Greek Stuffed Pitas

First there was Swedish Meatballs, then there was Banh Mi Bowls and finally we have Greek Stuffed Pitas.  One recipe, three dinners.  This may be my favorite “Cook Once, Eat 3 Times” so far.  Each dinner was so different and I never felt like I was eating the same meatball over and over.

The Greek Pitas are by far the easiest of the three recipe.  Tzatziki is made my combining 2% Greek yogurt (you want a little fat in the yogurt for thickness and tang), grated cucumber, lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper.  Cabbage is thinly sliced and then tossed with lemon juice and salt and pepper.  Cabbage was an unexpected addition to the pitas but I loved the crunch and the lemon juice really tamed the bitterness that I think cabbage can sometimes have. The meatballs are simply warmed in the microwave with a little beef stock.  The pitas are then stuffed to the brim with the cucumber sauce, cabbage, tomatoes and meatballs (I found slicing the meatballs in half made it easier to stuff).

greekpitas

So good!  I adore the flavors in Greek cuisine and it’s crazy to think we were in Greece exactly one year ago today.  And while we have no plans to return in the near future, it’s always nice to bring the flavors of Greece home.

Yamas!

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Sheet Pan Swedish Meatballs

I absolutely love the “Cook Once, Eat 3 Times” feature in Cooking Light.  The first recipe is typically more labor intensive but it sets you up for a week of dinner.  In a perfect world, I would have made these meatballs on a Sunday along with creamy mashed potatoes and a bottle of Pinot Noir.  Hey, a girl can day dream during her wine hiatus.  The recipe makes a huge batch of meatballs which will be used for two more recipes throughout the week (or you can freeze the extra meatballs and eat later – which makes me want to make this again and freeze for post-baby).

The meatballs are made by forming 1 1/2 inch balls from a mixture of beef, pork (you could totally use all beef but pork adds rich flavor), sautéed onion, and garlic with salt, fennel, red pepper, pepper, and torn bread.  The meatballs cook on broil for 7-12 minutes depending on whether you broil on HIGH or LOW (I went with LOW).

While the meatballs are cooking, make your sauce.  A little leftover raw meatballs mixture is sautéed before adding in allspice.  Cook for 30 seconds then add in beef broth with cornstarch (I used 2 teaspoons instead of the flour).  Bring to a boil and allow to cook until reduced to one cup, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and add in the sour cream and butter along with apple cider vinegar and fresh dill.

Serve the meatballs alongside the delicious sauce.

meatballs

To keep dinner on the lighter side (we had a late/heavier lunch), I served the meatballs with roasted broccolini.  But like I mentioned before, the meatballs would be delicious over mashed potatoes.  The sauce is screaming for them.

Big Guy and I both went wild over this dinner and were so impressed with the flavor and texture of the meatballs.  The fennel, allspice and dill are all totally necessary and you can taste all three without them competing with one another.

Up next, turning the meatballs into rice bowls…

Homemade Creamed Corn Pasta with Fried Herbs

It’s no surprise that Big Guy and I love to spend time together in the kitchen.  And sometimes we take a “simple” recipe and turn it into quite the adventure.  But the truth is, it’s almost always worth the time, the effort and the mess.  A recipe for creamed corn pasta peaked both of our interest due to all the corn that we have stashed in the freezer.  But we couldn’t just use store bought pasta – oh, no – we had to make our own.

The pasta came together rather “easy” this time around (there was one pasta episode where we almost gave up completely and a voice or two was raised – not naming names).  And while Big Guy was making our noodles, I spent a little time making the creamed corn portion of the dish.  When I hear “creamed corn” I can’t help but think of my grandmother, Mimi, and her creamed corn.  It’s simply one of my favorite side dishes and I remember looking forward to it at all holiday gatherings.  To make this version of creamed corn, fresh corn is cooked in butter until caramelized, about 5-8 minutes.  Once the corn is lightly browned, add in the fresh thyme, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes.  Then add in the milk (I used 2%) and allow the mixture to simmer.  At this point, I reduced the heat to low and allowed it to hang out while we finished up the pasta.  I ended up adding a little more milk to thin it out.  Finally, add in the cooked pasta and the parmesan along with some of the salted cooking water.  I added a good 1/2 cup or more of cooking water to get the consistency I wanted – it’s going to depend on your pasta.

The plate of pasta was topped with fried herbs (thyme and basil) and then I finished our plates with a little lemon zest.  That was a very good idea.

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Absolutely incredible.

We were blown away by this dish.  Such simple ingredients became an absolute stunner of a dinner with a little love and a little mess.

 

Slow Cooker Korean Pork Lettuce Wraps

First of all – my prayers are with ALL the people in Texas who are facing the horrible effects of the storm and flooding.  My best friend from college lives in Houston and thankfully, her neighborhood has remained relatively “unharmed” from the water – though weather has a mind of it’s own and can change minute to minute.

Like I mentioned yesterday, I kicked off my birthday week with a little pampering yesterday.  A friend and I crashed our husband’s day trip to Durham and went to the spa for the afternoon.  I ended up getting a prenatal massage and it was so incredibly relaxing.  My only complaint – the hour goes by SO fast.  By the time you’re finally relaxed and really enjoying the massage, it’s over.  Post-massage, we took advantage of the spa’s amenities and got ready before going to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in Raleigh, Bida Manda.  The crispy rice lettuce wraps are LIFE CHANGING.

