Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Chicken and Cashews

Wow!  What a game that was last night.  I didn’t have a dog in the fight but I was cheering for the Falcons.  And I can’t believe they didn’t win after leading on the scoreboard the entire game.  Unbelievable.  And the halftime show – I thought it was awesome!  Needless to say, I needed an extra cup of coffee this morning after staying up too late to watch the whole game.

Rewind to Friday night and an amazing yet easy dinner.  Friday’s have become pretty low-key around our house thanks to early Saturday morning commitments.  I’m not really complaining because our Saturdays have come so productive lately.  After a busy week with plans almost every evening, I was happy to have a relaxing dinner at home catching up on some of our DVRed shows.

cinnamonchicken

Sweet potatoes are topped with a sweet topping of chicken, cashews, dried cherries and raisins.  Thanks to a rotisserie chicken the topping comes together in a flash.  Simply sauté diced celery in a little EVOO and then add in the dried fruit, some freshly squeezed orange juice, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and salt.  Once warmed through, top the baked sweet potatoes with the chicken mixture and then a good sprinkle of green onions.

So good!  I adored the flavor combination.  It was kind of like a warmed chicken salad.

p.s.  Cashews are my favorite nut ever.

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.

gingercoconutquinoa

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!

Smoky Potato and Greens Tacos + Blood Orange Margaritas

Taco Tuesday!  Last week I found myself with leftover blood oranges and decided I would shake up a margarita to celebrate the end of the week.  This margarita couldn’t be easier and only requires three ingredients.  You’ll need tequila (our “house” tequila is 1800 Silver 100% Agave), fresh blood orange juice and fresh lime juice.  I personally like a salt rim but if that’s not your thing, no biggie.  To make the margarita, simply combine 2 parts tequila with 2 parts blood orange juice and 1 part lime juice.  Serve on the rocks with a lime slice.

margarita

To go along with our margaritas, we enjoyed smoky potato and greens tacos.  I made a few changes to the original recipe, using sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes.  To cook, I peeled the potatoes and cut into cubes.  Toss the potatoes with some EVOO plus hot smoked paprika and spread on a baking pan covered with aluminum foil.  Bake at 425 degrees until roasted, turning once.  Instead of collards, I used swiss chard as my greens and simply sautéed in a little EVOO.  Once both the greens and the potatoes are cooked, toss them together to combine.  In the corn tortillas, a heaping spoonful of the potatoes and greens plus radish slices, cilantro, feta cheese (I find it has so much more flavor than queso fresco) and some hot sauce.

tacos

Margaritas and tacos were made for each other.

 

Lemon-Herb Risotto with Shrimp and Haricots Verts

I typically don’t mind having leftovers.  I know some people are anti-leftovers but since I eat most meals at home, including lunch, leftovers sometimes come to our rescue for our middle-of-the-day meal.  This past weekend though, knowing we had a busy Saturday and we already had plans for dinner on Sunday, I was hesitant to have lots of leftovers. This warm and hearty dinner is the perfect dinner-for-two.

I adore risotto.  It’s creamy and rich and the perfect end to a busy week.  I find the continuous stirring to be quite therapeutic and I don’t mind standing over the stovetop – especially with a glass of wine in hand.

The risotto starts by sautéing fennel (a very underused vegetable), onion, thyme and garlic in a little olive oil.  Once tender and fragrant, add in the rice and toast, stirring constantly, for a minute.  Wine is added in and cooked until evaporated and then you begin to add the stock in, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until absorbed before you add in more stock.  For the last 1/2 cup of stock, add in 1/4 cup along with the green beans and salt and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add in the shrimp and cook until pink.  Finally, add in the last 1/4 cup stock, the lemon zest, cream cheese, fennel fronds and pepper.

lemonrisotto

You will not believe that there is only one tablespoon of cream cheese in this dish.  It’s insanely creamy and that’s all because of the constant stirring.  The pops of beans added texture and I loved the addition of lemon zest and fennel fronds.

(p.s. aren’t you impressed?  so much food to share this week!)

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.

mojochicken

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.

 

Slow-Cooker Chicken Chili {plus 2017!}

Happy New Year!  I saw so many negative posts on social media about 2016 over the weekend and while there were some hard, dark days, I think every year is something to celebrate.  There is always going to be good days and bad days but honestly, each day is a gift.

Big Guy and I spent the entire weekend at home, hanging out, laughing and cooking some amazing food.  It was perfection.  I’ve been one to put too much pressure on NYE in the past and it never really lives up to the hype.  This year I had no expectations.  And guess what?  It worked to my advantage.  I plan on writing a post on my “intentions” (not resolutions” for 2017 in the near future but I need to think a little more on what I want to focus on.

So instead, I’ll leave you with a warming dinner that is perfect for these dreary winter days that we’ve had in North Carolina.  This chicken chili is actually what we had for dinner on Christmas Eve – chili and/or soup has been a tradition we started a few years back to take away from the stress of preparing dinner after a busy day.

The slow cooker does most of the work for you leaving you only with chicken to shred before serving.  The chicken was so tender I barely had to touch it to shred.  We used chicken breasts instead of thighs because it’s what the store had at the moment.

chickenchili

I think my favorite part of the chili was the hominy (LOVE!) and the delicious yogurt sauce on top.  The yogurt sauce was a mix of Greek yogurt, green chiles and cilantro – super simple but super yummy.

I’m thinking one of my 2017 intentions needs to be using my slow cooker more…

Thai Basil Chicken

Christmas 2016 has come and gone – can you believe it?  The past week was filled to the brim with family and laughter.  We spent the first part of “Christmas break” with my parents in my hometown before heading to the mountains on the 26th to spend some time with Big Guy’s family.

I felt beyond blessed to be with my family for three whole days.  And the best was when we were ALL together.  OH, and in some exciting news, I’m going to be getting a new sister soon.  My youngest brother proposed to his girlfriend before Christmas so we were able to celebrate that exciting news, too.

allthebells

Christmas day was non-stop from 7am until 11pm, in fact, Big Guy and I didn’t get to exchange gifts until 10pm.  Despite how exhausting the day can be, it’s always so much fun and by far one of my favorite days of the year.

We got up on the 26th and helped clean up the mess from the night before and then hit the road to the mountains.  Big Guy’s dad rented a mountain house for us all for a few days and it was the perfect post-Christmas retreat.  I always find the 26th to be kind of depressing because all the “fun” is over but our fun started all over again.  I am so thankful for the time I was able to spend with his sisters.

watsongals

We arrived back at home late yesterday afternoon and spent the evening unloading seven days worth of Christmas.  Today was spent taking down Christmas.  And while I’m always sad to see the magic of Christmas be put back into boxes, I’m also glad to have my living room back.  The house is clean and ready for a weekend at home.

Obviously our fridge is quite bare after being away for so long, so a quick trip to the store was necessary.  (p.s. I am not a fan of coffee with almond milk…which is all we had this morning)  While putting together a grocery list, I jumped online to try and find an easy recipe for dinner.  It didn’t take me long to come across Thai Basil Chicken which looked not only easy but had a simple ingredient list.

thaibasilchicken

Dinner was delicious!  It came together in under 30 minutes with only 7 ingredients – most of which were in my fridge or pantry.

Tomorrow is not only NYE but it’s also Big Guy’s birthday!  We’re going to keep things low-key but I can assure you that our menu for the weekend is worthy of a birthday.

Cheers to all that was 2016 and all that is to come in 2017.