Almond-Coconut Chicken Satay

Over the past six weeks I haven’t been cooking as much, especially during the week.  But on the weekends I’ve been trying to cook when possible because I truly love being in the kitchen.  The key these days is meals that I can prep in advance during a nap and then are easily thrown together once the little one is down for the night.

Last Friday we thoroughly enjoyed almond-coconut chicken satay with a glass of wine before tucking ourselves into bed before 9pm.  Throughout the day I prepped here and there – cutting the chicken into chunks, slicing the veggies, and mixing together the marinade.  I marinated the chicken a little longer than the recipe instructed – probably a few hours – and I highly recommend doing that, if possible.  The marinade is where all the flavor is:  almond butter, coconut milk, lime juice and red curry paste (a current obsession of mine).  Some of the marinade is reserved for serving with the grilled chicken.

The one thing I didn’t do until the last minute was dress the cucumber salad because I didn’t want it to become soggy.  I like crisp cucumbers.  The cucumbers and bell peppers are dressed with lime juice, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes.

Once the chicken is grilled, serve along side the cucumbers and bell peppers and a sprinkle of chopped almonds.

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And while I miss being in the kitchen during the week, I wouldn’t trade baby snuggles for anything in the world because I know one day she won’t want to snuggle with me.

 

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Family-Style Meatball “Fondue”

Is anyone else dragging this AM?  I’m not sure if the time change is to blame or having a 6-week baby…  Either way, I’m ready for bed and it’s not even lunch time.  Despite the sleepy eyes over here, I’m determined to have a great week.

But rewind – how was your weekend?  Ours didn’t go quite as we anticipated but we had a wonderful weekend as a family of three.  We had a low-key evening in on Friday night and then on Saturday we had a family day-date!  Tacos and an adult beverage for the win.  I think BG is starting to change her schedule on me but I’m okay with it if that means more sleep at night.  I’m trying not to stress myself out over a “schedule” but it’s hard because I thrive on schedules.  And on Sunday we had the laziest of days and instead of pizza we switched it up with family-style meatball “fondue.”  I keep wanting to type “fundue” – which is appropriate because it was a FUN way to eat.

The meatballs are made with lean ground beef (the recipe called for turkey but we switched it up), grated zucchini, chopped onion, oregano, salt, pepper and an egg.  There’s no breadcrumbs so it will seem a little “loose” but I promise they firm up in the oven.  The meatballs are baked until cooked through.

While the meatballs are cooking, it’s time to make the sauce.  Sauté the mushrooms and garlic in a little olive oil and then add in marinara (Newman’s Own is my favorite) and a little water.  Simmer about 5 minutes and then add in the meatballs once they are done cooking.  Gently mix to coat the meatballs and then top with mozzarella.

Finally, broil the whole skillet to melt the cheese and serve with toasted baguette on the side.

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Such a delicious dinner.  And while I missed our tradition of pizza (we’re already planning this Sunday’s pizza) I can’t say I didn’t love these saucy meatballs.  And the mushrooms were fantastic on a piece of baguette.

I hope you all have a great week!

 

Baked Oatmeal with Bananas and Blueberries

The best weekends always go by way too fast. As I sit here on Sunday evening (listening to Big Guy try to calm our anxious 5 week old) I can’t help but think how lucky I am to have spent the weekend with my two favorite people in the whole wide world. We did absolutely nothing that would be exciting to anyone. Big Guy sent me away to get a manicure and pedicure on Saturday morning after my workout and took over all baby duties for a few hours. It was glorious – yet weird…I actually missed that nugget while I was gone. I enjoyed a delicious glass of sparking rosé and we ate our weight in meat and cheese. And on Sunday we laughed and Blakely Gray took her longest nap to date. See, nothing too exciting, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

This past week I made a breakfast bake that fueled me through busy mornings around the house. I’ve found that breakfast needs to be pulled together quickly but it also needs to keep me full. If there are oats involved, even better.

To make this baked oatmeal, you start by slicing a couple of bananas and placing in a dish along with blueberries, honey and cinnamon. This is then covered and baked for 20 minutes before being topped with an oat and pecan mixture and then a combination of milk, an egg and vanilla. The entire dish is topped with a few more blueberries and pecans and baked to perfection.

I enjoyed a slice of the baked oatmeal with a little 2% Greek yogurt and a scoop of peanut butter.

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Even Big Guy loved this breakfast…and after this morning, it’s gone.

Do you have a favorite make-ahead breakfast?

Banana-Walnut Bread

Remember how I used a “secret” oil a couple of weeks back to make a delicious pasta dish?   Since walnut oil isn’t an oil I come across in recipes often, I was excited that in the same issue of Cooking Light there was a recipe for banana-walnut bread using walnut oil.  Muffins and bread are something I like to keep on hand for Big Guy to have in the morning for breakfast.  And while Big Guy couldn’t detect the walnut oil, he did say that the bread was extra “nutty.”

To start the recipe, soak raw oats (I used old fashioned oats) in buttermilk (I used milk mixed with vinegar) for 10 minutes.  While that is soaking, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, and salt.

Next make your streusel topping:  brown sugar, oil, walnuts (I actually used pecans), cinnamon, salt, raw oats and flour.  I love banana bread with a streusel topping.

Once the oats and buttermilk have soaked, add in mashed ripe bananas (the key to ALL banana breads), vanilla, eggs, brown sugar, and walnut oil. Once mixed, this is spooned into the loaf pan and then topped with the streusel before being baked.

I can’t even describe how amazing the house smelled while this was cooking.

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Look at the edges on that bread.  I love a little crunchy edge from the caramelization of the sugar.  This bread is fantastic straight out of the oven or store at room temperature and warm before eating.  Big Guy made his a little more decadent and filling with a smear of cashew butter.

