Five-Spice Chicken Breasts with Sesame-Orange Beans

I almost forgot to share this delicious yet easy chicken dinner with you!  This recipe requires less than 10 ingredients (for the main dish AND a side) and I promise you’ll have at least half of them on hand.  Chinese Five-Spice is an incredibly flavorful spice combination of cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, star anise and szechuan peppercorns that brings so much flavor to any dish.  In fact, this spice is packed with so much flavor it’s the only seasoning (other than salt) in this chicken recipe.

Once seasoned, the chicken is cooked in a little canola oil until cooked through (about 5-8 minutes each side).  Allow the chicken to rest while you prepare the beans.

Red onion is sautéed in a little more oil and then seasoned with orange zest (so much flavor!) and thinly sliced garlic.  Allow that to cook for 30 seconds and then add in the haricots verts and cook for 4 minutes.  To finish off the beans, add in soy sauce and then top with orange segments and a small drizzle of sesame oil for a POP of flavor.


Despite being an incredibly easy dinner, this meal hit the spot.  It was PACKED with flavor and I loved the brightness from the fresh oranges and the nuttiness from the sesame oil.  Don’t be afraid to use those “strange” spices hiding in your pantry – they add flavor without a lot of fuss OR calories.


Golden Chicken with Cilantro-Cashew Pesto and Coconut Rice

How was everyones weekend?  Ours was filled with some amazing weather so we spent lots of time outside.  We took a quick trip to Raleigh on Saturday for brunch at Standard as well as to do a little grocery shopping before we went to a 1st birthday party for our dearest friends little guy.  It was a fun afternoon with friends before heading home and having an awesome steak dinner.  Yesterday was absolutely beautiful – I’ll take 80 degrees in February anytime.  We spent most of the day outside while also tackling homemade ciabatta bread for the first time. (p.s. it turned out perfect)  We took the homemade bread and make pizza – more on that later.

But let’s rewind to dinner Friday night.  I had planned dinner for Big Guy and me but unfortunately a delayed flight turned this dinner for two into dinner for one.  Don’t worry, there were leftovers for him.  The chicken marinates in a mixture of Greek yogurt, olive oil, lime juice, brown sugar and curry powder (where the “golden” comes from) for about 30 minutes before cooking.  While the chicken marinates, prep the pesto and the rice.


The end result was incredible.  The chicken was so tender (bone-in chicken thighs for the win) and I adored the curry flavor.  The rice was fluffy and full of flavor from the coconut milk.  And the pesto added such a pop of freshness.  Fresh cilantro, a little fresh mint, garlic, cashews, lime zest and a little juice took this dish to a whole new level.

I hope you have an awesome week on tap.  I’m preparing for my parents to come this weekend and I couldn’t be more excited to spend time with them!

Poached Chicken Thighs with Ginger-Coconut Quinoa

I have literally been eyeing this recipe for almost a year now.  Every week as I plan our meal plan I would flip through my binder and almost alway stop and try to find a way to fit this recipe into our week.  Well this week it actually makes sense for our week of eats.

The recipe is part of a “cook once, eat 3x” series that Cooking Light has been featuring.  It’s a little misleading because you most definitely still have to cook but when I cooked this meal on Monday I prepared lots of quinoa that will take us through the rest of the week in a meal on Wednesday evening.

As always, I get nervous that my expectations of a dish are too high (I mean, ginger-coconut will get me every time) but this meal was incredible.  The flavors are absolutely amazing and there are so many flavors!

The chicken is marinated in EVOO, lime zest + juice, adobo sauce (think smoky, not spicy), ginger, garlic and soy sauce before being poached in the marinade along with chicken stock.  That same stock is then used to cook the quinoa the first time.  After you reserve quinoa for the rest of the week, you add in coconut milk and ginger that seriously adds a punch of flavor.  I find that coconut milk can sometimes get lost in recipes, but that didn’t happen here.


If you’re unsure about quinoa, please give it a try.  I think this is a great recipe for quinoa because there are SO many flavors – the ginger, the garlic, the lime zest and the coconut milk infuse the quinoa for an insane layering for flavors.  Poaching the chicken keeps it super tender.  And the sprinkle of green onions add a little freshness and pop of brightness.

Stay tuned for how I used the rest of the quinoa!

