this inside, but Big Guy loves to grill).


so fresh

The chicken paired with a bite of avocado and the homemade dressing was my favorite.  I followed the recipe precisely with the only change being I used chicken thighs over the chicken breast and in the dressing I left out the shallot and doubled the garlic.  Oh – and I used rosemary instead of thyme because that’s what is growing in my herb garden. (I guess I did make a few alterations.) You have no idea how much I love not having to pay for herbs!

dinner al fresco

dinner al fresco

The weather was so nice Sunday evening that we took dinner out doors.  Even the bugs were at a minimum!

delicious dinner

delicious dinner

Such a satisfying dinner.  And we were close to having every color on the plate…yellow, red, purple, green…

A summer Sunday dinner at it’s finest.  And freshest.

Beer Queso and Margarita Chicken

The evening started with margaritas.  The creamsicle margaritas.  But the night only got more delicious from there.

Beer Queso

Beer Queso

Warning:  This cheese dip is highly addictive.  It may cause people to eat all the chips that are in the house.  It also will cause everyone to request the recipe.

cheese dip +margaritas = perfection

cheese dip +margaritas = perfection

The original recipe calls for chorizo (which I couldn’t find) but I used spicy breakfast sausage instead.  I think that the sausage makes it less “greasy” – not that chorizo grease is a bad thing.  I also left out the black beans since we had a full meal still headed our way.  The cheese is thin – but it thickens up as it cools (if people can wait that long).  I used Corona Light but I think that any Mexican beer would be fantastic – perhaps Modelo!  Happy dipping!

memorial 003

Margarita chicken

This chicken has been on my mind since I saw the recipe!  And the best part, the recipe is super easy.  We marinated the chicken all afternoon and I cannot tell you how tender and delicious it turned out.  I recommend using chicken thighs over chicken breasts to maximize flavor and juiciness.  Trust me.  A simply marinade of tequila (we used white tequila), lime and orange zest, lime and orange juice, agave, olive oil, salt and pepper results in super flavorful chicken dinner.  I served the chicken over cilantro-lime rice.  Simply white long-grain rice with a shot of lime juice and a handful of chopped cilantro.  So good!  I plopped a large dollop of guacamole on top of my chicken. I mean, guac makes everything better.

From the first sip to the last bite of chicken, this meal was a keeper!  I tripled the chicken recipe to feed 8 (including 4 men) and the cheese dip makes a TON!  No need to double or triple unless you want to eat that much dip (which is possible – but don’t blame me for a tummy ache).

It’s Summer in my Kitchen.

It’s a cool 54 degrees outside on this sunny April day but it’s summertime in my kitchen.  Gingery-Chicken with Peaches.  Think spicy ginger with sweet peaches smothering the most delicious baked chicken all served on a bed of steaming hot rice.

And the recipe couldn’t be easier.  Simply marinate the chicken in a mixture of brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, salt and pepper.  While that’s hanging out, slice up a red onion and put in a large bowl with one bag of frozen peaches.  Into the bowl you’ll add flavor with more ginger, a little brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame and canola oil and red pepper flakes.  Now mix it all up.

Pour the onion-peach mixture into a casserole dish and tuck the chicken on top.  Simply bake at 450 degrees for 25 minutes.  Serve this delicious chicken dinner over hot rice.

p.s. The kitchen smelled insanely good.

So even if it isn’t summer outside – make it summer in your kitchen.

“Our Carolina Cakes”

Has anyone seen the most recent issue of Our State magazine?

In this issue there are cakes that you’ve never seen (or heard of or imagined) before.  And to be honest they’re “cakes that only a North Carolinian can appreciate.”

The Krispy Kreme Cake – featuring 6-12 Krispy Kreme original glaze doughnuts

The Maple Syrup and Country Ham Cake – in the words of Big Guy, “Come on.”

The Nabs Cake –  I can’t lie, hoop cheese plus Lance Toastchee Crakers plus frosting is not appetizing to me.

The Pepsi ‘N Peanuts Cake  – combining sweet Pepsi with salty peanuts

Last, but certainly not least, as it’s the one Big Guy has requested…

The Pimento Cheese Cake – yes, they went there.

Despite Big Guy’s request, I have not whipped up the above cakes (yet).  But I did throw together Pimento Cheese Stuffed Chicken and I didn’t hear any more complaining.  Despite living in the South, I’ve never had pimento cheese with bacon as one of the mix-ins until this dinner.

The pimento cheese mixture included 1 slice bacon (crisped and crumbled), 3/4 cup white cheddar cheese (grated), green onions, pimentos (duh!), mayo (only 1 tablespoon!), lemon juice (I used the juice from half a Meyer) and hot sauce (1/2 teaspoon or to taste).

Holy moly!  If I’ve ever had a Southern chicken dinner, this is it!

I loved the addition of not only the bacon but the zip of the lemon and a little heat from the Texas Pete.  Served with a side of roasted brussels.

Which of the above cakes would you be willing to try?