Now I just need to find a few more recipes using walnut oil…

Spicy Thai Red Curry Beef

Yesterday was a doozy – so I apologize for being MIA…

But today I bring to you one of my top five recipes from Cooking Light.  I’m tempted to give it the #1 spot but I’ve cooked so many things from Cooking Light that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to aware any recipe the coveted top prize.

I know, it’s a bold statement but I hope that it encourages you to make this recipe.  It’s easy enough for a week night but impressive enough for a date night.  I actually paired a glass of wine with this dish – on a Thursday.  We’re living the wild life around here lately.

And did I mention it’s one-skillet?  Therefore, clean-up is a breeze.  So get all your ingredients assembled and get cooking.

The top layer of coconut cream (from a can of light coconut milk – don’t shake!) is brought to a boil along with the red curry paste in a skillet.  The rest of the coconut milk is added along with a little brown sugar, fish sauce (SO much flavor – don’t skip!), and red pepper flakes.  Bring that to a boil and cook for two minutes.  Add in your veggies – bell pepper and onion and simmer.  Next, add in your thinly sliced beef tenderloin.  Yes, it’s a delicious cut of meat and I rarely would want to cook such high quality beef this way but the end result is incredible and totally worth it.  (We were “gifted”this beef tenderloin and it’s by far the best beef tenderloin I’ve ever had – the marveling was perfection.)  Back to cooking…cook the beef about three minutes and then remove from the heat.

At this point, we’re going to brighten up the dish with some fresh elements – basil, lime juice and some salt.

Served over rice with a squeeze of fresh lime.

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To my surprise, my wine and food pairing book suggested to serve a riesling with this dish.  I don’t keep a lot of riesling on hand but it also suggested a California chardonnay which I have plenty of.  I found a bottle that was described as a “cousin to riesling” and I felt compelled to open the bottle.  (Thankfully the weekend was so warm and a glass of crisp white wine here and there was just what I need to get through “mommy-ing.”)

Y’all, I can’t rave about this recipe enough.  It was savory with a little sweetness yet a hint of heat from the red pepper flakes.  And the curry married with the coconut milk made me oh, so happy.  And Big Guy was a huge fan because beef tenderloin + rice makes him extremely happy.

Unfortunately for y’all I’m not doing a lot of cooking this week.  A huge thank you to all the folks that have signed up to bring us dinner – it’s been such a treat to not have to worry about dinner (though cooking dinner remains one of my favorite things to do).

I’ll (hopefully) be back tomorrow with a 1-month update on Blakely Gray.  That is if I can type it without tearing up and mourning the fact that she’s growing so fast.  I swear, she’ll be wanting to date next week at this pace…

 

Chipotle Corn Chowder

We’re at that point in the year where we are craving warm weather (and we’re actually having super warm weather here) but the reality is that it’s still February and there is always the possibility of a cold snap in March (and even April).  This chowder, in my opinion, is the perfect meal for this time of the year.  It celebrates the produce that’s to come (corn!  zucchini!) yet it’s warm and comforting and totally appropriate for February (I can’t quite get behind eating hot soup in July).

I decided to make this recipe after noticing the abundance of frozen corn from our garden in the freezer.  I don’t want to let one kernel go to waste.  My aunt (Hey, Daphne!) was also in town and she’s a huge fan of soups so I thought this would be the perfect dinner to make while she was visiting.  On Monday evening, she was on baby duty (aka getting ALL the baby snuggles) and I set out to make dinner.  This dinner comes together super quickly once you’ve chopped all your veggies.

The potatoes, corn (if you don’t have any fresh-frozen corn I would go for frozen corn from the grocery store this time of year), onion, garlic and zucchini (I found some really pretty organic zucchini at Trader Joe’s) are sautéed in a little olive oil until tender.  Then add in the broth (I used chicken – but you can totally use veggie to make this vegetarian) and allow the pot to simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender.  Transfer about three cups of the mixture to a blender and puree and then add in the almond milk and chipotles (as much or as little) and blend until smooth.  Add the blended soup back into the pot with the remaining “chunky” soup and allow everything to warm.

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To serve, top with some pesto and/or basil and slurp your way through this bowl of chowder.  It’s silky – as if you’ve added cream – with just the right amount of body.  The pesto and basil on top made this bowl of chowder for me and I loved the bit of heat that the chipotle peppers added to the whole bowl of deliciousness.

I hope you’re all having a great week – we’re still adjusting to being a family of three and I’m finding ways to make the time I spend pumping (almost 3 hours a day) a little more productive (aka – blogging while pumping).  I have high hopes for a Friday Favorites post tomorrow…but don’t hate me if it doesn’t happen.

 

Steak, Feta and Olive Quesadillas

Another quick and easy dinner headed your way with this Mediterranean twist on the classic Mexican quesadilla.  All the quesadilla ingredients are mixed together to save time – there’s no layering or trying to make sure you save room for each element.

To make the quesadilla stuffing, cook the thinly sliced steak on the stovetop until browned.  Add in the spinach, cream cheese, feta and chopped olives.  Allow the mixture to cook for two minutes and then remove from the heat.

And just like that, you’re ready to make your quesadillas.  I used corn tortillas but you can use your favorite – whether thats flour or corn.  Spoon the filling on one tortilla and then top with another tortilla.  Cook until browned in a little oil and carefully flip.  Make sure not to overstuff your quesadillas!

The quesadillas are served with a side of greek yogurt for dipping.

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And on the side, a simple cucumber and tomato salad with parsley, olive oil, salt, pepper and red wine vinegar.

I loved this spin on a dinner that is so common in many households.  The steak paired with the olives was so yummy and the cream cheese made it extra creamy and delicious.

OPA.