Mojo Grilled Chicken with Orange-Infused Black Beans

If you don’t have a meal plan for the rest of the week, this chicken dinner is a MUST!  Big Guy and I were both blown away by all the flavors.  Typically I try and cook “meatless” on Monday but I also have a freezer full of meats that I don’t want to go to waste.

The chicken is marinated in a mixture of orange juice, cilantro, olive oil, ground red pepper and garlic.  Before adding the chicken, make sure to reserve a little bit of the marinade for the onions (one of my favorite parts of dinner!).  While the chicken was marinating, Big Guy tossed the sliced red onion on the grill to get a little char on them.  After about 8-10 minutes on the grill, the onions were added into a bowl with the reserved marinade and tightly covered.  Doing this allowed the onions to not only soak in the flavors from the marinade but they also softened even more.

Once the onions came off the grill, the chicken went on the grill.  And while the chicken was cooking, I prepared the black beans.    Two cans of black beans are drained and rinsed and then put into a saucepan along with orange zest, a little water, oregano (I used dried), cumin, and salt.  Before serving, fresh basil is tossed into the beans.

To serve, simply plate a helping of black beans and top with a grilled chicken breast.  To accompany the chicken and beans, some freshly sliced avocado for creaminess and the grilled onions.


Not only was this dinner absolutely delicious but it was incredibly filling without being heavy.  And I’m not going to lie, I’m really looking forward to eating some of the leftover black beans today.

Flavor explosion.


Pineapple Chicken Kebabs with Cilantro-Lime Slaw

Sweet and slightly-spicy chicken kebabs are paired with a creamy and bright slaw for an easy 25-minute weeknight dinner.

To make the pineapple glaze, combine pineapple juice, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, Sriracha, honey, fish sauce and garlic and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer to allow the sauce to slightly thicken.  While the sauce is cooking, cut chicken thighs into bite-size pieces and thread onto skewers.  Sprinkle the chicken with a little salt and brush with the sauce.  The chicken is then broiled for 6 minutes before turning and brushing with more of the pineapple sauce.

While the chicken is cooking, toss together sliced cabbage and cilantro with a simple dressing of vinegar, lime juice, salt and mayonnaise.

Serve the chicken kebabs with the reserved sauce and slaw.




Asian Marinated Chicken with Corn and Basil Faux-Fried Rice

This is one of those recipes that I’ve been holding onto for years (since September of 2012) and I finally got around to adding it to our dinner menu.  I’ve thought about preparing this dinner multiple times but I wanted to use our homegrown corn and basil so it never was the right time.  Until now.

The recipe doesn’t require a ton of ingredients and the only swap I made was using both boneless and skinless chicken thighs and I also used ginger instead of garlic.  I would have totally used garlic but I forgot to pick some up at the store.  The chicken marinates for two hours before it’s cooked and that’s where so much of the flavor comes from.  The Asian flavors come from soy sauce, mirin (you can find it on the international aisle), and ginger.  The green onions in the marinade also give it lots of fresh flavor.

The chicken is seared on the stovetop for 3 minutes before turning over and then continuing to cook in the oven at 375 degrees for about 10 more minutes.  The faux-fried rice is made by boiling your rice for 15 minutes and then draining.  The rice is then sautéed in a little olive oil with more green onions, the corn and a little more soy sauce.  The final addition of basil is perfection and adds so much brightness and flavor.


The chicken was perfectly tender and I loved the pops of corn in each bite of the rice paired with the fresh herbs.


Grilled Balsamic Chicken Salad with Spiced Pecans

This salad is the perfect summer salad!  It’s light, fresh and feel free to change up the fruit you used based on what’s in season.  I opted for raspberries because they looked gorgeous at the store – but blueberries or peaches would be amazing.

The chicken is simply seasoned with salt, pepper and I added a little onion powder.  If you have a favorite seasoning blend, go for it!  Big Guy fired up the grill and got the most perfect grill marks.  The key to moist chicken is not to overcook it.

The dressing is a simple mix of balsamic vinegar, EVOO, mustard, garlic plus salt and pepper.  One of the best parts about this salad is the spiced pecans.  I recommend doubling this recipe – Big Guy was obsessed.  Pecans are sautéed in a pan until fragrant (about 4 minutes).  Add in the butter, brown sugar and hot sauce and cook for another 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool.  They are sweet, crunchy with a little hint of heat.

To assemble the salad, put a big layer of greens on the plate followed by the raspberries, pecans and chicken.  Drizzle with the dressing and devour.