Basil, Feta, and Quinoa Stuffed Chicken with Carrot “Tabbouleh”

This has to be one of the most flavorful weeknight dinners that I’ve had in a while.  In fact, I’m still thinking about how all the ingredients played a crucial part in the flavor profile of both the chicken and the “tabbouleh.”

The chicken is stuffed with a mixture of feta cheese (feta makes it betta’), a little bit of cream cheese, basil, sweet piquanté red peppers and cooked quinoa.  The peppers are an ingredient I just recently starting cooking with and they add the perfect tang and sweetness.  You can find the peppers jarred with pickles or near the cheese with olives.  I was able to find some fresh ones and I simply adore them.  Don’t leave them out – they are not spicy.

The chicken is seared in a little EVOO in a hot skillet and then finished in the oven.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare your no-cook gluten-free “tabbouleh” salad.  And I dare say this is one of my favorite preparations of carrots.  Ever.

Thanks to Big Guy’s green thumb, I was able to use our homegrown carrots in this salad.  Simply peel the carrots, chop and add to the food processor.  Pulse until they are coarsely chopped.  I went ahead and added in the red onion at this point – hey, one less thing to chop!  Walnuts are added into the food processor and then the carrot mixture is added to a bowl.  The rest of the ingredients include parsley and mint (traditional tabbouleh ingredients) along with sweet golden raisins, cumin, and a dressing of EVOO, white wine vinegar and salt.

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Yes, yes, yes.

I am obsessed with the carrot “tabbouleh” and might have even contemplated having it for breakfast.  It’s THAT good.

Weeknight dinners rarely make me this happy – but seriously, this one deserved a glass of wine!

Beefy Bolognese

Good morning!  It’s a slow morning over here thanks to some winter weather.  And to be honest, I’m not all that mad at the icy mix that’s made the morning slow.  I crammed my whole weekend into Sunday so easing into the week isn’t all that bad.

But Sunday was a LOVEly day.

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Beautiful tulips were delivered to the door on Friday and I got not one, not two but THREE Valentine’s Day cards.  The Hallmark ladies were probably very curious when Big Guy bought three cards.

We had a low-key Friday night with a bottle of red wine and a delicious Italian-inspired dinner of beefy bolognese.

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The bolognese with rich and meaty and it tasted as though it had been cooking all day long.  The Dutch oven is the best way to cook this sauce though there is an option on Cooking Light to cook it in the slow cooker.  I used all beef (instead of a beef and pork mix) and I think the bacon added a whole lot of flavor to the entire dish.

I highly recommend this recipe – we were both impressed with the flavors.

Another thing I was impressed with this past weekend – our lunch yesterday.

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I wish every lunch included bubbles, oysters and cheese.

I hope you all have a fantastic week!

Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo

Our “Fat Tuesday” wasn’t all that glutinous, but let’s be honest, I typically save my gluttony for the weekends.  But we did celebrate Mardi Gras with a delicious and warming creole-inspired gumbo. {p.s. I just learned that “Mardi Gras” means “Fat Tuesday” in French}

After an oh-so-cold day, this couldn’t have been a more perfect bowl of food.  Hot jasmine rice was topped with a rich gumbo that had a little kick from the andouille sausage.  I opted to use shredded chicken instead of turkey – but either would be delicious.  The gumbo gets some flavor from the sautéed bacon in which the onion, celery and green pepper were cooked in the bacon fat.  Okra adds a little bulk to the gumbo while parsley freshens the whole pot of goodness.

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Filling and hearty, the perfect Fat Tuesday dinner.

Did you celebrate Mardi Gras?  Have you ever had a King Cake?  (I haven’t!)

Pasta with Meyer Lemon Cream and Parsley

A common theme around these parts is me trying to use up ingredients before they go to waste.  One of the number one ingredients that I find myself always having to throw out is ricotta cheese.  Last week I bought a container for our pizza that we had on Sunday but I only used about half a cup.  That leaves basically the entire container of ricotta leftover.  And I really, really hate throwing away food.  Especially when they’re quality ingredients.

A quick internet search (what did we do before the WWW) and I found the perfect recipe.  I had everything on hand except for a Meyer lemon.  (Honestly, I don’t even keep those on hand – I bet Ina does.)  Thankfully I was able to get my hands on a beautiful Meyer lemon and I was all in to devour a bowl of pasta with Meyer lemon cream and parsley. 

