Pear and Gruyère Strata

Visits with your grandparents should always end with a something sweet.  When we made plans with Mawmaw and Pawpaw a couple of months ago for them to visit, I immediately started planning our short but sweet visit.  I knew that I wanted to send them home with a full belly on Sunday morning so that they wouldn’t have to worry about stopping to grab lunch on the way (because, well, there’s nothing in between here and there worth stopping for until you get the Wilmington).  Also knowing that our Saturday was pretty full, I decided to pick a breakfast that could be prepped before they ever arrived.

The Pear and Gruyere Strata is incredibly easy to prep and involves no cooking before the strata actually cooks the morning you plan to eat.  Cinnamon bread (I used a gluten free cinnamon raisin bread) is layered on the bottom of a baking dish and then topped with a mixture of sliced pears (I left the skin on), butter and sugar.  On top of the pear mixture goes shredded gruyere and then a final layer of cinnamon bread.  In a bowl, combine milk (I used 2%), eggs (I used 1/2 cup eggs that were whisked instead of egg substitute), sugar and cinnamon.  This all mixture gets poured over everything.  Cover and place in the fridge for at least eight hours (mine sat in the fridge for almost 24 and it worked perfectly).

The next morning, simply uncover, sprinkle with sugar and bake for about 50 minutes.

Breakfast is ready!


Serve with copious amounts of coffee!  And bacon if you really love your grandparents.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!

Pineapple Chicken Kebabs with Cilantro-Lime Slaw

Sweet and slightly-spicy chicken kebabs are paired with a creamy and bright slaw for an easy 25-minute weeknight dinner.

To make the pineapple glaze, combine pineapple juice, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, Sriracha, honey, fish sauce and garlic and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer to allow the sauce to slightly thicken.  While the sauce is cooking, cut chicken thighs into bite-size pieces and thread onto skewers.  Sprinkle the chicken with a little salt and brush with the sauce.  The chicken is then broiled for 6 minutes before turning and brushing with more of the pineapple sauce.

While the chicken is cooking, toss together sliced cabbage and cilantro with a simple dressing of vinegar, lime juice, salt and mayonnaise.

Serve the chicken kebabs with the reserved sauce and slaw.