Speaking of life changing and lettuce wraps, on Friday night I let the slow cooker do all the heavy cooking and dinner was ready when Big Guy walked in the door from his trip to California.  On the menu:  Slow Cooker Korean Pork Lettuce Wraps.

A pork shoulder (or you can make the mistake I made and use a pork loin – it still tasted delicious) is rubbed with a mixture of ground ginger and brown sugar before being seared on the stovetop. Once browned on all sides, it goes into the slow cooker with some stock (I used beef because it’s what I had) and lots of garlic.  Then let the slow cooker do it’s thing for the next 7 or 8 hours.

To go with the pork wraps, carrots are quick pickled in rice vinegar, water, brown sugar and salt.  Additionally, a miso sauce needs to be prepped – this is where ALL the flavor comes from.  Miso, Sriracha and sesame oil are combined to make an absolutely delicious sauce that is absolutely necessary.  It’s salty and has that perfect umami flavor that hits every single taste bud.  Finally, the wraps are served with a mound of brown rice.

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This dinner is perfect for a crowd or simply save the leftovers for lunch and dinner during the week.

Sometimes I forget about my slow cooker but every time I put it to use, I’m reminded at how glorious it is to have dinner ready without much effort.

Thats a wrap.  😉  Back tomorrow with another recipe!

Lemon-Thyme Chicken Salad

Almost a year ago, I shared a chicken salad that ranked up in the top two chicken salads I’ve ever had.  And here I am again, making chicken salad and urging you to make a bowl to store in the fridge for easy lunches and dinners throughout the week.

This chicken salad is different than my usual favorites – there is no crunchy component (aka nuts) and there is no sweet component (aka fruit or dried fruit).  However, this chicken salad packs a flavor punch with lemon zest and thyme – two ingredients that were made for one another.

Also this chicken salad involves no mayo (only 2% Greek yogurt) so it therefore doesn’t pass my chicken salad rules BUT rules were made to be broken.

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I served a scoop of the chicken salad with lots of fresh veggies (red bell pepper, cucumber and snap peas) as well as some Nut Thins.

I can’t get over how much I LOVE this chicken salad despite being very different from my usual favorites.  I think it’s the lemon zest – I just love it.

 

 

Hawaiian BBQ Quesadillas

Ever since I had quesadillas with my Momma last weekend, I’ve been craving another quesadilla.  Thankfully, Big Guy was game and that’s just what was on the menu Friday night at the beach.  Instead of going the “traditional” Mexican route, I switched things up and make Hawaiian BBQ Quesadillas with a few tweaks.

Instead of using raw chicken, I went the rotisserie route.  I simply bought a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken breast from the grocery store and shredded the chicken while it was still warm. I made the same BBQ sauce and tossed the shredded chicken in the sauce.  Other changes:  I omitted rice (I’ve never had rice in a quesadilla and honestly, don’t think they need it).  I also omitted the jalapeño because we were using chipotle gouda cheese.  Finally, I used a pre-made guacamole.  I know, how dare I do such a thing.  It wasn’t because I didn’t want to make my own – the grocery store at the beach simply NEVER has rice avocados.

To make the quesadillas, I slathered a little butter (my secret to crispy quesadillas) on one side of the flour tortilla and placed it in a hot skillet.  I topped the tortilla with a little cheese and then layered on the saucy chicken, grilled onion and grilled pineapple before topping with more cheese (I used a chipotle gouda) and the other buttered tortilla (buttered side up).  Flip once golden and allow the other side to cook.

To serve, cut into quarters and add a dollop of guacamole.

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Now I’m craving another one…

Tahini-Marinated Chicken Thighs with Cucumber-and-Tomato Salad

Tahini is an ingredient in my pantry that goes unused for weeks yet it’s such a fantastic addition to your arsenal of ingredients.  In this recipe, tahini not only adds flavor to the chicken but it keeps the chicken incredibly tender and allows the chicken to have the most beautiful grill marks from the grill.  If you’re unsure of what tahini is, the best way to describe it is the same way peanuts become peanut butter – sesame seeds become tahini.

The chicken can be marinated for up to overnight (or as little as 8 hours) so I prepped this the evening before we would be eating this particular dinner.  The marinade is a mixture of tahini (that is well stirred), parsley, olive oil, water, rosemary, lemon zest, lemon juice, crushed red pepper, garlic and grated shallot.  Before adding the chicken, reserve some of the marinade that will be used as a sauce when serving.

While Big Guy grilled the chicken, I prepped the rice and cucumber-tomato salad.  The salad is insanely easy to throw together.  Simple mix together chopped cucumber, chopped tomato and chopped parsley with lemon juice, olive oil and salt.

Serve the grilled chicken over a bed of rice and a size of salad with a little more of the tahini marinade on top.

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The chicken cuts like butter and does not have an overwhelming sesame flavor.  So many fresh flavors on the plate while be filling and healthy.  This is a must-try recipe if you’re in a chicken-rut.

OH, and if you don’t have tahini in your pantry – I recommend going to Trader Joe’s if possible – incredibly affordable and excellent flavor.