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.

 

 

Butternut-Cauliflower-Coconut Curry

I’m back from a nonstop weekend in Charlotte!  I still can’t believe how much I crammed into three days.  A holiday home tour in the Fourth Ward District of Charlotte…two workouts…trip to Columbia, SC to a reveal party for my brother and sister-in-law (it’s a BOY!)…visiting baby boy Braxton (twice)…Christmas shopping at South Park….And three nights of the best sleep in months.

I arrived back home yesterday afternoon and spent the afternoon playing catch up with Big Guy.  In between making lists and shopping on the internet, we enjoyed a big warm bowl of butternut-cauliflower-coconut curry.  

I used a little help from Trader Joes by using pre-cut butternut squash and bagged cauliflower (life savers – and honestly, it’s budget-friends to purchase pre-cut butternut squash).  The curry is full of onion and garlic and lots of curry powder.  Coconut milk is added at the end to add creaminess and richness.  I absolutely adored the crunchy chickpeas on top.  I think I could eat an entire sheet pan of those little nuggets.

curry

The next several weeks are going to be super busy but I’m urging you (and myself) to enjoy it all – even the stressful moments.

And if you aren’t aware…19 days until Christmas!

Chickpeas with Spiced Carrots, Dates and Pistachios

Let me introduce you to my new favorite refrigerator staple:  Chickpeas with Spiced Carrots, Dates and Pistachios.

chickpeasalad

This salad comes together in no more than 10 minutes and it’s the perfect lunch or light dinner.  In fact, I cannot wait to eat leftovers for lunch today.  Prep this salad on Sunday and you’ll be able to eat on it all week long.

This no-cook salad involves one bowl and a simple list of ingredients.

The “dressing” is a quick mix of EVOO, cumin, cinnamon (!!!) and a little salt.  The powerhouse ingredients include canned chickpeas (if you use dried, more power to you), shredded carrots, chopped dates, cilantro and pistachios.  I served the salad on a bed of lettuce last night and an extra sprinkle of flaky salt.

It’s sweet, it’s crunchy, it’s savory, it’s salty and it’s full of good-for you stuff.

 

 

 

Simple Leek Frittata with Roasted Almond Romesco

Last week I found myself with an almost-empty fridge but the need to put dinner on the table.  We were going out of town so I didn’t want to make a huge grocery haul or have lots of leftovers.  As I was scanning the fridge I took note of a wedge of parm in the cheese drawer and a carton of eggs that needed to be used.  After a quick flip through my Cooking Light recipes I found a simple leek frittata in which all I needed to grab from the store was a bunch of leeks.  Perfect.

The frittata is totally customizable and you can add whatever you have in your veggie crisper…spinach, mushrooms, bell peppers.  I added extra garlic because well, I love garlic and I used whole milk because I had a little leftover from another recipe.  I’m sure that any milk would work in this recipe.

To go with the frittata, a whipped up a Romesco sauce that is basically made with toasted bread, roasted red bell peppers and almonds.  The Romesco sauce is garlicky and smokey and absolutely delicious.  You could use this sauce on so many things; I personally think it would be awesome on a sandwich instead of mayo or mustard.

frittata

Simple, healthy and quite inexpensive.  A perfect meatless-Monday dinner but I think a meatless-Wednesday is okay, too.