This dinner is also a great example of making a few swaps so you don’t have to buy as  many ingredients.  The recipe called for bucatini but I used the gluten-free noodles I had on hand.  The recipe also called for chives but with my parsley on it’s last leg, I decided to swap one green herb for another.  And finally, I keep half-and-half in my fridge for my morning fix (aka COFFEE) so I used that instead of whipping cream.

Don’t let recipes scare you!  They are simply a skeleton.  Dinner was on the table in no time – boiling the water and cooking the pasta took the longest!

I finished my pasta with a little extra black pepper cracked on top because I love fresh pepper.

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Decadent yet healthy, bright yet totally comforting.

A carb-a-licious bowl of pasta.

 

Chicken Tikka Masala

I’ve had my eye on two different tikka masala recipes for the past month or so and I finally added it to the menu plan this week!  This dish was the perfect end to a frigid day.  And when I say frigid, I mean frigid.  A high of 32 degrees just isn’t my idea of a good time.  Can we please plan a tropical vacation soon?

Tikka masala recipes vary greatly – from the amount of time to the spices used.  This particular recipe comes together relatively quickly and the end result warmed my soul.

Chicken breasts are cut into bite-size pieces before being sautéed in a little olive oil with salt, cinnamon and cumin.  This is where the flavor starts.

Once sautéed, the chicken is removed from the pan and diced onion, diced serrano, garlic and ginger were added into the pan with a little more EVOO.  Once the peppers and onions soften a little bit, garam masala (flavor!) and a little cayenne pepper is added followed by tomatoes, half-and-half and chicken stock.  Don’t forget to scrap all the bits off the bottom of the Dutch oven (more flavor!).  The chicken is added back and the entire mixture simmers so that the flavors can all combine and meld together.  The final touch is butter that is swirled until melted and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro for a POP of freshness (and flavor!).

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So delicious!  It was exactly what I wanted (and needed) on a chilly freezing day.

The chicken tikka masala is served over a bed of rice – feel free to use your favorite style of rice – I went with a white basmati.

The best part – leftovers.

(To note:  I halved the recipe since the original makes 12 servings)

 

Cheddar and Broccoli Sweet Potatoes

Knowing that Monday was going to be super busy, I picked this recipe in confidence that Big Guy could help get dinner started just in case I got home later than expected.  And I did get home later than expected – an hour later.  Thankfully Big Guy is fully capable of moving around the kitchen so I asked him to pop the potatoes in the oven so they would be tender and ready to be stuffed once I arrive home.  And if you are really running short on time, you can totally throw the potatoes in the microwave and this recipe will come together in 15 minutes.

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I rarely take the time to cook sweet potatoes in the oven but they are so must better than cooking them in the microwave.  The broccoli and cheese topping is super easy, too. Sauté a little (or a lot) of garlic in some olive oil and then add in the chopped broccoli florets.  Add in a little water (or broth) and put the lid on the skillet to allow the broccoli to steam.  After a few minutes, remove the lid and add in crushed red pepper, salt and the cheese.  Mmmm, cheese.  Cook for a minute or until the cheese is melted.

That’s it!  Split the potato and add a little sprinkle of salt before topping with the broccoli and cheese mixture.

So good.

So simple.

 

Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas

#meatlessmonday vs. #mexicanmonday

I typically choose Meatless Monday but last night Mexican won by a landslide.

I was craving something hearty and warm.  And after seeing Jessica’s blog post this morning, I couldn’t get enchiladas off my mind.

These enchiladas are full of shredded chicken, black beans, a homemade enchilada sauce (so easy!) and cheese.  Lots and lots of cheese.  The corn tortillas are rolled with the chicken and bean mixture inside before being topped with more enchilada sauce and CHEESE.

to note: You could totally use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store to make your life easier when it comes to the chicken.  I went the “difficult” route and poached a couple of pieces of chicken and then shredded them.

After the enchiladas bake until bubbly perfection they are topped with cilantro, Greek yogurt and salsa.

It was everything I wanted and more.

CHEESE!

It warmed me up and filled me up and made me totally NOT regret breaking the #meatlessmonday rule.